That kilt thing

This story has been told before, and I promise this’ll be the last time I tell it.

Years ago in a land far, far away…ok, ok, it was Pittsburgh and the year was 1999. NASIG, an independent library organization working to advance and transform the management of information resources, chose to hold its annual conference at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU).  (CMU was named in part after Andrew Carnegie, the famous industrialist and philanthropist who was born in Scotland.) As part of the planning for that event, I learned that CMU had the only degree in bagpiping in the U.S. Arrangements were made to have a bagpiper process down the aisle of the auditorium where we were to hold the opening ceremony for the conference.

I had an idea, a crazy idea that I kept to myself. Why not commemorate this occasion as NASIG’s president by wearing a kilt to the opening ceremony? After all, my McCallum grandfather emigrated from Scotland. I found a place where I could rent a complete outfit and I brought everything with me to the conference. The weather at the time was unusually warm, over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and it caused a lot of discomfort for conference attendees who were staying in dorms that lacked air conditioning.

When I walked from my dorm room on the CMU campus down the street and onto the stage of the beautiful Carnegie Music Hall attached to the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, it made an impression. I was a lot more confident back then and don’t recall being particularly nervous about my first time wearing a kilt. The whole outfit was made of thick wool, however, so I do recall feeling overheated and sweaty.

Ever since, people have teased me about wearing that kilt and it became a bit of a thing — “that guy in the kilt”.

Kilt #1 in 1999
Fast forward to 2018 and remarkably (to me), I was serving as president of NASIG for a second time and also helping to plan an annual conference — this time in Atlanta, GA. It occurred to me that it might be fun to once again dress in a kilt to hearken back to that first time as president in 1999. I kept it a secret this time, too.
Below is a photo taken by NASIG’s Marketing & Social Media Coordinator, Eugenia Beh, just before I walked onto a different stage to officially start this year’s conference (#NASIG18). I can assure you that this time, I was far less confident than I was nineteen years earlier. But it all worked out ok in the end.
The lesson: don’t take yourself too seriously and occasionally, have a little bit of fun.
Kilt #2 in 2018

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