Wednesday, August 08, 2007
For instance, in the nonfiction 300s (fairy tales), 500s (space, planets, dinosaurs, insects, animals), 700s (hobbies & crafts, drawing & painting and sports) and 900s (history and geography) seem to be the most popular.
When children start to read chapter books such as Junie B. Jones, they don't just check out one such book but a whole stack. (The same is true with Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew, Goose Bumps, Boxcar Children, etc.) I was introduced to Junie by my granddaughter heather who was 6 or 7 at the time, but I have to say I was a little surprised when my grandson Carson, who will enter first grade soon, asked me to read him a Junie B. Jones book. He said his teacher, Ms. Haynes, read one to them at school and he liked it. Some of Junie's traits I would prefer Carson not pick up but Junie is a very unique little girl and kids seem to love her. But back to the shelving, it sure makes it easier when I get to put a whole stack on the shelf under PARK, KEENE, or WARNER! Clears my book cart much faster.
One thing I wondered: why do children always seem to choose the books from the bottom shelf where I have to bend way over or get on my knees to put them away? (Bless you Linda, I can see why your back hurts!) Could it be because they can see those easier? I also noticed that you have to pull the books on the top shelves right to the edge or children can't see the titles. We didn't used to put books on the top shelves until we started to run out of space.
Yesterday while I was shelving, I became aware of four little girls searching for books. What first caught my attention was the language they were speaking-certainly not English. When I asked if they were finding what they needed, one of them smiling said "Yes, we are" in perfect English. Here was a child who was obviously fluent in two languages and I especially had to admire that since I had been on the library's Rosetta Stone trying to learn Spanish. Not an easy thing! (Is a young child a nino or a nina?) Do you know about Rosetta Stone? It's an online language course that teaches you a language in a very easy way. Just go the library's web site www.decatur.lib.al.us and click on Rosetta Stone and start learning any one of several languages. Before you know it you'll be reading a whole sentence in Spanish and picking out the picture it describes! Rosetta Stone is also audio so you learn how to say the words as you go. But I still can't roll my r's. Just in case you don't know about the real Rosetta Stone, there's a book in the Children's Department about it.
Another thing about shelving, you get to help kids find things. They think because you are in there working that you must know where things are. Wrong! But I did enjoy trying to find things, like books on snakes, that's 597.96 just in case you need to know. I tried to help a grandmother who was looking for books that her granddaughter needed to read before school started but most of them were checked out. However, Kimberly came to the rescue and found her several. I found a joke book. "What did the football coach say when he learned his piggy bank was stolen? I want my quarter back!" That's J818 Ris if you're interested. (Okay, these jokes are for kids!)
Other than the physical thing, you might think shelving would be easy and for some it probably is. But when the number goes out to 533.0712, I have to pay careful attention to get it in the right place. Sometimes the 7 looks like a 1 or vice versa. It is so important to put the book in the right place; if you don't, the next person who shelves might find that book and match theirs to it and you end up with a row of 504.5 and somewhere in the next range there might be another row of 504.5. so you have to check the books before and the books after. I admire Linda more every day that I shelve! The shelver must also be on the lookout for books that need replaced or repaired. Yesterday I pulled two that still had the green magic marker stripe on them from where we first added books to an online catalog back in the early 80s. Today a paperback Garfield had to go because it was worn out from use. It will probably be replaced if still available because it was obviously popular.
Thank you Linda for all your faithful years of work. I'm sorry you came to the 999.999s so much sooner than we expected. We miss you and wish you well!
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
After 10 years with Decatur Public Library I have accepted a position as a Youth Services Librarian at Madison Public Library. It's like moving away from home all over again. Even though my natural inclination is to be introverted and insulated, I grew to think of the staff at Decatur as family and I care about them a great deal whether they ever realized it or not. OK, so I was starting to think of my computer at Decatur as family too and it's probably healthier to sever that particular addic...um, relationship.
I arrived at Madison Public just in time to help end the summer reading program. Coinciding with these momentus transitions is the release of the final Harry Potter book (NO SPOILERS please, I'm only on chapter 13). While I'm very excited to see what will happen, I also don't want it to be over, don't want to let go of a proven and established good thing. That pretty much sums up my feelings about the job change as well.
In the beginnings category, my oldest son is starting kindergarten in a few weeks and shortly thereafter I'll be starting the regular storytime schedule at Madison. I've already run into three or four families at Madison who knew me from the children's department at Decatur.
Anyway, I'd better end this before I get all sniffly.
P.S. Some of you may be wondering why I'm posting to Decatur's blog even though I no longer work there. To this I reply "All your blog are belong to us." Just kidding--this was hacked by permission, nay request, as are any subsequent contributions.
Friday, July 06, 2007
Each year when my family gets together for the 4th of July my friend Matt and I are inevitably designated official instigators of pyrotechnics and every year as we light the fireworks and run for our lives I am surprised at the inappropriate and pointless names concocted for these things. “Purple Haze,” “Jump Jive and Jam,” and “Pretty Little Boat” were some of the names I encountered this year. What in the world those names have to do with chunks of incendiary chemicals flying through the air is beyond me. Somehow “Peony Shower” just sounds more like potpourri than a product designed to explode in front of my family. I have concluded that the fireworks industry must be very stable. Americans are always going to buy fireworks and, being Americans, all we really care about is the size of the package.
