Year: 2012

Hardboiled novel, scrambled blog

When my husband phoned from his seminar in Seattle last night, I’d already been asleep so was mostly noncommittal.  Lucky for him.  I’d been reading about a hardboiled private eye earlier; had I been more alert, he might have heard this: 

“So you wanna know the score, huh?  Here’s the lowdown.  Telemarketers made a move and I was right there with the “do not call” list song and dance.  Betcha they never saw it coming.  Those terriers are still at it–you know the ones: bushy eyebrows, short legs, rap sheet a mile long: barking, digging, marking the storage shed.  Sure, they figure to have the upper hand for now, but I’ve got my eye on ‘em.   We’ll buy ‘em off with new dog toys if we have to…”

I’m really enjoying the advance copy of Ariel S. Winter’s The Twenty-Year Death, due out in August. However, I don’t typically choose hard-boiled or noir fiction, so this one may be infiltrating my psyche–rather like one drink going straight to the head of someone who doesn’t usually touch alcohol.

As I consider Leila Meacham’s new Tumbleweeds (which is neither hardboiled nor a mystery), remember: I’m still under the influence…

Leila has the goods on Texas characters, all right.  Bet she raked in a lotta cabbage on that Roses book last year. Readers didn’t grouse if they had to line up for it and didn’t beef about her stringing ’em along for hundreds of pages to get the final dope.  It was A-OK.

As for Tumbleweeds, you’ll get your mitts on it if you know what’s good for you.  Meacham has eyeballed the Texas high school football racket and also knows all about small burgs in the Panhandle–how folks like to jaw about things that aren’t their business but all of a sudden clam up when they oughta be singing. 

In Tumbleweeds, what you’ve got is three kids–Trey, John, and Cathy-all three orphans or may as well be.  The two guys are big cheeses at school on account of they’re football heroes.  The girl is a real dish, also plenty smart.  But her old man was living on borrowed time and money, so the only lettuce she has is what she puts into burgers at the local greasy spoon.

Why is she slingin’ hash if she’s such a big deal?  And what about the good town folk?  Do they act like saps or end up being swell after all?

Hey, don’t grill me!  Glom onto a copy and figure it out yourself.

Hungering for a new game?

In an ideal society (a utopia), here’s what you’d encounter just about everywhere you go: citizens reading great literature and sharing thoughtful comments–in checkout lines, in the break room at work, in the bleachers between soccer games, at the coffee shop, and so forth.

OK, that’s just my personal ideal, and we know that utopias don’t really exist.  Still, the one city, one book concept pioneered in Seattle moved us all forward.  That admirable model has been emulated in more locales than you’d imagine.

So why am I not 100% pleased with ubiquitous mentions of the Hunger Games trilogy?  Movies, book groups, Sunday school discussions, library programs, blogs, and yes, a chat overheard in line at the grocery store: is this not Utopian behavior?

I don’t begrudge HG one bit of the excitement it’s generated; book buzz is wonderful, period.  I just fear that many fans of the trilogy won’t follow up on their discovery:  whether or not they’ve been dedicated readers in the past, they’ve now bonded with dystopian fiction.   Other engrossing stories of this type abound.  Some have been around for decades; they’re just less trendy.

Not all definitions of dystopia suggest simply “an imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad”; some also require political or societal repression.   I prefer to start with Oxford Companion to Literature’s “unpleasant or catastrophic future” and figure in some environmental degradation, a trend carried to an extreme, and/or terror and deprivation.

That’s a formula for a dynamite reading list, combining Utopian curiosity with dystopian intensity:

  • Karen Thompson Walker’s The Age of Miracles (2012). What will happen to growth cycles, crops, and human behavior if the earth’s rotation goes completely awry? (Susan Beth Pfeffer’s young adult Life as We Knew It offers similar appeal.)

