Overheard at the Library: Inspiring Quotes

We overhear a lot in the public library, but I’m not at liberty to repeat it . I know. Too bad for you. Sometimes it’s pretty juicy. BUT I will tell you something even secret-y-er. I’ll tell you what the staff at the Traverse Area District Library is hearing…in our heads.

I’ll wait while your exploded mind pieces itself back together.

I’m going to tell you what our favorite quotes are! When you’re surrounded by words all day, some get stuck in your head! Sometimes it’s the Mentos theme song, but sometimes it’s something wise or cheerful or comforting.

I’ll tell you our favorites, then you tell me yours, k? K!


First off, we like Thoreau. He’s always floating around our heads. Melanie remembers “Methinks my own soul must be a bright invisible green.” Aah, that’s nice.

Michelle likes the book As Easy As Falling Off the Face of the Earth by Lynne Rae Perkins, where a character references Thoreau’s famous drummer quote (“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer”). The next line in Perkins’ book reads, ‘Well, Del marches to the beat of, like, I don’t know, a harmonica or something”. Michelle says that line always makes her laugh and that marching to her own harmonica has become a code phrase for her.

Anyway, speaking of Ryan Gosling, Brice‘s favorite quote is “I’d mate for life…One day at a time.” Brice says, “The line is spoken by Denys Finch Hatton from Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen (portrayed by Robert Redford in the film version), I love the honesty that comes across in this line when he discusses marriage with his lover, Karin Blixen.

Not surprisingly, a lot of us liked quotes that give us strength in times of trouble (If you’re interested in what times of trouble look like for a librarian, check out Librarian Problems). Matt likes “No. Try not. Do, or not. There is no try” from Jedi Master Yoda in Star Wars Episode V.

Linda remembers that “Perhaps the distant part of the sky always seems clearest, so that we will always strive to reach it.” from the television series Rurouni Kenshin because it reminds her to continue onward and eventually reach the sun.

Ben thinks “Don’t dream it, be it” from The Rocky Horror Picture Show is inspirational. And he didn’t tell me so, but I’m pretty sure he says it into the mirror every morning.

And I KNOW Mary M. says this into the mirror: Her favorite quote is “Party on Garth” from Wayne’s World. “Need I say more?” Mary asks. “Live! This isn’t a dress rehearsal.”

We are also non-conformists! Duh! We’ve all read too many books to know that the you don’t win in the end if you don’t march to your own harmonica:

Tony faces challenges with this quote from Lord of the Rings: Return of the King: “Forth! Fear no darkness! Arise! Arise, Riders of Théoden! Spears shall be shaken, shields shall be splintered! A sword day…a red day, ere the sun rises! Ride now! Ride now! Ride! Ride for ruin and the world’s ending! Death! Death! Death! Forth, Eorlingas!” Tony says, “When seemingly insurmountable odds and certain defeat, they decide to fight anyway. Because what else are they going to do? Let evil triumph unopposed?”

Anita likes this quote from  Winnie the Pooh because she has non-conformist ( Wobbly) spelling: “Because my spelling is Wobbly. It’s good spelling but it Wobbles, and the letters get in the wrong places.”

Christopher quotes another Christopher-Christopher McDougall who wrote Natural Born Heroes: “An outlaw outlook calls on every citizen to create, not conform; to decide what is right and wrong and act on it- not just baa along with the rest of the herd.”

So to recap, if you were to get inside the heads of our staff, you would see that we’re upbeat non-conformist Transcendentalists who have it bad for Gosling. Sound about right, guys?

Ok, deal’s a deal. What’s your favorite book or movie quote? Do we have it in the library?

Featured Image: Our featured image is a Flickr image from Claire Sambrook.





PBF | August

Party Banter Friday: 

In Which A Librarian Provides You With An Interesting Fact to Make You More Popular During Weekend Socializing

Have you ever wondered where the picture we use for our PBF posts is from? You probably have, because I often forget to mention it as a photo credit at the bottom of the post. I am one of a rare breed of librarians who is not super into details. We do exist. You can spot us by our typos, mis-buttoned cardigans, and “eh” shrugs.

A post written by my type of librarian goes something like:  I type “mis-buttoned cardigan” and remember the scene in the movie Mixed Nuts, where Steve Martin confesses his love to Rita Wilson and tells her the first day he met her, her sweater was poking into her chin. And then I start writing a different post about Steve Martin-related library material. And then in that post I mostly just talk about that one King Tut skit.

