Not very far from The New York Public Library lies Bryant Park – a beautiful, peaceful spot to wander and indulge the beauty of nature.

But ….. did you know that underneath Bryant Park, there is space for 2.5 million books?!

While it’s kind of eerie to think that a huge stash of books lays under the beautiful surrounds of this park, a seroius relocation of books from the New York Public Library has been operating for quite some time.

A recent article by Sarah Laskow: The New York Public Library is moving 1.5 million books to an underground lair outlines the comprehensive plans that have been put in place to create a safe, secure and highly organized location for books that can no longer be stored in the library.

Twenty-five years ago, when the library first moved books under the park, construction crews carved out two underground floors, but only the top one was finished. The second level, deeper down, was an unlit hollow, until, starting in April 2015, renovations transformed it into an archive-quality storage facility.

It is a beautifully cool 65 degrees down here, with 40 percent relative humidity, and there’s a new electric trolley system, in which books can be sent off to reading rooms upstairs in bright red carts. Most importantly, there is space for 2.5 million books.

The process of relocating the books, organizing, storing and thinking through how books requested can be easily retrieved is quite fascinating, so take the time to have a look at the article.

UPDATE:  Further to details outlined above, I’ve just read an article on Quartz which describes the unusual method of storing the 4 million – yes: 4 million! – books stored in the underground collection in Bryant Park.  Out with Dewey and in with ….. size!

Syria’s secret library

It’s hard to reconcile from the warmth and safety of my home that wars across the world are ravaging life as we know it, reducing once great cities to nothing more than rubble.

Reading about this secret library in Syria brought me to tears.

Omar at the front line

                                 Omar at the front line

If you haven’t read this BBC article about “Syria’s secret library” read it.  If you don’t have time for that, scroll through the article to view the video in which Amjad gives a tour of the library.

Words really can be very powerful!

Postscript: I read that Darayya, the city in which Syria’s secret library, has now been evacuated.  Many of the books have been removed, but evidence of what was there remains.  In a short news segment in which Amjad, the young ‘librarian’ who lovingly tended the shelves of this library is interviewed, it was very moving to hear him say that he now dreams to study and become a librarian.

The perfumer's secretThe arranged marriage of Fleurette, the only daughter of a wealthy Delacroix perfume dynasty, to Aimery, the head of another pre-eminent French perfume manufacturer on the eve of World War I is dreaded by Fleurette.  She not only loathes the man, but he literally makes her skin crawl. Yet, Fleurette is being forced to marry him for the good of the family.  A letter intended to stop the wedding proceeding is sent by the estranged brother of the groom, but it arrives too late. Only the tolling of the city bells on the night of their wedding, calling all the men of France to the battle fields, saves Fleurette from having to share the matrimonial bed with this repulsive man.  Months later, when the contents of the letter are fully explained to her in person by his brother, Fleurette finally becomes privy to a shocking and profound secret.  Evocative writing combine with a complex plot to captivate and entrance the reader.  Anticipating the outcome is cloaked in mystery until the very end.  A fabulous read by Fiona McIntosh!

Rating: *****
Theme Fiction:
Historical Fiction
Suitability: Year 10-12+

Friendship breadWhen a grieving woman finds a loaf of ‘Amish Friendship Bread’ on her doorstep one day, she could never imagine what may happen if she followed the instructions and baked a loaf of bread for herself and gave ‘starter packs’ to others.  The impact on her, her family and those who live nearby in the small town of Avalon are really quite extraordinary.  The simple and clever story line draws you in and envelops you, leaving you feeling warm and fuzzy – inside out! A great read by Darien Gee.

Rating: *****
Theme Fiction:
Person to person
Suitability: Year 10-12+

My sister RosaChe Taylor’s little sister Rosa is ‘different’.  Living in a family with parents who have relocated for work reasons several times since Rosa was born, the toll on all members of the family, particularly Che who takes it on himself to look after and protect Rosa, becomes ever more complex.  Keen to study medicine when he graduates from school, Che diagnoses Rosa to be a psychopath with severe personality disorders.  Larbalestier’s unfolding story highlights the impact one individual can have on the life of others.

Rating: ****
Theme Fiction: 
Suitability: Year 10-12+

I love a good thriller!

So when I saw the headline in a recent edition of The Advertiser: Crime fiction, thrillers and then romance are the most borrowed books of the year I felt satisfied that I most probably was among the stats that had been collected for the writing of this article.

I’m a sucker for flicking through the weekend paper and checking out the top 10 reads and then peeking at the week’s best recommended reads even though I very rarely go off looking to read those that appear on the lists.

But when I come to an end of year list, such as those published in this article, I find myself feeling kind of warm and fuzzy realizing that I’ve been enjoying the same books that many others have enjoyed over the year.

Have a read through the short article – it’s quite interesting – but if you can’t be bothered, here’s the 2016 listing for the Most Borrowed Fiction:

1. The Girl On The Train (2015) Paula Hawkins

2. Make Me (2015) Lee Child

3. Personal (2014) Lee Child

4. The Burning Room (2014) Michael Connelly

5.The Rosie Effect (2015) Graeme Simsion

6. Never Go Back (2013) Lee Child

7. The Rosie Project (2013) Graeme Simsion

8. Gone Girl (2012) Gillian Flynn

9. The Road Back (2014) Di Morrissey

10. The Gods of Guilt (2013) Michael Connelly

Have we shared the joy of reading many of these books over the last year?!

Poetry poster

If you’re looking for an inspirational poster for a poetry slam or just to promote the poetry section of the library, this is a great one!

poetry poster

It’s always a shame though when the creator of great posters like this get lost in cyberspace, so if anyone knows the name of the creator of this poster, please let me know so they can be acknowledged here.