12/03/2011 From a unique look at how to use books:
Friday Fun: Library Phantom Returns
A friend of mine posted the link to this story and I thought it would be perfect for a little Friday Fun.
Edinburgh, Scotland has a library phantom sculptor who has been leaving beautiful paper sculptures made from books in libraries and museums in the area.
NPR first reported on the library phantom sculptor in late October describing how librarian, Julie Johnstone, found a sculpture of a tree made of twisted paper on a book with a broken gold leafed eggshell filled with strips of paper from the poem, “A Trace of Wings.”
It didn’t end with the tree. The sculptures kept coming. A coffin, topped by a large gramophone showed up suddenly at The National Library of Scotland. A local art film theater found a book carved with warriors leaping off a movie screen into the audience. Then came a little dragon peeking out of an egg at The Scottish Storytelling Centre. The gifts kept coming, and it became quite a mystery as to who the very talented person could be. BBC, Scotland TV, and The Guardian all reported on the story. Who was this mysterious person?
Well it seems we will never know because even though there are a few suspects (a former music librarian thought he recognized the style from a paper sculpture he bought from an artist) it seems the public wants to keep the mystery alive and doesn’t want to know the artist’s identity. The mystery artist remains a mystery and sadly as the latest NPR story says, the gifts have come to an end this November.
Let me just tell the mystery artist, if she is ever in the United States, I am sure there are quite a few libraries that would love to get such a beautiful and unique gift. Why not make the mystery international?!
and A Cute YouTube video created by the Kansas City Library
Overdue Masterpiece Theatre presents a Kansas City Public Library production. A stranded Hemingway novel contemplates life, duty, morality, and mobile apps in the company of another literary lost soul. CC where available. (This film is in no way associated with PBS or its affiliates.) See link below to view this whimsical video called:
Overdue Masterpiece Theatre: To Have App Have Not
12/02/2011 From the Washington Post Comic Riffs which ”is a blog devoted to the comics fan. Come in, sit down and put your feet up as we celebrate, contemplate, eviscerate and pontificate on cartoons.”
MARK TWAIN GOOGLE DOODLE: Panoramic ’Tom Sawyer’ logo colorfully celebrates legendary Clemens
TODAY, AMERICA’S FINEST humorist gets one of America’s finest Google tributes.
And given the full, screen-sweeping beauty of a small-town scene, reports of its breadth are not greatly exaggerated.
To celebrate the 176th anniversary of Mark Twain‘s Missouri birth Wednesday, Google paints its logo in perhaps the most fitting way possible: By using its patented “Doodle” to render the world of Twain’s Tom Sawyer, who famously cajoled friends to whitewash a fence for him.
To honor an author enshrined in the gilded pantheon of artistic genius — that “headwater of American fiction,” as Hemingway so rightly said of Twain — Google found a deft way to depict today’s brush with greatness.
The homepage Doodle is a panoramic triptych featuring the boyhood Missouri pals from two of Twain’s best-loved books: 1876′s “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and arguably the greatest American novel, 1885′s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” The Doodle’s folksy style can be read as a nod to original Twain illustrator True Williams.
The enduring popularity of Twain is a testament to just how much his poignant and satiric writings and his public persona — that of curmudgeon in a cream-colored suit — have a profound hold on the public imagination.
“I think he is the only one of all the historical characters I’ve studied that you could bring to now and he’d be funny,” historian and “America’s documentarian” Ken Burns told me of Twain a few years back. “He’d be on the cable shows. He’d take his 15 minutes.”
And Hal Holbrook — who has now played Mark Twain onstage more than a half-century, or longer than Samuel Clemens himself was “Mark Twain” — once told me that Twain still captivates us because human nature doesn’t change; only human circumstances do. “The interesting thing to me,” Holbrook told me, “was (that) he was a storyteller, a comedian and could be a very trenchant and incisive satirist.”
View Photo Gallery: Here’s a look at other Google Doodles from the past year.
Twain, of course, is also widely known for such novels as “Roughing It,” “The Innocents Abroad,” “The Prince and the Pauper,” “Life on the Mississippi” and “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court,” as well as the comic sketch that first put him on the map: “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.”
Samuel Langhorne Clemens came into this world with Halley’s Comet on Nov. 30, 1835, in Florida, Mo., and his family soon moved to the nearby Hannibal that was the model setting for so many of his literary adventures. Clemens was a teen printer’s apprentice, a Mississippi River steamboat pilot (the occupation that introduced him to the nautical term “mark twain”), a two-week quasi-Rebel soldier and a California newspaperman before buoying his fame on the lecture circuit and settling in the East, where he married wife Livy and raised a family.
While becoming the first uniquely American great novelist, Twain also endured much personal tragedy, outliving everyone in his immediate family save one daughter (Clara Clemens died in 1962). Yet renowned Twain scholar Ron Powers once told me he thought that became part of the author’s cherished legacy: “He left us with the knowledge that you can convert sorrow to laughter … which I think became an American device.”
After becoming one of the first global media celebrities in his later years — despite some of his most bitter writings at this time, he could be counted on to dish out quotable quips and deftly spun social commentary — Twain himself died in 1910, his brilliant light extinguished right as Halley’s Comet made its earthly return.
In “Eruption,” Twain said: “Humor must not professedly teach, and it must professedly preach, but it must do both if it would live forever.” In the simple wrinkle of truth, Twain somehow achieves the great legacy of publicly living forever.
And in “A Connecticut Yankee,” Twain wrote: “Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.”
Today, thanks to the high visibility of Google’s right kind of panoramic billboard, a literary giant like Twain renders us all a little larger today.
And that is no whitewash.
