How the Chicago Public Library Is Bringing Story Time to the Laundromat

iStock.com/SbytovaMN
iStock.com/SbytovaMN

Once a week, several of the self-service laundromats in underserved areas of Chicago are converted into makeshift libraries where children can read or listen to stories, sing songs, and play educational games. In a city where more than 60 percent of low-income households don’t own any children’s books, the “Laundromat Story Time” program is filling a void, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Ever since the Chicago Public Library launched the program in March 2018, it has become a routine in many families’ lives. It has also proven helpful to parents, who receive tips from librarians on how to replicate these reading habits at home and instill a love of reading in their children. One recent study revealed that people who grow up with books at home tend to have better reading comprehension skills as well as better mathematical and digital communication skills later in life.

But why hold story hour at a laundromat instead of a library, or perhaps at a coffee shop? Becca Ruidl, who runs the Laundromat Story Time program, told U.S. News & World Report the idea is to make the program as convenient and accessible as possible. Since everyone needs clean clothes, and kids often join their parents on jaunts to the nearest laundromat, it seemed like a smart place to start.

Libraries Without Borders, which co-sponsored the Chicago program along with the LaundryCares Foundation, has held similar “Wash and Learn” programs in other cities. Pop-up libraries have appeared at laundromats in New York and Detroit as well as in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and St. Paul, Minnesota.

“One thing that makes laundromats so unique is that you have a captive audience,” Adam Echelman of Libraries Without Borders told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette when a laundromat program was hosted in the city last June. "We’re meeting families where they are. Instead of asking you to come to the library, we’re bringing these opportunities directly to you.”

[h/t U.S. News & World Report]

A 17th-Century Book With a Hidden Compartment for Poison Is Selling for $11,000

Abebooks
Abebooks

Most rare books are noteworthy for their illustrations or prose. But there's something different hiding between the covers of a folio currently for sale for $11,000 on AbeBooks: The book acts as a miniature apothecary cabinet with spaces for storing jars of poison.

The secret storage box masquerading as a manuscript was likely assembled sometime in the 19th century, Atlas Obscura reports. It uses the leather binding of Sebastião Barradas's Opera omnia, vol. III—a theology text from the mid-17th century—as its shell. Two hundred years or so after the original book was published, someone pasted together the pages and hollowed them out to make room for a discreet apothecary lab. A shelf holds four glass bottles measuring 10 centimeters high. Tiny drawers are labeled with the names of poisonous plants—such as hemlock, foxglove, and Devil's snare—in German, suggesting the book safe was crafted in Germany. On the inside of the front cover, a memento mori illustration depicts two skeletons above the Latin Bible quote "Statutum est hominibus semel mori," which means, "All men are destined to die once."

The Vienna-based antique bookseller INLIBRIS is selling the oddity through Abebooks. The sellers don't know the full backstory of the object, but they suspect it's not as dark as the skulls and poison labels suggest. Rather than being an authentic lab used by a poisoner, the book was likely made as a gag item.

The book may have been intended as a hoax, but that doesn't mean it can't be used as hidden storage today—ideally for something other than poison. Curio collectors can purchase the item for $10,924.51.

Book with secret compartment.
Abebooks

Secret compartment with bottles in book.
Abebooks

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

Daniel Radcliffe’s Original Harry Potter Glasses Are Hitting the Auction Block

© 2001 - Warner Bros. - All Rights Reserved
© 2001 - Warner Bros. - All Rights Reserved

Having trouble reading your spell books and A History of Hogwarts? Maybe all you need is a pair of original Harry Potter glasses. If you’re a diehard Potterhead, you can now buy one of the first pairs that Daniel Radcliffe himself wore on the set of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001).

The glasses are on auction on EwbankAuctions.com, but you might want to check your vault in Gringotts before you decide to put a bid down, because the movie prop is going for about £3000 to £5000 (around $3800 to $6300).

The description for the glasses is as follows:

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001) - Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter, a pair of silver metal wire frame glasses. Round clear lenses, bordered in black matte finish, silver metal earpieces tipped with transparent plastic. Left frame arm inscribed 'FRAME MADE IN ENGLAND' and right earpiece numbered '40 20 135'. These glasses are one of only a small number of pairs produced for the film. This is one of the first pairs of glasses Daniel Radcliffe wore as Harry Potter.

Judging by the photo provided, the glasses look to be in spectacular condition, and come in a black eyeglass case.

The auction site is also offering up other props from the Harry Potter films, such as Hagrid’s bird house from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), a song sheet used by the students in the Great Hall at Hogwarts from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and even one of the many sealed Hogwarts acceptance envelopes that were sent to Harry's home in the first film.

Whoever the lucky winners of these bidding wars are, they’ll get to have special pieces of the Harry Potter films that no one else has. So be careful of any envious friends who might perform a Confundus Charm on you.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER