Just for fun: June 2009 Archives
I don't know anyone who doesn't have strong and, in most cases, positive associations with at least a few books they read as a child. Some books bring back incredibly specific and meaningful memories, both of the works themselves, and often of the people and places related to when we first encountered them. Being able to hold a copy of a book we haven't seen in many, many years can be as powerful as seeing a photo from the deep past.
When my father was in grade school, in the late 1940's and early 1950's, his class read a number of books from the "Children of the Americas" series. He not only recalled the books, but retold many of the stories to my brother and me when we were young. When I became an adult, I kept an eye out for them. But, of course, in the days before the Web, it was difficult to search based on the scant information I had about a few of the books.
Last year, for Father's Day, I decided to take another look for some of the books. Even online, they are incredibly hard to find, and I wasn't able to find any of the ones he recalled for purchase anywhere. I did find a few of them in WorldCat, though. Not many, and not at many libraries. But enough...
Working with my local library, I got a copy of the book sent to me through ILL the week before I'd see Dad down in Tennessee for Father's Day. I wrapped the book, along with a card that said, "To be enjoyed briefly."
When he unwrapped the book and saw that it was one that he'd held in his hands more than 50 years before, he was thrilled. The ILL wrapper, however, confused him for a moment.
"This is a library book?" he asked.
"Yeah," I replied. "From Indiana. I got them to send it to Columbus so I could bring it to show you. I couldn't find one to buy anywhere, but thought you'd get a kick out of at least seeing one again."
He grinned like a kid and said, "Well, yeah. Of course." Then he started thumbing through it, remarking on how well it matched his memories. He recalled specific illustrations, passages and characters in great detail, talking them through as he read. Over the weekend he picked up the book several times, and in holding it, recalled related memories of school, friends and the times in my childhood when he'd made up stories based on the characters he'd read about.
When I left, I appologized that I hadn't been able to find one that he could keep. Like all Dads, from all times, when it comes to Father's Day gifts, he was dismissive of the idea that the gift wasn't perfect.
"I don't need one on the shelf," he said. "Just knowing it's there, and that my memories aren't failing me...yes... is a comfort."
I returned the book on time. From Indiana to Ohio to Tennessee to 1952 and back in a couple weeks.
We've just incorporated WorldCat Identities into WorldCat.org navigation proper, rather than having to satellite out to a listing and then find your own way back. You can get to a WorldCat Identities page from the "Find more information about" drop-down in the Details section of a detailed record:
WorldCat Identities is one of those fun things we like to play around with, here at OCLC. It showcases things you don't find many other places--like you can see the most widely held works by a writer, or how one fictional character is related to another one, or get a visual for publication timelines, or audience recommendation levels, or, or, or...there's a lot of good stuff there.
In fact, here's our own Andy Havens talking about WorldCat Identities:
So who's your favorite WorldCat Identity? Tell the world, in your comments. Or tweet it with the tag #wcid
Updated note:The Barack Obama Identities page linked to above does not list the subject headings with him as President. It turns out, WorldCat Identities reflects a writer or a character's bibliographic footprint. Everything on an Identities page is actually pulled from a bibliographic record in WorldCat. So WorldCat needs people to write more items (and have libraries acquire them) about Obama now that he is the POTUS, and the Identities page will update accordingly.