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SEPTEMBER 30, 2009
Not in My Backyard

It’s Banned Book Week! Here in the library we have a collection of banned or frequently challenged books wrapped up in brown paper and patron’s are encouraged to check one out, sight unseen. One patron we were talking with this week was truly surprised that there were books challenged or banned. She couldn’t believe it could happen here… in her own neck of the woods.

This got me thinking and a little research later…
2007 – Manchester, CT challenged The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn  by Twain, Mark
2006 – Westport, CT middle school challenged Lovey Bones by Alice Sebold
2006 – West Hartford, CT parent demanded The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier be removed from curriculum
2003 – New Haven, CT school district challenged, but ultimately retained Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling 
2004 – Ansonia, CT One Fat Summer by Robert Lipsyte removed from shelves
2002 – Cromwell, CT middle schools challenged Witch of Blackbird Pond by
Elizabeth George Speare
1992 - New Milford, CT schools challenged The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
1990 – Burlington, CT The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier challenged
1972 – Ridgefield,CT school board banned Boss: Richard J. Daley of Chicago by Mike Royko
If you'd like to learn more about banned or challenged books, come see us @ the Library!


Add a comment  (1 comment) posted by Su


SEPTEMBER 28, 2009
Six Word Memoir Redux

The 6 word memoir craze...everyone seems to be jumping on the bandwagon. A couple of weeks ago I was browsing through a copy of AARP (my husbands!) when the article Less Is L'Amour caught my eye. AARP invited readers to tell their tales of love and heartbreak-in half a dozen words or less. The very next day Megan I were chatting about what to blog about, tossing ideas back and forth. Now, I had already decided I was going for the 6 word memoir idea. I wasn't even hinting at it with Megan cause I needed my own something to write about. All of a sudden it was if she read my mind (did you Megan?) and says, I've been thinking about blogging about the book that Smith Magazine wrote compiling six word memoirs. There went MY blog. In all fairness, Megan did a real good job telling about the project and the book and actually getting some readers to respond with their own "cardinal number that is the sum of five plus one" memoirs. I really couldn't have done better. You can read her blog by cutting and pasting this address into your browser

AARP didn't stop with tales of love. In that same issue they invited reader to sum up in six words "the best advice you've ever gotten-or given"
Still these memoir subjects aren't quite what I had in mind. Given that this week is banned book week and an opportunity to celebrate our freedom to read I'd like to hear your six word memoir regarding

What does reading mean to you?

Think and share. One great example...can't remember who penned it, sums it up quite nicely and is evidenced in Sara Nelson's great book by the same name:

So many books, so little time!



Add a comment  (10 comments) posted by CarolK


SEPTEMBER 25, 2009
A bookless library...

This week I read an article from the Boston Globe that shocked me. Get this; Cushing Academy, a prep school in Ashburnham, MA, has decided to get rid of ALL the books in their library to build a completely digital library. Here are just a few of the details:


Instead of stacks they are spending $42,000 on three large flat screen TV’s.


$20,000 will go to special laptop friendly carrels.


They are replacing the reference desk with a $50,000 coffee shop, $12,000 of which will be going to a cappuccino machine.


They have purchased 18 electronic readers from Amazon and Sony for a total of 10,000. (How many students will have to share these 18 readers I wonder…)


James Tracy, the head master and head proponent of the bookless school is quoted as saying, “When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books.’’


To get the full story copy and paste the link below:


The whole thing sounds like an article from The Onion to me! First, I have to wonder what the parents think. This is a prep school, they are paying for their kids to attend, and now their kids won’t have access to books in the library, but they will have access to all the COFFEE they want. What happens when all this ‘cutting edge’ technology isn’t so cutting edge anymore? Something newer, faster, better, cheaper, smaller is always coming out…are they going to replace their whole entire library every few months? Is every student going to get a kindle? What if they spill their fancy cappuccino on their kindle – who’s going to replace it? (BTW – a book would just DRY and still be usable) What about the physical and eyesight problems associated with reading off a computer screen all the time?


