Coming to Ft. Belvoir: The Army Museum

National Museum of the ArmyThe National Museum  of the United States Army is being built on Ft. Belvoir, south of Washington, DC in Fairfax County.  From the website:

The National Museum of the United States Army will serve as the capstone of the Army Museum Enterprise and provide the only comprehensive portrayal of Army history and traditions.  The National Army Museum will celebrate the selfless service and sacrifice of over 30 million men and women who have worn the Army uniform since 1775.  The Museum will be a technological marvel incorporating the latest advances in museum exhibits while providing advanced educational opportunities that will capture the attention of visitors old and young.  As the Army’s national landmark, the Museum will honor United States Soldiers – past, present, and future – and provide an interactive educational experience explaining the Army’s role in creating and defending our nation, as well as the Army’s social initiatives and contributions for more than 240 years.

The National Army Museum will be located on over 80 acres at Fort Belvoir, VA, less than 30 minutes south of our nation’s capital in Washington, D.C.  The main building will be approximately 186,000 square feet and display selections from over 15,000 pieces from the Army Art Collection and 30,000 artifacts, documents, and images.  The vast majority of these rare and priceless artifacts have never been seen by the American people. Projected opening is sometime in 2019.

Hitlet Painting 1911The Army Art Collection has also been housed at Ft. Belvoir. “The Army’s conservation warehouse includes works by Norman Rockwell, ordinary soldiers, enemy combatants, and even Adolf Hitler’s watercolors. The collection program began during World War I when the Army dispatched eight “combat artists” to roam the battlefield and record firsthand the experience of    the average soldier.”                                                                                          Hitler’s watercolor, 1911

The 2014 movie, Monuments Men, traced some of the soldiers in World War II that were given “the task of finding and saving pieces of art and other culturally important items before Nazis destroy or steal them, during World War II.”  Saved paintings include the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper.

There have been Armed Forces combat artists since World War I, including Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf War.


Combat Art Overthere (Vietnam) by Stephen H. Randall





Sleeping with the Books

The homeless have been a public library fixture for several decades.  When I was an intern at San Diego Public Library in the 1970s, we had the polite fiction that as long as a person fell asleep with an open book in from of him or her, they were allowed to sleep as long as the library was open.  Any of our patrons might doze off while reading a less than stimulating book.

In academic libraries, college students are notorious for falling asleep after or while pulling all-nighters during exam week.  I have even known academic library staff to fall asleep in the library because it was easier than finding their way home.

Gladstone portrait.jpgSo imagine a library in Wales, where the public has been welcome to sleep with books since 1906. Four time British Prime Minister, William  Gladstone wanted his  personal collection of 32,000 volumes to remain in Wales after his death.  With the aid of his daughter and his valet, he relocated 20,000 books to their current location and shelved them in a catalog system that he created.  The library is open to the public.

Gladstone's library.jpg

Guests can stay in the reading rooms until 10 pm.  They may then take almost any book, many with Gladstone’s notes and annotations, to one of the 26 private sleeping rooms.

book and bed japanIn an unrelated note, there is a B&B (book and bed) hostel in Tokyo where people can sleep in beds located within the bookshelves. “The flagship location, Ikebukuro in Tokyo, has a whopping 3,200 books on its shelves and space for up to 5,000. (Sort of reminds us of this tiny British town that has more books than people.) The other three locations in Tokyo and Kyoto have wide collections too, with at least 1,500 volumes to choose from. Most of the books are in English or are guidebooks about Japan, but some of the titles are in Japanese, too. No matter what your tastes, you’re sure to “have a book day,” as Book and Bed Tokyo says.”

Goodreads reading challenge

It may be too late for 2017, but 2018 is only about 5 weeks away. Time to decide how many books you can reasonably read next year. Will you read what you like or strive to up the level of what you read?

Hans De Keulenaer

Screenshot 2017-11-25 at 07.50.49

Through the goodreads reading challenge, you can commit to reading a number of books within a year. The web app then supports you by tracking your progress on your reading journey for that year.

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Unusual Library Terms

Library logo with open bookFrom ALA Direct:

A short list of delightful library terms

Jer Thorp writes: “Two weeks ago I asked Twitter if anyone had favorite obscure or delightful library or archival words. Here are some of the best replies. Wimmelbilderbuch: A kind of large-format picture book, characterized by full-spread drawings depicting scenes richly detailed with numerous humans, animals, and objects. Xylotheque: A wood library—a special form of herbarium that consists of a collection of authenticated wood specimens. Frisket-bite: A missing part of printed matter, caused by the frisket moving, stretching, or otherwise intervening between inked type and the paper.”…

tete-beche bookTête-bêche: From philately, meaning printed upside down or sideways relative to another.




