Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Wishing This Was a Real Book

Image via Leaver and Beam/Twitter

Susan Sarandon Reads "Goodnight Moon"

I have been a big fan of the actress Susan Sarandon ever since I watched the 1991 road movie (and feminist classic) "Thelma & Louise" during my formative years.
Susan Sarandon: Actress, activist, and narrator of classic children's books.
Image via the interwebs

Every film I've seen of hers since then has solidified my opinion of Sarandon as a bold actress who makes fierce, feminist choices when it comes to selecting roles. I also admire her outspokenness when it comes to political causes she believes in. She has always come across as someone who is very much her own person.

In addition to being an outspoken political activist and an actress with impressive career longevity, Susan Sarandon is also an excellent narrator of classic children's books. In a soothing voice, Sarandon has been recorded reading with tender emotion the 1947 children's picture book Goodnight Moon.
Image via Wikipedia

Authored by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd, Goodnight Moon is a brief bedtime story, written in rhyme, in which familiar household objects, animals, and people populating a dimly lit bedroom at nighttime are said good-night to by a small, soon-to-be-sleeping child.

Since its publication in 1947, Goodnight Moon has become one of the best-loved children's books worldwide. It was listed among the "Top 100 Picture Books" of all time, according to a poll by School Library Journal, and it was named one of the "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children" in a poll by the National Education Association. Goodnight Moon has been published in more than 10 languages, including Dutch, Chinese, Japanese, Catalan, and Hebrew. It's easy to visualize parents the world over reading this classic to little ones tucked in for the night.

Listen to Susan Sarandon sweetly reading Goodnight Moon in an animated version of the classic children's book seen in the video below.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Show Your Support for Seattle's Left Bank Books

Founded in 1973 by a small collective, Left Bank Books has been a longtime fixture in Seattle's radical community. Situated in the city's famous Pike Place Market, the independent bookstore is open to anyone seeking reading material of all kinds, from small press books to fiction to cookbooks to pamphlets to zines.
Left Bank Books, located in Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington.
Image via Left Bank Books' Facebook page

Left Bank Books is collectively run and worker-controlled, and it is largely staffed by a dedicated group of volunteers. The handful of paid workers - a core staff of approximately six members - handle a range of responsibilities, including lease negotiating, bookkeeping, ordering, marketing, general store maintenance, and volunteer coordination, all while earning low wages. For paid staff members and volunteer workers alike, running Left Bank Books is truly a labor of love.
Inside Seattle's Left Bank Books.
Image by Melissa Dex Guzman/Flickr

This independent bookstore in Seattle has recently embarked on an Indiegogo fundraising campaign, not necessarily because it needs saving. "We are not asking you to save us," Left Bank Books expressly states on its Indiegogo page. "We ask you to help us continue to thrive and to grow in four new directions." What new directions might this be? According to Left Bank Books:

1) "We want to establish an easy-to-use and efficient online ordering system for our customers. This means we need to invest in technology upgrades to computerize our entire inventory so we can get books and goods to you quickly."

2) "We want to expand our publishing of both reprints and original materials." In addition to being an independent bookstore, Left Bank is also a small publisher.

3) "We want to keep our shelves stocked with the best and most interesting books you could hope to find!"

4) "We want to continue our long-standing sponsorship of the Books-to-Prisoners Project, which answers thousands of requests from prisoners throughout the U.S. They receive donated books for free, but our postage costs have gotten higher."

To accomplish these goals, Left Bank Books is admittedly setting its sights high, hoping to raise $50,000 between now and the final day of the fundraiser, which for now is January 19, 2015. With twenty-one days left in the Indiegogo campaign, Left Bank Books has raised $4,517 toward its ultimate goal.

If you would like to help Left Bank Books "continue to thrive and to grow," give to its Indiegogo campaign at THIS LINK. If you're traveling to Seattle, or if you're in the Seattle area, stop by Left Bank Books in Pike Place Market at 92 Pike Street. Its hours are 10am to 7pm Monday through Saturday, and 11am to 6pm on Sunday. Support independent bookstores!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

In Other Words: Portland's Feminist Bookstore

You've seen the popular "Portlandia" sketches featuring Women and Women First, the feminist bookstore that a random assortment of people wander into and encounter Toni (Carrie Brownstein) and Candace (Fred Armisen), the unsmiling owners who deliver their own brand of usually unhelpful customer service.
Toni and Candace of Women and Women First feminist bookstore on IFC's "Portlandia."
Image by IFC via www.fastcocreate.com

