Category Archives: Reading

Inquiring Minds

Nerd Quirk #157

From the marvelous Monica Jean at http://nerdquirks.tumblr.com/

 

 

I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library. ~ Jorge Luis Borges

 

Somewhere in a file folder, tucked away in a storage closet, I have my very first library card. I treasured that little magic piece of paper, the one that would let me have (on a temporary basis) any book I wanted to carry away with me. After I had worked my way through my bookshelves, including the full series of Nancy Drew, and through most of my siblings’ books as well, I discovered the library. Our school library kept me entertained for a while, and the public library in our small town lasted me through high school, especially once the librarians quit frowning at me for working my way through books they considered “not suitable” for my reading.

This week is National Library Week, sponsored by the American Library Association. national Library week logo The theme this year is You Belong @ your Library, and I don’t believe that’s ever been more true than now! Somehow libraries seem to take a hit during rough economic times, as do other things sure, but I get peeved when I hear folks say that funding to libraries should be cut. The libraries of America are treasure troves of so many things: reading, groups, meetings, internet access, public service, and the list could go on for many pages! The amount of things available with a library card is amazing, and it is something that should be celebrated not cut, emphasized not downsized, especially in difficult economic times.

As an archivist, providing access to information is part of my job description. I am fortunate to work within an academic library that prides itself on being a place of information, a place of knowledge and learning, and a staff dedicated to making student success a reality. While we are serious about helping students succeed, we also love to have fun. Since January, our fabulous library staff have been making a series of videos, available on YouTube, about our library, including ones on library luck, library love, and a dance dare! (I told you we rock!) The most current installment is about the Archives where I work.

With thanks to ilovelibraries.org, here are some of my favorite quotes about libraries:

  • “In a library we are surrounded by many hundreds of dear friends imprisoned by an enchanter in paper and leathern boxes.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • “My best friend is a person who will give me a book I have not read.” ~ Abraham Lincoln
  • “Libraries are absolutely at the center of my life. Since I couldn’t afford to go to college, I attended the library three or four days a week from the age of eighteen on, and graduated from the library when I was twenty-eight.” ~ Ray Bradbury
  • “Libraries are the doorway to a thousand worlds.” ~ Kristan Higgins

What’s your favorite library story? How have libraries been a part of your life?

[Note: This post is #9 of 26 of the April A-to-Z Challenge. Please see the button on the right of the page for more information.
Last year’s “I” post: Indulgence.]

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Bookworm

The earliest picture I have of me reading a book

You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend.
~ Paul Sweeney

One of the earliest memories I can recall is reading a book. I don’t remember the book, but I remember watching my finger move letter by letter across the pages, feeling my lips move to form those letters into something my child’s brain could understand. I remember the act of “reading.”

My parents instilled that lifelong habit early. That’s me up there reading, most likely on a Saturday morning, since television came much further down the list of things to do than did books. My father, especially, loved to read, in part because he was a bachelor until he was 50, and reading occupied many hours in the evenings before he met my mother. Our house was filled with shelves and shelves of books, and many of my childhood friends treated our house like the local library. I was always happy to share my books. Even today, I lend books to friends who spy something on my shelves they want to read. When friends are sick, I load up a bag full of reading options along with a casserole or two to help speed their healing, or at least pass the time.

book cover of the Reader's Digest Treasury for Young ReadersMy husband can always tell when a book I’m reading is really good because he has to pull me out of its world and back into ours when he asks me a question. When we merged our libraries the first time, we were startled to discover we shared the love of one book so much that we had each kept our childhood copy all these years. What was it? The Reader’s Digest Treasury for Young Readers He had grown up just as much a bookworm as I had.

Nerd Quirk #157 live with the Beast to get his libraryMy husband and I chat occasionally about what we’d do if we ever won the lottery, as I’m sure many people do, especially when the winnings get as large as they did for last week. We started after we were first married planning what we’d do with our first million; now, fifteen years later, I think we’re up to how we’d spend our 17th or 18th million, if given the chance. In my vision, I’d have a room something like the library in Beauty and the Beastor the one in the painting The Bookworm (1850) by Carl Spitzweg.

Painting called the Bookworm by Carl Spitzweg in 1850

The Bookworm (1850) by Carl Spitzweg

But if I were going to fill such rooms, I’d need more books. I mean, really, I always *want* more books, but then I’d have the perfect excuse ~ there would always be shelves to fill!

