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AUGUST 31, 2008
The Working Life

Has Labor Day become just another day off from work, the signal that school is starting and the end of summer? I got to thinking about my day off this morning and decided to research the origin and intent of the day. And for good measure I'll highlight a few books about the working life.

If you visit the Department of Labor's website  you can read about the history of Labor Day, starting with this statement as to its meaning:

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”

While visiting the site I found out that the first Labor Day was celebrated not on a Monday, but Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City. There seems to be a controversy as to who the founder of Labor Day is, but it is agreed that the Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal in 1882. In 1884, the first Monday in September was selected as the day and the Central Labor Union urged other labor organizations to celebrate a workingmen's holiday on that day.

It is interesting to note that Connecticut had adopted the holiday by legislative action by the end of the decade. Searching The Hartford Courant Historical Editions available on Iconn, I found articles as early as September 7, 1886 referring to observance of the new holiday.

Like many holidays, it is easy to forget the background and meaning of the day. Take the time to visit the DOL page and read a bit of the history. It makes my day off from work a bit more meaningful.

Many excellent books have been written about the working life. Though hard to pick just a few, what follows is a sampling of my non-fiction favorites from our collection. Part Two follows tomorrow with an additional list of the working life in fiction.

Wife of the Chef  ~ Courtney Febbroriello (Connecticut Author)

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by In America ~ Barbara Ehrenreich

Gig : Americans talk about their jobs / edited by John Bowe


Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing  Ted Conover


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AUGUST 29, 2008
The Kissing Hand

There have been many families in the library over the past few weeks that are preparing their children to start daycare, pre-school, kindergarten, or who have children that will be attending their first ‘long’ school days in first grade. There have been kids in the library who are new to town, and regulars in that are moving and will be starting school in a new town. The first days and weeks of a new school year are often fun and exciting; students are getting to know their teachers and meeting new friends. But for many children (and some parents!) that excited feeling is accompanied by some anxiety. Will I like school? Will I make friends? What if I miss my parents?

It’s important to talk with children about their fears and give them tools to help them overcome anxious feelings. As is written in the foreword, The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn, is "a story for any child who confronts a difficult situation." This book is a gentle story of a mother's love for her anxious son, and is a perfect tool for starting a conversation with your child about their fears. “When Chester the raccoon is reluctant to go to kindergarten for the first time, his mother teaches him a secret way to carry her love with him…" Chester’s mom teaches Chester the ‘very old secret’ of the kissing hand- and you can teach your child too.

Use this beautiful story to talk to your child about things that make them scared, such as starting something new or going someplace for the first time. Use it to talk about what it means to miss someone. And, use it to give your child their own kissing hand, because a kissing hand will stick- it won’t wash off and they can always carry it with them!

Stop by the library to check out our copy of The Kissing Hand, or its sequel, Pocket Full of Kisses. Good luck and best wishes to all those starting a new school year!



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AUGUST 27, 2008
A Safe New Year !

After three months of investigating and evaluation of 30 criteria, Parents magazine ranked Connecticut number one in the nation for child safety. With enforced laws ranging from requiring bicycle helmets and booster seats to latch key kids, it is nice to see our state get positive publicity for something so important.

In fact, Connecticut law specifically states:

Any parent, guardian or person having custody or control, or providing supervision, of any child under the age of twelve years knowingly leaves such child unsupervised in a place of public accommodation….that presents a substantial risk to the child’ s health or safety,” may be guilty of a misdemeanor. (Public Act NO. 97-298)

Librarians are in a difficult position in regard to child safety. We are not, by law, mandatory reporters because our role does not necessarily enable us to have prolonged interactions. Requirements of our jobs frequently cause us to split our attention, never remain in one area and often be too focused then to be able to take on a child care role. Sadly there have been some horrific stories of incidents in Connecticut public libraries because of unattended children.
The library is a place we want children to visit, to love, but most especially be safe. This is why all libraries have unattended children’s policies and rules of behavior for people of all ages. Saxton B. Little Free Library is no exception. I’m sure I speak for almost all librarians when I say we cherish the times we can sit and speak to our young patrons about what they’re reading, their homework, their classes and their lives. But unfortunately, this time is often limited.
With today being the first day of school, I’m reminded to watch out for school buses and children crossing the street. All too soon it will be trick or treat-ers and then sleds!  On the other hand, a new school year is also to me like a new beginning. And so, I wish everyone a happy and safe new year!

