March 2010

Time for Peeps

It’s that time of the year…and since there seems to be some special relationship between librarians and peeps (can someone please explain that to me?)

Here’s the Washington Post’s celebration of the wee marshmallow treats, from their fourth annual Peeps Diorama Contest that drew more than 1,100 sugar-inspired entries. See the winner — a candy-colored take on the movie “Up” — and 37 of their favorites at the ‘Peeps Show’. For Peep-0-maniacs, here’s video of the top five entries including a sweet portrayal of the Margaret Wise Brown’s classic “Goodnight Moon”.

In Which, Emphatically And Forever, I Decline To Care How Books Smell

Essay at NPR

Am I the only person whose books don’t smell like anything?

My. Books. Do. Not. Smell. Like. Anything.

There are exceptions, yes. If they accidentally were in the back of my closet when it rained really hard and the back part of the closet got wet because sometimes basement apartments are like that, then yes, they might smell vaguely the same way sheets smell if you leave them damp in the washer for three days at the conclusion of the spin cycle. It’s not wisdom — it’s mildew. If you leave stuffed animals in the same box with books, they will develop some — not all, but some — of the same smells. The box my Operation game came in would smell not entirely dissimilar to my copy of Sounder.

Full essay here

Is There a Schism in Libraries?

Traditionalists v. Modernisers? From Times Online UK:

“Libraries gave us power”, the first line of the Manic Street Preachers’ Design for Life, powerfully articulates the value of a great utilitarian civic service. The lyricist Nicky Wire was prompted to write the song after a trip to the Victorian branch library in Pillgwenlly, Newport, where the phrase “Knowledge is power” sits above the door. Now, by way of a symbolic gesture to the march of progress, they adorn Cardiff’s new £15 million six-storey glass-and-concrete central library, which opened last summer complete with a white baby-grand piano and a Wagamama outlet.

The recently released Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) review ring-fenced the Libraries Act 1964, effectively preserving libraries as a cornerstone of our culture. However, its talk of free e-books, social networking use, community diversity and commercial links has fuelled a fierce debate about the purpose of a library in the modern age.

Talk to both sides and there is a clear schism between traditionalists and modernisers. For one it is about books and silence, for the other it’s about community usage, Facebook and cups of coffee or, in the words of Andrew Motion, the former Poet Laureate and now the chairman of the Museums Libraries and Archives Council, “shhh and fining or Starbucks and PCs”.

Thanks to Trevor Dawes for the tip.

Creating Order from An Outer Space Mess

A Portales NM librarian is stepping into the scientific world of outer space.

Sean Shepherd, Eastern New Mexico University Instructional Research Center coordinator, is developing devices ( Adhesive Synthetic Trash Recovery Orbital Spheres) to clean up small manmade space debris in the lower earth orbit.

“I feel like since we made this mess, we should clean it up by bringing it back to earth, not pushing it out into space,” Shepherd said.

The space debris — which at the lower orbit is composed of objects such as paint chips and bolts — travels at high speeds, can damage space craft and sometimes falls to Earth, Shepherd said. He said collisions split the debris into more dangerous pieces. “It’s really a hazardous problem now,” Shepherd said.

A number of years ago, Shepherd said, he saw a video about space debris and was disgusted that people had “trashed space that way.” The catalyst to his project, though, came last fall as an article about collisions between satellites creating more debris.

Shepherd said the idea of his Adhesive Synthetic Trash Recovery Orbital Spheres popped into his head, and he developed the concept in his mind for about a week. “And basically they’re large, room-sized metallic foam balls surrounded by space-friendly adhesive,” Shepherd said. Portales News-Tribune.

Reading Persian Classics In Iran

Reading Persian Classics In Iran
“Forget about Iraj Mirza,” Shahin, a student at the University of Isfahan, says of the early 20th-century poet who was critical of religious dogmatism. “You can’t even find such far more ‘innocent’ works like ‘The Cockerel’ by Ebrahim Golestan [a prominent contemporary novelist] or ‘Memoirs of My Melancholy Whores’ by [Colombian writer] Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But we still find our ways [to get around censorship]. In recent years, people have been posting an increasing number of uncensored works on the Internet.”

Haiti’s Libraries: History At Risk

Haiti’s Libraries: History At Risk
The earthquake in Haiti, aside from killing a couple of hundred thousand people in the space of a heartbeat, has put so many survivors’ lives in danger that even now, two months after the cataclysm, it is difficult to think about any thing else. It’s hard to imagine worrying much about artifacts and archives when so many human lives have yet to be saved.