Thursday, February 28, 2013

I Should Try Reading Like This

Image via

Blog Offers Peek at Book Dedications

One of the best things about buying used books, other than saving money, is the dedication scribbled just inside the cover. If you're lucky, the inscription was written by the author of the book - collector's item! If you're luckier, it was written in a moment of tenderness or humor (or spite) by the person giving the book as a gift to another, giving you a tantalizing peek into the lives of others.

Wayne Gooderham gathers some of the best of these inscriptions in his blog, bookdedications. In an article that he wrote for The Guardian, he said, "For me, the overriding emotion evoked by these inscriptions is one of pathos. All are basically records of human connections - or at least attempts at human connections - given added weight by the fact that all these books have been discovered among the shelves of second-hand book shops and for whatever reason they are no longer in the hand of the dedicees."

Browsing through bookdedications, I see some inscriptions that are quite beautiful and moving, such as the one in a copy of Gabriel García Márquez's Love in the Time of Cholera. As seen above, the inscription reads: 

From Justin to Rebecca,

With warm & tender feelings, on your birthday.

19 August 2004

After rough seas, there is calm,

for sore wounds, there is a balm,

Let me hold you in my arms

And keep you safe from harm.

Gooderham admits "there is an element of voyeurism" in savoring these book dedications. Undoubtedly, they can be very intimate. The often private nature of these inscriptions can sometimes set my mind a-whirl, my imagination conjuring up all sorts of fantastical back stories based on these dedications. But unless you were the one who wrote the dedication - or the one who received the book - you will never know the true story behind this bibliophilistic exchange. That sense of mystery, and the sweet discovery of a new read at a deeply discounted price, is what keeps me and other admirers of a well-penned inscription returning to used bookstores again and again.

To eye more amazing book inscriptions, go to Gooderham's blog at THIS LINK.

* Above images from Wayne Gooderham's bookdedications.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Riot Grrrl Archive to Be Published in Book Form

Since 2010, NYU's Bobst Library has been home to the Riot Grrrl Collection, "an attempt to document the evolution of the Riot Grrrl movement, particularly in the years between 1989 and 1996," according to the collection's home page

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Much more than a zine repository, the collection contains flyers, posters, photos, correspondence, journals, notebooks, artwork, audio and video recordings, and other items created by those active in riot grrrl, the largely white and young punk feminist movement that grew out of cities like Washington, D.C., and Olympia, Washington. Bands like Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, and Heavens to Betsy combined music and politics in a way that infected and inspired legions of high school- and college-aged women, forcefully shaking them out of their suburban stupor.

The Riot Grrrl Collection, housed in the Fales Library & Special Collections room in Bobst Library, has generated plenty of publicity since its 2010 debut. Still most people who are interested in the collection are unable to come to New York City to access the primary source materials in person. So the Feminist Press, an independent nonprofit literary publisher that promotes freedom of expression and social justice, is putting out a book featuring reproductions of some of these source materials for a wider audience to appreciate.

Lisa Darms, senior archivist at Fales Library & Special Collections, NYU.
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In an interview with NYU Local, Lisa Darms, the senior archivist who created the Riot Grrrl Collection, said the Feminist Press approached her about the book a year and a half ago."It was their idea," Darms told NYU Local. "They heard about the collection and at first we had talked about just being a few zines reproduced in their entirety, and we worked with that idea for a while. When my editor started seeing the material, she was like, 'I want to add pages and you to do more excerpts and get more material out there.'"

Among the items included in the book, which is simply titled The Riot Grrrl Collection, are drafts of lyrics written by Kathleen Hanna (of Bikini Kill) - some for songs that were never finished - and a letter from Tobi Vail (of Bikini Kill) to Molly Neuman (of Bratmobile), sent in 1990 before they had ever met up in person. The Riot Grrrl Collection will be approximately 340 pages of material.

Asked by NYU Local what she wants readers to take away from the book, Darms responded, "I kind of have different agendas. As an archivist, I'm really concerned that it's objective and historically accurate. A part of me want[s] it to be used as a historical document. At the same time, I see it as a manual for teen girls. And then, you know, more generally my goal is to make the collection more accessible. With the book, people anywhere can see the stuff that's here."

According to Lisa Darms, the publication date for The Riot Grrrl Collection is mid-June. (Amazon and the Feminist Press state that the book will be released on May 14, 2013.) The forward was written by Johanna Fateman, who's played in bands The Troublemakers and Le Tigre with Kathleen Hanna.

For more on the book The Riot Grrrl Collection, go HERE and HERE.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Readers with Cats Won't Be Surprised

Photograph tweeted by medieval book historian Erik Kwakkel of a 15th-century book with cat paw prints in ink across the pages.
Image via Dr. Marty Becker/Facebook.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Challenges of Cataloging a Zine Collection

The other day, I flipped through a copy of Zine Librarian Zine #3. In it, there's a great article, written by Amanda Stevens, on cataloging a zine collection. This ties in quite nicely with what I'm currently learning in library school.

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In class, we're learning about metadata. Simply put, metadata is "data about data" - or information about a source of information, like a book. So for the book Little Women, the metadata would include its author (Louisa May Alcott), its format (print or electronic), its genre (fiction), and its subject matter (Sisters-fiction; Family life-New England-fiction). When writing metadata, it's common practice to use Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) for the purpose of maintaining a uniform, standard language. Metadata is essential if you're a librarian or archivist who is organizing an online collection. It's also useful if you're a patron of a library or archive who is typing in search terms to find items in an online collection.

