Good Guy or Bad Guy? Help Me Decide.

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George Dore, an Orlando library branch manager, came up with a way to keep his library from having to cull so many library books from its shelves every year: a fictional character by the name of Charles Finley. The only catch was that the library was so convinced that Finley was a real person that they issued him his very own library card. And, boy, did Mr. Finley use it. According to library records, Finley checked out 2,300 books in 2015, enough books to increase the library’s circulation count from the previous year by almost four percent all by himself.

And because the books had recently been checked out, none of them made the “loss of interest” hit list that serves as the potential cull-list for his library. But then when Dore’s fictional Mr. Finley was recognized for the fiction that he is, the book mold hit the fan. According to Quartz Media:

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“Dore was recommended for termination and put on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. He says he was just trying to save the library time and money, as books that are not borrowed are deemed irrelevant by the software that the local library system uses to track circulation and taken off the shelves. Then they are often repurchased again later.”

“If Dore is to be believed, he’s not the only renegade librarian fighting the algorithms. His colleague, library assistant Scott Amey, who helped dream up their fictional reader was reprimanded for being part of the scheme. And Dore told investigators that gaming the system with “dummy cards” is common, noting, “There was a lot of bad blood between the libraries because of money wars.”

=====================================================================

So what do you think?  My initial reaction, as an admittedly out-of-control book lover, is to applaud the man for his creative response to what he sees as a too-arbitrary approach for targeting certain books for library banishment.  (I always hate to see the dumpster behind my own library filled with discarded books, and would much prefer that they be given a second life in hospitals, shelters, etc.)  But in cases where circulation figures are used to prorate library system funding between branches, this kind of thing cannot be tolerated.  So maybe my “good guy” is really a “bad guy”?

Calvin Learns the Truth About Librarians

This old Calvin and Hobbes cartoon is just too good not to use on book blogs around the world over and over again.  So here is the day that Calvin learned that all those librarians who had been looking at him weren’t really as bad as he had imagined them to be:

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Every time I see an old Calvin and Hobbes or The Far Side cartoon it reminds me that the cartoons today are a mere shadow of what they once were.

Nowadays, in my opinion, no one even remotely approaches the genius shown on a daily basis by Bill Watterson  from 1985-1995 (Calvin and Hobbes) and Gary Larson from 1980-1994 (The Far Side).  I still miss waking up to something new from them every morning.

Saturday Night Live’s Sexy Librarian Parody

I can’t remember the last time I’ve watched Saturday Night Live live, but every so often I catch a clip from the show somewhere on the internet that semi-amuses me.  The one I’m embedding here is one of those: a takeoff on the sexy librarian stereotype that seems to have been around since Hollywood’s early days and is still thriving.

This one stars Australian actress Margot Robbie, who is best known for her recent role in the hit movie Suicide Squad, and a cast of interchangeable, anonymous Saturday night “comics.”

 

This one is for all my librarian friends out there.  I’m not sure that it’s particularly funny, but it’s… well, interesting.

Dallas City Council Incapable of Prioritizing: Decides Little Free Libraries Must Be Regulated

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Examples of Little Free Libraries as found on Pinterest

Don’t even get me started on neighborhood Deed Restriction committees because I will tell you a story or two that will curl your toes about the kind of people who take great pleasure in enforcing their will upon their neighbors.  But when elected city council members start to resemble the over-zealous do-gooders of Deed Restriction committees…well, that’s when I really get ticked off.

And that is exactly what seems to be happening up in Dallas right now.

