The Race Underground: Boston, New York, and the Incredible Rivalry That Built America’s First Subway is a fascinating look at one of modern society’s most taken-for-granted features: public transit. Specifically, it’s a look at the events and people that helped create the public transit systems that would eventually become New York City’s MTA and Boston’s MBTA. Doug Most’s prose can occasionally veer off the main rail of the story, but always with the purpose of making sure the reader understands the personalities and the politics that formed the United States in the late 1800s.
It’s particularly interesting to see names that have passed into near myth appear on the pages – names like Teddy Roosevelt, Boss Tweed, and Thomas Edison. You can also see the seeds of the 20th century sewn, as others – such as John F Kennedy’s grandfather – show up and either throw their support for a subway in their city or stand in the way and try to block what was seen as a public menace.
Doug Most is very clearly deeply interested in this period in history, and it shows in his prose as he paints the scene of two Northeast cities exploding with populations and scrambling to handle the sudden influx of people. His enthusiasm shines through so clearly that it’s hard not to become drawn in and read quickly in hopes of finding out which city would eventually go on to make history in the US. Which is particularly impressive, given that it is a matter of public record (and pride for that particular city).
Quite frankly, it’s also just fun to see all of this form, and try to match the images presented in the book up against one’s own experience getting around NYC and Boston. Times have changed drastically since these days.
The Race Underground is a great read for the summer (especially when you can find somewhere air conditioned to read it). You can find it in the Tufts Library catalog and order it from Tisch here. Fun fact: it’s a 90 day rental!
Hello all! As you may recall, the Hirsh Library ran its biannual Affiliation Week survey back in March, which means the time has come for a blog post where I show you some of the numbers, so you can see how your school sized up against the others!
First up: how busy was the library? Well, the short answer is: crazy busy. March was overall just about one of the busiest months we’ve ever had (which is its own story for another day), and that was reflected pretty clearly in our data. For instance:, here’s how busy that week was (in terms of total people in the library):
Crazy, right? We had 793 people in the library on Wednesday, March 25th. It may not be the busiest day we’ve had, but that’s still busy! But really, we’re here to talk about the schools, so try this next chart on for size. It’s the total numbers of people from each school that were counted in Circulation (checking things out) vs Affiliation (when we walked around and asked where you were from):
So, ah…congrats, Dental! You blew everyone away in sheer numbers of people studying in the library. The circulation race was a bit closer, though: Dental was first with 372 checkouts, but Medical was a close second with 327, and Nutrition actually came in at third with 281. Of course, this is a good time to point out that it is not actually a contest between the programs – Hirsh is here to help everyone on our Health Sciences campus, whether they show up in huge numbers in these data sets, or whether we only see a few of their members all month. It is very helpful to know how we’re getting used, though, so here we are.
The final March chart is one of my personal favorites: the by-floor breakdown. This is where we can see how the members of the different programs spread out in the library. This is where you can see the most popular study spaces. To the surprise of absolutely nobody, it’s mainly the 7th floor:
What’s really interesting here is the way it got used, though. Yes, Dental used the heck out of the 7th floor, but once you remove that outlier what you see is…remarkably homogenous. Medical broke almost even between quiet floors on one side and “noisy” floors on the other. If they weren’t on the 7th floor, the Dental students could be almost anywhere else. Sackler students (which, for this survey, includes PA, PHPD, and MBS) were again preferring the 7th, but appeared willing to show up almost anywhere with equal interest. Nutrition preferred the 5th floor, though. Perhaps due to the sheer amount of group-appropriate space on that floor?
This brings us all to the Affiliation Year-In-Review part of this post. As I said, March was crazy busy. How busy, you might ask? Well, compared to October, we had more people in the library:
We checked out more books, laptops, and chargers (especially chargers):
We had more people around to tell us what programs they were from:
And each one of our floors was used more than it had been in October. This final chart suggests that all of the construction on the 6th floor has gone to good use (that’s a jump of 236 people right there – ultimately making the 6th floor busier than the 5th by 9 people), although no matter how many classrooms we build, people will always prefer the quiet of the 7th floor for work and studying:
Thank you for reading! Once all the numbers for this academic year are in this summer, I will be putting together a look back at this past year, which has been busier than we’ve ever been (and perhaps even busier than we were expecting to be). In the meantime, if you’d like a more in-depth discussion of any of the information presented (or if you’re just interested in chatting usage or data in general), feel free to come see me at the Service Desk on Sackler 4 some weeknight! I’m always happy to talk.
Especially after being driven half-blind by Excel’s chart system.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette is a quirky little novel, full of delightful characters and funny situations. The entire novel is told in pieces, through a combination of e-mails, various reports, and the commentary of our narrator, Bee. Bee’s goal in sharing the story is to piece together the mindset and life of her mother, Bernadette Fox, who becomes harder and harder to understand right up until she vanishes.
The characters sparkle in this book, especially the namesake Bernadette Fox. Everyone feels like people you might know in your neighborhood, and it’s very easy to like or hate them accordingly. But above all, everything that happens is so absurd that it’s impossible not to laugh and enjoy the actions of Bernadette as she handles the public, fellow mothers at her daughter’s school, and even her own husband. A ridiculous yet sympathetic character you will find yourself quickly rooting for.
If you’re looking for something light and fun to distract you from a mountain of work (or to entertain you on your train ride into school), look no further than Where’d You Go, Bernadette.
Want to read Where’d You go, Bernadette? You can check it out at Hirsh! Just click the cover to be taken to the listing in the catalog. Happy reading!
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