Cites & Bytes @ Bailey

a library newsletter, a compendium of interesting tidbits, a communication tool....from Bailey Library @ Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. (Site Feed)

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Some Weekend Fun...

Harry Potter
Originally uploaded by JůVěŊTįŊå.

A Harry Potter 6 trivia quiz from

Unshelved, a library comic strip.... (you can also buy cool library gear here, including the new Book Club shirt. "The first rule of Book Club... do not talk about Book Club..."

And for the crafty, how to make a children's book via Lifehacker.

A Dark and Stormy Night...

The annual Bulwer-Lytton prize for horrible writing has been awarded to Dan McKay of Fargo, North Dakota, for the following bad introduction to a bad novel:

"As he stared at her ample bosom, he daydreamed of the dual Stromberg carburetors in his vintage Triumph Spitfire, highly functional yet pleasingly formed, perched prominently on top of the intake manifold, aching for experienced hands, the small knurled caps of the oil dampeners begging to be inspected and adjusted as described in chapter seven of the shop manual."

"Since 1982 the English Department at San Jose State University has sponsored the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, a whimsical literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels..." Read more here....

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Shuttle Returns to Space

Within nine minutes of lift-off this morning, the shuttle Discovery and its crew were in orbit. You can find video clips of the mission, read regular status reports, and find a wide variety of other information about the flight by linking to NASA's Return to Flight page.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Online Video Help Files

This isn't a final, final version yet... but if you would like to see the type of online video help files we are developing, take a preview peek at this one on ebooks (featuring yours truly.) We still have some wrinkles (no pun intended), like closed captioning and creating a web page to host the videos, etc. Coming soon... Librarian Jane Smith explains what sources to use for research, Librarian Martina Nicholas explains how to make an interlibrary loan request, and Librarian Cathy Rudowsky explains how to log in to a database from off-campus. This project is part of a funded TLTR grant proposal. If you have any constructive criticism, feel free to post a comment below.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Friday's Miscellanea....

For your edification...

For the techies out there...

And for fans of the trivial...

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Stacks' Appeal...

an editorial from the Chronicle of Higher Education on the "intellectual intensity" of browsing the stacks of a good library...

contrast and compare... Libraries Turn the Page... public libraries struggle to balance services in this article from the Cincinnati Enquirer...

and I Just Google Everything from the Tampa Tribune...

Also from Pittsburgh...

the Teenie Harris archive is now online, courtesy of the Carnegie Museum... remember some of the photos were on exhibit here? Incredible collection of community history...

Large Print in Pittsburgh....

The New York Times reports an art installation at the David Lawrence Convention Center featuring Pittsburgh authors...

Monday, July 18, 2005

My Turn - Part II

For what it's worth, I thought I'd continue my list of summer reads. It's nice to gather my thoughts about what I've read and plan to read in the near future.

Also inspired by my travels, and perhaps a bit more elevated than some of the other titles I'd delved into, I next tackled Portrait of a Lady. I'd read it years ago, but thought it would be a nice way to wind down my visit to England. Henry James is always a worthy read and Isabel Archer is a sad, if honorable, heroine. It was a great way to pass some of the long flight back home.

I borrowed Kite Runner from my daughter after I returned home. She highly recommended it...and I see that Melba does as well. It was the one book I've read this summer that I didn't want to put down. Stunning, brutal, loving, enlightening, touching, heartwarming...strangely enough, these are all adjectives that I can apply to this coming-of-age story set in Afghanistan.

I've just started The Soong Sisters. I was intrigued by what I learned about these powerful women while I traveled through China. Soong Ching Ling married Sun Yat Sen and her sister, Soong Mei-ling was Chiang Kai-shek's wife. Interesting family dynamics there! We toured two of Soong Ching Ling's homes and visited Sun Yat Sen's I was eager to learn more of this woman who I've decided, based on my limited knowledge, could possibly be described as China's Eleanor Roosevelt. I was pleased to discover that Bailey Library has a copy of Emily Hahn's 1946 biography of these two and their sister May-Ling. I've just started it, so I'll have to get back to you.

