Archive for the ‘Library’ Category

Service of the Season to be Frazzled

Monday, December 11th, 2023

Packed schedules become more so during the holidays. When irritating things happen that usually don’t, isn’t it grand when they turn out better than expected?

On the same day two friends shared examples of uh-oh’s that ended well.

The Keys to Kindness

One friend is shuttling back and forth between her home and her daughter’s for a week to dog sit while the family is out of town. She spends the night with the dog at the pooch’s home—she has two cats and they don’t get along. Early one morning she arrived home after settling the dog and she couldn’t find her keys. To get in she woke a neighbor who had a second set.

She subsequently wrote: “I just got a call from the library. Someone found my keys on the sidewalk between our two houses and my library card is on the key chain, so that good person turned them in. I will pick them up at the front desk!”

The Bus Left Without Me

A friend arrived just in time to catch a bus that was taking a group on a museum tour and lunch only to discover it had left without her. As she had paid for the day she scrambled to get to the first stop on her own all the time wondering why the bus hadn’t waited for her and her plus one. Although they’d cashed her check, they may have been omitted from the list, she worried.

Once she caught up with the group she complained to the event organizer, eventually forgot about the anxiety she’d experienced and had a grand time.

She wrote a few days later: “The woman who organized the museum/lunch just dropped off a bottle of wine and Godiva chocolates as apology gifts with hopes that we will continue to attend the organization’s events.”

It’s so easy to be distracted during the holidays, increasing the chances that untoward things will happen. Have others saved your bacon or made memorable apologies for mistakes?

This was not the gift mentioned in the story.

Service of Little Things Mean A Lot II

Thursday, July 30th, 2020

I wrote the first post with this title three + months ago. It’s time for a reprise. The first post was about friends who reach out. This one is about strangers who warmed my heart.

How Cool is That?

The air conditioning units in my apartment all fizzled on a toasty day. I followed up a few times–the units belong to the landlord–and when the temperature had climbed upwards of 86° with four more hours until sunset–I get afternoon sun–I visited the lobby again explaining that I was beginning to feel woozy. The morning year-round doorman had been passive and useless. The manger was on vacation.

Climbing up to 86 degrees+

Doorman Joshua, a very young man and summer temp jumped into action and within an hour a porter/handyman was on the job. As I waited for him to return with new units the intercom rang. It was Joshua–we’d met only that afternoon–asking if I was OK. The porter told me Joshua had also called him again to confirm that he was on it. Too bad for us this is his summer job. I suspect he’s a student and given his common sense and empathetic streak predict great things for his future.

Beautiful Cashier

I visited CVS drug store on Third Avenue and 42nd Street early on a recent Sunday morning. The cashiers consistently help me make the most of my coupons. As I left that day–I was dressed in pandemic fashion on the cusp of sloppy–the young woman, who was barely out of her teens, called out: “Stay as beautiful as you are.” She could see my wave but not the smile under my mask.

Moving Along

I called the Metropolitan Transit Authority [MTA] about returning a discount MetroCard sent my husband. When I explained the reason the clerk, hearing he’d died, was compassionate and so heartfelt in her condolences I could hardly catch my breath.

Read On

I treated myself to an iPad so I could download books. I got tangled in the process of ordering a book after I’d downloaded an e-card from the New York Public Library so I sent a query to the help desk. After more fiddling I figured it out. A few days later I heard from Elizabeth at AskNYPL and in another email I explained that I was set and apologized for bothering her unnecessarily.

She wrote: “You are not bothering us. We’re here to answer questions, so if you run into any more e-book trouble, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Chat and phone are best for quick answers.” I responded again as did she: “So glad you were finally able to get a book! I loved A Gentleman in Moscow. Hope you enjoy it….Take care and happy reading!”

You don’t feel alone when dealing with people like these. Kindhearted, lovely strangers who take extra steps beyond their job descriptions are welcome anytime but especially these days. I suspect they enjoy their jobs more as well. Many of them suffer from pandemic fallout yet they still go the extra mile. Do you have similar instances to share?

Service of Borrowed Books from the New York Public Library

Thursday, January 16th, 2020

Visiting the New York Public Library branch on East 96th Street with my mother is one of my earliest memories. The system is 125 years old this year. As a result, it publicized statistics of most-checked out books over time which is significant because it’s the second biggest library in the country, behind the Library of Congress.

There was a distinct difference between the genres of books most borrowed by library habitués last year vs. those over time.

  • In 2019 citizens most checked out six adult fiction and four nonfiction books, leading with Michelle Obama’s memoir, “Becoming.”
  • The most borrowed since the beginning included six children’s, three fiction and one nonfiction book. Number one is “The Snowy Day,” a children’s book by Ezra Jack Keats.
  • The range of publish dates of last year’s favorites is 2017 to 2018; over time from 1936 to 1997.

