The August 1950 issue of Mechanix Illustrated weighs in on “the world’s largest strongbox,” or what we might call the National Archives. Don’t forget to click on page two of the article to watch documents go through an ordinary mangle.
This blog isn’t dead, it’s sleeping. Or it has Seasonal Affective Disorder, or is consumed by learning French, or is training for a marathon. In the case of our Leets, she’s a mother to a brand new baby boy, and we’re so proud.
Anyway, in this slow season, I am inclined to draw on time-tested pastimes, namely, leisure reading. Kristy prolifically book-blogs all year-round, but for me the fire comes and goes. I never understand the things about beach reading, because for me in the summer, it’s getting tan, drinking beer and chasing boys, but in the winter, its books, books, books. One of the gestures I wish I had made more as a librarian is trying to engage my colleagues with questions about what they were reading. I mean, I don’t really understand the modern sci-fi/fantasy genre, aside from Octavia Butler, but a lot of librarians love it, and I wish I had gotten someone to passionately explain it to me. Unbashful book-talking is one of the things they teach you in YA and kid lit classes, but it seems like such an innate skill to me, and one that’s so socially conditional. Why do you think Nancy Pearl is so beloved? Like, you can talk to your friends for hours about sneakers, Stevie Nicks, Willa Cather, Herzog movies, and what you want to eat for brunch, but can you talk to a stranger, on demand about those things?
So, fellow librarians, how do you book-talk sucessfully? And more importantly, what are you reading now? I’m rereading Seduction and Betrayal in memoriam of Elizabeth Hardwick, and am slowly working through Sylvia Townsend Warner’s Summer Will Show. I’ve run through John Cheever’s stories and am halfway through a copy of Falconer I found on the street in Park Slope a month ago. And last, but not least, have spent the past few nights buried in Ceruzzi’s A History of Modern Computing.
Dario Argento makes the most lovely horror movies. They rarely make sense, but if you really care about that, you probably shouldn’t be watching them. In his 1980 film Inferno, Argento stages a key scene in a creepy library in Rome. The library stuff comes about 6 minutes into this clip. Jump ahead to the next scene if you want to see what price you pay for stealing creepy books about the occult from creepy libraries in the middle of the night.
And if you like Argento and horror movies with library twists, make sure to watch Deep Red, which ends with a gory twist in the city archives.
After reading this interview between archaeologist Michael Shanks and visual artist Lynn Hershman Leeson in Seed Magazine (read it!), I got all excited and worked up about their Life to the Second Power (or Life Squared) project. This project brings Hershman Leeson’s archive at Stanford into the virtual community of Second Life, where the pieces can be viewed, experienced, and recombined by visitors.
A keystone piece of the project is a re-envisioning of Hershman Leeson’s Dante Hotel work from the 1970s (pictured above), where she created a “life” with what she placed in a room in a run-down hotel in North Beach. Patrons could get a key from the front desk, go up to the room, look around, and stay as long as they wanted. This work in particular seems to translate well to the Second Life arena.
Check out the Seed interview for an illuminating look at how an archaeologist and an artist look at archives. I can’t say I agree with everything the two of them say, but it certainly gets my archival blood flowing.
[Photo from a Flickr set on the Dante Hotel project, here.]
“So it was difficult to play because you were constantly aware that you were in the immediacy of the moment but yet referencing primary, tertiary and secondary sources –the whole Dewey system was crashing in on me.”
Way to drop Dewey, Cate. I just finished reading this NYT Mag’s piece about Todd Haynes’s film I’m Not There. In the article, Cate Blanchett compares playing Haynes’s Bob Dylan to being confused by DDC. Or I think that’s what she means. I guess she’s referring to some sort of encyclopedic/LCSH Authorities see and see also thing. I get Dewey Crash all the time when I’m trying to find auction catalogues on microform.
Only your cutest volumes are allowed on nobody&co’s Bibliochaise!
Although my physical body has returned from France, I’m pretty sure my brain cells are still floating somewhere in the the Mediterranean. While I think of something brilliant and prescient to post, take a gander at this cute thing.
Say your walking to the gare in St Raphael and left your book on the beach and need something to read on the train to Nice. Cruise by this big unattended table of used books, 1 euro each. And because it works on the honor system, there’s no one around to judge you when you pick up some trashy romance novel or Ramona la peste.
And I love the signage: BookS 1 euro Don’t forget the rules!……Thanks