Saturday, June 30, 2012

Librarian Is a Job for Loners?

During one particularly animated class discussion, a library school classmate firmly stated, "I hate people. That's why I'm here - to get a job in a library where I won't have to look at or speak to anyone." Nearly everyone in class laughed at her frankness. I was amused, too, but I also found her outlook a bit strange. After all, isn't one of the qualities of a good librarian a love of people?

Project librarian Jane Taylor working alone in the Paine Room of the Working Class Movement Library in Salford, UK. (Photo: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian)
Yet I suppose a lot of people feel the way my classmate does, for many purposely seek out jobs where they will have minimal contact with others. These are the jobs for loners, and according to a CNBC article, librarian is one of these jobs. "If you're in love with books," the article says, "and you like shushing people more than you like meeting them, then a job as a librarian may be for you."

Reassuring the lone wolf types that "these professionals aren't limited to working in public libraries," the CNBC article goes on to reveal the mean annual wage for librarians ($57,020) and what those in the government sector can earn ($80,000 per year). So not only will you not have to deal with others, but you will make a decent salary to boot. A win-win for those like my library school classmate.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Shakespearean Street Art (Oh, Romeo!)

Photo: via

Working at a Library Is Not Always Fun and Games

In my first semester of library school, a professor warned me not to work at a public library. I assume it was because of the lack of political and economic support that public libraries have been getting and the fallout from that: the closing of libraries, the cutting of library hours, and the firing (and not rehiring) of librarians. The professor may have also been thinking of the social ills that are increasingly finding their way inside library walls - such as homelessness, mental illness, physical and sexual abuse, and vandalism - and the stress that comes from dealing with such issues on a daily basis if you're a public librarian.

If only all public library patrons were as cute and well behaved as this young reader. 
One public librarian recently confided to BuzzFeed that "there's nothing library school could truly do to prepare you for all the surprises that happen during a normal day at the library." She then recounted some of her run-ins with the "creeps, crazies, and husband beaters" during her four years at the library. For instance, she sometimes had "to ask people to leave the library. One night it was getting really close to closing time, and this woman who had been hanging around for a long time not doing anything suddenly turned to me, pointed at a man, and said, 'He hit me.' It was obvious that he hadn't actually hit her. She was being aggressive, and I had to call the police. It probably took them seven or eight minutes to get there, but it felt like an eternity." 

I sympathize with her, but you will encounter disturbed and difficult people in any position where you deal with the public, whether it's at the grocery store, the ticket counter, or the public library. Having worked with the public, I admit that it can be challenging and even upsetting at times. However, each surreal incident makes you better equipped to deal the next time, and it makes for a great story to tell later. Still, when you're in the midst of things, it's definitely not fun.

"Ultimately," the anonymous librarian told BuzzFeed, "I stopped working at the library because I wasn't happy there. I didn't like being on edge all the time, not knowing if someone who causes problems was going to come in, or if someone was going to have some kind of outburst. I still think libraries are fantastic and librarians are amazing." I think libraries are fantastic and librarians are amazing, too - after all, I'm working toward becoming one. Still, I might heed my professor's warning to steer clear of the public library.

To read the BuzzFeed article "Career Confidential: A Librarian Deals with Creeps, Crazies, and Husband-Beaters," go HERE.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Styling Between the Stacks: NYPL Edition

New York Public Library employees continue to bust the stereotype of the dowdy librarian with their eye-popping style. Their style is so striking that the Wall Street Journal chose to highlight it in its Work Wear: Office Style at the New York Public Library article with an accompanying slideshow.

Stephen Pinson, of the NYPL. Photo: Kurt Wilberding/Wall Street Journal
"There are a lot of individual styles here," said Stephen Pinson, curator of photographs at the library. "People will be surprised because employees don't fit into a category." Indeed, work wear at the New York Public Library, as profiled in the Wall Street Journal piece, ranges from conservative classics to brightly colored ensembles to consignment shop gems to hand-sewn attire. The diversity of looks among the sixteen library employees profiled is refreshing.

Jessica Pigza, of the NYPL. Photo: Kurt Wilberding/Wall Street Journal
Jessica Pigza, assistant curator of rare books at the library, told the Wall Street Journal, "My mom taught me to sew when I was a kid. I try to mix things I make with the things I have." In the photo of her featured in the slideshow, Pigza is wearing Indigo by Clarks shoes, known for their style and comfort, because "I spend my time walking around on marble floors."

To see the slideshow exhibiting the wonderful workplace style of Pigza and 15 other New York Public Library employees, go HERE.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Rare Archival Recording of Flannery O'Connor's Voice

Have you ever wondered what Flannery O'Connor sounded like? Wonder no more.

The famed writer's voice can be heard as a special feature on the Criterion Collection disc of Wise Blood, the 1979 film adaptation of O'Connor's 1952 novel. In the rare archival recording, O'Connor is reading her 1953 short story, "A Good Man Is Hard to Find." This audio file is the only known recording of the late author of Southern Gothic literature reading her work. You can listen to it HERE.

Above portrait of Flannery O'Connor via

A Book Tent for That 4th of July Camping Trip

What do you get when you combine "love of reading" and "love of the great outdoors"? This fabulous book-shaped tent, available from Field Candy just in time for the Fourth of July.

