Reader's Exchange

Not that you asked...

Not everyone who works in the library is a librarian (technically, that's only the folks with MLS or MLIS degrees).  And among the librarians, library assistants, and library associates in the building, a smaller percentage than you might think were English majors.

Fortunately.  Every day, questions prove our wide-ranging accumulation of life experience, education, and prior employment to be useful.

Ideally, an English major would show you how to achieve parallel structure in your resume or advise which poem to select for a child who hates poetry but has to memorize some.  In a perfect world, your assignment on workplace motivation would match you with a business or psychology major. 

Nice, but not necessary.  We learn from one another and remember who-knows-what for purposes of consultation. 

Conversations in the break room or during pre-opening sometimes involve literary or academic topics as you'd expect.  But we also consider, well, practically anything.   Following up on our own questions (some recent ones below), we discover or re-discover excellent resources for customer inquiries: 

The origin of chicken-fried steak
As in, "Are you sure that's a Texas dish?  I thought it was Midwestern."  Evidence suggests a high probability that CFS is Texan and an even stronger likelihood that it's at least Southern.  Handbook of Texas Online acknowledges possible forebears of CFS (wiener schnitzel, really?), along with three regional Texas permutations (also, the most common mistakes in preparation).  Threadgill's: The Cookbook reveals the restaurant's wet-dry-wet "secret" method.  Texas Eats: The New Lone Star Heritage Cookbook devotes an entire chapter ("Chicken-Fried Steak in Paradise") that you shouldn't miss, especially the Chicken Fried Steak Belt Theory. 

Aggie bluebonnetsHow can they be bluebonnets if they aren't blue?
Sometimes described as "reddish" or "burgundy", a recent variety can be found at, among other places, Round Rock Gardens.  For anyone enchanted by the intense hue inspiring our state flower's name, this tint is a bit of a jolt.  Aggie Horticulture explains that we've always had variations of this flower, a fact which complicated legislation on its behalf.   The "Texas Maroon" bluebonnet boasts its very own chronicle.  

Biggest/best Presidential library?
The new George W. Bush Library's homepage claims 70 million pages of textual materials, with supplemental records (e.g., condolence mail received by the State Department following the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks).   According to the National Archives and Records Administration, the Clinton Presidential Library, with over 76,000 textual pages and additional holdings, offers the most resources.   The George W. Bush Library, according to NBC News, occupies the largest space:  226,500 cubic feet.

As for "best":  If you're an architecture fan, you'll appreciate Jacqueline Kennedy's choice of I.M. Pei to design the JFK Library--unless you're more impressed by FDR's own sketch having suggested the look for his library.  And so forth...

What happened to (the good) Cracker Jack Prizes?  I can't answer that one.  But you can revisit the glory days of in-the-box premiums at the Cracker Jack Collectors Association website or by reading articles like "Cracker Jack Collectibles" featuring CJ collector Jim Davis (Antiques & Collecting Magazine, Jan. 2005, p. 28-32) via the library's Masterfile online resource.

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