Categories
Recommendations

Why I’ll Always Love Magazines

by Public Service Associate Hannah

The advent of Johannes Gutenberg’s movable-type printing press in 1440 made the precise and rapid creation of print materials in large quantities possible. This led to waves of literacy across Europe and broke the monopoly the wealthy and elite held on books, news, and print entertainment. And hot off that press came the star of this blog post: magazines!

German theologian and poet Johann Rist published the first magazine in 1663. Titled Erbauliche Monaths-Unterredungen, or “Edifying Monthly Discussions,” Rist’s articles suited the era’s revival of learning. Subject-focused mags, like Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and Car and Driver, still thrive. Meanwhile, the first “periodical of amusement,” Le Mercure Galant, was published by Jean Donneau de Visé, in France in 1672. Sharing art and political news alongside short stories, songs, and gossip, this magazine and those that copied its style were simultaneously looked down upon and immensely popular. Today’s Cosmopolitan and People come to mind.

For four weeks in 1693, London bookseller and author John Dunton published the first periodical that catered specifically to women readers, The Ladies’ Mercury. While I’m probably better off with today’s Women’s Health, Dunton is also credited with initiating the advice column, paving the way for New York Magazine’s Ask Polly and Real Simple’s Modern Manners. Questions like, “Is there an impartial and true history of the world?” and “How can a man know when he dreams or when he is really awake?” were sent in by readers who eagerly sought the next issue for answers from The Athenian Society, the magazine’s mysterious group of experts.

Another first occurred in 1731 when The Gentleman’s Magazine, a London-based monthly founded by Edward Cave, first applied the term magazine to a periodical. Deriving from the Arabic word makhazin (meaning a depot or storehouse), Cave’s choice implied you were picking up a store of written articles or as he claimed, “a repository of all things worth mentioning.” Did anyone else go through the phases of thinking Zoobooks or J-14 were the only things worth mentioning?

And finally, allow me to share a first on this side of the pond. In 1741, Philadelphia printers Andrew Bradford and Benjamin Franklin—who owned rival newspapers—raced to publish the first American. Unfortunately, neither met with much success: Bradford’s American Magazine folded after three months, and Franklin’s General Magazine lasted only six months. On the other hand, Harper’s Magazine launched in New York City in 1850 and is the oldest continuously published monthly magazine in the U.S. and that should be celebrated. 

I share this history as a reminder that competition for our attention and the costs of production and distribution are a tale as old as time. Despite living in an age where print media is ‘dying out,’ I subscribe to, check out, and root for physical magazines. Why? I’m glad you asked. Through the glossy pages of Condé Nast Traveler I get to visit other places, and with National Geographic I can see how others live. In the issues of Better Homes and Gardens I find inspiration. Flipping through WIRED I learn cool things, and Columbus Monthly helps me feel more connected to our city. To be honest, with a copy of  Vogue I find myself a little overpowered by perfume samples, but you get the idea! May we always let magazines be a tactile reminder it is good to sit, read and enjoy life.

See you at the magazine racks,

Hannah

Categories
Recommendations

The Death of the CD?

by Public Service Associate Hannah

Did you know that CD sales in the United States increased for the first time in almost two decades in 2021? Unfortunately, this Adele and Taylor Swift momentum stalled in 2022, going from 18.4 million to 17.7 million units and $204.3 million to $199.7 million dollars respectively. After all, compact discs have been said to be on their way out for some time now. Even my coworkers in acquisitions are weighing purchases vs borrows. This leads me to ask: will I see the death of the CD in my lifetime? 

First, let’s hop in a DeLorean and go back in time a little.

Often attributed to James Russell, CD equipment evolved from multiple mediums. An inventor and an audiophile, Russell was well aware that every time he listened to vinyl records the friction from the needle degraded them and reduced the quality of the sound. So around 1965, he created a recording device that would never touch the material. But it was not until 1982 when electronics giants Philips and Sony collaborated on the “Red Book” standard that the production, distribution, and wide use of Digital Audio Compact Discs took center stage.

Now, if you are like me, you want to know what was on that first successful CD. Well, my friends, it was a recording of Chilean pianist Claudio Arrau performing Chopin waltzes. Arrau himself was invited to the plant in Langenhagen to press start. Classy!

The first commercially available CD player, the beautifully bulky Sony CDP-101, went worldwide in March 1983 with a price tag of around $700. Adjusted for inflation, that’s $2,000! At least you got to enjoy an original selection of 50 classical and pop titles including Billy Joel’s 52nd Street, Toto’s Turn Back, Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here, and Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall in your home, right?

