Sullivan Free Library's Blog

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:

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

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

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


June 29, 2010

Libraries and Me by Greg Ellstrom

Reposted with permission from The Blue Moon Grille:

I can’t come up with my earliest library memory. I’m sure I went to the library in Penfield, the upstate village I lived in until I was six, but I can’t recall. I do recall being surrounded by and having my early years enriched by books read to me by my mom and dad.

And I do recall the first library we went to in Webster, the town I lived in from when I was six until I graduated from high school forty-five years ago right about now. Actually, the library wasn’t in Webster. It was in Irondequoit just across the bay from where we lived. Later, we would start going to the Webster Village library on the lower level of the town hall.

Those first memories of libraries are all about towering stacks of books. The Hardy Boys, Freddy the Pig, Landmark books, TOM SAWYER, and so many more books that I can’t immediately remember. And taking those books up to the high counter, where a lady, never a man, took my library card and my pile of books and checked them out for me. This required both the card in the little book pocket and the paper stuck under the book’s cover, to be stamped firmly, in two quick librarian strokes, with the date the books were due. A library card was very important, but I remember being rather careless with mine, and how I would misplace it, and how it got frayed in my pockets and washed in the washing machine. My mom always found it or saved it for me.

I have a vivid sixth grade library memory. That year, my teacher was Mr. B., and anyone who attended Bay Road Elementary School around then, will know that meant for a rather scary year. Going each week for a period in the library was always happily anticipated. I remember one Wednesday night, (I’m pretty sure we went to the library on Thursday), my mom discovered in my jeans pocket a crumpled up outline of the Dewey Decimal System number code. We had been told the week before by the school librarian to study this list for a quiz. It wasn’t a priority to us sixth graders, though, because, you don’t get a mark for library, after all. I had forgotten all about it, but my mom made me study before I went to bed. The next morning when we went to library period, the librarian passed out 10 question quizzes. Everyone else in class stared blankly at them. Not me. I whisked right through that quiz with the librarian beaming beside me. I got a 90%. Somehow, I missed one. The librarian was thrilled with me and announced to our class how special I was for actually doing library homework. She then allowed me to go choose my book first, while the rest of the class sat in hand-folded silence, glaring at me for what I had done. I remained smug and slowly chose my book. I remember the book, too! It was called GHOSTLY TALES TO BE TOLD, and in that volume I discovered Ambrose Bierce’s “The Wendigo,” the scariest story I have ever read. This short story collection was the germ of my lifelong love for horror fiction.

I have really fine memories of my high school library, too. Overseen by the thin and matronly stern Miss Growney, the R. L. Thomas High School library, was important in that it was the place I did my first serious research. I still recall receiving an A- on my 20 page senior essay, “George Bernard Shaw, Critic” in Mr. Castor’s Honors English class. In fact, I liked the topic so well, I used it as the topic of my freshman essay at SUNY Albany, where I received a B+, from a pinch-mouthed TA, whose name I have forgotten. I also remember the area under the high school library tables as the place I learned to play footsie, amazingly, right under the watch of Miss Growney. The library was also a nice place to watch the members of the library club, all girls, many attractive, rearranging magazines and such.

Of course, my college library was essential for an English education major. It was so huge. Three floors of stack after stack after file cabinet after study carrel. I was amazed by the sheer number of periodicals, and because this was before the computer age, multiple years of each periodical were stored in special periodical boxes. I remember reading theater reviews in a long gone magazine named CUE and in WOMEN’S WEAR DAILY. I remember a lengthy search I did to find information on the Faulkner novella, “The Wild Palms.” I also remember being curled up for hours in a carrel just before finals week as I tried to finish reading ABSOLOM, ABSOLOM, another Faulner challenge. It was nice, too, to take a break in the second floor lounge and do a little co-ed watching.

