Spot the Empire Librarian's blog

Welcome to a librarian's online musings on libraries, literature and information media.

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Why libraries are tourist attractions…….

As the Executive Library Director of the Niagara Falls Public Library in New York, we welcome  visitors from around the block as well as around the world.   Often  visitors come to see the building and their unique brutalist architecture ( designed by Paul Rudolph in 1974) though often they come to  access our world class local history collection.   Our local history librarian  received requests on a variety of topics, often genealogy,  though many on the Niagara Falls daredevils ( people who went over the falls),  history of the Underground Railroad,  consultation of the hotel  registries (many of which contain famous signatures of American history and entertainment figures), Love Canal trials, Power Plants and the Manhattan Project.  Our library is a Tourist Attraction in every right.

One of the books in our collection is The Library Book by Richard Schiff.  Many  architecturally stunning libraries  can be found  among the pages of this volume, including  the Niagara Falls Public Library. In this volume, the intro essay discusses the library in America, its evolving architecture and cultural role, and how the American model reflects the archetypal idea of the universal library.

Where ever your summer travels take you,  enjoy you library.

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Another tragic weekend….

And so begins another tragic news cycle of the tragedies befallen in El Paso, Tx and Dayton, Ohio.

29 lives lost in senseless acts of violence. Countless people going about their day hurt needlessly.

In aid of talking with children about the scary events in the world, attached is a link to help parents.

How to talk to kids about shootings – Picture books that help

The Rabbit Listened - By Cori Doerrfeld

However,  in the infamous words of Mr. Fred Rogers,

“To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers ― so many caring people in this world.”

Perhaps , in the eyes of our children, we need to explain the scaries of this world by focusing on those who do good work to help others.

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Shark Week!

Shark Week!

This week the Discovery Channel holds its annual celebration of all matters shark-related. Without a doubt, sharks are fascinating: two-thirds of their brains are devoted to their sense of smell; they grow up to 50,000 teeth in a lifetime; shark embryos sometimes devour each other in the womb—what’s not to love? But for people in coastal areas, sharks are of more than just academic interest: 17 great white sharks have been seen in the waters off Cape Cod in the past week.

Sharks do attack humans, but only rarely. Statistically you’re more likely to die from taking a selfie than from being attacked by a shark.  If you’re curious to know the truth about sharks as opposed to the myths, take a look at this fact sheet published by the World  Wildlife Federation.

And if you don’t get the Discovery Channel but still want to get your shark on, the library can help. Our database Science in Context (go to SPL’s website and click on “databases” at the top of the screen) has a wealth of information about sharks, from their evolutionary origins to current conservation efforts.

If you want to know  more about sharks, check out Sharks

If you want to know the etymology of the word “shark” (of course you do!) consult The Oxford English Dictionary (volume XV, Ser-Soosy).

If you want to read poems about sharks, the children’s book Slickety Squick: Poems about Sharks, awaits you in the Children’s Department.

If you want to read poems by sharks, sadly, we cannot help you.

And if you want to just kick back and watch a movie, our video streaming service Hoopla (you’ll find it in our list of databases) has all the Sharknado films.  It’s a series that speaks to our time: we’ve had a lot of extreme weather events in this country in the past year, and what could be more extreme than a sharknado?

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Book recommendations by the Avengers

After months (if not years) of hype, Avengers: Endgame is finally here. To honor one of the biggest movie franchises of our time, of course, we started wondering: What should the Avengers read?

Taking cues from the movies and comics, librarians Crystal Chen and Susen Shi came up with some book recommendations for some of our favorite superheroes. If you want a deeper dive into the Avengers comics, make sure to check out our Ultimate Avengers Guide, and also make sure to take a look at our post in memory of Stan Lee.

Captain America

Everyone’s favorite star-spangled-man-with-a-plan has been through a lot. For a guy who went from fighting in World War II and being frozen for years, to waking up in a time dominated by technology, Cap’s got a pretty good attitude. He’s the leader of the Avengers and always has some wise words for his counterparts. In fact, he’s basically the dad of the group, and with that title comes . . . dad jokes. The punniest and corniest jokes that make you cringe are definitely something Captain America would tell, and if he needs new material he can always check out My Dad Thinks He’s Funny and The Ultimate Book of Dad Jokes.