Comic Riffs’ TOP TEN GOOGLE DOODLES OF 2011 :
1. LES PAUL: THE PLAYABLE GUITAR
2. MARTHA GRAHAM: THE ANIMATION DANCE
3. LUCILLE BALL: CHANNELING THE HIGHLIGHTS
4. FREDDIE MERCURY: THE MUSIC VIDEO
5. JIM HENSON: THE CLICKABLE MUPPETS
6. ART CLOKEY: THE “GUMBY DOODLE”
7. JULES VERNE: DEEP-SEA DOODLE
8. MARY BLAIR: THE DISNEY DOODLE
9. THOMAS EDISON: THE ILLUMINATING DOODLE
10. LUNAR ECLIPSE: THE MOON DOODLE
11/29/2011 From Walking Paper we get this bit of Muppet whimsy:
10/15/2011 From the Centered Librarian’s blog we get former occupations of famous writers, pretty interesting, huh?:
MONDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2011
The Early Jobs of Ten Great Authors
Though one might expect the author of Moby-Dick to have some experience at sea, it’s interesting to note that Melville was employed as a cabin boy on a cruise liner after his attempts to secure a job as a surveyor for the Erie Canal were thwarted. He made a single voyage from New York to Liverpool.3. Kurt Vonnegut
The Slaughterhouse-Five author was the manager of a Saab dealership in West Barnstable, Massachusetts—one of the first Saab dealerships in the US. He also worked in public relations for General Electric, and was a volunteer firefighter for the Alplaus Volunteer Fire Department.4. Jack London
While everyone knows about London’s experiences in the Klondike Gold Rush, a time that heavily influenced his writing (um, The Call of the Wild, anyone?), it’s not-so-common knowledge that as a very young man, Jack London worked at a cannery, then became an oyster pirate. And his sloop was named Razzle-Dazzle.5. John Steinbeck
A strange job, perhaps, but working as a tour guide at a fish hatchery led the Tortilla Flat author to his first wife, Carol Henning. Later, he would work long hours at a grueling warehouse job until his father began supplying him with writing materials and lodging to focus on his literary career.6. Jack Kerouac
Perhaps most famous for being a self-proclaimed dharma bum, it’s no surprise that Kerouac worked some odd jobs. These include but are not limited to: gas station attendant, cotton picker, night guard (detailed in On the Road), railroad brakeman, dishwasher, construction worker, and a deckhand.7. Richard Wright
The celebrated author of Native Son and “The Man Who Was Almost a Man” fell on hard times during the Great Depression, like almost everyone else. He secured a job as a postal clerk, only to be laid off. It was then, living on federal assistance, that Wright began making literary contacts and having work published in journals.
8. Joseph Heller
Coiner of the phrase and lauded author of Catch-22, Heller grew up very poor and had to work at a young age to help support his family. Before going on to literary greatness, he was a blacksmith’s apprentice, messenger boy, and file clerk.
9. Joseph Conrad
Though it’s apparent in reading Conrad’s work (especially Heart of Darkness) that he lived a large part of his life at sea, it’s maybe less obvious that he spent part of that time involved in gunrunning and political conspiracy.
10. Harper Lee
The author of one of the great American novels and winner of the 1961 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction had worked as a reservation clerk at Eastern Airlines for years when she received a note from friends: “You have one year off from your job to write whatever you please. Merry Christmas.” By the next year, she’d penned To Kill a Mockingbird.
09/19/2011From the comes this bit of whimsy– Can you believe it? Gotta love working with the public.
Iowa man lands in jail for overdue library books, CDs
ASSOCIATED PRESS September 15, 2011 3:00PM
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A Newton man who didn’t return overdue books and CDs to the city’s public library for months landed in jail on a theft charge.
Christopher Anspach, 28, was charged with third-degree theft on Aug. 20 after he failed to return items worth $770, police said. He checked out 11 books and six CDs, including a box set, in January. He was charged after repeated efforts to get him to return the items.
Anspach pleaded guilty Aug. 31 and was sentenced to 10 days in jail in the Jasper County jail. He was released Sept. 8.
A telephone number for Anspach repeatedly rang busy Thursday. A message for his attorney, Richard Phelps II, wasn’t immediately returned
Library Director Sue Padilla said Thursday that the library is serious about pursuing overdue books and other items.
“Books are purchased with taxpayers’ money and we try to be good stewards of library materials and make sure we have things for others to check out,” she said. “We trust they’re going to return them. That’s the philosophy of the library.”
Padilla declined to say if Anspach was a regular patron, citing privacy laws. She said they followed the library’s usual procedures to send overdue notices. In Anspach case, repeated notices were ignored.
She said Anspach was then barred, which means he could still come to the library but couldn’t use the library’s computer or check out items until the overdue fines were paid.
“That is still the case,” noting Anspach still hasn’t returned the books and CDs.
After the library’s overdue notices were ignored, the library contacted its collection agency, which was also ignored. The city attorney and police got involved and charges were filed.
“He didn’t ignore the police,” Padilla said.
Padilla said the library always pursues overdue books and other materials. She said the library’s system tracks overdue materials and an overdue notice is automatically sent when a book, magazine or CD is a week late. For DVDs, a notice is sent after three days.
“The most usual thing is once a person gets an overdue notice, they return the material,” she said. If it goes to a collection agency, that usually gets people attention, and most people will return the items.
She said it’s a “Lot rarer” to file charges, but it has been done in the past.
“It’s part of the procedure to keep the collection available for as many people as we can,” Padilla said.
The Newton Public Library services Newton, which has about 15,000 residents, and all of Jasper County. It’s also part of the state’s open access program, which means anyone with a library card can come in a check things out.
From The Centered Librarian blog comes this cartoon. Don’t you love it?
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 31, 2011
Librarian to search engine (cartoon)
August 25,2011 From the Chronicles of Higher Education comes this quite comical picture of our incoming students. Enjoy. I did
August 23, 2011
The Beloit College Mind-Set List Welcomes the ‘Internet Class’
By Don Troop
As classes resume this fall, take a good look at those first-year students armed with their laptops, notebooks, tablets, and smartphones. They are the first college freshmen to grow up taking the word “online” for granted, say Ron Nief and Tom McBride, the minds behind the annual Beloit College Mind-Set List.
Mr. Nief, who was the college’s longtime director of public affairs and is now retired, wrote in an e-mail on Monday that the Class of 2015 is “the symbolic generational start of a revolutionary adjustment in the systems and processes on which so much of society is built today.”
Most members of this year’s freshman class were born in 1993, the year Mosaic was introduced as the first widely used Web browser, the year Time magazine declared, “Suddenly the Internet is the place to be,” and the year The New Yorker ran what is said to be its most reproduced cartoon ever, the one with the caption, “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.”
Mr. Nief and Mr. McBride, who is a professor of English and the humanities, have compiled the list since 1998, to help educators understand the cultural touchstones that have shaped the worldviews of each successive year of college freshmen.
Members of the Class of 2015, the pair says, “have come of age as women assumed command of U.S. Navy ships, altar girls served routinely at Catholic Mass, and when everything from parents analyzing childhood maladies to their breaking up with boyfriends and girlfriends, sometimes quite publicly, have been accomplished on the Internet.”
July marked the release of the two men’s first book together, The Mindset Lists of American History (John Wiley & Sons), which demonstrates how historical events have affected the mind-sets of each successive generation of Americans since 1880.
Following is this year’s full list, which can be found online at http://www.beloit.edu/mindset.
Andre the Giant, River Phoenix, Frank Zappa, Arthur Ashe, and the Commodore 64 have always been dead.
Their classmates could include Taylor Momsen, Angus Jones, Howard Stern’s daughter Ashley, and the Dilley Sextuplets.
