Museum Library Finds

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I’ll be completely honest with you: I have no idea what this means.

Each week I spend at least a couple of hours organizing the books in my museum’s library. When I come across something that interests me, I photograph it. The same day I discovered this dedication I also found the word MURDERER written neatly over a snapshot of Reinhard Heydrich’s face. Beneath that were the words NOW IN HELL FOR ETERNITY. I photographed that, too, along with the title of the book. It’s not often I find such emotional, and quite obviously personal, notes inside the books.

But with Oppenheimer I forgot to photograph the title of the book in which this dedication was found. I’m more than a little pissed at myself for that.

There are very few things I know about this, Oppenheimer OR the bomb, seeing as I’ve never watched The Manhattan Project nor do I study things that include terms like “quantum molecular theory” or “deuterium-tritium fusion bomb”. I don’t think I even associate with people who do.

So how was Oppenheimer made a victim prior to the bombing of Hiroshima? That’s what I’m trying to figure out. After some quick research I learned he was accused of being a communist, but that was nearly a decade after the bomb dropped in Japan (the Red Scare isn’t something most high schools teach kids about). Did the author of this book (boy, wouldn’t it be nice to know which book!?!?) have a personal relationship with Oppenheimer, or some other means of being privy to his private feelings? Or is this in reference to Oppenheimer being forever tied to mass death as soon as he discovered the ability to create such a weapon?

If someone knows, or even has an inkling, please share it with me.

Oh, and for any of you Nazi history enthusiasts out there:

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Taken from Wilhelm Hoettl’s The Secret Front, published in 1953. Hoettl was a prominent prosecution witness during the Nuremberg Trials, a valuable asset indeed after all his years serving as Adolf Eichmann’s right-hand man. And Heydrich, who I’d never even heard of before I came across this picture, seems to come up in all my research as the man who thought up the “Final Solution”. Heinrich Himmler merely wanted the Jews deported. Heydrich took it a step further.

So here you have three men who were all responsible, whether directly or indirectly, for the brutal deaths of millions.

Oppenheimer: Victim
Hoettl: Author
Heydrich: MURDERER NOW IN HELL FOR ETERNITY

My museum library has around 8,000 books. I’ve only cleared maybe 250. What else can I possibly find in there?

A Passion For Donkeys (you’ll see)

My garden doesn’t look any different than it did a few days ago, and I don’t lead the kind of life that just throws exciting blog fodder my way. Instead, I thought I’d tell you a little bit about some of the stuff we do and deal with at work (I work mostly in the back room of a local library).

  • My coworkers and I thumb through every book and magazine that comes in before it goes back on the shelf. We find all sorts of forgotten pieces of your life: birthday party invitations, baby announcements, bookmarks, punch cards to various food and fitness establishments, your homework, your hair (I wish I was kidding), and bobby pins that we believe have nothing to do with your hair and more to do with keeping your page. Seriously, get a bookmark. Our library gives them away. FOR FREE.
  • The next time your cat pisses all over a library book, have the decency to let us know or at least have the consideration to bag that sucker before you throw it in the book drop. This, by the way, doesn’t make you anonymous. It makes you a jerk. And your cat’s a jerk, too. Thanks for reminding me to get my hepatitis B shot.
  • Part of my job is to pull books for customers on a waiting list and label them for pick up or delivery. To maintain privacy, our reserve stickers only show the first four letters of the customer’s last name. We have made a game out of this, of course. A coworker of mine confided in me that she likes to add “-alicious” to the end of those four letters. It produces some wonderful new names, especially if your last name is something like Titsel or Titson or Titsworth. Let me tell you something, Titsalicious, yours is still my absolute favorite.
  • When pulling books from the dozens of bins we deal with everyday, we usually try to find the most ridiculous book title and hand it over to a male coworker to read in his best seriously sexy voice. Why? Well, imagine James Earl Jones or Morgan Freeman reading the title of this book with a come hither stare and you’ll understand why it’s so darn hilarious.
  • We find notes and letters of all kinds, which probably means this particular bullet point is just an extension of the first one, but they’re usually good enough to make them their own category. I have two favorites so far. One was written in a child’s scrawl, advising everyone with a question about anything to ask an old person. Old people are good at answering questions because they know everything. Or they think they do. The second was simply scribbled on a post-it note warning two girls (of unknown age) to stop causing each other so much conflict or else I’ll have to contact the State of Oklahoma Department of Mental Health.

