Monday, July 30, 2012

Published Authors and Their Permanent Ink

It shouldn't be surprising that many authors are tattooed (some more prominently than others!). Perhaps their inward drive for creative expression also manifests itself on their exterior selves. Or it could be their desire for permanence, whether it's on bookshelves (more preferably, I'm sure) or on the skin. Or maybe it's simply a love of ink, whether on the printed page or the printed flesh.

Kathy Acker (April 18, 1947 – November 30, 1997). 
Photo via
Among the published authors who have permanent ink (or had, in the case of notable writers who are no longer with us, such as Kathy Acker) are Patti Smith, Rick Moody, John Irving, and Jonathan Lethem. These are just a few of the stars of the book world (and beyond, in the case of Smith) who Flavorwire chose to spotlight in its July 23 article "Literary Ink: Famous Authors and Their Tattoos." To take a look at all the authors and their tats, go HERE.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Free Lunches with Free Books at D.C. Public Libraries

This summer, the public libraries in Washington, D.C., are more than just places where people can enjoy books in air-conditioned comfort. They also are where kids can get free, nutritious meals.

Eleven branches of the D.C. Public Library are participating in the Free Summer Meals Program (FSMP). From 1 to 2:30 PM Monday through Friday, children age 18 and younger can enjoy a free lunch at these libraries. No ID is required.

"Librarians, just as teachers do, know that people are coming in hungry," said Eva Poole, chief of staff at the D.C. Public Library. "This is an opportunity for us to actually combat childhood hunger and summer reading loss."

The Free Summer Meals Program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is sponsored by the D.C. Public Library Foundation, the D.C. Public Library, D.C. Hunger Solutions, and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE). The 11 participating branches are:

  • Anacostia Neighborhood Library, 1800 Good Hope Road SE
  • Dorothy I. Height/Benning Neighborhood Library, 3935 Benning Road NE
  • Capitol View Neighborhood Library, 5001 Central Avenue SE
  • Francis A. Gregory Neighborhood Library, 3660 Alabama Avenue SE
  • Juanita E. Thornton/Shepherd Park Neighborhood Library, 7420 Georgia Avenue NW
  • Lamond Riggs Neighborhood Library, 5401 S. Dakota Avenue NE
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, 901 G Street NW
  • Petworth Neighborhood Library, 4200 Kansas Avenue NW
  • Southwest Neighborhood Library, 900 Wesley Place SW
  • William O. Lockridge/Bellevue Neighborhood Library, 115 Atlantic Street SW
  • Woodbridge Neighborhood Library, 1801 Hamlin Street NW

The District's Free Summer Meals Program will run through August 10, 2012. In the meantime, young patrons such as 5-year-old Jose Walters are enjoying it. "It's really good," he said while finishing a lunch consisting of a peach, baby carrots, a turkey sandwich on wheat bread, and a carton of non-fat chocolate milk, served at the William O. Lockridge/Bellevue Neighborhood Library. After eating, he scampered off to join his mother in picking out books.

To read more about the free lunch program in D.C.'s libraries, go to this LINK.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The American Bookmobile: A Brief History in Photos

Like the ice cream truck, the bookmobile conjures up many wonderful childhood memories for millions of Americans. This "library on wheels" was once a familiar site on country roads, suburban streets, and even city blocks.

The New York Public Library's bookmobile visits a Bronx neighborhood in the 1950s.
Image via Book Riot
The bookmobile has undergone a series of changes throughout the years, but its mission has remained the same: to bring literacy and the love of books to the masses. Book Riot, a website dedicated to books and reading, recently offered "A Brief History of American Pictures." Go to this LINK to take a look at the bookmobile, from its earliest form as a book wagon to today's cybermobile.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Chicago Public Libraries to Be Open All Day on Monday

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel continues to backpedal on his decision to close the city's public libraries on Mondays. The controversial cost-cutting measure, which was announced in January, was immediately met with criticism not only from librarians, but also from library-goers. "I am convinced that shuttering public libraries on Monday is a disastrous decision that should be reconsidered," said teacher Jay C. Rehak in a January 9 letter to the Chicago Sun Times. "If Chicago is to remain a world-class city, it must maintain a world-class library system."

Emanuel reverses his earlier decision to close public libraries on Monday.
Image source:
In reaction to the swift public backlash, Emanuel stated in early February that Chicago Public Library branches will stay open on Mondays, but they will NOT be open all day - just from 2 to 6 PM in order to be accessible to kids when schools let out. "By opening branch libraries on Monday afternoons, we are providing students with a comfortable, safe place to study after school," Emanuel told the media. "As mayor, I've put children and education first and I will continue to ensure libraries are available to students after school." 

Now the Chicago mayor is saying that public libraries will be open all day on Mondays to best serve all members of the community, including caretakers of young children who like to go to storytime earlier in the day. Although Emanuel's complete reversal of his decision to close libraries on Mondays does benefit the library-going public, there is a catch: the city will hire "more than 100 workers to replace librarians," according to the Chicago Tribune. Replacing librarians with "lower-wage library pages [will] allow the city to offer a full day of service on Monday without additional cost, said Rahm Emanuel and Library Commissioner Brian Bannon on July 16, reported the Tribune.

The Chicago Public Library is far from alone in its push to replace librarians with non-librarians to save money. Still, this hiring trend among libraries is distressing to my library school classmates. But there is a hint of a silver lining for MLIS-degreed job seekers who would like to work at public libraries in Chicago. According to a July 16 press release from the Chicago Public Library, there is a "demand for a teen librarian position," which "will be focused on assisting teen patrons with learning the latest in YA literature, technology and interest-based learning. These new librarians will be hired over the next two years, the goal being to have one in each of the 79 Chicago Public Library locations."

