Librarians of all kinds aren’t just found in public libraries; they are also found in schools, universities, corporations and other organizations. This post is in honor of reference librarians-the human versions of Google. Enjoy!
Human beings being replaced by high tech is something many American workers worry about, and it’s not a recent phenomenon as Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn show us in the 1957 comedy Desk Set.
Desk Set takes place at the Federal Broadcasting Company, a fictional television network. Katharine Hepburn plays Bunny Watson, the head of FBC’s huge reference library. Bunny can recite facts faster than you can say, “Google it!” She and her brainy staff, played by Joan Blondell, Dina Merrill and Sue Randall, are kept quite busy with staffers calling up looking for the 411 on a multitude of topics, both the mundane and the serious.
However, there seems to be trouble on the horizon. The network is in talks to merge with another company, but at the moment it seems to be on the down low. FBC brings in an efficiency expert named Richard Sumner played by Spencer Tracy. Richard has also invented a computer system called EMERAC, an “electronic brain” that is supposed to help the workers with the merger. However, many of the workers think these computers will replace them, and they wonder when they’ll get fired.
Richard and Bunny soon meet when he comes into her department taking measurements for the computers. Richard begins to question Bunny, wondering if she can answer as quickly as a computer. One smart cookie, Bunny has no problem answering the questions and proves to quite the foil to Richard’s efficiency expertise.
Instead of being turned off by Bunny’s brains, Richard is actually quite charmed. And despite her hesitation, Bunny can’t help but be drawn towards Richard. She’s been with her boyfriend, Mike (Gig Young), for seven years with no promise of marriage in sight. Hey, Bunny isn’t getting any younger. Bunny and Richard spar and flirt the way only Hepburn and Tracy can.
Towards the end of the film, a giant computer is placed in Bunny’s department to help everyone field questions more efficiently. However, despite the “advanced” technology, the computer is no match for Bunny and her fearless staff. The computer has a near “meltdown” but Bunny and her crew proves to be up to the task. And another computer messes up and mistakenly fires everyone via pink slips placed in their paychecks.
Desk Set is the eighth film Hepburn and Tracy did together (their final film was Who’s Coming to Dinner?), and it’s effortlessly charming. Based on William Marchant’s play with a script by Phoebe and Harry Ephron (yep, the late Nora’s parents), Desk Set is directed with a light touch by Walter Lang. Sure, there are parts that look dated. I had to laugh when I saw the huge computer that took up half of Bunny’s department, and how the answers were spit out on old-school perforated paper.
But despite being made in 1957, Desk Set’s premise looks quite modern.These days, everyone seems to be addicted their tablets, smart phones Googling, Tweeting and updating their Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram pages. But there is truly no replacing our human brains and our need to connect with one another without the use of technology. Desk Set shows this in a fun and entertaining way.
“To me, getting my library card as a child meant more to me than getting my driver’s license as a teenager. Sure, with my driver’s license I could go to my high school, the mall, and yes, the library. But with my library card I could go everywhere.”
– Bookish Jen
The American Library Association is using National Library Week to tell us our “Libraries Transform.”
The most beautiful libraries in the world according to Travel + Leisure magazine.
Author Neil Gaiman discusses why libraries are vital to our future.
Creative and clever Halloween costumes based on literary characters.
Halloween costumes for writers, some fun, some frightening.
For your viewing pleasure author Jonathan Franzen reads a frightening story about book stores to Stephen Colbert.
Now this is my idea of a pumpkin!
Seventeen tips on how to write scary stories.
And last but not least, the scariest book released this year according to Bookish Jen.
America is supposed to be the richest nation in the world, right? No way do we have people living in strict poverty, trying to survive on the barest of bones, right? America isn’t some “primitive” third world country, right?
Well, not exactly. In America we have citizens from the largest of metropolises to the most rural of communities struggling to live on a mere two bucks a day. And their lives are fully explained in Kathryn J Edin and H Luke Shaefer’s eye-opening and maddening book $2.00 A Day: Living On Almost Nothing in America.
In the 1990s, politicians, including President Clinton, figured the “War on Poverty” from the 1960s had quite worked out. Far too many families were living on public assistance. Thusly, welfare reform was implemented thrusting many families (often helmed by single mothers) off the welfare rolls. Now, this was deemed a success during the 1990s because of a strong economy and a tight labor market.
But as we know, the economy fell to pieces in 2007/2008, countless people lost their jobs and finding work became hugely difficult. Hence, many people fell into poverty (including those had been living comfortable middle class lives).
But these people weren’t mere statistics we heard about and read about. They were real people living on very little, and using methods, some legal, some not so legal to survive.
In 2012 Edin and Shaefer traveled around the country interviewing various families who were living on very little money. They interviewed families in Chicago, Cleveland and rural areas in the Mississippi Delta. These people’s stories were both unique and similar, and I hope are listened to with an open mind.