Despite all the real problems that a city the size of Dallas is going to have, simply by definition, the city council there has decided to waste its time drafting and passing a city ordinance to regulate the size and location of Little Free Libraries that people want to place on their own property so that they can share and exchange books with their neighbors.  Yes, you heard me correctly.  They are more concerned about those tiny wooden boxes that have appeared on the lawns of about two dozen Dallas residents than they are about the tent cities that keep being re-erected by the people who live on the streets of Dallas.  After all, according to the Dallas Morning News, there have been at least three complaints about the Little Free Libraries this year:

On Monday morning, a Dallas City Council committee signed off on a proposal that would limit the size and location of community book exchanges that have taken root in some two dozen Dallas residents’ front yards.  As far as city officials can tell, if the full council gives its blessing, Dallas will become one of the only cities in the country to specifically regulate the take-a-book, leave-a-book boxes, which, in the past, have been subject to building laws and zoning codes.

And those rules would be as follows: The libraries can stand no taller than five feet and can be no wider than 20 inches and no deeper than 18 inches. In addition, anyone wanting to plant a Little Free Library in their front yard has to stay 10 feet away from a neighbor’s property line, and would be limited to a single structure per parcel.

The above quote from the Morning News was provided by Texas Monthly.com and that link has both a brief history of Little Free Libraries and a recap of what a handful of cities around the country have been doing to harass the goodhearted souls in their cities who want to do something as terrible as share a few books with their friends and neighbors.

You know the old saying about no good deed going unpunished?  Looks like city councilmen all across the country are determined to prove just how true that is these days.

All the Hoopla About “Hoopla” – It’s True!

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Have you guys all heard the hoopla about Hoopla yet?  No matter how much I try (and how much I pride myself) on keeping up with the latest in online apps and technology, it seems that I’m surprised at least once a month by something that rocks my limited little world.  It happened today when I was browsing my library’s website in search of a Michael Dirda book I’d seen referenced elsewhere earlier this morning.  All of a sudden, I notice a little icon next to the book title that said simply “Download.”

Well, who could resist pushing that to see what might happen.  You mean no waiting lines of several weeks is involved…well, sign me up.

Unfortunately/fortunately, nothing much happened – or so I thought.  I was redirected to something called hoopladigital.com and told that I could check out this particular audiobook immediately – and get this, seven more items this month – if I just got off my butt and signed up via my library name and card number.  I did that, and less than five minutes later I was listening to  Browsings by Michael Dirda.

1605988448-01-_sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_(The best part is that I started listening on my PC but couldn’t listen for long because I had to run an errand by noon.  I found the Hoopla app for my iPhone, downloaded it, and signed on to the site via the new app.  And, because the app remembered exactly where I had left off the audiobook on my PC, I was able to listen to it, via a bluetooth hookup to my car radio, the whole time I was on the road.  Yes, I LOVE Hoopla.)

But wait, because it gets even better.  Not only are audiobooks available; there are e-books, movies, music, comics, and television shows just waiting for you.  Now granted, there aren’t a ton of titles, but there are some relatively popular ones waiting to be snapped up before Hoopla pulls them from the virtual stacks.  For instance, there are audiobooks like Go Set a Watchman, Girl on a Train, A Man Called Ove, and American Gods; movies like The Giver, St. Vincent, and Parkland; e-books like Crazy Horse and Custer and Toddlers Are A**holes; comics like Saga, Suicide Squad, and Yuge; music like Hamilton, Suicide Squad, and Monkees 50; and television shows like Inspector Lewis, The Librarians, and Small Island. 

How are you going to beat that?

So if this is new to you, do check with your local library system to see if your library card grants you the keys to this treasure chest. You may be as pleasantly surprised as I was…and if not, why didn’t one of you tell me about this?

University Librarian Gives His School a Huge Gift

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Robert Morin, UNH Librarian

The University of New Hampshire must be stunned by the size of the behest one of its longtime librarians has just left to the school.  According to this New Hampshire Union Leader article, librarian Robert Morin has given the school a whopping $4 million:

Robert Morin, who died at the age of 77 in March 2015, was a cataloguer at UNH’s Dimond Library for nearly 50 years. His obituary said he was the man who wrote short descriptions of DVDs, entered ISBN numbers of CDs, and cataloged books of sheet music. 