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Vintage Library Posters from the 1960s

Image via Enokson's Flickr photostream

There's a fantastic Flickr page featuring 1960s library posters, many of them promoting school libraries. The graphics, and of course the message, are great! Check out all 28 posters HERE.

What Your Bookshelf Says About You

We've all done it: Gone to someone's place for the first time and spotted a bookshelf, and then walked over to see what they are reading or have read. And after seeing what books they own, our opinion of the person changes, sometimes for the better ("I would never have guessed that s/he's into J.D. Salinger. Maybe I can borrow Franny and Zooey."), other times for the worse ("Ayn Rand? Really?!").

"Hmm, another one by Dan Brown..."
Image from
Just like a record collection, your bookshelf conveys who you are to whoever comes by to visit. Have you ever stopped to wonder what your bookshelf says about you? If you possess titles by David Foster Wallace, Nick Hornby, and Salinger, you're likely to be "a touch neurotic," says Kevin Armento in his Date Report article for the San Francisco Gate. If you enjoy reading Lord of Rings and/or the Chronicles of Narnia, you also enjoy "afternoons drifting off to other worlds" and "you have bouts of social awkwardness. You're a total freak in bed," by the way. And if you're a fan of David Sedaris, David Rakoff, and Sarah Vowell, "you're probably witty, you definitely lean left, and you're likely to own a few tote bags."

To read Armento's article, "What Your Bookshelf Says About You," go HERE.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Book Vending Machine? Yes, Please!

A young woman stands before the Book-O-Mat vending machine in 1949.
Image via LIFE magazine.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Story Behind Summer Reading Programs

Summer reading assigned at the end of the school year was a not-so-unfortunate fact of life for me as an elementary school student. Having a great love for reading, I would launch into the books with glee. I would even go on to pick up books that weren't on the reading list, just for my amusement.

Two girls take a break from the playground slide to stop summer slide.
Image via
Although I'm sure other kids weren't as enthusiastic as I was about summer reading, teachers and librarians were determined to prevent what's known as "summer slide - when kids experience educational setbacks because of the three-month break from school," says Victoria Bekiempis in "10 Things You Should Know About Summer Reading." In her Village Voice article, Bekiempis offers some interesting facts on the history of summer reading programs in the United States, such as:

  • The United States's first summer reading program, begun in 1895, was in Cleveland, Ohio.
  • New York's first summer reading program was implemented in 1914, out on Long Island.
  • In 1946, a Kansas librarian made clear the point of the program: to prevent reading ability loss.
  • Computers were first incorporated into the nation's summer reading programs in 1983.

For more fascinating facts on summer reading, "a seasonal tradition as beloved as splashing in broken fire hydrants, playing on sidewalk slip-and-slides, barbecuing on fire escapes, and watching Fourth of July fireworks from a tenement rooftop," be sure to go to Victoria Bekiempis' article HERE.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Frances McDormand & Co. Read 'The Great Gatsby'

One of the books that were assigned reading for me in high school was The Great Gatsby. The 1925 novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald enthralled me and my fellow AP English classmates with its surreptitious gaze, through the eyes of Nick, at the glamourous life of Gatsby, Nick's enigmatic next-door neighbor.

During those high school days, before the Internet was everywhere, our teacher set aside one afternoon for us to watch the 1974 movie adaptation of The Great Gatsby, starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow, on VHS. Today, on YouTube, we have the pleasure of watching another group of esteemed actors express this classic work of literature. Below is a video of Frances McDormand, Lili Taylor, Hope Davis, Steve Martin, and more reading Chapter 1 of The Great Gatsby.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A Look at Zine Librarianship

If you were a teenager in the 1980s or '90s, then you've likely heard of zines: homemade publications focused on a subject of great personal interest to the producers of the publications. Zines typically come in booklet or magazine form, and traditionally they're produced through the cutting and pasting of articles and graphics, and then photocopied to make final copies for distribution, often at the local or community level.

The Zine Library at the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD) in Canada.
In recent years, academic libraries and public libraries have incorporated zines into their collections. Seeing their value as archival items that give unique insight into often-overlooked segments of society, these institutions have cultivated zine libraries within the larger library with the help of young staff members who already had an interest in zines, whether as makers of zines or as fans of this alternative form of print media.

Curating zines as a zine librarian has never crossed the minds of many library school students. But it's considered one of the "Emerging Careers in Librarianship" by Hack Library School (HLS). In a recent post titled "Zines (Yes, zines!)," HLS explains what zines are, describes how you can become a zine librarian, and interviews two zine librarians: Kelly McElroy, Undergraduate Services Librarian at the University of Iowa, and Jenna Freedman, Director of Research and Instruction at Barnard College.

Barnard College has received press attention for its excellent zine library. So has New York University: it notably augmented its Fales Library holdings with the Riot Grrrl Collection, featuring zines that came out of the punk feminist movement that was most prominent in the early-to-mid 90s. And the zine library at Brooklyn College will soon make its debut. "It's important to be at an institution where you can make the case for zines," said Freedman, who pitched the idea of a zine collection to Barnard.

As one panelist said at ALA 2012 in Anaheim: "Both zines and libraries are reflections and creations of their communities." Bringing the two together as a zine librarian is a career worth looking into.