November display at the Greenwood Library

November display at the Greenwood Library




More fancy digs in the middle of Texas! The Armstrong Browning Library at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.

When I was doing research to plan for our Texas road trip, I learned that the world’s largest collection of the works and memorabilia of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning is housed at the Armstrong Browning Library on the campus of Baylor University in Waco, Texas.  We passed by Waco on the way to Dallas, so I was determined to stop and check out this amazing library.

The Browning collection began with the personal collection of one of Baylor’s English professors, Dr. A. Joseph Armstrong, and it has grown over time.  The Browning Library is a lovely Italianate building with 62 stained-glass windows.  It is one of the most beautiful libraries I’ve visited.

When I mentioned the library to my friend, Lynne, she passed along to me a couple of websites devoted to the most beautiful libraries of the world.  You can link to them here: and here:–Unique-Libraries.  I was pleased to see two of Seattle’s libraries represented:  the Central branch of the Seattle Public Libraries and Suzzallo Library at the University of Washington.  I guess I’ll have to add making pilgrimages to some of the other libraries to my life list of things to do before I die!

One of the rooms of the Armstrong Browning Library at Baylor U

Stained-glass window celebrating Browning's Pied Piper of Hamlin

Another of the 62 stained-glass windows in the Browning Library

The Armstrong Browning Library

Part 2: Reading Less

“Actually, reading is both a blessing and a curse.  It is one of the finest and most ingenious inventions of the human mind.  Used selectively it is a marvelous aid to growth.  But it can be overused until it dominates our lives, acting as a consumer of time that should be used for direct, firsthand experience.  With many of us, reading is an addiction.  We get the reading habit and it stifles our real lives.”
     — William S. Coperwaite, A Handmade Life: In Search of Simplicity

“Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits.  Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”
     — Albert Einstein

“My days are not lived so much as wasted in compulsive reading.”
     — Kathleen Norris, Acedia and Me

My current pile of library books

I am addicted to reading.  Perhaps someone should stage an intervention.  When I was growing up, one of my mother’s common refrains was, “Get your nose out of that book.”  Now that I am a grown woman and in charge of my own life, I too often indulge my passion for reading to the detriment of other areas of my life. 

My problem is that my reading list mushrooms.  I decide to take a trip, so must research guidebooks, travel writings, and literature about the destination.  I read a nonfiction book, and the author mentions other interesting titles, which I add to my list.  I follow many fiction authors, and they release a new book every year, which I must read.  As I do my job at the library, an intriguing title or cover catches my eye, and I add that book to my list.  My friends recommend even more books.  And on and on. . .

January display at the Greenwood Branch of the Seattle Public Library

I volunteered to do the January display at the Greenwood Branch Library, so I chose to feature books about papercraft.  There are so many good books on the subject.  I didn’t have room to feature even a fraction.  Here are some close-up shots of parts of the display:

Papercraft display

Papercraft book covers and sample projects

Papercraft projects on display

More papercraft projects

Display at the Greenwood Branch Library

Books, Books, Books

December 13, 2009

The Young Adult section of the Greenwood Public Library

In the stacks at the Greenwood Public Library

Red chair and children's books, Greenwood Public Library

In the stacks at the Greenwood Public Library

In my job, I’m surrounded by books.  I feel like a kid in a candy store.  So many books, and such a finite time to read them!  I can identify with Italo Calvino in this passage from If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler:

“. . . you have forced your way through the shop past the thick barricade of Books You Haven’t Read, which were frowning at you from the tables and shelves, trying to cow you.  But you know you must never allow yourself to be awed, that among them there extend for acres and acres the Books You Needn’t Read, the Books Made for Purposes Other Than Reading, the Books Read Even Before You Open Them Since They Belong To The Category Of Books Read Before Being Written.  And thus you pass the outer girdle of ramparts, but then you are attacked by the infantry of the Books That If You Had More Than One Life You Would Certainly Also Read But Unfortunately Your Days Are Numbered.  With a rapid maneuver you bypass them and move into the phalanxes of the Books You Mean To Read But There Are Others You Must Read First, the Books Too Expensive Now And You’ll Wait Till They’re Remaindered, the Books ditto When They Come Out In Paperback, Books You Can Borrow From Somebody, Books That Everybody’s Read So It’s As If You Had Read Them, Too.  Eluding these assaults, you come up beneath the towers of the fortress, where other troops are holding out:
     the Books You’ve Been Planning To Read For Ages,
     the Books You’ve Been Hunting For Years Without Success,
     the Books Dealing With Something You’re Working On At The Moment,
     the Books You Want To Own So They’ll Be Handy Just In Case,
     the Books You Could Put Aside Maybe To Read This Summer,
     the Books You Need To Go With Other Books On Your Shelves,
     the Books That Fill You With Sudden, Inexplicable Curiosity, Not Easily Justified.
     Now you have been able to reduce the countless embattled troops to an array that is, to be sure, very large but still calculable in a finite number; but this relative relief is then undermined by the ambush of the Books Read Long Ago Which It’s Now Time To Reread and the Books You’ve Always Pretended To Have Read And Now It’s Time To Sit Down And Really Read Them.”