Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Gun found inside book donated to Indiana library

Those of us who work in public libraries have many stories of items that were in either returned or donated books - half eaten sandwiches, used tissues or even money.  However, I don't think many of us have come across a gun in a book.  In this instance, my guess is that someone was cleaning out a relative's house and didn't know that the gun was in the book.
What are some of your stories of items in returned books?
Published on Saturday October 27, 2012

Associated Press
VALPARAISO, IND. — An employee at a northwest Indiana library found a gun inside a hollowed-out book donated to the branch. The Times of Munster reported Saturday that police in Valparaiso are holding the gun as evidence. Assistant Library Director Phyllis Nelson says an employee at the Valparaiso branch of the Porter County Public Library discovered the antique-looking firearm when she opened the book earlier this week. Police describe the weapon as a gold, wooden handled, 31-caliber, single shot, black powder gun. Nelson says librarians have no way of knowing who donated the book. She says thousands of books are donated each month and no records are kept.
Police have determined the gun was not stolen.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Toronto library study pods take page from science fiction


The Toronto Reference Library is offering study pods to help students work in a quiet environment.  With the condo boom in the downtown, the demand for study space is high.  These pods don't require any structural changes to the library building which is cheaper, causes less distruption and can be moved as needs change.
However, I don't know if I would want to work in one of these.  As a public librarian, I understand that these spaces need to monitored and visible.  As a patron, I would feel like I was a manequin on display in a store window.  Some  might feel claustrophobic.
What do you think of the study pods?

Linda Mackenzie and pods

Josh Tapper/Toronto Star Linda Mackenzie, director of research and reference libraries at the Toronto Reference Library, said the new glass study pods support the branch's "open and transparent ethic."
Josh Tapper
Toronto Star Staff Reporter
Published on Wednesday October 17, 2012
When it comes to study space, the downtown Toronto Reference Library is thinking beyond the ordinary. Light years beyond.
As part of its five-year, $34-million revitalization, the library will open five futuristic study pods on the second floor in the next two weeks. Ten more of the tubular glass pods will be installed over the coming months.
“We wanted to create something a little more private and less distracting,” said Linda Mackenzie, the Toronto Public Library’s director of research and reference libraries, sitting at a light brown open work table, a holdover from the library’s original late-1970s design.
“Part of the overall plan for revitalization was to create varied study and work space in the library.”
Mackenzie said the 5-square-metre pods, which resemble pneumatic tubes, fit snugly into the library’s floor design.
While the two-seater pods won’t be completely silent, Mackenzie said they should cut out ambient noise.
As part its revitalization, to be completed this year, the reference library has also constructed a three-storey glass entrance cube, “Idea Gardens” on each floor which, according to its website, promote “reflection and inspiration,” and a special collections rotunda. Moriyama & Teshima Architects handled the massive redesign at the Bloor St. and Yonge St. branch.
Closed off with caution tape Wednesday as they awaited electrical wiring, the pods drew curious stares from library patrons sitting at more conventional study spaces.
“They look very clinical,” said Heather Meek, a Schulich Business School student working on a class project at a nearby table. “It reminds me of science fiction. But I guess the idea is that it’s quiet in there.”
Polly D’Arcy, who had been staring at the pods from behind her laptop at a distant study table, said they looked “cool,” but perhaps not conducive to getting work done.
“I’d feel claustrophobic in there,” she said.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Johnny Depp starting imprint, releasing Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie books

Publishing is just so cool!
FILE - In this Sept. 8, 2012 file photo, actor Johnny Depp participates in a photo call and press conference for the film "West of Memphis" at TIFF Bell Lightbox during the Toronto International Film Festival, in Toronto. HarperCollins Publishers announced Monday, Oct. 15, 2012, that Depp will help run an imprint that will be a home for “authentic, outspoken and visionary” books. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK, N.Y. - Johnny Depp is bringing a dash of cool to the book world.
Depp will help run a publishing imprint with the same name as his production company, Infinitum Nihil, meaning "Nothing is forever." Already on the list of books is "The Unraveled Tales of Bob Dylan," which aims to set the record straight on the songwriter's enigmatic life and career and will be based in part on interviews with Dylan by bestselling historian Douglas Brinkley.
The imprint will be part of HarperCollins Publishers, which announced Monday that Depp will seek "authentic, outspoken and visionary ideas and voices."
"I pledge, on behalf of Infinitum Nihil, that we will do our best to deliver publications worthy of peoples' time, of peoples' concern, publications that might ordinarily never have breached the parapet," Depp said in a statement released by HarperCollins. "For this dream realized, we would like to salute HarperCollins for their faith in us and look forward to a long and fruitful relationship together."
Brinkley, who recently wrote a cover story on Dylan for Rolling Stone, said he and Depp thought the Dylan book was "the ideal way" to inaugurate the Infinitum Nihil series.
"Bob has been very warm and forthcoming with us," Brinkley said in a statement. "His music has inspired us both deeply since we were teenagers."
The Dylan book is scheduled for 2015. Dylan and Brinkley also will collaborate on the editing and publication of a previously announced novel by one of Dylan's heroes, folk musician Woody Guthrie, who died in 1967. The novel, "House of Earth," was completed by Guthrie in 1947 but was only recently discovered. It's scheduled for January.
Depp, whose movies include "Edward Scissorhands" and the "Pirates of the Caribbean" series, already has ties to the book world. He was a close friend of Hunter Thompson and starred in film adaptations of Thompson's "Rum Diary" and "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." He also narrated parts of the audio edition of Keith Richards' memoir "Life."
Other celebrities with their own imprints include Chelsea Handler and Rachael Ray.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Downton Abbey creator writing a prequel

