Old Chicago Revisited

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As ALA Annual returns to Chicago this month, it will be my second time there for a library conference.  I enjoyed seeing the city when Annual was held there 4 years ago. I hadn’t been to Chicago since I was a high school freshman.  My parents and I lived south of the city for a year, and we frequently visited.  As I did 4 years ago, I plan to do some historical sight seeing.  Below are a few local history books I have read and enjoyed about Chicago.

Chicago: A Biography by Dominic Pacyga

Chicago Fire Map - 1871

Chicago Fire Map – 1871

From a seasonal hunting ground of Native American Indians to a frontier trading post to a major metropolitan city, the history of Chicago is told as a biography.  I learned a lot about the city reading this book. The 1871 fire is only one event of many in Chicago’s history. Pacyga is a native of the city.  Maps and black and white illustrations included.

Then & Now: Chicago’s Loop by Janice A. Knox & Heather O. Belcher

Originally published in 2002, the famed Loop is shown in past and present photographs. The name dates to 1882 when an old cable car route ran through what was then the business district.  Some places have changed since the photos were snapped while others still remain intact today.

Marshall Field’s by Gayle Soucek: THE department store that helped define Chicago.

The store was founded by Marshall Field, a transplant from Massachusetts. At the time of Field’s arrival in 1856, Chicago was a bustling city. However there weren’t many stores to shop. Field changed that. Harry G. Selfridge, founder of Selfridges in London, got his start here. (His life story is the subject of “Mr. Selfridge” on PBS’s “Masterpiece Classic”) My parents and I visited the famed store a few times.

As an aside, I was shocked to see the same building renamed as Macy’s in 2009.  It was bad enough seeing Hecht’s, a longtime D.C. department store chain, renamed as Macy’s!*

State Street by Robert P. Ledermann

If you went to shop in Chicago, this street is where you did it.  Take a look back of what it was like to be on State Street and what’s ahead for the famed street. It includes a chapter about other well known stores and lots of wonderful photos.

Lithuanian Chicago by Justin G. Riskus

Lithuanians were among the immigrants of various nationalities who settled in Chicago during its history. Released in January by Arcadia Publishing, this book is a photographical history of the Lithuanian-American community.  If you have a Lithuanian relative or two who settled in Chicago in your family tree, this book should be of interest.

Encyclopedia of Chicago: an online resource about Chicago with maps and other special features

In Old Chicago

In Old Chicago

Finally, if you have a chance to see it, the Oscar winning 1937 movie “In Old Chicago” is a fictional dramatization about the O’Leary family and the 1871 fire. It is in black and white; it is currently available on DVD.

Whether you’ve been to Chicago previously or going for the first time, enjoy visiting the city and see you at McCormick Place!

* Two of Hecht’s sister stores were Filene’s and Kaufmann’s, based in Boston and Pittsburgh respectively.

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Best of Publib – January 2013 in Review

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Best of PubLib – January 2013 in Review

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Best of Publib January 2013

Best of Publib Word Cloud
January 2013

This edition of Best of Publib covers the month of January 2013.  Hot topics for the month of January included:

  • Cataloging Local Textbooks ~
    • Debra Bashaw of the McMullen Memorial Library in Huntington, TX asked:
    • How do you catalog cookbooks from local organizations?
  • Lending E-reader devices ~
    • Lucien Kress of the Multnomah County Library asked regarding the DOJ settlements over e-reader accessibility queried:
    • Are you loaning only accessible e-readers, which readers do you loan and other pertinent questions.
  • List Problems ~
    • Amy Mullin of the Austin Public Library wanted to know:
    • Are there technical problems with the list?
  • Playaways ~
    • John Richmond of the Alpha Park Public Libray District in Bartonville, IL pondered and ruminated:
    • “I’m wondering if anyone Out There has changed policies re: what they/you provide with Playaways. And if you took something away, did people holler? (Which, of course, they shouldn’t do, because they’re in a *library*.)”
  • Surveys for the Public ~
    • Elizabeth Thorson of the Laramie County Library System in Cheyenne, WY asked:
    • “Has anyone surveyed the public when facing budget cuts?”
  • Requests by Parents for in loco parentis services ~
    • Beth Hudson of the Walla Walla Public Library in Walla Walla, Washington wondered :
    • Does anyone have a written statement which they provide when a parents asks that you not check out certain items to their child?”.
  • Worst Marketing Idea(s) Ever ~
    • Dierdre Conkling of the Lincoln County Library District reported on ALA OIF’s plan for a sweater vest day to support intellectual freedom:
    • “I think this sounds like fun but I don’t own a sweater vest. Just shows once again that I am not cool. ;-)”

