Bookshelf | Literary Hub

Bookshelf | Literary Hub

In which bookshelves are installed at the New York Public Library

When the New York City Public Library opened on May 23, 1911, the building spanned over two city blocks and boasted one of the most impressive collections of books—and bookshelves—in the world. “ It is impossible to think of New York without the New York Public Library, ” notes Henry Hope Reed, during the centennial celebrations of the library. “[Its] presence is that of some great natural fact. It would appear to have always been there.”

During its initial construction, the newspaper media talked up the library’s bookshelves something fierce. Since the library was to hold over three million volumes, shelving and storing a collection of that size was no small undertaking. In 1905, initial schematics of the library ’ s bookshelves were published in the New York Times and Scientific American; articles claimed that the library had a set of bookshelves constructed on a practically unheard-of scale, unlike any other shelves in any other library built before it. On October 1, 1905, the Times practically fell over itself, gushing with enthusiasm:

The skeleton of a bookcase that will hold 3,500,000 volumes — without exception the largest bookcase in the world — that is what one may see to-day back of the great central hall of the majestic marble structure that is slowly rising in Bryant Park.

It is just completed, this marvelous network of steel bars and uprights, and exemplifies the very latest methods and appliances for the shelving of books. There is nothing like it in the great libraries of the Old World . . . In the Congressional Library . . . the modern steel bookcase is in use, but not in the solid, impressive mass, distinguishing it over all others, that is shown in the New York Public Library . . . Above it will be placed the spacious reading room of the library, on either side the various halls, offices, and exhibition rooms. Thus surrounded, this monster bookcase becomes, architecturally, the heart of the whole structure, the treasure for whose protection this marble palace is built. Even now, with this maze of steel laid bare, it is difficult to appreciate its immense capacity for the shelving of books. A bookcase holding three and a half million volumes means a series of shelves that if laid together, end to end, would measure over eighty miles.

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Bookshelf (Object Lessons) by Lydia Pyne – Google Books

Bookshelf – Lydia Pyne – Google Books

History tells us that we put books on a shelf. Cicero and his library suggest, however, that books don’t go on just any shelf; books ought to be shelved on a proper bookshelf.

What makes a bookshelf a bookshelf is not a given thing; every bookshelf has its own unique life history; every bookshelf speaks to its own cultural context. Bookshelves are dynamic, iterative objects that cue us to the social values we place on books and how we think books ought to be read. What makes a bookshelf a bookshelf are the recurring decisions made about its structure, architecture, and function.


Happiness to mindfulness, via wellbeing: how publishing trends grow | Books | The Guardian

Happiness to mindfulness, via wellbeing: how publishing trends grow | Books | The Guardian

I’ve written before about my problems with literary decluttering. But who in their right mind would want to keep eight copies of a directory that barely changes from year to year except for the entries that are out of date? Well – sigh! – me. And here’s why. Many volumes ago, I was asked to write an essay on a literary editor’s life for this sturdy compendium of information for people aspiring to a writing career. While extolling the value of making lists, I wrote that it helped to spot the signs of new publishing trends.

My trend-spotting habit dates back to 1999, when it was all commodity books (powered by the success of Mark Kurlansky’s Cod). In 2002, there was a fad for cute micro-histories with titles almost as long as the text – who today remembers Lord Minimus: The Extraordinary Life of Britain’s Smallest Man?

And so it goes. By 2008, it was all about happiness, with a generical range that took in the historical, the scientific and the philosophical: clearly something more interesting was happening than a dozen books with the same word in the title. By 2012, everything was a biography, as the (yet again) updated essay noted: “We’ve had biographies of food, of cities, of an ocean, the Ordnance Survey map and even cancer.”

The point about trend-spotting is that it helps to find a shape in what can seem like one damned book after another. It’s particularly pleasing when, like the happiness boom, it connects different disciplines and appears to be driven by something more significant than simply publishers out to replicate the last big thing. Happiness led to wellbeing, which in turn led to mindfulness. This says something about social neuroses and efforts to analyse, solve and exploit them. With hindsight, it doesn’t seem coincidental that this strand of thinking and publishing coincided with the financial crash of 2007-8.

And hindsight is what those eight volumes of the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook give me. They represent a historiography of my reading life, and the points at which it intersected with the wider culture, long after the books involved have been jettisoned.