Why do we have so many people living on so little? Now part of it is due to the nature of low-wage work, much of it in the service sector. And even in the service sector, many of these jobs have countless applicants. I know this to be a fact; several years ago I applied for a job at a small marketing agency. This agency had over 250 applicants apply for this position. I can only imagine how many applicants apply for positions at much bigger organizations.
And because employers receive so many applications, they can easily move onto another candidate if they can’t reach another. Some of the poor in this book live in homeless shelters and therefore have difficulty being reached by would be employers.
But even those who aren’t in homeless shelters, lived in substandard homes and apartments. Many of the families lived in cramped spaces with many relatives. Some told horror stories of crumbling abodes that slumlord’s ignored. And some even mentioned dealing with various forms of abuse they dealt within their homes
When employed, those profiled spoke of altered schedules (often at the last moment) and employers concerned with the bottom line cutting workers’ hours. Some of these people also worked more than one job, which cut into time they could spend with their families. The poor also had to deal with wage theft and truly awful bosses. And then there were people who had physical and mental issues that made being employed nearly impossible. Some of them were on disability but even disability checks didn’t stretch far.
Many of these people had SNAP (often called food stamps), which was pretty much the only access they had to a public safety net. And many spoke of relying of charity and food pantries. But in rural places, it was difficult to find these places.
So how do these people survive? Selling one’s plasma is a popular tactic, as is selling one’s food stamps. And some mentioned selling sex to make a few bucks to live on.
Many of them live with family members and friends and pooling their various resources. One woman with a car offers her services to help people get around.
And yes, far too many go without. People mentioned skipping meals and not purchasing the basic necessities like buying underwear or having electricity or running water.
But there were places where those profiled could find comfort, libraries being named as one. Some found comfort in their churches or amongst family, friends and their communities. And those who could find good charities, also felt comfort.
Now what can be done? Well, making others aware of these people’s plights is key and this slim volume helps do that. On a personal note, I think it’s important to not see these people as “others” but as our fellow human beings, showing empathy, not scorn. Yes, we could say they shouldn’t have kids if they are so poor and why didn’t they get an education? Sure, but not having children and getting an education is no guarantee that one won’t fall into poverty. Even those of us who “did everything right”-had children when established and in a good relationships, received an education, developed skills and worked hard, may have to worry about falling on hard times. These people are not lazy, most want to work and contribute to society, and $2.00 mentions how both the public and private sectors can do join efforts to make this happen.
$2.00 is an important book at a very crucial time, especially as we get closer to the 2016 Presidential election, and a book I highly recommend.
Fifteen books to read this fall written by some pretty fierce femmes. I know I can’t wait to read Gloria Steinem’s latest.
And the winner of the Man Booker Prize is Jamaican novelist, Marlon James.
Coloring books based on the TV shows “Game of Thrones” and “Outlander.”
Actor Jesse “The Social Network” Eisenberg to visit Milwaukee’s very own Boswell Book Company.
If a lady is reading a book in public maybe you shouldn’t bother her.
Being a total introvert and a writer I can’t help but love this blogger’s post
Common writing mistakes copyeditors notice the most.
From reading to reels these young adult novels are on their way to the silver screen.
Charles Koch’s (yes, one of the Koch Brothers) daughter Elizabeth launches new publishing venture Catapult. And like with anything Koch-related, this is not necessarily a good thing.
The late Maya Angelou, a true Renaissance woman, was a lover of art. And her art collection just sold for a huge sum of money! Nope, you don’t have to win the lottery to write a novel. Brian Klems tells you how in nine easily achievable steps.
My friend (and guest reviewer) Jen recently mentioned a job ad she saw for a marketing/public relations company that called for a person who is an expert on using various social mediums. Ugh. Anyone with some knowledge of writing properly, knows the plural of medium is media. Sadly, as someone who has worked in various communications fields (journalism, copywriting, PR, tech writing to name a few) I’ve seen this idiocy quite a bit. And here is a list of some of the worst spelling, grammar and other writing mistakes found in media.
Did I mention public relations? Philly-based writer and editor, Matthew Brodsky, calls some of them out on their stupidity and as someone who has done work in PR and lived to tell the tale, he is so spot-on!
We use food to feed our bodies. Here are five books to feed our brains.
The calendar may say 2015, but the 2016 presidential campaign season is in full swing (just in case you are wondering, I am feeling the Bern). Here’s a great list of political-related books all women should read.
Here is National Book Foundation Long-List for its 2015 National Book Awards.
In an age of big box bookstores and Amazon here are four reasons why independent bookstores are doing so well! Yay!!!!
This post is a bit old, but Get Off My Internets (GOMI) has a very interesting open dialogue on when blogs start to suck.
Ten sexy reads! Nope, 50 Shades of Grey is not one of them.
Remember when Oprah tore James Frey a new one?
Need to escape the day to day? Here are some books to help you!
Homeless man’s life changes immensely once he offers to review books to people rather than begging for money.
Privileged mommy blogger writes patronizing post about the poor. Linda Tirado should kick her ass.
Reading can relieve stress!
VIDEO! Comforting I’m not the only one who has nearly walked into traffic while engrossed in a book.
Are college students the new book banners?