|Entering the Library|
When I first walked into the library last Friday, through the marble columns guarded by Patience and Fortitude, I was not sure what to expect. I was mostly surrounded by strangers, but we all had one thing in common - a passion for writing, a sense of adventure, and a desire to change the world. We were gathering to find the future, by examining our past.
|500 "Nerds" Gather in Astor Hall|
|The Doors are Locked!|
True to what we had been told, we were in fact "locked" in the library. Shortly after 8pm, the doors were shut and a security guard stood watch over us. We were then greeted by our team leaders for the evening, Jane McGonigal, playing the part of Patience, and Chelsea (last name?), who would lead the Fortitude team. We were instructed to follow whichever leader represented our greater strength. As patience is not my virtue, I followed Chelsea/Fortitude to the library's Rose Main Reading Room. (My Canadian friends, see older post, opted for Patience. Luckily, I found one old friend among the 500, Jen O., and we followed Fortitude together).
|Fortitude Beckons Us to Follow|
We learned that no person had ever before stayed overnight in the library, save library caretakers and security guards, and that we 500 were making history, and kicking off the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building's Centennial Anniversary.
We were told that while "lots of books" had been written in the library, never had 500 people attempted to write one book together. There were editors on hand to assist, tech gurus, a book art designer, and even a book binder, as the original plan was to have the book bound by the event's end/sunrise (more on that later...).
|Gamers Scanning QR Codes|
|Signing Up for Stories|
Throughout the night, various rooms that we might need to continue our quest in closed, so we also needed to keep on eye on the clocks. One of the most memorable moments for me was when, upon completing a task/treasure hunt in the library's Genealogy Room, I instantly located electronic records for nearly all of my known relatives and ancestors that have lived in the United States. Although my family arrived mostly in the late 1800s and early 1900s, I was never able to find any information in more typical places, such as Ellis Island. I was so moved to have found these records that I was brought to tears, especially as I read the names of loved ones who were more recently deceased, family members that have touched and changed my life forever. I also learned that, while my ancestors are all from Eastern Europe (as far as I know), many came to America on ships sailing out of Western Europe cities such as Liverpool and Naples. One relative had come from Naples in 1945. I shuddered and shed another tear as I wondered if he had been a Holocaust survivor, as I know some of my relatives were (and some, unfortunately, were not...).
For the quests, I ended up working in a team of eight Fortitude members, including myself. Our "squad captain," Erin M., was sweet, intelligent and perky, and a great leader. Although we began the night finding items together and collaborating on stories, as the evening began to fade, so did our team members. By 3am, there were only five of us left. Team "Super Awesome," as we titled ourselves, was losing stamina. But we persevered and, through tired eyes and with much fortitude, we made it until the morning light.
My other team members were Jenny O. (the friend I had met up with), Einat T., Jennifer W., Geovanni R., Lauren A., and Karen W. I really enjoyed getting to know them and working on quests and stories together. Each of us had been selected to "Find the Future" based on a 140 character answer to the question, "By the year 2021 I will be the first person to....". Jenny's creative answer was that she would go back in time to convince Louisa May Alcott to change the ending of "Little Women" (I won't say what the change would be, in case you haven't read it). Einat's ambition was to become the first female secretary general of the United Nations. We certainly had some go-getters among us.
|My Note Seeking a Message|
|Celebrating Finding the Future|
|The End of the Night|
|Our Book in the Process of Binding|
Overall, this was such an amazing experience, and I am glad that I got to share it with such incredible people. We will all have this night in common forever, and we will never forget it.
I took many, many pictures, but here are a sample of the ones I liked the best and/or found best represent our evening:
|A Letter from a Slave to His Wife|
|A Lock of Mary Shelley's Hair|
|First Edition "Frankenstein"|
|Charles Dickens' Cat Paw Letter Opener|
|E. E. Cummings' Typewriter|
|McGonigal Helps Some Writers/Gamers|
|View of Empire State Building |
from Bill Blass Public Catalog Room
|My Postcard from the Future (Which Finally Arrived Around 3am)|
One last note -- Please come out and Hug a Library on June 4 at 2pm to show your support for this and other fantastic library programs and rally against proposed budget cuts!!