Friday, December 17, 2010

Calif library book returned 74 years overdue

Published: Dec 8, 2010

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - A California woman is proving it's never too late to make things right.

Ninety-five-year-old Hazel Severson of Sacramento says a friend found a book that Severson's late husband had borrowed from an Amador County library in 1936 while sorting through things for a garage sale.

She knew what she had to do: return the book and offer to pay the overdue fee - a whopping $2,701.

Severson told the Sacramento Bee that she and her husband Howard were newlyweds back when he checked out the hardback, "Seaplane Solo," about Sir Francis Chichester's 1930 solo flight across the Tasman Sea.

Luckily for Severson, the library didn't charge her the fee, though it did accept a small donation when she stopped by on Oct. 13.

Librarian Laura Einstadter says it was just happy to get back the book.


Information from: The Sacramento Bee,

© 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A few excerpts on libraries

A few excerpts from an article discussing libraries.

Public libraries are an integral part of a free, educated society
I completely agree.

Some argue that the library is an antiquated institution
Unfortunately, yes. What with so many new forms of technology, it seems that maybe people will be going to libraries to visit them sort of as if they were museums. What can libraries, and librarians, offer that is not already known or available with the click of a button? The problem with this belief is that it does not take into consideration the people who don't know how to find information, who need help finding resources, who don't have access to computers/copy machines/printers, who need help finding good and accurate information that a quick search in a search engine just won't give. And, of course, no matter how large one's house is or how amazing one's computer is, it will never hold all of the books in the world; that's one reason libraries will always be here.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ala. woman charged in theft of 200 library books

Published: Today

ANNISTON, Ala. (AP) - Librarians in Anniston, Ala., said they knew someone was stealing thousands of dollars worth of books, and now they believe they know who did it: A jobless woman who likes to read.

Anniston police say 42-year-old Regina M. Smith was arrested Wednesday on a felony theft charge after officials at the local library reported that a woman was seen stealing two books.

Police said they determined Smith had taken 222 books valued at $5,432 over the past couple of years - mainly crime novels, mysteries and vampire stories.

Investigator Kyle Price said Smith has a library card but sneaked books out and kept them rather than borrowing them legally, he said.

Court records didn't show whether Smith had an attorney. Her bond was set at $10,000.

© 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Matilda and her use of Libraries, Part 4

Matilda: Adopt me, Miss Honey! You can adopt me.
Harry Wormwood: Look, I don't have time for all these legalities!
Matilda: One second, dad, I have the adoption papers.
Zinnia Wormwood: What? Where'd you get those?
Matilda: From a book in the library. I've had them since I was big enough to Xerox.

- Matilda, Matilda, 1996

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Matilda and her use of Libraries, Part 3

Harry Wormwood: Are you in this family? Dinner timne is family time. What is this trash you're reading?
Matilda: It's not trash, Daddy, it's lovely. It's called "Moby Dick" by Herman Melville.
Harry Wormwood: Moby what? This is Filth! Trash!
Matilda: It's not mine! It's a library book!
Harry Wormwood: I'm fed up with all this reading! You're a Wormwood, you start acting like one! Now sit up and look at the TV.

- Matilda, Matilda, 1996

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Matilda and her use of Libraries, Part 2

Harry Wormwood: Where'd all this come from?
Matilda: The library.
Harry Wormwood: The library? You've never set foot in a library. You're only four years old.
Matilda: Six-and-a-half.
Harry Wormwood: You're four!
Matilda: Six-and-a-half!

- Matilda, Matilda, 1996

Friday, November 19, 2010

Matilda and her use of Libraries, Part 1

I really hope you have a search warrant. According to a constitutional law book I read in the library, if you don't have one, you could lose your job or even go to federal prison.

- Matilda, Matilda, 1996

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Great Gatsby

I've been drunk for about a week now, and I thought it might sober me up to sit in a library.

- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Chapter III

Friday, October 29, 2010

Libraries in Pop-Culture

Why The Next Big Pop-Culture Wave After Cupcakes Might Be Libraries
by Linda Holmes

I realize we're picking the bones from the Old Spice campaign at this point, but when I saw that the Brigham Young University parody of the Old Spice ads had gotten more than 1.2 million views (Old Spicy himself — that's what I'm calling him — did a video for libraries), it got me thinking.