Watch this space.

Linotype: The Film — “History of the Linotype Company” Hardcover Book

Linotype: The Film — “History of the Linotype Company” Hardcover Book

Written by film participant Frank Romano, this is THE definitive history of the Mergenthaler Linotype Company. In fact, we wish this book had been published when we were making the film! If you are curious about the Linotype or the Linotype Company, this will become your ultimate reference.

The book contains 464 pages of in-depth history of the people, places, and products manufactured by the Mergenthaler Linotype Company. Frank Romano traces the history of corporate acquisitions, product development, and competing machines all with his usual wit and experience. He also writes about his own personal history working at Linotype starting in 1959. There are hundreds of color reproductions of advertisements, publications, photographs, and typeface specimens. It also includes 120 pages listing every font manufactured by Linotype or its subsidiaries.


Bookling – Track Your Reading Habits — Mister Bumbles Interactive

Bookling – Track Your Reading Habits — Mister Bumbles Interactive

Introducing Bookling, a mobile app which helps you keep track of your reading habits and motivates you to read more. Bookling lets you bookmark multiple books, track your progress, setup reminders and help you achieve your reading goals.

Storyful’s Art and Science of Real-Time Discovery – Feedly

Storyful’s Art and Science of Real-Time Discovery – Feedly

“We discover and verify the content from social media using our own technology and open source technology [editor’s note: including feedly!], monitoring the social web in real time,” explained Derek Bowler, Storyful senior journalist and special projects lead, who also helps lead the company’s internal work flows, processes, and tools.

Storyful’s ability to work together across timezones and continents is central to the value that they create. They have global offices in Ireland, Hong Kong, Australia, and New York, and each team works together in real time. “Collaboration is at the core of Storyful,” says Bowler.

Organize what you are monitoring into feedly Collection.

Storyful creates a feedly Collection for every story they monitor like 2016 Decision, funny videos, cat videos, ISIS, and more. It’s an easy way for them to follow multiple sources on the same topic in one place. And when they seem a Collection updating with many new articles, it often means that a new story might be breaking.

Create a diverse mix of sources with your Collections

When Storyful creates a topic to monitor, they carefully hand pick sources that include as many known YouTube accounts from that particular location, Facebook feeds from active posters, key Twitter accounts, and any relevant sub-reddits. They ensure that they have at least one feed from each channel, often many more.

“That’s a one-stop shop because a lot of things we see happening in social media are encompassed in those channels,” says Bowler. “We knew a year ago that if we were monitoring those four major social platforms effectively, we were not able to monitor the topic effectively. The best thing about feedly is that it allows you to bring it all to one place.”

When Storyful editors start to see some feeds updating with increasing velocity, they know that something big is breaking.

Create an archive

One way Storyful uses feedly is a bit unconventional: They use it as a YouTube archive that is easy for them to search through. They have over a thousand YouTube videos that they monitor. By connecting the YouTube feed to their feedly, it becomes easy for them see what is breaking, but also use search terms to find a relevant video.

In particular, Storyful likes to use:

  • FB-RSS – This tool creates feeds from Facebook pages.
  • IFTTT + Slack – Storyful relies on Slack for their team communication. So, they create Google Alerts that they import into feedly. And from feedly, they use IFTTT to push breaking articles into their Slack.

What do you use to monitor every day news?
Are their tools, tips, or tricks that you or your organization use to be the first to know something?

The Custodian of Forgotten Books – The New Yorker

The Custodian of Forgotten Books – The New Yorker

In recent years, many publishers have come to the same realisation —that the graveyard of literary history includes many works worth resurrecting. ‘It’s a pretty striking change in the last decade or so,’ Edwin Frank, the editor of the Classics series from New York Review Books, told me.

Frank believes that publishers have the power to change the canon, but only if they’re truly open to lesser-known titles. ‘Those books are there to search you out,’ he said. “They can exist to change your mind about what a book can be.’ Paradoxically, the new interest in neglected books can be seen as a reaction to the decline of book culture. Books used to be a centrepiece of both education and entertainment, but television and the Internet have challenged that role.

Frank believes that among book lovers, ‘there’s a kind of sitting and looking—a kind of assessing the culture’ going on. We’ve become more aware of what could be lost forever.