Marcia Strykowski

Libraries: So Much More Than Books

OK, so I missed National Library Week (April 9th-April 15th) but luckily it’s still April which means I didn’t miss National Poetry Month! AND I’m also not too late for Poem in Your Pocket Day which will be held on April 27. This event began in NYC in 2002 and later all 50 states were added, branching into Canada, as well. People celebrate by choosing a poem and carrying it in their pocket all day long, ready to share with others. If you’d like to participate on Twitter, use the hashtag #pocketpoem. An easy one I like to share is Ode to a Goldfish by Gyles Brandreth which is shown in its entirety in this picture.

Have you heard of Book Spine Poetry? It’s been around a while and is trickier than it looks. I had several ideas but each time I pulled books off the shelves the spines weren’t quite right, at any rate here is my poetic attempt.If you had trouble reading the spines, here’s what they say:
When the Music’s Over–
Pretending to Dance
By the Light of the Moon.
Alone in the Universe.

Here’s another spine poem spotted at the Buffalo Public Library:

My pal Janet gave in to modeling for a couple of bookface portraits. These are my first efforts, but if you search online, you’ll find many impressive results from this fun pastime. I chose two biographies, the first about Elizabeth Taylor and the second about Carrie Fisher.As my title mentions, and you probably already know, libraries aren’t only about books anymore. They have become community centers where you can indulge in fascinating programs and fun get-togethers for people of all ages. You can get newly released movies as well as access to many electronic options such as downloadable eBooks. Many libraries offer other items to check out, too, such as American Girl dolls, telescopes, board games, tools, even fishing rods! The below photographs show a few of our cake pan offerings. The dinosaur from my son’s long ago toddler birthday party started off our collection with many generous donations to follow.Libraries are also a place where you’ll find art on the walls, interesting collections in cases, and rotating photography and painting exhibits. The Buffalo, NY Public Library has several major display areas. I was very impressed with their Mark Twain Room and other exhibits. Here’s a simpler one that greets Buffalo visitors right inside the door. (Similar to the Blind Date with a Book display I created for Valentine’s Day several years ago).The Seattle, WA Public Library also has very impressive displays. Here’s one I enjoyed.With thanks to thejenchesney on Tumblr, I had to include this last display even though I’m not sure which library deserves credit for setting it up. From a little detective work, I think it might be the Cheshire, CT public library. Beautiful dresses are often featured on Young Adult book covers and I thought this display to be a great eye-catching way to show them off.So what about you? What’s happening at your library?

In case you missed these library posts: Here’s one comparing some of my favorite libraries.  And another where I talk about how libraries choose books for their collection. Yippee for libraries includes a little promotion for the nonfiction area.

55 Comments

  1. I always love your photos as well as your interesting blog posts, Marcia! My library has the usual…but has added a seed exchange and checkout.

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    • A seed exchange, what a great idea. Thanks so much for your kind comment, Lynn!

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  2. Bobbi Miller

    What a grand discussion, and so fun!! Thank you!

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  3. A fun post, Marcia. Your Book Spine Poem was great. Well done. Wonderful book-cover dress too!

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  4. Yippee for libraries indeed! We just had a book giveaway party for World Book Night. Books, readings, tea and cake.

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  5. Ode to a Goldfish is pocket perfect as far as I’m concerned!
    I’ve never been successful with Book Spine Poetry, but you inspired me and looking around my shelves I spotted these titles;

    The Winter Children (Lulu Taylor)
    Left neglected (Lisa Genova)
    Behind closed doors (B. A. Paris)
    One day in May (Catherine Alliott)

    I’m quite please with that, but it was a pure fluke as it’s never worked before. The winter children and Behind closed doors are on my read but don’t part with shelf. I thoroughly enjoyed them both while the other two are in my must-read pile, so I can’t vouch for them.
    I loved all your library photos, and I think the cake pan idea is wonderful. You are such an inspiration Marcia, thank you.

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    • I ❤ your poem! It really works well and I appreciate the book recommendations, too, as they're all new to me. I'm glad you tried it out, now I'm inspired to look at spines in my own home collection. Thanks for always adding so much to the conversation, Barbara!

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      • I love the idea behind it Marcia and now I’m seeing book spine poems all over the place. I must photograph one or two and add them to a post. Thanks again, Barbara

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        • Ha, I’ve got you addicted! I’ll look forward to seeing more of yours. I just hunted through some of my books and came up with this one: Elephants Can Remember/ The Summer Visitors/ Outside Over There.

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          • Love it! How about Bella/Gypsy Princess/The year of taking chances. It’s addictive! x

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  6. What a marvelous post!

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    • I’m glad you enjoyed, Anne. I hope you have a good local library nearby out there in the mountains!

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      • Our library is an excellent one. We live out from town and limit our trips, so we don’t go often. I’m starting to check out ebooks now. Hopefully it will soon be routine. I checked one out last week and couldn’t find it. It was a read-in-your-browser one.

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        • Great to hear you’ve got an excellent library and that’s good you’re trying out the eBooks, too. I still prefer hard copies, but I love audio books! 🙂

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          • It’s funny, I love to read aloud to others, but I can’t stand to be read to. Where are you when you listen to audio books?

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            • I listen while driving and if waiting at the train station or airport. I know some people can’t concentrate while on the road, but I guess I’m used to multitasking and if I miss a section, it’s easy to just go back a track. Many people like them while they knit or draw, but I haven’t tried that yet.

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            • Unlike you, I have a one track mind. It’s amazing I can breathe and walk at the same time. That’s probably why I don’t want anyone reading to me.

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            • Ha, actually, for some reason I find it much more difficult to concentrate when a live person is reading than when it’s a recorded version. I’m not sure why; but if you ever decide to try audio, start with a very popular and suspenseful page-turning sort of book and you might be surprised how it holds your interest.

