Category Archives: Hot Topics
By Lon Maxwell, Reference Department
Heraldry, the word brings up ideas of knights and tournaments, royalty and television dramas. To most people it’s a stuffy, old fashion anachronism. To a very small few, it is an art form. What it really is falls under the modern concept of branding. If you were in the know in the 14th and 15th centuries you could look at the heralds list at a tournament and recognize knights from their coats of arms. If you had not met the knight personally, you could judge his character based on his arms. Knights of the same family had similar elements and you could see that sir Thomas was a younger brother or cousin or nephew of Sir William and make a value judgment based on what you knew of Sir William. This is the same way we make a judgment of the quality on a restaurant based on whether we see two arches or on a field gules, or woman gardant argent on a field noir. While these terms are in the language of heraldry the images they describe are not. No one would mistake Starbucks or McDonalds as knightly.
While the decoration of a shield or garment goes back for thousands of years, heraldry as we know it is documented back to the time of Charlemagne. It started as a way to differentiate between people on the battlefield. In the eras before military uniform, you had to know exactly who was on your side so you did not attack, or be attacked by, one of your fellows. As armor became more comprehensive and helmets began to cover the entire head, a new means of identification became necessary. The natural thing to do was to make sure you used the same design on all your shields and that what you used was different from other people. As more people began to use this new system, someone had to keep track of designs to make sure that repetition did not occur and that designs were recorded and differentiated between sons and cousins etcetera. This led to the creation of Heraldic authorities that kept (and still keep) roles of arms and titles and control who is granted what arms and how close to the original familial arms they can be.
The initial designs were simple ones. Shapes of one color, or tincture, were placed on fields of another. The only real rule of early heraldry was that you did not place a color on another color. If the field was red, the symbol had to be silver or gold. Black was occasionally acceptable for either tincture or metal. Simple designs were quickly used up and more complex symbols began to be used. As families grew and armigerous , or arms bearing, families intermarried and carried both arms going forward through processes called impaling or quartering, designs got more and more elaborate. This could be taken to the extreme such as the case of the Grenville Armorial, with its 719 quarterings. This is an exceptional example though. Most Arms only had 16 quartering at most and they were often repeated. The other issue was differencing arms from father to son. A father had arms of a saltire noir on a field argent, a black X on a silver shield. He also had six sons. They couldn’t all take his arms, only the eldest could and he had to bear a label on his until his father had passed. The system of cadency was created. This varied from country to country but usually consisted of a label applied to the father’s arms and each point of that label carried a specific type of symbol depending on birth order. Some countries varied this. Scotland for instance used a system of borders to delineate the same thing.
In modern times heraldry has fallen in importance amongst the general population. It has not, however disappeared completely. The family of Kate Middleton was granted a coat of arms before her marriage to Prince William, showing the continued importance of the institution of heraldry to the elites of the United Kingdom. In Scotland the “family” coat of arms does not exist, regardless of what those online family history services tell you. The arms of the family are actually the arms of the chief of the clan of that name and only that person can claim them as their own. It is actually a crime to claim them without a certification of the Lord Lyon, the Scottish heraldic authority. You might think that an egalitarian nation like the United States is beyond such trappings of nobility, but you would be mistaken. There are a few heraldic authorities in the United States, but none who have governmental status. The American College of Heraldry, a private non-profit organization will register your arms giving them some protection from use by others. The only official governmental organization concerned with heraldry is one that goes back to the military roots of heraldry. The Army Institute of Heraldry keeps track of all the coats of arms of all branches of the service and designs, or commissions designs, for new units, ships and awards. The symbolism and association of heraldry continues to be relevant today even beyond the days of using them as a very colorful My Name Is … badge.
For More Information on Heraldry:
- The Complete Book of Heraldry by Slater, Stephen (929.6 SLA )
- Heraldry for the Designer by Metzig, William (745.66 MET )
- An Encyclopedaeic Dictionary of Heraldry by Franklyn, Julian and Tanner, John (R 929.6 FRA )
By Lon Maxwell, Reference Department
Muhammad Ali is a legend. Even though he has passed on he will forever be a legend in the present tense. That is because he was so many things to so many people. Boxer, philanthropist, spokesman, Olympian, activist, father, author; all these words have been used to describe him. So have words like arrogant, controversial, polarizing and confrontational. Who he is to you is entirely dependent upon who and what age you are.