Flags - Boy Scouts - With giant American flag

Iron Man

Attitude is everything. And in the case of Tony Stark, that attitude is . . . arrogant. Iron Man thinks he knows it all and is not afraid to tell it like it is. Not one to sugarcoat advice he gives or receives, Tony would love The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. One can’t forget that Tony is a genius and full of ideas for new tech and gadgets. He previously used this knowledge for weapons development but changed the focus of Stark Industries after seeing the damage his weapons caused. We think Tony would find some similarities between his story and the one in Rebel Seoul.

Manchester University robot.


Thor has incredible strength, can summon the elements of a storm, and can even fly with the help of Mjolnir. But all of that doesn’t stop him from being a burly, loveable goofball who is sometimes a bit hot-headed. On his next trip to the library, Thor should pick up Kill the Farm Boy—a perfectly quirky and magical book for the Asgardian God of Thunder.

Man-made lightning. (Five million volt flash).


Bruce Banner and Hulk seem to have a lot of differences. Banner is a brilliant scientist and Hulk . . . well, he really likes smashing stuff. These two constantly seem to be at odds with one another, and fighting to be the dominant personality. With that said, a novella that will ring true for both Banner and Hulk is The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. If they’re looking for something a little less close to home, Temper and the graphic novel I Hate Fairylandmight be good choices.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Black Widow

Natasha Romanoff is not one to be trifled with. She is fiercely loyal, intelligent, and not to mention a master assassin. Full of trickery, loyalty, and wit, our beloved Black Widow would enjoy some tales of other spies and assassins like Grave MercySix of Crows, and The Lies of Locke Lamora. She might be able to teach the characters in these books a thing or two, but we still think she’d enjoy them!

Epeira Diadema.


Clint Barton is everyone’s favorite bow-and-arrow-wielding master marksman and combat expert. He may not have any fancy powers or suits, but he can certainly stand his ground in a fight. So why is he always left out of the movies?  We have a feeling that Clint would relate to Mark Watney being left behind on Mars in The Martian.

Sports - Archery - Three men with bows and arrows

But wait! Earth’s (original) mightiest heroes shouldn’t have all of the fun! Here are some more recommendations for a handful of our other favorite Marvel characters.

Black Panther

T’Challa is the king of Wakanda, and the Black Panther is a legacy who protects the people of the nation. With the heart-shaped herb’s help, the Black Panther gets enhanced strength, speed, and agility—though T’Challa is a tough fighter even without the herb’s power. Though calm and controlled, T’Challa will display his emotions when it comes to how much much he cares for his family, friends, and the people of Wakanda. We think the honorable Wakandan king would like to read the story of Sunny Nwazue in Akata Witch.


Teenage wiz kid Peter Parker has incredible strength, agility, and the ability to cling to surfaces thanks to a radioactive spider bite. He started out as a neighborhood crime fighter but caught the attention of Tony Stark and became part of the Avengers crew—you try balancing all of that and your grades in high school! Peter would definitely see himself in the pages of Kick-Ass. When he’s finished, we recommend Charlotte’s Web so he can get some artistic tips from Charlotte for his web-shooters.


A complicated villain that many love, Loki is the God of Mischief who fully lives up to his name. With his high intelligence, magical abilities, and expert manipulation tactics, it’s hard to predict exactly what Loki will do next: sometimes he’s the bad guy, but sometimes he shows us that he may not be so bad after all. In between his scheming, Loki should pick up the graphic novel Trickster, and maybe even How to Win Friends and Influence People.


Thanos is definitely not our favorite. With his enhanced strength and unyielding desire for his idea of balance, Thanos keeps his eyes set on keeping things organized. Thanos, instead of wiping out half of the population, might we suggest cleaning out your garage instead? The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up will be able to help you with that.

written by Colleen Gibson, Social Media Associate

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