Thursday, November 20, 2014

Library Books Save FSU's Student's Life (Literally)

When the topic of the school shooting at Florida State University began to trend in news outlets on the morning of Thursday, November 20, 2014, my heart dropped and my throat tightened. Yet another incident of senseless violence involving guns taking place in a U.S. school - in an environment where bright-eyed students and hard-working teachers, staff, and administrators are supposed to be safe - was just too much for me to deal with. So I turned away from the news sites.
FSU student Jason Derfuss holds one of the library books that saved his life.
Photo by Jason Derfuss

Later, I logged into Facebook and began to scroll through my News Feed. An amazing story caught my eye: An FSU student hadn't realized that he had been targeted by the gunman until after returned home, removed his backpack, and took out the library books inside. Holding the books, he noticed they were pierced with bullet holes and that they had actually prevented the bullets from the gunman's weapon from entering his body. Reading this story, I found it absolutely incredible. It wasn't until I saw photos of these bullet-riddled library books - photos that were posted by the student himself - that I at last believed the story.

As reported in media outlets, student Jason Derfuss was at Strozier Library on the FSU campus on the night of the shooting. He checked out a stack of library books, placed them inside his backpack, and began walking out of the library when the gunman entered the building. The gunman started to unload his weapon, and Derfuss heard the shots. Relating the incident to his friends and followers on Facebook, Derfuss said:

"Tonight there was a shooting at FSU, right as I was leaving Strozier. I didn't know this at the time, but the Shooter targeted me first. The shot I heard behind me I did not feel, nor did it hit me at all. He was about 5 feet from me, but he hit my books. Books one minute earlier I had checked out of the library, books that should not have stopped the bullet. But they did. I learned this about 3 hours after it happened, I never thought to check my bag. I assumed I wasn't a target, I assumed I was fine. The truth is I was almost killed tonight and God intervened."

Derfuss proceeded to share photographs of his bullet-pierced library books. In another photo, he is holding a bullet that he had removed from one of the books, a bullet that was meant for him. You can see some of these photos below:

As bibliophiles, we are well aware that books have the power to change lives. We now know that they also have the power to save them.

All above photographs are by Jason Derfuss.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Ekstrom Library Home to Underground Music Archive

What began as a donation of local zines has become an archive documenting the 1980s and '90s punk, hardcore, and indie rock scenes in Louisville, Kentucky.

Image via

The Louisville Underground Music Archive got its start in 2011, when Ekstrom Library at the University of Louisville accepted vintage sets of two local zines: Burt the Cat and Hard Times. Processing them, archivist Carrie Daniels at Ekstrom Library's Archives and Special Collections recognized fellow archivist Heather Fox on the cover of one of the zines. Fox, a musician active in the local scene, was working at the Filson Historical Society in Louisville. Daniels contacted Fox, who in turn contacted the publisher of Burt the Cat, Paul Curry, who donated additional issues, enabling Ekstrom Library to house the complete run of Burt and fill major gaps in the run of Hard Times. It was then that Daniels and Fox began to consider building a more comprehensive archive of Louisville's rock scenes. 

The push to create a comprehensive collection gained momentum with the 2012 death of Jason Nobel, member of the Louisville bands Rodan, Rachel's, and Shipping News, and the 2013 death of Jon Cook, member of the bands Rodan, Crain, and Cerebellum. "We started losing members of the music scene, and that really brought things to a head," Daniels said in an interview with WFPL, a Louisville radio station. "We realized we had to start collecting now; it had to be more than a cool idea. Because material was going to get lost. If the flyers get lost, if the music gets lost, if the set lists disappear, then an essential part of the scene is lost forever." The Louisville Underground Music Archive, or LUMA, was officially formed. Archivists Sarah-Jane Poindexter and Elizabeth Reilly, both interested in Louisville's local music scenes, came on board to help build LUMA.

LUMA is actively archiving items from Louisville's 1980s and '90s music scenes.
Image via

Right now, Daniels and her colleagues are actively seeking donations to LUMA. These can include personal papers and correspondence, business records, set lists, photographs, flyers, posters, original artwork, albums and other recorded music, videotaped shows, T-shirts, buttons, zines, newsletters, stickers, and any other ephemera related to the punk, hardcore, and indie rock scenes in Louisville, Kentucky, in the 1980s and '90s. Fan mail is also welcome. Talking to WFPL, archivist Poindexter said, "The Rachel's, for instance, donated their materials here. It covers their process of creating music as well as the artwork and packaging, their press release, their tour information, how they planned their tour and executive it, as well as fan mail."