1. There has always been an Internet ramp onto the information highway.
2. Ferris Bueller and Sloane Peterson could be their parents.
3. States and Velcro parents have always required that they wear their bike helmets.
4. The only significant labor disputes in their lifetimes have been in major-league sports.
5. There have always been at least two women on the Supreme Court, and women have always commanded some U.S. Navy ships.
6. They “swipe” cards, not merchandise.
7. As the students have grown up on Web sites and cellphones, adult experts have constantly fretted about their alleged deficits of empathy and concentration.
8. Their schools’ “blackboards” have always been getting smarter.
9. “Don’t touch that dial!” … What dial?
10. American tax forms have always been available in Spanish.
11. More Americans have always traveled to Latin America than to Europe.
12. Amazon has never been just a river in South America.
13. Refer to LBJ, and they might assume you’re talking about LeBron James.
14. All their lives, Whitney Houston has always been declaring, “I Will Always Love You.”
15. O.J. Simpson has always been looking for the killers of Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman.
16. Women have never been too old to have children.
17. Japan has always been importing rice.
18. Jim Carrey has always been bigger than a pet detective.
19. We have never asked, and they have never had to tell.
20. Life has always been like a box of chocolates.
21. They’ve always gone to school with Mohammed and Jesus.
22. John Wayne Bobbitt has always slept with one eye open.
23. There has never been an official Communist Party in Russia.
24. “Yadda, yadda, yadda” has always come in handy to make long stories short.
25. Video games have always had ratings.
26. Chicken soup has always been soul food.
27. The Rocky Horror Picture Show has always been available on TV.
28. Jimmy Carter has always been a smiling elderly man who shows up on TV to promote fair elections and disaster relief.
29. Arnold Palmer has always been a drink.
30. Dial-up is soooooooooo last century!
31. Women have always been kissing women on television.
32. Their older siblings have told them about the days when Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, and Christina Aguilera were Mouseketeers.
33. Faux Christmas trees have always outsold real ones.
34. They’ve always been able to dismiss boring old ideas with “Been there, done that, gotten the T-shirt.”
35. The bloody conflict between the government and a religious cult has always made Waco sound a little wacko.
36. Unlike their older siblings, they spent bedtime on their backs until they learned to roll over.
37. Music has always been available via free downloads.
38. Grown-ups have always been arguing about health-care policy.
39. Moderate amounts of red wine and baby aspirin have always been thought good for the heart.
40. Sears has never sold anything out of a “Big Book” that could also serve as a doorstop.
41. The United States has always been shedding fur.
42. Electric cars have always been humming in relative silence on the road.
43. No longer known for just gambling and quickie divorces, Nevada has always been one of the fastest-growing states in the Union.
44. They’re the first generation to grow up hearing about the dangerous overuse of antibiotics.
45. They pressured their parents to take them to Taco Bell or Burger King to get free pogs.
46. Russian courts have always had juries.
47. No state has ever failed to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
48. While they’ve been playing outside, their parents have always worried about nasty new bugs borne by birds and mosquitoes.
49. Public schools have always made space available for advertising.
50. Some of them have been inspired to actually cook by watching the Food Channel.
51. Fidel Castro’s daughter and granddaughter have always lived in the United States.
52. Their parents have always been able to create a will and other legal documents online.
53. Charter schools have always been an alternative.
54. They’ve grown up with George Stephanopoulos as the Dick Clark of political analysts.
55. New kids have always been known as NKOTB.
56. They’ve always wanted to be like Shaq or Kobe; Michael Who?
57. They’ve broken up with significant others via texting, Facebook, or MySpace.
58. Their parents sort of remember Woolworths as this store that used to be downtown.
59. Kim Jong-il has always been bluffing, but the West has always had to take him seriously.
60. Frasier, Sam, Woody, and Rebecca have never cheerfully frequented a bar in Boston during prime time.
61. Major League Baseball has never had fewer than three divisions and never lacked a wild-card entry in the playoffs.
62. Nurses have always been in short supply.
63. They won’t go near a retailer that lacks a Web site.
64. Altar girls have never been a big deal.
65. When they were 3, their parents may have battled other parents in toy stores to buy them a Tickle Me Elmo while they lasted.
66. It seems the United States has always been looking for an acceptable means of capital execution.
67. Folks in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have always been able to energize with Pepsi-Cola.
68. Andy Warhol is a museum in Pittsburgh.
69. They’ve grown up hearing about suspiciously vanishing frogs.
70. They’ve always had the privilege of talking with a chatterbot.
71. Refugees and prisoners have always been housed by the U.S. government at Guantánamo.
72. Women have always been Venusians; men, Martians.
73. McDonald’s coffee has always been just a little too hot to handle.
74. “PC” has come to mean personal computer, not political correctness.
75. The New York Times and The Boston Globe have never been rival newspapers.
August 2, 2011 From The Centered Librarian we get this song about stereotypical librarians. Here are the lyrics. Catch the performance on the url or YouTube.
“Librarian” by My Morning Jacket
Walk across the courtyard towards the library
I can hear the insects buzz and the leaves ‘neath my feet
Ramble up the stairwell into the hall of books
Since we got the inter web these hardly get used
Duck into the men’s room combing through my hair
When God gave us mirrors He had no idea
Looking for a lesson in the periodicals
There I spy you listening to the AM radio
Karen of the Carpenters singing in the rain
Another lovely victim of the mirror’s evil way
It’s not like you’re not trying with a pencil in your hair
To defy the beauty the good Lord put in there
Simple little bookworm buried underneath is the sexiest librarian
Take off those glasses and let down your hair for me
So I watch you through the bookcase imaging a scene
You and I at dinner spending time then to sleep
And what then would I say to you lying there in bed?
These words with a kiss I would plant in your head
What is it inside our heads that makes us do the opposite
Makes us do the opposite of what’s right for us?
‘Cause everything’d be great and everything’d be good
If everybody gave like everybody could
Sweetest little bookworm hidden underneath is the sexiest librarian
Take off those glasses and let down your hair for me
Take off those glasses and let down your hair for me
Simple little beauty heaven in your breath
Simplest of pleasures the world at it’s best
We have seen Laura Miller’s work before. “Laura Miller is a senior writer at Salon.com, which she co-founded in 1995. She is a frequent contributor to the New York Times Book Review, where she wrote the Last Word column for two years. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal and many other publications.”
The greatest books that never were
Literature is full of imaginary books. Given the choice, which one would you read?
From Wikipedia The library of St. Florian in Austria
Imaginary books seem to be nearly as numerous as the real ones, and that’s even when you don’t count all those bestselling thrillers people believe they’ll write someday if only they can find the time to write the damn thing down. Nonexistent books certainly have some devoted fans, such as the proprietor of the ever-diverting Beachcomber’s Bizarre History Blog, who is making bold moves to expand the collection known as the Invisible Library.
