Reblog: Card Tricks–Decline and Fall of the Old Card Catalog

In the last century (which was in the previous millennium) when I attended Library School (before they all became iSchools),  I spent hours trying to figure out the correct Library of Congress Subject heading for women in the military.  That was not subject heading,  neither was females in the military (or any of the separate services).  I can not remember how I stumbled across the magic subject heading of United States–Department of Defense–Women. Once I learned that magic combination, I could then find information about the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines.

Today it’s much easier to type the keywords in women and the military.

For those of you who feel nostalgic or are old enough to remember the card catalog, read

about the not-so good old days.


Reblog: NYPL Top 10 Checkouts of All Time

Libraries are more than just  a collection of books.  They are also places, buildings, meeting spots, and makerspaces.

In honor of February is Love Your Library (the physical library building) month:

The New York Public Library is celebrating 125 years by unveiling its top 10 checkouts of all time.

Drive-Up Library Window

We have drive-up banks, pharmacies, restaurants, dry cleaners, churches, Starbucks, Brew-Thrus, and even a few drive-in movies left.   The Northside Branch of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library was the first library I’ve ever seen with a drive-up window

North Side Library Drive Up Service Sign

Since I was there for a read and critique group, I had to find out how and why, so I asked a librarian.

JMRL Library Hold Locations“It’s primary purpose is to pick up a hold.  You can select either the Northside Library or the Northside Library or the Northside Drive-Up.  If you want to renew one of our 7-day books, you can do that too,”  the librarian told me.

“In 2012 Albemarle County entered into a contingent contract to purchase property owned by Martha Jefferson Hospital at 705 West Rio Road, formerly known as the Phillips Supply Building. In 2013 the contract was finalized, several community planning meetings were held, and HBM Architects was hired to design the new library. One of the reasons for the selection of HBM Architects was the firm’s experience with re-purposing buildings to provide public library services.


Renovation of the Phillips Supply Building began in March 2014 and was completed in February 2015. The new library opened on March 16, 2015. Highlights of the new building include a maker space with a 3-D printer, a drive-up service window, dozens of Internet computers, and multiple public meeting rooms.”

Reblog: 14 Paris Museums Place 100K Works of Art Online for Free Download

Do you want to be able to download free copies of of some famous paintings that just entered the public domain?

My Modern Met just posted:

The start of a new decade has also brought a new wave of art entering the public domain. And in France, a collective of 14 museums is starting this year by placing over 100,000 pieces of art on its online portal—all of which are free to download and use as you please. Paris Musées, which runs the 14 City of Paris museums, uses the latest technology to digitize its work, ensuring high-quality imagery.

Claude Monet (1840-1926). “Setting sun in Lavacourt”. Oil on canvas. 1880. Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris, Petit Palais.

So if you are a lover of Rembrandt, Cézanne, or Monet, get ready to start searching. These great painters are among the artists whose work is available through the portal. Aside from being able to download a high-resolution, 300-DPI digitization of an artwork, the online collection includes basic information about the piece, as well as instructions on how the public domain license works.

Saving a Local Bookstore

Cynthia Reyes’ blogpost about a British bookstore is heartwarming and how sometimes twitterstorms can be a good thing.

Cynthia Reyes

If you love books, and value bookstores, you’ll want to read this remarkable story. It started with a single tweet:
Petersfield Bookshop@The_PBS


Not a single book sold today…


We think think this maybe the first time ever…

We know its miserable out but if you’d like to help us out please find our Abebooks offering below, all at 25% off at the moment….

View image on Twitter
Read the story here:

View original post

Reblog: How Writer’s Map Their Imaginary Worlds

Writer's MapDo you like to look at maps and wonder who lives there, who drew the map, what world is this? This Atlas Obscura article is a true treasure trove of fictional maps created by some of your favorite authors.  From Thomas More’s Utopia through the Swiss Family Robinson and JRR Tolkien, fiction and fantasy books have taken readers to places they never imagined and only readers can explore.

One of life’s great treats, for a lover of books (especially fantasy books), is to open a cover to find a map secreted inside and filled with the details of a land about to be discovered. A writer’s map hints at a fully imagined world, and at the beginning of a book, it’s a promise. In the middle of a book, it’s a touchstone and a guide. And at the end, it’s a reminder of all the places the story has taken you.

Reblog: Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity

Adversity can be your boss, your budget (or lack thereof), your patrons, your ancient technology, your colleagues, your disintegrating infrastructure, your bureaucracy, your lack of career mobility or whatever stresses you out…

I do love the word Noble for Librarians.

The Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced With Adversity

About the The Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced With Adversity

It is of the opinion of Lemony Snicket, author, reader, and alleged malcontent, that librarians have suffered enough. Therefore he is establishing an annual prize honoring a librarian who has faced adversity with integrity and dignity intact. The prize will be a generous amount of cash from Mr. Snicket’s disreputable gains, along with an odd, symbolic object from his private stash, and a certificate, which may or may not be suitable for framing. It is Mr. Snicket’s hope, and the ALA’s, that the Snicket Prize will remind readers everywhere of the joyous importance of librarians and the trouble that is all too frequently unleashed upon them.

