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BPL News & Information Recommendations

Preservation

by Public Service Associate & Creative Content Coordinator Hannah

Did you miss Preservation Week? Don’t worry, it will be here next year!

My bad jokes aside, preservation – an umbrella term for activities that reduce or prevent damage to extend the life of things – can easily slip one’s mind. But a recent trip to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and the Library of Congress thoroughly renewed my appreciation for preservationists and collecting institutions. In this BPL blog post, I hope to get you to think about, thank them, and as always share some great books.

I particularly enjoyed seeing Kristi Yamaguchi’s ice skates, Abraham Lincoln’s ink well, and Thomas Jefferson’s books. Did you know that Congress purchased Jefferson’s library – 6,487 volumes – as a replacement for the collection destroyed by the British during the War of 1812? Sadly, a fire on Christmas Eve of 1851 destroyed nearly two-thirds. They are still reassembling.

Published in 2005, the Heritage Health Index (HHI) was the first comprehensive survey of America’s collections’ conditions and preservation needs. Conducted by Heritage Preservation in partnership with the Institute of Library and Museum Services (ILMS), the HHI revealed our nation’s renowned art museums and research libraries, local historical societies, archives, et al. house over 4.8 billion items. And just what are we holding onto? A bit of everything! Books and manuscripts, architectural models, technology, photographs, prints and drawings, maps, appliances, textiles, paintings, sculptures, furniture, film and sound recordings… It all boils down to keeping our history. 

Unfortunately, the HHI also found that immediate action is needed to prevent the loss of millions of these irreplaceable artifacts. Be it the yellowing of a wedding dress, the molding of holiday decorations, or a family photo album with no labels, we all experience the effects of the ten “agents of deterioration.” Multiply these experiences by thousands of objects and add on the need for expert staff and volunteers, unique storage requirements, and unstable public funding and we can see how museums and academic libraries feel. 

Recognizing the need to share knowledge and support, the American Library Association (ALA), the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services, and other professional societies began Preservation Week in 2010. This annual celebration held in the spring (because of spring cleaning vibes?), sees archaeological organizations, libraries, etc. across the U.S. hosting events and posting articles and social media to highlight diligent work, groundbreaking research, and the sharing of best practices. 

Now if that sounds stuffy and far too dusty for you, feel free to put off organizing your heirlooms in favor of enjoying places like the Columbus Museum of Art and the Ohio Railway Museum without peeking behind the scenes. Otherwise, let’s see where Bexley Public Library and Preservation meet.    

The Past and Future City by Stephanie Meeks | Book

In The Past and Future City, Stephanie Meeks, Former CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, describes how saving and restoring historic places directly contributes to thriving neighborhoods, good jobs, and a vibrant economy. Seeing as BPL – the physical building – turns 100 years old in 2029, I must agree.

The Object at Hand by Beth Py-Lieberman | Book

Even with a degree in history and a deep love of art history, museums can be overwhelming. Thankfully Py-Lieberman, a senior editor at Smithsonian magazine, curated an enjoyable guide.

America’s Greatest Library: An Illustrated History of the Library of Congress by John Y. Cole | Book

Murder at the Library of Congress by Margaret Truman | Book

Trapped! by James Ponti | Book

America’s Greatest Library: An Illustrated History of the Library of Congress by John Y. Cole distills over two hundred years of history into an engaging reminder of just how relevant and important this institution is.

If the real toils of thousands of researchers’ obsessions and breakthroughs don’t quite cut it, pick up Murder at the Library of Congress by Margaret Truman to join amateur sleuth Annabel Reed-Smith as she discovers a hornet’s nest of intrigue and murder among the stacks. And for the younger crowd, James Ponti’s Trapped! sees middle schooler Florian Bates – the only kid on the FBI Director’s speed dial and several international criminals’ most wanted lists – must break into, and out of, the Library of Congress. 

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier | Book | eBook

A historical novel, Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier, follows the story of Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot, two real, extraordinary 19th-century fossil hunters who shaped what we know about paleontology and geology. Their mother, sold the Ichthyosauria they found for £23 ($30). You can visit it at the Natural History Museum, London.

