The Great Muddinis

David Rubin

The staff of our very own Seeley G. Mudd Library proved themselves worthy ambassadors of the fabled “Lawrence Difference” Oct. 23.
Known to the outside world as “The Great Muddinis,” a team of six Lawrence librarians won second place in the Wisconsin Library Association’s Book Cart Drill Team Championships. The contest was the much-anticipated highlight of the WLA’s annual conference, held this year in downtown Appleton at the Radisson hotel.
While the sport of book cart drill team is not yet a part of the Summer Olympics, it still provides some thrilling action. The premise: Each team performs a choreographed routine involving decorated book carts to a pre-edited musical selection.
The routines may last up to four minutes – any time penalties result in point deductions – and the on-site cart decorating may not exceed five minutes. That’s right, even the decorating of the carts is timed! The Wisconsin Library Association means business.
Led by Antoinette Powell, music librarian, the team included Cindy Patterson, Amanda Beck, Kate Moody, Colette Lunday Brautigam and Kim Comerford.
This year’s conference was themed “Reclaim the Magic.” The Lawrence Six took this theme to heart by naming themselves after Appleton’s famously magical son, Harry Houdini.
The “Mudd” in their name, of course, refers to Seeley G., of library fame. Powell, who organized the Lawrence effort, stretched the theme even further through music selection, such as “That Old Black Magic,” and costuming – the classic magician get-up, complete with black capes and white gloves.
After rushing onto the metaphorical stage to the tune of “Sabre Dance,” the Great Muddinis pushed their book carts around in intricate patterns while simultaneously performing complex magic tricks like scarf-conjuring.
Next, Patterson moved to the center of the book cart circle, where she was placed in a Houdini-style straitjacket. Patterson performed a frenzied dance and pretended to free herself. Judging from the YouTube documentation of the event, about half of the audience caught the incredible irony of placing the circulation librarian in a strait jacket.
The Great Muddinis topped it all off with the magical lighting of a magical torch, held magically aloft by none other than Powell.
Sadly, there were no points awarded for clever programming, because if there were, the Lawrence librarians would have won in a landslide. That said, they still scored very well in the two judging categories: Technical Merit and Artistic Impression.
Unlike the famed 2002 Winter Olympic judging scandal in ice dancing, it appears that these judges were fair and honest. Peter Gilbert, known to students as Lawrence library director, was one of them. According to sources, he had to take a vow of honesty and renounce all biases. It’s okay, Pete – we didn’t expect any bloc-judging. But next year …
In any case, the Mudd six are rightly thrilled about their excellent finish in an event that is relatively new to the universe. The Great Muddinis’ performance knocked off last year’s winners, and was runner-up to none other than the leviathan itself: UW-Madison.
Mark my words, friends, the Great Muddinis have fame in their future. In the meantime, go admire the spoils of this tournament: the shiny new book carts gracing the library floors. Well, actually, the book carts were not technically a prize, but they were donated to the library as a result of the conference.
Ask a Librarian for the full story, or head over to the library Flickr, where there should be photos of the Library staff pushing the carts across town. And once you’ve done that, make sure to check out that YouTube video of legend, accessible from the Mudd’s Web site.