Newsletter Apr-May 2015

“The America I love still exists at the front desks of our public libraries.” Kurt Vonnegut

We will host a program on Sunday, April 12 at 3pm on making Health Care Advance Directives, presented by Jackie Fournier, who is a palliative care nurse practitioner at Central Maine Medical Center. Join us here at the library to learn what you might need to know about sharing directions for your medical care with family, friends, and health workers, in the event that you cannot let your wishes be known. We also have a DVD of “Consider the Conversation: a Documentary on a Taboo Subject” on loan from Jackie. Please feel free to come in and borrow it. We also have Atul Gawande’s quiet and informative book entitled Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End.

As many of you know, we pay a subscription to the Maine State Library Downloadable Books project for our patrons. Use of this resource by our adult patrons has increased greatly this past year, and we want you to know that the project includes many juvenile and young adult titles which might appeal to the younger generation. Please let your kids know these are available for loan to download onto their Ipads, Kindles, Nooks, or other tablets and computers. To access the collection, go to the MSL website at http://www.state.me.us/msl/ and click on “Download Library for e-books and audiobooks” under Popular Services at the top of the page. To sign up, our patrons use their four digit library number that is handwritten on their library card, rather than the barcode that is attached to the card.

Cool website of the month: a nice one for searching and then downloading free images. Try Pixabay at http://www.pixabay.com and search for the image you might need for a flyer or card.

There are some beautiful physical books being published lately. They are a great pleasure to hold and study. It is a nice reminder that e-publishing and traditional hard copies are both important for building knowledge and life experience and memories. We have mentioned Christie’s novel, Gutenberg’s Apprentice, in a previous column — such a beautiful book to hold as well as read. There are some children’s picture books being published in large format, beautifully illustrated, also. We have Jenny Bloom’s Animalium, which is chockfull of information, with classic illustrations on nicely textured paper. Steve Jenkins’ The Animal Book is also wonderful, as are the Eyewitness series of books. This winter we acquired the gorgeous new Historical Atlas of Maine, put together by UMaine – lucky for us, because the first printing sold out quickly.

Patrons enjoy taking it down from the mantel, laying it on the table, and paging through it. It is a unique presentation of Maine’s history, and provides a strong sense of place.

I’ve been reading Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper – a beautiful story of an elder woman’s journey across Canada, and the people she left behind, to take me into the start of mud season. What are you reading?

 

– Mary Anne Libby

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Newsletter Feb-Mar 2015

Spanish, French, or Italian dictionaries, some audios, a children’s fairy tale or two. Local demand for materials on learning language is generally low. But it’s good to have a few resources because knowing a bit of another language can give depth to how we hear & use our own language, and it gives us a glimpse of how others might interpret and name the world. Effective communication builds connection and understanding.

Language and history help us determine who we are in relation to others, and it gives us a sense of where we’ve been and, hopefully, where we could all be together in the future. If language is about communication (and we have much to talk about together), then the study of history provides the signposts of our experience which we must heed so that we are not necessarily bound to repeat it! Our history collection reflects how we try to come to terms with an often difficult or grievous past which can change our course and culture (To End All Wars, by Hochschild, 940.3; or This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War, by Faust, 973.7), and gives us a glance at pieces of our past which influence us greatly but which are not always a part of the common information handed to us (Notes on a Lost Flute: a Field Guide to the Wabanaki, by Hardy, 974.1; or Paine’s The Sea and Civilization: a Maritime History of the World, 910.45). This is all so creatively written, entwined with personal stories of soldiers, sailors, explorers, laborers, and historians, which make times past come alive for us again.

Any classification system, whether it is Dewey or Library of Congress or a scientific classification of organisms, is merely a tool (often highly imperfect) to organize the chaos of information, opinion, and belief, and then hopefully help us make our way to the knowledge and wisdom we build in the process of making our lives. It lends structure & order to thought and
learning, and allows us to look at it holistically, to see some connections. Then maybe it doesn’t all feel quite so chaotic anymore.

A final note, speaking of organization: we now have our Maine fiction collection downstairs in the main room, come check it out. We are seeing the use of these wonderful stories go way up now that they are right in plain view. We have moved all YA (young adult) books out of the adult fiction shelves and moved them to their own space upstairs in the Dolloff room. We hope our teen readers will like having their own collection housed together, and can use that space for quiet browsing, and then perhaps spend some time sitting at the table to read a bit.

I’m reading Molly G. Manning’s When Books Went to War, an account of efforts to get small cheap editions of books into the hands of soldiers during WW2. It got lots of attention from various book blogs, and I’m enjoying reading about soldiers’ reactions to various titles. What are you reading as Orion journeys across the clear winter night sky?

…Mary Anne Libby

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