Deadline for Submissions is February 3, 2020.

January Days to Celebrate

janusJanuary is the first month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendars and the first of seven months to have a length of 31 days. The first day of the month is known as New Year’s Day. It is, on average, the coldest month of the year within most of the Northern Hemisphere (where it is the second month of winter) and the warmest month of the year within most of the Southern Hemisphere (where it is the second month of summer). In the Southern hemisphere, January is the seasonal equivalent of July in the Northern hemisphere and vice versa.

January (in Latin, Ianuarius) is named after Janus, the god of beginnings and transitions in Roman mythology.[1]

January 1 is New Year’s Day. For many people. it is a time to make (and usually break) New Year’s resolutions.

happy new year

January 2 is National Science Fiction Day. While not an official holiday,
“the date was actually chosen to correspond with the official birth date of famous science fiction writer Isaac Asimov’s.”
Goodreads best science fiction 2019 titles include:

  • Recusion by Blake Crouch
  • Dark Age by Pierce Brown
  • Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
  • This is Hos You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar
  • The Deep by Rivers Solomon

January 6 is Epiphany.  It is also the 12th day of Christmas.  The Armenia celebrates Christmas on January 6.

It  observed as a church festival in commemoration of the coming of the Magi as the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles or in the Eastern Church in commemoration of the baptism of Christ


national sticker dayJanuary 13 is National Sticker Day. 

National Sticker Day is January 13 in honor of R. Stanton Avery, who was born on that day in 1907. Avery was the original creator of the adhesive label with a removable backing.
I’m not sure why ALA is celebrating on January 20.

January 16 is Appreciate a Dragon Day.  Although the two most common types of dragons are the European and the Chinese versions, “Researchers think that ideas about dragons developed independently of each other in different parts of the world, rather than in just one place or with just one person. Scientists believe that people’s ideas and stories about dragons were inspired by real animals, such as dinosaurs, crocodiles, whales, or large lizards, and the dragon was born! ”  To read more about dragons, click

Appreciate a Dragon Day began when Donita K. Paul wanted to celebrate the publishing of her first fantasy novel “Dragonspell”, part of the five-volume series, The DragonKeeper Chronicles.

martin luther king I have a dreamJanuary 20 is Martin Luther King Jr Day. Each year on the third Monday of January, America honors the birth, life, and dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. King was an American clergyman and civil-rights leader. He became minister of the Dexter Ave. Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama in 1954. He led the black boycott of segregated city bus lines in 1956 and gained a major victory as a civil-rights leader when Montgomery buses began to operate on a desegregated basis.

King organized the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), which provided a base to pursue further civil-rights activities, in the South and later nationwide. His philosophy of nonviolent resistance resulted in his arrest on numerous occasions in the 1950s and 60s. His 1963 protest in Birmingham, Alabama earned him worldwide attention. He brought together more than 200,000 people on the March on Washington in August 1963 where he delivered his famous “ I Have a Dream” speech. In 1964, at the age of 35, he was the youngest man and the third black man to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

January 28 is National  Data Privacy Day.

data privacy dayData Privacy Day is an international holiday, which purpose is to raise awareness and promote data privacy education. It is celebrated in the United States, Canada, and 27 European countries. Data Privacy Day’s educational initiative originally focused on raising awareness among teens and young adults about the importance of protecting the privacy of their personal information online, particularly in the context of social networking. The educational focus has expanded over the past four years to include families, consumers, and businesses.

What  are you doing to protect  your Data?


Reblog: 13 Spirited Facts about How the Grinch Stole Christmas

the grinchMental Floss as rounded up 13 spirited facts about how the Ginch Stole Christmas.

Read more about Dr. Seuss.




Is  your favorite Chrismas cartoon classic:

a.  Charlie Brown Christmas

b.  How the Grind Stole Christmas

c.  Mr. Magoo’s  Christmas Carol

d.  Frosty the Snowman

e.  Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

A Very Library Pets Christmas Eve Story-Pt 4

No Time like the Present

Houdini investigated the entire top floor:  Pippa’s bedroom, her bathroom with its animal shower curtain and hooked rug with a hamster on it, her parents’ bed and bathroom, and an office with a bookcase, computer, desk and chair.  He needed a place to hide that provided warmth and access to food since he had been in such a hurry to escape that he’d had no time to fill his cheek pouches with rodent chow.    The candles in each window provided enough soft light for his explorations. I’d like to explore downstairs, but I might get caught.  Better wait until after everyone goes to sleep tonight.

Pippa’s closet seemed like the best choice.  It was convenient to his cage and food dish, plus it was dark.  An abandoned sock in the rear corner would make an impromptu hamster nest.  Houdini carefully snuck back into the room using the quilt to hide from Pippa and the gerbils.

“Houdini, where are you?”  Pippa called as she wandered from room to room.  “If you don’t come out, Santa Claus will not bring you any presents.”

