Sunday, February 28, 2010

Aid for Haiti's libraries and archives

I've been planning for some time to post something about the situation in Haiti, and you'll see a longer post about this subject within the next week or two. However, I wanted to do my part to spread the word about the efforts of the Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC) to safeguard the collections of Haiti's most significant libraries and archives.

dLOC, a consortium of cultural institutions located in Aruba, the Bahamas, Belize, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Venezuela, and the United States, provides a centralized repository for digitized newspapers, government records, scientific datasets, multimedia materials, and artistic works documenting the history and culture of the Caribbean.

Several Haitian institutions were active dLOC partners prior to the 12 January 2010 earthquake, and in the wake of the disaster dLOC has started the Protecting Haitian Patrimony Initiative to rescue and stabilize the holdings of the country's most significant archives and libraries, which were damaged but not destroyed on 12 January.

The Protecting Haitian Patrimony Initiative will:
  • Facilitate communication between institutions wishing to provide assistance.
  • Coordinate the provision of technical and in-kind support
  • Gather the names of librarians, archivists, conservationists, and other cultural heritage professionals who wish to volunteer their services in Haiti
  • Raise funds that will allow Haitian institutions to purchase supplies, contract for services, and pay the travel costs and wages of personnel working on specific disaster recovery and preservation projects.
The staff of dLOC's Haitian partner institutions will be responsible for setting priorities and identifying areas of greatest need, thus ensuring that local sovereignty and knowledge are respected.

At present, the Protecting Haitian Patrimony Initiative will focus on the holdings of four major institutions:
  • Archives nationales d’Haïti
  • Bibliothèque haïtienne des Pères du Saint-Esprit / St. Martial
  • Bibliothèque haïtienne des Frères de l'Instruction Chrétienne / Saint Louis de Gonzague
  • Bibliothèque nationale d’Haïti
However, dLOC is keenly mindful of the need to assist university and public libraries and to ensure the preservation of significant collections in private hands, and the relief effort may expand as a result.

To date, dLOC has raised approximately $4200 for the Protecting Haitian Patrimony Initiative and has received roughly 50 offers of volunteer assistance. Obviously, much more is needed. If you're in a position to donate money -- even a little -- to support this initiative or to offer your time and your professional knowledge and skills to your Haitian colleagues, please do so.

Of course, Haiti's other needs are immense, and these needs aren't going away simply because the news media have moved on to Chile, which is suffering greatly as a result of yesterday's earthquake, and to the usual mix of political scandals, entertainment stories, and puff pieces that all too often dominates the airwaves. Untold numbers of what Anderson Cooper recently termed "stupid deaths" -- deaths caused by the lack of basic medical care, potable water, adequate nourishment, and decent shelter -- are still occurring in Haiti, and thinking about the fate of Haiti's cultural heritage materials may seem like a luxury at this time. However, we archivists, librarians, curators, conservationists know that these materials are essential to Haiti's long-term social, cultural, and economic recovery and that they will be lost unless immediate action is taken.

If you want to help ensure that all of Haiti's needs are met, please consider donating both to dLOC (or other groups seeking to assist Haiti's cultural heritage institutions) and to a reputable organization working to provide medical, food, or other assistance. Doctors Without Borders does heroic work in countries beset by natural disaster, armed conflict, malnutrition, or epidemic disease, and Partners in Health has been active in Haiti for over 20 years and has developed a highly effective community-based and -driven model of health care provision; you'll find "donate" links to each organization at the top right of this page. A host of other organizations are also helping to meet the immediate needs of the Haitian people, and you'll find them listed here.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Open Government in the Digital Age Summit, Albany, New York, 19 March 2010

If you're interested in electronic records, digital preservation, and government accountability and transparency, you'll want to attend this event if at all possible. I'll post the full agenda as soon as possible (we're awaiting final confirmation from a couple of speakers), but if you know you can make it to Albany, New York on 19 March 2010, by all means register now! NB: although registration is required, this event is free.