What many viewers of "Portlandia" may not realize is that Women and Women First is an actual bookstore in Portland, although "Women and Women First" is not the store's real name. Its real name is In Other Words, and it's been serving as a bookstore, meeting place, and more for Portland, Oregon's feminist community since 1993. Shortly after I moved to Portland, I decided to stop by for a visit.
In Other Words Feminist Community Center.
Photo by Gina Murrell

In Other Words is located at 14 NE Killingsworth Street in North Portland. Because I was coming from a different part of the city, and because I was relying on public transportation, I found the bookstore slightly inconvenient to get to. The nearest station is the N. Killingsworth Street stop on the MAX (light rail) Yellow Line. From the station, you walk three blocks, cross an overpass, and then walk another 13 to 14 blocks to reach the bookstore. However, I should say that if you have time to spare, it's better to wait for the number 72 bus on N. Killingsworth, just across the street from the MAX station; the bus goes past In Other Words.

Arriving at In Other Words, I smiled at seeing the facade that should be familiar to all viewers of "Portlandia." It was a beautiful and warm fall afternoon, and the late-day sun reflected brightly off of the bookstore's many shiny windows. Painted prominently on the larger windows was the rallying cry "All Women Unite!" and a trio of women's symbols, each symbol containing a raised, clenched fist.
The view of In Other Words from the front entrance.
Photo by Gina Murrell

Walking through the front door, I was immediately struck by how bright and spacious In Other Words is. I also quickly realized that In Other Words is much, much more than a bookstore. To the immediate left of the front entrance is a long table that is set up for arts and crafts activities; indeed, next to the table are stackable bins brimming with craft supplies. And next to the crafts table is a Kids' Corner, complete with a shelf full of brightly colored toys and a big, fluffy, stuffed toy bear propped on a short chair. So, in addition to being a bookstore, In Other Words is also a crafting space and a place that small children can enjoy.
A prominent display of books "hot off the press."
Photo by Gina Murrell

Also just inside the door is a tall display of books advertised, by a hand-drawn sign, as being "Hot Off the Press." On the top tier of the display are all products tied in to the "Portlandia" TV show: The Portlandia Activity Book (with a bird on the front) by Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein and Jonathan Krisel; the Portlandia Season One DVD; and Portlandia: A Guide for Visitors by Armisen and Brownstein. I really can't fault In Other Words for capitalizing on the Portlandia connection; I'm sure many people outside of Portland wouldn't know about the feminist center if it weren't for the top-rated IFC show. I even had one friend ask me, after I said I had visited In Other Words, "Is that a real bookstore?!?" So if I were the owners of In Other Words, I would totally play up that connection if it meant further boosting my profile and bringing in more customers.
An impressive selection of zines at In Other Words.
Photo by Gina Murrell

Just beyond the display of books "Hot Off the Press" is shelving that holds row upon row of zines. Being a fan of zines, I moved in for a closer look. I was happy to see zines by women of color and also zines I had never seen before. Especially impressive to me was the inclusion of OP: Original Plumbing, which has the tagline "Trans Male Quarterly." Flipping through it, I was amazed at how far the conversation about and the representation of trans people have come in the past twenty years. It was refreshing to see the self-representation of trans males in its pages, and it was also revolutionary (and admittedly, titillating) to see trans male centerfolds offered up for the OP reader's gaze.

Walking away from the zines, I noticed - artfully arranged on brightly painted, stand-alone displays - jewelry, buttons, trinkets, balms, and more produced by local artisans. So not only is In Other Words a crafting center, a place for kids, a bookstore, and a zine store; it is also a boutique. I saw an impressively extensive selection of unique, carefully made pieces, including delicate earrings and long necklaces, that would make perfect gifts. If you're looking for a one-of-a-kind gift for a significant other, or if you're shopping for a lovely little something for yourself, I'd recommend checking out In Other Words' boutique-quality offerings.

Earrings and other unique gift items for sale at In Other Words.
Photo by Gina Murrell

After much browsing, I finally made my way toward the back of In Other Words, where the bulk of the books are. Signs just above the rear half of the space point toward a bookstore on the left and a lending library on the right.
In Other Words' vast lending library.
Photo by Gina Murrell

Yes, In Other Words, in addition to being a crafting center, a place for kids, a zine store, a boutique, and a bookstore, is also a lending library. Talking about the lending library, In Other Words says on its website:

"[We have made] literature accessible though the creation of a free lending library. Our library is a free resource that enables everyone to find radical books and zines and enables us to further our mission of supporting education. In times of economic hardship, libraries are crucial institutions to ensuring access to literature, and a library that is specialized is even more of an asset because it ensures that those materials include work from and for underrepresented and marginalized groups. You can see what books have in our collection online on our Library Thing page, or come in anytime we are open to browse our shelves and check out books."

