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"Snow Candy", Terry Carroll's latest is sure to please

Jul. 10, 2008

Elgin County Library patrons will enjoy the latest novel by West Elgin native son Terry Carroll.  His second novel in the Carl North mystery series, Snow Candy takes readers on a gripping ride inside the world of biker gangs through a trail of arson, murder, organized crime, marital discord and personal tragedy.  Detective North is driven to bring down the gang's leader, Turk.  But Turk proves he is more than a formidable foe!  
County residents will both enjoy and find amusement in the book's familiar setting.  Yes, Detective North's clandestine meetings are at actual Tim Horton's locations in St. Thomas!  Mr. Carroll pointed out at a recent book launch at the West Lorne Library that his goal with the Carl North series is to restore the art of the classic mystery novel; i.e. relatively short with action unfolding quickly.  In this regard, Snow Candy's 171 pages more than achieve his goal.
The book can be obtained at any of our branch libraries. Place a hold online or call your local branch to obtain it for you!

Summer Reading: Not Just for Kids!

Jun. 18, 2008

Looking for a good book to read at the beach this summer?

I was, and I thought I'd compile my findings here! There are numerous sites that have their "top ten lists" of beach reads, and they cover every type of interest when it comes to fiction writing.

Some excellent picks here! Check out the links, and peruse through the selections.





Writers share their favourite books here: http://www.slate.com/id/2142161/





Book Earrings

Apr. 23, 2008

For those of you who love fashion as much as you love reading books, now you can design and make your own "book earrings". It's easy, and you'll look like a million bucks.


Complete with step-by-step instructions and handy visual instructions.

A Librarian's Tale ... pardon me, Chaucer

Apr. 7, 2008

by Chris Mayhew

Did you know that April has been designated as National Poetry Month in Canada? Okay, I can hear it... Poetry ... Schmoetry.

Chaucer, Browning and Eliot. Do these names even resonate in our modern iPod-plugged ears? Or is it only with a word-obsessed librarian, that when April sweeps into the year with its delicate garb and capricious personality, that April words and images from some of these barbs pop to mind and transport the spirit?

Here are three interpretations of the April theme from the 14th, 19th and 20th Centuries. These poems jump from the satiric to the romantic to the existential as they reflect the times in which they were written.

The Canterbury Tales is a collection of stories written by Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th Century. The tales were told by a group of pilgrims on a pilgrimage from Southwark to Canterbury to visit the shrine of St. Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. 

Here begins the Book of the Tales of Canterbury

When April with his showers sweet with fruit
The drought of March has pierced unto the root
And bathed each vein with liquor that has power
To generate therein and sire the flower;
When Zephyr also has, with his sweet breath,
Quickened again, in every holt and heath,
The tender shoots and buds, and the young sun
Into the Ram one half his course has run,
And many little birds make meoldy
That sleep through all the night with open eye
(So Nature pricks them on to ramp and rage) -
Then do folk long to go on pilgrimage...

Robert Browning, a 19th century British Romantic poet travelled to Italy later in life to seek his muse. Here's Browning's waxing all nostaligic about April... this one makes me want to hop on the first plane to Heathrow!

Home Thoughts from Abroad

Oh to be in England
Now that April's there,
And whoever wakes in England
See, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England - now!

T.S. Eliot's early poetical works express the anguish and barrenness of modern life and isolation of the individual, particularly as reflected in the failure of love.

The Waste Land

APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs ouf the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

Thomas Stearns Eliot said this about poetry:

"Poetry may make us from time to time a little more aware of the deeper, unnamed feelings which from the substratum of our being, to which we rarely penetrate; for our lives are mostly a constant evasion of ourselves." 

A Lightening of the Spirit

Mar. 27, 2008

by Dalene Van Zyl

Towards the end of one of my all time favourite movies, Chocolat, the narrator tells us that the villagers of this small French village experienced “a lightening of the spirit.”  Here at the tail end of a long and seemingly never ending winter, I think we are all in need of a similar lightening of the spirit.  This is the time of year that we are constantly looking for any sign of spring – a speck of green that will signal a spring bulb has survived the winter, maybe a tundra swan flying over the house or just the new summer merchandise in the shops.  In the book world, the spring catalogues promise us wonderful new books and many happy reading hours just waiting around the corner. Nothing like a good book to make us forget that there is yet another snow storm on its way. 