In support of Governor David A. Paterson’s commitment to increased transparency and openness in government, the New York State Chief Information Officer/Office for Technology and the New York State Archives cordially invite you to attend the . . .

Friday, March 19, 2010
8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
New York State Cultural Education Center – Clark Auditorium
Reception to Follow

This Summit, which is free and open to the public, will feature an opening address by David S. Ferriero, the Archivist of the United States.

Paul Taylor, Chief Content Officer, e. Republic, Inc., will present the closing address.

Panel discussions will focus on “hot-button” issues in “open government” including:
  • The Meaning of “Open Government” in the Digital Age
  • Citizen Expectations for Access in the Digital Age
  • Open Government Implications of Sunshine Laws and Archival Responsibilities
The summit includes additional speakers and panelists of national stature as well as representatives from the highest levels of government, academia, research and industry.

Please visit to register for this exciting event!

Please register by March 12, 2010 as space is limited. An email confirming your registration will be sent to you.

If you have any questions regarding this event, please contact Terry Jovanovic at (518) 473-5115 or terry.jovanovic[at]

Monday, February 22, 2010

New York in Bloom, day three

The City of Albany's Garden Crew and the City Forester made the Sesame Street section of the State Museum's New York Metropolis hall burst with life. Detailed information about the composition of this installation wasn't available, but it is plain that the Count wants you to count the flowers.

I went back to New York in Bloom yesterday afternoon, but I didn't have the chance to post any photographs yesterday evening. However, I did want to share this last batch, which includes some truly wonderful arrangements, before returning to the workaday world of electronic records, digital preservation, and related matters.

New York in Bloom 2010 is now over, and, with the exception of a single arrangement that graces the information desk in the lobby of the Cultural Education Center, all of the flowers are gone. However, the State Museum's exhibits are still in place -- and the State Archives and the State Library, which occupy the upper floors of the building, are also waiting for you here in Albany. And, of course, New York in Bloom will return next February . . . .

A word about these photographs: they're a mere sampling of what New York in Bloom offers. There were approximately 150 arrangements at New York in Bloom this year, and a blog simply isn't suitable for posting mass quantities of photos; however, if you like what you see here, you might want to check out several great photostreams on Flickr). In addition, I somehow failed to make it into the Fire Engine Hall and some other spaces, so I didn't get to see at least a dozen arrangements. Finally, there were several stunning arrangements that photographed poorly because it was physically impossible for me to compose a good shot or because the light level was too low. (Although the State Museum allows flash photography in most -- but not all -- of its exhibit spaces, the flash distracts other visitors and as a cultural heritage professional I worry about the cumulative effect of UV light upon objects that can't be shielded.)

I started out in the Adirondack Wilderness hall so that I could photograph a few arrangements that I didn't get the chance to capture the day before, and the above arrangement is one of the reasons I went back there. Independent arrangers Stephanie Powers and Emily Pecora used carnations, delphiniums, miniature calla lilies, traechelium, flax, and curly willow to complement this portable steam engine.

One section of the Adirondack Wilderness hall is devoted to tourism. This arrangement by Mark Felthausen of Felthausen's Florist, which consists of roses, cymbidium orchids, Fiji mums, limonium, plumosa, and Swedish ivy, fits right in.

I then went into the Bird Hall, which during New York in Bloom is home to large installations that use flowers, plants, and other materials to create theme rooms. In the past, many of these installations were deliciously over-the-top; I still have fond memories of a nightclub-themed installation that was a seamless, there-are-discos-in-heaven-and-this-is-what-they-look-like meld of innocence and excess. Most of this year's installations were a lot more modest than those of past years, and I suspect that the economy is to blame. I was nonetheless pleased with most of this year's installations.

This autumnal installation by Barbara Guyette and William Guyette of W&P Enterprises has an unpretentious sort of charm. Detailed information about it's composition wasn't available.

