Get Eclipse Glasses at Your Local Library (Maybe)

eclipse pathMonday, August 21 is Eclipse Day in the United States.  The solar eclipse will cast a shadow from sea to shiny (and along the path, shadowy) sea. Experts have been urging people to not look at the Eclipse without special glasses.  This includes looking at it through your camera, cellphone or any other device that does not have a special filter.

Atlas Obscura just posted a timely article that Eclipse Glasses may be available for free from your public library. “Many of the gratis glasses come from the STAR Library Network (or STAR_Net), a nonprofit that helps hook libraries up with science and technology resources. ”

Update info from Star_Net:

Since it was announced that public libraries were distributing free eclipse glasses, they have been overwhelmed with requests via email, phone and in-person. Most libraries have already given away their allotment of glasses. For those libraries that still have eclipse glasses, please be aware that these are intended for their eclipse programming events ONLY and not for general distribution to the public.

If your local library has run out of glasses, please click here to view a list of reputable vendors that may still be selling them. For kid-friendly ways to view the solar eclipse without the use of eclipse glasses, please visit our STEM Activity Clearinghouse for a variety of indirect viewing activities. 

This link shows all the libraries that the Star Network has sent eclipse glasses too–when it’s working

Library LogoContact or visit your local public library to see if you can get a pair of these glasses.  Hopefully they will so you an safely enjoy whatever portion of the solar eclipse is visible from your neighborhood.

Safe viewing!

Did You Meme What You Said or Did You Really Say It?

Meme fontMemes seem to have replaced old fashioned facts in the minds of many people.  Between fake facts, fake news, plain distortions, lies, propaganda, and the ever popular statistics, was Mulder correct?  Is the truth out there? (Ironically that X-Files tagline has become a meme in it’s own right.)

truth is out there

Meme (noun)an element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, especially imitation. –humorous image, video, piece of text, etc., that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users.

Richard DawkinsAccording to Wikipedia, Richard Dawkins “..first came to prominence with his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, which popularised the gene-centred view of evolution and introduced the term meme.”

The Meme concept has spawned a new industry of stars, websites, posters, and even meme generators.  Complex, Thrillist, and even Time have rated the best memes (so far) of 2017. the Chive (which modestly tags itself) as “probably the site in the world” explains 2017 memes

the Chive is the same group that brought us “Keep Calm and Chive On.” It’s derived from the British WWII posters that told its citizens to “Keep Calm and Carry On.”   You can find “Keep Calm and Chive On” aka KCCO on bumper stickers, t-shirts, and posters. Keep Calm and Chive On means roughly to chill out, to hang loose.   People who wear KCCO clothing or bumper stickers may be known as Chivers.

What is your favorite meme?  Join in the conversation about whether you like memes, create memes, or have no interest in memes.

PS The X-files will be returning to Fox for a 10-episode run during the 2017-2018 season.


Comic-Con and the Library

San Diego Public Library LogoMost libraries think they are cutting edge if they have comics or graphic novels in the library.  They may even have a reading group dedicated to these art forms. A few may even have a group that creates comics.  San Diego, home of the iconic Comic-Con, takes its one further.  “For the 2nd year, Comic-Con International and San Diego Public Library have teamed up for the Comic Conference for Educators and Librarians.”

The conference was held last week as part of thesan diego comic con logo annual Comic-Con festivities. Pre conference events on July 18 included a mixed gender Quidditch demonstration, a panel on the business of comics, the science of comics and entertainment, and the comic book spectrum about careers in the comic industry.  Unlike  Comic Con itself, the 5 day conference was free.  The library even gave away 2017 Comic-Con themed library cards.

San Deigo Public LIbrary ImageThe  Schedule included:

Wednesday, July 19
4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Wednesday, July 19
4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Friday, July 21
10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Saturday, July 22
10:00 am – 6:00 pm


Sunday, July 23
11:00 am – 3:00 pm
When I lived in  San Diego, I didn’t know about this.  I may have to try to attend next year.
What is the most unusual library conference that you ever attended?  Join in the conversation and share your opinion on comics in libraries.

