Lessons from the Library’s Bean Bash

Today was the library’s annual bean bash, which has now been going on for more than a quarter of a century. Each January, the library invites staff and faculty to enjoy a lunch of beans, slaw, cornbread, and cookies. For days before,  as crock pots of beans start cranking up and menus are made, we worry if we’ll have enough food.

Since the Jolly Librarian is not much of a cook, this is an anxious time. But each year, I pick out a new recipe and enter my kitchen for more than microwaving some pasta dish. This year, I doctored up some canned baked beans and made a bean salad. And I had a new experience; someone actually asked me for the recipe for the salad.  Usually, I’m taking uneaten portions of my dishes home. So I feel victorious this year.

The library staff has learned some lessons over the years from the Bean Bash:

  • No matter how well you get along the rest of the year, the pressure of serving lunch to the entire campus will make you argue like relatives at Christmas. But just like Christmas, you will forget those arguments as you bask in the glory of a successful event.
  • You can never predict what people will want when it comes to drinks. (That is one of my tasks.) If ten Diet Cokes are bought, folks will want regular Coke. You can prepare a gallon of sweet tea (a staple in the South), which won’t be enough one year. So you make two gallons the next only to find that everyone has given up sugar for a New Year’s resolution.
  • When a college gets so big that it has four or five campuses and even people on the same campus may not see each other that often, folks enjoy the opportunity to sit down for a meal that much more.
  • If you swear that you have never heard of cumin in the grocery store, then you are sure to have a jar in the back of your cabinet.
  • One annoying philosophy professor (and he knows who he is) will attend the bean bash each year to announce that he still doesn’t like beans.
  • People love cookies.
  • Traditions seem to disappear at a rapid rate. It’s nice to be a part of one.

I thank all those who contributed to the Bean Bash this year. And to those who started the tradition 25 years ago, I want you to know that you did a good thing.



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