Pep Talk in the Toilet

Alexander Library, Floor 2B. Women’s restroom. Where earnestness abounds.


Ethics in the Archives

A compelling and unnerving ethical controversy in the archives.  Parts of the Paul Brodeur Papers have been deaccessioned years after initial processing.  Finger-pointing galore. Space constraints — and the resulting antics underground New York’s most venerable institution.


Paul Brodeur: A Breach of Trust at The New York Public Library | Our Blog.

Tomorrow: To the Source!

Untrafficked urban sanctuary (woefully so)

The Kristine Mann Library is an underfunded yet radiant little library lodged on the fifth floor of a brownstone in Midtown Manhattan. An academic library serving the Jung Institute, it is filled with lamps and plants and books, 10,000, armchairs and area rugs and tables for looking at The Red Book, or Blake, Freud, and the Collected Works of Carl Jung, if you please.

I went today to conduct a Needs Assessment Survey with two of my classmates from Preservation of Library and Archival Materials. We stalked every corner of the library, admiring the lovely, bemoaning the lack of money and staff to digitize precious documents and audio materials, snapping photos of stains in the ceiling tiles, etc etc.

It is the coziest place, with collections of books, journals, audio materials and unpublished manuscripts that you will not find together in any other place (except, perhaps, for another Jungian library, in San Francisco, LA, or Washington D.C.). And yet no one knows about this place. It’s free and open to the public but the library only has 70 members, that is, 70 people with actual library cards, that borrow books.

Go there. Check out a book on dreams, or on comparative religion. Chat with Lorna the librarian. She’s running a film series on Monday nights, next one April 11, an early film of Dennis Hopper’s.

Kristine Mann Library
in the C.G. Jung Center
28 East 39th St.
New York, NY

Library Thing for Libraries for our OPAC!

I gave this presentation in my Information Literacy class, asking my teacher and classmates to imagine themselves as a group of tech services librarians/administrators.

My wish -- far-flung though it may seem -- is to make the library catalog the go-to first-stop on the academic library user's research odyssey. I mean, a good deal of time, money and intellectual resources go into funding the library. So why don't students take full advantage of this resource? Why do I have students at the reference desk who are sincerely catalog-shy? I'm looking for ways to make the catalog and all the online resources that the library offers completely central to the user.

You might find that this PowerPoint needs a script. It should, nevertheless, convey my interest in Library Thing for Libraries as a possible solution to updating the catalog. I'm a big fan of tagging, I think it gets people thinking about content and responding to it. And Library Thing is a super resource. So I'm asking my hypothetical audience to consider implementing Library Thing for Libraries (LTFL), as many institutions already are.

The images of the Washington University in St. Louis Libraries' online catalog are poor, but please do check them out, it is one of the most dynamic, friendly library catalogs I've encountered.

Day 1 at Poets House

Ten boxes (Post Office Priority Mail Medium Flat-Rate, to give you a sense of size). The (unprocessed) Elizabeth D. Kray Papers. On my first day of the Processing Project I began sifting through a few of the folders in one box. Slowly. Completely absorbed, quickly enamored of Miss Elizabeth Kray, who I learned, today, was an arts administrator, champion of poets, and founder of Poets House with Stanley Kunitz. Not only that, but a Leo (August 17), avid gardener, disciplined manager, and poetic voice.

From what I gather à la Green & Meissner “More Product Less Processing” (MPLP) you’re supposed to go about this quickly, with a macro-approach to making the collection accessible. Not get hung up on the details. Leave that stuff to the researcher. But how is this really possible, not getting all wound up in the web of a special person’s legacy? How does one not fixate on items, like the handwritten letter from Jorge Guillén to Kray, written in Paris, agreeing to give a public reading of his poems upon his next visit to New York? (Beautiful paper, grand cursive script.)

I plan to work slowly. Not out of defiance of MPLP, but because reconstituting a life, a voice, is too much fun to do quickly. I’ll keep track of my progress here.

I want to sit behind this door.

Librarian's office, New York Historical Society

Ongoing construction at the New York Historical Society forces visitors to the library to enter through the back entrance, on West 76th Street. I went over today to research daguerreotypes. I love libraries in this city, sanctuaries from the noise, the push, the wallet. They make me feel connected to this city in a way that little else can or does. The NYHS was no exception. The National Union Catalog lines the hallway to coat check; the reading room is luminous and large, if somewhat cluttered with wooden tables and chairs. A kind librarian found some books for me from the stacks and even lent me the staff’s personal copy of Mary Lynn Ritzenthaler’s Photographs: Archival Care and Management. Among the reading I found several references to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s House of Seven Gables, whose prominent character is a daguerreotypist.

Then I dashed downtown to Poets House, where I began assessing the contents of what will be called the Poets House Founder Elizabeth Kray Papers. I passed two very happy hours reading letters from Miss Kray to Jorge Guillén, W.H. Auden, Francisco Garcia-Lorca (the younger brother of Federico). Rich, absorbing material that will prove challenging to process quickly. Bah.

Home now with a copy of House of Seven Gables.