Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I'm an Englishman Who Happens to Be a Librarian

Hopefully, this hasn't happened to you during any of your visits to the library!

Image via vimeo.com

Below is the "Library vs. Cricket" segment from the British sketch comedy show A Bit of Fry & Laurie, starring Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie:

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Travel Destinations for Book Lovers

It's incredible to think that in a week, it will be August already. The summer is going by so quickly! This means if you haven't gone on a summer vacation yet, then time's a-wastin'. If you're a book lover, you might seriously want to consider one of the "50 Places Every Literary Fan Should Visit," according to Flavorwire.
Edgar Allen Poe's Memorial Grave in Baltimore, Maryland.
Image via Flavorwire

There are so many literary landmarks worth checking out, both in the United States and abroad. In Dublin, Ireland, there are Oscar Wilde's childhood home and Jame Joyce's old stomping grounds. In England, there are Jane Austen's House and Museum (Hampshire), museums dedicated to Charles Dickens (London) and the Brontë sisters (West Yorkshire), and Monk's House (East Sussex), the cottage purchased by Virginia and Leonard Woolf. Of course there's Pere LaChaise, where Wilde, Marcel Proust, Colette, and other wordsmiths are buried, and Les Deux Magots, the cafe where Joyce, Simone de Beauvoir, Ernest Hemingway, and others conversed; both are in Paris, France.

Stateside, there are the Hemingway Birthplace and Museum (Oak Park, Illinois), the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library (Indianapolis, Indiana), F. Scott Fitzgerald's birthplace (St. Paul, Minnesota), the Emily Dickinson Museum (Amherst, Massachusetts), the Edward Gorey House (Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts), John Updike's home (Shillington, Pennsylvania), the Algonquin Hotel - formerly home of the infamous Algonquin Roundtable, where witticisms rolled off the tongues of Dorothy Parker and others (New York, NY), the Edgar Allen Poe Museum (Richmond, Virginia), and the Margaret Mitchell House and Museum (Atlanta, Georgia). If you're ever in Baltimore, Maryland, you should visit Poe's grave, which is at the southeast corner of Fayette and Greene Streets.

Believe it or not, this is just a small sampling of places for book lovers to visit. There are so many more literary hotspots to see in the United States, Europe, Canada, Russia, Africa, and South America. So break out your suitcases, travel planner, and credit card so that you can see one (or more) of the "50 Places Every Literary Fan Should Visit" before summer ends.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Short Books Great for Those with Little Time

I haven't been doing much reading for pleasure these days. Between my job and my summer course - with its accelerated deadlines for assignments - there isn't much time to read for fun. So I'm glad the book club I'm a part of chose David Eagleman's Sum, a slender book of short fictional stories that can be read quickly.

If you're also finding yourself short on time but still wanting to satisfy your book lust, check out the list of "10 Literary Classics You Can Totally Read in a Week or Less." Compiled by Caroline Diezyn for Offbeat Home, the list contains books that have been on my to-read list for a while. Among them are Death in Venice, by Thomas Mann; Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.; and The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde. It's nice to know that such great books are 200 pages or less, with Death in Venice clocking in at only 60 pages.

For each of the 10 books, Diezyn helpfully gives a page count, a brief summary, and an excerpt that is sure to pique your interest. Take a look at this excerpt that she selected from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, one of her picks: "I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other."

If you haven't already read Frankenstein, then I bet you do now!

Frankenstein, Death in Venice, Dorian Gray, and Slaughterhouse-Five are just four of the books on Diezyn's list of "10 Literary Classics You Can Totally Read in a Week or Less." To see all 10, go to the link HERE.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Quirky Reading Rules (You Know You Have Them)

Although most of us wouldn't admit it, many of us readers have peculiar rules for ourselves when it comes to picking up a book.

A pair of book lovers flaunting convention (as usual).
Image via http://litteraturpabla.no

Removing the dust jacket is a must for some when beginning a new book. Others refuse to watch the movie adaptation if they've read the book (or they choose not to read the book after having seen the movie). Most are totally against folding pages into dog ears and breaking the spine, with at least one person going as far as never placing the book face down while it's open.

These arbitrary reading rules and more are highlighted in the BookRiot article "What Your Reading Rules Reveal About Your Personality," by Jeanette. In writing this piece, Jeanette divulged that her rules while reading include: Always stop at the end of a chapter, always read two books at once, and no (or minimal) writing in books. "No highlighters ever," she said.