I don’t actually remember a time where I didn’t know who Ali was. One of my first comic books was a DC Comics Collector’s, Muhammad Ali versus Superman. The story was ridiculous, but here was the greatest hero out there and he was working with Superman. At the end he even figured out Clark Kent was Superman. So much for being the “greatest, not the smartest.” I can remember sitting in front of the big Curtis Mathis console TV and watching him fight. My dad was a boxing fan of a sort and even my mom had gotten a bit of the bug from my grandfather. I had seen heavyweights fight before, but nobody fought like Ali. Float like a butterfly wasn’t bravado or a catchphrase, it was his style. Most of the big guys took five or six shots and then hung all over each other until the ref separated them. Ali, however, was amazing. He danced, skipped, and swayed. Even in still photos of his fights you still feel the movement. His hits were spectacular. Those good shots that dropped guys like Frazier and Liston were so quick and so short that it looked like nothing, but the fall said it all. Quick jab and a big man go down to the mat. No other boxer ever captured my attention like that.
As I grew older, I learned more about the man. My sixth grade teacher, Mr. Katko, held him up as one of the great men of our time. This was not because of his boxing, Mr. Katko couldn’t have cared less about sports, it was because of the example he set for inner city kids. I went back and learned more on my own. The young Cassius Clay, Olympic boxer from Louisville, struggling to learn and striving to be the best at what he did. The man of faith who converted to Islam did not care if it was popular, just that it was his faith. The thing that impressed me the most was the draft incident. I grew up surrounded by World War 2 and Vietnam vets. Draft dodger was a term I was very familiar with, but I never heard any of them apply it to Ali. Here is a man who stood up to the authority of his day and said:
“Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?.” Muhammad Ali, March 1967
He knew it was controversial. He was told what it could mean to his career and his freedom. He just didn’t care. Ali stood up for his beliefs in defiance of imprisonment and professional loss. He had no way of knowing he would be saved by a Supreme Court ruling or that he would fight his way back to be a champ. He just knew that he was in a position to take a stand that would make people take notice. As a teen, that was the most awesome thing about him.
That’s not to say that I no longer cared about the boxer. I had tried my hand at boxing, fighting as a middleweight. I looked up to the great middleweight of the day, Sugar Ray Leonard, but I wanted to fight like Ali. I fought three bouts, knocked down three times. The third time, I decided that I would not be a punching bag again. The experience made me think even more of Ali, Leonard and all boxers. They persevered in a way I knew I never could, and that demanded respect, the respect of knowing what they did, not just assuming you couldn’t do it.
Finally as a young man I remember watching Muhammed Ali at the 1996 Olympic opening ceremonies. The Parkinson’s that had taken a large part of his life had not stopped him. He’d become a spokesman for the disease, funding research centers and once again using his struggle to highlight the fight of millions. He’d gone to Iraq during the first gulf war, and negotiated the return of 15 hostages. It didn’t stop him from climbing the steps and, hands shaking, light the Olympic torch over Atlanta. I’m not ashamed to admit that I had a tear in my eye watching that.
Muhammed Ali has not passed away. He has transcended this world and moved into the realm of American heroes. He is now of the same stuff as Johnny Appleseed and Davy Crocket. Real and hyperbole. A thousand years from now people may not know Tyson, Foreman, Holyfield or Mayweather but Muhammad Ali will still be taught in schools.
By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Department
Listen my children and you will hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere
But has anyone yet heard of the Southern Revere Jack Jouett?
With apologies to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
While most know the story of Paul Revere’s late night ride to warn of the coming British, the ride of John (Jack) Jouett to warn Jefferson and the legislatorsis often forgotten. Jouett was at the right place at the right time to warn Thomas Jefferson and others that the British were coming—in Virginia. In 1781, he was the captain of the Virginia Militia, stationed in Louisa, VA, still a small town even today. On June 3, he was sleeping out on the lawn of the Cuckoo Tavern in Louisa County, VA, when the noise of many horses racing down the street woke him up. (Why he was sleeping outside was not known. It could be the tavern had no rooms, or the rooms they had were full. It could have been a fine night for sleeping outdoors. By all accounts, he was a big man, said to be 6’4” and around 220 pounds—perhaps the ground was more comfortable than a too-short bed.)
He sat up and saw they were a legion of British loyalist dragoons, a unit of 250 soldiers! These were American colonists loyal to Britain, and wore white coats instead of red. They were especially hated; they were led by Col. Banastre Tarleton’s. (Tarleton was nick-named the Butcher, so we know what the colonists thought of him. He earned this nickname at another battle when his troops killed colonists attempting to surrender.) Jouett saw that Tarleton was leading them and realized at once that their objective was the Virginia General Assembly, meeting in Charlottesville.
