Monday, September 15, 2008

Sheepshead Bay #56, 9/3/08

Library time is at hand! It's like the saying goes...another month, another library! It doesn't, you say? No, no, I'm pretty sure it does. I went to this one...let's see...almost two weeks ago? Hopefully I can remember a few key details. Firstly, the book I took out from the last branch, Sentimental, Heartbroken Rednecks. It wasn't exactly what I expected; it was divided into three parts, the first being short stories, the second being essays, and the third seemingly autobiographical anecdotes. It was all very good, right up my alley, and I suppose anyone's who likes short stories and/or the South. The stories had a very immediate feel, and when reading them I really felt as though I had experienced the events that were taking place. The one story in which the narrator described his mushroom use was particularly well-written; it didn't sink into stereotypes, but instead tried to replicate an experience in language that transcends language more than most others. There was even an essay about my favorite short story writer from the South, Breece D'J Pancake. All in all a strong collection that I would recommend to pretty much everybody.

So, that finished, I hopped on my bike, down Ocean Parkway's wonderful bike path, and ultimately turned just before reaching Coney Island, to find the Sheepshead Bay Branch.

Branch: Sheepshead Bay
Location: 2636 E.14th St. at Ave. Z, between Sheepshead Bay Rd. and Shore Pkwy.
Transport: bike!
Items: Project X by Jim Shepard; Stuck in the Middle: 17 Comics from an Unpleasant Age edited by Ariel Schrag
Date: Wednesday, September 3, 2008

It was nice being in the vicinity of Coney Island so close to Astroland's last weekend in operation (and I went back that Friday night to experience it one last time). I always enjoy that part of Brooklyn, as it's a nice bike ride to get out there, the sea breeze is in the air, and it's got a nice isolated, small town (well, maybe mid-size city) feel. The library itself was wonderful; a nice group of patrons, friendly librarians, good selection, well laid out, I'm pretty sure it even smelled nice. Well, I honestly don't remember that...maybe it's time to start taking notes.

The two best things that happened were as follows. First, it's absurd now how long ago this was because at this point I've basically lost all hope, but there were three or four older ladies talking about the most vile, despicable gathering ever to befoul my beloved Twin Cities: you may know it as the RNC. They weren't very loud, so I listened for a while, as I couldn't tell which side they supported. I figured it out when one of them said, "Did you hear Lieberman's speech? I thought I would throw up!" Put a smile on my face, which subsequent poll numbers have almost completely removed.

The other thing: getting a new library card. It's all green and whatnot! Comes in a little case with a foldout map of all the branches! Whaaaaaa!!! Of course, I basically had my old bar code number memorized, but it's a small price to pay. I asked the librarian why they had new cards, and she answered something to the effect of they have nothing better to do. I said they could pay you guys (the librarians) more, and she just rolled her eyes. Yeah, it was pretty damn funny.

The books? Well of course I've read them both now, but I'll just give a brief run-through now because...let's face it, I'm tired. Project X was an excellent, if disturbing and nearly hopeless look at two middle-schoolers who are picked on beyond any reasonable degree. The book does seem realistic, and the characterizations are excellent, but on the whole I enjoyed Jim Shepard's short stories more. Stuck In the Middle is a comic book anthology of stories in which the protagonists are in - yep - middle school. Most are funny, some are depressing, others happy. Overall, just as realistic as Project X, and definitely more hopeful, but not as gripping. Project X actually made me miss my subway stop on the way to work one morning, though, so there you go. Why am I reading all these books about kids anyway? Damn kids. No respect these days!

Pictures, as always:




Oh yeah, and this awesome sign for a lawyer! Mostly in Cyrillic! All right!

Ok, that's it, I'm gonna go watch some more Pete and Pete Season 3. Bye!


heypaul said...

Hey Mikey... It's very strange how I ran into your blog. About 2 months ago, I got into a Carnegie Library thing.

I've lived in Sheepshead Bay all my life, 64 years.

Anyway, I found a book at the library about the Carnegie Libraries and at another branch a book about all the Carnegies in the 5 boroughs.

Even though some of the Carnegies are not always spectacular from the outside, the books made me aware of something interesting. Carnegie and the man who oversaw the awarding of grants were concerned that towns might use a lot of the money to build an impressive looking building, leaving little for actual services for "the people".

For me, NYPL's 42nd Street Main Branch has always been a library with a beautiful interior. But it's not a warm library or a place where you can browse books. It's a temple.

Anyway, Carnegie and his people wanted to create libraries that would invite young people and adults in.

I came across your blog at the Carroll Gardens Branch this morning. It was my first time there. I'm not a great lover of little children and their adoring parents, but I was blown away with the way parents and kids were hanging out around the children's fireplace. Even though it felt more like a day care center, I still felt good about how the space was being used. Either the community or the library itself provided toys and stuffed animals for the kids.

Anyway, I logged onto their computers and Googled "Carroll Gardens branch" and came across your blog.

I haven't read all of your archives, but I got the sense that you might be in library school. If that's the case and you're interested, I'd like to recommend a book "Quiet Please" a rather quirky book about a librarian about your age in California. Although he claims to dislike most people, he's intrigued watching all the people and fellow workers he comes across. It's not in print yet, but I found a reader's copy at Strand Bookstore a couple of months ago.
To be continued...

Regards.. Paul

Heidi said...

I was very surprised to see a new post...way to stick to your guns! Did you know that Carnegie libraries are not only in NYC? We have/had Carnegie libraries in ND as well. WEIRD!?! Anyway, I hope all is well...enjoy watching Pete and Pete!

Anonymous said...

Heidi... This is heypaul. I couldn't log in as heypaul.

Yes, you're absolutely right. There were 1689 Carnegie libraries built in the US, many of which are still functioning.

Last weekend, I was able to visit the Pratt Institute Library during Open House New York. During the OHNY weekend, many buildings not normally open to the public are accessible.

I think Mikey goes to Pratt.

I was really blown away by the interior of the library. The architect of the library is William Tubby. (I just love his last name). He designed several Carnegie libraries in Brooklyn, including Carroll Gardens.

The interior was designed by the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company.

What really knocked me out was the open stacks. There are 5 levels of stacks, with glass block floors and stairways with really neat scrollwork.

At the end of each shelf is a copper bookend also with beautiful scrollwork.

I felt like I was going back in time over 100 years.

I'm wondering what Mikey's take on the Pratt Library is?

Anonymous said...

It's me again. I started a Yahoo Group for people interested in all aspects of public libraries.

I hope it will be an interesting and quirky place.

Here's a link to the group:

All are welcome.

Mikey B said...

Thanks for your interest, Paul, all this stuff about Carnegie libraries is fascinating! I'll definitely have to check out your group. Also I go to the Palmer School, which is part of Long Island University, but I think that this point they aren't that different, since many of my professors (at the Manhattan site of Palmer, which is actually in NYU's main library) teach at Pratt as well.