The Librarian’s Shelf: A recommendation from a Librarian

Hello again friends!

We are over halfway through the year, which sometimes makes perfect sense and other times is shocking. The newest cohort of TMC students will descend on the campus in a matter of weeks, and the alumni will descend in a few day’s time (hence a post now rather than try to do something during alumni weekend). New Hampshire is, as ever, hot, humid, and green.

So here’s a riddle: when you are a librarian, and a solo librarian at that, who do you get your book recommendation from for this category? It may be cheaty, but I picked one from my overflowing TBR list, sort of a librarian recommendation to myself. For July, I’m reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking.

You guys, I am loving this book. So much so that I technically haven’t finished it and I’m already recommending it. This should come as a surprise to no one, but I am an introvert myself, and outside the library I work in a very extroverted corporate environment. Its just as great as you’d expect. What I like about this book is that it ultimately provides a vocabulary for dealing with introverted vs. extroverted people, also touching on high sensitivity and a few other personalty traits that tend to go hand in hand with introversion.

I wish I’d had this book ten years ago, if I’m being honest. My college years were an introvert’s dream: lots of meaningful conversations, the ability to get recharge time alone whenever I needed it, and a trove of personalities that I could be friends with without feeling like I had to put on a mask. We used to call it the green world, this beautiful place where we could grow and flourish and think and leaves certain cares of the world behind for a time. Green worlds don’t last, though, not ever, and so coming back to Earth was interesting. And in a time and place where all those skills and modes of being that make the most sense to me are less plentiful, I would have liked to have a way to express them that would be taken seriously in the larger world.

This book isn’t a classic or part of the Western canon (obviously), but its well worth a read in my opinion. And just to add on top of it, here are some other books I love and think you should read!

  • Til We Have Faces, CS Lewis
  • The Blue Castle, Lucy Maud Montgomery
  • The Summer Before the War, Helen Simonson
  • The Man in the High Castle, Philip K Dick
  • The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir, Jennifer Ryan
  • All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
  • Consider the Fork, Bee Wilson
  • Aristophanes, any of his plays
  • The Once and Future King, TH White
  • The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster
  • The Four Loves, CS Lewis
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The Librarian’s Shelf: A work in translation

July around these parts has a tendency to be hot and humid and thoroughly uninviting. Its opposite from the winter but just as inhospitable if you aren’t used to it (spoiler: I am not). Fortunately, this afforded me enough time to get through my next book, a work in translation/over 500 pages. Yes, I know I wrote about a 500 page book earlier, but the truth of the matter is I’ll be getting through one part of Kristin Lavransdatter, not all 3, so there’s a bit of a category swap needed.

So what else is there that’s a work in translation and over 500? I mean aside from Tolstoy, which I did not read. I picked up Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose. And yes, I am late to the Eco party but this happens in a world where there are so many books to read and so little time.

Now, if you pick up The Name of the Rose, don’t make the mistake I did and think this is a mystery. Yes, there is a mystery inside but I can’t really call it a full fledged member of the genre. I read mysteries: Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Louise Penny. Father Brown would make the list too, and I just finished every Phryne Fisher mystery I could get at the local public library. And if you’ve read any of those authors you’ll detect a theme: enjoyable mystery, solvable, but the characters make the piece. They stand out, they’re funny or witty or just good people, or more importantly, *interesting* people.

Eco was, first and foremost, a semiotician and a philosopher. And it shows. This book is long; it clocks in at 512 pages and they are dense pages. There are explorations of symbols, meaning, and a rather intricate look at the life of a medieval monastery. The chapters are even arranged around the liturgy of the hours, which was a nice touch. I did enjoy the book, but I enjoyed it a lot more once I decided it wasn’t a mystery. Think of it as historical fiction that will give you a window into a very rich medieval world and, oh yes, there are a few murders and mysteries and a labyrinth.

In terms of other works in translation, your best friend on campus is the Ballroom. This houses the collection of works in original languages, heavy on the Latin and Greek. This is also where you’ll find all literature that’s not American, with a smattering of English works that predate Shakespeare. The good Bard is our dividing line between the Ballroom and the Newman room, and you could safely argue that a number of those old English works are in translation.

This season in The Library…

Happy New Year!

Time for the year end wrap up and reflection on our continued journey through the library.

  • Once again, I had really wonderful student workers who worked really hard on our ongoing catalog digitization. We finally had reliable internet and access to the server, and we made a big dent in our catalog. At this point, we’re almost done with our first room! Given that we are also actively cataloging check ins and check outs and we’re all part time, that’s pretty good!
  • We also set up a system for selling our discards because yes, we have discards. I’m considering a post or two next year about my thoughts behind deselections and discards, just to give a sense of the various criteria that go into the process.
  • There were no major projects this year, and that’s to be expected. We’re in the midst of catalog digitization, after all. That is going to take time and priority at this point.
  • We’ve continued to receive generous donations to our collection, and have been getting those cataloged and onto the shelves for folks to use.

Next year promises to have more of the same, with the hope that we will complete the catalog conversion for the entire ground floor of books.

