George and Me
It is always exciting in the AANM Library & Resource Center for one reason or another but on this day, it was VERY exciting! On Friday, March 9th the Museum and Library had a special visit by none other than George Takei! Depending on who you are and what your interests are, Mr. Takei could be best known for his time spent as Sulu on Star Trek or maybe his tireless activism for LGBT rights or in his role as a leader in the Japanese American community. Any way you slice it, George is awesome and he stopped by MY library! Not to mention the fact that I made it happen!
I had a few people ask me how I got Mr. Takei to visit my library & museum. On it’s face, it seems like a thing that doesn’t happen or something that takes an absurd amount of planning to pull off. Do you want to know how I made it happen? I sent an email. That’s it!
Backstory! The Arab American National Museum (where I am the librarian) is currently hosting a travelling exhibit that was created by the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) in Los Angeles. Back when the Arab American National Museum was first being conceived (early 2000′s) the JANM was a key player in helping us get our start by showing us how to run an ethnically specific and community focused museum. The Japanese American and Arab American communities have shared experiences, particularly in light of events like World War 2 and 9/11 so the connection between our museums remains strong.
Guess who also has a strong relationship with the Japanese American National Museum? George Takei! When I saw he was was going to be in Detroit for a series of concerts at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be cool if he came by and checked out the JANM’s travelling exhibit here at my museum?” As awesome as it would be to strengthen museum ties in this way I also had ulterior motives as a rabid Trekkie. I wanted to hang out with George Takei! But how do you even do that? I had no idea, so I just went on his website, found a contact email and sent this message:
Hi, I’m writing because I know George is going to be in Detroit next weekend for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Sci-Fi Spectacular shows and also that he works very closely with the folks at the Japanese American National Museum. I’m the librarian at the Arab American National Museum in Detroit Metro and we also have a very close relationship with the JANM, they helped us get our own museum started in 2005 and we’re actually hosting their travelling exhibit “Fighting for Democracy”.
I was wondering if I could extend an invitation to George to see the JANM’s travelling exhibit and also see our museum as well? Is such a thing possible for his schedule that weekend? If so I can put you in contact with our Museum administration if you want to discuss it with them.
Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you soon
Since he was going to be in town the next weekend, I thought it was kind of a long shot. But Brad, George’s husband, responded the same day! That they would love to see the exhibit while they’re in town and could they come in on Friday? I will tell you that I was over the moon with excitement.
The actual visit was also wonderful. Both George and Brad came by and we chatted for a long time in my library about my collections, the different programs we do and the connections between the museums and communities. George was very charming and knowledgeable about the Japanese American National Museum’s programs and exhibits. He has a very hands on approach to his involvement with the JANM and as a result he was very interested in everything my museum and library was doing.
The whole experience ties into my general philosophy and work habits as a Solo-Librarian, in that you have to make your own opportunities. If you want something to happen, you can’t wait around for someone else to do it because often there is nobody else! And sometimes the roadblocks you envision in front of whatever goal you have are not as large as you think, sometimes you just have to ask for what you want.
If you want to see pictures from his visit , I have a Flickr Set for you to check out. I am the one in green!