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Category Archives: book lovers

The Book of Will

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What a fun play! Written by Lauren Gunderson, The Book of Will at the Northlight Theater till December 17th tells the story of how without the effort of his friends, we wouldn’t have an authentic collection of William Shakespeare’s plays. In 1620 after Will had passed on, his friends were fed up with bad Shakespearean plays. Some were bad versions patched up with garbled versions of the plays made from copyists in the audience who tried to take down everything that was said. Some were just plays written by hacks who tried to copy Shakespeare’s style.

The play begins in a pub near The Globe theater where three of Shakespeare’s friends Richard Burbage, John Heminges, Henry Condell, actors from the King’s Men’s troupe and Condell’s daughter Elizabeth bemoan the horrible fakery that passes for Shakespeare. When Burbage dies suddenly they realize the only chance for passing these masterpiece plays down to posterity is to collect and publish a folio. It’s an expensive undertaking that is complicated by the lack of a full set of originals. A few plays are here, another bunch are with a scrivener, most actors only got their part, not the full play so some had to be carefully put together. No respectable printer wanted to touch the project so Heminges and Condell had to settle for a slimy, greedy cheat.

The play is delightful as it weaves memorable passaged of the Bard’s work throughout the story, which is well paced. The characters include Shakespeare’s wife, daughter and mistress, and Heminges’ and Condell’s wives and and so there is some female influence supporting the impossible project. The Northlight’s set and costumes were perfect. I’m tempted to go again.

What’s great about the Northlight is free parking and every seat has a clear view.

Now I want to visit the Newberry Library and see the First Folio in person.

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American Writers Museum

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Timeline

This year the American Writers Museum in Chicago on Michigan Avenue. It was high time I visited so despite the rain and cold, I took a friend from Milwaukee to explore it.

After showing our tickets, which I bought online and got a 20% discount on, we were directed to start our visit on the right where there is a timeline of American writers.

If you look up on the left and you’ll see a timeline of American history. Under that is the main exhibit showing a chronological series of portraits of significant American writers. When you turn the panel, which has three sides, you’ll find more information and background about each writer. Below is information on a well designed panel about various literary movements or authors. It’s a lot of reading, but its well presented. Also, the curators seem to have made an effort to present authors from all backgrounds. Across from the time line is a wall of squares with author’s quotations. The squares move to reveal an panel with more information or a video.

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Parallel to the gallery with the timeline was a photo exhibit on biographies, written by or on authors or celebrities along with their photos. The black and white photos of 50+ years ago were my favorite. There’s something about the crisp gradations and the styles of bygone eras that we just don’t see much anymore.

The next room I saw was the Readers Room which focuses on reading. It highlights different kinds of reading, such as educational, newspapers, magazines and more. There are two interactive screens where you can submit your favorite authors and see the most popular authors or books other visitors have chosen.

Another gallery had a small exhibit on Laura Ingles Wilder with biographical information, maps of where each of her books was set, depiction of her work in other formats and critical responses to her works.

The museum has a table with different typewriters, from the earliest kind to Selectric to a laptop. People were pounding away at the old typewriters while the laptop wasn’t used while I was there.

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Quotation, Octavia Butler

Then there was an exhibit on the skills of writing with interactive exhibits on specificity, making prose active and such.

Finally, there was an area dedicated to Chicago writers like Saul Bellow, Ida B. Wells, Mike Royko, Ring Larder, Gwendolyn Brooks, Carl Sandburg, Theodore Dreiser, Peter Finley Dunne and many more. Here you could listen to short recordings of their work and see these turnable banners with their portraits and information on their work.

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Each month the museum offers several programs including public readings. The staff was very helpful as we went through the galleries. They’d point out little things like the mural in the children’s room which had squirrels in a tree reading Caldecott award winning books and each squirrel had some element that related to the story it was reading. For example, the squirrel reading Charlotte’s Web, had a wisp of a web hanging over it.

All in all, I give the museum a thumbs up and will be back. I’d say allow an hour to get through the museum. If there’s a program, add more time.

Tickets: Adults $12, Students $8, discounts for children and seniors.