I really like my job. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say I think I could love my job. I’m surrounded by books. And I’m surrounded (mostly) by people who love books. Besides the free internet access, most people visit a library because they are readers, which is to say they are my people.

Libraries have changed a lot in the last decade (or maybe two decades, I don’t know the stats, really). They have always been a vital part of the community but now libraries have to work harder to maintain their relevance in the community (and their funding). Many offer programs that may have been considered wasteful or frivolous in years past. These days, they’re necessary. Tax filing assistance, cooking with kids, music programs, and meeting spaces made available to everyone from government entities to homeowners’ associations. I get it, I really, really do. And I’m ALL FOR IT. What I don’t get, though, is when did it become acceptable to allow the screaming meemies you call your children to disturb an entire building of people?

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That look above, on Teddy’s face, is the look I give to kids who scream, run, push books onto the floor, throw tantrums, and otherwise disturb the general quietude of the library. I was born with that look on my face, and I believe Teddy was, too. It’s probably why we get along so well.

The Reading Life

Since I started working at the library, my to-read list has grown exponentially. Uncontrollably is probably a better word but when I looked up the definition of exponentially (to make sure it applies to this case), a handy note on the website said: “Your friends and colleagues will be pleased to hear that your vocabulary is growing exponentially.”

So how could I not use that word? It makes it sound like anything done exponentially is done with serious intent, whereas anything done uncontrollably is just a chaotic shitstorm. And regarding my to-read list, both could actually apply.

Thousands of books have made their way into my hands lately, and my to-read list just keeps getting longer. It’s nearly impossible not to add a book to my list for fear of forgetting the book exists. I have been known to open my Goodreads app on my iPhone at work so I can scan a book’s ISBN or barcode. If the wi-fi connection at the library is too slow and I’m working the floor (where open use of smartphones is a no-no), I’ll just snap a quick photo of the book cover and shelve it later on Goodreads.

It is unheard of for me to simply walk away, and this has caused me a great deal of stress. I feel guilty for not reading more, or I am overwhelmed because there is always more to read. A book cannot be read by me unless it is on my list or I begin to feel like I am neglecting all the good little books that have waited so very patiently for their turn, yet I let some fancy New Release cut in line. It’s rather ridiculous. So ridiculous, in fact, that I’ve actually developed anxiety over this stupid list.

Perhaps this screenshot of my Goodreads account will give you an idea of just how bad things have become:

Over the weekend I finished The Burning: Massacre, Destruction, and the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 and then I went into my to-read list to find my next book, which I usually do right away. I’m the kind of person who likes to know “What’s next?” “What’s next?” is not something I ask because I like to live life to the fullest; “What’s next?” is something I ask because I have to be prepared for it. I have to be prepared for everything – social engagements, deadlines, appointments, vacations, what to read, and life in general. As you can see from the list above, I had 967 books from which to choose. NINE HUNDRED AND SIXTY SEVEN! How could I possibly not find anything that interested me? So many books. So many options!

And that’s my problem: Options.

A few years ago, I stood in the condiments aisle of a local grocery store and lost my mind over the olives. Have you ever stopped to look at the olives on the shelf of your local grocer? Have you ever noticed just how many kinds of olives there really are? And I’m not talking about in the world, just in your nearby supermarket.

I had to ask a complete stranger what to do after staring at all the olives for a good 15 minutes. Why? Because I completely froze up. I became so overwhelmed with my olive options that I spaced out and gave absolute control over to someone I did not even know! This single act was a honest-to-goodness cry for help. And those who know me well would agree that I simply don’t give up control very easily.

What became of the olive dilemma is not really important, but if you must know, I walked out of the store without buying any. NONE. I simply gave up. I gave up on the olives.

I’m giving up on my to-read list, too.

Yesterday I made a public declaration that I was going to chuck my book list and, in the words of my friend, live (the reading) life “on the wild side.”  To clarify, I will keep my list. I just will not be referring to it for any suggestions. When I see a book I want to read, I’ll simply pick it up and read it. There is no need to keep adding and adding and adding to my list of books to read. There is no need to compare a found book to one I cannot find, to determine if one is more worthy of the other. If it’s on my list, I’ll read it. If it’s not on my list, I’ll read it, too.