Grimoire: A textbook of magic.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Veteran’s Day–Laying a Wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

The Sentinel’s Creed

My dedication to this sacred duty
is total and whole-hearted.
In the responsibility bestowed on me
never will I falter.
And with dignity and perseverance
my standard will remain perfection.
Through the years of diligence and praise
and the discomfort of the elements,
I will walk my tour in humble reverence
to the best of my ability.
It is he who commands the respect I protect,
his bravery that made us so proud.
Surrounded by well meaning crowds by day,
alone in the thoughtful peace of night,
this soldier will in honored glory rest
under my eternal vigilance.
Simon 1971


Veteran’s Day was originally Armistice Day, signalling the end of World War I–the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.  The British call it Remembrance Day, and mark it with a two minute silence at 11am to remember people who have died in the war.  The French celebrate it as Armistice Day.

“Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and Nov. 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. Unlike Memorial Day, Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans—living or dead—but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.”  –from the

wreathlaying Arlington Cemeterypresident commemorates veterans day

One of the traditional American ceremonies (besides Veteran’s Day parades) is for a high-ranking U.S. official (often the President of the United States) to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery.

From the Arlington Cemetery website, “The gift of flowers at a memorial site is a ritual that occurs around the world, understood in every culture. The floral tributes at funerals bespeak both the beauty and the brevity of life and evoke memories of other days. These type of memorials are made each day at Arlington National Cemetery, at the dozens of funeral services occurring there and in solitary communion with a departed loved one. ”

“The most solemn of these occur on state occasions where the president or his designee lays a wreath to mark the national observance of Memorial Day, Veterans Day or some other special occasion. As a general rule, these take place at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, attended by ceremonial units from the uniformed services. ”

The Tomb is guarded by soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), headquartered at Ft Myer.  The guards are all volunteer.  The requirements are rigorous; the standards exacting.


guard at the tomb of the unknownsThe Tomb Guard

Serving at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (Tomb) was a defining period in the lives of Tomb Guards. Although Tomb Guards come from every state in the United States of America (U.S.) and every walk of life, they are forever bonded through their shared experience of service at the Tomb. A strong bond was formed through an extremely demanding and humbling experience.

Tomb Guards are handpicked and rigorously trained. The duty at the Tomb is not for everyone, with the majority of soldiers who begin Tomb Guard training failing. Tomb Guards describe their service as a privilege and an honor, and are undeniably proud of their service. They are part of an unbroken chain of soldiers dating back to 1926. The ideals of the Tomb became the Guidepost for their lives, as well as a motivating factor and measuring stick for future endeavors.

The Sentinel’s Creed is the Tomb Guard standard. The 99 words of the creed capture the true meaning of their duty. You will often hear the words “Line-6” proudly uttered by Tomb Guards as they converse with each other or with their chain of command.

Veteran's Day--graveyard old guard

In 2004, I was fortunate enough to be one of four librarians from the Military Libraries Division of the Special Libraries Association to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in December.  We had to request permission almost a year in advance.  We were lucky enough to be given a time and a date.  The Sergeant of the Guard worked with us to make sure we did this with the appropriate dignity and ceremony.  Per custom, we provided the wreath and the people to carry the wreath down the steps to the tomb. (The group carrying the wreath is limited to a maximum of four people.)


Library Collections–Right and (alt-Right)

“Those who cannnot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana

In the same way that Columbine had become a shorthand for mass school related slayings, Charlottesville has become a shorthand for white supremacy clashes.  “We don’t want another Charlottesville” has become a catchphrase from the local governments when the various white supremacists announce a meeting in their town.

The University of Virginia Special Collections has been collecting stories, ephemera (including left over tiki torches  from the torchlit parade on the UVA Grounds that took place on the evening of Friday, August 11), protest posters, pictures, videos, etc since that weekend in August.  In an effort to capture both sides of the protest and the events, they seek examples from anyone willing to share them.  It will be added to their Unite the Right Rally Archive.


This Saturday, the UVA librarians will have a collection point downtown at the Central Jefferson-Madison Regional Library.  They are seeking stories on “Why did you go?”  Why did you stay away?”.   “It’s really important that we share and preserve the perspectives of everyone that was there that day. We want to know did you go downtown? We want to know did you stay home? Why did you do that? What we’re really trying to do is preserve the stories from the community,” said UVA Library Director Of Preservation Services Kara McClurken.”


I’m not sure if this is a coincidence, but it is also the same weekend as the Virginia Film Festival so there should be more people than normal downtown.


