Ever. World War, Project Gutenberg, Star Trek, and Vinyl.

I actually had the chance to have a half day, during Easter Break, to think about the deeper implications of what School Library Month means. This was after a trip to the Library of Congress as part of the Book Surplus Program we work with, and I thought of the Library of Congress Librarian, Mr. Joseph Mahar, Head of Surplus Books Program, Acquisitions Fiscal, Overseas and Support Division.

I thought a little further (Thinking for me, and having the time to think leads me into dangerous places) and thought how for someone that is a librarian, a true librarian, everything you see, or hear around you has connection to other things, it is almost impossible to think otherwise. I thought this resembled Pandora’s box, not being able to stop the onslaught of how so many connections CAN be made to things that possibly many people do no see. As a librarian, you are asked to connect EVERYTHING, even sometimes the most the most unrelated things to help grants, proposals, and off the wall ideas become reality. That is the way we are trained with an Information Science degree. So in a way, it is a Pandora’s Box but, I thought, even more detailed, it is a box or category that could be called Ever.

In thinking of a category or a hypothetical box named Ever, I immediately thought of Mr. Mahar.

This is why.

EVERY single time I have visited the amazing vaults of the LOC Book Surplus Program, I always walked away with more than I EVER knew or expected. Not just books. And it was librarian-style amazing to see how Mr. Mahar was always able to pull resources right in front of my eyes with a simple phrases of what I thought I might need.

Several months ago, I expressed my interest in finding more resources tied to help facilitate more exciting aspects of teaching World War I and II, something more interactive. Immediately Mr. Mahar showed me these amazing resources:

World War I  (Color) showing how technology infusing color into World War I films changes so many aspects of World War I.

Additionally, me mentioned a student made film that took into stride the aspects of what was learned about World War I history. The Hun: World War I Short Film.

To be able to provide these resources in a minute’s notice, reminded me of the power this particular librarian, as well as librarians I had known grown up with, aren’t defined by the books alone they have knowledge about, but the sheer connections they retain to be able to tailor fit the needs of so many diverse interested and needs. It truly is a box of EVER that librarians have possession of and by giving freely, open up new possibilities for countless others.

Additionally, that same visit months ago, Mr. Mahar also provided a very simple, but yet outstanding piece of knowledge in showing how I could reach ESL students. Simply by using this tool in Project Gutenberg: Use Edge Browser, Right click the section of a book you are interested in, Read aloud – and you have books being read to you in languages that might be needed other than native English.

Project Gutenberg is a library of over 60,000 free eBooks– that has capabilities of reading aloud- similar to an audio book but being able to turn any of the selections into an audio book. The work around and ability to access this was something no one had suggested to be before, EVER – and it was quite brilliant to have work for someone needing a resource to learn English from possibly another language background.

Additionally, I am not sure how we got into the subject of this, but being informed me how Adam Savage, known from Mythbusters– went into the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum to examine the ORIGINAL Enterprise model, 11 foot long used to make the opening shots of the Star Trek movies. I do believe we got onto this topic from the request for a MythBusters video that one of our colleagues at Woodbridge (Mr. Stevens!) has requested for his class, and look where we ended.

So this most recent trip over Spring Break, one of the most revealing revelations was revealed to me as we looked over Billy Holiday and Benny Goodman vinyl records that were in the collection, Mr. Mahar revealed to me how some people felt 45 sized records were better sounding than 78 records. In reality, what I did not realize was, as Mr. Mahar explained, having the right needle makes the difference and what many people might not realize when they are listening to records. For, the 78 records had deeper grooves and a needle needing to be able to truly reach into the larger grooves of a 78, therefore impacting the sound that the listener would in fact hear. All this as I was looking through countless numbers of records. And it dawned on me again-

The fact that librarians of all levels, all areas looks at keepers of books, is one of the biggest mistakes, EVER. If anything, a key keeper having connections to the needs of anyone that needs something. No long a Pandora’s box, but a keeper of something that could be know as Ever, ever a contact for putting together the needs and resources that support the widest range of individuals, Ever.

Mr. Mahar is one of many countless examples of what a librarian actually means and does for an individual school, the community outside of any given library, and the ideas that are created from The Giver-like knowledge librarians are trained for.

One simply does not realize the power and training of a librarian and how it can impact such a wider group of communities, and when you see schools that do not have the ability to have such a central resource in a given school, what COULD be possible if indeed, that trust and ability of a trained librarian could be there. No longer Pandora’s box, but given EVER so much possibility, my hope is School Library Month and the role takes on a whole new perspective. Ever and Ever. Thank you Mr. Mahar for providing countless resources, opportunities and being a steward that anything is possible, ever and ever.

Range of Books added to WHS collection in January 2023 –

and April 2023 – added up total from both opportunities, books from 2021- 2022 – total value exceeding over $4000.00 – and priceless for supporting student curriculum!


About Harry Brake

Employee of Woodbridge High School, Library Media Specialist, Media crazy! :)
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s