If fireworks manufacturers had to really market these things, I suspect we’d see some much more dangerous sounding names. Each 4th of July I start thinking of names I would use if I were trying to sell fireworks. Here is this year’s list of names guaranteed to boost sales to teenage males:
- Severe Tire Damage
- Satan’s Flatulence
- “Hey y’all, watch this”
- White Phosphorus
- Pointy Pointy Shrapnel
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
- No user manual needed.
- No need to buy or recharge batteries.
- Compatible with nearly every platform (all languages including Braille).
- If you can read this, you already have the technical knowledge required.
Friday, June 01, 2007
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Wanda hurt her thumb:
It was no longer plumb.
She had to get it fixed;
Surgery she did not nix.
But when it came time to work,
This duty she did not shirk.
When checking out those books,
She gets many funny looks.
And in spite of that big cast,
She’s really getting fast!
So I’d like to say,
She’s admired in every way.
And we hope she heals real well,
And knows we think she’s swell!
Monday, April 16, 2007
Friday, April 13, 2007
Perhaps a more important connection is the fact that the two films are based around the concepts of duality, identity, and the misdirection that may be required to protect them. Of course, these ideas are at the core of any Batman movie. For decades, comics scholars have debated whether Bruce Wayne or Batman is the façade and which, if either, is the true identity.
Batman Begins is much more about Bruce Wayne and his development of and transformation into Batman than previous movies. Joel Schumacher’s Batman films are as colorful, campy, and over the top as 1966’s Batman the Movie and the TV series on which it was based. While I enjoyed Tim Burton’s takes on the franchise, and while his Batman was certainly darker, the characters were still surreal and imaginative enough that it could be hard to suspend disbelief. In concentrating on the “real” half of Bruce Wayne’s identity Nolan presents the characters much more seriously and on sets that more closely resemble the real world. Although the characters and situations are still not realistic, they are more “believable.”
The same is in evidence in The Prestige. The fact that it is about stage magicians adds to its realism. After all, when dealing with prestidigitation and legerdemain you can’t trust anything anyway so what’s one more stretch?
I have long been fascinated by stage magic and illusion and love to discover the secrets behind the tricks even though I can then no longer enjoy them on the same level. When I know how David Blaine “levitates” or how Criss Angel manages close up vanishes their melodramatic buildup actually becomes silly and boring. I can’t help it though. I revel in reading about the history of sideshows, scams, and magic as revealed by practitioners such as Harry Anderson and Rick Jay (who makes a cameo appearance in The Prestige as Milton the Magician).
That obsession is shared and taken to extremes by the two primary characters in The Prestige. Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale, who mimics Caine’s accent) are two stage magicians working in England at the turn of the century (19th to 20th, not modern day). After an accident on stage kills Angier’s wife, the two magicians become enemies, each determined to undermine the other’s act. Keeping with the duality theme, the accident is caused by the choice between two types of knot that could be tied in a rope.
The order of events is hard to follow at the beginning due to the nature of the plot. Each magician obtains a copy of the other’s journal at a different point so we see Borden reading in Angier’s diary about secrets learned from Borden’s own journal. You see how it can get confusing? Angier obsesses over Borden’s signature illusion “The Transported Man” and follows every lead to discover its secret. As remarkable as the illusions are, any of them could actually be performed…except one.
Things turn decidedly weird when Angier travels to Colorado to visit the real life scientist Nikola Tesla, played by the most subdued David Bowie I’ve ever seen. The trick that comes into being with Tesla’s aid could never really happen, but gives Angier his own fascinating counterpoint to Borden’s deep secret.
The secret of “The Transported Man” is also the film’s message about illusion and deception: it’s quite easy to do—if you’re willing to sacrifice enough. One character, Fallon, is obviously someone else in disguise, but every time I had a guess about his real identity I would see him in the same scene as my suspect. After eliminating all the suspects, the real solution finally dawned on me, and just like most magic tricks once I knew the secret it seemed as though it should have been obvious from the beginning.
I won’t give away either magician’s big secret, but I will say that each is disturbing in its own way and that spoilers are available at Wikipedia.
Both movies on DVD may be checked out at the library.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Yes it's corny, but keep in mind I'm extremely rusty at this type of thing. Other than a few anniversary poems, this is probably the longest rhymed thing I've written since college.
How many times have I greeted the morning
While changing your diaper or calming your cries?
How many times at the sound of your voice
In the dead of the night like a zombie I rise?
How many times have I prayed that your sickness
Be taken from you and delivered to me?
I have cried when you’ve hurt and been scared when you’re worried
From going new places to scraping your knee
How many nights have I lain awake listening
Just to be sure that your breathing was clear?
How many times have I fretted because
Any danger to you is the worst of my fears?
How many times have I stood stunned and watched you
Discovering life like receiving new toys
The sound of your laugh is the best of rewards
And the sight of your smile is the greatest of joys
How many times has my hope been restored
When I’m watching you play or just watching you sleep?
