This blog is a personal reflection on the ninja gig at City Library. I’ll write something more librariany/library-focused at another time. I know the inimitable Kathryn Greenhill is also planning a post about this topic. For now, this is my fan squee-age/slight sense of “did that just happen?”.
On Thursday 29thof December, Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman visited City Library, on Flinders Lane in Melbourne, and performed a ninja gig, where Neil read two unpublished stories and Amanda performed some songs on the library’s piano and on her ukelele.
I was one of the organisers, and the most common question that has been put to me is various questions on “how the hell did you manage that?!”
Well, we asked.
My colleague Rose emailed me and a manager to ask what we thought about getting Neil to sign a book for the library, which quickly evolved into “let’s invite Neil to the library.” We worked on an email together, almost as an intellectual exercise since we weren’t really expecting it to go anywhere. Neil wrote back in a ridiculously short period of time. Like, less than an hour. I went home from work that night on a high. When I got to work the next morning there was an email from Amanda asking if she could come too, and could they perform? I was not at my most useful or productive for the rest of the day. And it all moved on from there. Amanda’s summary is snappier and more amusing than anything I could put together.
Photograph by @KateMulqueen
I’m pretty proud of what I’ve achieved so far in two years of librarianing. But standing in my beloved workplace and introducing Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer to a cheering crowd of hundreds of people all crammed into the gallery and surrounds is pretty high up there on the list of Awesome Professional/Personal Stuff.
I’ve seen some activity on Twitter from other libraries talking about doing the same thing, and it makes me glad and excited. I’m excited by independent musicians and writers using social media platforms and thinking about getting themselves out there in other non-traditional ways (and, in fact, indie authors shucking the whole self-publishing stigma and following the lead of indie musicians is one of my favourite things to keep an eye on, as far as trends go). I’m really excited about libraries following suit, and partnering with authors and musicians and artists and performers of all stripes for mutual benefit.
Two of the things I spent 2011 learning (to unintentionally riff on Amanda’s blog post; I’d started writing this post before I read hers, but I guess the endings and beginnings of years tend to attract this kind of introspection) were SAY YES and MAKE OPPORTUNITIES. Actually I like to call it MAKE OPPORTUNITIES FOR YES TO BE SAID, because I enjoy ungrammatical cat’s cradles of words. I could also call it ASK, but where’s the fun in that?
The fact that my year ended with a really powerful, overwhelmingly awesome demonstration of what can happen when you do the second one of those things (the first one has also worked out well for me from a creative standpoint) is exciting and inspiring beyond belief.
And one of the best things of all? When people who you admire artistically also turn out to be incredibly lovely humans. That’s a massive load of WIN, right there.
And on a final note: