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Blind Date Stamp

We love meeting books face to face. The visual bouquet, the paper aroma, and the special unexpected quirks like doodles or fore-edge drawings—they all delight us. But sometimes we are disappointed with the surprises, especially with regards to library date stamps. We go into date stamp projects blind but hopeful. Perhaps the most frustrating situation is when we are able to find a date stamp but it wasn’t applied to the page properly—we can see an outline but can’t quite make out the year, or the stamp was placed over a dark section so that it is illegible. Furthermore, a library catalog may indicate the hard-copy publication should be on the shelf, when it is nowhere to be found.

So, we’ve gone to the library, we’ve looked for your needed date/library stamp, and we did not have good luck. Now what? We do it again until we find what you need. Each time we re-route the order, we must charge you a service fee. When you place your date stamp requests, you may specify a maximum amount of re-routes allowable. Typically, we are able to find an acceptable date stamp within 1-3 attempts. If we begin to experience excessive re-routing, we will update you to give you the chance to cancel any further attempts. As you can imagine, with re-routing comes a delay in the delivery of your document. We always prioritize ASAP orders, but your desired date stamp may not arrive within the 24-hour standard turnaround. The same goes for Regular turnaround, though this is more likely.

Some date stamps do not indicate the name of the library along with the institution—it’s one or the other. Some date stamps are handwritten, in pencil. Sometimes a library circulation card might suffice in lieu of a date stamp? And sometimes you need a date stamp within a certain range. Any and all preferences are accommodable. For specifics about date stamp project billing or turnaround times, please do get in touch with us.

So, a Pundit and a Wonk Walk into a Bar…

Political pomp isn’t just saved for election season—our nation’s obsession spills into every day of the year. Amidst the media chatter and water cooler talk are a lot of buzz words that beg the question—what exactly does this or that word mean? In an effort to make deciphering all that political speak a little easier, here is a list of some of the most common terminology, along with their definitions:

  1. Pundit: a person who offers his or her opinion to the mass media regarding a particular subject area, typically political analysis, of which he or she is knowledgeable (or at least appears to be knowledgeable). Derived from the Sanskrit word term “pandit” which means “knowledge owner,” these are basically the people you see arguing at the CNN roundtable.
  1. Hack: a politician who belongs to a small clique that controls a political party for private rather than public ends. The term is considered an insult, calling out a politician who is more interested in victory for his or her party than their own personal convictions.
  1. Wonk: a person preoccupied with arcane details or procedures in a specialized field. Back in the 1950’s the term meant something like “nerd” or “geek,” but today it refers more specifically to an expert on politics. Wonk is also “know” spelled backwards, though there is no evidence to prove that as its origin. It is still up for debate whether the term is considered a compliment or not. Guess it depends who the “wonk” is.
  1. Carpetbagger: an opportunist who is an outsider but pretends to be an insider to his or her advantage, usually for economic or political gain. This term originated during the American post-Civil War Reconstruction era and was used to label northerners who traveled south with all their belongings in a carpetbag with the intention of taking advantage of the instability and cheap property prices.
  1. Filibuster: an obstructive tactic used in the U.S. Senate to block or delay action on a bill or measure. The term itself comes from the Spanish word “filibustero” which refers to American mercenaries who traveled Central America and the Spanish West Indies inciting rebellions. During an especially long debate back in the 1850s, an annoyed senator called the speakers stalling for time “a pack of filibusteros,” and it stuck. Because the Senate doesn’t have specific rules regarding time limits on debates, filibustering has now become a tolerated part of the political process. Today a filibustering senator can talk about anything to prolong a debate. Senator Huey Long, for instance, spoke for 15 hours in 1935 to prevent a vote, reading from the plays of Shakespeare and reciting recipes for fried oysters.
  1. Gerrymandering: drawing electoral districts with the purpose of establishing a political advantage for a particular party or group. The word comes from a controversial redrawing of Massachusetts election districts during a state senate race in 1812. Governor Elbridge Gerry signed the contentious bill, leaving one of the districts in the Boston area so contorted it looked like the mythological beast known as the salamander. Smash the last name of the governor and the salamander together and you get…you guessed it! Gerrymandering.
  1. Whip: an official in a political party whose primary purpose is to ensure party discipline in a legislature. Fans of the show House of Cards may be familiar with this position, as the main character of the show is the House Majority Whip. In short, it is the responsibility of a political whip to make sure that members of his or her party show up to vote on important matters, and they are encouraged to use insider knowledge regarding the personal lives of party members to make that happen, enforcing firm discipline if need be. Yikes.
  1. Pork Barrel: this refers to the practice of allocating government spending as a reward in return for supporting a particular candidate with campaign contributions or votes. In the 19th century the state of a family’s pork barrel was used as the barometer for their financial well-being, but in politics it represents the fat on a piece of pork, because some politicians like to fatten up those bills with proposals to benefit their constituents.

Well, now you know about 1/1000th of the terms in the current political vocabulary catalogue. It’s probably best to take it in small doses anyway. Hopefully you can still blow your co-workers away when you explain what a “wonk” is.

Say It in Stone

In a day and age where we can type 60 words a minute, thanks to technology, it’s tough to imagine carving a tablet out of stone. Yet, in ancient history, this was the way to ensure your words endured. These days, about the only place we see stone engravings are cemeteries and memorial monuments.

The world’s biggest book is actually 730 leaves of large carved stone dating back to ~500 BC. Really think about that, and it is hard to not wonder how it was done, how long it took to complete, and so on. The entire concept of carving “books” out of stone is fascinating and practically unimaginable to our high-tech society.

Speaking of technology, a quick Internet search of “stone lettering” will yield quite a few videos, books, and blogs about the subject. Remnants of buildings that were made of stone can be seen still around the world. The earliest known stone ten commandments went on auction Nov last year, and sold for $850,000. So the point is, while we may not spend more than a few nanoseconds of our lives thinking about this ancient craft, perhaps we should. It’s unlikely that we will revert to sending stone greeting cards via Raven messengers, but perhaps we can appreciate the next engraved piece of rock we encounter just a little bit more. It is an impressive niche hobby-profession that clearly has value despite its lack of modern-day prevalence. Lump it with sword forging, boat building, and basket weaving. Consider it the long dead cousin to feather pen writing. Promptly resume non-thinking about the subject—but not before watching the captivating video below.


Get ‘Em While They’re Hot!

When you order documents from us, we try our best to deliver them to you in as timely a manner as possible. You probably know by now that the delivery links are limited to one click for security reasons. And those download links are only active for two weeks! So be sure to download your article within those two weeks and use it accordingly; after two weeks, you will no longer be able to access your document.

If you have any questions, we’re here to answer them.

Planting Community

“If you have a garden and a library you have everything you need.”

The Roman philosopher was on to something—food for the mind and nourishment for the body. Now, what about if we combine the two and create a seed library? A place where communities can come together and exchange seeds? Why, every town should have one!

That is exactly the mission of the myriad communities that exist to promote seed saving and sharing. These libraries aim to provide a place for members to get seeds for free or for a nominal fee, as a benefit to the public. Oftentimes they will be housed within a community center or book library, as is the case for us lucky Chico-ans. Seed libraries bring an extra layer of value to our traditional library systems.

One aspect of their mission is to support locally adapted varieties and continue genetic diversity within a geographical region. For this, physical locations are most convenient, though not necessarily exclusive. Luckily, the online presence is immense, so even if your locale doesn’t have a physical library, you can still access information, get a group going, or “order” seeds from miles away.

The lending rules more loosely resemble that of a little free library—you take and you give; you borrow, and you return—but it is obviously just a little different. In this case, your return depends on how well your plants did, and also how long they take to grow. Ideally, a borrower would return more seeds than they took, and those seeds would then be localized and better adapted to living in the particular environment. One common complaint among seed library organizers is the minimal return. It’s easy enough to get people to take the seeds. Lack of experience or knowledge, fizzling excitement, and failing to produce seeds, are the biggest hindrances to a seed return. So, a handy complement to the whole process is a recurring companion class, wherein basic gardening techniques—including seed collection—are taught.

This pro-seed social network is “sowing a culture of interdependence.” Indeed, some seed savers view their work as a proactive community-building response to climate change or loss of genetic integrity due to the prevalence of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs). In terms of legalities, a handful of states, including California and Minnesota, have passed laws protecting seed libraries. The American Association of Seed Control Officials was established in 1949 and meets annually to discuss seed law enforcement and administration. For devoted participants, there’s even an annual National (USA) Seed Libraries’ Summit.

Gardening. It’s almost like having a baby, caring for it, tending to its needs as it matures, and then giving it another life after death by sharing its seed. It’s easier than having a pet, and the plants won’t bite. Why not get in touch with your early agrarian roots and start seed collecting for your own personal enjoyment, and for the betterment of your area’s biological diversity and health? It’s a great way to meet your neighbors and nourish your body and soul.

If you haven’t heard of the Food Not Lawns movement, check it out. It makes sense. Also, sign up for the Cool Beans! seed librarians’ newsletter here.