I’m all for staying abreast of what’s new and using advances in technology to enhance education and learning. However, I just can’t see the students benefiting from the loss of their entire library of books. I’d love to hear your comments!



Add a comment  (6 comments) posted by Megan Q.


SEPTEMBER 23, 2009
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s …it’s….

You can learn quite a lot about some one depending on if they prefer Batman or Superman. Batman fans are darker, broodier, they don’t like the limelight and they’ll always have the last punch, no matter what the cost. Where as Superman fans are cheerier, more optimistic, will smile politely for the camera and will be sensible. 

Tonight @ the Library we will be invaded by super heros! How cool is that? So it raises the question: what superpower would you chose if you could?
I’ve actually given some thought to this. First thinking of some of my favorite super heroes: Teen Titans, Atomic Betty… I once went to work as Rogue. But their powers don’t excite me. 
I don’t care about flying, invisibility, or super strength. I don’t want a golden lasso, invisible plane, or fancy rings. A cape, however, is okay, but only on occasion.
If I could choose a super power, don’t laugh now, I would like to be able to communicate with rocks and have them come when called. Imagine how helpful they could be if  you could call to them to climb on or build a bridge? It would be nice if they could tell you, ‘oh yes, three people and a squirrel traveled that way, they’re about a mile ahead….’ Or they could surround you in a fortress or lob themselves at intruders. You would never be alone without company and you would never be lost.
I must admit, this is not an original idea. It was first suggested to me in the wonderful movie Labyrinth with Jennifer Connelly and David Bowie. Years latter, I was completely sold by the wonderful books A Red Heart of Memories and Past the Size of Dreaming by Nina Kiriki Hoffman.
If you’d like to consider communicating with rocks as your power of choice, check these items out @ your library or just stop by and see who’s saving the world!

Add a comment  (2 comments) posted by Su


SEPTEMBER 20, 2009
Food Porn? ~ Revised 10/2/09

I've subscribed to Nutrition Action Health Letter for years. The back page is usually devoted to food which Nutrition Action terms The Right Stuff (thumbs up) and Food Porn (thumbs down). A recent issue gave the up thumb to KFC's Grilled Chicken and a big thumb's down to Baskin-Robbins Sundae's which NA dubs Sundae Worst!

I can't help wondering what Nutrition Action would think of the new food addition to the Big E, the Craz-E Burger. Everyone knows that part of the fun of going to fairs is eating all the greasy food. French fries, fried dough, deep fried veggies, deep fried twinkies, clam fritters, mini donuts, melted cheese on anything, etc. New England's biggest fair, The Big E, which is running through October 4th this year has introduced some fair favorites over the years including the Big E Cream Puff and the Big E Éclairs. Is it just me or does the Craz-E Burger, consisting of a doughnut-bacon-cheeseburger, seem a bit over the top? You read that right. A cheeseburger topped with bacon, between two halves of a grilled glazed doughnut. I hear it costs $5, a bargain as fair food goes. Fairgoers are raving about this gooey masterpiece. Let me know if you're brave enough to eat one.

As for me I'm back to reading Nutrition Action Health Letter (available at Saxton B.). I'll let you know if the Craz-E makes the back page.


Update 10/2/09 ~ Couldn't help sharing this news article as read in The Chronicle, Willimantic on 9/29/09. The article entitled The Big  E Food this Year is Craz-E by Ken Dixon from the Connecticut Post.

Dixon tells about Rosie Kruze and her husband, Blake, of Plainville whose candy booth in The Conecticut Building has been a real hit at this year's fair.   ($2.00), often selling out by 4PM. 

It's the PBP that really got me. What's that you ask? A peanut butter-bacon and provolone pizza. That's the claim to fame to Randy's Wooster St. Pizza, also housed in our state building. What's next, a PPP (peanut butter-pepperoni, and your choice of provolone or parmesean).

My opinion -  I'll pass on all!



Add a comment  (4 comments) posted by CarolK


SEPTEMBER 18, 2009
The Bee’s Knee’s

Carol found this little gem in the stacks today:


My Backyard History Book, by David Weitzman. It’s a little paperback book from 1975 filled with information and activities to get know your family and your hometown’s history.


