On the Road Again | Newberry

On the Road Again

Today, sardine sandwich cookie, we are going to discuss sorting things into categories at the Book Fair. Yes, I know that’s your favorite blog subject. It’s why the windows are locked shut at the Newberry.

I always thought Transportation was a pretty easy category to understand. Someone did ask, some years ago, “What’s the difference between Travel and Transportation? You’re on the move in both categories.”

“Travel,” I explained, “Is where you’re going and Transportation is how you get there.” He shook his head and walked away, muttering something I THINK involved telling me where to go and how to get there.

Let’s start with a recent treasure donated to us. It was a jolly little pamphlet of about 1912, involving a new railroad that had been built in Colorado. To advertise the new route, the railroad issued a booklet of photographs showing the scenery out of the window along the way. Where would you sort this one: Travel or Transportation?

Those of you who said “Collectibles, Uncle Blogsy!” show a certain discernment. But, alas, when I looked up the value of the pamphlet, it rolled in at about ten bucks. The railroad apparently gave out a LOT of these booklets.

Of course, you can’t see the booklet, so I have an unfair advantage in this contest, but the answer is A. Travel. See, there is not a single picture in the booklet of the train itself. In 1912, people were used to trains, and knew what they looked like. The scenery in the Rocky Mountains was the exciting bit, and that is the focus of the booklet. So this should be found among the books on Western America/Colorado in the Travel section next year. (Only it won’t be, because it turned out the Newberry didn’t have a copy in the collection. It does now. I promise the NEXT copy that comes in will be in Travel. Those of you, by the way, who suggested Photography are just being ornery.)

But that’s ONE of the rules of the game. If you’re supposed to pay attention to the wire wheels on the car, it’s Transportation. If you’re supposed to admire the country you travel through ON those wheels, it’s Travel.

There are, of course, other conflicts. I know that skis and skates are technically modes of transportation, but books on skiing or skating are to be found in Sports (though Ice Capades programs will turn up in Collectibles or Show Biz, depending on their age and scarcity.) Running is certainly a mode of transportation, but don’t look for it there. Running in a marathon will be found in Sports, but running for your heart will be in Health. Are you keeping up? Good. It gets worse.

What about bicycles? Bicycles are ridden for your Health, raced for Sport, or simply used for traveling, which, of course, means those books go in Transportation. Books on how to repair or build bicycles are often to be found in How To (Hands), though I try to nudge them over into Transportation, too, where they can sit next to the books on how to tune up your 1957 Chevy. (Don’t look for those in Transportation, though. That’s where I’d put ‘em, if anybody ever gave them away, but people don’t.)

Pieces of vehicles (figureheads or hood ornaments) are the subject of books in Antiques, along with the book on, say, gas station memorabilia. But books on antique airplanes are to be found in Transportation UNLESS they’re military craft, in which case they are in Military History. A book on the early history of flight attendants would go in Transportation as well (although the Coffee, Tea or Me books are to be found in Humor.)

I hope that has helped. Perhaps next time I’ll explain one of the more complicated categories, like Reference. (Note to self: check dictionary. If you de-train when you get off the train, can you ex-plane?)

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