SAXTON B. LITTLE FREE LIBRARY
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OCTOBER 31, 2008
Sign of the times...
A sign hung up in Whitefish Public Library, Montana:
Ain't that the truth! I went to a Children's Librarian Roundtable the other day in Willimantic. The Children's Roundtable meets every few months and is a way for us librarians to collaborate and share ideas with one another. Topics range from gaming to graphic novels to summer reading, which was what we were supposed to be covering at this past roundtable discussion. And we did talk about our summer reading programs, but the conversation kept getting redirected to what was really on a lot of our minds – what is going on in our country, what is going on with our economy, and how it has been affecting the libraries that each of us work in.
Many of the other librarians were facing big budget cuts, some even closing early or eliminating weekend hours and services, while at the same time facing HUGE circulation increases. This makes sense. Of course more people are using the library, like the sign says “libraries will get you through times of no money...,”after all where else can you get books, newspapers, magazines, DVD's, CD's, audio books, programs for adults and children, internet access, and more all for FREE? Even more important in these times, public libraries give patrons access to the internet and newspapers for job searching, computers for typing up a resume, and books on job interviews and writing cover letters. Our circulation is up, more and more new people come in to get library cards, and I know many parents turn to us as a place where their children can participate in free activities and programming.
In other words, even as many libraries face budget cuts, business is booming. When the goin’ gets tough, the tough go... To the library! Come see what it we have to offer!
Articles about growing use of libraries in difficult economic times
On a lighter note, have a safe and happy Halloween everyone!!
OCTOBER 29, 2008
The Elevator Test
When I was teaching, I was often tackling subjects that were uncomfortable and controversial, not simply because of the topics, but because of ambiguity and challenges to perspectives. Teaching crime and deviance, my students and I explored a range of behaviors from murder to fraud, subjects from tattooing to graffiti and beliefs from alternative religions and cults to mental health and medicine.
There were behaviors universally agreed upon as dangerous, but also those that were accepted by some, and horrific to others. Ideas and groups then when truly examined stopped being viewed negatively, and this change in perspective was sometime the most difficult.
When there was subjectivity or variation based on perception, it was often hard for students. To help put things in context, I often suggested students ask themselves the elevator test:
If there was a disaster, and I were stuck in an elevator with this person, and all I knew about them was __________________. Would I likely be safe? Would it be likely this person would help me?
There have been times when my answer to this test shocked me. Times when it has made me reconsider long held beliefs, and times when it has sent me searching for more information.
Recently there were reports of a Halloween program in a Connecticut library that was receiving public concern. Initially, this bothered me. I applied my elevator test and based on what I know, my response was positive. I would ride the elevator. As more information was presented, I found my answer wavering.
As we conclude the Halloween season and enter into the Holiday Season, perhaps the elevator test is something helpful to remember. If one is wavering, the library is a place where one can learn more about almost any topic, check your facts and take some time to make up your mind.
OCTOBER 27, 2008
October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Before the month gets away from me I'd like to mention Breast Cancer Awareness Month. October was chosen more than 20 years ago as the month dedicated to increasing the awareness of breast cancer issues. The National Breast Cancer Awareness Month affiliate (NBCAM) describes themselves as a group "comprised of several national public service organizations, professional medical associations, and government agencies working in partnership to build breast cancer awareness, share information and provide access to screening services. NBCAM, and www.nbcam.org, are a year-round resource for patients, survivors, caregivers and the general public. According to Diana Rowden of Susan G. Komen, the five year survival rate for breast cancer when caught early is 98%, ared with 74% i82.
Though most breast cancer occurs in women, men do get breast cancer also. Few realize that men do have breast tissue. According to breastcancer.org,, "less than 1% o breast cancers occur in men. In 2005, when 211,400 women were diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States, 1,690 men were diagnosed with the disease.
