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Archive for the ‘Libraries/Librarians’ Category

There is a thing that has shown up on a few of my friends’ facebook statuses where they post a picture/list of their top 10 most influential books, so now I am doing the thing.

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Here is a garbage-y phone photo of some of my top influential books I’ve ever read. I’m gonna go ahead and list them and explain some of my reasoning here. Bottom up.

1. This is Who I Am –  Rosanne Olson
My mom gave me this book because she is fucking awesome. It is a coffee table photo book with naked women in it of all kinds of shapes and sizes and colors and it really went a long way toward affirming a belief I was trying to cultivate in myself about body positivity and loving all kinds of bodies including your own.

2. The Brendan Voyage – Tim Severin
I went to a private Christian college and I read this book shortly after I returned from studying abroad and it is such a deep reflection of my love of celtic monks and their constant search for isolation and how futile that search tends to be. It also reminds me that science and history are constantly in question and we should never take the things we are taught in school for granted as absolute truth. In Search of Sacred Places by Dan Taylor was also a huge influence in my life but I am trying to be representative of many interests. 🙂

3. The Various Haunts of Men – Susan Hill
This choice is a bit more representative of a style than a direct influence. I love mysteries and they are an enormous influence on my opinions and choices that I make in my life. This is the first book by Susan Hill I ever read and I bought it on a whim at a book sale.

4. The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
Though I may not always agree with Mr. Adams’ personal opinions as such, I love love love his books and his style of writing. They teach me every day that books can be absurd and bonkers and fun while still being intelligent and questioning your opinions and ideas.

5. The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman
The book that made me fall in love with Gaiman. All of his books are wonderful to me.

6. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Jonathan Safran Foer
I read this book many years ago now and as I read it right about the same time that I read Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, it impacted me in a way that it might not have otherwise. It haunts me in the best possible way with its portrayal of grief and the way people work through the big horrible horrors that sometimes happen in a life.

7. Four Quartets – T.S. Eliot
The most dogearred, underlined, deeply felt of all. It is my life in four poems.

8. HP and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling
Representative of the entire Harry Potter series. My first online fandom and my first experience in seeing the ideals of a book carried over into real life philanthropy and community hell bent on making the world better and kinder. There are fans doing so much good in the name of a book. They are sending so much love into the universe. What higher aim can we possibly have?

9. Scott Pilgrim – Bryan Lee O’Malley
My first comic book I ever read or bought that gave me confidence that comics were for me, too, and I didn’t have to catch up on all the years of comics that went before. I can start where I want and read what I want. It also lead me to search for more and more online comics creators who I am now able to read in their own printed comics at the library!

10. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
I read it so that I could understand Lord of the Rings when I read it. I never looked back.

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I read a really frustrating article today written by a man who seemed to think that libraries are easily replaceable by the presence of the internet and as such are completely unnecessary in our current society. I disagree on a whole host of levels, but I’m just going to address the ones that immediately come to mind with a minimal amount of thinking.

Libraries are FREE to use. You don’t have to pay to be a member, you can check out as many books as you like, along with DVDs (movies and shows), Blu-ray, CDs, audio books (sometimes digital AND physical), ebooks, comic books, books in other languages, childrens books, books about gardening, cooking, coin collecting, books about goddamned anything! While it is true that there are several books available for free online, it is actually very few compared to the amount of free and available information that you can obtain at the library.

Contrary to what the writer of this particular article seems to think, the internet is by no means free. Whether you pay through data on your phone or with a router at home, you are paying for the internet. Even if you go to a cafe or restaurant and use their “free” wifi you are paying in a number of ways. You are either using a laptop that cost money, paying for food/coffee (many cafes out there will only provide the password to paying customers) or if you are able to find an internet cafe, you are paying per use. And hard as it is for some to believe (apparently), not everyone can afford a computer in the first place. Nearly all libraries have computers that you can use, get this, FOR FREE. This was invaluable when I was traveling aboad and computers available to use for cheap or free were hard to come by. Every single library we approached allowed us to use their computers for free.

Another resource that I think people tend not to think of is that many libraries have a NOTARY on staff. When I got married and later bought a house I had to have several documents notarized for legal reasons. Whether it was a letter regarding a property I had lived at or when I was trying to change my name on my out of state bank account, having a notary that I could utilize for FREE was a life saver both in terms of time and convenience and above all money.

That’s just the free stuff that I can think of off the top of my head, not to mention services such as printing, copying, and faxing (these often cost a nominal fee).

The library is such an amazing resource and it makes me feel so sad and frustrated for the people who are missing out on so much just because they “don’t read”. The library is so much more than that

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