At first I thought that I will write about all the new spring and summer books, but a glance at the catalogues, made me realize that there are just too many for just one journal entry.  So here are just some of the books that will be published in April. 

Hold tight by Harlan Coben

The suicide of a teenager in the community, along with the increasing withdrawal of their own son, Adam, lead Tia and Mike Baye to install spyware on their son’s computer.  They realize that Adam has been keeping dangerous secrets from them.  The book deals with the issues parents of teenagers face in one way or another each day.  What is the most important – the teenager’s privacy or the parent’s responsibility?  What is normal teenager rebellion and when does it become out-of-control behaviour?  Other issues include single parenting, career versus family, marital honesty and how much information to share with your teenager. 

Sundays at Tiffany’s by James Patterson.

Jane was very lonely as a child and to make up for that, she made up an imaginary friend, Michael.  Now in her thirties, she is just as lonely with a boyfriend who is more interested in what her mother, Vivienne, can do for his career and a mother that still pretty much ignores her existence.  Then she finds Michael in real life and falls in love with him – but the real reason behind their reunion is a mystery.

The Whole Truth by David Baldacci

In his first international thriller, Baldacci, makes a case for how easy it will be to start a world war.A huge defense contractor hires a Pender Associates to start a second cold war by planting fake news stories on the Internet. By carefully manipulating international events and sowing mistrust between countries, they hope to instigate a war between Russia and China to the financial benefit of the company.

Wit’s End by Karen Joy Fowler

Karen Joy Fowler is the author of the bestseller, The Jane Austen Book Club, which incidentally was a favourite for book clubs all over the world.  Wit’s End is being described as a novel of mystery, intrigue and virtual reality. The story revolves around Addison Early, a mystery author, with a very strange way of planning her mysteries.  She constructs a dollhouse miniature of her crime scene before starting to write the mystery.  Her household has the usual gothic, but updated, stereotypes, such as a housekeeper with a secret past and a blogging dog walker.  All the characters are very much part of today’s world as they write blogs, pay the YouTube website a visit and even use Wikipedia. About as far away from Jane Austen as you can get.

Other bestsellers for April are:

The Miracle at Speedy Motors by Alexander McCall Smith

Compulsion by Jonathan Kellerman

Santa Fe Dead by Stuart Woods

The Third Angel by Alice Hoffman

The Third Circle by Amanda Quick

The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted by Elizabeth Berg

Do Not Disturb by Tilly Bagshawe

The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie

Friday Nights by Joanna Trollope

The Genius by Jesse Kellerman

The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir

Lost Souls by Lisa Jackson

The Tempest Tales by Walter Mosley

Twenty Wishes by Debbie Macomber

 And finally, just to go back to Chocolat, Joanne Harris has written a sequel to that wonderful book and it will also be published in April.  The Girl with No Shadow (published in England under the title, Lollipop) continues the story of Vianne, now living in Paris.  She has opened a chocolaterie in the Montmartre neighborhood and with the help of a mysterious new helper, is trying to get the shop ready for Christmas.  Definitely not to be read without chocolate within easy reach. 

So many books, so little time to read! 

Celebrate "Read an E-Book Week"!

Mar. 3, 2008

No kidding. I'll bet you never even knew there was such a celebratory week-long event. I didn't. Not until today, and funny too, I was thinking I needed to write an article for our News and Alerts feature, promoting our new service that allows you to access e-books straight from our catalogue.

Some of you might be thinking, "What's an e-book?" ... and that's okay. "E-book" is an "electronic book", available on the computer through a number of databases out there on the Internet. Elgin County Libraries have access through a database called "Net Library" -- we subscribe and obtain a number of electronic books through Net Library for our patrons to view. (We also now have access to e-audio books through Net Library ... for those of you who are addicted to listening to the latest and greatest fiction during your commute times!)

