Library News

Staff Book Recommendation: I Live a Life Like Yours by Jan Grue

Book cover of I Live a Life Like Yours by Jan Grue

As the summer comes to an end, I would like to share a book that I read this year and highly recommend.

I listened to the audiobook, I Live a Life Like Yours, available in the library’s OverDrive collection. I don’t remember exactly how it came to my attention, but it may have been this Guardian review. It interested me because I always need to be reminded that I experience the world as an able-bodied person. What does that mean, anyway? I can walk upstairs, run out of the rain, step over the wide gap to get onto the T’s Green Line. These things are something someone in a wheelchair can’t do. In this book, Jan Grue tells his personal story, making the point that he may have physical limitations, but he experiences the same joys and sorrows that everyone does.

I listened to it 26 weeks ago (according to my Libby app from OverDrive) but others will tell you that I have mentioned it several times. It made an impression.

Author photo of Jan Grue, a Norwegian person with short brown hair, resting their head on their hand
Author Jan Grue
Photo courtesy of Macmillan

First, the title basically says, “Don’t think that I am less than you.” Grue does speak to the challenges he has faced, weaving them into the ways his life is amazing, including his family and career. He speaks about the hierarchy of disability, sharing how he compared himself to others at camp for “kids like him.” Was he better because his disability was less restrictive? How does their physical strength or fine motor skills compare to him? He had physical limitations but, like many of us, he would decide he was better than another. He was a child like all of us, sometimes comparing qualities (perceived or visible).

He tells the story of being carried and dropped, of the challenge to find the only handicap accessible bathroom in an airport, and several other anecdotes. But he doesn’t want people to feel sorry for him.

The book reminds the reader that although Grue has experienced many barriers, there are still many open doors. I should not think that his life is less than mine, just different. I feel like I should be aware of those challenges and barriers, though. I will try to be more aware, not only of my perceptions but of my surroundings. Are they accessible to everyone? I haven’t had to consider it for myself, but shouldn’t I still think about it?

There is a lot in this book, and I have barely touched on it. I suggest reading or listening to it as I did.

Barbie in the East Boston Community News

Black ink drawn portrait of Maxine Tassin Ari-Teixeira
Maxine Tassin Ari-Teixeira aka Ms. Tex

In anticipation of the Barbie movie premiere, many archives and museums, including the Smithsonian and the National Archives, have been consulting their records to see what stories related to the iconic doll are preserved in their collections. At the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections, our greatest source of Barbie insight comes from the East Boston Community News. 

Maxine Tassin Ari-Teixeira, or Ms. Tex, wrote about all kinds of issues facing a mother working and raising a family in East Boston. One of the subjects that kept reappearing in her “Heights Notes by Ms. Tex” column in the East Boston Community News was toys, and in particular, Barbie. Every December, Ms. Tex would give her annual toy report while Christmas shopping for her family. Barbie is mentioned in 17 of her columns between 1972 and 1988.

Newspaper clipping of Heights Notes by Ms. Tex. Headline reads Year of the Toy Takeover

In a December 7, 1982 issue of the East Boston Community News, Ms. Tex titled her column “Year of the Toy Takeover” and under the heading “Doll Debt” described the complexity of the Barbie dream house. 

“As I said last year, dear old Barbie’s dream house is enormous. You would need a separate room for this house, with the patio and pool (sold separately) and the Corvette. You have your choice of the plain ‘vette that does nothing, or the remote controlled one. You not only need a room for the dream house, you need a mortgage. That plastic nightmare is $98.87!!!! That is unfurnished, naturally. The furniture costs between $9 and $15 per piece!!!  Actually, looking at the doll houses, I wondered if Child World had considered the mortgage business. They could make a killing.”

On December 20, 1988 Ms. Tex observed a shift in Barbie-land in her Heights Notes column: 

“Finally at the ripe of age of what? 29? 30? Barbie has a career. Doctor Barbie comes with a white lab coat, and doctor things. But she is still Barbie after all, and also comes with an evening gown for her nights off with Doctor Ken.”