You are never a burden and always a lesson
The care of your life is a trust I will keep
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Friday, December 29, 2006
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Quick Draw McGraw
Ever heard of any of these? They and many more classic characters were brought to our televisions by Joseph Barbera and William Hanna. The Flintstones was the first animated series to air in prime time and Scooby Doo, Where Are You? was the longest running cartoon in television history (17 seasons, and new incarnations are still on the air today). Hanna died in 2001 and now we have lost Joe Barbera too. He died at home Monday of natural causes. He was 95.
Add Barbera to the list of the architects of my childhood who are no longer with us. I had already lost Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss), Charles Schulz, Chuck Jones (cartoon artist, writer, and director), Fred "Tex" Avery (same as Chuck as well as creator of Bugs, Daffy, and Droopy), Mel Blanc, Fred "Mr." Rogers, and the most painful to me personally, Jim Henson. I was inclined to be discouraged over yet another loss. Sure, well-written and funny programs still exist, but the number is apallingly small and dwindling. In the 90s Tiny Toons and Animaniacs gave me great hope, but alas they too are no more.
What will my children grow up watching? Well, "as for me and my house..." my four year-old loves the old Hanna/Barbera shows that he's seen on Boomerang. In fact, he likes The Flintstones and Scooby Doo FAR more than say, The Fairly Oddparents or Lilo & Stitch. So I guess many children will grow up watching the same shows I did. After all, most of the ones mentioned above were made long before I was born and I joyfully marinated in them...and still do.
On another happy note, we still have June Foray. You may not know the name, but I can almost guarantee you know her voice. June was the voice of the original Chatty Cathy doll, Rocky the flying Squirrell, Granny (Tweety's owner), Jokey Smurf, scores of female characters in Hanna/Barbera and Jay Ward cartoons, every female and child voice in Frosty the Snowman, and more others than I could name.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Christmas Book Sale
December 1st & 2nd
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Used Book Room, Decatur Public Library
Hundreds of Christmas books, movies & music--children's books, old favorites, crafts, cookbooks, history, romance. Most everything priced at $2.00 or less. In addition, many like-new books that are suitable for gifts also available at great prices. Bring your Christmas list and enjoy some spiced tea and cookies as you browse and make your Christmas selections!
Monday, November 20, 2006
The gunpowder treason and plot
I know of no reason the gunpower treason
Should ever be forgot
Yeah, yeah, I know--I'm a little late for Guy Fawkes Day. That's okay; Warner Brothers was way too early in releasing the V for Vendetta DVD. I know November 5th fell on a Sunday this year and the August 1st release date gave them three more months of revenue, but come on. It would have been perfect.
If you have no idea what I'm talking about, Guy Fawkes Day is "celebrated" in England on November 5th to commemorate the day that Guy Fawkes was captured after plotting to blow up Westminster Palace when James I was going to be addressing the House of Lords and the House of Commons, thereby killing the king and both houses of Parliament in one fell swoop. Anyway, now every November fifth fireworks are set off and Fawkes is burned in effigy.
In the 1980's, Alan Moore and David Lloyd (no relation) collaborated on a comic book series titled V for Vendetta in which the main character, known only as "V" wears a Guy Fawkes mask and seventeenth century clothing. V operates in a totalitarian England in the imagined late 1990's. He is a former concentration camp inmate, collector of media, and subversive anarchist with a penchant for obscure quotes. V brings down the fascist government using its own tools (e.g. media manipulation, hidden surveilance, and violence) against it.
Having read and been depressed and impressed by Moore's classic comic series Watchmen, I viewed the V for Vendetta DVD shortly after its release. It wasn't bad, but I kept thinking that the original comic had to be better. I thought that the government portrayed was too obviously another anything-but-subtle Hollywood jab at the current US administration and that Natalie Portman's portrayal of Evie made her remarkably uninteresting.
Well, I just finished reading the comic a few days ago and the movie's actually closer than most film adaptations. The film was a little heavy handed with government colors and symbology and the Leader's most interesting quirk was left out. Other than that, the main differences were the removal of a few subplots involving minor characters and the addition of Stephen Fry with an incongruous Benny Hill tribute. Turns out Evie was not terribly dynamic in the book either. V himself, however, is very charismatic in both versions and the ever present Guy Fawkes smile is at once reassuring and unnerving.
Even more unnerving to me though, were V's sermons to Evie about anarchy which he qualifies as not the absence of order but the absence of leadership. Some days we all want to agree with that, but most of the time I would contend that any order in society will inevitably generate positions of leadership, therefore it's an all or nothing proposition and for my sake and my children's I would much rather have to deal with leadership than have to survive without order.
Still, the story itself is exceptionally well written and deftly illustrated although in my humble opinion the inking and coloration could have been handled better. Lloyd arranges each scene very carefully to convey a great deal of information in a few small panels without distracting from the dialouge or plot. Moore is a highly literate author with a knack for making connections and tying up loose ends...except one. Refusing to reveal V's identity was the right (albeit frustrating) decision and I was pleased to see that the movie stayed true in that respect.
Anyway, enough blather from me. If this commentary interested or confused you, check out the film and/or graphic novel and see for yourself what it's about. If it made you wonder why anyone would ever want to watch or read such a thing, check it out anyway and know exactly why you hate it.
Friday, October 27, 2006
The library survey begins October 1 and can be taken at any computer with Internet access. Citizens can submit the survey from their home, office or local public library. The online survey will be available through October 31. To access the survey online, visit http://webapp.slis.ua.edu/goals07 and follow the directions.