[…]

Morin’s financial adviser, Edward Mullen, said the library worker was able to accumulate so much wealth because he never spent any money. Mullen started working with Morin in the early 1970s, and said by the 2000s he had saved quite a bit of cash in his checking and savings accounts. There was almost $1 million in his retirement account alone.

Mullen said Morin had an older vehicle and, despite being a millionaire, he ate frozen dinners.

“He never went out,” Mullen said.

Please do click on the link to the newspaper article because Mr. Morin was an interesting man and there’s a good bit more detail in the piece.  I particularly love the fact, for instance, that he was working on a project to read every book (with the exception of children’s books and textbooks) published in the United States between 1930 and 1940 – and that he made it up to 1938 (the year that he was born) before he died.

Sounds like my kind of guy.  RIP, Mr. Morin.

 

Orr’s Island Librarian Is Old School – So Are Her Patrons

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Orr’s Island Library

Maine’s Orr’s Island library is celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of the only librarian the little library has had during that period.  That’s nice, you’re probably thinking…but thirty years is not that big a deal, is it?  Well, when you consider that Joanne Rogers was already 76 years old when she took the job, you get the idea.

The 106-year-old librarian is still at it and she doesn’t intend to quit until she can’t do “everything the job entails.”  The Forecaster has the details:

“Rogers records the books that come and go on a small note card that she files in a wooden box on her desk.

Consequently, Rogers’ intimate knowledge of the library and its patrons serves both a social and an operational function. After decades of sitting at the front desk, her mind is not only a Rolodex of her readers’ tastes and preferences – she won’t hesitate to recommend a book at check-out, especially if she thinks a patron won’t like the one they’ve chosen – it is also the library’s central computer.”

[…]

“Before Rogers was librarian, she was a bookseller. She operated Jo’s Books on Bailey Island; the idea originated from a comment that she made to her late husband that he ought to build her a bookstore to contain all her books.

When her predecessor left in 1986, a representative from the library knocked on Rogers’ door one afternoon and asked if she was interested in filling the vacancy. She said yes on the spot.”

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Joanne Rogers, Orr’s Island Librarian

Joanne Rogers is 106 years old…think about that for a moment…and books have been a key component of her life.  We should all be so lucky.

 

Mazon, Illinois, and It’s Free Library

170px-First_Little_Free_Library_-schoolhouseAccording to the Morris Herald-News two Mazon, Illinois, ladies have taken the “Little Free Library” idea to a new height…literally.  Those of you familiar with the Little Free Library movement know that it involves people placing little shelves filled with donated books on their front or side lawns so that anyone desiring reading material can pick and choose from that day’s selection.   It is hoped that users of the little libraries will deposit a book for each book they remove, keeping the shelves filled with an ever-changing selection from which to choose.

Well, Jan Clavy and Bev Hacker have taken the concept a little further by building a little red shed with enough space to hold several shelves of books and placing it in a part of Mazon that is not serviced by a regular library system.

She  (Clavey) started with a little house she planned to use that she thought would be perfect to store donated books for others to borrow at their own leisure, but the house just didn’t cut it.

So Clavey brainstormed and her husband, Ron Clavey, and her son-in-law, Harold Webster, went to work creating the small shed that would become the library.

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(Heidi Litchfield – hlitchfield@shawmedia.com)

Mazon’ s Little Library is unlocked and open for business from eight a.m. to eight p.m. every day – and with any luck, it will be there for a long time.  It’s another great example of the generosity and camaraderie so common to avid readers, and proves, once again, that “Readers are special people.”

