SEPTEMBER 29, 2009
New Collection for Parents of Young Children!
Did you know that over the last two years we have been developing a special collection of books, CDs and videos just for you? As part of a grant, Early Learning with Families (ELF), that we received from the California State Library, we have been able to purchase the most current information about parenting for you to check out. Do you have questions about immunizations or concerns about breastfeeding? Are you curious to learn about the latest findings about infant brain development or are you looking for fun activities for your preschooler? Come and check out the Family Collection, located by the Picture Book Room in the Youth Area.
I have recently been reading two books from the Family Collection that caught my eye with their striking titles. The first is Food Fights: Winning the Nutritional Challenges of Parenthood Armed with Insight, Humor, and a Bottle of Ketchup written by two pediatricians, Laura A. Jana and Jennifer Shu who are also mothers with young children. The book is full of helpful ideas to deal with the behavioral issues surrounding food, covering topics from picky eaters to making healthy choices in restaurants and child-care centers. Written with a light touch, it contains practical and reassuring advice.
The second book is called Honey, I Wrecked the Kids: When Yelling, Screaming, Threats, Bribes, Time-Outs, Sticker Charts and Removing Privileges All Don’t Work. It is written by psychotherapist Alison Schafer. She writes about the “discipline-resistant child” and parents who would like to be respectful of their children but find they default to punitive measures or bribes when more kindly methods fail. Her solution is a new kind of discipline called, Democratic Parenting, which she says, “leads to truly co-operative families that thrive together and support one another.” Best of all, her book is full of real-life tactics to help you pull it off.
Click here to browse the titles in the Family Collection. If you have other titles or topics to suggest for this collection, let us know at the Youth Desk. We intend to keep this collection growing!
Categories: In the Know, Lets Talk Books
SEPTEMBER 26, 2009
Jazz and Much More
I spent most of last weekend at the Monterey Fairgrounds attending the 52nd annual Monterey Jazz Festival. There was a fantastic musical line up and we had great weather. I love the convenient, new (as of last year) park-and-shuttle arrangement, the increased quantity of sawdust in the arena was most welcome to those of us prone to dust-borne asthma attacks, and there were some great new vendors. One downside, for the third year in a row, was the annoying “thumpa-thumpa-thumpa” beat from the Disco in Lyons’ Lane being heard all the way inside the arena. And most unusual sightings - lots of little dogs being carried around in tote bags (a first, so far as I am aware), and a gentleman hawking subscriptions to the New York Times.
This year’s highlights for me (how do I pick?) would have to be the spectacular musicianship of the Monterey Jazz Festival All-Stars featuring Kenny Barron, Regina Carter, Kurt Elling, and Russell Malone, the opportunity to sing along with 90-year old Pete Seeger who performed with grandson Tao Rodriguez and his band, a delicious lobster roll from the “Chowder-mobile”, and the guilty pleasure of eating my annual hot dog.
Well, it’s over until September 2010, but you don’t have to wait for next year to listen to great jazz. Check out the Library’s music collection on CD and search for recordings by your favorite artists.
Category: In the Know
SEPTEMBER 24, 2009
Fall Books and Giving Dan Brown a Break
About three weeks ago, I read a newspaper article with an “editor’s choice” preview of the publishing world’s fall 2009 releases, that listed title, author, publisher, and a one-sentence description of each book. These lists are great for people like me who like to anticipate our next batch of “good reads”, and I pored over it gleefully with uncapped highlighter pen in hand! First, the September Fiction. I highlighted Homer and Langley by E.L. Doctorow…”The author’s latest historical novel…” and Gourmet Rhapsody by Muriel Barbery, “…looks back at the life of a famous chef.” Audrey Niffenegger’s Her Fearful Symmetry, “…London’s Highgate Cemetery is the setting of Niffenegger’s follow-up to The Time Traveler’s Wife.” Then I got to author Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol followed by the question, “Will this be the novel that finally gets this guy some attention?”
The remark was meant to be humorous, I guess. But I still get the feeling that poor Mr. Brown has become the Rodney Dangerfield of the publishing world. Despite selling over 80 million copies of his blockbuster 2003 book, The DaVinci Code (which stayed at the top of the best seller list for almost 3 years), selling the rights to it for a movie adaptation, and attracting similar star-quality treatment for his previously unnoticed book Angels and Demons, Dan Brown still doesn’t seem to get any respect.
Literary critics have been having a field day with Dan Brown’s writing ever since he hit the big time. They pan his punctuation, his pacing, his plotting, his character development, his knowledge of geography, and even take exception to his choice of subject matter. Historians have accused (even sued) Brown for borrowing from their research – and I even read that his books have caused a stir among those in the highest echelons of the Catholic Church. Yet, the books continue to sell and sell, and Dan Brown has become a veritable cash cow for Doubleday.
Say what you will about Dan Brown and his books, the fact is, he is a wildly successful author and millions of people (including me) find his books hugely entertaining. I pre-ordered my copy of The Lost Symbol months ago and it arrived by U.S. Mail, as promised, about a week ago. I would have started reading it right away, but my college-age son got to it first. And that’s OK. The waiting list at home is much shorter than the one for this book at the Library!
