The Story of a Library

 
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I had so much fun at the Indianapolis Library Foundation’s Cheers for 50 Years event last week to celebrate 50 years of ensuring quality programming for the library! I got to speak about how the library impacted me and represent young library users of the 1990s, and thought I would share my remarks below. Happy reading!

Stories are important. Just as a scientist finds it important to capture a black hole on film for the first time, I find it important to capture our ideas, moments, and experiences on pages that are shared widely and available to all who want to read them.

Our ability to do that – to share stories - is thanks to libraries. I can’t imagine thinking this way if I didn’t grow up visiting the Indianapolis Marion County Public Library branches.

My parents are the ones who introduced me to the library, who taught me to love to read, and who taught me how to share stories. I wouldn’t know about Winnie the Pooh’s Hundred Acre Woods if my dad didn’t read to me before bed. I wouldn’t know about Madeline and twelve little girls in two straight lines if it weren’t for the library story times my mom took me to. I wouldn’t know about a little girl in a little house on a little prairie if I hadn’t gotten my library card when I was just six-years-old, clutching the blue plastic with my scrawled name on the back all the way home.

I would not know these things because I would not have been as curious as I am about stories. I would not have ferociously read as many books as I could to get points in the summer reading program. I would not have gone to the library at least every Saturday (but most likely more) if it were not for all the options on the shelves, sparking my curiosity. I was taught to read what I wanted, and as much as I wanted.

Because of this dedication, as a child I was confident in who I was and who I wanted to be. I saw that confidence reflected in the characters I befriended. Young women like Nancy Drew, Betsy-Tacy, and Hermione told me that it was okay to love books and to want to be alone sometimes, and that I wasn’t the only one picked on for my “smarts.” I knew that you could be different. That different lives happen around the world, and those different stories are worth knowing about.

That’s a meaningful thing to share with children; that’s what ensures every generation understands more than just their own experiences. And that’s why we do whatever we can to keep our libraries. So join me in supporting this mission, of spreading stories to every child who wants to hear them, however they need to hear it. And let’s never forget that we are far stronger when we’re curious about stories that come from the world around us.

Books I Should Read (but probably won't)

Books I Should Read (but probably won't)

In case you haven't noticed, I haven't read anything for almost two weeks now. Men Explain Things to Me sits on my coffee table, staring back at me, begging to be read. And I did give it a glance, I read the first essay...a week ago...

Men Explain Things to Me is not the only book I should be reading. My to-read list grows weekly as I find or hear about books that interest me. And yet there is one list of books I should be reading that I probably never will.

The Google trends book list.

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What I'm Reading Spring Semester 2015

Welcome to the semi-annual school book list extravaganza! Okay, so it's not that exciting. But I'm proud to say that this semester I have the extremely reasonable number of 11 books for the next three and a half months. MUCH better than 31. It helps that I only have three courses this semester (I'm trying to make my blog like a fourth class, but so far I'm rather failing at that...) and that only one is an English class.

Liberal arts for the win my friend.

What I'm Reading Spring Semester 2015 | Scribbling in the Margins blog

So, let's get started:

New Testament

This was a last-minute addition to my class schedule after Modern Latin American almost put me to sleep...on the first day. Having made the mistake of staying in a class I hated last semester, I escaped immediately. Sadly, I couldn't pick up another history class, but I'll make up for it next year.

BUT ANYWAY. New Testament books:

  • New Oxford Annotated Bible: NRSV. Because it wouldn't be a Christianity class without it.
  • Parallel Gospels: A Synopsis of Early Christian Writing, by Zeba Crook. So how similar are the gospels after all?
  • A Brief Introduction to the New Testament, by Bart D. Ehrman. Just your classic 100-level textbook.

Gender Across Cultures

I return to the anthropology world to learn about gender, one of my favorite subjects (if you get the chance, PLEASE take a women's studies class. It's such an important learning experience). Since this class discusses all types of gender, I look forward to learning more about societal influences on people's everyday lives.

  • Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective, by Caroline B. Brettel and Carolyn F. Sargent. Just the one textbook...what is this department??