For a first person account of one man's journey with this type of cancer read:
OCTOBER 24, 2008
Here at the Saxton. B there is a new Book Club. We call ourselves the Book Thieves. Right now there are about 8 of us. We voted on books to read as a group and we have met twice so far. When we meet we have a book related snack, chat about the book (and of course chat not about the book), and do some kind of craft or activity related to the book. All of us are between age 10 and 13 – except for me, I'm the oldest book thief :)
In September we read Fablehaven, by Brandon Mull, which was a HUGE hit with the club. Everyone seemed to like the book and there have been long reserve lists for both the second and third books in the Fablehaven series. We had milk and brownies as a snack (if you want to know why you'll have to read the book!), and made our own 'Hugo.' In the book Hugo was a giant made of rock and mud that did chores on the magical preserve of Fablehaven, we made our Hugos out of clay.
Here are some of our Hugos:
In October we read The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick. It's a huge book, but the story is told through both pictures and writing, so it is actually a fast read. It was a really different reading experience having to 'follow' the illustrations, but I loved it! The rest of the book thieves weren't so sure. Some enjoyed the pictures, but many didn't like having to look though all the illustrations and found themselves skipping ahead to the writing. We had croissants for a snack and made our own mini automatons out of wood and metal pieces. What's an automaton you ask? We'll heres pictures of some we made below, but if you really want to know, you'll have to pick up the book!
Here are some of the automatons we made:
Next month we are reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid, by Jeff Kinney, and in January we'll be reading Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief, by Wendelin Van Draanen. After that it's back to voting for the books for the rest of the year (Feb – May). Our group has fifth through eighth graders, boys and girls, and all different interests and tastes in books. It's not an easy task to come up with an array of books to vote on that will please most, if not all, of the Book Thieves. Not to mention find books that they haven't already read!
So here is my challenge to you. If you have any suggestions for books might be a good fit for our group let me know! I have some ideas floating around, but any recommendations would be really appreciated!!
I have to end this post by echoing Su's query: WHO ARE YOU?? Read Su's post below and let us know. Who has been peeking at our blog 1600 times this month? My curiosity is killing me!
OCTOBER 22, 2008
Who Are you? Who? Who?
Yes, you! Who are sitting at your computer reading this very text!
Inquiring minds want to know!
First, we want you to know that the three of us who post here each week, enjoy it thoroughly. Though I must confess … I didn’t believe. I didn't think anyone would read this. I never accepted the ‘if you build it they will come’ philosophy. I suppose, that makes me generally a pessimist at heart.
Still, I like to write and usually do not have time. I'm used to no one reading my writing. And I still cling to a fantasy that some day I will become a well known fiction writer and will retire in luxury from royalties. I suppose now I’m a pessimist with an active imagination.
When I committed to writing once a week, I believed it would be a fun, slight diversion that certainly wouldn’t hurt. But you’ve surprised me. First, the numbers reading this blog were 500-600 hundred. I secretly wondered if this really represented only a half dozen of us, continually peeking in to see if anything was happening.
Then … it grew.
We puzzled over this. We decided the statistics MUST be wrong. We experimented and checked, but they don’t seem to be wrong. So far this month, our statistics say that over 1600 times human eyes have looked at this page.
Is this really possible?
If you are reading this, here is our message in a bottle, our request: comment, e-mail, send a carrier pigeon, but let us know you are real and reading this.
In the words of The Who (they’ll be performing in Connecticut next week):
Well, who are you?
(Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
I really wanna know
(Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
'Cause I really wanna know
(Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
Who's @ your Library?
With over 1100 biographies at the library, you might be surprised!
OCTOBER 20, 2008
Saturday Night at the Movies
If you've read some of my other blog posts, you already know that my husband and I have a hard time agreeing on a movie. I tend to lean towards romantic comedies, psychological thrillers and foreign films with or without subtitles. He gravitates to shoot-em' up flicks and any movie that features Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steven Seagal, or Jean-Claude Van Damm. A typical Saturday night at the movies in our house starts with me asking “so what do you wanna watch?”. Response, “so what do you have?” I begin going through the pile until I hear the “ok, let's try that one.” Last Saturday we started with Dead Girl, which had potential, as it's cast included Val Kilmer, acceptable to him, and Amanda Plummer, a good pick for me. The plot summary sounded fairly decent.. Words like psychological drama,, murder, morbidly dark, drew me in but less than 15 minutes of the film and I knew this one was out the window. The only thing we could agree on was that Piper Laurie, playing the dead girl's mother, was well cast. Next up I suggested Slipstream starring Anthony Hopkins. How bad could that be? It was billed as a “dream-within a dream, movie within a movie”, film. Again, not even ten minutes down the road and he said “if this isn't going somewhere in 5 minutes, can it”. Last week I had talked about Vampyr on the blog and would truly like to watch it. It's supposed to be a classic in horror vampire films. He thought that sounded good too. So I pop it in the dvd player and, lo and behold it's subtitled. Pop it out!