According to a sign on one of the shelves of the lending library, patrons "can check out three or fewer items at a time for up to three weeks. If they are returned overdue, expect a small late fee. Due date reminders arrive via email. Patrons can renew items over the phone or in person. After hours, items can be returned through the mail slot in our front door."

The area of In Other Words that contains the lending library and the bookstore section also has a welcoming setup of soft-looking purple couches and other seating available for those who would like to sit and read a while.
A cozy setup for readers at In Other Words.
Photo by Gina Murrell

In the far rear, left-hand corner of In Other Words is a feminist archives, which to me was an amazing discovery. In Other Words' website makes little mention of the archives, and I believe if you hadn't visited the store (and wandered to the back), you would never know that the feminist archives was there. Granted, it's a small collection, but I still think it's noteworthy.
The Feminist Archives, accessible to all, at In Other Words.
Photo by Gina Murrell

Items in the archives are kept in a tall metal filing cabinet, and hanging above the cabinet is a row of T-shirts that appear to be relics of the Second Wave feminist movement. Placed above the T-shirts is a hand-painted banner that designates that corner of the center as the "Feminist Archives." A sign on the filing cabinet encourages visitors to "Browse Our Archives." The sign further says:

"In Other Words' archives were donated by a local feminist and PSU professor. After sitting in storage for years, they are finally available for public use. Please feel free to look through any items you'd like; we just ask that you handle with care. A listing of the collection's contents is located in the top drawer. Contents are cataloged by file drawer and folder. Please take a place holder to mark the place of any items you remove. Archive items cannot leave In Other Words. Enjoy!"

Crafting center. A place for kids. Zine store. Boutique. Bookstore. Lending library. Feminist archives. What else could In Other Words be? How about an art gallery? Adjacent to the feminist archives is wall space dedicated to the display of artwork. Local artists can show their work here.
In Other Words is also a gallery space for local artists.
Photo by Gina Murrell

It should also be noted that a pull-down projection screen is mounted on the wall above where the art is displayed. In Other Words hosts film screenings as well. In the past year, In Other Words has shown the 2013 documentary "After Tiller," which focuses on the current climate of abortion access in the U.S., and the 2013 documentary "Guarda Bosques" ("Forest Keepers"), about an indigenous community of hunter-gatherers in the Ugandan rainforests who fight to protect their way of life. In Other Words has also partnered with Clinton Street Theater for film events titled "reel feminism!" that are followed by panel discussions.

I was still browsing In Other Words as the feminist community space was closing for the day. Its regular hours are noon to 7pm Tuesday through Saturday; it's closed on Sundays and Mondays. As I walked to the front of the store to pay for my handful of items, I saw three young women behind the counter. One was obviously a new volunteer - In Other Words is almost entirely run by volunteers - and she was being instructed on how to ring up purchases. Among my first jobs were cashier positions, so I sympathized and was smiley and chatty with all three as I patiently waited for the newbie to carry out the transaction. All three volunteers at In Other Words that day were extremely pleasant and easy to talk to, and they seemed to genuinely appreciate my business. I'll definitely return.
Looking out at N. Killingsworth Street from the front windows of In Other Words.
Photo by Gina Murrell

If you're lucky enough to live near In Other Words, I hope you are a regular customer and familiar supporter of this feminist community space. If, like me, you aren't within short traveling distance, I still encourage you to visit; it's more than worth the trip. And if you're arriving from out of town and are a fan of "Portlandia" who's curious about where the "Women and Women First" skits are filmed, by all means drop by and buy something with a bird on it and other great items that In Other Words has. Support feminist spaces! Support In Other Words!

Follow In Other Words on Twitter at THIS LINK and on Facebook at THIS LINK.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

PJ Harvey to Pen Poetry Book

It was a moment of sheer serendipity: A pair of friends had won tickets to a sold-out PJ Harvey show at Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, and they had an extra one. They asked, "Would you like to join us?" Of course, I answered yes.
PJ Harvey is working on a book of poetry to be released in 2015.
Image via www.dancinglyrics.com

On the unforgettable night of the concert, Harvey filled the cavernous music venue with her larger-than-life stage presence and rafter-rattling vocals. During one song in particular, "Meet Ze Monsta," she carried every single fan in the venue on the same, massive sonic wave that rose higher and higher as she sang, "Big...black...monsoon!" and let out a howl that went straight through you.

