In space, no one can hear you read…

So, there you are bobbing along weightlessly — another dull evening orbiting Earth. How do you pass the time? Well, if you’re on the International Space Station, you do have some entertainment options!

Image of Intl. Space Station provided courtesy of NASAThanks to a Freedom of Information request, NASA recently released a list of all the books, movies, and music currently on the station.

As you might expect from a group of scientists and space enthusiasts, the list of books is rather heavy on the science fiction. But, there are a few surprises, too. Could Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison ever have dreamed that their Federalist Papers would be in orbit? For that matter, do you think David Sedaris ever thought his Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim would make the list? And, if you’ve come to realize that the whole “space thing” isn’t for you, they also have a copy of Steven Silbiger’s The Ten-Day MBA course.

The short music list is an incredibly odd assortment. I can only imagine how the Black Eyed Peas’ Elephunk and a three-volume collection of college fight songs wound up together in this small collection.

What really jumped out at me, though, were some of the video titles. Timeless classics like Fargo, Gone with the Wind, Pulp Fiction and King Kong are alongside The Nutty Professor, Bachelor Party and Harold & Kumar.

The biggest surprise was an obvious film they don’t have — Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Oddly, though, they do have its sequel, 2010. While a far, far lesser film than Kubrick’s classic, 2010’s plot does serve to answer many of the questions raised in the original.

Perhaps those unanswered questions are just too much to handle when you’re actually living the adventure.

~ Jon T.

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7 Responses to In space, no one can hear you read…

  1. Bastiaan says:

    I can’t help but feel this is an intrusion of privacy. I wouldn’t want the library to make available publicly the books that my family has checked out, even if there’s no way of knowing which family member checked out which specific book.

    The public libraries across the US are especially vigilant when it comes to protecting patrons’ privacy — so I wonder, why SPL apparently ceases to care about privacy where astronauts are concerned.

  2. Pingback: UW Libraries Blog

  3. iride says:

    Wow, I never thought about astronauts wanting to read in space, with all the work they have to do, plus I imagine it is such a precious gift to be one of the very few humans who get that privilege, you’d want to be looking out the window or catching m&m’s every idle moment. I mean, it’s not a job with a lot of down-time (ar-ar.)

  4. Heather says:

    Bastiaan:
    It seems to me that this is more in the nature of a library catalog. The catalog of the books available to read while living on the Space Station. Nothing is listed to indicate which astronaut is reading which book. Or frankly that they are even reading ANY of the books. Every library I know of makes its catalog available to the public in some format. And every library I know keeps its circulation records private.

  5. Rory says:

    I agree, Heather – it is a library catalog, or at any rate cruise-ship library catalog, and a publicly funded one at that, so it is interesting to see what a Space Station library looks like, and what books we bought for our men and women in space. What’s more, I think it’d be a neat list to read/watch through a list like that. Thanks for showing us this.

  6. Jon T. says:

    And, please be assured that we do take your privacy very seriously at Seattle Public Library. You can see our policy about the confidentiality of borrower records here: http://www.spl.org/default.asp?pageID=about_policies_confidentiality

  7. Scout says:

    Oh come on B!!! They publicly talk about the astronaut’s toilets being nonfunctional and how they deal with it. And like H. says…. it’s just a list of books in the library….

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