Brain Food

“I can’t stand people who do not take food seriously.”—Oscar Wilde

How about fifty cups of coffee in one day? Or maybe a tin of preserved meat and a few apples? If you are anything like Daniel Handler, aka “Lemony Snicket,” then you might be fine with some water and a bunch of unpeeled carrots. The snacks of writers as they pour their hearts out run the gamut of nutritious to just plain weird. Joyce Carol Oates doesn’t even allow herself breakfast until she is done writing, and that can sometimes be as late as three or four in the afternoon. Agatha Christie drank heavy cream straight and Lord Byron sipped vinegar to curb his appetite entirely. Let’s take a look at a few famous writers’ quirky snack regimens—they may give us some ideas for what to eat while we work.

  1. French novelist and playwright Honere de Balzac was notorious for his love for coffee and even wrote an essay titled “The Pleasures and Pains of Coffee.” As even non-coffee drinkers might surmise, this dark lifeblood is highly acidic and can wreck your stomach if you drink too much. By even the most lenient of calculations, 50 cups is too much. Balzac would even go as far as chew on whole beans and swallow ground coffee by the spoonful if the simple beverage wasn’t enough to keep his eyes open during his brutal writing schedule—1am until eight in the morning, nightly. “By the potful, by the bucketful” is how he described his “gasoline strength” coffee habit, and it was to be drunk on an empty stomach, preferably by “men of excessive vigor, men with thick black hair and skin covered with liver spots, men with big square hands and legs shaped like bowling pins.” Unsurprisingly, he died of heart trouble, though some reports label the cause as “caffeine poisoning.”
  1. The old adage “everything in moderation” doesn’t apply to everyone. Consider crime-writer Agatha Christie and her obsession with cream. Word has it that she sipped from a mugful of cream while she wrote—amusingly, the mug read, “Don’t be Greedy.” Her love for cream didn’t end there, for she was also well- known for her devotion to the English indulgence “clotted cream.” This is a thick, spoonable cream with a super high fat content—apparently the calories in one small tub’s worth is comparable to that of a cheeseburger. Christie’s passion for dairy even creeped into her writing, as the famous Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot both indulged in drinking heavy cream.
  1. British poet, Lord Byron, was famous for depriving himself. A yo-yo dieter, Byron was known to subsist upon plain biscuits and soda water while sipping vinegar and smoking cigars to stave off hunger pains. Described by a former lover as “mad, bad, and dangerous to know,” Byron would often follow these periods of starvation with excessive binging. Records describe his daily diet in 1816: a slice of bread and a cup of tea for breakfast, and vegetables and water with a bit of wine mixed in for dinner. Two years later, however, a visiting friend characterized him as “pale, bloated, and very fat.” Byron didn’t keep his strict dieting standards to himself, either. He has been quoted as saying that “a woman should never be seen eating or drinking, unless it be lobster salad and champagne.” Byron died young at age 36 due to a relapse of malaria. Historians theorize that years of unhealthy eating and fluctuations in weight may have weakened his body making him more susceptible to disease.
  1. Call it superstition, but famed horror-writer Stephen King eats a piece of cheesecake before sitting down to write. He describes the size of this piece as a “monster slice,” only to suggest that two slices are even better. “Cheesecake is brain food” says King, “and it’s got to have a creamy texture to it.” The importance of dessert in one’s diet may just be a King family rule, as his son opts for crème brulee before writing. But King is also an avid bread baker—at least sugar isn’t the only ingredient fueling his creativity.
  1. Poet Emily Dickinson was a huge fan of baking bread. After the family’s housekeeper left, Dickinson took over baking duties. She took to it immediately and continued baking for pleasure, winning 2nd place in the Amherst Cattle Show of 1856 for her round loaf of Indian and Rye bread (though word has it that her sister Lavinia was one of the judges). “Love’s oven is warm,” she wrote to a friend after sending her an over-cooked biscuit—friends and neighbors regularly received care packages and gifts of cakes, cookies, candies, and loaves of bread. Famously reclusive, Dickinson was known for lowering baskets of baked goods to the neighborhood children from her bedroom window. Early drafts of many of her poems have been found scrawled on the backs of cake recipes and flour labels, and she would often bake bread during the day as she wrote, kneading and rising between drafts or bouts of writer’s block. If you would like to bake her very own recipe for “Cocoanut Cake” visit here.

  1. American novelist Truman Capote is said to have done most of his writing lying down. “I am a completely horizontal writer,” said Capote. “I can’t think unless I am lying down.” Taking into consideration his typical “liquid snack” regimen, lying down is probably his best option. Mornings started with coffee at 11am, followed by mint tea at noon, then sherry at 2pm, with martinis heading into the evening at 4pm. Capote paired his beverages either a cigar or a cigarette, pointing out one precondition of his writing practice— “I’ve got to be puffing and sipping.”

