Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Poe at the Morgan Library & Museum

In time for Halloween, the Morgan Library & Museum in New York is hosting an exhibit on a writer whose classic works still give modern-day readers the willies. 

An image of Poe on display at the Morgan Library & Museum.
From http://www.themorgan.org

Aptly titled "Edgar Allan Poe: Terror of the Soul," the exhibit features a plethora of items, including handwritten letters, poem and short story manuscripts, early printed editions, literary criticism printed in contemporary publications, daguerreotypes and other images of Poe, and even a fragment of Poe's original coffin. How's that for spooky?

Among the literary works on display are "Annabel Lee and The Bell in his own hand; one of the earliest printings of The Raven; the first printing of The Cask of Amontillado; and an unprecedented three copies of Tamerlane, Poe's earliest published work and one of the rarest books in American literature," according to the Morgan Library & Museum.

Also on view, says the Morgan on its website, are "lesser-known writings, including A Reviewer Reviewed - Poe's never-before-exhibited critique of his own work, written under a pseudonym - and the author's annotated copy of his last published book, Eureka, [that] provide a more complete picture of this complex writer."

There are nearly 100 items to see, all from the Morgan's holdings and the Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature at the New York Public Library. They will be on display through January 26, 2014, so even if you aren't in New York for Halloween, you'll still have a chance to check them out. Any hardcore fan of Poe would be seriously remiss if he or she didn't do so.

For more on the "Edgar Allan Poe: Terror of the Soul" exhibit at the Morgan Library & Museum, go to THIS LINK and THIS LINK as well.

Friday, October 25, 2013

E-Reading Apps and Their Quirks

These days, whenever I sit down in public and open up a book, it increasingly happens that the person who sits down next to me takes out an e-reader. With this proliferation of e-readers comes a proliferation of e-reading apps. So which one should you go with? Greg Zimmerman of BookRiot critiqued five of them.
Image via quick-brown-fox-canada-blogspot.com

The five e-reading apps that Zimmerman reviewed for BookRiot are the Nook app, Kindle app, iBooks app, OverDrive app, and Bluefire app. All are available for iPad, Android, and Windows tablets, and each has its good points and bad points, according to Zimmerman. Here is the summary of his findings:

Nook/Kindle: Offers portability ("all the content I purchased for my Nook can be accessed through the Nook (or Kindle) app on an iPad, Android, or Windows tablet") but doesn't show page numbers while you're reading. (On the latter point, a few commenters on Zimmerman's article begged to differ: "My Nook shows what page I'm on," insisted Linda Weiss and another commenter.)

iBooks: Declaring this "the best pure e-reading app," Zimmerman said "it's smooth, very customizable, and seemingly crash-resistant." However, it doesn't allow you to download library e-books in epub format. So if you plan to get most of your e-reading material from libraries, this won't be a good app for you.

OverDrive: If you mostly go to libraries for your e-reading needs, this is the app for you. "Since many libraries are now tied into this app, it's easy to download the app, choose your library, enter your library card info, and check out e-books," said Zimmerman. Yet he found it to be slower and clunkier than the other apps, and it doesn't have a search function.

Bluefire: Zimmerman found that this app "solves the iBooks no-library-books and OverDrive no-search-function problems." However, it doesn't let you download library e-books directly into it on your tablet, forcing you to take a more roundabout route in getting the e-book you want. As a result, Zimmerman called the Bluefire app "unwieldy."

Many readers chimed in, offering opinions of Zimmerman's critique of these apps, as well as giving suggestions for good e-reading apps. Commenter Steve Himmer said, "I'm really pleased with Readmill. Good flexibility with formats, and simply but thoughtfully designed." "My favorite is the Marvin app for iPad," said Jon Page. "It is the most customizable reading app I've come across and links directly with Dropbox and Calibre." Commenter Peter Damien said, "I've been using the IndieBound e-reading app on my iPad for a while now, and I was surprised at how quickly I took to it. Very flexible formatting, very comfortable and easy to use."