The book begins like this, “This book is about you, and your grandfather, and his grandmother, and the songs they used to sing, and picnics, and the wagon they used to drive, and the house where your mother was born, and the uncle on your mother’s side that everyone used to whisper about. This book is about attics, and your father’s grandfather’s famous horse.”


Originally, Carol showed it to me because it was in our adult section, and it really seems to be geared for children. She asked me if I wanted to move it into our junior non-fiction section.  The truth is neither of us seemed sure of what to do with it, or if we should even keep it in the collection at all!


On the one hand, it’s kind of a unique, quirky little book. I flipped through it and found lots of interesting ideas on how to get to know your family and hometown history. The book has directions on how to make a family tree, a time capsule, and how do make rubbings of buildings and engravings and more. Here is a page on slang that your parents or grandparents might have used: 




This section is on machines that your grandparents may have used: 




On the other hand, it is outdated and doesn’t have a lot of cover appeal. Would someone, child or adult, be likely to notice it and check it out? The last check out stamp in the book is from 1993, but when I looked up the in computer it said we didn’t even add it to our collection until 1997! Very mysterious.


What do you think? If we keep it, would YOU check it out?

Add a comment  (0 comments) posted by Megan Q.


SEPTEMBER 16, 2009
He Said WHAT?

There is a little known fact that most Technical Services Librarian’s can swear enough to make any pirate proud. Not all of course, but enough that there are jokes about this being why the Technical Services departments of libraries are often found tucked into out of the way places. I must confess that in my last job, a Technical Services department squirreled away in a locked, windowless basement, when angry, the four women who worked in the room could turn the air blue. I, being the youngest, was often teased that I shouldn’t be allowed to hear such things.

Now, I am a strong believer that there is a time and a place for everything, or in this case times and places NOT for certain language. However, generally speaking, I consider myself pretty liberal and unfazed on the subject of foul language in private contexts. 
So, it has been a big surprise to me that I have found myself bothered by the language in the book, The City of Thieves by David Benioff. I am listening to the book on audio and I believe this may have something to do with things. I suspect, that if I were actually “reading” the book, I wouldn’t notice it all. But listening, has been difficult.
Apparently I am not alone in this. The book was chosen as the One Book choice for Eastern Connecticut and has apparently created quite a stir. Recently the author spoke at Norwich Free Academy, acknowledging the criticisms (one woman wrote him and said she was going to burn her copy.) Mr. Benioff’s argument was that he was illustrating the way his characters, young men in war time Soviet Union, would speak.
I am of mixed mind on this issue. Authenticity is valid. But is gratuitous vulgarity needed? Where is the line between these two illustrations? This too leads me to wonder if just because someone DOES speak this way, should it be elevated in print? Is this realism or glorification? I don’t know.
In this particular book, this issue resonates for me. I liked the book. Its story was interesting, bits of history were present and served as educational, the characters in their own way, charming. Even when I was listening and disgusted with the character’s talk, I wanted to know what happened next.   All in all, I’d say this was a good book.... But....
In our discussion here in the Library, those who read the book (really read, not listened to) didn’t seem to notice this issue. The book will be Beckish Bookworm’s October read. Our meeting held on the 22nd at the Beckish Senior Center. I’m going to be very interested to hear what others have to say.
If your curious, stop by the library – we have both the book and the audio book @ the Library!


Add a comment  (0 comments) posted by Su


SEPTEMBER 13, 2009
Home Alone?

My husband's been retired for three years now. It amazes me how quickly the house and all its' surrounding territory has now become his. Though I love having him home (he's a great cook), sometimes I miss having the house all to myself. When he worked he'd get up pretty early and would be out of the house by 6:15 AM. As I start work at 10, I'd have almost four blissful hours to myself. I could do anything I wanted and didn't have to feel guilty about it. It's not that he's underfoot all the time Frequently he's out in the yard doing what I call potzing. The house and yard are big enough that I can even lose him at times, especially when I really want him for something; that's called selective absence. It's just that he never seems to go anywhere leaving me to my own devices (meaning reading, Internet or foreign films).Mothers with kids who have returned to school know what I'm talking about. House to self! I used to relish those days too, when school started again and I didn't have to hide in the bathroom, the only sacred place that no one followed. So I guess I'm back to that, closing myself in the john,where no man can follow, not out of necessity but catching a few moments of peace to read.

A great series for quick reading are the Chicken Soup for the...just fill in the blank. Last Chicken Soup I read was for the Nature Lover's Soul and I must say this is one of my all time favorites, a tie with the one for a Couple's Soul. Nature Lover's Soul has some wonderful stories, Goose Island in which Tom Lusk helps with the birth of a gosling, a really funny story about Abraham Lincoln's Birthplace, a poignant story by Heather Trexler Remoff about what makes Grace run. There's the story of Lee and her dying wish to swim with dolphins and a mom who lets the chores go to have a picnic lunch with her kids. Like the cover says there are stories here to inspire, stories of joy, insight and adventure in the great outdoors. I so much loved the story by Linda M. Hasselstrom from the book Land Circle called Bells in the Night that I bought her book and have contacted her and made a new acquaintance.

All griping aside, I'm truly glad to find time to read, whenever and wherever that may be. And I'm glad to have those few minutes each day to read a story from Chicken Soup. Frequently when I'm finished with a Chicken Soup, I'll either give it away or swap it on Not this time. It's a keeper!



Add a comment  (2 comments) posted by CarolK


SEPTEMBER 11, 2009
Six words...hmmm
A while back I read The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2007, which boasts the “best in fiction, nonfiction, alternative comics, screenplays, blogs, and anything else,” compiled by Dave Eggers and students from his San Francisco writing center. One section of the book highlights ‘six word memoirs,’ taken from SMITH Magazine. The short memoirs range from funny, to sad, to very depressing – but I found ALL fascinating. For example:

"I was a Michael Jackson impersonator."

"I still make coffee for two."

And the inspiration for the project, Hemmingway’s six word story, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

Anyways, since then a number of compilations of these ‘six word memoirs’ from SMITH Magazine have popped up:


Yesterday the latest was delivered to the library, I Can’t Keep my Own Secrets; Six Word Memoirs by Teens Famous and Obscure:


I’ve only scanned through it but my first reaction is… wow. Addicting to read, and like the others sometimes funny, sometimes hopeful, but often dark:

“I fulfilled my awkwardness quota today.” -Maggie A.

“Use makeup; it covers bruises.” - Kate G.

“Hair’s pink to piss you off.” - Stephanie M.

“I never got my Hogwarts letter.” – Deanna H.

Every year the eighth graders in town do a project on memoirs. I can imagine this new book and the six word memoir project becoming a great extension for our eighth graders, or any other teacher working on memiors.

Maybe you’ll be in the next book! BUT – If you’re going to post it there, why not share it here too? What’s your story?


Add a comment  (11 comments) posted by Megan Q.


The Wednesday After

The Wednesday after Labor Day  is special to me. Odd I know, but it will forever in my mind be the first day of school and the start of Fall. I know this is not true, in either official calendar or practice, but it is one of those things so firmly entranced in my mind, I can’t shake it.

I grew up in a rural community in which the big fair happened on Labor day weekend. On Friday we set up. Saturday, Sunday and Monday it was open to the public and on Tuesday was taking everything down and cleaning up. Every kid in town spent those five days ‘at the fair.’ If you weren’t working, you were keeping company someone who was, and if the two of you weren’t working, you were conveniently hanging about to see or be seen, because everyone worked the fair. To be old enough to work, to go hang out, to be there later in the night, to drive there by yourself, these were rights of passage.  I suppose, as one got older and ‘working the fair’ became a chore and the area a place to avoid, this too was a right of passage.
At any rate, Labor Day weekend was significant. And never did school start before Labor day! To my youthful mind, this was just some cosmic rule, but in truth, it was more realistically a hold over from old farm community days: Some days there was no school because no one would have shown regardless – we were needed to work else where.
Consequently, school always started the Wednesday after Labor Day. There was always a bit of excitement along with the dread.  It was Fall. The light was different, the temperature cooling. In school, time passed more quickly and so it always seemed that it was over night that the leaves were changing color and blanketing the ground. Fall was my favorite season.
I must admit, I hated school. But I loved the newness of the first day, the feeling that a whole new adventure was about to start, and more than birthdays, the first day of school felt like you had aged, even if it was just that one year. But most of all, I love the feeling that Fall has arrived.

