Category Archives: Roundup

Summer Reading Remix


In anticipation of abundant outdoor leisure time, we tend to be overly ambitious in our summer reading goals. Realistically, most of us will be lucky to finish one book, let alone two or three. How do you go about choosing the perfect beach companion? To help, I’ve made the ultimate summer reading list, culled from magazines and websites.

Personally, I hope to finish “Can’t and Won’t,” the latest short story collection by Lydia Davis, before Independence Day. Davis manages to be profound and succinct; some of her short stories are just a few sentences. You can devour them between sips of iced green tea. What I’ll pick up next is anyone’s guess, but I’m taking inspiration from these awesome lists. Here’s to a summer of blissful reading!

The L.A. Times’ summer books preview is descriptive and comprehensive, I may just pick up the new Ja Rule autobiography.

Books to Read Before They’re Movies, because the book is usually better.

For the young or young at heart: NPR’s A Diverse #SummerReading List For Kids.

If all you really want is for your book to match your summer uniform, these iconic covers make the perfect accessory. Or, reference Vogue’s list of the trendiest soon-to-be bestsellers.

The Best New Books For Your Career. These career-oriented books are the perfect way to plan your next big move while relaxing on the beach.

You can get cracking on what might be the best books of the year, following The Millions: Most Anticipated Books of 2014.

Finally, summer reading for the cool girls. Hint: Includes the new 33 1/3rd, Liz Phair edition.

Artwork by Natalie. Thanks Jessamy and Linda for your additions.

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Tiny Books, Big Hearts

Tiny Book Roundup

In 2013, Sotheby’s sold a manuscript no larger than a sugar packet to La Musée des Lettres et Manuscrits in Paris for over a million dollars. The author? British novelist Charlotte Brontë. This tiny volume by Brontë is one of a set of six handwritten “Young Men’s Magazines,” considered to be a rare insight into the author’s early development. To collectors, miniature books are simply irresistible. Fitting in the palm of your hand, the pages and binding intricately designed with details not easily seen without a magnifying glass, miniature books are magnets for media attention, frequently appearing on blogs and on Pinterest. Some were commissioned for dollhouses, others made to be easily transported or concealed. Some volumes have come from great icons of literature. Here are a few special publications, none of which measure over 3 inches in height.

1. The 1.5 by 2.5 inch manuscript handwritten by a young Charlotte Brontë that sold for over a million dollars at auction last year and is less than 20 pages long.

2. Todd Pattinson created this small collection as an art project in 2009. Making the library, Pattinson was able to bind the same number of books in one night that would otherwise take a year or more.

3. A passion for meticulously detailed dollhouses led Neale Albert to assemble a collection of 4,000 miniature books.

4. Tiny books are for the sportsman too. “A Book of Small Flies” preserves fishing flies under glass. It’s featured in this slideshow of the most beautiful miniature books.

5. Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Edith Wharton and other celebrated authors of the time were commissioned in 1922 to create tiny books for a dollhouse belonging to Queen Mary, wife of King George V.

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Reissues that won’t be regifted

media gifts

Library Manifesto’s down-to-the-wire shopping suggestions for film and music.

1. Your special someone who thinks he’s heard it all: “A Band Called Death” DVD

Three teenagers formed the band Death in early-1970s Detroit. Directors Mark Covino and Jeff Howlett argue that they are the world’s first punk band.

2. Drinking buddy who doesn’t think it gets any better than The Beatles:  The Beatles “On Air Live at the BBC Volume 2”

The Beatles recorded hundreds of hours of footage at the BBC. “On Air” compiles performances from what some say was the band’s peak live show.

3. Documentary filmmaker intern you hired to follow you around: “Grey Gardens” on Blu-ray

Criterion Collection digitally restored Grey Gardens, a classic of cinema verite. The touch up gives the Maysles’ film a fresher look but all the quirks of Big Edie and Little Edie stay in tact.

4. Jazzy sister with the best vintage dresses: “Chick Webb & Ella Fitzgerald Decca Sessions (1934-41)”

Mosaic Records compiles the collaborative work of Chick Webb, an innovative drummer nicknamed “The King of Swing,” and the beloved Ella Fitzgerald. The collection sheds some light on the history of jazz.

5. Self gift – cause no one else would get it for you: Scott Walker “Scott: The Collection 1967-1970”

Scott Walker has always been an enigmatic person (he was most often photographed wearing dark sunglasses). This collection will help me get to know him better.

6. Neighbor who loves Turner Classic Movies: “James Dean: Ultimate Collector’s Edition” Blu-ray

Three films that made the icon. East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause and Giant. Dean outshines today’s leading men.

