Sullivan Free Library's Blog

July 18, 2010

This Book is Overdue

Libraries have an advocate in Marilyn Johnson, author of This Book is Overdue: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All (Harper, 2010).   While some question the need for libraries with the development of the internet, Johnson, a former  editor and staff writer  for Life magazine, has written about the continuing importance of libraries and librarians as a way to bridge economic divides in our society.

To read an interview with Johnson and read excerpt from the book, visit:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124316231

The book is available through the MidYork Library System.

Johnson also wrote an editorial that appeared in today’s Utica Observer-Dispatch:

Nation’s libraries checking out?

THE U.S. is beginning an interesting experiment in democracy: We’re cutting public library funds, shrinking our public and school libraries, and in some places, shutting them altogether.

These actions have nothing to do with whether the libraries are any good or whether the staff provides useful service to the community. This country’s largest circulating library, in Queens, N.Y., was named the best system in the U.S. last year by Library Journal. Its budget is due to shrink by a third. Los Angeles libraries are being slashed, and the doors will be locked two days a week and at least 100 jobs cut. And until it got a six-month reprieve, Siskiyou County almost became California’s only county without a public library.

Such cuts and close calls are happening across the country. We won’t miss a third of our librarians and branch libraries the way we’d miss a third of our firefighters and firehouses, the rationale goes. But I wonder.

I’ve spent four years following librarians as they deal with the tremendous increase in information and the many ways we receive it. They’ve been adapting as capably as any profession, managing our public computers and serving growing numbers of patrons, but it seems that their work has been all but invisible to those in power.

I’ve talked to librarians whose jobs have expanded with the demand for computers and training, and because so many other government services are being cut. The people left in the lurch have looked to the library, where kind, knowledgeable professionals help them navigate the government bureaucracy, apply for benefits, access social services. Public officials will tell you they love libraries and are committed to them; they just don’t believe they constitute a “core” service.

But if you visit public libraries, you will see an essential service in action, as librarians help people who don’t have other ways to get online, can’t get the answers they urgently need or simply need a safe place to bring their children.

I’ve stood in the parking lot of the Topeka and Shawnee County Library in Kansas on a Sunday morning and watched families pour through doors and head in all directions to do homework or genealogical research, attend computer classes, read the newspapers. I’ve stood outside New York City libraries with other self-employed people, waiting for the doors to open and give us access to the computers and a warm and affordable place to work. I’ve met librarians who serve as interpreters and guides to communities of cancer survivors, Polish-speaking citizens, teenage filmmakers, veterans.

The people who welcome us to the library are idealists, who believe that accurate information leads to good decisions and that exposure to the intellectual riches of civilization leads to a better world. They represent the best civic value out there, an army of resourceful workers who can help us compete in the world.

But we’re handing them pink slips. The school libraries and public libraries in which we’ve invested decades and even centuries of resources will disappear unless we fight for them. The communities that treasure and support their libraries will have an undeniable competitive advantage. Those lucky enough to live in those towns, or those who own computers, or have high-speed Internet service and on-call technical assistance, will not notice the effects of a diminished public library system — not at first. Whizzes who can whittle down 15 million hits on a Google search to find the useful and accurate bits of info, and those able to buy any book or article or film they want, will escape the immediate consequences of these cuts.

Those in cities that haven’t preserved their libraries, those less fortunate and baffled by technology, and our children will be the first to suffer. But sooner or later, we’ll all feel the loss as one of the most effective levelers of privilege and avenues of reinvention — one of the great engines of democracy — begins to disappear.

Marilyn Johnson is the author of “This Book Is Overdue!” She wrote this column for the Los Angeles Times

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July 12, 2010

The Popularity of Vampires

Vampire fiction has been around for a long time–Bram Stoker wrote Dracula in 1897 and his famous Count was drawn from even earlier novels.

Anne Rice made vampires popular again in the 1970’s with her Interview with a Vampire series.  Casting Tom Cruise in the film version only added to their appeal.

The last decade  has seen a huge rise in the number of television shows and book series about corpses come to life to suck the blood of the living, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to the infamous Twilight books and movies by young adult author Stephanie Meyer.  The HBO series True Blood is based on the novels of Charlaine Harris

Just what is the appeal?  I will admit to delving into romance novels once in awhile, but frankly, I like my sexy heroes to be….alive!  I’ve read Christopher Moore’s three books featuring vampires, but mostly because I love his twisted dark humor and would read anything he wrote.

Justin Cronin, author of  The Passage, one of the “must-read” books of the summer, summarizes the reason why he joined the rank of vampire authors in this interview:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/08/justin-cronin-on-the-pass_n_604510.html

Basically, Cronin says  the vampire story will never go away, because it asks an essential question: “What part of your humanity would you be trading away if you got to live forever? It’s ultimately a fable to reassure us that it’s better to be mortal.”

