A Catalog of Catalogs

"The victory cry of a bookworm may seem a petty thing.The poet Shelley’s famous declaration that poets are the "unacknowledged legislators of the world" is not really very famous, for understandable reasons. When the enemy of literacy is imagined to be television or comic books, one can rightfully feel impatient with the kind of pro-book aphorism found on a tasseled bookmark. But what if the enemy is fire, or incendiary shells, or Nazism?

"In "Library: An Unquiet History," Matthew Battles shows that the history of libraries is the history of the destruction of books. Mr. Battles interviews a colleague about a couple who survived the siege of Sarajevo in the early 1990s. They ran out of firewood and had to make choices about which books to burn in order to cook and stay warm. Mr. Battles’s interlocutor explains how this forced the couple to think critically: "One must prioritize. First, you burn old college textbooks, which you haven’t read in thirty years. Then there are the duplicates. But eventually, you’re forced to make tougher choices. Who burns today: Dostoevsky or Proust?"

"Did the couples have any books left after the war? Here is the victory cry: "‘Oh yes,’ he replied, his face lit by a flickering smile. ‘He still had many books. Sometimes, he told me, you look at the books and just choose to go hungry.’" (from The New York Sun via Bookslut)


Survey respondents needed

Rachel writes "

For a forthcoming book in Information Today's "Accidental" series, I'm looking for current or former library managers (from department heads to directors) who are willing to spend a few minutes filling out an online survey on their experiences. I'm especially seeking responses from younger and first-time managers, but all answers are encouraged.

The survey can be accessed at:


A Reading Room Returns to Bryant Park

"In 1935, during the depths of the Depression, the Bryant Park Open-Air Reading Room was established in the backyard of the New York Public Library to engage the minds of the jobless thousands."

"Now, during another economic crisis, and after an absence of 60 years, the reading room will return. Is this the dire omen of a new depression?"

"The timing is coincidental," said Daniel A. Biederman, executive director of the Bryant Park Restoration Corporation, sponsor of the new outdoor library. "But in a bad time, it's nice to have a good book, and a nice place to read it."

"That nice place will be available next month under a new name, the Bryant Park Reading Room. The free lending library will offer 700 books and 300 periodicals to park visitors, who can informally check the publications out with library volunteers." (from The New York Times)


The world's oldest multiple-page book

A Neat Story from the Beeb on a small manuscript, which is more than two-and-a-half millennia old, was discovered 60 years ago in a tomb uncovered during digging for a canal along the Strouma river in south-western Bulgaria.
The authenticity of the book has been confirmed by two experts in Sofia and London, museum director Bojidar Dimitrov said quoted by AFP.

The six sheets are believed to be the oldest comprehensive work involving multiple pages, said Elka Penkova, who heads the museum's archaeological department.


JK takes on JRR in top books list

writes "This Story Says
Lord Of The Rings and the Harry Potter series were tipped for the top in the run-up to the national survey of the top 100 books of all time, which will be whittled down to a top 20 in the autumn.

After a six-week wait while votes flooded in, book-lovers finally got their first glance at the BBC Big Read's Top 100 books on Saturday and we asked our readers what they would have in their top ten.


Read it and weep

writes "Next week, the BBC reveals the results of a poll to find the nation's top 100 novels. But one man's masterpiece can be another's claptrap. Here, leading figures choose their literary bugbears, with an introduction by John Walsh


How Prague Bible survived to tell of great flood

Someone writes "This Article tells of A flood-damaged 500-year-old Czech Bible, regarded as one of the jewels of central European Christianity, which has been saved by British and other experts in a painstaking restoration project using freezers and vacuums to bring them back to their old glory.

The Bible is one of the most precious items among a vast array of books, manuscripts and ancient maps waterlogged after the worst floods in 200 years swamped the Czech capital, Prague, last August. "


Davis drops library book checkout-fee proposal

"Though Gov. Gray Davis is wrestling with a $38 billion deficit, he has dropped a controversial budget proposal that would have forced local libraries to impose a checkout fee of up to $5 a book in certain cases, Davis' aides confirmed Wednesday."

"The proposal, contained in his original spending plan unveiled in January, was deleted from the May revision of the proposed 2003-04 budget after an ANG Newspapers report on the issue spurred complaints throughout the Bay Area and across the state."

"We're very happy about it going away," said Linda Krause, director of the Peninsula library system. "By trying to impose charges -- that goes against the whole idea of what free libraries are about." (from San Mateo County Times)


\"Hip-hop of the publishing industry\" sparks debate

This morning\'s Publishers Lunch pointed to an AP story about a popular new fiction genre being called \"Street Life\" or \"Ghetto Lit\". Authors like Shannon Holmes and Teri Woods are gaining a huge following with their unflinching tales of inner-city life. Views differ:

The prose can be as crude as the subject matter, but booksellers say they appeal to at least tens of thousands of young people who, like Perez, might not otherwise be reading.

...and on the other hand:

\"It\'s drugs and thugs,\" Villarosa says. \"It\'s the hip-hop of the publishing industry. I have mixed feelings about it. I\'m concerned about the subject matter and the glorification of it.\"


San Francisco is No. 1 -- in books and booze

Bob Cox writes "according to a new federal survey, San Franciscans spend more on alcohol and books than residents of any other U.S. city.

The two-year study of spending habits, released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, found that New Yorkers spend the most on clothes, Bostonians spend the most on tobacco, Chicagoans spend the most on utilities and Washingtonians spend the most on entertainment -- not counting admission to sessions of Congress, which is free.

Full Story "



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