Where were the Chicagoland Libraries at the Green Festival?

Brian Want, at the Wanted Librarian, writes:

http://thewantedlibrarian.typepad.com/thewantedlibrarian/2007/04/libraries_not_a.html

In the hunt for an engaging weekend activity, my friend Bradley and I decided to celebrate Earth Day and attend Chicago’s first annual Green Festival (not affiliated with the political party) at McCormick Place. What a fun, inspiring, educational, and network-oriented event! In addition to speakers and other special programming, the Green Festival brought hundreds of exhibitors under one roof, including publishers, socially responsible builders/investors, organic/veggie food vendors, eco-travel agencies, activist organizations, green media outlets, and lots more.

There was so much INFORMATION being exchanged and so many people meeting one another, conversing, sharing contact info, etc., that I wondered where the Chicago Public Library (or any LIS organization) was. There were thousands of people at this event, and as I walked around, I thought of many ways that librarians could have added to the mix:

Providing reference services — I overheard things like “Oh, have you read–what’s that guy’s name–he writes about ABC–check him out–I think it’s his second book” and “Hey, we’re in town from Minneapolis. Is there an organization that does XYZ up there?” Librarians could have been stationed with computers — or roaming with laptops if there was wifi.

Showcasing library materials on green themes — There were publishing companies and individual authors and newspapers/magazines present. Why wasn’t CPL there showcasing their books and periodicals, signing people up for membership, etc?

Providing computers for social networking — People were using slips of paper to exchange emails, MySpace, and so on. People were taking photos. CPL could have been there facilitating instant online networking, promoting a Flickr tag for the event, and so on.

If this event was important enough for Mayor Daley and some city offices to attend, then by all means the library could’ve been present. (I double-checked the list of exhibitors just to make sure I didn’t miss them, but nope….no CPL.)

Another missed opportunity for libraries.

I like Brian’s take on the fact that libraries might want to have presence at events such as this where information is exchanged and/or created. The layer of social tools facillitated by the library as a means of archiving the event is a fascinating possibility as well.

I wonder – did other Green festivals in other cities have a library presence?

Disclaimer: BW is my super cool graduate assistant.

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4 thoughts on “Where were the Chicagoland Libraries at the Green Festival?”

  1. I wish I’d been there! I think this is a great point to make; libraries SHOULD be present at community events!

  2. Thanks for writing about Brian Want’s post. The management team at the Owen Sound & North Grey Union Public Library used this post to develop “The Library @ Summerfolk”. With contributions from Rogers cable and a trailer from the local Thrifty’s car rental, we were able to provide information services at a regional folk music and crafts festival in Owen Sound, Ontario.

    http://www.summerfolk.org/

    We were open from 4 – 8 p.m. on Friday and 12 – 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. We had over two hundered and fifty visits. Patrons checked emails, booked flights, checked university exam schedules, researched and prepared for the Democratic Convention, asked reference questions, checked facebook and much more.

    Cheers – Tim

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