Paperbackswap, Polyester, and Polynesia

January 20, 2011 § Leave a comment is an amazing invention for cheapskates like me. It lets complete strangers post lists of their books, and then trade them with other complete strangers, all for the low low price of a media mail postage rate. To ship a book under a pound is $2.38 and a book 1-2 pounds is $2.77. If you found a used book on Amazon that was the lowest price available, 1 penny, you’d still have to pay an additional $3.99 for shipping. $4.00 is the absolute cheapest you can get away with on Amazon. So with, you’re saving a minimum of $1.23 per book, and possibly up to $1.62! Ok, it doesn’t sound like a lot, but I read at least 1 book a week, so my potential savings are, well, do the math, a lot! Not as much as I’m saving every week by buying organic milk at Whole Foods for $6.59 a gallon versus $4.99 for a half gallon at the deli (which happens to be the only other store in the neighborhood that sells the milk Dan likes), but it’s enough savings to indulge my paperback addiction. Ok, there’s some downsides to the Swap. They don’t have everything. And the really hot titles, you have to join a long waiting list for, and the obscure titles you have to wait until someone posts it. But the wish and waiting lists are actually pretty cool, because eventually, you actually move to the top of the list, or some other weirdo is actually interested in the same obscure book you are and is done with his copy, and then bingo! it arrives in the mail! It’s magical.

Case in point. After approximately 1.5 years of being on the waiting list, last week I finally received The Girl Who Played with Fire. On Amazon a used copy is going for $3.65. Add $3.99 for shipping to that and you’ve got a pretty hefty price tag. AND! Now that I have my very own copy of Stieg v.2, that I only paid $2.38-$2.77 for, I don’t have to re-post it on PBS. I can sell it on Amazon! I think that qualifies me for bad citizen anti-brownie points though. However, every $3.65 I earn goes towards the funding of Vintrowear, my online vintage clothing store scheduled to launch this Spring 2011! My very first purchase will be a mannequin. Whoo hoo! Then a postage scale. Then some mailing labels. Then some vintage clothes at wholesale prices from Sazz Bulk Vintage! I am very excited.

In the mean time, what am I doing you ask? Reading up! For all PBS’s merits, and all my complaints about Amazon’s $3.99 shipping, PBS has not been an ideal venue for obtaining vintage fashion guides. I’ve used the PBS Wish List feature to put my name down for every single fashion-related book I could find on the site. Every once in a while I receive one in the mail, but they’ve been few and far between. I’ve actually had better luck getting some cheapies on Amazon. I’d like to share them with you.

My fave thus far has been Tomorrow’s Heirlooms: Fashions of the 60s and 70s by Trina Robbins.

I thought I’d already formed an opinion about polyester: doesn’t breath, retains body odours, sports garish colors. But I think this book has changed my mind. It focuses almost exclusively on polyester, dacron, and other unnatural fibers. But Robbins is so enamored with synthetic fabrics that it’s hard not to get caught up in the hype:

Polyester, like the plastic it comes from, doesn’t decay…. And of course, moths don’t eat it. The human race may eventually become extinct, but cockroaches and polyester will remain on this planet forever.

Charming, right? Robbins does discuss how well brightly colored dyes saturate polyester and hold their color, century after century without fading. And when you think of their longevity as their most admirable quality, garish colors stop seeming painful on the eyes and instead start seeming quaint, all-American, steadfast, stalwart, courageous brave and true! Seriously, after reading this book I started feeling much more fondly towards polyester. The book is chock-a-block with full color photos, although the photos are sort of weird looking. I don’t think she used professional models, which isn’t the problem, it’s that they look like regular girls from the 90’s hangin’ out in present day San Francisco wearing clothes from the way back machine. It was just incongruous. And the models look kindof uncomfortable too. Maybe they don’t like polyester?

I found interesting her chapter on Hawaiian dresses. Whenever I think of my mother as she existed before I was born, I picture her in this dress:

Hawaii, circa 1969-71

I think this might have been taken while she was visiting my dad in Hawaii during R&R from Vietnam.  But I could have the whole story completely wrong.  (If my mother is reading this, perhaps she could chime in.)  In my mind, I think I always considered the Hawaiian dress the quintessential 60s dress, in part I think because of this picture and the real estate it occupies in my memory.  Incidentally, for years this blond wig lived in a wigbox under the bathroom sink, and my sister and I would try it on whenever we played dress up.  My mom is naturally a redhead, but I love this Mad Men blond buffont.  Anyways, Robbins has a whole chapter with many awesome photos of Hawaiian dresses, which lead me on this walk down memory lane.

