(S)ex libris - on the Bodleian's ‘secret trove of obscene material’

Late in his tenure as head of the Bodleian Library, E. W. B. Nicholson received an unusual letter from a History fellow at Balliol College, Oxford. The correspondent explained that he had been asked to enquire on behalf of a “Cambridge don” whether there existed “any Siberia attached to [the] Bodleian Library to which books are banished”. Nicholson knew that such a thing did exist, for he had personally overseen its creation. Established in 1882, it was dubbed the “Φ” (Phi) collection: this was the shelf mark used by the Bodleian to identify those texts deemed too obscene, libellous or otherwise risqué to be made available to undergraduate readers. While the origins of the name are uncertain, it seems to be a librarian’s joke bringing together a “Fie!” of disapproval, an evocation of the Greek word phaulos (base, worthless, wicked) and an ancient phallic pun.
From (S)ex libris – TheTLS
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How Dylan Thomas's writing shed inspired Roald Dahl - BBC News

Both are world-famous authors who wrote some of their best known works in their sheds. But, as Roald Dahl's centenary is celebrated across the country, his widow reveals how heavily the children's author was influenced by Dylan Thomas's hut when building his own.
From How Dylan Thomas's writing shed inspired Roald Dahl - BBC News
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To All the Book Introductions I’ve Loved Before

You will not find me among either group; in the second instance out of hard experience but in the first out of love, pure love, from the time of my first encounter, circa 1979, with John Cheever’s all-too-brief preface to his Stories, which contains the following passage, in which I now detect a premonitory stirring, two decades ahead of schedule, of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay: “These stories seem at times to be stories of a long-lost world when the city of New York was still filled with a river light, when you heard the Benny Goodman quartets from a radio in the corner stationery store, and when almost everybody wore a hat.”
From To All the Introductions I’ve Loved Before
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Librarians abroad: ‘None of us thought we’d grow up to be one’

“The most important asset of any library goes home at night – the library staff.” – Timothy Healy “Librarians are among the most misunderstood professionals anywhere,” says Philip Croom, associate dean of the Rare Books and Special Collections Library of the American University in Cairo. “None of us thought we’d grow up to be one and then somehow we find ourselves working with the most extraordinary objects, collections and people.”
From Librarians abroad: ‘None of us thought we’d grow up to be one’
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Florida school uses vending machine to dispense books instead of snacks

A Florida elementary school is using its vending machine to drop knowledge on its students. The vending machine at Umatilla Elementary School started dispensing books to students on Monday as part of the state’s literacy week. Umatilla Elementary Principal Dianne Dwyer said most of the children are more excited for the books than they would be for candy. The machine gave out more than 100 books Wednesday. “We do need to restock the machine,” Dwyer said.
From Florida school uses vending machine to dispense books instead of snacks
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Stanford Libraries’ transformative gift creates hub highlighting Silicon Valley history

Stanford Libraries has received a $25 million gift from the Harold C. and Marilyn A. Hohbach Foundation to create a vibrant collections-centered research hub and endow the Silicon Valley Archives program. The first floor of the East Wing of the Cecil H. Green Library will be renovated and re-named Hohbach Hall. (Image credit: L.A. Cicero) The newly renovated space in the East Wing of the Cecil H. Green Library will be named Hohbach Hall and will include a new Special Collections classroom, as well as spaces for group study, seminars, events and exhibitions.
From Stanford Libraries’ transformative gift creates hub highlighting Silicon Valley history | Stanford News
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Centuries lost ‘Bristol Merlin’ uncovered at city’s Central Library

A chance discovery, hidden away in a series of 16th-century books deep in the archive of Bristol Central Library, has revealed original manuscript fragments from the Middle Ages which tell part of the story of Merlin the magician, one of the most famous characters from Arthurian legend.
From January: Bristol Merlin | News | University of Bristol
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Librarian Transforms 110-Year-Old Tree into Jaw-Dropping Little Free Library

Talk about a “giving tree”! When a 110-year-old cottonwood tree in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, needed to be removed, Sharalee Armitage Howard—a librarian, artist, and bookbinder—transformed it into an amazing Little Free Library. Now, instead of providing shade, the tree will share books.
From Librarian Transforms 110-Year-Old Tree into Jaw-Dropping Little Free Library | Little Free Library
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We Need Diverse Books, But Wattpad's Machines Aren't The Way

With a community of over 65 million users, Wattpad is bursting with creative potential. From the paranormal to Shrek slash fiction, Wattpad Books will be able to choose from a pool of diverse and innovative material. However, the key to finding these stories is not through data analysis of popular trends, but ensuring that the editors that decide the merit of recommended works do not come from the same homogeneous background the company has so often criticized. It’s only by ensuring that there is a diversity of backgrounds and opinions at the editorial level to find the groundbreaking books, that Wattpad can meet its objective of truly transforming the literature we read.
From We Need Diverse Books, But Wattpad's Machines Aren't The Way
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Grow with Google is heading to libraries in all 50 states, starting today

We’re kicking that work off today in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania—where Benjamin Franklin established America's first free public library—by hosting in-person workshops for job seekers, small businesses, librarians and nonprofit leaders. Later this week, we'll be continuing the Pennsylvania workshops in York and Erie, then heading to more states like Connecticut and Maryland. We’re looking forward to people across the country joining us at their local library to learn digital skills, from online marketing tips to how to use a spreadsheet.  We’ll have plenty of Googlers available for one-on-one training and to answer your questions. Follow our events page to see when we’ll be visiting your state.
From Grow with Google is heading to libraries in all 50 states, starting today
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‘Keep the Damned Women Out’ - Fifty years of coeducation at American colleges

