Archive for November, 2011

media fast, take two; or, final exam for intro to media studies

November 30th, 2011
1. sometime between today, tuesday, november 29, and monday, december 5, stop using all modern media. you can read books and magazines and papers, but stop using media that is electronic or digital. no iphones, no facebook, no text. no computers, TVs, or radios. no CD players, digital cameras, or tape recorders. mark the time your media fast begins.

2. continue your fast for as long as possible. go longer than your first fast.

3. when your absence from media becomes dangerous, impossible, or unbearable, return to them. note which device you broke your fast with and record the time.

4. calculate how long your media fast lasted.

5. take some time -- a few hours, a day -- to reflect upon what happened.

6. in no more than two pages, share your findings. be sure to include connections with at least two readings from intro to media studies.


7. once you have finished your two-page essay, copy your favorite part - a sentence, a few sentences, a paragraph - and paste it as a comment to this blog post. you can comment anonymously, with an identifiable nickname, or with your full name - your call. If you do comment anonymously, be sure to notify me so i can make sure you fulfilled this part of the assignment. (i will give a brief demo on commenting to blogs in class on thursday.)

8. bring your final essay to class on tuesday, december 6. make sure your name is on it.

tip: think about the timing of your media fast and strategize accordingly.

John Cotton Dana and "The Men of Letters"

November 29th, 2011

I'm a great admirer of John Cotton Dana (1856-1919), one of our nation's great early librarians. Although Dana is best known in the library profession for his advocacy of library public relations, one of the things that I admire most about him was his sense of humor. I have in my collection a small, four page  publication titled The Men of Letters (Vol. I No. 1, May 1913, Newark, NJ) published by The Elm Tree Press, Woodstock, Vermont. This publication begins with a letter signed by a John Silver that was supposedly published in the Newark Evening News on May 8, 1913. The letter indicates that an organization called "The Newark Men of Letters" has been formed, and that the organization "has no constitution, by-laws, fees or dues, unless duties are dues. Every member is an office-holder and bears a title."  The organization was instigated by Dana and fellow bibliophiles while he was Director of the Newark Public Library. The official titles of the members included: "Captain of the Pirate Crew"; "Long Rifle"; "Thumb Mark Detective"; and "Galloping Dick, Highwayman". John Cotton Dana's title was "The Devil's Admiral". By unanimous vote Treasure Island was adopted by The Newark Men of Letters as the model of all novels for the organization. The coat of arms for the organization which is included on the cover of The Men of Letters (see above) has the motto "Read What You Like". I think the coat of arms would make a great bookplate. Jane Durnell, in an article titled "The Cardelius Syndrome" in the Spring 1976 issue of Imprint: Oregon (Published by the University of Oregon Library), reviewed several escapades of Dana and associates including The Men of Letters. "Cardelius" in the title of Durnell's article refers to a personage created by Dana as an early printer and the writer of a tribute to printing. Subsequently, several letters about Cardelius were published in The Nation magazine as if he were a real person. Durnell also discusses "The Bibliosmiles" and Charles Lummis which I have written about previously. Wayne Wiegand has written about one of Dana's more elaborate hoaxes, "The Old Librarian's Almanack". Let's hear it for library humor, may we all have more of it.

Global Update, the Library Newsletter

November 28th, 2011

If you’re reading this, you’re acquainted with Gleeson Library’s blog, Gleeson Gleanings, which is an excellent way to keep up to date with the library haps. But, did you know the library also publishes a newsletter twice a year, called Global Update?

We just published the Fall 2011 issue of Global Update and I invite you to take a look! Whether you’ve missed the blog posts over the past few months or if you just want a succinct run down of library news, Global Update will quench your desire for library information and hopefully surprise you in some way too!

Click the image below to open the new issue (PDF).

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Or you can go to this page and browse the archive of past newsletters.


Book Delivery on Day of 1906 SF Earthquake

November 28th, 2011



Natural disasters obviously impact libraries if they are in the vicinity of the disaster. Libraries certainly have not escaped untouched by the multitude of disasters that have occurred in this country in recent years. The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, more accurately described as the California Earthquake of 1906, was especially disastrous to libraries. Some libraries were completely destroyed and many more were negatively impacted by the earthquake and the related fires. It is always interesting to come across an artifact that places a library in the context of a major historical event. I recently acquired a postal card that documents the receipt of a book by the library of the Chabot Observatory (now the Chabot Space & Science Center) in Oakland, California on the day of the 1906 California earthquake.  The postal card was mailed to Robert Schindler in Lucerne, Switzerland on Charles Burckhalter, Assistant in Charge at the Chabot Observatory, on May 3, 1906. The card acknowledges receipt of Schindler's book The Mechanic of the Moon (Published by the author, 1906). Burckhalter writes, "Your little book came the same day as our earthquake, so I have not had time to read, but only to glance over it. It seems, however to be a work of merit." Although Oakland suffered extensive earthquake damage, it escaped the devastating fire that followed in San Francisco. Ironically, Bruckhalter who later became Director of the Chabot Observatory died in September, 1923 shortly after a fire that destroyed nearby homes and threatened the Observatory.

Gerstenslager Bookmobile Postcard Ads

November 18th, 2011


For many years the Gerstenslager Company in Wooster, Ohio was synonymous with bookmobiles for public library extension librarians. Although the roots of the company date back to 1860 it was not until after World War II that the company began designing and building custom bodies for specialty vehicles including bookmobiles. One of my postcard collecting interests is bookmobiles and among my collection is a group of cards which include advertising on the back for the Gerstenslager Co. and its bookmobile business. Each of the postcards, of course, has a bright shinny new bookmobile of the front. The advertising on the back is varied, and sometimes surprising. A 1954 card boasts that in 1954 Gerstenslager built 96 percent of bookmobiles built specifically for that purpose and that 1955 looks like it would break that record. A 1956 card takes advantage of the recent passage of the "Federal Aid Program", the Library Services Act, and indicates that if your qualify for that program, Gerstenslager is ready to assist you in your planning. Another ad features the horse drawn Washington County Free Library (Hagerstown, MD) bookmobile, the first bookmobile in the United States, with the information that it has just delivered Washington County's 12th bookmobile (pictured on the front of the card). One ad is somewhat religious in nature and touts the Golden Rule. At some point, Gerstenslager evidently ceased making bookmobile bodies, although it continues to assist in the manufacture of vehicles.


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