To find more of Ms. Tex’s observations on living in East Boston, the daunting task of Barbie shopping in December, and more, you can search and read the East Boston Community News in Northeastern Library’s Digital Repository Service.

Portrait of Maxine Tassin Ari-Teixeira was drawn by Joe Porzio and is a part of the Joe Portzio cartoons collection at the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections.

Read the full December 7, 1982 issue of the East Boston Community News.

Read the full December 20, 1988 issue of the East Boston Community News.

Snell Library Renovation Moves to First Floor

A large white tarp covers a section of the first floor of Snell Library, where the temporary entrance will be created.
The temporary entrance to Snell Library will be in use beginning July 17.

Work has begun on the first floor of Snell Library as part of the building-wide renovation project. Construction will take place in stages in order to cause as little disruption to building usage as possible.

The first stage will include work on the main entrance. Because of this, a temporary entrance will be created on the west side of the building, through the Snell Library Classrooms entrance. Work is currently being done to fully transition all traffic into the building through that door.

As a result, Snell Library will be closed on Friday, July 14, at 9 p.m. and will reopen Monday, July 17, at 9 a.m.

When the library reopens on July 17, some services and departments will be relocated or otherwise affected:

  • The Campus Coffee and Tea Café will be closed for the remainder of the work.
  • The Research Help Desk for drop-in reference assistance will be relocated to the main Help & Information Desk on the first floor.
  • The Archives & Special Collections Reading Room will be relocated to the second floor, next to the Digital Scholarship Commons.
  • The Hub of recreational reading material will be temporarily closed. However, all physical library books, including those featured in the Hub, remain available on request.
  • CoLabs A-G will be unavailable.
  • The Writing Center will be unavailable. Visit their website for more information about available services and locations.

Please visit our Snell Library Renovation page for more information about the renovation project and for more construction updates.

Alternate study spaces are available around campus. Please visit Northeastern University Spaces to find other locations.

We thank you for your patience as we continue to renew Snell Library.

Celebration, Activism, and Outreach in the Theater Offensive Records

Poster for Pure PolyEsther
Pure PolyEsther,” ca. 1990-2000. The Theater Offensive records, Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections.

While Pride is recognized as a protest, it can also be a time of celebration of the LGBTQIA+ community and queer identity. Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections is fortunate to steward the records of The Theater Offensive, a queer performing arts organization which is still alive and thriving in Boston today and will soon celebrate its 35th year of operation in 2024. Founded in 1989 by Abe Rybeck and other artists, the Theater Offensive strived to combine art and activism for the benefit of the LGBTQIA+ community throughout New England and, eventually, nationally. 

Since its founding, they have put on numerous performances, festivals, and community programs. Of note in Northeastern’s digital repository is the performance of Pure PolyEsther: A Biblical Burlesque, an adaptation of the story of Esther from the Old Testament as a part of Purim celebrations. Written by Rybeck, Pure PolyEsther was described as a “hot, flamboyant Mardi Gras…[that] melts the edge off the bitter New England winter.” It is an intersectional celebration of both Jewish and queer traditions. 

The Theater Offensive has also uplifted LGBTQIA+ youth with their True Colors program and their youth outreach performances. These have included the Living with AIDS Theater Project’s Lessons from the Heart, which educated teens on ways to combat the AIDS epidemic, highlighting an intergenerational conversation and relationship between queer youth and adults that remains incredibly valuable to this day. 

Black and white image of performers gathered together. Some are holding instruments and papers and others are singing
True Colors Youth Theater, ‘Love + Mosquitos,'” 1998. The Theater Offensive records, Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections

The Theater Offensive continues to be an important cultural institution in Boston, and its records illustrate a rich and robust past that has championed queer creativity and community. To learn more about the Theater Offensive’s work not just this Pride Month but all year round, check out the resources available through the digital repository and University Archives and Special Collections!


“History.” The Theater Offensive,

“Pure PolyEsther.” The Theater Offensive records (M082). University Libraries Archives and Special Collections Department.

“‘Pure PolyEsther’ press release.” The Theater Offensive records (M082). University Libraries Archives and Special Collections Department.