Mitchell urged citizens to take the survey. “We need input from the public to evaluate current services and to ensure libraries remain a vital part of the community in the future,” she said. APLS will use the information to develop a five-year plan for the state’s public libraries for 2008-2012.
Those who are unable to access the survey online can obtain a printed copy from their library and mail it to the School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alabama, Box 870252, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0252, ATTN: STATE PLAN.
The library wish-list of some citizens was heard at eight meetings held in the summer at locations throughout Alabama. The survey will allow anyone who did not attend a meeting to be heard.
The 2002-2007 plan identified priorities for the state’s public libraries, including reading programs for children and young adults, services for the underserved and for people with special needs.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
I am going to try to convince the Board for the Alabama Library Service that this loss of revenue is a reapportionment not a cut. If I am successful the library will only lose $5,964. If I am not successful, the library will also lose $5,964 in state funding and $25,000 in federal funding. If I get a waiver for this year, the library will have to get the local governments to increase funding by $5,964 or face the possiblity of losing state and federal funds next year.
--Sandra Sherman-McCandless, Director
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
So, to reiterate, the Hilton management doesn’t see anything odd about making their employees dress better than the hotel’s guests and then have them publicly handle garbage without gloves. You know, that actually goes a long way toward explaining why Paris turned out the way she did.
As for the actual training…
I speak some German, a tiny bit of Japanese, I’m learning Tech, and I’m fluent in several dialects of Geek (no I didn’t leave out an R), but I am not at all conversant in Bureaucrat so I barely understood a third of what was said during the presentations, at least not the parts for which I was able to stay awake. I did discover during the Q&A portions that I’m not the only one who thinks PIA minions are infernal. A healthy percentage of the questions were along the line of “Even though you just finished saying that X was all we needed to document, my PIA contact keeps telling me I also have to provide additional documentation, wash his car, and swear fealty to the dark lord of Program Integrity.” The USAC trainers, feigning shock that professional bureaucrats would be obstructionist, go on to respond “I’ll be happy to check into it for you. In order to find your records I just need you to give me your Funding Request Number, Billed Entity Number, Service Provider Identification Number, all the stuff PIA asked for, a pound of flesh, and your immortal soul.”
Seriously, the training mostly consisted of people reciting the incomprehensible documentation that’s already on USAC’s website. They completely missed the point that anybody is capable of reading that stuff; we just can’t make any sense of it. They made zero effort to explain why you’re required to enter the same number in nine different fields on the same form or which forms have to be filled out when sacrificing an annoying neighbor to PIA. They did hand out a chart which allegedly shows the correct filing process, but it may as well have been a flow chart of Deep Blue’s process for determining chess moves or a circuit diagram for the chip in a vending machine that makes it refuse to take quarters.
The vast majority of people at the training seemed to be there to find answers to specific questions only to be told “I’m reluctant to give a general answer to that without knowing the details. If you’ll come find me after this session and provide the specifics I’ll try to help you or you can contact USAC directly.” Well THAT’s helpful to other people having a similar problem. Why exactly are we here again?
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
You know those seemingly hundreds of little charges on your phone bill that the phone companies go out of their way not to explain? Well look at your bill and you’ll probably see that one of them is called USAC (Universal Service Administrative Company). All the USAC charges go into a pot and schools and libraries can request reimbursement from that fund to help pay for telecommunications and internet costs. Depending on the percentage of students on the free and reduced lunch program in the service area, E-Rate could pay 20-90% of a school or library's telcom bills.
The catch is that while they take in between two and three billion dollars a year they receive requests for about four billion so a great deal of thought and effort seem to have been spent in making the application process as pointless, complicated, and painful as humanly possible. E-Rate paperwork makes tax forms look reasonable.
Of course you can’t just file an application. You file an intent to open bids for service, then after a certain amount of time you file an application. Then you are bombarded with the most asinine and nitpicky questions imaginable by a low level demonic entity who works for PIA (Program Integrity Assurance or as I like to think of it Process of Increasing Annoyance). My personal theory is that if they deny enough applications they get to trade in their nerf pitchforks for real ones. A typical call from PIA goes something like this:
PIA: For Funding Request Number ***** the contract end date listed is (insert date). I just need you to fax me the contract with your service provider showing that date along with sizable blood and tissue samples from yourself and all members of your immediate family.
Me: Yes. I tried to explain this last time. You see, it’s an open-ended contract and there is no specified end date, but at the time we first filed a form for this service provider, you required an end date so we provided an arbitrary one and you said that was sufficient. In subsequent years, you changed the requirements. What do I need to do to stipulate that it’s open-ended? I have lots of documentation from the service provider explaining the situation. Could I perhaps send that along with the soul of a FedEx driver we cornered in cataloging?
PIA: Great, so if you’ll just fax the contract showing that end date we’ll get right to ignoring it. Do you need an extension?
Me: Wait. You see, the contract…it…you…oh, never mind. Yes, I need an extension please.
PIA: OK, I’ll call you back the day after the deadline.
Me: When exactly is the deadline?
PIA: It’s listed online.
Me: Could you be a little more specific?
