scribbles tagged ‘library’

S is for Scutage

Friday, August 19th, 2011 | tags: , , , ,  |

Berkshire Records Office Receptionist (BROR):What are you looking for?

Wendy: Um….history… …nothing in particular… …just browsing….  …um…….what have you got that’s good?

BROR: We’ve got lots of maps, even before the Ordnance Survey started

Wendy: Oh! that sounds good, I like maps, I’ll look at the maps

Large filing cabinates skirt the windows of the records office. Microfiche’s mount rows of dustless, grey, formica tables against the windowless walls. A large table holds the map-drawers down in the middle of the room. Can you tell I was getting a bit excited by it all?

At University in 1983 we had to book time using one of the 3 Microfiche machines – grubbied from thousands of sparingly washed students fingers.  Here there are sparkling rows of them, unused! My gleeful gawping was quickly interrupted

BRO librarian: what are you looking for?

Wendy: I’d like to just browse, your colleague suggested maps…   ….Reading’s Quaker history is interesting too…

The librarian looked disconcerted, I was getting disconcerted. He latched onto my Quaker suggestion and pointed me to the local records subject index filing cabinates. The drawer made a pleasing, heavy, swish sound as he opened it. He suggested looking under “Q” for Quakers or “S” for Society of friends. No hint of my ancient PhD on finding files in electronic filing systems had seeped into this librarians awareness. I smiled and resisted the urge to raise his awareness.



(The sound of my brain spasming within my cranium confines)

Index cards. Hand-typed in courier-font. Lined cards where the typing didn’t sit on the lines. Cards where one card is the index for multiple items – so it’s expensive to add new stuff in the right order. Thrilling!  The colour returned to my face with a big smile.   I didn’t need to find anything, this card system was enough to keep me happy for hours, days, possibly years if they don’t upgrade it. I wonder if they have any part time or volunteer jobs…..

The librarian noticed my smile and politely took his leave to help another lady, who was clutching a handful of cards.  I tucked into the “S“s – Settlement, Scutage, Sheriffs, Slavery, Suffragettes…

The Librarian returned about an hour later.  My hands still deep in the yellowing index cards

BRO librarian: are you doing ok?

Wendy: Oh yes! YES! I’ve found out lots of lovely stuff. I’d never heard of Scutage, Quietus or Lugg before now!

He beamed a lovely smile and grew quietly animated as he showed me how to use the index card reference numbers to track down the physical location of an item in a herd of big folders. To practice I picked a card titled “Services, Personal” where in 1396 a married couple had sold themselves in return for the things they needed to live – a home and a place to keep their sheep

The afternoon slip-slided away on paper cards labelled with “S”

An adult version of Sesame Street “S”exploration

S is for Suffragettes

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Trucking Hull

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011 | tags: , , , ,  |

Truck Theatre The Socialist Republic of Hull hosted a clan gathering of the “Avenue’s” branch of the House family

This all female branch successfully avoided Royalist pre-procreation ceremonial fervour while plotting the overthrow of several magnificent vegetarian feasts (and swapping gardening tips)

Hull Truck Theatre entertained us with not one, but two Alan Bennetts in an autobiographical play featuring an outstanding yellow Bedford Van and a colourful unconventional lady


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little my

Monday, March 28th, 2011 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

If you were at a Swedish speaking school you would swear in Finnish or German. Often the language at school was different from the language at home. At home you could have a conversation where one sentence would switch between languages, Finnish, Swedish German (Dad)

Dad had a multilingual upbringing in Finland, Sweden and  Hull (England). I had a monolingual upbringing, English was the only language spoken at home.

Dad did make sure we had many connections with his family history through music (Sibelius), decorations such as Dalacarlian horses, personal and published stories. Dad arranged the weekly trip to the Library to swap our story books. A big family event, such fun. Noggin the Nog and Tove Jannsen‘s Moomin’s (Muumi in original Finnish) were fond favourites of my early life. Like Dad, Tove was a Swedish speaking Finn. Little my is an occassional character in the Moomins, based on Tove.

