Happy World Book Day!!!

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As a librarian, World Book Day definitely sits at the top of my “favorite random holidays” list (others include: World Nutella day- Feb 5. Bourbon Day- June 15. International Coffee Day- Oct 1, and Hobbit Day- September 22…).

In honor of this most esteemed holiday (which you should celebrate by going to your local bookstore and picking up a new good read!!), I wanted to share some of the great finds that I’ve stumbled across during my wanderings at work! My library is a private library that focuses on science, engineering, and technology, which you can read more about it from my blog post here, or here! We have around 45 miles of shelves filled with academic and professional journals, books, maps, folios, military and industrial standards, government documents, just about anything you can think of! Our rare book collection is also stunning, and I could go on and on until I’m old and grey about that, so I’ll just keep this narrowed down to the fun things I’ve found while hunting the stacks!

Currently, I’m working on curating a temporary collection of books that compliment our upcoming exhibit on the history of ornithology and bird watching as a hobby. From field guides to beautifully illustrated folios, there are books about every bird imaginable! (These adorably expressive owls are photographs from this great book!)

Of course, if you’re going to learn about owls, you may as well pick up some seasonal tips on reindeer handling. (this would definitely come in handy when we move to Finland if our favorite millionare Oompa Loompa gets elected…)

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Of course, never a pessimist, I’m planning a parade for when he ISN’T elected, and what better source to turn to than a 1956 parade design book?

A woman with vices that extend beyond horrible puns, nutella by the spoonful, and buying books in unnecessary amounts, I enjoy a good cigar now and then… (more “now” than “then” … hey, it’s a vice, right?!), so when I stumbled across this piece written in 1947, discussing the history of pipes and smoking tobacco, I have to say I was excited. It’s now semi-permanently sitting at my desk (Sssh…)

Another facsimile (a book that is an exact copy of the original. This is used especially in cases of handwritten or rare books) that found its way to my desk (not ashamed) is good old Geoff. Oh Geoffrey Chaucer…wait, why is a complete copy of his works, IN THE ORIGINAL ENGLISH, sitting on a shelf in my engineering library…oh well. The tome keeps me company now, making my desk look marvelously important (even though I rarely crack the binding…that semester of Chaucer & Old English in college left me scarred. SCARRED).

 

Of course, sometimes books aren’t that nice to you…Watch out, or they’ll crush you mercilessly.

But as always, it’s a love/hate/love relationship. We love them. We hate waiting for the sequel. We love the antici … pation for the sequel…so keep on being a bookworm! It’s the best kind of worm there is!

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*cough* NERD

BUT WAIT. THERE’S MORE.

NO World Book Day would be complete without random, yet interesting-and-could-probably-be-a-question-on-Jeopardy facts!!

  1. Did you know that the first movable type was invented in China by a man named Bi Sheng, around 1040? That’s nearly 600 YEARS before Gutenberg’s press!
  2. The world’s oldest library, located in Fez, Morocco, was founded by a woman. The al-Qarawiyyin Library is a part of a complex that includes the library, a mosque, and the world’s oldest University. Fatima El-Fihriya, a Tunisian businessman’s daughter, pledged her entire inheritance towards founding a university and library in Fez. The university opened in 859, and has been in continuous operation since its doors first opened. The library has been closed over the past 4 years, undergoing extensive renovations, and is slated to open this May!
  3. The first book to ever be published in America is believed to be a Puritan hymnal from around 1640, now called the Bay Psalm Book. It went up for auction in 2013, set at $30 million.
  4. JRR Tolkien, author of the famous Lord of the Rings series and its numerous companions, was an Oxford professor, linguist, and all around nerd. He was semi-fluent in over 10 languages, and created several for his famed fantasy series  (all of which were based on Germanic languages), he also worked on reconstructing and reviving existing, but long-dead languages as well, such as Medieval Welsh and Lombardic.
  5. The longest book ever printed is thought to be Artamène/Cyrus the Great, a medieval text that measures a whopping 10 volumes, 13,095 pages, and over 1 million words. On the page, the book is written by Frenchman Geroges de Scudéry, but scholars now accredit it more to his sister, Madeleine. If you’re curious, a project was launched to digitize the work here, thanks the the Institute of Modern French Literature! (Here’s a list of some more of the longest books ever published.)