PIA: You go to the main USAC page, then click on Applications and enter your 87 digit application number. Then click on Deadlines, then Arbitrary, then Convoluted, then Kobayashi Moru. It will then prompt you to enter the application date after which it will generate a random date that isn't the real deadline, but gives you false sense of accomplishment. That’s really not necessary though. You can calculate the deadline yourself by adding 28, 29, 340, or negative 8 days to the application date.
Me: Which number of days do I use for this application?
PIA: Great, I’ll be looking for that contract then. Oh, and I see you’ve also been awarded an audit this year. The auditor for your region, a Mr. Torquemada, will be contacting you soon. Please have all paperwork for the last five years, including credit card applications you received in the mail, available when he arrives.
PIA: Do you need any MORE assistance? [maniacal laughter]
Me: Um, no, thank you.
If you survive PIA and actually get approved, you then have to file another form within so many days, and yet another form twice a year to get the money. I won't even go into the required Technology Plans.
Well, this post was actually fun to write and they frown on that sort of thing so I’d better get back to the ninth circle of training.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
I would...like to respond to comments I have frequently heard regarding library service...In the interest of brevity and because it concerns my primary area of work (I am the library's systems administrator), I will just respond to the misconception I tend to hear most often: "You don't need libraries because everything is available on the internet."
The answer to this is threefold. First, you would probably be amazed at the wide array of questions we receive for which an (accurate) answer is simply not available online. Even when data is available it's not always easy to find. In fact, it can often be quite difficult to track down the specific information a person needs. Librarians are trained and experienced in constructing internet searches and organizing the results.
Second, the information is frequently out of date, inaccurate, or purely fictional. There is no regulation of factual accuracy online. Any conspiracy theorist, child predator, or practical joker can post fraudulent information and present it as fact. Even well-intentioned web authors can post misinformation having gotten it from incorrect sources themselves. Most librarians have had a great deal of experience in evaluating the validity of online information and also have knowledge of and access to print resources that can verify the information or prove it false. I have personally helped children, high school students, adults, and seniors who not only have never had the opportunity to learn how to construct a productive internet search, but who then want to consider only the first result returned and treat it as gospel.
Third, many people in
One of our most frequent questions is "When will you be getting more computers?" Fortunately, a grant from the Gates Foundation will provide more computers, but it is clear that we could fill the building with computers and it still wouldn't meet the demand. For a large number of
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
I'm sure you remember where you were that day. The library was hosting a breakfast for United Way's Day of Caring and as the excellent cooks on our staff were busy with last minute preparations we began to hear vague reports of a plane crashing into the World Trade Center. By the time the breakfast was under way, someone had brought a TV with rabbit ears to the interlibrary loan area and we watched in shock as it became steadily more apparent that this was not a tragic accident but a terrorist plot of previously unthinkable scale.
Most of the rest of that day is a blur. The shock just didn't seem to wear off. It seemed unlikely that there would be any kind of attack locally, but a general fear pervaded everything, which was of course one purpose of the attacks. I felt like I needed to DO something, but couldn't imagine what.
For months afterward, everything was colored by that event. Assemblies and memorials were held, flags were displayed everywhere, and the general feeling was that Americans were more unified than we had been for decades. We thought that things would never be the same again, and we were right, but at the same time it's tempting to not think about it any more. The memories are painful and it's so much easier to concentrate only on the current conflicts (military and political) that have stemmed from the September 11th attacks, but we need to remember it and think about it. We have to dare to reopen those wounds lest we begin to deny they exist.
Just typing this, I'm already beginning to feel that punched in the stomach sensation again, but I need that. I need to tell my children about it when they're old enough to understand and hope they don't shrug it off the way I always did when someone told me where they were when Kennedy was assassinated. I need to remind someone, and hopefully I just did.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
The Gates Foundation is providing a grant for Decatur to purchase five new public computers. We will try to have them odered and installed as soon as possible.
Eva and Falkville Public Libraries are each receiving one new computer as well.
Thursday, August 03, 2006
The Decatur Public Library is facing a crisis:
- The library has not received an increase in funding from the City of Decatur in five years. We are told this year will be no different. Inflation makes this an 11% cut for the last five years.
- The Morgan County Commission is proposing to cut Wheeler Basin libraries by 8% or $6,886.00. Last year, the libraries were cut a total of 25% (with Hartselle’s withdrawal). The Libraries now receive only 39.9% of what the Morgan County Commission gave ten years ago (counting inflation).
- The library must maintain local government support to continue receiving state aid and federal grants. A library can ask for a waiver the first year of local cuts but the second year the library loses state and federal funding.
If the County doesn’t reconsider, and the City does not make up the nearly $7,000.00 that the County is cutting, the library will lose more than $14,430.00 in state funds and $25,000.00 in federal grants.
What does this mean to you?
- The materials budget will be cut by 75%. Fewer new books, DVDs, audio books, or magazines.
Please write a letter
to the City Councilmen and County Commissioners telling them how important the library is to you and asking them to please support it. Addresses are below.
If Decatur Public Library is important to you, it's time to tell someone. The library's future depends on it!