I'm always looking for a good book to read. I tend to be partial to memoirs and biographies (not that you'd know that from this summer's list!) so if anyone has any suggestions I'd love to hear them.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

A Weekend with Harry...

Originally uploaded by Tomes.
I just finished the latest Harry Potter book (having obtained it at midnight on Friday, see the previous post.) A very satisfying read, if a seeming departure from the earlier books... no real battles or adventures take place until page 570-something, but a lot of loose ends are explained and the mystery of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is illumined a bit. I found myself thinking of Tom Ridge (!) at the beginning as the alert level in the wizarding world was described. Very sad ending... as an adult reader, I am worried about Harry's ability to shoulder the burden of his future. I found it very engrossing as usual and read off and on all weekend so I could donate the book to the library on Monday. Say what you will, it is MAGIC to see so many children and adults eager to read a book.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

At the Stroke of Midnight....

Originally uploaded by Tomes.

the doors of Gallery 164 opened to admit the crowd of Harry Potter fans waiting on the street in Slippery Rock. A good time was had by all and I am well into the first hundred pages... there was one little incident... a wandering (and inebriated?) college student came by and said, "How old are YOU? Get over it!" This did not, however, dampen my enthusiasm... although I was thankful I had abandoned my earlier plans to come in costume. On second thought, a wand might have come in handy.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

New History Database Available...

History Reference Center is the world's most comprehensive full text history reference database designed for secondary schools, public libraries, junior/community colleges, and undergraduate research. It is now available through the EBSCO interface, funded by Access-PA.

The database features cover-to-cover full text for more than 750 historical encyclopedias and other non-fiction books, including award winning titles from many top publishers, including: Branden Publishing, Chelsea House Publishers, Columbia University Press, Compass Point Books, Great Neck Publishing, Houghton Mifflin, Lerner Publishing Group, MacMillan Publishing USA, Mason Crest Publishers, Millbrook Press Inc., Morgan Reynolds Inc., Oliver Press, Oxford University Press, Primedia Special Interest Publications, Rourke Publishing LLC., Salem Press, Stackpole Books, Toucan Valley Publications, Webster Publishing, and more. The database also includes full text for nearly 60 leading history periodicals including America's Civil War, American Heritage, American Historical Review, American History, Archaeology, Aviation History, Beaver, British Heritage, Chinese America: History & Perspectives, Civil War Times, Early American Life, Foreign Affairs, German History, History, History Review, History Today (back to January 1975), History: Review of New Books, Kansas History, Journal of American History, Manitoba History, Military History, Naval History, North Carolina Historical Review, Virginia Magazine of History & Biography, Wild West, World War II and more. Further, the database contains 58,000 historical documents; 43,000 biographies of historical figures; more than 12,000 historical photos and maps; and 87 hours of historical film and video.

A Facelift...

for one of our database vendors...the Gale Group's InfoTrac. The new power search interface has been applied to InfoTrac OneFile and the Gale Virtual Reference Library. Cool new feature..."How to Cite"... check it out on the Journal Articles Databases page.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Books of Summer - My Turn

My bag has been mixed too; I've spent a lot of time traveling, so I've chosen some titles as quick plane reads and others have been inspired by the places I've visited. I started with two Anne Tyler books; I've enjoyed her work since I stumbled across The Accidental Tourist several years ago. As always, her characters are charmingly bumbling and the stories held my interest (through very long flights). Back When We Were Grownups tells of a 53-year old woman, long-widowed, who is trying to reclaim the girl she once was. A Patchwork Planet's Barnaby, is, by society's definitions, a loser, but Tyler has you questioning those definitions by the time you close the cover.