Specifically, it got me thinking about the very enjoyable Librarians Do Gaga video that everyone sent my way after the debut of the NPR Does Gaga video.

And about the fact that a local news story skeptically questioning whether libraries are "necessary" set off a response from Vanity Fair, and a later counterpunch by Chicago's Public Library Commissioner won her support from such diverse, non-library-specific outlets as The A.V. Club and Metafilter, and from as far away as The Guardian.

Call it a hunch, but it seems to me that the thing is in the air that happens right before something — families with a million kids, cupcakes, wedding coordinators — suddenly becomes the thing everyone wants to do happy-fuzzy pop-culture stories about. Why?

Libraries get in fights. Everybody likes a scrapper, and between the funding battles they're often found fighting and the body-checking involved in their periodic struggles over sharing information, there's a certain ... pleasantly plucky quality to the current perception of libraries and librarians. Yes, it plays a little ironically against the hyper-stereotypical buttoned-up notion of what a librarian is, but the sense that they're okay with getting mad in public — like Chicago's Public Library Commissioner did — gives library people a spark they might not otherwise have.

Librarians know stuff. You know how the words "geek" and "nerd" have gone from actual insults to words used to lovingly describe enthusiasts? Well, if we haven't gotten past venerating people who don't know anything, we've certainly reduced, I'd argue, the degree to which we stigmatize people for knowing a lot. This alone might not make libraries cool, but it takes away from the sense that they're actively not cool. More specifically, they live in the world of information, and are employed in part to organize and make accessible large quantities of data. If your computer had feet and a spiffy personality, you see.

Libraries are green and local. This is where there's a lot of potential appeal for the same people who like organic produce and reusable grocery bags. You can pretty easily position a library as environmentally friendly (your accumulation of books and magazines you are not reading is fewer trees for the rest of us, you know), not to mention economical (obvious) and part of your local culture. This is the part of the potential appeal that's anti-chain-store, anti-sprawl, anti-anonymity, and so forth.

Libraries will give you things for free. Hi, have you noticed how much hardcover books cost? Not a Netflix person? They will hand you things for free. That's not an especially hard concept to sell.

"Open to the public" means "some days, you really have to wonder about people." This is where you get the spark of an idea for TLC or somebody to do some goofball show called The Stacks, which follows a small local library through funding problems, trying to get book clubs started, whatever. When your building is open to the public, that means open ... to ... the ... public. And you know what's a little unpredictable? The public. This is where you might get your drama. (When I was in college, the information desk used to post the best questions it received, one of which was "How long do you cook spaghetti?" I suspect many libraries have similar stories.)

There seems to be a preposterous level of goodwill. Quite honestly, I feel like you can go on YouTube and act like a complete goof (in the best way), and if it's for libraries, people have that same rush of warmth that they used to get about people who had sextuplets, before ... well, you know. Before.

I don't know whether it's going to come in the form of a more successful movie franchise about librarians than that TV thing Noah Wyle does, or a basic-cable drama about a crime-fighting librarian (kinda like the one in the comic Rex Libris), or that reality show I was speculating about, but mark my words, once you've got Old Spicy on your side and you can sell a couple of YouTube parodies in a couple of months, you're standing on the edge of your pop-culture moment. Librarians: prepare.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Library book returned to Va. college 35 years late

October 23, 2010

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (AP) - A novel checked out in 1975 from the College of William & Mary library is back in the stacks.

The long-term lender is alumnus Pat Harkin, who found the book of Leon Uris' "QB VII" in a box. He says he planned to return it for the past several homecomings, but he finally made good on his intentions Friday.

The library caps its fees at $35. Otherwise, the overdue fee could have hit $1,400 at today's dime-a-day late fee.

To atone for his late return, Harkin told the Daily Press of Newport News he made a cash donation to the library. He says it was more than the $35 overdue fee, but less than the $1,400 he might have owed.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Future etched in city libraries

This is just an excerpt from an article I came across today:

But public libraries are different. You don't need a reservation or a ticket. You don't need to pull any strings to get VIP treatment. In a public library, everybody's a VIP.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

George Washington racks up late fees at NY Library

If George Washington were alive today, he might face a hefty overdue library fine.

New York City's oldest library says one of its ledgers shows that the president has racked up 220 years' worth of late fees on two books he borrowed, but never returned.

