From December 14-16, I had the distinct pleasure of traveling, with McMaster’s Chief Librarian, Jeff Trzeciak, to Washington D.C. for the annual workshop of the Council on Library and Information Resources. It was an amazingly good workshop, held in the Cosmos Club, in D.C. – a club whose members are all somehow linked to science, literature or the arts. It is an incredibly beautiful place, with a gorgeous stone elevation and rich hardwood floors throughout. The walls are all wainscotted in a tasteful fashion and the ceilings vaulted and marked by ornate mouldings. The Warne Room in which the workshop was held is palatial with a pleasant, sunny view out of splendid bay windows that face onto Massachussetts Avenue. The workshop itself was fascinating, with leaders from the world of library sciences from around America participating. We heard about many library innovations, including three-dimensional tours of ancient places and how the PhD in digital humanities at King’s College was founded. Most interesting to me was a talk about an American-style university that is being built from scratch in Vietnam by an American consultant, using the investment money of a prominent Vietnamese businesswoman. Since we at McMaster are contemplating building a new campus in Dongguan, China, hearing about how a similar institution is being built in another communist Asian society was very enlightening.
Also while in D.C., I visited the Newseum (my favourite museum in the world!) and had dinner at Martin’s Tavern in Georgetown, which is always friendly and full of fascinating people. Another highlight was a late-night walk with Jeff and Marshall Breeding, Director of the Vanderbilt Television News Archive. We went to take in the Lincoln Memorial, which is so beautifully lit at night and then, inspired, walked down to the White House and looked at the beautiful Christmas tree all lit up and festooned. Under the tree was running a very elaborate train set, which tooted and chugged along, round and round, all night while fascinated children and their parents watched and took in the quiet splendour of the White House in the background. There was also a giant firepit in which whole logs burned red-hot and filled the air with and homey smoke that made you think you were at a Christmas party somewhere in the bush. I love D.C. – it is one of my favourite cities. It is full of tradition and quirk, grandeur and a sense of home, all at the same time. Just like America.