The secret lives of librarians took center stage at the American Library Association's annual conference earlier this month. There was dancing, there were costumes, there was music, and, of course, there were book carts. They practice their routines in hallways and parking lots, ready to compete in the 5th annual Library Book Cart Drill Team Championship, sponsored by library supply company DEMCO.
"I thought, my God, what have we done here," said DEMCO's John Ison of the first competition. Teams bring acrobatic splits, book cart headlights, and dry ice effects to the floor in the quest to win first place and the coveted gold book cart trophy that comes with it. "It changes the whole image of librarians," added Ison.
What started out as a creative demonstration has since turned into an all out competition judged on technical ability and artistic impression, with bonus points for unique costumes, dance moves, and other innovations.
After the second place Des Plaines Public Library Cart Wheels team performed to a medley of songs from Grease, Ison remarked, "There was a move towards the beginning--a sort of thrust--worth several points." And with each thrust, the competition also brings team members closer together, building camaraderie. (The winning team had to juggle practices with members from three different library branches.)
After an especially competitive year that almost ended in a tie, the judges awarded the Oak Park Library Warrior Librarians first prize for their viking-inspired performance, complete with sword play, horned helmets, and war cries.
During the competition, one of the moderators joked to any library school students in the audience, "It's really not too late to change your major." Judging by the applause from the overflowing crowd, if anything, this competition will likely boost library school enrollments, and reduce shushing.