I don’t care about Santa Claus.  My freedom is all I want this Christmas.

“Mom and Dadoo, have you seen Houdini downstairs?” Pippa called from the top of the stairs.

“No, we haven’t,” her father yelled back.  “You better find him before he chews any wires.”

“He’s never done that in the library.  Why would he do it here?”  Pippa tossed her hair back indignantly.

“Because it’s a strange place and rodents have an instinctive need to chew,” her father replied with a sigh.  “He doesn’t have any chew sticks.”

“Houdini would never do that,” Pippa said, crossing her fingers behind her back.

Houdini heard Pippa defending him to her father.  He almost felt bad about escaping from his cage, but not quite enough to come out of the closet.  He didn’t see her crossed fingers.  Instead, he burrowed deeper into her sock, curled up and fell asleep.

After searching the entire upstairs for Houdini, Pippa went downstairs to dinner.  When dinner was over, she helped her mother with the dishes.  Next she got out the special Santa plate.  She put three homemade frosted sugar cookies that had survived Story Hour, poured milk into the matching mug, and set four carrots out for the reindeer.  Her father added a small glass of wine because he felt that Santa might prefer something besides cookies and milk.

“Mom and Dadoo, I’m going back upstairs to look for Houdini.  Then I’m going to bed. I want to be awake at Midnight to see if the animals talk.  At least Melville and Dewey will be there, even if Houdini is still Missing in Action.”

“Good Night, Pippa,” her parents said and gave her a special Christmas hug and kiss.  Since Pippa was still wearing her candy cane pajamas from Story Hour, all she had to do was wash her face and hands and brush her teeth before going to bed. “Don’t forget to say your prayers.”

“Will do,” she replied as she climbed up the stairs.

“Hi Gerbs, have you seen Houdini?” she asked.

Dewey looked up from the exercise wheel where he was running some after dinner laps.  He was still sensitive from Houdini’s remarks about his expanding stomach.  “Nope, no sign of him,” he told Pippa.

Melville just shook his head.  He was too lazy from overeating sunflower seeds to have the energy to talk.

Houdini barely woke up when he heard the voices.  He stretched out his pink paws, yawned big enough to show off his incisors, rolled over and went back to sleep in the sock. Not my problem.  Even a hamster needs his beauty sleep.

Pippa made one more search of the upstairs, including the closet.  She noticed the sock.   “I wonder if Houdini is hiding in there.  Nah, not lumpy enough to hide a hamster.”  Pippa had forgotten how flat hamsters and gerbils could make themselves when they were trying to slide under doors.  If their heads could get through, the rest of the body would follow.

Tired from the long eventful day and the stress of worrying about the animals, she quickly wiped the toothbrush a few times over her front teeth, slid a damp washcloth over her face and hands, and said the shortest prayer she knew.  “God Bless Mom and Dadoo, Melville and Dewey, and Houdini wherever he is.  Please wake me up in time to hear the animals talk at Midnight. Night, night God.”   She was asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow.


It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

Just before Midnight, the sound of music softly flowed through the upstairs.  Melville and Dewey woke up.

“Dewey, do you remember the story that Pippa told us at Story Hour today?”  Melville relied on his brother to pay attention during Story Hours.

“Yes, would you like to hear it again?” Dewey was reluctant to show off on Christmas Eve, unless he was invited.  It was the one night of the year that it paid to behave.

“You recite the Night before Christmas and sing Away in the Manger every year.  Since we are at Pippa’s I’d like to hear the story that she read us.”

The sound of the gerbils’ voices woke Pippa up.  She sat up quietly and wrapped her blanket around her.  As her father had predicted, the night had gotten very cold.

Dewey began to recite “In the barn on Christmas Eve, After all the people leave, The animals in voices low Remember Christmas long ago.”

He finished the last verse “Twelve chimes rang out from far away, The lovely bell of Christmas Day.  And every beast bows low its head, For one small babe in a manger bed.”

As Dewey finished the story, the base chapel bells began to ring.

Houdini had been listening to the story from his sock. As the bells rang, he scrambled out of the closet.  “And guess who is talking in Pippa’s house.  It must be the gerbils because there is no stirring mouse.”

“Houdini!  Merry Christmas!”  Pippa yelled as she saw Houdini emerge from the closet door.

“What about us?” Melville and Dewey complained.

“Dewey is the one that told us about the birth of Jesus.” Melville liked to brag about his brother if it made the hamster look bad.

“Melville is the one who asked me to tell the story.”  Dewey wanted to share the glory.

“Gerbs, you both did great.  Merry Christmas to you too.  Now I’ve got all three of my best friends together and it’s going to be the best Christmas ever.”

As she was speaking, she made sure to reach down and snatch Houdini as he tried to slip back into the closet.    She gave him a sunflower seed and quickly stuck him back in his cage.  As soon as he was inside, she firmly put the lid back on the cage and made sure the door was secure.