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  7. These are great library displays. You are right, libraries are becoming community centers – that’s what the library where I work is like. Always lots of new and interesting programs and activities. Fun stuff and books too!

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  8. Excellent post, Marcia. I feel like I have been on a grand tour. Your posts on libraries are always THE best. I just love reading each one, especially the photos. The one showing off the dress is sensational. Thank you!

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    • Isn’t that dress wonderful? I saw another one with Victorian-style book covers all over it, which was interesting, too. Thanks so much, Jennie!

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      • Yes, it was! It really is amazing how libraries have become much more than books. Thank you for opening the doors to so many for us to see. Really!

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  9. Thanks for the reminder about Poem In You Pocket Day! Yay – off to pick my poem!

    I loved everything in this article Marcia! Nice post!

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  10. We’ve got a wonderful library, in the process of some remodel at the moment. Love everyone’s book spine poems. I’m inspired! Made this Haiku from three nonfiction titles: This Is Not A Book / Mark Rothko: Works On Paper / The Living Forest. Fabulous post, Marcia! And did all those red covers from your Blind Date with a Book get checked out? Great idea.

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    • Clever haiku, Pierr, thanks for playing along! As I recall, some patrons were hesitant, but others loved the surprise of unwrapping their book when they got home. I wrote the barcodes on the outside of the packages so they could be checked out secretly. Good to hear your library is wonderful and being remodeled.

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  11. Since some of us are getting into Spine Poems, I added another good one to the post. 🙂

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  12. Ok Marcia– never heard of book spine poetry!!! What fun! I’m taking this post to my Lit group in a couple weeks and challenging them to come up with one! And enjoyed all your displays. Went to the Madison Library in Wisconsin last summer– it gorgeous and big, just 3 years old. They had a chocolate cafe in the center– hot chocolate, brownies… !! And the most amazing pods for children to crawl into to read. I love love the library (I’m sure I’ve already told you that). Worked in the school library, then the public library through college and started a children’s library (English) in Spain. Anyway, you are amazing– all your posts are so fascinating! thanks again (and again) friend. xo

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    • How wonderful–a chocolate café! I’ll have to bring that idea to my library. The kids’ area sounds great, too. Also, you must feel so proud to have started the library in Spain, I hope it’s still going strong. Fun idea to have your Lit group come up with spine poems. let me know how it goes. Thanks, Rhonda! xo

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  13. Debbie

    Dear Marcia this post was just “up my alley” because one of my favorite places is the library. I am so fortunate to live within 12 minutes of one and 15 of another. What a creative way to display library titles in the skirt form. Our library hosts many events from crafts to teas,etc. Your spine poems were wonderful. Hope you have a blessed day.

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    • Hi Debbie, nice you have several good libraries to choose from. I do, too, which makes it very convenient. I’m thinking one of my upcoming posts will be about our recent tea event. Thanks so much for popping in!

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  14. Hi Marcia! I love the book spine poems- looks like a fun way to play. Also the Bookface portraits! I have always loved being in libraries- it is fascinating how they have become community centers with so much to offer! There is hope for new generations of “bookworms”!

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    • Yes, long live bookworms! I’ve seen some very clever Bookface portraits, even ones with two or three people in the picture, such fun. Happy to hear your thoughts, Colleen!

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  15. Ashley

    You have a great library! I don’t go to mine very much but yours sounds fun! I love the book faces!!

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    • It can be hard for libraries to get the word out about new acquisitions and to get people involved. I wonder if there are more events than you realize going on at your library. It might be fun to scroll through your library’s catalog to see what they offer and also to check for programs on the library website’s calendar. We send out a Happenings Newsletter, too. Thanks for stopping by, Ashley!

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  16. Libraries are such wonderful places. I love the pictures of all the different things libraries do these days. The dress made out of book covers is fabulous!

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  17. Bette Norton

    What a wonderful post this was! I have learned so many new things about libraries and poetry! I never knew about Poem in Your Pocket Day and Book Spine Poetry! I love the Book Spine Poetry! I can see where it can become addicting! I love the cake pan idea too! I used to make special cakes for my children many years ago and would have to buy the pans that I only used once. The gown made out of book covers of dresses was amazing! Libraries have come a long way from years ago offering so many interesting services and activities! A wonderful place to visit and build community! A wealth of fascinating information in this post! Thank you!

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    • Thanks so much for your comment. 🙂 I really appreciate your enthusiasm and support of libraries!

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  18. This is the first that I’ve heard of Book Spine Poetry. I’ve got to give it a try. It looks like so much fun. “Writing” a poem would be a nice way to relax after a stressful day.

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    • I’ll bet you’ll come up with some great poems, Sheryl. A nice way to top off a day!

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  19. I love libraries! I am a school media specialist/librarian. 🙂 I also spend a lot of time in my local libraries. I love getting books and audio books from the library. There are also wonderful events- like puzzle competitions, author events, 3D printer creations, etc. Libraries have so much to offer! I am taking my first grade students to the public library in town in a few weeks. Kids will get their library cards and learn about the summer reading program.

    I have been wanting to try spine poetry. Great job!

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    • Oh, how fun, it must be a wonderful feeling to see the library through the eyes of your lucky students. I’m a big fan of audio books, too. Your local libraries sound like they’re really hopping with great events. Thanks for sharing, Stephanie!

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  20. Oh! And that dress display is gorgeous! I love seeing what libraries put up to get people reading. 🙂

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  21. Wow, what an inspiring post! I’ve been living here in the Penh for about 9 years, and I haven’t visited their library yet. Your post inspired me to visit the library here. Thanks for sharing it with us, Marcia! xoxo

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