Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cleveland, Part I

How many New Jersey librarians does it take to pump gas? Two: one to hold the nozzle and one to take the photograph. (It is illegal to pump your own gas in New Jersey, so we don't do it often.)
We thought it might be fun (and more economical) to drive to Cleveland from New Jersey for a conference where we would be sharing our work providing information literacy instruction to online learners. My colleague, Bill, and I loaded up the Mini Cooper with luggage and carefully-selected CDs, hit the highway, and arrived in Cleveland about eight hours later. The conference was worth the trip and we met some new librarians who do almost the same kinds of things we do at different colleges and universities across the country and beyond. We even caught up with some people we knew in our previous professional lives at Rutgers University, where we both took our Masters in Library Science degrees and worked in the library system there.

We did have time for some sightseeing and dinners out. Cleveland seems to be having renaissances: small parts of the city, especially near their sports venues, are revitalized. These oases of culture or cuisine are separated by depressed areas with empty storefronts. We enjoyed choosing restaurants on 4th Street, a pedestrian mall of restaurants, for our two dinners outside the conference. We chose La Strada for the first (a mixture of Mediterranean styles of food and decorations including Italian, Greek and Spanish),and Flannery's Irish pub where we were served delicious onion rings the size of donuts. We learned a new word: colcannon, which means mashed potatoes with cabbage and other stuff mixed in. (It was something like this:

On the way to the restaurants, we stopped by the Cleveland Public Library and posed with their cute little sculpture people.The library, enlarged by a recent new structure,features a tranquil reading garden where more of these sculptures frolic, but that was still closed for the season.

The sightseeing highlight was the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. I could have camped out there all weekend just to read and look at stuff. The display cases were jammed full of rock & roll artifacts as iconic garments, report cards, hotel key collections and guitars. We were surprised at how small many of the garments are, especially Mick Jagger's costumes! The highlight of the museum for me was the special Bruce Springsteen exhibit on the top two floors. The Boss's clothing, including the famous worn jeans from the "Born in the USA" album, his notebooks of lyrics, posters from when he played at Rutgers, his scrapbooks made for the earlier albums, his guitars, Danny Federici's accordion, Clarence Clemmons's tenor saxophone, Bruce's key to the city of Freehold were all displayed behind glass because they knew I was coming. There was an awards section as well where his Oscar, Grammys, Golden Globe, Kennedy Center Honor ribbon (seen here:, AND a certificate from Blistex proclaiming his lips luscious. Ooh, ooh, Bruce, I've got a crush on you (and so do millions of others, apparently)! No photos were allowed inside the museum, but Bill and I posed for this gem:

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