Before seeing PJ Harvey in concert that night, I understood that she was a songwriting genius whose songs were weighted with emotional power. But that night I was a witness to the unmistakable creativity of this unique artist, and it was clearer to me than ever before that she is a gifted wordsmith. After completing an impressive succession of amazingly crafted albums, the last being 2011's Let England Shake, Harvey is at last releasing a collection of poetry.

Pitchfork broke the news that Harvey is working on her first collection of poetry, The Hollow of the Hand. A collaboration between Harvey and photographer and filmmaker Seamus Murphy, The Hollow of the Hand will feature words by Harvey and pictures by Murphy. The two amassed inspiration for their collaborative project by traveling the world for three years, from 2011 to 2014, stopping in places such as Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Washington, DC, along the way.

Talking about the project in a press release, Harvey said:

"Gathering information from secondary sources felt too far removed for what I was trying to write about. I wanted to smell the air, feel the soil and meet the people of the countries I was fascinated with. My friend Seamus Murphy and I agreed to grow a project together – I would collect words, he would collect pictures, following our instincts on where we should go."

Bloomsbury Circus, the literary imprint of London-based Bloomsbury Books, is scheduled to release The Hollow of the Hand in October of next year. According to product details about the book from Amazon.com, The Hollow of the Hand will be 224 pages long. The book will be simultaneously released in both hardcover and paperback editions. "A limited number of signed special editions will be also available," reveals the Amazon.com page for the anticipated book.

For more on The Hollow of the Hand, go to THIS LINK and THIS LINK as well.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Literary Graffiti, Part 2: Holden in Our Hearts

Homage to The Catcher in the Rye, seen in a San Francisco, CA, sidewalk.
Image via thebenbram/Instagram

Monday, December 15, 2014

Focus on Campus Library Security Post-FSU Shooting

In the wake of last month's shooting inside Strozier Library at Florida State University, discussion has increased about security at on-campus libraries.
Strozier Library at Florida State University.
Image via www.trendytron.com

When I first started working in academic libraries as an undergraduate student, there was little security on campus, let alone inside the university's libraries. Anyone from off-campus could enter, without having to stop at a checkpoint or even show ID, and countless did on a daily basis. At least once a week, it was my responsibility to close the library, and on many occasions I was the only one there at the end of the night. I was informed that if trouble arose, a security guard was nearby, although I don't remember ever seeing him. Thankfully, trouble never did occur, and as far as I know, my fellow library workers and those who used the library never encountered danger while at the library. But this was a number of years ago. I would hope that since then, the university has put security measures in place at its libraries.

In sharp contrast to the lack of security at my undergraduate library many years ago, security at the graduate library at the school where I just earned my MLIS was anything but lax. Before you even cast a shadow on the steps of the library, you would have passed through campus gates that were constantly under the watchful eye of unformed security personnel who were stationed at booths just inside the entrance...at every entrance. Once through the gates and en route to the library, you would see at least one vehicle with security guards inside, and typically they would drive on the sidewalks, forcing students to stand off to the side. Upon entering the library itself, you had to take out an ID issued by the college before gaining access to the stacks. With ID in hand, you approached turnstiles above which you had to wave your ID in order to gain entrance. And always positioned next to the turnstiles was a bored-looking security guard. Once through the turnstiles, you faced the circulation desk, which was always manned by at least two workers. And library workers were on every floor of the building. As a result, I never felt like I was ever in any danger as a library patron at my graduate school.

The security measures in place at my graduate school's library are now commonplace at on-campus libraries at colleges and universities across the country. Indeed, at Florida State University, such measures, including "a front desk ID check," "a turnstile entry system activated by FSU ID cards," and "a security desk where visitors are required to sign in and register for a guest card," were already present at the time of the November 20 shooting, according to Library Journal. In addition, "Strozier employs a full-time security staff, as well as student workers manning the front desk," reported Library Journal. Despite these measures, the shooting still occurred and students and library staff were injured. (It turned out that the shooter was an alumnus of the university; amid the altercation, he was shot and killed by FSU police.) Thankfully, none of the injuries were fatal, although one of the students who was shot is now paralyzed as a result. The aftermath could have been a lot worse if Strozier Library workers hadn't been trained on what to do in the case of emergencies. As a matter of fact, it was Strozier Library worker Nathan Scott, who was at the library's front desk at the time of the shooting, who warned the students inside after he himself was wounded by the gunman. Scott, who was shot in the leg, is making a full recovery.