If you’re thinking, “Hey sometimes I like to read actual complete thoughts, maybe even backed up by facts“, I will try to keep my thoughts from straying long enough to recommend to you Grand Traverse Journal:

GTJ is our library’s locally produced digital magazine and it features articles about local and natural history. Here you can read about mysterious Chinese laundrymen of the 1800s, fairy ring mushrooms (say whaaaaa?), electrotheraphy baths (sounds like a really bad idea, was it? You have to read to see!), roller skating as sport, and other kicky posts with “Ring a Ding Ding” in the title that catch my perpetually darting eyes. The articles are submitted by our patrons and edited by local author Richard Fidler and our library’s very own Amy Barritt, AKA Local History Whiz Kid.

Here they are!!!

Does this qualify as a party fact? Darn skippy it does. Grand Traverse Journal can provide you with all the facts you need to banter away at your weekend shindigs.

Walking in downtown Traverse City with friends? You can casually mention that Front Street was first paved in 1905.

Nothing to do? Suggest moseying over to Lake Leelanau to seek out the extremely large meteor that’s been hanging out at the bottom since 1879. 

Marveling at some club mosses on a weekend evening? You know, those are not actually mosses (it’s a spore thing).

So go now! Check out Grand Traverse Journal! Whew! That was a lot of focus for me. Wait, what else am I supposed to say here?

Oh yeah:

Photo Credit: Our featured image for PBF is a picture from our digital history collection. You can view the original image and browse our collection here.

3 to 5 with Emita Hill

3 to 5 Questions for Authors:

In Which A Librarian asks a Talented Author a Small Number of Questions

Author and lifetime Traverse City summer resident, Emita Hill, will be coming to our library (Woodmere branch) to discuss her book, “Bronx Faces and Voices” on August 27 at 6:30 p.m. Hill’s book focuses on oral histories of the Bronx community from the Eighties, voices of real people living real lives during tumultuous times.


Ms. Hill will be talking about the importance of oral histories and sharing her knowledge of the process of preserving memories at this special program, but we got the chance to ask her a few questions ahead of time!:

Q: Your book, Bronx Faces and Voices: Sixteen Stories of Courage and Community,  tells the stories of sixteen different New Yorkers living in the Bronx between the 1970s and 1980s, a time of great upheaval there. What are some of your favorite New York-centric books or films (or websites, such as Humans of New York)?


A: Definitely I’d include Humans of New York.  It’s marvelous.  Books are legion, but it’s hard to beat Robert Caro’s massive biography of Robert Moses, The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York. For the Bronx, Connie Rosenblum’s Boulevard of Dreams and Jill Jonnes’ We’re Still Here. I love fiction centered in New York and authors like Doctorow and Chabon and Pete Hamill.  That’s just a tiny sampling.  E.B. White’s tribute to New York is a must-read.


Q: What made you interested and what keeps you interested in recording oral history?


A: Oral history for me goes back to Homer and the whole oral tradition of preserving individual memories and also cultural memories.  But the beauty of our technology is that we can now record what was oral and ephemeral.  We have the best of both worlds: the uncensored immediacy of a person talking and the ability to preserve their very words first in audio and later in transcription.
I love stories.  The stories in my book are preserved in a library—the Leonard Lief Library of Lehman College, the Bronx campus of the City University of New York–on tape and with my early transcription, accessible to scholars who have used them over the years–but I’m delighted that sixteen of them are now also available to the general public through this book.  I should add that the descendants of the men and women I interviewed are thrilled to have these stories made public.  One of the men I interviewed, now deceased, expressed his pride during the interview, saying to me, “I’m pleased that I will be a part of history.”
Q: Could you give us an example of someone talking about their history that inspired you?


A: I was aware of Studs Terkel’s work when we first started our program in the Bronx.  I can’t say that any one interview or talk inspired me but I can say that both in my scholarly work and my leisure time reading I have always loved letters, memoirs, and epistolary novels, works written in the first person.


Q:  How can a beginner become involved in preserving oral history?


A: Anyone can purchase an inexpensive digital recorder and start preserving stories in their own family or community.  Libraries across the country are now encouraging this and helping train people to do it and even providing the recorders. Some schools are developing programs to help high school children record their grandparents’ stories and their parents’ stories. Key to being an oral historian is to be a good listener which means being really interested in what you are hearing and interrupting as little as possible.


Q:  If you were a Dewey Decimal number, what number would you be?


A: Which of the hundreds of Dewey Decimal numbers would I be?  Wow.  To go back to my personal scholarly field I should choose 844, literature of the French 18th century. Or following my life and career, perhaps 376, the education of women.  Or 707, education and research in the arts.  But how about 007, not assigned, not being used?  That would be fun and open-ended.


Thanks Emita! We look forward to enjoying your program and your book!
Photo Credit: The featured image shows Hill’s book cover on the left and Georgeen Comerford’s photo of Emita Hill interviewing Alice Kramer in 1982 on the left.