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FEBRUARY 28, 2009
Fun & Fundraising with Chocolate & Wine

 

On the evening of Friday, February 20, about 200 people gathered in the Library after hours to sip and savor at the Friends of the Library's 4th annual Chocolate & Wine Tasting Benefit. The fare included chocolate cookies, cakes, ice cream, molé, tartlets, candies, fondue and even home-brewed "chocolate" beer! There were dozens of varieties of grape wines as well as other fruit wines and port. The event featured live music and a silent auction. But the main event was the gathering of friends and library supporters who together transformed a delicious evening into a whopping $8,200 for books and other library materials at a time when the library is facing a new round of budget cutbacks. Thank you to the Friends of the Library for making the event a huge success. Thanks also to the local bakeries, restaurants, markets, wineries and individuals who donated comestibles, libations and silent auction items, and to 200 members of the community who came out to raise fun and funds to support your library!

posted by Jeanne

Category: In the Know

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FEBRUARY 14, 2009
When Will There Be Good News?

 

The title of Kate Atkinson’s latest book (When Will There Be Good News) poses a timely question, but has nothing to do with the current state of the economy. It is the third in Atkinson’s series of mysteries featuring the quirky, retired detective Jackson Brodie, who despite a personal history marked by sorrow and tragedy, manages to remain good hearted and humane. As in Atkinson’s two previous Brodie novels, Case Histories and One Good Turn, the very likeable Jackson Brodie has a talent for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and for being misunderstood by almost everyone he encounters.

In this story, we meet 36 year old Dr. Joanna Hunter, sole survivor of the gruesome mass murder of her family when she was a small child. Joanna is now a successful doctor devoted to raising her baby son with the able assistance of Reggie, a wretched but plucky teenage orphan with a sunny outlook. Jackson becomes unintentionally entangled in their lives when he travels to Scotland on a personal mission and is asked to help find Joanna, who has mysteriously gone missing on the very day the man convicted of her family’s murder is released from prison.

The story is fast-paced, filled with deliciously creepy characters and so many twists and turns from bad to worse that the reader can’t put the book down for want of an answer to the question, "When will there be good news?" 

posted by Jeanne

Category: Staff Reads

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FEBRUARY 9, 2009
Coraline (in theaters now!)

I often make a point of seeing new movies based on children's and young adult books as soon as they come out in theaters. I wish I could say it was due to a sense of professional obligation. More often than not, however, I am just another fan. In the last few months alone, I've seen Twilight, Inkheart, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, The City of Ember, and The Tale of Despereaux. Just this weekend, I saw another recent favorite; Coraline. More than some of these others, I thought Coraline did a great job of staying true to the book and its characters. So kudos to the adaptation and direction of Henry Selick.

On a separate note, Coraline is an intense movie. The surreal quality of the book's imagery was fully represented in the movie's visuals. There are some truly scary moments, even for adults. I heard a child of maybe seven years complain to his mother, 'I don't like this movie' in a voice that registered more than a little aprehension. While I think most kids and adults will really enjoy the great action and visuals, Coraline is not for everyone. So, please do your kids a favor and scan some reviews before deciding if those PG or PG-13 movies are right for them.

posted by Ben

Categories: Teen ZoneIn the Know

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FEBRUARY 7, 2009
Keeping Those Books Clean

The Library circulates somewhere approaching a half-million books and other items in the course of a year, and just like children who go out and play a lot,  library books get...well, let's just say they're more presentable when they bathe regularly.

That’s where the Monterey County Office of Education’s special education department’s "Transitions" team comes in. Each week, R.J. Adams and his class of thirteen students from the program work at the Library to keep books attractive and sanitary. This helps with the upkeep of library materials, and saves money by prolonging the life of the book jackets. So valuable is this service, that last Tuesday evening, the Monterey City Council honored R.J. Adams and his entire class for their service.

While helping the Library, the program teaches work skills to students with physical and learning disabilities and helps them develop toward independent living. Over time, the "Transitions" class has cleaned thousands of library books. As the Monterey County Herald wrote in its Wednesday, Feburary 4, 2009 editorial, "If there is a downside [to this program] we can’t find it." Our congratulations and gratitude to R.J. and all the "Transitions" kids! 
 

 

 

posted by Jeanne

Category: In the Know

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FEBRUARY 2, 2009
Groundhog Day and Budget Shadows

It's been a few weeks since my last posting. I had high hopes for New Year's Day, and then Tet, or Vietnamese New Year. Since both have come and gone Groundhog Day seems the next best bet.

And no, I haven't been hibernating deep in the book stacks in the back of the Library. Or even in the pile of magazines and paperbacks that grows by my side of the bed. Although I will admit to choosing a couple of great mystery books, and a chair in the sunshine this past weekend, over my laptop and the blank page of this blog.

And yet, what better time to be visiting with each of you, gentle readers (as Miss Manners likes to say), then this pivotal time in the life span of public libraries, and of Monterey Public Library?

I can't remember when libraries have been so much in the news - from USA Today to the Wall Street Journal to the San Jose Mercury News. From KION-TV to NBC News to the Salinas Californian. And the common thread through all is the paradox that public library use is rapidly growing while public library funding is quickly declining. 

Because public libraries are supported by public monies - whether from tourism or sales or property taxes or State funds - when those monies are reduced - because fewer people are taking vacations or eating out in restaurants or buying cars or buying houses or even working - funding for public services, such as libraries, is reduced. 

With reduced funding comes difficult choices. More people are using the library to survive difficult economic times - checking out more books and other items, going online to hunt for jobs or connect with family and friends, receiving homework help and story time support, sharing one newspaper subscription or bestseller among many.  

How do we decide - as a staff, city and community - what services we can afford to continue and which we can no longer maintain?  Every service we provide at the Monterey Public Library has a core group of customers, for whom that service is important and expected.  I deeply wish we could continue our current services, as is, to all. 

In the coming weeks and months, as the economic downturn plays out, I will be working with Library and city staff and the Library Board to develop our best thinking for the future.  I hope I will hear from as many of you as possible - via the Library or City Manager's blog, online or in-house suggestions, through future survey responses or community meetings.

Your thoughts, ideas, questions and suggestions will be critical to helping imagine the future of the Monterey Public Library. I look forward to hearing from YOU. Thank you!

posted by Kim BB

Categories: Director's BlogIn the Know

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