OCTOBER 17, 2008
Who are you callin a sissy?
Banned Books week has passed, it took place Sept. 27 – Oct. 5. Some of you may remember all those mysteriously wrapped up books on display, the ones with caution tape and censored stamps, and some of you may have read my post to this blog on Banned Books week. During the time we had our display up a LOT of 'banned' books went out to our patrons. There was definitely something tempting about taking out a book all wrapped up without knowing what it was. Sort of a present and a forbidden fruit effect all in one. We got a lot of questions from our patrons about banned books, and a lot of comments from those who took one home to read. Some enjoyed the book they took and really couldn't figure out why it was ever challenged in the first place, and some didn't like the book at all. But that was really the whole point, take it out, read it, and form YOUR OWN opinion. Now the books are no longer wrapped, they are back on our shelves where they always were.
However, one 9 year old boy got our staff talking about banned books again. Yesterday when we brought in the books from our book drop, the children's book The Sissy Duckling, by Harvey Fierstein, had a little note sticking out from it. Here's what it said:
“I think this book is good for five and up, and for boys and girls. I enjoyed the book very much. It's just like any other children's book. Why is it being banned? It's just like any other book. Put this book on the shelves again.”
The staff was thrilled. I was elated. This boy took the time to think and respond to the 'banned' book that he took out – exactly what we hoped our patrons would do. I wrote him a letter back yesterday. I explained that the book was still on our shelves and thanked him for taking the time to think and ask about what he had read.
For those curious, The Sissy Duckling is a story about Elmer, a boy duckling who gets called a sissy by others. He likes to bake cakes and paint while all the other boys are building forts and playing baseball. But, when his father gets hit by a hunter, Elmer ends up being the big hero. Many reviews find the book cute or touching, and commend it for its positive messages about accepting differences and being true to yourself. The book has been challenged in some libraries and schools because of it's “gay-positive theme.” For those REALLY curious, come to the library and check out the book yourself!
OCTOBER 15, 2008
By the pricking of my thumbs,
For me, October is the most wonderful time of the year. Leaves are changing, temperatures cooling, decorations abound… And it’s no secret that I adore Halloween. However, it’s not the gore or the fright that is the attraction, it’s the imagery: bats and pumpkins, witches and mummies, spiders and … well you get the picture.
I’m not sure when it started, but my love of Halloween has become accepted as a matter of course among those who know me. My best friend has forgone the December holidays and sends me only an annual Halloween present. Another at all significant occasions bestows upon me appropriately themed house wares (ghostly stemmed glasses, pumpkin and bat ice cubes, etc.) Another engages in a now annual watching of The Nightmare Before Christmas, the way some settle in with popcorn in front of It’s a Wonderful Life.
So it is not really all that surprising that when I thought about writing this week, I thought about my favorite October Films. Not the gross, scary films. Although, I have to admit I have sat through all of the adventures of Michael Myers (including remakes), Jason Voorhees (and his mom), and Freddy Kruger, but they are NOT the film stars that make me wish for year round October.
Some of my most favorite films are perfect for this time of year, and so I thought I would share…. But be forewarned, they may not be gory, but they might give you a fright!
No October can be complete with The Nightmare Before Christmas, but it does appear to prove that no one likes a skinny Santa.
For Tim Burton fan’s, Corpse Bride is an equally enchanting Halloween-esque tale. Reminiscent of Burton’s earlier film Sleepy Hollow, Corpse Bride is better.
We also cannot forget The Stepford Wives, either the original or remake. My preference in this case though, is for the remake. For me it was one of those few movie experiences where I was laughing uncontrollably as I gasped, “That’s so scary!” Not an easy combination to put together. (Also note, Ira Levin, author of The Stepford Wives, brought us another great Halloween story: Rosemary's Baby.)
