Fantastic timelapse of Truth and Consequences, Amanda Palmer’s performance art piece for the New York Public Library’s children’s books drive. Photos here. 

Story here

Complement with Palmer’s magnificent open letter on the choice to become a mother as a working artist. 

Wooohooo! It’s Library Card Sign-up Month!

September is Library Card Sign-up Month—a time when the American Library Association and libraries across the country remind the masses that a library card is the key to limitless opportunities.

Since 1987, Library Card Sign-up Month has been held each September to mark the beginning of the school year. It is a time when the ALA and libraries across the country join together to remind parents and children that signing up for a library card is the first step towards academic achievement and lifelong learning.

This year’s Honorary Chair of Library Card Sign-up Month is Snoopy, the world-famous beagle from Peanuts.

Free artwork for library cards courtesy of Peanuts Worldwide

Email  to request permission and receive access to digital files!

Artwork is licensed for use on library cards through Dec. 31, 2016.

>>>>> Press Kit <<<<<

>>> Purchase Snoopy items at the ALA Store! <<<

Since Gutenberg’s invention no more important discovery has been made in the art of printing… [O]ur natural self-acting printing-process will call forth a new era in the publication and figurative representation of artistical-scientific objects.

Alois Auer was director of the Viennese Hof- und Staatsdruckerei (Majesty’s Stationery Office,) where he was responsible for several innovations in lithography and printing technology. Most notable for our purposes is his development of a technology of illustrating printed books that did not rely on woodcuts or engravings. It had the potential to produce more detailed and accurate illustrations at less cost. He describes this process, which he labels “the natural self-acting printing-process,” in Die Entdeckung des Naturselbstruckes (Discovery of the Natural Printing Process: An Invention). Its introduction is an endearingly confident document, so important that he has obligingly translated it into four languages. He describes impressing natural objects, such as plants and flowers, into soft lead, from which prints could be obtained. He describes experimenting first with lace, and how when presented with the results, an assembly mistook them for the original objects. His method had the advantage of capturing details of texture that engraving could not match. It was patented on October 12th, 1853.

Auer, Alois, 1813-1869.  Die Entdeckung des Naturselbstdruckes oder die Erfindung… Wien : K.K. Hof- und Staatsdruckerei, 1854. MU Ellis Special Collections Rare Folio Z259 .A9 

Treasures from the Jane Scott Papers

As one of the country’s first daily newspaper rock-music reporters, Jane Scott (May 3, 1919 - July 4, 2011) diligently covered the local music scene, from the most obscure local bands to stadium headliners, documenting thousands of people, places, and events that otherwise would have been lost to history. Over the course of her 40 year career with The Plain Dealer, Scott covered every major rock concert in Cleveland and was on a first name basis with many stars. For 2015, the Library and Archives received a History Fund grant from the Ohio History Connection to process Scott’s archival collection and digitize her reporter’s notebooks.

The Jane Scott Papers are a part of the Northeast Ohio Popular Music Archives (NEOPMA), which comprises a substantial group of archival collections (including personal papers, correspondence, photographs, song manuscripts, business records, posters, and rare audio and video recordings) and library materials (including books, dissertations, magazines and journals, commercial audio and video recordings, and sheet music) that focus on popular music, musicians, radio stations, record labels, recording studios, music venues, concert promoters, booking agencies, and music publishers in Northeast Ohio.

We’ll be posting fun items to tumblr as new treasures are discovered, and keep an eye out at the end of the year for the complete finding aid to the collection!

Image: Letter to Jane Scott from Joan Jett, undated.


A new episode of Staxpeditions!  “What’s in a name?”  Exploring Library of Congress call number range CS1-3090!


Today I dis-bound this book with a metal cover, so that it can go to the commercial bindery and get a new cover (the cover has gotten rather sharp and has been referred to as a ‘shiv’ by our cataloging department). Don’t worry, we have another pristine copy in special collections! This copy was our circulating copy.

However, I don’t know if I’m more proud that I was actually able to dis-bind it (those were RIVETS, not screws!) or that I was able to do so without stabbing myself in the hand.

