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Conference week

When April with its sweet showers has pierced the drought of March to the root, and bathed every vein of earth with that liquid by whose powers the flowers are engendered; when the zephyr, too, with its dulcet breath, has breathed life into the tender new shoots in every copse and on every heath, and […]

Information behavior and a mouse in the house

One of the topics I’m keeping in the back of my head for a future library school paper is that of the information needs of new members of a community. E.g.: you’ve just moved to an unfamiliar place; how do you find out where the nearest place to get a decent haircut is, or the […]

Greetings from on the road

I’m just back from Vancouver, where I and a couple of friends spent the weekend for the wedding of a mutual friend of ours. Among the highlights of our visit: hiking five miles around the periphery of Stanley Park, watching fireworks over the English Bay, admiring the sealife at the Vancouver Aquarium, and hanging out […]

The garden of forking paths

I’m back from a whirlwind apartment search in Philadelphia, which can best be summarized by "Ow. My feet hurt." Or "You call that a one-bedroom?!" Or "Damn, that’s some ugly carpet." Or, with a nod to Robert Browning, "Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, / Or what’s a heaven for?"* But eventually: […]


Question for you, dear readers. Hypothetically, if you had to choose between relocating to a largish city where you spent some of your earliest years, with which you still feel somewhat familiar, and which is near to a variety of family and friends; or relocating to a smaller city you don’t know at all, in […]

Book wheels

Earlier today I was trying to remember the source of a 16th-century engraving of a reading machine — a giant wheel that could hold multiple books at once and allow a reader to rotate from one book to another. I’d seen it in multiple places (reproduced in one of the essays in The Renaissance Computer, […]

Right brain, left brain

I just figured something out: Roughly half of my dissertation was about how people mentally organize and store information; the other half was about what it means to talk about poetic form and how poetry seeps into our heads and stays there. (Actually, the proportions are off. Another big part was making the argument that […]

More library graffiti

While nothing can top the graffiti I spotted last winter (now, sadly, painted over), today’s library graffiti sighting still made me smile. It was on a sign in the stacks listing the LC call number ranges and corresponding subjects in the PS (North American literature) subclass. The last subject on the list is “Canadian literature.” An anonymous scribbler […]

Blog for Relief Day

Terry Teachout and Our Girl in Chicago have amassed a huge number of information related to Hurricane Katrina over at About Last Night. Meanwhile, I’m a late entrant in the Blog for Relief Day effort, but the need isn’t going away any time soon. More information about Blog for Relief Day can be found at […]

ALA report

So ALA was good, aside from the frazzling logistics of traveling between convention center and conference hotels 3 miles north, and a scorching Chicago heat wave. Oh, and the power failure Friday night that zapped both the convention center and the hotels in the area, including mine. Fortunately the electricity came back on after a few hours, but checking […]