Tammy D'Elia and Paul Goscinski of Renaissance Floral Design created this "New York in Moo" installation, which highlights the state's huge dairy industry, in the Bird Hall. It consists of hyrangea, roses, spray roses, and sunflowers.

In past years, the installations in the Bird Hall have almost typically consisted of fanciful table settings. The simple, spring-oriented installation that Douglas Fisher of Designs by Douglas created is very much in keeping with this tradition. It features pussy willow, wheat grass, narcissus, anemones, sprouts, peppers, and broccoli.

The Ancient Life of New York section of the State Museum always features interesting arrangements. Benjamin Holder of Frame of Light used equistem, fantail pussy willow, protea, leucaspernum, Scotch broom, tree fern, and other plants to create this one.

I then proceeded to the Photography Gallery, which until 14 March 2010 is home to "This Great Nation Will Endure": Photographs of the Great Depression, a traveling exhibit put together by the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum. It consists of prints of photographs by Dorothea Lange, Gordon Parks, Walker Evans, and other photographers who documented the experiences of Dust Bowl migrants and other Americans for the Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information. The images are stark and humbling -- anyone who compares the current economic downturn, as bad as it is, to the Great Depression is woefully uninformed -- and it's kind of ironic that some of the most arresting arrangements were placed in this section of the State Museum.

Erin Brady of Crazy Daisy created this simple arrangement of hydrangeas, fiddlehead ferns, and curly willow, which stood in front of Dorothea Lange's affecting 1939 photograph of a migrant mother and child.

This arrangement, also situated in the Photography Gallery, is one of my favorites (perhaps because it reminds me of the young Audrey II from Little Shop of Flowers). Maria Magdalena-Stone of the Bethlehem Garden Club used Oriental willow, protea, snapdragons, mostera, pittosporum leaves, and red Ti leaves to create it.

Heidi Lubherstedt-Patel of Felthausen's Florist created this arrangement, which consists of dendrobium orchids, tulips, kape, calla lilies, blackberries, hypericum, traechelium, and tropical leaves. It stands in front of yet another iconic Farm Security Administration photograph.

Linda Farrell of Frank Gallo Florist created this unusual arrangement of lilies, roses, ming fern, heather, and white birch for the Photography Gallery.

This arrangement, created by Brian Schell of Bountiful Blooms Florist, consists of ginestra, carnations, miniature calla lilies, statice, stock, miniature gerbera daisies, and honey bracelet and incorporates film stock, a camera case, and other photographic equipment.

Finally, I somehow missed this wintry, elegant arrangement of delphinium, iris, leather grass, pompass grass, gladiolas, ranaculus, and freesia the other day. It nicely complements the Skyscraper City section of the New York Metropolis hall, and I'm glad it caught my eye as I was making my way out of the State Museum yesterday. It was created by Donna M. Townsend-Hallenbeck and Ann LaChance of Sweetbriar Flower Shop, and seeing it just before I left made the transition back to an upstate New York winter more bearable.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

New York in Bloom, day two

This bold arrangement by Pamela Nagengast of Emil J. Nagengast Florist sits in the State Museum's lobby. It consists of ginger, anthurium, protea, gerbera daisies, hypericum, dendrobium orchids, leucadendron, heather, Italian ruscus, and curly willow.

I got back to New York in Bloom, the New York State Museum's annual fundraiser for its after-school programs, late this afternoon and checked out the floral arrangements in the Adirondack Wilderness gallery and adjacent exhibit spaces. I hope you enjoy the images below as much as I enjoyed capturing them.

This unusual arrangement of amaryllis, French tulips, and foliage arranged atop a tree trunk, was created by Tammy D'Elia of Renaissance Floral Design. It's one of my favorites. It sits at the entrance to Seeing Ourselves: Masterpieces of American Photography from the George Eastman House Collection, a traveling exhibit that will be at the State Museum until 9 May 2010. I haven't yet had the chance to see this exhibit, but I have visited the George Eastman House and can attest to the astounding depth and breadth of its collections. If you get a chance to see this exhibit -- or to visit the George Eastman House -- by all means do so.