E-Publishers Weekly posted a blog article back in January that talks about the benefits of e-books. In fact, they give a tidy little list that outlines 30 benefits that you may or may not agree with, but is worth checking out.

I remember when e-books first came out a few years ago and our library borrowed an "e-book reader" from our local library service center. The intent was to check it out to patrons who were interested in using e-books, and this was a handy little portable device that was similar to the Amazon's "Kindle", though I imagine it was a very rough and technologically archaic pre-cursor. We wanted to get on the bandwagon of new technology, but we needed to try it out before we purchased one for our library. It was cool, and it was handy yes, but the problem was, nobody seemed interested in it at the time. This was before MP3 players and iPods. This was before cell phones were computers, cameras, and musical devices as well as ... well, telephones.  This was back in the late *gasp* 1990's early 2000's. (OH so long ago). We never did purchase one for the library.

But it seems there has been a resurgence of interest in e-books, with all this new technology that has come out in the last few years. Amazon's Kindle has been selling like hotcakes. Stephen Abram remarks that it looks as though we are heading into "e-book hype territory" all over again.  He links to a Teleread article that discusses that the number of readers downloading e-books is growing: that in the next few years, there will be somewhere in the ballpark of 16 million regular readers and downloaders of e-books. That's a big number, and one that hadn't occurred to me would ever be feasible, considering how it never took off a few years ago.

But perhaps this is the time, and the place. With so many people now hooked in and online, it only seems reasonable that their books will be in the place they frequent most. It seems odd but likely that soon you will be reading Jane Austen on your cell phone.

Now, to be perfectly frank here, I have reservations about curling up by the fire with my laptop or a "Kindle". It just doesn't seem... the same. I love technology, but forget about reading the latest Danielle Steel in the bathtub. Unless you want to risk getting seriously hurt.

On the other hand, it's great to be able to access so much online, it's great that information is right at your fingertips. And face it, e-books do save trees. So really, it's worth your while to check one out -- Elgin Libraries have access to so many e-books, and they're accessible through our catalogue. Besides,  it is "Read an E-Book Week"... so it's fitting that you should try one out!

Entrepreneurs, Libraries Can Help!

Feb. 21, 2008

I was at a meeting for the Elgin Women's Business Network last night, along with a libray colleague, showing off the new web page and other promotional materials that were produced for the library.

The Director of Cultural Services, Cathy Bishop, was also there, highlighting our new DVD which was produced by a local company, Dog & Pony Productions.

Basically, we were there to explain how we have been marketing ourselves. Since EWBN is a group of entrepreneurs, I think this theme was much appreciated, and quite appropriate for the setting. It was great to share our stories in how we put the DVD together, what changes we were making on the website, what promotional packages we were putting together for our patrons.  But later in the evening, as we explored the website and talked about what services a library has to offer, I realized we weren't just talking about HOW we market ourselves, we WERE marketing ourselves to them.  We were talking to potential patrons. Those who weren't already using the library were definitely interested in what we have to offer; we are a great resource for entrepreneurs and businesses. We have great resource tools, online access, computer training and a host of other services that a small business utilize help achieve business success.

Search Portfolio is a wonderful resource for business research on the web. We have access to Government Resources, we have Reference Staff  -- easily accessed by email to help businesses with their specific questions. That's just off the top of my head. Branches have faxes and photocopiers, soon we'll have wireless at certain locations where you can access the Internet on your own laptop (with a library card, of course).

Lots of good stuff.

I'm hoping the ladies at the meeting last night came away with the idea that we are there for them to use. Public libraries: We're not just about best-sellers and children's programming these days.


Check out our "Library Thing"

Feb. 11, 2008

I've been playing around with this site for months. It's called, quite appropriately,Library Thing. I set up my own little "bookshelf", and for kicks, I set one up for our Library, as well. I took some recent publications and put them on the library's bookshelf, just to see what we can do with this great little toy on the web.