Decatur City Council
The Honorable Don Kyle
Mayor of Decatur
P.O. Box 488
Decatur, AL 35602
Mr. Billy Jackson
1203—2nd Street SW
Decatur, AL 35601
Mr. Gary Hammon
2801 Peabody Circle
Decatur, AL 35603
Mr. Ronny Russell
1707 Iris Street SW
Decatur, AL 35601
Mr. David Bolding
608 Ferry Street
Decatur, AL 35601
Mr. Ray Metzger
902 Beltline Road
Decatur, AL 35603
Morgan County Commission
The Honorable John Glasscock, Chair
Morgan County Commission
P.O. Box 668
Decatur, AL 35602
Mr. Kevin Murphy
1694 Hwy. 55 East
Falkville, AL 35622
Mr. Jeff Clark
2626 Central Parkway
Decatur, AL 35603
Mr. Stacy Lee George
423 Union Hill Road
Somerville, AL 35670
Mr. Richard Lyons
550 Shull Road
Hartselle, AL 35640
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
July 12, 2006]
1) Lord Peter Wimsey mystery series by Dorothy Sayers
2) Amelia Peabody mystery series by Elizabeth Peters
3) any Charlie Brown book
4) Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
5) Dark Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes mystery series by David Pirie
6) Salzburg Connection by Helen MacInnes
7) Poldark series, taking place in Cornwall, England, by Winston Graham
8) any Jeeves and Wooster story by P.G. Wodehouse
9) Mr. Blandings Builds His Dreamhouse by Eric Hodgins
10) anything by Michael J. Nelson [of MST3K fame]
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
While I certainly appreciate a wide variety of literature my primary criterion for this list was that they be books or series that I feel compelled to read over and over.
10. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
This is by far the most addictive series I have ever encountered. I’m already going into withdrawal while waiting for the last installment. The tone and style of the books has grown as the characters (and readers) age. The characters are colorful to say the least and the world in which they live is detailed and consistent yet highly entertaining and often hilarious. The degree to which the books in the series are interwoven is astounding. The Harry Potter podcasts to which I subscribe frequently examine the minutiae of the existing books looking for clues to the events in the upcoming finale.
For what it’s worth, my favorite title in the series so far is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I also highly recommend the audio versions of the Harry Potter books, brilliantly narrated by Jim Dale.
9. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
Snow Crash is set in a future America in which all services and organizations such as the police, jails, the mafia, and major religions have been legalized, privatized, and franchised.
Let me mention a couple of disclaimers. The fact that it was written during the 1980s is given away frequently by touches such as extremely high denomination bills with names like “Gippers” and “Meeses” and some Biblical passages are referred to out of context or changed to fit the story. Despite these flaws it is a fascinating read, with subject matter and characters that are wide-ranging, wild, and often hilarious.
Hiro Protagonist (how could you not love that name?) is a delivery person for Costa Nostra Pizza, software designer, concert promoter, and the greatest swordfighter in the world. His hacker friends have begun to succumb to a new disease called Snow Crash which leaves the sufferer comatose and which is commonly spread by use of a new drug. Hackers, however, may also become infected through viewing the output of a certain piece of software.
In his search for the source, function, and cure for Snow Crash, Hiro encounters a wise-cracking skateboard courier, an amazing virtual librarian, a gigantic Aleut who carries glass knives and whose brain contains a dead man’s switch connected to a nuclear warhead, and the world’s only Freon addict. The search also requires Hiro to delve into subjects ranging from Sumerian mythology to Pentacostal glossalalia (speaking in tongues) to his own father’s experiences in Japan during World War II. Eventually, situations are resolved with a little help from a cybernetic dog, the capo de capo of the mafia, and Hiro’s ex-girlfriend who now has a whip antenna wired directly to her brain.
8. Svaha by Charles de Lint
Charles de Lint is best known for writing urban fantasies based on Celtic folklore, but Svaha is a major departure from this. In fact, it’s a major departure from a great deal of science fiction/fantasy in general. Native Americans have taken their case to the world court and been awarded huge tracts of their ancestral lands. They immediately withdraw within their own borders to follow traditional ways and develop their own unique technologies. Meanwhile, most cities outside the enclaves have been taken over by Japanese corporations and largely controlled by the Yakuza. The two societies almost never interact.
That is, until a “claver” flyer crashes. The pilot is killed and the flyer mostly self-destructs, but a single chip is recovered intact. Not wanting their technology to fall into the hands of others, the clavers send Gahzee to recover it. He is aided in his quest by a city girl named Lisa, a coyote that Gahzee names Nanabozho and which he treats almost as a minor deity, and a technology master called the Ragman who operates out of both the ghetto and his own corporation.
The word "svaha" means the pause between seeing lightning and hearing the thunder. Likewise, this book and most of its characters exist within gaps, and in the end an entirely new societal niche is created.
7. Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne
You all know Pooh so there's not much need for explanation. Milne had a great way with words. The language is not condescending and much of the humor is subtle compared to many modern children's books.
6. Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie
Of course this is a great children's book, but like most great works for children it also speaks to adults on another level. You may remember the crocodile with a clock in its stomach that follows Captain Hook hoping to finish the job he started when he ate Hook's hand. Adult eyes may see it as unavoidable mortality stalking the primary adult character. Hook knows he won't live forever and tries to capture/control/possess/destroy Peter who is the essence of willful youth, as evidenced by his refusal to grow up.
5. Tie: William Shakespeare's collected plays and The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams
These may not seem related other than the fact that both authors were English, but I am in awe of both because of the deft use of language they exhibit. Both were masters of making the English language jump through hoops no one had imagined before. If I had to break the tie I would probably go with Adams simply because he didn't write sonnets.
4. Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis
Everybody knows the Chronicles of Narnia (as well they should), but I would also recommend his "space trilogy." Each book in the trilogy is longer and weirder than the one before and even though they are less allegorical than the Narnia books they still present a clear and consistent metaphysical view.
In the series, space is referred to as Deep Heaven and every planet has being called an oyarsa who oversees it and its inhabitants. Most of the oyerasu follow the purpose of "The Old One" who created them, but "The Bent One" (the oyarsa of Earth) rebelled, cutting Earth off from the rest of the solar system and causing it to be called Thulcandra or "The Silent Planet."
3. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
It all started with Ender’s Game. Not Orson Scott Card’s career or literary fame, although the statement could be true in that sense as well. Instead, I refer to the beginning of my own obsession with Card’s novels. Another library employee recommended it to me and I have read it probably at least once a year ever since.
Earth has been invaded twice by aliens and both invasions were repelled...barely. To prevent a third invasion, a fleet from Earth has been sent to the alien homeworlds. The fleet has been in transit for decades, but who will lead it when they reach their destination?
It must be a child. A child brilliant enough to become the military strategist the fleet needs yet innocent enough to believe what he is told about the situation. Andrew “Ender” Wiggin may be that child. He is empathetic to the point of loving his enemies, but that understanding also tells him that in some cases the only way to remove the threat of an enemy is to defeat that enemy so thoroughly that he will never again even be tempted to attack. And knowing his enemy as well as himself tells him how the enemy can be defeated.
Ender is taken to the International Fleet’s orbiting Battle School at the age of six for training along with other brilliant children. If I am ever privileged to meet Scott Card I must ask him how one writes characters who are smarter than their author because these children are smarter than anybody except each other. Ender's Game was used in classes at one military academy because of the various styles of leadership and group dynamics it depicts.
If you like Ender's Game, I would suggest following it with Ender's Shadow which describes the same events from the perspective of another character (Bean). The other Shadow books (Shadow of the Hegemon, Shadow Puppets, and Shadow of the Giant) are extremely good as well, but I found the Ender sequels (Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, and Children of the Mind) disappointing. They're as metaphysical as Lewis's space trilogy, but they lack...well, the games, the sheer joy of maneuvering inherent in the other books.
2. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
This is easily one of the greatest works in western literature. The sheer scope and level of detail are overwhelming, completely aside from the often-imitated but rarely-rivaled plot. Besides, being a language person I have to appreciate a world created at least partially so that Tolkien's invented languages would have a place to live.
I almost have to prepare myself before reading it. The further I get into the story the more I start to feel the weight of Frodo's fatigue and Sam's sense of duty. It's such a long journey that sometimes I'm almost physically tired after reading some parts, but I'm so enthralled by the characters and story and mythology of it all that I can't put it down.
1. The Bible
Regardless of one's religious beliefs or lack thereof, the Bible is at the very least a singularly exceptional work containing poetry, history, sociology, philosophy, religion, politics, and relationships.
This was a long post for such a short question, with probably much more detail than anyone would want. Oh well, I've been so verbose most people probably haven't bothered to wade this far into what I've written anyway. For those who have, I don't know whether to say "Thank you" or "Didn't you have anything better to do?"
If it wasn't long enough, there's an unabridged version posted on my personal blog* or available upon request via email.
*Being a personal blog, I'm reluctant to publish the URL to those who don't already know it, therefore the email option.
Nancy Agnew Yates died on July 5 at the age of 92. She became director of the Decatur Public Library in 1960. She merged the Decatur Public Library with the Wheeler Basin Regional Library. Many libraries in North Alabama became full fledged public libraries under her tutelage: Russellville, Fort Payne, Falkville, Lawrence County, Courtland, Athens, Eva, and Hartselle. The last six made up the Wheeler Basin Regional Library in her day.
She wanted to be a librarian since she was a little girl. She believed passionately in the value of reading and the worth of libraries to their communities. She was a steel magnolia, a red-haired, petite woman of determination, high standards, energy, and good taste.
There was a private library in Athens, but the mayor wanted a modern, public library, and Nancy wanted a library where blacks would be admitted. So the Athens/Limestone Public Library was built. She was intent on equal access and set up outreach programs as good as any in the state serving the handicapped, blind, mentally ill, the elderly at nutrition sites, homebound, nursing home residents, and those in jails. She was always on the cutting edge of library service.
Nancy presided over the construction and later expansion of the Decatur Public Library that is only now, 32 years later, bursting at the seams. She wanted the best library possible so she set the hours from the beginning at 9:00 am to 9:00 pm four days a week and 9:00 am to 5:00 pm on Friday and Saturday. She hired the best young people she could find for the big new library.
Six members of the present staff at the Decatur Public Library came to work for Nancy in the 1970s. Nancy encouraged creativity and any program or project the staff came up with that could be paid for and was good for the library she supported. She insisted on great customer service and high quality materials for the community to use. She taught us what made a library great.
Working at the library back then was one of the greatest learning experiences of my life. She was getting me ready for my present job. We did have disagreements. She frowned on my purple polka dotted jumpsuit and sent me home to change, and she refused to let me go barefoot at work. We stood toe to toe on some issues, but she was a confident woman and only thought the better of you for standing up for what you thought was best for the library.
