SAXTON B. LITTLE FREE LIBRARY
Friends of the Library
Keeping you up-to-date on what's happening at your library. We invite you to join in the conversation!
AUGUST 30, 2010
Where have you been?
Believe it or not, that's a question I ask myself frequently. I've worked in Saxton B. over twenty-five years and have seen lots of people come and go. I have formed relationships, even if only over the circ desk with many of you, our patrons. So when I don't see one of you for a long time I can't help but wonder where are you.
Where is the man, a Reverend from out of town, who would come in each week and borrow lots of foreign film He often was my eyes to what to recommend to others. Haven't seen him in months. Did he move? Then there was a family of home schoolers, four in all, who would borrow lots of materials from us and interlibrary loan things needed for their studies. Where'd they go? Are they borrowing from another library? There was a woman who would be here at least once a week and would borrow lots of mysteries. Hard to keep up with her reading demands. She was out of work. Did she get a job and now has no time to read? And what about the countless of you who used our computers on a regular basis to send resumes, and conduct the business of job searching. I like to think you've found new positions and have your own computers now. Some of you come in over the summer while long-term vacationing at the lake. Come fall, you disappear. Some of you have moved away, some letting us know, others seemingly leaving without a trace. Sadly, some of our regular patrons have passed away.
Yes, I notice your comings and goings and I care. Some of you return after a brief hiatus and I'm always glad to see you back. Others have fallen off the face of the earth. Are you buying your own books now?
If you're still around we hope you'll stop by Saxton B. Each and everyone of you who walk through our doors is special to me. When you don't come in, I miss you. So where have you been?
AUGUST 27, 2010
Blogging about a book about a book....
Lane Smith’s latest picture book, titled It’s a Book, arrived in the mail today.
In it, a tech-savvy donkey works on his laptop while asking his gorilla friend a bunch of annoying questions about the book he is reading – “Can you blog with it? How do you scroll down? Can it tweet?” When the donkey starts reading the book he becomes completely engrossed, but promises the gorilla, "I'll charge it up when I'm done!" To which the mouse (hidden under the gorilla’s hat) delivers the final punch line… “It’s a book, jackass.”
I am a fan of Lane Smith and I like this book - I think it’s a clever commentary on what’s happening to books in our digital age. But, even before it arrived at our library it was generating a lot of talk - especially among fellow librarians, who don’t know where to put it. I mean, it IS a picture book, written and illustrated by a children’s author, and advertised for readers ages 4 – 8. But, many librarians are reluctant to shelve it with all the other picture books in their collections. Some seem worried about the last page of the book, where the mouse calls the jackass a ‘jackass.’ Others just think the humor is geared to adults. As I’ve been following the debate among my fellow librarians, I’ve been trying to decide myself where to put it. The punch line doesn’t bother me (in fact check out Lane Smith’s blog post about jackasses in children’s lit). But, I do think the joke is going to be lost on young kids. My guess is that many kids, even the computer savvy ones, don’t know what tweeting, blogging, or wifi is, and the whole thing is going to go right over their heads.
Well, as we were chatting about this in our office, our cataloger offered to ‘test’ out the book on her granddaughter. Her granddaughter read it, and laughed. She thought it was funny - even though she didn’t know what ‘tweets’ and blogs were. When our cataloger asked her what she thought about the last line and pointed at the donkey, her granddaughter said she thought that the donkey was a rabbit!
I guess it goes to show how hard it is to predict what kids are thinking. Come check out the book yourself and let me know what you think!
AUGUST 25, 2010
It's That Time Again!
The end of August, the beginning of September can only mean one thing: school is starting. It’s a good time to restock those office supplies, remind people to drive carefully and review the role of public libraries.
The public library is a place where people of all ages can come to find reliable information, reading material for relaxation, use a computer and more. It is a place that should be comfortable and safe for all people and allow everyone to be productive. To this end, all public libraries have a set of policies and rules to ensure these goals. Our library is no different.
The start of school is always a good time to refresh people’s memories about these things. It seems to fit in with the notion of syllabi and new years.