  • Ryan Boudinot’s Blueprints of the Afterlife (2012). Described by a Goodreads commenter as “nearly unreviewable”, this edgy, crazy scenario imagines that a sentient glacier has destroyed the continent, human nervous systems can be hacked, etc.

  • Kevin Barry’s City of Bohane (2011). Publishers Weekly describes this Costa Award winner as “a walking tour of Bohane, an apocalyptic fictional city on Ireland’s west coast.” City has reminded some readers of Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange.

  • Albert Brooks’ 2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America (2011): Not only has cancer been cured, life expectancy has been extended via other means. No surprise, then, to find a world of old vs. young amidst ravages of global warming.

  • Hilary Jordan’s When She Woke (2011): With elements of both The Scarlet Letter and dystopian classic The Handmaid’s Tale, Jordan’s chiller, set mostly in Texas, portrays a society where convicted criminals’ bodies are dyed to advertise their misdeeds to the world.

  • Walter Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz (1960): Amid dystopian greats like Brave New World, 1984, and Lord of the Flies, Canticle is less frequently assigned as school reading. Deemed “a masterpiece” by many critics, Miller’s Hugo Award winner chronicles a nearly obliterated world slowly (sometimes hilariously) reestablishing a foothold on scientific knowledge.

Was it a vision or just a sight?

Uh-oh.   That was unquestionably a frown (which Customer Service 101 assures us is a Bad Thing) clouding the nice library patron’s countenance.   She even shook her head in disapproval at something I’d just shown her.

And our interchange had been going so well.  I’d shared lots of information about Overdrive eBooks, noting that, while some major publishers decline to make their eBooks available for library circulation, we still add new digital titles every month and offer a great variety for free checkout.

Probably should have stopped there, but instead I lovingly tapped my finger atop two printed advance reading copies I’d just been handed.   These were intended as stellar examples of new and forthcoming choices:  Karen Engelmann’s The Stockholm Octavo and Ariel S. Winter’s The Twenty-Year Death

At that point, the customer and I beheld two quite different things.

I glimpsed two intriguing novels I’d intended to snap up at BEA, had I been in the right place at the right time.  Both authors had spoken passionately about their stories at Library Journal’s debut author panel.  Engelmann’s historical piece, set in 18th-century Stockholm and incorporating a sort of mystical card game, lines up perfectly with my preferred tastes.

Winter’s crime novel (three crime novels in one, actually) exhibits classic hard-boiled cover art, auguring that it’s not what I usually go for–and yet I have been itching to read it ever since Winter chatted it up and sold me and a not inconsiderable number of other librarians on it.

These two ideal selections for Readers Extravaganza weren’t going to get read before August 16 if I didn’t have copies.  I asked co-worker and Acquisitions magician Barbara if she could request pre-publication copies through our library vendor, acknowledging the mission to be a long shot.   But Barbara and our rep came through.  I’d just delightedly taken possession when this whole conversation started.

My vision of the two paperback represented wishes granted.  The alert customer, on the other hand, beheld two flimsy volumes with paper quality one or two notches above newsprint.

I cherish the not-ready-for-primetime look and feel of ARCs as evidence that these are not intended for the masses.  But these two items weren’t merely unpolished; the corners were just slightly dog-eared and the books appeared, as the patron observed, potentially “used”.   Perhaps my treasures had endured a problematic transit; maybe I’m not their first reader.   None of that matters; I am thrilled with them. 

If you come to Readers Extravaganza, I’ll at least be able to tell you if these two first novels lived up to my considerable expectations.   Who knows–perhaps you can borrow one of these copies that will appear even less pristine at that point, but all the lovelier for having granted access and enjoyment.

It’$ only money

“Let me tell you about the very rich,” advises the oft-quoted passage from an F. Scott Fitzgerald short story, “They are different from you and me.  They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them…”

What it does is render them fascinating to readers from the not-mega-rich tag.   Otherwise, why would we–particularly in this economy–immerse ourselves in fictional lifestyles bizarrely devoid of price tag reading?