“The Invisible Library” has, for at least a decade or so, referred to those books that exist only within works of fiction. A man named Brian Quinette founded a website by that name in the late 1990s, presenting it as a catalog of “imaginary books, pseudobiblia, artifictions, fabled tomes, libris phantastica, and all manner of books unwritten, unread, unpublished and unfound.”
The original Invisible Library disappeared from the Web in the mid-2000s (though you can still find snapshots of it in the Internet Archive Wayback Machine), and since then other pseudobibliophiles have opened their own “branches,” although these too have a tendency to end up abandoned. The novelists Ed Park and Levi Stahl created a catalog of imaginary titles that inspired an interactive exhibition at a London art gallery, but they have only occasionally updated it since 2008. Loss of interest is, perhaps, inevitable, since when you maintain such a list, tiresome people are constantly proclaiming their disappointed astonishment that their particular obscure favorite isn’t listed.
The pseudonymous Dr. Beachcomber would like to expand the Invisible Library to include fake books — that is, titles that don’t even exist in a fictional universe. They appear only on the spines of sham bookshelves used to disguise secret doors in exceptionally interesting houses. Charles Dickens had just such a door installed in his own study in London, with fake titles of his own devising, including “Socrates on Wedlock.”
Most such titles are jokes (“Cat’s Lives” in nine volumes, etc.), but then so are many of the celebrated holdings in the Invisible Library proper; if there’s one thing authors relish, it’s a chance to make fun of other authors. Hence, such immortal imaginary works as “Only a Factory Girl,” by Rosie M. Banks, a popular sentimental love story that often crops up in the fiction of P.G. Wodehouse; “The Industrious Muse: Narrativity and Contradiction in the Industrial Novel,” by Robin Penrose, in David Lodge’s academic satire, “Nice Work;” and “My Big Ol’ Feets Gon’ Stomp Dat Evil Down” by Isshee Ayam from Trey Ellis’ send-up of 1980 multiculturalism, “Platitudes.”
Who’d want to slog through those — let alone tackle another of Dickens’ japes, “History of a Short Chancery Suit” in 21 volumes? The vast majority of the Invisible Library is, let’s face it, better off not existing. The world does not need “Feeling GREAT,” by Ashley Tralpis, M.D., Ph.D. (from Jonathan Franzen’s “Corrections”). And if a reader learns anything from the fiction of H.P. Lovecraft, it’s to stay well away from the “Necronomicon” of Abdul Alhazred, perhaps the most famous — and certainly the most infamous — imaginary book of all time.
Which raises an intriguing question: If allowed to choose only one, which volume in the Invisible Library would you most want to read?
Assuming that “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” counts as an imaginary book (seeing as it’s also a real book, by Douglas Adams), then it would surely have the longest list of patrons waiting to check it out at the Invisible Library’s front desk. Fans of the late Chilean author Roberto Bolaño might opt for a masterpiece by Benno von Archimboldi, whose works captivate the characters in “2666.” Others would surely select something from the extensive imaginary works invented by Jorge Luis Borges — “The Garden of Forking Paths” by Ts’ui Pên, perhaps?
For myself, the choice is easy. I’d take “The Higher Common Sense” by the Abbé Fausse-Maigre, the indispensable philosophical handbook of Flora Poste, heroine of Stella Gibbons’ great comic novel, “Cold Comfort Farm” (1932). Flora, an admirer of Jane Austen, goes to live with the Starkadders, relations in the Sussex countryside, and finds herself plunged into a doom-laden agricultural milieu familiar to readers of the rural gothics popular at the time, overwrought “earthy” novels written in imitation of Thomas Hardy and D.H. Lawrence.
Armed with the insights of the Abbé (I like to think of him as a more avuncular version of Montaigne), Flora tidies up the seemingly intractable messes at Cold Comfort Farm, from dispatching the hellfire-and-brimstone paterfamilias on a missionary road trip to shipping her oversexed cousin Seth off to Hollywood and imparting romantic and contraceptive advice to the local girls. At every turn, “The Higher Common Sense” provides her with a sound footing to tackle any challenge, including the most formidable of all — Aunt Ada Doom, who refuses to leave her room on account of the shock she incurred as a girl upon witnessing “something nasty in the woodshed.”
In times of trial and confusion, one can’t help but long for a copy of this invaluable imaginary volume. Readers who’d make a different choice if offered a single checkout from the Invisible Library are invited to leave their thoughts in the comments thread.
While this isn’t exactly whimsy there are parts of this blog by Amy Buckland which are whimsical. She refers to librarians as “revolutionaries.” Go ahead and enjoy this McGill graduates thoughts on librarianship. Go Librarians!!
amy posted this June 26th, 2011 »
whoa. that was intense. while i’m not happy with my presentation at TEDxLibrarians, i am happy that i accepted the challenge (doing things that scare me n’all). such a learning experience. rock.
the event, however, was wonderful. many thanks to the organizers for a such a thought-provoking day. shelley and fiacre – you guys are the best.
here is the talk i meant to give.
so when thinking about this talk, i started thinking about things i do everyday
i use and evaluate new technologies – from high speed book scanners to the semantic web
i educate my community – from finding accurate authoritative information to author rights
i design new service and spaces – both in meatspace and cyberspace
and where do i do all of this?
i almost never refer to this as the place where i work. because the library is a building, and what we do, what librarians do, is more than just what can be found in a building. in fact, the very reason most of us do what we do, is because we want to bring the library to the community, and not vice versa.
when people ask where i work, i typically say…
i like this term. this is what i’m passionate about. it’s… vast. it represents all the different kinds of librarians out there – public, academic, special.
it means more than just books on shelves in buildings. it’s more than bunheads and shelvers.
it’s a community of people who believe that helping people find and do things is what makes the world a better place.
it is everyone who wants to provide access to information, because…
because access to information is a human right. i believe this. librarylanders believe this.
we see this as a driving force for what we do and why for many of us, this is a vocation, not a job. i’m not a librarian for the bling. i’m a librarian because i fundamentally believe that i can help make society a better place to live by figuring out ways to provide better access to information. so when i’m having a bad day, and stressed about budgets, and policies, and workplace shenanigans, i remember: THIS IS WHY I DO IT.
librarians as thought leaders is a killer concept.
being a librarian, i know that there are many definitions of thought leader – from business literature, HR blogs, philosophy texts, and various talks given by people held at airport hotels on a saturday morning.
but when i think of librarians as thought leaders, i think of…
believing in access to information as a human right means fighting for our communities. fighting to make sure the digital divide continues to shrink. fighting for privacy for our users. fighting against the entire concept of censorship. and lately, fighting for libraries.
so this is my call to arms. librarians are revolutionaries, and society needs us. and no i don’t mean killing all the things with fire.
true thought leaders, true revolutionaries, are willing to overthrow the system, or join it, if that’s what works best for their community.
there is a long list of things that are worth fighting for, and worrying about.