And speaking of used books.  Many of my friends are authors, and they may have strong feelings about the used book industry, whether for cash or swap.  I understand completely.  Which is why whenever one of my friends writes a book, I buy multiple brand new copies and hand them out to all my other friends and family members for Christmas.  But let me do my bit for the book industry and urge all 7 of my blog readers to buy something by Trina Robbins.  Her love of polyester and Polynesia has inspired me!

Hello, Birkenstocks!

May 11, 2010 § Leave a comment

I am reminded of my friend and career inspiration, Alison Fraser, who passed away 10 years ago next month.  When I was a poor little Marketing Assistant for a nasty, carping little book publisher, it was Alison who inspired me to become a librarian.  She was glamorous, sexy, smart, and was the very thing that I had always wanted to be when I grew up: a Lipstick Librarian!  Not one of those birkenstock-and-landsend-wearing public librarians who stand at reference desks and shush people, but a genuine corporate librarian who wore snappy suits and sat in a cubicle with a real live office chair on wheels.  Oh, she was so cool.  I remember, too, before she got sick, one night the group was eating at Noho Star before seeing a show.  Something tells me it was AY?  Can’t remember now.  Alison had escaped the layoffs at her company that had also slashed their print collection.  As our group squished into the pushed-together tables at the back of the restaurant, we all kept scooting down, down a chair.  When Alison, on the end, ran out of chairs, she joked something to the effect of, “Who me?  I don’t need a chair!  I’ll sit on the floor!  I’ll sit anywhere, can you tell I’ve been downsized?”  That was actually the first time I ever heard anyone use the word downsized in application to themselves.  I had no idea then what downsizing could do to one’s ego.  Let me just say this, today, they came for my copy machine.  So I say to them, you can take my books, you can take my library, you can take my copy machine.  Hell, you can even take my chair!  Just don’t take my job.  That’s me, the Downsized Librarian.  Alison had that right too!  Wish I had listened to her.  Hello, birkenstocks?  Maybe those public librarians are on to something!

Today I saw this on the libjobs list-serve.  I hear Wisconsin’s lovely!

Today we are posting a new position of Library Director for our new
library that will be opening in June of 2011.  Please see below for the
complete job post:

Library Director
City of Fitchburg (WI) Public Library

Fitchburg, Wisconsin, is a suburban community of 25,000 residents
adjacent to Madison.  The Fitchburg Public Library (FPL) Board of
Trustees seeks a dynamic, innovative, and collaborative leader to
develop and manage the city’s first public library.  The new library
is scheduled to open June 2011.

The director will work with the city during the construction and
furnishing of the new 38,000 square foot, $14 million building; hire and
train a staff of 18.5 FTE; develop service policies and procedures; and
build an opening day collection of over 60,000 items.  Ongoing
administrative duties include working with a seven-member library board;
preparing and managing the budget; managing the new facility; and
representing the library to the public and governmental agencies.

Applicants must have an ALA-accredited MLS with at least six years
progressively responsible experience in a library and a minimum of three
years post-MLS experience in administration and supervision in a public

The Library Director is an exempt, non-represented position with a
hiring salary of $64,090 – $69,917 per year, depending on
qualifications.  The 2010 salary range, based on a combination of years
of service and merit, is $64,090 – $89,581.  Salary increases occur
according to the non-represented compensation plan, usually on an annual
basis, with budgetary approval.  Current budgetary projections indicate
a salary increase of three (3) percent in January of 2011, bringing the
hiring salary to near or above $70,000.  Besides a competitive salary,
people choosing the City of Fitchburg will find a comprehensive benefit
package, including State of Wisconsin health Insurance, employer funded
retirement plan, life and disability insurance.  Dental insurance,
flexible spending plan, deferred compensation programs and an on-site
fitness center are also available.

Application materials, including a complete job description, are
available online at, or at Fitchburg City Hall,
5520 Lacy Road, Fitchburg, WI 53711.  Completed applications must be
RECEIVED at City Hall by 4:30 p.m., Friday, June 18, 2010 in order to be
considered.  Applications received via fax or email will not be

Equal Opportunity Employer

Sarah Olson
HR Assistant
City of Fitchburg
5520 Lacy Rd.
Fitchburg, WI 53711-5318

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