The soundtrack for the TV series sounds almost Cajun….

Watch and listen to a Moomin episode in original musical Finnish

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the winning read is set in Reading!

Sunday, February 20th, 2011 | tags: ,  |

I found it difficult to vote for any book that I’d read. This took Wuthering Heights and Gormenghast out of the running.  It left me feeling guilty of unfairly overlooking excellent classics in favour of unknown novelty

Scepticism stopped me seeing virtues in books by authors whose other work I’d not enjoyed. This meant Bill Bryson’s ‘A walk in the woods‘ was starting with a handicap that Sarah’s description failed to overcome. This left me feeling guilty of expecting the authors style to not evolve in inspirational ways

In one case I’d read excellent books by this author, but not this book. This gave The fourth bear by Jasper Fforde an immediate advantage. This also left me feeling guilty of expecting continued excellence from Mr Fforde

Tina told a really engaging story about her book. She described her experience of reading it and the tequniques the author used that engaged her. It was intriguing and inspiring. Because Tina did such a good job of selling a book by an author I didn’t know, this book got my vote – Eucalyptus by Murray Bail

The book that most people voted for was:

The fourth bear by Jasper Fforde

It’s set in Reading town! It’s a follow-on from the egg-cellent ‘The Big Over Easy“.   I’ll be reading it while taking counselling to overcome my growing guilt complex

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Read dating in Reading

Friday, February 18th, 2011 | tags: , , ,  |

It’s not dating, I’m sorry

Laura seemed concerned that I might have misunderstood the Central Library’s Read Dating event

That’s ok, I like how inclusive it is – you don’t have to be single to take part, anyone who has a book they love can join in, that’s great!

Unfortunately they hadn’t received my online sign-up and now the popular event was fully booked. I’d been excluded. Laura was very apologetic.

Can you put me on a waiting list incase someone drops out?

Laura explained that people just fail to turn up on the night, they never let her know first. Sadly, I thanked Laura for taking the time to be so helpful then checked that she had my phone number just incase. Disappointed at missing what sounded like a good evening out:

Read dating, like speed dating but with literary attitude!  Reading Library presents a fun and friendly evening where you can share you reading passions with like-minded people.
Come ready to enthuse about your favourite read 1:1. You will have just a couple of minutes to woo readers to your book. Prize for the reader whose book scores the most “dates”.

Later that evening Laura called

Cinderalla you shall go to the ball (Library)!

Actually she said

I’ve phoned round everyone that signed up and found a person that can’t come, so there is a place for you. Can I take your library card number?

Wonderful personal service! Laura asked if I had any idea what book I would be bringing. With no hesitation I blurted out

Mervyn Peake’s – letters from a lost uncle

Reading Library staff’s humanity  humility and imagination – you can get some without a prescription, it’s FREE!

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Thursday, February 3rd, 2011 | tags: , ,  |

The BladeA persistent challenge for people that use search engines to look for things in Reading (Berks, UK) is that the search engines don’t even try to differentiate between Reading the place and reading the activity. Consequently, any search results contain lots of obviously irrelevant results that are about reading (rhymes with feeding). The human searcher has to skim read all of the contents to mentally filter-out the irrelevant results.

To help reduce the irrelevant reading (rhymes with needing) search results I normally include the local county, Berkshire (rhymes with Bark sure), in the search terms. This helps a bit, but not enough.  Maybe Reading tourist encouragers,  could lobby the search engine providers to introduce novel, useful, search refinements, like

  • Include word case in the search parameters and assume words starting with capitols indicate proper nouns in both web pages and search terms. Unfortunately, my random use of capitolisation means this may not work for me.
  • a ‘Rhymes with’ feature where likely options are provided for selection. The options could include words to account for variations in regional accents. I’d have such fun with that kind of option, and it would make all my searches for Reading (rhymes with wedding) both efficient and fun!

