Currents: News from the Library on the River ... in Leland
A Note From Mark
During most months I struggle for a subject to write about in this newsletter. This month is the same as last, in that there is really only one subject to write about and that is how the Library is affected by COVID-19. Last Thursday the Governor extended her restrictions on places of public accommodation (which includes libraries) to May 28. This order also restricts curbside services for libraries. The Library of Michigan and the Michigan Library Association are working to have at least the curbside restriction lifted for all Michigan libraries provided it can be done in a safe way. We are making plans to have a curbside service but at this point we just don’t know when that will be. In the meantime, please continue to use our online resources such as eBooks and Audiobooks which are available through our website at lelandlibrary.org. This order will also cause us to cancel all programs for May and we anticipate that going into June the size of gatherings will be limited so we expect that we will not be having programs next month also.
In anticipation of being able to have a curbside service I have created a “how to” video which is a tutorial on how to use our online catalog to browse for books and reserve an item. The video is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3DI5uyefEA&feature=youtu.be
When we get closer to a date for curbside service we will send out specific information on exactly how this will happen.
Also in anticipation of being able to have curbside service we would like you to begin returning books you may have been holding so that we can put them in quarantine. That way they will be available to others when the time comes. If you are still reading any books, please don’t feel it is necessary to return them, just bring back items that you don’t want to hold onto. As mentioned before you can disregard any notices you may get about overdue items until we begin regular operations. Also do not disregard the Governor’s "Stay Home-Stay Safe" order to return items to the Library. If you find yourself out of the house for other reasons and it is convenient you can use the book drop. It is available 24 hours a day and you should realize the handle is not cleaned after every use so you should take appropriate precautions.
It has been very heartening to hear from people that feel we are an essential service and want us back as soon as possible, but the health and safety of our community take precedent so we continue to closely adhere to all orders from the Governor and Health Department.
The Library and Coronavirus FAQ
Why is the Library closed?
The Leland Township Public Library is closed in response to executive orders issued by Michigan Governor Whitmer. We will open again when State authorities say it is safe to do so.
Do I need to return my books?
You do not need to return your books; the due dates have been set back to June 1st and will continue to be updated to reflect the changing situation. Our drop box is currently still open, so you can return your books if necessary.
What about my MeLCat or interlibrary loan books?
The dates have likewise been set back for these. The MeLCat interlibrary loan system has also been suspended, so you will be unable to place requests at this time.
Accessing most of these resources will require your library card number and your password (your phone number unless you've manually changed it). If you need your library card number or need any assistance accessing our digital resources, please contact our director Mark or circulation clerk Jake at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com respectively, or leave a message at 231-256-9152.
Are you still offering Wi-Fi?
Yes, our Wi-Fi is still active and accessible from the parking lot. You can connect to the 'Library Public' network with the password 'ontheriver'. This should prompt a security screen to open on your laptop or device; once you've accepted our terms and conditions you should be connected.
Can I still place holds?
Yes, you can still place reserves in the catalog, and they will be processed when the library is able to open again. Any reserves placed before we closed are still valid as well. MeLCat requests are currently suspended.
Is the Munnecke Room available to use for public meetings?
No, the Munnecke room will remain closed until the library is open again.
What if I have any other questions?
If you have any other questions or concerns, if you need any assistance, or if you are simply looking for some information (on anything!), you can still reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by leaving a message at 231-256-9152.
Published in 1963, and the first real success of Dick's career, The Man in the High Castle imagines a present in which the Axis powers won the second world war. The United States itself lies partitioned between imperial Japan on the west coast—where most of the book takes place—Nazi Germany on the east coast, and a putatively independent state in the Rocky Mountains lying between them. Tensions in the world are rising between the Japanese empire and the German Reich, especially as the Germans are on the verge of a succession crisis to the chancellorship.
Naturally it stretches credulity, but it isn't through geopolitical plausibility that Dick creates a believable alternate-reality; it's through the ephemera and trash of every day existence. Advertisements for everyday products in Nazi-sponsored magazines, Japanese collectors of American folk culture—think baseball cards and old jazz records—the everyday difficulties and humiliations of being a citizen in an occupied nation, and the social tensions and injustices of American life which have, of course, not vanished in the wake of its defeat. This is not the typical, Red Dawn-like narrative of an invaded America, designed to please us with an image of heroic resistance.
The story itself is fairly tangled and complex, featuring a diverse crowd of improbably named characters, many of whom are not exactly as they seem: SS officers who are actually jewish spies from Sweden (or are they?), American factory workers and jewelry artisans, Italian truck drivers, Japanese CEOs and generals (in disguise, naturally) and the man in the high castle himself.
If you're wondering who exactly that titular man is: well, he's a famous writer of a controversial book. It happens to be about an alternate outcome to the second world war. You can likely guess the sort of world it depicts. His identity forms only one thread of the labyrinthine plot. And though that plot is intricate, it's never over-determined.
In fact, Philip K. Dick claimed to have allowed the plot to develop based on readings of the I Ching, an ancient Chinese book of divination. So, apparently, when determining what a given character would do next, Dick would consult the I Ching and, based on his interpretation of its gnomic text, decide how the story would proceed. To make things yet stranger, many of the novel's main character's consult the I Ching in the text itself. If that sounds a touch insane: perhaps it is, but the course of the story, however winding, never feels arbitrary. Nor does it feel like it's really the point of The Man in the High Castle. It provides a (more-or-less) grounded foundation for the dance of ideas to play out. And—as in all of Dick's work—it is a rich and strange play of themes indeed: it's an exploration of how difficult it actually is to discriminate between the natural, artificial, and transcendent; the surreally illuminating new perspectives that emerge out of the meeting between classical and modern, eastern and western ideas on the nature of reality and the self; the manner in which the development of civilization's technical power doesn't so much as solve our perennial human failings as it places them on a new, perturbingly larger scale; the relation of fiction to (alternate) reality(ies); and the capacity for empathy as the quality that makes human life tolerable.
What makes all of Dick's novels still classics worth reading today is their way of probing these far-reaching and deeply surreal questions within the deceptive, throw-away packaging of a pulpy sci-fi novel. The Man in the High Castle is no exception.
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