See shells or seashells

DSC00245When we visit the beach, many of us like to look for seashells or sea glass.  Most of us have an almost childish need to collect the seashells or the sea glass.  Whatseaglass is the harm in taking just one shell or piece of glass?  I have heard the justification for sea glass over sea shells because the glass is man made/sea burnished, but it was never alive.

According to January 17, 2014 Smithsonian post, by Rachel Newer., “When those whimsical walkers pocket the nautical treasures they find on the beach, however, there can be unintended ensea shellsvironmental repercussions. Shells provide a diverse swath of environmental functions: they help to stabilize beaches and anchor seagrass; they provide homes for creatures such as hermit crabs and hiding places for small fish; they are used by shorebirds to build nests; and when they break down, they provide nutrients for the organisms living in the sand or for those that build their own shells.”



Some places, like National Parks or Beaches, do not permit anyone to take any animal, plant, rock, shell.  “Take nothing but pictures and memories; leave nothing but footprints.” When I was a VIP (Volunteer in Park) at Cabrillo National Monument, Monday mornings were my day to be at the Tidepool Education Table where we provided TPERP–Tidepool Protection, Education, and Restoration Program.  We averaged over 100 people a day and it could get to over 500 people on a weekend.  If each person or even each family, took only one souvenir home we would have run of souvenirs (shells, animals, rocks, plants, etc) in short order.  My least favorite people were the ones who got hostile when being reminded that no one was allowed to take anything from a National Park–one family smashed the shells on the ground of the parking lot.  I suspect their attitude was “If I can’t have it, then nobody else can have it. either.”

So will you see shells or will you collect sea shells” Join in the conversation and share what your favorite sea shells are.  “She sell seashells by the seashore.” But she really shouldn’t sell the shells–some hermit crab may need it for it’s home.




Taking Books to the People, Part 4: Armed Services Editions and the Paperback Book Kits (part b)

When Books Went to War:  the Stories that Helped Us Win the War by Molly Manning is an excellent overview of the Armed Service Editions.  She not only tells you what happened but also why it mattered. The public had donated hardback books to the troops but they needed something they could take with them easily–on a ship or When Books Went to Warairplane, in the barracks, or in foxhole or tank. Manning deals with issues ranging from cost, transportation limitations (books vs beans vs  bullets), censorship (if the Nazis were restricting what people could read would the Council  on Books in Wartime do the same), and the impact of the books on the soldiers and sailors as written by the readers themselves.

For more information about the book, where you can buy it, and the author, check out Molly Manning’s website.  The website includes excerpts, reviews and a museum  which includes pictures and captions from Nazi book burning, to advertisements for the Victory
Book Campaign, small sized magazines (of regular magazines like the New Yorker and Saturday Evening Post Yarn), and the Armed Service Editions.

l-picture of a Nazi book burning in Berlin on the Openplatz  r-Display at Yad Vashern of books burned by the Nazis

l-Commemorative plaque of the book burning at Frankfort Hesse Germany r-American propaganda poster on why the Freedom to Read is important

After World War II, the military  services began their own paperback book programs.  The Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines provide paperback book kits to deployed soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen whether they are in the field, in a combat zone, on a ship, in the brig or correction facility, or assigned to embassy duty.  The contents of the book kits have changed over the years.

Army MWR LIbrary LogoThe Army “Family and MWR Libraries also support deployed Soldiers in remote locations through monthly deliveries of paperback book kits and Playaways, small MP3 players containing an audio book. Kits contain about 25 paperback books or 24 Playaways specially selected to match the interests of Soldiers.”

Navy MWR LibraryThe Navy “(s)upport for deployed forces includes compact, battery-powered audio books and monthly shipments of popular paperbacks to afloat and shore commands.