Why were they meeting in Charlottesville? The British army, with assistance from Benedict Arnold, had just weeks ago captured the capitol of Virginia—Richmond. Jefferson had suggested they all retreat to Charlottesville, close to his home of Monticello. Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry and other radical “rebels” were meeting there in the General Assembly; Jefferson was governor at the time. The problem was that the assembly was not protected by any military presence. The Continental arm was either with General Washington in the north or with General Lafayette who was too far away to get there in time. Jouett knew all of this in an instant, and knew he had to warn the assembly members.
The road from Cuckoo, a tiny village in Louisa County, ran northwesterly to the gap in the Southwest Mountains, a distance of about 38 miles to Charlottesville. Jack was familiar with the route because his father owned the Swan Tavern there, sitting just across from the courthouse. Understanding that the assembly needed to be warned immediately, he rode off on his horse Sallie along the rough mountain road (knowing the soldiers were taking the main road) in the dark with just the light of the moon to guide his way. It was said that the scars from the lashing of trees and bushes from this wild ride marked his face for the rest of his life. (For contrast, Paul Revere rode for only 15 miles over good roads.) He made it to Monticello at dawn, rousting Jefferson and those who were staying at his house.
Jefferson got his family out, got his important documents and then realized he had left his sword. He went back and saw the dragoons enter his yard. Some reports say he hid in a hollow tree to hide from them. Jouett then rode on to Charlottesville and warned the assemblymen; most of whom were staying at the Swan Tavern. Only seven were captured by Tarleton and his men. Thanks to Jack Jouett’s ride, four signers of the Declaration of Independence escaped capture. So did a future president, the father of another future president, and many others.
So why haven’t you heard of Jack Jouett before? He was not already famous like Revere was when he rode to Charlottesville. True, he was honored by the Virginia Assembly—they gave him two silver pistols and a jeweled sword. More likely, you never heard of him because he moved to the Virginia frontier after the Revolutionary War was over. That Virginia frontier turned into the state of Kentucky. In 1782, he moved to Harrodsburg, KY, which had recently been established. He married and had twelve children, one of whom was the famous portrait painter Matthew Harris Jouett. He was friends with Andrew Jackson, served four terms in the Kentucky legislature and was a well-regarded planter and horse breeder. Sallie, his brave and valiant horse, was the start of a long line of thoroughbred race horses. Jack Jouett died in 1822, and was buried on his farm.
In an attempt to help promote Jouett’s memory, the Charlottesville Daily Press published the following poem on October 26, 1909:
Hearken good people: awhile abide
And hear of stout Jack Jouett’s ride;
How he rushed his steed, nor stopped nor stayed
Till he warned the people of Tarleton’s raid.
The moment his warning note was rehearsed
The State Assembly was quickly dispersed.
In their haste to escape, they did not stop
Until they had crossed the mountain top.
And upon the other side come down.
To resume their sessions in Staunton Town.
His parting steed he spurred,
In haste to carry the warning
To that greatest statesman of any age,
The Immortal Monticello Sage.
Here goes to thee, Jack Jouett!
Lord keep thy memory green;
You made the greatest ride, sir,
That ever yet was seen.”
By Lon Maxwell, Reference Department
Seventy years ago this year, a young Bedouin shepherd went wandering through the Qumran hills looking for a lost animal. Whether he actually found the animal or not does not seem to be recorded. The story, possibly apocryphal, is that in order to scare the lost sheep out of a small cave he found, Muhammed edh-Dhib hurled a stone in. He did not hear the bleating of a sheep (or goat, sources differ). What he did hear was the sound of pottery being smashed. Being a sixteen year old boy, he had to crawl in to see where the noise was coming from. He found scrolls lying amongst pottery shards. He took the scrolls home and after a while they passed into the hands of cousins who knew a thing or two about antiquities. From there, it was a time of moving from one collector to another until they came in to the hands of Metropolitan Athanasius Yeshue Samuel, the head of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch in Jerusalem. He recognized what he had found as being very old indeed and took them to experts, including Drs. Ovid Sellers and John C. Trever, at the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) in Jerusalem. After comparing them to the Nash Papyrus, the then oldest known biblical text, they were able to determine the scrolls found in Qumran were very old.
After an announcement made in early 1948, the biblical archaeological community began to wonder what else lay out there in caves in the desert on the shores of the Dead Sea. Plans were made, expeditions formulated, but there was an issue getting back out to the area where the first scrolls were discovered. At the same time the scrolls were being authenticated, tempers were running high between the Arab League and the new state of Israel. By May this had erupted into the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. After hostilities ebbed the Arab Legion began searching for the caves. The first cave where the original find was made was finally located by United Nations observer Captain Phillipe Lip pens and Arab Legion Captain Akkash el-Zebn at the end of January, 1949. Ten more caves were found in the decade after Muhammed edh-Dhib first hurled the stone, with the final cave to contain anything, Cave Eleven, being found in 1956. In all, 972 manuscripts in scrolls or fragments were discovered. They are mostly written on animal skin parchment, with some fewer on papyrus and one scroll on copper.