If you'd like to find books about Fall, things to do in New England this season, or just get back that new school year feeling with a pile of books to read... Come see us @ the Library!

Add a comment  (0 comments) posted by S Epstein


Panama Reading

So what does the best read traveler read on a trip to Panama?

As might be expected The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal 1870-1914 by David McCullough was the book of choice of at least three of my fellow travelers on my recent trip to Panama. Part of the excursion was to be an intimate transit by 24 passenger catamaran through all 3 sets of locks. Though we would get a first hand account of the history of the canal by visiting The Miraflores Visitor Center, the ship director's excellent presentations about the canal and the overall general knowledge of our tour guide over the several days of our journey, nothing can quite equal the scope of McCullough's tome. At 698 pages it's a hefty book, so much so, one reader only brought the pages she hadn't read. Feigning horror at her destruction of the book, she assured me it could be repaired on her return home. In reality I thought it quite clever of her to reduce the weight of her suitcase this way.

Having finished the only book I brought on the trip, I went in search of another by visiting the beautiful historic library at The Gamboa Resort Hotel. Located on the second floor at the end of a spiral staircase, this room was not the usual thrown together stack of shelves that comprise most hotel libraries. Large expanses of wall shelves, a staircase leading to the loft, a library ladder, tables to host table-top books, excellent subdued lighting and natural light from  arge windows looking into the atrium and grounds made this a very welcoming place. I think I was the only one from my group who actually spent some time here, browsing the collection of books on Panama birds, fauna, animals and history in both English and Spanish. I found three good books left by other travelers to take with me. Two I had already read, but knew someone else in my group would be in need of a good book. Within minutes of leaving the library, I encountered one of my group who caught the title of one book, Still Alice by Lisa Genova.. She told me that it had been highly recommended by a friend and that she intended to read it soon. One book down and one to go. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson soon found a new home and I settled down to read my pick, How to Be Lost by Amanda Eyre Ward. It was the cover that captured me.

Also spotted being read on our leisurely three day journey aboard The Discovery were these books:

Moscow Rules Daniel Silva
Loving Frank Nancy Horan
T is for Trespass Sue Grafton
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Mary Ann Shaffer
No Time For Goodbye Linwood Barclay
Floating in My Mother's Palm Ursula Hegi
Confessions of a Shopaholic Sophie Kinsella

I'm certain there were others, tucked into carryons, and taken out in the privacy of rooms each night. What's a vacation without a good book to read!


Add a comment  (0 comments) posted by CarolK


I'm hearing voices.

Some time ago Carol posted to this blog asking people about their favorite audio book readers. As she put it, “Any audio book enthusiast will tell you the narrator can make or break a book. If you don't like the voice, nothing will save the story.” At the time, I didn’t comment on Carol’s post because I had never listened to an audio book. Well, since that time I have tried a few of them and have found just how much the reader, the voice, can make or break the book.




My favorite by far (mind you, I’ve only listened to a handful) was Feed, by M.T. Andersen. Feed is a YA book that takes place in a future world where almost everyone has a ‘feed,’ which is like a television, radio, and computer all in one, implanted into their brains. The audio book was read by David Aaron Baker who did and excellent job with the boy AND girl teenage voices. In conversation between the futurist teens he switched seamlessly between loud, obnoxious, boy voices, to sarcastic, drawl, valley-girlish, girl voices. His reading made the futuristic slang believable and natural. (I literally almost found myself using it in conversation afterwards). And perhaps best of all were the ‘feedcasts,’ the constant stream commercials and chats pouring in through the feed. Su is the one who originally recommended the audio book, and now I’ve found myself pushing it to our teen patrons.  


