Little Free Library – Healey Willan Park Branch Opening!

Just dropping by the blog today to announce the opening of a new branch of the Little Free Library this time in Toronto! This one’s in one of my favourite parks in Toronto, and I am looking forward to paying a visit over the holidays.

I’ve written a few times about Little Free Libraries in Madison (hereand here). I keep noticing so many cool new ones around town. I need to go on another Little Free Library photo safari (especially because I bought a fancy new camera!). There’s the one that looks like an Arts and Crafts Bungalow, the one that looks like a church, the one with the beautiful inlaid sunburst roof, and the one that has recently gotten a second floor addition, to match the addition of its “host” house . . . Watch this space for photos, soon! And the photos will have beautiful snowy backgrounds, no doubt – we’re in for a chilly weekend. Maybe it’ll even be time to wash my wool blanket in the snow again.

Since I haven’t taken those photos yet, I’ll leave you with a photo of another library. Here’s the beautiful wooden screen that you see when you walk into the new  Central Library of the Madison Public Library. The best part? The cut-outs in the screen were re-used to make the occasional tables scattered throughout the space! If you are in Madison and haven’t visit, it’s definitely worth the trip. And if you aren’t in Madison, you can see a great gallery of photos (from the Cap Times) here .

MPL Central Screen

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Looks like a book, but isn’t

Members of my family (OK, one particular member), like to give me gifts adorned with books. That’s why I have, at last count,

– a tea towel printed with an illustration of the library of Trinity College, Dublin. in the style of the Book of Kells
– a greeting card made to look like the 1861 edition of Mrs. Beeton’s Everyday Cookery (part of this set from the Bodleian library)
– a Christmas bookshelf advent calendar, also from the Bodleian
– a padded cosy for my Bodum coffee maker, made out of fabric printed with books and bookshelves
– and, perhaps the best of the collection, a set of stickers that make my 3-ring binders look like a shelf of old books, similar to this set from the University Library of Salzburg

I am a lucky librarian!

I was delighted to discover, upon moving to Madison, the existence of Grimm’s Bindery, a book-bindery that has been in operation in Madison since the 1850s. One of these days, I’ll get around to paying them a visit. And I might just add to my collection of objects that look like books with one of their book safes, blank notebooks that look like library-bound books, or a leather iPad cover (not that I have an iPad). Alas, I have no use for a personalized hollowed-out book in which to hide an engagement ring.

But none of these bookish objects can compare with my latest discovery! Did you know that the parking garage of the Kansas City (Missouri) central public library looks like a giant bookshelf?

Central Library Parking Garage

Amazing!

(more photos on the library’s Flickr stream, here)

Little Free Library catalog #2 – Willy St. Co-op

This is the Little Free Library I peruse most often: it’s right outside the Willy Street Co-op on the east side of the isthmus in Madison. The little library box-on-a-stick is the typical model: less fancy than the two-story fancy one in my last LFL post.

LFLJennySt2

When I checked this one out, on May 15, to be exact, it contained quite a variety of reading material. Not surprising at all, considering the fact that it’s located in one of Madison’s more eccentric neighborhoods (local trends include Tibetan prayer flags, front-yard veggie gardens, and hanging your baby swing from your front porch so you can sit and chat with your neighbors while your baby sails out over the flowerbeds). What was surprising was the fact that this Little Free Library has a blisteringly fast turnover. I walk past it at least once a day, and every day the selection is different. The books I found in it on May 15 had all been replaced within a few days. Does the C0-op replenish them (there is also a “take-a-book, leave-a-book” shelf inside the Co-op store), or is it all passersby?

LFLJennySt1

 Here are the details:
5 issues of Spin magazine

The Amateur American, James Saunders Elmore

Simon & Schuster handbook for writers, Lynn Quitman Troyka

The challenge of local feminisms : women’s movements in global perspective 

Pretty little things

Reversible errors

Human natures : genes, cultures, and the human prospect

Next up in this series, a Little Free Library on (two) wheels.

Four diversions for a sunny Wednesday

It’s the end of the semester! That means that I get to spend more time here:

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and here:

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and here:

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and, lest you think that I spend all my time in wholesome outdoor activities, it also means that I get to spend more time poking around the internet. Four recent favorites:

Do I have room for one more nerdy t-shirt?

bookish t-shirt

SMBC — Bookish shirt.

There’s always time to admire great authors with enormous teddy bears:

ernest hemingway with a giant teddy bear

Flavorwire » Extremely Silly Photos of Extremely Serious Writers.

and little girls in nice stockings checking out books from a librarian behind an enormous desk:

vintage photos of librarians

15 Vintage Photos of Librarians – Mental Floss.

Wait! What’s that you say? That there are more awesome old photos of librarians in the University of Wisconsin’s “Historic Librarians and Benefactors Digital Collection? Including a photo of Melvil Dewey (without beard) that’s worthy of inclusion in My Daguerrotype Boyfriend?

Excellent! Until the next post, I’ll leave you dreaming of a time when the American Library Association conference included a collegial boat trip from the Thousand Islands to Boston via Quebec and Halifax:

ALA expedition to Boston

(from here

Out of Print Clothing, or Reason #342 why I Love Being a Librarian

I love being a librarian because . . .

I can wear a Harold and the Purple Crayon t-shirt to work whenever I want, and what’s more, my students (future librarians all) will give me compliments!