The book is “The machine; as seen at the end of the mechanical age” by K. G. Pontus Hulteń, and it was a catalogue of an exhibition to held at the Museum of Modern Art, Nov. 25, 1968-Feb. 9, 1969; University of St. Thomas, Houston, Mar. 25-May 18, 1969; and San Francisco Museum of Art, June 23-Aug. 24, 1969.

weekly roundup
  • why we need diverse libraries:  "…i’ve seen enough instances of racial microaggressions in libraries to convince me that we often go too far when it comes to how librarians treat patrons of color, especially teenage patrons of color. we think we’re monitoring behavior, when what we’re actually monitoring is race.“ 
  • prison librarian / snap judgement, “unspoken”:  “when avi steinberg became a prison librarian, he thought his job would be to keep track of the books. then he started reading between the learn more about avi’s time behind bars – and between the stacks – be sure to check out his memoir, running the books. his latest book, the lost book of mormon, which was nominated for the thurber prize for american humor, will be out in paperback in november.”
  • librarians on bikes are delivering books & wifi to kids in “book deserts”:  "with books comes happiness, and people build empathy for one another. [we’re trying to offer] new perspectives and reignite an enthusiasm for reading.”
  • how libraries became the front line of america’s homelessness crisis:  “said one librarian who has worked at the downtown library for more than 30 years:  the library often serves as a destination for people who have no place to go. they can always come here, to be warm, safe, and entertained. at first, i didn’t know how important the library is to them, but one day before a holiday, a patron came up to me and said, ‘you guys will really be missed tomorrow.’ some may resent the presence of the mentally ill in the library, but as far as i am concerned, everyone deserves a chance to use it.“  
  • why libraries matter:  “a day in the life of new york city’s public libraries: traveling from borough to borough, this short documentary by julie dressner and jesse hicks reveals just how important the modern library is for millions of people.”
  • the syrians defying napalm bombs and sniper fire to build a library:  “the volunteers take turns to work as librarians and have created a check out system to keep track of borrowed books. they also wrote the original owner’s name inside each book, in the hope of restoring them to them after the war.  the library contains 11,000 books including arabic and foreign novels, religious and academic books.  abu malek alshamy said: ‘we created an atmosphere inside the library of silence and light, with tables for the readers.  in such a place, the most beautiful thing is getting away from the war and battles.’”
  • a wamu guide to the 2015 national book festival:  “wamu listeners are in for a treat saturday, september 5, when the national book festival takes place. book lovers from across the country will converge on the walter e. washington convention center in d.c. for author readings and signings, events for kids and a chance to revel in the written word.  this year the festival turns 15 and draws inspiration for its theme from the 200th anniversary of the library of congress’ acquisition of thomas jefferson’s library, using his quote ‘i cannot live without books’ to set the tone (Jefferson had a flair for the dramatic, don’t you think?).”
  • libraries are the future of manufacturing in the united states:  “it helps to make a model. a team of doctors at the loyola university medical center wanted to do just that to assist the doctors performing the operation, but ordering a replica of the boy’s skull would have taken two to three weeks and cost about $4,000. instead, they went to the chicago public library as part of a trial study and printed out a replica of the boy’s skull using a 3-d printer. the model of the skull was sanitized, and took just 12 hours to make. it cost $20 and the surgery was successful.  the surgery is an example of how people are using public libraries in new and important ways. public libraries are becoming a one-stop shop for manufacturing in the digital age. because libraries are investing in machines like 3-d printers, someday soon everyone with access to a public library could become an inventor or create something.”
Lost 'Happy Birthday' Manuscript Found in Kentucky as Debate Over Song's Copyright Drags On
While the battle over "Happy Birthday’s" copyright drags on, a college librarian in Kentucky has discovered the long-lost manuscript of the ditty’s earliest version. Tucked inside a sketchbook that was donated to the University of Louisville half a century ago is the only known manuscript of Mildred Hill's song "Good Morning to All," which evolved into the pre-candle-blowout soundtrack we all know so well.
Serendipity in the Stacks: Libraries, Information Architecture, and the Problems of Accidental Discovery

Highly recommend this essay, especially to those in academic libraries who are constantly fighting the “serendipity” argument. The essay presents serendipity as a problem, a failure of the information architecture and of the user’s information seeking process which leads to an unintended outcome.


As a librarian, I can confirm this is exactly what happens when we close for the night.

Some Things Your Local Librarians Would Like You To Know

It is not a stupid question. Even if it is a stupid question, we have been thoroughly trained to answer your question without judgement or second-guessing. Besides, we’re mostly just glad you’re not asking us about the noise the printer is making again.

There are probably (at least) two desks in the library. One is where you check out books and is mostly staffed by people wearing nametags that say “Circulation Clerk.” These people can answer your questions about damaged or missing books, fines, and how many forms of identification we’ll need if you want to get a library card but your mailing address is in Taiwan. The other one is closer to the books and computers and is mostly staffed by people wearing nametags that say “Librarian.” These people can answer your questions about spider extermination, how to rent property to the United States Postal Service, and the number of tropical island nations in which you could theoretically establish the first United States Embassy. We would love to answer these questions for you. It would be a nice change from the printer.