For much more insight into these e-reading apps, including full critiques from Greg Zimmerman and lots of commentary from readers of his article, see "The Quirky World of E-Reading Apps" at THIS LINK.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Bowie's Favorite Books

Despite all the crazy stories detailing his decadent past, David Bowie has always struck me as a highly erudite person. My opinion of Bowie was further solidified with the release, by the Art Gallery of Ontario, of a list of his favorite reads. 
David Bowie has some serious smarts.
Image via www.nme.com

To publicize its current "David Bowie Is" exhibit, the Toronto-based art gallery presented a list of 100 of the legendary entertainer's preferred novels, novellas, essays, poetry collections, and more. Going over the list, I see that he and I have a few favorites in common, including A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn, The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin, On the Road by Jack Kerouac, Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, and Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell.

Other favorites on the list are books that I've been meaning to read, among them Kafka Was the Rage: A Greenwich Village Memoir by Anatole Broyard and In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. However, I also see quite a few books that I wasn't aware of before and now want to read, such as Tales of Beatnik Glory by Ed Saunders and Before the Deluge: A Portrait of Berlin in the 1920s by Otto Friedrich. Who knew that I'd ever be getting book suggestions from David Bowie? (Well, technically via the Art Gallery of Ontario...)

If you're curious about the contents of the complete list, go to the article "Read a List of David Bowie's 100 Favourite Books" at THIS LINK. And play your copy of the Ziggy Stardust soundtrack album while you're at it.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

How to Use Instagram for Your Library

To say that I'm active on Instagram would hardly be true. I follow a few of my artist friends and a favorite band or two on this photo-sharing social media site, but that is about the extent of it. I do suppose that if I were a visual or musical artist, however, I would use Instagram to help get my name out there.
Providence Public Library's Instagram photo of its Rhode Island Postcard Collection, which it is currently processing.
Image via http://instagram.com/rhodeislandcollection

Because Instagram can be a good tool for self-promotion, it's a shame that more libraries aren't taking advantage of it, especially since it is FREE. I browsed a number of public library websites, searching for examples of those that use Instagram to mention in this blog post, and I largely came up empty. Nearly all the libraries whose websites I looked at have expanded their online presence through social media, usually through Facebook and Twitter. Many also have YouTube and Flickr accounts. Yet nearly none of them are on Instagram.

I did discover that Providence Public Library in Providence, Rhode Island, is now active on Instagram. In an announcement made just last month, Providence Public Library stated that it has made "cool photographs of items" from its collection available on Instagram and that its "account is updated several times a week and showcases interesting tidbits and images as [librarian Kate Wells] comes across them while working with patrons, processing collections or just poking around."

What Providence Public Library is doing is definitely a step in the right direction, and other libraries should seriously consider following suit. Unsure of how to make Instagram - a FREE app that's already popular with more than 80 million users - work for you? Ellyssa Kroski offers you "10 Interesting Ways to Use Instagram for Your Library." Some of her tips include:

● Show off your books! Take and share photos of your new release or most popular books displays.

● Go behind the scenes! If you've started an improvement on your library, show photos of your progress.

● Show your librarians! Introduce your fellow librarians to patrons by sharing photos of them.

● Show off your events! Have an author talk or book sale coming up? Spread the word about it by posting teaser shots.

Kroski goes into further detail about each of these great tips on using Instagram, and she offers six more in her article, which was published last year on the Open Education Database. Check out her "10 Interesting Ways to Use Instagram for Your Library" at THIS LINK.