Speaking to Library Journal, Julia Zimmerman, dean of libraries at FSU, said, "We were thankfully well-prepared for this." As evidence, Library Journal cited "Strozier Library's security system and staff, recent emergency drills, a responsive police force, and a quick-thinking front desk employee" that, collectively, saved many lives that November night.

For more on library security at FSU after the November shooting, see the Library Journal article "FSU Shooting Highlights Need for Library Security" at THIS LINK. For more dialogue on security at on-campus libraries, especially those in Florida since the FSU shooting, see THIS LINK.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Unearthing Fossil's Library and Archives

When searching for a library or archive job, MLS degree holders are encouraged to look beyond traditional libraries and archives, such as those at colleges and universities. Yet, how many MLS grads would know to look toward a watch and lifestyle company based in Richardson, Texas, for a library or archive job?

Inside the library at Fossil headquarters in Richardson, Texas.
Photo via http://uppercasemagazine.com/blog

Fossil creates high-quality watches, handbags, wallets, and more that can be found in luxury shopping meccas around the world. But it's at the company's Texas headquarters where ideas for its designs are helped brought to fruition, thanks to reference materials at the Fossil library and archive.

The Fossil library contains books, magazines, and reference materials that creatives at the company can use to help realize their design ideas. Among the magazines the library subscribes to is UPPERCASE, which specializes in graphic design, illustration, and crafting content. Curious about the library that carries the magazine, Janine Vangool, publisher, editor, and founder of UPPERCASE, decided to interview the librarian at Fossil, Laura Pike-Seeley.
On the shelves at the Fossil library.
Photo via http://uppercasemagazine.com/blog

Laura Pike-Seeley, the librarian at Fossil, gladly spoke to Vangool about the Fossil library and archive. Vangool published Pike-Seeley's great responses in a highly insightful interview that can be read on the UPPERCASE magazine website. Some highlights from the interview:

  • The Fossil library "manages collections for our product design teams, the largest being our collection of retail and vintage samples."
  • The library also has "a variety of materials, from books on Expressionist woodcuts and jazz album covers to a circulating iPad full of digital magazine subscriptions."
  • The archives features "signature watch tins, catalogs and mailers, advertising collateral, newsletters, press releases, merchandising props, and of course, product, including watches."
  • Fossil's "digital archives holds commercials, internal videos and our art department’s work from the past twenty years or so." 

Pike-Seeley also tells Vangool how the Fossil library and archive are curated, she reveals the coolest item in the archive, and she explains how the library and archive assist Fossil's brand and company culture. Read the entire interview with Fossil librarian Laura Pike-Seeley at THIS LINK.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Banksy: "Books Are the Basis of Knowledge"

Image from @therealbanksy/Twitter

Ferguson Library Offers Normalcy in Anomalous Times

The city of Ferguson hasn't been the same since August 9, 2014. On that day, an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer in this suburb of St. Louis, Missouri. In the wake of this incident, Ferguson has been a hotbed of unrest. Throughout months of tumult, the city's public library has been steadfast at being the calm at the center of the raging storm.
Image via @EKrauss/Twitter

Ferguson Public Library stayed open while local businesses and schools closed as protests sprung up and National Guard troops arrived on the scene. The library's director and its only full-time librarian, Scott Bonner, had only been at Ferguson Public Library since July. Yet amid escalating tensions and chaos, Bonner stepped up to let the community know that Ferguson Public Library was keeping its doors open to serve the people of Ferguson. Through social media, especially Twitter and Facebook, and through the efforts of volunteers, the posting of signage around the library, and word of mouth, news spread that Ferguson Public Library would be an oasis of normalcy in increasingly anomalous times.

In response to classes at area schools being cancelled due to unrest in the streets, Ferguson Public Library allowed for a makeshift school to be set up inside. Collaborating with Carrie Pace, an art teacher at local Walnut Grove Elementary who proposed the idea of a pop-up school at the library, Bonner and teachers, volunteers, and staffers enabled the start of informal classes. In an interview with the Magpie Librarian, Bonner said:

"We made an ad-hoc school! I offered the library's space, put out metaphorical fires, and played taskmaster to the press, and the teachers and volunteers made an actual, working school. We spread across two locations, the Ferguson Library and the First Baptist Church up the street. We had 200 students across locations at our peak — before we established the second location, we had 150 at the library alone on Wednesday, and wasn't that a crazy day! We had educational organizations from across St. Louis clamoring to help, including SpringboardSTL, St. Louis Science Center, MO Dept of Conservation, and many more."