One thing that's tricky about organizing an online collection is deciding on search terms that adequately describe what's in the collection and that make sense to those searching the collection. Amanda Stevens touches on that in her article, "Adventures in Zine Subject Cataloging," published in Zine Librarian Zine #3.

On the shelves of the Anchor Archive Zine Library in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Image from bilateral/Flickr.

Stevens volunteered to catalog the zine collection at the Anchor Archive Zine Library in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in Canada. In her article, she said, "The biggest challenge has been to create a catalogue that is easy to use, makes sense to Anchor Archive patrons, and fits the DIY ethic of zines, yet incorporates enough library standards to function as an effective tool for searching and managing content." That's quite a task! She admitted "one of the most difficult aspects" of this task pertained to subject terms. And she was loathe to use Library of Congress Subject Headings.

"When you decide to use subject terms, you also have to decide if you're going to use a controlled vocabulary (a predefined set of terms) or natural language," said Stevens. "If you decide to use a controlled vocabulary, you have to decide which one to use. Unfortunately, there aren't many to choose from. Most libraries use Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH), but I ruled these out right away because many [of the terms] are outdated and problematic...and I don't think hierarchical subject terms (e.g. 'travel-Arizona') are necessary" for the zine library's electronic catalog.

When cataloging a zine collection, there are no hard-and-fast rules to follow. Much does depend on the collection itself - the medium, size, location, space constraints, etc. - and those who would use it. There are also the personal politics and professional training (or lack of) of those who are organizing the collection. Ultimately, it's best to organize a collection in a way that facilitates the easiest and most efficient access to it for the users of that collection.

To read Amanda Stevens' very interesting article in its entirety, go to THIS LINK.

Monday, February 11, 2013

10 Best Fictional Libraries in Pop Culture

Many of pop culture's most memorable moments have taken place in libraries. Although these libraries tend to be fictional, they still feed the imaginations of fans of Star Wars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and more.

The mighty Jedi Temple Library.
Image via

Ten of the best fictional libraries in popular culture were listed by Flavorwire. Among them is the Jedi Temple Library, which fans of Stars Wars know of from reading the spin-off novels based on the popular film series.

The Jedi Temple Library is a circular structure that holds a wealth of Jedi wisdom within its vast halls. Located near the main floor of the Jedi Archives of the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, the library is a destination for Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi and others of the Jedi Order seeking knowledge.*

Another unforgettable library in pop culture is the one in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Perched perfectly atop a Hellmouth, a portal for supernatural activity, the Sunnydale High School Library is a crucial resource for Buffy and her vampire- and demon-slaying friends. It's staffed by the indispensable Giles, the librarian who supplies the texts - and the weapons - that they need.

Other fictional libraries mentioned in the Flavorwire article are Lucien's library in Neil Gaiman's Sandman, the Hogwarts Library from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, The Library in Doctor Who, and of course, the Beast's library from the Beauty and the Beast animated film.

To see all 10 fictional libraries - with pictures - go to the Flavorwire post HERE.

* A nod to Wookieepedia, the Star Wars Wiki.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Documentary on J.D. Salinger to Hit the Small Screen

The spotlight is set to shine once more on the famously private author of the perennial favorite The Catcher in the Rye. A documentary on the late J.D. Salinger is set to air on television in January 2014. Directed by Shane Salerno, the film is sure to explore the many facets of the enigmatic Salinger.
Simply title Salinger, the documentary will air on PBS as part of its American Masters series, which presents in-depth and engaging biographies on those who've had an indelible impact on U.S. culture. Thirteen/WNET, which is the primary station of and program provider to PBS in the New York metropolitan area, acquired the exclusive U.S. television rights to the documentary.

"Shane's film is an extraordinary piece of work," Susan Lacy, the creator and executive producer of American Masters, said in an interview with "It is my intellectual and emotional thrill to bring the inimitable J.D. Salinger into the American Masters library."

Preceding the television debut of Salinger on PBS will be the release of a companion book, The Private War of J.D. Salinger, to be published by Simon & Schuster. The book was written by Shane Salerno and David Shields. According to Mediabistro, "Salerno has been interviewing colleagues and intimates of Salinger since 2004. Since then, he and co-author David Shields have been shaping the interviews into an oral biography, which will be accompanied by never-before-seen photos of Salinger."

For fans of J.D. Salinger, this is all very exciting news! To read more about the documentary and the companion book, go HERE and HERE.

* Above image from

Thursday, February 7, 2013

5 Books Every High School Student Should Read

When I was in high school, I was assigned to read a lot of Shakespeare. Many would say that the Bard should be required reading for high school students. Ashley Lauren has other, less expected suggestions about what books teenagers should be picking up. Lauren works as a high school English teacher in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. She recently told alternative parenting blog Offbeat Families her picks for the 5 books that every teenager should read.

One of Lauren's recommended reads is actually somewhat expected: The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger. But I must say that The Catcher in the Rye was not assigned reading for me in either high school or college, despite my being in AP English in the former and an English major in the latter. So I didn't end up reading Salinger's signature novel until I was in early adulthood. The fact that I chose to read it made it all the more enjoyable. I don't know what my teenaged self would've gotten out of it.

Lauren's other suggestions are less conventional: The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky; Columbine, by Dave Cullen; Reality Bites Back, by Jennifer Pozner; and A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry. I wasn't required to read A Raisin in the Sun until college, but I will give my high school English teacher credit for assigning Their Eyes Were Watching God, thus exposing us to the less well-known Zora Neale Hurston.

For descriptions of Ashely Lauren's picks and why she chose them, go HERE.

* Above image of the first-edition publication of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun is from