Finding that elusive poem

How do you find a poem when all you remember is the first line or the title?
We have two excellent resources you can use to track down that elusive poem: one in print, the other online.

In this post, let’s use the two volumes of the Granger’s Index:
The Columbia Granger’s Index to Poetry in Collected and Selected Works.
The Columbia Granger’s Index to Poetry in Anthologies.
You can find Granger’s in the Arts, Recreation and Literature Department in the Central Library.

Let’s use some examples to explore the Index to Collected and Selected Works: The book is divided into three sections, each arranged alphabetically:
Title and First Line Index
Author Index
Subject Index

What is the title of the poem that begins “Does the road wind uphill all the way?”
Go to the Title and First Line Index. The complete entry reads:

Does the road wind uphill all the way? Uphill. Christina Georgina Rossetti. CP- Ros-C1.

The first line is listed, followed by the title, Uphill and the author, Christina Rossetti. Continue reading “Finding that elusive poem”

Deborah Jacobs’ Nightstand Reading

When I came to The Seattle Public Library almost eleven years ago, one of my key commitments was to help improve the library materials budget and the ability of Technical Services to streamline its work and get materials ordered and ready for the public more quickly. We even had an internal campaign we called: “The Year of the Book,” but of course it is a lifetime of books for our library and you!

Through years of budget increases, reductions, and increases, as well as the generosity of private donors to The Seattle Public Library Foundation, we’ve managed to bring our materials budget closer to what has been identified as “the ideal materials budget.” And through the excellent work of staff we get materials into readers’ hands more quickly and due to sharp negotiations we get larger discounts from vendors. Recently a staff committee studied our holds and delivery processes and through careful implementation of its recommendations we have been able to move materials through our system quicker and more efficiently. As staff continue to work on this the public will notice even more improvements.

We have also created an amazing virtual library out of nowhere. In fact, this blog is just one of the many new ways we are communicating with our patrons and providing readers’ advisory services. But – it’s important that our community not stop here – but check out our on-line databases, downloadable materials, and all the other resources to be found on our Web site,

I have been asked to comment on books that influenced me or alternately books I might be reading during my transition between my position here as City Librarian and my new position leading the Global Libraries Initiative for The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The first question is too hard; like many readers I find something important in every book I read. Something that touches my heart, teaches me, makes me laugh, and on and on. Even my favorite book would be hard to name but when forced to do so I often say – Our Mutual Friend, Angle of Repose, A Prayer for Owen Meany, Hunting Mr. Heartbreak – but yikes… this is just too hard!

I do know the books I’m planning to read during my month of no job. I’ve been physically gathering, putting on reserve at the library, listing on my iPhone “notes” section the books I intend to read. They reflect the yin-yang of my reading tastes.

Robert Fagles, Iliad– When Fagles died recently I knew it was important to take time Continue reading “Deborah Jacobs’ Nightstand Reading”

Artist Oliver Herring at the Seattle Public Library

On Saturday June 28, The Seattle Public Library downtown hosts an all day group performance of TASK by Oliver Herring. Co-sponsored by the Frye Art Museum, On the Boards, and the Tacoma Art Museum, the piece revolves around spontaneous interactions between a group of volunteer local performers working to complete “tasks” assigned first by the artist, then by their fellow performers.

Performance art is just one aspect to the work of the New York artist. He was first noted for his ethereal sculptures knitted from Mylar, then moved on to work in video, photography and live performances mostly unscripted and often performed by strangers. Seattleites had an opportunity to view some of his previous work in 2005 at his show Continue reading “Artist Oliver Herring at the Seattle Public Library”

The Decoration of Houses

Here are some interesting books about interior design, plus some about unusual buildings:

The Elements of Style: an Encyclopedia of Domestic Architectural Detail (edited by Stephen Calloway)
For anyone who wants to restore their historic house, or for anyone interested in the history of house styles, this beautiful book is a goldmine of information and illustration. Each chapter covers one architectural style or period in the U.S. or Britain, ranging from Tudor in the Fifteenth Century to the present, providing a guide to the features of every part of a building: doors, windows, walls, ceilings, Continue reading “The Decoration of Houses”

Author crush: Ted Chiang

In my tween and teen years, I devoured science fiction like Godzilla devoured Tokyo train cars. I read all the great authors and all the classic titles until I found myself, around age 19, sated. No more science fiction for me. I got it. Space. Aliens. The Future.

A year or so ago, I subscribed to our Library’s NextReads newsletter service and decided to return to science fiction (or speculative fiction, in this case) to see what was new out there. While there were a few good choices, many reminded me of what I’d read so many years ago, just updated with things like the Internet and bioengineering. But there was one author who lit my mind on fire with stories that deal with the limits of our humanity in the face of the new and the unknown: Ted Chiang. He’s written just two books, and each one is a gem.

Ted Chiang Stories His first book, Stories of Your Life and Others, collects the ten stories he has written into one book. One follows one of the builders of the Tower of Babylon as he ascends the fabled tower and approaches heaven, only to discover that God has a surprise in store for humanity; another story considers what happens to a brilliant mathematician who discovers a glaring error in the equation that describes reality itself. Another premise is that golems, activated by Continue reading “Author crush: Ted Chiang”