FEBRUARY 29, 2008
Burning Hot Topic
Fahrenheit 451 is the temperature at which books burn. It’s also the title of Ray Bradbury’s 1953 Science Fiction classic in which he serves up a disturbing vision of a future in which books are illegal and "firemen" are people who burn them. He creates a civilization of people who are "free" from the "unhappy" imaginings and ideas that can be stirred up by reading books. Instead, they achieve "peace of mind", lulled into passivity in front of large, flickering screens that push messages and images at them.
Imagine a "fireman" who rebels and embarks upon the dangerous business of saving books. Montag is such a man. What will happen when he joins an outlaw group that is covertly memorizing the contents of books so as to prevent the world’s knowledge from dying out?
This scary scenario promises to make for lively group discussion! The Monterey Public Library will host a community book discussion of Fahrenheit 451 on Saturday, March 15, from 2 until 3:30 p.m. There will also be a special appearance by a Western Stage actor portraying Guy Montag!
This event is just part of "The Big Read", an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts, sponsored by the National Steinbeck Center, which has partnered with the community to present dozens of "Big Read" activities throughout Monterey County during March 2008. Copies of Fahrenheit 451 are available at your local library. Read the book, talk about it with friends, family, and co-workers. Check out the schedule of "Big Read" events and get fired up about books and reading!
Join the online discussion. You may post your comments and raise your own questions about Fahrenheit 451 on this blog. To light the fuse, here are a few questions to ponder:
Categories: In the Know, Staff Reads, Fahrenheit 451
FEBRUARY 14, 2008
What We're Reading
Thanks for following the Check-out staff's reading recommendations on the library's blog! I hope the book covers here will help you recognize some of our favorites this month...
Born Standing Up by Steve Martin
Free For All: Oddballs, Geeks and Gangstas in the Public Library by Don Borchert
A Golden Age by Tahmina Anam
Out of Sync by Lance Bass
Saffron Kitchen by Yasmin Crowther
Wolves of the Crescent Moon by Yousef al-Mohaimeed
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
"Juno" (in movie theaters)
Category: Staff Reads
FEBRUARY 13, 2008
Vacation Reading from England and Scotland
Coming back from vacation last week I was really excited to share my experiences with my friends at the Library. I was surprised to realize how many literary experiences I had. It gives me the opportunity to share some of my favorite authors on the blog:
Some fellow travelers at our Bed and Breakfast pointed out that there is a special walking tour in Edinburgh just for Ian Rankin, and Inspector Rebus mystery fans. I had not read any of his books, but, influenced by the evocative atmosphere of Edinburgh, I picked one up at a bookstore there. Fleshmarket Alley is set in an actual "close" right off of the Royal Mile.
One of my favorite suspense novels, Dr. Jekkyl and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, was based on Deacon Brodie, a furniture maker in Olde Edinburgh. I discovered this when wandering down the "Royal Mile" between Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace and saw a plaque with a story about him. He apparently designed the scaffold by which he was eventually hung.
During the same walk, we ran across a plain-looking coffee shop, which had an intriguing sign on the front: "Birthplace of Harry Potter." It turns out, the Elephant Coffee Bar was where J.K. Rowling spend cold days writing the Harry Potter novels before she was well-off enough to afford the heat for her apartment. I could certainly see the attraction of the place which overlooks a landmark graveyard, the Greyfriars Kirkyard, and has a prime view of the Edinburgh Castle right out the window. A newspaper article on the wall explains that J.K. Rowling also completed the very last pages of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in the expensive and palatial Balmoral Hotel across town. That was very satisfying to me since I am a big fan and believe she has earned and fully deserves to be staying in the gorgeous Balmoral Hotel.
England was the setting for more Harry Potter adventures. In Durham, England, we saw Severus Snape’s classroom from the films, and Platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross Station in London. They are part of the everyday scenery there and many are proud to show it off to tourists.
When we visited Durham England in Northumberland, we discovered another one of our favorite authors enjoys being there, too. Bill Bryson is, in fact, Chancellor of the University of Durham. He wrote one of his books about England, Notes from a Small Island.