One of the books was the "Law of Nations," which deals with international relations. The other was a volume of debates from Britain's House of Commons.
Both books were due on Nov. 2, 1789.

New York Society Library head librarian Mark Bartlett says the institution isn't seeking payment of the fines, but would love to get the books back.
The ledger also lists books being taken out by other founding fathers, including Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr and John Jay.

The entry on Washington simply lists the borrower as "president."

All material © 2010 ABC Inc., KTRK-TV Inc. & 2004-2010 LSN, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The File on Fraulein Berg

There is a book fair that I go to every year that is always so much fun; I really really love it - and I have found some of my most favorite books there - all books have something in them as my sister says, they are all something. In elementary school, when I began to go to this book fair, I found a book called The File on Fraulein Berg by Joan Lingard. Here is an excerpt from the author's web site:

1944, Belfast. World War 11 drags on and Kate, Harriet and Sally are a little bored. They long for something exciting to happen. They read spy stories and imagine themselves performing deeds of great daring.

Their heads are so full of anti-German propaganda that, when Fraulein Berg, a real live German, arrives at their school, it doesn't take them long to decide that their new teacher must be a spy. The girls now have a mission. To watch her. Follow her. Track down her every secret. Prove that she is the enemy.

But there is something that they do not know about this woman and The File on Fraulein Berg reveals a very different story - one that will haunt Kate for the rest of her life.

One thing is sure - this book has most definitely haunted me, just as the events in it must haunt the main character, Kate. The book's secret - what is revealed towards the end, is heartbreaking, heart shattering. This is a beautifully written book, the tone is nice and calming, but there is also an element of sadness; I always picture the skies gray and dull, the days slow, just as the girls see them. I cringe whenever they follow Fraulein, when they see her and when they spy on her. I remember playing many spy games when I was young, and perhaps this is one of the reasons why I cringe. I have never met anyone who has read this book, but I love it and highly recommend it. I was very lucky to have found that book that day at the book fair and to have chosen it. It still sits on my bookshelf.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

UK Archivist Uncovers Quasimodo

UK archivist says uncovers real-life Quasimodo

By Mike Collett-White
LONDON | Mon Aug 16, 2010 7:57am EDT

(Reuters Life!) - A British archivist believes he has uncovered the real-life inspiration for French novelist Victor Hugo's mysterious character Quasimodo, the deformed bell ringer of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.

Adrian Glew, who works on the Tate collection's archives in London, was studying the seven-volume handwritten autobiography of 19th century British sculptor Henry Sibson when he came across a reference to a Frenchman whose nickname was "le bossu," or hunchback.

Sibson had been employed in the 1820s to carve stone as part of the renovation of Notre Dame in Paris which had suffered damage during the French Revolution in the 1790s.

But he fell out with one of his contractors and applied for another job at the government studios where he met a carver called Trajan.

According to Sibson, Trajan was a "most worthy, fatherly and amiable man as ever existed -- he was the carver under the government sculptor whose name I forget as I had no intercourse with him. All that I know is that he was humpbacked and he did not like to mix with carvers."

Glew immediately thought he was on to something.

"It was almost like peering into Tutankhamun's tomb and you see a glimpse of something that attracts your eye," he told Reuters.


He noted that Sibson was describing French artisans active in the same part of Paris where Hugo lived in the 1820s and, with his interest in the restoration of Notre Dame, the writer may have seen and even known Trajan and his hunchbacked boss.

"And also, Hugo proposed to his wife-to-be in Dreux, at a time when the team of sculptors and carvers were working there," he added.

Sibson was part of the team who went to Dreux, a town near Paris, which included both Trajan and M. Le Bossu, "a nickname given to him and I scarcely ever heard any other.

"M. Le Bossu was pleased to tell M. Trajan that he must be sure to take the little Englishman."

Further supporting his theory, Glew added, was the fact that the Almanach de Paris of 1833 listed all professional inhabitants in the area and included the carver Trajan.

That indicated he continued to work there during the period when Hugo wrote his famous novel (1828-1831). And in an early version of Hugo's "Les Miserables," the main character is Jean Trajean, a name Hugo later altered to Jean Valjean.

Glew has yet to discover Le Bossu's real name.

"It is tantalizing that we don't know what he was called," he said. "I'm still researching that."

Sibson's memoir will be on display outside the Hyman Kreitman Reading Room at the Tate Britain gallery from August 16 until the end of the month. Tate Archive celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.

