Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Childrens Books

This week is all about childrens literature in the Chateau Chez Bombshellcat. Picture books, chapter books, series books… I just have them on the brain and, frankly, it really is not that uncommon around here. Two of my seven bookcases are devoted exclusively to childrens books: Juliet for chapter books and BoPeep for picture books. Most of Dorothy, my series case, is devoted to American Girl, Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, Narnia, Prydain and other books I grew up loving (and a few teen series and the Master and Commander books, the only “grownup” series I read.) Clara, the special collections case, has a shelf just for the Oz books and related literature as well as a shelf for “The Secret Garden” (which I collect illustrated versions of) and more versions of Cinderella than it is probably healthy for one girl to own.

This obsession is part nostalgia and part parenthood/aunthood planning. My children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews will have only the best books at their disposal- I insist! Growing up the only I loved more than reading was being read TO and I want to make sure both opportunities are amply supplied for any young ones that wander into my life.

This week has seen a few additions to my collection:
The Marvelous Land of Oz
Ozma of Oz
Madeline et le Chenapan (Madeline and the Bad Hat en francais)

The Madeline is significant in that I am only just beginning to find my favorite books in French. I love the language and want to encourage the browsers of my library to fall in love with it too. I have a few French novels as well as Le Petit Prince and the French edition of the first Harry Potter book. My younger sister is a devoted Spanish student so I have always kept an eye out for good Spanish books for her- I am twice as likely to buy a book for my sister as I am for myself!

The Oz books have been a long time coming. I was hesitant to start collecting them outright for awhile, unsure if I would like the series enough. Last summer I read the first five through the library and fell madly in love… and asked for the big Books of Wonder hardcover set for Christmas. Needless to say, I never got the set. It is expensive and impractical. Maybe someday I will save up and get it for myself but, for now, getting the first fifteen (the L. Frank Baum ones) in used paperback will be more than enough to keep me happy. I am still being picky about which editions I get- if the illustrations are not included I do not want it! I have had a horrible non-illustrated copy of “The Road to Oz” for years now and I really cannot stand it. Half the point of an Oz book is the humorous, lovely illustrations that match the humor and loveliness of the writing.

Any other childrens book enthusiasts out there? Any favorites? I would love to hear about them! 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Historical Society Library Project: Phase One!

You know you are me when you are looking for a new/used computer… to donate to your local historical society so you can better re-organize its library. Sometimes the level of “sucker” I reach astounds even me. Mind, no one has told me to do this! This is entirely my own idea, just like volunteering for this recataloging project in the first place.
Tomorrow is my “official” start date for this task. This means I will be heading in there, guns blazing (anyone got a spare USB barcode scanner hanging around?), to EVALUATE what needs doing. How many index cards will I need? Should I type them up or handwrite them? (I am thinking typing them on the typewriter would have a particularly cool “historical” feel and be more legible. My handwriting slips in and out of cursive abruptly, sometimes several times in the same word.) How well are things cataloged to begin with? Is the Dewey system actually working at this locale or should I consider something else? Is so, what? (What did Ben Franklin use?)
I take my volunteer work very seriously. Any expenses for this project I intend to come up with myself, including a computer if it comes to that. I think it SHOULD, since half the reason I am rehauling the library is to make it more user friendly. I am a fan of using both card catalogs AND computer databases, it is great to have the option of using either one!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


I am an old fashioned girl... she tells her blog.... on the internet... using a netbook.

Rather, I am a very NOSTALGIC girl- just ask anyone who knows me! It's one of my more annoying/endearing traits (depending on who you ask.) I even get nostalgic for things before my lifetime. This is part of why I want to work in museums for the rest of my life...

... it is also why I love typewriters.

I picked up a Smith Corona Skywriter a few years ago at a tag sale- amazing condition, came with its original travelling case too! (Oh, "portable" typewriters!) It's grey, it's small and it hails from the 1950s. The original warranty card still resides in the pocket of the travelling case, though the previous owner apparently never made good of it. (The postcard is still in there. Would have been nice if they had at least filled in the date so I could know the exact make of this little beauty.) I had a slight problem with it shortly after purchasing, but managed to fix it with scotch tape. (Can I do that with my netbook? No.) Now all it needs is dusting and a new ribbon and... voila! I can type away to my heart's content.

Today I ordered the new ribbon. This is where NEW technology is wonderful. I know of only one typewriter store "near" me and it is very out of the way. I will still try and get out there, maybe for maintenance. In the meantime I have found , which helped me find the ribbon for my exact model fairly painlessly. They also have some beautiful restored machines for sale, including some early electronic typewriters. Best of all... they have a list of famous authors and their typewriters, which is probably how I would shop if I did not have my dear little Skywriter.

(Isn't Skywriter an awesome name for a typewriter?)

Anyway, I am pretty excited about this today. Just thought I would share.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Because I Am Not Online Enough, Right?

O shiny new bloggity blog... oh what shall I use you for?

For BLOGGING? (Heaven forbid!)

I am always making plans and lists and dreams and only occasionally follow through. It's alright though, really, since dreaming is the fun part.

Right now I am dreaming about going to Italy next spring/summer. Why? Because I read "Brideshead Revisited" and "A Room with a View" back to back in '08 and then read "Where Angels Fear to Tread" this year. My reading list requires that I be a tourist in Italy. That I be altered by it.

I am altering already! I have been teaching myself Italian using three programs simultaneously: Hugo Italian in 3 Months, Berlitz Self-Teacher and Gimmick Italian in 32 Lessons. Each has a key strength: Hugo has CDs for listening comprehension, Berlitz has a pronunciation guide even I can understand and Gimmick... loaded with vocabulary AND puts an emphasis creating your own "style." Still in the first weeks of practicing... but maybe some future entries will be in Italian... and occasionally lapse into French. (I have taken about four years of French in school and have a third grade reading level, isn't that nice?)

My other big personal project is my ever growing LIBRARY. Yes, I actually call my collection of books a library. I have seven overflowing bookcases, I believe I have hit upon the right to call it a library. Or THEM a library... whichever. I am keeping a card catalog as well as a computer record of all my books. I have "library cards" for my friends so I can keep track of who has been lent what. I am single handedly keeping the people who make index cards in business. It's a hard job, but most everything is cataloged. The biggest task this summer is arranging my nonfiction by Deweys.

And while I am all Dewey-eyed, let me tell you about a VOLUNTEER project I have signed on for this summer: reworking my local historical society's research library card catalog. I will not only continue with the Dewey-ing, but I will be building a "key word" file for cross-referencing. Making my own job harder and everyone else's easier.

My paying gigs are also along those lines (you did not think I was living off my art, did you?) as I am a substitute librarian and a bookstore clerk. Books, books, books.... and thus my world goes round.

I will keep you all posted on how things do or do not develop! Ask me questions, I might answer!