Even more Downton Abbey for the legions of fanatics!

Bruce DeMara
Toronto Star Entertainment Reporter

Downton Abbey

Nick Briggs/ITV Julian Fellowes has mused publicly about writing a prequel to Downton Abbey. Shown, Dan Stevens as Matthew Crawley and Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary in the period drama.
Julian Fellowes, co-creator of the wildly popular drama Downton Abbey is musing publicly about writing a prequel after the award-winning series winds down.
Fellowes, speaking during a screenwriting lecture hosted by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, said he has already begun work on the project, which would focus on the early relationship between the Earl of Grantham and his American heiress wife, Cora.
But it’s an idea that would only come into fruition when Downton Abbey, which debuted its third season on the U.K.’s ITV on Sept. 16, comes to a close. Season three episodes are slated to begin airing on PBS in the U.S. on Jan. 6, 2013.
“I don’t think you can continue a narrative in more than one area at once,” Fellowes told the forum.
Fellowes said there’s much drama to be mined from the early years when the couple first met, including the fact the Earl married his heiress wife “entirely for her money.”
The series, set in Yorkshire, chronicles the lives of the Earl and Countess,

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Passports to a prettier past: The enduring appeal of bonnets, butlers and stiff upper lips

Why we can't get enough of Downton Abbey.  This article provides some wonderful insight into some of the factors of appeal that we use in Viewers' Advisory:

The shifting times — on the brink of war, of female emancipation, of film — speaks to another era of technology and communication that’s unfolding now. (Timeframe)

That said, “women are very knowledgeable that what they are doing is an escapist fantasy,” (Genre)

“I think that usually when times are hard, when there’s not only the economy but also the fears that are going on today, people retreat to a past when they feel there was more of a safeness. (Mood)
 “How lovely — green velvet and silver. I call that a dream, so soft and delicious, too,”  (Language)
Another theory is that as we inch into the teens, the late Edwardian era is long enough ago to be exotic, but still near enough so as to be recognizably modern. (Setting)
What insight did you gain from this article?
Nathalie Atkinson National Post| Sep 29, 2012 2:00 PM ET | Last Updated: Sep 28, 2012 11:52 AM ET
BBCRebecca Hall in Parade's End

