Book Festival!

Boy, I don’t know where the time goes, but it keeps going faster and faster these days. I have a couple of items I have wanted to talk about for a while, but it seems that I just get myself going in the morning and suddenly it’s the end of the day already. So today I’m trying to catch up on some of my backlogged stuff.

The weekend before last (Mar 14 & 15) was the Tucson Festival of Books (TFOB) on the University of Arizona‘s central mall. This was its seventh year and it is one of the largest events of its kind. Attendance topped an estimated 50,000 in its first year; this year I heard that over 100,000 were expected each day. I don’t know how they come up with those numbers, because admission is free and you just sort of wander in and out as you please. But it’s an awesome event, with nationally-known authors giving talks, signing books, and even singing in bands (the Rock Bottom Remainders performed Friday night to kick off the festival).

In previous years I have gone to the Festival as a spectator. I have pretended to myself that I was researching local publishing houses and looking for a spot with one (or more) of them as a freelance proofreader / copy editor, and in fact have actually written down contact information and exchanged business cards. But I’ve never followed up sufficiently to get more than one gig, and that ended last fall when the publisher notified its entire roster (editors, proofreaders, authors) that it wasn’t accepting any new works.

This year was different. I recently became a volunteer with Donate Life Arizona (DNA), and the TFOB was my first event. I was told to be there by 8:30 on Saturday morning and I would be relieved at 12:30. So I arrived a couple of minutes early, only to find a bare table and no one else there. In fact, no one else arrived for a good 10 to 15 minutes, so I just stood around feeling foolish. But the other volunteers (both of whom had previous experience) finally arrived, as did the DNA representative who had all the freebies (pens, bumper stickers, fans, brochures, etc.) for the event. She also had the necessary forms for people to fill out if they wanted to become a donor. There was even a specialized scanner, attached to a DNA smartphone, that could scan people’s driver’s licenses and register them (or verify that they were already registered).

The other volunteers showed me how the scanner worked, and I tried it on my own license to see what would come up. Sure enough, it said I was already a registered donor. The license itself doesn’t have any indication of my donor status, but the MVD does know about it. Since last June (or thereabouts), newly-issued Arizona licenses *do* have a graphic on the front that lets people know you’re a donor, but mine is too old for that.

Regrettably, the scanner didn’t work well. I don’t know what the problem was – well, one problem was that it wasn’t charged at first, but after that was taken care of, it still didn’t want to actually register anyone. It would verify existing donors just fine, but refused to register new ones. So we were forced to rely on the old paper-form-and-pen method. *sigh* But by the time my shift ended, we had gotten at least 15 people to fill out forms! Other volunteers were scheduled for Saturday afternoon, and for both Sunday morning and afternoon as well.

So we had a few “lessons learned” from this event. One of them was that, while it was nice to be in a big tent with other medical types (we shared space with Banner / University Medical Center), it would have been better to have had our own booth that people could have seen directly. As it was, only the ones who wandered into the Banner tent even really saw us.

And then there was the wind. While it kept the day’s temperatures bearable, it was just a *bit* too strong for anything not nailed down (including trash cans and barriers). And because we were just a table in a big tent (with 3 sides rolled up, of course!), we had no way to protect our brochures, registration cards, and other lightweight items from blowing around. In fact, somebody went back to her office and got a box full of paperweights to help us out.

Overall, though, it was a good weekend, and I hope that Donate Life Arizona will be back at TFOB, in its own booth, next year.

2 Comments on “Book Festival!

  1. Ah yes… the Banner/University Med Center mix… they’ve changed Banner Good Sam to Banner/University Med Center Good Sam, I believe. I don’t remember; we still call it Good Sam even though the new name (that I can’t exactly remember, but they do use over there) is now official. I’m glad that you had fun!!!

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