Thursday, March 31, 2016

Meet the man who is turning D.C. libraries into a national model by nevin Martell march 31

A year ago, Richard Reyes-Gavilan was standing in an upstairs dining room at the Hamilton, a trendy downtown eatery. He’d come to talk to a roomful of business owners and civic leaders about that building.
“I’m sure you’re all familiar with MLK,” says Reyes-Gavilan, the executive director of the D.C. Public Library, using shorthand for the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, the dreary, well-worn, four-story central library two blocks west of Verizon Center. Despite being designed by celebrated 20th-century modernist Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the boxy structure is known less for its collection and more for its down-on-their-luck clientele who has inspired a lengthy list of restrictions on behavior such as bringing in bedrolls or “emanating an odor that can be detected by a reasonable person, from six feet away.”
“It was outdated the day it opened,” he tells the room. “It has been an unloved structure for a long time.”
He pauses.
“But it has always had potential.” 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016


Exploring_ExtremismThis is a post that I’ve been working in various forms for about 3 years. There’s a lot of background and explanation here and I’ll even cite my sources where I can. Essentially, I’m going to make the claim that advocacy and politics in America has been hijacked by a sadly necessary extremism and that for libraries to continue to exist as we know them we need to get on board with the rhetoric. If we don’t learn to start to talk about libraries in a severely emotionally meaningful way that engages and activates our most impassioned supporters, libraries will be next on chopping block. We can’t allow this to happen because libraries are one of the few truly great institutions to come out of the American Government.
Before I really get into this, I’d like to point out that this is not a partisan issue. I have seen these tactics in use by every political party. I’d also like to point out that I’m a pretty hardcore moderate and I have a strong and healthy distrust of both progressive and conservative parties as well as low faith in both the government and corporate power structures. I’m going to do my best to pull examples from as many different arenas as possible for a fair and balanced discussion of the issue that should make everyone equally angry.
This all begins with my own blog and why I essentially stopped blogging. The truth is that I was frustrated about what kinds of posts got the most hits. A few years ago I realized that the posts that “did the best” were ones that were inherently mean spirited or controversial for their extreme views. For example, I wrote a post about Second Life that was intentionally mean spirited and to this day it is my most read piece. The thing to realize about this post is that I never really said anything important. There was nothing in there that would move anything forward. Libraries were already dropping Second Life and by the time I wrote the piece the virtual landscape was already a ghost town. On the other hand, I wrote a number of other posts that I think were more important but didn’t have anywhere as close to the same level of emotional reactions, emotion, or rhetoric and they were hardly read at all.  Read more...

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Mysterious Stacks Of Books In NYC Are Connecting Strangers From Around The World by Elyse Wanshel

Stack of books left on a Times Square subway platform.

“The people who’ve taken part in the project are now connected to me in this weird [but good] way."

Could this be a new chapter in the way we interact with one another?
Shaheryar Malik has left stacks of books from his own library at popular destinations all over New York City. He doesn’t stick around to see if anyone takes one of his books, nor does he re-visit his stacks. Instead he leaves a bookmark with his email address printed on it inside each book, in the hopes that he’ll hear back from whomever decided to pick that book up.  Read more...


I love me some indie bookstores. I do. Shout-out to The Strand in NYC, Quimby’s in Chicago, and the Village Bookshop right here in Columbus, which I thought was a religious bookstore for about eight years because it’s in an old church. (Oops.) But I didn’t name a blog Insatiable Booksluts because I am choosy about where I buy books; when it comes to book shopping, I take all comers. (Is that… does the booksluts reference make that a dirty pun?)
Here are some non-book stores where I often find myself browsing the book selection. (I’m not counting places like Amazon or Walmart or Target because they basically are online bookshops.)
Rough Trade Record Shop
image by Snowmangraham via Wikipedia
1. Record Stores. Not all record shops have a book selection, but some do, and some have great book selections. My favorite record store with books (way more records than books, so it really isn’t a bookstore) so far has been Shake It Records in Cincinnati; their curation is fantastic and they also carry Out of Print tees. Record store owners and managers tend to be on the hip side (sometimes the hipster side but to each his own), so there’s always the exciting possibility of finding lesser-known gems.  Read more...
Costco Interior