The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi | Book

Why include a science fiction novel? Because The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi is fun and oh-so clever! As we follow Jamie Gray, a Manhattan delivery driver turned Alternate Earth animal rights activist, we explore themes of conservation, stewardship, and humanity’s need for teamwork. 

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer | Book

With The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu, journalist Joshua Hammer tells the story of Haidara’s heroic and ultimately successful effort to outwit Al Qaeda and preserve Mali’s – and the world’s – literary patrimony. 

The Inner Circle by Brad Meltzer | Book

“There are stories no one knows. Hidden stories. I love those stories. And since I work in the National Archives, I find those stories for a living.” – Beecher White, a young archivist in Brad Meltzer’s The Inner Circle (Culper Ring #1).

Information Hunters by Kathy Peiss | Book

Throughout history, armies have seized enemy art and texts as booty. Information Hunters by Kathy Peiss shares the tale of an unlikely band of librarians, archivists, and scholars who sought to document, exploit, and reinstitute (preserve) these looted works. 

All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake by Tiya Miles | Book

Sitting in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture is a rough cotton embroidered with the message “It be filled with my Love always.” Through All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake historian Tiya Miles carefully follows faint archival traces back to Charleston to find Rose in the kitchen where she may have packed the sack for Ashley.

Cheap Old Houses: An Unconventional Guide to Loving and Restoring a Forgotten Home by Elizabeth & Ethan Finkelstein | Book

The HHI could not account for all buildings and treasure chests. Within the pages of Cheap Old Houses by historical preservationist Elizabeth Finkelstein, you’ll discover sprawling Victorian mansions, Italianate-style farmhouses, off-the-beaten-path cabins, and even old churches turned into residences and see how people saved them. Then join David, BPL’s Local History Librarian, to explore resources that help you find past and present information on your house and property.

Need more? Read the story of Bexley Public Library, pop down to the Local History Center to thumb through our growing collection of Bexley High School Yearbooks, do some surprisingly simple personal digital archiving in the Memory Lab, or visit the Browsing Room to check out Ohio History Connection’s Echoes Magazine to plan adventures across the state’s historic locations and collections. 

This Thursday, May 9 join Steve McVoy, founder of the Early Television Museum, as he traces the evolution and technological marvels that have shaped our viewing experience over the last century. Be sure to ask how he works to preserve all those vintage sets. You can even watch from home on your TV! Live stream this program on BPL TV.

Prefer the silver screen? We continue celebrating the library’s centennial with a showing of Buster Keaton’s Sherlock Jr. 100 years after its premiere in 1924. On Wednesday, May 22, join Tim Lanza, a contributor to the film’s masterful restoration, to talk about saving the golden age of silent cinema and enjoy Keaton’s iconic performance.

So, have I successfully secured the acknowledgment if not the celebration of Preservation Week on your calendar?

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Booklists Recommendations

Our Incredible Bodies and the Importance of Homeostasis

By Public Service Associate Autumn

Everyone knows that humans (unlike much cooler reptiles) are warm blooded, or homeothermic.1 Our bodies try very hard to keep us at one consistent temperature, normally about 98 degrees. Even a four degree change in body temperature in either direction can cause us irreparable harm and a spiral into death. Understandably, this means that humanity has a pretty universal “comfortable” living temperature, between about 68- and 77-degrees Fahrenheit,2 where maintaining your core temperature isn’t too metabolically taxing. Despite this, humans live in basically every ecological niche there is, from Siberia and Northern Canada to the Sahara. Some of this adaptability is technological,3 but a fair amount of it is our bodies’ astonishing ability to cool us off and heat us up. What’s most interesting, to me at least, is how the body does this and what happens when those adaptations fail.

It’s common knowledge that humans sweat to cool down. As you sweat, your body pushes more blood toward your skin, so that as the sweat evaporates and dissipates heat, the blood is also cooled. Then the cooled blood is circulated through the body and your core temperature drops. We know this thanks to a British physician, Charles Blagden, who in 1775, did what people who are bored do; he tried to cook himself. (I jest, please don’t do that if you’re bored).  Specifically, he built a room that acted as a giant oven to test how long he, several of his friends and a dog, could stand the heat.