For more information see:
Ct Safe Kids

Parents Magazine

Medline Plus - Child Safety


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AUGUST 25, 2008
What I'm Reading
 This past week found me reading two books that have been really hot titles. They seemed to be everywhere I turned, best seller lists, book discussion sites, blogs, and talk shows. I finally decided I had to see first hand what all the hype was about. What follows is more summation than review as both books became personal journeys for me.  I leave you to form your own opinion.

The Shack by William P. Young

Children are supposed to outlive their parents. Children are not supposed to die. When this natural course of life is changed, the effects are devastating. It is awful enough when a child dies from an illness or accident but when a child is murdered, faith is tested to the limits. In The Shack, Mackenzie Allen Philips' youngest daughter, Missy, is kidnapped and murdered while the she is vacationing with her family. Part of the horror and guilt her father feels is that he was saving the life of one child, while the other was taken. Missy's lifeless body is found in a shack, deep in the woods in Colorado. Mack finds himself questioning his faith in God. What kind of merciful God would let something as horrid as this happen? Four years after her death, Mack is still struggling with these questions and is not able to shake his saddened state of mind. In his mail box, he finds an invitational. Someone, who is passing himself off as God is inviting him to come back to the shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment, Mack decides to to accept the invitation to see what is wanted of him.

What transpires at the shack on this weekend is an interesting look at religion and how we perceive faith. I am not suggesting that you must read this book though it did give me much to think about. It is a book you need to choose yourself. Perhaps you'll read it because you're curious about the premise, or maybe you'll read a review that will draw you in, or perhaps your spirit will need a boost and you'll find your way to this title. Some people have found it has changed their lives, others have found it to be a tear-jerker or a page-turner. You be the judge. It'll be here if and when you'd like to read it.

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch (1960-2008)

The last lecture is known in alumni circles as a talk by professors in which they contemplate their own demise and sum up what was most important about their lives . This is what was expected of Randy Pausch when he was asked to give his last lecture at his alma mater, Carnegie Mellon. What made his last lecture different is that Randy was actually dying. He had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and just found out that he had 11 metastasized tumors and not long to live. He could back out of the lecture, who'd blame him? In trying to decide whether he should forge on with plans to do the talk, Randy examines his motivation. Is it vanity, a lime-light lover's need to show-off, or a way to prove the lion can still roar. All are true but there is also his dignity and self esteem to consider. And in the back of his mind, he sees it as leaving something of himself, a way for his being to continue and a way for his children to know the man they will grow up without.

The lecture Randy gave was “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”. It

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AUGUST 21, 2008
Latte Anyone?

I'm a coffee lover like many other Americans. I like my coffee, straight up black, no sugar, no milk, no bells, no whistles, and under $2.00 if I'm buying it out. A Newman's senior coffee at Mickey D's satisfies me as much as any from the leading coffee retail roasters (name your favorite). No cafe latte, no cappuccino, macchiato, mocha madness, espresso, or any of the myriad of designer coffee drinks, for me. According to a report I read somewhere, coffee represents 75%&nsp;of  all the caffeine consumed in the US. Coffee statistics and trends can boggle my mind. Instead of quoting more, let's look at few of the materials in our library that will provide your coffee fix with none of the caffeine.

Various Flavors of Coffee ~ Anthony Capella
“It was a cup of that changed Robert's Wallis's life—and a very bad coffee at that.” So states the blurb on the dust jacket of this brand new book by Anthony Capella (The Wedding Officer).Wallis is minding his own business, sipping a cup at a London coffeehouse when Samuel Tinker offers him a job creating a vocabulary of coffee. Wallis needs only use his talent for words and extroadinary palate to describe the nuances of coffee. Little did he know that he would journey to South Africa in search of the fabled Arab Mocca bean. A little bit history, a little bit thriller, a little bit romance, this sounds like a winner on many levels. F Capella

The Coffee Trader by David Liss F Liss
Amsterdam, 1659 and a daring plot to corner the market on a new commodity, coffee, are the centerpoints of this historical mystery/thriller.

The Tall Pine Polka by Lorna Landvik F Landvik
Cup O'Delight Cafe, where locals gather to “Tall Pine Polka”. Good food, good friends, and heavenly coffee inspire the soul to dance.Fans of Landvik won't be disappointed as she blends her special sense of humor, romance and good storytelling for a four star read. Read an excerpt at

How Starbucks Changed My Life ~ Michael Gates Gill 647.95092 GILL
Gill lost it all, a prestigious job, money, etc. This book chronicles his return to success working from the ground up, in none other than Starbucks. Fans of the superstar chain might find this an interesting read.