Though if leading (Rhymes with Reading and reading) was an option I’d probably pick it without realising…

1 vote rating 5

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not geographical nor alphabetical

Sunday, January 9th, 2011 | tags: , , ,  |

Israel…   …Afghanistan…          …Vietnam…

library shelvesbaffled

I was baffled

by the organisation

the organisation of the books, by country, in the Reading central library

there is some organisation principle in place

can you guess the logic behind the juxtapositions?

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don’t whack me on my new tattoo

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010 | tags: , , ,  |

Dear Alice,

Thank you for your Christmas card, there’s no need to apologise, I still love you. You are special, I hardly notice my birthday nowadays anyway. Seem’s like you think your mind has been mush for years now, I don’t see or hear the mush, you are still as bright and beautiful as the Monday night in the alternative disco. Do you remember? The two prats who had made a big killing on the horses and thought we’d be impressed by money? You whacked me so hard on my new tattoo that my squeals of pain quickly reduced us to piles of mutual laughter and baffled the bullshit out of the guys! Forgive yourself, laugh again.

I know you love your step daughter, two sons and husband. You don’t tell me so, but I know you love them, it shows in the all-engulfing way that you support the smooth running of their lives. The meals you cook, the shopping you do, the events you attend, the cleaning, the taxi-driving, the advice. I hear how your life is all about making their lives easier. The girl I knew was always passionate about organising things, how else could you graduate with such a good degree in Library studies. You, engulfed in stories and classification. You were in ecstacy! I remember the stories of how you sorted out the Munich Siemens office, then in the 1990’s the local Berlin Government ‘lost and found’ office by pairing people separated by the wall using just a card system, then arranging Premier entertainment for visiting Warner Brothers stars. You are so good at sorting things and entertaining people.

Somehow you reserve the pain for me, you talk of your disappointments and burden. I wonder where is the happiness hiding, bring it out, I miss it, I love you

W x

don’t whack me on my new tattoo
1 vote rating 5

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Large print

Friday, November 12th, 2010 | tags: , , ,  |

In the Reading town central library, they demonstrate their signage literally. I was left wishing that all signs were large print because my spectacles were not up to standard for the standard print signage.

Large Print

Large print
2 votes rating 4.5

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Reading library open to suggestions

Saturday, November 6th, 2010 | tags: , ,  |

I discovered a fabulous events list while I was exploring Reading Borough Library service’s website. But it was a non-interactive web page, I’d have to keep coming back to the web page to look for new events and changes in events. Being unable to resist the opportunity to share the wisdom of my knowledge about blogging and RSS I wrote to them suggesting that they consider changing the format of their events calendar to a blog so that people could subscribe.

The response was quick, personal and positive, very impressive.

Now I just have to resist making lots of suggestions that range from the simple, plausible and valuable to pure science fantasy and fun

Reading Library IT support

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virgin member

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010 | tags: , , , , ,  |

My overdue trip to join Reading library. Overdue will not turn into a relationship theme

Palmers Park library Membership packI walked up to the desk opposite the door with the large sign saying membership. A young lady watched me as I picked up a leaflet describing how to join. easy, fill in this form provide evidence of address (Driving license) and normal signature (Debit card). As I reached for a pen from the pot on the far side of the desk the young lady walked over.  She picked and passed me a pen as she sat down good, I get to sit down now

wendy: can I take a photograph of that sign?

staff: Oh! No-one’s ever asked that before…Um…if there are no people in the picture

Excellent, the Saturday staff feel able to make decisions on unusual requests. The girl sweetly listened to me tell her about Kevin’s blog as I completed the form. Then she went into coorporation style ‘rote-retell’ mode as she desciribed the contents of the new member’s pack before handing it to me.

