Friday, March 22, 2013

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

I believe one of my internly predecessors has previously blogged her thoughts on the subject of the Academy Award winning short film The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, but as it is a story  that has a lot of meaning to me, I decided to add my voice to the mix at the risk of repeating her.

I have linked the video at the end of this post, and I'm giving you two options now, either watch it right away, then come back and read my thoughts on it, or read my thoughts first (at risk of spoilers) and watch it at the end. The choice is yours. 

I don't remember when I first stumbled upon this beautiful  film, though it might have been because of radio coverage of the Academy Awards, but when I first saw it, I marveled at how perfectly it depicted everything that I wanted to be as a librarian. The other thing that came to mind was "where have I seen that artwork before?"  After some quick Googling I came up with the the answer. The creator of the film, William Joyce, is a prolific author/illustrator of children's books including the popular Rolie Polie Olie  and a personal favorite of mine from childhood, Santa Calls. The short film was followed by a picture book of the same title which is absolutely wonderful as well. (We have it here at the Bryan Library, where you can check it out as soon as I return it! :)

The film depicts the story of  a man  who's world is turned upside down in a massive storm (with a storm sequence reminiscent of the tornado in The Wizard of Oz). In the aftermath of the storm he struggles to seek out meaning in his life. After, as the book says, "a happy bit of happenstance" Mr. Lessmore is given a purpose in life again when he is led to a library of living, fluttering, flying books where he becomes their  caretaker. In essence, Mr. Morris Lessmore is a librarian, a true Keeper of Knowledge. He organizes the books, repairs them, and reads life into the old tomes that have died in the memory of everyone else.

 My favorite scene perhaps, is when he is shown at the window of the book house handing books to a line of people who, as they stand in line, are depicted in black and white. When given a book however, they light up and are filled with color. This has been in my experience, the most satisfying and rewarding perk of being a librarian and why I most particularly want to work with children--the service of connecting a person with the book that was meant for them and watching them come alive as readers.

The story goes to show how powerful the written word can be, and how important the Keepers of Knowledge, the librarians, are to a society.

I hope you enjoy the film, and go check the book out at YOUR local library.
Until next time,
Adieu from the stacks.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Technology and Libraries

First of all, Spring Break starts for me in 2 hours, 40 minutes and counting. I will not be posting next Friday as I will be somewhere between my home in Nashville and my roommate's in Atlanta, but I'll be back the following Friday.

When I worked at the South Cheatham Library (Read my previous post about it HERE!) there were a few regular patrons who I got to know pretty well as they would stop at the circulation desk and talk for hours if you would let them. These patrons usually tended to be the older gentlemen who had lots of of time and lots of life experience to share.
 Two in particular were my favorites, Mr. Wilding (who has since passed away) and Mr. Jacobsen. Mr. Wilding was always talking to me about becoming a librarian, very interested in my studies, and always giving me little tidbits of random life advice (things he said he would tell his daughter, like "If you go to a party, always open your own drink, and never set it down. You never know what people might put in it." I always explained that I wasn't the kind that would go to parties where you'd have to worry about that kind of thing, but I appreciated the thought.)
Mr. Jacobsen always wore this little ballcap with a compass attatched to the bill and when he asked what I was studying in school (which he did frequently) and heard that I wanted to be a librarian, he always said one thing "Get into computers. All the libraries are going that direction now."

Well Mr. Jacobsen, its been that way for a while now, but you're still right. I'm realizing more and more the importance of having a good base of computer knowledge to being a librarian. We've come a long way from the days of card catalogs and rubber stamps and though I really wish I could visit those days, I know I was born in just the right time. I have the curiosity and natural inclination towards technology that has been instilled into many of the kids of my generation, and if I keep up with it I know it will serve me well as I continue on in this field.
I'm currently working on a bit of policy writing that involves a good deal on working with the database management systems we use here. I'm feeling a bit lost, because up till this point, I haven't learned much about them at all, as its the kind of thing they save for graduate school in this field. So today, I've  been researching a little more about these. While I don't advocate Wikipedia for academic research, when you just need to get basic information on an idea, its a good place to go--as I did for this article on Integrated Library Systems.
An Integrated Library System, or ILS, is a database program that helps keep track of all a libraries records--both material and patron--as well as providing a means to classify and catalog materials efficiently and even keep track of billing. We are in the process of transitioning to Sierra, a web-based ILS, here at the Bryan College Library. The basics of circulation are easy to learn, but the full power of this program is pretty much unknown to me. I suppose I won't get fully immersed in it till much later down the road, but that's just one more thing for me to look forward to.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Scope For the Imagination: Book Spaces

I ran across an amazing link while trolling through my Facebook feed the other day. Titled "The 30 Best Places To Be If You Love Books" (<= Click it to see!), it has pictures of 30 book-spaces ranging from private home libraries to public and academic libraries to used book stores. Some are more modern in design, with geometric lines and huge windows to let in plenty of natural light, like number 27 on the list:

Others are more organic and earthy like number 6: (House on the Rock Wisconsin)
Doesn't this look like a hobbit home? Its pure gold.

While all the locations on the list are places that I would want to visit just for the experience of being in the presence of such a great volume of books, there are some that I would prefer over others. I've never been fond of libraries that have cool color palettes.  Something about stark greys and whites seems cold and un-inviting, and though probably not practical and "green" I've always preferred the warm glow of incandscent lamps to the weird hum and unnatural pallor caused by fluorescent lights. A book-space, whether a library or shop, should be warm in color and in atmosphere. Russets, browns and golds are good colors for library decor, as they emulate the richness of old-leather bound books. A good book-space should inspire and spark creativity. It should entice visitors to come, and encourage them to stay. The imagination and soul should be fed as much as the mind.
This one (number 25. The Hearst Castle Library) is a good example:
Here I think, my thoughts would be very profound indeed.

Also, as much as order and organization is important in a book-space, there's something inviting about an organized mess. Not in an academic library of course, where people actually need to FIND things, but rather in the case of a used books shop, where people mainly to browse, casually looking for one item, but coming away with a half-dozen, none of them the original object of pursuit. I imagine that number 5, Shakespeare & Co. in Paris (Currently my number one reason to go to France) is this kind of book shop.
Isn't that just a glorious inviting mess?

These are some of the extremes and rare gems of the book world and if every place were like these, then they wouldn't  be as special. But I think that our library, (the Bryan Library) is a nice happy medium. The colors are warm and welcoming, there's comfortable seating and good lighting. It's just as a good academic library should be in my mind.

Until next time (which will probably be earlier in the week as I leave for Spring Break on Friday), Happy reading!

P.S. Tomorrow (March 2nd) is Dr. Seuss' birthday!