This arrangement by Holly A. Hemming of Felthausen's Florist sits in the Research Gallery, which currently features recent archaeological finds in the City of Albany. It consists of snapdragons, sunflowers, delphinium, aistro maria, miniature gerbera daisies, deago, lemon leaves, bear grass, pittosporum, bamboo, sheet moss, and river rocks. In the background, you can see the arrangement created by Louise Kavanaugh of the Bethlehem Garden Club. Kavanaugh's work complement an exhibit case of pottery shards, and it features roses, snapdragons, wax flowers, moon lagoon, pittosporum, English ivy, and "peaces of pottery" (i.e., potsherds and peace signs).

This arrangement, which is one of my favorites, is located in an entrance to the Adirondack Wilderness gallery. Elizabeth Thai of Surroundings used bear grass, Casablanca lilies, sunflowers, galax, hala, and Ti leaf to create it.

This arrangement of Maine blue, caspia, double tulips, golden asters, thistle, eucalyptus, hypericum, curly willow, trachilium, daisies, and leucadendron nicely complements a panoramic photograph of the Adirondacks in autumn. It was created by Josh Wallbank and Jamie Cohen of Dan Engwer Wholesale Florist.

Children love the Adirondack Wilderness gallery's Elk Pond, and this arrangement complements it beautifully. Created by Marilyn Cederoth of Cedar Farms Wholesale, it consists of copper beech, honey myrtle, fuzzy sumac, leaucadendron, silver dollar eucalyptus, bear grass, japanese cedar, raintree pods, and mimosa.

This mammoth, beguiling installation transforms the logging section of the Adirondack Wilderness gallery. It was created by Dan Killion Driftwood Designs/Drops of Jupiter and features Ti leaves, white bird of paradise leaves, monstera leaves, Ecuadorian roses, purple kale, asparagus fern, curly willow, sheet and reindeer moss, and hydrangea. Natural Hudson River driftwood was used to build this installation, and Japanese lanterns illuminate it.

Another view of the Dan Killion Driftwood Designs/Drops of Jupiter installation. The lumberjacks may not have been impressed by it, but all of the visitors to New York in Bloom were completely blown away.

A section of another large installation in the logging section of the Adirondack Wilderness gallery. Jeanne Futerko of Floreat used gladiolas, roses, lilies, curly willow, bear grass, Scotch broom, six types of fern, flexi grass, sheet moss, and taxidermy specimens to create it.

Another view of the large installation that Jeanne Futerko of Floreat created for the logging section of the Adirondack Wilderness gallery.

Cathy Kodra of Classica Florist and Gifts created a series of small arrangements for the fishing/camping section of the Adirondack Wilderness gallery. Unfortunately, detailed information about the composition of each arrangement wasn't available.

One of the arrangements Cathy Codra of Classica Florist and Gifts created for the fishing/camping section. My first thought upon seeing this arrangement was, "this is funny!" My second thought was, "this is horrible!" I'm still alternating between these two thoughts.

Indpendent arranger Emily Shook created this sweet and understated arrangement for the fishing/camping section of the Adirondack Wilderness gallery. Information about its composition wasn't available.

Everyone loves the State Museum's friendly-looking moose, and Donna Vincent of the Schenectady ARC uses gerbera daisies, roses, lilies, forsythia, ranunculus, trachelium, cedar, and daffodils to complement his habitat.

The State Museum closed before I got the chance to see much more, so this last photo features another arrangement located in the State Museum's lobby. Cheryl Knott of Maloney's Flower Shop created it, and it features bird of paradise, gerbera daisies, roses, orchids, leucadendron, alstromeria, bear grass, spray roses, equisetium, monstera leaves, moss, and curly willow.