When the Tables are Turned and a Library Asks the Public for Information Help

National_Library_of_Ireland_2011.JPGThe National Library of Ireland has a photographic collection of about 5.2 million photographs. They needed help in identifying some of the photos from the 1800s onward.  By joining Flickr Commons in 2011 and becoming part of a photo-sharing community, about 34,000 photo-detectives have provided information about some of the previously unidentified photos.  By identifying the places and people, they have been able to put things into a larger context. For example, a photograph of a group of children from the 1970s, not only identified the names of the children, but it also identified the building as the former home of Irish author, Sean O’Casey.  “Corbet found that the building had once been the home of Irish writer and playwright Sean O’Casey, renowned for his realistic portraits of life in Dublin’s slums during the country’s civil war and the 1916 revolution against British rule. The area now hosts a community center in his name.”

“The NLI has turned the results of the project into an exhibition, Photo Detectives, at the National Photographic Archive in Temple Bar, Dublin, which runs through September 2018.”

I Read Therefore I am

reading--scrabbleDenzil from Life Sentences shared this blog post.”  It raised a very provocative question:  Why Read?  The blog he shared is a new blog by Hans De Keulenaer,,

reading glasses, proseWhy do you read?  I have been reading since before I officially could read.  (I have long thought that I could “read”  books before going to school  In reality, they may have been read to me so many times they were probably just memorized.)  I read whenever I can.  At one point, I even read the back  of the Comet can in the bathroom because there was nothing else to read.

One good thing about the word read is that it is spelt the same in present and past tenses. Read (present tense pronounced like reed) is the same spelling as read (past tense pronounced as red).  This is helpful for me since I think I am mixing the tenses in the second paragraph, but even I can’t really tell and I wrote the danged thing.

I asked my good friend and frequent blog commentator, Rolig Loon who is brilliant in so many areas, how to translate I read therefore I am into Latin.

Rolig has done her usual excellent job:

 “What I read, I become” >>> Quid est legi: facti sunt mihi
“I become what I read” >>>
Ego lego quid fiet
“My life is an open book” >>>
Librum apertum est anima mea
“I live because I read” >>>
Vivo ego legitur
“Open book: open life” >>>
Aperire librum, vita apertum

“As I read, my world grows” >>> Atque in legendo augetur mundi

And from Google Translator: Lego cogito ergo sum

Why do you read?  Join in the conversation and share your take on why you read.  You are the only one that can tell us why.

reading book boy and stuffed animals





Oldest Treasure from Twelve International Libraries

Library of Congress pictureLibrary of Congress

Atlas Obscura just published a fascinating article on the oldest treasure (including books, manuscripts, and cuneiform tablets.) of twelve libraries ranging from the Library of Congress to the Bodleian Library.

“The New York Public Library, for instance, has not only cuneiform tablets and ninth-century gospels, but also a Gutenberg Bible and a copy of The Bay Psalm Book, one of the oldest books printed in America. In addition to its own cuneiform tablets and Gutenberg Bible, the Library of Congress holds one of the new york public libraryoldest examples of printing in the world, passages from a Buddhist sutra, printed in A.D. 770, as well as a medieval manuscript from 1150, delightfully titled Exposicio Mistica Super Exod.”

                                      New York Public Library

New York Academy of Medicine

Apicius, De re culinaria

Created: A.D. 830, Germany

The College of Physicians of Philadelphia

Constantinus Africanus, Viaticum

Created: No later than 1244, Italy

Bodleian Library

Bodleian Library

Ash-Preserved Papyrus

Created: Before A.D. 79, Herculaneum, Italy

Bodleian Library

St. Catherine’s Monastery

Codex Sinaiticus

Created: A.D. 330–60, possibly Rome, Italy

Chicago Botanic Garden

Theophrastus, Historia Plantarum

Created: 1483, Treviso, Italy

You will need to read the article to find out the rest.

Haunted Libraries in the UK

ghost treeThe American Library Association shared this post today.

Following our look at haunted libraries in the US last year, this Halloween we turn our sights to the phantoms haunting the libraries and private collections of Britain. From a headless ghost, to numerous abnormalities surrounding a vast collection of magical literature from a late ghost hunter, here are some stories around apparitions that have been glimpsed among the stacks – you can choose whether or not you believe them to be true….


Haunted Libraries have become a Halloween staple thanks in  large part to Ghost Busters. The University of Illinois, Urbanna-Champaign has put together a LibGuide of Haunted Libraries.

OED offers a list of the 10 most haunted libraries in the U.S.

zombies in a circle

Daniel Kolitz writes: “According to Pew Research Center, close to one-fifth of Americans believe they’ve seen a ghost—a somewhat surprising statistic, given all the other ancient beliefs we’ve mostly jettisoned…”

How did you celebrate Halloween?  Have you ever seen a ghost?  Join in the conversation and share how you spent October 31.