Playwriting

I branch out of my writing comfort-zone into playwriting, where apparently acting is required. I'm nervous, but I think it will be good for me to put myself out there and do more public speaking. Since this is an English class, the book list is more extensive than the others:

  • The Clean House & Other Plays, by Sarah Ruhl. I read this for a class two years ago (I'm SO OLD) and really enjoyed it. I'm sure I'll enjoy it again!
  • Topdog/Underdog, by Suzan-Lori Parks. Apparently it's quite a big deal--lots of people in the class have read it before.
  • 4000 Miles, by Amy Herzog. But I would walk 4000 miles, and I would walk 4000 more...
  • Water by the Spoonful, by Quiara Alegria Hudes. A play that introduces the Internet to the real world. Say no more--I'm intrigued.
  • An Almost Holy Picture, by Heather McDonald. One-man show with lots to say.
  • The Pillowman, by Martin McDonagh. Judging from the back of the book, this does not include a pillow fight.
  • Take Ten II: More Ten-Minute Plays, edited by Eric Lane and Nina Shengold. To inspire me to write my future ten-minute play.

I think all the plays sound interesting; I don't know much about them yet but since Topdog/Underdog comes recommended, I think I'll put it at the top of my list. Which book sounds the most exciting to you?

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Below the Line:

  • Recruitment starts today. You know what that means...sleepless nights and lots of food. And that's just for the sorority women.
  • Since this week has been so Greek focused, it's hard to believe I'm back in the school groove. I have to admit, I miss my internship. I loved the work I was doing, plus coming home and not having to worry about anything was a good life!

What I Read: Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

4/5 pineapples

Oh, blogger's block.

I was pumped at the beginning of this year about my blogging. I would do it more and consistently. I would have exciting new posts that would attract the attention of all my readers. I would find a style that worked for me. I would create a space that was a hobby, not a chore.

But the best laid plans...

I tried to post, I really did. But every time I started something, I didn't like it. It never had the tone or content I wanted or that I felt was worth publishing. So I was silent.

Until now.

What I Read: Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore | Scribbling in the Margins blog

Last night I finished Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, a novel of books, computers, Google, twenty-somethings with 21st century jobs, and people in black robes. This book was a roller coaster, surprising me in subtle ways and changing throughout the lines in each chapter. By the time I closed the paperback, I wasn't sure what I thought--or, for that matter, what had just happened to me.

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore explores the relationship between books and technology, a topic most of us dance around nowadays. I don't like to see books give way to code and digitization. A character who works at Google actually says:

"I mean, once we've got everything scanned, and cheap reading devices are ubiquitous...nobody's going to need bookstores, right?"

Um, wrong. I'm grateful when Clay, the narrator, replies with: "We'll be fine...people still like the smell of books." YES WE DO! And the rough paper between our fingers, and the satisfaction of watching the pages stack up to the left side of the books, and our thumbs catching on the fibers of paper to turn the page...

But I digress.

Mr. Penumbra makes me think about books, and I love that. Why do we read them, and what are we looking for? What do they tell us? And how much does technology matter in how we understand and use them? It's thought-provoking, and full of little lines about books and life that make me want to pinch the words right off the page and into something I wrote (yes, I know that's wrong--hush, hush, I'm not actually going to do it).

What I Read: Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore | Scribbling in the Margins blog

There are times where the book would drag a little for me, or where I lost the plot/what mattered. Part of this is because I was reading it in bits and pieces every night, but part of this is because the story takes a little while to get moving. I had trouble getting into the book until at least halfway through; but once I got there, it was well worth it.

I also almost banged my head against a wall when I saw "Epilogue" printed at the top of the last chapter. NO NO NO. The book ended just fine before that; I didn't need to know how everyone lived happily ever after, and I felt like Sloan cheated me out of imagining my own futures for the characters.

All the same, a book for readers and technology-lovers alike, I really enjoyed the balance between print and screen Sloan explores in Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. 

What do you think--do books have a future in a technology-based world?

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Oh, and P.S.- try reading it in the dark.