The group started at 100 degrees Fahrenheit and made it up to more than 200 degrees Fahrenheit, with one participant, Joseph Banks, managing to stand in 210-degree heat for three minutes.4 More interestingly, Blagden discovered that no matter how hot the room got, his and his friends’ body temperatures never rose beyond a few degrees.5 They measured this by taking the temperature of their pee immediately after exiting the room. Blagden, from these experiments, worked out that it was sweat that was cooling the body and helping to maintain a consistent temperature.

Blagden’s study has been supported by modern experiments. In one interesting case, an athlete ran a marathon on a treadmill as the room temperature went from negative 49 degrees to 131 degrees Fahrenheit. During the run, despite the exercise and the extreme temperatures, the athlete’s core temperature shifted less than a degree.6 Which is an astonishing feat to think about. 

As those experiments prove, sweating is a very efficient tool to cool us down– up to a point. If you don’t get too hot too fast or can quickly get to a cooler place, nothing goes wrong. But if you can’t, your body has no alternative cooling methods. It will keep circulating blood faster and faster, trying desperately to cool itself down. But this speeds up your heart, and thus your metabolic rate, which makes you even hotter.7 It also risks too much blood being pulled away from your organs, specifically the brain, heart and kidneys, denying them sufficient oxygen.8 At this point, you will likely fall down, due to dropping blood pressure and then, at about 105 degrees, begin to have seizures.

What’s even more interesting, though, happens when you hit 107 degrees.  You quite literally break down at a cellular level.9 Your cell membranes dissolve and the proteins inside those cells begin to unravel, leaving them unable to “extract energy from food…. fend off invaders, destroy waste products, and so on.”10 Your body is melting on the inside. That includes holes forming in your intestines, releasing toxins into the bloodstream. Normally, the body still has enough control to clot your blood in response to these toxins. But that actually doesn’t help you. The body will use all the remaining clotting proteins to stop the toxins; as a result, you internally hemorrhage everywhere else, and die. Not even immediate medical assistance can save you.11

Freezing to death is, as best as I can discover, a lot less molecularly interesting. Probably because you do not actually have to freeze in order to die from the cold. In fact, while it is rare, people can die in 30 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.12 All that’s required is for your body temperature to drop below about 70 degrees.

As with cooking to death, freezing is a process. When you first start to feel cold, your body constricts your capillaries and pulls blood away from the skin and in towards your organs. In mild circumstances, this is what gives you goosebumps. This serves both to ensure your organs stay warm and to attempt to reduce the heat you lose to the air. You will start to shiver, which is your body trying to generate more heat by violently constricting all your muscles, normally when your core temperature drops to 95 degrees. And it just gets worse if you cannot warm up. At 86 degrees your heart can no longer pump its normal amount of blood around the body, and your brain becomes oxygen starved, sometimes resulting in hallucinations. At 82 degrees most people will pass out and at 70 degrees, your organs fail, and you die.13 Ironically, even if you are rescued at some point in this death spiral and warmed back up, you can still die. Even a slow warming can shock your heart or other organs into sudden failure. 

Just so you don’t think the cold pales in comparison to heat in all the ways it can damage you, let’s take a brief foray into frostbite. I mentioned that your extremities lose heat faster than your core. Both because your body actively pulls back the blood from those areas, and because your fingers and toes have a lot of surface space and very little mass– the ideal way to vent heat.14 This also makes them the most likely place to get frostbite, along with your ears and nose. Frostbite occurs when parts of your body actually freeze. The water inside your cells crystallizes, and if allowed to get bigger, those ice crystals will break the walls of your cells, permanently damaging your flesh.15 

However, some people, particularly people who live and work in the extreme cold like Innuit hunters or Norwegian fishermen, can periodically increase the blood going to and from their hands. Termed “the hunter’s response” by the man who discovered it, this periodic reopening of the capillaries to the hands, feet or even nose, can increase temperature there more than ten degrees before cooling down again.16 As this trait displays in a select number of individuals, scientists don’t know if it is something that people acclimate and do, or if it is genetic and those with it self-select for jobs in the extreme cold.17

You might be wondering at this point why I’m telling you all of this. Mostly, because I find it interesting. Who doesn’t like to know exactly how they could die? And I didn’t even get into the diseases bugs can give you, bugs that are becoming more rampant as the Earth heats up.18 But also, because it helped me to better understand how the body works, and how much more impressive humanity’s ability to survive all over the planet, and I wanted to share. So, if you’re still curious, here are a few books to explore. 

