#LibraryLife. I really love this hashtag when I see it appear in my Twitter timeline. I am living the library life right now. Why? Because I work at a reference desk in a research library answering questions, checking out books, shelving, etc. It’s been a good experience so far and a good re-introduction to service desk work that I did long ago at Northwestern University. The pace of academic libraries doesn’t seem to have changed very much. I’ve noticed though that while people seem to know a little more about how to find things, they only know how to do it through the Internet and more specifically Google. Basically, if Google Scholar doesn’t show results that they need, it’s a wrap, generally speaking. @Mac_Attack29 said it best with this picture:
I like to hear the stories librarians share and the insights gained from work and from studies, reading, and writing about libraries and archives, which I do by following some really interesting people on Twitter. I don’t think it’s a secret that you can stay up on trends and news in the LIS world (and anywhere else for that matter, see the #Ferguson and #FergusonSyllabus for examples of how amazing Twitter is at chronicling and sharing thought provoking perspectives on current events.) But the daily personal side of things, I just love. Having been a teacher I can tell you that there’s an element of mundanity and absurdity in every aspect of everyday when you work with the public and you’ve really got to be able to roll with it. I get a taste of that by following the hashtag #LibraryLife. Case(s) in point:
Often wryly funny:
Sometimes clearly not here for your foolishness:
But in the end, always your (humble) (maybe?) public servants:
There are so many librarians doing so many different types of things. It’s really interesting to be able to learn about the options on Twitter and to be able to see a glimpse of all those personalities in the midst of daily grind. So even with the struggle of finding a full time librarian or archivist position right now, I’m excited to be part of that #librarylife inasmuch as I am at the moment. Now back to those cover letters and resume updates, and online applications that take and hour but really are just all of the information on the resume you just uploaded plus the name and address of your high school. Ugh. Hey, there you, reading, you hiring?
I am building a library on my own. It’s called Roots Cuisine. Right now, it’s a website that I am working to transform into more of a digital library. There will be a physical library. I will develop a collection, a process I’ve actually already started.
To that end I published a rare and important book earlier this year. I’m sort of torn about whether it will be part of the library collection or part of my own personal collection. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it because I have a couple of other rather precious things I’m also eventually going to have to make decisions about. I’ve never posted a picture of it. It’s an original edition of The Historical Cookbook of the American Negro published by The National Council of Negro Women in 1958. It’s a first printing. So yes, pretty dope & it cost a grip too, for what it looks like to the untrained eye (I can say that now because I’m a special collections librarian!).
Anyway, without further ado….
This is the title page. See? First printing! So exciting.
And the dedication page to the “Three Illustrious Marys”
This was a 1993 note from a previous owner. This book was a gift to her mother! Rare Books and SpecColl folk know what a score this is!
And finally, a Juneteenth menu. So a few new options for next year: veal and Texas tongue with green beans … Alright then.
Lately I’ve been thinking about being settled and stable. I’ve also recently ended library school and I have been halfheartedly job searching. There are so many things swirling around my head as I’ve ended what will be my last go round in anyone’s graduate program. I’m thinking about library work and food librarianship and knowing that it’s a real possibility if I’m patient and dedicated to the process. I mean even three years ago there was a Publishers Weekly article stating that cookbooks were the top circulating materials in public libraries, so hey what have I got to worry about?
As much as being settled now means finding a fulfilling library gig in special collections and/or archives (with a focus on food and/or Afrodescendent history and culture [hey, I am not too picky!]) it also means being surrounded by my stuff (which is currently in a storage unit in Chicago) and being able to cook with my own pots, pans, and tools…in my own kitchen, using my own dishes, etc. This also means having access once again to my cookbook and recipe collection. And this brings me to thinking about my favorite cookbooks. Here are a few to start…
The New Book of Middle Eastern Food – Claudia Roden
- This is just a great book. If you like Middle Eastern food this is something you have to have. The original A Book of Middle Eastern Food (1974) is great too, this is just updated and has a few more recipes and is a bit lighter on the butter, etc.
The Food of Paradise: Exploring Hawaii’s Culinary Heritage – Rachel Laudan
- I will admit I haven’t cooked from this one yet but I love to read it. It’s beautifully written and so informative. A hybrid personal essay, food history, and recipe book. Plus the author is a friend of mine!
The Taste of Country Cooking – Edna Lewis
- Originally published in 1976, it is, much like Rachel Laudan’s work, a personal story chronicled by menus and recipes. It’s a glimpse of not only Lewis’s own family history but of regional African American history through food. The 30th anniversary edition, was published in 2006 and is the one you’ll find unless you’re on the hunt for rare or older books, or you know, the first edition, at a dealer or used book store.
Barefoot Contessa at Home: Everyday Recipes You’ll Make Over and Over Again – Ina Garten
- Hey BC, pretty much all of her stuff is great. The one popular/Food TV type author whose stuff I can’t get enough of.
The Encyclopedia of Cajun and Creole Cuisine – John Folse
- This is a great comprehensive work full of recipes. It has a weird index but is surprisingly all-encompassing. Though there is a hefty dose of self promotion of the Folse brand and products, there is acknowledgement of African influence in this book and that makes me happy though I’d love for there to be more nuance and less fairy-tale-style-rose-colored-glass-we’re-one-big-happy-family-style storytelling that so often characterizes books (& a few organizations OOP!) on Southern food and cooking. It’s also a little romantic in the picture it paints of Louisiana and its food traditions but cooking through this book is a good way to get a feel of the place and the recipes really work.
Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume One – Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, Simone Beck and Sidonie Coryn
- This is no best kept secret anymore. It’s a good set to learn and I particularly like volume one. Definitely helps with technique on some things because the process is meticulously described and in some cases, illustrated. You get to work your way through classic French dishes, which is always delicious.