Serving the innate urge for intellectual content
As part of my job as director, I spend a great deal of time reading professional literature, keeping up with library trends, concerns and news. I recently ran across an article that I found to be particularly appropriate, in light of the many changes occurring in public libraries. The author is a library director in California, a woman who “tells it like it is” and often cuts right to the heart of the matter.
She writes, “Librarians aren’t stupid. We know that a lot will change in publishing and libraries, even in the next few years. Some of it will be traumatic and difficult, but some of it will be amazing and wonderful. And at core, the enduring values will abide. We as librarians believe in books, believe they belong in people’s hands, believe in the right to read, believe in authors, believe in readers, believe that reading changes lives, believe in what we do. And we also believe there will always be not just a need, but an innate urge for intelligently-composed, well-edited, carefully-curated intellectual content — some of which, for a very long time to come, if not forever, will be realized in book-like objects, shared within a reading ecology.”
Of course, no one has a crystal ball to tell us what libraries will be like in 20, 50 or 100 years, but these beliefs have become abiding for me: Public libraries have existed for centuries and will continue to be an important part of our society; and people will be always be readers. And isn’t that simply wonderful?
Did one of the Vanderbilts die on the Titanic?
The World Book Encyclopedia notes that Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, 34-year-old multimillionaire sportsman and heir to the Vanderbilt shipping and railroad empire canceled his passage on the Titanic so late that some early newspaper accounts listed him as being on board. Vanderbilt died on May 7, 1915, when the Lusitania on which he was sailing with his valet Ronald Denyer was torpedoed by an enemy submarine. Although he could not swim, Vanderbilt reportedly gave his lifebelt to a nurse as the ship took her final plunge into the sea. His body was never recovered.
Were fortune cookies invented by the Chinese?
As far back as the 19th century, a cookie very similar in appearance to the modern fortune cookie was made in Kyoto, Japan, and there is a Japanese temple tradition of random fortunes, called omikuji. The Japanese version of the cookie differs in several ways: they are a little bit larger, made of darker dough, and the batter contains sesame and miso rather than vanilla and butter. They contain a fortune; however, the small slip of paper was wedged into the bend of the cookie. Food: A Culinary History from Antiquity to Present reports that most of the people who claim to have introduced the cookie to the United States are Japanese, so the theory is that these bakers were modifying a cookie design from their days in Japan. Makoto Hagiwara of Golden Gate Park’s Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco is reported to have been the first person in America to have served the modern version of the cookie when he did so at the tea garden in the 1890s or early 1900s.
Did someone named Murphy invent the Murphy Bed?
The Murphy bed, also known as a wall bed, fold down bed or pull down bed is a bed that is hinged at one end so it can be folded up and stored vertically against a wall or in a closet, named by inventor William L. Murphy. Using an old closet doorjamb and some door hinges, he built a pivot that allowed the bed to attach to a wall and fold up against it for easy storage. Murphy applied for a patent for his invention in 1900. A book simply titled Furniture provided this information.
If you have a question that you would like to see answered in this column, mail it to Mary Jane Santos, Delaware County District Library, 84 E. Winter St., Delaware, OH 43015, or call 740–362-3861. You can also email your questions by visiting delawarelibrary.org or directly to Mary Jane at email@example.com. No matter how you contact us, we’re always glad you asked!