Cleveland Librarian Wants to "Make America Read Again"

As for as I’m concerned, (other than that terrific speech by Rudy Giuliani last night) the best story to come out of Cleveland so far since the Republican National Convention began is this one about a Cleveland librarian who wants to make “America Read Again” and is helping to make that happen by handing out free books outside the convention center.  Bustle has the story and pictures: 

John Harris, a librarian working in Tremont, a neighborhood in Cleveland, came downtown with a crate on the back of his bike filled with books and a very literal reading of the city’s guidelines. “Cleveland said you’re allowed to hand out literature, so why not come down and hand out some books,” Harris tells Bustle.
“It’s not like I’m here in support of anybody, but hey, a little reading can’t hurt anybody,” Harris says, regarding his role as a “book propagator.” And he’s not playing favorites when it comes to who gets the literature. “I’m here to hand out books to the people that are here [at the protests] … I’m here to hand out books to the people that are in support of him over there.”

As I have said many times before (and will likely say many more times), readers are special people, some of the best in the world, and they prove it every day.  Do please read the rest of the story on the Bustle site…link is in red, up above.

Jonesboro, Illinois, Library Might Be Small but It’s Ready for Readers to Come In

Passing through Jonesboro, Illinois, this morning on my way to the music festival in Columbus, Ohio, I came across this tiny library and just had to take a look at it.  Jonesboro, a town of about 2,000 people, has converted what looks to be an old railroad depot into the city library.

Take a look at these photos and you’ll see why I stopped:


Front of library and entrance on side

Side of building with old doors in place (excuse my finger at top of photo)

This is the entire children’s library.

There is also an adult library that is housed in the same amount of space as the children’s library, but there are no accessible windows so I couldn’t grab a picture. I assume it contains a similar number of books. The collections appear small but, based on population, they may very well be the equivalent of big city libraries.  Does anyone have a library book per capita measurement we can use for comparison?


Manhattan’s New 53rd Street Library Is a Mess

Manhattan’s Donnell Library was demolished way back in 2008 and that part of the city has done without a public library on that spot until now that the 53rd Street branch of the New York Public Library has opened.  But don’t get too excited by the news…because it’s both the good news and the bad news.  It seems that the new branch is less a library and more a monstrosity of a community center than anything else.  Looking for actual books? You might want to look elsewhere (because there really aren’t all that many books there) according to New York Magazine

The new branch does indeed provide the perfect haven for checking stock prices and Twitter. Patrons can tap and scroll in tranquility, unmolested by the odor of caffeine, the need for a password, the feel of greasy tables, or a barista’s stare. As a place to research a school project or browse for esoteric bedtime reading, on the other hand, it offers dismaying advice: Try elsewhere. Order a book from the website. Download an e-book. Walk ten blocks to the perpetually derelict, perpetually to-be-renovated Mid-Manhattan branch for the Russian-language edition of Anna Kareninathat used to be in the Donnell’s World Languages collection. 

[…]

Glance in from the sidewalk, and the eye falls on a set of blond-wood terraces that go cascading into a cave, between walls of metal slats and raw concrete. The vibe mixes the slovenly with the dictatorial. On the steps, felt discs — four per row, not really plush enough to qualify as cushions — demonstrate where to place one’s behind, but in the end most people sprawl or hunch. Neither is especially comfortable. This narrow buried amphitheater gives library patrons a split-level vista: above, a rat’s-eye view of the street and passers-by; below, a wide screen playing a promotional slideshow for New York and its libraries. 

And that’s not all, so take a look at the article I linked to up above for more details.  I tell you, folks, if this is the future of public libraries in America, someone is making a big, big mistake.  Why call them libraries if books are an afterthought to them? Call them what they are: Free WiFi with a few books.

The city of New York likes to think of itself as a trendsetter…well, this time around, all I can say is thanks for nothing, NYC, thanks for nothing.

Browser the Library Cat Keeps His Job After All

Good news for Browser, the library cat that was on the verge of becoming homeless back on June 14 because a petty library employee (upset because she could not bring her puppy to work) decided he had to go.  The White Settlement, Texas, city council has come to its senses in time to save Browser’s home.

According to The Two-Way (breaking news from NPR), Browser’s job was saved by “an avalanche of complaints.”  

Browser’s supporters began a petition drive, and of course the Internet got involved, and more than 1,000 messages from around the world later, the council voted again unanimously to keep Browser.
He’ll probably issue a statement of thanks to his supporters at some point but at the moment, his Facebook page isn’t available.