Lately, I’ve enjoyed a literary novel (Mark Helprin’s In Sunlight and In Shadow), a new romance/time travel story that I think Diana Gabaldon fans would especially like (Beatriz Williams’ Overseas), and the film version of Kaui Hart Hemmings’ The DescendantsAll three feature characters possessing wealth almost beyond imagination. 

We readily conjure sympathy for those who don’t appear to need it (or anything else).   Is it because we’re reminded that no amount of financial security can prevent heartache?

Or is it that we can vicariously savor private jet travel, multiple home ownership, and a cadre of personal assistants, then comfortably revert to the non-fictional (and press photographer-free) joys of the perfect chili dog or a stolen hour relaxing in the back yard when we should be doing chores or answering email?

Just think– immense wealth would curtail one’s appreciation of ordinary features of life that are still so marvelous as to make us feel happier every single time we encounter them.  Some of my favorite riches: 

  • Crape (or crepe) myrtles

  • Dogs

  • Anything Texas-shaped (if you’re a native Texan compelled to live in other places at some point, you understand)

  • Enough water to keep plants alive, even in summertime

  • Downtown Round Rock: the library has a great view of Main Street Plaza

  • Advance reading copies (the only thing better than a wonderful read is the chance to savor and share one before it’s published)

  • Underground New York Public Library blog (Thanks to colleague Kate for sharing this link. Photos of New York City subway riders photographed unawares while engrossed in their books could very well make your day.)

Are tall people more energy efficient?

Could be–and not just because they create more shade outdoors.  I developed this theory following a recent local newscast (topic: Let’s Avoid Blackouts) reminding us that the clothes dryer is a major electricity consumer.  

For those of us exceeding average stature, three-quarter length sleeves (a term preferable to “long-sleeved but not long enough”) are a default fashion statement.  We hang jeans and trousers to dry upside down so the weight stretches natural fibers, producing another quarter inch of ankle coverage.  Actually, since the clothes dryer is a threat to hem length, putting all garments on hangers to dry is the way to go.  That strategy works so well that I give my dryer a further vacation, draping towels over backyard furniture and railings to benefit from solar action.

Energy-saving inspirations are everywhere.   The live deck monitor for the solar array at Round Rock City Hall is data-rich and a visual learner’s delight.  As we make incremental improvements–efficient light bulbs, solar shades, reduced appliance use–we can share in the more impressive achievement of a CO2 offset equaling 3,719 trees.  The State Energy Conservation Office’s “Energy Conservation in the Home” Fact Sheet concisely illustrates keys concepts: radiant barriers, ridge venting, heat transfer in windows, etc. that all homeowners should know. 

From the U.S. Department of Energy, “Estimating Appliance and Home Electronic Energy Use” lists enough specific data about individual appliances and how much they consume (not to mention what you’ll be paying annually to run your aquarium, dishwasher, toaster oven, etc.) that you may begin to reconsider whether they truly enhance your lifestyle.

The good news?  You could justify doing less ironing and vacuuming.  The bad news?  You’re probably hosting energy vampires.   According to this National Geographic article (and numerous other sources), those are electronics and appliances that drain energy even while switched off.  Don’t reach for the garlic; get a power strip.

Here’s a summer entertainment option costing you relatively little in terms of energy use and cash:  group viewings of library DVDs.   True, the television and DVD player require electricity; however, the family or bunch of friends and neighbors shares one screen instead of utilizing multiple devices.  You’re not consuming fuel driving to another destination, and library checkouts are free. 

You probably knew that the library offers hundreds of children’s DVDs; you can also pinpoint a television series that you either already love and want to revisit or sample for the first time.  A subject search for “television series” results in nearly 200 offerings, including True Blood, Prime Suspect, Sherlock, Dexter, The Sopranos, Midsomer Murders, and lots more.