I can almost smell the coffee brewing. Pour me a cup, set the mood with a bit of background music and I'll settle in with one of the aforementioned books ...

Music from the Coffeelands ~ Putumayo
music from Peru, Jamaica, Hawaii, Cuba, Uganda, Colombia, Mexico, Kenya, Congo, and more...

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AUGUST 16, 2008
Pulling Strings

A recent post featuring the wonderful puppet gallery available for loan at our library service centers, got me thinking about puppet stories and films. First that comes to mind is

The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, the ageless tale of Geppetto, a woodcarver who creates a wooden puppet that wishes he was a real boy. The original story is far darker than most of the variations we read as children. It has countless retellings and was adapted by Disney in a popular screen version.

And who could forget the crazy antics of Punch and Judy. One version of their story is told in                                                                         
Twice Told Tales by Christopher P. Reilly
from our catalog...The first retells the puppet show about Mr. Punch, who brandishes his stick at everyone, including his wife Judy and his own baby. Then, Mr. Punch sets out to get on Santa's Nice List, but if he fails, he'll ruin Christmas for the last two good children on Earth.

The Master Puppeteer by Katherine Patterson YA PATTERSON

Eighteenth century Osaka and the world of puppeteers come to life in this story about a 13 year old boy. Jiro, tutored by Kinshi, the puppet master's son, stumbles on a dangerous secret.

I Want to be a Puppeteer by Ivan Bulloch J 741.5 BULLOCH
Be a Puppeteer by Estelle Worrell J741.5 WORRELL
gives practical advice on how to create your puppet and therefrom your show

Of course, the children's collection has other stories featuring puppets. And the The Muppets and their creator, Jim Henson, are well represented. It's seems impossible though, to come up with any titles in adult fiction where puppet is not used as metaphor in a sinister plot where someone is manipulated like a puppet. I couldn't find even one. Horror stories about ventriloquist dummies but nothing fun or wholesome. Keeping this in mind my suggestion in the adult collection would be

Stories of the American Puppet DVD 791.53 STORIES
A favorite form of American entertainment, this documentary provides a chronological history of the art. Both the puppets and those who made them famous are highlighted in this film.

If you're looking for something to do close to home with or without the kids be certain to visit The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry  on the UCONN Storrs campus. The museum is free, donations accepted. The current exhibition is Puppets Through the Lens: Puppetry in Film, Television, and the Internet. Puppets from The Muppets, Jurassic Park and Caddy Shack, as well as Howdy Doody, and Lambchop are on view.

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AUGUST 14, 2008
Owls In The Woods and Owls in the Stacks

Summer evenings and open windows greatly enhance night sounds. Screeching cats, barking dogs, tree peepers, crickets; early morning crows cawing at an intruding hawk; all are magnified as I try to sleep. None, though, is as mournful as the sound of the owls in our woods. Last evening I was awakened by a pair of owls, Great Horned (?) calling to each other. Even though they interrupted my sleep I didn't mind. There was a beauty and peacefulness in this and brings to mind the many wonderful books we have in the library that feature owls. A few are listed below. See the call number after the title.


 An all-time favorite of mine...

Owl Babies by Martin Waddell   E Waddell
Three baby owls awake one night and find mother gone. Where can she be? Beautifully illustrated and a perfect story of a mother's love for her babies

  Owl Moon by Jane Yolen   E Yolen


Little Hoot by Amy Krause Rosenthal   E Rosenthal


The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear   E Lear


White Owl Barn Owl by Nicola Davies   E Davies


Hoot by Carl Hiaasen   JF Hiaasen

The barn owl by Bert Kitchen   J 598.97 KITCHEN

A Guide to Night Sounds by Lang Elliot   591.954 ELLIOTT PBK

and don't forget the magnificent owls in The Harry Potter books...

Hedwig ~ Snowy Owl
Errol ~ Gray owl
Pigwidgeon ~ Little Owl
Malfoy's Owl ~ Eagle Owl
Percy's Screech Owl ~ Screech Owl



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AUGUST 13, 2008
Shamus Award Nominees
 Nominations for the 2008 Shamus Awards have been announced by PWA. As described on their website the “The Shamus Award is given by the Private Eye Writers of America to honor excellent work in the Private Eye genre.The award was created by Robert J. Randisi in 1981. Committee members of PWA select nominees and winners, much in the same way as the Edgars are chosen. In general, a "private eye" is any mystery protagonist who is a professional investigator, but not a police officer or government agent.