Houdini immediately ate a belated Christmas Eve dinner, drank from his water bottle, and burrowed into the back of his soup can that Pippa had thoughtfully lined with chips.  “Night, Pippa.  Merry Christmas. “

“God Bless us everyone,” Melville concluded in his best Tiny Tim impersonation since he was the youngest.

A Very Library Pets Christmas Eve Story-Pt 3

It’s So Nice to Be Home for the Holidays.

 As soon as the car started, Houdini tried to roll his soup can below the door in the mesh top where he had noticed that the lid was not on tight.  Brenda’s father made a right turn out of the library parking lot.  The can rolled back over his right foot, hitting his leg.  Ouch!  Better wait until the car stops.

A few minutes later, the car stopped in front of a row of identical town house front doors.  Only the Christmas decorations differentiated the quarters.  Some had wreathes on the door, others were festooned in white or multicolored lights.  A big menorah shone in one the front yards.

Pippa’s father had placed a big blowup of Snoopy and Woodstock in their front yard.  Multicolored Christmas lights rimmed the front door.  Brenda had placed a single battery operated candle in each window.  The Christmas tree, in the family room around back, could not be seen from the street.

Brenda picked up the gerbil cage, while Pippa picked up Houdini’s cage, causing the can to roll back over his foot.  “Watch it!”  He squeaked.

“Sorry, Houdini,” she responded as she wrapped the towels more firmly about the cage.  The top re-settled back on the glass aquarium cage.

Dang it.  I’ll have to try to escape later.  The hamster hobbled around his cage, diving into his soup can as it rolled by.

Pippa’s father had the front door open so Brenda and Pippa could bring the cages into the house.

“Where do you want these cages, Pippa?” Brenda asked as she sat the gerbil cage on the desk in the living room.

“Up in my room.  There’s space on the other twin bed,” Pippa replied looking over her shoulder as she carried Houdini’s cage up the stairs.

“Do you want to see if the animals talk at Midnight?” her father asked.

“Of course, Dadoo.  That’s what I told Santa I wanted for Christmas.“  Pippa bounced up the top two stairs.

“Watch it, Pippa!”  Houdini squeaked as he bounced off the sides of his soup can.

“Sorry Houdini,” Pippa slowed down to a walk as she entered her bedroom and deposited Houdini’s cage on the animal print quilt that her grandmother had made her.

Brenda followed right behind with gerbil cage. “Take the covers off so we can see,” complained Melville and Dewey as they felt the cage placed on the bed.

“I smell Houdini.”  Melville wiggled his nose and whiskers as he smelled the faint scent of pee coming from the chips in Houdini’s cage.

“I can see him too,” replied Dewey as the towels were removed from the around the gerbil cage.

“Har, har,” Houdini was not amused as he hobbled to the front of his soup can.  “I see two sorry looking gerbils with linty brown fur.  Did someone get wrapped in a towel?”

“No, our beach towel was older and started shedding as it rubbed against the mesh in the top of the cage.  Why aren’t you covered in lint too?”  Melville asked as he searched unsuccessfully through the chips for a sunflower seed

“Pippa likes me better.  Plus I was smart enough to travel in my soup can, unlike some gerbils I know.”

“You only hid in the soup can after it rolled over your foot as you tried to escape.  I heard you tell Pippa to watch it while we were riding in the car.”  Dewey was clever at deductive reasoning.  He groomed his whiskers to show that he was a scholar and a gentleman gerbil.

Houdini kept searching his cage for a way to escape, but the lid was on tight.  Maybe Pippa will bring us some food and I can escape then.

Pippa heard the animals sniping at each other.  “Knock it off, guys.  If you don’t behave, Santa won’t bring you any sunflower seeds.”

“Speaking of sunflower seeds, why don’t you be a good girl and go fetch us some?”  Melville and Dewey both stood by their empty food dish and looked at Pippa with big sad eyes.  Each of them had a paw clutching the side of the empty dish.

“We’d like some water to wash them down with too.”  Houdini crawled over to the empty water bottle trying to unsuccessfully click the little ball at the bottom of the siphon.  No water dripped out because Brenda had emptied the water bottles before the cages were moved.  Water might have seeped out of the bottles and drenched the animals.

“All right, guys.  At your service.  Back in a minute with the food and the drinks.  Would you like anything else?”  Pippa bowed to both cages before turning smartly on her heel, dashing out of the room and clattering down the stair to the kitchen with the water bottles.  “Mom, did you remember to bring the rodent food with you?”

“Hope she brings us sunflower seeds.”  Melville began another fruitless search through the chips for any forgotten or abandoned food.

“All you gerbils ever think about is food,” Houdini enjoyed acting superior to the two brothers.

“And all you ever think about is escaping,” retorted Dewey, glaring at the hamster through beady black eyes.

“At least I have interests beyond my stomach,” Houdini glanced pointedly at Dewey’s rotund middle.

Dewey sat straight up which immediately streamlined his middle.  “You look pudgy too when you roll the can around your cage.”

Before Houdini could respond, Pippa bounded into the room with a bag of sunflower seeds, a bag of rodent chow, and two empty water bottles.

