Great to read Brian!
Why this issue occurs in iPhoto, I cannot determined. I have checked Apple support resources on this issue and not much detail is provided, only processes to resolve iPhoto launch and library access issues.
What I would recommend if you have not already done so, is consider using the built in Time Machine software in Mac OS X, which will allow you, with an external hard drive, back up your Mac OS X files including your iPhoto library.
To get more information about iPhoto, here is a link to setting up Time Machine on your Mac, with an external hard drive for the first time: http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1427
Aside from this Brian, make sure to make note of the process of rebuilding your iPhoto library in case you need to implement that procedure in the distant future.
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