Cover to Cover at the Bookfest: All's Well That Ends Well

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By Ryan O’Grady

Pratt Chat Minicards

What a book-tastic success! The Enoch Pratt Free Library tent at the Baltimore Book Festival this year was all about technology. We had eReaders on display for visitors to learn how to use, on Friday I participated in a Nintendo Wii playing and learning session, we handed out collectible Pratt Chat Minicards, and we registered people for library cards over our wifi network.

It was a great weekend and I had a lot of fun. While we had very few physical books in our tent space, because we were emphasizing our digital presence in the community—we were surrounded by books populating many other spaces: Ukazoo had a tent, City Paper had a book swap, there were authors selling their own books, and we even had our own Pratt Library bookmobile up the road. It was an odd inversion for me—so many days I spend inside the library surrounded by books and I feel like I am working to incorporate more and more technology; whereas at the book festival, it was very freeing because our focus was on technology and what we can offer visitors, yet we were surrounded by books from other places. Usually people come to visit the library to get books!

Baltimore Book Festival

One thing I learned from the festival is that people still crave knowledge and access. I helped sign one visitor up for a library card because she was from Severn, MD and had few resources around her. She remarked that she took the free Charm City circulator bus in and now that she knew about it, she would take it more frequently. For me, it was inspiring to see someone travel (even a short distance) to come to a book festival, and it gave me hope that even though we have a lot of new technology that is entering the library right now, there will always be a demand for books and reading. We chatted a bit and we agreed that the two can continue to co-exist side-by-side far into the near and distant future. Plus, now she has a reason to take the Circulator into town more often—to use her new library card!

See more photos in this slideshow from our Flickr stream:

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