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Posts by Cynthia Chaldekas

My Father's Librarian

My father moved into my Brooklyn home about 10 years ago when my mother died, and thus began my career as his personal librarian. When he first moved to Brooklyn, I showed him how to use the bus system so he could travel to and from the Brooklyn Central Library. I gave him a simplified explanation of the Dewey system; telling him what I tell everyone who comes to the reference desk, “think of the number as the address where the subject or book lives on the shelf.” I knew my father’s reading preferences very well and it was with assurance that I sent him to the 

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Adventures in Programming: You Never Know When You Will Need It

About six years ago when I started working at the Mid-Manhattan Library in the General Reference Collection, a man came to the desk, wanting a book on New York Public Library history. He said the book was written by a woman. The first book that came to my mind was Phyllis Dain’s The New York Public Library: A History of its Founding and Early Years. At that moment I did not know the call number but I knew its location on the shelf. I pulled the book from the shelf and gave it 

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Around the corner & down the street

The Morgan Library

One of the gems of the city is the Morgan Library located on Madison and 36th Street, literally just around the corner and down the block. I fell in love with the place 26 years ago and I have never stopped loving it. To me it is the one of the most intimate spots in the city, more so before the Renzo Piano reconstruction but still really wonderful.

I like it for a couple reasons: first because the shows are never big; they can’t be. It is always a one-room experience and that is just about right for my 

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The I-Beam Above

In bits and pieces of metal and muck a different type of life rained down upon the street below and I could not stop thinking about what goes on high above our heads. This as a result of the recent spate of tragedies of men and debris falling to the street from above, far above. Before Christmas two window washers crashed to the street below along with their scaffolding from 47 floors above. Miraculously one man lived. Just last week a construction worker fell from roughly the same height along with part of the floor and thousands of pounds of wet cement.

At any given time, 

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One that got away…the elusive Walter Mosley

Easy Rawlins is very near and dear to my heart. If he was real I would be in love. Instead I must admire him from afar, through the written word. The man I have the biggest crush on exists only on the page and in my mind’s eye. He is the protagonist of the acclaimed Easy Rawlins series created by noted author Walter Mosley.

I discovered Mosley by accident. I was visiting friends a few years back and I was hungry for something to read, something fun. We got on the topic of books and I mentioned my desire. Mosley was suggested with the added endorsement of Bill Clinton 

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Regulars at the library: the Joke Man cometh

Where to begin? There are many. I will begin with Joke Man. For as long as I have been at MML there had always been Joke Man, an appropriate sobriquet. Joke Man visits were regular like the sun rising every morning, but not nearly as pleasant. Every morning, just around 9:00 Joke Man would make his rounds of the desks on the second floor. He drove my colleagues mad with frustration. He was dreaded and loathed and avoided whenever possible.

I did not deal with Joke Man much; our meetings were intermittent because I began work at 10:00. By the time I came in bright and bubbly, ready 

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613.96 Sexual Instruction

Saturday at the reference desk started out quietly, but like a carnival that spins your eyes wide, after a while we became so busy that my partner and I were running around the floor, answering phones and taking care of patrons who were three deep and waving like drunks at a bar. I was on the desk in the last hour and we were still going strong. My last patron, well, was my best.

He came to the desk telling me that this library was indeed a weird place: a place full of books he couldn’t find. I straightened and leaned into him and said…”What’s the 

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Book Review: …one for my baby and one more for the road….Dry Manhattan

A few weeks back I presented a program with Michael Lerner, the author of Dry Manhattan: Prohibition in New York City. I like to read the books of the authors I present, and so far I have managed to do this (though I don’t always finish in time for the program). In the case of Dry Manhattan, when I made my presentation I had only one chapter left.

If you have not seen the cover of this book, well let me say it the sharpest jacket cover I 

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In Defense of Bryant Park

I wish to rain on your parade. I think Bryant Park should not be a venue for commerce! Once again the green in Bryant Park is being traded for the green in money. In the spring and fall, the park is filled with the fashion shows and come winter there is the skating rink and the surrounding shops. I do not object to the skating rink and a small concession stand. What I do object to is Bryant Park being scheduled back to back with events throughout the year without any time alloted for it being a park.

There is so little green in the city. The beauty of Bryant Park is that it is a 

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Future Reading : Digitization and its Discontents

I read an article by Anthony Grafton in the November 5, 2007 issue of the New Yorker, titled "Future Reading: Digitization and its Discontents." Essentially the article is about the digitization of books and related material by Google and other organizations. What I liked best about the article was his discussion of the incompleteness of the project. Grafton discusses the process of choosing what is going to be digitized. Material not currently digitized is material from poor countries, material 

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