Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Writing Life

I read a lot of blogs. Ones that feed my hobbies (backpacker magazine, the goat), my obsession with food (grub street, eater), my work (awful library books, and ok, Points of Reference and The Guardian's Books blog), miscellaneous crap (hipster puppies, the "blog" of "unnecessary" quotation marks, awkward family photos), and of course, the blogs of the Library's wonderful member writers. In addition to all this blog reading, I have the usual obsession with the ever expanding pile of books on my nightstand compounded by the fact that I troll through the Library's stacks every day. My role as an aquisitions librarian also presents a hazard as my compulsory reading of book reviews is often followed by a manic compulsion to add more books to my own Goodreads list.

I nervously read through lists of books that I "must read now!", I should have read, best of, worst of, and everything that everybody else is reading. And today's must reads came in the form of member writer Alison Pace's blog post about what's on her reading pile. And that's where I discovered Annie Dillard's The Writing Life.

The Writing Life! How did I not know about this? I admit, it's not the most unique name for our member writer programming here at the Library, but I was not familiar with Annie Dillard's book. So, thanks Allison for adding yet another book to my pile. For along with everything else on my list are books to help this Writer Services Librarian understand that mysterious class of people known as writers.

So, I shall eventually get to The Writing Life, the book, after I read John McNally's fictional account of the Iowa Writer's Workshop, "After the Workshop", and the hundred other books on my ever expanding list.

So come on. Pile on. Let me know what else I should be reading blog-wise and book-wise.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Shirley Hazzard in Conversation with Richard Ford this coming Friday

As part of the PEN/World Voices Festival of International Literature, Richard Ford (The Sportswriter, Independence Day, The Lay of the Land) interviews Shirley Hazzard. Special guests will read from Hazzard's work.

Friday, April 30
92nd Street Y, Unterberg Poetry Center, 1395 Lexington
7 - 8 pm
Information and tickets

Writing Groups This Week

Tuesday, April 27
Poets Group
4:30 pm - 6:30 pm
Marshall Room (meet in Circulation area for escort to 4th floor)

Wednesday, April 28
Fiction Writers Group II
11 am - 1 pm
Whitridge Room

*Writing group are open to Library members only.

Monday, April 19, 2010


Viral isn't a bad word. At least it doesn't have to be. The Oxford English Dictionary defines viral as "of, designating, or involving the rapid spread of information".

And viral describes how one innocent comment at dinner turned into a media sensation. By now, you've all probably read or heard the story about George Washington and the books that he borrowed, but apparently never returned to our dear New York Society Library.

The story has long been common knowledge among Library staff and many members - the Library's first charging ledger, found in a trash bin in the early part of the last century, revealed that George Washington checked out The Law of Nations and volume 12 of a series of debates from the House of Commons, but apparently never returned them. There's no return date in the ledger, and the books are definitely no longer in the collection.

My husband has been fascinated with this story since I first told him about it, and over a recent dinner with friends (one of whom is an editor at the New York Daily News), it somehow came up in casual conversation. A few days later, I got an email from said editor, asking whether the Library would be interested in sharing the story about our first scofflaw. After a visit to the Library and an interview with Head Librarian Mark Bartlett, the tale of George's scandalous library behavior ran in Saturday's NY Daily News.

The News posted it online. The Associated Press picked it up. Then Yahoo. And from there, it truly went viral. Local news outlets CBS and Fox, and 1010 Wins picked up the story. The national media got wind of it and there it was on the Today show on NBC and on the Regis and Kelly show on ABC. The next thing we know, the story has spread far afield to foreign media sources like the BBC, The Guardian, the Ottawa Sun, and even curiously, the Nigerian Best Forum. Now bloggers are picking up where the media outlets have left off, musing about everything from whether the fine was calculated properly to how they feel duped about George's honesty.

This is the power of the web. Bloggers are turning into new media sensations every day (think Julie Powell of Julie and Julia or our own Gretchen Rubin and her Happiness Project) as their web content is picked up, re-posted, re-linked, and commented on. We're just hoping that maybe, just maybe, our long lost books will be returned to us as somewhere, somehow, someone reading an account of the tale realizes they have them sitting on their shelves. My friend, the NY Daily News editor, who's always looking for a good story, hopes we find that some unsuspecting folks have been using the books to steady the legs of their dining room table!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Memoir Writers Group Forming at NYSL

First meeting this coming MONDAY!
April 19, 3 pm - 4:45 pm (Whitridge Room)

Are you working on a memoir or another manner of autobiographical material? The Library is forming a group for member writers to share work in progress and get support from fellow writers.

Bring work in progress to share. Questions? Please contact me at

*Please note that NYSL Writing Groups are open to Library members only.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Social Media and Me

I just found out that I have a lot of work to do. I've been doing it all wrong. Or at least, I haven't been doing it enough. That, according to member Gretchen Rubin, the fabulous author of The Happiness Project, the blog and the book, who took time from her (very) busy schedule to visit the Library today to talk to member writers about social networking.

Gretchen knows what she's talking about. In my intro to her talk, I mentioned she had 19,000 Twitter followers, but I just realized, she's got more like 20,000 now. She was gracious and generous with her time and patiently answered the dozens of questions from the audience about how to get started, the commitment required (Gretchen faithfully blogs 6 days a week), and whether privacy matters.

Some takeaways from the talk included Gretchen's picks for blog software (WordPress), for newsletters (Mail Chimp and Aweber), and some great sites for Twitter tips (tweetdeck and twitips).

But the best advice? Gretchen's social media mantras:
1. Ubiquity is the new exclusivity
2. Self expression is the new entertainment
3. A strong voice repels as much as it attracts
4. Competitors are your allies

There was a lot I took out of this talk. I'll post more in the days ahead...I've got to get started blogging 6 days a week!

Monday, April 12, 2010

This Side of Paradise

This Side of Paradise is a new musical about Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald featuring Music and Lyrics by Library Member Nancy Harrow

Performances April 14 through May 9, 2010
Theatre at St. Clements
423 West 46th Street

Friday, April 2, 2010

Food. Poetry. Menupoems 2010.

After having the lamb burger at the Breslin or Lidia's spicy calamaretti at Del Posto, one might feel moved to express oneself in iambic pentameter. The folks at Alimentum, the literary magazine that's all about food, are here to help. Celebrate Poetry Month by downloading the Menupoems placemat printed with a dozen poems. Then read one of the poems on video at your favorite restaurant and upload it to Alimentum's YouTube channel.

...and the Menupoems editor is none other than our own Library member (and Fiction Group II leader) Esther Cohen.