Monday, February 28, 2011

Meredith Visits a Railroad Library at the San Diego Model Railroad Museum

According to the San Diego Model Railroad Museum website, “The Erwin Welsch Memorial Research Library is a non-circulating research library which focuses on all aspects of railroading with a particular emphasis on railroading in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The library is dedicated to the advancement and dissemination of historical, social, economic and technical knowledge of railroading and railroad modeling. The Library collection includes material on model railroading in all scales. In addition, the collection also covers railroads throughout Central and South America, Europe, and Asia. Reference materials include books, periodicals, professional journals, government publications, manuscript materials, maps, engineering drawings, DVDs, videotapes, slides, photographs, and other ephemera. The online catalog contains 831 railroad and model railroad magazine titles, and over 4000 books, 1400 videos and DVDs.”

For more information on the library and museum, please visit:

And my favorite item in the entire collection? This model train filled with alcohol – now that’s something every library needs!

Monday, February 21, 2011

And the Oscar for Best Library Display Table Goes To...

With the Academy Awards set to air this Sunday, February 27th, why not do a display table at your library honoring all things Oscar – fashion, food, past nominees and winners? I like using materials that show patrons how several nominated movies are based on books, since the studios seem to "forget" to mention that while campaigning for the Oscar (an example of Hollywood's snub to the book author happened last year when Up In the Air author Walter Kirn wasn’t offered tickets to the ceremony, even with all the nominations!)

Here are some of my top picks, with where they are located in the library:

1. The complete book of Oscar fashion : Variety's 75 years of glamour on the red carpet / Reeve Chace 791.43026 CHACE
2. Murder at the Academy Awards : a red carpet murder mystery / Joan Rivers MYS RIVERS
3. The real Oscar: the story behind the Academy Awards / by Peter H. Brown 791.43 BROWN
4. Made for each other: fashion and the Academy Awards / Bronwyn Cosgrave 391 COSGRAVE
5. For Your Consideration DVD 1638 COMEDY
6. Coraline J FIC GAIMAN and DVD 2594 CHILD/FAMILY
7. Up in the air / Walter Kirn FIC KIRN
8. The Blind Side / 921 OHER
9. Food Inc. DVD 2781 DOCUMENTARY
10. Julie & Julia Book 641.5 POWELL and DVD 2831 COMEDY
11. Slumdog millionaire: a novel / Vikas Swarup FIC SWARUP and DVD 2528 DRAMA and CD 969 SOUND TRACK
12. No country for old men / Cormac McCarthy FIC MCCARTHY and DVD 2012 DRAMA
13. A beautiful mind: a biography of John Forbes Nash, Jr., winner of the Nobel Prize in economics, 1994 / Sylvia Nasar 921 and NASH VIDEO 6164 DRAMA
14. The English patient : a novel / by Michael Ondaatje FIC ONDAATJE
15. Forrest Gump / Winston Groom FIC GROOM
16. Schindler's list / Thomas Keneally FIC KENEALLY
17. The silence of the lambs / Thomas Harris FIC HARRIS and DVD 2552 THRILLER
18. Dances with wolves / Michael Blake FIC BLAKE and VIDEO 1420 DRAMA and CD 463 SOUND TRACK
19. Driving Miss Daisy Driving Miss Daisy / Alfred Uhry 812 UHRY and VIDEO 637 COMEDY

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Dream Job: Librarian at Bern's Wine Cellar

Having grown up in the Tampa Bay area of Florida, I always looked forward to that very special occasion that would warrant a celebration at the legendary Bern’s Steakhouse.

Never heard of it?

According to their website, “Internationally known for its vast wine collection, perfectly aged steaks and famous dessert room, Bern’s Steak House offers a world-class, incomparable dining experience. When Bern Laxer opened in 1956, he envisioned Bern’s as Art in Steaks. Today, son David Laxer and Chef de Cuisine Habteab Hamde continue Bern’s tradition of excellence with a gastronomic adventure that includes prime steaks cut-to-order, 21 choices of caviar, fresh seafood and organic vegetables grown on Bern’s farm. The menu also boasts a weekly specials page offering fresh oysters, seasonal delights and entrees with suggested wine pairings. 
For oenophiles, the 6,500 label wine collection, a perennial Wine Spectator Grand Award winner, provides ample opportunity for exploration. After dinner, relax upstairs in a private booth with a Bern’s signature dessert or one of the 1,000+ after-dinner spirits, wines and cordials.”