OCTOBER 13, 2008
Vampires and books that bite (byte) have set the theme this past week. This seems like a fitting topic for October, the month that Halloween is celebrated but may not be your cup of tea if you are squeamish. Like the Jaws II Tagline "just when you thought it was safe to go in the water", mine reads "just when you thought it was safe to go out at night", I offer you one more vampire story to keep you home with the lamps burning.
OCTOBER 10, 2008
Books with Bite...or Byte
Su's post (below) was a perfect fit for this week because Oct. 12- 17 is ALA's Teen Read Week 2008... and the theme just happens to be Books with Bite! Vampire books are a super choice for this theme, they have become extremely popular ever since the Twilight series came out, and they definitely have BITE. Su's post made me want to read more vampire stories, and I normally stay away from scary stuff! If it made you want to pick one up too, you're in luck, many of the books she mentioned are on display by our front desk to celebrate Teen Read Week. Vampire books are one idea for Books with Bite, but there are other ways to interpret the theme. Books with Bite could be cooking! We have a huge selection of cookbooks, and a number of them geared just for teens.
I have to mention this one:
The Twinkies Cookbook, by Hostess
It's brand new- not even on the shelf yet. The rest of the library staff and I got a kick out of looking through it and finding recipes for Twinkie Sushi, Twinkie Burritos, Twinkie Love Potion Number 75 (I'm not kidding), and the one that takes the cake (no pun intended) Pigs in a Twinkie. Yes, it calls for sausages and Twinkies. Yes, mixed together. Gross.
We also have:
Teens Cook: How to Cook What you Want to Eat, by Megan and Jill Carle
You could also tweak the Teen Read Week Slogan just a bit to 'Books with Byte,' and go for the techie books.
Feed, by M.T. Anderson
In a future where most people have computer implants in their heads to control their environment, a boy meets an unusual girl who is in serious trouble.
Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow
After being interrogated for days by the Department of Homeland Security in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco, California, seventeen-year-old Marcus, released into what is now a police state, decides to use his expertise in computer hacking to set things right.
ttyl, by Lauren Myracle
Chronicles, in "instant message" format, the day-to-day experiences, feelings, and plans of three friends, Zoe, Maddie, and Angela, as they begin tenth grade.
l8r, g8r, by Lauren Myracle
Throughout their senior year in high school, Zoe, Maddie, and Angela continue to share "instant messages" with one another about their day-to-day experiences as they consider college, the importance of prom, and the inevitable end of their inseparable trio.
OR, you could take the 'bite' more literally and celebrate by watching Jurassic Park or Jaws, or even better take out our new audio book Close to Shore: The Terrifying Shark Attacks of 1916. The true story of the summer of 1916 shark attacks off the Jersey shore.
Anyway you want to interpret it, head down to the library and take out some 'books with bite' for the weekend! And please, let me know if anyone out there actually makes Pigs in a Twinkie, I'd love to hear how it turns out!
OCTOBER 8, 2008
Just a bite
I have to admit that I have always liked vampires. Though at the same
Sure, there are the 'classics' -- Stoker's Dracula, King's Salem's Lot
But not all vampire books are alike, and it is not simply in that some
For younger readers:
Bunnicular: A Rabbit Tale of Mystery by James and Deborah Howe tells the story of a odd little bunny that sucks down his veggies.
The Ink Drinker by Eric Sanvoisin is a tale of a weird pale
In Daniel Manus Pinkwater's Wempires, Jonathan decides he wants to be a vampire after watching a horror movie. But his attempt is rather amusing as among other things he puts salad oil on his hair.
One of my personal favorites is Vampire Kittens Of Count Dracula (Scaredy Cats) by George E. Stanley. The local pet store has a special order kitten that gets delivered to the wrong house. The title's Board Book format suggests its for very young readers, but that seems a little off as one can tell by the cover.
When Buffy the Vampire Slayer arrived on the scene a decade or so ago
In Scott Westfield's Peeps Cal Thompson is a carrier of a parasite
OCTOBER 6, 2008
Trailin' for a Good Book
Megan's post “Shhh...Reading a Movie", brought to mind a new marketing tool for book promotion. You know how they have trailers for movies, those little snippets of scenes to entice you to see the movie. Well, some entrepreneurial soul got the idea to use trailers to sell books. Book trailers trailers have been around for a few years but seem to be cropping up more and more often, particularly on author websites.