Monday, March 28, 2016

A Day in the Life of a Bookmobile Librarian

Northeastern Nevada Regional Bookmobile Librarian, Elko County Library, Baker, Nevada, 2000, photo Robert Dawson

Kelvin K. Selders is the librarian for the Northeastern Nevada Regional Bookmobile. His story appears in the book The Public Library: A Photographic Essay, which features essays by Amy Tan, Barbara Kingsolver, Anne Lamott, Ann Patchett, and others, alongside author Robert Dawson’s photographs of libraries — from the extravagant to the minute. In the following piece, Kelvin Selders gives us a look into his typical work day. Read more...

Monday, March 21, 2016

Interview with a Bookstore: The Strand in New York City by ‘One summer there was this huge fight between a couple of employees that spilled out through the book carts on the sidewalk and onto Broadway. Middle of the afternoon, books scattered all in the street, everyone’s screaming’ ... Strand anecdotes. Photograph: All images courtesy of The StrandLiterary Hub Monday 21 March 2016 11.00 EDT

 ‘One summer there was this huge fight between a couple of employees that spilled out through the book carts on the sidewalk and onto Broadway. Middle of the afternoon, books scattered all in the street, everyone’s screaming’ ... Strand anecdotes. Photograph: All images courtesy of The Strand

The Strand was born in 1927 on Fourth Avenue on what was then called “Book Row.” Book Row covered six city blocks and housed 48 bookstores. Ben Bass, an entrepreneur at heart and a reader by nature, was all of 25 years old when he began his modest used bookstore with 300 dollars of his own and 300 dollars that he borrowed from a friend.
Ben sought to create a place where books would be loved, and book lovers could congregate. He named his bookstore after the London street where writers like Thackeray, Dickens, and Mill once gathered and interesting book publishers thrived. The Strand quickly became a Greenwich Village institution where writers went to converse, sell their books and find a hidden treasure to buy. Today, the Strand is the sole survivor of Book Row’s colorful past, boasting more than 18 miles of new, used, and rare books.
What’s your favorite section in the store?
The Rare Book Room is truly a magical place, and the dollar carts are heaven for any thrifty booklover, but my favorite would have to be the children’s department, especially the classic and vintage sections. I really love an old book with some character or with a heartfelt dedication from a bygone era. –Maya S, Kids Department Read more...

Heinrich Himmler's stash of books on witchcraft is discovered in Czech library after being hidden for 50 years

Heinrich Himmler's stash of books on witchcraft is discovered in Czech library after being hidden for 50 years 

  • German SS chief amassed a 13,000 volume library on the occult
  • Had warped belief mysticism was proof of Aryan racial superiority
  • Some books were part of the Norwegian order of Freemasons' library 
Heinrich Himmler, SS chief  under Hitler, was obsessed with the occult and mysticism
Heinrich Himmler, SS chief under Hitler, was obsessed with the occult and mysticism
A rare library of books on witches and the occult that was assembled by Nazi SS chief Heinrich Himmler in the war has been discovered in the Czech Republic.
Himmler was obsessed with the occult and mysticism, believing the hocus-pocus books held the key to Ayran supremacy in the world.
The books - part of a 13,000-strong collection - were found in a depot of the National Library of Czech Republic near Prague which has not been accessed since the 1950s.
Norwegian Masonic researcher Bjørn Helge Horrisland told the Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang that some of the books come from the library of the Norwegian order of Freemasons in Oslo, seized during the Nazi occupation of the country.
In 1935 Himmler founded the 'H Sonderkommando' - H standing for Hexe, the German word for witch - to collate as much material as possible on sorcery, the occult and the supernatural. 
The bulk of the collection was called the 'Witches Library' and concentrated on witches and their persecution in medieval Germany.
One of Himmler's quack theories was that the Roman Catholic Church tried to destroy the German race through witch hunts.
He also discovered that one of his own ancestors was burned as a witch.  Read more...

