Badass Librarians and Libraries

Photo by Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

I’ve caught some interesting stuff about libraries and librarians lately.

The first was an episode of Now or Never on CBC Radio, called Beyond the shelves: Discovering the magic in public libraries. Primarily about the opening of the new Calgary Library, the episode went on to talk about how today’s libraries are changing – becoming the new ‘centre’ of all types of services for communities. Personally, I really like the notion of a library as a ‘community hub’ – I think this type of thinking – and congregating could go a long way towards fixing a lot of what’s broken with society today. Check out the episode for the full meal deal.

Second, a recent episode of the 99% Invisible podcast called Weeding is Fundamental (har har) discusses the process – yes there is one – and it even has an acronym, MUSTY – by which libraries decide when to retire books. It includes discussion of a landmark dispute (and subsequent Librarian show-down) in San Francisco triggered by, of all things, an earthquake in 1989. Fascinating stuff. The capper of the episode is a bit of a ‘bonus feature’ by The Kitchen Sisters about the The Packhorse Librarians of Eastern Kentucky. Amazing stuff. Even if you’re podcast -averse – the link above has an article with most of the info from the episode and some cool related links interspersed.

Snow, Covered

Was listening to CBC Information Morning Fredericton (yep, good old-fashioned terrestrial radio) a few weeks back and there was a gentleman who emailed in reporting that he had tracked ‘days of snow cover’ in New Brunswick for several years. By ‘days of snow cover’ he meant days after the first snow that sticks, and doesn’t melt away. Unfortunately I can’t find if/where he posts any of this info on the Internet so I’ll summarize what he said.

We usually get our first snow sometime as early as October, but it seldom sticks and melts away. Usually it’s at least November or December before we get snow that sticks around, sometimes not even by the first of the year. By his calculations, once the snow sticks, we average around 128 days of ‘snow cover’ each year.

This year he noted that our first snow that stuck was early November and that if the trend continued – no doubt it will – that we are set to break the record of days of snow cover, which I think he said was around 138. Given all the factors, his estimate was that we’d probably hit the 150-155 day mark this year – a new record – and one that would mean we were under snow for roughly 48% of the year.

Friends, relatives and acquaintances often ask how I can manage to live up here with the winters we have. I regularly point out several things:

  • I prefer seeing 4 distinct seasons. I’ve lived in places where the weather is pretty much the same year-round and it gets boring.
  • Given proper preparation and attitude, winter activities are actually awesome and living someplace like New Brunswick means that everyone embraces them enthusiastically, if only because there’s no other choice but to do so.
  • I guarantee that those of us who live in places that see ‘true’ winter appreciate our days of spring, summer and fall far more than those who have a steady climate year round. When you get a limited number of specific kinds of days, you make the most of them.
  • I’ve noticed that amongst people who live regions with harsh or long winters, there is a sense of community and tolerance that is not found it other places. Rather unscientifically I’ve been observing it for some years now and chalk it up to the notion that when you have to possibly rely on the assistance of strangers or neighbors to just survive the winter, there is generally more willingness to set aside differences and an increase in basic good will for your fellow man/woman/person. I enjoy this sense of camaraderie, even if it is futile in a sense of resisting the will of a planet that could easily end us all. It’s fun to persevere.

In the milder months, I can step barefoot right out my back door onto nice green grass. Yesterday, I had to construct a bit of a staircase so Crash could get out to do his thing. If you look close at the top of the photos, you can see our clothesline, which normally is at about 7′ off the ground and that now hits me in the chest and I have to duck under. We’ve been here over 10 years and I’m not sure if this a record-breaking year in terms of quantity of snowfall, but it definitely seems like it will set a new record for being around the longest. I think buddy said probably mid-to-late April. Then Mud Season starts.

It’s Friday, Mofos: Therefore, JAZZ.

So I’m bombing down the dark backroads of New Brunswick between the Hinterlands of Chipman and Fredericton last night and listening to jazz on CBC Radio2’s Tonic – you know – cause that’s how us New Brunswickers take the sting off an hour back and forth drive for a tough Atom Rec Hockey 8-0 pasting – and a few tracks stood out for me from the obligatory (though always excellent) John Coltrane and Ella Fitzgerald. Luckily the boy was too fully immersed in on the iPad in whatever ‘get your dude through to the next level’ game is hip right now to register a complaint with regards to my listening choice.

ton·ic [ˈtänik]

noun
1. a medicinal substance taken to give a feeling of vigor or well-being.
synonyms: stimulant, restorative, refresher, medicine; More
2. short for tonic water.

adjective
1. giving a feeling of vigor or well-being; invigorating.

First off mellow out with The Bad Plus, doing an unexpectedly cool cover of Tears For Fears’ ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World’. Yes, you read that right. A tasty cover for sure and Drummer David King’s delicious ride cymbal work merits a listen of this track alone.

Now that you’re chill, rocket to light speed with Dinah Washington grooving through ‘Destination Moon’. When this came on and Dinah kicked in the swagger, I was ready to jump on whatever vessel she wanted and teleport wherever she asked. Houston, I am smitten.

Get up, out, and blast off kids, it’s Friday!