Brian Glanz » About My Library

This Brian Glanz is a social entrepreneur in Seattle, as on Twitter, Flickr, LibraryThing, Seattle Net Tuesday, Slashdot, Defend Science, MSNBC,, et al.

About My Library

From Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist, poet, philosopher; in “Books,” Society and Solitude, 1870:

In a library we are surrounded by many hundreds of dear friends, but they are imprisoned by an enchanter in these paper and leathern boxes; and though they know us, and have been waiting two, ten, or twenty centuries for us,—some of them,—and are eager to give us a sign and unbosom themselves, it is the law of their limbo that they must not speak until spoken to.

My library is a labor of love. Friends and family might call it thousands of “labors of love,” schlepped up and down flights of stairs, across town, and across the country on moving days.

There are more statistical ways to describe my library, too. I have uploaded roughly ten percent of it into LibraryThing, an online catalog which lets me tag, review, and otherwise categorize all our volumes. For the first two hundred or so then, the statistics show:

Dates of the Editions in Our Library

2000 - 2008 22
1990 - 1999 62
1980 - 1989 24
1970 - 1979 25
1960 - 1969 18
1950 - 1959 5
1900 - 1949 34
1800 - 1899 13

Date is the edition’s publication date of the copy we own, not date of the original work.

I collected more in and from the 1990s, when I was in college, but I still own sizable amounts from much earlier times and I still find reasons, even now, to acquire new material in book form. I started building a library before the World Wide Web and browsers and search technology, before MIT OpenCourseWare, Google Book Search, et al., and before sites like LibraryThing brought classic literacy full into the Participation Age. Now in the 21st century, there is far more content that is easily found, free, useful, and interesting than I can experience in one lifetime.

So much has changed hardware side, too. I started college in the early 1990s, with a cutting-edge laptop that weighed less than three pounds. Some of its other once-unusual, cutting-edge features were a color screen and a port for Internet access :) My IBM 701 CS was so cool it had been featured in a James Bond film, and it is so tiny it has a butterfly keyboard. I wondered then if it meant the end of books. I also had free video chats with my parents who lived 3,000 miles away, and wondered then if it meant the end of people paying for phone lines. Well I still own and still buy some books, I still pay for some phone calls, and alas! I still don’t have a jetpack or a flying car.

15 years and thousands of books later, I now have one slim, slate-form tablet PC and two other convertible tablet PCs, a super-light XO laptop whose screen you can read in bright daylight, and a touchscreen smart-mobile “phone.” I have an oversized monitor on a desk in my home office, connected to a desktop machine, for when my legs are tired from all that mobility and my eyes start to water from the small screens. I have terabytes of space at home and more than I could use online.

All of this technology has drastically changed my experience of the written word and my idea of a library. The reasons to collect content in book form are dwindling. As for what I already have, my wife and I are slowly giving away most of my, or rather, our library. She has encouraged me for years to find schools and give. We have given away enough stacks and boxes that the library is near 2,000 volumes. At its peak it might have been twice as large, and I may have acquired a few dozen more since I first gave some away.

As for what a library is — it now seems more personal than ever. What was once a list of bookmarks or favorite links saved in a browser is now a vast, searchable (thank you Google), extensible history and collection and prediction of what I read or might want to read. It’s constantly accessible on a half dozen machines in my home, it’s in my pocket and just about everyone else’s — it seems like it’s everything, everywhere, and yet still more personal than ever.

I am a Lifetime Member of LibraryThing, which is not only for cataloging but some social networking, too. One of my goals on that site: after spending time with my friendly old fire hazards and LibraryThing, I can know what to give and prospective beneficiaries can know if they’re interested. Another goal is smarter access to the library I keep. In fact, I’ve kept my 1994 edition IBM 701 CS alive, because it’s book sized and makes a nice terminal for access to my LibraryThing, in my home library. I recently upgraded it to Windows ‘95 (seriously!) and my next challenge is to either get it online wirelessly, or to simplify synching its offline version of my LibraryThing with the real, online deal.