Contrary to popular belief, the scrolls did not contain an entire old testament. In fact many of the scrolls, up to thirty percent, were copies of books that were not included in the bible as we know it and a further thirty percent were rules for the Essene community and comments on biblical passages. The scrolls do contain at least fragments from every single book of the Tanakh, or the Old Testament if you prefer, with the exception of the Book of Esther. It should be noted that the Book of Esther is the last book to be made cannon by the sages of the Great assembly and is the only book in the bible that does not mention God explicitly. There are also books of religious origin that do not show up in the Tanakh or the Christian Old Testament, although some are found in Apocrypha and the Catholic Bible. The majority of the scrolls actually deal with rules of daily and religious life, and with the beliefs and practices of the makers.
The same site that yielded the scrolls also contained coins from approximately 135 BCE to 73 CE. While it’s not the strongest dating procedure it does give you a very narrow, 208 year time window for these caves use. And when you consider how often you run into a coin minted during the Jefferson administration in the library today, you have to admit that it gives a likely date for their initial placement in the Qumran caves. However scientific dating techniques have gone on to prove these dates to be with in the margin for error. However, there are older materials present amongst the scrolls. The oldest is a fragment called MUR 17 and it dates from the 8th century BCE.
Who wrote them?
While the general consensus is that the scrolls were written by the Essenes that lived nearby, many scholars have other theories. There is a theory that the scrolls were actually prepared in Jerusalem and then stashed in the caves as the city’s inhabitants fled during the Jewish revolts against Roman rule. There is a fairly debunked theory that the scrolls are actually the work of very early Christian writers. This is based upon a tenuous identification of the scroll named 7Q5 as the text from Mark 6:52-53. This would make it the earliest known evidence of the New Testament. The majority of the people believe that these scrolls were the work of locals, either Essenes or otherwise. That they were locally produced is bolstered by the jars they were found in. The style of container is particular to Qumran and the caves alone. The best evidence linking the scrolls to the Essenes are the scrolls themselves. The scroll known as the Community Rule Scroll contains many references to practices and strictures that match contemporary descriptions of the rites of the Essenes.
The texts contained in the Dead Sea scrolls are the oldest ever found in such completion. The next oldest are the Masoretic texts that come from a thousand years later (approx. 900-1000 CE). Because of this they provide a look into scripture at some of its earliest moments. What little change there is between the scrolls version of the many of the books and the Masoretic texts or even the texts used in synagogues today, some books like Exodus and Samuel show great differences. This is a great way to see how scripture has changed and what has remained constant. These travelers from the past have come to tell us how Jewish and by extension Christian beliefs have evolved.
By Howard Shirley, Teen Department
with apologies to Joss Whedon and Sam Raimi
RICK, or Rick Grimes, is the lead character of the graphic novel and television series, The Walking Dead written by Robert Kirkman, which features a zombie pandemic that turns much of North America (and presumably the rest of the world) into a land dominated by re-animated corpses that attack any other living thing, including Rick’s band of survivors.
ASH, played by Bruce Campbell, battles his own version of undead zombies in the popular Sam Raimi films, The Evil Dead, The Evil Dead II, and Army of Darkness. Part horror films, part camp comedy, the story was recently revised as a television series starring Campbell. ASH’s line about the shotgun is borrowed from the films.
JAYNE or Jayne Cobb was the “muscle” character in the short-lived sci-fi cult series, Firefly, as well as the movie set in the same universe, Serenity, and a series of graphic novels written by the show’s creator, Joss Whedon (writer/director of the hit Avengers movie). Many of the stories in the series feature the “reavers,” which, while not actually undead zombies, are clearly inspired by classic zombie horror films, and appear to equally hard to stop and equally hungry for human flesh. Vera is Jayne’s favorite gun. JAYNE’s description of Vera is taken from the television series.
ARCHIE is the famous comic character from the long-running comic book series. JUGHEAD is his best friend. Recently both feature in Afterlife With Archie written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, graphic novels set in an alternate universe, where the town of Riverdale, including many of Archie’s friends, succumb to a zombie plague.
A high school cafeteria room, with tables and chairs. There are double doors with frosted glass window panes set in them that lead out of the room. A podium has been set up on one of the tables. RICK stands behind the podium, holding a gavel. The others, except for JUGHEAD, move about the room.
RICK: I now call the first meeting of the Zombie Survivalists Society to order. First on the agenda–
(Noise from the back). No, Jayne, we are not changing the name to the “Not-Deaders Gang.”