but there are also things that i am not worried about:
the end of print books
the end of libraries
students using wikipedia
google replacing librarians (my brain beats a google algorithm in any street fight. please note: i fight dirty).
there are things that we should worry about – and as librarians are uniquely placed to fight for.
the scholarly communication system needs a complete overhaul.
scholarship has moved online, publishers need to adapt and change.
librarians are uniquely positioned to help fix scholarly publishing. we support research and publishing on a daily basis. allowing publishers to then charge us ridiculous sums of money to make this research, which we helped produce, available to our communities, is ludicrous. as one of my favourite librarians recently said “we don’t owe publishers a living”.
and as a librarian if you are not supporting the open access movement, ask yourself if you really believe that access to information is a human right.
another issue that we can help fix -
access to electronic content has been taken over by large corporations who ultimately care more about the bottom line, than the community. Harry Potter is coming to the ebook format. but only available through the publisher’s website, not through the library. this despite the fact libraries have build entire reading programs for kids around Harry Potter and are, i would argue, responsible for much of the success of the series.
and there is more, there’s always more. the fight for net neutrality – that is our fight.
it’s time for a renewal, and, okay, i’m going to say it… CHANGE?
there is lots to be fixed. revolutionaries are doers, not sayers. revolutionaries don’t make provocative statements, they take radical action.
they are always looking for ways to make society better. they don’t shake their heads and say “but this is how we’ve always done it”.
challenge legacy processes.
all of them.
it’s a kickass time to be a librarian. so many opportunities to make society better. and that’s why we do this, right? we aren’t becoming millionaires. we aren’t going to rule the world (ok, maybe we will). so what are we?
we are educators (if you don’t think you are because you don’t do officially do “instruction”, just ask your friends. i guarantee you are the person that they go to with questions on a regular basis)
we are ninjas (no one sees us coming, and then POW we smackdown a school board who wants to ban a kids book about growing up in a gay family)
we are curious (that old adage about curiosity killing the cat? think about how curious librarians are. then think about librarians and cats. no killing happening there ; )
we are community-minded (you can’t have a properly informed citizenry without a library. point final.)
and we inspire each other.
Peter Brantley of the Internet Archive had a great post last year about leadership in libraries, and how we can’t let just those at the top determine the future for us. in it he quotes Faulkner’s “Them that’s going, get in the goddamn wagon. Them that ain’t, get out the goddamn way. ?
so i guess what i’m trying to say today, is that on those days when this gig feels a bit too paper-pushy / reprimand-y / WAY TOO MANY MEETINGS ZOMG… remember: librarians are able to start revolutions, and that is a powerful thing. we can build the future of libraryland together and show the world just how awesome it is to call yourself a librarian. it’s not going to be easy, but it is right, and as crazy as it sounds, it will make the world a better place.
Brings us this article which reminded me of a great movie I saw this weekend, “Midnight in Paris” with the great literary figures (and artists from the 1920′s).
FRIDAY, JUNE 17, 2011
How to drink like your favorite authors
For Faulkner it was a mint julep – a true southern tradition. As he said, “There is no such thing as bad whiskey. Some whiskeys just happen to be better than others. But a man shouldn’t fool with booze until he’s fifty; then he’s a damn fool if he doesn’t.”
Found via Coudal Partners
6/20/2011 A Terrific presentation of a world made of books which appeared on the Centered Librarian blog. Take a look it is really fun!!
Michelle McLean June 11th. 2011, 5:59pm
I worked today, a Saturday. All I can say is people are amazing. But they just seem to amaze me more on the weekend shifts than they do during the week.
Here’s just a few examples from today.
I came out of our staff area, to find a grandmother, sitting on a trestle table and hauling up her granddaughter to sit beside her. Being a trestle table, I could just see it in collapsing with the combined weight and the lack of supporting legs on the corner. Needless to say, I asked them to get down (nicely of course). Aren’t grandmothers the ones who normally tell you to get off the table?
The other one was a lady who came in saying her card had a virus and it was stopping her from going on a computer. Her library card that is. The staff member checked her card, which had a fine. She paid the fine and was booked on to a computer, muttering that when she did and the virus came up on her card, that she would be back to “show us”. She didn’t come back.
Then there was the young fella who needed scrap paper and thought the best place to get that was from the photocopier tray and gave a blank look when it was pointed out to him that it was stealing. (you pay for the paper too, not just the copy – to be fair, he came back and apologised) And the gentleman who wandered behind our desk, to check out when his son could get onto the games consoles, because he couldn’t wait a half second for a staff member to finish serving another library user. And the library user who swore we were using old brochures of library hours, that were different to the ones in other branches – turned out he got them mixed up with the Family History Group hours.
But it was all OK. They were all treated with respect and politeness. They weren’t difficult or nasty, just quirky, so we can live with that and it gives us a smile and something to shake our heads over when we have a spare moment.
I love public libraries – we serve everyone equally, regardless of demographics, or level of quirkiness.
What sort of quirky behaviour have you comes across in your library recently?
And no I checked, the full moon isn’t until Wednesday.
In her blog called Library Marginalia, Anne Welsh shares with the reader Claire Ross’ experience. Enjoy!
June 9, 2011 Those who took INSTG012(Historical Bibliography) this year as part of their MA LIS, MA ARM or MA RAMI at UCL will recognise this title page from our practical sessions on collation and description.
I was really lucky to inherit several old, tatty volumes that had been used by the last person who taught the module in house many years ago. (Thanks to the MA LIS Programme Director for keeping them safe). They are really ideal for teaching – several have clear wirelines and chainlines, the signatures are varied, and because they are falling apart, students are less worried about handling them than our preciousLibrary Special Collectionsmaterials. Their state also makes it possible to see how the pages were gathered, how the binding (or what remains of it) “works,” and generally to get a feel for how the book was put together. In other words, in a very material sense, I can teach construction through deconstruction.
So, how did this detached title page pitch up on the blogosphere? Well, last week, research student and fellow UCLDHer Claire Ross emailed me, asking for a project she could take to Canada for the Digital Humanities Summer Institute, where she is taking a course called Digital Fundamentals and their Application. It had to be small enough to fit into her handluggage, demonstrate some challenges for digitization, and, ideally, be useful to us at UCL.
I gave her the title pages from some of the INSTG012 “old tatties” and one small nineteenth century book, which seemed to fit the bill. Although we obviously have the books themselves from which to create our practice quasi facsimiles, as well as access to more in Special Collections, it will be really useful to be able to mount Claire’s images on our module webpage so students can have access outside the classroom. And because Claire is using a range of techniques, we’ll be able to compare and contrast the real title pages with different kinds of digital images.
