American Library Association
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Permit No. 27
2009 ANNUAL CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS
Lopez Speaks of Acceptance, Endurance and Redemption Through Arts at Closing Session
Frederick J. Augustyn, Jr.
The Library of Congress
for more that 30 years, author of three novels and of an acclaimed work of non-fiction,
The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of
Music, recently adapted as a motion picture, Steve Lopez spoke movingly of Nathaniel
Anthony Ayers, a homeless violinist on Los Angeless Skid Row who is gradually
confronting the challenges of schizophrenia through a dedication to his craft.
Lopez was the Closing Session speaker of the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago
He first noted his own connection to libraries and librarians. You could not have picked a more appropriate speaker. Can you believe that I was married in a library? That happy venue was the Free Library of Philadelphia, Logan Circle. There is no better place to get married, in a beautiful building surrounded by books.
Lopez teased that he would like one
person here to agree to retire so that my son, who just graduated from McGill
University [with a library degree], can get a job. Seeing no one offering
to step aside for his son, who has been on the library job market for about a
year, Lopez nevertheless thanked librarians for the roles that they played in
getting his book (which has been featured in One Book, One City programs in Philadelphia
and Cincinnati) and its message out.
Soloist encourages its readers to look past generalizations and stereotypes.
Lopez recounted his search for a story and his initial encounter and later growing
friendship with Ayers, a street artist in LA who performed on a two-string violin,
not for monetary contributions, but for joy and solace just a few blocks from
the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Once a brilliant student at the Cleveland Music
School Settlement and Julliard, mental illness derailed Ayers career. Lopezs
first article in the Los Angeles Times led to a book, and a movie version of this
artists story of just trying to get back on track. Publicity
facilitated newspapers readers donations of several musical instruments;
Ayers involvement with the Lamp Community local health care facility; a
move into an apartment; and invitations to attend concerts and
» see page 13
The Brain is a Beautiful Thing
by Stacy L. Voeller
Minnesota State University
Auditorium Speakers Series author, Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D., a Harvard-trained
neuro-anatomist, engaged her audience July 13 by relating her own experiences
with neuroplasticity. Bolte Taylor has spent her life studying and teaching others
about the complex beauty of the human brain.
the morning of December 10, 1996, her life took an unexpected turn: she experienced
a massive stroke when a blood vessel broke in the left side of her brain. In her
book My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientists Personal Journey, Bolte Taylor
tells of her unique, and somewhat ironic, journey into and back out of the silent
abyss of the wounded brain. The book shares details of her stroke and the eight
years it took to completely repair her mind and recalibrate her understanding
of the world, according to the insights she gained from her intimate experience
with an injured brain.
Bolte Taylor began her talk, excitedly addressing the audience with Im thrilled to be here, but more than that Im thrilled to be here to talk about the brain. Nothing thrills me more than talking about this beautiful organ inside our head. As I lost my left hemisphere, I lost my ability to connect with the outside world in words. Having
» see page 12
ProQuest CEO Marty Kahn and scholarship recipients kick off the ALA/ProQuest Scholarship Bash, Great Impressions at the Art Institute of Chicago July 11.
Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D.