>If not the world, then the University of Illinois, where even the damned goldfish gracing the tank in the Illini Union come in the school colors. (As does this blog, I suddenly notice. It has to be the ugliest color combo I’ve ever seen, and now I know I’m going to see it everywhere.)
But last Friday the colors were accented with green, as the students celebrated Unofficial Saint Patrick’s Day, wearing green hats and t-shirts and Mardi-Gras beads and getting drunk beginning at 7:30 AM when the bars opened. And this wasn’t like skipping school and getting drunk; the whole idea was to get drunk and stay drunk during the whole day of classes. I saw one young woman getting arrested; a faculty member at the library school stumbled onto a passed-out student in the parking garage. And my speech entailed a bouncer at the door. My goodness–why couldn’t they just get quietly stoned off their asses the way we did? (One of my college lit. professors, the late lamented Ellin Ringler, told us that was the best state in which to read The Waste Land.)
The speech went well, I thought, and you’ll be able to decide for yourselves when it’s published in the May issue of the Horn Book. I spoke (er, yammered) about the last forty years of YA literature and librarianship, starting with my own teen reading and ending with the Printz Award. I lunched with the youth services doctoral students and faculty from associated universities, spoke to a YA class, and got to spend a lot of time with my most esteemed friends and colleagues Betsy Hearne, Christine Jenkins, Deborah Stevenson and Boyd Rayward. (The first three you probably know from their publications in the Horn Book and elsewhere, the last is the world’s leading expert on this guy.)
Blue and orange and green and vomit not withstanding, Illinois has one first-class library school. You should all go–and can, thanks to their LEEP program. I don’t think there is any other school that has such an amazing confluence of faculty and resources, and such an array of interests and talents among its students.