ALA this year was framed by the Same Sex Marriage vote in New York. One of the more important things I learned in writing my book on J. Edgar Hoover was how much the “red scare” of the 1950s was really a “lavender scare” — a campaign against homosexuality and lesbianism. So, like the election of a black (and in personality and outlook significantly Indonesian) President, things that seemed impossible quite recently are now becoming first possible then real. It is challenging to teach and write in this environment — where our students cannot identify with a world in which we grew up. When my graduate students read Let Me Play — Karen Blumenthal’s YA book on Title 9 — the younger women had played sports all of their lives — they were reading about their mothers and grandmothers, while for the job-changing, middle-aged women, this was their story. I’m sure some astute commentator now, or future historian, will trace the links, will show how then had the seeds of now, and how now in many ways continues then. But stories like the change in NY really do feel like a difference that matters.
And speaking of differences that matter, Roger Sutton will be marrying his longtime partner Richard (whose last name I don’t recall) on August 20 in a small ceremony in their Massachusetts home. So congratulations are in order for them. I invited Roger to come and be legal in New York, but with true Bostonian hauteur he pointed out that Massachusetts had blazed this trail already.
The hot discussion topic in the sessions was digital books — picture books — from picture books on up. In fact one 8 AM was so crowded I (and many others) could not get in. My sense is that people are interested, curious, in some ways nervous, but also exploring, experimenting — seeing what is out there, what is being created, and how these Tumblebooks, and Peekabooks, and Trueflix, and apps work with kids. To my eyes it is clear that we are not sweeping away, but we are just beginning to figure out what is coming.