Monday, September 1, 2014

Bibliocraft: Crafts Based on Unusual Library Collections

Jessica Pigza, a rare book librarian and assistant curator of the New York Public Library's Rare Book Division, has written a book that serves as both a lovely introduction the library and a fun assortment of crafting ideas. Her book, Bibliocraft: A Modern Crafter's Guide to Using Library Resources to Jumpstart Creative Projects, begins with a guide to different kinds of library collections, finding the right library for you, planning your library visit, finding what you want at the library, digital libraries, and recommended library collections.  Pigza then touches on the different types of libraries (branch library, research library, special collections), library cards, fees, how to search the library catalog (both Library of Congress Classification and Dewey Decimal classification, which is what the ABC Library catalog uses), and more.

The craft projects inspired by the library include fabric pouches, decorated paper, cross-stitch wall panels, and votive holders.  Each project is listed in the category which inspired it - children's books, illuminated manuscripts - and each project lists its more specific inspiration - for instance, the Kittens Pockets Dress was inspired by Johanna Spyri's Heidi.

It's a beautiful book and we recommend it highly!  It also inspired us to search some unusual library collections and see if we could find craft projects that seemed to be a match for those collections.

Henry S. Hall Jr. American Alpine Club Library 
The Henry S. Hall Jr. American Alpine Club Library provides you with all the information you could ever want on mountain culture and climbing routes. Located in Golden, Colorado, we're able to help you find the information you're looking for even if you're across the globe.
~from their website
Project: Alpine Shrug

Whitby Museum and Library
The Museum, our library and archives are run by our parent organisation. This is The Whitby Literary and Philosophical Society. The Society was founded in 1823 by a group of leading Whitby citizens led by the Rev. George Young, the author of the classic nineteenth century "History of Whitby" (1819) and minister at the Presbyterian Church. The chief object of the Society was to setup and maintain a museum, specialising in fossils, since "Whitby is a chief town of a district abounding with petrifications and containing not a few Antiquities". Ever since Whitby Museum has been run for the people of Whitby by the people of Whitby.
~from their website
Whitby is also the backdrop for Bram Stoker's Dracula and the museum contains some suitably creepy relics such as the "Hand of Glory".
Project: Pocket Nosferatu from Creepy Cute Crochet: Zombies, Ninjas, Robots, and More! by Christen Haden

VATNASAFN / LIBRARY OF WATER is a long-term project conceived by Roni Horn for a former library in the coastal town of Stykkish√≥lmur in Iceland. The building stands on a promontory overlooking the ocean and the town, and houses three related collections - of water, words and weather reports - which reflect Roni Horn’s intimate involvement with the singular geography, geology, climate and culture of Iceland.
~from their website
Project: Exploration Bottles

The Desert Libraries of Chinguetti
"As recently as the 1950s, Chinguetti was home to an impressive thirty family-owned libraries, but severe drought saw the town’s residents disappear, taking their books passed down from generations with them. Today there remains less than ten libraries in the old town, catering to scholars that occasionally visit the isolated town, but mostly to tourists who pass through to see the priceless texts and experience a traditional nomadic hospitality of the Mauritanian desert."
~from MessyNessyChic
Project: How To Make A Tunnel Book

Saturday, August 30, 2014

When Books Inspire Art

Several months ago, I stumbled across a photographer, Margot Wood of The Real Fauxtographer, whose blog includes many photos (or as she calls them, fauxtos) that were inspired by young adult books. Because she allows sharing her photos, as long as she's given credit for them, I'm going to share my favorite images of hers.

Courtesy of Margot Wood

This image was inspired by Shatter Me, by Tahereh Mafi. I haven't actually read the book (I tried, but I just couldn't get into it), but I love this image.

Courtesy of Margot Wood

This image was inspired by Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins. It's one of my favorite books, and after showing this image to one of my colleagues, we agreed that it perfectly represents Anna's character.

Courtesy of Margot Wood

This image was inspired by The Forest of Hands and Teeth, by Carrie Ryan. The picture is a little creepy, as it should be, since the book is about zombies.

And finally, the very first photo I saw in Margot's YA series.

Courtesy of Margot Wood

This image was inspired by Shadow and Bone, by Leigh Bardugo.

What I love about Margot Wood's blog is that she doesn't just post pictures inspired by young adult books. She talks about the photos, too: what books inspired them and how, how she took the photograph, the costumes that are used, and more. It's fascinating to see how books can inspire other types of art.