 

 

So, sometimes I write…

This fall, I joined a group of alumni in a blog series created by my graduate school’s Center for Career and Professional Development (or CCPD, if you don’t have enough time to twist that off of your tongue). While not a lengthy project, it’s been a blast, and I have about two more articles to write for them.

The first was a piece discussing all of the lessons I’d learned while job hunting, moving back and forth (and back and forth) across the country, and just good job seeking advice I’d been given or learned the hard way. From keeping track of job applications to preparing to move, to comparing cost of living and salary calculations, I tried to cover it all. Now, I know that I didn’t cover it all, but it’s the thought that counts (as grandma always said). If you want to read that article, you can click on this link here!

However, this past month, my second piece was published (check it out in its entirety here!) on a subject that’s very near and dear to my heart- libraries. Since the introduction of the personal computer, societies at large have been leaning towards digital formats more and more, until the last few decades or so was dubbed “The Digital Age.” In fact, we’ve gotten so dependent on digital media, technologies, and formats, that over the past ten or so years, the necessity of libraries has been called into question (*wince).  As a member of the generation that never knew a time without technology, we’ve often been accused of not appreciating or respecting solid formats- books, vinyls, the tangible, not the terabyte. Obviously, that’s a gross miscalculation, and far from being correct. Printed media has seen a rise in the past 5 years, with the all-hailed ebooks seeing a sharp drop in popularity. In fact, this phenomena has been reported all over the world, and not just in the US. Despite these numbers, I am consistently asked a variant of the same question whenever I mention my profession: “How are libraries going to be kept around since everything is going digital?” The answer is simple: libraries aren’t going anywhere. Libraries have always been a keystone to community organization, education, and activity. Their roll won’t change, only expand.

So, in contrast to my first post, this one ended up being more biographical than educational (although, I could argue that learning ANYTHING about libraries is educational). Growing up, I was more prone to pick up a book than a Barbie, and while I adored the outdoors, it was rare to find me unaccompanied by a book or two (even if it usually reeked havoc on the poor pages eventually). Books caught me from the beginning, and it should have been a warning sign that I would be doomed to being a librarian, but my adolescent mind was set on being a pilot. (or a Naval strategist. or a forensic scientist. or an Egyptologist.) So, despite being nicknamed after Shirley Jones’ character, Marian “Madam Librarian” Marpoo, from The Music Man, at age 4, I doggedly set off after my soaring (literally) dreams, books clutched under my arm like a safety blanket. However, little did I know it, but I wasn’t anywhere near the path that would lead towards a cockpit (or a lab, or a tomb for that matter), but actually strode along in the dead center of the road that led to call numbers and card catalogs. 

Naturally, when sorting out post-college career plans, I gravitated towards the library sciences & the associated professions: archivist, curator, museum researcher, librarian. Libraries had always been an integral part of my childhood (see previously mentioned nickname “Madame Librarian”), and books were in my blood. By the age of 16, I’d amassed a library that filled 3 six foot tall by 3 feet wide bookcases (roughly 48 feet of linear storage), and the ONLY thing I was worried about while prepping for college was what to do with the books when I left for school. (Of course, I am once again reunited with my library after being away from home for 6 years, but I digress.)

The true point of this article is to really hammer in, drive home, make the concept stick, etc. the fact that books are forever, technology is fleeting. The printed page is far from dead; it is, in fact, quite virile and thriving. An article from the NY Times (Alter, 2015) written in September of 2015 talked about the drop in e-book sales as print sales rose. Now, whether this is due to the amazing increase in the creation of adult coloring books or not…I cannot say. As an owner of several of said coloring books (the cuss words one is quite fun), I can happily say “wheee!” whilst being careful not to upset the organized piles of colored pencils placed carefully around my sleeping cat (who, in true cat fashion, has taken up the most prominent position on my bed, regardless of the project I am working on).