Librarian Karen Hilbert says, “In 2009 Romeo and Juliet would have no problem getting married in Vegas by an Elvis impersonator. Love has no foil anymore (race, gender, religion, family feuds), therefore the only compelling modern day romance plot is if your intended is a monster literally.”  From: Why Are Vampires So Popular?: From Anne Rice to Charlaine Harris, the Undead Rule the Media http://artsociety.suite101.com/article.cfm/why_are_vampires_so_hot#ixzz0tUQnYWOz

According to author J.R. Ward: “Vampires are this wonderful dangerous thing. It’s falling in love with something that is intrinsically deadly and dangerous and chooses to love you back.  From:  Vampire Romance Novels: Authors, Titles and Facts About Vampire Books http://romancefiction.suite101.com/article.cfm/vampire-romance-novels#ixzz0tURN7exN

Whatever the reason, vampire fiction has people of all ages reading, and that can only be a good thing.   The following books are available through the Sullivan Free Libraries and the MidYork Library System.

Authors of Vampire Fiction

Keri Arthur                 Riley Jenson, Guardian series

L.A. Banks                   Vampire Huntress & Crimson Moon series

MaryJane Davidson  Undead series

Laurell Hamilton         Anita Blake, Vampire Slayer series

Charlaine Harris          Sookie Stackhouse series

Sherrilyn Kenyon Dark-Hunter series

Stephanie Meyer       Twilight, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

Christopher Moore    Bloodsucking Fiends, You Bite, Love Sucks

July 6, 2010

More Summer Reading Recommendations

Author Stephen King weighs in with some suggestions:

http://www.ew.com/ew/gallery/0,,20355856_20399391,00.html

All titles in his book list are available through the MidYork Library System.

The July 12th issue of Time magazine (available in both libraries) has an article titled: What to Read This Summer in which popular authors and other movers & shakers list what they are reading this summer.  Some examples:

Janet Evanovich:   Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern

Charlaine Harris61 Hours by Lee Child and The Passage by Justin Cronin

James PattersonMatterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War by Karl Marlantes

Carl Hiaasen: Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and its’ Aftermath by Michael and Elizabeth Norman, and  Magnificent Bastards by Rich Hall.

For the complete list, stop by the library and see the issue.   All titles listed above are available through the MidYork Library System.

July 2, 2010

Oprah’s “What to Read Next” Quiz

Filed under: Literature — Sullivan Free Library @ 3:52 pm
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If you are having trouble deciding what to read next this summer, Oprah has a solution.

On her website, you can take a quiz of ten questions  to help you determine what to read next:

http://www.oprah.com/omagazine/What-to-Read-Next-Os-Summer-Reading-Quiz_1

Taking the quiz will result in a recommendation of one book that is right for you, plus a list of additional titles to consider.   I took the quiz twice, changing my answers slightly and ended up with 25 titles from which to choose.  Some I had already read and liked, so there’s a good chance I’ll like the others.

Being the self-proclaimed queen of book clubs, Oprah also offers many other reading resources, lists of “Five Books Everyone Should Read at Least Once”, “Books to Steal from Your Teenager” and “O’s Favorite Books of 2010”.  There are also Reader’s Guides for books that the magazine has recommended.

http://www.oprah.com/packages/reading-room.html

Chances are, whatever Oprah recommends will be available through one of the 43 libraries in the MidYork Library System.  If you have trouble locating a title, stop at your local branch and ask a librarian for help.

July 1, 2010

What do you call people who use the library?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sullivan Free Library @ 7:58 pm
Tags: , , ,

No, it’s not the beginning of a bad joke.

There has been a lot of discussion about what term people who work in libraries should use for the people who use their services. Patron is probably the most commonly used term, but is that the best term? The definition of patron is:

1. One that supports, protects, or champions someone or something, such as an institution, event, or cause; a sponsor or benefactor: a patron of the arts.
2. A customer, especially a regular customer.

Both certainly apply. Library patrons tend to the best supporters of library services, and most are regular customers.  So why not just use the term customer?   Customer implies an exchange of money, and library services are for the most part, free.

User is another term that is often used, but that has some negative connotations, as in the sub-definition: a person who uses something or someone selfishly or unethically.

I recently attended a teleconference where it was suggested that the most appropriate term for those who frequent library services is member.   Member implies belonging, being a part of an organization.  In order to use the library, a person applies for a library card to become a member of the library community. Member implies having a say in how your library services are developed and delivered.  But then, what about people who visit the library but don’t have a library card?

In the end, it is all a matter of semantics,  but sometimes it is the nuances that make a difference in life.  Please take a moment to vote in the poll below and let us know what you prefer.  Comments are also welcome.

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