Today is Benbrook Heritage Fest Eve, which is sadly not a national holiday, or even a local holiday. So, while the city won’t be partying down with its bad self today, come Saturday, we’ll reach full-fledged hootenanny status. For you outsiders, Heritage Fest is Benbrook’s annual “family friendly, fun-filled” day featuring food, music, games, activities, area vendors, and more, all packed with local flavor. The library will be proudly contributing to that flavor, which, despite the steady march of digitization, is probably still an inky, papery taste. This means I’ll be proudly repping the library at our booth, dispensing information, facilitating pumpkin painting for the kiddos, and engaging in one of the activities I find the most challenging in the world: promotion.
I’m a terrible salesman; I’m probably about as effective as Willy Loman at the twilight of his career. If you show the slightest bit of resistance, I’ll back off faster than an MJ moonwalk, but with maybe a tenth of the smoothness. This is partially why I never used my degree in advertising: I didn’t like the prospect of a life spent trying to sell people things they don’t need or want, even if I got to be creative in the process. The library world is obviously a significant departure from the advertising world in many ways, but even within its infinitely more appealing confines, I find that I can’t completely escape the necessity to pitch, push, and plug. It sounds like an “out of the fire, into the frying pan” situation, but there’s one key difference: at the library, I’m promoting things that people actually need and, in most cases, want, once they actually know said things exist.
“How can you not know these things exist?” is a question I regularly ask people in my mind, since asking out loud would be frightfully rude. Being constantly immersed in all things library tends to make me forget that not everybody knows about the great things we have going on in this place. Of course I know about the laser engraver, the 3D printer, the e-books, the Blu-ray collection, the beautiful patio, the stellar lineup of children’s programming; I’m here every day. Most people aren’t here nearly as often (poor them), and many people have never been here at all (poor, poor them). There are people out there who, for whatever reason, haven’t passed through our orbit, likely because they just don’t know they’d like to. It’s these people we need to reach. I say that not because I want our statistics to look good (I do, but such a desire is secondary), but because I genuinely believe we’re offering something worthwhile. Because of my confidence and belief in our “product,” I’ll gladly get out there at Heritage Fest and play Billy Mays, or at least Vanna White (I’m an excellent pointer), for a day.
If you live in the Benbrook area and want to check out Heritage Fest, come out to Dutch Branch Park Athletic Complex, which is located at 1899 Winscott Road, between 10 AM and 4 PM. Admission is free.