For thirty-three years as a teacher, I and my classes availed ourselves of the Chittenango High School library and watched it evolve into something called a “library media center.” Lots of great librarians helped me and my minions. Lorraine Aust was the first, Judy Waite, Betsy Keck, who led Folksmarches, Pamela Revercomb, who dressed in a tutu on days she got stressed, and Mary Klucznik, and I probably forgot someone. When I go into the comfortable, high tech, two-tiered high school library today, I am happily amazed, and I have a hard remembering what it looked like back in 1969, the year I first entered its doors.

I have become a buyer of books I am ashamed to say. I like my own paperbacks, purchased at Barnes and Noble, to curl up with during my major reading hour, which is before I fall asleep at night. I know I should save my money and borrow books from the Sullivan Free Library more often. This doesn’t mean our library isn’t important to me, though. It is my SUMMERPLAY rehearsal hall. Air-conditioned and large, the community room is perfect to rehearse my large cast plays. I’m really excited about a play for reader’s theater, which I am going to write as a fundraiser for the SFL. I believe the date is Thursday, October 14, 2010, in the high school auditorium. This aforementioned play will star a group of local folks from various walks of Chittenango/Bridgeport life. And just this morning, while our house was being renovated and my office was under construction, I borrowed the SFL Wifi to begin this blog. While I was there, I bumped in to a student from the past, class of 1991, who was there looking at books with her little boy. What a bright young woman! I have to start borrowing more books, too.

I’ve had fun remembering the libraries with which I’ve had relationships over time.  Now I have a great relationship with the new library in the old bank building. The people who steered the purchase and renovation of the Chittenango branch of the Sullivan Free Library, and who now administer and work in both branches of the SFL should be very proud. What wonderful places our libraries are.

Greg Ellstrom is a retired English teacher who lives in Chittenango with his wife Linda and dog Lucy.  His blog “The Blue Moon Grille: Thoughts on Many Things that Belong on Stan’s Wall” is published on the website of the Oneida Daily Dispatch.  Greg’s most recent play “The Girl Who Loved Romance Novels”  will be performed July 15-17th at 7:30 pm at Chittenango High School.

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June 12, 2010

Guest Blog: Author C.J. Barry: My Love Affair With Words

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sullivan Free Library @ 8:05 pm
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Our blog today is written by C.J. Barry, a local author who is a long time patron and supporter of the
Sullivan Free Library.  Her latest book, "Body Master", will be released in August.

 My Love Affair With Words

I have loved books forever.  I still remember parts of books I read when I was in grade school--the feel
of well-worn paper, the creak of the bindings, the smell of words on a page.  That was when my love affair
with the written word began.  I would read everything I could get my hands on, but my favorite books were
science fictions.  Magical worlds, strange new beings, and stories that melded humans and technology.

Unfortunately, my appetite for books seemed to always outstrip my ability to buy new ones.  We weren't
ever well off when I was growing up, but my Mom made sure we all had library cards and brought us there
frequently.  I'd leave with the maximum number of books they'd allow, and I read every single one. 
Without access to those free books, I would not be the person I am today.  Every story, every word formed
my place in this world, and gave me the freedom to imagine beyond what we see in our day-to-day lives.

Almost fifty years later, that discovery goes far beyond what I ever thought possible with the publication
of my own books.  My eighth novel comes out this August.  Eight books that I wrote every word of.  Eight
books sprung from a mind freed by public libraries.

As I watch my own children become avid readers, I find myself fiercely protective of public libraries
and all the wonderful opportunities they provide.  I want libraries to continue and remain the safe
sanctuaries that they are now for my children and my children's children.  I wish to thank all the staff,
volunteers and patrons of libraries everywhere for their support and service.  Without you, I wouldn't
have discovered and embraced my imagination.  Without that, I would not have become an author and landed
the best job of a lifetime.

C.J. grew up reading  science  fiction novels, comic books, and her brother's Cracked  magazines.
 In high school, a creative writing teacher told her she  should be a writer, but she decided to go to
college instead. In  college, a writing professor told her she should be a writer, but she  decided to be a
 computer programmer instead. A husband, a cat and  two kids later, an adult education teacher told
her she should be a  writer.  She finally gave in, and after selling the first novel she  ever wrote, decided
that all those teachers were right. Seven  novels later, she continues to bring her unique blend of high
adventure and sizzling romance to her romantic suspense novels. 

