iCONN News

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Durham Fair - a good weekend

Every Year - Durham Fair - Hartford Courant article view: "http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?did=900520841&sid=1&Fmt=3&clientId=61652&RQT=309&VName=PQD"

So the Durham Fair is now behind us and we have the "Love your library days" Barnes & Noble Book Fair to look forward to on Dec. 2 & 3. But let's get back to Durham Fair. The fair was attended by over 220,000 people. iCONN had a booth in the commercial Exhibitors' Hall building. The booth was staffed by CT State Library personnel and volunteers from libraries around the state (thanks to our intrepid volunteers), all of whom got a chance to talk with lots of Connecticut residents, to give out iCONN literature, and to explain about the online databases available to them via iCONN. We also gave out balloons, fridge magnets, and even caramel candies. We ran out of balloons by Saturday night.

Some fun moments for me:
(1) hanging out with (and meeting for the first time, in some cases) colleagues Susan, Cecelia, Helen, the 2 Monas, and my fellow officemates (especially Steve, who is a balloon-tying master!)
(2) meeting and talking with adolescents and young adults whom I don't normally get much opportunity to talk with (after I learned from some other booth workers that - doh! - the reason they probably wanted balloons was to suck out the helium), I decided to engage with any of them who wanted a balloon... I quizzed them about iCONN and/or subjected them to a "librarian spiel"... it was sort of my Napoleon Dynamite moment... I think... not that I've actually seen the movie, but I'm guessing
(3) giving out balloons to the little ones - who were just fascinated - thrilled even - by the balloons... ah to get such joy from such a simple thing... one little girl came to our booth for a balloon - then, after I'd tied one to her wrist, she explained that she also wanted the one with the word "FREE!" on it... so I told her that I was going to do a magic trick and turned the balloon around and wallah! the word FREE! now showed on her iCONN balloon. She was suitably impressed;
(4) seeing - or should I say, listening to - the Gin Blossoms on my break on Sunday afternooon;
(5) playing "liar's poker" with Steve and our booth-mates to either side - the guy selling the "oldies" cds on one side and the couple running the pet supply distribution booth on the other side... even though I have some sort of mental block against how it's supposed to work, the good news is that I didn't lose any money
(6) can you say "fair food"? how about "the fudge booth was right across from us" - hmmm?

I also loved hearing people's reactions to iCONN - "why didn't anyone tell me about this" one older lady asked me on Friday night... "That's why we're here," I told her, "To tell people about it!" One guy who seemed a little gruff told us "the state finally got it right" when he learned about iCONN. I'd thought he might be a taxpayer who was opposed to anything that cost money, even for the greater good, but I'd underestimated the sense of civic responsibility that many people have.

I'm always surprised when I hear people say that they've never heard of iCONN if they're a teacher or school library media specialist, but I've finally realized how commonplace it is... and that’s alright, because I’m here to help spread the word! What was most surprising to me, however, was when a woman who worked in a large public library said that she’d never heard of iCONN. Granted, she told me that she didn't work the information desk and was a part-timer, explaining away her lack of familiarity with iCONN for that reason, but she worked for a decent-sized library and I would’ve thought that somehow word of resources like iCONN might be part of their employee training (or staff development).

So, you can see, not only was the Durham Fair an enjoyable experience, it was productive for an outreach coordinator!

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