late to the book meme bandwagon

I’m late to this meme but I always think it’s important to not only stress our librarian skills with computers, and our facility with people, but also the fact that many of us read, a lot, an awful lot. So with that in mind:

Total number of books I’ve owned: My books are spread out over three houses and two states. While I try to get rid of books I’m done reading, I don’t always do this. I also have some encyclopedia/dictionary sets [is the OED 20 volume set one book, or 20? do bound periodicals count?] that I feel like I need for reference purposes. My ballpark estimate is somewhere between 500 and a thousand, but I haven’t visited a lot of them lately.

Last book I bought: We went to the five college book sale in Hanover and I came home with a bagful of books for about $8. One of them was called How to Shit in the Woods. One was a nature guide to trees. One was Moving Mars. One was a John Grisham somethingorother. I find that with good libraries and a strong network of book-loaning friends and family, I almost never have to buy books. I can’t remember the last full price book I bought, I think it’s been years.

Last book I read: As if this writing it’s The Secret Life of Bees. By the end of the day it will probably be American Gods. This page is the final arbiter.

Last book I finished: I’m not sure why this is different than the above question, there are very very few books that I read but do not finish. The last book I didn’t finish was a book about the Slow Food movement, I think it may have lost something in translation.

Five books that mean a lot to me: this is a static respresentation of a shifting list
The Gold Bug Variations by Richard Powers [librarian love story written for smart people]
Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder [Tom West is my dad]
Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin [my intro to magical realism]
Uncle Shelby’s ABZ Book by Shel Silverstein [an early book I enjoyed when I may have been too young to fully appreciate it, with some delightful subversive humor]
Still Life with Woodpecker by Tom Robbins [whimsical and poetic, gave me the strength to go on and get out of high school and the wretched suburbs and live the way I wanted to live. I use some parts of this book in my technology instruction to this day]

Five people I’d like to see do this as well: Greg, Dawn, Kate, Peter and Maryellen, Cathy

food for thinking about libraries

This weekend has seen lots of good thoughtful pieces on libraries, their purpose and their use. I’ve been reading them all [and making my edible book] so I haven’t been writing here. Here is a short list, in one post, of things I think you should go back and read:

  • read about ALA giving a citation to Laura Bush thanking her for being a “tireless supporter” of libraries, read some ALA Council emails [here’s mine] on the subject, then finish up with Mike McGrorty’s piece.
  • Read Chuck’s post and follow-up about technophilia and the changing role of libraries. Pay attention to the comments, and also see how this is rippling through the blogosphere, in places like Meredith’s blog and Librarians Happen. There are a lot of good thoughtful statements and comments circling around this issue.
  • Read more Michael McGrorty as a bit of a palate cleanser to get back to books for a bit before you re-enter the rest of the busy world of blogs, computers and everything else.

    I must confess that the reason I went to library school was more in the way of understanding the system and its operators than anything else. I thought they must possess some secret, something essential that I might discover and come away with. In the end, I found that it was nothing more than a set of skills set atop the same understanding of the library that I kept; half of me was a librarian all along. Sometimes I have seen it as love, other times as an obsession, but whatever it may be, the devotion to books and reading has saved me from worse fates, and the library, that temple of the book, has been my church, my rock and comfort since I was old enough to walk the stacks.

It’s weekends like this, at the end of National Library Week, that make me happiest to be working in and among libraries.

the decline in reading, another take

The Christian Science Monitor takes on the media conclusions to the NEA “reading in crisis” report, finding some other folks to place the blame on.

Publishers and writers can blame TV, the Internet, and the media all they want, but the problem lies squarely with them. They need to activate their marketing and literary imagination in order to promote their books, as well as the act of reading, in new ways. They, more than anyone, need to be organized keepers of the reading flame.