Oh, and in case you are wondering why I teach the students how to create quasi facsimiles when it’s possible to create such accurate digital images these days – learning how to transcribe using the standard bibliographic techniques (a la Gaskell) means that students can read and understand transcriptions. It’ll be a long time, I think, before *all* the title pages covered in all the enumerative bibliographies are available digitally. Facsimiles are obviously the most heavily coded, so if they can manage them, they can manage any enumerative bibliography.
You can read about Claire’s progress with the title pages on her blog. I’m really looking forward to catching up with her after DHSI2011 and hearing all about her digifun in person.
MONDAY, MAY 16, 2011
The New York Public Library on Stamps
This month the New York Public Library is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the dedication of its iconic building at 5th Avenue & 42nd Street now known as the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. For this occasion I have assembled a philatelic tribute to the library on the Library History Buff website which features representations of this landmark building on stamps. The postage stamp featuring one of the famous lions in front of the building (shown here) was issued by the United States in 2000. The purpose of the stamp was to pay for pre-sorted standard mail. Because the United States Postal Service has a policy against honoring individual local institutions, the stamp was to be issued with out any reference to the New York Public Library. However, the NYPL required that the inscription “The New York Public Library” be added to the stamp because the lion is trademarked by NYPL. The stamps were in widespread use for a number of years by bulk mailers, and as a result they were probably used on more envelopes than any library related stamps in history. Three other countries have issued postage stamps featuring the building at 5th Avenue & 42nd Street. For a number of years I have advocated, to no avail, for apostage stamp which honors all public libraries in the United States. I also have a webpage that shows all postage stamps that feature U.S. libraries and a webpage that shows U.S. library people on postage stamps.
Check out the other library stamps, too! (links above)
I am sure there are facts here of which you are totally unaware. Enjoy! 5/18/11
How Overdue Books Caused the Civil War
Did southern congressmen swipe books from the Library of Congress in order to start a library in the Confederacy?Posted Wed, 05/18/2011 – 08:03
Nonetheless, the fact remains that 150 years ago, when this country was debating whether to go to war with itself, one issue on the table was missing library books.
I discovered this odd scandal in the Congressional Serial Set, an endless fountain of primary source data about American history. Volume 1105 contains House Report 90, describing a bizarre incident involving the New York Times, a library with no catalog, and, so help me, the Dred Scott Decision. The report is full of surprises, reminding us that, as novelist L. P. Hartley said: “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”
Setting the scene
Abraham Lincoln was elected president in November 1860. In the months before his April inauguration, southern states started to secede, and some people in the North argued they should be brought back by force.
Some accused the southern states of playing dirty. One Illinois newspaper complained that they had “suppressed the business of the country, destroyed its credit, robbed its treasury, ruined thousands of business men, and thrown tens of thousands out of employment into want and distress; they have disrupted the Union, seized the federal property, fired into American ships, insulted the National Flag, plundered the National Mint, stolen Government vessels, interrupted commerce, threatened the country with bloodshed and civil war, and are now using the most infamous means to overthrow the Government itself.”
Surely people that nasty wouldn’t hesitate to filch library books. But exactly how did it happen?
On February 13, 1861, the day the Electoral College officially picked Lincoln as the next president, this article appeared in the New York Times:
Providing a Library for the Southern Confederacy
It is ascertained that, in addition to the other frauds perpetrated by the seceding Members of Congress, they have taken from the Congressional Library—which is, probably, the best in this country, containing many books which cannot be obtained elsewhere—some of the most valuable volumes in the whole collection. Thousands of dollars’ worth have been thus abstracted and carried off by these members. Among them, a single South Carolina member, I am informed, has more than four hundred dollars’ worth of digests of the most valuable character, and which can never be replaced. Scarcely one of these gentlemen took the trouble to return his books, but, on the contrary, were very cautious to have them carefully packed and sent off. I am further informed that a member from one of the Border States, who favors secession, and thought his State sure to secede, sent orders for upwards of one thousand dollars’ worth of books recently, which, under the rules of the Library, were refused. This is regarded here to be very near akin to what Webster defines as “theft.”
In short, the Times accused southern congressmen of swiping books from the Library of Congress in order to start a library in the Confederacy.
Not a big deal compared to other accusations being made, but this charge was aimed at congressmen.
The House of Representatives took it personally and immediately organized a committee to investigate. (This was the first thing that astonished me. The committee was organized, held hearings, and issued its final report in less than two weeks—about the time I would expect a modern committee to spend choosing its letterhead.)
The committee chairman was Rep. Roger Atkinson Pryor of Virginia. As a southerner and former newspaperman, Pryor had a double interest in the scandal about the Library of Congress.
But wait. That’s the next surprise. The article referred to the “Congressional Library,” but the institution involved was the House of Representatives Library, a collection of some 30,000 newspapers and public documents, stored in what Smithsonian Institution Librarian Charles Coffin Jewett described as “a series of closets, triangular rooms, and attics, near the hall of the House.”
The majestic breadth of this facility is shown by this congressional testimony: “I went up there twice to inquire; the first time I found the door locked, and the next time I found nobody in the library, but a young man away up in the loft, to whom I did not wish to talk about it.”
So, that’s strike one against the story. If somebody was getting ripped off, it wasn’t the nation’s greatest library.
The first lucky witness before the committee was Henry H. Pangborn, author of theTimes article. Of course, Pangborn, in the best tradition of reporters, refused to reveal his sources.
No, I lie. He sang like Caruso. In fact, all the testifying newspapermen seemed to compete in eagerness to cooperate with Congress. Not quite what we expect nowadays.
But that’s not to say Pangborn was actually helpful. “I wrote the body of [the article];” he told the committee, and then immediately started hedging. “I was probably the original author of it. I am not exactly certain how I did write it. The original copy is probably lost.”
The committee noted that he had referred to “other frauds perpetuated by the seceding Members of Congress.” Pangborn admitted he had no evidence of other fraud—except that he considered secession to be fraud.
Pangborn denied that he had been merely spreading rumors. He had heard from several people in the House Post Office “that there could be no doubt about it; that large quantities of books were missing.” How that differed from rumor, he did not say.
One of my favorite moments came when the reporter nobly explained that he had mentioned no congressmen by name because he had no evidence against any individual.
Pryor replied: “And therefore you cast reflection upon a whole class?”
Pangborn, no doubt with a straight face: “I supposed that their personal character would protect them from that.”
One of his informants, B. T. Hutchins, held two jobs at the same time: he was the clerk of a House committee and a newspaper correspondent. I doubt one person could hold both of those positions today.
The multitasking Hutchins was asked what evidence backed up the accusations he had passed on to the press. “I never inquired,” he said primly. “I regarded it as none of my business.”
The librarian takes the stand
If this farce has a tragic hero it is the Librarian of the House. Calvin Clifford Chaffee was a physician turned politician, having represented Springfield, Massachusetts, in Congress from 1855 to 1859. He was a pro-abolition Republican until his political career collapsed in 1857 when a shocking fact was revealed to the nation—and apparently to Chaffee himself.
