Background Check(s)

By: Matt Foss, assistant director on March 24th, 2021

One of the more interesting things during pandemic-related lockdowns of the past year was seeing inside the homes of journalists, historians, doctors, and scientists on various cable news programs. When on TV, these talking heads were typically in front of personal home libraries. Analyzing what books were on their shelves was at times more intriguing than what was said.

After a year of viewing various backgrounds, PBS News Hour anchor Judy Woodruff, historians Jon Meacham and Doris Kearns Goodwin, and Professor Eddie Glaude Jr. are the standard-bearers in my view.

I hope Judy, Jon, Eddie, and Doris would respect my virtual meeting background as well.

The Woodson Art Museum’s library serves as my “temporary” office while keeping socially distant from business manager Diane Wendt, with whom I normally share an office.

The wall of books in the Museum’s library, almost entirely art and art history books, provides a handsome and intellectual background, certainly more so than the foreground. However, it might be too sophisticated for little old me. A recent virtual meeting participant told me I should be drinking port and wearing a smoking jacket in this locale.

If that person saw in front of my laptop computer camera, they wouldn’t suggest that. “Messy” is probably the best way to describe it, and that’s fair. While I know where everything is and it is organized to me, the hodgepodge of papers, folders, post-it notes, pencils, pens, and random ephemera look like a disaster to most.

I’m not ashamed. It’s just part of how I get things done. It does make me wonder, though . . . What is Doris hiding in front of her camera?

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