Harcover nominees include, 

Head Games by Thomas B. Cavanagh (St. Martins Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books), featuring Mike Garrity.

Soul Patch by Reed Farrel Coleman (Bleak House Books), featuring Moe Prager.

The Color of Blood by Declan Hughes (William Morrow), featuring Ed Loy.

A Welcome Grave by Michael Koryta (St. Martins Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books), featuring Lincoln Perry.

A Killer’s Kiss by William Lashner (William Morrow), featuring Victor Carl.

Take a look at the two that we own (click on title) or order any of the other three through Interlibrary Loan.

Who do you think should win this year's hardcover Shamus Award?

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AUGUST 11, 2008
What's on my bookshelf

The Sunday, August 10th Hartford Courant ran an article, Pivotal Products: What Item Could You Not Live Without? Items such as tv's, smartphones, ipods, were tops on the list and didn't surprise me or reporter Zachary Abrahamson. Quirky things like a Pullman Vacuum, electric iron, cocoa butter lotion left us both scratching our heads. But nowhere on the list did I see my passion, books! Books may not quite meet the criteria of What One Item but certainly, each book I'm currently reading becomes the "Cherished One". I just couldn't imagine life without books and every nook, cranny and bookshef in my house can attest to that. I may never actually read some of them but they look good on the shelves. Take for instance, Man Against Nature, edited by Charles Neider. It has been sitting there waiting to be read for a long time. Picked up a book sale, it contains tales of true, eye-witness accounts told by the world's great explorers, and adventurers. Another languishing in a pile is The Righteous Men: The End of The World is Coming One Body At A Time by Sam Bourne. Ok, I don't even remember how that one appeared. Would you believe it's fiction and deals  with several seemingly unrelated mysterious deaths that may be actually tied to an ancient prophecy that leads to the end of the world? Sounds good doesn't it, but there it sits as others take precedence and become the choice to read. Then there's the books I collect just in case I may want to do some research or look something up. One such is The Complete Idiot's Guide to American History, 2nd ed. You could probably open this one to any spot and learn something. Or how about  Presidential Anecdotes by Paul F. Booler, Jr? It has lots of tidbits about the men who called The White House home. I never knew much about most of our presidents but this one is chock full of great stories and lots of trivia you can use to wow your friends. Did you know that Rutherford Hayes introduced morning prayers, and nightly hymn sings  to the White House? Profanity, tobacco, and liquor vanished under his precidency. The public dubbed Mrs. Hayes as “Lemonade Lucy” due to the alcohol ban but President Hayes took credit for this himself. I like the way all these books look on my shelves. They bring me comfort and are dear to me, like old friends. I'll share a few from time to time.

How about you? What's on your shelf or to be read pile?

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AUGUST 9, 2008
Welcome to Saxton Reads!
Today seems as good as any to debut our library blog. The intent of our blog is to alert readers to book news, library happenings, or special events we think you might like to know about . It will also be a venue for musings by our library staff on a variety of topics. We hope to start a dialog with you, our patrons, so feel free to comment and post.

I'll start by reminding you of the variety of excellent resources available on Iconn, Connecticut's Search Engine. All Columbia patrons with current library cards are eligible to use this free set of databases provided by the State of Connecticut. In addition to Consumer Reports (highlighted on our homepage),and available in the General (Infortrac) Onefile database, you'll find full text artilces for more than 6,500 other magazines and journals. The Historical Hartford Courant contains digital reproductions from 1764-1922. There are full text articles for the Hartford Courant from 1992 to the present. A few of the other searchable newspapers include The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, to name a few. There are health, business, history, science, biography, AP Images and much more. Heritage Quest, a genealogical database is a popular place to visit when researching your ancestors. There is a wealth of Connecticut Information including Connecticut History Online, Encyclopedia of Connecticut History, 2-1-1 Community Resources Directory CT Consumer Health Information, Connecticut Physician. And of course this is the place to find what books and other materials are owned by over 300 public, academic and school libraries. This is know as ReQuest.

Remember, all it takes is a public library card to access all these valuable resources. Iconn is truly Connecticut's Re-Search Engine!

If you need further information feel or help in accessing any of the databases please contact or 228-0350.

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