We probably own a 3D printer by now. 3D printers, are cool, right? Please, please come use our 3D printer, it’s so lonely.

We spent a lot of money to hire this woodworker to come and teach a class at the library which you can attend for free. You will probably be the only person between the ages of ten and fifty in attendance, but your presence will fill the librarian with an unnameable joy. They will float back to their manager in a daze. “A young person came to my program,” they will say. You will have made their entire job worthwhile.

Every time you ask us for a book, movie, or music recommendation, a baby librarian gets their first cardigan.

Somewhere in the library, there is a form. If you fill out this form with your name and library card number and the details of the thing you are looking for, we will find you the thing. Sometimes the answer is “the thing is in Great Britain and they will not send it to us,” but more often the thing will just appear on hold for you, and one day you will pick up a copy of that out-of-print book you never thought you would read and maybe you will say, “Wow, the library is amazing,” and the librarian’s heart will glow. 

Please bring back book #2. The rest of its series misses it very much.

Five dollars is not a large library fine. Believe me, before I started working in libraries, I too wondered how someone could sleep at night, knowing they owed money to the library. When we laugh as you sheepishly apologize for your $2.50 in overdue fees, we are not mocking you, we are thinking of the ten people we sent to debt collection already today.

We really don’t care why you’re checking out Fifty Shades of Grey. Maybe you have a specifically-themed ironic bachelorette party to plan. Maybe you’re working on a thesis paper about mainstream media’s depiction of female sexuality. Maybe you just got curious. We will give you the benefit of the doubt. 

Whatever you’re smoking in the family restroom, please stop.

Somewhere on the library’s website, buried under “Links” or “Research” or “On-line Resources,” is a page that a librarian spent a month’s worth of work on. It contains many links to websites you thought everyone knew about, and one to a page that you could never have imagined existed that perfectly solves a problem you never expected to be resolved. 

Imagine the kind of person who would think to themselves, “Library school sounds like a thing I should do.” For the most part, you are imagining the kind of person who is now a librarian. We want very much to help you, but we’re not entirely sure how to do that unless you ask. You are not bothering us. Please, come and say hi.

The signs libraries
  • Aries:A Beautiful small room made entirely of wood and built in bookcases
  • Taurus:a long hallway down to a narrow line of neat books and a single leather chair
  • Gemini:a giant building with many levels and wide windows beautifully organized
  • Cancer:a secret door that leads to tiny space jam packed with books
  • Leo:one big room with fluffy plush carpet and dark wood bookshelves with velvet chairs scattered about the area
  • Virgo:a glass alcove tucked away in a forest under many trees, with books scattered about inside.
  • Libra:a small room with flowers painted on the walls and shelves shoved in corners, pillows on the floor and a soft glow from the light above
  • Scorpio:an eerie hall that leads to a room made with dark wood and dim lighting, somehow cozy with comfortable chairs and an assortment of books
  • Sagittarius:a vibrant library with many colors, and ceilings with wild vines growing down
  • Capricorn:a tall glass building with smooth elevators and clean halls, organized shelves and beautiful art on the walls
  • Aquarius:a wild room with a hill up to the top where there's a huge window, a giant chair and a two bookshelves on each side of the chair
  • Pisces:an all white library, the shelves the walls the floors and the chairs, the only vibrancy comes from the books and the light from the windows, somehow calming
I love a library. The idea of reading books for free didn’t kill the publishing business, on the contrary, it created nations of literate and passionate readers. Shared interests and the impulse to create.

David Byrne turns his own books into a lending library

Complement with this photographic love letter to libraries and the marvelous poem “If Librarians Were Honest.”

(HT Open Culture)


I got carried away with the photography on this one, especially considering that (yet again) most of these are more diagram than map, but hey! They’re really neat.

Kircher’s work is elaborately and beautifully illustrated, and well worth a more thorough look. You can see find more info and images here and here.

BookKircher, Athanasius. Athanasii Kircheri … Mundus subterraneus, in XII libros digestus; quo divinum subterrestris mundi opificium, mira ergasteriorum naturæ in eo distributio, verbo pantámorphou Protei regnum, universæ denique naturæ majestas & divitiæ summa rerum varietate exponuntur. Abditorum effectuum causæ acri indagine inquisitæ demonstrantur; cognitæ per artis & naturæ conjugium ad humanæ vitæ necessarium usum vario experimentorum apparatu, necnon novo modo, & ratione applicantur. Amstelodami, apud J. Janssonium & E. Weyerstraten, 1665.