Thursday News: libraries, SFF & environmentalism, devouring books, and budget cosplay
The New 53rd Street Library Is Nice, Unless You Like to Read Books -Despite the very real need for readily available books, especially for low-income patrons, the New York Public Library’s CEO insists that public libraries are about more than books and reading. And while that’s hardly a bad thing, what does it mean when books are not actually the focus of a public library?
“The way people use our branches has changed,” says Weinshall. “People are relying less on materials and more on programming. They’re spending more time in our locations, and engaging with us in new ways: do a job search, look for an apartment, go online. We have outlets every five inches at 53rd Street.”
The new branch does indeed provide the perfect haven for checking stock prices and Twitter. Patrons can tap and scroll in tranquility, unmolested by the odor of caffeine, the need for a password, the feel of greasy tables, or a barista’s stare. As a place to research a school project or browse for esoteric bedtime reading, on the other hand, it offers dismaying advice: Try elsewhere. Order a book from the website. Download an e-book. Walk ten blocks to the perpetually derelict, perpetually to-be-renovated Mid-Manhattan branch for the Russian-language edition of Anna Karenina that used to be in the Donnell’s World Languages collection. “We didn’t take those books and cast them aside,” says NYPL vice-president Christopher Platt. “They were strategically moved and aligned to other collections.” – New York Magazine
In the 18th century, writers began to distinguish between appetite(the connection between reading and the body) and taste(connection between reading and the mind). Hobbesian philosophy had depicted humanity as a cesspit of ungoverned appetite, and the poetry of Restoration Court culture made the bodily realm seem crude. Against these forces, the civilising discourse of taste was marshalled: appropriate literary desire was reimagined as a matter of the palate. Good reading became a sanitised activity, common to polite community. Those who craved, gobbled and devoured texts were, by implication, vulgar.
Novels particularly were associated with such habits of consumption, for they became a symbol of the newly accessible literary market. Commentators described them as feeding unwholesome appetites. In turn, certain readers were linked to novel-imbibing habits, particularly women. Describing their reading as consumption was a way of denigrating them, for it positioned them as vulnerable, ignorant and morally contagious. Gustatory metaphors often implied that women read according to the flesh, in contrast to the disembodied realm of ‘rational’ masculinity. – Aeon
Low Cost Cosplay: 20 excellent ideas for frugal but dedicated superfine – All I have to say is WOW. – Boing Boing