Viewers in England have fallen into swoons over Parade’s End, a new five-part television adaptation by Tom Stoppard set in the decade of 1908 through to the end of the Great War. That Benedict Cumberbatch stars as the tortured Tory husband of Ford Madox Ford’s novels doesn’t hurt, but beyond the day dresses and military costumes, it’s the central themes of sex, suffragettes and duty that have been of interest to viewers, and writers such as Julian Barnes, who recently praised Ford’s modern novel in an essay for the Guardian.
In the absence of a new season of Downton Abbey or access to Parade’s End, my recent costume melodramas have instead included The Forsyte Saga, available on Netflix Canada. The 2002 series is based on Nobel-winning writer John Galsworthy’s novels, which span three generations of a nouveau riche Victorian family — it stars Rupert Graves, Ioan Griffudd, Damian Lewis (who just won an Emmy for Homeland), Gina McKee and a whole lot of crushed velvet. In lieu of a Pemberley or Downton’s Downton there is Robin Hill, their classic Arts and Crafts pile, and an exploration of the moral codes of the Edwardian, then early modern era. Some of its original popularity surely had to do with the fact that it aired during the last frenzy of property obsession and materialism before the economic downtown, which are also Galsworthy’s themes in the books. Glossing over the Boer War and the death of Queen Victoria, The Forsyte Saga seems an uncanny parallel of the Manolos and martini obsession of Sex and the City-era Manhattan.
But Downton Abbey’s new season recently began airing in the U.K., and in an exclusive Grazia magazine interview this week costumer Caroline McCall (spoiler ahead!) reveals that the wedding gown for Lady Mary’s nuptials cost £4,000 ($6,365) to produce — more than any other single costume in the series so far. Judging by the retweeted links to the article alone, fans can’t get enough of this sort of tidbit, thanks to the current craze for lavish period dramas that fetishize the past (and lately, the Edwardian and early Jazz Age in particular).
“We do have these cycles of costume dramas,” says Dr. Rebecca Sullivan, a professor in the University of Calgary’s faculty of communications who specializes in feminist film, media and cultural studies. “We have cycles where we’ll be all about Shakespeare but in contemporary dress, or the postwar era, or la belle époque, and then cycles of Edwardian culture.”
“A couple of years ago it was all about Mad Men,” Sullivan cracks sarcastically. “Oh man, wouldn’t it be great if I could be sexually harassed at work while I wear a girdle and a bullet bra!”
In these serial aesthetic entertainments, the viewer stand-in is generally a plucky heroine who bristles at the societal restrictions of the era. “Costume dramas largely target female audiences and they target a sense of pure nostalgia for a history that never was,” Sullivan explains of not only historical television but film and novels. “One that is prettier, easier and one without consequences. It imprints contemporary values onto an imagined past to suggest that problems are easily solved.”
Even with below-stairs characters, the harsh realities of the era are cheerfully rendered with exquisite costumes beautifully shot, “usually from a bourgeois, if not elite, privileged perspective. That escapism treats the past as uncomplicated.
“There isn’t a whole heck of a lot of specificity because what costume dramas allow us to do so well is unmoor ourselves from historical specificity,” she adds. “Ask anybody who watches these what else was going on in the Edwardian era to connect three historical dots — it ain’t gonna happen.
“But the real beauty of the costume drama is that it prettifies the past, and creates a nostalgic longing for a time when all we did was wear beautiful clothes,” Sullivan says, calling the effect of the elaborate production and costume design “a disconnected otherworldliness that allows you not to feel grounded in social, political, economic conflicts and inequalities.”Another theory is that as we inch into the teens, the late Edwardian era is long enough ago to be exotic, but still near enough so as to be recognizably modern. The shifting times — on the brink of war, of female emancipation, of film — speaks to another era of technology and communication that’s unfolding now. There are parallels to concerns of identity, not unlike the spate of American Westerns set in the late 1800s, which were enormously popular in the 1950s and capitalized on righteous patriotic sentiment. And in the wake of the fairytale Charles and Diana wedding, Britain was primed to be swept up in the fictional aristocratic life between the wars of Brideshead Revisited, which aired in 1981.
So it’s zeitgeist, then? Hardly. For every argument of cultural relevance, you could argue budgetary considerations: Those Westerns were cheap and easy to make (just head to the middle of nowhere with a bagful of 10-gallon hats, some chaps and a few horses). They were cheaper than the extensive cast of the current how-the-other-half-live genre —all those footmen and parlour maids! Although the latter is admittedly still cheaper to costume than Elizabeth I’s Tudor England milieu.
When I spoke with Downton-loving designer Anna Sui last fall, we digressed into a conversation about why that period, along with Sui’s beloved 1930s, continues to have such appeal. “It seemed like a last hurrah,” she said of the high-society screwball comedies and backstage musicals that were a disconnect from the realities of the Depression.
“I think that usually when times are hard, when there’s not only the economy but also the fears that are going on today, people retreat to a past when they feel there was more of a safeness. All those 1930s movies,” she continued, “talk about the way things had always been and nobody thought it would end. But it all did,” Sui added.
That said, “women are very knowledgeable that what they are doing is an escapist fantasy,” Sullivan admits: “And I’m as soapy as the next person — I love Gone with the Wind and watch it every time it comes on TV.”
Speaking of the 1930s, Love in a Cold Climate is next on my stack of period dramas. But while a two-parter in 2001 starred the lovely Rosamund Pike, it’s the longer original adaptation of Love in a Cold Climate that I’ve been waiting for since it first aired 30 years ago. (The eight-episode mini-series produced by the BBC in 1980 and later shown in North America on PBS Masterpiece.) All 405 minutes of it finally came out as a DVD box set last month.
Adapted from Nancy Mitford’s two bestselling novels, it concerns the bright young things of the posh Radlett family, between the wars. It is set at Alconleigh, a stately country manor modeled on the Mitfords’ own home, Batsford Park, and, as any good costume drama must have its grande dame, stars a fortysomething Judi Dench as Aunt Sadie.
“We end up telling these stories of very difficult histories, but through the prettiest lens,” Sullivan reminds me, as I slip into a reverie telling her about the series. “Usually through that of the colonial overloads,” she cautions, before one last guffaw, “but oh, the clothes!”
Put another way: “How lovely — green velvet and silver. I call that a dream, so soft and delicious, too,” Mitford wrote of one of her Cold Climate ladies. “She rubbed a fold of the skirt against her cheek. ‘Mine’s silver lamé, it smells like a bird cage when it gets hot, but I do love it. Aren’t you thankful evening skirts are long again?’ ”