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Meet 9-Year-Old Muskaan Who Runs A Library In Bhopal To Educate Other Kids In Her Slum HuffPost India | By Adrija Bose


They say a pen is mightier than a sword. Ask 9-year-old Muskaan Ahirwar, and she will agree. Like all other 9-year-olds, Muskaan goes to school, is curious about new things and loves playing in her free time.
The class 3 student from Bhopal also runs a library for other kids.
In Bhopal, in a slum area in Arera Hills, right behind the Rajya Siksha Kendra (State Educational Center), the 9-year-old runs a library--Bal Pustakalay, reports Times Of India.
Everyday, after returning from school, at about 4 in evening, Muskan sets up the library for slum children outside her house. The students eagerly wait for her to open the library and as soon as she does they surround her to listen to her stories and read their books.
"We play here, learn hear and read lot of books about freedom fighters and great Indian kings and many others," one enthusiastic reader told TOI. Read more...

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Custodian of Forgotten Books by Daniel. A. Gross

In Brussels, Brad Bigelow, a former I.T. adviser for the U.S. Air Force, has made a hobby of rescuing neglected books and writers from obscurity.CREDITILLUSTRATION BY BOYOUN KIM

A little over a decade ago, a forgotten book was suddenly remembered. Its second life began when a fiction writer referenced it in a book of her own. A blogger read the new book, then tracked down a copy of the old one, and wrote about all this on his Web site. An archivist read the blog post and e-mailed it to a small publisher. By 2009, Jetta Carleton’s “The Moonflower Vine,” first published in 1962, was back in print. 
Most novels are forgotten. Glance at the names of writers who were famous in the nineteenth century, or who won the Nobel Prize at the beginning of the twentieth, or who were on best-seller lists just a few decades ago, and chances are that most of them won’t even ring a bell. When “The Moonflower Vine” resurfaced and ricocheted around the publishing world, it became an unlikely exception.
What’s strange about the journey of that bookand about our moment in the history of publishing—is that its rediscovery was made possible by an independent blogger, named Brad Bigelow. Bigelow, fifty-eight, is not a professional publisher, author, or critic. He’s a self-appointed custodian of obscurity. For much of his career, he worked as an I.T. adviser for the United States Air Force. At his home, in Brussels, Belgium, he spends nights and weekends scouring old books and magazines for writers worthy of resurrection.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Who would be a librarian now? You know what, I'll have a go (Anonymous)

Remy Cordonnier, librarian in the northern town of Saint-Omer, near Calais carefully shows an example of a valuable Shakespeare “First Folio”, a collection of some of his plays, dating from 1623.
 About the only drawback is dismissiveness from my friends and family. A working-class male taking a degree to be a what? Photograph: Denis Charlet/AFP/Getty Images
“Who would want to become a librarian now?” asked an anonymous public servant on National Libraries Day, seeing before them a graveyard of dead libraries and old reference desks filled by volunteers. A valid question, and one to which I’ll reply: “You know what? I’ll have a go.”
I’m training to be a professional librarian, having just finished a lecture on “semantic web ontologies” and “linked data”, and sat dumbstruck in front of a “Dewey Decimal assembler” without a clue as to what I’m looking at. The course is challenging – it’s a three-year master’s degree that bites eye-watering chunks out of my wages. Why am I doing it to myself?
The fact is, I can’t not. It’s a sort of calling – like becoming a priest, only with warmer business premises. I can’t stand by and let public libraries sink. I won’t.
Forget all about reading as a pleasure, forget that children should have unlimited access to books, throw away arguments about libraries being lifelines for those less fortunate – they’re falling on deaf ears. You just have to look at the comments beneath pro-library articles to gather a general response: Kindles, the internet replacing information needs, and so on. And the one we wheel out about libraries being the centre of the community – there’ll be someone swatting that old classic aside with a “and yet the majority of the population doesn’t use them”.
For me, it boils down to one important point: the internet is a shallow (but extremely wide) surface-level summary of secondary, often opinionated information that sits on a bedrock of substantive knowledge that either isn’t on the internet, or lives behind a paywall, or is too expensive to purchase. Public libraries broker equal access to all that stuff. Get rid of them, and your information becomes drip-fed through Google filters (if you have a computer to access it). Read more...

