It’s that time of year again for making healthy resolutions, and I’ve gotten into the habit of looking to Special Collections and Archives materials for inspiration. Two years ago, I looked for fitness tips from our Victorian-era sporting books. Last year, I suggested we could learn from the Turnvereine and add beer and politics to our exercise routines. This year, with working remotely, I haven’t had the same access to our rare books and archives. I can’t just get up from my desk, walk the stacks, see a spine or box label of interest, climb a ladder, and pull the book or box down.
This got me thinking about how librarians exercise. Of course, in their off-duty lives, librarians exercise like anyone else – walking, swimming, running, fitness classes, etc. But did you know that special cadres of librarians train with the most undervalued of occupational exercise equipment? That’s right. Book carts. Book carts can hold nearly 400 pounds and yet they turn, swivel, and glide with ease with the proper guidance.
Library supplies company DEMCO sponsored the first Book Cart Drill Team Competition in the early 2000s, elevating librarians and their carts out of small-town parades and into the spotlight at state and national conferences. The apex of book cart drill team popularity is behind us now, having peaked around 2010, but the New York Times brought attention to the sport in 2014 and this book cart drill team entry for the Massachusetts Library Association meeting in 2019 is not to be missed. (Watch it. You owe it to yourself.) Or, if you’re still in the Christmas spirit, this San Jose State University King Library 2017 routine with live bagpiping is also pretty great. If you want to fall down the rabbit hole, there are plenty of book cart drill team guilty pleasures on YouTube and through a Google image search.
So here’s to all the New Year’s resolutions that keep us healthy and happy, and that bring us together as a library, campus, and community. And let’s raise a toast to the time that we can gather in the library, and that I can get carried away in the stacks of Special Collections and Archives for next year’s New Year’s post.