JAYNE: But I *like* that name.
RICK (pounds gavel): As I was saying, first on the agenda, did anyone lock the door?
ARCHIE: Jughead went to do that!
RICK: Both doors?
ARCHIE: Sure. Don’t worry. We can trust Jughead.
JAYNE: What kinda mother names her kid “Jughead?”
ASH: Same kind that names her son “Jane.”
JAYNE: It’s JAYNE. With a “Y.”
ASH: And I’m Ash. With a chainsaw.
(SOUND EFFECT: Loud chainsaw revving.)
RICK (pounds gavel): Ash, turn that thing off. The undead will hear it!
ASH: Let ‘em. I got plenty of gas.
RICK: Off, Ash.
ASH: All right, all right. No need to get your gavel bent outta shape. It’s off.
RICK: I think that’s tip one, folks. Noise attracts the undead. So it’s best to keep as quiet as you can, even if you’re well-armed… or, uh, have a chainsaw for an arm.
JAYNE: Wait, that thing is part of you? You ain’t got no hand under there?
ASH: Lose a hand, gain a chainsaw. Groovy.
ARCHIE: They had a chainsaw at the hospital?
ASH: Hospital? Naw, kid, I got this in Hardwares at S-mart. Shop smart, kid. Shop S-mart.
ARCHIE: That doesn’t sound all that smart.
ASH (shrugs): Smart, dumb– I’m the one with the chainsaw hand.
ARCHIE: What does that even mean?
RICK (pounds gavel): Okay, okay. Let’s get back to business. Seems like a good time to talk about armament.
ASH: Chainsaw and boomstick (waves shotgun)— The twelve-gauge double-barreled Remington, S-Mart’s top of the line. Retails for about a hundred and nine, ninety five. It’s got a walnut stock, cobalt blue steel, and a hair trigger. Shop smart, shop S-mart!
ARCHIE: Who talks like that? It’s like I’m trapped in an alternate universe.
JAYNE: Shiny. But I got Vera. (Holds up military rifle) It’s a Callahan full-bore auto-lock. Customized trigger, double cartridge thorough gauge. It is my very favorite gun. Can’t get that at your S-mart.
ASH: Can’t get ammo for it, either.
RICK: Solid point. A gun’s no good without bullets.
JAYNE: Oh, I got lots of bullets. Armor piercing, Alliance armory stuff, best you can buy in the Black.
RICK: Why would you want armor piercing rounds?
JAYNE: In case them goram reavers pick up some body armor off dead Alliance troopers.
ARCHIE: Wait, what’s a whatchamacallit “reaver?”
JAYNE: What we’re talking about, right? Come at ya’ fast, rippin’ ya’ apart. Only way to stop ‘em is to kill ‘em fast. And Vera will do that, full auto, broad spread.
ASH: You gonna get head shots on a horde of deadites with full auto?
JAYNE: Head shots? Why head shots?
ASH: Because that’s the only way you kill deadites—take out the brain. Or say the right words.
RICK: Words? What words?
ASH: Klaatu barada nikto… or something like that.
ARCHIE: How is a quote from The Day the Earth Stood Still supposed to stop zombies?
JAYNE: Zombies? Ain’t we talking about reavers? Ya’ know, men what’s gone nuts on account of the Alliance mucking around with folks brains?
ASH: Naw, we’re talking about deadites, the living dead, summoned from the grave by unholy magic and dumb teenagers.
ASH: No offense, carrot head.
RICK: “Unholy magic?” Where’d you get that? All the zombies I know of are caused by a viral plague. They bite, you get infected, die, and the virus brings your corpse back, with a raging hunger for human flesh.
JAYNE: Hang on, I’m taking notes. Can you guys talk a bit slower?
ASH: Well, those deadites never made me a zombie, but they possessed my hand. Had to cut it off for this! (Revs chainsaw again.)
ARCHIE: Cut off your own hand? That is completely gross.
ASH: Gross? Naw. Kiddo, it’s groovy.
JAYNE: So you guys are saying instead of insane killer nutjobs from the Black, you’re fighting superfast dead people from Hell? Told Mal he shoulda sent Shepherd Book to this shindig instead of me.
ARCHIE: Ours aren’t fast. They just kinda shuffle, like Frankenstein. (He mocks the walk.)
RICK: Yep, that’s about right.
JAYNE: You guys can’t run away from that?
ASH: Sure woulda made my life a lot groovier.
ARCHIE: Hard to run when the whole high school just keeps walking after you, never stopping, moaning for your flesh, like this—(Moans) URRRRRRRRR….
RICK: Whole school? Make that the whole world. As far as I can tell, it’s a global pandemic.
