Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Cataloging: or why librarians love Melville Dewey


Melville Dewey
Okay, librarians have a reputation for following rules.  How else would we be able to find books, DVDs or audio books?  The public doesn’t understand that Mr. Dewey and his cataloging system takes us only so far and then we start bargaining and, on rare occasions, arguing.  Mr. Dewey would frown on the amount of creativity that sometimes creeps into cataloging.  Here are several examples that may never be decided to everyone’s satisfaction or comfort level:


Books on famous gardens appear in both the 700’s (art and architecture) and the 900’s (travel) –be happy they aren’t also in the 600’s (gardening, pets, cooking, etc.)  


Should a book detailing the London known by Dickens be on the shelf next to a London travel guide? Where would you place a memoir of a year living in a foreign country?  Biography or travel literature? 

       
Due to the 200th anniversary of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, those books appear in both the travel section and a more specific U.S. history classification.


There is not enough space on any blog to describe the various ways to catalog Shakespeare and confuse everyone searching for a regular version, annotated version, graphic version, or a version plus criticism


If an author has written 57 mysteries, should his one novel sit alone and forgotten on the fiction shelves? Perhaps this non-mystery shares the same characters as the mysteries.


What makes a book a mystery?  Does it require a dead body or just a puzzle to be solved?


Science fiction vs. fantasy vs. dystopian? Please...


The 920’s are the place where collective biographies go to be ignored and forgotten.


Although I could continue this list of the vagaries of cataloging, the answer is fairly easy.  The books should be placed where the public expects to find them.  If you think that clarifies the issue, guess again.

- S. Bakos
Where's That Book?

  
             

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Art Books at the Library Have Their Own Room

What Does This Sign Mean?
Art books, or as we in the library biz call them in Dewey Decimal-ese, the 700's, have their very own room at Berkeley Heights Public Library. If you are browsing in the non-fiction stacks and have wandered from the 010's (Bibliography, not to be confused with Biographies), through the 100's (Philosophy and Psychology) and so on through the 600's, ending up in the 690's (Buildings), you will jump right into the 800's (Literature.) So we put up a sign explaining where in the world the 700's are. See photo. But you might wonder what a 'Circ Desk' is. Again with the Library Land Lingo. Circ is short for Circulation which refers to the library department whose intrepid staff members are the front line in library customer service; they check books in and out all day, put books on hold for patrons, create library cards, shelve new materials, find lost books, send out overdue notices, create book displays, and collect fines :-( among many, many other responsibilities. The closest I can describe working at the Circ Desk is that it is a cross between working retail and being a bartender, but without the fun of serving beer. We take your fines, but you do not get beer. We do listen to whatever stories you may have while we wipe down the counter with seltzer, or at least we wipe down the computer monitors with anti-static cloths.
So anyway, BHPL has a terrific collection of art books, craft books, books on knitting, holiday crafts, hobbies and collecting of all kinds and at the end of the 700's are books on photography, music, sports and games. So come on in and browse in the 700's room which is the room behind the big glass window near your friendly library Circulation Staff.

Related websites:
The Dewey Decimal System explained 

Library Terminology Glossary  

Do you like those quizzes on Facebook? Do you like libraries? Try these fun library quizzes.


Staff Picks or What to Read Next

The library staff has an ongoing display of our favorite books for readers to choose from, because finding the next good book to read is always a challenge and a familiar question at the library. In fact, when librarians go anywhere and admit to being a librarian, that is among the first questions we get.
"Can you recommend a good book?"
To which we answer, "it depends, what do you like to read?"
The other common question is, "I thought libraries and librarians were unnecessary now that everything is on the internet."
The answer to that is, "Why, no, we're still here."

