Visiting Other Free Libraries

Another in an occasional series of Little Free Libraries in Portland and Beyond.

I was recently in Forest Grove, OR, for a full-day professional development training. I went walking at lunch and stumbled across two little libraries. I couldn’t find charter numbers or signs on either of them, so I don’t know if they’re registered with Little Free Libraries or not, but they seemed to be busy! IMG_9422.jpg

This one was right outside the Tim & Cathy Tran Library.

This one was in front of the IMG_9421.jpgEarly Learning Center.

I looked on Google to see if maybe there were more little libraries I’d missed. Looks like these are the only two so far, according to this article.  I couldn’t find them on the Little Free Library map either, but if they’re run by students, that’s not terribly surprising. Next time I’m out there, I’ll have to bring some books!

(Also, if you’re out there, look for the Art-O-Mat machine in the art gallery!)

Your Kids Can Now Watch Astronauts Reading Stories From Space

Your Kids Can Now Watch Astronauts Reading Stories From Space

by Sarah Aswell at ScaryMommy

 

IMAGE VIA GLOBAL SPACE EDUCATION FOUNDATION/YOUTUBE

Reading to kids is wonderful and everything, but reading to kids from space is super awesome

If you need to mix up your bedtime story routine a little bit, the Global Space Education Foundation has just the thing for you: Story Time in Space.  It’s exactly what it sounds like — astronauts on various missions in space read popular children’s books while floating about, and the videos are edited and shared with kids way down on Earth.

The results are adorable as well as educational and inspiring. Check out astronaut Kathleen Rubins reading Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty and try not to get choked up at how amazing this all is.

The concept was developed by Patricia Tribe, the former director of education at Space Center Houston, and Alvin Drew, the first NASA astronaut to read a story in space for the program, during the final mission of the space shuttle Discovery. The pair were looking to find a way to encourage reading among kids while also promoting STEM education, and landed on the idea of having on-duty astronauts reading science-based kids’ books, gravity-free.

Since the initial reading, all of the story times have taken place on the International Space Station, as it hurtles through nothingness at 17,500 miles per hour around the planet. It’s only a guess, but this may be slightly more interesting than your kids listening to you feign excitement while reading The Mitten again.

“What better role models to engage kids in science and to engage them in reading?” Tribe told the Huffington Post. “You’re not only looking and listening to the books, you’re looking around the International Space Station.”

Astronaut @Tim Peake tweeted from the ISS about his reading of The Incredible Intergalactic Journey Home by Lost My Name book that he has read for us!
“I enjoyed reading this “Story Time” for the kids- my boys will like this too 
check out the pic!!! So excited!

Not only are does Story Time in Space aim to make reading out of this world, it also stresses the importance of diversity. Tribe and her team select books for a wide range of reading levels (though all can be read in 15 minutes or less) and from a wide range of STEM topics, from physics to engineering to biology. The group also selects a diverse set of astronauts to read the books, so that kids can see that people who look just like them can reach for the next frontier. For example, Japanese engineer and JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata read Max Goes to the International Space Station in Japanese for the program this summer.

The Story Time from Space program is also expanding. The group is working on adding a set of nine simple science experiments for kids that were conducted from the space station, involving concepts like energy transfer and surface tension. In addition, more books are on the way, including A Moon of My Own by Jennifer Rustgi, The Rhino Who Swallowed A Storm by LeVar Burton and Susan Schaefer Bernardo, and Moustronaut by Astronaut Mark Kelly.

While those projects are being completed, Earthlings can enjoy the rest of the collection, which includes Max Goes to Mars, by Jeffrey Bennet, as read by astronaut Mike Hopkins.

Let’s just hope that these awesome videos don’t ruin regular books read in gravity, from the ground, by plain old mom who probably isn’t even an astronaut.

The Smell of Old Books & New Books

from Compound Interest

What Causes the Smell of New & Old Books?

Aroma Chemistry - The Smell of New & Old Books v2

Everyone’s familiar with the smell of old books, the weirdly intoxicating scent that haunts libraries and second-hand book stores. Similarly, who doesn’t enjoy riffling through the pages of a newly purchased book and breathing in the crisp aroma of new paper and freshly printed ink? As with all aromas, the origins can be traced back to a number of chemical constituents, so we can examine the processes and compounds that can contribute to both.