(Editing by Steve Addison)


Monday, October 4, 2010

Keeping It Public

Keeping it Public (If the Libraries Don't Sway You, the Blazing House Might)
Amy Traub

Last week, the New York Times reported on Library Systems & Services, a private, for-profit company that an increasing number of towns are contracting to take over their local public libraries. The company pares budgets and turns a profit by, among others things, replacing long-term employees with those who will "work." In the article, CEO Frank Pezzanite mocks "this American flag, apple pie thing about libraries" and ridicules the idea that "somehow they have been put in the category of a sacred organization." The problem? Local residents seem to believe there is something all-American - and possibly sacred - about this community institution. I know where they're coming from.

Public libraries represent the best American tradition of local communities chipping in for the common good, while advancing democratic values of free inquiry and universal access.

Through our local libraries, we all contribute to a public space where anyone can access the world's outstanding literature, music, and film; popular entertainment; the fruits of human knowledge and insight; computer and internet access; resources for jobseekers and students; edifying speakers; programs that engage schoolchildren; and story hours that delight the youngest members of our community. I'm never going to check out that new Janet Evanovich novel (or, for that matter, Bill O'Reilly's latest bestseller) but I'm damn glad my tax dollars paid for it to be available on the shelves. The common resource is bigger than any of our individual tastes.

Something of that is lost when a profit-driven company turns a community institution into a source of private gain. It's not just the likelihood that public employees earning middle-class salaries will likely be turned out in favor of less experienced staff - although I've written in opposition to that as well. Rather, it's the idea, articulated by American Library Association President Robert Stevens in response to the Times article, that for-profit libraries may not "remain directly accountable to the publics they serve." Or, in the words of the late historian Tony Judt, "shifting ownership onto businessmen allows the state to relinquish moral obligations... A social service provided by a private company does not present itself as a collective good to which all citizens have a right."

The point may be subtle when we're talking about computers and books on a shelf (no matter how critical a part of democracy) but it's hard to ignore a house on fire. This morning at Think Progress, Zaid Jilani describes the situation in Obion County, Tennessee, where fire services are funded by subscription fees rather than general tax revenue. Those who pay the fees can call the fire department to save lives and extinguish blazes. For those who can't or won't shell out for the service, Jilani's headline says it all: Tennessee County's Subscription-Based Firefighters Watch As Family Home Burns Down. Maybe there's something to the "American flag, apple pie" thing about public services after all...


Monday, September 27, 2010

In Honor of Banned Books Week 2010

In Honor of Banned Books Week 2010, I have decided to dedicate this entry to the topic of scary stories and folklore. Specifically, two authors that I really love who have written unique books in this field, one of whom has been on the top ten Banned Books list compiled by the ALA for several recent (and not so recent) years. These two authors are Alvin Schwartz and Daniel Cohen.

Alvin Schwartz has written many collections, including the often challenged Scary Stories collection as well as other collections on folklore, such as Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat. The Scary Stories are a three-volume set that includes Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and More Tales to Chill Your Bones. In the Dewey Decimal System, these stories are usually in the 398 range and let me tell you, this was a very popular section and these stories were almost always checked out. Not only are they unique and scary, but there are also some that are funny and strange. The illustrations do even more to scare you, and some stories are so short that it leaves you wondering, "What happened?" But that is part of what makes some of these stories so good. Probably the most terrifying for me is one titled "Harold." I won't go into detail and spoil the story for those who have not read it, but, well, you'll see when you read it.

When I first obtained the collection (I was so lucky and got a boxed set for only $7 dollars) I sat in my living room reading it the entire afternoon, and as the sun began to set and I advanced through the books, I did begin to feel chills and, I'll admit, I began to get scared. These stories are definitely worth checking out, not only because they are so unique in content and illustration, but because Alvin Schwartz really did a lot of work in compiling these stories. These stories were the #1 most challenged books for the 1990-2000 decade, and are still challenged today.

Daniel Cohen is also a folklore/horror writer, and also writes books on other subjects such as science. When I was in elementary school, I checked out a book by Daniel Cohen titled The Headless Roommate and Other Tales of Terror, and it scared me so much! The stories were so good, and I really wanted that book. Some of the stories in The Headless Roommate are ones we have maybe heard before, such as "The Babysitter" and "The Hook." Cohen's writing is not only interesting but also suspenseful, and the illustrations add to the suspense, partly because they are very realistic.

