Monthly Archives: February 2008

Waxing gibbous

I’m a little ashamed to admit it, but a couple of years ago I took book clubs for granted. I led a weekly spirituality book club with a group of friends, and monthly book clubs with adults and teens at the library where I worked. In each situation I was reading things that we had chosen as a group, so I was always being challenged to read things outside of my comfort zone. But in my heart of hearts, I had thoughts like, “Woe is me! If only I had more time to read the things I want to read!”

I didn’t know how good I had it.

I haven’t been in a book club for a couple of years. I didn’t realize until recently what a huge book club-shaped-hole there was in my life until a recent discussion with a colleague.  We were discussing the merits of White Teeth by Zadie Smith.  Our conversation reminded me how reading, normally a solitary activity, can become relational, communal, and much more profound than it could ever be with my limited, gibbous perspective.  His observations made me see depth and shades of meaning in the story that I’d previously been blind to. It made me appreciate the book much, much more.

This meeting made me resolved to join a book club again. Luckily, this library has a variety: Horror, Mystery, Dish! A Foodie Book Club, Pathfinders: A Book Club for Our Spiritual Journeys, Books in the Afternoon, which discusses contemporary fiction, and even No One Belongs in this Book Group More than You: A Cult Fiction Book Club.

Please, don’t be gibbous, like me: Don’t take book clubs for granted.



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The rectangle is the new circle.

When people come up to the Film & Audio Department looking for audiobooks, I know that there’s a whole litany of questions I’ll have to ask before we can find that special book for them.

The first question is always, “What kind of audiobook were you looking for?” I’m trying to find out if they’d like fiction or nonfiction, mysteries or science fiction – helpful librarian stuff like that. 

Unfortunately, the answer that I usually get is, “The kind that you listen to in the car.” Now I know that I have to try a different approach.

“Okay,” I respond. “Cassettes or CDs?” This question is usually effective. They pick a format, and off we go. But sometimes I am met with a confused stare. That leads us to the next question, and eventually, to the subject of this post.

“Right,” I reply. “Would you like a rectangle or a circle?” I make the appropriate shape with my hands (for the visual learners), and away we go.

“Oh! Rectangle! I mean, cassette!” or “Circles, I mean CDs, please.” And from there we get into fiction, nonfiction, how long is your trip, is your grandmother or six year-old in the car with you, all of them very important things.

You see, when I first started working with audiovisual materials, the library was just getting into the book-on-cassette thing. There was even a time when I spent a good part of my day splicing broken cassette tapes (and now I can splice almost anything). But a few years later, we switched to the book-on-CD thing, and there was much rejoicing. We were cutting edge! CDs are shiny and round and awesome! Look at us!

Now we still purchase audiobooks on CD, but we’re exploring new formats: we also carry Playaways, which are compact MP3 players preloaded with a complete book, and we offer two different downloadable audiobook services through Overdrive and NetLibrary – just download the book you want and put it on your MP3 player! It’s cutting-edge enough to make a brave librarian weep.

So you see (or hear, in this case)  how we’ve come back to where we started. From cassettes (rectangles) to CDs (circles) and now to Playaways and MP3 players (rectangles once more), there’s an audiobook format out there for everyone.



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This is your life.

I was all set to do a post on beauty and fashion because for some reason, I have beauty and fashion on the brain.  The truth is, I’m dying to do a beauty and fashion program series here at the library.  But then someone told me about this, and I began to rethink my post. 

I think of fashion and beauty as a terrific example of how the library offers all sorts of materials on all sorts of topics, from the clothes we wear to the food we eat .  So I’m going to start my blog with the first thing in the morning:  the bathroom.  What’s the deal with this bathing-every-day thing?  Why are we all so obsessed with cleanliness?  Were we always this concerned about our odors?  Find out in The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History, by Katherine Ashenburg or in Clean: A History of Personal Hygiene and Purity, by Virginia Smith. 