The Saxton B. Little Free Library asks patrons of every age to follow our Code of Conduct, which is available in the Library. In sum, it asks people to behave in a quiet and appropriate manner for public work places. For example, we ask for the use of indoor voices, no use of cell phones, no rowdiness, etc. We do this so that people may work, read and use the library. We also ask that no food be brought to the library and that drink be only in a lidded container. This is to prevent spillage and costly damage and to keep at bay those pesky little creatures that are always trying to find indoor homes (like mice!).
Unfortunately, our Library does not have the staff or facilities to provide an after school program. This does not mean that youth shouldn’t come to the library! Only that parents and guardians should remember that the library cannot be responsible for their children. This is for the wellbeing of all. Since we consider safety a most important issue, we ask that parents be familiar with our unattended children policy.
We are grateful to our patrons who work with us and support these policies. Here’s to another productive and safe school year!
AUGUST 21, 2010
Meet the Author ~ Glen Maynard
On Tuesday, August 24th at 6:45, Glen Maynard, author of Strapped Into an American Dream will be at Saxton B. for a talk and book signing. This event is part of The Connecticut Author Trail.
To see other CAT events visit
Please welcome Glen Maynard as he talks about his book, the writing life, and shares some special insights about the writing process.
"Strapped Into An American Dream" details my one year journey through
America's 48 states in an RV. The longer journey was the road to
publication. It eventually became a race against time to realize
another dream...having my parents read about my journey in pages of a
hard covered book. Sure they read my 20 newspaper articles in local
papers along the way, but the finer details were missing. This trip
would not be complete until my story was published.
Rejection after rejection led me to signing with an agent in CO, where
my wife and I had moved in 1993. This agent held my book for two years,
and I ultimately had to take my book back following my divorce. I was
told that HarperCollins had cut my book out of their quarterly line at
the last minute, and so my search continued. The agent was not pleased
that I took the book back, but my divorce meant I had to tweak the book.
I moved back to CT and my book had to be retyped in it's entirety onto a
computer, since technology moved ahead of my Word Processor.
Now with my manuscript on a computer, I blasted query letters to agents,
no longer having to do so through the US mail. I emailed query after
query while the cows started to come home, but I persisted. I put too
much into this manuscript to just let it go. I promised myself that I
would not quit until my story gets published, and a new decade greeted
me. Query letters only led to rejection, and a couple more agents that
could not sell my book. They could only sell me on sending them a few
hundred dollars to satisfy their fee.
My father began with his health problems, and one day I walked to my
mailbox to find my SASE with my manuscript greeting me upon pulling the
door down. My heart again sank to my stomach. The agency that sounded
so hopeful, having asked to see my manuscript, rejected it after several
months. Each step of the way was an eternity. I stared at the returned
manuscript, thought about my father's failing health, and believed that
he would never be able to see me realize my dream. I gave it a solid
week before I restarted the process.
Having no bites as the years passed, my frustration increased while my
father's health declined. He had slowed considerably into his 80's.
They did a stress test on him for a knee replacement operation. They
said his heart couldn't take an operation, and he needed open heart
surgery. While in the hospital, he lost a lot of blood due to their
negligence, and he had a stroke. This was when I came to the
realization that my father would never see my book. My mother told him
who was here, but he didn't quite understand, and he couldn't speak. He
recovered slowly, but there was a difference. The important thing was
that he was still among us. I still had a chance.
I finally had an agent respond that he couldn't help me, but knew of a
small publisher who might be able to. I queried them, and we went back
and forth until my book proposal turned into a publishing contract.
That was wonderful news, but books can take up to a year before they
come out, and I wasn't sure I had a year. The process did take forever,
but I'll never forget my satisfaction in seeing my father sitting in his
recliner one day reading my book. I didn't think the moment would ever
come to fruition, but I felt like I had just won the race.
There is a second book completed, which is a work of fiction, but I am
only in the beginning stages of finding an agent. There is no race like
there was with the first book. My father has slowed, but is doing well
for 85 years old.