Okay...I picked this book primarily because of the picture on the front. I needed something that would be light and keep my attention during a long flight. This one did the trick. It took up a big chunk of time as we hurtled westward from Shanghai toward Paris. I did quit a few chapters shy of of the end; I could tell it was a tear jerker, and I didn't want to cry in front of my fellow passengers. I finished it up our first night in Paris when I couldn't sleep anyway because I hadn't yet adjusted to the six hour time difference, and yes, I did sob. It's primarily a contemporary story of friendship among middle-aged women--I guess I'm the perfect target audience.

And now to the Renaissance. Since the last leg of our summer marathon was going to be spent in London, I decided that Philippa Gregory's first book in her English royalty series would be the perfect read. At one point in my life I could recite each of the six wives of "bonny Prince Hal" aka King Henry VIII, and the years of their reign, and many other related bits of trivia no one should clutter their brain with. It seemed fitting that I should delve into this story of his second wife, told from the vantage point of her sister, Mary. I've always thought she was the lucky one--despite the fact that she spent several years as Henry's mistress and bore him two children, she managed to escape with her head.

I picked these two up at the National Trust Gift Shop around the corner from our flat in London. While there, my husband was teaching a class on World Wars I and II, so these two titles, which focus on the experiences of women during the second of the wars seemed appropriate. I liked Chocolate Girls, which was made into a BBC movie, better than Kate and Olivia, which struck me as quickly thrown together after the commercial success of the author's earlier novels.

While we were touring Blenheim Palace, our engaging tour guide mentioned that Consuelo Vanderbilt Marlborough Balsan's autobiography was available in the gift shop. I made sure to stop before we left the magnificent grounds of the palace and purchase my own copy. Several years ago I read a biography that focused on a number of the Vanderbilt women, and I have since been intrigued by Consuelo, the prototype Gibson girl, forced by her mother to trade her fortune for an English title. She tells her side of the story with grace and wit, even with some understanding for her mother (which I have a hard time mustering).

That's all for now; I'll add the rest of my summer reading list later.

Books of Summer, Pt. III, IV?

I've lost track, but here is what I have been reading lately--a very mixed bag:

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko
Another young adult novel, one of this year's Newbery honor books, and a tale about children living on Alcatraz Island in the 1930's due to their parents' employment at the infamous prison. Gangster Al Capone plays a part in the warden's daughter's money-making schemes and ultimately, in the fate of the young hero's autistic older sister. Well done, humorous and touching, nicely drawn characterization of the boy who struggles with his sister's disability and his own seeming inability to fit into a new school and neighborhood--interesting side note: baseball is the vehicle for social success (and failure) in this book and another Newbery honor winner, Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy (see below.)

In the Company of Cheerful Ladies by Alexander McCall Smith
Precious Ramotswe of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency in Botswana is back for another series of adventures, handily solved with applications of her unique wisdom. This sixth of the series is as charming as its predecessors, combining humor and the mysteries of human nature with heartfelt descriptions of the African terrain. In this book, Precious deals with a mysterious intruder who leaves behind his trousers, an apprentice mechanic who is involved with a married woman, and a budding romance for her able assistant, Mma Makutsi.

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt
Another of this year's Newbery medalists, this story also deals with a young boy struggling to adjust to a new community. Turner Buckminster is the new minister's son and within moments of his arrival, feels like an outcast. He eventually makes friends with Lizzie Bright, a young African-American girl from a nearby island community. Based on true events in 1912 Maine, the friendship of the two is the centerpiece of a sad tale that involves the destruction of the island's community by land-greedy town fathers and the tragic results. The writing is very moving and engaging, conveying the tension among the characters very well.

Lucia Lucia by Adriana Trigiani
Recommended by a friend, this light novel combines fashion, Italy, Italians, and New York--all subjects dear to my heart--and was a thoroughly satisfying read. This is the tale of Lucia Sartori, a "career girl" in 1950, and how she struggles with the questions of marriage and family, with some surprising twists. It was lovely to imagine that simpler, safer time--but the strictures of the era were also clearly revealed. All of the details felt right and the story was engrossing. I actually tried to sneak this novel along when attending a baseball game, but was "busted" by my husband and son. 55 years later, it seems that men are still trying to tell us what is best.