As far as the smell of new books goes, it’s actually quite difficult to pinpoint specific compounds, for a number of reasons. Firstly, there seems to be a scarcity of scientific research that’s been carried out on the subject – to be fair, it’s understandable why it might not exactly be high up on the priority list. Secondly, the variation in the chemicals used to manufacture books also means that it’s an aroma that will vary from book to book. Add to this the fact that there are literally hundreds of compounds involved, and it becomes clearer why it evades attribution to a small selection of chemicals.

It’s likely that the bulk of ‘new book smell’ can be put down to three main sources: the paper itself (and the chemicals used in its manufacture), the inks used to print the book, and the adhesives used in the book-binding process.

The manufacture of paper requires the use of chemicals at several stages. Large amounts of paper are made from wood pulp (though it can also be made from cotton and textiles) – chemicals such as sodium hydroxide, often referred to in this context as ‘caustic soda’, can be added to increase pH and cause fibres in the pulp to swell. The fibres are then bleached with a number of other chemicals, including hydrogen peroxide; then, they are mixed with large amounts of water. This water will contain additives to modify the properties of the the paper – for example, AKD (alkyl ketene dimer) is commonly used as a ‘sizing agent’ to improve the water-resistance of the paper.

Many other chemicals are also used – this is just a very rough overview. The upshot of this is that some of these chemicals can contribute, through their reactions or otherwise, to the release of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air, the odours of which we can detect. The same is true of chemicals used in the inks, and the adhesives used in the books. A number of different adhesives are used for book-binding, many of which are based on organic ‘co-polymers’ – large numbers of smaller molecules chemically chained together.

As stated, differences in paper, adhesives, and inks used will influence the ‘new book smell’, so not all new books will smell the same – perhaps the reason why no research has yet attempted to definitively define the aroma.

An aroma that has had much more research carried out around it, however, is that of old books. There’s a reason for this, as it’s been investigated as a potential method for assessing the condition of old books, by monitoring the concentrations of different organic compounds that they give off. As a result, we can be a little more certain on some of the many compounds that contribute to the smell.

Generally, it is the chemical breakdown of compounds within paper that leads to the production of ‘old book smell’. Paper contains, amongst other chemicals, cellulose, and smaller amounts of lignin – much less in more modern books than in books from more than one hundred years ago. Both of these originate from the trees the paper is made from; finer papers will contain much less lignin than, for example, newsprint. In trees, lignin helps bind cellulose fibres together, keeping the wood stiff; it’s also responsible for old paper’s yellowing with age, as oxidation reactions cause it to break down into acids, which then help break down cellulose.

‘Old book smell’ is derived from this chemical degradation. Modern, high quality papers will undergo chemical processing to remove lignin, but breakdown of cellulose in the paper can still occur (albeit at a much slower rate) due to the presence of acids in the surroundings. These reactions, referred to generally as ‘acid hydrolysis’, produce a wide range of volatile organic compounds, many of which are likely to contribute to the smell of old books. A selected number of compounds have had their contributions pinpointed: benzaldehyde adds an almond-like scent; vanillin adds a vanilla-like scent; ethyl benzene and toluene impart sweet odours; and 2-ethyl hexanol has a ‘slightly floral’ contribution. Other aldehydes and alcohols produced by these reactions have low odour thresholds and also contribute.

Other compounds given off have been marked as useful for determining the extent of degradation of old books. Furfural is one of these compounds, shown below. It can also be used to determine the age and composition of books, with books published after the mid-1800s emitting more furfural, and its emission generally increasing with publication year relative to older books composed of cotton or linen paper.

Furfural

So, in conclusion, as with many aromas, we can’t point to one specific compound, or family of compounds, and categorically state that it’s the cause of the scent. However, we can identify potential contributors, and, particular in the case of old book smell, a number of compounds have been suggested. If anyone’s able to provide further information on ‘new book smell’ and its origins, it would be great to include some more specific details, but I suspect the large variations in the book-making process make this a tough ask.

In the meantime, if you can’t get enough of that new book or old book smell, you might be interested to learn that the aroma is available in perfume form.