Rare as it is, it is especially nice when politicians come to their senses before it’s too late to rectify an obviously stupid collective decision like this one. 

Congrats, Browser, now you can go back to sleep.

Here’s the original post announcing Browser’s plight.

"Browser" the Cat Is Being Booted from His Library Home

Here’s a rather disheartening news story for you on this late Sunday afternoon because of what it says about the petty, vindictive nature of some idiots…eh, people.  I just ran across this short story from Fox News about a Texas library that has evicted the library cat that’s been living in the building for the past five years – all because some twit was not allowed to bring her puppy to work and decided to get even with the poor cat.  Geez people.

White Settlement Mayor Ron White told the paper that he blames the gray cat’s eviction on pettiness at City Hall because a city employee wasn’t allowed to bring a puppy to work.
“We’ve had that cat five years, and there’s never been a question,” White said.
Lawmakers took up the cat’s fate at a June 14 City Council meeting under an agenda item listed only as “consider relocation of Library Facility cat Browser.”

[…]

“This cat has been loved by people of all ages for six years,” Lillian Blackburn, president of the Friends of the White Settlement Public Library, told the Star-Telegram. “I don’t have any animals but this cat is so gentle and so lovable and he brings so much comfort to so many people, it seems a shame to take him away.”

White is hoping the council will reconsider its action at a July 12 meeting, two days before Brower’s eviction date, according to the paper. 

I have to believe that Browser is going to get a reprieve at that July 12 city council meeting.  Surely the two idiots who voted to boot the cat will come to their senses – one way or the other – by then.  Right?

Street Books: Providing Books to Those Who Can’t Afford Them

Reading is one of the greatest pleasures of life – and no one should be deprived of the opportunity of reading books and discussing them with their fellow readers – even people living on the streets.

And a mobile library called Street Books is on the streets of Portland, Oregon, to make sure that anyone wanting a book to read has one or two of them whenever they want them.  According to OregonLive (and The Orgonian), the five-year-old organization is doing better this year than ever before:

Each summer for the past five years, the small nonprofit has delivered paperbacks to people living on the streets of Portland. Staffers pedal two custom bicycles around the city to spread books and conversation. 
But now, with the number of homeless people in Portland swelling, and with camps increasingly visible, Street Books is growing. 
This summer, its number of paid librarians has doubled, bringing the total to six. Street Books is covering more ground, too.

[…]

On a recent Thursday, as Street Books’ sixth season of distributing books was beginning, many people were just discovering the mobile library.

Rempe, who’s trained as a community psychologist, offered every passerby outside St. Francis a friendly hello and a question: “Looking for something to read?”

She explained the rules to newcomers: Take a book or two. Keep them as long as you need. Come back to the bicycle and return them when you’re done. And it’s OK if you can’t return a book. There are no fines. 

One of the coolest things about this whole project is that even though the librarians don’t worry about losing books (and make it clear that it’s OK not to return them), most patrons of the little mobile library are determined to return the books so that others can read them, too.  

As Street Books librarian Diana Rempe puts it, “People on the street are complicated, just like the people who live inside.”

The Safe House: A Documentary on the Decline of Public Libraries in the U.K.

Stephen Fry on U.K. Libraries

When I lived in London in the nineties, one of the things that most disappointed me was the city’s public libraries.  Being a bit of an Anglophile, I probably expected way too much from a country that more or less shaped my understanding and appreciation of literature, so maybe they were not as bad as the impression they made on me then.  But when I compared them to the libraries in and around Houston, they invariably suffered in the comparison, so to me they were almost without exception disappointing. 

And now, shockingly, I see that they are probably worse today than I remember them to be when I was a regular patron at two locations back then (the libraries in Richmond and Uxbridge).  I lived in the rather upscale area of Richmond/Twickenham and worked in the more industrial area of Uxbridge, and that meant that Richmond was my week-end library and Uxbridge my lunchtime library.