C.J has won numerous awards  for her novels, and is a member of the Romance Writers of  America.  By day, she works as
a  technical writer. By night, she co-hosts a writing podcast, dreams  up adventures, and pens the books she was destined
to write.
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May 21, 2010

Madison County Literacy Coalition

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sullivan Free Library @ 8:18 pm
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Today I attended a luncheon held at Colgate University to celebrate the 1st anniversary of the founding of the Madison County Literacy Coalition.

Carolyn Gerakopolous, Director of the Oneida Public Library and Morris Atwood, Coordinator for the Madison County Reads Ahead program have done a tremendous job of pulling together all of the groups who should be involved with adult literacy in Madison County and motivating them to pool resources to tackle this very significant problem.

Of the over 70,000 people living in Madison County, more than 5500 have below basic literacy literacy skills and 16.7% have not completed a high school diploma or its equivalent. These are disturbing facts. In our society, it is impossible to get by without literacy skills, not only for reading and writing, but for computers and health care.

Senator David Valesky was the keynote speaker at today’s event. He made the point that 73 billion dollars is spent each year on unnecessary health care expenses that are attributable to poor literacy. It is not hard to imagine the countless better ways that money could be utilized.

Both branches of the Sullivan Free Library have been partners with the Madison County Reads Ahead program since it’s inception, providing space for one-to-one tutoring, the storage of tutoring materials and the training of literacy volunteers. At the beginning of 2010, the library was pleased to hire Donna Bocketti as the first Adult Literacy Coordinator for the Town of Sullivan. Ms. Bocketti works with Madison County Reads Ahead to pair up tutors and students, and to promote the program in the Town of Sullivan.

For more information about the Madison County Literacy Coalition, visit their website (unveiled today!) at:

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May 13, 2010

The Wonderful Author of Oz: L. Frank Baum

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sullivan Free Library @ 6:10 pm
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The  village of Chittenango, NY is the birthplace of L. Frank Baum,  author of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”.  The book  was made into one of the most famous movies of all time in 1939 by MGM Studios  and has been adapted into a number of stage and film versions, including the musical “Wicked” based on the novel by Gregory Maguire.

Chittenango has long celebrated Oz, not only with an annual parade and festival, but with year round tributes: the yellow brick sidewalks downtown, poppies planted all over the village and the many businesses and organizations  with related names. The Children’s Room of our library has an Oz theme, complete with yellow brick road, Emerald City mural, a Munchkin Door and a Flying Monkey playroom.

The movie is what most people associate with Baum, but he was also a  prolific author who has entertained generations of children with his work;  he wrote over 55 novels, 82 short stories, 200 poems and assorted scripts. In addition to books published in his name, he wrote under several pseudonyms, most notably Edith Van Dyne and Floyd Akers.

His first work of fiction was “Mother Goose in Prose”, illustrated by Maxfield Parrish and published in 1897 when Baum was 41.  The success of this and the sequel “Father Goose, His Book”, illustrated by W. W.  Denslow, allowed him to give up the various (and mostly unsuccessful) business ventures with which he had been experimenting for all of his adult life.

“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” , illustrated by W.W. Denslow, was published in 1900 and became the best-selling children’s book for the next two years.  Baum went on to write thirteen additional “Oz” novels.  After his death in 1919, other authors continued the series. For a bibliography of his works see:

Baum is purported to have come up with the story line while telling his children a bedtime story, and received the inspiration for the name of the magical land in which the story took place by glancing at the drawer of his file cabinet, which was labeled “O-Z”.  His original working title for the book was “The Emerald City of Oz”, but his publishers, the Hill Company, were superstitious about publishing a book with a jewel in title, forcing Baum to come up with an alternate title.