Picture the scene: The congressman is contentedly reading the morning paper. Suddenly one story catches his eye: His wife owns the most famous slave in America.
Irene Emerson Chaffee had inherited several slaves from her first husband. One of them was Dred Scott, and when Scott went to court seeking his freedom she was his official legal opponent.
The southern newspapers had a field day with the abolitionist whose wife owned Dred Scott. Chaffee wisely decided not to run for reelection. I assume a sympathetic colleague got him the job of House librarian, a position where he would be free of embarrassing newspaper stories. What could go wrong?
Dr. Chaffee told the committee that Pangborn had not interviewed him about the article. (In fact, the reporter had buttonholed him on the street one day, but the librarian was too busy to talk. Not Chaffee’s wisest decision, as it turned out.)
The librarian denied suspecting the seceding members of deliberately swiping books. However, he noted that “there are a certain amount of books missing from the library, that are charged to members of Congress and have not been returned.”
Chaffee said that he had assumed the congressmen “had done as other members had done, left their books in their rooms.” He sent a messenger to the members’ boarding houses to retrieve the volumes, “lest some unauthorized or evil-minded persons should take them.”
The committee didn’t get to meet the messenger, who is only referred to as Evans, because he claimed to be too sick to attend the hearing. They did, however, get to puzzle over his notes. For example, what did it mean when Evans wrote beside Congressman G. L. Hawkins’s name, “Messenger order, old man Lake.” Chaffee admitted: “I cannot explain that.”
But chairman Pryor had a more fundamental question. How could Chaffee be sure the books were really missing? Had he checked the shelves?
And here the modern reader gets the next big surprise. “I could not tell if I did,” said Chaffee. “These books are duplicates.”
It turned out the staff had no idea how many duplicate copies of books the library possessed. Worse, since there was no catalog, they did not actually know which books they owned at all.
This dubious record-keeping was emphasized when Chaffee’s assistant produced a list of missing books that disagreed with his boss’s copy. For example, he claimed one congressman had failed to return 42 volumes of the Annals of Congress, but the official record didn’t mention those books at all.
It was not looking good for the library team.
But wait, there’s more
Let’s go back to the end of that article, where Pangborn said a congressman from a border state “sent orders for upwards of one thousand dollars’ worth of books recently, which, under the rules of the Library, were refused.”
The day before the first hearing, Pangborn published another article identifying the culprit. Rep. Daniel Coleman De Jarnette of Virginia had asked an acquaintance to borrow some books he needed for a speech. The overenthusiastic friend ordered a whopping 115 volumes, and a clerk nixed the request because of its size and because the friend’s handwriting was not that of the congressman.
Eventually Chaffee approved De Jarnette’s request, but the chief clerk of the House, P. Barry Hayes, decided unilaterally not to send the books. All the congressman got for his trouble was Pangborn’s accusation of theft.
You can’t blame the committee for investigating the library’s management. But who did they ask for an opinion? None other than Hayes, the chief clerk who had held up De Jarnette’s book order after Chaffee finally approved it.
Hayes was happy to offer his views on the library. He complained that “the head of that department ought to pay more attention to it than he does.” Just in case anyone was slow on the uptake, he went on to praise all the library staff except Chaffee.
To be fair, Hayes also noted that the physical structure of the library was a problem. “It is utterly impossible to do the business properly in a place like that. It is a place winding in and out, with books in every cubby-hole up and down stairs.”
A week later the committee filed its report, concluding that Pangborn’s article was based on exaggerated rumors passed on by loose-lipped clerks. They called the piece “a fair specimen of the many sensation[al] despatches [sic] sent from this city … with little if any inquiry into the correctness of the many rumors that reach their ears; with the most reckless and unwarranted inferences from them.” Thank heavens that sort of thing doesn’t happen anymore.
They concluded with regret, “Your committee, however, are not of the opinion, that this House can provide any remedy for this evil.” The pesky First Amendment blocked progress again.
The committee was gracious enough not to mention Chaffee. Instead they lamented the “present condition of the library of the House, as being such as almost necessarily to render impossible its proper management, and leading to the commission of errors… . The library, as many members of this House are well aware, is contained in a room illy adapted for that purpose. There is no catalogue of the books contained in it.”
The House Library didn’t survive very long after the Civil War. Neither did Pangborn, who joined the Navy and died in Florida in 1866, a week after getting married.
Chaffee returned to medicine in 1862, no doubt glad to be free of newspaper coverage.
Other events—the firing on Fort Sumter comes to mind—pushed the library scandal out of the news. In the long run, the ordeal had little effect—except on Chaffee, Pangborn, and the House Library. But it serves as a fascinating warning of what can be accomplished by bureaucratic gossip, shoddy journalism, and truly wretched library management.
ROBERT LOPRESTI is a librarian at Western Washington University. This article is based on “‘Reckless and Unwarranted Inferences’: The U.S. House Library Scandal of 1861” by Robert Lopresti and August A. Imholtz, Library and Information History 27, no. 1 (March 2011): 3–16.
When I caught this in Rolling Stone Magazine, I couldn’t resist:
If there’s one thing Lady Gaga knows a lot about, it’s pop culture. In her first column for V Magazine, the 25-year-old New Yorker says she’s been keeping tabs on the world around her since she was an aspiring singer in a roach-infested apartment.
“Glam culture is ultimately rooted in obsession,” she writes, “and those of us who are truly devoted and loyal to the lifestyle of glamour are masters of its history. Or, to put it more elegantly, we are librarians.
“I myself can look at almost any hemline, silhouette, beadwork or heel architecture and tell you very precisely who designed it after them, and what cultural and musical movement parented the birth, death and resurrection of that particular trend,” she boasts.
So how did the “Judas” singer become such an authority?
“An expertise in the vocabulary of fashion, art and pop culture requires a tremendous amount of studying. My studio apartment on the [Lower East Side], quite similar to many of my hotel suites now – knock on wood – was covered in inspiration,” she explains. “Everything from vintage books and magazine I found at the Strand on 12th Street to my dad’s old Bowie posters to metal records from my best friend Lady Starlight to Aunt Merle’s hand-me-down emerald-green designer pumps were sprawled all over the floor about two feet from my bathroom and four inches from my George Foreman Grill.
“I’ve done my homework. Have you?” she asks readers. “Where are your library cards?
I found this article so cute and thought provoking that I had to include it. I learned in my rare books class that comments in the margin add to the value of the book. Tom Peters has some thoughts on this. It is from ALA Techforce.