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References & Further Reading

DEAR: Drop Everything And Read day

April 12 is DEAR day: Drop Everything And Read day!DEAR DAY

What is Drop Everything And Read?

“April 12 has been proclaimed National “Drop Everything and Read” (D.E.A.R.) Day. It is an initiative to encourage families to designate at least 30 minutes to put aside all distractions and enjoy books together…to make it a special time to “drop everything and read.” The birthday of Newbery Medal-winning author Beverly Cleary is the official national D.E.A.R. day, and Cleary’s most popular book character, Ramona Quimby, is the program’s official spokesperson.

Join the thousands of librarians, educators, and parents hosting National D.E.A.R. Day family reading events on April 12 each year.” – Association for Library Service to Children

If you are a teacher (Preschool, K-5, special ed, etc) or a parent, you can find useful resources and printables here

 

 

Spinning a Yarn? Nope, Crocheting It!

I saw this piece on BookRiot about “Literary Crochet” recently. Amigurumi, the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting stuffed dolls and animals, has been around a while, and of course crocheting blankets and scarves has been around much longer. I’m also pretty sure it’s a law that if you have two or more hobbies or interests, you *must* combine them at some point. Therefore, it was inevitable that we would see our favorite scenes and characters show up in crochet eventually.

On a recent trip to etsy.com, for Paddington Bear alone, you can find aimage 0 finished crochet bear, a pattern for a bear and his clothes, and a finished blanket with 3D effect.

 

 

Paddington not your thing? What about a pattern for Star-Bellied Sneetches, from Dr. Seuss?

Have a younger child, or fond memories of board books? catclose1smallMake your own Very Hungry Caterpillar, to play with or wear!

 

 

Fond of Young Adult works? How about Rob Anybody from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series?  Maybe Le Petit Prince is more your style?

Ah, you adult-fiction readers!  For you, we have all sorts of grown-up crochet! From Gandalf (and Gandalf) and Gollum to Game of Thrones. (Along with Goodnight, Moon of course!)

Image result for captain ahab crochetCheck out these pictures and patterns

Literary Crochet, from #AmReading

10 Lovely Literary Crochet Patterns, from BookRiot

Literary Yarns: Crochet Patterns Inspired By Classic Books, by Cindy Wang — and if you want to see more of Cindy’s work, check out her blog!

Make your own Captain Ahab right now!

I’d love to see what you decide to make!

 

 

Washington Prisons Ban Book Donations

[me: Well, this is some bullshit]

from Bookriot

WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS QUIETLY BANS BOOK DONATIONS TO PRISONERS FROM NONPROFITS

The Washington State Department of Corrections quietly rolled out a new policy via a memo on their website last month which disallows books to be donated to prisons via nonprofit organizations. So quietly, in fact, that one of the largest nonprofits that works to get donated materials to prisoners was taken by surprise to discover the change. They weren’t informed before it was implemented.

“We’re ready to fight it,” said Books to Prisoners, located in Seattle, in a tweet.

The new policy limits books to those accepted by the Washington State Library for incarcerated individuals which had already been approved by the Prisons Division, used books from the Monroe City Library directed specifically to the correctional facilities in Snohomoish County, and to those used books purchased by prisoners enrolled in pre-approved correspondence educational courses from the bookstore linked to the educational facility in which they’re enrolled. Individuals have never been allowed to make donations to prisons; those have always had to go through either nonprofits or bookstores.

As Books to Prisoners pointed out, this severely limits access to literature for incarcerated individuals, and especially impacts those in facilities outside Monroe County.

One of the reasons noted for this sudden policy change is the lack of staff in mail rooms to determine whether or not materials sent are appropriate or whether they’re hiding contraband. Likewise, additional funding and resources are not available to the Washington State Library (WSL). In a tweet, Books to Prisoners notes, “WSL is being used as a scapegoat–they have no special search procedures.” When asked if they’ve reached out to WSL about the change, Books to Prisoners noted, “It has been confirmed that they have no special staff or screening procedures, nor are they being given any extra staff or money to deal with any influx of books. The policy is using them as a pawn.”

