At the Library of Congress’s Annual National Book Festival yesterday, held at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., the line of people to attend a nearly two-hour module featuring two of the festival’s featured authors, E.O.Wilson and Jeffrey Sachs, speaking on “Our Planet’s Future,” was SO LONG that no one could find its end, not even the event coordinators. Even though two adjoining rooms were made into one for this audience, it was clear that many of the people waiting to get in would not get in. Indeed, the time for the beginning of the program came and went as the event coordinators tried (unsuccessfully, it seemed) to determine where the front and the back of the line of people was.
The “line” wrapped around itself in the crowded outer hall so many times that people were facing every which way and latecomers actually found themselves positioned by the entrance to the conference hall.
I do not know what eventually happened–or, indeed, what the speakers had to say–as it would not be possible to get into the conference hall. It was encouraging, however, to see such a multitude of people waiting to hear these two authors speak. And it was the name “Wilson” that one heard uttered most in the crowd. E.O. Wilson’s latest book has been discussed here on this blog many months ago and it was one of the titles on sale yesterday in the National Book Festival’s cavernous lower level, seemingly the size of three football fields.
Seeing people so interested in hearing eminent thinkers on the fate of our planet has to be a good sign! And, so too, is the obvious commitment on the part of the reading public to consuming ideas, hard facts, and critical thinking, powerful trends to build upon in a positive way.