“Where is the water, Pippa?”  Houdini noticed that the gerbils were getting the requested food, but the water was not forthcoming.

“Sorry Houdini. I’ll fill the water bottles in the bathroom as soon as I fill the food dishes.”

Pippa opened the gerbil cage door lid and removed the food dish.  She filled it with chow and sprinkled a few sunflower seeds on top.  She sat the food dish down.  The gerbils shoved sunflower seeds into their cheeks before the door closed.

Pippa followed the same procedure with Houdini.  However, instead of rushing to the food dish like the gerbils, he made a show of standing in the corner where his water bottle should go.

“Ok, ok, Houdini.  I’ll get you some water.” Pippa grabbed the water bottle and in her hurry to fill it, forgot to close the door.

As soon as she left the room, Houdini rolled his can to the open door, jumped on the can and hopped out of the opening.  He immediately jumped down on the bed and scurried down the quilt to the floor board on the wall side of the bed.  “Hasta la vista, gerbils!  Time to explore Pippa’s house.”

The gerbils could not see him once he disappeared below the top of the bed.  “He disappeared quicker than I expected,” Melville spit sunflower seeds out of his mouth as he talked with his mouth full.

Dewey finished chewing his seed before responding. “He’ll be back when he gets hungry.  Trouble is that Pippa will not know where to find him.  He does not have a crash pad here like he does in the library.”

Houdini could hear the gerbils talking about him as he scurried around the baseboard of Pippa’s room.  He was careful to stay hidden by the quilt.  He made it out Pippa’s door and down the hall before she could return from the bathroom.

“Where’s Houdini?”  Pippa wailed when she saw the empty cage.  “Which way did he go?”

The gerbils ignored her question as they continued to stuff their mouths with chow.

A Very Library Pets Christmas Eve Story, Pt 2.

Baby It’s Cold Outside

On Saturday night, gale force winds gathered off Cape Hatteras and blew up the East Coast. One of its first stops was Cape Henry, where Ft. Story was located at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.  Wind roared over the sand dunes, kicking up scratchy grains of sand and prickly bits of dune grass and wooly beachheather.  It snuck in through the loose fitting windows of the Ft. Story Library, strewing sand across the freshly vacuumed library rug.  It also made the quarters of Pippa and her parents shake, rattle, and almost seem to roll. The racket woke them up several times.

When the family got up for breakfast, the red mercury in the thermometer was so low, Pippa had to stare hard to even find it.  “We gotta  check on the animals in the library,” she urged her parents before the coffee had finished dripping out of the coffee maker.

“If they have survived the night, they will be fine until we have breakfast,” her father said reaching for his first cup of morning coffee.

“Dad!”  Pippa was horrified at the idea that rodents might not have survived the night.  “Please tell me you’re kidding.”

“I’m sure they’re fine.  Let me finish my coffee and will go over there to check on them.  We also want to make sure that we leave the water dripping in the faucets so the pipes don’t freeze.”

“Pippa, gather up some empty boxes and put beach towels in the bottom.  We can set the gerbil cage in one box and the hamster cage in the other if we do have to bring them home.  This will help protect them if we have to carry them out in the cold.”  Brenda knew that giving Pippa something to do would make the wait easier for both Pippa and her parents.

By 8:30, Pippa in her Santa hat and red car coat, two wine case sized cardboard boxes, and four folded beach towels waited by the front door for her parents to finally finish sipping their coffee and watching the weekend weather report.  She was too impatient to even hear the weatherman forecasting that the temperature would fall through the twenties and into the teens by nightfall.  If she had listened, she would have become even more frantic to rescue the library pets.

Finally at 8:31, Pippa and her parents were in the car for the short drive to the library door. Pippa was out the car door before her father had time to remove his seatbelt.  She jumped up and down trying to keep warm as her mother fumbled with the library keys in the biting wind that whipped around the side of the library.

“Go get the boxes and towels out of the car,” her mother reminded her as she finally got the door opened.

Pippa wanted to rush into the library to check on the pets.  Her parents’ first priority would be to make sure the library water pipes had not frozen.  She also knew that the boxes and blankets would be needed if they wanted to remove the pets safely and put them into the car so she did as she was asked.

Within seconds, the blankets and boxes were left at the circulation desk as Pippa took the four steps up to the Children’s Room by skipping every other step.   The fronts of both cages were blocked from view as the gerbils and Houdini had barricaded themselves behind the insulated covering of chewed up chips.  The warmth of their bodies had created relatively warm spaces behind the temporary doors of shredded chips.

“Gerbs!  Houdini!” she called as she rushed up to the cages.  Two whiskery noses emerged from the gerbil soup can as they heard Pippa’s voice.  Houdini’s blonde head poked through the chips a few seconds later.  He never wanted to give the impression that he really cared what Pippa said or did.  Pippa and the gerbils knew Houdini better than that.

“Guess who’s coming to my house?”  Pippa was so excited she almost sang the words.

