The Bomb Librarian

Lots of great bits in this Atlas Obscura story about the Manhattan Project‘s librarian. J. Robert Oppenheimer selected Charlotte Serber, a University of Pennsylvania graduate, statistician, and freelance journalist to organize and lead the scientific library at Los Alamos not because of her library experience (she had none), but because “he wanted someone who would be willing to… Read more The Bomb Librarian

Top Shelf Madness

Almost two years ago I started writing about strange, intriguing, or otherwise noteworthy questions I encounter at the library reference desk, in a series I call Refer Madness.  My latest one, titled “Finding Angels,” is debuting over at Booklist, as part of the latest issue of “Top Shelf Reference” newsletter. This latest one is about a… Read more Top Shelf Madness

La La Librarians

Lots of great anecdotes from the New Yorker story “Scenes from the Oscar Night Implosion“, including this one on the Academy librarians planted in the corner of the press room: In the back corner was my favorite part of the press room: the librarians’ table, where the Academy librarians are on hand to answer questions. Under… Read more La La Librarians

Fun New Things

Some fun stuff I’ve been enjoying lately: “This Machine Kills Fascists” Pencils From Frog & Toad Press in Rhode Island, which has several other colorfully messaged pencils and other goodies available. Library Extension for Chrome Not sure where I found out about this, but I’ve been digging it thus far not only with my personal browsing but for… Read more Fun New Things

The Book Thieves

As I read Anders Rydell’s The Book Thieves: The Nazi Looting of Europe’s Libraries and the Race to Return a Literary Inheritance, I kept thinking of Sean Connery’s line from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: All this book burning by the Nazis entailed looting a continent’s worth of libraries and archives, specifically to root out so-called… Read more The Book Thieves

Refer Madness: Thanks, Man

Refer Madness spotlights strange, intriguing, or otherwise noteworthy questions I encounter at the library reference desk. Coming out of a recent concert at the library, an elderly man asked if we had a calendar of events he could take home. I showed him where they were on the shelf, and as I was about to return to the desk, he started talking.… Read more Refer Madness: Thanks, Man

Refer Madness: Playing Favorites

Refer Madness spotlights strange, intriguing, or otherwise noteworthy questions I encounter at the library reference desk. Every librarian has favorite patrons. Like parents we aren’t supposed to admit it, but it’s true. My favorites have developed because of how nice they are, for their interesting requests, or for their particular outlook on life. One of my favorites is an older woman, a regular, who… Read more Refer Madness: Playing Favorites

Refer Madness: The Terminator of Ghent

Refer Madness spotlights strange, intriguing, or otherwise noteworthy questions I encounter at the library reference desk. A gentleman called the desk with a pretty simple question: What was the release date of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines? Because of my prodigious ability to remember useless trivia (film-related especially), I knew it was 2003. But he wanted the specific release date,… Read more Refer Madness: The Terminator of Ghent