So where is this all going? I've heard rumors that book stores might have tv screens with continuous playing of these ads. With all the disruptions we encounter on our daily rounds, bookstores and libraries seem to be some of the only quiet havens. I hope we keep them that way.
OCTOBER 3, 2008
Shhh...I'm reading a movie
I have a lot of friends that groan when I suggest renting or watching a movie with subtitles. “If I wanted to read I would get a book” (not a bad idea either by the way).
Over the past year or so I have grown to really love a number of subtitled foreign films. Part of this new love stemmed from living within walking distance to a small, cheap, indie movie theater, The Roxy, when I lived in downtown Burlington, VT. In fact, I almost never went to the movies, subtitled or not, before living so close to a cheap, interesting, theater like the Roxy. Of course now that I am at the library daily I have all the latest and greatest DVD's at my fingertips and I take full advantage of it. And for those of who who don't already know, we have an EXCELLENT rotating foreign film collection at the library. These are films purchased by The Connecticut Library Consortium, we borrow them in sets or 'packets' that rotate in and out of our library every three months. They are located in their own section near our DVD's and check out for 2 days. The titles are include special interest films, independent films, and of course subtitled foreign films, many of which we don't own.
Amelie (French w/subtitles) I could almost call this my favorite movie ever. Sweet and beautiful.
Persepolis (French w/subtitles) This one is animated and has subtitles – Ooh la la! It's based on Marjane Satrapi's autobiographical graphic novel about growing up in Iran during the Iranian Revolution and the rise of Islamic fundamentalists.
Lives of Others (German w/subtitles) Before the collapse of the Berlin Wall, East Germans were closely monitored by the Stasi, the Secret Police. Playwright George Dreyman attracts their attention when his girlfriend becomes involved with a government official.
Pans Labyrinth (Spanish w/subtitles) A mix of fairy tale, horror, and fantasy all taking place in post Civil War Spain in 1944. Stunning film, creepy monsters.
In addition, I will be taking home these three movies from our CLC Foreign Language Film collection this weekend:
Foreign films give you a glimpse into the culture, language, and history of places and people we may not encounter in American made films. It's always good to get a different perspective on the world around us. If you text, email, or read the news scrolling by on the bottom of your TV screen, then making the jump to subtitled films shouldn't be too bad. Plus, a little extra reading never hurt anyone!
OCTOBER 1, 2008
Finding a Bridge
One of the things that is kind of neat about working in a library is you never know what information you might stumble upon, why or when. Today I learned two interested and generally unrelated facts: Today in 1908 Henry Ford put the first “Model T” on the market for US$825 and in 1931 the George Washington Bridge linking New Jersey and New York opened.
These are not greatly important facts, but I found them interesting. Likewise, as most trivial things do, they sponsored a train of thought. My first car was a Ford (not a Model T). $825.00 today is not even one months rent on many apartments, let alone a whole car. How times change things. I’ve traveled the GW Bridge more times than I can count. I prefer the top level, to the claustrophobic tunnel below.
One neat thing about being a Librarian is that as others ask questions of you and your mind roams, you have the training to quickly seek out more information. Thinking about the GW’s crowded tunnel got me wondering. Was that also created in 1931?
So I went to investigate. Upon investigation I learned several more interesting facts:
The GW is one of the longest suspension bridges in the world. It took 4 years to build. It stands 250 feet above the Hudson River and… it was NOT opened on this day in history.
I decided to write about this here, not because I believed anyone was that interested in the GW, but that it illustrated a point near and dear to Librarian hearts: Fact checking.
My initial source that suggested the GW was opened today in history was a generic, all encompassing web site. However, when I went to look for more information, several sources contradicted this. Who do I believe?
I look for reliability. If a noted encyclopedia, who names their author tells me something, I trust this more than a website who’s author is unknown. If multiple sources that seem trustworthy agree with each other, I trust it more than the lone site that does not document where the information was from.
Research can be a chore, but it also can be a challenge or a trail of discovery for skeptics. And was the lower level built in 1931? Well… I think you need to look that up!
Click on the cover to see if these books are available at Saxton B.