The Underground Librarian
Julia Solis‘ excellent new New York Underground: The Anatomy of A City(Routledge, 2004) delves into every aspect of subterranean NYC – from analyzing urban legends (alligators, mole people and much more) to a detailed history of the trains, steam tunnels, and much weirder spaces under the buildings and streets of this city. The book is very well illustrated, and is more a tour of the various underground systems of the city than any kind of dry academic analysis. Solis is an accomplished photographer, and her creepy and haunting images – abandoned train stations, cathedral crypts, subterranean hospital passageways – will stay with you long after you put the book down.
Kermit T. Frog United Press Room was the original name for this site. The anticipation and plan was to design a blog for tweens and teens, but still primarily for children. First thought, how could a blog work as something interesting about library services for kids and not seem bland or boring? Well, first of all you need a hook. Newscasting format became the choice. Instead of creating a character, I borrowed one: Kermit T. Frog from Jim Henson’s muppets. If you have ever seen the old Sesame Street shows on public television where he is broadcasting live news from the field, you’ll understand how riveting Kermit can be. Unfortunately, my plans and life changed– the site evolved slowly into a different niche.
With a little angst and fear, I pulled odd and novel topics from my own life. Melding it sometimes with a little creative license, the tinge became more of finding evidence for alternative history, law enforcement myths, shadow governments, historical foibles and security issues. All this was to be boiled downed practically to be understood by simple folk. Thus the healthy schmattering of postings about food and cooking for people assigned to do field work far away from home. I’ve got to work more on quick num-nums than other recipes.
The Underground Librarian has evolved from small fascinations based on conversations with “interesting” people. The urge to research topics like seen on the X-files or explore notions like on FRINGE are compelling to some degree. Still to grow in a different vein and balance hard news compiling with soft topics requires walking a different type of edge. Specific firsts is to find a direction to go.
Frequently I wondered if anyone would understand the blog title: The Underground Librarian. Strange enough, but simple, it has many layers. None however venture deeply into illegal activity. Aside: my office was below ground and no windows. And the job, well, is obvious. When you begin to think about what is unsaid in the job description (go the extra mile), beyond the direct eye of a supervisor (complete your work with littel input), someone might be tempted to call the FBI or Marvel comics considering what I noticed. Seriously though, if you take the office daydreams about why you really work at a public service desk and set them into a background of World War II espionage , suddenly the French Resistance comes to mind along with pictures of underground caverns as offices. Some librarians have very active imaginations.
When you have an explicit and implicit imaginaton along with a knack for spotting questions like “how do I remove my fingerprints?”, something is bound to click. By the way, from my experience those who want to remove fingerprints have already committed a crime or are in the middle of one. Considering that most people would grab a bottle of windex and a paper towel, I had to wonder why the caller was so adamant. So, an imagination much like Sherlock Holmes’ profession and scraps of concrete truth, can easily fabricate tales that lead one to the non-reality outside of your door, or the other places you habitate.
And sometimes, just sometimes, Ian Fleming’s best penmanship shows up.
Well, you run into Jack Bauer’s former supervisor at Starbucks.
A principle of the word underground, when it comes to the mass marketed news, is to find out what is not being advertised, filmed or put next to Stone Phillips on the evening report. What you’ll find on this blog is basically the unsaid, little known and never discussed viewpoints compared to what “everybody knows”. Somethings you may never have heard,- and temper your judgements with “it does not mean they are not true”. However we put in a modicum of effort to verify whether it was imagination or not. Also, we throw in a few creative curveballs to keep things appetizing to the literary eye. We’ll try to warn you and explain any ramifications on a basic level of soothsaying. Remember, free will exists and you have your own mind to evaluate worth, honesty and truth.
The other blur about calling oneself the “Underground Librarian” is you get to wear the nonconformist hat a little more comfortably without being accountable to a public entity in the business of public service. Even the dark parts of humanity come under scrutiny on this site, for understanding them by classification and comparison. Which all in all is an exploratory researchers job. That is a key difference between the librarian at the public library and the underground librarian. How dirty are you willing to get. Also, how deeply can you dig into the issue? Just finding the book on the shelf is different from taking the oral history of the person who was in the book. Underground ambitions are many. Not all get realized. One of them being a bookstore although hints of a curio shop like in Stephen King’s “Needful Things” come to mind.
Lastly, without affiliation to any group or a definitive mission statement, I had to create a persona. This one works, especially as I design how to occupy and fulfill a niche in the life of knowledge transfer and information networking. For me, it takes a lot more to fill the staid job of a librarian than being a clever bibliophile or an Information Technology wiz.
Especially when filling a niche with a comprehensive service will change anyones lifelong learning behavior.
Please enjoy the sight for its eclectic nature,
The Underground Librarian