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comment by user-inactivated
user-inactivated  ·  210 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: June 27, 2018


Part 1

Part 2

So I recently talked to the manager of my local library branch and they were able to give me a lot of helpful information. Sorry if this is typical information to anyone else, but as a guy who used to always just buy any book he wants, this is all new to me.

- With a few rare exceptions, all of the books in the libraries that aren’t in the central branch are considered a floating inventory. They can be ordered from any branch in the city and be returned to any branch in the city. Wherever they’re returned is where they’ll remain unless someone checks them out and returns them to another branch. If you look at my post from last week, you’ll see that I’m contradicting myself. That’s because I misread a book’s status on the library’s online ordering system. Mea culpa or whatever some latin dude said.

- Pretty much all of the branches have a pretty sparse non-fiction section, with mostly filler and a few diamonds in the rough. I wasn’t given a reason for this, but to be fair, I didn’t ask.

- The central branch has a ton of good books. Unfortunately, a lot of the really interesting books cannot be checked out because they’re any combination old, expensive, or rare, and the library often has only one copy of them. This is a rule set in place to prevent these hard to replace books from getting damaged or lost. Any branch manager can request s non-borrowable book be transferred to their inventory temporarily for the convenience of a patron, but A) the book cannot leave library grounds and B) the request can be denied.

- Additionally, if there is a book that a patron is interested that is not in the city library’s inventory at all, a librarian can help them try to order the book through a statewide loan system, of which many of the colleges are a member of and we all know colleges tend to have some really juicy choices. I did not ask whether or not these books can be taken home to read once ordered, but if I had to guess, it’s a case by case basis.

- There is a team of people that work at the central branch that decide what books to order for the libraries. From what I can tell, they work with their own criteria and public input doesn’t have much sway. However, I can donate books specifically to be added to the library’s inventory (instead of being put up for sale for fund raising purposes), but anything I donate will be added to the floating inventory and as such, there’s no guarantee they’ll stay at the local branch.

For a ten minute conversation, I learned a heck of a lot. My local branch manager was very helpful and friendly and just all around pretty awesome actually. I kind of wish they were my boss.

Surprise Mini Ask Hubski

So with that said, if you were given the option to donate just one book to be put into your local library’s inventory, what would it be and why?

WanderingEng  ·  209 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I was thinking along the same lines as ThatFanficGuy that classics are the best single book. The other side of that coin is nobody on the fence about reading more is going to pick up a book thicker than it is wide.

I'm going to go with Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer, even despite the valid criticisms against it. It's an easy read and a compelling story, and the author is somewhat known in pop culture (because of Into The Wild which I can't pick no matter how easy to read or compelling it is). It's the kind of story that might make someone think "maybe if I should try this difficult thing, and it's ok to not succeed as long as I don't die." That little push can help people.

user-inactivated  ·  209 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    "maybe if I should try this difficult thing, and it's ok to not succeed as long as I don't die."

I think that's a lesson we all need to learn repeatedly throughout our lives.

ThatFanficGuy  ·  209 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    The other side of that coin is nobody on the fence about reading more is going to pick up a book thicker than it is wide.

That's fair. I wasn't promoting starting to read with Tolstoy: I was promoting giving the opportunity to people who'd want to.

WanderingEng  ·  209 days ago  ·  link  ·  

And I do agree. As you said, they're classics for a reason. Reading about Napoleon's army getting stuffed at Borodino and then smashed into the ground on their way out of Moscow was deeply enjoyable.

Is Kutuzov revered in Russia?

ThatFanficGuy  ·  209 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Yes. His name is held in high regard, along with the likes of Georgy Zhukov. Mikhail Kutuzov is considered one of the greatest Russian generals, and everyone knows his name.

user-inactivated  ·  209 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I have heard of neither of these two men. Granted, I'm not Russian, so there's that. It'd be great to hear you say more about them though.

ThatFanficGuy  ·  208 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I'm a little surprised you haven't heard of Zhukov. He's the Soviet General-to-beat-all-Generals. Many of the Soviet generals did a great job during WWII, but Zhukov seem to have stood above the rest.

I don't know much myself, but I'll tell you what I know. I reckon you can about the men on Wikipedia if you want facts, so I'll condense my miniscule expertise to make it interesting.

Kutuzov was one of the great Empire Generals during the Russian portion of Napoleonic Wars, dubbed here the Patriotic War. Some contend that he was the best. He was granted the title of Duke of Smolensk, which is a little funny 'cause Smolensk was on the way to Moscow for both Napoleon Bonapart and Adolf Hitler and was destroyed during both wars. He effectively lost an eye in one of the battles at Crimea: the bullet broke through his right temple and scarred the eye.

