Selective Attention and Collecting

Selective Attention and Collecting

What catches a collector’s attention and prompts the impulse to accumulate? Depending on the individual, it might be a melody, a clever cartoon, a poem, an unfolding drama, or a special object that stirs the imagination. The response is personal, even though it may be shared by a multitude. It may be sparked by a…

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Room for Recollection: The Miniature World of Alice Steele

Room for Recollection: The Miniature World of Alice Steele

I was born and raised in a small rural town in Western New York. I lived near my mother’s childhood home where I enjoyed many happy hours in the company of my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Our families would often gather to play cards, bake, do laundry, or celebrate special occasions. I loved to…

Fantastic Fun: Sid Sackson, Gary Gygax, and the World of Wargaming

Fantastic Fun: Sid Sackson, Gary Gygax, and the World of Wargaming

Allow me to introduce you to an elite group of which I am not a member: serious gamers. Yes, I’ve been known to play the occasional game of Scrabble, and in my youth I devoted a week one summer to playing Monopoly with a cousin. Add in a few random games of Checkers, Parcheesi, and…

To Mars and the Moon

To Mars and the Moon

On August 6, 2012, along with 3.2 million others, I breathlessly watched the Curiosity space rover touch down on Mars. Launched by NASA on November 26, 2011, and traveling a distance of more than 350 million miles, Curiosity landed in the Gale Crater less than two miles from its target. Within 14 minutes, NASA received…

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Winnie the Pooh—Forever Young

Winnie the Pooh—Forever Young

Do you know Winnie the Pooh? When you were very small, someone dear to you may have read the adventures of Winnie the Pooh in the Hundred Acre Wood as you drifted off to sleep. Perhaps you were given a Pooh Bear to cuddle. You may have learned to read with Winnie, sipped from a…

One for the Books

One for the Books

Stroll into nearly any home, school, grocery store, or gas station and, if you look around,  you’ll begin to notice books everywhere. I say “if you look” because books have become so commonplace that they barely register in the mind’s eye. Through fiction or fact, verse or prose, art or photography, books exist to spark…

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Playing in Time

Playing in Time

Recently, a museum guest asked me to tell her about the most interesting question I’d received as director of the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play. The answer was easy—I take great satisfaction in uncovering some elusive fragment of information that helps a researcher resolve an issue or solve a puzzle. As more information…

Strong Connections

Strong Connections

The signs are everywhere: YARD SALE, GARAGE SALE, ESTATE SALE, MOVING SALE. Like the sirens of Greek mythology, their sweet song proves irresistible. My sister and I spend many a weekend chasing down sales—a favorite leisure activity. I don’t consider myself a collector but a treasure hunter caught by the whimsical item that seizes my…

Imaginary Gardens

Imaginary Gardens

Time can be as regular as clockwork or supple as our shifting perceptions of it. Each year I note the winter solstice and hold onto the certainty that each day afterward is growing longer, minute by minute. As the days lengthen, I inevitably succumb to the seduction of the gardening catalogs that “like clockwork” begin…

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Fore-Edge Paintings: Hidden Treasures

Fore-Edge Paintings: Hidden Treasures

How many times have you been told that “you can’t judge a book by its cover”? As a librarian, I fully endorse this sentiment. I would, however, like to create a related maxim: you can’t judge a closed book by its fore-edge. What’s a fore-edge, you ask? In book-speak, that’s the name for the edge…