AUGUST 20, 2010
Speaking of dystopian fiction…
I recently finished reading Gary Shteyngart’s latest novel Super Sad True Love Story. Here’s a shortened version of the description from the book jacket:
“In a very near future, a functionally illiterate America is about to collapse. But don’t tell that to poor Lenny Abramov, the middle aged son of an angry Russian immigrant janitor, proud author of what may well be the world’s last diary. Despite his job at an outfit called Post-Human Services, which attempts to provide immortality for its super-rich clientele, death is clearly stalking this cholesterol-rich morsel of a man. Lenny’s from a different century—he totally loves books (or “printed, bound media artifacts,” as they’re now known), even though most of his peers find them smelly and annoying. But even more than books, Lenny loves Eunice Park, an impossibly cute and impossibly cruel twenty-four-year-old Korean American woman who just graduated from Elderbird College with a major in Images and a minor in Assertiveness. As the country is crushed by a credit crisis, riots break out in New York’s Central Park, the city’s streets are lined with National Guard tanks on every corner, the dollar is so over, and our patient Chinese creditors may just be ready to foreclose on the whole mess.”
Basically as the city and the country fall apart around them, the mismatched Lenny and Eunice are left to figure out if their odd relationship can survive. I really liked this book, it was entertaining and thought provoking (I found myself thinking about Lenny, Eunice, and futuristic America as I went about my errands last weekend). But, as Su pointed out in her blog post last week, this type of fiction IS scary, because the dire future it depicts seems so possible.
For instance, in Super Sad, everyone carries around these mini cell phone/computers called äppärät that stream news, messages, and advertisements, and they scan the people around you rating everything from their credit scores to their hotness. Plus, you can find out anything about anyone by way of their globalteen accounts. In short, the äppärät is basically an upgraded iPhone and globalteen is a bigger, less private facebook. People are materialistic and shallow, the US is financially failing and in debt to China, and companies are merging into all powerful corporations (ex: UnitedContinentalDeltaAmerican). In this not so distant future books are, and I quote from the jacket, “smelly and annoying,” and people only 'scan text' on their äppäräts.
Sound familiar anyone? If this too-close-to-home futuristic description hasn’t scared you off yet, then I actually recommend Super Sad True Love Story. Despite the fact that some of it was super sad, it was often hilarious and is definitely an entertaining read.
Check out the website for the book at:
AUGUST 18, 2010
Good to think about
Today is the 90th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits each state and the federal government from denying any citizen the right to vote based on that citizen’s sex. In other words, ratified on August 18, 1920, this amendment gave women the right to vote.
In 1918, the legislation failed and it’s ultimate pass was neither easy nor won by great margin. I’m struck by this sometimes.
I used to read dystopian fiction. I like it. It makes me think and when I started reading this genre, it made me hopeful. I could look at these alternate worlds and no matter how bad I felt about what I was seeing in “RL” (real life in geek speak), the stories were worse.
You may note the past tense. “Used to read,” I don’t so much any more, because now it bothers me. This is difficult. Some of the best books I’ve read, bother me. Most recently, I read Suzanne Collin’s Hunger Games and Catching Fire. I am now among the many anxiously awaiting the third and final book of the trilogy. I think these books are fabulous! At the same time, they are two of the most frightening books I’ve ever read.
These days I am thinking it’s good to be reminded of historical anniversaries, both good and bad. And while I still am bothered by dystopian fiction, I think its good to read, at least every now and then.
Though I warn you, I found these tales scary! If you’d like to sample some dystopian fiction, come check out one of these novels! I'd love to hear your opinion.
