Publib Topics – A Graphic Retrospective – November 2011

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This graphic image  or word cloud was created using Wordle. It is derived from the subjects and authors of postings in PubLib for November 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.
 
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Publib Topics November 2011

Publib Topics November 2011

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Yugoslav Journey, 1937: Black Lamb & Grey Falcon

Yugoslav Journey, 1937: Black Lamb & Grey Falcon :  Dame Rebecca West

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Rebecca West

Wow, I’ve been on a great journey back in time and through southeastern Europe.  Along the way I had my fill of history, travel, and period commentary.  Through this enormous tome I had a glimpse of the places I visited on a tour group last year as they were in the late 1930s. So where I did “travel” for my reading adventure?  Originally published in 1940, Dame Rebecca West’s Black Lamb & Grey Falcon is considered a masterpiece in travel writing.

Why I read it: It’s a tribute to my trip.

Back Story: During Easter 1937 Dame Rebecca West and her husband Henry Andrews traveled throughout Yugoslavia. (This was one of several trips she made to Yugoslavia in the late 1930s)  In Zagreb, Croatia, they met one of their companions Constantine, a Serb and a poet.  As they traveled, West describes the towns and their history, daily life, and their adventures on the road. When the journey concludes, West finishes off with an epilogue.  A bibliography is included. After the book’s publication, excerpts appeared in “The Atlantic” during 1941.  I also found this 1999 article about Constantine from a Serb-American publication.

Yugoslavia

My thoughts: What a great tome!  I learned a great deal of history about the seven countries and one coastal region West visited during her Yugoslav journey. Since I visited a few of the places West describes in the book, I enjoyed getting a snapshot of how it was in 1937.  I wish a map had been included so the reader could see her travel route and how Yugoslavia’s borders appeared at the time.

Some of the conversations, whether on the road or in a café, provide an invaluable insight into affairs in the Balkans today.  Her description of the places and situations are well written. At times there are humorous moments.  West had her prejudices and favorites as they are revealed in her narrative. While she wrote of her book, “hardly anybody will read by reason of its length” on page 773, that hasn’t been so.  It was worthwhile to read this great book.

Going there today: As I mentioned earlier, I visited Croatia’s famed Dalmatia coast  last August.  Our tour group began in Dubrovnik which is known as the pearl of the Adriatic. (West included Dubrovnik’s old name Ragusa in a chapter title)  During our stay, a few of us took day excursions to Kotor, Montenegro and Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina. Border crossing isn’t too bad although you may have to wait depending on the volume of cars and buses there. Then we went to Hvar for another few days. Split and Trogir were the last two cities on our itinerary.  In each city we visited, I was impressed with its beauty and history. If you’re looking to try a different part of Europe, this is a great place to travel and it’s safe.

For country profiles of southeast Europe today, a special series “Europe District” has been airing on France 24.

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Royal Reprints: Eleanor Hibbert

Royal Reprints: Eleanor Hibbert

 
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Philippa Carr. Victoria Holt.  Jean Plaidy.  Whatever novel you read with any of these names, they are the pseudonyms for the late British novelist Eleanor Hibbert.

Eleanor Hibbert (1906-93) was born in Kensington, outside of London.  She began her writing career by writing short stories for popular publications.  The literary editor at the “Daily Mail” suggested Hibbert to try writing romance instead of serious fiction.  Her first novel Daughter of Anna was published in 1941 and was a success.  Other novels followed with variations of her maiden name. As Hibbert’s writing career progressed, her three famous pseudonyms emerged: Jean Plaidy in 1945, Victoria Holt in 1960, and Philippa Carr in 1972. She also wrote three children’s novels and three history books. There are a few other lesser known pseudonyms as well. Writing occupied much of Hibbert’s time; she didn’t employ a secretary for answering fan mail.  She did take 2-3 month long cruises which provided inspiration for settings in her Victoria Holt novels. When Hibbert died in 1993, she had published over 200 novels.  For a full biography, here’s a reproduced 1993 article about her on this fan website.  Additionally, this fan website is a lovely one to visit.

Sir Thomas More

The first Jean Plaidy title I read was Meg Roper which is the story of St. Thomas More’s daughter. I came across the novel while browsing the fiction section in my high school library.  I knew a little bit about St. Thomas More but not about his family.  The novel gave me an introduction to his favorite daughter and the rest of the More family.  (Note: this novel is one of three books Hibbert wrote for young readers)

I rediscovered Jean Plaidy at the local independent bookstore in town where I attended college.  I never thought I’d see her novels in print and was thrilled to see a few of them on the shelf.  My first purchase was In the Shadow of the Crown, a fictionalized memoir of Mary I, first Queen Regnant of England.  Thus I began my own collection of Jean Plaidy’s reissued novels.

What I enjoy about Hibbert’s Jean Plaidy pseudonym is the beautiful and simple writing style and historical accuracy. From what I’ve seen of her reissued novels, the story may be a personal memoir or in the third person. Some of the novels have a brief historical introduction or an afterward, others don’t. I learn a lot from reading her novels along with the romance and drama. Unfortunately Hibbert’s writing quality declined towards the end of her writing career. Nevertheless I’ve enjoyed reading every novel.