A subject search for “documentary films” lists several hundred choices: serious (Regret to Inform; philosophic (The Nature of Existence); historic (Freedom Flyers of Tuskegee, British Royal Weddings of the 20th Century); even wonderfully specific (Tupperware!, The Meaning of Tea: A Tea Inspired Journey).

You will discover an engagingly informative treatment of a topic perfect for your audience, literary (Dickens in America), pet lovers (Dogs Decoded), area history fans (Texas Rangers) or whomever.  Should your gathering relish a spirited or even controversial discussion, consider Sicko, Hot Coffee: Is Justice Being Served?, Finding Life Beyond Earth, God in America or another title that you’ll readily identify as a conversation-starter.

Thoughtfully saving energy, you’ll also spark opinions and generate excitement.  Your activity won’t register on the City Hall deck monitor, but it’ll make the world a better and more entertaining place.

Enjoy a steady diet of surprises

At one time or another, parents require the reassurance of that longstanding nutritional theory (that Junior’s current fixation on nothing but peanut butter or cheese or oranges or cereal, etc. merely indicates his body’s pursuit of a particular vitamin or mineral). 

You’d think that an empty nester with reasonable eating habits could jettison any such concerns, yet I appear to be driven by the corollary regarding fiction consumption.  I suspect my system to be deficient in literary dread.  Not usually a fan of thrillers or plot creepiness, I subconsciously seek that element wherever I look.

How else to explain that when I observed a publisher’s ad for The Unexpected Houseplant, I entertained visions of a gargantuan carnivorous bloom commanding “Feed Me”?  (Alternatively, I wondered whether a posthumous manuscript by Edward Gorey may have just come to light.)

But no.  Closer inspection revealed Unexpected Houseplant‘s subtitle:  220 Unexpected Choices for Every Spot in Your Home–also tastefully demure botanical cover art.  I was strangely disappointed.

My craving could also account for a similar letdown:  Colm Toibin’s just-published New Ways to Kill Your Mother (subtitle: Writers and Their Families).  Once I’ve read something like Zombie Island and restored my equilibrium, I’ll pick up favorite author Toibin’s latest and appreciate it on its intended terms.  In the meantime, it’s heartening to learn that my advance copy of Diana Wagman’s The Care and Feeding of Exotic Pets actually does feature a startling seven-foot iguana and that Christopher Coake’s ominously titled new You Came Back delivers a truly nightmarish scenario.

Always an easy mark for a witty book title, I award extra credit to those new and forthcoming offerings referencing Shakespeare (The Evil That Men Do) or employing wordplay (Meet Me at Emotional Baggage Claim, SEAL Team 666).  And, for sheer attention-getting value, one has to acknowledge Grandad, There’s A Head on the Beach. 

 Alexander McCall Smith (The Full Cupboard of Life, Tea Time for the Traditionally Built) consistently charms with titles that could have been lifted from Victorian texts–or perhaps hastily translated from a foreign language.   Due out in October:  The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds.

Though, fortunately, good titles usually designate good texts, especially clever names–like Gary Shteyngart’s (2011) Super Sad True Love Story–can be so perfectly calibrated to the book’s tone as to invite misinterpretation.   When I nominated Super Sad for a book group’s upcoming slate, a male participant countered with, “Nooooo!  No chick books!”  Not to worry, guys.

And here’s a tip for anyone (miraculously) unaware of the buzz surrounding Fifty Shades of GreyIt isn’t about interior decorating.

Name dropping is only tacky when other people do it

Along with “New York City”, several vacation experiences (last week) are three-word expressions: “Book Expo America“, “James Earl Jones”, “advance reading copies”, “The Daily Show“, “The Colbert Report“, “discounted theater tickets”, “live author appearances”, and, last but not least, “Take a number” (AKA “Line forms here”). 

Though publishers and booksellers value BEA’s marketing opportunities, librarians like me flock to the debut author interviews, publisher “buzz” panels, and appearances by literary notables.  We collect impressions about forthcoming books (and what they’ll represent to our readers); we also gather coveted galleys/advance copies of books not yet available to the public.