Coeducation was a means to shore up a first-rate student body. It was not the result of a high-minded moral commitment to educate women. It was about what women could do for previously all-male colleges — how women could help elite universities renew their hold on the "best boys." Women, in short, were there to improve the experience of men.
From ‘Keep the Damned Women Out’ - The Chronicle of Higher Education
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Library Acquisition Patterns Report From Ithaka S+R

The findings of this report consist of two distinct areas: 1) an analysis of library book acquisitions within the specified sample for fiscal year 2017 at 124 US academic institutions, and 2) a trend line analysis of print and e-books acquired within the specified sample, the university press presence in these libraries, and the leading vendors of books at 51 US academic institutions for fiscal years 2014 through 2017. While these samples are not representative, they afford a broader overview of the acquisitions patterns and practices of US academic libraries than we believe has ever been conducted to date.
From Library Acquisition Patterns | Ithaka S+R

Pack Your Bags And Your Books For A Literary Journey With Librarian Nancy Pearl

Seattle librarian Nancy Pearl shares her under-the-radar reading recommendations with Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep. Her picks will take you on journeys around the world — and back in time. (These recommendations have been edited for clarity and length.)
From Pack Your Bags And Your Books For A Literary Journey With Librarian Nancy Pearl : NPR
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Millennials rely on the Free Library for more than books

Philadelphia’s millennials hold 222,225 library cards — the most when compared with baby boomers and Gen Xers — but they borrow fewer items, data from the Free Library show, suggesting the group engages with branches in ways that go beyond simply renting materials.
From Millennials rely on the Free Library for more than books
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Minneapolis Central Library opens vinyl listening room to share collection

On Saturday, Hennepin County Library hosted the first event in its new “Vinyl Revival” series, which aims to bring attention to the thriving audio format. Through June, artists will present vinyl-themed programming and curate records from the library’s stacks, many of which are the works of local musicians. The library also converted a small meeting room on the third floor into a listening room equipped with a turntable and headphones, which people can reserve to listen to the artist-selected picks.
From Minneapolis Central Library opens vinyl listening room to share collection - StarTribune.com
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For John Ashbery’s Personal Library, a Spot on the Shelves at Harvard - The New York Times

The university’s Houghton Library, which began acquiring the poet’s manuscripts and other papers in 1986, has announced the acquisition of the John Ashbery Reading Library, which includes more than 5,000 books of poetry, art criticism, architectural history, philosophy, religious history and cookbooks collected over the poet’s lifetime. The collection, which was donated by Mr. Ashbery’s husband, David Kermani, convey the traces of the poet’s thought, and also of his hand. There are annotated editions of books by Boris Pasternak, Franz Kafka, Friedrich Nietzsche and others, as well as the copy of the “Oxford Book of American Verse” he used as an undergraduate, with pressed flowers used as bookmarks.
From For John Ashbery’s Personal Library, a Spot on the Shelves at Harvard - The New York Times
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The tiny library bringing books to remote villages

“Without a book, so often the child is alone,” says Antonio La Cava. The retired schoolteacher converted his three-wheeled van into a mobile library, the Bibliomotocarro. Driving the hills and mountains of Basilicata, Italy, La Cava is able to reach children in remote villages like San Paolo Albanese, which only has two children of primary school age.
From BBC - Culture - The tiny library bringing books to remote villages
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The Beats' Holy Grail: The Letter That Inspired On the Road

This is not the portrait of a family man, no matter his desire or intention, but of someone coming apart at the seams. “I wake to more horrors than Celine,” he writes in the Joan Anderson Letter, “not a vain statement for now I’ve passed thru just repetitious shudderings and nightmare twitches.” Seventeen years later, at his death, not so much had changed. Yes, the letter helped to reshape Kerouac’s ideas on writing; without it, “On the Road” would have been a very different book. But it also framed Cassady as larger than life, which was both a blessing and a curse. “Legacy?” wonders Ferlinghetti. “His legacy is what Kerouac made of him. What else would his legacy be?”
From The Beats' Holy Grail: The Letter That Inspired On the Road | Literary Hub
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The Milwaukee Public Library Hijacked Brand Logos Like YouTube, Netflix and Spotify to Promote Itself – Adweek

At least, that’s the point the Milwaukee Public Library tried to make earlier this fall when it hijacked those brands’ logos. In an effort to get locals to reconsider the library and what it could do for them, the Milwaukee Public Library and creative shop BVK revamped brand logos. Then it created print work with copy touting the library’s similar offerings to the brand in question and posted the work at local restaurants and bars. The result? It worked.
From The Milwaukee Public Library Hijacked Brand Logos Like YouTube, Netflix and Spotify to Promote Itself – Adweek
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The Secrets of Lyndon Johnson’s Archives

I get a sick feeling in my stomach even now as I remember how long it took to answer that question. I started by looking through the library’s “Finding Aids,” a version of a catalogue, in black looseleaf notebooks, which listed the titles of the file folders in each box. Just for Johnson’s “House of Representatives Papers,” the general files from his eleven years in that body, the time before he became a senator and then President, there were three hundred and forty-nine boxes. And those weren’t the only boxes that contained letters, memoranda, reports, speech drafts, etc., that dealt with this period. There were, for example, the LBJA files, which included documents that Johnson’s staff had, at various times, shifted from the general “House Papers” and put into other groupings—the library calls them “collections”—such as the “Selected Names” files, which contained correspondence and other material with “close associates.” At least it wouldn’t be me alone turning the pages. Working in the Reading Room with me would be Ina, whose thoroughness and perceptivity in doing research I had learned to trust.
From The Secrets of Lyndon Johnson’s Archives, by Robert A. Caro | The New Yorker

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