Some of the stories in the book I had never heard before, and have never heard since, so I felt that I really had to get a copy of the book before it became even more hard-to-find. Sadly they don't sell it regularly at stores anymore, but you can find it used usually on websites such as Barnes and Noble, eBay, or Amazon. (eBay has one right now that's $150, because the person putting it up for auction says it is a first edition 1980 copy). I actually recently bought a copy from eBay for a little less than $7 and although the seller wrote it was in "Acceptable" condition, I would definitely call the condition of the book "Good" at least. It is in really good condition, and I feel so lucky to have gotten it for that price.

While researching Daniel Cohen, I found that he has a book called Curses, Hexes, and Spells. Part of the book discusses legendary curses in certain families, including royal families. I LOVE reading about royal families, so I have been searching for the book since, and am hoping to be able to either find it at a library or find it online. Curses, Hexes, and Spells was the 73rd most challened book for 1990-2000.

Source for the image of The Headless Roommate.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

British Library adds Greek Manuscripts Online

British Library posts Greek manuscripts to Web

By RAPHAEL G. SATTER, Associated Press Writer Raphael G. Satter, Associated Press Writer – Sun Sep 26, 7:21 pm ET
LONDON – One of the world's most important caches of Greek manuscripts is going online, part of a growing number of ancient documents to hit the Web in recent years.

The British Library said Monday that it was making more than a quarter of its 1,000 volume-strong collection of handwritten Greek texts available online free of charge, something curators there hope will be a boon to historians, biblical scholars and students of classical Greece alike.

Although the manuscripts — highlights of which include a famous collection of Aesopic fables discovered on Mount Athos in 1844 — have long been available to scholars who made the trip to the British Library's reading rooms, curator Scot McKendrick said their posting to the web was opening antiquity to the entire world.

McKendrick said that London could be an expensive place to spend time poring over the Greek texts' tiny, faded script or picking through hundreds of pages of parchment.

"Not every scholar can afford to come here weeks and months on end," he said. The big attraction of browsing the texts online "is the ability to do it at your own desk whenever you wish to do it — and do it for free as well."

Although millions of books have been made available online in recent years — notably through Google Books' mass scanning program — ancient texts have taken much longer to emerge from the archives.

They don't suffer from the copyright issues complicating efforts to post contemporary works to the Web, but their fragility makes them tough to handle. They have to be carefully cracked open and photographed one page at a time, a process the British Library said typically costs about 1 pound ($1.50) per page.

The library has moved aggressively to put large swathes of its collection online, from 19th-century newspapers to the jewels of its collection — The Lindisfarne Gospels, a selection of Leonardo da Vinci's sketches and the Codex Sinaiticus, the oldest surviving complete copy of the Christian Bible.

The library's Greek manuscript project was funded by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, which supports Greek-related initiatives in arts and culture.

Another batch of about 250 documents are due to be published online in 2012.



The British Library:

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation:


This is extremely exciting! I can't wait to take a look at these documents. While I would love to visit the British Library one day, for the time being I am so glad they are making so much available online. I would love to be able to handle some of these documents. It is like holding history in your hands.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Boris | God Went to Beauty School

For my Juvenile Literature course last year, I had the pleasure of reading numerous books that did not feel like assigned reading at all. One of those books, Boris, by Cynthia Rylant, poetically tells the story of her gray cat Boris who has a lot of love and a lot of personality. The story is told from Cynthia's perspective and not only describes Boris and his way of life, but also life in general. Take, for example, this passage:

And then last cage,
last cage,
there you were, Boris.
With your gray sister.
And you stood up
and stretched
and purred
and promised, promised
you would be good
if I took her, too,
because she had
kept you alive
all those days and days and days.
Three months in a cage,
Boris, with your sister,
living in the moment
with only your memories
of leaves and rooftops
and warm brown mice.
I promise, you said,
and I believed you,
and I took home
two cats - one more
than I wanted, and
a boy at that -
but you promised,
and I knew.

There is actually another paragraph that I really loved in Boris, but sadly I don't have the book with me at the moment, so I'll have to update this post when I either check it out of the library again or buy it. Boris is an extremely beautiful book into the personality of a cat, into love, and into life, and I highly recommend it. It is beautiful to read this book and to laugh with it.