JAYNE: I ain’t thinking that’s any kind of what I’d call ‘groovy,’ Sawboy.
RICK: Look, this whole thing is about survival. And that’s more than just having the right weapon or knowing where to shoot. You need a plan, dependable transportation, a safe route for evacuation, supplies and more. And you have to make certain everybody in your family is on the same page, so they all know what to do and where to go when disaster strikes.
JAYNE: That’s a bit more than I can write down on this candy wrapper.
ASH: I’m surprised you can write anything down.
RICK: You don’t have to. The Center for Disease Control has already created a preparedness plan for dealing with a zombie plague. You can find it on the Internet at http://www.cdc.gov/phpr/zombies.htm.
ARCHIE (using a tablet): I’ve got it right here. Look, they even have a graphic novel we can download. http://www.cdc.gov/phpr/zombies_novella.htm
ASH (to JAYNE): Groovy. That oughta make it easy enough for you to understand.
JAYNE: Ha. Funny. (to RICK) But if this plan is for zombies like you’re talking about, why are me and Lefty here?
JAYNE (continuing): Sounds like we got totally different monsters to fight.
RICK: The plan works for just about any disaster—zombie plagues, reaver attacks, or more realistic events like floods, tornadoes, disease outbreaks and more. The right things to do are pretty much the same, no matter what happens.
ARCHIE: I gotta show this to the gang. We could have been much better prepared when it all started. Jughead, Moose, Reggie, Betty, Veronica—sure would have helped.
RICK: Speaking of Jughead, where is that friend of yours? He should have been back by now.
ARCHIE: Well, I dunno. Wait, there he is!
(All turn to look at a shadow appearing in the windows of the doors into the room. It’s Jughead’s trademark crown-toothed hat.)
JAYNE: Nice hat. I’d wear that.
The door opens, and Jughead staggers into the room, one arm out, one clutching his stomach mouth open.
JUGHEAD (moaning): Muh-urrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…
ALL (except JUGHEAD): RUN!
There is a mad dash for the exit, with yells, screams and knocking over of chairs. JUGHEAD alone remains in the room.
JUGHEAD: …urrrppp! ‘xcuse me! Man, that was a long time coming up. Any of you guys want a sandwich, too? Guys?
The CDC Zombie Preparedness Guide is real, if tongue-in-cheek. Though centered around an imaginary zombie plague, the guide offers real tips and advice for general disaster preparedness.
By Lon Maxwell, Reference Department
People amass stuff. We are all hoarders of one type or another; we just prefer to be called collectors or connoisseurs. We tuck our prized collections away in corners of closets, in attics, in garages and occasionally in storage facilities because we cherish these items. We want to keep them as mementos, memories or keepsakes to show our descendants and maybe have those people love them the same. The question is: are we storing them properly? We want to save these pieces of who we are for the future, but are they going to make it to the future? Libraries have been worrying about this for ages and there are many great places to find information on preserving your collections. Actually, there is too much information out there so here we will pull together the most important as well as the easiest steps for preserving your materials such as books, newspapers, magazines, comic books, film, slides, negatives, magnetic tape (both audio and video), records and even a little on documents and art.
Once again, cleanliness is essential. Clean hands, or even archivist gloves, and a clean workspace are ideal for going through your old photographs. Ideally, photos should be stored at 40 degrees or less in a location with 30 to 40% humidity. This is very specific because the stability of modern color photos degrades with heat and according to the preservation department of the Library of Congress, “Relative humidity is the single most important factor in preserving most photographic prints.” Never let adhesives come in contact with photographic prints and only mount them on acid free cardstock.
If you are dealing with a photo that has deteriorated or if you are working with an older format like tin or daguerreotypes you will probably want to consult a professional. The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works has an online directory of conservators to help you find one in your area.
Films, Slides and Negatives
Film and slides contain cellulose, an organic substance, and as such are subject to decay. Temperature and humidity are mentioned here time and again, but here it is most important. The Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) recommends storage at 40-50° and 20-40% relative humidity. They also suggest freezing film, but this is for long term storage and should be done in the proper manner, starting in a middle to low humidity environment, packaging the material and freezing them for very long term. This is not a thing you want to do if you are planning on getting these items out next week or even next month. These materials are the best case for digital transfer. There are many services out there that can help you get these materials digitized for future use and reproduction.
Magnetic Tape Recordings (reel to reel, 8-Track, cassette and Video Tape)
When you are working with magnetic recordings storage should be considered. While demagnetization is unlikely, it can happen so avoid storing your material near large machinery and electrical transformers. Handle reel to reel tapes from the edge and center hole only. Grasping the reel itself to hard can break the reel or crush the delicate tape. Any kind of cassette should only be handled by the outside edges. Do not touch the spools. Store them in a cool place with lower to mid-level humidity.