No, it doesn't replace our real online catalogue, not by any means. In fact, we've just put a new feature onto the catalogue called "New Books"... Click on it to give you a list of all the new stuff we've purchased within the last 90 days. It doesn't include stuff that is on order -- just materials that we already have in our hot little hands.

However, until I can figure out a way to create neat little widgets from our own catalogue to plunk into our website (see the cool "Random Books from My Library" menu on the left?), I'll keep playing with this. Watch here for anything new! 

Here's the best part about Library Thing:  So much information! You can click on "details" and find cataloguing information (heavenly for us library-types!), or click on members reviews or "social data" to see a myriad of reviews and other "social information" about any given book. What's great is the "socialness" of it - real reviews by real people. You can find like-minded members and start your own online book club of sorts. Or a library consortium. Call it what you like!

An even better idea: go to Library Thing and set up your own bookshelf! It's a wonderful way to keep track of all the books you've read!

Libraries: Havens for Do-It-Yourselfers

Feb. 7, 2008

I worked for years in a larger public library in central Connecticut, where I met my husband. I think he married me because he quickly realized what a great connection he had -- soon after we started dating I became his personal reference librarian. "Hey, can you find me some information on this? Or that?" I perused Chilton's manuals for him when he was working on any number of cars he happened to be working on at the time; I thumbed through business directories when he was looking to expand his career (er, find a new job); and yes, I even checked the hockey scores for him during hockey season (he wasn't the only patron with this sort of request!)

Now we're back in Ontario and we've bought a fixer-upper of a house. And wouldn't you know it, the library has proven to be a great resource for information on this front, too. I'm no longer his personal reference librarian, but he has no doubt befriended branch staff across Elgin County, looking for information on how to rebuild stairs, how to install crown moulding, how to tile a bathroom, and how to make kitchen cabinetry. Considering the amount one spends on the actual work in rebuilding a house, it seems wasteful to actually purchase these kinds of books. Here are some favourites, and they are newly published (2007), and they come highly recommended by the Handyman Husband himself. (images courtesy of Amazon.com).


Black and Decker's Complete Guide to Finishing Walls & Ceilings: Drywall and plaster anyone? If your house is in need of some wall or ceiling repair, this is the book for you. The subtitle says, "includes plaster, skim-coating and texture ceiling finishes".  It really does include everything you want to know! After we had someone give us a quote on "plaster repair" -- which actually meant tearing down our plater walls and putting up drywall -- we decided to go the DoItYourself route. Lots of good information in here, packed with tips and tricks on how to make your walls look good as new.



Building Stairs: For Pros by Pros: this one we currently have checked out. Who knew building stairs was so complicated? Lots of math involved ... alas, better left up to someone else, not me. But as the editorial on Amazon says, "any builder who can measure the distance between two floors can plan and build a stunning set of stairs. By clearly laying out the geometry, planning, and construction involved, author Andy Engel takes the reader from a simple structure of framing lumber to a set of stairs fit for a king." We'll see.




The Home How-To Handbook: Tile:  The very daunting task of tiling one's bathroom floor is made so much easier when you've read a how-to book like this ... at least, it helps give you the perception that it doesn't seem so daunting. This handy little book is packed with wonderfully creative ideas and tips on tiling all areas of the house, from the bathroom floor to the kitchen counter. There are detailed instructions on the entire tiling process: from laying backer board, cutting tiles with hand tools and power saws, and using various types of grout for the best visual appeal.  The author, Rick Peters, also gives lessons on how to revitalize and/or repair existing tile, as well as instructions on how to replace broken tiles. It's a great little book chalk full of good information for the non-professional. (That would be... us!)



The Book of Old Houses, by Sarah Graves is a wonderful piece of ... well, fiction. Okay, okay. I admit, that while hubby is busy slaving away at installing the new toilet in the upstairs bathroom, I am kept content by the woodstove reading this "Home Repair is Homicide" mystery. I came upon it innocently enough -- it certainly has the title of a NON fiction book and I thought it might come in handy in our borrowed collection of home renovation resources. Hubby hasn't caught on yet .. he seriously thinks that I am fastidiously studying up on restoration projects. I won't fill him in on the truth just yet.