Well, imagine my surprise when I found another poetry book by Cynthia Rylant at the library - and shelved in the wrong place, with the poetry, but catalogued as a juvenile fiction book? That misplaced book was very lucky for me. The night I found it I spent it reading God Went to Beauty School and I loved it just as much as I loved Boris. I found something in that book that held the answer to a question that I (and probably many people) have had. See if you know what it is, from this excerpt:

He never meant to.
He liked dogs, He'd
liked them ever since He was a kid,
but He didn't think
He had time for a dog now.
He was always working
and dogs needed so much attention.
God didn't know if He
could take being needed
by one more thing.
But He saw this dog
out by the tracks
and it was hungry
and cold
and lonely
and God realized
He'd made that dog
somehow He was responsible
though He knew logically
that He had only set the
world on its course.
He couldn't be blamed
for everything.
But He saw this dog
and He felt bad
so He took it on home
and named it Ernie
and now God
has somebody
keeping His feet warm at night.

I especially loved this part because, well, I love dogs. There are so many insightful verses in this book, and it is truly uplifting, heartwarming, and enjoyable (and very funny too - Cynthia Rylant has a very good way of inserting funny parts into her writing). If you can, I really recommend you check these books out of your library. They won't take too long to read, but in the end, you will want to reread them and prolong the reading experience with these books, I'm sure.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Edgar Allan Poe

January 19, 2010 marked the 201st anniversary of the birthday of Edgar Allan Poe. The mystery visitor that visits Poe's grave had apparently not visited the grave to leave the customary tributes (a bottle and three roses).

Some of the stories by Poe that I have thoroughly enjoyed (and highly recommend) include The Masque of the Red Death, The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar, The Cask of Amontillado, and The Murders in the Rue Morgue. The Black Cat was very sad for me.

There is a book titled "The Big Book of Horrors: 21 Tales to Make You Tremble" that includes horror stories by authors such as Poe (the inside is even signed by 'E.A. Poe'), and Charles Dickens.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Many have, by now, undoubtedly heard of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. Now the author of the former has penned Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I've always been a fan of vampires; when I was a little girl in elementary school I dressed up as a vampire for Halloween, complete with cape and fangs. I loved the 2004 movie, Van Helsing, and the character of Mina Harker in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. And there is much to admire in Abraham Lincoln.

So the two together should form the following equation: Lincoln + Vampire Hunter = Awesome. I have yet to read the book and I will probably have to purchase it from the store, but there is a review of the book that states that the book has a lot of fact about Lincoln's life embedded into it, mixed with, of course, fiction. It will be interesting to see what parts of Lincoln's life were included faithfully in the book. There is even talk of a movie about this book which Tim Burton is interested in directing. I wonder what Lincoln would have said if he knew that, more than one hundred years after he lived, he would be possibly heading to the movie theatre screen as a vampire hunter?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Funny Letters from Famous People

I stumbled across Funny Letters from Famous People at the library while helping to weed the collection of nonfiction. It is a book with a large number of letters from well known persons, letters which contain many funny moments. I thought I would post a few examples of the wonderful comedy in this book.

Abraham Lincoln, in response to a request for a "sentiment and an autograph:"
Dear Madam: When you ask from a stranger that which is of interest only to yourself, always enclose a stamp. There's your sentiment, and here's your autograph. A. Lincoln

George Bernard Shaw, to Winston Churchill, inviting him to his play's opening night:
Have reserved two tickets for my first night. Come and bring a friend, if you have one.

Churchill's reply:
Impossible to come first night. Will come second night, if you have one.

Mark Twain to William Dean Howells:
In 1907, Twain sent a letter to the N.Y. Times and signed it on behalf of his friend, William Dean Howells, considered a leading man of letters in America at that time. He sent a copy of the letter to Howells with this note:
Howells, it is an outrage the way the govment is acting so I sent this complaint to the N.Y. Times with your name signed because it would have more weight. Mark.

