24 December 2013

The Accidental Law Librarian

Anthony Aycock, The Accidental Law Librarian.  Medford, NJ: 2013, Information Today.

The Accidental Librarian series is intended to provide working professionals with an introduction to new areas of practice, be they technologies or subjects.  In this volume, Aycock—who has worked in academic, court, and corporate law libraries—covers the basics: types of law, types of questions, and types of materials and sources.  It is a nice, easily-readable primer, and combined with something like West’s Legal Research in a Nutshell, would be an adequate foundation for a librarian to confidently step into a law library with tools enough to begin.

Of course, it is only an introduction, and Aycock provides plenty of pointers to additional resources.  While far from everything one needs to know, having spent several years in the field, I can say it would have been helpful to have this available when I started.  Recommended for both mid-career professionals entering a new field and new librarians just choosing their paths.


13 December 2013

The Antigone Poems

Marie Slaight and Terrence Tasker, The Antigone Poems.  Potts Point, NSW Australia: Altaire, 2013.

See that girl?  Her name is Antigone, and she is going to die—because that is what you do, when your name is Antigone.  But these poems are no retelling of the Sophocles’ myth.  Rather than showing us what happened, Slaight gives us a visceral expression of the girl’s anguish, while Tasker’s stark charcoal illustrations add an ominous element.

Poetry is a distillation of thought: feelings fermented into an idea, then further distilled into a powerful expression.  This work, with brevity and candor, telegraphs what Antigone felt, much the way we might describe a bad headache or a fading dream, with lines and images like “To touch death always, / That is the sun.”

The Antigone Poems are also a monument to the artist’s unshakable belief in her vision and dedication to her work: the poems were written between 1972 and 1981, and the illustrations created between 1974 and 1979.  Thirty years is a long time for poems to wait for an audience, but Slaight has given us a beautiful volume that provides an intensely personal understanding to our experience of the ancient story.