Over the years, various scholars have speculated the Baum’s novel for children contained cleverly disguised political satire and social commentary of his time.  Baum himself said only that his books were written to entertain children and support his family.

From the perspective of a librarian, I find it ironic that, in early years, Baum’s books were often banned or restricted in public libraries because they were considered too “fantastical” for children and not serious literature.

As we approach the  anniversary of his birth–May 15, 1856 and the upcoming Ozstravaganza (Friday, June 4th through Sunday, June 6th) lets remember to commemorate the man not only for the movie, but for being one of the forerunners of fantasy fiction for children and for inspiring us all to use our imaginations and believe in faraway lands and magical places.

“I have learned to regard fame as a will-o-the-wisp, which when caught, is not worth the possession; but to please a child is a sweet and lovely thing that warms one’s heart and brings its own reward.” L. Frank Baum, inscription in a book to his sister


KFT 5/13/10

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May 11, 2010

Facebook Clinic Scheduled

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sullivan Free Library @ 5:41 pm
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Last week’s session on “Facebook for Grown-Ups” generated a lot of interest.  People who weren’t able to attend asked if we’d be scheduling another session, and people who did attend asked “When can we do this again?”

In response, we have scheduled a “Facebook Clinic” for Tuesday, June 29th at 6:30 pm.  People can bring their laptops to the Community Room of the library in Chittenango and get assistance with using Facebook from library staff and each other.  This will be a more informal session than the program on 5/4.

There will be a limited number of library laptops available for use; if you are interested in using one, please call Karen at 687-6331 ext 302  IN ADVANCE to reserve one.

Some people have expressed an interest in learning how to use a Facebook page to promote their business or non-profit.   I will be attending  the “Syracuse BizBuzz Social Networking Conference” ( will be held at the Oncenter on May 27th. and hope to have some tips to share on that subject.

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May 5, 2010

Upcoming Book Discussions

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sullivan Free Library @ 3:45 pm
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Book Discussion Groups are a great way for avid readers to share their passions with people with similar interests. The Sullivan Free Library has three book discussion groups for adults that meet monthly.  New members are always welcome!  Discussions are friendly and informal; refreshments are served.   To see schedules for each group for the year, visit our web site at:

The Bridgeport “Attic Salt” Discussion Group will meet on Tuesday, May 25th at 7:00 pm to discuss “The Post-American World” by Fareed Zakaria.  From

“This is not a book about the decline of America, but rather about the rise of everyone else.” So begins Fareed Zakaria’s important new work on the era we are now entering. Following on the success of his best-selling The Future of Freedom, Zakaria describes with equal prescience a world in which the United States will no longer dominate the global economy, orchestrate geopolitics, or overwhelm cultures. He sees the “rise of the rest”—the growth of countries like China, India, Brazil, Russia, and many others—as the great story of our time, and one that will reshape the world. The tallest buildings, biggest dams, largest-selling movies, and most advanced cell phones are all being built outside the United States. This economic growth is producing political confidence, national pride, and potentially international problems. How should the United States understand and thrive in this rapidly changing international climate? What does it mean to live in a truly global era? Zakaria answers these questions with his customary lucidity, insight, and imagination.

The Chittenango Book Discussion Group will meet on Wednesday, May 26th at 7:00 pm to discuss “Stones From the River” by Ursula Hegi.   From Library Journal:

“At the beginning of World War I, Trudi Montag, a dwarf, is born to an unstable mother and a gentle father in a small Rheinish town. Through the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich into the era following World War II she first struggles with–and later draws strength and wisdom from–her inability to fit into a conformist and repressive society. As the town’s librarian and historian, Trudi keeps track of many secrets, revealing the universality of her experience. While Hegi’s ( Floating in My Mother’s Palm , LJ 5/15/90) treatment of history and politics is engaging, her novel’s appeal lies in the humanity of its characters. Particularly strong is her portrayal of, and insight into, the community of women and children as they react to changing conditions in the town. A sensitive and rewarding book.”

