Sometimes the littlest library shenanigans are the best library shenanigans, like when your coworker makes you laugh by goofing around with the foam book supports,
or when your friend Nick Humez sends you a cartoon about the Dewey Decimal System.
Um … I’m sorry, everybody. But I had to include this as a library shenanigan. It’s actually like twelve different shenanigans piled together.
Thanks, Marianne Aldrich!
Look at this gorgeous zeppelin reading room at an art museum in Prague!
Here it is under construction!
So far, I can’t find any photographs of people inside it, but I will add a link later if possible.
Thanks, Diane Westerfield!
As Curator of Colorado College Special Collections, I recently ordered a copy of Woody Leslie’s book Understanding Molecular Typography. There appeared to be a snag in the cataloging, and the following email conversation ensued:
Cataloger Amy: Hello, Jon (and Jessy), If this link is behaving as it was for me just now, then you will see the image, with a link, to a Dr. Seuss book to the right of the title I just cataloged, “Understanding Molecular Typography.” Hmmmmmmm……..
Systems Specialist Jon: That bib record contains the ISBN for the Dr. Seuss title so it’s pulling the Dr. Seuss book cover image… Correcting or removing that ISBN should fix the problem. I also noticed that a subject heading of Humor is shown on that bib-is that correct?
Amy: I figured it had to do with the ISBN. The ISBN in the record is indeed the ISBN on the title page, so, I’m not sure how one might handle that. About humor, yes, that is correct, despite the rawther serious-sounding title.
Jon: Interesting-so it’s a humor book and they put the ISBN for a Dr. Seuss book on the title page? That’s kinda funny. WorldCat seems to have the same problem: http://www.worldcat.org/title/understanding-molecular-typography/oclc/920580763 –as do the catalogs of all of the other libraries WorldCat shows as holding this title… This is now actually hilarious.
Curator Jessy: Wow. This is fantastic actually! I wonder if they did it on purpose. Maybe I’ll try to contact the author or publisher and see.
Amy: I’d love to know what he says. It’s kind of like a library shenanigan. I mean, why “On Beyond Zebra”?? This is a first, for me.
Jessy: Dear Woody Leslie, As you can see from the email chain, your book is causing some confusion and hilarity at the Colorado College library. We think you did it on purpose. Are we right?
Artist Woody Leslie: Hi Jessy, This really made my day! Thanks for contacting me. Yes, I intentionally appropriated that ISBN number. Understanding Molecular Typography is a fictional textbook by a fictional author about a fictional science — the science of molecular typography, which is based on the premise that all letters are in fact molecules, composed of atomic shape units known as typtoms. One of the ideas of the book is the concept of genetically modified, or invented letters. I used that ISBN number as a tribute to Dr. Seuss’ book On Beyond Zebra, because it’s all about invented letters. I didn’t account for library cataloging of ISBNs when I used it, figuring it would mostly be ignored. I too have noticed the World Cat auto picture selecting based on the ISBN. Glad you were able to sort it all out. There’s more about the book and project here.
Artist Bill Domonkos uses archival images in the public domain to make seriously spooky animated gifs.
Thanks, Dina Wood!
Happy Halloween, everybody!
BookBub provides a nice gathering-up of library shenanigans by librarians, saying “Anyone who has spent a lot of time in libraries knows that the books aren’t the only reason to keep going back. Librarians are some of the most unique, intelligent, and clever people you’ll meet.”
My personal favorite is the self-checkout mirror. Thanks, Amy Shuffelton!
My colleague Diane Westerfield found a library shenanigan in a scholarly article!
“The Library in Art’s Crosshairs” by Henry Pisciotta. Art Documentation: Journal of the Art Libraries Society of North America, v. 35 no. 1, Spring 2016.
“British artist John Latham, while teaching at St. Martin’s School of Art in 1966, checked out a copy of Greenberg’s respected book [Art and Culture] from his school’s library and took it to an evening gathering of friends and students, where the book’s pages were removed and chewed, by a number of participants, and spat into a jar. Later Latham, keenly interested in science, performed a series of chemical transformations on the remains, slowly reducing them to a goo, which he sealed into a glass vial. Overdue notices were received from the library, so Latham eventually attempted to return the book to the librarian in its modified state. This offer was refused. Latham’s teaching contract was not renewed. A few years later, Latham fashioned a carrying case for the vial, some of the lab apparatus, and the library notices, and today the assemblage is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art.”
The resulting artwork, titled, like the original book, “Art and Culture,” is not currently on view at MoMA, but you can see more information about it here.