Some giveaways are scheduled, others offered at unannounced intervals, all limited to supplies on hand; thus, the thrill of the hunt adds to the joy of acquisition.  The #1 item on my galley wish list, Mark Helprin‘s In Sunlight and In Shadow, cost me several passes by the publisher’s booth and an opening-hour arrival to acquire–and it’s decidedly worth the effort.

With scores of other fans, I cheerfully queued up for autographed volumes (and ever-so-brief chats) with Dan Rather, Robert Goolrick, Sabrina Soto, Buddy Guy, Tim Gunn, Amor Towles, Janet Groth, Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket), and numerous others graciously braving the rigors of rapid-fire introductions and cramped autographing areas to sign copies and greet their readers.  An hour in the Lemony Snicket line garnered me a bit of conversation, not to mention a signed souvenir briefcase full of clever items promoting Who Could That Be At This Hour? 

Little did I expect a second encounter the very next day.   En route to a galley quest, I found an amiable crowd surrounding Handler as he drew the winning card for a monstrously large and glamorous Lemony Snicket gift basket.  When no winner stepped forward and a fan offered her cell phone, the congratulatory call to the recipient evolved into performance art: Handler channeled Lemony Snicket, intoning a hilariously snarky alert implying that the prize was a dreadful mess destined to arrive at the winner’s home no matter what preventive lengths she or anyone else might sensibly attempt.  Inviting all present to “Booooo!” their disappointment (and we did), Handler closed with fervent advice:  “This is absolutely vital.  Listen carefully.  Whatever happens, don’t….”  And he clicked “End”.  Applause!   Seldom have drawing losers appeared happier with their lot.

Frequently, a lengthy wait (like virtue) is its own reward in terms of networking.  In Tim Gunn‘s queue, another Project Runway fan and I enthused about previous seasons and the talents of designer Mondo.  But despite the common denominator of Gunn fan-dom, we’d traveled to BEA on different missions.  New acquaintance and award-winning paper engineer Mary Beth Cryan primarily expected to meet with clients.  If you check her website, you’ll find Mary Beth’s amazing cards (for MoMA), party goods, books, designs, and 3D paper sculptures as delightful as I found her personality.

Companions in other queues yielded BEA gossip: which author wasn’t projecting interest in her fans; the one celebrity who didn’t look more attractive in person than on the screen; people who (tsk, tsk) scooped up more than one free item per display.  And, regarding the much publicized Author Breakfast hosted by Stephen Colbert, someone noted–and I agree–that novelist Barbara Kingsolver (featured along with Jo Nesbo and Junot Diaz), generated as much audience laughter as Colbert did.

Of course, waiting time often translated into sharing, trading, and chatting about the contents of our heavily laden tote bags.  Of all the treasures that I packed up and am awaiting from UPS delivery, I’m most anxious to read titles featured in last Monday’s debut author panel: Beatriz Williams’ Overseas; Karen Engelmann’s The Stockholm Octavo; librarian Eleanor Kuhns’ A Simple Murder; Max Gladstone’s Three Parts Dead; Ariel S. Winter’s The 20-Year Death.  The opportunity to sample first novels from passionate writers whom I’ve heard in person is a rare privilege.

Once my parcels from BEA arrive, some of the books will go to library customers, fellow librarians, and book club members who are most likely to appreciate them and promote them to others.

As for the nifty non-book swag– the aforementioned Lemony Snicket briefcase and selected other unique BEA goodies will be featured door prizes at Friday’s Happy Hour with the Librarians.  We hope to see you there.  And we promise–no queue!

At least pastrami will never go out of style

Just my luck.  According to Weather Underground‘s Manhattan forecast, all the days I’ll be vacationing in New York City next week indicate a chance of showers.  Of course, the lowest probabilities coincide with the days I’d be indoors anyway at the Book Expo.   Rainy weather icons for the 10-day lineup resemble a bakery window–an orderly display of weird blue and gray cupcakes.