I will forever be in love with the written word, and while I do adore the newest shiny gadget as much as the next girl, give me the smell of a book over the zing of a hot computer any day. The issue with society waxing eloquent about the fall of print and rise of processors can be summed up in one question: How many copies of Beauty and the Beast (or insert your own album here) do you own? Personally, I have it in four formats: cassette tape, CD, an itunes download on my phone, and a digital remastered version I bought on my computer. Now, take older albums: Guns ‘n Roses, originally released on vinyl, had to go through three different formats in order to be played on iphones today (I’m choosing to forget that ill-fated ‘minidisc’ that came before CDs); or The Beatle’s albums, who survived 8-tracks, vinyls, and a plethora of now outdated and virtually unplayable formats.

We can thank hipsters for reviving the record player and the reemergence of vinyls onto the current music scene.
HOWEVER I WILL CONFESS RIGHT NOW IN ALL CAPS THAT I AM INSANELY JEALOUS OF ALL OF MY FRIENDS WITH RECORD PLAYERS. …i want one…

At the library where I work, we have files on microfilm, microfische, and countless cd-roms that are unusable, their contents lost to us, because of the format on which they were digitized. Digitization is constantly changing, and if you’re in that field, bravo! you will forever have a profession because with every new form of technology, the one after it will render its predecessor completely irrelevant, creating a vicious cycle of “update/digitize/update/digitize” when over on the bookshelf is the original content, still  printed and available for anyone anywhere to pick it up and use it at a moment’s notice.

People don’t realize that a library’s existence isn’t to merely provide entertainment to the community. While this is a large part of what we do, it isn’t the only thing, and it isn’t the most important thing. *gasp. did a librarian just say books aren’t the most important?!* Yes, I did, and this is why: Libraries are the community’s heartbeat, nervous system, the backbone; they are everything vital that a healthy community needs. A community without a library is like a body without a mind. The library fosters learning, imagination, innovation, and most importantly: life. Paula Poundstone, actress and comedienne, struck a serious note when saying: “The truth is libraries are raucous clubhouses for free speech, controversy, and community.” When the Digital Age dawned, both academic and political communities began to question the relevance of public libraries. In reality, with economic inequality at an all time high, the need for accessible, free programming has never been stronger.

Studies show that children from poor economic backgrounds develop literacy skills at a slower rate than those from middle or upper class households. Statistics by the Literacy Project Foundation have found a direct correlation between low literacy levels and low income. If we as a society ever hope to increase the quality of life for our current and future generations, we need look no further than the library. Its open doors provide attainable knowledge for children, immigrants, and every-day curious minds alike.

The library is a necessity for those who don’t have access to educational, professional, or research tools. It offers services such as early and adult literacy programs invaluable to ESL households, free internet and computer access for those seeking employment, a warm and quiet environment that can mean life or death for the homeless, after-school activities, and an uplifting environment that fosters a love of learning and reading in youths. These free programs are a library’s best weapons in the battle to better society.

Libraries have transformed themselves to meet the needs of their surrounding communities. They have strengthened their role as the very backbone of civilization and provide much needed refuge and guidance for future generations.strengthening their role as the very backbone of civilization, and providing much needed refuge and guidance for future generations.

 

 THAT is why the library is always going to be necessary, needed, and valued.
There will always be books, there will always be librarians to keep them.