Charles Dickens has several funny letters in this book. Here is one:
Dickens wrote this letter to John Bennett, the owner of a clock repair shop:

Gad's Hill Place
Higham by Rochester, Kent
Monday night
Fourteenth September, 1863
My Dear Sir:
Since my hall clock was sent to your establishment to be cleaned it has gone (as indeed it always has) perfectly well, but has struck the hours with great reluctance, and after enduring internal agonies of a most distressing nature, it has now ceased striking altogether. Though a happy release for the clock, this is not convenient to the household. If you can send down any confidential person with whom the clock can confer, I think it may have something on its works that it would be glad to make a clean breast of.
Faithfully yours,
Charles Dickens

Saturday, September 18, 2010

First Bookless College Library

University Of Texas Opens First Bookless College Library

September 17, 2010

While more colleges are reducing the amount of print volumes in their libraries, including Stanford University, the University of Texas at San Antonio is "the nation's first completely bookless library on a college or university campus", reported the school in a recent press release.

UTSA officials opened the Applied Engineering and Technology (AET) Library last week and unlike any other college library, its collection of books is only available electronically. Its growing catalogue currently includes 425,000 e-books and 18,000 e-journals that students have access to from anywhere on- or off-campus, reported Library Journal. The 80-person capacity library is a contemporary space that includes furnished study areas, ten desktop computers, five LCD screens that students can use for projects or to view news and information, a printer and a scanner. Skilled science and engineering librarians are also available during library hours to assist students and faculty.

According to the press release, the trend to move college library book collections online began in October 2000, when Kansas State University opened the Fiedler Engineering Library. Since then many more libraries, especially science and engineering ones, have followed suit, reported Inside Higher Ed. Because of the trend, more and more schools are reimagining the physical space of libraries. While there may be fewer books, the library is still a shared space for studying and socializing, said Krisellen Maloney, dean of libraries at San Antonio. "That's how libraries have always been. When people come to the library with books, they're not necessarily using the books. They're also there for the services...," she explained. As a result, UTSA noted in its press release that the new library has a series of group study niches and rooms to encourage teamwork, communication and problem solving. "In this library, we encourage collaboration. This is the beginning of [the students'] training as professional engineers and scientists," said Maloney.

According to Library Journal, the transition to the new bookless library has been smooth. UTSA had a "soft" opening in May, which allowed students to use the library over the summer. Since its initial opening, an average of 1,000 students per week have physically visited; statistics on offsite users have not yet been collected. Furthermore, the press release added that students like the fact that books are more accessible since many students can simultaneously view the same volume. Library staff is also more available now that they do not have circulate and reshelf books.

The eLibrary is not the end, however. UTSA plans to take its bookless library even further--in the next few months, school officials plan to provide pre-loaded eReader devices, including the Apple iPad and Amazon Kindle, for students to check out and take home.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Book overdue 35 years

WINONA, Minn. – Librarians at Winona Public Library were thrilled this week when someone returned a book that had been checked out some 35 years ago. The book is called "Small Voices: A Grownup's Treasury of Selections from the Diaries, Journals and Notebooks of Young Children." It's a collection of journal entries that prominent public figures had written as children. Someone left it in the library's drop-box as part of the its Amnesty Week for overdue books.

Reference librarian Robin DeVries said she's thrilled to get it back.

Records suggest it was checked out in the early 1970s. But because the circulation system has since changed, it's not clear who last checked it out.

The Winona Daily News said the overdue fine would have been more than $1,400.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Cataloging Dickens

Fiction was not always given subject headings when cataloged. In the 1960s, children's fiction began to have headings so children could find fiction books as well as nonfiction in their searches. Adults soon wanted this feature to be added to their books as well.

"If a young patron wants to learn something about spiders, Charlotte's Web might
be a good choice, especially if reading a difficult nonfiction book without
pictures is the sole alternative. More mature readers can learn something about
British colonial rule in India by reading Kipling; Dickens reveals much about
social conditions in ninteteenth-century England, even though they are works of

Standard Cataloging for School and Public Libraries, Intner & Weihs, 4th edition.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Paper versus Kindle

I haven't tried the Kindle, but personally, I think I'm with the yellow dog on this one!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lady Bird Johnson

“Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library. The only entrance requirement is interest."

Friday, August 20, 2010

Andrew Carnegie

"There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Thanks to Dickensblog, I discovered Wordle and have created my own little random quotes!


Wordle: A Christmas Carol

Wordle: Pride and Prejudice

Wordle: A Christmas Carol 2

Wordle: Great Expectations

Carried away, me?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Lost in Austen

I love the 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, and I really like the book itself as well, so when I stumbled upon Lost in Austen (a bit late, as it was released in 2008), I was extremely excited. What girl wouldn't want to get lost in Austen's Pride and Prejudice world, to meet the strong-minded and intelligent Elizabeth, her kind sister Jane, and the many diverse and unique characters that fill this book.

