David Bowie had a reading list?

Heck, yes! Superstar musician and brilliant performer David Bowie was a prolific reader. As a matter of fact, it is said that he took all 400 books in his then-collection when he went on location to film “The Man Who Fell to Earth.”

That set a pattern of taking a travelling library on tour and Bowie said: “I had these cabinets – it was a travelling library – and they were rather like the boxes that amplifiers get packed up in. . .  because of that period, I have an extraordinarily good collection of books.”

When Vanity Fair asked him “What is your idea of perfect happiness?” he responded simply “reading.”

In 2013, Bowie posted his 100 favorite books on his public Facebook page. The list is a characteristically eclectic list featuring everyone from Junot Diaz and George Orwell to Angela Carter and Muriel Spark.

To find the complete list, look no farther than his official site. I can think of no better tribute on this one year anniversary to The Thin White Duke than to delve into the list, and then into one of the books.

Library Look: A library gone to seed (tee hee)

By Lisa M. Esquivel Long of The News-SentinelThe Little Turtle branch of the Allen County Public Library makes use of an old card catalog box by turning it into a free seed library. 

I LOVE the library! As a matter of fact, I would love to be the cool, edgy librarian who dresses up, plays characters, and lives a life that fosters a love for books in others.

So, I am always so excited to see libraries getting out in the community and making a difference in lives. In this case, the Little Turtle (love that name!!) branch of the Allen County Public Library system in Fort Wayne, Indiana is helping to feed people.

From the January article in the local paper:

The seed library is meant to encourage gardeners of all levels to grow their own, organic food at home for no cost. The library will supply seeds to patrons to plant at home and any food resulting from the seeds belongs to the grower. However, the library does ask that gardeners let a few plants continue to seed and that they return those seeds to the library to replenish the supply.

GREAT JOB Little Turtle!! By the way … The Little Turtle branch was named after Miami chief Little Turtle, who was born near Ft. Wayne.

Library Look: University of Washington Information School

First of all, if a group of bibliophiles do a Lady Gaga parody video, you have GOT to give them a spotlight:

These are students and faculty from the University of Washington’s Information School. I love several things about this video, which was made in 2010. I love that these people love books, the science of libraries, and making the library look fun. I love that it appears that almost everyone was involved. There are 23 people in front of the camera during the song. I love that it made me look up the Big 6 to find out more about it.

Who says that libraries are full of stodgy old prunish women? These MLIS recipients prove otherwise!

Library Look: Deschutes Public Library

The Deschutes Public Library in Oregon has got it going on! Not quite the library they wanted to be, the library director decided to take several steps to be more in touch with his community and patrons.

Now, the Deschutes formula for library success is clear: know your users; partner with the community; identify the needs; offer solutions to problems (even before the become problems); and act with enthusiasm. Besides, of course, being attentive to your books.

An article in the August 2, 2015 issue of The Atlantic brought this great community library to my attention. Read more of what they did, why they did it, and how it is turning out by accessing the article here.

I love it when a library makes a video! Watch this one, and I guarantee a smile!

Library Look: Little Free Library

“Take a book. Return a book.” That is the catch phrase of Little Free Library.

Started in 2009 in Wisconsin, the brilliant idea of placing a small structure to house books in someone’s front yard, with access to a variety of books at all times of day and night, is thanks to Todd Bol.

The first Little Free Library looked like a miniature red schoolhouse. All Little Free Libraries have the unique style of their stewards, but all provide a place safe from the elements for books. Little Free Libraries have spread all over the world, with the number of registered building over 25,000. To learn more about Little Free Library, go to their website.

Library Look: The Free Library of Philadelphia

It is the tenth-largest public library system in the United States by number of volumes held.

A quick history from the library’s website: Initiated by the efforts of Dr. William Pepper, the Free Library of Philadelphia was chartered in 1891 as “a general library which shall be free to all.” Pepper received initial funding for the Library through a $225,000 bequest from his wealthy uncle, George S. Pepper. However, litigation arose as several existing libraries claimed the bequest. The Free Library finally opened in March of 1894 after the courts decided the money was intended to found a new public library.

The architects responsible for the beautiful building, The Trumbauer Firm, were quite prolific in the Philadelphia area, with their most famous buildings being Reading Railroad’s station and Irvine Auditorium at the University of Pennsylvania. Their most famous popculture building is the Philadelphia Museum of Art:

Sylvester Stallone as Rocky. He ran up the steps to the museum during his training and there is a status commemorating the scene.

The Free Library of Philadelphia houses several rare and unique special collections. The Rare Book Department at Parkway Central Library features one of the world’s most renowned Charles Dickens collections, featuring first editions, personal letters, and Dickens’s stuffed pet raven Grip, as well as the largest Beatrix Potter collection outside of the United Kingdom. The Department also houses robust collections of cuneiform tablets, medieval and Oriental manuscripts, and Pennsylvania German fraktur.

In addition to the collections housed in the Rare Book Department, the Free Library also features the Edwin A. Fleisher Collection of Orchestral Music, which is the largest lending library of orchestral performance sets in the world. The Library’s Automobile Reference Collection is one of the most extensive public resources of its kind, and the Print and Picture Collection houses roughly half-a-million circulating pictures in the largest public picture lending library in the nation, in addition to thousands of fine art prints, drawings, and photographs. The Free Library also has an extensive special collection devoted to maps.

Many of the items in the Free Library of Philadelphia’s special collections have been digitized and can be viewed online. So, if you are not close enough to visit, you can still benefit from the great offerings!

Library Look: Bibliothèque nationale de France

The oldest library in the world no longer exists. It was built in 300 BC and located in the ancient city of Alexandria, Egypt. During the Alexandrian War, Julius Caesar accidently burned it down.

The oldest continuously running library is located in a monastery in Saini, Eqypt. However, St. Catherine’s Monastery is not open to the public.

That leads me to the oldest continuous library open to the public: Bibliothèque nationale de France. According to the BnF website: The BnF collections are unique in the world: they include14 million books and magazines but also manuscripts, prints, photographs, maps and plans, scores, coins, medals, sound, video and multimedia documents, sets, costumes… These collections continue to grow regularly.

You see that this is quite an impressive collection. However, the buildings are just as impressive. In 1988, then president François Mitterrand announced the construction and expansion of what would be the most modern library in the world. Dedicated in 1996 after huge budget overages, it contains ancient texts, all publications ever printed in the country of France, and continuous art and manuscript exhibits.