Meanwhile, Ferguson Public Library continued to provide routine library services, including access to computers and the Internet, circulation of books and other library materials, story times for small children, crafts workshops, teen meetups, book swaps, and exhibits supporting the arts in Ferguson. The library did all this and more for the community of Ferguson on a limited budget. Speaking to BuzzFeed, Bonner said, "Libraries are famous for squeezing every dollar, making the most of what we have." He revealed in another interview that "Ferguson library's budget decreased about $200,000 after the recession." But as word got out about what Bonner and Ferguson Public Library were doing for the community during this time of crisis, donations in the form of money and books - including kid's books from Powell's Books in Portland, Oregon - began to pour in.

On Monday, November 24, 2014, the grand jury decision not to indict the police officer who killed Brown was broadcast, setting off riots and other forms of civic unrest in the city of Ferguson. Much of the city was effectively shut down, but Ferguson Public Library let the world know that it was remaining open. In an announcement made on Facebook, the library stated:

The public's reaction to this announcement was swift, with people mobilizing primarily through Twitter to encourage donations to Ferguson Public Library. Soon, celebrities tweeted their support for the donation effort. Among these celebrities was author Neil Gaiman, who tweeted:

Since these tweets, Ferguson Public Library has seen an incredible spike in donations. In just two days, the library received nearly $200,000 in donations. According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, "The money donated so far adds up to almost half of the library's annual budget (about $400,000) and Bonner hopes it will allow him to hire another full-time librarian to work with children and programming." Discussing the amount of money that has come from supporters, Bonner told the Dispatch, "It doesn't seem real yet. I had no idea there was anything like that coming."

And the donations are continuing to come in. If you would like to show your support for Ferguson Public Library, you can donate at THIS LINK. The library is also accepting donations in the form of bitcoins. Bitcoin donations to Ferguson Public Library can be made at THIS LINK. If you prefer to send donations to a physical address, you can, at:

"I think that when there's all these negative stories," Bonner said in an interview with NBC News, "a community comes together unified behind a common cause... it makes people remember that, you know, we're all human beings and we're in this together."

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Library Books Save FSU's Student's Life (Literally)

When the topic of the school shooting at Florida State University began to trend in news outlets on the morning of Thursday, November 20, 2014, my heart dropped and my throat tightened. Yet another incident of senseless violence involving guns taking place in a U.S. school - in an environment where bright-eyed students and hard-working teachers, staff, and administrators are supposed to be safe - was just too much for me to deal with. So I turned away from the news sites.
FSU student Jason Derfuss holds one of the library books that saved his life.
Photo by Jason Derfuss

Later, I logged into Facebook and began to scroll through my News Feed. An amazing story caught my eye: An FSU student hadn't realized that he had been targeted by the gunman until after returned home, removed his backpack, and took out the library books inside. Holding the books, he noticed they were pierced with bullet holes and that they had actually prevented the bullets from the gunman's weapon from entering his body. Reading this story, I found it absolutely incredible. It wasn't until I saw photos of these bullet-riddled library books - photos that were posted by the student himself - that I at last believed the story.

As reported in media outlets, student Jason Derfuss was at Strozier Library on the FSU campus on the night of the shooting. He checked out a stack of library books, placed them inside his backpack, and began walking out of the library when the gunman entered the building. The gunman started to unload his weapon, and Derfuss heard the shots. Relating the incident to his friends and followers on Facebook, Derfuss said:

"Tonight there was a shooting at FSU, right as I was leaving Strozier. I didn't know this at the time, but the Shooter targeted me first. The shot I heard behind me I did not feel, nor did it hit me at all. He was about 5 feet from me, but he hit my books. Books one minute earlier I had checked out of the library, books that should not have stopped the bullet. But they did. I learned this about 3 hours after it happened, I never thought to check my bag. I assumed I wasn't a target, I assumed I was fine. The truth is I was almost killed tonight and God intervened."

Derfuss proceeded to share photographs of his bullet-pierced library books. In another photo, he is holding a bullet that he had removed from one of the books, a bullet that was meant for him. You can see some of these photos below:

As bibliophiles, we are well aware that books have the power to change lives. We now know that they also have the power to save them.