Monday, October 14, 2013

This Is What Librarians Look Like

Anyone who has been following my blog for a while knows that on occasion I do like to address the persisting stereotype of what a librarian looks like
She's a librarian.
Image via http://lookslikelibraryscience.com

When many people think of librarians, they immediately envision a middle aged-to-elderly white woman with silver or greying hair that is either cut short or worn in an updo (like a bun). They see her as wearing eyeglasses and sensible shoes, minimal or no jewelry or makeup, and clothing that many would describe as "dowdy." Toss in a cardigan for good measure. I know that the librarians I had throughout elementary and high school pretty much fit this description.
So is she.
Image via http://lookslikelibraryscience.com

Looking around my MLS classes today, I do see that nearly half of my classmates are white women. However, there are also quite a few men and people of color who are working toward being degreed librarians or archivists. Yet most people still don't envision a man or a person of color when they're asked to think about what a librarian looks like. But the image of the librarian is changing.
He's a librarian, too.
Image via http://lookslikelibraryscience.com

I recently came across a Tumblr blog that is "challenging the librarian stereotype one post at a time," according to its header. Aptly named This Is What a Librarian Looks Like, the blog features viewer-submitted photographs of librarians who feel that they don't fit the staid and frumpy librarian stereotype.
As is she.
Image via http://lookslikelibraryscience.com

Coming from all across the United States and around the world, the photo submissions include a refreshing array of not only what today's librarians look like, but also what they like to do (and no, it's not shushing). Quite a few are seen belly dancing, playing in rock bands, riding motorcycles, holding boa constrictors, and skating on roller derby teams. This ain't your grade-school librarian...or is it?
So is he. Can you believe it?
Image via http://lookslikelibraryscience.com

If you want to savor a diverse representation of the modern librarian, take a look at This Is What a Librarian Looks Like blog at THIS LINK.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

10 Must-Have Fashion Books for Fall

I've often wished I could go back in time and go clothes shopping, especially to the 1960s and '70s to snatch up great-looking coats, pants in many patterns, an assortment of mini dresses, and much more. The next best thing is to read about the fashion of that period - biographies and autobiographies on the top designers and models, coffee table books on now legendary boutiques - and daydream.
Image via www.abebooks.com

Among my favorite books on fashion are Diane: A Signature Life, in which the designer of the iconic wrap dress recounts her incredible adventures along the route to sucess; Ossie Clark 1965/1974 by Judith Watt, which offers a tantalizing peek into the life of the designer who was seemingly at the center of everything and created fashions for Mick Jagger; Boutique: A '60s Cultural Phenomenon by Marnie Fogg, which documents - with many rare photographs - the rise of the boutique and its continuing effect of making hip fashion affordable for everyone; and Height of Fashion by Amy Spindler et al., an entertaining collection of private photographs of people from varied backgrounds, showing them when they were at their fashionable peak (with great commentary from the people in the photos). Still on my "To Buy" list is Grace: A Memoir, from Grace Coddington, the creative director at Vogue magazine who completely stole the show from editor-in-chief Anna Wintour in the 2009 documentary The September Issue.

I had, and thoroughly enjoyed, this book as a kid.
Image from http://www.etsy.com/shop/ShuuShuubyLulu

Lucky Magazine has 10 more picks for excellent reads on the topic of fashion, including, of course, The Devil Wears Prada: A Novel by Lauren Weisberger; Shocking Life, the autobiography of designer Elsa Schiaparelli; The Sartorialist: Closer by Scott Schuman, a photography book of street fashion covered by Schuman in his blog; and The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins by Dr. Seuss, which I had as a kid and which totally captivated me.

To see all of Lucky Magazine's selections for "Fashion Books No Stylish Library Should Be Without," go to THIS LINK.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

New 'Bookish' Collection from Kate Spade

I'm as far from a label whore as you could possibly imagine. For one thing, I can't afford to be one. (Library school ain't cheap!) Even if I had the money, I would have a hard time justifying paying more than X amount of dollars for a given item.
Library Illustration Scarf ($128)
Image via http://www.katespade.com

Having said that, there is a Kate Spade New York boutique that's near my job and sometimes, when returning from lunch, I make it a point to stroll by it - just to ogle the many cute handbags on display in the window. I admit the company sells wonderful-looking items, and its latest collection is no exception.
Required Reading Bon Shopper ($228)
Image via http://www.katespade.com

This newest collection was "inspired by our love of classic academia and all things bookish," according to the home page of Kate Spade New York. The collection features a number of accessories - scarves, handbags, jewelry, and the like - that would make any bibliophile, librarian, or library school student draw up a wishlist.
The Portrait of a Lady Book Clutch ($328)
Image via http://www.katespade.com