Now I am the director of the Decatur Public Library and the Wheeler Basin Library. I try to dress well, have the best library possible, and serve the community well because that is what she taught me to do. My first year in the job, I went to her to talk over the problems, opportunities, and changes. I needed her experience. Then she fell and was never really well again. I wrote her just before her death and told her the only difference between now and then was the technology. Getting money to fund the library was every bit as frustrating today as it had been for her.
Nancy Agnew Yates was a miracle worker with libraries and library service. I wish she was still here to talk to.
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
*Skype is free software that allows free PC to PC calls and video calls. You can also use it to call ordinary phones or cell phones, but there is a charge for that.
Speaking of phones, I now very hesitantly bring up the subject of cell phone use in the library. This is just a friendly reminder that if you get or make a call at the library we ask that you go to the entry hall just inside the 6th Avenue entrance or the "Margarete's Garden" area just outside the Cherry Street entrance.
This isn't persecution of cell users and we certainly don't want to bring the stigma of shushing librarians back down on ourselves. It's not even the use of cell phones in and of itself that causes problems, but the fact that some people talk much more loudly into the phone than they would to a person standing next to them, which is disturbing to many other patrons. There wouldn't be a cell phone policy at all if we hadn't gotten complaints about loud one-sided conversations. As is often the case, the misuse of a service by a few has resulted in limitations for everyone.
Also, the library's website hasn't been updated lately. More accurately, it HAS been updated several times but I'm having trouble getting the changes to post. I am working on it.
Lastly, and possibly the worst offense, the wireless signal in the library is flatlining. This rendered four of the seventeen public internet computers useless. Two of them have been moved to places that don't rely on wireless and are functional for the time being. Again, I'm working on it.
In short, to reference Douglas Adams, "We apologize for the inconvenience."
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Walt Disney (1901-1966)
"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." –
"My alma mater was books, a good library ... I could spend the rest of my life reading, just satisfying my curiosity." –
Malcolm X From “The Autobiography of Malcolm X”
"When I was your age, television was called books!" –
Grandpa in The Princess Bride
"You must live feverishly in a library. Colleges are not going to do any good unless you are raised and live in a library every day of your life." –
"What can I say? Librarians rule!" –
Regis Philbin (Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? 2/17/00)
"I have found the most valuable thing in my wallet is my library card." --
Laura Bush, First Lady
"I would walk into the Carnegie Library and I would see the pictures of Booker T. and pictures of Frederick Douglass and I would read. I would go into the Savannah Public Libraries in the stacks and see all of the newspapers from all over the country. Did I dream that I would be on the Supreme Court? No. But I dreamt that there was a world out there that was worth pursuing." --
Clarence Thomas, U.S. Supreme Court Justice
"When you are growing up, there are two institutional places that affect you most powerfully -- the church, which belongs to God, and the public library, which belongs to you. The public library is a great equalizer." –
Keith Richards, Rolling Stones Guitarist
"I cannot live without books." –
"...I spent many, many hours in...libraries. Libraries became courts of last resort, as it were." –
"The only way to do all the things you'd like to do is to read." –
"Life would be--to me in all events--a terrible thing without books." –
Friday, June 02, 2006
However, last week I was washing my oldest son's hair and he said "Tell me a story." Now, for an avid reader and a former children's librarian this shouldn't have been too difficult a request, but keep in mind it was the 8,739th time I'd been asked that week alone and it needed to be a good story because my son does NOT like being shampooed. He has the same irrational but intense fear of getting water in his eyes that I had at his age. So I told him the following story:
1. Crocodile on the Sandbank (1975)
2. The Curse of the Pharaohs (1981)
3. The Mummy Case (1985)
4. Lion in the Valley (1986)
5. The Deeds of the Disturber (1988)
6. The Last Camel Died at Noon (1991)
7. The Snake, The Crocodile and the Dog (1992)
8. The Hippopotamus Pool (1996)
9. Seeing a Large Cat (1997)
10. The Ape Who Guards The Balance (1998)
11. The Falcon at the Portal (1999)
12. Thunder in the Sky (2000)
13. Lord of the Silent (2001)
14. The Golden One (2002)Amelia Peabody's Egypt: A Compendium to Her Journals (2003) (with Kristen Whitbread)
15. Children of the Storm (2003)
16. Guardian of the Horizon (2003)
17. The Serpent on the Crown (2005)
18. Tomb of the Golden Bird (2006)
Friday, May 26, 2006
So, let me tell you a little about my library. First of all, it’s a great place to work. The staff members are like family and I’m surrounded by media all day long. For a bibliophile like me that’s an amazing thing. Fiction, nonfiction, DVDs, audio books—and it’s all FREE to check out. Let’s see Books A Million or Blockbuster beat that price. Anyway, enough advertising (for now).
The library will be closed Sunday, May 28th and Monday, May 29th for Memorial Day. Ironically, sometimes it seems like many people have forgotten what Memorial Day actually memorializes. So what does it mean to you? Feel free to comment and let us know.
Whatever your answer, we probably have materials for you. The library has books about everything from military history to grilling and plenty of movies, novels, and comics to fill the break from school.