Amazing as it might seem, I haven't seen everything that New York in Bloom: I have yet to make my way through the Fire Engine Hall, the World Trade Center exhibit, the Bird Hall, and the areas devoted to Ancient Life in New York and the Native Peoples of New York. I'll be heading back over to the State Museum tomorrow to catch the rest of New York in Bloom. And if you're in New York's Capital District and are looking for something to do tomorrow, please consider checking out New York in Bloom. It's a wonderful event and supports a great cause.

New York in Bloom, day one

This arrangement, created by Mary Bohnet of the Capital District Sogetsu Study Group, was selected for display in the lobby of the State Museum. It consists of areca palm fronds, pittesporum, robina lilies, oneidium orchids, and mitsumata.

New York in Bloom, the New York State Museum's annual fundraiser for its after-school programs, opened yesterday. Over 100 floral arrangements designed to complement the exhibits have been installed throughout the galleries, and attendees can stop by a flower market, attend classes in floral arranging, and take part in all kinds of other activities.

Although New York's Capital District has had very little snow this year -- to date, all of the mammoth storms that have slammed the Mid-Atlantic states have hewed pretty closely to the coastline -- New York in Bloom is always a welcome harbinger of spring. Moreover, I really can't say enough good things about the State Museum's after-school programs, which target children and teenagers living in Albany's least affluent neighborhoods. These programs provide intensive academic support (adults guide the teenagers, and the teenagers get a small stipend for tutoring the younger kids), educational field trips, help with college visits and applications, and lots of hands-on learning using the Museum's collections. To date, every boy and girl enrolled in the program for teens has gone on to graduate from high school, and 92 percent of them have gotten into college.

I'm heading back to New York in Bloom in a little while, but in the meantime here's a little taste of what anyone who visits the State Museum today or tomorrow will see.

A panoramic photograph of Ellis Island and lower Manhattan sits at one of the entryways to the 20th-century segment of the State Museum's New York Metropolis gallery. The arrangement, created by Evan Euripidou of Anthology Studio, consists of solidago, trachellium, Italian ruscus, Israeli ruscus, Scotch broom, Monstera leaves, and curly willow.

This arrangement, which was created by Michael Harbison of Ambiance Florals and Events, features citrus roses, blooming pear branches, and sea star ferns. It nicely complements Donald Judd's untitled sculpture in the New York Metropolis gallery.

This arrangement consists of gerbera daisies, myrtle, and rosemary and was created by Linda Montanaro of the Capital Hudson Iris Society. It is tucked into a corner of the New York Metropolis gallery.

The New York Metropolis display of luxury goods that a Fifth Avenue department store would have sold in the 1920s is nicely complemented by this arrangement, which was created by Beverly Kallher of the Kinderhook Garden Club. Kallher used baby's breath, white roses, carnations, lemon leaves, seeded eucalyptus, and hypericum berries.

I've seen maybe a third of the arrangements, so I haven't yet picked an overall favorite. However, this luscious beauty is definitely going to be in the running. Barbara Turpin of Small Yet Elegant Events created it for a corner of the New York Metropolis gallery devoted to the shipping trade. It features yellow lilies, yellow and white cushion mums, burgundy snapdragons, off-white roses, yellow alstroemeria, misty blue limonium, hypericum, ruscus leaves, and salal leaves.

Another arrangement in the shipping trade display, this one created by Tammy Jobmann of the Pawling Flower Shop. It consists of roses, thistle, parrot tulips, hydrangea, protea, delphinium, galax leaves, bear grass, grapevine, ruscus, variegated pitt, and hypericum berries.

Maria Kolodziej-Zincio of the Greenport Garden Club used Asiatic lillies, snapdragons, anemones, parrot tulips, ming ferns, and eucalyptus to create this arrangement, which sits opposite a New York Metropolis display of colonial and early republican stoneware.

More coming soon . . . .