Brave New World / Aldous Huxley
Hunger Games / Suzanne Collins
The Handmaid's Tale / Margaret Atwood
Thinner Than Thou / Kit Reed
AUGUST 16, 2010
I read blogs, lots of blogs. Several this summer have mentioned the ever growing trend of adults reading teen novels or what we call YA at Saxton B. Opinions abound as to the reason more adults are eating these up. One theory is that the books are shorter, which makes the story tighter, get to the point quicker without a lot of wasted words that may not add to the whole. The young adult novel can possibly be read in one sitting and for many adults pressed for time this is a real plus. Another factor often cited is the toned down level of sex and violence in teen literature. Mostly though the die hard converts to the teen genre swear that it's all in the writing and the wonderful stories that are told. So if you haven't ever read any young adult novels here are a few that are mentioned over and over again.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
This is the first in a trilogy and one that our whole staff loved. Merand captures it beautifully in her review:
I absolutely loved this book! It was a great read. The suspense was perfect, the characters engaging, the plot spine-tingling. The basic premise of the Hunger Games is certainly not original - many books, movies, and short stories have been written along the same theme of society/government taking people and setting them in life or death situations as a form of entertainment. There are elements in this story that remind me specifically of the short story "The Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Connell combined with Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery". But even though the literary themes are not unique, the twists that Collins has put on the story are, and very entertaining too. One of the best aspects of this book, for me, was that I actually liked the main character, Katniss. It's been awhile since a teenage girl from the YA books I've recently read has appealed to me as much as Katniss does. She's practical, clear-headed, and self-reliant. So much better than the overly emotional, sentimental, wishy-washy girls I've read in other books. Katniss certainly has her problems but I can understand them, relate, and sympathize. My only disappointment is that this is the first book in a series - not a bad thing in itself, really - but I'm not looking forward to waiting several months to find out what happens next! Definitely worth the time it takes to read this book (which only took me several hours since I couldn't put it down!).
It's a great time to pick this one up as number three, Mockingjay hits our shelves August 24th. We can't wait!
Note that all three will soon be available at Saxton B. in large print.
Wintergirls by Laurie Halsie Anderson
I have been a fan of Laurie Halse Anderson from the very beginning, with the publication of her award-winning debut novel Speak. Anderson's latest effort, Wintergirls, has a similar emotional intensity and lyrical quality. The novel deals with multiple issues: anorexia, bulimia, cutting, grief, and family dysfunction. Although extremely difficult to read at times, it is equally difficult to put down. For a detailed [and, in my opinion, excellent] review of Wintergirls, click on this link from teenreads.com:
A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
Here's a great book for discussion, one that could easily be a choice for an intergenerational read. We liked it so much in our library that we have copies both in the YA and adult collection.
Based on a true story, the murder of Grace Brown, and set in 1906, this historical novel weaves history, and romance in the telling of a murder mystery. Comparisons can be made to choices young women make today to those facing Mattie Gokey. Mattie must decide whether to follow her dream of college or marry Royal Loomis. Complicating her decision is her responsibility to her sisters after her mother's death and the family's struggle to keep their farm.
The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt
Another favorite and one that appeals to a wide audience, Mercedes is not alone in loving this one:
A wonderful book that I could hardly put down. Typically we think thrillers and adventure stories keep us on edge, not the daily life of a seventh-grade boy, but it was engrossing. I love to read YA novels where the teen isn't mired in a life of drugs, sex, and living on the edge; where the teen is decent and interested in school and his family. This story was poignant and funny, heartbreaking and hilarious. We suffer the embarrassments of being in junior high in 1967 with Holling. We enjoy his foray into love with a sweetness that is lacking in so many relationships today (can you revel in the thrill of getting a Coke at a restaurant?) We can relate to Holling's heights and descents. His father is controlling and neglectful, but his motivation is stability and success for his family. He and his sister, as with most siblings, abide with each other but don't truly appreciate one another until they are stretched. The crux of the book and the most intricate relationship is between Holling and his teacher, Mrs. Baker. This isn't a Dangerous Minds/Stand By Me kind of relationship but one that has far-reaching effects on both student and teacher. Mrs. Baker challenges Holling and Holling has some surprises for Mrs. Baker as well. Of course, the setting of America during the Vietnam War adds plenty of drama with teachers' spouses being sent off to war and the other dramatic events that occurred during 1967-68. The war looms over life but there is still time for Shakespeare plays and Opening Day at Yankee Stadium. A fantastic read - one that will leave you smiling and crying!
Hope our readers will add their picks. Perhaps at a later date we'll do the cross in reverse and feature some great adult books for teens.
AUGUST 11, 2010
Kindles Sold Out!
Now, by this title I do not mean that in some former hippy slang. THAT is a whole different discussion. I mean, they are not available – sold out – no more on the virtual shelf.