New York Times Notable Books for 2007

Jan. 16, 2008

The New York Times has put out it's famous 100 list, for 2007.

Check it out. Each book title has a link to the original New York Times book review. Very handy! Of course, Harry Potter is included.

New Portal Goes Live Today

Nov. 30, 2007

New "Elgin Connects" Portal Goes Live Today

SO today is the today I have been working towards, trying to get a new website up and running so that all will be beautiful and stream-lined, contained neatly and perfectly in a nice, new, package that is the "Elgin Connects" portal.

Things I have learned along the way:

1. Web design is incredibly HARD. Especially when you have certain parameters that you have to work within. It is a team effort on this end, constant emails to the IT department with "Why?" and "How do I?"... questions. They have gotten sick of me, certainly, but they need to know that I *need* them like a horse needs hay.

2. Nothing is ever PERFECT. I have this idea in my head that when we go live, TA DA, everything will be exactly as it should be. Colour me silly for such a notion -- I have learned the emotionally hard way that, in fact, it is a constant process. Especially in these times of interactive, social technology. Things are changing and emerging and evolving every single day. This web page will be doing the same. It is not a "static" site, in the way that it used to be.

3. I look back to my library school days now, (gosh, 15 years ago!), and I remember taking the basic web course, the crash course in HTML. And I remember thinking, When/WHY will I ever need this? Fast forward, and here I am, tapping into those reserves in my brain and thinking, "Why didn't I pay more attention?" And mind you, things have changed drastically in 15 years, they really have. I feel like an ancient relic at times, trying to muddle through the new technologies of today, but at the same time I feel like I'm on the frontier of something smashing and new and exciting. I've learned what it is to LEARN, all over again.

So as we muddle through, keep in mind things will be changing and evolving. Check back from time to time. See our news and events features, subscribe to these features and keep in touch with us!

Bloggity blog blog blog

Nov. 16, 2007

November 7, 2021

Bloggity blog blog blog

I'm heartened by the fact that this blog idea isn't really all that new in libraries. I don't feel like we're needing to pave the way here; in fact, I'm finding a lot of my material on library blogs that I keep up to date with regularly.

There is some fascinating stuff happening in libraries. And since blogging has become one of the primary ways of communication on the Internet, we can find and share this information so much more readily. I have found articles on different programs in libraries, reading clubs, book reviews, articles about the web, conference notes, you name it. All by reading blogs.

Here are some of my favourites:

Jessamyn West is "putting the rarin' back in librarian" on her blog. This is the first blog I go to when poking around, looking for stuff on libraries and the web. Some good techie info here, and a great place to look for information on website development in libraries.

In the same vein, but perhaps a bit "techier" in their approach, NYPL Labs offers a look into the overall digital experience of The New York Public Library. Here, NYPL is turning practices into processes and tools, experimenting with new web applications and interfaces.

Barbara Kelly's blog, "Manage This!" is also a wonderful read for librarians who want to keep up to date with management issues in libraries. She is a librarian who lives in Northern Ontario; as she says about her blog: "I started this project because I want to have a discussion with others who are interested in the world of library management. I like to think about where the values of librarianship intersect with how we manage ourselves, our services, our projects and our relationships with clients and co-workers. "

The key here is that she likes to have a discussion with others. That is the beauty of blogs, you see. They are indeed interactive. You can post your own opinions and comments, and a dialogue is born.

Libraries can take full advantage of this feature. What about using a blog as a reader's advisory tool? Take a look at Burlington Public Library's "Crystal Blog", where they have a "reading psychic" explore a "pick of the week". What a great book review tool that also opens up the floor for patrons to discuss their likes and dislikes. It's almost like an online book club. Another good example of this: Blogging for a Good Book is a blog published by the Williamsburg Regional Library in Virginia. A suggestion a day! That's a lot of reading/reviews, but I'm sure their patrons get a lot out of it.