 

Sources

“The Plot Twist.” 22 September 2015. Alter, Alexander. NYTimes. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/23/business/media/the-plot-twist-e-book-sales-slip-and-print-is-far-from-dead.html?_r=0

“E-books slow as Print Sales Rise.” 02 Nobember, 2015. ConnexiconFrance. http://www.connexionfrance.com/printed-book-sales-rise-slow-growth-ebooks-17396-view-article.html

Illiteracy Statistics. Literacy Project Foundation, via National Institute for Literacy. http://literacyprojectfoundation.org/community/statistics/

“Closing the 30 Million-Word Gap.” Bayliss, Sarah. July 9, 2015. School Library Journal. http://www.slj.com/2015/07/standards/early-learning/closing-the-30-million-word-gap-up-front/

“Key to Vocabulary Gap is Quality of Conversation, not Dearth of Words.” Sparks, Sarah. April 21, 2015. Education Week. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2015/04/22/key-to-vocabulary-gap-is-quality-of.html

2015

I know I’m a bit late by society’s standards at making a list of “to-dos” for this new year, but I sincerely believe that you shouldn’t make resolutions, life-goals, whatever you may call them, right off the bat. As I do in everything, I ponder, reflect, and plan my next moves for the upcoming year. Too often, New Year’s Resolutions are left in the dust, because people aren’t able to follow through with the list, or because they didn’t truly find things they believed in. Yes, “loosing ___ pounds” is a good goal, but is it actually something you want to do, or are you throwing it out there so you aren’t the only one in your friend group without a Resolution?
Well, by the end of 2014, I was no more than a pile on insecurities held together by whiskey and the arms of my close friends. Bad decisions, shaken confidences, broken dreams and ideals, coming to the end of my rope…things piled up, and I was a bit worse for wear. Essentially, I felt that if life had a yard sale, I’d still be forgotten in the back garage while the chipped kitchen ware and 30-year-old golf clubs could be bought for a dollar. This year is different (I’ll be sold for TWO DOLLARS!! …just kidding), so here they are:

15 for ’15

  1. I will be at peace with myself (myself meaning: my PRs, my body, my education, my emotions, my everything).
  2. I will have savings. (With New York inhaling all of my earnings, I’ve found myself with no savings at all. This will change)
  3. I will be stronger, both emotionally and mentally.
  4. I will treat my body with respect. It will be clean, healthy, and the strongest it’s ever been.
  5. I will start savoring memories, not things. I need to reduce my life. I’ve dwelt on meaningless things for far too long. More photos, more writing, less possessions, more space for the people I love & the things that are truly valuable.
  6. I will read more. Believe it or not, I haven’t finished a book for leisure in some time. (#gradschool)
  7. I will become less attached to technology, and more attached to the people physically in my life. Let bygones be bygones. Technology keeps strings tied to things that would otherwise be long gone.
  8. I will travel more. I need to appreciate being young and having time. This is a beautiful country, and a breathtaking world we live in, and I need to see more of it.
  9. I will become fluent in a language. I don’t have a particular one in mind, but being bilingual is a necessary life skill.
  10. I will find a job that I love. I will stop looking for “this will work” or “this sounds cool” or “it’s good for now,” and start looking for “I want this” and “I can live here” and “I would kill for this job.”
  11. I will love me for my own sake. A certain amount of self-love is healthy. Too much is narcissism, yes, but like mom always said, “all things in moderation.” and this is no different. I have skills, memories, traits, unique to only me, and that’s pretty amazing. I need to believe that I am worth something.
  12. I will spend more time alone. I don’t mean in my room with my computer and iphone and netflix and day-old pizza with Murder, She Wrote reruns, I mean truly alone: myself, my thoughts, peace & quiet, no distractions, just reflection.
  13. I will pick up a new hobby. Why not?
  14. I will pick music back up: I’ll sing again. I’ll play the cello again. I’ll pull out my guitar, I’ll dust off my piano sheet music…
  15. I will live every day to the fullest. No more “accidentally wasted __ hours online” no more sleeping til noon. It’s time I grow up.