This highlights exactly why Books to Prisoners and similar nonprofits do the work that they do — these facilities are underfunded and that lack of funding impacts the individuals who use those books to improve themselves and their own literacy. These book donations, which are thoroughly inspected by those at the nonprofit for suitability, fill a critical role in helping those incarcerated who otherwise lack access to vital educational tools.

Books to Prisoners has been sending free books to prisoners across the country since 1973. They note in a tweet “Attempted bans pop up sometimes, most recently by Pennsylvania DOC in 2018, always using same vague “safety” justification. In 45 years, our books have never had contraband.” They added, “Given that we’ve sent books without issue since 1973, and currently send to 12,000 unique prisoners across almost every state in the country each year, it would be bewildering if after 46 years of work as an award-winning nonprofit we decided to start transporting contraband.”

Prison libraries are severely underfunded, and there’s a lack of staff as well. As Books to Prisoners notes, “Furthermore, the reason that we send books directly to the hands of prisoners is that libraries are chronically underfunded and understaffed. In Washington, each branch has just 1 librarian. Only open certain hours. Going back to PA as an example, prisoners capped at 90 min/WEEK.”

Barring access to literature, which is what this policy does, hinders those who need it most. Other states, including New York, have tried similar bans and they’ve been rescinded. The ACLU has stepped in in similar attempted book bans in prison as well.  Criminal justice reform includes ensuring that those who are incarcerated have rights to literature and education, so steps like these by the Washington Department of Corrections are but steps backwards. To combat recidivism, literacy is one of the crucial steps forward, and yet, situations like these further hinder rehabilitation and self-development of those who most need it.

HOW TO ACT

If you’re in Washington or anywhere in the US, speak up about this policy to help get it changed. Contact Prisons Division Correctional Manager Roy Gonzalez at rgonzalez@docl.wa.gov or by phone at 360-725-8839. 

Sign the petition set up by Books to Prisoners to stop the ban.

Likewise, donate to Books to Prisoners to help support their efforts in getting the policy reversed and keep an eye on their Twitter stream for phone blitzes and other direction action plans you can participate in.

Spread the word. Share this and any tweets, petitions, or phone blitz information among your friends, family, and colleagues.

Visiting SE PDX Little Free Libraries

Another in an occasional series of Little Free Libraries in LFL 1432.jpgSoutheast Portland.

I went a different route home from work recently, and was treated to this. I’ve been meaning to visit this Little Free Library for a while, but hadn’t made the opportunity before. LFL #1432 is based at Busy Bee Preschool, at 7618 SE Duke Street.

busy bees sign.jpg

There wasn’t much of anything in the library today. I wonder what kind of traffic it usually has. I was in some sort of publicly-available wifi dead zone – I tried a couple of times to open the Little Locator app to mark it, but never was able to get in. Maybe I can plan a day to go this route again, and take some books for it.

Featured in the library this week

This week the Division92 Little Free Library is featuring the songbooks of Sandra Boynton. You probably know her best from her massively popular card:

Image result for hippo birdies two ewes card

Did you know she also writes (and co-writes) children’s songs?  And convinces hugely popular celebrities to sing them? We’re putting out her first three songbooks. Unfortunately, the CDs are missing from each of the books. HOWEVER!  You can find the songs on YouTube! For instance:

Where else can you hear Kate Winslet & Weird Al Yankovic singing a duet? When was the last time you heard Scott Bakula sing?  What other album contains performances by both Hootie & the Blowfish AND Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gorme?

IMG_9329.jpg

 

Celebrate Transgender Day of Visibility

Join Multnomah County Library, PRISM (Multnomah County’s LGBTQ Employee Resource Group), and the Hollywood Theatre in celebrating Transgender KikiDay of Visibility with a screening of the documentary Kiki followed by a panel featuring Portland Ballroom PDXB performers and organizers.

Directed by Sara Jordenö and co-written by Twiggy Pucci Garçon, a leader in New York’s kiki community, 2016’s KIKI is a dynamic coming of age story about resilience and the transformative art form of vogueing. KIKI follows seven New York City LGBTQ youth of color who face real struggles creating a safe and vibrant space for themselves to vogue.

Free tickets available on Hollywood Theatre’s website.

Movie playing at Hollywood Theatre, 4122 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland, OR 97212

Thursday, April 4, 7-9:15pm