All above photographs are by Jason Derfuss.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Ekstrom Library Home to Underground Music Archive

What began as a donation of local zines has become an archive documenting the 1980s and '90s punk, hardcore, and indie rock scenes in Louisville, Kentucky.

Image via louisville.edu

The Louisville Underground Music Archive got its start in 2011, when Ekstrom Library at the University of Louisville accepted vintage sets of two local zines: Burt the Cat and Hard Times. Processing them, archivist Carrie Daniels at Ekstrom Library's Archives and Special Collections recognized fellow archivist Heather Fox on the cover of one of the zines. Fox, a musician active in the local scene, was working at the Filson Historical Society in Louisville. Daniels contacted Fox, who in turn contacted the publisher of Burt the Cat, Paul Curry, who donated additional issues, enabling Ekstrom Library to house the complete run of Burt and fill major gaps in the run of Hard Times. It was then that Daniels and Fox began to consider building a more comprehensive archive of Louisville's rock scenes. 

The push to create a comprehensive collection gained momentum with the 2012 death of Jason Nobel, member of the Louisville bands Rodan, Rachel's, and Shipping News, and the 2013 death of Jon Cook, member of the bands Rodan, Crain, and Cerebellum. "We started losing members of the music scene, and that really brought things to a head," Daniels said in an interview with WFPL, a Louisville radio station. "We realized we had to start collecting now; it had to be more than a cool idea. Because material was going to get lost. If the flyers get lost, if the music gets lost, if the set lists disappear, then an essential part of the scene is lost forever." The Louisville Underground Music Archive, or LUMA, was officially formed. Archivists Sarah-Jane Poindexter and Elizabeth Reilly, both interested in Louisville's local music scenes, came on board to help build LUMA.

LUMA is actively archiving items from Louisville's 1980s and '90s music scenes.
Image via louisville.edu

Right now, Daniels and her colleagues are actively seeking donations to LUMA. These can include personal papers and correspondence, business records, set lists, photographs, flyers, posters, original artwork, albums and other recorded music, videotaped shows, T-shirts, buttons, zines, newsletters, stickers, and any other ephemera related to the punk, hardcore, and indie rock scenes in Louisville, Kentucky, in the 1980s and '90s. Fan mail is also welcome. Talking to WFPL, archivist Poindexter said, "The Rachel's, for instance, donated their materials here. It covers their process of creating music as well as the artwork and packaging, their press release, their tour information, how they planned their tour and executive it, as well as fan mail."

In housing the Louisville Underground Music Library, the University of Louisville joins other academic institutions that have decided to collect the artifacts of independent music scenes, including New York University with its Riot Grrrl Collection and George Washington University with its D.C. Punk Rock Collection. According to the LUMA website, "Generally speaking, records of popular culture of this type are underrepresented in archives, putting this history at risk for loss." By accepting and preserving these records, these university archives can help keep the memories of these scenes alive for those who created and participated in them, as well as educate those who weren't part of those scenes but want to know about them.

"Ultimately, the goal of this collecting is to make it freely available to the community and researchers in general, and to preserve it for future generations," says the Louisville Underground Music Archive website. In the meantime, LUMA is eagerly accepting donations. "We are interested in taking anything and everything related to the music scene, things that people won't even think could be useful to an archive, Reilly told WFPL. "Every little piece tells the bigger story."

For more on the Louisville Underground Music Archive (LUMA), go HERE and HERE. If you would like to donate materials to the archive, send LUMA an email message at: luma@louisville.edu. Also, like LUMA on Facebook at THIS LINK.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Librarian (and Roller Derby Star) Gives Book Recs

One of Portland's nicknames is "Rose City." Thus its roller derby league, formed in 2004, is called the Rose City Rollers. A shining star of the league is Yoga Nabi Sari.
Yoga Nabi Sari, of the Rose City Rollers.
Image via www.rosecityrollers.com

Seeing a cool photo of a roller derby team at Portland's Voodoo Doughnuts - and inspired by the 2009 film "Whip It" - she decided that she wanted to play roller derby. At the time that she joined the Rose City Rollers, in 2010, Yoga Nabi Sari was also starting library school. She was enrolled at the School of Library and Information Management at Emporia State University. However, she discovered that the rigors of a library school education paled in comparison to the sheer intensity of being on a roller derby team. Still, she saw playing roller derby as "a major, positive change in my life."