USMC Logo The Marine Corps Order 1700.33  was published  18 September 2015, spelling out what the Marine Corp General Library would support including: deployed garrison and remote locations and Marine Corps Embassy Security Group personnel at foreign missions and deployed and remotely stationed Marines and families throughout the world.

Air Force Library ImageThe Air Force Libraries “ship magazines, paperback books and DVDs monthly to deployed and remote units world-wide. We also provide support to exercises through the USAFE Library Service Center (LSC) at Ramstein AB, GE. runs small libraries at several downrange locations in conjunction with education services at Learning Resource Centers. Support to military missions, including Defense Attache Offices (DAOs), Offices of Defense Cooperation (ODCs), Military Liaison Teams (MLTs) in CENTAF is also handled by the USAFE LSC.”



Seanchai Library Turns IX–Part 2

Caledonia Skytower answers some questions on the background of Seanchai Library and how she got started there.

Seanchair on 13 April._005

1)  How long have you been involved with Seanchai and how did you get started?

I have been involved with Seanchai Library since August of 2008.  The Library had opened the previous March. The leadership of the West of Ireland Charity Estate had asked Derry McMahon to open a library to compliment the features of the Estate.

I was still fairly new to Second Life, and I had taken to searching in the viewer for places I had always wanted to visit on Earth, so I could explore their virtual iterations.  Ireland was pretty near the top of the list.  That’s how I found West of Ireland.  There seemed to be a lot of great things going on there.  I found a place on a stretch of shore and was about to log out when someone named Shandon Loring (now my co-leader of Seanchai Library) IM’d me and greeted me, telling me that they told stories every evening, and inviting me to come the next evening.  I did.  And that, as they say, was just the beginning.

2) Does Seanchai have a governing board?  If not, how is it managed?

For most of the last 9 years we have essentially been a confederation of volunteers, working cooperatively.  90% of our operations are charitably based, and involve the donation of time and treasure – no one makes a dime.

Derry McMahon, our founder, was Head Librarian until she retired from that position in December 2012.  Derry worked with a small group of core staff to coordinate the larger program.  When Derry retired I assumed the mantle of “Lead Staff”.  I work along side our Chief Storyteller, Shandon Loring, to coordinate our programming and planning. For the last year or more that has meant that I took the lead on the SL program (because there has been a lot going on) and Shandon took the lead in our branch operations on other grids.  We are blessed with a dedicated corps of Seanchai staff and affiliated storytellers. It is really a wealth of talent.

In 2015 we piloted our EXPLORE program, based in Kitely, to develop what we do into a tool for educational, language arts experience augmentation.  Some of our staff would do this, what we do, full time if we could.  So we began developing small projects and have been working to position ourselves as a service provider to non-profits and educational institutions.

3)  Are there any changes planned for year 10?

Moving towards such an auspicious celebration we are taking the time to review where we are, and where we think we are going. I say “think” because we have discovered so much in the last 10 years.  I doubt seriously if any of us had the vision in 2008, or even 2010 that we would be where we are right now. I think any healthy, forward-looking plan needs to allow room for discovery, as well as the inevitable unexpected.

So, we’ll see where this review process takes us. To me, it is important that we move into the next few years with a clear, united vision – something everybody owns,  We are not what we were 10 years ago –  even five years ago. So what do we do with what we have achieved?  and how do we leverage what we have learned moving forward?  Those are the sorts of questions we are asking.

In the more tangible sense, we will be continuing The Dickens Project,  Last year we were on a half region, thanks to the support of Kultivate Magazine.  Hopefully we will, at the very least, unfold Dickens’ classic on that much space again.  Those plans are in process now.  We will be continuing our Storyteller’s Sandbox series in June, to provide a forum for the growing number of independent storytellers to present in a larger forum.  We are also have three EXPLORE projects in the developmental stages.  All are pending funding support, and all would take place in 2018.  That could be quite a year!

4)  How do you pick the programs and charities?

