I just came across this little aside in Developing Library and Information Center Collections by G. Edward Evans and Margaret Zarnosky Saponaro, which I am reading for my collection development class: “If there is a bibliographic equivalent of alcoholism, many librarians have it.” The following sentence cites the Random House Dictionary’s definition of bibliomania: an “excessive fondness for acquiring and possessing books.” Note it doesn’t mention an excessive (or obsessive) fondness for reading books. It must be a fine line, because Dictionary.com (also based on the Random House Dictionary) defines the more tranquil bibliophile as “a person who loves or collects books, especially as examples of fine or unusual printing, binding, or the like.” For more on the topic, I highly recommend Allison Hoover Bartlett’s excellent The Man Who Loved Books Too Much.
I have a pen pal!
Last fall, I volunteered to be part of the Promising Pals program through the Scott/Ross Center for Community Service at Simmons. For months, I received bright yellow postcards indicating that the program was underway, that the students were very excited, that the first letter would be arriving soon, etc. The program was delayed a little because of all the snow days, but last week I finally received my first letter. My correspondent (pen pal!) is a sixth-grade student at the James P. Timilty School in Roxbury, and she has handwriting so exceedingly neat that it puts mine to shame.
I like writing (and receiving) letters – real, paper letters, not e-mail – but I underestimated how exciting this program would be. More precisely, I forgot how enthusiastic sixth-graders can be, and how that enthusiasm can be contagious. It’s not just letter-writing; it’s getting to know someone who would otherwise be a stranger, and getting to know that person through that antiquated medium of pen and paper (not the internet!). We’re different ages – different generations, eek! I actually wrote letters in grade school because e-mail didn’t yet exist on the scale it does now – we have different backgrounds and different interests, but we have been randomly connected. The main purpose of the program may be “to highlight literacy and mentoring,” but what a cool way to do that – by reading the same book and discussing it, in handwritten letters.
On Saturday I attended the Developers & Designers event at the “Microsoft Nerd Center.” Developers and designers from web startups gave short presentations on topics such as HTML5 and CSS3, web standards, and user experience. They also presented introductions to in-demand technologies and tools for web and mobile, such as jQuery, MySQL, Ruby on Rails, Git, and Unix Shell. It was exciting to get a taste of the tools and languages being used now, and I learned about some good resources that I’ve been able to put to use right away, while working on code for my Web Development class.
Though sunshine and warmth are difficult to conceive of in New England in February, I am looking forward to the American Library Association 2011 Annual Conference in New Orleans, where presumably it will be very warm indeed. I will be attending this ALA Annual Conference (my first!) thanks to ALA’s Student to Staff program; I was selected by a committee at Simmons after an essay contest. All of the participants are listed on the American Libraries Student Membership Blog. (Look in the right-hand sidebar for a Neil Gaiman quote from his book-signing at the ALA Midwinter Conference: “I’m surrounded by librarians. It doesn’t get any better than that.”)