And the list goes on. In 1858, famous poet Walt Whitman wrote a 13-part series for the New York Atlas on diet and fitness titled “Manly Health and Training.” One tenet of his philosophy is cold, unseasoned meat, to be eaten for every meal, sans water to drink along with it. A slice of stale bread or a boiled potato was to be permitted occasionally. This, along with a full night’s sleep, a brisk walk in fresh air, and the “exercise of pulling an oar” were about all a man needed to attain optimum health. Hemingway promoted pan-fried fresh trout wrapped in bacon and ice-cold martinis that were “dry as a bone,” but he never drank while writing, or fighting. German poet Friedrich Schiller kept a drawerful of rotting apples in his writing desk because the stench inspired him. So, maybe the moral of the story is, writers have their quirks. Therefore, read all you want but don’t take their word for it when it comes to nutrition.

Need a Custom Project? Here’s What to Expect.

Custom projects make our days at the office interesting. They keep us on our toes, because each one is different and we never know what we’re getting into until we’re knee deep. Surely at some point or another, you will have a need for one of the various items that we call Custom Projects, so let’s cover a few of the basics.

What qualifies as a custom project?

  • Dictionary Definitions (multiple entries/sources)
  • Citation Searches
  • General Keyword Searches
  • Authorship Searches
  • Physician’s Desk Reference entries (multiple entries/years)
  • Microfilm/microfiche Searches

One thing that is important to remember is that, due to the nature of the custom project, standard turnaround times don’t always apply. If you need results in a rush, we’ll process the project faster than our standard turnaround, but the ASAP turnaround time of just a few hours isn’t quite feasible with these projects.

We do not complete these in-house. We have contracted researchers with years of experience in their field who provide us with their specialized knowledge and expertise. Though our researchers are fantastic, these projects simply take more time to complete than our standard orders.

When it comes to billing, we charge by the hour, with a half-hour minimum charge. We must bill for all time spent on the project, even if we do not produce the results you are hoping for, or we do not find any results at all. Our rates are $130/hr for regular turnaround, and $190/hr for expedited service. You can specify a time and/or cost cap that we will not exceed.

Maybe you have a need that isn’t covered here, or you need more questions answered? We’re always open to discuss your custom projects, so don’t be afraid to get in touch.

Eat Your Words

“Oh man, that event was last weekend? I didn’t realize, I thought it was coming up in a few more weeks. Bummer…”

How many times have you found yourself muttering these words? The disappointment of missing out on something that could have been! Well, it turns out that April 1st marked an annual international literary celebration of books and food, known as the Edible Book Festival. Why April Fool’s Day for this silly celebration? Famous French foodie Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin was born on April 1st back in 1755; since he wrote a witty meditation on food, Physiologie du gout, his birthday seems a doubly appropriate day to play with food.

If you missed it this year, you have 11+ months to prepare for next year. Judging by some of the intricate past entries you will need all the time you can to prepare. In all seriousness, though, the guiding principles behind the celebration are approachable to even the least skilled food artist. The idea isn’t to discourage you; rather, it “unites bibliophiles, book artists and food lovers to celebrate the ingestion of culture and its fulfilling nourishment.”

According to the seeming authority website, participation rules are as follows:

  1. The event must be held on April 1st (or close to that date).
  2. All edible books must be “bookish” through the integration of text, literary inspiration or, quite simply, the form.
  3. Organizations or individual participants must send a link to their photo album or upload pictures on Facebook and see to it that the event is immortalized on the web and share the fun.

In summary, this is an informal, loosely defined event that can be held in the privacy of your own kitchen, or in as boisterous a locale as your local library—invite the whole neighborhood! Anything goes.

Past entries in public festivals include “To Grill a Mockingbird” (a sheet cake iced in orange with black licorice grills, Oreo cookie grill trim, and a marzipan mocking bird lying on its side), “The Lord of the Pies” (a homemade pie topped with a marzipan decapitated pig and a pair of glasses) and “The Gingerbread Man” (four panels – or pages – made from gingerbread with a gingerbread man running through them, all set on a platter decorated with edibles to resemble Candyland). Tributes to the literary world need not be particularly extravagant, just inspired by the heart and soul of our beloved books.

Well, this takes the meaning of “sheet cake” to a whole new level. Quite frankly, who doesn’t like to eat? It’s like we’re all addicted to food… Author C.S. Lewis aptly held that, “eating and reading are two pleasures that combine admirably.” We couldn’t agree more. Join the edible fun on Facebook. And for a related food-tastic read, see this article about a very playful pastry baker.

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