 

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2017 in book lovers, fiction, postaweek

 

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Chicago History Museum, Service Safari

Today I went to the Chicago Historical Museum to do some research for a writing project I’ve started. It’s a historical

Chicago Historical Museum Research center

  • What was my goal  and was it met? My goal was to get some primary sources on the 1870’s in Chicago to find out about how
  • What was good about the service? The librarian was very approachable and helpful. She showed interest in my search and checked on my progress and offered new ideas as I worked.
  • What detracted from the experience? I had no complaints.
  • With whom did you interact? I spoke with a friendly reference librarian and I suppose an intern who brought the items I needed. You have to show a membership card or give the librarian the entrance ticket ($10) when you arrive.
  • Were you confused at any time during the experience? I had to use a microfiche machine, which I hadn’t used since probably high school. The librarian gladly showed me how, but all the different knobs are hard to get straight right off the bat.
  • Describe the physical space. The reference desk is near the entrance. In the main room there were several long tables with slips for patrons to fill out to request items. Along one side of the room are books on shelves and the opposite wall has several computers and microfiche machines.  Beyond the tables is an area with lots of old maps on tables.

When I went, I didn’t know what to expect in terms of the scope of their collection or what would help me. I want to also try the Chicago Public Library, if non-residents can, and the Newberry Library so I wasn’t sure that I’d be back so I didn’t purchase a membership. Now I think I’ll go back perhaps weekly and hope to take one of their walking tours. So I will get a membership.  Going to one of these special libraries is kind of cool, but also a little intimidating at first. You can’t bring in any bags, pens, food or drink. You’re not supposed to bring in cameras, but one woman was snapping photos of documents with a camera. That was pretty obvious since her camera clicked loudly. I guessed she must have had permission.

You can just bring in a pencil and/or a laptop computer.

They’re only open in the afternoon. I did find out quite a bit from their history magazine about servants in that era. I went perused several weeks of the Chicago Times, a now defunct paper on microfiche. Best of all I got to go through Mrs. George Pullman’s diaries and address books of the time.

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2014 in book lovers, historical fiction

 

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The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook

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The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook by Emily Ansara Batnes beckoned me at the library. Consisting of recipes for the folks upstairs as well as downstairs, The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook not only offers recipes, but is full of insights and explanations about cuisine in Edwardian England. Recipes include crunchy fig and bleu cheese tarts, classic oysters Rockefeller, crispy roast duck with blackberry sauce, Mrs. Patmore’s downstairs pork pie, chicken, leek and caerphilly cheese pie for St. David’s Day, and treacle tart.

I made Sir Anthony’s Apple Charlotte last week and it’s a new favorite. Looking at photos of apple charlotte it seems that many recipes call for bread rather than bread crumbs. This recipe was so delicious that despite my curiosity I doubt I’d bother with a different version.

Sir Anthony’s Apple Charlotte

2 c. light brown sugar
2 T. cinnamon
2 t. nutmeg
1 t. ground ginger
1 t. allspice
5 large tart apples, pared, cored, sliced thin
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1 T. fresh orange juice
½ c. butter, cold, chopped
½ c. butter, melted
1 loaf French bread, shredded into crumbles. 1 c. reserved
butter for topping

Preheat oven to 350.

Note: I just used Progresso plain bread crumbs

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Reserve 1 cups of the mixture to use as a topping.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together apple slices, lemon and orange juices.
  3. Cover the bottom of a medium-sized dutch oven with bread crumbs and bits of cold butter. Layer with sliced apples and brown sugar mix, then with another few tabs of butter. Repeat until the dutch oven is filled.
  4. For the top layer, combine the reserved bread crumbs, ½ c. melted butter and 1 c. reserved brown sugar mix. Top with more butter. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

I served it with vanilla ice cream, which might be an American touch.

Source

E. A. Baines, (2012) The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook, Avon, MA, Adams Media.

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2014 in book lovers, British Lit

 

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T’is the Season

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I’m one of those aunts that likes to give books as gifts. For years though, I’ve usually just given an Amazon gift certificate, but this year I’m tired of giving gift cards. I can see their merit, but I wanted more challenge. Besides with all this library knowledge I’m accumulating, I felt I should test out what I’m learning.

So with the help of the American Library Association’s lists of books for young readers, I’ve spent a few hours selecting books for nieces and nephews. I used their list of books for the college bound and notable children’s books. They’ve got lots to choose from. Booklist also offers information that helps

NPR’s Book Concierge led me to a title I think my mother will like. I’ll give it as part of a bundle of gifts.

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2013 in book lovers, Children's Lit

 

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Literature Review for Final Paper

For my class Social Media for Information Science Professionals, I had to work on a group project. This group consisted of bright, hard working professionals and we developed a strategy for a hypothetical technology museum dedicated to Steve Jobs and Innovation.