“Will she bring our cages too? “  Melville asked Dewey.

“Of course she will, Moronic Gerb,” Houdini butted in before Dewey could answer.

“Our cages make it easier for her to carry us,” Dewey explained.  “It will also make it harder for Houdini to escape.”  He wanted to pay the hamster back for calling his brother a moronic gerbil.

Houdini kicked a small dry hamster pellet towards the gerbil.  It bounced back at him after hitting the side of the glass cage. He brushed it off his blonde fur and burrowed back into his soup can to sulk.  Pippa picked up his cage and he popped his head back out immediately to see what was going on.

“Quit shaking my cage, Pippa.”

She seemed to obey as she sat Houdini’s cage down.  Pippa realized that she had left the boxes and beach towels down at the circulation desk in her hurry to make sure the pets had survived the cold night in the library.  She jumped the four steps to the main floor of the library and dashed to the circ desk.  She swept the two boxes and four towels in her arms before running back to the steps.  She tried unsuccessfully to jump up the four steps.  Boxes and towels fell out of her arms.  Since she had not taken the time to do it right, she had to take the time to do it twice.

On her second trip up the stairs, again taking them two at a time, she successfully delivered her armful of boxes and towels to one of the short tables near the double-sided bookcase where the cages had pride of place on the top of the waist high picture book shelves.  This allowed the pets to see and be seen by the children visiting the children’s room.  Brenda could monitor the cages from the library office, especially when Tommy was in the library.  His curiosity had not yet killed the rat, but it was sometimes a close-run thing.

Pippa carefully sat a beach towel in the bottom of each box.  She made sure the towel cushioned the box on all four sides.  Next she sat Houdini’s cage in the middle of the towel.  As he was poking his head out of his can, she placed the second towel over the top of his cage, cutting off the light.

“What’s going on here?” he complained as the light suddenly dimmed.  He could hear Pippa’s muffled explanation.

“It’s to help keep the cold out, Houdini.”  Sometimes it seemed as if she might actually understand what he was saying, but that seemed a little farfetched to the hamster.

She then repeated the two steps to the gerbils’ cage.  Since they had heard her explanation to Houdini, they knew what to expect.

Pippa’s parents came out of the two bathrooms. “Water is  dripping so the pipes haven’t frozen yet,” her father said.  “Hope this will keep them from freezing tonight.  We’ll have to come back on Christmas Day tomorrow to make sure they are still dripping.”

“Pippa, let me help you carry the cages out to the car.  That way we can do it in one trip.  Which cage do you want to carry?” her mother asked.

“I’ll take Houdini.  You carry the gerbs.  I put the second towel across the top of the cage to help protect them from the wind.”

“Good idea, Pippa.”

In their haste to get the animals in and out the car quickly, they did not notice that when Pippa picked up Houdini’s cage, the edge to the top lifted just a bit when it rubbed up against the towel.


A Very Library Pets Christmas Eve Story-Pt 1

The Last Story Hour before Christmas

It was the Saturday before Christmas and the last Ft. Story Library story hour of the year.  All of the children, including Pippa, wore their favorite pajamas. Since Pippa’s mother, Brenda, was the Children’s Librarian, Pippa had appointed herself the caretaker for the library pets—Melville and Dewey, brown gerbil brothers and Houdini, a blonde Teddy Bear hamster.   Pippa was reading the closing story, The  Animals’ Christmas Eve by Gale Weirsum.

“In the barn on Christmas Eve

 After all the people leave,

 The animals in voices low,

Remember Christmas long ago.”

Pippa read all twelve verses about the story of Jesus’s birth.  It included the three kings, sheep, donkeys, goats, doves, cows, horses, cats, dogs and other animals.

“Where’s the verse about gerbils and hamsters?” four-year-old Tommy asked as he looked at the three library pets following the story from their nearby cages.

“There isn’t one,”  Pippa answered.

“Why not?” Tommy persisted.  His brown eyes widened under his red Santa hat and he stretched out the legs of his footy pajamas.  They were tired from being crossed during story hour.

“Because the cats scared the barn mice away.  They probably did not have gerbil and hamsters in Bethlehem.”

“Why not?”  That was Tommy’s favorite question.

“Why not indeed?”  Melville asked his brother.

“Just wait.  Pippa will have an answer,” Dewey replied.

“Pippa always has an answer,” Houdini said snarkily.  “It may not be correct, but she has one.”

Pippa replied. “Gerbils are from Mongolia, not Israel.   Hamsters are from Syria, so there may have been hamsters.  None of the Bible stories ever mention hamsters.”

“That’s discrimination.” Houdini started running in his wheel to work off some frustration.
“How could the Wise Men be wise if they did not slip a gerbil or two into their robe pocket?”  Melville wondered, as his brother rooted through the chips for a sunflower seed.

“Maybe their robes don’t have pockets,” Dewey said spitting out bits of sunflower seed shell.

“Oh.” Tommy shook his head at Pippa’s explanation. Before he could ask another question, the door blew open sending cold air streaming over the children seated on the children’s room floor.  The animals rushed to the shelter of their chip lined soup cans.

