"Blessings" and the AAS Meeting
I'm sure you will hear more about it from others, but from my point of view, the 100th Spring meeting of the AAVSO held jointly with the AAS was an excellent opportunity to distribute copies of Dorrit Hoffleit's wonderful autobiography, Misfortunes as Blessings in Disguise.
When this book was published in 2002, thanks to Dorrit's generosity, we printed many more copies than we could sell. Keeping boxes of books squirreled away in our storeroom at HQ just didn't make any sense—we wanted to get the books out to people who might enjoy them (Donna Young has distributed many to teachers at her workshops), but mailing it out to libraries around the country was prohibitively expensive.
So what to do?
I came up with the idea of giving them away to AAS meeting attendees. What better opportunity than a hotel filled with astronomers who could carry the book in their luggage to the far reaches of the country—not to mention the world!
The hardest part was getting the heavy boxes of books to our table at the Westin Copley Hotel. This process involved loading my poor little Prius to the gills, unloading the boxes amongst the dirty laundry and beer kegs filling the loading area of the hotel, and transporting them to the third floor via the freight elevator.
Then it was just a case of getting them into the hands of as many people as possible. Each of us had our own style. Some preferred the passive approach and others (like me!) were a bit more aggressive about it. Our volunteer, John O'Neill (ONJ), expertly distributed books to other exhibitors and to graduate students tending their posters in another room.
What was remarkable to me was how many people either knew Dorrit or had heard of her. Those who hadn't (including many students and young astronomers) seemed intrigued and promised to read her book and/or donate it to their university libraries afterward. Not only did the book give-away help to ensure that Dorrit's legacy lives on, but it also gave the staff the opportunity to interact with more people than we might have otherwise and spread information about the AAVSO. All-in-all it was a great success. Thank you Dorrit!
By the way, we gave away about 270 books. if anyone has any great ideas for the remaining 400, please let us know!