In housing the Louisville Underground Music Library, the University of Louisville joins other academic institutions that have decided to collect the artifacts of independent music scenes, including New York University with its Riot Grrrl Collection and George Washington University with its D.C. Punk Rock Collection. According to the LUMA website, "Generally speaking, records of popular culture of this type are underrepresented in archives, putting this history at risk for loss." By accepting and preserving these records, these university archives can help keep the memories of these scenes alive for those who created and participated in them, as well as educate those who weren't part of those scenes but want to know about them.

"Ultimately, the goal of this collecting is to make it freely available to the community and researchers in general, and to preserve it for future generations," says the Louisville Underground Music Archive website. In the meantime, LUMA is eagerly accepting donations. "We are interested in taking anything and everything related to the music scene, things that people won't even think could be useful to an archive, Reilly told WFPL. "Every little piece tells the bigger story."

For more on the Louisville Underground Music Archive (LUMA), go HERE and HERE. If you would like to donate materials to the archive, send LUMA an email message at: Also, like LUMA on Facebook at THIS LINK.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Librarian (and Roller Derby Star) Gives Book Recs

One of Portland's nicknames is "Rose City." Thus its roller derby league, formed in 2004, is called the Rose City Rollers. A shining star of the league is Yoga Nabi Sari.
Yoga Nabi Sari, of the Rose City Rollers.
Image via

Seeing a cool photo of a roller derby team at Portland's Voodoo Doughnuts - and inspired by the 2009 film "Whip It" - she decided that she wanted to play roller derby. At the time that she joined the Rose City Rollers, in 2010, Yoga Nabi Sari was also starting library school. She was enrolled at the School of Library and Information Management at Emporia State University. However, she discovered that the rigors of a library school education paled in comparison to the sheer intensity of being on a roller derby team. Still, she saw playing roller derby as "a major, positive change in my life."

Yoga Nabi Sari began by joining the Rose City Wreckers, a recreational and noncompetitive derby training and exercise program that is open to women aged 18 and older. She would then move on to the Rose City Rollers' Fresh Meat training program, which readies skaters for the competitive level of roller derby. Ultimately, she would go on to skate for the Guns N Rollers (GNR) and Axles of Annihilation (AoA) teams. In the meantime, she worked at the OHSU West Campus Science and Engineering Library and at Multnomah County Library, where she did volunteer work and research. She earned her Master's in Library Science (MLS) degree from Emporia State University in 2012.

Today, Yoga Nabi Sari has the day job of librarian for a commercial real-estate company in Portland. Yet, in the evenings and on weekends, she skates as a jammer in the Rose City Rollers league. Her onetime employer, Multnomah County Library, recently asked her and her AoA teammates for book recommendations. Thinking about her favorite reads, she suggested Mind Gym: An Athlete's Guide to Inner Excellence by Gary Mack and The Inner Game of Tennis by Timothy Gallwey. She also recommended Roller Girl, written by fellow league member Victoria Jamieson. Yoga Nabi Sar called Roller Girl, which will be published in March 2015, a "beautifully illustrated book [that] captures the heart of this sport."

Talking more about roller derby, Yoga Nabi Sari said the sport "is what I was looking for: comraderie, exercise, a humbling experience, and feeling alive. This is the PE class I never had. I'm not picked last for the team, no one laughs at me (just with me), and we are all here because we love derby so much."

For more on what Yoga Nabi Sari and her fellow Rose City Rollers think you should read, see the Multnomah County blog post "Guest Readers: How They Roll - Favorite Reads from the Axles of Annihilation" at THIS LINK. To keep up with the Rose City Rollers, like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Have a Happy (Harry Potter) Halloween!

Photo of jack o' lanterns featuring the images of Harry Potter characters via Book Riot

What Daria Morgendorffer Read

I remember when Daria was on television. The animated series was on MTV from 1997 to 2002. During those years, when I was young adult who was just making her way in the world, I either didn't own a television or, if I did have a TV, I didn't have cable television. So, for the most part, I missed the show's five-season run.
Daria, seen in the bottom panel wearing glasses, had a sharp wit and was well read.
Image via Aerogramme Writers' Studio website

Since the series ended in January 2002, Daria has increasingly become viewed as one of the smartest animated shows ever to air in the history of television. And it remains loved (and much remarked upon) by many who came of age in the 1990s/early 2000s. Not too long ago, I finally committed to sitting down and watching the entire series on DVD, just to see what I missed out on. Although the animation style didn't appeal to me, I did see smartly written female characters. I appreciated the show's sharp satire, and I laughed out loud at the dry, deadpan delivery of the eponymous character, Daria Morgendorffer.