Scrolling through the collection, I see many items that would appeal to those with a literary mind and sharp fashion sense. I find the clutches in the form of book covers to be quite clever, but my favorite is the Required Reading Bon Shopper bag, covered with the print of a classic card catalog. A very close second is the Library Card Resin iPhone 5 Case (although I don't have an iPhone).
Library Card Resin iPhone 5 Case ($40)
Image via http://www.katespade.com

If you've already begun Christmas shopping and are wondering what to give the book lover on your list, then look no further than Kate Spade New York's new "bookish" collection. It's a good place to start!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

'Library Builder' Has the Best Job Ever

Megan Shaw Prelinger has the best job ever, according to ModCloth. Since 2010, ModCloth, an independent online retailer of vintage and vintage-inspired goods, has profiled women whose jobs many people envy. Prelinger is their latest pick.

Megan Shaw Prelinger shelving materials at her San Francisco library.
Photo from http://blog.modcloth.com

Prelinger co-founded, with husband Rick, the Prelinger Library in San Francisco, California. The library houses an assortment of materials on a variety of topics, including agriculture, graphic arts, regional planning, history, women's studies, popular culture, crafts, immigration, education, activism, transportation, advertising, parenting, public health, and much, much more.

The library's holdings are culled from the Prelingers' personal collections, as well as from bookstores, junk stores, and materials that public and academic libraries had discarded. Books are also acquired from private dealers or are donated by visitors to the library. In addition to books, the library has zines, maps, pamphlets, government documents, and trade journals, among other items.
A visitor to the Prelinger Library becomes absorbed in a book.
Photo from http://www.prelingerlibrary.org 

All of the materials in the Prelinger Library are arranged not by traditional library cataloging rules but based on Megan's own method. Talking to ModCloth, she said, "I just asked the question, 'What would an alternative research library look like? And what would research look like if it was as much fun as going on a field trip?' That impulse, the explorer impulse, led to a very basic idea to arrange the subjects as if they were in a landscape, as if you were walking through them, climbing them, or exploring through them."

Calling herself a "library builder," Prelinger likes the sense of exploration that her method of arrangement encourages. Others are enjoying it as well. Since its founding in 2004, the Prelinger Library has been attracting an increasing number of visitors, including artists, academics, and those who work at the nearby headquarters of ModCloth. "Meeting the community that comes to use the library, that's the highlight," Prelinger told ModCloth. "I feel like the process of community exchange and resource sharing is something you do from the heart. It's both a side effect of my main work as a historian, but it's also at the center of what's meaningful to me about the kind of work that we do."
A volunteer at Prelinger Library sorts through incoming materials.
Photo from http://www.prelingerlibrary.org 

Truly a do-it-yourself operation, the Prelinger Library is open to the public every Wednesday from 1 to 8PM. It's also open two Sundays at least twice a month and offers limited off-hours appointments to visiting researchers who are unable to go to the library during regularly scheduled hours. Megan and Rick Prelinger run the library with the help of volunteers. Currently, there is no paid staff. The library is indeed a labor of love.

The Prelinger Library is located in Room 215 at 301 8th Street in San Francisco. If you're unable to visit in person, you can check out its collection online HERE.

To read the full ModCloth interview with Megan Shaw Prelinger, go to THIS LINK.

Ben Whishaw Recites Poem by Keats

The lovely Benjamin John Whishaw has been a longtime crush of mine. So imagine my absolute delight when I came across a video of him beautifully reciting poetry, in particular "Le Belle Dame Sans Merci" by the Romantic poet John Keats.

The magnificent Mr. Whishaw.
Photo via the interwebs

The thirty-two-year-old English actor of stage and screen portrayed Keats in the 2009 feature film Bright Star, which was directed and written by Jane Campion. A compilation of scenes from Bright Star, the video features the comely actor reciting the Keats poem. Enjoy the video, which I have posted for you below.