Robbie Burns Day is coming up this Saturday, January 25th, and we at UIowa Special Collections have created a mini-display in anticipation.  The day serves as an opportunity to celebrate the life and poetry of the recently named “Greatest Scot of all time”: Robert Burns!  Burns was born on January 25, 1759, and would have turned 255 this year! The day is most often celebrated with a supper featuring haggis (of course), toasting and poetry reading, and a rousing round of “Auld Lang Syne” (written by Burns in 1788).  So grab your preferred Scottish beverage this Saturday and toast to the man who wrote your favorite New Year’s song and provided the iconic words, “O my Luve’s like a red, red rose,” to murmur in your Valentine’s ear!

Items on display feature:

·         sheet music from the Ada Holding Miller collection (MsC 510 F4)

·         a print of Archibald Skirving’s red crayon portrait of Burns, from the larger Robert Burns Print collection edited by Seymour Eaton, 1900. (PR4335 .E3)

·         A Double Six from Scotland—“A pamphlet of six whiskies, each appropriately accompanied by a Robert Burns poem.” (PR 4302 K3)

·         and Poems Chiefly Scottish printed in 1787 (PR4312 P6)

-Jillian P.

Announcing: The #GPOML Contest

This week I hit my 3rd anniversary on tumblr. I felt like I got in on the ground floor of something special: a burgeoning new community of energized, creative librarians sharing ideas, inspiration, and educating each other. It’s been fun, I’ve met great people, and I’ve learned so, so much.

I’ve occasionally promoted the #GPOML hashtag: gratuitous picture of my library. The first time was in response to the endless pictures of the grand libraries that circulate tumblr constantly: the reading room of the NYPL, Trinity College Dublin, and all those other grandiose spaces. Don’t get me wrong: I love those, but I wanted to see photos of your libraries, from your eyes, the way they work for you.

So here’s the contest: anytime in the month of December, share a picture of your library on tumblr and tag it #gpoml. The photo can be:

  • the exterior;
  • a grand space inside;
  • a close-up of a display;
  • an architectural feature;
  • a cozy reading nook;
  • you at a service desk; or…
  • anything, really.

Use what you think is important, arty, interesting, or worth sharing. Something you like about your library.

Please note:

  • don’t post a photo of patrons unless you have their permission;
  • take the picture yourself;
  • you can enter more than one photo in the contest, but don’t spam us, ok?
  • you don’t have to follow me to participate.
  • you can include a blurb about your library, or not: up to you!


If there’s going to be a contest, there has to be a winner, right?

I’m going to assemble a crack team of judges to help me pick a winner (I haven’t asked them yet, but they’ll say yes). We’ll announce the winner in early January.

What does the winner get? The legendary Baker & Taylor “cat” tote bag photographed above, delivered in the mail. And bragging rights.


Well, there it is. I work as a corporate librarian for a global bank. Along with a team of eight other researchers and librarians, we field reference requests from analysts and other bankers during the deal-making process. It’s mostly research on industries, companies, prices, historical trends, and about a million other things I didn’t know I didn’t know.

There’s usually work waiting for me at 8:30 when I arrive, and it doesn’t really ever stop–but we’ve got to go home at some point. While we do have a print reference collection, most of our work is conducted online through very expensive, super-slick databases that find company info, negative news, market data and whatever else we need. I spend time between about ten or so of those databases each day.

It’s certainly not the traditional work I was expecting for my first reference job, but it’s definitely a learning experience. It’s fast and challenging. It’s great to get on the phone with a panicky client and get to the bottom of what their looking for. It really is the same reference interview you might have in any school situation–except these homework assignments have quite a bit more at stake.

In the end, I’m helping patrons, growing as a researcher, and learning something new every single day. As a librarian, I can’t complain.

Working from home today (thanks to the cold that won’t die) so you can see the view out my back window a lil bit and my Gunther Gebel-Williams pen holder. The Dear Sugar mug is full of green tea with lemon juice. Editing reviews for our February 1 issue!


I’ve been meaning to make a post about the library I work in for a while now, so here it is.

This is the temporary building for West Norwood library, in Lambeth. Our usual site is across the road in a much bigger building, but over a year ago, metal was stolen from the roof. We haven’t been back in since. So this is where we are now: the Old Library.

Here’s the lay out. Right at the back is the children’s area, the two yellow trolleys in front is where the foreign language, LGBT, romance and audio book sections live.

Here you can see more of our fiction section, with a trolley for the classics and short stories.

One side of our packed crime section!

Children’s area

Non-fiction and reference. The curvy shelf to the left is our very small Black interest shelf.

A make-shift non-fiction display.

Because we are essentially being leant the space by the Lambeth Youth Service, we have to pack away the entire children’s/fiction/crime/trolley land into the even smaller non-fiction room every day. It’s tiring and there is a lot of wear and tear happening to ourselves and the furniture. The people of West Norwood appreciate that there is a service at all, but they are always asking when we will be moving back over to the original building (which was spacious, and had great stock), but sadly the answer always is that we don’t know.

And this is the lunch I had at a local cafe recently, it was pleasant as hell.