The theme for this year's Saskatchewan Library Week (October 18-25, 2010) is "Libraries=Possibilities". To help celebrate our favorite week of the year, here is a select list of library-themed non-fiction books for you to check out. Enjoy!
Free For All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library by Don Borchert
Summary: Mild-mannered librarian Don Borchert had America laughing with the hardcover edition of his tell-all memoir that revealed the often startling truth about modern-day libraries. Not long ago, the public library was a place for the bookish, the eggheaded, and the studious—often seeking refuge from a loud, irrational, crude, outside world. Today, libraries have become free-for-all entertainment complexes filled with rowdy teens, deviants, drugs, and even sex toys. Lockdowns and chaperones are often necessary. What happened?
Heart of the Community: the Libraries We Love: Treasured Libraries of the United States and Canada edited by Karen Christensen and David Levinson
Summary: From the Atlantic to the Pacific, from Camden Public Library in Maine to Z.J. Loussac Public Library in Alaska, North America's libraries are the heart of our communities. This wondrous collection of stories and photographs includes 80 libraries, including Regina Public Library, chosen from hundreds of nominations from across the United States and Canada.
The Romance of Libraries edited by Madeleine Lefebvre
Summary: In the halls of knowledge, amidst the towering stacks of books, more than just facts and fiction await. The Romance of Libraries is a collection of true accounts of emotional attachments formed in and with libraries and the library field. Madeleine J. Lefebvre has gathered personal narratives from around the world from people who work in or use libraries. From the very young to those in their nineties, these people share their tales of love. While most accounts are about romances that developed in a library setting, some are about romances with libraries themselves. Loosely arranged by context, the stories—happy, sad, or bittersweet—share an over-arching theme of the transformative and emotive power of libraries in our lives. Lefebvre's underlying message is that the physical library can play a role in our affections that the virtual library never can.
Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron and Bret Witter
Summary: One frigid Midwestern winter night in 1988, a ginger kitten was shoved into the after-hours book-return slot at the public library in Spencer, Iowa. And in this tender story, Myron, the library director, tells of the impact the cat, named DeweyReadmore Books, had on the library and its patrons, and on Myron herself...The book is not only a tribute to a cat—anthropomorphized to a degree that can strain credulity (Dewey plays hide and seek with Myron, can read her thoughts, is mortified by his hair balls)—it's a love letter to libraries. Note: Click here to read a staff review of the book.
Books on Fire: the Destruction of Libraries Throughout History by Lucien X. Polastron
Summary: A historical survey of the destruction of knowledge from ancient Babylon and China to modern times. Includes the three separate destructions of the Library of Alexandria as well as many equally significant collections around the world. Examines the causes of violence directed at repositories of knowledge. Looks at the dangers posed by digitalization of books to the free availability of knowledge in the future.
What is Stephen Harper Reading? by Yann Martel
Summary: Every two weeks since April 16th, 2007, Yann Martel has mailed Stephen Harper a book along with a letter. These insightful, provocative letters detailing what he hopes the Prime Minister may take from the books — by such writers as Jane Austen, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Stephen Galloway — are collected here together. The one-sided correspondence (Mr. Harper’s office has only replied once) becomes a meditation on reading and writing and the necessity to allow ourselves to expand stillness in our lives, even if we’re not head of government.
May's Review: I love Yann's statement in the book, "To citizens who aspire to be successful leaders, this is the simplest way I can put it: if you want to lead, you must read." Reading enriches our lives by helping to define who we are and inspiring us to do better. I'm not saying that I would want to know what Stephen Harper is reading on a daily basis but I would simply like to know what his favorite books are. Which ones inspired him to become who is today? He is an economist all so what he does think of Niall Ferguson's mammoth but highly informative The Ascent of Money?
The point here is that Martel wrote a terrific book highlighting some interesting reading choices for a world leader to expand his horizons and to embrace or challenge some of the ideas confronted in the author's selections. I may not agree with all of Martel's selections or have even heard of them but it makes for an interesting list for me to work through to see if I would agree/disagree with Martel's opinions. A definite must-read for those who love reading lists.
P.S. There is "What is Stephen Harper Reading?" website where Yann continues his selections. Interesting enough, Barack Obama is a huge fan of Martel.