I’ve come to the conclusion that the time has come to start writing a new regular blog posting for the library. First some background though. My name is Bruce and I spend most of my time working downstairs in the Technical Services department. Technical Services is the part of the library that is responsible for ordering, cataloging, and processing just about any material that comes into the library, be it a book, DVD, music CD, or even a game or museum pass. We do all sorts of other things like checking in magazines, repairing damaged books and other items, making lists of items and compiling statistics, discarding old and damaged items and much more, but for the purposes of this post and future writings, I want to focus on what happens when we get a delivery of new books into the library.
We are always ordering new books and audiovisual materials here in Technical Services, both to meet your requests and also to build the library collection. When we receive an order of new books our procedure is to open the boxes and check to make sure the library is getting what we are paying for. We then fill any of your holds and/or requests from other libraries and pay the invoice. After we fill any holds, the remaining books are placed on an empty cart in the Technical Services department. Pages from the reference department come downstairs later in the day to take the books upstairs to shelve and make them available for you to browse. It is the books that wind up on the cart in the Technical Services department that I want to tell you about.
As an inveterate book looker, I find that I am unable to pass up the opportunity to look through a display of new books, whether they are here in the library, in a bookstore, at another library, or most especially from a display of a vendor on the street. You just never know what treasures you may find. So, when the clerks finish checking in our new books they leave them on a cart, which just happens to sit right in front of my desk. No matter how busy I am, I can’t help but take the time to paw through these new morsels. I’ve always found that there just always are a lot of really good books on that cart. These books aren’t usually by popular, bestselling authors, and they don’t receive much publicity, so sometimes I’m afraid that they just languish in obscurity and don’t receive the attention they deserve. A lot of them are books that I really wish I could read, but that I just don’t have time for, and books that I think that you, our patrons, might enjoy if only you knew about them. I’ll admit that I feel a little sorry for all the good books on the cart that just need to find the right reader. Sort of like the sad little puppy at the shelter, who just needs someone to love him.
Why am I going to call these postings Reading Recommendations from the Depths? Well, the Technical Services department is located in the basement, all the way in the back corner of the library. We are actually right next to the boiler room. So, as you can see, us technical services people are really down in the depths of the library. We don’t mind though, because our little space lets us concentrate on getting our work done.
For this inaugural column of Reading Recommendations from the Depths, I found that there were a number of books on a recent cart dealing with one of my favorite subjects – travel. There are basically only three things I do in life, besides work in the library, and those things are reading, watching movies, and traveling. In this post I can combine two of those interests. So for my inaugural Reading Recommendations from the Depths I will recommend some really interesting travel books that I found and that I think should get more attention.
Novel Destinations by Shannon McKenna Schmidt and Joni Rendon is a travel guide to locations made famous in various novels, stories, plays, and poems or that are associated with famous writers. So, if you really enjoy the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway and many other writers, why not pick up this book and find out how to visit their birthplaces, museums, drinking joints, and other favorite haunts. Other chapters bring famous literary locales such as Jane Austen’s Bath, England or James Joyce’s Dublin to life with background history, sample walks and can’t miss sites. You can also get information on countless literary festivals and book-themed bars, hotels, and restaurants. Novel Destinations is an honest to goodness travel guide, so not only is it full of literary trivia and references, but it also lists opening hours, addresses, and websites for most of the places described.
The Storied City: the Quest for Timbuktu and the Fantastic Mission to Save Its Past by Charlie English tells the story of the fabled African city of Timbuktu in both the Western imagination and in its actual place in African history as a centuries-old center of learning and culture. Timbuktu always seemed to me to be someplace that I would love to visit, but it was also a place that I could never be sure exactly what might be real and what I might just be imagining about it from movies and other inaccurate portrayals in literature. English shows that the history is all too real, and he is especially good when discussing the recent history of the city and the 2012 invasion by jihadists and the quest to save precious ancient manuscripts and other artifacts from the invaders.
One of my favorite types of books to read through are travel guidebooks. Just plain Fodors, Frommers, Lonely Planet, you name them, and I just love to browse through them to plan where I want to travel to in the future or to see what’s new in a place I have already been to. On this cart there happened to be a bumper crop of brand new travel guides. There were guides to England, Scotland, and Wales. Also one to Canada and another to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. Closer to home in the good old USA, we received in guidebooks to Washington, Oregon, and The Pacific Northwest, Minneapolis & St. Paul, Charleston and Savannah, Michigan, and an interesting looking Walking Los Angeles. If you have some free time coming up, maybe you might want to use one of these books to guide you on your next adventure. If you happen to be swamped with work or family obligations, maybe a night in an armchair with one of these guides can help you dream of a far off place.