Another friend did make this suggestion: “I wouldn’t be surprised if you had a secret list hidden under the bed or somewhere, in case of a reading emergency.

So far, I do not, but that’s a great idea. I so do like to be prepared.

 

 

What’s happening?

Leaves on my pecan tree are what’s happening:

pecan tree buds

Tomatoes in my garden are what’s happening:

finally tomatoes!

Organization in the military museum’s private library is what’s happening:

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(Actually, that’s a lie. There is intent. Always. My goal is to have this library organized and up-to-date by the end of the summer. It is difficult, though, when my closest working partner is a state historian. Everything, and I mean everything, reminds him of some off-the-wall or little known historical fact that turns into an hour-long  discussion between the two of us.)

Sweet, sweet sparrow babies are what’s happening:

sparrow babies

And now that the sun shines more prominently on the couch, this is what’s happening:

Sun dog. #teddy #teddarcheese #teddyonmycouch #boingle #boinglesofinstagram

I am currently reading Last Train to Paradise, a fascinating narrative of how Florida’s east coast came to be, all thanks to Henry Flagler. Being a Jacksonvillian (a Jaxon? What are we called?) I am already familiar with Flagler and some of his contributions. I was surprised to learn, though, that Key West was once the most populated city in Florida and that the class separation between Palm Beach and West Palm Beach is nothing new. (Except now you average people have bridges to drive across and no longer have to row your rickety boats back to the mainland encampment where you belong.)

  • The kid made Honor Band. Her fist gig is this Saturday morning.
  • Sunday’s forecast: 97 degrees. SPRING’S OVER, FOLKS. YOU CAN GO HOME NOW.
  • My neighbor texted me at work yesterday to tell me my dog, Chimay, was dead in the front yard.
  • She texted back a few minutes later to tell me she was wrong. And very sorry.
  • The dog is fine.

 

How James Patterson Stole My Motivation

This man is James Patterson. He looks completely harmless, and he probably is to most people. But lately, since starting my job at the library, I have become wary of finding his books on my shelving cart. Why?

Let me begin with Diamond Dallas Page. Yes, the wrestler. A few weeks back my husband and I decided we didn’t like feeling old. We should still be able to get up from a chair without grunting or put on our shoes without making a big deal about picking up our legs to tie the laces (we simply can’t be bothered anymore with bending at the waist). So we learned about DDP’s yoga program and agreed to try it. I mean, DDP himself is pushing sixty years old. How hard could it be?

Well, it’s hard. Especially for two out-of-shape thirtysomethings with no sense of balance. We fought through the introduction class (via DVD) a few weeks back. It exhausted us. We were probably in bed by 9:30 every night that week.

Stretchy muscles and flexibility are not regular things Matt and I find ourselves living with. I almost typed “…are not regular things Matt and I enjoy“, but “enjoy” is not the right word at all. The truth is I would enjoy nothing more than stretchy muscles and flexibility these days. I believe Matt feels the same. On Saturday, he took Elle and her friend to a trampoline park and masterfully managed to hurt himself after doing a somersault into a foam pit. He, of course, didn’t feel it until it was too late to tell himself, “Hey, self. Slow down!”

It’s Wednesday and he’s still a little sore.

My job is very physical – unloading bins, arranging meeting room tables and chairs, pushing carts, and digging around shelves to find books that have fallen through the backs. I’m up and down all day. I stretch, I bend, I crawl. While learning the geography of the library, I have discovered James Patterson’s books are all situated on the top shelves in fiction. I am barely 5’3″. James Patterson’s books are very popular.  So, naturally, I HATE the top shelves.

Other popular authors, however?

  • Stephen King – he’s got a few middle rows to himself.
  • Judy Devereaux – bottom shelf.
  • 50 Cent – his books are at eye-level and are really of little importance here. I just want to know if you had a reaction to learning that 50 Cent is a published author. Of at least three books! I’m curious enough to consider checking out a few.

But James Patterson? Top frickin’ shelf. And it’s killing my back. Yes, I use the little step stool things. I still have a hard time seeing labels clearly on the top shelf. I still have to reach and stretch and contort my body with muscles I didn’t even know I had. It’s a good thing Diamond Dallas Page is around to help me out, right?