  • 2 hours of free internet access a day
  • The addresses and opening times of all the branches, including one in Palmers park that opens ’till 7pm 2 nights midweek
  • A free CD/DVD loan because of my new membership
  • charge-rates
  • Frequently Asking Questions
  • Special services (alas all the ‘coffee mornings’ are on weekdays, when I can’t join in)
  • Adult services (adult book groups. OH! who’d have guessed?! One group meets in the ‘Back of Beyond‘)
  • Children services (they have Pyjamma evenings in the library – wish I was a real child!)
  • Toy library

After this preliminary dance I was let-loose on the stock. …..ooOOOOooooo…. I left with an unabridged Audio book; Ian McEwan’s ‘On chesil beach’ read by the author.  It may not smell of book, but the commute to work this week will be a joy….

Goodies, lovely goodies…

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serious tut-tut-tutting

Sunday, November 29th, 2009 | tags: , , ,  |

How can I visit Alexandria and not know that there is a pillar called Bombay Pompey’s pillar there?

There is some serious tut-tut-tutting going on

Alexandria LibraryI was drawn to Alexandria  Library

More wonderful than anticipated.   It was highly anticipated. I spent much of the time there  sitting, listening to the building, watching the students.   The library website has a collection of photographs of the museum, its settings and collections.

The library has a ‘Nobel section’ that is furnished with a replica of the furniture and lighting designed specially for the Nobel Institute in Stockholm and  contains the  book collections of Nobel Prize Laureates in Literature from 1901-2006. I don’t think that fits strictly with the Dewey Decimal system. It is a socially meaningful way to highlight books ‘I’d like something from the Nobel room please…  

There are several museums, a planetarium and a caligraphy centre within the Library.    This  makes sense to me,    being more than a repository of books,   being  a place to explore the world beyond the here and now.   Most libraries are more than a repository of books,   this one has so many enticing advantages through imagination, United Nations funding and gifts from many countries.

I had less than an hour at the Library

The library warranted staying in Alexandria for at least a year….   …seeking sponsorship for specialist research….     ….something more than a tourist walkthrough….


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the cost of dreams

Sunday, October 18th, 2009 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

The imaginarium of Dr Parnassus    is a wonderful modern faerie tale.   It  mixes classic structures and characters (Old Nick) with modern settings, language, and characters.  

🙂 🙂 🙂


review ratings explained

Plot:    Very good.   A classic style of storytelling,   a new story.   A bet with the devil.   Souls to be won or lost.   The classic framework provides the structure that makes the plot easy to follow.   Easy to follow but not overly  predictable.    Cunning plans and twists.   There is  uncertainty about the virtue and honesty of some characters.   Who is working with, for,  Nick?   The film holds  a cheeky mirror to modern values as it portrays our dreams.      

Gilliam does not write his  female characterisations  in as much depth as his male characters.  There is only one noteable  female character in the film.    Her contribution is central to the plot while the role is  hardly touched and seems superficial.    Lets call her a token women.   A pretty girl that needs rescuing.  Sigh.  A blot on an otherwise wonderful film.  

A related disappointment was the pedestrian ending to the main storyline.    The final scenes  felt a bit anemic.    The scenes  tied-up the damsel’s storyline quickly and neatly.   This felt forced and out-of-keeping with the plucky playing in the other, mainly male,  storylines.   There are many wonderful ways that Terry could have ended the film.   I suspect Gilliam’s creative freedom was somehow compromised.  

Cast: Excellent.    Performances that had the kind of depth that comes from allowing talented actors to develop, improvise and extend their characters.   Apparently Heath Ledger’s last line  before he died was  ‘Don’t shoot the Messenger’ and Jonny Depp improvised the same line when playing Ledger’s character in the imaginarium.   Ledenhall Market

Sets. Excellent.   Physical locations included some of my favourite places,  such as  Ledenhall market in London and the Public Library in Vancouver BC.   The contrast between the architecture in these two locations was used well as a visual clue to different tones, temperaments, stages  of the plot.

The animated sets were breath taking.   Apparantly breathtaking animated sets are the norm for widely distributed films by famous directors with excellent casts.   Jolly good.  Thoroughly enjoyable.   Lots of ooOOOooooze and aaAAARRRRSSSssse.

Within the imaginarium these fantasy sets had the beauty, unpredictability and the  ominousness of real dreams.    