All that said, this trailer publicizing a new documentary called “The Safe House” on the decline of public libraries in the U.K. leaves me rather sad.

https://embed.theguardian.com/embed/video/books/video/2016/may/23/the-safe-house-a-documentary-on-the-decline-of-uk-libraries-stephen-fry-trailer-video

You Can Have It All (Rolling in the Deep parody)

This song parody was apparently used to promote the New York State Reading Association conference held in Syracuse in 2012.  Based on a song called “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele, this version is called “If You Love to Read” and features real-life English teacher Sarah Ada in place of Adele. 

Everything about this video makes me smile, but I especially love the lyrics and Sarah’s voice.  Readers, “you can have it all if you like to read.”

For comparison purposes (and mainly to illustrate just how clever and well done this video is) I’m including the original Adele video on which it’s based: 


One Man Likes Feet a Little too Much – Especially the Ones He Finds in Libraries

Warrenville Public Library

Apparently one Chicago-area man really, really likes the feet of smart women – and he goes to local libraries to find and fondle them.  Seriously.

According to the Chicago Tribune and the Beacon News, this has been happening for at least ten years and the man has already served some light jail time for past offenses:

Omar Carlton, 44, of the 1000 block of Fifth Avenue, is charged with felony aggravated battery in a public place. He has been arrested and charged at least five other times for touching women’s feet in suburban libraries.
Carlton is accused of putting his bare foot on top of a woman’s open-toed shoes at least four times at the Warrenville Library April 20, DuPage County State’s Attorney’s officials said in a news release. The woman allegedly felt something brush up against her feet several times while she was working in a desk cubicle at the library, according to the state’s attorney’s office.

I am not comfortable with the idea that this man is going someday to end up locked up for a very long time – or injured or killed by the boyfriend or husband of one of the women he molested for a sex offense that most people first laugh about when they hear of it. But a sex offender is a sex offender, and this guy needs to be treated like one.  If he is this bad at controlling his impulses, he may be more dangerous than he appears.  Statistics show that treatment programs for sex offenders are not particularly successful when judged by the recidivism rate of those treated, so I don’t know what the answer is.  

But, good grief.  When women aren’t safe walking around inside public libraries, this is not something to laugh about.  With the ten-year history that this man has (as detailed in the article I linked to), maybe prison is the only answer.  Sad as that is.  

Young Man Uses Library Books to Help His Homeless Friend

I love stories like this one, but it’s been way too long since I’ve been able to find one to talk about here on Book Chase – and I had to go all the way to London’s Daily Mail newspaper to find a story about two Orlando, Florida, readers.

It seems that a young man who befriended the homeless woman he passed everyday on his way to work has found the perfect way to give her some longterm help and inspiration to get herself off the streets for good.  As it turns out the woman could not read, something that makes it extremely difficult for anyone to find a job these days…and without a job…well, you know the rest.

According to the article, Greg Smith borrows a new library book every week to use in the every-Tuesday reading lessons he gives the woman:

So he decided he would help teach her to read.
‘I have been blessed with two amazing parents and a family that has always had resources to provide me with anything I wanted to do,’ he explained.
‘Amy Joe has not. So now not only do Amy Joe and I sit and have lunch, I’m teaching her to read.’
The sales account executive borrows a new library book for his new friend every week and they sit down together, every Tuesday, have lunch and read it together.
‘She lit up! I could see in her face that she felt amazing,’ he told ABC News.
Amy Joe practices reading with the book the rest of the week on her own. 

I’ve said it here many times: Readers are special people.  Through books we learn about ourselves and we learn to empathize with others in a way, and too a depth, that is impossible to reach most any other way.

Thank you, Greg Smith for doing what you do.  Amy Joe, I’m pulling for you and hoping that you will be able to turn your life around soon.  Good luck to both of you…you both deserve it.