As for what I read, I am somewhere in the middle of a dozen or so books right now, on paper. I probably will be in the middles of a dozen or so for the rest of my life. Recently I finished Obama’s Dreams from My Father and started The Audacity of Hope, both gifts from my wife in 2008. In the summer of 2008, a neighbor loaned me Summerland by Michael Chabon, which I read 30 to 50 pages at a time as a bedtime story. In paper form, I probably read only a couple dozen books per year completely, and many more than that partially. Another friend of mine recently invited me to check out a site for social networking based on what you have read, are reading, and plan to read. I added a handful of each and this is my profile over at goodreads.

Thanks to LibraryThing, you can browse my library randomly or browse by tag, and below you can search it:

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Upcoming @ Pacific Science Center?

Joey Mornin, @joemornin on Twitter and a research assistant at the Berkman Center, had tweeted “I have seen the future, and it is a Carl Sagan/Stephen Hawking remix …” (11:24 AM Oct 2nd from TweetDeck). That I had to see, and when I saw it I had to tweet: “This Carl Sagan Stephen Hawking remix … should play on a wall @PacSci :) via @joeymornin” (11:35 AM Oct 2nd from Google Wave (Tweety)).

Pacific Science Center, @PacSci on Twitter, understands social media. As every person, business, or organization using social media ought to be, in a word they are: social. When I mention @PacSci, they watch for it and in this case their response was: “RT @brianglanz: This Carl Sagan Stephen Hawking remix … should play on a wall @PacSci :) via @joeymornin <GLORIOUS!>” (11:43 AM Oct 2nd from Seesmic). They responded quickly, giving credit to Joey Mornin and me, and added their own comment, <GLORIOUS!> — all in 140 characters. <yoda>Impressive!</yoda>

Will the “A Glorious Dawn” remix actually appear at the Pacific Science Center? Whether on a wall, at a kiosk, or on screen before IMAX films I do think this sort of “citizen media” should be displayed alongside “citizen science” in our educational and cultural institutions. This video accentuates and amplifies important parts of the messages Sagan, Hawking, and science at large have to share. In an incomplete circle, science has made possible the technology, has made possible the culture, has made possible great grassroots work like this media; science needs to close the circle and better connect with the community.

Quintin Doroquez, @quintind on Twitter chimed in, too by tweeting “@brianglanz That was brilliant!” (11:57 AM Oct 2nd from Tweetie) and I could not agree more. Thanks and congratulations to the creator of “A Glorious Dawn,” John Boswell, melodysheep on YouTube, whose video has a perfect 5 out of 5 stars after thousands of ratings and more than 600,000 views in its first two weeks.

还原真相:To Restore The Truth


Twenty years ago on June 4, 1989, thousands of pro-democracy protesters — most of them students — were killed by the Chinese government where they gathered peacefully, in Tiananmen Square.

Seattle’s Ken Judd en Montage

Update: you are seeing this message if MySpace took the video down, again; I have it coded to show if the video cannot. The audio is out of copyright due to its age, but regularly trips MySpace automatic filters. I have had it unbanned twice by people, only to be re-banned. Alas! It is a montage from my photos of the works of Seattle’s Ken Judd.

I may remaster the video — publish a higher resolution, remove the birthday reference, add a new opening and closing, etc. Generally, this is a test of displaying video on while it is hosted here by MySpace.

Remember 2009? Google Wave was 'it', good for everything from Pulitzer Prize winning journalism to Open Science Notebooks. 2009 was also the last time I updated this web site, to which you are more than welcome with that in mind.

Also 'it' in 2009, but where you can still find me: Twitter of course. I'm @brianglanz and for more about my work, see @openscience.

You can also circle me in Google+, and since that's a more thorough effort all around by the Big G, we have taken to it -- there you could also +1 and circle our Open Science Federation Page or join our new Open Science Community.