Other libraries are using blogs as a way to keep patrons updated on their news, events and programs. Check out Wallingford Public Library's blog -- a whole lot of library stuff wrapped into one neat, pretty package. They talk about new releases, videos, give reviews, talk about programs. A great way for their patrons to keep up to date.

When you think about it, you have to wonder why it's taken this long for libraries to get on the Blogging bandwagon? I mean, our *mandate* is information: what better to get the word out on our websites? It's easy to update, easy to use, easy to read. And the feedback is immediate.

I'll keep you posted as I come across new and interesting blogs to read. There's so much good stuff out there -- I feel it is my duty to share!

Extreme Makeover, Library Style

Nov. 16, 2007

November 3rd, 2007

Extreme Makeover, Library style

The Elgin County Library system is undergoing a facelift as far as their website is concerned. To be honest, this sort of change has been needed for awhile. When the current page is developed in 1999, it was probably a wonderful site to behold; however, the web has evolved so radically, and we haven't really kept up the pace, where our web presence is concerned.

While that is being worked on, (and believe me, it is being worked on labouriously!), take a look at what I'm talking about. Here are some awesome sites that just *work*. They look great, they have some wonderful interactive features, some contain a blog and events calendars and google maps. They are colourful and user friendly.

Take a look at Essex County Library's site, based on Sirsi's Rooms ... online reference and links to outside resources that are put together in a systematic and functional way. The really cool part about this site is that their catalogue is integrated right within their website. And you can choose what you want to search: catalogue by author, or title, or subject; web resources; or everything all at once.

London Public Library's site is set up similarly, though it isn't through Sirsi/Dynix, and it isn't called "Rooms". But it is predominately web-driven; in other words, there are a lot of resources on their website that are links to the web, rather than traditional subscription-based library resources like Ebsco or Gale. No library card authorization needed! Free pass for everyone! It goes to show that the web can indeed be a place for authoritative, professional, timely information. As another example of this, look at what Google has done here with Google Scholar. A search using this feature brings you results from peer-reviewed journals and other professional resources.

But let's talk design, too. Look at Brant County Libraries, or Woodstock Public Library, or Burlington Public Library, just as a few examples. Everything is on one page, easily searchable, scrolling news features and accessible calendars featuring program highlights. Talk about user-friendly.

I'm hoping we can make some progress with our web page and eventually have a similar site -- pretty, colourful, user-friendly and chalk-full of great information. After all, that's what we're all about, right?

You can break out of this jail with a spoon!

Nov. 16, 2007

November 2nd, 2007

You can break out of this jail with a spoon!


Alymer Branch has had to do some rearranging of furniture, with the addition of a much needed new computer terminal. But did you know? The reference section, as you see it now, used to be a jail? So says Chris, the library supervisor.

Oh look, she's correct: "The finished building provided space for the clerk-treasurer's office and the Council chamber. The first floor also housed the post office, police department with the cell block and locker rooms along the north portion of the building. " -- From Alymer Library's website. So. There you go.

Anyway, I guess the brick walls are a bit delicate and a bit crumbly, they're so old. But think what a history this building has! It was declared a "Heritage Building" in March of 1980, after some Alymer citizens decided to fight the decision to tear it down and replace the building with copious amounts of parking (something, I've found, isn't lacking in Alymer! Have you noticed how easy it is to park there?) You can read about the building's heritage here, along with a slideshow of the building's progress over the years. A very interesting article that portrays the historical significance of where our branch is housed.

Last week, Chris and other library staff readjusted the reference section, and did a bunch of strategic weeding in order to gain some space for the new computer. It looks really great, the librarian isn't so hidden anymore. The desk is quite visible and approachable, and there are still enough books in the reference section to ensure we're not just relying on the computer for our answers! (Virtual reference, anyone?)