 

‘Twas the night before classes

The night before classes and all through the house,
only one creature was stirring, quiet as a mouse.
She poured herself a glass of whiskey with care,
in hopes that sweet dreams soon would be there.
The cats were nestled all snug in their beds,
With visions of catnip dances through their heads.
The roommates abed,
And after cleaning the trash,
I settled down in the water for a long, peaceful bath.
When lo! In my mind there arose such a clatter,
I sprang to my window to find what was the matter.
Then, looking at my thoughts, what did I see?
Nightmares of classes and anxiety. 
My worries all gathered round school and grades,
Though after 4 years an under grad, I should have it made.
But I worried, and fretted, and
overthought all.
Til worked into a frenzy I ran down the hall.
All the books piles high seemed to mock me and stare
When earlier that day, they sat with glee and with flair.
So into my bed I curled up with a gasp,
As old panicked dreams slid slowly from grasp.
When what do my haggard thoughts suddenly hear?
But the laughter of friends and loved ones held dear.
Then I remember that I’m not alone in this fright,
But surrounded by family and friends to hold tight.
For with the help of a few I get by,
And suddenly grad school and grades slip my mind.
So I wander back into the bathroom, now cold,
Pull up a warm bath, and exhale my ol
Fears and anxieties, having them slip my mind.
Because dreams are worth nothing without friends good and kind.
So as this semester begins, keep this thought:
Grades are important, but without love, we are naught.
So I close this story with one final plea:
Study, work hard, then the worries will flee.

Home is where the heart is, but only if love’s there too.

Summer days so lazy I don’t even bother to put on regular clothes, just wander out by the water’s edge with a towel & a book, Jack Johnson’s magical guitar strumming in my ears.

There, by the dock, pool steps, or river’s edge, I let my mind wander, not caring if it returns or not. Let my consciousness have the day off. Let her drift through the courts of King Arthur, ride along side Ivanhoe and Rebecca, try her hand at chess with Charles Wallace, and shoot with Robin and Will Scarlet.

There, my nerves revel in the sting of the hot pavement on my feet, the warmth of the sun’s light on my skin, and the breeze ruffling the pages of my book, tangling in my hair, and causing goose bumps up and down my limbs. Those hours of escape from reality, where my book is as real as my sister standing in the kitchen, and my mother in the garden, are paradise.

This is my Kingdom of Summer, my Camelot. My knights are the books at my side, my Excalibur, the stories and words barricaded in my mind, my imagination, my Merlin, guides my arm as I battle sloth, boredom, and lethargy that threatens to weigh my limbs down, paralyzing me.

Give me two thousand words and I will visit more places than you could ever imagine. Shangri La, Middle Earth, Narnia, a party at Gatsby’s, the dusty road along side Huck and Tom, Treasure Island, and Uriel, mark them all on my passports. I’ve visited them more times than I can count. There, forever walk and wander the friends of my childhood, the companions of my youth.

My home is found between the pressed pages of any book I open, the path to my door in the lines of black-inked words, repeated by the dozens. The yellowed pages of old favorites form my hearthstone, and the worn bindings and book covers make the roof. Their familiar syllables and voices trapping my heart in their embrace once more.

 

After all, home is where the heart is, but only if love is there too.

Date a Girl Who Reads

“You should date a girl who reads.
Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes, who has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she has found the book she wants. You see that weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a secondhand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow and worn.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas, for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry and in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who read understand that all things must come to end, but that you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes.”

——-

This essay, simply titled, “Date a Girl Who Reads,” was written by Filipino writer Rosemarie Urquico, in response to an essay written by Charles Warnke called, “You Should Date an Illiterate Girl,” which can be read HERE

fahrenheit 451

Buzzfeed featured this article about a new binding for Ray Bradbury’s famous novel, Fahrenheit 451, designed by Elizabeth Perez.

Personally, this idea took my very breath away. This particular work of Bradbury’s is what propelled me headlong into a lifetime problem with book lust. The tale of Faber and the futuristic distopian society in which he lives still catches in my throat, even after reading my worn copy dozens of times.