Here’s my bit:

Prior to the 1970s, museums focused on the collection, upkeep and recording of items in their collections. Barbara Franco, former director of The Historical Society of Washington, quipped that museums were in the “salvage and warehouse” business (Weil, 1999). During the 1970s a paradigm shift occurred and museums began to see their mission as directed towards people. While museums in the 19th and early 20th were satisfied with a relatively small number of visitors from an elite class, now they have a broader mission and strive to draw visitors from all ethnicities, and income levels (Weil, 1999). Consequently, museums are now in the business of education, conversation, collaboration and sharing as well as collecting, organizing and preserving (Proctor, 2010). Early attempts to better reach the public took the form of devising entertaining ways to showcase the collection (Watkins and Russo, 2007). Social media allow museum staff to communicate beyond the walls of the museum reaching people who may never visit, but who may want to engage with the museum staff, collection or people sharing an interest in the museum.

Social Media and the New Museum Paradigm

Whereas in the past museum staff worked behind closed doors with little interaction with visitors, social media allows for immediate communication that can build the democratic relationship museums now seek (Bailey, 2009). When used effectively, social media provide an ideal means of connecting with the public in a meaningful way as to promote and hold exhibits (Bailey, 2009) or solicit donations.

All museums must realize that even if they reject social media, their users haven’t (Proctor, 2010). Visitors record and discuss their museum experiences in blogs, on Facebook, Twitter and other social media. For example, the Flickr Group “At the Museum” has almost 3000 members and over 87,000 photos (Flickr, 2013). To balance a museum’s duties to its public with its duty to its collection, Nancy Proctor explains that “museums need to reconcile the apparently contradictory views of democratizing control and preserving and valuing expertise” (2010). In the era of Web 2.0 Lynda Kelly believes museums need to:

“share authority, take risks, give staff and communities permission to experiment and play . . . encourage connections and networks both internally and externally, provide scaffolding and support that others can work from . . . allowing third parties to access their material and see what eventuates, acknowledge that a healthy community will self-monitor and self-correct take their place as the subject matter experts, while also drawing on the power of their collective communities” (2010).

Data on Museums’ Use of Social Media

In a recent online survey of 315 American museums using social media, Adrienne Fletcher and J. Lee Moon learned that 94% of surveyed museums used Facebook, 70% use Twitter, 56% use YouTube and 49% use Flickr (2012). While 60% of the respondents use social media to list events and post reminders, many museums use social media for online promotions, to reach out to a larger audience, or for conversation with stakeholders (Fletcher and Moon, 2012). Chris Alexander’s team of researchers examined the YouTube use of five museums and found that all five museums reported that You Tube videos “have helped introduce new audiences to their museum, have helped [their] core audiences get a closer connection to programs and services, and have helped to explain a difficult topic/concept/artist in a way that other resources couldn’t” (2008).

Effective Use of Social Media

Since social media is analogous to a cocktail party, users don’t want to be ill-mannered guests who simple tries to sell, sell, sell (Bailey, 2009). Sophisticated social media users ask questions, amuse, educate and enlighten those they communicate with. (Bailey, 2009). As social media is casual and somewhat intimate, institutions that simply post press releases and event listings, “just don’t get it” (Kidd, 2011). Nina Simon illustrates the kinds of interaction in a hierarchy she developed for museums’ social media use.

Source: N. Simon, Museum 2.0

As the pyramid grows steeper, the interaction between the museum and its users gets more interactive, more democratic; control is shared In the best cases, a museum reaches “the holy grail of social discourse, where people interact directly with each other around content” (Simon, 2007). Effective social media use should ideally capitalize on the strengths of each platform. Examples of successful social media implementation include Tweetups, events for users who promise to document their visit (Preston, 2011), changing rules regarding photography, and allowing visitors to upload their videos on the museum’s YouTube channel and website (Kidd, 2011).

Ethics of Social Media in Museums

In using social media, a museum staff must consider ethical questions concerning accountability, censorship, and transparency. For example, how can museums, such as the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, reconcile the ideal of free speech with its mission to honor and memorialize a people? (Wong, 2011). The often casual tone characterizing much social media is at odds with the seriousness required of some exhibits. Some museums note the friendly nature of microblogs and their personnel use their own names on Twitter. Although Wong was assigned to tweet or the U.S. Holocaust Museum, she was not hired to be its spokesperson. Consequently, the museum decided not to allow her to tweet under her own name (2011). Each museum needs to consider their reputation, audience and responsibilities in creating and implementing a policy of social media ethics (Wong, 2011).

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2013 in book lovers, Library and Information Science

 

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Good Stories: What Christian Writers Can Offer

Yep, Barabara Nicolosi, founder of Act One and professional screenwriter, is right. I agree that we need to work and think really hard to offer the world the sort of stories Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene, Françoise Mauriac, Dostoevsky and Victor Hugo offered. But it would be worth it.

This weekend I finish my library class and start writing in earnest. Promise.

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2013 in book lovers, Christianity, classic, Nobel Prize, Spirituality, Theology, writers

 

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