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ohio State PDF/A usage survey

Archivists and other staff at The Ohio State University have spent the past couple of years studying PDF/A's potential as a preservation tool and are compiling their findings for publication. The group conducted a survey of PDF/A usage as it was beginning its work, and now that the project is winding down they're conducting a follow-up assessment:
If you would take the time to complete a brief survey (2 y/n questions, a comments box, institutional/organizational name, and optional contact info; we would greatly appreciate it.

It took me less than five minutes to complete the survey, and I really welcomed the chance to sort through and share my very mixed experiences with PDF/A. If you're using PDF/A as a preservation tool, have experimented with it, or have opted, for whatever reason, against using it, please take a few minutes to complete the survey.

If you have any questions about the survey, contact Daniel Noonan, Ohio State's Electronic Records Manager/Archivist, at noonan.37[at]

News of this survey was originally posted to the Management and Preservation of Electronic Records listserv, the archives of which are available here, and several other listservs.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

AC+erm "mass peer-review": your help is needed

If you have expertise in electronic records management (ERM), the researchers leading the University of Northumbria's AC+erm Project seek your input. Your feedback will help to advance ERM research -- and you'll probably want to check out some of the ERM case studies and case examples that project staff have identified.
Would you like to help us in a ‘mass peer-review’ exercise to help validate some of our research findings?AC+ermAccelerating the pace of positive Change in electronic records management—is a research project being conducted by the School of Computing, Engineering & Information Sciences at Northumbria University, under the leadership of Prof Julie McLeod. It is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

As part of the project, we have carried out a systematic literature review (SLR) of journal literature on electronic records management (ERM) published from 1996 to February 2009.

We searched for the topic "electronic records management" in the following databases: LISA, EBSCO, Web of Science. (LISA covers information studies and technology, library science and publishing; EBSCO’s Business Source Premier coverage includes business, management, engineering, law, health and art; Web of Science citation indexes cover 9,000 journals across the sciences, social sciences & the arts and the humanities).

We have reviewed 1,189 from a total of 1,756 items and selected, to date, 536.

Selected outputs from the SLR data have been used to inform the initial questions for our Delphi studies and made available on our project website.

We would welcome feedback on our SLR activity to see if we have adequately identified the relevant literature. We have chosen a subset of the total number of results for validation – this subset comprises journal articles that disseminate the results of case studies and case examples (a total of 104 items).

If you are willing to share your knowledge and expertise, you can do so by downloading a Word document from our website, completing the response fields, and returning it by email to eb.acerm[at] The document contains the full list of 104 articles along with brief descriptions of the cases and can be found at

Thank you for your help!

Rachel Hardiman, BA (Hons), MSc

On behalf of the AC+erm Project Team
School of Computing, Engineering and Information Sciences
Northumbria University
Pandon Building
Camden Street
Newcastle upon Tyne

Tel: 0191 243 7650
e-mail: r.hardiman[at]

AC+erm Project website:
AC+erm Project blog
Project on Twitter:
This message was posted to the Management and Preservation of Electronic Records listserv earlier today. I usually refrain from reposts of this sort, but this project is really interesting and I wanted to pass on Ms. Hardiman's request.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A New York State Olympics

If you're getting tired all of the commercials and puff pieces that dominate coverage of the current Olympics, the New York State Archives has added A New York State Olympics, a behind-the-scenes look at preparations for the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, to its Web site and its YouTube channel. Enjoy!

NB: The online version has been edited for length. If you're interested in obtaining a full-length copy of the film, contact the State Archives' Reference Services unit.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

SAA is meeting in New Orleans in 2013!

Lower Pontalba Building and Café du Monde, corner of Decatur and St. Ann Streets, New Orleans, Lousiana, 17 August 2005.

I noted the other day that I really wanted to see the Society of American Archivists (SAA) meet again in New Orleans sometime soon, and it turns out that SAA will indeed return to the Hilton New Orleans Riverside (which I really liked) on 4-11 August 2013.