On January 10th The ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom announced their ‘Wear a sweater vest on Sunday, Jan. 27, in support of intellectual freedom!‘ campaign.  If librarians attending Mid-Winter ALA would wear a sweater vest on that day, it would demonstrate their commitment and support of intellectual freedom.

In jaw-dropping, dumbfounded awe I asked:

I am trying to imagine how Judith Krug would have reacted to perhaps the worst marketing idea I have ever seen and the dynamics of a meeting where this idea was proposed and validated. Did no one dare to speak truth to power?

What does a ‘sweater vest’ represent? How the heck does a sweater vest  correlate to *any* form of ‘intellectual freedom’? Perhaps what is most appalling is the obvious lack of intellectual effort it takes to say you *support* intellectual freedom by wearing a sweater vest.

Maybe this will take off along the same lines as ‘Geek the Library’, which seriously detracts from the library mission. Bad ideas, once they are validated, tend to gain their own momentum.

The Emperor's New Clothes

Emperor’s New Clothes

This touched off two discussions on the list – one about the efficacy of sweater vests as statements of intellectual freedom and the other about the importance or impotence of the Geek the Library campaign administered by OCLC.  And, there were the anticipated reactions from some readers who were simply aghast that I would question poorly made decisions by established bureaucracies. :)

Emily Weak who had been promoting a librarian employment site/ blog on Publib asked:

Somewhat off your topic, but I am curious as to how “Geek the Library” detracts  from the library’s mission? Isn’t it about the diversity of resources one can find at the library (i.e. whatever you have a crazy passion for, you can find  materials about it at the library)? Is it that you feel geek has negative connotations?

The Side Show Honoré Daumier

The Side Show
Honoré Daumier

The Geek the Library campaign has evolved into its own bureaucracy supported by grants by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and administered by OCLC.  I have found no empirical evidence that Geek the Library is more effective than any other course of advertising or promotion. In fact, there may be many, much more effective methods.  Anna Cangialosi with the Chelsea District Library did provide a link to an anecdotal case study on Publib.  However, there appears to be no clear data regarding effectiveness. The press release branded by OCLC seems to be yet another self-serving validation for people who self-identify as being a ‘geek’.

Professional librarians have spent years trying to separate themselves from the stereotype of anti-social professional clerks.  The movement to create a new stereotype by branding librarians as Geeks may result in many more years of trying to live down that stereotype.  Why not continue what we were working towards => a stereotype representing professionalism along with informational and intellectual excellence?

Saving Our Public Libraries

Saving Our Public Lbraries

Rather than blindly accepting that a terrible marketing campaign is in your interest and the interest of your library – why not read a book about how you can promote your library? Why not do a critical assessment of what works and what doesn’t? Why not re-engage in library science as a fundamental set of skills?

Janet Jai has written an excellent book that investigates success stories, expert advice and innovative ideas that support library marketing. If you haven’t ordered it yet,  you should order it for your library today: Saving Our Public Libraries  Why We Should. How We Can.

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France: Travelogue, History, & Music (Part 2)

France: Travelogue, History, &  Music (Part Deux)

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Before my second trip back to France, I did some reading before I went. For my listening pleasure, I have a small collection of French music at home.

Below are a few books and music CDs I’ve enjoyed about France.