When Matt and I began this yoga challenge, I nominated myself to be the Yoga Police (I thought I would be the more disciplined of the two). Every night I come home from dealing with James Patterson, and I am reminded that Diamond Dallas Page is available to help me. DDP promised to change the way I feel. DDP promised to change my life! But the motivation just isn’t there anymore.

Because James Patterson took it.

And he just sits there in the fiction aisles of my library, looking all smug with his arms crossed (just like in the photograph above), blocking my path and daring me to shelve his books without causing myself further injuries. The back aches, the shoulder pain, the many nights I’ve skipped doing yoga.

And it’s all James Patterson’s fault.

(If I wanted to be a jerk about it, I’d also blame him for my sniffles and watery eyes, but it turns out another symptom of getting old is becoming allergic to all kinds of things – which is also a common symptom of simply being around books.)

 

 

 

Life’s Answers & Other Things

After I got my degree in December, I had the opportunity to be very selective about where I would go to work. The months that followed were, not surprisingly, very boring. I watched a lot of Netflix, read a lot of fiction, and eventually decided to volunteer at a local military museum until the right job came along. Then I got stir-crazy and cried a lot (mostly out of boredom and from suffering a vitamin D deficiency during this winter that seems to be never-ending).

That most recent bout of crying led me to consider pursuing a master’s degree. Actually, the conversation I had with myself (and my husband) went a little like this:

Will you ever be happy with just a bachelor’s degree? NO.

Will you ever be able to work in a field you really love without a master’s degree? NO.

It was that simple. I needed a master’s degree. But I also needed a job to pay for it, so the job hunt got a little difficult because…well, how selective can you really be when you don’t have the master’s degree you need to get the job you want? The answer: NOT VERY.

What do you really want to do? This was where I got stuck.

I flip-flopped between working in a museum (but without all the technicalities of archiving and grant-writing), working with teens, or simply living in a room full of books. After a few weeks of perusing the job boards available to the public through the American Library Association (ALA), the American Historical Association (AHA),and various humanities organizations, and speaking to some MLIS-carrying friends of mine, the answer was becoming clearer. It just wasn’t clear enough.

Then I was called in to interview for a position in our public library. When I was asked why I wanted to work there, I rambled on about my work at the 45th Infantry Museum’s library and how I really enjoyed being part of the community project (without having to be the face of a project itself). I think I mentioned that I was going to start working on my MLIS in the fall, too. I genuinely enjoy outreach work, local history, and, let’s be honest, being around books. Suddenly the answer was very, very clear.

Two weeks later I got the job. A lot of it, I think, had to do with me wanting to fuse my two favorite things into a single attainable goal: my love for history and my love for books. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be preparing my application for graduate school because I just can’t seem to get enough of this college thing.

So in this day and age of modern technology, online catalogs, and our overall ability to Google just about anything we want (and some things we don’t want), keep in mind that card catalogs still exist and that they’re really, really cool. Thanks to World War II, I’m already very familiar with works filed under MDS 940.53 through 940.54. Luckily for you, you can Google that.

That meme about prehistoric googling? It's real. #45thinfantry #museum #library #deweydecimal #cardcatalog.

In other news:

    • There have been a few 80-degree afternoons scattered amongst the snow storms and overall shitty days. I saw some henbit growing in someone’s yard earlier in the week and after becoming absurdly excited at the show of color (even though it’s considered a weed), I went ahead and put in my garden seed order. Now spring has to happen. I’ve already paid for it.
    • I finally found some friends who are willing to play Scrabble with me during my husband’s game nights.
    • We have a futon! It’s a beautiful cranberry color but you’d never know it. These dogs think everything we buy is meant to be a dog bed. Except the dog beds, of course. The futon is currently covered in a paisley fitted sheet. Sigh…
    • I decided to treat myself to a quarterly book box through Book Riot. If you’re unfamiliar with this concept, you pay a set price (Book Riot’s is $50) and you receive a box of surprise goodies. It’s like Christmas every three months up in here! Here’s my loot. (And to think, I’d been shopping around for a book-themed coffee mug and blammo!! It showed up just like that. Also, advanced reader copies of books, y’all.):

My quarterly surprise! #bookriot #quarterly #books #reading