Scenes at the local library

This post briefly interrupts the TCS prediction posts with a library-related theme, given the overwhelming popularity of these in the past.

For various reasons, I sometimes work at the local public library. It’s a small place, but still the largest one in the county, and a nice place overall. The magazine section looks like your typical sort of situation:

I decided to check it out a little more extensively today, prompted by a recurring failure to find any true scientific journal in most public libraries in small to medium sized towns, and in some cases even in large cities. There are 137 magazine publications total; I tried to break down the topics represented by the current issue’s front cover, into some thematic categories, neither thorough, systematic or mutually exclusive. It came out as:

Humans: 65 (Women: 39; Men: 22; Kids: 4)
Animals/Plants: 10 (Animals: 8; Plants: 2; Deer: 4; Birds: 3; Snails: 1)
Holidays: 13 (Thanksgiving: 2; Christmas: 11)
Food/Cooking: 12
Crafts: 11 (Mostly quilting and sewing)
Health/Nutrition: 9 (e.g. Bicycling, Eat Well, Vegetarian, Yoga)
Homes/Decor: 8
Sports: 9 (Football: 3; Hunting: 3; Golf: 2; Cycling: 1)
Cars: 5
Ships/Sailing: 3
Trains: 2
Gardening: 2
Puzzles: 2
Lighthouses: 1

There were a number of uncategorized others also, like one devoted to autism, one to retirees, one to coin collecting and etc. Three of the four deer-related were pictures of bucks on hunting magazines, while the fourth was a pair of deer on a quilt in a quilting magazine. Two of the three birds were male cardinals, and the third was of a pair of great blue herons.

On what I might term the quasi-academic front, it breaks out this way:
Science- or engineering-related: 10 (Scientific American, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics; Natural History, Audubon, Science News; Sky and Telescope; Smithsonian, Discover, Journal of Inland Seas)
History-related: 6 (World War II, Civil War Times, Timeline, Discover, J of Inland Seas)
Literature: 2 (Ohioana Quarterly; New York Times Book Review; Analog (SciFi))
Journal Format: 3 (J Inland Seas, Ohioana Quarterly, Timeline, with only the first thereof being published by a truly research-oriented group (The Great Lakes Historical Society))

The politically oriented stuff is there too of course, although it’s a small proportion comparatively, and nothing really radical. Whether there was any intention in placing the three on this shelf the way they are is an open question: Library2

For the adult human covers, the (admittedly subjective) interpretation of “overall suggestiveness” fell out as follows. For the 37 with women on the cover, 19 were focused on some aspect of personal appearance, and 8 of those implied sexuality. The typical suspects were involved here (Esquire, Self, etc), including the partially pornographic e.g.: Library1 For the 21 with men on the cover, that breakdown was 2 appearance-oriented and either 0 or 1 sexually suggestive, respectively.

The famous are there but not in huge numbers, and other than Abe Lincoln, Bob Dylan, Oprah Winfrey and JJ Watt, I don’t recognize them. Movie and TV stars probably. JJ Watt and Taylor Swift (?) are on 2 covers each. And no I’m not going to Google to find out who she is, I’m really not.

On the newspaper front, there are the several papers from the county seats of the surrounding counties, but if you want state, national and international news, it’s either the Toledo Blade, Cleveland Plain Dealer, New York Times or Wall Street Journal. All good papers fortunately.


5 thoughts on “Scenes at the local library

  1. My life-long interest (and several years working in) aviation was kindled by my elementary school library’s subscription to Flying Magazine. Now I judge the quality of a library by the presence or absence of Aviation Week — an expensive, technical, industry oriented weekly.

  2. Jim:
    Would have expected a more ornithological appreciation from you. Too much tree watching I suppose. The Taylor Swift (aka Streptoprocne garmetei) is a relatively new species (150 years?) first identified and described in New York city (specifically in the Garment District – hence the species epithet). It is sometimes confused with Apus blousei or the Common Tailored Swift… but seasoned Ornithologists seldom make this error as the latter is from an entirely different genus.
    Full disclosure – I have to thank Bruce for the heads up. He’s the real bird brain.

    Warm regards,

    • Goodness sake, such a warm attribution from Clem should be hard to swallow. But then he might make light and suggest there really is very little in the swallow line to compare with the Swifts – except their both being insectivores (convergent evolution at work).

      But so long as I’ve bothered to bother the rest of you I will offer that my favorite Swift is Jonathan. No cryptic species here – just an Irishman of notable novel talents. In Voyage to Brobdingnag (Gulliver’s Travels) Swift leaves us with this remarkable insight:

      And he gave it for his opinion, that whosoever could make two ears of corn or two blades of grass to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind, and do more essential service to his country, than the whole race of politicians put together.


  3. Ah yes, Taylor Swift. Unlike you I was unable to resist googling. Apparently a country western performer who is hot at the moment. She must be visiting Oz, but in any case is having her 15 minutes of fame and her name keeps cropping up. I’m more a Carter family type (yeah, they ‘stole’ most of their songs, but they’d be gone now if they hadn’t appropriated them) when it comes to country music or Emmylou Harris (she started her career in some bars I used to frequent) or Johnny Cash (he helped keep me sane through the car radio during several summers of field work in Tennessee and North Carolina). Merle Haggard wrote the best country songs, though, although I only got over my Okie from Muskogee bias a few years ago and learned to listen to his lyrics with an open mind.

    I think I am going to have to investigate the magazine rack at the Gympie library now and see what dreck it has on offer.

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