The good news: temperatures at least 20 degrees cooler, so cardigans just earned a slot (along with the umbrella) on my mental packing list.

I’ll take along most of my black garments, safe bets anywhere but especially in NYC.   Not that anyone would mistake me for a local; once I’ve questioned why the Second Avenue Deli is on 33rd Street or stopped to exclaim, “Hey, isn’t that the church from  Ghostbusters?” , no amount of neutral attire will mask my tourist-ness.

I even thought about picking up a defiantly not-black new sweater.  Sadly, the trendy hues ordained by the fashion industry for this season (neon–really?) aren’t for everyone and certainly not for me.

Fortunately, having devoted more time to pondering what to read in-flight than what to wear on arrival, I can assure you that the book market continues to offer its customers multiple options
As in fashion, certain themes–hoarding and Titanic (mentioned in last week’s post); World War I and Downton Abbey-related fictional scenarios; mysteries in increasingly exotic locales–will naturally be promoted.    The difference is that readers can still expect to find other choices calibrated to their tastes.

Should you find hoarding a bit too real or off-putting, you can enjoy empowering tomes like How to Organize Just About Everything or Throw Out Fifty Things: Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life or other volumes from the catalog subject heading “orderliness”.

If you’ve dutifully adopted recipes from low-fat, heart-healthy recipe collections, you’ll find that Rosie’s Bakery: All-Butter, Cream-Filled, Sugar-Packed Baking Book either confirms your virtue or at least provides a guilty pleasure.   For a culinary vantage point devoid of judgment, there’s Off the Menu: Staff Meals from America’s Top Restaurants or Kitchen Wisdom: Stories That Heal.  And then you can revert back to the straight and narrow with Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection.

Tori Spelling’s recent books (starring Tori Spelling)–sTORI telling;  Mommywood, Uncharted terriTORI; CelebraTORI: Unleashing Your Inner Party Planner–are popular here.   For other personal revelations and viewpoints (but with a non-Hollywood slant) you could seek out Scholars with Autism Achieving Dreams, edited by Lars Perner or Bruce Isay’s All There Is: Love Stories from StoryCorps. 

As for me, I’m packing some Playaways.  They’re compact, tasteful, and rainproof.

Finders, keepers

That tip about foregoing grocery shopping when you’re hungry is smart, if unrealistic.  And evidently I wasn’t the only ravenous post-workday customer dashing into Sprouts on the way home yesterday.  When an enticing parcel of treats not even remotely suggested by my shopping list dived off the shelf straight into my cart, this shopper was understandably too weak to protest.

Ogling the package in question, the scrubs-clad customer behind me in the checkout line voiced an “Mmmmm” of approval.  “You know,” I offered, “I can crack this thing open right now.”  

“Thanks very much, but,” she smiled, delving into her basket and brandishing another variety of indulgence, “I’m all set.”  Those goodies had been plucked from the same display as mine.  Was it coincidence that my choice (I’m tall) came from the top shelf and the daintier height of the other customer correlated with her pick? 

As a scan of our recent acquisitions will prove, publishers also market to us where we are, at least figuratively.  Lately, they’ve noted, we’re interested in reading about hoarding behavior and Titanic.

Jill Smolinski’s Objects of My Affection considers why it is that things and the acquisition of things can take over our lives and families.  A homeless woman ironically discovers that she can earn a living assisting another woman whose home is overrun with material possessions.  Kirkus Reviews finds this new fiction title “a warm appraisal of our addiction to stuff.”  Kristina Riggle’s Keepsake, due out in late June, chooses the torn-from-TLC theme of obsessive hoarding as a danger to family unity and physical safety.  Two daughters of a hoarding mother develop into opposite models: one a compulsive cleaner, the other a second-generation accumulator threatened with the loss of her children as a consequence of continued stockpiling.  In a starred review, Booklist predicts that readers will be “horrified yet sympathetic at the same time.”