Daria as a character was fearless in that she was unapologetically herself in the cookie-cutter (fictional) suburb of Lawndale. Despite the continued admonishments of her parents, who wanted her to fit in for her own social benefit, and in the face of the ever-growing popularity of her vacuous, conventionally pretty kid sister, Quinn, Daria stood fast in remaining an original. 

In addition to her strong self-confidence and sense of self, Daria was also extremely smart. On many occasions, she cleverly and openly mocked her bland high school peers, and her comments often went straight over their heads. She was also very well read. (That Daria was so well read was a stark departure from the animated series that Daria the show was spun off from: Beavis and Butt-head, whose two central characters were dimwits who reveled in low-brow humor and were anti-academic in their approach to life.) 

Throughout the series' respectable run, Daria was often shown reading a book, or the show itself referenced books. Aerogramme Writers' Studio, a Melbourne, Australia-based publisher of "news and resources for emerging and established writers," compiled a list of all the books that Daria read or that were mentioned on the show. Fifty-seven books make up the list, and some of them are:

  • The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  • The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  • The Life and Complete Work of Francisco Goya by Pierre Gassier
  • Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg
  • The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
  • Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant
  • Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre
  • Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut

That's quite a scholarly selection of books. Even more impressive is that they were referenced on a cartoon show airing on MTV and that the central character, a high school girl, was shown reading. When you think about it, that's pretty amazing. 

To see all 57 books on "Daria Morgendorffer's Reading List," go to the Aerogramme Writers' Studio article at THIS LINK. What's great is that for the books on this reading list, Aerogramme Writers' Studio provided links to FREE e-book editions wherever possible. Thanks, Aerogramme Writers' Studio!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Shift from Print to Digital as Seen on NY Subway

Reading during my subway commute was a daily routine for me when I lived in New York. Upon finding a seat (or, if there weren't available seats, grabbing a subway pole to steady myself during the ride), I would take out a book or magazine and become absorbed in its pages until I neared my stop.

Screen, screen, everywhere a screen, on the New York City subway today.
Image: David Zax/Matt McGregor-Mento/tamografia

When I first moved to the city, those around me in the subway car would whip out newspapers during the morning commute. It was a common occurrence for the person sitting next to or standing directly in front of you to continuously flip and noisily flap their copy of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, or New York Observer mere inches from your face in a subway car crammed with people.

As the years passed, I noticed fewer and fewer physical newspapers being read by my fellow commuters and more and more handheld electronic gadgets being taken out as soon as the train doors closed. During my final years in New York, what almost always happened as soon as I sat down on the subway with a book in hand is that someone else would immediately sit next to me and, with a loud sniff or a slow clearing of the throat, delicately flip open and turn on an e-reader.

Sandwiched between two subway riders who were staring at glowing screens, I was undeniably aware of the stark shift from print to digital media. Although I did not miss newspapers being fanned and flipped in my face, the seemingly sudden proliferation of personal screens during my subway commute was just as startling. Michael Bourne, in his article "Screens on the Subway: The Rolling Library Is Going Digital," made the same observation:

"On every train I rode during my week back in New York, screens outnumbered printed pages, sometimes by a factor of two to one. When I've peeked, some of those screens have been displaying news stories and magazine pages and even a few books, but far more often my fellow subway riders were watching TV shows or playing Candy Crush on their phones."

As it was for me, "the speed and starkness of the change" from print to digital media being consumed in the "rolling public library" of the New York subway came as "a shock" to Bourne, who went on to say:

"A decade ago, none of the devices my R train companions were so avidly viewing even existed. Back then, if you didn't want to read on your morning subway commute, you stared off into space."

True. Or you closed your eyes for a brief nap, or put on headphones and plugged into a Discman (or, later, earbuds and plugged into an iPod). Sometimes, believe it or not, you would actually strike up a conversation with your fellow subway rider, just to pass the time until your stop. "Now, more and more often, these idle moments - on subway cars, on airplanes, in dentist's offices - are being filled by games and movies and social media. By screens," said Bourne.

Bourne says more about this shift from print to digital, especially as it has occurred in the New York City subway, in his excellent article "Screens on the Subway: The Rolling Library Is Going Digital," which you can read HERE.