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Books

  • History of France by Lucien Bély, English edition trans. by Angela Caldwell. Concise history of France until recent times by a French history professor at the Sorbonne. I bought the English translation in France 8 years ago.
  • The Road from the Past by Ina Caro.  Written in 1996, Caro writes about a travelogue about French history.  Her journey (with her husband, noted biography Robert Caro) begins in southern France and progresses through the ages.  She also offers some of her local experiences in the places she visits.
  • Paris to the Past by Ina Caro.  Companion to her previous book, Caro continues her time travels through day trips with Paris as a starting point.
  • The Greater Journey by David McCullough.  Best seller about Americans who went to Paris in the 19th century and how it influenced their career and later lives. It provides a fascinating history of Paris as well.
  • Discovery of France by Graham Robb.  In the 19th century, France was an unknown country to its own citizens. What guidebooks available for foreigners didn’t provide helpful information. French wasn’t widely spoken outside of Paris; locals spoke local dialects and regional languages.  Robb explores how the country came to be mapped out; he took a cycling trip as part of researching this book.

Music

  • Rough Guide to the Music of France–Musical tour of France with tracks in regional languages. The country has a rich heritage.  To hear the sounds of Paris, Rough Guide offers 3 CDs on the city–scroll down a little to “Related Albums” on the right side of the page.
  • A Night in France–Part of the “A Night in” series, this CD features contemporary music.
  • Putumayo Presents: Québec–If you go to St-Malo, you’ll see the Québec flags flying there on the ramparts.  What’s the connection?  Explorer Jacques Cartier is the town’s native son.  Although the CD is no longer available on the Putumayo site, you may be able to find it in stores.

~ Elisa Babel ~ DC Public Library

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Les cartes postale francaise: French Postcards

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Last month I joined a small tour group for Discover France, part of the Explorer series through TopDeck, a British travel company specializing in travel tours for ages 18-39.  Of the 12 of us on the tour, eleven hailed from Australia; I was the only American. Because we visited so many places, I’ll write about my favorite spots during the trip.

The first 2 1/2 days were in Paris.  It was wonderful to be back where I’d been a summer study aboard undergrad student 8 years ago. (More on that later) Our hotel was near the La Fourche Métro stop. On the first full day, I started off the day by attending 10:30 am Sunday Mass at St-Michel, a short walk from our hotel.  After Mass, I returned to the hotel, grabbed my camera, and set out. In the Métro station, I bought a 2 day unlimited pass, good for riding all the public transport in Paris. It was a great investment! I visited a few places I’d missed as well as a few new ones.  At the ticket office at Invalides, I bought a 2 day Paris museum pass good for visiting a number of participating museums.

On the road

Bayeux Tapestry

Bayeux: I had seen the famed tapestry depicting the 1066 Conquest but hadn’t seen the town on my previous visit 8 years earlier.  The old town is small and can be quiet during off season. Because the Germans occupied the town during WWII, it was spared destruction when Allied Forces arrived in June 1944.  The cathedral is magnificent to visit. You can see double portraits of William the Conquerer and Queen Matilda on the main doors.

King François I

Château de Chambord: This magnificent château was built for King François I, now a national museum. I really loved touring this place–the rooms featured portraits of the members of the French royal family, art, furniture, and other decorative objects.  There is a small church adjacent to the château; it’s worth visiting too.

Hennessey in Cognac: Here we took a tour of the production warehouses and had tastings of cognac.  I didn’t know how much time and vintages are used to produce cognac.  The older vintages (some dating back to the 18th century) are locked in a separate storage room.  You can buy cognac in the factory store.

Bordeaux & St-Emilion: It was fun discovering the history in both of these towns as well as sampling the famed wine.  We visited a winery in St-Emilion and spent time exploring the town.  The monolithic church can be visited by guided tour only which can be reserved at the visitor’s center.  Also in town, there’s one building dating back to Roman times!  There are steep cobbled streets so I had to be careful walking on it. Back in Bordeaux, I visited the cathedral and the Aquintaine History Museum which is housed in an old university building.  The permanent exhibit is free and provides a fascinating history of the region.

Carcassonne: Home to a well-preserved medieval fortfied castle and battlements. We stayed at the historic Hotel Terminus overnight in the ‘new’ part of the city.