The Theater Offensive records, M082. Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections. Accessed June 23, 2023.

“True Colors Youth Theater, ‘Love + Mosquitos.’” The Theater Offensive records (M082). University Libraries Archives and Special Collections Department.

Scan It Right: Starting Your Own Digitization Project

Whether you are digitizing old family photos or creating a paperless record-keeping system, reformatting analog materials can be a lot of work! Here are some suggestions for what to think about when starting a project.

Documents, Photographs, Flat Art, Slides, and Negatives

Two unidentified women and one man standing in front of a computer.
Computer training course sponsored by New England
Telephone and Telegraph Company.

Choosing a Scanner
A paper-based document, such as a report, on normal paper can go through a sheetfed scanner.

Photographs, artwork, or material on old or delicate paper should go on a flatbed scanner.

Slides and negatives can go on specialized scanners or on multipurpose scanners.

While all of these material types can be scanned in a home or office, if you are dealing with many items, it can be more efficient to send them to a vendor.

File Type
TIFF is one of the standard file types for scanned images and an excellent choice for saving high-quality images long-term. If you would like to read more about standards for digitization, check out the FADGI Technical Guidelines for Digitizing Cultural Heritage Materials. If you need smaller files, you can use Photoshop to save TIFF images as JPEG files. The Northeastern community has free access to the Adobe Creative Cloud, which includes Photoshop and Acrobat.

PDF is a good file type for documents. Some scanners will let you save automatically to PDF. You could also save the document pages as TIFF files, then use Adobe Acrobat to combine the files into a PDF.

File Naming
Give your files unique and descriptive names and avoid spaces in the names — use underscores, dashes, or camel-case instead. Think about how the file names will sort in Finder or Windows Explorer. Some examples:

  • Faculty_Report_1970_01.pdf
  • ChemBuilding001.tif, ChemBuilding002.tif, etc.
Paul Mahan from the Boys' Clubs of Boston using an enlarger at a photographic laboratory
Paul Mahan from the Boys’ Clubs of Boston
using an enlarger at a photographic laboratory.

Resolution is how many pixels the scanner captures per inch of the original material. This is usually expressed in ppi (pixels per inch) or dpi (dots per inch). A higher dpi will capture more detail but will result in a larger file size.

Based on the FADGI guidelines mentioned above, for text-based materials like journal articles or reports, 300 dpi is sufficient for most uses. For photographs and more image-heavy material, use 400 dpi. For slides or negatives, use around 3000 dpi.

Black and White, Grayscale, or Color
You can base this on the material you are scanning. If the material is entirely black and white or grayscale, then you can scan in black and white or grayscale. If the item has color that you want to capture, then scan in color.

Brightness, Contrast, and Cropping
Most scanners will allow you to adjust brightness and contrast settings. If you are scanning documents, adjust until the text appears solid (not choppy but not too dark or blown out). For images, adjust until the brightness and contrast look true to the original.

Text Searchability
If you are creating a PDF, in most cases it should be text searchable for accessibility. To do this, you need to run OCR (Optical Character Recognition) on the document. For members of the Northeastern community, this is available in Adobe Acrobat.

Audiovisual Material

If you want to reformat A/V material (like VHS and audiocassette tapes) yourself, the following webinars from Community Archiving Workshop provide some guidance on the type of equipment to purchase.

However, it is often easiest to work with a vendor for A/V transfers. These materials can suffer from degradation that makes them challenging to capture. The Association of Moving Image Archivists has a directory of vendors.

In addition, the following guides from the National Archives and Records Administration can help you identify formats in your possession before you talk with a vendor. The first focuses on audio formats, like cassette tapes, and the second focuses on video formats, like VHS tapes.


For the files you create, make sure you save multiple copies in different geographic locations. For example, you might save one copy on your computer; another in a cloud-based location, like Backblaze or Google Drive; and then the final copy on an external hard drive.

You can also share files with friends and family through shared folders on Google Drive. For A/V materials, you can post unlisted videos on YouTube, so folks can only view them if they have a link.

Have any questions? Feel free to contact the librarians in Digital Productions Service at