My favorites from the shelves above are 'The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid' by Bill Bryson, the author's really funny memoir of growing up in Des Moines, Iowa. We recommend this title often and almost everyone reports back that they loved it. 'The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry' by Gabrielle Zevin is a short, sweet love story about a bookstore owner. Each chapter begins with a quote from a short story which will lead you to more good authors to read.  Spencer Quinn's series about Chet the Dog are excellent for dog lovers and mystery lover and are very funny, as told by the dog Chet. Follow Chet on Facebook for more canine hijinks and fun.
In this shot above, my pick is 'Merry Hall' by Beverley Nichols, a 1950's memoir by an avid English gardener who buys an old manor house and revives its garden with the help of his skilled, but opinionated gardener. Lovers of P.G. Wodehouse will like the whole series.
'Packing for Mars' by Mary Roach is the very funny and determined science writer's research into what it will take to put a person on Mars. Ms. Roach tries the zero-gravity experience at NASA with predictably nauseating results and stores her own urine in the frig to her husband's disgust. She discusses the realities of what a body must endure for such a long space voyage. 'Pompeii' by Robert Harris is a terrific book of historical fiction about the destruction of Pompeii by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. You will notice another Bill Bryson book: 'A Walk in the Woods.' This is laugh-out-loud funny and the audio version is terrific. Be prepared to be caught laughing while you commute and listen to it. Speaking of humor, but of a slightly more farcical, hyperbolic (I'm trying not to say raunchier) type, Carl Hiaasen is a friend of Dave Barry, enough said if you like the really crazy humor coming from Florida's journalists-turned-novel-writers, which I do. And you will notice another book about a bookstore owner, 'Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore' for fans of 'A.J. Fikry' (see above) but with a slightly techy/fantasy/futuristic plot twist.
Happy Reading.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Librarian Terrarium

Fleur Reading
Is that a frog reading a book on a mossy bank near a miniature Jade Tree? Why, yes. It seems that over the winter one of our reference librarians made a half-dozen terrariums and documented them in her crafting blog.  The Librarian Terrarium with a figurine of yours truly, Fleur the Frog Blogger, really caught my eye.
For more terrarium information, try our library books:
The New Terrarium, Creating Beautiful Displays for Plants and Nature by Tovah Martin (call# 635.98 MAR)

Fairy Gardening, Creating Your Own Magical Miniature Garden by Julie Bawden-Davis (call # 636,977 BAW)

Search for related subjects like 'Bonsai' and 'container gardening'  in the library catalog.

Follow the Crappy Crafters blog for more terrarium pictures and other easy crafting and upcycling projects. There is another terrarium with a frog figure, see if you can spot that in the slide show on the blog.

-Best Regards,

Fleur the Frog Blogger

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Alan Alda's Latest Book

If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating by Alan Alda was just reviewed in The Star Ledger, and so the holds list at the library is now growing for this title. Famous as 'Dr. Hawkeye Pierce' in the television series M.A.S.H, Mr. Alda is also known for hosting the PBS series Scientific American Frontiers and has had a lifelong interest not only  in the sciences, but also in how scientists can better communicate their knowledge to the layman. This interest led him to found the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University. Drawing on his theater background and natural curiosity, the author discusses how theater techniques such as improvisation exercises can improve empathy and create a better rapport between scientists and layman or between doctors and patients. Would scientists who could communicate more effectively be able to get more research grants and public understanding of their work? Would a doctor who could communicate more clearly with his patients contribute to his patients' well-being? How can we all listen more and increase empathy which would lead to better communication? What is 'theory of mind' and what happens if we don't have that understanding of 'being in another person's shoes?' How does telling a story rather than giving a dry recitation of facts affect a person's memory? All of these points for improving human communication are considered in this book.

I just finished the book and would like to go back and read it again in order to understand all the research and studies the author covered about improving human communication of all kinds, but the book is due today and library readers are waiting for it. How could I have written a better review that would really grab you? Well, for that you will have to read the book and let me know.Did I mention that a huge, scary, hairy bear is first on the holds list? No? Well, just see if that image in your mind makes you remember this book and review.