Monday, May 4, 2009

Hanami/Sakura Matsuri Meetup at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens

Saturday was a beautiful day. The sun shone, the ticket lines stretched down the block. Unfortunately, our Meetup event was scheduled for Sunday, a cold rainy day that kept half our invites away. I regret Murphy's Law, but have learned to be accepting and flexible when it comes to outdoors events. After all, the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens was prepared with a rain plan filled with indoor activities for both days. To be exact, there were some members who decided to go on Saturday. I met two of them on their way at closing time. They were thrilled to know of this venue and even became members. That was encouraging news as the BBG truly needs every dollar that it gets. I'm certain that the Gardens lost money on Sunday, but that's life with outdoor events.

Our Meetup had approximately 25 Yes RSVP's. About 5 people including myself showed up. We headed first for the Gardner's Resource Center (aka Library) in the Visitor's Center. The Library was built in 1917 and has that early 20th-Century academic charm to it. Luckily there was ample room for the handful of us to enter the facility and take a good look around. It's a small room with a mezzanine, the bulk of the stacks having been relocated several years ago when the building was overtaken by various administrative offices. The current GRC is primarily a Help Desk of sorts for gardeners and their questions. I asked whether or not victory gardens are back in fashion and whether or not inquiries regarding green living were popular. (Of course, they were.) Our guide, Allan Kramer (Pratt '78) entertained our impromptu Q&A with info tidbits as well as anecdotes from his days in library school. Moreover, he was delighted to learn of our Meetup, and was readily encouraged by all members present to join NYLM. We expressed our to hope to revisit the GRC during the summer, but that will depend, of course, on its hours.

We proceeded to the exhibits in the Steinhardt Conservatory. There were Bonsai exhibits and talks, as well as open entry to the various climate collections (e.g. Desert and Tropical). Each member went their own way for an hour. At the end, we met under the Sakura Matsuri great tent to enjoy refreshment and music by the Japanese performers. I would have liked to have been able to hear the flute concert that was available Saturday, but it was way too rainy for that. Instead, after a quick lunch taken while sitting on our jackets on the cold, wet lawn, we opted to head on to the nearby Brooklyn Museum of Arts on Eastern Parkway.

The Brooklyn Museum of Art is a resource of which all New Yorkers should be aware. I renewed my membership after a few years hiatus because I couldn't stand the thought of such an important educational institution floundering in today's financial downturn. The first stop at the Museum was Hernan Bas exhibit with his mesmerizing "Mermaid" video installation. We sat and watched the movement under water and just "mellowed". Most of the group are currently looking for employment, and therefore enjoyed the opportunity to simply sit and meditate in front of the restful aquarium-like artwork. Since most Meetup members wanted to view the Caillebot Impressionist exhibit as well, we proceeded to the 5th floor. It was my second time viewing the exhibit, but many others had never heard of this artist. The style is typically Impressionist, with vibrant scenes from French turn-of-the-century vie quotidienne. There were French landscapes, Paris scenes and the inimitable manner in which Caillebotte captured human character and activity. As an aside, we did attempt to visit the museum library, but discovered that it is only open to the public Wednesdays through Fridays.

This concludes the posting for the Cherry Festival NYLM event. For photos, please check our group folder on Flickr: NY Librarians Meetup. For the general Hanami and Sakura Matsuri photos taken by visitors, please see Flickr. I've also posted some photos on FB and of course on our Meetup website under Photos. If any of you visited the Gardens and have photos you'd like to share, pleasure consider sharing them with others. I've already been contacted by a few NYLM members with Flickr accounts and see that we've got many fotogs amongst us!

Oh, I forgot to mention that Meetup Support sent me promotionals, such as T-shirts, buttons, pens and name-tags. I thanked them in the name of the group and hope to distribute more at future events. Wearing the Meetup badges at such a well-attended event helped promote Meetup to the general public. I was personally asked on several occasions what Meetup was. Many had never heard of this effective offline Google group and its potential to draw individuals with similar interests together from afar. Personally, I think it is a premier venue for social networking. For librarians and library students proficient in online skills, their offline experience can be maximized. As mentioned in recent postings, NYLM currently has groups in Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, mySpace, Twitter and counting. Time will tell, but I believe that when the benefits of social networking become acknowledged in academia, it will transform the professional landscape of librarianship and information science.

View our slideshow to see who braved the rain :