Kutuzov was also considered a great diplomat and took part in many of the era's important negotiations. He made the Crimean khan submit to Russia and effectively give away the peninsula. There's still a large population of Crimean tatars there, and they're slowly growing resentful of the country running the place because they aren't recognized, as well as treated with little respect as a people. Kutuzov had also done a lot of negotiations with Prussia, which was an important relationship with Russia at the time.

Kutuzov served under three of the Russian emperors - Catherine II, Paul I and Alexander I. If memory serves, he was loved by Catherine, who gave him the Duke's title. His military career started early, and he showed his commanding prowess quickly, rising to an officer position in three years.

He took part in three of the Russian-Turkish wars before taking part in the Patriotic War. He led the famous Battle at Borodino, near Moscow, in what's described as the biggest battle to its date. He also made the decision to let Napoleon into Moscow, but also burn it to the ground, so the French emperor would have nothing to celebrate at (most buildings in Moscow were made of wood at the time). Starved for supplies and suffering attrition in the inhospitable Russian lands, the French forces were then driven back and crushed by the Russian army led by Kutuzov.

His victory title at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, granted by Alexander I, was His Serene Highness Knyaz Golenischev-Kutuzov-Smolensky (Golenischev-Kutuzov is his born surname, while Smolensky is the addition due to the title of the Duke of the city; knyaz is a Russian royal title that, I believe, is roughly equivalent to the European title of Duke).

Zhukov was a Soviet General that is most known for his cotribution to the Allies' victory over the Nazi Germany. He was the Soviet Minister of Defence for two years, before being ousted behind Zhukov's back in a political power play.

At the start of the Soviet portion of the WWII, dubbed the Great Patriotic War, Zhukov oversaw the defence of Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg). His front then joined with a different one and he, along with Kliment Voroshilov - another great Soviet General of the WWII era - oversaw the defence of Moscow, as well as planned the Stalingrad (now Volgograd, where this great statue now stands) counteroffensive.

One of his major WWII achievements was coordinating the Battle of Kursk, a great battle in that in forced Germans, relying before on the Blitzkrieg (German for swift war) doctrine, to halt their advance as well as launch a counteroffensive that would tip the strategic favor in the Soviets' favor on the Eastern front. There are claims - by Konstantin Rokossovsky, the other of the two Marshals of the Soviet Army, no less (the first one being Zhukov) - that Zhukov had actually arrived just before the battle and made no decisions on the matter.

Zhukov basically won Ukraine and Belarussia over from Germans with his command of the local respective armies. From there, he and the Red Army marched onto Berlin in a decisive manner. His soldiers' advance was marked by the same atrocities towards civilians that the Nazi army perpetrated on their way to Russia: pillaging, murder and rape.

Zhukov was personally chosen to oversee the German surrender. He was at the table where the German Instrument for Surrender - the legal document for capitulation of Germany - was signed. Photo I (Zhukov is the one signing the document, with the brighter uniform; to his right shoulder is Soviet Foreign Minister Andrey Vyshinksiy, to his left shoulder - General Vasily Sokolovskiy). Photo II (Zhukov et al. - same people around him - await the Germans signing the document). Photo III (Zhukov reads the capitulation act aloud).

Other cool photos:

Dwight Eisenhower, Georgy Zhukov and the Royal Air Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder at Royal Army Field Marshal Bertrand Montgomery's reception of the Soviet Order of Victory.

Field Marshal Bertrand Montgomery, General Dwight Eisenhower, General Georgy Zhukov and Jean de Lattre de Tassigny, a French military commander, posthumously a Marshal.

Allies at the Branderburg Gate, very soon after German capitulation, with Zhukov and the other two Soviet Generals decorated by the Allies).

Zhukov on the cover of LIFE magazine, 1944.

Post-war, Zhukov served in the military and in the political apparatus for a while. In 1946, his apartment was searched, and many German valuables, taken as war trophies illegally, were found. This included gold, furs, gems and even furniture. Zhukov apologized for looting the German lands in a public letter. A highly popular commander and a war hero revered by the public, he was seen as a threat to power in the Stalinist USSR. Beria, a right hand to Stalin, sought to topple Zhukov - unsuccessfully. Stalin was in awe of Zhukov, which also made the paranoid Stalin afraid of the Marshal. Still, somehow, he was saved from the Purge that affected other great Soviet military commanders, including Mikhail Tukhachevsky, after whom there are now streets named in many cities. After Stalin died, Zhukov, demanded political rehabilitation of many of the people suffered from the Purge, including Tukhachevsky.

Ten years after the war, due to the scheming and plotting of the post-Stalin political apparatus, prone to conformism, Zhukov was retired behind his back, while he himself was on a trip to Albania. He was 63.

This next bit from Wikipedia I love:

    In September 1959, while visiting the United States, Khrushchev told US President Eisenhower that the retired Marshal Zhukov "liked fishing" (Zhukov was actually a keen aquarist). Eisenhower, in response, sent Zhukov a set of fishing tackle. Zhukov respected this gift so much that he is said to have exclusively used Eisenhower's fishing tackle for the remainder of his life.