Book List

  • The Body by Bill Bryson   Book | eBook
  • The Heat will Kill You First by Jeff Goodell   Book | eBook
  • Fire Weather by John Valiant   Book | eBook
  • Out Cold by Phil Jaekl   Book 
  • The Icepick Surgeon by Sam Kean   Book | eBook
  • Stiff by Mary Roach   Book | eBook

Footnotes

1And even this statement is misleading as birds are technically a branch of the reptile family tree, and they are homeothermic. Homeotherm, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is “an organism that maintains its body temperature at a constant level, usually above that of the environment, by its metabolic activity.”

2Though apparently people sleep best at a cooler, 60-to-67-degree temperature.

3Igloos can be up to 70 degrees warmer than the outside temperature. https://www.transun.co.uk/blogs/how-does-an-igloo-work 

4The Body by Bill Bryson, pg. 187; To prove the thermometers weren’t off, Blagden felt the need to place beef and eggs in the room with the participants, which promptly cooked. And all of the participants had to wear some form of clothing, so their skin wasn’t burned.

5https://publicdomainreview.org/collection/experiments-and-observations-in-a-heated-room-1774/

6Bryson, pg. 186 and 187

7As Jeff Goodell, author of The Heat Will Kill You First, puts it, “As your internal temperature rises, rather than cranking up your air conditioner, your body fires up your furnace.” pg. 40-41.

8Goodell, pg. 40

9Formally, you ‘denature’.

10 Goodell, pg. 41

11Goodell, pg. 41

12People normally have to be wet for a long period of time for that to happen, as the body loses heat 23 times faster through water than through the air. https://www.livescience.com/6008-person-freeze-death.html 

13https://www.grunge.com/614991/what-really-happens-to-your-body-when-you-freeze-to-death/

14https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1549-8719.2011.00126.x

15Your cells are being stabbed to death. From the inside.

16 https://www.outsideonline.com/2152131/freezing-death

17https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1549-8719.2011.00126.x

18Maybe I’ll make that my next blog post.

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Find a New Interest at the Library! Featuring Japanese Breakfast

by Public Service Associate Juliana

Photo by Juliana Farrington

Midori’s cooking was far better than I had imagined it would be, an amazing assortment of fried, pickled, boiled, and roasted dishes using eggs, mackerel, fresh greens, eggplant, mushrooms, radishes, and sesame seeds, all done in the delicate Kyoto style.

— from Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

One of the many, many things that I love about the library is that you can develop an interest in something and absolutely take off with it. By which I mean, you can mine the catalog for any and every resource, and you can follow any connection that happens to come your way. I ended up doing this type of deep dive with Japanese breakfast. An interest was born, I followed one lead to the next and the next. From television to cookware, cookbook to novel, memoir to music. It has been such a fun journey; I have to share it.

“This is great,” I said with my mouth full.

— from Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

My obsession with Japanese breakfast began in New York when my husband and I visited a small cafe one morning. We ordered two standard set Japanese breakfasts and left in complete reverence. A standard set breakfast included tea, miso soup, rice, runny egg, grilled fish, and assorted pickled vegetables including beets, broccoli and eggplant. There was delight in every single bite.

When we returned home, we didn’t consider this meal as something we would cook for ourselves. It seemed complex and intimidating. Then one night while watching Drops of God, a limited series based on a manga of the same name, my husband and I were particularly intrigued by a cooking scene. A character stands at the stove and makes tamagoyaki, a Japanese rolled egg omelet, using a small rectangular frying pan. It looked delicious. We decided we should try to make it at home, not only the omelet but a full breakfast spread. We ordered a pan online, found directions to a Japanese market in Columbus, and off we went with a shopping list of ingredients to find.

Interestingly, over the holidays I had borrowed The Little Library Cookbook, a treasure trove of recipes inspired by books, for planning a holiday menu and was delighted to find among the contents a simple Japanese breakfast recipe. The recipe was based on a single sentence from Haruki Murakami’s novel Norwegian Wood.

“On the way I found an open cafe and ate a breakfast of rice and miso soup, pickled vegetables, and fried eggs.”