Harold and the Purple Crayon t-shirt - Out of Print Clothing

My Harold and the Purple Crayon t-shirt is one of two t-shirts I own from the excellent Out of Print Clothing, a company based in Brooklyn that sells t-shirts, sweatshirts and accessories (think tote bags and ereader covers) emblazoned with book covers; sometimes the cover is of the first edition of the book, sometimes of a later cover with interesting design. They’ve recently expanded their line of t-shirts based on children’s books, hence my new Harold t-shirt. I first saw these shirts in an extremely out-of-the-way coffee shop in Ucluelet, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, and bought my first shirt, The Origin of Species last fall. The shirts are well-made and they fit stylishly, unlike a lot of other librarian/book-themed garb – the fit is slimmer than my radical militant librarian t-shirt made by local Madisonian Maureen O’Grady, which also rocks.

Hmm, is Charlotte’s Web next on my list of acquisitions? Or perhaps, in light of Maurice Sendak’s recent death, it might be time for In the Night Kitchen. Perhaps I could wear it while listening, again, to Sendak’s beautiful, funny and sad interviews with Terry Gross on NPR over the years.

Oh, and before I forget, for each t-shirt bought, Out of Print donates one book to Books for Africa, an established charity that aims to alleviate the book famine in Africa.

PS This is not a sponsored review, at all. I just love these t-shirts.

“eccentrics and eccentricities–fiction”

Novels don’t often receive subject headings when they are cataloged, but two of my favorite books received this gem: “eccentrics and eccentricities–fiction.” And it couldn’t be more appropriate.

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(last summer’s foray to BBB&B land – the Strait of Georgia)

The books in question are Bachelor Brothers’ Bed & Breakfast and Bachelor Brothers’ Bed & Breakfast Pillow Book, by Bill Richardson, a Vancouverite who writes light fiction, non-fiction and children’s books while working as a radio host for the CBC.

(fun fact of the day: Bill Richardson used to be a children’s librarian – he has a library degree from UBC.)

The books (which stand alone, but are probably best read in order) chronicle the adventures and misadventures of fraternal twin brothers Hector and Virgil, who run a book-focused bed and breakfast on a small island in the Strait of Georgia, between Vancouver and Vancouver Island. The island is never identified by name: it is a mythical addition to the Gulf Islands, a group of islands that, to some observers, might as well come out of a storybook. The islands have a reputation for good wine and food (especially cheese), beautiful scenery, eccentric architecture, and low-key inhabitants. Guests come to the BBBB&B from a variety of Canadian towns and cities with the goal of either solitary or social reading of books ranging from Proust to P.D. James. They are encouraged to write their stories in the inn’s guestbook, and these are sprinkled throughout the narrative. The second book, modeled on the Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, is more scrapbook-like than the first, and includes recipes.

Hector and Virgil are the product of a dalliance between their mother, a frustrated socialite with a passion for auto mechanics, and a traveling book salesman, and the description of their parentage and childhood is one of the most enjoyable parts of the first book. Although both parents are dead at the beginning of the narrative, the twins are haunted by them, through their father’s boxes of books, delivered annually on their birthdays, which turn them into devoted bibliophiles with extended (sometimes bordering on pretentious) vocabularies, and and by their mother’s ghost, which occasionally appears “in person” but more often makes herself known through the voice of the twins’ parrot, Mrs. Rochester.

A number of secondary characters also pop in and out, sometimes to provide comic relief, sometimes to spur reflection on the part of the twins or the reader. Hector’s girlfriend, Altona Winkler, writes romance novels and tabloid-esque articles in the local paper (both are excerpted); their friends Rae and June run a local cafe called The Well of Loneliness and the second book sees the introduction of their handyman, Caedmon Harkness, who lives in a thatched VW bus with his pet parrot, who is mute. Virgil has a photographic memory for poetry, both serious and comic, and both the twins and their guests (who occasionally take the narrative reins) make numerous recommendations for books of poetry, non-fiction, novels and cookbooks.

While it is a pleasure for the reader to discover new poems through Virgil’s recitations, not everybody will have a taste for one of the books’ dominant running gags, the doggerel moral poetry written by the island’s late resident poet, Solomon Solomon. It will either make you giggle and think, or it will annoy you, and the same could be said of these books’ quirky vocabulary and wordplay and their reflective and slow-moving tone, which sometimes verges on self-indulgent navel gazing. But don’t let me put you off – I wouldn’t be writing about these books if I didn’t enjoy them very much. The first one is definitely best enjoyed in audiobook form, read by the author: the narrative was designed for radio, as Bill Richardson first introduced the characters on CBC radio in the early 90s, and I suspect that the audiobook would be perfect for commuters, as it is divided into short snippets of narrative.

These books will probably be familiar to my Canadian readers (I’m still, frankly, getting used to the idea of having readers! Hello readers!) Richardson won The Stephen Leacock Award for Humour for the first book. But, as I have discussed with friends in Madison, books that are well-known in Canada are not always well known elsewhere, and vice versa, so I hope that I have convinced some new readers to meet Hector and Virgil at the Bachelor Brothers’ Bed and Breakfast!

Just read

Some good advice for a rainy weekend in Madison from John Cotton Dana, , founder of the first library children’s room, at the Denver Public Library, pioneer business librarian, and enthusiastic collector of American art:

1. Read

2. Read.

3. Read some more.

4. Read anything.

5. Read about everything.

6. Read enjoyable things.

7. Read things you yourself enjoy.

8. Read, and talk about it.

9. Read very carefully, some things.

10. Read on the run, most things.

11. Don’t think about reading, but

12. Just read.

From The Librarian’s Book of Lists by George M. Eberhart, ALA 2010, via the Woodland Park Public Library.

and, in case you’d rather stare at bookshelves instead of reading . . .

Bookshelves