From the very beginning Derry believed, as I do, that people need to read what they love – books and stories that they are excited about.  So we ask our staff to submit tittles that they are interested in and I try and balance them out so that our offerings remain diverse.  I tend to schedule everyone else first, then fill in the holes myself with whatever we are lacking.  Most of the time that is pretty successful.  Every now and then we’ll have an odd couple of weeks.  In the beginning of January this year we got incredibly dystopian and surreal for a couple of weeks.  I found myself thinking, “How the heck did that happen?”

Seanchair on 13 April._003As for the charities, we used to do it by rotating the choice among the lead staff of four, and we would all review the choice and weigh in.  Now, Shandon and I review and choose.  He is good at finding new charities that might not have come onto our radar before.  All charities are vetted through GuideStar and Charity Navigator.  I have spent 30 years in the non-profit sector and so there are things I specifically look for.  We try and focus on charities where they function with lean overhead, with a lot of focus on program impact.  We work to balance charities that have global impact against those where the efforts are more localized.  We also try and balance types of endeavors: ecology, education, human welfare, and literacy of course!

5) How difficult has it been to expand into other virtual worlds?  Was it hard to coordinate the yesterdays event in Kitely and SL?

I am often quoted as saying, “Virtual Worlds are all alike, until they are not.”  In truth, even though grids look the same, they all work a little differently.  Part of that is technical.  Part of that is cultural.  Even though the tools of communicating and creating community look similar, how they are used is very specific to the social culture.  In some cases, like in the Open Sim metaverse, there are grids that are in their infancy … they exist in a server in someone’s house.  So how they foster community and the tools they use to promote that are still developing.

Seanchair on 13 April._006

Shandon has been the go-to person in Kitely from the beginning, and he has invested a lot of time and effort monitoring how the culture there has been developing, and building relationships.  I think that is really key to developing new audiences.  Like anything else it is based on relationships, built one at a time in some cases.  People throughout virtual worlds continue to ignore that reality.  It doesn’t matter whether you are opening a dance club at InWorldz, or an Ice Cream shop on a corner in San Diego, you have to build and maintain relationships to make it successful.  You can’t just open your doors and say “y’all come!” and expect it all to happen by osmosis.

Shandon Loring tell a tale in voice

                                       Shandon telling story in voice at Seanchai Library

I think some of the tools Shandon has been working with to connect our audiences in different grids is some of the most exciting work we have going.  The biggest drawback to maintaining operations in multiple grids, is the need to duplicate all efforts.  The Anniversary party held simultaneously in two grids was more work than one party would have been, but it was less work than two separate ones.  It gained a critical mass that we would not have been able to create otherwise, and that has benefits in terms of community exposure and consciousness.

6)  Is there anything you would particularly like people to know Seanchai?

There has always been a great deal of pressure to be everything to everyone.  There are plenty of people doing great work in language arts and spoken word, and I feel we have always understood our own priorities.  We use live voice presentations, and a variety of degrees of immersion, to inspire people to engage with literature.  From that they read, they buy books, they patronize their local libraries.  We encourage them to share the stories that interest and excite them. Some of folks have even begun writing their own adventures.  We emphasize that stories are an important, essential element of the human experience.

Seanchair on 13 April._002

                  An  audience listening to a program at Seanchai Library

While I would love to increase our accessibility – I dream of a day when someone will develop an ASL interface – we still reach a lot of people with what we do.  It isn’t for everyone. There are no dance poles.  But I think we do a pretty decent job of being open, welcoming, and of fostering community around the shared experience of stories, read aloud.

Sometimes the simplicity of what we do, and the profound impact we have on the individuals in the community we have grown, overwhelms me.

Do you like to hear stories told in voice?  What are your favorite stories to hear or tell?  Join in the conversation and share you favorite story listening experience.  What was it?  Where were you listening to the story?


A blog dedicated to word play such as parodies, puns, and word parallels and stories about libraries that you may not have heard before.



Hope you enjoy the ride and the fun.

Please let me know if there is word that deserves a riff or a library that has a story to share.

Thanks for joining me in the blogosphere.