Avignon: Former home of the papacy during the 14th century. The papal palace and its environs are fascinating to explore.

Annecy: This was the last stop on our tour.  Either from the historic château overseeing the city or by the lake, the views of the French Alps are fantastic. We ended the our last night together here as a group with dinner followed by drinking at a local pub.

Back in Paris after the tour ended, I stayed at the Hotel Minerve on Rue des Ecoles, not far from the famed Université de Paris IV–Sorbonne or simply known as La Sorbonne, in the Latin Quarter.  I passed the evening in the Latin Quarter, walking around and had dinner at a café. A wonderful ending to the trip!

Eiffel Tower

Earlier I mentioned this was my 2nd time in Paris. In July 2004, I was a summer study aboard student through the American Institute of Foreign Study (AIFS); French language classes for foreign students were offered at the Sorbonne. When I completed the summer program, I had enough credits to declare a French language minor.  My time at the Sorbonne was worthwhile.  Although I’m still not fluent in French, I’ve had the opportunities to practice my speaking with Francophone patrons who’ve come to the library. (Note: Entry to the Sorbonne and its other academic buildings is restricted to those with valid university id or by prior arrangements; this is enforced by their security officers)

During my free time, I explored Paris, and visited a number of popular sites. I also went on a day excursion to Chartres and a weekend excursion to St-Malo, a port city in Brittany, and its surrounding environs. Going to Paris remains one of the best things I’ve done as an undergrad.

Part 2: France in travel books and music

 

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halloPublib Topics – A Graphic Retrospective – October 2011

Beware Graphic Content Ahead!

 
This graphic image  or word cloud was created using Wordle. It is derived from the subjects and authors of postings in PubLib for October 2011. The size of the graphics is directly related to the number of un-weighted unique occurrences each month of the individual words represented. Most automated graphic processes that generate these types of word clouds use additional weight for H1 – H6 tags through feeds. These graphics are not processed with H1 – H6 tags. The titles and authors were copied to Notepad and stripped of all HTML before being run through the Wordle Java platform. The process is case-sensitive so Library is not the same thing as library.
 
The most prominent word without employing filters would have been Publib.  Publib and Fwd were deleted from the plaintext files before processing. In addition, the Wordle program automatically disregards articles, conjunctions, and prepositions.
 
Some of the more viral discussions included: Public Library Halloween Celebrations,   Ethical Question  regarding employee time at conferences,  Self-Published Titles Study Room Polices , Maximum Fines ,  and Unwelcome Patrons in Children’s Area .
Publib Topics October 2011

Publib Topics October 2011

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Ladies Night Out at Your Library

Ladies’ Night Out @ Your Library

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Leslie Schow at the Herriman Library in Utah queried  Publib members for ideas about hosting a Ladies Lock-in at the Library.  Kool & the Gang have addressed this issue in some detail  : 
 
But, the contributors to Publib also had some great suggestions and insight about what leads to the happiness of Locked-up Ladies :
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Just off the top of my head…  How about a local Romance author visit? People from local salons/department store makeup staffs doing makeovers? Cooking demos?  Ooh…ooh…yoga and stress relief exercise consultant doing a class?  What a fun idea! ~ Mimi Morris – Dayton Metro

As an idea on that stress management suggestion….I did that.  And for free.  A local business, a wellness center located in town, came in and offered to do this for free for the staff, or for the public.  They also have a nutritionist on staff who is going to do a seminar for free for us.

I’ve been planning on approaching some craft stores and seeing if they’d do a craft.  And I have put out a press release asking for volunteers who would like to share their interests.  I was hoping to start a knitting club, a chess club….I don’t know, something along those lines.  I do have one volunteer who makes the most interesting photo books online from her digital photos. She’s going to bring them in and show us how she does it. ~ Lisa Cohn  – Bloomfield Public Library

What about a jewelry exchange? Sounds fun! ~ Valerie Meyerson – Charlevoix Public Library

Photo courtesy of the US Army

Ladies Night Fight Club

How about a self defense demo or safety tips, demos etc? Something to  in-power the ladies. ~ Donna Cain

Hey, can’t they have a game night too. ~ Diedre Conkling – Lincoln County Library District

You could get someone in to do a water-color project or a pottery painting class.  ~ Melodie Franklin – Lafayette Public Library

How about reading to the ladies?  Love poetry so they will have something to take home to hubby who has been babysitting! ~ Anne Felix

Fix it!