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Gifts for the Literary Home

Decor Gifts

Library Manifesto suggests these home library gifts for the people in your life.

1. Old roomie devoted to snail mail: Card Catalog: 30 Notecards from the Library of Congress

Chronicle Books and the Library of Congress teamed up to make this box set, 30 note cards that reproduce  the card catalog entries for classic novels in housing that nods to the wooden catalog stations.

2. Brother who doesn’t shy away from color and still keeps books from middle school: Reading Fox Bookends

His dog-eared classics will look newly handsome stored between these foxy bookends.

3.  Crafty mom with a penchant for pretty penmanship: Walden Quilt

A great way to read in bed? A passage from Thoreau’s beloved work is sewn into this quilt created by Comma Workshop.

4. Collector grandmother with a metal detector: Antique Brass Curio Case

This case will keep the dust off of unearthed treasures and ephemera.

5. Hammock-lounging friend with a philanthropic heart: Luci task light

This solar-powered, inflatable lantern seems perfect for nighttime reading on the roof or in the backyard. Bonus: You have the option to buy more lanterns at a discounted rate to give to communities that need nontoxic, off-the-grid light.

6. New lunch buddy with an impressive ability to retell all the stories she’s read: Ideal Bookshelf Gift Certificate

A custom-made painting of all her favorite books will leave her speechless.

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The Gift of Lit

Gift of Lit Library Manifesto

Library Manifesto’s book suggestions for the diverse people in your life.

1. Pen pal with a film fetish: “A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel-True 1907-1940” by Victoria Wilson

Maybe not as well know as some golden-age stars like Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, or Ginger Rogers, Barbara Stanwyck appeared in some of the greatest movies of the time and always showcased her beauty and brains. New Yorkers can see her films on the big screen this December at Film Forum.

2. Lanky nephew with a future in special collections: “The Mighty Lalouche” by Matthew Olshan (Author) and Sophie Blackall (Illustrator)

This French postman-turned-boxer children’s story wins with charming illustrations. Archival research gives the story some historical backbone.

3. Uncle who doesn’t know the difference between Marvel and D.C.: “Super Graphic A Visual Guide to the Comic Book Universe” By Tim Leong

Comic con veteran and clueless novices will get a laugh from the way Leong has organized the worlds of superheros and villains into info-graphics.

4. Boyfriend’s equal parts bookish and artistic dad: “Journey to the Abyss” by Harry Kessler (Author) and Laird Easton (Editor)

German aristocrat and diplomat Count Harry Kessler (1868-1937) was friendly with some of the larger than life philosophers and artists of his time: Bonnard, Stravinsky, Rodin, Renoir, Gide, Monet, Mahler, Matissee, Verlaine, George Bernard Shaw, Munch, Nietzsche, HG Wells and many others. His correspondence is a snapshot inside an important period.

5. Photography loving boyfriend in journalism school: “Watabe Yukichi, A Criminal Investigation” by Yukichi Watabe (Photographer) and Titus Boeder (Author)

This book from 2011 looks like a scrapbook from the 1950s. Watabe’s photojournalism documents a murder investigation in Japan. Minimal textual information is given, recreating the mystery in black-and-white noir scenes.

6. Best friend who sees beauty in the small stuff: “Sylvia Plath: Drawings” by Sylvia Plath (Author) and Frieda Hughes (Author)

There are certain icons in history that the public grapples to understand better. Lives cut off too short that leave questions about the personalities and passions of great artists. Sylvia Plath is one. This book of drawings unveils another layer of her psyche.

7. Co-worker with all the underground tracks: “The Riot Grrrl Collection” by Lisa Darms (Editor), Kathleen Hanna (Preface), Johanna Fateman (Introduction)

The “Riot Grrrl Collection,” is an archive of assorted DIY culture, zines and ephemera from the feminist punk rock movement surrounding Kathleen Hanna, Bikini Kill and Bratmobile. As a bonus: throw in movie tickets to “The Punk Singer” about Hanna’s impact on the music industry and the world.

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Roundup: Going Back To School

composition notebook graphic

Fall is a wonderful time to find yourself back in class picking up new professional skills (or dusting off old ones). Here are some courses and workshops coming up in 2013 that caught my attention and offer a nice professional boost. These classes range in price from free to a bit costly and they’re sure to give anyone who’s been out of the classroom a healthy dose of back to school jitters.

I’ve signed up for “Metadata: Organizing and Discovering Information” a free course from Coursera, one of the organizations driving the MOOC (Massively Open Online Course) phenomenon. The course is taught by Jeffrey Pomerantz of the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina. Before you sign up, know that there is some required background knowledge in coding. If you don’t have experience with HTML, you may want to try Codeacademy. People love Codeacdemy’s hit the ground running style. You’ll start coding the second your browser opens the link.