Which brings us to the 100th anniversary year of the sinking of Titanic and its consequent trove of new publications.  You won’t have seen most of these titles on the shelf; they’ve been checked out:  Shadow of the Titanic: the extraordinary stories of those who survived by Andrew Wilson; Titanic tragedy: a new look at the lost liner by John Maxtone-Graham; Voyagers of the Titanic: passengers, sailors, shipbuilders, aristocrats, and the worlds they came from by Richard Davenport-Hines; Gilded lives, fatal voyage: the Titanic’s first-class passengers and their world by Hugh Brewster; and Building the Titanic: an epic tale of the creation of history’s most famous ocean liner by Rod Green. 

And those are just the newest nonfiction picks:  Fiction enthusiasts should know about Kate Alcott’s The Dressmaker, Cathy Gohlke’s Promise Me this, Mindy Starns Clark’s Echoes of Titanic, Yvonne Lehman’s Hearts That Survive, Tricia Goyer’s By the Light of the Silvery Moon, and David Kowalski’s The Company of the Dead

These new offerings present no serious danger of clutter.  They’ll probably attract hold requests, which means that you’ll read and return long before they evolve into stacks at home.  As happens with tasty extras tucked into my grocery bag, residential space allocation is just not an issue. 

Better living and more animated discussion through 3D

Don’t let its tepid-sounding name fool you; Library Link of the Day is a source you might want to add to your RSS feeds.

LLD offers great daily environmental-scanning capability with one thoughtfully selected feature each time.  Though its audience is “library knowledge workers”, anyone interested in information provision/technology/access would be intrigued. For example, yesterday’s link starred Jay Leno.  In the video clip, he’s delightedly showing off his prototyping 3-D printer.  Jay uses it to recreate rare or impossible-to-locate parts for his extensive vintage car collection.

Just try watching this (and I’ll understand if you get temporarily sidetracked by the “vehicles” tab) without either replaying what you just saw to prove that it really worked or muttering “No way!”, or both.  You’ll probably also catch the posting date:  June 29, 2011, nearly a year ago.

That’s because 3D printing technology isn’t brand-new.  The concept required a bit of exposure before library folks could envision its feasibility in their realm.   As taxpayer-funded entities, libraries are compelled to assess cost vs. benefit and that sort of thing.   Those factors continually throw cold water on our predilection for trying to be all things to all people. 

Still, we remain on the lookout for new ways to facilitate empowerment and access.  These days, the “maker space” scenario now exemplified by the Fayetteville, NY public library receives considerable press.    Fayetteville Free Library‘s acquisition of 3D equipment for public use resulted from a generous donation.  That gift didn’t merely bestow technology on one library; it’s also promoting field testing of assumptions about the viability of their model.  Dreams of further maker spaces will encounter hard realities like logistics, staffing, and price tag.  But so did visions of public access computers once upon a time.

Despite Mr. Leno’s step-by-step exposition of how his prototyper works, I suspect he still finds the process a bit magical.  Any tool that eradicates limitations and enables us to accomplish exactly what’s required must be.  Perhaps that’s why Leno likened the 3D technology to The Jetsons

I have to disagree, though his meaning is clear:  futuristic.   And who doesn’t love the Jetsons?  But that amiable family enjoyed a houseful of labor-saving devices and still felt put upon by any remaining responsibilities; pioneering spirits they were not.  And as for their Eisenhower-era stereotypical family roles, those were tired even when the show first aired.

Library Link of the Day readers may prefer another campy animated role model:  the kind of guy who invents at the drop of a hat whatever the situation requires; who lends his talents to extract others from their difficulties; and who even remains pleasant throughout it all.   I refer, naturally, to Professor Pat Pending.  Of course, if he’d contrived a 3D printer back in the day, we’d have found the notion cartoonish.