Finally, in case you missed it, check out the Fall issue of Communitas. I have a write up on Tolkien that I think you’ll all enjoy

Dewey Decimal Day

December 10th marks the birthday of Melvil Dewey, best known for the organizational system named after him. Dewey was also a founder of the American Library Association.

Librarian confession time: I am less familiar with Dewey than with Library of Congress. I cut my teeth in academic and museum libraries, and they all use LoC, not Dewey. I know most librarian have Dewey committed to memory, they know their 500s from their 900s whereas I… have not a clue what those are. And that’s ok! You don’t have to have Dewey committed to memory to appreciate the impact he and his system have had.

There’s plenty of material out on the internet and in library publication around the history and development of the DDC (Dewey Decimal Classification). I’m not wading into philosophies on this one– its a living classification system, and one I don’t use every day. What I will note is that this system predates LoC by several decades, and it was a step forward from fixed locations for books based on accession date. That way lies biology next to Dickens next to Freud next to an Encyclopedia. Easy to find when things were added, less easy to research, oh, any given thing. If you’ve walked into a library– pretty much any library– you have benefited from relative location, whether the spine labels are DDC or LoC.

For the record, I did go find the table of Dewey numbers, and I’ll share it in case you need it (though any public library I’ve been in tends to have signage that says what the numbers mean, bless the librarian who came up with that.)

000 – Computer science, information & general works
100 – Philosophy and psychology
200 – Religion
300 – Social sciences
400 – Language
500 – Pure Science
600 – Technology
700 – Arts & recreation
800 – Literature
900 – History & geography

Finally, a bit of fun: Geek and Sundry has a list of Bookish games! The first one sounds amazing

A Belated Happy Hobbit Day

Thursday was Hobbit Day, for those who are fans of Tolkien. This year, it struck me as somehow fitting that Hobbit Day falls on the last day of summer– the final hurrah before the world slowly spins down into winter hibernation. A fine day for a party, but usually cool enough to allow a feast fit for a hobbit’s appetite.

I mean, it should be. It was gray and rainy most of the week, though not cool– tropical storms will do that to a person. Fortunately it cleared up and was bright and warm for the Tea and Shoot today. In the meantime, we have finally started to process our acquisitions! I believe we have somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 cataloged so far, with many more to go, but its a start. Its nice to see those books lined up with spine labels and shiny new bar codes, with shiny new MARC records in the catalog to go with them.

I’ll leave you with a fun Tolkien fact for the day: last Friday was the 40th anniversary of the publication of The Silmarillion. I wish I could find it, but I remember reading somewhere that it represented one of the top ranking pre-orders the industry had seen at the time. Certainly it sold over a million copies that year. We have one:

Quick year end wrap up

So what did we accomplish this year? A quick rundown for you:

  • Established Koha as the electronic catalog for the school. Currently available on the library network
  • We cataloged 3000 books over the course of the year
  • This is awesome when you consider we were without a network for close to two months, impeding the students and myself from adding any records during that time
  • We received two very generous donations to the library– between them close to 4000 books! We’re currently going through them to determine what will be a good fit for the collection.
  • We got Interlibrary Loan up and running, connecting to NHAIS. In addition to being able to get updated holdings into their catalog, we were able to borrow books that our students needed, as well as share books from our collection with neighboring libraries.

I incredibly grateful to the 5 students who rotated through library work study this year (at least one from each class, no less!). They all worked hard and helped get us to this point– we can say we’re truly underway with this catalog, which was not the case 10 months ago.

Special shout out to my “IT department”– my husband and my brother, who helped pull wire and fight the technological imps that threatened to drag us down. Those two are truly a blessing (even when the jokes are gently at my expense :D)

Saturday Librarian: What a time to be alive!

Saturday Librarian: What a time to be alive!

Ya’ll, I’m truly geeking out on my new catalog, and I don’t expect you to understand. Its enough for me to know that 1) we have a computer in the library 2) we have a barcode scanner that is younger than I am 3) with their powers combined, I can pull MARC records into a catalog that 4) is visible on the wifi.

That’s a pretty big 2 weeks folks (and yes, yes I milking the excuse for my tardy blogging. Wouldn’t you?) The previous cataloging that I’ve done is on a virtual machine, which means its not actually live on campus. The stuff we’ve done the last two weeks? Totally live on campus!

Some other items of note:

  • Phase 2 of the Music Room is done! My wonderful workers were able to get the art and music collection moved into the Music room over the last two weeks. The fabulous summer crew, you’ll remember, cleared that out for me over the course of the summer. This allows us to process some art books that need to join the collection, and gives room to expand that part of the collection as we choose.
  • What did we do with our extra stack space? Shelve some of my lovely acquisitions hoard. Getting those onto shelves is step one to making it easily reviewable for the faculty.
  • I got a question about the periodicals we’re boxing– those are not being discarded, they are being stored off campus. There are many easier ways to access journal entries than by combing through hard copy, and we need to clean up the lower stacks area and set it to better use.
  • Finally, I just gotta brag on my campus. It shows to lovely effect on a fall afternoon: