Ever since their first party and a big NY Times style section article, there has been a lot of buzz and controversy surrounding the library advocacy group called The Desk Set. I’ve heard about librarians hating on The Desk Set, misunderstanding them and the articles written about them. Maria Falgoust and Sarah Murphy, the brains behind The Desk Set operation, are in my opinion the best renegade, non-traditional library marketing and PR team to date, and I only wish I was in a place to hire them as consultants. Those two (and their crew) could revitalize a stale, poorly attended library system in a heartbeat. I, as a public librarian fully devoted to the idea of building communities and conversations around media and intellectual discourse, would like to take this opportunity to endorse their efforts to bolster librarians’ professional solidarity, friendship, and informal knowledge sharing.
Last Saturday during the ALA Mid-Winter meeting The Desk Set had a great party in collaboration with Authority Control at National Mechanics in Philadelphia. I went to two other parties that night, one for Running Press Book Publishers at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Arts Historical Landmark Building, and another for Library Journal at Varelli’s Upstairs. Both of these parties were awesome, but neither of them held a candle to the energy at The Desk Set blowout. There was nothing overtly professional about it: this was really just a party, a party attended by public librarians, academic librarians, medical librarians, archivists, and anyone else that might be interested in coming.
Now I know there are plenty of readers out there scoffing at the first paragraph, thinking “intellectual discourse! What? That party was a bunch of hipster fools, and I have no time for that!” To all of you I say fine, you don’t really have to BE there if you find it all distasteful, inappropriate, crass, and alarming. But why dis such an event? Why is it that librarians, stereotypically, traditionally, have such a weird double standard with marketing, entertainment, and social activities, and why hasn’t that changed yet? This is not trivial: the future of public libraries relies on foundation departments, outreach services, marketing, communications, and politicians for funding. Why do so many librarians prickle at the thought of a party? If librarians cannot get along with each other, how are we supposed to get along with the communities we serve?