I'm with Jeanette on not marking up books. I try to keep my books in as close to brand-new condition as possible. This means no dog ears or folding of pages. No eating or drinking while reading my books, lest I spill my food or beverage on it (or, worse, get grease stains on the pages). Once, a book I lent out was returned to me with coffee cup stains on a few of the pages. In my eyes, the book was as good as ruined and I no longer wanted it. I ended up giving it to a used bookstore.

Which leads me to another rule of mine: I can never, ever throw a book out. Ever. Seeing a bunch of books in a garbage can or a dumpster breaks my heart. Books are treasures! Don't throw them out! If I have books that I don't want anymore, I always contact my friends first, emailing them the list of books I don't want and asking them to pick what they want so I can set it aside for them. Whatever books they don't want, I give to a used bookstore. Someone is likely to want what you don't, and books are meant to be shared.

Other reading rules I have is that the bookmark must be color-coordinated with the book's cover. If I'm reading a feminist book or a book by a female author, I tend to use my bookmark from a feminist bookstore. If I don't have a bookmark on me, I will use the store receipt, a Post-it, or whatever scrap of paper I have on me so that I wont' have to dog-ear the pages to hold my place. And although some readers tell themselves that they can't put a book down until they've completed the chapter, I won't close a book until I've finished the paragraph I'm on. Those are among my quirky reading rules.

To take a peek at other odd (and not-so-unusual) reading rules, see Jeanette's article for BookRiot HERE.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Best Uses for Your Public Library

On summer days like today, when temperatures reach 90 degrees or above, the public library becomes a haven for those seeking to beat the heat. While soaking up the air conditioning, patrons may decide to browse the stacks or settle down with a magazine. Or they may sit down at a computer and search the Internet.

Image via http://www.communitiesconnect.org

However, public libraries are much more than comfortably cool places to relax, browse or read books and magazines, or get free access to the Internet. As a person whose tax dollars go toward supporting such public institutions, you'll be glad to know that you can get much, much more from your local library.

According to Lifehacker, in its article "The Best Uses for Your Local Library (That Aren't Just Books)," you can 1) rent A/V equipment (such as Blu-Ray players, laptops, and projectors); 2) get access to paywall content (many public libraries have their own subscriptions to newspapers, magazines, and research material); 3) get tickets to museums, concerts, and events (many libraries offer free passes or discounted tickets for local entertainment); 4) print off legal forms (for doing taxes, starting a business, writing a will, etc.); and 5) load up on e-books (at most libraries, you can check out an e-book like you can a physical book - all for free).

In addition, libraries offer a variety of free workshops and classes that teach computer and research skills, English and foreign languages, crafts such as knitting and crochet, meditation and yoga, zine making, gardening, diet and nutrition, and more. Of course, you can still check out DVDs and CDs, comic books and graphic novels, and video games at your local library. And you can still reserve rooms for community get-togethers and take your children to storytime.

Libraries are much more than places that have free AC, books and magazines, and Internet. Take advantage of everything your local library has to offer today!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Lessons Learned by Being a Librarian Abroad

For a while, I've been thinking about working as a librarian beyond my country's borders. Attending a workshop on international librarianship, where people spoke about being librarians in places like Italy and the UAE, only deepened my interest.

Working as a librarian abroad will really expand your horizons!
Image via http://www.internationalteflacademy.com

One MLS degree holder who has worked abroad is Rachel Wightman. She accepted a library position at a small college in the East African country of Uganda.

Wightman worked at a college library in Kampala, Uganda, for a year and a half. During her time there, she installed and networked computers, implemented an integrated library system (ILS), cataloged the library's collection, and taught computer and research skills to students. In addition to these valuable tasks, she also learned some invaluable lessons about librarianship.

In an article posted on INALJ.com, Wightman revealed "4 Things I Learned About Library Service by Leaving the Country." These four things are:

1. Greet people: "This made the library a more personable space and helped remind me regularly the importance of building relationships with patrons and not simply seeing them as another question to answer," said Wightman.

2. Some things are cultural, some are universal: "Every library exists within its own culture and the work I do needs to be relevant to that culture," she said.

3. Know your collection: "It wasn't uncommon for the power to go out for hours (or days!) at a time," said Wightman. "During those times, I learned the importance of knowing the library's physical collection."

4. Understand the community: "This is similar to number 2, but worth mentioning," she said. "The collections, resources, and programs are all geared toward the type of community the library serves. This lesson was especially important in Uganda."

Rachel Wightman gained some excellent knowledge during her year and a half as a librarian abroad, and I'm glad she shared her experience and the lessons she learned from it on INALJ.com. To read more about her time in Uganda, check out her article at THIS LINK. In the meantime, I'll look into getting a passport.