“Ho, ho, ho!”  Santa stumped into the library carrying a big sack over his red shoulder.  “Merry Christmas, Boys and Girls.  Are you ready to tell old Santa what you want him to bring you for Christmas?”

Pippa looked at Santa suspiciously, he looked like her father with a pillow stuffed into the front of his red pants.  Before she could say anything, her mother came over to her and placed a warning finger up to Pippa’s lips–the universal signal to be quiet, or else. Pippa knew better than to say a word.

“Are you a real Santa?”  Tommy scrambled up from the floor and stared out the window. “I don’t see any reindeer.  Where is your sled?”

“If I weren’t a real Santa, why would I be here?  This is an Army base so I got here by Humvee.”  Tommy could see a Humvee parked outside the library.  It had a big red bow on the steering wheel,  Humvees did not usually have red bows.  “Now, Tommy, tell me what you want for Christmas.”

Santa sat down in the rocking chair, where Pippa had been reading her story.  Timmy crawled up in his lap while the rest of the children formed a line next to the chair. Pippa was the last in line.

“Santa, I want a bicycle with training wheels, a Gameboy, and a Teddy Bear hamster just like Houdini, but I don’t want my hamster to run away or bite.”

Houdini took exception to Tommy’s comment.  “Tommy, if you want something that doesn’t bite or run away then you want a gerbil, not a Teddy Bear Hamster.”  Melville and Dewey turned their backs to him so they could better hear what Santa said to Tommy.

“Well Tommy, I’ll have to check with my elves to see what we have waiting for you, back at the North Pole.  We’ll see what we can do for you.  Have you been a good boy?”

Tommy nodded his head yes while Pippa shook her head no.  Tommy asked too many “Why not?” questions.

Santa took a candy cane and a small wrapped box out of his sack.  He handed them to Tommy.  “You can eat the candy cane now, but you shouldn’t open the box until Christmas morning,” he said as Tommy started to tear the bow off the box.

“Why not?”  Tommy asked as he continued to pull the bow off the box.  Before he could get it completely open, his mother marched up and took the box from him.

“Not until Christmas morning, young man,” she said sternly.  “Or I will tell Santa not to bring you anything but a lump of coal.”

Tommy’s brown eyes opened wide.  He wasn’t sure whether to believe his mother or not.  But it was too close to Christmas to risk finding out.

Tommy tore the plastic paper off the candy cane, popped it into his mouth, and gave Santa a sticky fingered high five before scrambling off his lap.

The rest of the line moved smoothly.  Finally, it was Pippa’s turn.  “What do you want for Christmas, Pippa?” Santa asked.

“I’d like to come to the library on Christmas Eve at Midnight to see if the animals really do tell the story of Jesus’s birth.”

“Well, Pippa, the library is closed.  You need to be home in bed asleep, if you want Santa Clause to leave you anything.”

“Aren’t you going to ask her, if she’s been good?”  Tommy interrupted.

“Pippa have you been good?  Have you fed Melville, Dewey, and Houdini without your mother having to tell you?”

“Yes,” Pippa only fudged a little bit.  She took her responsibilities for the library animals seriously most of the time.

Santa looked at her knowingly over the top of his square-shaped spectacles.  “Hmmm,” was all he said. Then he smiled, gave her a candy cane and a small wrapped box.  “Don’t open the box until Christmas morning.”

He stood up, swept the empty sack back over his shoulder, flung the door open, tramped down the stairs and climbed into the Humvee.  He waved his white-gloved hand and the Humvee lurched off with a deep-throated growl.  Brenda closed the door behind him, as one last cold Atlantic gust blew in through the closing door.

“Does anyone want some hot chocolate and Christmas cookies to warm up?” she asked pointing to a table in the main part of the library.  While the children had been listening to Story Hour, the mothers had made hot chocolate and set out plates of frosted cookies, gingerbread men, and peanut butter cookies with Hershey kisses stuck in the middle of each one.

Pippa brought out the sunflower seeds and chew sticks that she had been saving for the small rodents’ Christmas gifts.

“Me first,” squealed Melville as he pushed Dewey out of the way when Pippa’s hand descended through the door in the cage top. Dewey sighed, knowing that he would get his seed as soon as his brother got one in his greedy little paw.  They scampered to opposite ends of the cage.  The chew sticks were left in their food dish to be gnawed after the sunflower seeds were gone.

“About time, Pippa,” Houdini said when she finally got to his cage.  He had learned to like sunflower seeds and no longer tried to bite Pippa’s hand when she was delivering food to his cage.

The children were just as greedy for the treats as the gerbils and hamster were for the sunflower seeds.  They scampered down the four stairs to the main floor of the library and crowded around the hot chocolate and cookies.  Hot chocolate splashed out of plastic cups as cookies were dunked, cookie crumbs formed a wreath around the table as each child tried to place the most cookies onto his/her plate, crumbled napkins decorated the wreath like haphazard ornaments.  A half-hour later there was nothing left but an overflowing trash can as mothers shepherded the sugar-hyped kids into their winter coats, hats, and gloves and out the library’s front doors.