Goes to show that things are constantly evolving and changing and morphing. Perhaps a metaphor that suggests libraries are moving forward in all kinds of ways, aren't they? We're shifting with our times. The building that once housed a Town Hall, and a mulititude of other town departments, now holds a library and a theatre. What will it be in the next 100+ years?

Some Spooky Reads on Hallowe'en

Nov. 16, 2007

October 31st, 2007

Some spooky reading on Hallowe'en... BOO!

I was browsing around the web looking for some good scary titles to share with you, dear reader, on this Hallowe'en day. Interestingly, I came across this list from a few years ago, put out by CNN.com after they conducted an informal survey of academics, media people and staffers to find out the answer to the question: "What is the scariest book of all time?"

According to CNN, the top 5 scariest books are as follows:

Bram Stoker's Dracula : Jonathan Harker is sent by his law firm to Castle Dracula to discuss business with Transylvanian noble Count Dracula. His nightmare experience there is just the start of a macabre chain of events. Aylmer, Belmont and West Lorne Branch libraris all own the graphic novel, described as a fresh adaptation is a stylized and appealing take on the original master horror novel. Be sure to check it out!

The Shining, by Stephen King

""The Shining" quickly became a benchmark in the literary career of Stephen King. This tale of a troubled man hired to care for a remote mountain resort over the winter, his loyal wife, and their uniquely gifted son slowly but steadily unfolds as secrets from the Overlook Hotel's past are revealed, and the hotel itself attempts to laim the very souls of the Torrence family. Adapted into a cinematic masterpiece of horror by legendaryStanley Kubrick -- featuring an unforgettable performance by a demonic Jack Nicholson --"The Shining" stands as a cultural icon of modern horror, a searing study of a family torn apart, and a nightmarish glimpse into the dark recesses of human weakness and dementia."

The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty.

When originally published in 1971, The Exorcist became not only a bestselling literary phenomenon, but one of the most frightening and controversial novels ever written. (When the author adapted his book to the screen two years later, it then became one of the most terrifying movies ever made.) Blatty fictionalized the true story of a child's demonic possession in the 1940s. The deceptively simple story focuses on Regan, the 11-year-old daughter of a movie actress residing in Washington, D.C.; the child apparently is possessed by an ancient demon. It's up to a small group of overwhelmed yet determined humans to somehow rescue Regan from this unspeakable fate. Purposefully raw and profane, this novel still has the extraordinary ability to literally shock us into forgetting that it is "just a story." The Exorcist remains a truly unforgettable reading experience. Blatty published a sequel, Legion, in 1983. --Stanley Wiater on Amazon.com

The Short Stories of Edgar Allen Poe

"Admittedly a failure in most areas of his personal life, Edgar Allen Poe was recognized as an unusually gifted writer and was admired by Dostoevsky and Baudelaire, even if not always appreciated by many of his other contemporaries. A master of symbolism and the macabre, he is considered to be the father of the detective story and a stepfather of science fiction, and he remains one of the most timeless and extraordinary of all American creative artists." -- from Biography.com. Poe's short stories include "The Raven", "The Pit and the Pendulum", "The Fall of the House of Usher" and "The Tell-Tale Heart". If you're really into his stuff, check out this site to delve deeper into the life and works of Edgar Allen Poe.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
"Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House has unnerved readers since its original publication in 1959. A tale of subtle, psychological terror, it has earned its place as one of the significant haunted house stories of the ages.
Eleanor Vance has always been a loner--shy, vulnerable, and bitterly resentful of the 11 years she lost while nursing her dying mother. "She had spent so long alone, with no one to love, that it was difficult for her to talk, even casually, to another person without self-consciousness and an awkward inability to find words." Eleanor has always sensed that one day something big would happen, and one day it does. She receives an unusual invitation from Dr. John Montague, a man fascinated by "supernatural manifestations." He organizes a ghost watch, inviting people who have been touched by otherworldly events. A paranormal incident from Eleanor's childhood qualifies her to be a part of Montague's bizarre study--along with headstrong Theodora, his assistant, and Luke, a well-to-do aristocrat. They meet at Hill House--a notorious estate in New England.
Hill House is a foreboding structure of towers, buttresses, Gothic spires, gargoyles, strange angles, and rooms within rooms--a place "without kindness, never meant to be lived in...."
Although Eleanor's initial reaction is to flee, the house has a mesmerizing effect, and she begins to feel a strange kind of bliss that entices her to stay. Eleanor is a magnet for the supernatural--she hears deathly wails, feels terrible chills, and sees ghostly apparitions. Once again she feels isolated and alone--neither Theo nor Luke attract so much eerie company. But the physical horror of Hill House is always subtle; more disturbing is the emotional torment Eleanor endures. Intense, literary, and harrowing, The Haunting of Hill House belongs in the same dark league as Henry James's classic ghost story, The Turn of the Screw." --Naomi Gesinger on Amazon.com
So there you go. Some great reads during this Hallowe'en season. Check out your local branch library for any of these titles or authors, you won't be disappointed.