This past weekend, I read a post-release commentary on The Lost Symbol in which the writer felt compelled to gloat that the book had sold only 1 million copies in its first week, and compared it to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which sold 8 million copies in its first week. I could almost hear the “Nyah, nyah, nyah!” spurting between the printed lines! I don’t know where all this venom is coming from, but I say, let’s not be so hard on poor Dan Brown. It’s popular fiction, after all. And if he gets millions of people reading - and he does - he’s OK in my book.
Category: Staff Reads
SEPTEMBER 22, 2009
Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read
Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read
September 26−October 3, 2009
Banned Books Week (BBW): Celebrating the Freedom to Read is observed during the last week of September each year. Observed since 1982, this annual ALA event reminds Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted. BBW celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where the freedom to express oneself and the freedom to choose what opinions and viewpoints to consume are both met.
Although they were the targets of attempted bannings, most of the books featured during BBW were not banned, thanks to the efforts of librarians to maintain them in their collections. Imagine how many more books might be challenged—and possibly banned or restricted—if librarians, teachers, and booksellers across the country did not use Banned Books Week each year to teach the importance of our First Amendment rights and the power of literature, and to draw attention to the danger that exists when restraints are imposed on the availability of information in a free society.
Category: In the Know
SEPTEMBER 19, 2009
Missing May...and Marion, Mr. Pape, Martha...and others
One of my favorite "true deep down" books is Missing May, a young reader's chapter book by Cynthia Rylant. It's the story of twelve year old Summer, her Aunt May and Uncle Ob, who take her in when she is sent from relative to relative as though she was someone's "homework assignment". Summer is made welcome and able to recognize and connect with the "lesson in love" she has buried inside since the loss of her mother.
The books begin with May's death; Summer's memories light up the story, along with the pain of death and grief. I thought of that book at the end of these past couple weeks that brought news of the loss of three area residents who each graced the Monterey Public Library with their presence.
One of the most important ways a public library serves its community is as a shared community space; a place for people old, young and in-between to gather, learn and seek respite, information and inspiration. We welcome all, and encourage an ongoing relationship through all our services - programs for all ages, checking out and returning hundreds of thousands of books and other library materials per year and answering a multitude of questions every day.
Over the weeks and months of working at a public library, we come to know the Library's regular customers - by name, by reading preference, through their stories, joys and woes. And when a familiar face isn't seen for a while, we can only wait to hear whether he or she will return. Sometimes, we never know. And sometimes, we read a familiar name in the newspaper obituaries, or hear from another customer, and know sadness.
Marion S. Wilson's jaunty cap and beaming smile were a familiar sight over the years at the Library. We still expect her bright presence through the door, or on the phone. Mr. Joe Pape, a Bookmobile customer at Park Lane, graciously posed for photos used on the Library's new Bookmobile, debuting last December. His kind face is memorialized as the Bookmobile travels to parks, schools and neighborhoods, continuing the "door to door" service that he so appreciated.
And for 17 years Martha Draper, former Assistant Librarian and Director of Public Relations for the Library, helped promote the Library's many services to the community. She worked from 1961 to 1978, and laid the groundwork for the outstanding public relations program we have today.
As I write these words my mind is filled with faces and voices no longer here - customers, Board and Friends members, staff. All are missed, and all have helped make the Library - and our city - a warmer, more colorful and vibrant shared place. For these everyday "lessons in love" and in community at the Library, I am truly grateful.
Categories: Director's Blog, In the Know
SEPTEMBER 8, 2009
What Our Children's Librarians are Reading
Yesterday at the Youth Services staff meeting, we shared some of our favorite new books:
Sarah mentioned The Shepherd's Granddaughter, a story about a modern Palastinian girl with a desire to take on a traditional vocation.
Jane talked about a young (10 year old?) boy who raved about Nick of Time. She and Karen both think that The Heart of a Shepherd is one of the best novels of the year. It's about a boy whose rancher father leads the local national guard into Iraq. He's left with his aging grandparents to run the ranch. He is a thoughtful, religious boy who learns a lot about himself the year that his father is away. Karen is thrilled with a new read-aloud-chapter-book for young children, Emmaline and the Bunny. Every sentence is a special use of language.
When Karen talked about Operation Redwood, an exciting environmental adventure for older kids, Sarah brought up the new format in Redwoods by Chin - an innovative nonfiction book with the pictures of a fictional story.We hope you will enjoy these books as much as we have. What do YOU recommend we read next?
Categories: Lets Talk Books, Staff Reads
SEPTEMBER 4, 2009
A new look for our web site
If you are a frequent visitor to our web site, you may have noticed the steady stream of incremental changes over the last several weeks that have transformed many of our web pages. After several years of keeping to strict guidelines about how wide our pages are and how much data they need to load, we have made the leap to a larger page width (a 37% increase), and we're beginning to add more photos to many of our pages. For a look at some of the new content, head down to the kids page, the teen page, or the reference page, and discover something new!
During this time of new beginnings, I decided to take a trip back in time to look at the history of the Monterey Public Library web site. To do so, I enlisted one of my favorite internet toys, the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine. For the uninitiated, the Wayback machine allows you to look at what almost any web page looked like six months ago, last year, or even way back in the year 2000. For a trip down the Monterey Public Library web site memory lane, click here
Categories: Library Tech, In the Know