Library Juice Press offers classes through Library Juice Academy. These workshops earn Continuing Education Units, good news for some certified librarians. The topics are broad and include “Cataloging for Non-Catalogers”, “Considering an Open-Source ILS” and “Introduction to RDA.” They’re all offered at the affordable price of $175.00. Library Juice Academy also offers a Certificate in User Experience (UX). Through the certificate program, you can gain fundamentals of user experience and learn to apply user-centered strategies to library websites. The program covers topics like “Designing a Usable Website” and “Do-It-Yourself Usability Testing.”

There’s been an outpouring of support for women developers, and Girl Develop It (GDI) is one of the the leading organizations. Classes starting in September are offered all over the US. The classes are not solely for ladies. So, boys, you can learn how to build your own website too. And if you already have your own site, you can take more control of its look and feel. Other course topics include “Introduction to JavaScript” and “Mockups to Code” they also organize more casual “Code and Coffee” nights. Classes will set you back around $80.00. Black Girls Code is another female-oriented educator. Check them out too.

And, if you’re looking for something to energize your life goals, there’s  James Victore’s “Take This Job and Love It.” In the creator’s words, the one day event  is about “work, life and bucking the status quo.” Victore wants you to unlock the creative skills you already have. This October, topics will include “The value of being unreasonable” and “Accepting responsibility for your awesomeness.” Full day passes will cost $250.00 and it’s $500.00 for a “Badass” ticket.


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Roundup: Books less borrowed

Secret Libraries in New York City

People often talk about the newest places in New York, the trendiest restaurants and blockbuster art exhibits, but I find my favorite things about the city, and often the most surprising, are the things right under our noses, the ones that have been around the longest. A recent feature about the little-known City Hall library in the New York Times Metropolitan section got me thinking about other libraries camouflaged into the streetscape. Here are three gems quietly leading their existences.


1. City Hall Library
What makes this library so secretive is a lack of signage outside its home in a landmark downtown court building. This advertising restriction hides the over 100 years old library from street traffic. The library is rich in city history, with documents dating back to the first mayor of New York City.

2. American Kennel Club Library
One of the world’s largest libraries devoted to canines, the American Kennel Club, opened in New York in 1934 is a unique resource for tracking the history of breeds. No materials are allowed out, but cat people will be happy to hear they’ve expanded the collection to have some books about our other favorite pets. The fact that the library no longer has a librarian may make the institution even more secret, but the 2,000 years of pooch history is still open by appointment.

3. Theosophical Society Library
Located discretely on the second floor of the Theosophical Society’s 53rd St building, the Theosophical Society Library collection includes books on a mix of topics in divinity, esoteric philosophy and the occult. The society was founded in 1897 by the fiery and controversial Helena Blavatsky, whose magnum opus, The Secret Doctrine, delved into some big ideas about the the universe. Members of the society can borrow books for free, but anyone can join the library for a $20 annual fee.

Images: New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Times.

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Roundup: Crowdfunding Projects to Watch


I spend much too much time watching videos and scrolling through projects on crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. I find it can be inspirational. Here are entrepreneurs, activists, and philanthropic people, really sticking out their necks for the things they are passionate about. I couldn’t possibly afford to back them all, though I wish I could.

Whatever your opinion about crowdfunding sites and some of the pressures of successful projects, you can’t debate their rapid growth. Kickstarter has been a fundraising platform for over 40,000 funded projects which have in total attracted over $215 million from donors. Here are two that are hoping to add to those stats and one book project that already has a lot of buzz.

1. Library For All is a digital library aimed at delivering libraries to developing countries. The library materials reside on web servers and are accessed with affordable tablets and mobile phones. Many of their library books are open source, building on an already ingenious way to bring free e-books to the masses. Their idea makes the portable library global.

2. The United Palace Theatre is an architectural gem in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan. The last film to have a run at the theater was 2001: A Space Odyssey, in 1969. This Indiegogo project is getting a lot of attention and hopes to raise funds to buy a digital projection system. Full disclosure: I live in Washington Heights and I think the success of this project could take the uptown arts scene to another level.

3. Boss Fight Books already had their Kickstarter success, but their idea is too good not to share. They will be publishing books about classic video games. Smartly designed editions will take an in depth look at the cultural impact, innovative design, or subcultures born as a result of its creation. My favorite game growing up was NBA Jam and I would love to read about the cultural impact (if any) that had on burgeoning youth.

4., 5., & 6.

Three more worthy projects that are looking to bring libraries to communities: This Free Library in Tennessee is the size of a bird house, but the community’s excitement can hardly be contained. There are also incredible community library projects in Thailand and Tanzania too.



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