Top 10 takeouts in 125 years

  1. “The Snowy Day,” by Ezra Jack Keats, [1962]: 485,583 checkouts
  2. “The Cat in the Hat,” by Dr. Seuss [1957]: 469,650 checkouts
  3. “1984,” by George Orwell [1949]: 441,770 checkouts
  4. “Where the Wild Things Are,” by Maurice Sendak [1963]: 436,016 checkouts
  5. “To Kill a Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee [1960]: 422,912 checkouts
  6. “Charlotte’s Web,” by E.B. White 1952]: 337,948 checkouts
  7. “Fahrenheit 451,” by Ray Bradbury [1953]: 316,404 checkouts
  8. “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” by Dale Carnegie [1936]: 284,524 checkouts
  9. “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” by J.K. Rowling [1997]: 231,022 checkouts
  10. “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” by Eric Carle [1969]: 189,550 checkouts

Top 10 takeouts in 2019

  1. “Becoming” by Michelle Obama biography [2018]
  2. “Educated: A Memoir” by Tara Westover [2018]
  3. “Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng [2017]
  4. “A Spark of Light” by Jodi Picoult [2018]
  5. “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens [2018]
  6. “Pachinko” by Min Jin Lee [2017]
  7. “Circe” by Madeline Miller [2018]
  8. “Nine Perfect Strangers” by Liane Moriarty [2018]
  9. “Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup” by John Carreyrou [2018].
  10. “Milkman” by Anna Burns [2018]

Are you sad to learn that there are no children’s books on the 2019 list? What would the reason be? Have you read any of the books on the two lists? What are some of your favorites both recently and over time?

Service of Retrospect: Cleaning Up the Past with Rose Colored Glasses

Thursday, July 26th, 2018

There a many powerful pro and con arguments about the confiscation of historic statues—of Robert E. Lee in New Orleans, Confederate Soldiers and Sailors in Baltimore or Jefferson Davis in Memphis to name a few—or the removal of names on prizes and honors of people once admired. In most cases their political positions, remarks or writings represented or reflected racist sentiments, often typical in the day, that are unacceptable now. Yet not all have been equally demoted.

Take Albert Einstein. In recently released travel diaries he wrote “some racist things about the Chinese back in the early 1920s,” Peter Dreier reported on prospect.org. “As I point out in my book,” wrote Dreier of  The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame, “none of the 100 people in my Social Justice Hall of Fame was

(or is) a saint. They all had vision, courage, persistence, and talent, but they also made mistakes.” He also wrote “I would certainly incorporate Einstein racist comments in my profile of him, but that wouldn’t exclude him from being in the pantheon of great American radicals and progressives.”

Drier continued: “Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood and a crusader for women’s health and birth control, briefly endorsed eugenics.

Theodore Roosevelt’s was a foe of big business, but his ‘big stick’ imperialism outraged many progressives. Alice Paul, the great women’s suffrage leader, was an anti-Semite. Eleanor Roosevelt also absorbed the casual anti-Semitism of her upper-class WASP upbringing.”

Then there’s the former Laura Ingalls Wilder Award. A division of the American Library Association [ALA]– the Association for Library Service to Children {ALSC]–renamed the award the Children’s Literature Legacy Award. According to Michael Taube in The Wall Street Journal, “‘Wilder’s legacy, as represented by her body of work, includes expressions of stereotypical attitudes inconsistent with ALSC’s core values of inclusiveness, integrity and respect, and responsiveness,’ the association announced in a press release.

“Characters in ‘Little House on the Prairie’ say ‘the only good Indian is a dead Indian’ three times,” Taube reported. “Wilder’s references to her white settler family’s manifest destiny has also troubled the black community,” he wrote.

Taub continued: “Hardly anyone would defend these sentiments today, but people are products of their times. The Wilder Award was established in 1954, and its first recipient was Laura Ingalls Wilder herself. If we judge past luminaries by today’s standards, who’s next to go?”

For 36 years the ALA collaborated on Banned Books Week with Amnesty International. Taub quoted “An ALSC blog post about it last September called the week a time to ‘celebrate intellectual freedom.’” He asked: “How does the ALSC square the spirit of Banned Books Week with its scrubbing of Wilder’s name?” and concluded “I tried to reach them, but didn’t receive a response.”

How best deal with the past when looking at it through today’s rose colored glasses?

  • Why are we inconsistent in our castigation of prominent historic figures, punishing some and not others? For example, should the World Cultural Council rename its Albert Einstein World Award of Science?
  • What does it take for some, and not others to lose their exalted place in the firmament of the admired?
  • Do you agree with the name change made by the Association for Library Service to Children from the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award to the Children’s Literature Legacy Award?
  • Should we leave well enough alone or in the forewords of book reprints, such as Ingalls Wilder’s, put in historic context her remarks and attitudes that are now considered hurtful and demeaning?
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