Here was an additional connection to follow! The Little Library Year’s recipe and food-forward approach not only inspired me to make breakfast, but it inspired me to read Norwegian Wood and to read it thoroughly and specifically for food references. Nestled within the chapters I discovered sushi, anchovy pizza, cucumber wrapped in nori dipped in miso, red lacquered boxes filled with light lunch fare, sandwiches, sukiyaki for dinner, and lots of breakfasts.

Not only is Norwegian Wood filled with food but also many references to American Literature and lots of music. The book title is borrowed from the Beatles’ song, “Norwegian Wood.” The song plays an important role as the catalyst in the novel. The melody heard years later sparks the narrator’s memory to a significant period of his life, and so begins his reminiscence. Another connection! The Beatles’ Rubber Soul album became an unexpected part of my Japanese breakfast journey.

And it didn’t stop there. Next, I read Crying in H Mart, a memoir that has been on my TBR list since its release in 2021. What does this book have to do with Japanese breakfast? It’s written by Michelle Zauner, the musician behind the American indie pop band Japanese Breakfast. So, her book and CDs swiftly got checked out on my library card. Her music is the perfect soundtrack for cooking.

It’s been incredible to live inside this interest, to fill our pantry, our bellies, our minds and curiosities, to try so many new things. If you’re wondering how our first attempt turned out, the picture at the top of this post is perfect testimony. I must give almost complete credit to my husband. He’s the chef in our house. I shredded daikon radish, poured soy sauce, opened containers and got lost in joy.

I hope this post inspires you to try something new. What interest will you explore at the library?

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 Female Irish Authors to Read this March

by Public Service Associate Juliana

I have been in love with Ireland ever since I was little and believed in fairies. Does that explain why I gravitate toward Irish writers? It seemed like a fairy trick last year when I’d start reading a novel and realize, “Another Irish author! How interesting!”

This month, in the spirit of celebrating Irish history and culture, it feels quite appropriate to highlight a few titles within this trend.

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Genre Spotlight: Cozy Fantasy

by Public Service Associate Autumn

Photo by Pavan Trikutam on Unsplash

February makes me want nothing more than to sit and read, wrapped in a blanket, with a mug of tea (or hot chocolate). It’s mucky, wet and still fairly chilly outside, so inside I stay. And, as I learned last year, there is a book subgenre that gives you that same warm, cozy feeling as snuggling inside while the wind rages outside: Cozy Fantasy.

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Lots of Love

by Public Service Associate Juliana

I was fourteen years old and obsessed with Kurt Cobain. His song, “Heart-Shaped Box”, inspired me to dump my Valentine candy into a bag and use the empty heart-shaped box for safekeeping. Shiny red, about the size of a dinner plate, it was perfect for love notes, by which I mean literally notes of “Things I Love.”

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Past, Present, & Future Reads with Hannah

by Public Services Associate & Creative Content Coordinator Hannah

Right: Juliana Farrington, Patron Services Associate 
Left: Hannah Fithen Wade, Patron Services Associate & Creative Content Coordinator
Photo by Leah Boyden

Bexley Public Library’s Juliana invited fellow Patron Services Associate Hannah to consider her past, present and future reading journey.

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Recommendations staff favorites

Festive Reads to Help You Enjoy the Holidays!

by Public Service Associate Juliana

Shorter days make me nostalgic for the winter evenings I sat on a low stool, my back warm in front of a fire that my mother built with logs my father stacked all summer. We’d decorate the tree after Thanksgiving with multicolored lights, salt dough angels and crocheted snowflakes. 

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Booklists Recommendations

Hibernation

by Public Service Associate Autumn

All living things adapt to the onset of winter.1 Birds tend to migrate.2 Foxes, hares, bison and plenty of other animals grow thicker, denser coats, often in cooler, more winter-camouflaged colors. Humans bundle up in thick winter coats and gloves and complain about having to preheat their cars in the morning. Some creatures like bears, however, hibernate. 

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Further Reading: Leonora Carrington

by Public Service Associate Juliana

Photo: Leonora Carrington by Katie Horna

Earlier this month the library hosted award-winning poet Rikki Santer for a reading from her new poetry collection, Resurrection Letter: Leonora, Her Tarot, and Me. Her new work is a rich homage to the vision and joy of surrealist painter, Leonora Carrington.