Marie Antoinette

As for Victoria Holt, the only title I’ve read is The Queen’s Confession, a fictionalized personal memoir of Marie-Antoinette.  It’s a well-written story of the French Queen. The majority of Victoria Holt novels are original works however Hibbert wrote a few historical fiction novels with this pseudonym.  Four of her novels have been reissued so far.

I haven’t read anything under the Philippa Carr pseudonym.  Hibbert wrote about a fictional English family through the centuries with this name.  No reissues available so far.

I haven’t seen any new forthcoming Jean Plaidy reissues from the publisher this year.  Here’s a list of titles currently available.  I’ve listed them in historical chronology.  A few categories I made up for simplicity. Please note some titles have changed.  

To see Victoria Holt reissues, they follow immediately after the Jean Plaidy titles with their original publication dates.

Tudor Family and Court

To Hold the Crown (formerly titled Uneasy Lies the Head)

The Thistle and the Rose

Mary, Queen of France

Murder Most Royal

For a Queen’s Love (formerly titled The Spanish Bridegroom)

A Favorite of the Queen (formerly titled Gay Lord Robert)

Henry VIII

Henry VIII - The Ladies' Man

Henry VIII’s Wives

Katherine of Aragon (omnibus edition)

The Lady in the Tower

The Rose without a Thorn

The Sixth Wife

Mary, Queen of Scots

Royal Road to Fotheringhay

The Captive Queen of Scots

 Stuarts

The Murder in the Tower

The Loves of Charles II (omnibus edition)

The Three Crowns

Royal Sisters (formerly titled The Haunted Sisters)

Courting Her Highness (formerly titled The Queen’s Favorites)

Queens of England

The Courts of Love

The Queen’s Secret

The Reluctant Queen

In the Shadow of the Crown

Queen of this Realm

Loyal in Love (formerly titled Myself, My Enemy)

The Merry Monarch’s Wife (formerly titled The Pleasures of Love)

The Queen’s Devotion (formerly titled William’s Wife)

Victoria Victorious

Lucrezia Borgia

Madonna of the Seven Hills

Light on Lucrezia

*Also available in one volume as The Borgias

Victoria Holt

Mistress of Mellyn (1960)

Bride of Pendorric (1963)

On the Night of the Seventh Moon (1972)

Lord of the Far Island (1975)

This concludes a three part installment on my favorite historical novelists. I hope you enjoyed reading and perhaps rediscovered a few old favorites.

 
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Publib Discussions: Public Library Patron Flatulence

 Unconcealed flatulence in Public Libraries

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On Monday Jun 20th the following question on flatulence aka farting and  many, many other expressions  was offered to the PubLib ListServe :

 I have a patron who comes to use our computers fairly regularly to surf the internet.  Another thing he does regularly is to pass gas loudly while using the computer and not thinking anything of it. Does the library have a right to insist that he stop this or does he have a right to perform this “natural” bodily function? He also does not hesitate to belch on occasion. …  He lifts his “cheek” and lets it fly…   Sometimes they just don’t pay me enough.   ~  Sam

Sam did not specify if the repeated offense by the computer surfer was simply noise related or also smell related.  He also did not state a policy on flatulence for staff and trustees. If library staff or trustees frequently expel gas, does it make a noise? 

However, if the issue is merely olfactory inconvenience, Benjamin Franklin in his letter to The Royal Academy of Farting c. 1781 provided some enlightened observations on the occurrence of gas along with a possible solution:

Benjamin Franklin

 It is universally well known, That in digesting our common Food, there is created or produced in the Bowels of human Creatures, a great Quantity of Wind.

That the permitting this Air to escape and mix with the Atmosphere, is usually offensive to the Company, from the fetid Smell that accompanies it.

That all well-bred People therefore, to avoid giving such Offence, forcibly restrain the Efforts of Nature to discharge that Wind.

That so retain’d contrary to Nature, it not only gives frequently great present Pain, but occasions future Diseases, such as habitual Cholics, Ruptures, Tympanies, &c. often destructive of the Constitution, & sometimes of Life itself.

My Prize Question therefore should be, To discover some Drug wholesome & not disagreable, to be mix’d with our common Food, or Sauces, that shall render the natural Discharges of Wind from our Bodies, not only inoffensive, but agreable as Perfumes.

If Ben Franklin had successfully invented a drug that resulted in the patron expelling perfumes, would the expulsion of gas still be considered offending?  If offense is based on  quantity rather than quality of the gas emitted – what means of measurement would be appropriate for setting flatulence limits in a Public Library?