I discovered this piece of good news in the January/February 2010 issue of Archival Outlook, in which Nancy Beaumont succinctly outlines the many, many considerations that SAA must take into account when selecting annual meeting sites. The print copy of this issue showed up at my office earlier today, so the SAA members among you who haven't yet received it should get it soon (you can also access the e-version online).

I'm sure that a few SAA members will grumble about the heat and humidity that pervades New Orleans in August, but I'm overjoyed that we'll be going back. From my point of view, at least, the prospect of seeing over a thousand archivists descend upon New Orleans makes missing Lombardi Gras (YEA, SAINTS !!!) almost bearable.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Geaux Saints!

Avart-Peretti House, New Orleans, Lousiana, 17 August 2005. Tennessee Williams wrote "A Streetcar Named Desire" while living on the second floor (1946-1947).

Once again, it's time to observe one of the United States' secular holidays: Super Bowl Sunday. As a native Clevelander who lives in New York State by choice, I really shouldn't have any particular feeling toward the Indianapolis Colts or the New Orleans Saints. However, I'm a proud citizen of Who Dat Nation.

I attended the 2005 Annual Meeting of the Society of American Archivists (SAA), which means that I had the good fortune to see New Orleans just before Hurricane Katrina destroyed large portions of the city and other Gulf Coast communities. I loved the city's distinctive meld of French and vernacular Southern architectural styles, its relaxed attitude, and its thriving jazz scene (Nicholas Payton at Snug Harbor -- oh, yeah!). And the food . . . ah, the food. I wasn't blind to New Orleans's problems -- wages in tourism-dependent cities tend to be abysmally low, and I was repeatedly told to stay out of certain neighborhoods and to refrain from exploring the city's famed aboveground cemeteries by myself -- but I was enchanted nonetheless.

I flew out of New Orleans eight days before Katrina's Gulf Coast landfall, and I watched the television coverage of the storm and its aftermath in shock and horror. I saw desperate people -- fellow Americans -- taking water, food, and other essential supplies from a flooded drugstore I had shopped at exactly ten days earlier. I saw others trapped on black tar roofs in blistering heat. I wondered endlessly about the fate of the people I had encountered: the New Orleans archivists who had been such gracious and proud hosts, the cheerful young woman at the Hilton who gave such good restaurant recommendations, the shopkeepers, waitstaff, street artists, casino workers who made us all feel so welcome, and all the people I passed on the street.

I also got very angry at the entrenched social and governmental dysfunction that contributed to the near destruction of a major American city -- and other Gulf Coast communities -- and caused needless death and suffering. Our response to Hurricane Katrina will not be remembered as one of our finest hours.

A little more than four years after Katrina, the Saints have made it to the Super Bowl for the first time. Not surprisingly, New Orleanians, who have been working hard to rebuild their battered city, see the Saints' success as a symbol of its resurgence. They're ecstatic, and anyone who loves New Orleans should be equally jubilant. No disrespect to you Colts fans out there, but I'm with all of the Americans who really want the Saints to march in victoriously tonight. If any city needs and deserves a Super Bowl victory, New Orleans surely does.

Saints linebacker Scott Fujita -- a cool guy who knows something about adoption -- has said that "the Saints are America's adopted team," and I'm happy to welcome the Saints into my heart and my home. GEAUX SAINTS!!!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to cook up some red beans and rice before game time.

(By the way, I really want to see SAA's annual meeting return to New Orleans -- and soon. The American Library Association met in New Orleans in 2006 and will meet there in 2011, and I would really like to see SAA help pump a little cash into a still-fragile local economy. Yes, New Orleans in August is hellishly hot, but SAA 's meeting locales are almost always hellishly hot or otherwise weather-challenged. If I have to be hot and miserable, I would prefer to do it in New Orleans!)

Sorry about the continued extra-light blogging: I thought I was beating the cold I mentioned in my last post, but it doubled back and knocked me out for a few days. I'm a lot better now, but I'm going to have to take it easy for the next week or so. However, I will try to put up some short posts.