They’ve had yoga, crafts, how to use tools (done by a staff member who is A Woman Who Uses Tools, and very knowledgeably), a presentation by someone from either B&N or Borders on what’s new and hot among popular books, Irish dancing, and things that I certainly can’t remember. There always are giveaways/door prizes, and also some really nice gift packages solicited from area merchants.  There’s always food; I’m thinking maybe one of the planners who is interested in healthful eating found someone to do a program on organic foods, or something like that. 

The event is always after closing on Fridays, and lasts for two-and-a-half hours.  Because of space and all-around manageability, the top number of attendees, as I recall, is 35-40.  The last couple of years people have been asked to make a $5 donation toward costs, and no one has complained.  People have invited friends from othertowns/suburbs around Peoria.  It’s always popular.  “Lots of laughter” goes on, according to one of the staff members, in those very words.

…  it’s always nice to hear someone who lives in another library’s territory say, “This is wonderful; they won’t DO one of these at MY library, because it isn’t really about libraries/literacy/books/reading/fill-in-the-blank.” Gives us an opportunity to feel smug and terribly superior…though with humble and modest mien(s), of course. ~ John Richmond – Alpha Park Library District

Oh, what a night . . .

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Publib Discussion: Unnecessary censorship or necessary evil?

 What would Mark Twain do?

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Publib contributors weighed in on questions regarding the sanitation of language in a new edition of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn for the purpose of classroom instruction. Would Mark Twain approve? Should period works be sanitized for classroom instruction?  The general consensus appears to have been a resounding NO.

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

♦  Appalled – Judy Jerome

♦  Awful, just awful. – Sally Tornow

♦  doubt that Mr. Clemens would have approved – Sharon Foster

♦  disgraceful – Mary Soucie

♦  Political correctness run so far amuck that it is changing history and literature – Fred Beisser

♦  outraged – Lisa Guidarini

♦  What good does that do? – Kathi Kemp

♦  outrageous and self-aggrandizing endeavor – Robin Orlandi

♦  bowdlerizing is misguided – should be considered/cataloged as a derivative work – John Beekman

♦  order some new copies of the Twain books with the original language so that we ensure that we have them around as needed in years to come… – Sharon Highler

♦  Hi Tech Bowdlerization, still pathetic. – Jeff Imparato

♦  UNBELIEVABLE – GiGi Bayne

♦  horrendous – Tom Cooper

♦  Is there similar outrage about versions of pop music that have selected words altered? – Brad Thomas

♦  The idea that the “new version” is specifically intended for the educational market i(s) disheartening.  – Paula Laurita

♦  Mr. Twain is no longer around to grant his permission. – Aleta Copeland

♦  If you think this edition is a bad idea, then fight for the original. – Jacob Browne

♦  Twain’s language reflects his times, not ours – Kathleen Stipek

There are certainly many different perspectives on race.  But, there really is only one race. We *all* began in Africa.  Folklore / religion / and ignorance of history create the illusion that we are different other than in extremely superficial characteristics.  Those superficial characteristics are simply tiny changes in the genetic markers that have occurred over many thousands of years.

National Geographic produced an excellent film – The Human Family Tree – that traces us back to scientific Adam and scientific Eve.  Worth collecting for any public or academic library:

http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/human-family-tree-3706-interactive

The Genographic Project will let you trace your own history, our own history – way, way, way beyond Ancestry.com .

The Elbert County Library in Colorado sponsored a presentation on Genealogy DNA Testing: 

http://denver.yourhub.com/Franktown/Stories/News/General-News/Story%7E921172.aspx  

Think about what a program like that could do for your community.

What would Mark Twain do?

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