Yoga Nabi Sari began by joining the Rose City Wreckers, a recreational and noncompetitive derby training and exercise program that is open to women aged 18 and older. She would then move on to the Rose City Rollers' Fresh Meat training program, which readies skaters for the competitive level of roller derby. Ultimately, she would go on to skate for the Guns N Rollers (GNR) and Axles of Annihilation (AoA) teams. In the meantime, she worked at the OHSU West Campus Science and Engineering Library and at Multnomah County Library, where she did volunteer work and research. She earned her Master's in Library Science (MLS) degree from Emporia State University in 2012.

Today, Yoga Nabi Sari has the day job of librarian for a commercial real-estate company in Portland. Yet, in the evenings and on weekends, she skates as a jammer in the Rose City Rollers league. Her onetime employer, Multnomah County Library, recently asked her and her AoA teammates for book recommendations. Thinking about her favorite reads, she suggested Mind Gym: An Athlete's Guide to Inner Excellence by Gary Mack and The Inner Game of Tennis by Timothy Gallwey. She also recommended Roller Girl, written by fellow league member Victoria Jamieson. Yoga Nabi Sar called Roller Girl, which will be published in March 2015, a "beautifully illustrated book [that] captures the heart of this sport."

Talking more about roller derby, Yoga Nabi Sari said the sport "is what I was looking for: comraderie, exercise, a humbling experience, and feeling alive. This is the PE class I never had. I'm not picked last for the team, no one laughs at me (just with me), and we are all here because we love derby so much."

For more on what Yoga Nabi Sari and her fellow Rose City Rollers think you should read, see the Multnomah County blog post "Guest Readers: How They Roll - Favorite Reads from the Axles of Annihilation" at THIS LINK. To keep up with the Rose City Rollers, like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Have a Happy (Harry Potter) Halloween!

Photo of jack o' lanterns featuring the images of Harry Potter characters via Book Riot

What Daria Morgendorffer Read

I remember when Daria was on television. The animated series was on MTV from 1997 to 2002. During those years, when I was young adult who was just making her way in the world, I either didn't own a television or, if I did have a TV, I didn't have cable television. So, for the most part, I missed the show's five-season run.
Daria, seen in the bottom panel wearing glasses, had a sharp wit and was well read.
Image via Aerogramme Writers' Studio website

Since the series ended in January 2002, Daria has increasingly become viewed as one of the smartest animated shows ever to air in the history of television. And it remains loved (and much remarked upon) by many who came of age in the 1990s/early 2000s. Not too long ago, I finally committed to sitting down and watching the entire series on DVD, just to see what I missed out on. Although the animation style didn't appeal to me, I did see smartly written female characters. I appreciated the show's sharp satire, and I laughed out loud at the dry, deadpan delivery of the eponymous character, Daria Morgendorffer.

Daria as a character was fearless in that she was unapologetically herself in the cookie-cutter (fictional) suburb of Lawndale. Despite the continued admonishments of her parents, who wanted her to fit in for her own social benefit, and in the face of the ever-growing popularity of her vacuous, conventionally pretty kid sister, Quinn, Daria stood fast in remaining an original. 

In addition to her strong self-confidence and sense of self, Daria was also extremely smart. On many occasions, she cleverly and openly mocked her bland high school peers, and her comments often went straight over their heads. She was also very well read. (That Daria was so well read was a stark departure from the animated series that Daria the show was spun off from: Beavis and Butt-head, whose two central characters were dimwits who reveled in low-brow humor and were anti-academic in their approach to life.) 

Throughout the series' respectable run, Daria was often shown reading a book, or the show itself referenced books. Aerogramme Writers' Studio, a Melbourne, Australia-based publisher of "news and resources for emerging and established writers," compiled a list of all the books that Daria read or that were mentioned on the show. Fifty-seven books make up the list, and some of them are:

  • The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  • The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  • The Life and Complete Work of Francisco Goya by Pierre Gassier
  • Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg
  • The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
  • Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant
  • Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre
  • Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut

That's quite a scholarly selection of books. Even more impressive is that they were referenced on a cartoon show airing on MTV and that the central character, a high school girl, was shown reading. When you think about it, that's pretty amazing. 

To see all 57 books on "Daria Morgendorffer's Reading List," go to the Aerogramme Writers' Studio article at THIS LINK. What's great is that for the books on this reading list, Aerogramme Writers' Studio provided links to FREE e-book editions wherever possible. Thanks, Aerogramme Writers' Studio!