My overall thoughts about the movie is that it was very entertaining, and I really did enjoy it. I thought the actors did a very good job of portraying their characters specifically for this movie adaptation. There were some things that did not bode too well with me, though. Some of the events that occur caused or were the effect of changes in personality of some of the characters. Some of the events that happen (read: Jane getting married for a bit to Mr. Collins!) I really, incredibly wish that they had not happened. In no adapation whatsoever do I wish to see Jane with Mr. Collins! This is one of the few things that I could have done without. However, I know that part of the reason that there were so many changes was because of the introduction of Amanda Price (portrayed by Jemima Rooper) into the world of Pride and Prejudice. The ending was also a bit confusing for me. Amanda had a boyfriend that was, well, compared to Darcy I suppose, less than stellar. At the end, however, it seems that perhaps he does have some good in him, and that is why the ending confuses me. It seemed, for a moment at least, as if Amanda was going to stay in the future with her boyfriend and leave the Pride and Prejudice world behind. I know it is not just in my head, but I wish someone could see that part and we could discuss it to see if it does seem that way or not.
I really liked the actors themselves - the girl who played Elizabeth (Gemma Arerton, who will be a main character in the upcoming Prince of Persia: Sands of Time) was very lovely, and I loved seeing her in the present time and seeing how that affected her when she had to go back to her time. I liked seeing her using a laptop and watching (but not listening) to the television. She says at one point that she likes watching, but not listening, to the television. Sometimes I like it to be quiet as well; I'd rather watch than hear.

I also liked the main character, Amanda, although I must admit that she could have done more to have prevented some of the things that happened, such as the wedding of Jane to Mr. Collins (yes, it did bother me that much. It should not have happened. Ever.) The actors that portrayed the Bennet family were also very interesting to see; the actress who portrayed Mrs. Bennet reminded me of the actress who played Mrs. Bennet in the 1995 BBC production. Mr. Bennet was very agreeable, and the actor chosen to portray Mr. Darcy also did a pretty good job, although I found some things that I thought were out of place for him as a character. I did not really like Mr. Bingley's character portrayal, but I did really like the actress who portrayed his sister Caroline. I particularly loved her hairstyle; I hope to try my hand at braiding and picking up my hair in a similar fashion soon.

The movie itself is, understandably, very modern and there is a lot of humor in the movie. I found myself laughing and cheering as Mrs. Bennet gives Lady Catherine a piece of her mind, something I so wish would have happened in the book. Being a modern adaptation I can see why certain things are different, but some I still didn't agree with (yes, one of them being Jane and Mr. Collins, and yes, that affects the final point count of this movie). Overall and in summary, at least a 4/5, with the 1995 BBC production holding the 5/5 still.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A Christmas Caroline

I've been reading A Christmas Caroline, by Kyle Smith, lately and I just finished it yesterday. Yes, it is exactly what it sounds like - a take on A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, but with a modern, hip-girl twist. Caroline is in the role of Ebenezer, but this isn't just a take on the classic by Dickens; there is more Dickens embedded into this book than I thought there would be.

For example, a few names from the beginning of the book: Ursula Heep, Arabella Allen, Caroline's roomate (who has passed away) is Carly Jacobs, Trot Copperfield, Nic Nickleby, and many others. Dickens is sprinkled all over this book, and one of the things that I most loved about this book had to do with a tie-in to a very specific Dickens book that I love in particular.

Read more, but beware of spoilers (I'll narrow the font size so it won't be so large below).

Caroline's last name is.........Havisham! And, her childhood friend whom she used to tease was nicknamed Philly, and now he is the very successful owner of ...Pip's Doughnuts...and of course his name is Philip Pirrip. I thought it was something that the author decided to keep the whole name, even though others are edited slightly. There is an obvious tie-in to Great Expectations, with Estella (Caroline) and Pip (Philip) ending up together. When I reached the end, I was so surprised (shocked, even) to find that Caroline was a Havisham, but then it fit so well, so perfectly. And her mother, La, designs....dun dun dresses! A lot of it is, of course, modern, but I thought it was really neat of the author to add so much Dickens to the book, not just from A Christmas Carol.