Audience:   one thing that  interferred with my  total immersion in this fabulous film  was the audience.   Specifically,   the lady sat next to me.    She insisted on sniffing loudly at 1spm (1 sniff per minute).   Every  few minutes there was a cough, sneeze, or other substantial air movement in her facial regions.   She did have some props for this activity, tissues, but  the noise and potential infection kept drawing me out of  the film into an unpleasant reality.   Ick.  

I will be watching this film again.

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librarian bypass

Sunday, September 20th, 2009 | tags: , ,  |

Book ExchangeSeveral pubs I’ve visited recently have bookshelves labeled ‘book exchange’.   Unlike a library, you do not get a wide range of choice, helpful advice, and an occassional dose of ‘shushing’.  This  can be a  bonus  for noisey, decisionally-challenged, me.

Until now I’d treated the bookshelves of friends and family as book exchanges,  now my net has widened to include pubs….   …some people are releasing their books into the wild then remotely tracking their progress via websites like bookcrossing.

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All fresco’d out

Friday, November 21st, 2008 | tags: , , , ,  |

Piccolomini libraryHIF: Did you enjoy your holiday in Italy?

Wendy:   yes

HIF: are you all fresco’d out?

Wendy:   yes

The Piccolomini library  in Siena was outstanding, fabulous books, floor tiles, wall frescos, ceiling frescos, quiet ambience, excellent lighting  and virtually no other visitors.

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moden interactive museums

Monday, February 25th, 2008 | tags: , , , ,  |

The Victora and Albert Library is a living piece of history.   A free piblic library where the resources themselves are artefacts of beauty.

The internet provides information,   sometimes that information is beautifully packaged in ‘media experiences’.   The internet has not yet managed to add to its experience the package offered by old libraries of:

book scent

aging parchment texture

atmosphere of being surrounded by ancient books

the sound of librarian moderated silences

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Bellevue king county library open and powered

Friday, December 15th, 2006 | tags:  |

Woke late this morning because my warm cosey sleep was not interrupted by:

  • a CD radio-alarm
  • the roar of the morning commute traffic nearby at some unearthy hour

When dailight fought it’s way into my room I rolled out of bed, discovered that there was no hot water and washed sparingly in the cold.   Wrapped up warm.   Put on my head-torch,   manually opened the garage drove the car out,   manually closed then locked it.   I skipped breakfast and tea thinking that I coulkd get that at the works canteen.

Drove to work.   Driving when the power is completely out for a city is fascinating.   It works extremely well with the US 4-way stop system everyone knows what to do,   it may be slow,   but its systematic,   rule-based fairness.   The UK would probably rely on politeness and individual based sense of fairness,   which in th UK would probably work and be a bit faster than a 4-way stop.    When I got to work,   it too was powerless.   Just some emergency generators and bewildered employees.   I sorted a few ‘what to do’ type things and looked at some colleagues impressive photographs of their Journey into work,   over and around fallen trees in 4-wheel-drive monsters.  

Cold,   hungry and completely TEA-LESS,   I followed a rumour that there was power in the nearby city of Bellevue.   I spent nearly 2 hours travelling to Bellevue main library.   That’s where I am now.   Warm,   cosey,   laptop powered-up and online.   Still tea-less.   I left my wallet in the Wendy House.    

When normality is resumed I will

  • buy a non-mains-powered way of boiling water to ensure I have Tea during subsequent storms.
  • a non-mains-powered radio so that I can listen to the news.  


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releasing books

Monday, May 1st, 2006 | tags: , , ,  |

I’m forcing myself to release the books I’ve been holding hostage in my home for years.   Todays escapees:  

Books about to be released into the wild

Fabulous public librarys and internet access remove  the  ‘need’ to own many books.     Despite this lack of ‘need’ it is very painful  to let books leave.   I haven’t managed to release my 16th Birthday present from my brother – The Concise Oxford English Dictionary.        

What books would you have difficulty releasing?

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