From Wikipedia:

    Fishing tackle is the equipment used by anglers when fishing. Almost any equipment or gear used for fishing can be called fishing tackle. Some examples are hooks, lines, sinkers, floats, rods, reels, baits, lures, spears, nets, gaffs, traps, waders and tackle boxes.

Eisenhower was always a fan of Zhukov's, ever since the two meeting after the victory. He supported his "comrade-in-arms" after Zhukov had "troubles" (see: the looting incident). Zhukov presents the Order of Victory to Eisenhower. Zhukov and Eisenhower at the Moscow Airport, August 11th, 1945. Eisenhower, Zhukov and Montgomery (unseen) toasting the Allied victory.

After suffering a stroke, Zhukov started working hard at his memoir, Reminiscences and Reflections (link to the Russian-language Wikipedia page). He reportedly worked hard at it, which, combined with his heart disease, caused him to suffer a serious stroke. He later died from a second stroke, in 1974, aged 77.

user-inactivated  ·  207 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Wow. That's quite the impressive summary. Did you learn about these two in school or did you study up on them during your free time out of interest? I'm just curious, because here in the states, we're taught a little about generals like Grant, MacArthur, Patton, etc., but they're not covered very heavily. I think it's safe to say you know more about one man than I know about three combined.

I think by far my favorite bit is about Eisenhower sending Zhukov fishing supplies as a gift.

ThatFanficGuy  ·  207 days ago  ·  link  ·  

We learn quite a bit about the war heroes at school. Like kb once said somewhere on Hubski, "Russians still celebrate the V-day" (we do; it's ridiculously pompeous). The cult of arms in the US is focused on the present military might rather than the achievements of the past. Russia doesn't have that strong a military - or anything, for that matter - so we rely on our predecessors' fame to support our national unity.

I didn't want to leave you hanging - you did ask me about something, after all - so after I pulled a bit from my memory, I brushed it up with a Wikipedia read. You could've read a lot of it on your own. But you asked me. So I did my best to relay the information.

I knew much more about Zhukov from a few years ago, when I read a little about him. It may have been for the state exam on History, but he was an interesting figure to me anyway. I've only considered his relationship with Eisenhower significant after the latest read, despite me being an Americophile for a lot longer.

kleinbl00  ·  209 days ago  ·  link  ·  

The reason libraries are thin is that librarians will walk through fire to get you a book when you need it. I've gotten xerox copies of 40-50 pages faxed from libraries in Louisiana to New Mexico back when "fax" was an alien technology.

Libraries don't need your books. Think of the stuff on the shelves as the exhibition at a museum, the inter-library loan as the museum's collection and everything else as "someone's old crappy books." We've got a real thing about "NEVER EVER DESTROY BOOKS" but fuckin' hell, "paper" has not equalled "knowledge" for 30 years now and just because the dead tree version is available somewhere does not mean that the huddled masses questing for knowledge will stumble across it on the shelves and be smitten with enlightenment.

"Library science" is a graduate degree. My grandmother was a librarian. Wandering around assuming you know more about what should be on shelves than the professionals do for the simple reason that you like books is... naive.

tacocat  ·  209 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    "Library science" is a graduate degree.

When I was desperately looking for a career ca. 2009 I looked in the public libraries near me. Why the fuck am I gonna spend $50,000 to get a library science degree so I can be qualified to shelve books for $15,000 a year? A master's in library science was seriously a requirement for a $10/hour job. At the time I don't think I'd given up on getting an MFA and becoming a professor which pays fuck all, but I'd be making a thing I could sell on the side. The professional world is a big, dumb, stupid place where a master's in "communications" can net you a VP title at a bank and an equivalent in an actual field can net you Top Ramen for dinner every day

ThatFanficGuy  ·  209 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Any of the classics, no matter if Russian, English, Chinese or whatever. I have a number of literature classics lying dead in a drawer after my aunt died. I wanted to donate the whole 100+ kg of them to a local library.

If I had to pick one, I'd probably be Tolstoy. Why?

'cause they're classics for a reason. They're a calcification of the vast human experience. Everyone should get the opportunity to read them.

user-inactivated  ·  209 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Yeah. If I had to give a classic, it'd probably be Beowulf. Then the question becomes, which translation? I'd probably give a few copies of Burton Raffel's translation because it's very affordable, very poetic while still being easy to read, and it's honestly my favorite. Heck, I have three or four copies just because they're an easy gift to give. I'd probably give one or two copies of Seamus Heaney's translation too, because it's also quite good and it has the old English and Heaney's translation side by side and I always love it when publishers do that.

I think Frankenstein and Innocents Abroad would be fun to give too.