The Margins of Marginalia
In the damp, dark, twisting catacombs of this long digital revolution that eventually will lead to the bright future of eReading, marginalia may be the lowly canary. Marginalia, that wonderfully eccentric habit of writing in the margins of printed books, has become an object of scrutiny and some concern. Coleridge, Melville, Twain, David Foster Wallace, and a host of others made marginalia into a form of literary expression. If printed books are being marginalized, what is the future of marginalia?
Of course, we’re talking about writing in the margins of personally owned copies. Writing in the margins of library books is a no-no. Ditto for underlining and highlighting. Very boorish behavior and fodder for fines and polite chastisement.
Books borrowed from friends constitute a gray area. Coleridge was such a renowned marginaliac that his friends would actually lend their books to him so that he could scribble in the margins. Studs Turkel expected the books he loaned to friends to come back with additional marks made by friendly fingers.
Marginalia is a hot topic. Earlier this spring, within the span of two weeks, the New York Times published two long articles about the future of marginalia. That “fortnight mirabilis” may be remembered down the ages as marginalia’s 15 minutes of fame. (mmm, I wonder if Andy Warhol was into marginalia?) First, on Feb. 20th the NYT published an article (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/21/books/21margin.html?_r=2&emc=tnt&tntemail1=y#) by Dirk Johnson that gives voice to the fears of bibliophiles that marginal notes are an endangered missive species.
Then on March 6th the NYT Magazine published a manic essay (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/06/magazine/06Riff-t.html?_r=1&src=recg&pagewanted=all#) by Sam Anderson where the future of e-marginalia is bright and promising, although initially Sam worried for several years that the rise of eReading might asphyxiate his passion. After some cogitation, however, he decides, “Digital technology, rather than destroying the tradition of marginalia, could actually help us return it to its gloriously social 18th-century roots.”
One blogger, Michael Doan, suggested in a February post (http://michaeldoan.com/2011/02/marginalia/) that we need to “create an open method/standard for sharing annotation[s] and passages” so that users of different eReading devices and software can share snippets and marginalia across all these digital divides and crevices. He also calls for an opt-in, public domain, searchable repository of e-marginalia. Wowsa! Doan is an accountant and photographer, not a librarian, but we librarians should take up this cause.
When it comes to marginalia in the books I personally own, my attitudes and habits toward marginalia provide oblique insights into the inscrutable stages of this boy’s life. When I first began purchasing books on my own as a teenager, I wrote only in pencil on the title page where I purchased the book, the date, and the price I paid. I’ve kept those books over the decades, and those marks on the cave walls of my life have proven useful in wistful ways.
For example, recently when re-reading Willa Cather’s fine short story, Neighbour Rosicky, for an online discussion with Professor Loren Logsden, I noted the penciled date, place, and price (12/12/77, Wigdahl’s, $1.95) of the now-yellowed copy I had purchased over three decades ago. Wigdahl Bookfinders in Fort Dodge, Iowa, is now long gone, and the date indicates that I probably had recently returned home from the fall semester of my sophomore year at college and was looking for something good to read over the winter holiday break.
Curiously, that early penciling practice stopped in my early adulthood, and I assumed a pristine, prissy attitude toward the books I bought, both new and used. This new practice may have coincided with my graduate studies in library science. For several decades after that, I wrote nothing in my books. If I took reading notes, I kept them separate from the text. If I purchased a used book that, upon perusal, revealed some marginalia from the previous owner, I usually was more fascinated than offended. It was like happening upon someone’s notes to one’s self. The only thing better in this line was finding some postcard or sales receipt tucked into the leaves. Alas, I’ve never found a pressed flower or a lock of hair.
Then in middle age I returned to writing in the margins of the printed books I owned. I don’t remember any period of anxious thought on this matter. It just began again. It felt good to be back reading with pen in hand. No more pencils or sitting on my hands. It was ink or bust for me.
When I received a Kindle as a gift earlier this year, my habits of marginalia soared to new heights. It became extremely easy to highlight passages and add notes, which are then situated in the text I’m reading but also pulled together into my Kindle account on Amazon where I can, for instance, share them with students in a course, fellow members of a book discussion group, family, and friends…even, in theory, with enemies. I’ll rebut and rebuke them with my rapier marginalia. It’s even possible to add a marginal note on a Kindle and then tweet it.
There are many other annotation systems that add value to the eReading experience. The Readum app (readum.com) does something similar (Google Book to Facebook). I’ve tried it once, but it’s not quite as elegant and useful as Kindlesque marginalia. For you Appleseeds, the Openmargin iPad app announced in late April (http://www.the-
digital-reader.com/2011/04/28/openmargin-brings-margin-notes-to-life/) looks very interesting. It further blurs the lines between annotating the text and engaging in a group discussion of a text.
Marginalia seems poised to take flight again in the era of eReading. We, the members of the Bunned Legions in Sensible Shoes – librarians and teachers – may have been responsible for the nadir of marginalia in the 20th century. Johnson notes, “Paul F. Gehl, a curator at the Newberry, blamed generations of librarians and teachers for ‘inflicting us with the idea’ that writing in books makes them ‘spoiled or damaged.’” Let’s right that old wrong and contribute to this bird’s revival in the 21st century.
In contrast to the old book featured above, The Centered Librarian offers us this:
A colleague of mine, Lara Tewes, comments, “Cute ideas for Library events/fundraisers” when she came across this blog which is a riot, a lot of fun for “serious” librarians and the rest of us too.
MONDAY, APRIL 4, 2011
Love and Literature
A wedding should reflect the tastes and passion of the bride and groom. For some, that means reflecting their love for literature in a subtle but clever way, without necessarily making it a themed wedding (think: Great Gatsby, Alice In Wonderland, Gone With the Wind, etc.) As big readers ourselves, we’ve thought long and hard about different ways to incorporate works of literature at your wedding. Here are some suggestions:
If you’re having a small wedding, create your old “vintage book” as awedding program! This will create a unique keepsake and add a lot of charm to your wedding, but it will definitely be a significant project!
We really love the idea of naming your tables after famous writers or novels. Have fun with it by placing your work friends at Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, your girlfriends at Jane Austen’s Emma, and your creepy uncle at Vladmir Nabokov’s Lolita.
Or, if you want to stick with numbers, do it in a way that is true to your theme. We like these because they serve double duty! Vintage books function as both a centerpiece and way to display the table numbers in a way that is charming and unique.
You can also carve out old books to create unique centerpieces or decor at your wedding. While we’re a little reluctant to demolish old books this way, perhaps you could find books that are otherwise damaged and use them. Either way, it creates a very rustic and creative centerpiece.
Instead of using satin ribbon to add some flair to your wedding cakes, wrap it in some (sanitized) newspaper or vintage print. We also like how the cake toppers are similarly wrapped in print to create a coherent look. Just be sure to use romantic text… no old pages of Play Boy for you!
And they lived happily ever after!
Jen & Saira