Make #timetoread at Reynolds on National Readathon Day!


Raise your hand if you can’t remember the last time you sat down and read a book for four hours straight? Don’t worry, we won’t look.

Well now is your chance to finally make #timetoread. The National Book Foundation, Goodreads, Mashable, and Penguin Random House have partnered together to create National Readathon Day.

The event takes place on Saturday, January 24th from 12-4PM and there are a couple of ways you can participate. You (and your team) can create your own fundraising page where you can raise money for the cause by pledging to read during the four-hour period. If you prefer, you can also donate to one of the many other teams already assembled. Of course, the simplest (and most fun) way to participate is by joining thousands of others from 12-4PM this Saturday in a four-hour marathon reading session!

If you need some book suggestions, simply pop by the library and ask one of the staff members or check out our popular titles collection.

Need a quiet place to read on National Readathon Day? Why don’t you drop by the Parham Road campus library this Saturday? We’ll be open during the event, from 12-4PM. Hope to see you there, book in hand!

Charles Dickens- 200th Birthday Celebration!

February 7, 2012 marks the bicentenary of Charles Dickens.

According to a literary exhibit at Southern Methodist University, this Victorian author “was born February 7, 1812, and wrote more than 34 major novels until his death on June 9, 1870. Two hundred years after his birth, his literary legacy remains unparalleled. His 19,000 published editions ranks behind only the King James Bible and Shakespeare in number of editions published.”

From the exhibit catalog: “The world loves Charles Dickens because Charles Dickens loved the world. He was a man who would today describe an automobile ride with the same gusto as he described a mail coach ride; a broad minded man whose religion and philosophy embraced all of mankind, not merely the Englishman; a man who believed that foreigner and countryman were both works of the same Divine Creator; a man who believed and taught that all men were brothers. Although considered a Victorian, he was actually a man that transcended time periods. This is why the star of Dickens does not show any signs of waning.”

His books remain topsellers in the age of the Kindle.

Explore the myriad ways you can experience this great literature at JSRCC libraries- print books, online books, downloadable audio books, videos, streaming videos, and more!

Oldest book in the world?

Flood Story Tablet from Epic of Gilgamesh, by Flickr user atonal

In a previous post, we answered  a student’s question: “What is the oldest book in the library?”

Then we promised to find an answer to a related question: “What is the oldest book in the world?” This was not so easy! Many people might guess The Bible, or Homer’s Iliad.

Because archeologists are constantly unearthing new antiquities and developing new technologies for dating them, and because it is difficult to come to a consensus definition of “book”, this question has proved daunting. It seems that to be defined as a book, a piece of writing should have a binding and consist of pages or leaves. Does this leave out writings on ancient papyrus scrolls and clay tablets, the slabs of stone carvings, inscriptions inside ancient burial sarcophagi, and other strange and ancient methods of recording human thought?

Was the first book only the first one to be created on a printing press? What about earlier books printed by the Chinese using woodblock? What materials were used, and how were they handled? Was it truly possible to accurately date the book? Was it found in ancient Egypt, Sumer, China, or India? Maybe it was written in hieroglyphics, cuneiform, or other ideogram or pictogram?

According to many sources, the oldest book in the world is The Teachings of Ptah-Hotep, alternately known as The Maxims, The Instructions, or The Wisdom of Ptah-Hotep. This ancient Egyptian work, preserved both on clay tablet and papyrus, instructed people on how to live a virtuous life of civic duty and to reject selfishness and greed. Various creation dates of 2700-2200 BC, and even earlier exist.

Another exciting book discovery, untitled, has been housed in Bulgaria’s National Museum of History since 2003. Six pages of beaten 24 carat gold covered in Etruscan script make up this ancient book, estimated at about 2,500 years old. Discovered in an old tomb, it carries text and images of a horseman, a mermaid, a lyre, and warriors.

Yet another widely mentioned candidate is a Sumerian epic poem, The Epic of Gilgamesh, owned by the British Museum. It is written in cuneiform on clay tablets and dated at about the seventh century BC. Read the astounding story of its discovery in The Buried Book: The Loss and Discovery of the Epic of Gilgamesh, at JSRCC libraries.

The Chinese have their I Ching, or Book of Changes; the Indians have the Hindu Vedas; and then there are the Sutras, ancient writings of both Hindu and Buddhist cultures.

You can see the problem in answering this question. Maybe you have come across some interesting candidates for this honor yourself…please post and share them here!

Information on the Web…rumor or truth?

  You want to be sure that what you’ve read online about the latest political issues and scandals is actually the truth. Here are some great ideas for fact-checking Internet information from a recent article in Searcher: The Magazine for Database Professionals. Included is a list of the best Fact Checker websites to help you hunt down the truth!

What is the oldest book in the library??

Thanks, Jason for your great question! Our staff has been busy working on it and here is what we’ve found:

First we have to come up with a working definition of “book” because in today’s library a book can take many forms- print, digital, audio, and more.