As the last car pulled out of the parking lot, Pippa’s father came in carrying a large vacuum from Delta Company (the Army company where he was the First Sergeant).  “You two have been working all afternoon.  I’ll vacuum up this mess and take the trash out.  I want to get this done before the cold front hits this evening.  The weatherman says we may break some records this weekend.”

“How cold is it going to get tonight, Dad?”  Pippa was concerned about the animals being left in the library overnight.  The building did not have good insulation.

“I heard it might get down to about 12 degrees.  If it gets below 20, we need to come back to the library, check on the animals and make sure to leave the water dripping in the bathrooms so the pipes don’t freeze.”

“If it gets too cold, we need to bring Melville and Dewey and Houdini back to our house.  They will be easy to carry in their cages.”

“I think they will be fine here,” said her father.  He didn’t want to get into the animal transport business at Christmas.

“I’d like a Christmas outing,” said Melville.  “I’ve never been to Brenda and Pippa’s house.  Wonder if they have a warm fireplace to set our cage near.”

“Melville, you are such a dreamer,” scoffed his brother.  “They live in a townhouse, not an officer’s mansion.  Plus if we have to go out to the car, we’ll freeze our whiskers off.”

“I’d like to explore Pippa’s house,” said Houdini who was always looking for new places to escape.  Whenever he was able to escape from his cage (which was becoming more difficult as Pippa became familiar with his various escape plans), she was always able to find him in his crash pad under the bookcase in the library office.  She habitually left a few of the pea-sized small rodent kibbles so he had something to eat until she could find him again and return him to his cage.

A few minutes later, the library was clean and the trash taken to the dumpster outside.  Pippa made one last round of the cages to make sure the gerbils and hamster had water and food.  She also made sure that Houdini’s cage was secure, with the mesh lid on tight and the door in the mesh firmly lashed.   They would not be back in the library until Tuesday, the day after Christmas.

“Merry Christmas Houdini, Melville and Dewey,” she called as she turned off the lights.

“Merry Christmas,” squeaked the pets, at least that was what Pippa thought she heard.

Houdini rolled his soup can over to the door in his cage top, climbed up on the can, and tried to butt the door open with his head.  Usually, after a Story Hour party, he was able to escape, but this time Pippa had been careful enough to make sure escape was not an option.  She did not want to have a jailbreak over Christmas.

“Do you think we’ll see Pippa before Christmas?”  Melville asked Dewey.

“I don’t know,” his brother replied as he began gnawing on the red chew stick.

“Why not?” Melville liked the phrase that he had heard Tommy use.

“Because.”  Dewey did not want to quit gnawing the chew stick.  One of his incisors was getting long and he wanted to whittle it down to a more comfortable length.

“Would you two quit chattering?”  Houdini vented his frustration because he had really wanted to escape.

“The powder puff is in a bad mood,” Melville liked to tease Houdini about his long blonde fur.

“At least I don’t ask stupid questions like whether or not we will see Pippa before Christmas.  You heard her father say, they would only come back if the temperature dropped.” Houdini liked to point out others’ mistakes, but not to be reminded of his own.

Dewey shoved the green chew stick at Melville before the gerbil and the hamster could continue the argument.  Melville instinctively started gnawing on the proffered piece of wood.

Houdini decided he had won the argument and dragged his chew stick into the relative privacy of his can.  The back of the can faced towards the gerbils so they could not see him.  He had new escape plans to ponder if they did go to Pippa’s house because the temperature dropped too low.

Collaboration is Saving the Old Card Catalog at UVA’s Alderman Library

Alderman Library

Created over a 50-year span from 1939 to 1989, that catalog grew to about 4 million cards in 65 cabinets with 4,000 drawers.

These little index cards from the library’s old physical card catalog might contain information that is unique about a particular book – and therefore, the library’s holdings and the University’s history. The information neatly typed on the cards – which library workers sometimes supplemented with handwritten notes on front and back – includes details that in many cases are not typically part of the electronic catalog system, Virgo, that the University Library switched to in 1989. At the time, the catalog was transferred by scanning that captured only the front of the cards.

For more information click on the link below:

UVA logo

“The University’s library system has undergone many complex changes over the past two centuries, and with every development in cataloging come new opportunities for errors in transcription, so this is not an indictment of past or present librarians! Quite the contrary: it’s a testament to just how fortunate we are at UVA to have (and to have had) such thorough librarians, catalogers and filers…

Library Carrels 201912.3: Joy to the World.

Joy to the World
The book is back
Its over due no more
Its returned to the shelf
I put it there myself
Let readers now rejoice
Using quiet indoor voice
Let  checkouts resume
The book is back


She rules the holds
With truth and grace
No one can skip the queue
The glories of her vigilance
Catch miscreants with just one glance
The hold list doth abide
No titles set aside
Next person on the list
Will get the get the book.