On Thursday, May 27th, the Chittenango Classics Book Discussion group will meet at 7:00 pm to discuss “Tess of the D’Ubervilles” by Thomas Hardy.   From the cover of the book:

“Etched against the background of a dying rural society, Tess of the d’Urbervilles was Thomas Hardy’s “bestseller,” and Tess Durbeyfield remains his most striking and tragic heroine. Of all the characters he created, she meant the most to him. Hopelessly torn between two men–Alec d’Urberville, a wealthy, dissolute young man who seduces her in a lonely wood, and Angel Clare, her provincial, moralistic, and unforgiving husband–Tess escapes from her vise of passion through a horrible, desperate act.”

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May 1, 2010

Great sites for readers

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sullivan Free Library @ 7:09 pm
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Have you ever forgotten the title of a book you’ve read and want to recommend to someone else?  Picked up a book and can’t remember if you’ve read it before?  Or just like to keep track of how many books you’ve read in year?

There are many online sites now that let you do all of these things for free.

This site lets you list all of the books you have read, what you are currently reading, and save lists of what books you’d like to read in the future.  You can rate the books you’ve read, write a review and read the reviews that others have written. You can develop a network of friends and see what books they are reading and recommend.  You can join a variety of discussion groups or enter drawing for free copies of books.  If you have a Facebook account, you can automatically post the reviews of the books you’ve read so your friends can see them.

Shelfari allows you to build a virtual bookshelf where you can actually see the covers of books you have read or want to read.  Like Good Reads, you can develop a community of friends to compare reading tastes or join a book discussion club.  Shelfari will also compare your reading “rate” to previous years so you can see your progress (or lack of!).

This site also allows you to build lists of books you’ve read or want to read.  You can join discussion groups or be put into drawings for early copies of books to read and review.

Are there classic titles that you’ve always meant to read but never found the time?  On Daily Lit, you can sign up for daily installments of books–usually a chapter.  You can have it sent to you by email or mobile device.

Paperback Swap is an online community that allows you to trade books with other members for the cost of postage.  The name is misleading; books do not have to be paperback to be eligible.    You earn credits by listing a minimum of books that you own.  If  a member requests a book from you, you print out a mailing label and send the book at media rate postage (usually $2-3 per book).   When the member receives the book, you get a credit.  For each credit you have, you can request a book, which will be mailed to you at the owner’s expense.

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April 29, 2010

One Book, One Twitter

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sullivan Free Library @ 9:34 pm
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Social networking has just expanded into yet another area–book discussions groups.  Librarian extraordinaire Nancy Pearl began the “One Book” reading movement in 1998 when the Seattle Public Library initiated the “If All of Seattle Read the Same Book” program featuring “The Sweet Hereafter” by Russel Banks.  Since then, communities all over the US have followed her lead in choosing and promoting a book in an effort to encourage community-wide reading and discussion.  Locally, the Sullivan Free Library and the Chittenango Central School District sponsored a “One Community, One Book” discussion of “Balzac & the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie in 2008. The MidYork Library system has coordinated two “Regional Reads” featuring “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury and “The World is Flat” by Thomas Friedman.

A few weeks ago, editor of Wired Jeff Howe initiated a campaign to have Twitter users choose one title for a discussion this coming summer–over Twitter.  His blog caught the interest of NPR  who included it on “All Things Considered”:

Today, he announced that the winner is “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman:

Gaiman, a British author, is popular among adults and children.  He wrote the book “Coraline” which was made into a 3-D movie in 2009.   In “American Gods”,   an ex-con who is offered a job as a bodyguard for Mr. Wednesday, a trickster and a rogue. Shadow soon learns that his role in the man’s schemes are far more dangerous and dark than he could have ever imagined.

If you are interested in reading this book along with the Twitter community, you can join the group by searching twitter for: #1b1t

The book is available in both print and audio format in libraries throughout the Midyork system.

Karen Fauls-Traynor, Library Director

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