Bookshelf Report: A Very Librarian Collection

The Bookshelf Report is an ongoing series where a Bushwick reader invites us into their home and shares a little bit about the books that occupy their shelves.

Today’s bookshelf comes from Bushwick volunteer and resident soon-to-be library expert Ilse Allison. Ilse has been a strong part of our Bushwick volunteer team since the get go. You’ve probably seen her at shows behind the merch table selling you stuff.


How do you organize your books?

​They’ve made it to the shelf vaguely by theme, sometimes for subtle jokes that make me chuckle. I keep my library books together so I don’t forget to return them on time and devote a shelf to schoolwork. Cookbooks get their own shelf in the kitchen.


​Be honest. What percentage of the books on this shelf have you actually read?

erh, um, uhhhh, 10%? Between all the moving I’ve done over the ​years and my regular use of libraries for my current reading, I don’t have much need – okay, let’s call it for what it is, I don’t have the *space* –  for books in my house. What winds up on my shelves are mostly gifts or reference books.


What’s your favorite book on the shelf ?

One book that’s been influential on me isn’t on the shelf, actually, because I’m rereading it, and I read in bed. It’s Walter Benton’s poetry “This is My Beloved,” a story of love known and lost. As a teen, I had to go into the city to hunt it down in used shops on South Street and used it to press roses I received. Arthur Prysock recorded a spoken word, jazzy version of it in the late ’60s that I eventually discovered in, of all places, my aunt’s record collection. It’s very much a product of its time, but oh, how deliciously it mixes with candlelight and a glass of wine on a rainy Seattle evening.


What’s the most interesting book on the shelf?

​Right now, Sex and Single Girls probably fits that description. Fascinating, no holds barred stories of, for and by women about their explorations of sexuality.


What book do you plan on reading?

I’m deep in the midst of ​Research Methods, required reading for my MLIS coursework.​ All my other reading time is spent on articles – see that growing pile of printouts? I’ll likely sneak in another volume or two of the Walking Dead, though, before the next Bushwick show.


MLIS eh? Why did you decide to pursue a career as a library scientist?

What can I say? I’ve always wanted to have love professed to me at the reference desk. In truth, I believe my interest in librarianship predates my memory. By the time I was a little kid, I thought the best thing in the world would be being the librarian on an island off the coast of Maine. Had I even been to Maine? No! These days that dream has morphed into a desire to work with metadata and taxonomies, so I’m much more on the “information science” side of things than “librarianship.” We’ll see how school goes, though – I can already feel myself being pulled back to helping people in more direct ways or with greater advocacy.


I don’t think I have ever seen a librarian diorama before? What’s the story behind it?

Ah, yes, the famous Librarian Action Figure (with Amazing push-button Shushing Action!). It was so popular that they came put with the deluxe edition that I have on the shelf. Modeled after local librarian Nancy Pearl, of Book Lust fame, wishing upon it got me through many a worried night while waiting to receive my acceptance letter to school.


Assuming you’ve read it, what were your 3 biggest take aways from The Body Language And Emotions of Cats? And if you haven’t read it yet, WHY HAVEN’T YOU READ IT YET??!!!!!

Oh, no! You’ve called me out on a book I haven’t read, but let’s see what we find, eh? Opening up to a random page, I see that one solution they’re offering to deal with a poorly socialized cat is to euthanize it. Hrm, maybe this isn’t the book for me…

Thank you, Ilse! I wish you the best in your pursuit of librarian scientist stardom!

Hey you! Are you dreaming of featuring your book collection on the Bushwick Bookshelf Report? Just let me know and I will make your dream a reality.

Peace out!