Bibliophile Killed by Toppled Bookshelf

book shelves falling overBefore you begin staying awake nights obsessing that your overflowing bookshelf will smother you in your sleep, THIS IS FAKE NEWS.  It is also a catchy lead into why you should buy more books than you’ll ever read

Surrounding yourself by books (read or unread) is a way to jumpstart your creativity. There is a lot of untapped knowledge stored in those physical or virtual volumes.

Although I personally disagree with the term “antilibrary”:

An antilibrary is a powerful reminder of your limitations — the vast quantity of things you don’t know, half-know, or will one day realize you’re wrong about. By living with that reminder daily you can nudge yourself toward the kind of intellectual humility that improves decision-making and drives learning.

My husband wants me to get rid of the cutter that lines the walls of our bedroom. I want to tell him, it’s not clutter, just reservoirs of knowledge I have not yet acquired. It’s also a sign of my comparative modesty because it is a visual reminder of what I do not yet know.


How Do I Love Thee (Books)

Valentine’s Ode to My Favorite Books

valentine old book

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee from page first to page last
My soul will still love thee though time has past
For the plot of intrigue and endearing pace
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most compelling need, to the author’s next book to read
Your siren’s call I will surely heed
I  love thee strongly as an addiction
To read thee is a cure for my affliction.                               valentine book with rose      
In my dotage and in my youth
Within your pages I find great truth
Whether in print, by audio, or online
I heed thy words in heart and mind.
And though I’ve read thee once before
We shall continue to meet many times more.


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.”



US Military Libraries, 1780-1943

There have been US military libraries since at least 1780.  Each of the services:  U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army, the U.S. Air Forces and the U.S. Coast Guard all offer library services  to their service members and their families, as well as retirees.  These libraries can be post or base libraries (think of a public library on a military base), academic

Armed Forces emblemsl

libraries, technical or special libraries, medical libraries, or law libraries.  Many of these libraries are a mixed type of library such as post and academic.  They can be on bases in the United States (CONUS) or abroad (OCONUS) in countries like Germany, Italy, Belgium, England, Japan, Okinawa, and Korea.  There can be libraries on ships as well as bases.

Here is a brief outline of the early years of military Library Service.



Library at West Point

1780 –  Military garrison at West Point establishes library by assessing officers at the rate of one day’s pay per month to purchase books—arguably the first federal library since it existed when the country was founded (predecessor to U.S. Military Academy Library

1795 – War Department Library established in Philadelphia as a general historical military library by Henry Knox, the first Secretary of War

 1800  – The Navy Department Library established on March 31 by direction of President John Adams to Secretary of the Navy Benjamin Stoddert

 1800 –  War Department Library collections destroyed in fire at War Office Building on November 8, soon after relocation to Washington

 1901 – Congress appropriates $10,000 to establish the Army War College library “for the collection and dissemination of military information”

 1914 – War Department Library transferred and consolidated with collection of the Army War College Library at the Washington Barracks (now Fort Lesley J. McNair)

 1917 –  The Librarian of Congress named Director of the American Library Association (ALA) Library War Service, forerunner of the Army Library Service

 1918 – Carnegie Corporation of New York funds 36 library buildings at major Army installations

 1918 – Air Service, War Department (forerunner of Air Force) establishes three technical libraries: McCook Field Library (now Wright Patterson AFB), San Antonio Intermediate Air Depot Library (Kelly AFB) and the Air Service Library in Washington, D.C.

