A Friends of the Library Flash Mob? (Shh-h-h, they're reading!)

Friends of the Seattle Public Library mobbed Westlake Center, and opened their books.

Crosscut archive image.

Friends of the Seattle Public Library gather for a 'Flash Mob' reading at Westlake Center

Friends of the Seattle Public Library mobbed Westlake Center, and opened their books.

Flash mobs mean sudden music and huge undulating crowds of dancers, right? Usually the dancing is geared to the likes of "Don't Stop Believin," which made a crowd joyously rock out at Westlake Center last April. But Seattle is famous for having mobs of readers, too. 

So it seems appropriate that the Friends of the Seattle Public Library instigated a Flash Mob Reading for our city. On the dot of noon last Friday, almost 100 people stopped milling around Westlake Center to sit down in the sun, open their books, and … read! Live sitar music accompanied a variety of rhythms of attention to the printed page. It hovered in the air above a variety of pages, too, written by the likes of Doug Dorst (Alive in Necropolis), Geoff Colvin (Talent is Overrated), G. K. Chesterton (Daylight and Nightmare), Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird), and Dr. Seuss. The names of authors David Foster Wallace and Malcolm Gladwell could be heard in side conversations.  

The Friends of the Seattle Public Library hoped the event would inspire support for a venerable institution, one that is so necessary to the city and in so many different ways. Given the mobsters and their mission, it wasn’t surprising that no Kindles appeared in people’s hands. Besides celebrating the reading of books, the event happened to occur around the same time as discerning judges ranking big-city public libraries nationwide gave SPL a 5-star award, the highest possible rating. 

A bunch of people silently reading their books in public may not sound … well, flashy. But the mob was charming to watch. Though this CrosscutChannel video of the event reflects that people are sometimes shy about having their faces shown, the books love to be on camera.


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