It is difficult to track the oldest print book on the library’s physical shelves by using the catalog. The oldest book by publication date in our library is:

An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, which was originally published in 1776- however our copy is a 1937 reprint.

We all agree that the oldest print books we own were published in the early 1900s (original copies, not reprints). Here is one of our oldest original books at JSRCC Library: The South in the Building of a Nation, published in 1909 right here in Richmond.

We also have access to online books with publication dates going back as far as the 1500s. Digitization of ancient books makes these astounding collections accessible with a few mouse clicks on some of the library’s research databases. Look at English Verse Drama to pull up online copies of  dramas from the 16th century and beyond,  including the works of the great William Shakespeare. African-American Poetry, 1760-1900 will provide a reading from early American books of poetry.

Many university libraries own special collections and archives that include very old books (early publication dates and original copies, not reprints). Community college libraries generally do not own the special collections found in college and university libraries. To ensure the well-being of rare books and manuscripts, extensive climate control and security is usually needed.

Now with the ability to digitize these old books, you can read them through your computer. To visit some special collections online in the Richmond area, look at Special Collections at VCU Libraries, University of Richmond, and Library of Virginia. Most of these digitized collections include photographs, manuscripts, maps, and other items, as well as books. Go even further, over to Charlottesville, and you’ll have access to one of Virginia’s best special collections libraries at the University of Virginia.

In a future post, we’ll explore the question, “What is the oldest book in the world?”

Thanks again for a great question, Jason!

“A Glimmer of Good News” about Reading!

people-readingAccording to this recent editorial by Francine Fialkoff, the Editor-in-Chief of Library Journal, The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has provided a positive update to some gloomy reading-related news in their 2004 report, “Reading at Risk”.

After decades of a steady reading decline, the latest NEA study, “Reading on the Rise”, reports that “literary reading” (novels, short stories, poems, or plays, both print and online) has jumped by 3.5% overall. According to Fialkoff, “Other highlights are that 84% of those who read literature online or download it also read print or online books, and 77% of those who read web-based articles or blogs also read books.”

Together with a recent article in Forbes magazine on the latest Kindle online-reading device from Amazon, there is great evidence that reading in all forms is alive and well in the United States today.

In honor of reading, be sure to attend the upcoming Around the World through Books program at JSRCC Parham Campus this Thursday evening at 7:00 p.m. The book, Perspolis, by Marjane Satrapi, will be presented by Jason Lire and Lily Mirjanangiri. This graphic novel is the memoir of a young girl growing up in contemporary Iran.


Opposing Viewpoints: Young Americans Reading

readingiseasy_gx_a.jpgAre young adult Americans still reading for pleasure? A recent report from the CQ Researcher database discusses this question in depth.

On the other side of this issue,  a recent public library survey describes young adults as the “heaviest users of public libraries”. Using the Factiva database, type in “study and young adults and library users” in the search box to read the article. What do you think?

Ursula K. Le Guin on the Alleged Decline of Reading

In “Staying Awake: Notes on the Alleged Decline of Reading,” Ursula K. Le Guin questions the assumption that books are on the way out. Historically, she points out, the majority of people have not been readers. But it is readers who, also historically, have had both economic and social power. “Literacy was not only the front door to any kind of individual economic and class advancement; it was an important social activity,” she writes.

She goes on to lament the damage corporate publishers are doing by focusing on formulaic best-sellers. She contrasts reading with electronic entertainment:

In its silence, a book is a challenge: it can’t lull you with surging music or deafen you with screeching laugh tracks or fire gunshots in your living room; you have to listen to it in your head. A book won’t move your eyes for you the way images on a screen do. It won’t move your mind unless you give it your mind, or your heart unless you put your heart into it.”

Read the article in the February issue of Harper’s Magazine, beginning on page 33, at the Parham Campus Library.

Technology to Blame for a Decline in Reading?

In a recent Wired Campus article from the Chronicle of Higher Education, Jeffrey R. Young comments on Doris Lessing’s Nobel Lecture speech.  Doris Lessing won this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature.  In her speech, Lessing blames the decline in reading on technology such as the Internet and television. 

Another recent library blog post, A Decline in Reading?, presents key findings of a literacy study conducted by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Please post your comments to let us know what you think.

A Decline in Reading?

The National Endowment for the Arts recently published the results of a literacy study, To Read or Not to Read. The study gathered and analyzed “statistics from more than 40 studies on the reading habits and skills of children, teenagers, and adults. The compendium reveals recent declines in voluntary reading and test scores . . .”

Some key findings:

  • Teens and young adults read less often and for shorter amounts of time compared with other age groups and with Americans of previous years.
  • Reading scores continue to worsen, especially among teenagers and young males. By contrast, the average reading score of 9-year-olds has improved.
  • Advanced readers accrue personal, professional, and social advantages. Deficient readers run higher risks of failure in all three areas.

To review the summary and full report, click here.  What are your thoughts on the findings of this study?