Monday, December 10, 2007

This Week in Reading December 9 - 15

Events to Read About are as strong as the list of Authors Born This Week. To begin with, Al Gore is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Monday and two authors who became literary Nobel laureates were born in this week. Basketball was invented this week. The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights is celebrated in this week every year, and coincidentally America's own constitutional Bill of Rights became effective in this week and is celebrated annually with Bill of Rights day on December 15. (Don't miss The People's Guide to the United States Constitituon author Dave Kluge speaking and teaching in the Glendale Public Library next month.)

But, with public librarians providiing the fanfare, this week brings us the birthday of Melvil Dui. Who? He's otherwise known as Melville Dewey the brain behind the Dewey Decimal classification system. Despite his obsessions with order he did start the first library school to train librarians, allowing women to join the profession (but was chastised for becoming overly familiar with them.) He created the publication Library Journal and was instrumental in forming the American Library Association. For good or ill, as it may turn out, most American public libraries, as ours, use his cataloging system still. The Library of Congress system, with letters instead of numbers and thus allowing more conceptual expansion, is used primarily at colleges and universities with larger collections.

This Week's Question: Shirley Jackson's The Lottery was reviled by many and banned from libraries for a time for suggesting there could be anything negative in American small town life in 1948. Alexandr Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich followed it on the banned books list. Solzhenitsyn did not go to Sweden to pick up his Nobel Prize on December 10 because, like Boris Pasternak who had to refuse, he wouldn't have been alllowed to return to the Soviet Union. After he was deported he did pick it up in 1974. What other writer born this week had to endure a trial by his government for the act of having written his now famous book?

Answer to Last Week's Question: James Thurber, who wrote Men, Women, and Dogs, said them both. One wonders if John Osborne's famous play title came from "Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness."

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