Other Audio Sources (Records, Wax Cylinders, CDs)
Never mess with the groove. When handling any of these older recordings keep your fingers confined to the label for records, the center hole for CDs, and for the truly old cylinders, just the edges. The grooves are where the recorded material is read by the needle or laser and damage will come from your fingerprints and any dirt on your hands. They should also be stored upright with dividers every six inches to support them in cool dry places. Always allow these materials to reach room temperature in the room where they are to be played before using them if they are stored at a low temperature. Always store like sized material together. Make sure manufacturers cleaning instructions are followed for all playback devices.
Most people do not have a Monet in their house or a painting from the Dutch masters in their office waiting room, but with art there is no telling what will become valuable. For forty years the Jesuit house in Dublin, Ireland had a painting hanging in their parlor. In the 1990s it was determined to be a lost Caravaggio. You never know what may come of the paintings on your walls, so it never hurts to take care of them properly.
As with every other type of material, cleanliness is the first and easiest step. Make sure that you handle paintings by the sides of the frame, not the painting itself, and have enough people for the job. Dust your paintings with “a clean, soft, natural-hair artists’ brush (3.5cm to 5cm tip)” in one direction if there is no peeling or cracking evident in the paint according to the Smithsonian Institution. Display your art where there is a little exposure to UV light and as little fluctuation in temperature and humidity as possible and avoid extremes in both. Finally, make sure art is hung with the proper hardware and check those hooks, wires and brackets periodically to make sure they are in good condition.
By Lon Maxwell, Reference Department
People amass stuff. We are all hoarders of one type or another; we just prefer to be called collectors or connoisseurs. We tuck our prized collections away in corners of closets, in attics, in garages and occasionally in storage facilities because we cherish these items. We want to keep them as mementos, memories or keepsakes to show our descendants and maybe have those people love them the same. The question is: are we storing them properly? We want to save these pieces of who we are for the future, but are they going to make it to the future? Libraries have been worrying about this for ages and there are many great places to find Information on preserving your collections. Actually, there is too much information out there so here we will pull together the most important as well as the easiest steps for preserving your materials such as books, newspapers, magazines, comic books, film, slides, negatives, magnetic tape (both audio and video), records and even a little on documents and art.
This is a library blog so books come first. The easiest and first step in preservation is careful use. Make sure your hands are clean, that you are reading in a clean area free of food or drink and that you are not forcing the book open to 180°. Never use glues, rubber bands or adhesive tape on books. Never dog ear the pages or mark you place with paperclips or acidic inserts. When storing your books, try to put upright books of similar size together so that they support each other and don’t allow them to lean at an angle. Books should be kept in a cool room with low humidity (<35%) and as little exposure to direct, harsh light as possible. Avoid vents and registers as well as rooms like attics which experience extreme temperature changes. Clean your books and cases regularly. Finally when you remove a book from the shelf, grab the book on both sides of the spine at the midpoint. Do not grab it from the top.
Saving the newspaper is a great way to remember a great moment in your, or humanity’s, history. Whether it is a paper from your child’s birth, VE Day, the moon landing or the election of the first African American president, newspapers show a segment of time contemporary to the event. Once again, the rules of cleanliness are paramount. No dirty hands or coffee cups here. Newspapers to be preserved should be opened flat on a surface large enough to support the entire paper. Do not fold the paper against any existing folds. When folding the newspaper back to store it always use the existing folds and keep the edges aligned as much as possible. Newspapers should be stored flat and in protected boxes with some kind of supporting material. Like comics and magazines, these boxes and boards should be acid and lignin free. Storage space should have the same conditions as that needed for books.
For the most part the documents that we have now that we want to preserve are those that have already come down to us from generations past. Many of these are already preserved, but even more are not and have already begun to deteriorate. Think about these things and what they are and represent. Discharge papers from the civil war or world war two, your great grandparent’s marriage license, an ancestor’s immigration papers. These are great things to have, but remember that someday, you may be someone’s great grandparent. Now is the time to preserve your documents, before they start to degrade. The basic rules for books still apply to documents (as well as manuscripts, drawings, prints, posters, and maps). In addition, you want to make sure any marks or inscriptions that you make are done in pencil only and on a clean surface to avoid pressing dirt or other contaminants into the paper. Paper items should be stored flat and supported like periodicals, unless the size of the object makes this prohibitive. At that point rolled in an archival tube is the safest storage option.