Hey, It's a Giant Library Card!

Nov. 16, 2007

October 27, 2021

Hey! It's a Giant Library Card!
And speaking of marketing our libraries....

What say you all about our new mascot?

What a hoot, eh? This is "Larry"... at least it is "Larry" for now. We're having a branch-wide naming contest that will determine our mascot's permanent moniker.

He's a fantastic hit with the kids. My own daughter, who is three, can't stop talking about the "Really Big Library Card", and suggested that *I* dress up as a library card for Hallowe'en.

And reportedly, after his appearance at a school in West Lorne, six people arrived at the West Lorne Branch Library to get their own cards.

Who knew a dude in a big white suit with big blue hands and big blue feet could garner such a response? Stay tuned to hear lots more about "Larry"... oops, The As-Yet-To-Be-Named New Library Mascot!

Where are we headed?

Nov. 16, 2007

October 26, 2021

Where are Libraries Headed? Web 2.0 and the Future of Libraries 

There are many interesting articles on the definitions surrounding "Library 2.0" -- a brand new concept behind libraries and how they deal with web technology and beyond. Social networking sites have popped up everywhere, and librarians are beginning to see true value in some of these applications.

Read "Library 2.0 Theory: Web 2.0 and Its Implications for Libraries" in the June 2006 of Webology to wrap your heads around a true definition of Library 2.0. This is where we are headed. These are the issues we face as we launch a new and improved web site. Not only do we need to market our library in new and better ways; we need to understand our audience, and we need to embrace the technologies that they are embracing. Facebook, MySpace, del.icio.us, Twitter, YouTube -- all social networking tools that are quickly becoming mainstream in web society.

If we want to keep up with our audience, it is in our best interest to investigate these tools and use them to our benefit.

The article summarizes Library 2.0 in this way:

"A theory for Library 2.0 could be understood to have these four essential elements:

1. It is user-centered. Users participate in the creation of the content and services they view within the library's web-presence, OPAC, etc. The consumption and creation of content is dynamic, and thus the roles of librarian and user are not always clear.
2. It provides a multi-media experience. Both the collections and services of Library 2.0 contain video and audio components. While this is not often cited as a function of Library 2.0, it is here suggested that it should be.
3. It is socially rich. The library's web-presence includes users' presences. There are both synchronous (e.g. IM) and asynchronous (e.g. wikis) ways for users to communicate with one another and with librarians.
4. It is communally innovative. This is perhaps the single most important aspect of Library 2.0. It rests on the foundation of libraries as a community service, but understands that as communities change, libraries must not only change with them, they must allow users to change the library. It seeks to continually change its services, to find new ways to allow communities, not just individuals to seek, find, and utilize information. "

Right on.

So as I move forward and investigate how to improve our web presence, I am keeping this theory in mind. I'm pretty excited, to be honest ... I mean face it, a lot of this stuff is just plain fun to play with. Libraries, fun? I say why not? If we can redesign a website to reflect our changing society and our users' changing attitudes and skills, I think we can change our users' understanding of what a library IS and what a library DOES.

We ARE community. Why not embrace that?

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