The Fabric of Memory: Preserving Met Opera History Friday, March 04, 2016 - 10:58 AM By Fred Plotkin

The Metropolitan Opera archivist Robert Tuggle (Jonathan Tichler/Metropolitan Opera)
I am often asked who is the Belmont for whom the Belmont Room on the Metropolitan Opera’s Grand Tier is named. This is where donors at a certain level to the Opera Guild go for coffee and conversation before performances and during intermissions. A painting there by Simon Elvis of a warmly elegant lady depicts Eleanor Robson Belmont (1879-1979), who was the first woman on the board of directors of the Met and was crucial in creating the Metropolitan Opera Guild in 1935.
Mrs. Belmont always sat in box 4 in the Golden Horseshoe at the old Met. When the company was in its most parlous financial condition in the early 1930s, she raised $300,00 to create the guild. In 1940, it was she who had the idea to cut up the gold silk curtain at the old Met and have the pieces stitched to make handbags, bookmarks, eyeglass cases and other items whose sale raised $11,000.
Mrs. Belmont proudly declared that, with the establishment of the guild, “democratization of opera has begun!” In the spring of 1936 she hired Mary Ellis Peltz, whom she described as a “gifted walking encyclopedia of opera” to edit the newsletter that would become Opera News. Mrs. Peltz also created educational programs, a lecture series and backstage tours. She edited the magazine until 1957, at which point she initiated the Metropolitan Opera archives and was its director until her death in 1981. They were then headed by Robert Tuggle, who died on Jan. 24 at the age of 83. Read more...

Thursday, March 3, 2016

16 Reasons To Be Proud Of Being A Book Hoarder Let's just call it "book collecting."

  • Claire FallonCulture Writer, The Huffington Post
  • Your tallest TBR pile nearly collapsed on your cat the other day. You're out of both bookshelf space and space for more bookshelves. Your best friend has started meaningfully reading passages from Marie Kondo's The Magical Art of Tidying Upto you. You nearly started crying when your boyfriend suggested donating your old textbooks.
    Sound familiar? You -- yes, you -- might just be a book hoarder.
    But so what? Despite the minimalist craze that seems to be sweeping the country, there can be a lot of benefits attached to hanging onto all your books. If you just can't bear to clear your domicile of all but a shelf of treasured favorites (it's like picking a shelf of favorite children!), and you're worried that you're missing out on all the psychological and interpersonal benefits of embracing minimalism, just take a few deep breaths of old book-scented air and remember these 16 reasons to be proud of your book-collecting tendencies. Read more...

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Bob Dylan’s Secret Archive By BEN SISARIO MARCH 2, 2016

Bob Dylan working in a room above the Cafe Espresso in Woodstock, N.Y., in 1964, left. On the right are items from his archive. CreditDouglas R. Gilbert, left; via the Bob Dylan Archive, right.
TULSA, Okla. — For years, Bob Dylan scholars have whispered about a tiny notebook, seen by only a few, in which the master labored over the lyrics to his classic 1975 album “Blood on the Tracks.” Rolling Stone once called it “the Maltese Falcon of Dylanology” for its promise as an interpretive key.F
But that notebook, it turns out, is part of a trinity. Sitting in climate-controlled storage in a museum here are two more “Blood on the Tracks” notebooks — unknown to anyone outside of Mr. Dylan’s closest circle — whose pages of microscopic script reveal even more about how Mr. Dylan wrote some of his most famous songs.  Read more....

There’s A Village In Wales That Is Basically One Big Library

1. This is the Welsh village of Hay-on-Wye.