MAGAZINES & COMICS
One of the reasons that those Superman, Batman and Captain America comics from the 1930s and 40s are so valuable is that there are not many surviving. Everyone has heard the old, “I’d be a millionaire if my Mom hadn’t thrown away my comic collection” shtick, but this is far from true. These were comics. They cost 10₵, because they were made cheaply. No one expected them to be kept for seventy or eighty years. Modern comics are better, but still need preserving. The rules for books apply here as well, with a little modification. Never bend a comic back upon itself. It weakens the spine and you may be beaten by nerds. Comics should be stored in supportive enclosures. That means polybags, backing boards and archive boxes. You want to make sure the boards and boxes are ph. neutral and lignin free. Otherwise the very things protecting you comics can be causing their slow disintegration. Magazines should be treated in exactly the same way although those with glued bindings (similar to what you see on National Geographic) should be treated like books for the purpose of reading them. Do not open these to a flat position.
By Stephen McClain, Reference Department
“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life.” –Prince
Prince Rogers Nelson died on April 21, 2016. He was 57 years old. That’s way too young. Prince was not only an icon and a musical legend, he was perhaps a “once in a generation” artist that was still relevant after almost 40 years in the business.
This isn’t supposed to happen. Our heroes are not supposed to die. Ever. We forget that they are mortal. We forget that they were once little children who went to school, ate dinner, got in trouble, and got scared. They are different than us. They are supposed to be stronger, smarter, more creative and invincible. In so many ways, they are unintentional representations of us; of who we are, who we want to be and most often, who we once were. We try to look like them, try to act like them, and try to write or create like them. But we can’t. Because we are not them. We deify them because they are greater than us and without them; we would not be who we are.
Prince stood up when he felt he was being taken advantage of by his record label, appearing in public with the word “slave” written on his face and changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol in protest. He stood for something, even if it was only the control of his art. I cannot think of a comparison today. So many artists are beholden to corporations and greed and will not risk alienating anyone for fear of losing money or endorsements. I miss those days when rock stars used to be dangerous and take risks. They didn’t care about money. They cared about art and what they believed in and were willing to risk everything for it.
Songs like “Little Red Corvette,” “Purple Rain,” “I Would Die 4 U,” and let’s not forget “Darling Nikki” were the soundtrack to a very important time in my life. I am sure that anyone who was in high school in the 1980’s can relate Prince’s music to some time or someone in their adolescence. In those days we bought the record. We went out to hear music or waited for it on the radio. It wasn’t On Demand. It didn’t stream and it was worth far more than it is today. MTV was new. I didn’t have cable but my friends did and we watched videos after school and watching Prince crawl on the floor staring at me in the video for “When Doves Cry” creeped me out.
I can still see the flashing, sequenced lights and mirror ball at the skating rink in my hometown whenever I hear “1999” (that year seemed to be so far away). The same goes for “Little Red Corvette” (and everyone knew someone who moved a little too fast). The intro chords to “Purple Rain” take me back in time too, but that album came out later. I was older and the lyrics meant something more to me. In the 1980s, guitars ruled the world and Prince’s guitar solo on “Let’s Go Crazy” was nothing short of inspirational. It demanded you pay attention. Even at the age I was then, I could hear Hendrix in Prince’s playing. Everyone knew this guy was special. And now he’s gone.
I am so thankful that our time on this earth overlapped. His music was playing during so much of my youth and he continued to create innovative music with the recent albums “Art Official Age,” “Plectrumelectrum” and “HitnRun Phase One and Two.” He played one of the most memorable Super Bowl half time shows ever and performed an unexpected 8-minute medley on Saturday Night Live in 2014. On Saturday April 23, two days after he was found unresponsive at Paisley Park, SNL produced a special retrospective of Prince’s performances on the late night show. Hosted by a teary-eyed Jimmy Fallon, it featured not only his first appearance in 1981 but also his last, which had never been seen before, as he and his band 3rdeyegirl burned through an unrehearsed version of “Let’s Go Crazy” at the 40th anniversary after-party. Jimmy said that the “crowd parted as Prince floated to the stage in a cloud of purple” and then tore the house down. I watched the show in silence and for 90 minutes on Saturday night, Prince was still with us.
As I mourn Prince’s passing I also lament the struggling condition of today’s music. Many of the people I talk with share the same belief that today’s music is in a sad state, which is one of the reasons why Prince’s death is so numbing to me. Prince never repeated himself. He moved forward. He was about the performance and always had something to prove. We argue about politics and religion but what brings us together? Music. The pure joy of music. We’re all in this together and music is one of the few things that can unite us. Prince saw the future. Now he’s in the past. But his music helped create our present.
*Opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and in no way reflect the philosophy or preferences of the Williamson County Public Library, its staff members, their families, friends, or pets.