Straight Man by Richard Russo
This academic novel is strongly reminiscent of John Updike and Michael Chabon's Wonder Boys, but that is fine with me--I like them. This is the picaresque tale of an English department chairman at a small college in the rust belt of Pennsylvania, who threatens to kill one goose a day at the college pond until the chancellor releases his budget. Let me know when things start to sound familiar. From the departmental squabbling to the Women's Studies Center in the basement of a campus building, this book eerily reflects life in Slippery Rock--or perhaps all college campuses. Recommended for all faculty with a sense of humor--I enjoyed this tremendously.

Festa: Recipes and Recollections of Italian Holidays by Helen Barolini
I am struggling with this one, but find it very interesting when I can focus on it. The author prefaces each collection of recipes with fascinating details about the relevant holidays, the saints they honor, and accompanying traditions. After enjoying all of the delightful narratives listed above, it is difficult to settle into this cookbook/memoir/calendar of saints. That said, I would like to acquire my own copy for future culinary consultations.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

A Worthy Cause...

Room to Read... because world change begins with educated children.

Monday, July 11, 2005

On the Road

I just returned from Europe and China and, while I visited many more museums than libraries, I did make a stop in the National Library of China (do I look like a tourist or what?) and also spent some time in the British Library in London. Both were marvelous; the National Library of China was particularly interesting to me. It was state-of-the-art; I felt like I'd walked into a major university library at home. The British Library has an amazing array of exhibits in their "Treasures" room including the Magna Carta, the Lindisfarne Gospels, Shakespeare's first folio, and sound recordings of such famous people as Florence Nightingale and Virginia Woolf.

"The Most Hated Librarian in America"...

Among poets, that on for an account of the librarian who established Foetry, a web site that reveals the alleged corruptions of the poetry world (from ResourceShelf.)

Sunday, July 10, 2005

News from London's Libraries...

The British Medical Association Library
Notes on the British Library via
A first hand account from someone in the British Library at the time of the explosions

Thursday, July 07, 2005


Via Lifehacker, a method for insuring the completion and timely return of your library books...

And since we are on the subject, did you know you can renew your books through the online catalog? Login to "Account Information" and renew away (unless of course, you have already renewed 5 times or someone else has requested the item or you have audiovisual material checked out.)

Good News for Pennsylvania Public Libraries...

In ongoing Pennsylvania state budget discussions, some good news for Pennsylvania's public libraries:
  • Public libraries received $2 million more than the Governor proposed.
  • Library funding increased overall by $3.4 million in the midst of a very tough year.
  • Every libary will receive an increase of at least 3.5 percent.
  • District centers will receive a bit extra to recover from deeper cuts two years ago.

Other issues aside, thanks to the state legislators and Governor Rendell for working toward the restoration of former funding formulas and for recognizing the importance of public libraries in the Commonwealth.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

More Ebooks!

UPDATE: Cataloger Aiping Chen-Gaffey informs us that, as of this minute, 5,816 new ebooks are now accessible through the online catalog. Over 30,000 ebooks are available--take one for a test drive soon.

Be There or Be a Blast-Ended Skrewt...

Gallery 164 is hosting a Harry Potter party at midnight on July 16th! Order your copy from them today and pick it up that night for 30% off! Call 724-794-3600 or visit the bookstore, located on S. Main Street in Slippery Rock. Door prizes..refreshments..Harry Potter movies playing all week in the Gallery...join the fun!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Best Books for Babies....

Baby Bettie
Originally uploaded by Tomes.
An annual list from Pittsburgh's early literacy group, Beginning with Books.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Enjoy the 4th!

From the Library of Congress, July 4 in History

From Awesome Library, Fourth of July Celebrations of the Past

From the National Council on Firework Safety, Cautions

From Lifehacker, How to Photograph Fireworks

From the Census Bureau, Fast Facts on the Fourth

By the way, the library is closed until Tuesday, July 5.