 1918 – First female ALA Library War Service librarian hired

 1918 – ALA Library War Service extended to hospitals caring for soldiers and veterans,providing patients with materials for recreation, education and therapy

1918 –  ALA Library War Service establishes Paris office to support soldiers in

 Army Library1940 – Permanent Army Library Service staff position established in Morale Branch of the Adjutant General’s Office to select and purchase books for Army posts and Air Corps stations and advise the War Department on library matters

1942 –  Office of War Information Library established from small newspaper morgue in New York

Library 31 Infantry Division 1943 Joint project of U.S. Government and private publishers begins production of 123 million copies of Armed Services Edition paperback books (4 ½ oz. pocket size reprints of 1300 best sellers and classics) for distribution to troops overseas 1944 Pentagon Library established in Pentagon Building (War Department Memorandum No. W. 210-44, 16 February 1944), based on recommendations of Keyes Metcalf (Director, Harvard University Libraries) to consolidate 28 military libraries

Happy Memorial Day to all members of the Armed Services, their family members, retirees, and the staff and volunteers who provide them with library service.

Taking Books to the People, Part 4: Armed Services Editions and World War II (part a)

The Army marches on it’s stomach.  The Navy provides 3 hots and a cot.  According to  Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the physiological needs of food and shelter are the most Maslow's hierarchy of needsbasic needs.  Would reading be a safety, love-longing, esteem or self-actualization need?  The level of need may depend upon the reader and his/her circumstances.

Many  Americans had a visceral reaction to the Nazi book burnings beginning in 1933.   By 1938, millions of books had been burned in Germany.  Franklin Roosevelt famously said that “Books can not be killed by fire. People die, but books never die.

Books can not be killed by fire.

According to Wikipedia, ” Armed Services Editions (ASEs) were small, compact, paperback books printed by the Council on Books in Wartime for distribution within the American military during World War II. This program was in effect from 1943 to 1946. The ASEs were designed to provide entertainment to soldiers serving overseas, while also educating them about political, historical, and military issues. The slogan of the Council on Books in Wartime was, “Books are weapons in the war of ideas.”

Historynet shares that before the Armed Service Editions were created, American citizens donated books to the troops.  ALA’s Victory Book Campaign “to benefit the army and merchant marine—were wildly successful. Civilians contributed books of every genre, shape, and size; by January 1942, 25,000 books had been donated in New York City alone.”

But, as Lieutenant Colonel Ray L. Trautman, head of the Army Library Service, found, the efficient delivery of those volumes across the globe was another challenge entirely. … Trautman tried a “book kit” program, shipping crates of reference books, paperbacks, and hardbacks to camps overseas, but the same issues surfaced. Trautman was at a loss. He needed books that were light, uniformly sized, and portable—books that, ideally, would cater to every taste: mysteries, westerns, bestsellers. They didn’t exist; he would have to create them. But how?

Penguin Armed Services editions

According to the Library of Congress Blog from September 30, 2015, Books in Action: The Armed Service Editions by Erin Allen:

In 1942, U.S. Army librarian Ray Trautman and Army graphic arts specialist H. Stahley Thompson approached a publisher with their idea to distribute inexpensive paperback editions overseas. They enlisted support from the Council on Books in Wartime, a nonprofit coalition of trade publishers, booksellers and librarians who viewed books as “weapons in the war of ideas.” The council turned a good idea from the U.S. Army into an efficient cooperative enterprise that involved the Army, the Navy, the War Production Board and more than 70 publishing firms.

Designed to appeal to a wide variety of reading tastes, the Armed Services Editions included best sellers, classics, mysteries and poetry. A total of 1,324 titles were published in the series. The Library of Congress holds one of only a few complete sets that survive today.

Books in ActionDefense Technical Information Center (DTIC) has a PDF of John Cole’s Books in Action, printed as part of the 40th anniversary of the ASE in 1983.   The PDF includes an introduction by John Cole who wrote the original Books in Action, the “Armed Services Editions in Publishing History by Michael Hackenberg, “Recollections of an ASE Collector” by Matthew Bruccoli and other relevant essays.

Have you ever seen an Armed Services Edition?  Have you ever read one of its titles without realizing that it might have been an ASE?  Join in the conversation and share your stories about ASEs or their titles.  Did you know that the military services have libraries and provide book kits to troops in war zones, on ships, Marines at embassies around the world?