Posts Tagged 'libraries'

A Brief Dip into Interior Decoration

Peabody Library, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore MDWhile it’s still too cold to go out and laze in the sunshine (brisk walks yes, but not sitting to sketch yet), I’m doing a bit of fantasy interior decoration. Current ideas: get taller bookshelves to take the place of the smaller shelving units crowding the floor space. I think (maybe) we could sneak the roll-top desk into the living room if there were fewer bits of furniture.

Unclutter, neaten, straighten. Go one step forward, and then regroup with the vacuum cleaner. Get out the graph paper, and work out where to move what we have.

So far, I’ve only begun vacuuming and laundry. Probably that’s as far as I will get today (beyond the graph paper). Once the gale is done, I will get outside again. In the meantime, sieze the day and grab a broom.

And when it gets too dark to see the dust, I suggest browsing the Ikea site, or daydreaming about scenes like this:

Book and Bed in Tokyo

Beautiful University Libraries


Tiny little libraries

They’ve been quietly popping up in unexpected places — tiny little houses with glass windows, filled with books. They’re called little free libraries, and they’re a grassroots movement to promote literacy. We have one around the corner from us, and I’m gathering up children’s books to plop in it from my collection. There’s another neighborhood where they have a tiny library next to a lower little house on a pole with dog biscuits for the dogs that have to wait on their owners (I think that’s in the ritzy neighborhood). But it’s all the joy of a fairy house… with books.

Started by Todd Bol in Wisconsin, where I assume cold weather in the winter makes reading an essential luxury, there are now over 15,000 throughout the world. I spotted this one in West Chester, Pennsylvania, on the side of a store:

Free library of West Chester, PA

Little Free library of West Chester, PA

There are other great stories about the spread of this initiative. New Orleans, for instance, is celebrating the 3rd year anniversary of LFL in their town [link to the article]. So, have you seen a Little Free Library in your neighborhood? It’s like a Where’s Waldo search for the grownups….

Flowers in the basement

tempura-flowersThe local library has a kids program, and there are seasonal art projects. For Spring/Summer, they painted flowers on cardboard or cardstock with tempura paints. Each flower is about the height of a 5th grader. I never see this library without kids being involved, or teenagers writing papers on the public computer for school, or providing outreach to people who are job searching or doing family history searches. (Go awesome librarians and library!) I get so much joy out of walking over there to browse the books, and find out the latest technological thing that I can do (download “books on tape” to an iPhone, iPod, or another similar device). Note I said “books on tape”… heh.

I do find myself reading lots of things I wouldn’t normally have bought from Amaz*n or a bookstore. And I do love audio books for when I’m driving. I have a huge Ken Follett book that I can’t wait to stick in the CD player on Monday, once my Irish mystery is done (Faithful Place, by Tana French – grim, dark, yet interesting, mostly because the voice on the audiobook beguiled me into liking a police procedural with lots of messy family details and shifting loyalties). So, any other books I should look for on CD to keep my commute interesting, or me knitting along? Anyone else have a fabulous little library?

Libraries, as beautiful spaces

Libraries not only house books, but they can also be quite beautiful in their own right.

I don’t have access to the great libraries of the UK, Europe, etc., but I do appreciate the spaces of the ones I can get to.

Take the George Peabody Library. I got to visit when I drove down to Baltimore for the Book Festival this year. There was a book signing in one of the front rooms, and they were encouraging the public to go back and look at one of the major rooms in the Peabody.

Who wouldn’t find this a tempting stairway, complete with hand-lettered warning sign?staffonly It says “Staff Only” on one of the rungs. I wasn’t able to go upstairs, but I did see the iron balconies where the books live, hanging above me. Lovely. More pictures soon, I hope.

The year of the library

At the corner of Church and Graveyard. I’ve been slowly culling my stacks of books, because floorboards are only so strong. I’m trying to limit the book intake by checking out books from the library (I’ve had good luck with knitting books). It gives me a limited view of literature, perhaps (British publications and translations take a long time to get in), but regional authors seem to get first place on the shelves, which I think is a good thing.  I may also explore the eReaders that the library rents, since new print books seem rarer and rarer. But if something looks really good, I’ll splurge and buy it — especially if it has illustrations I want to look at, in addition to a good plot. This isn’t a diet, after all, just an attempt to get rid of books I enjoyed a very long time, but that I do not need to reread. Both Cornflower Books and Dovegreyreader have tempting lovely books that have just come in, but they also have bookreadings of classics that one can find at libraries (and some very good ones too).

I’m checking out different options for listening to books while driving (making a virtue out of necessity). Right now, LibriVox is looking pretty good, since I like Victorian authors, poetry, and other items that are in the public domain. So how about you? Is your house insulated by the bookcases on the walls? Do you collect crafting magazines like I do? Are you the possible despair of everyone who visits your house (one tv and bookcases in the dining room)?

And, most importantly, has anyone read Thomas Pynchon’s new mystery, and is it something I should race out to get? Do your local authors get space in your library, and if so — are there any particular books I should try to get through interlibrary loan?

A library within walking distance

greenbooksandthingsI’ve spent the last few years taking great delight in walking to my local library. But due to scheduled maintenance, I’ve had to drive away from the corner of Church and Graveyard to get to another local branch. I miss looking at the neighbors’ yards:

  • Someone has a quince that I’ve been watching (when do quinces ripen around here?)
  • Another family has netting up, either for batting practice or lacrosse
  • One gardener set up a contemplation nook (good idea — maybe I should do the same)

Instead, I’ve gotten to look at a strange neighborhood (grand houses, a grocery store, large elementary school). The gardens seem less personally fought for by the inhabitants. And the book selection is a bit …. odd. Mostly it’s self-help, “how to” books, and illustrated books for children. The books on tape selection is improved, so my driving is cheered by “The Cat Who” mystery series.

But I wonder now that I’ve been there — do people in upscale neighborhoods not even use print media except for children’s books? Do I need to get an eReader of some kind because my library will go in this direction? Has anyone made the jump to eBooks? Is it hard on the eyes like working on the computer all day? Are there ways to see color illustrations? Inquiring minds would like to know.

Gates of Ivory – a good choice for travel reading

I rely a great deal on libraries, which leads me to dark thoughts about people who think libraries aren’t relevant or helpful. Every time I go to my branch, I see people looking for jobs online, or kids using the computers to do their homework (or maybe play video games with the sound off). Where do people meet if they don’t want coffee or don’t want to shop for things? How do people find new authors? How do students find research material? How do cooks explore new cuisines without investing in a whole new cookbook? When I was little, the local library even rented artwork for 3 weeks at a time, so people could bring a little culture home with them. I do wonder if other countries have libraries like the ones I’m familiar with [thank you Carnegies for investing in building them everywhere].

Margaret Drabble’s book, Gates of Ivory (mentioned here) has been a lovely book to read while trapped in airports waiting for connecting flights. Earlier in the year, I tried to read The Peppered Moth, but had difficulty enjoying it after the glut of novels set in the Victorian era by modern writers. I do wonder if the author was influenced by the organizational structure of Pynchon’s V.  Sadly The Radiant Way is not available at the library right now, so I’ve settled for another book until I can get The Radiant Way through another branch of the library, so I can see where Alix and Liz meet in the 1950s.