Fast forward to when my family’s Honda was handed down to me and CDs were cresting. I didn’t know the 120mm diameter discs could bear music at a resolution of 16 bit/44.1kHz, the rate needed to replicate all frequencies humans can theoretically hear. I didn’t think about the laser beam! I just knew scratches were annoying, burning a good mix was easier said than done, and my passenger seat was the defacto case storage. Sure, I got an mp3 thingamajig, but CDs were consistent.

Back here in the present, I’d still rather wax poetic about flipping through the little booklets and realizing I was not singing the right words. But does your car even have a CD player now? Sad times. Let’s recall what we were listening to at the height of CD sales in 2000 instead. Ah yes, *NSYNC’s No Strings Attached,  Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP and Now That’s What I Call Music! 4. The NTWICM universe is now on CD number 83, if you want to catch up.

So will the compact disc disappear? Probably. Even Bexley Public Library’s collection of shiny plastic circles is not growing. But it is strong, and there is much time to savor yet. I’m doing my part, checking out what catches my eye as I process holds and shelve our items. Recent titles I gave a listen to include Big Time by Angela Olsen, Grace in the Wilderness by Stars Go Dim, Old Flowers by Courtney Marie Andrews, and Advent at Ephesus by Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles.  I gotta say the best way to experience it is by flipping through the cases and trying out whatever catches your eye. See you out there!

Obligatory book suggestions: 

  • The Soundtrack of My Life by Clive Davis, 2012 | print
  • How Music Works by David Byrne, 2013 | print
  • This is Your Brain on Music by Daniel J. Levitin | print / Libby
  • This Is What It Sounds Like: What the Music You Love Says About You by Ogi Ogas and Susan Rogers | print
Categories
BPL News & Information staff favorites

Secondhand Treasures

by Public Service Associate Hannah

“A combination of grassy notes with a tang of acids and a hint of vanilla over an underlying mustiness, this unmistakable smell is as much a part of the book as its contents.”

~ Matija Strlic, lead scientist behind a 2009 study to find what is behind the smell of old books

It is once again Friends of the Bexley Public Library (FOL) book sale season! This twice-annual event sees the auditorium filled with neat rows of romance novels and science fiction, picture books, biographies, cookbooks, and more. So why would I, someone who already spends my days surrounded by audiobooks, music CDs, and titles that I can borrow for free, visit this facsimile of our book stacks? The allure of the unknown secondhand treasure of course! 

Categories
Booklists Recommendations

Ghost Stories

by Public Service Associate Hannah

It’s said that Halloween is a time when the veil between our earthly plane and the spiritual world is thin. And a thin veil means it is easier for spirits to cross and walk among the living. Whether you believe in phantasms or not, telling ghost stories is a timeless, cross-cultural tradition. Even Pliny the Younger (c. 61 – 113 CE) wrote about the specter of an old man, complete with a long beard and rattling chains, haunting his home in Athens. So without further ado, allow me to share some of the latest ghost stories haunting the library shelves!

Categories
Recommendations

Back to School ✏️

by Public Service Associate Hannah

Where did summer go!? Hopefully into some wonderful memories. Back-to-school season always gets me thinking about just how many materials and resources the library has to assist educators  and learners of all ages. From study spaces and curated teaching collections to college dorm cookbooks and test prep tomes, we have so much school spirit it’s spooky!  Well, that just might be all the dark academia novels talking…  Allow me to share some of my back-to-school book recommendations for Pre-K to Ph.D.  

Categories
Booklists Recommendations

Beach Reads

by Public Service Associate Hannah

Having clicked on this blog, I’m going to guess that you associate your vacation and time off with time to read. I might even wager that you are seeking a particular type of book — the beach read!

Categories
Booklists Recommendations

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

by Public Service Associate Hannah

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month officially became an annual affair in 1992. The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States in 1843 and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.

So this May, celebrate the generations of Asian or Pacific Islanders who have enriched America’s history, and continue to be instrumental in its future success, with your Library! How? By checking out their stories in the form of books, films, and digital library resources of course!

Categories
Booklists Online Resources Programs Recommendations

Library Lovers’ Day

by Public Service Associate Hannah

Ah, Valentine’s Day, or as we like to celebrate Library Lovers’ Day! Whether your plans lean romantic or platonic, allow me to share several ways in which Bexley Public Library makes for the perfect valentine.

Categories
Booklists Recommendations

‘Tis the Season to be Reading!

by Public Service Associate Hannah

It’s the most wonderful time of year! When hearts are glowing with seasonal books and good cheer. Heedless of the wind and weather, I hope these suggestions will bring you great pleasure.

Categories
Recommendations staff favorites

Staff Favorites 2021

by Public Service Associate Juliana

Welcome to our yearly round up! Each December it’s become Bexley Library tradition to collect a sampling of our favorite releases from the past 12 months. We hope this year’s compilation inspires you this holiday season! For even more great recommendations, listen to our recent podcast episode, “Best of 2021!”