Long live the library!

September 16, 2005

The last few weeks have seen some awesome changes to the Inkberry space. We’ve repainted; our classroom is now a warm lemon yellow, and our library a dovey kind of bluegrey (that’s thanks to intrepid adventurer Jill and a passel of college students; more on that shortly). And as part of that process, we had to move the contents of our library, and then move them back. The shuttling of books from room to room reminded me just how neat our Writers’ Resource Library is, so I figured I’d come wax rhapsodic about it for a minute. Especially since we just got some really neat new donations of magazines and books.

The original idea behind our resource library was twofold: we aimed to collect journals (so writers could get a sense for where to submit their work) and books about writing and publishing (because it’s always fun to read other peoples’ accounts of the writing life), and we aimed to provide a comfortable and cosy space where writers could congregate, hang out, work on their writing, or just read in a friendly environment. Along the way we wound up with a good collection of other stuff, too: novels, poetry, even a handful of fascinating books on science and philosophy.

Having given up our enormous and ancient cabinet-mounted television when we moved upstairs, we decided to shell out for a real TV recently — so now we can watch our collection of Lannan Literary Series videos of poets reading and discussing their own work. (We’ll also be using that TV to watch literary movies in our Salon Series, which begins in a couple of weeks — more about that soon.) And Barry Goldstein kindly donated several chairs, including a wooden rocking chair that I might have to commandeer for the office because I’m so fond of it already.

Meanwhile, two boxes of books just arrived in the mail. From Pat Schneider (of Amherst Writers and Artists fame) came a bundle of her books, including Writing Alone and With Others (book and dvd!); from poet David Lehman (who read here a few years ago) came another box of books for the Lehman Collection, which includes all kinds of books, journals, and limited-edition chapbooks, most autographed and many with notes and letters to David tucked neatly inside the cover or flap.

Here endeth the paean of praise to the Inkberry Writers’ Resource Library. It’s currently open on Wednesday and Friday afternoons from 1-5pm, and by appointment, so if you’re looking for a cosy place to write (especially once winter weather sets in), or if you want to browse our stacks, please drop by! Inkberry members can even borrow books and videotapes, for free, for up to two weeks at a time…C’mon, you know you want to…

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Onscreen

July 15, 2005

We incorporated Inkberry in the fall of 2000, almost five years ago. We’ve done a lot of things since then: workshops, readings, events, a couple of moves. We tend to mark our “firsts” with celebration; after the first meeting of our first class, Emily and Sandy and I went out to the restaurant then known as 55 Main (next door to the Main Street Stage, where we were borrowing classrom space) to split a bottle of celebratory champagne. I feel kind of like doing that now, since today we hit another milestone. We just bought our first computer.

Don’t get me wrong; Inkberry’s always had computers. Plenty of them. We’re pretty computer-dependent around here. We use our computers for writing, banking, tracking enrollment, managing our mailing list — pretty much everything that goes into keeping Inkberry running, we do through the medium of a keyboard and screen. But all of our computers up ‘til now have been donated.

Our first computer was a little old Apple which we named, affectionately, “the doorstop.” Then came the PowerMac we dubbed “Big Mac,” which we eventually managed to upgrade to OS 9.2. Somewhere along the way we inherited a Linux box, which our friend Chris kindly programmed with a custom database for us. (We still use that. It’s mighty useful.)

A couple of years ago I got a laptop of my very own, which serves as my machine both at home and at work. For a while, that was a great solution; it meant I almost never used the office machine, so I didn’t really notice its age. But when Jill came on board in the spring, she was relegated to using the Big Mac…which has been getting creakier and creakier.

Sometimes it talks to us, a long, oscillating thrum like a field full of cricketsong rising and falling. It crashes when one least wants it to. And most recently it’s decided to stop recognizing the format of files which come from my computer, a Mac laptop running 10.3.9. That was the kicker.

We put out a call for newer donated equipment, but what we were looking for didn’t arise. So we researched our options, and last night I presented them to our board of directors. I was nervous. We’ve always been a shoestring operation, and I wasn’t sure the board would okay this kind of spending.

“You can’t do anything without a computer,” Rick noted.

“The money’s there; we should put it to good use,” Scott said.

“Go for it,” everyone agreed.

So today we tracked down the deal we wanted — a slightly used, in-good-condition Apple iMac G4 with a 15-inch screen — and with some trepidation I clicked the button labeled “buy.” Ten minutes later, I got the email informing us that our transaction had gone through. We’re about to be the proud owners of the first computer Inkberry’s ever chosen!

Something celebratory seems appropriate. But it’s mighty hot in the Inkberry suite, even with the fan on, and champagne just doesn’t seem like the right call. Maybe it’s time to venture down the street for a pair of iced coffees to toast all the exciting computing hours to come.