Sounds great, right? Yeah, it’s expensive too, so it took me getting that Masters degree to finally warrant a visit. And boy was it worth it! The best part was taking a private tour of the place, which included a visit to the wine cellar, where to my surprise is organized by the Dewey Decimal System! Now that is my kind of library – HIRE ME!

Wine is typically organized via region or type of grape, say “Australia” or “Pinot Noir,” however at Bern’s, all wines are given numbers when they arrive, which then correspond to their place on the shelf arranged in numerical order, with one located towards the front and 10,000 towards the very back. To preserve and age the wines, the temperature is kept to about 50 degrees with 75 percent humidity. So maybe having my reference desk in there might be a tad chilly, but if the job includes daily wine tastings, I’ll wear a coat – HIRE ME!

While the wine cellar at the restaurant holds about 90,000 bottles of wine, 80% is still being kept in various warehouses off-site. Now that is a lot of wine to keep track of! Therefore, it is understandable why they would want to hire me to manage it all, especially when this summer, one bottle of wine was discovered, having been misplaced on the shelf some 50 years ago!!!! Yep, a Chateau Latour from 1947 was somehow lost in the wine cellar and is now worth some $30,000 – which I hope makes you think twice about reshelving that book without a librarian’s assistance, right?

And speaking of assistance, Bern’s, you obviously need me. Knowledgeable in wine and library studies, AND a huge consumer of wine – this is like the perfect pairing! Consider me the 2000 Trimbach Pinot Gris Selection de Grains Nobles to your Yellowtail Snapper √† la Plancha. Me the 2006 Hess Cabernet Sauvignon to your Ch√Ęteaubriand.

Better yet, just think of me as #9418. A 1900 Burmester Reserva Port. At $1250 a bottle, I am a wine librarian that is so going to be worth every ounce! HIRE ME…NOW!

For more information about Bern's Steakhouse, visit

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Valentine's Day Library Materials on Display

It was a year ago this month that I was back in Florida working as a library volunteer at the Gulf Beaches Public Library, where my main responsibility was gathering and assembling the library materials for the main display table just inside the front door. I enjoyed brainstorming theme ideas with Library Director Maggie Cinnella and discussing which areas of our library collection needed circulation most. Popular themes always included holidays, so Valentine’s Day was obviously a given for the first part of February (although as a huge sports fanatic, I certainly jumped at the chance to do something tied to the Winter Olympics, and was sadly disappointed to not find a single book on curling in our collection – not surprising for a beach library located in FL!)

In generating the list of materials to include on the display table, I not only gained experience in how to search for materials in our library catalogue, whether it be books, audio books, DVDs or music CDs, but I also learned where they were kept in the stacks. There I would be every Thursday afternoon, pushing my book cart through the aisles of our little library, anxiously in search of titles that I hoped patrons would find interesting enough to want to take home.

In addition to putting together the list of materials and then removing them from the shelves to showcase, it was also fun to design the display sheets announcing the theme of that week’s table. The artist in me got a chance to play with graphics and fonts, while thinking of funny catch phrases or borders, all with the purpose of igniting interest from patrons to wander over to the table and perhaps select an item or two.

For Valentine’s Day, I went with the phrase “Materials From the Heart” and tried to include books about chocolate, flowers, writing romance, poetry, last minute date ideas, and of course, several romantic films, where I included one of my personal favorites, True Romance, starring Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette! And wouldn’t you know it, the next day, the entire table was pretty much cleared out except for that one film! And they say love is blind - ha!

Now Gary Oldman as a cracked-out pimp may not be your idea of romance, but unlike a dozen red roses and a box of Godiva chocolates, your library is absolutely free. Use it - love it - make love to, wait, let's not do that last one, we librarians have already seen too much of that sort of thing and cleaning it up isn't fun, anyway, you get the point, right?

Love your library. I do.