  


A Good Book Makes Even a Freezing Hospital Room Bearable

I have been practically living in a chair inside an uncomfortably cold hospital room for the past four days.  It all started Wednesday morning when I got a phone call at the barber shop telling me that my father was on his way to the emergency room because he had had another of his fainting episodes – this one, luckily, while seated in a church pew.  So now he’s been poked and prodded so much that it’s almost certain he’s had every kind of general diagnostic test available to modern medicine.

At the advice of a cardiologist, we made the decision together that he have a pacemaker placed in his chest to regulate his heartbeat in hope that his fainting problem would be solved.  That was done yesterday afternoon.  And this morning, we found out that there is a problem with one of the pacemaker leads going to his heart, so the entire procedure will have to be repeated Monday morning.  Throw in the long night we had trying to control dad’s confusion and hallucinating caused by the sleep medication given to him last night, and it’s been a bit of a struggle  – during which I have slept something like five hours in the last forty-eight.  (So please don’t deduct any points for grammar and spelling this time around.) I’m going to get some sleep tonight before heading back to the hospital early in the morning to relieve my son-in-law who has graciously volunteered to take a shift in my place.

I know you are wondering why am I writing all this here on a book blog.  One simple reason: if I had not had four or five books in that freezing room to keep me company for the last few days, I would have probably lost my mind.  The books allowed me to forget where I was – and why I was there- for at least a few minutes at a time.  Tired and sleepy as I’ve been, they kept me awake, they entertained me, and they reminded me of why I am such a reading advocate.  I cannot imagine a life without books and reading, and I am ever thankful to the small town librarian who encouraged me to keep reading, and who trusted me with books that were probably way over my head when I first read them.  Thankfully, she took a chance on me even though she was breaking library policy that way.  That woman (who seemed ancient to me at the time but was probably only about 70) opened up the world to me in just the right way and at just the right time in my life.  And it stuck.

I will never forget what she did.

Librarians, your enthusiasm is contagious, and if you treat young readers with respect, you just might permanently change a few lives for the good.  You may never even know that it happened, but if you are lucky, it will.  

Thanks, too, to the following authors for these books (the books I’m living with this week):

Matt Gallagher – Youngblood (a war novel with a mystery embedded in it that is set in Iraq)

Ruth Rendell – Dark Corners (her very last psychological crime novel, one that I suspect would have been a “Barbara Vine” novel if she had not recently died)

Gerald Seymour – Vagabond (new thriller set in Norther Ireland; a what if the Troubles start-up again novel)

Skip Hollandsworth – The Midnight Assassin (true crime book about an 1885 serial killer who terrorized Austin, Texas)

Andrea Valdez – How to Be a Texan (a how-to manual that reminds me just how fantastic a place Texas still is)

So it’s back at it tomorrow…hoping to post again soon.


Born to Read Program Means New Babies Leave Hospital with a Library Card

What a great idea!  Every baby born in St. Louis County is going to leave the hospital with a brand new library card of their own.  It’s all part of the St. Louis County Library’s “Born to Read” program.  

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, each baby goes home with a little gift bag that contains, a book, a toy, and their new library card:

The child will also be invited to celebrate his or her first birthday at the library and receive another free book. 

[…]


There is no doubt that children should be read to from an early age. And even before kids are able to read by themselves, they should have chunky books to play with and to help them learn to look at pictures and turn pages.

The Born to Read program began last year with support from the St. Louis County Library Foundation. More than 15,000 families are expected to receive a bag from the program this year.

 

The purpose of the program is, of course,  to get parents to read to their children as often, and as soon, as possible, in the process exposing the kids to language, story-telling, and the whole wide world of books and learning.  As library director Kristen Sorth says, “Studies show that when children start behind, they stay behind.”  Kids, on the other hand, who grow up around books (theirs and those of their peers and parents) are more likely to become readers at an early age – and to do well in school.  

Congratulations to the St. Louis County Library system for making the effort to get kids there off to a good start.