Designed by Jack Maxwell, this tent will definitely be the talk of the campsite. At 11'8" (335 cm) long, 5'7" (170 cm) wide, and 4'7" (140 cm) high, it should comfortably sleep two people. Be sure to buy yours now if you're a book lover who will be roughing it this upcoming holiday.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Library of Congress Picks 'Books That Shaped America'

"Once you learn to read, you will be forever free." ~ Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass' Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave has been selected as one of the "Books That Shaped America," as determined by the Library of Congress. The 1845 memoir of the celebrated orator and abolitionist will be on display with other influential titles on the second floor of LC's Thomas Jefferson Building, in the Southwest Gallery, starting June 25.

According to a Library of Congress press release, "the exhibition is part of a larger series of programs, symposia and other events that explore the important and varied ways that books influence our lives." Many of the titles on display in the Jefferson Building are from LC's Rare Book and Special Collections Division. Viewing hours are 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM Monday through Saturday.

The public is encouraged to comment on the books on display and to submit their choices for "Books That Shaped America" to the Library of Congress at THIS LINK.

"This list of 'Books That Shaped America' is a starting point," stated James H. Billington, a librarian at the Library of Congress. "It is not a register of the 'best' American books - although many of them fit that description. Rather, the list is intended to spark a national conversation on books written by Americans that have influenced our lives."

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Curator of Underground NY Public Library Revealed

Earlier, I posted about the Underground New York Public Library, a Tumblr comprised of a seemingly endless stream of captivating photos of NY subway riders reading while in transit.

Photo by Ourit Ben-Haim, via
As if that weren't excellent enough, beneath each photo is a web link to the book that the subway rider is absorbed in, in case you want to know more about the book or perhaps even buy it. Book lovers, and those who love people watching, can easily spend hours browsing the Underground New York Public Library. I know I have.

Storyboard, a Tumblr that "highlight[s] talented creators and their work as found within and around the massively diverse Tumblr community," recently interviewed the UNYPL's curator, photographer Ourit Ben-Haim. Up until this interview with Storyboard, the identity of the person behind the increasingly popular website was a bit of a mystery.

Ourit Ben-Haim, the creative force behind Underground New York Public Library.
Image via
Storyboard's interview with the immensely talented Ourit Ben-Haim is a highly insightful one, offering such gems as her philosphical thoughts on reading: "I see life as a journey towards ourselves, and reading is a primary vehicle towards this destination."

If you want to read more about this prolific documenter of New York's "Reading-Riders," as she calls them, see Storyboard's interview of Ourit Ben-Haim HERE. Meanwhile, I'll return to the Underground New York Public Library, where I'll gladly be stuck for the next hour!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Study: Reading Fiction Raises Emotional Intelligence

"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales." ~ Albert Einstein

Photo source:
In a recent article published on, columnist Erika Andersen wrote: "Reading fiction actually increases people's emotional intelligence: their accurate awareness of themselves and others, and their ability to create positive relationships with others based on managing their own reactions." The basis for her statement was an article her sister-in-law, Anne Kreamer, wrote for the Harvard Business Review, titled "The Business Case for Reading Novels." And in HER article, Kreamer referenced a Scientific American piece on cognitive psychologists discovering that reading fiction helps "readers understand not just the characters in books but human character in general."

The assertion that reading fiction in particular improves one's ability to read people is an intriguing one, but I would venture to say that reading in general boosts a person's emotional intelligence, thus enabling him or her to better comprehend both the verbal and nonverbal cues of others. And, of course, nothing beats temporarily setting aside the books to become an even sharper student of human behavior!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Seductive Smell of New Books Now in a Bottle

Liking "the smell of books" is almost always among the reasons given by those who prefer paper books over e-books. Fortunately for these people, the fashion industry has found a way to reproduce, bottle, and market the seductive smell of freshly printed books for their olfactory pleasure.

Image via @ebertchicago

Paper Passion is a new fragrance that is the result of a collaboration between perfumer Geza Schoen, fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, and designer Gerhard Steidl. Each small bottle of Paper Passion is nestled in the cutout of a book-like package designed by Lagerfeld. "The smell of a freshly printed book is the best smell in the world," said Lagerfeld in a promotional statement for the fragrance.

A bottle of Paper Passion can be yours for $115 if you live in the US, 70 pounds if you live in the UK, and 88 euros if you live elsewhere in Europe.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Pop-Up Libraries Proliferate in Unexpected Places

Cute and quirky, but quite useful, pop-up libraries are increasingly occupying unexpected spaces all across the world.

A mini library housed in a once-abandoned red phone booth in the UK. (Image:
They are showing up in phone booths in the UK and the US, shipping containers in the Netherlands, and trolleybuses in Bulgaria. They are even materializing in birdhouses! Essentially, pop-up libraries are community-maintained lending libraries conveniently established in places you pass by every day. And currently, they're all the rage.

Personally, I question if you can call these miniature setups "libraries" if there is no librarian on hand to keep them organized and relay information to the public. Still, it's a novel idea, and anything that promotes literacy and makes books more accessible to people is definitely a good thing.

Recently, took a look at "6 Delightful Pop-Up Libraries to Encourage Reading This Summer." You can see them HERE.