I was snooping around today, trying to think about what I might write about. (That is after remembering and forgetting half a dozen times that this was my blog day.) I came across an different blog’s entry from July 27 that said the Kindle was sold out. No way, I thought. So I went over to Amazon to see.
Sure enough, Kindle, wireless 6” Wi-fi – temporarily sold out. Free 3G Wi-fi – temporarily sold out. The 9.7” ones at almost triple the cost are currently available. I have to say, I was surprised at the sold out status. I would think the larger ones would be more popular, though they are significantly more expensive.
Here at our library and libraryland in general, the debates and discussions continue. Do you have a Kindle? A different brand? Do you love it? Hate it? We’d love to hear from you!
AUGUST 9, 2010
Kindles, Sony Reader, Nooks and Crannies! - Update
In our Wednesday blog this week Su begged the question to E or not to E. Seems this is a topic on many minds. Consider these blog posts and musings I came across this week:
Not an E Book - Early Word Blog
Visit their site to see the trailer of the new picture book by Lane Smith called It's a Book. Not only is it book, it's a riot!
Roxanne Coady, owner of R.J. Julia's in Madison is vacationing in Maine this week and has A Question for You? When in the middle of the night her power went out and all gadgetry failed, and sleep was out of the question, Roxanne resorted to an old fashioned flashlight by which to read Nicole Krauss's Great House (not due out until October). Reading by flashlight was a trip down memory lane, as it must have been thirty years since she had read this way. One thought led to another and she began to wonder:
"this experience of holding a book - of being one with the words and being immersed and surrendering to the story - is it uniquely tied to a physical book? Can the experience of reading be duplicated with an electronic device? Does it engage the same dimensions of the brain and therefore elicit the same sensations? Most of my recent conversations about books quickly gravitate toward electronic reading. This is not a discussion about trying to stop the march of technology, but simply a curiosity I have, and I would love to have a further conversation. And an easy way for us to do this is for you to go to the rjjulia blog."
From the Daily Beast The CEO of Ingram Book Company, David "Skip" Pritchard, speaks out on Will the Book Survive?
I don't own an e-book reader, I hardly own a cell phone but I'm very interested in the technology. Frankly, I'm looking for a device that will do three things. First, be capable of downloading and playing audio books, secondly, be able to connect via wifi to the internet, and lastly to have a decent sized screen for e-book reading. I can see the advantages to e-books. The ability to bookmark, search and find is a key factor for me. I also think being able to jump off to explore an idea on the net that is presented in the text of a story, fiction or non-fiction, would be great. The ability to look up a word, hear it spoken immediately has appeal. I like the idea of carrying several books in a compact format for vacation reading. In the end though, I don't see the hard copy of the book going away and I really don't want to see it's demise. I love holding one, opening it's pages, breathing in it's unique smell. Want to know how paper is made?Here's a link to a great video by Melissa Klug, who works for Glatfelter, which manufactures many of the papers that are used in the books on our bookshelves.
What e-book reader can produce such stunning effects as deckled edges, french flaps, or Step-backs, Die-cuts, and Foil, Oh My! Click on the previous link to learn about most of these in a video presented by Michael Kindness, one half the team doing a fantastic job talking about books on a podcast called Books On the Nightstand. The edges are mentioned in this podcast
We're not going to solve this question anytime soon. This will be an ongoing conversation in the our book world. One last thought for this blog post. I truly wonder what impact e-books will have on libraries. It's something I think about often. How about you? We'd love to hear your thoughts on any of this? If you have a reader, please chime in. If you abhor the thought, let us know why.
AUGUST 6, 2010
Here’s a shot of our mascots for the day:
People who dropped everything and read:
It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon at the library, and all that reading sure tired us out:
If you couldn’t join us today, why don’t you put aside some time this weekend to D.E.E.R. at home?
AUGUST 4, 2010
To E or not to E
The e-book debate is long standing in Libraryland. On the one hand, it is a popular new media, some people very much want and some argue it IS the wave of the future. On the other hand, makers of these devices have said publicly that they are NOT for shared use, namely libraries, there are still issues with this new media and some hate it.