Right now I am a little more than halfway through Loving Frank, by Nancy Horan. Loving Frank is a fictionalization of the life of Mamah Borthwick Cheney, who’s best known as the woman who architect Frank Lloyd Wright ran off to Europe and had an affair with. Even this far in I have mixed feelings on the story, but one thing is clear, Joyce Bean, the woman who reads the book is incredible. Although a lot of the book is told through the voice of Mamah Cheney, the book she switches from child, to man, and a variety of characters with heavy German, Swedish, and Irish accents. I am so impressed with her reading – it may be reason I have stuck with the book this far.


Ok last one and NOT a positive reader review. In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollen – uggg. This one was read by Scott Brick. I picked it up on audio because I was interested in what the book had to say, but I know I get bored easily with non-fiction. I thought the audio book would solve that problem; but Scott Brick’s voice is dramatic and condescending. The whole thing sounds like a BORING college lecture. When I looked at reviews on Amazon to see if anyone else felt the same way, I found one reviewer who wrote, “sounds like a bad version of Frasier Crane.” I couldn’t have put it better myself.


Let me know your about latest adventures in audio!


Add a comment  (3 comments) posted by Megan Q.


A Box of Money

As many of you know, when I sit down to write, I sometimes look for what happen today in history just for inspiration. (And of course, it’s a good excuse for diversion, since we don’t get an exceedingly large number of reference questions each day.) As a result, here’s one I bet you would never guess: It was on September 2, 1969 that the first U.S. Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) made its debut. Hmph!  

 I personally am a fan of this box of money. It does not rank as high as an Easy Pass for tolls, but I like the security of knowing I have access to funds 24/7 where ever I may be. Of course, I have never needed this particular feature, but it’s still nice to know its there. Likewise, I am very happy to have the machine give me money, but I am a little leery about feeding it into the machine.
Apparently, this is also the machine’s roots. According to, “Several inventors worked on early versions of a cash-dispensing machine, but Don Wetzel, an executive at Docutel, a Dallas company that developed automated baggage-handling equipment, is generally credited as coming up with the idea for the modern ATM. Wetzel reportedly conceived of the concept while waiting on line at a bank.” The first machine, appearing in 1969 was at  Chemical Bank in Rockville Center, New York and only disbursed cash. It wasn’t until 1971 that the ATM could handle multiple functions. Another source suggested that the first  mechanical cash dispenser was developed and built by Luther George Simjian and installed at a bank in 1939. 
1939, 1969, 1971, I am still surprised at how ‘long ago’ this is to me. Imagine, students entering 7th grade were born in 1997… this is all ancient history to them. also reports that today there are over 1 million ATMS world wide, with new ones added approximately every five minutes. Given my background, and natural skeptical tendencies, I immediately wondered if these ATMs were legit. After all, I’m sure we’ve all seen those mysterious unidentifiable machines located in too convenient locations.
Well! According to Wired,  The first known instance of a fake ATM was installed at a Buckland Hills Malll in Manchester, Connecticut in 1993. By modifying the inner workings of an existing model  ATM, a criminal gang known as The Bucklands Boys were able to steal information from cards inserted into the machine by customers. Since then several laws have been enacted and ATM crime is a category on the map.
According to the  Global ATM Security Alliance: 

- theft at an ATM is three times more likely to occur between 6 and 9 PM
- most crimes happen at banks and at gas stations with POS at the pumps
- electronic fraud is six times more likely than theft of the machine
- industry estimates put ATM crime cost at about $100 million each year
Apparently this is still a hot topic, as recently as July, the New Haven Register ran a story on new kind of ATM fraud, “skimming.” In this case, the offender sets up a device to capture the magnetic strip and keypad information from the ATM machine. 
Who would have thought of this in 1939, ’69 or ’71? But I suppose, if you are going to place large boxes of money around in public places, people are going to get creative.

Add a comment  (1 comment) posted by Su


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