Taking along the book Pillars of the earth by Ken Follett, enriched my sightseeing when I visited many cathedrals and churches in various styles in England. It also made me appreciate the lives of people who built these impressive buildings without modern machinery. It also helped make the multi-hour plane trip go by a little faster. There’s a sequel, too, which just came out last year, World without end
Seeing places from some of my old favorite books and authors and learning about some new favorites made me want to check out something on my list to prolong my vacation as soon as I got back.
FEBRUARY 13, 2008
The Library Catalog adds new features frequently. If you would like to know more about how some part of the Catalog works, click on a Help link at the top-right or bottom-center of most windows. The Catalog's new Help screens give you a wealth of information about navigation, searching, your Library account, and many other features.
For even more help, visit, call or email the Reference Desk (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Category: Catalog Blog
FEBRUARY 12, 2008
Libraries Change Lives
When I’m out and about, I often talk to people about books, reading, and libraries. The vulnerability of libraries during times of economic difficulty comes up a lot too, this being a subject of many recent news stories.
The other day while paying for my purchase at a local store, the shopkeeper relayed to me that a prominent community member had recently defended the idea of eliminating library services by stating that "No one ever died from a lack of libraries."
If I could reply to the person to whom that comment was attributed, I would say, "Well, maybe not directly." But it is a fact that many, many people upon hearing the results of medical tests, or upon being given a diagnosis of disease, or when being prescribed unfamiliar medications, do not ask their doctor’s important questions. This is not because they’re not concerned, worried, or lack curiosity, but often because they don’t know what questions to ask. That’s where the library comes in. People frequently visit the library to consult books, electronic databases, Web sites, and Reference librarians about various medical conditions, the symptoms, causes and treatments so that they may better understand their health issues and make informed decisions about how to proceed when working with medical professionals who care for them. I might add that the library also affords the benefit of privacy in these sensitive matters, because the borrowing records of library customers are confidential, and once you’ve logged out of an electronic resource or Internet site, no record of what has been searched is maintained.
Perhaps no one has ever died from a lack of libraries, but I’m willing to wager that countless numbers of people have improved their health and made better decisions about their medical treatment because of libraries. I would not go so far as to claim that libraries save lives, but they certainly change lives for the better.
Has the library ever changed your life or the life of someone you know?
Category: In the Know
FEBRUARY 8, 2008
Join the new TAG @ MPL
Want to make the library more fun for teens?
Join the new Teen Advisory Group (TAG) forming at the Monterey Public Library. That’s right, the library wants your expertise! Members will have the fun tasks of helping the library select teen materials and plan teen events. Come out and express your ideas, meet new people, stack up some community service hours and get involved in your community. TAG will meet once a month at the Library. If you are a teenager interested in becoming a member, come out to our first meeting, Thursday, March 6 from 3:30-5pm in the Community Room and our second meeting, Thursday, April 3 from 3:30-5pm. Contact Jillean, Teen Services Librarian, at email@example.com for more info
Categories: Teen Zone, In the Know
FEBRUARY 7, 2008
Is my teenager crazy or am I?
It's a question that comes up in our house fairly frequently these days. Two great books have THE answer. I just read Yes, Your Teen is Crazy : Loving Your Kid Without Losing Your Mind, by Michael Bradley. I loved it, because it gave me concrete ideas for dealing with smaller problems while identifying the larger problems that I need to avoid - and how to tell the difference. It assured me that yes, the modern world and biology are both doing their parts to make my teenager crazy and to drive me there too. Now my daughter should read Yes, Your Parents Are Crazy! : A Teen Survival Guide, by the same author, for the other side of the story. Which is the best book? Another topic for a "discussion"!
FEBRUARY 7, 2008
Your personal "army of tutors" FREE
There was a recent article in the New York Times in which a parent expressed her frustration about helping her kids with homework. "Fifth grade homework is killing me," she writes. "If only there was a way to combine her favorite activity - online social networking- with homework". Then the mom decided to try Live Homework Help. Now she is thrilled to spend $29.99 for 50 minutes with her own "army of tutors". For you, with your Monterey Public Library card (free to anyone in the state), this service is free. Thanks to a grant from the California State Library and support from the Monterey Public Library Trust Fund and the Friends of the Monterey Public Library, we can offer chat-based tutoring for 4th grade through basic college level work, 7 days a week, 1-10 pm. The service is also offered in Spanish. Check out the full NY Times article and your free tutors on the Library web site.
Categories: Library Tech, Teen Zone, In the Know