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Here we are in the land of MoreBalts, as Bill likes to call it. The city is crowded, congested, and undergoing massive construction projects, from what I can see along E. Pratt Ave.

Opening Session – Michael Eric Dyson

When I attended the Wake Forest convocation with Leonard Pitts last fall, I thought it was the best speech I had ever heard. Well, that has now been topped by Michael Eric Dyson’s opening address at ACRL. He said he was a native of Detroit, but he sounded for all the world like a southern Baptist preacher to me. He is a professor of Religious Studies and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania but loved to lapse into rap lyrics. His main message was the importance of the work that librarians do, acknowledging that he was preaching to the choir, but observing that the “choir gotta sing better.” He ranted against the Bush administration, Bill Cosby, and anyone who stands in the way of dissent, ideas, and an open view of learning. His philosophy is that you need to “meet people where they be, to take them where they need to be.” Hence, his embrace of the hip-hop genre, which he views as a “quest for self-determination in an environment that denies their legitimacy.” He describes librarians as “arbiters of enlightenment for the future of human civilization.” We don’t see that in Library School catalogs very often! He spoke without a note, barely drawing a breath, quoting long passages of Tennyson and Tupac Shakur from memory, all in the style and cadence of Martin Luther King. I loved it.