But perhaps your morning thoughts are of a more practical nature.  Perhaps you walk into your bathroom every morning, and you look at the wallpaper and think of creating your dream bathroom. Or you wish you knew how to fix that dripping sink, or worse, you wish you had gotten to the bathroom faster.  (Now if that particular title doesn’t seem up-to-date enough, give one of our health databases a try.)  Do you see what I mean?  Every aspect of our lives on the planet is addressed at this library!  And we haven’t even gotten to the closet yet!  I’ll save that for next time.

Posted by: Kaarin


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crafty cures for cabin fever

My grandpa used to say, “Never make an important decision in February,” because he believed dreary weather and cabin fever inspire craziness ranging from bad breakups to bad haircuts.  So before you go through with your maniacal plot against Punxsutawney Phil, consult the catalog for some crafty, low-cost options to battle cabin fever.

Why not redesign an old tee-shirt or deconstruct some clothing?  Save some dough on your heating bill by wearing a cozy kimono or just socks. Are you more of a happy hooker?  Then ask Mr. Funky how to super crochet wonderfulKnitprovise some slightly sinister projects, toss your creations-in-progress into a knitted bag and bring them to the Carnegie Knits & Reads group, open to crafty folks of all skill levels

You immature adults could sew yourself plush toys or let one of Aranzi Aronzo’s cute books guide you through creating felt creatures like Liar, Stranger, or Bad Guy.  Cast them alongside a stupid sock creature in a puppet show

Master the art of personal imagery by creating a mixed-media collage.  Or get yourself a big ol’ pile of things, turn them into another thing, and call it assemblage or make a found object mosaic.  When you’ve done that, tamper with the mail using inspiration gleaned from the colorful, irreverent PostSecret collections.

We’ve even got a booklist to help you get a little crafty, a little crazy.  But if these ideas still seem too limited, check out ReadyMade magazines or their new guide to make (almost) everything

Insatiable?  You’re always welcome to browse the crafts collection in the second floor stacks (that’s the Library of Congress call number TT!) or find the more specific location of your hobby from the Library Subject Guide.

Posted by: Renée 


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Pittsburgh reads.

Congratulations, Pittsburgh: you’re the ninth most literate city in America. I knew Steve Jobs was wrong when he said people don’t read anymore. He just doesn’t know you like I know you, Pittsburgh.

You see, I see you everyday at the library, with your arms, briefcases, and backpacks full of books. I know you check out other things too, and believe me, I’m thrilled.  But this morning, I want to talk about books.  Because we’re number nine, Pittsburgh.  And I think Atlanta hears us knocking.

What’s all this about, you ask?  You can learn more about the CLP Main blog project in the FAQ and About Us sections of the site. But enough about us for the moment: let’s look at some recently released books.

The plot of Without Mercy is an interesting twist on your typical murder mystery: somebody’s got it in for the cast of Kissing Cousins, a faux 70s sitcom, and is bumping off the B-list celebrities one by one. A Boston journalist with a passion for cheesy movies and TV is on the case. First in a projected series, this could be interesting for readers who like mysteries, but are tired of the same plots and set-ups.

If you prefer history to mystery, take a peek at Mona Yahia’s fiction debut. When the Grey Beetles Took Over Baghdad draws on the author’s own childhood experiences to create a vivid, disturbing portrait of Iraq in the 1960s. A topical coming-of-age novel with poignancy and passion.

Want something lighter?  Try The Fortune Quilt, a gentle chick-lit pick with a paranormal twist.  For a more down-to-earth take on relationships, try She’s Gone, in which two damaged people try to love themselves, and each other, despite their cultural differences.

If I didn’t find your book this morning, don’t worry – we have about two million in the building, and ten more bloggers to hear from.  In the meantime, feel free to leave a comment or send an e-mail to  if you have suggestions for future entries.

Tune in tomorrow when you’ll hear from another librarian with another point of view…

 –Leigh Anne

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