Publib readers offered their own suggestions :

Have you tried the three strikes rule? If you have three patrons in your library who complain about his gaseous behavior, perhaps you can then tell him to stop. Then, if he does not stop, it is your right to remove him from the property if he is being a nuisance to others.  ~ Ford Simmons, MLIS

Perhaps a personalized seat cushion for this person, with an activated charcoal insert??    Just kidding, I guess…. ~ George Hazelton

I just wanted to bring up the possibility that he may have some sort of medical issue (for instance, irritable bowel syndrome) that puts his gassiness out of his control. You may want to consider what you will do if it turns out that he isn’t just being gross and rude, but actually can’t control the need to pass gas. ~ Heather Backman

why dont you just connect him up and use the gas to power the library? ~ Alan Wylie

Are the farts typically the low whistle variety, or more like the puttering of a motor bike? This is just me, of course, but I find that those of a lower register can have a soothing effect, if sustained. And, wouldn’t you know it, they often are sustained. P.S. I find the word “fart” to be off-putting. I prefer “boop.”   ~ Joseph J. Cadieux

Le Petomane performing

Sam, it sounds like you have more to work with here than just his “tooting.” He’s clearly making himself a nuisance, not merely (possibly) having a health issue. He’s driving patrons away from the library with his behavior, which does not make him a benign member of the community. I say start with a short ban with threats of further, longer ones if he doesn’t correct himself.  Brett Rohlwing

We always take the stance that if other patrons complain, the offending patron is creating an unpleasant environment for them and can be asked to stop it. If nobody else complains, you do have a quandary.   Tom Cooper    Editors note: There is historic precedent to pay people such as Le Pétomane to fart.  In absence of complaints – might there even be approval of flatulence as the work of a fartiste ?

Probably qualifies as “offensive behavior” if other patrons complain.  Body odor is “natural,” but we speak up about that in response to complaints.  ~  Darrell Cook

I would even venture to say that you don’t need to wait for a patron complaint. If it’s bothering your staff, that’s good enough.  Manya Shorr

His right to pass gas ends at the end of your nose. If it was a one or two time event, he can be forgiven, but he is intentionally being offensive. Someone with that problem, knows when decorum dictates that he venture into the restroom to relieve himself of the gas.  He is making it difficult for others to use the Library, and thus needs to be asked to leave, and not come back for two days.  If he comes back and repeats his behavior, lengthen the time away. He’ll either get the message, or he won’t have use of his library. Either way, your other patrons (and your staff) win.  Jeff Imparato

Just, of course, proceed with tact. This can be an unfortunate side effect of some surgery ..became a regular thing for my Dad after his gall bladder was removed. Mortified him, so we all sort of pretended it wasn’t happening.It’s a dicey conversation at best, the more so if your patron can’t help himself…  good luck!! Sara Weissman

 A popular culture interpretation of issues surrounding public expulsion of gas is expressed in Fox Television’s animated series The Family Guy:

Public Library Patron Flatulence

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Royal Reprints: Margaret Irwin

Royal Reprints: Margaret Irwin

~ Elisa Babel, MLS

Prince Rupert

Prince Rupert

England 1642.  King Charles I and Parliament clash on the battlefield.  The king’s nephew Prince Rupert of the Rhine, son of his sister Queen Elizabeth of Bohemia, arrives to fight in the English royal army.  This is his story in The Stranger Prince by Margaret Irwin.

I came across The Stranger Prince during a weeding project last year.  Margaret Irwin’s name was familiar–I had read her novels about young Elizabeth I in high school.  This one was new to me.  It was a lengthy read, but I enjoyed it. I didn’t know much about Rupert prior to reading this so this novel introduced me to him.

Elizabeth Queen of Bohemia

Elizabeth Queen of Bohemia

When Irwin’s Elizabeth trilogy was reissued, I was delighted to see it again.  Much has been written about her as Queen of England, but not as much about her formative years. There are predictions for the future in the novels of how people and events will be viewed.  Popular songs of the day are incorporated as part of the story.  If you read an older edition of Elizabeth, Captive Princess, one of the paintings of Elizabeth mentioned in the story may have been included as a plate.

I haven’t read all of Irwin’s historical novels, but I enjoy her writing style. She does a wonderful job bringing the period to life. I was absorbed into Elizabeth and Rupert’s worlds and meeting the people of their day.  Irwin appears to have done her research well for her novels. I was amused with her introduction for The Stranger Prince about compiling a bibliography.

Elizabeth I

Elizabeth I

Margaret Irwin (1889-1969) was a well-known English novelist. I was unable to find much biographical information about her besides a Wikipedia entry.  Irwin had a long writing career–her first novel Still She Wished for Company appeared in 1924.  In the 1930s and ’40s, she wrote several novels on the early Stuarts.  Her trilogy about young Elizabeth I prior to her ascension to the throne was published between 1944-53 and is her best known.  The novels were adapted for the 1953 movie “Young Bess” starring the late Jean Simmons in the title role.  (I came across the original review of the movie)  Irwin’s bibliography also includes short story collections and one non-fiction.

Since Irwin’s trilogy on Elizabeth I has been reissued, I hope her other novels will follow.  Whether you read Margaret Irwin years ago or a new reader, her novels are worthwhile reads.

This is the second installment about my favorite historical novelists. Finale: Eleanor Hibbert, a prolific author who used various pseudonyms over her long career.

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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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