First Report from the ALA Workshop on Louisa May Alcott: strictly from a fan’s perspective

Today was such an amazing day that I am asking you to please indulge me. I want to file two reports but the first one needs to be from a gushing fan; the more informative report will come later over the weekend.

I started this blog with the express purpose of meeting other fans of Louisa May Alcott. I have met some wonderful people on this blog and I love our interchange together. It has been stimulating and fun and I have learned a lot as I continue to work through books about Louisa’s life and her own works. I hope you have too.

Today, I believe, was a watershed moment. I got to sit in a room with 60 librarians and scholars, all passionate about Louisa May Alcott. I got a chance to listen to, and then meet, some of the major heavy hitters in Alcott lore (and got a couple of my books autographed). And this blog, in a sense, got legitimized.

We all met at the Omni Parker House in the heart of Boston, around the corner from Louisburg Square (where  Bronson passed away 123 years ago today [March 4]), and Roberts Brothers (now Houghton Mifflon, which has since moved), the original publishing firm of Little Women. The name of the room where we gathered? The Louisa May Alcott Room (and the ALA, which arranged the accommodations, swears they didn’t know :-))!

Sixty-plus women and men (librarians and scholars), all there because they are passionate about Louisa May Alcott and all her writings, not just Little Women. Heaven!

The ALA (aka The American Library Association), in cooperation with the NEH (The National Endowment for the Humanities) has awarded $2500 grants to 30 deserving libraries so that they can put on extensive programs about Louisa and her lesser-known works. The program is inspired and based upon Louisa May Alcott The Woman Behind Little Women documentary (produced and directed by Nancy Porter; produced and written by Harriet Reisen) and the accompanying book by Harriet Reisen.

Porter and Reisen made a presentation showing clips from the documentary and reading portions of the book. They were followed by Daniel Shealy (as mentioned in the previous post, one of the most highly regarded Alcott scholars known today). Jan Turnquist from Orchard House made an appearance as well. The rest of the day was spent in stimulating group discussions.

I was a dignified participant, and I was an unabashed fan, getting my Alcott in Her Own Time signed by  Professor Shealy, and Louisa May Alcott The Woman Behind Little Women signed by Harriet Reisen. 🙂

Among the many thrills of the day was an enthusiastic approval of my blog from Jan Turnquist and Daniel Shealy, both of whom told me independently that it was  such a “Bronson” thing to do!

Today my networking opportunities with the blog exploded wide open with opportunities galore to help support a worthwhile program for the public by providing a forum where Louisa’s works can be discussed. Several of the librarians and scholars expressed interest in this blog and wish to spread the word. This little hobby is really growing!

I drove home exhausted but exhilarated. I felt totally at home with librarians and scholars, indulging in my favorite passion. 🙂

Over the weekend I’ll provide a more detailed (and dignified) report. But today I was just too excited to do that. 🙂 Thanks for listening.

10 Replies to “First Report from the ALA Workshop on Louisa May Alcott: strictly from a fan’s perspective”

  1. Sounds like fun. I love Alcott in her own time. Great book. If I’m not mistaken he is going to write a book about May. Too bad I wasn’t closer. I would have loved to have gone.

  2. Not sure if I posted this to you already – but you should look into attending the summer conversational series and workshop at Orchard House – usually in July. It’s a whole bunch of Alcott scholars come together to share and inform — a GREAT week!! Info will be on the website at -beth

    1. That’s cool, thanks for the tip. I imagine you are aware of the celebration of Orchard House’s Centennial coming up? I offered to Jan any help I could give on the blog. She is an absolute delight!

  3. I’m glad he’s still working on the May book. He confirmed this to me a long time ago, but wasn’t sure of the status. I hope we see photos that have not recently been published. Its my understanding that Orchard house has a lot. They aren’t sharing much, because the same tired old photos make it into the books about the Alcotts.

    In fact there was a photo that caught my eye when the documentary played, but I can’t remember which one it was. I want a copy of that photo.

  4. Check out the phito archive I created on our website to (over) compensate for the lack of pix in the book. (Many more than a book could have.) Be patient opening thumbnails and you’ll be rewarded with a captioned slide show. I’d live to know what you think. It took weeks of work. Hope you like.

  5. Being dignified has its merits, but I love the gushing fan-girl take on things! I always think it’s wonderful to meet others who can become giddy and gushing and swoony over bookish and literary events!

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