How do books inspire you, artistically or otherwise?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Unusual Library Collections and Customs in History

Chained Library, Chelsea Old Church [Colin Smith]
From age to age, libraries grow and change, flourish and disappear, blossom and contract...
~Matthew Battles

There's a book in the library catalog called Library: An Unquiet History.  We've only skimmed it, but it tells the stories you might already know about libraries - the burning of Alexandria's papyrus scrolls in 48 B.C. (author Matthew Battles calls it a "biblioclasm"); that "[i]n the Middle Ages, access to books, even literacy itself, was parceled out on a strict 'need to know' basis"; that " the nineteenth century, the sheer proliferation of books in number and kind transformed the library from temple to market, from canon to cornucopia"; and the birth of the modern public library, with the help of folks like Andrew Carnegie.  What this most excellent volume does not mention (though, granted, we've only skimmed its 214 pages) is some of the more unusual, and now mostly archaic, traditions of libraries through the ages.  For example...

  • Anthropodermic Bibliopegy: As was widely reported earlier this year, there are multiple libraries (at Harvard University, at Brown University, at the Boston Athenaeum, at the University of Georgia) that include in their collections books bound in human skin. A volume at Harvard, Des destinees de l'ame (Destinies of the Soul), contains a note by the binder which reads"'A book about the human soul deserved to have a human covering.'"* Anthropodermic bibliopegy, basically tanning human skin as one would tan leather, has been practiced since the 16th century, with a rise in popularity during the 19th century, when the skins of criminals who had been executed were given to bookbinders. The practice has also been used by doctors to honor a deceased patient or colleague. Philadelphia's Mutter Museum also features a collection of books bound in this manner by 19th century doctor Joseph Leidy, and a human-skin wallet owned by the same.
  • Chained Libraries: During the Middle Ages, a popular practice was chaining books, especially large, valuable reference books, to the bookshelf to prevent theft.  The chains, generally fitted to the corner or cover of the book to avoid wear and tear, would be long enough to remove the book from the shelf and read, but not take the book from the library. There are still a few chained libraries which have survived in Europe, mostly in England. The film of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone featured chained books in the restricted section of the library at Hogwarts.
  • Scholars' (or Reading) Cages: Marsh Library in Dublin, Ireland went a step further to secure their books - they actually locked borrowers in cages! These cages are actually three alcoves with wire doors, perhaps an early and less trusting version of the library carrels you see in the college libraries today. (Shields Library at UC Davis has something similar for the convenience of their graduate students, though students do find them "creepy".)
  • Xylothek or Wooden Libraries: These libraries, relatives of Wunderkammern or cabinets of curiosities, reached the height of popularity in Germany in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Each "book" is made out of a particular type of wood, covered in bark, with moss and lichen from the tree used to decorate the cover.  Inside, "readers" generally find leaves, flowers, fruits, seedlings, root, cut branches, and seeds, along with a special compartment with a written description of the tree and its uses. Great for those studying forestry, botany, or related fields.

    Do you know of any interesting library collections or customs from history that we've missed?  Let us know in the comments!

    Tuesday, August 26, 2014

    New and Novel: Crime Novels

    Series versus stand-alone, hard-boiled versus cozy, historical versus contemporary, a carefully planned menu versus potluck? Picking the best crime novels of the year is no easy trick.
    ~Bill Ott* 

    Looking for a few good books full of mystery and suspense?  Here are some of the best-reviewed (and Booklist recommended) reads of the past few months.  Covert operations! Daring escapes! Obsession! Treachery! Psychological character studies! Enigmatic strangers! These books explore all the malevolent forces at work in the world, and their aftermath.

    The Cairo Affair by Olen Steinhauer

    In the Morning I'll Be Gone by Adrian McKinty

    Natchez Burning by Greg Iles

    An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris

    The Orphan Choir by Sophie Hannah

    Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh

    The Thicket by Joe R. Lansdale

    The Ascendant by Drew Chapman

    Decoded by Mai Jia 

    Deliverance of Evil by Roberto Costantini

    North of Boston by Elisabeth Elo

    Precious Thing by Colette McBeth

    The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon                

    The Fever by Megan Abbott

    The Director by David Ignatius

    The Bone Seeker by M. J. McGrath

    The Late Scholar by Jill Paton Walsh

    One Kick by Chelsea Cain

    The Son by Jo Nesb√ł


    The Year's Best Crime Novels: 2014 [Booklist]*

    Saturday, August 23, 2014

    Blame It On Phryne: Return to the Jazz Age

    So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
    ~F. Scott Fitzgerald

    The fabulous Miss Phryne Fisher, Australia's divine and fearless 1920s detective, has her own TV series. Downton Abbey is moving into the Jazz Age.  Woody Allen made Midnight in Paris, then Magic in the Moonlight. Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby had everyone falling in love with this classic all over again. It's almost 2020, 100 years since the Jazz Age, and perhaps nostalgia has already kicked in, because there are currently a lot of Lost Generation items at the library that will have you wanting to bob your hair (women) and slouch around in your Oxford bags (men). If you want to feel a Roaring Twenties vibe, try kicking back with one of these likely titles!


    Flappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation by Judith Mackrell

    Paris Without End: The True Story of Hemingway's First Wife by Gioia Diliberto

    American Cocktail: A "Colored Girl" in the World by Anita Reynolds with Howard M. Miller

    Miss Anne in Harlem: The White Women of the Black Renaissance by Carla Kaplan

    Careless People: Murder, Mayhem, and the Invention of the Great Gatsby by Sarah Churchwell


    Bittersweet by Colleen McCullough

    Empire Girls by Suzanne Hayes

    The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro

    The Last Nude by Ellis Avery

    The Sisters by Nancy Jensen

    The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty 


    "Here's What a Bestseller Looked Like in the 1920s" [HuffPost Books]

    "The Roar of the Crowd" [The New York Times]

    "Hats, pearls, and all that jazz woo style mavens" [Christian Science Monitor]

    Thursday, August 21, 2014

    Mind-Bending YA

    Pete Hautman’s The Klaatu Terminus completes a trilogy that dares to make a number of narrative and temporal shifts, each of which challenges readers to hold tight—or possibly let go?—of the sensical reins. The forefather of such mind-bending sleight of hand is Kurt Vonnegut, whose Slaughterhouse-Five (1969) has inspired generations of rule breakers. Such experimental works are rare in YA, but recent years have provided a number of worthy heirs.
    ~Daniel Kraus, "Readalikes: The New Vonneguts" [Booklist]

    Books told entirely with images, involving magical science and travel to parallel worlds, starring a girl born with the wings of a bird and a boy who believes he is a character in a novel, part darkly comic philosophical discussion, with an experiment gone terribly wrong, a curiously powerful plant and a black mirror...  Which book's plot are we describing?  All the books on this list!  If you like the strange, the fantastical, the slightly awry, the inscrutable future, this young adult fiction booklist is here to test your grip on reality and introduce you to other realities!

    Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony, Rodrigo Corral

    Fade to Blue by Sean Beaudoin [eBook] 

    Grasshopper Jungle: A History by Andrew Smith

    Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick   

    My Favorite Band Does Not Exist by Robert T. Jeschonek

    The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

    Obsidian Mirror by Catherine Fisher

    Flux by Beth Goobie [eBook] 

    47 by Walter Mosley    

    Monday, August 18, 2014

    Back to School

    The new school year is in full swing, and here at abcreads, we like to celebrate by highlighting some of the many print and online resources available to help our students succeed. In addition to homework help, test prep, and research databases, we have a wealth of materials to help with the challenges of going back to school.

    Sometimes students aren’t the only ones who could use a little guidance. Our parents and teachers work just as hard, and we have resources for them, too!

    Check out some of our lesser known gems:

    For Students

    Beyond Googling: In today's digital world, it's becoming increasingly important that we can find accurate, credible materials online. Our article databases provide access to high-quality periodicals and peer-reviewed journals that are great for older students. Check out our printable user guide with information and search strategies. UC Berkeley also has a good tutorial on how to evaluate a website.

    Got a current events project? Opposing Viewpoints and Points of View are great places to start your research. They have a variety of primary sources and essays that shows both sides of the issue.

    If you need biographies in a pinch, we have databases of those, too.

    For Parents

    Is your child struggling with stress and time management? Or dealing with a bully? We have a books in our catalog geared towards both parents and students to help handle these important issues.

    If you're looking for a free afterschool activity, we host a ton of events for children and teens. Do you have a struggling young reader? Read to the Dogs can help them improve their skills and boost their confidence.

    Need resources on life lessons or tricky situations? Check our online catalog for children's books on topics such as manners, respecting others, and handling friendships.

    For Teachers

    Our libraries regularly host classroom visits that introduce your students to the library with stories and crafts. 

    Do you work at a Title I school or work with special needs students? Thanks to the Thomason Transportation Program, you can get free transportation
    to and from the library.

    Novelist K-8 Plus is an excellent website to turn to when you're looking for books for your classroom. Check out their professional toolbox for help finding Common Core content.

    You can find all of these and more on our teacher and educator resources webpage.