In the meantime, though, I’d love to hear your suggestions. What are some of your favorite books?

[Note: This post is #2 of 26 of the April A-to-Z Challenge. Please see the button on the top right of the page for more information. Last year’s B post: Book of Her Heart.]

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Monday Moments: Paul Laurence Dunbar

Dunbar Celebration Schedule

If Death should claim me for her own to-day,
And softly I should falter from your side,
Oh, tell me, loved one, would my memory stay,
And would my image in your heart abide?
~ “Love-Song” by Paul Laurence Dunbar

Over the past several weeks, I’ve spent many hours with Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poetry. The university library where I work is officially named after him, and Dunbar was a significant figure in Dayton’s history. So since last fall, I’ve been working with a committee here on campus to plan out an entire month of events to encourage the study of Dunbar’s life and works, and offering new ways to “Experience: Paul Laurence Dunbar.”

The kick-off was last Tuesday night, and it combined several pieces of the events which are available throughout the month. The complete series is listed on the poster above. Since I realize most of you aren’t anywhere nearby, I thought I’d share some of what we’re doing in a few posts this February. So, like the folks on Tuesday night, here’s a little intro to what all we’ve been up to with Paul Laurence Dunbar.

So, who was Dunbar? Excellent question! Dunbar was a Dayton native who was considered one of the first nationally known African American writers. Despite living only 33 years, Dunbar produced 12 books of poetry as well as a number of novels and books of short stories. The son of former slaves, Dunbar attended school and was a high-school classmate of Orville Wright. Dunbar was best known for his poems in dialect, but he wrote beautiful poems in standard English as well. One of his best known poems, “Sympathy,” from 1899, which includes a line made famous by Maya Angelou, “I know why the caged bird sings.”

Since 1992, the Wright State University Libraries has maintained a Digital Text collection of Dunbar’s published poetry on our website. It consistently gets the largest number of hits out of any other portion of our site, in fact. So one of our contributions to the month-long Dunbar celebration was to completely revise, update, and relaunch the Paul Laurence Dunbar portion of our website. We added images to our photo gallery, wrote a new biography, and now provide information on visiting Dunbar sites in Dayton as well as a whole long list of resources about Dunbar for anyone interested in learning more about him. While our fabulous web designer developed the look and motion of the site, one of my jobs was to create and update content. That included proofreading and editing the code behind all 430+ Dunbar poems, which means I read each of them at least three times. There were some nights I swear I ended up dreaming in dialect! But it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience to be able to surround myself with one person’s poetry so thoroughly and completely.

Anyway, on this February Monday, I hope you’ll take a moment and come check out our Dunbar site! Dunbar’s poetry influenced later writers during the Harlem Renaissance and throughout the 20th century and made an amazing contribution to American poetry and literature.

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Autumn Fires

A wind has blown the rain away and blown the sky away and all the leaves away, and the trees stand. I think, I too, have known autumn too long. ~ e.e. cummings

Another wonderful aspect of fall is sitting around a campfire. I remember childhood nights in autumn, freezing the back half of your body while the front half practically melts from the heat of the fire. S’mores, burnt marshmallows, spicy burning leaves – the smell of fires in the air. The sound of logs crackling as the air cooled off after sunset. The glow of orange and yellow flames against the dark of night.

Telling stories that made you sit a little closer to the flames in anticipation.

Here’s another favorite poem, this time celebrating the joys of autumn fires.

Autumn Fires
Robert Louis Stevenson (from A Child’s Garden of Verses, 1885)

In the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
See the smoke trail!

Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
The gray smoke towers.

Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!

What kinds of things do you do around autumn fires?

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The Road Not Taken

Last week in the archives, we received a very special package from one of our donors. Although he had been sending along items from his family’s collection for several months, this time he included a little something extra — a note written to a poet in the family from Robert Frost. Written in 1916, Frost was complimenting the gentleman on his recent publication – a book of poetry about the Stillwater River area and life in southwestern Ohio. Frost noted specifically two poems from the book as ones he particularly liked.

Can you imagine getting complimented on your poetry by Robert Frost? Astounding! So as I sat holding this treasure, documenting its arrival in the archives, my mind wandered back to some of my favorite works by Frost. And with autumn’s arrival, I have to share one of my favorite fall poems by Frost. And if you are interested, the Poetry Foundation has the audio of Frost reading this poem, which gives it an extra special touch as well.

The Road Not Taken
By Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

What are some of your favorite poems of fall?

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