Alta Aqua Bookstore:Venice 

Where do you store your books in a city that floods several times a year? In boats and bathtubs, of course.


Don’t worry, these books will float!

These damaged books make a great staircase to see the canal.

Some people like reading in the bathtub!

Perfect timing on this shot!


Oldest University in the World 

Today I walked around Bologna University, the oldest extant university in the world. Founded in 1088, famous scholars such as Petrarch, Dante Alighieri, Thomas Becket, Pope Alexander VI, Erasmus, Albrecht  Durer, Copernicus, and Marconi all studied there. I visited the library reading room and the Caronti card catalog, both amazing. 

Reading Room

Organized by subject bust

A page from the card catalog

Card catalog

Libraries of Canada

Over Spring Break, I had the opportunity to visit a few fun libraries in Canada. The first was the Parliamentary Library in Ottawa. It is a beautiful High Victorian Gothic Revival style, built in 1875. Happily, the librarian’s architect recommended that it be separated from the Parliament building by a corridor with a closing door- because, yep, you guessed it, the Parliament building did actually burn down in 1849 and again in 1916. Happily, the second time, the books were saved. The building went under renovation and conservation 2002-2006.


Library (left) of Parliament (Right)

In Montreal, I stopped by the “BanQ”, the Bibliotheque et Archives Nationale du Quebec, to see the national public library.  A huge building, it was bustling with people checking out books, returning them on the automated return system, and using the free computers and wifi.

Nearby, several murals had been painted with some literary themes. Here are some of my favorites (good luck, not only are they a fairly difficult rebus, they are in French):






In Quebec City, I visited the Morrin Centre, originally a jail, then a co-ed college, unusual for its time (1880s). Starting in 1824, the building also housed the Literary and Historical Society of Canada, which gathered historical documents about Canada, republished rare mansuscripts, and published scholarly essays. Now the building also houses Quebec’s English-language cultural center and is a working library. Notable figures such as Charles Dickens have visited and the inside is really a treat for library lovers.


Library of Congress Young Reader’s Center: Books Save Lives

The great thing about living so close to Washington DC is that I get to attend literary events at the Library of Congress- and it’s part of my job!  This week a symposium of authors came together to discuss “trauma and resilience in young people’s literature”. It was a very moving discussion on examples of ways that books do indeed save lives.


The authors present were Laurie Halse Anderson, Kekla Magoon, Barry Lyga, Meg Medina, and Jarrett Krosoczka. They have all written a great crop of books this year and last, so if you haven’t read these yet, put them on your “to be read” list at once!