Friday, August 29, 2014

Edge Initiative and Excel for County Employees

Several months ago, Lisa was able to get involved with the Edge Initiative, which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  Through the initiative, Franklin County Library was given a grant to purchase a mobile computer lab.  The lab consists of 10 laptop computers, wireless mice for all 10 computers, Microsoft Office software for all 10 computers, and a mobile workstation power storage cart.  We are very excited about this acquisition as it will allow us to offer computer classes during the day, not just in the evenings when are public computers are free.

We broke the lab in yesterday with a class on Microsoft Excel for 10 county employees (plus one newspaper employee). 

As you can see, we set the computers up in the end room upstairs.  We are very fortunate that we have a good place to have these classes.  I hope the county employees found the class to be useful.

We hope to offer many more of these types of classes to the public.  In fact, this fall, we will be offering a series of classes on Tuesday evenings.  We are mixing it up a little this year, so be sure to look at the schedule below to see exactly what we are offering.  Please call the library at 903-537-4916 to reserve your place in class.

September 16th - 5:30
Excel 1
September 23rd - 5:30
Excel 2
September 30th - 5:30
Social Media
October 7th  - 5:30
October 14th - 5:30
Photo Editing
October 21st - 5:30
*The Apps class will be for Android and Apple devices.  Patrons will need to bring their own devices for this class.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Chance's Corner: Meeting "Ponyboy"

My hands are still trembling as I write this. If someone had told me that they were filming a movie just feet away from the Franklin County Library, and C. Thomas Howell was starring in it, I'd probably just laugh in disbelief. No way! Well, yes way!

For those of you who don't know C. Thomas Howell (shame on you!), he has starred in several movies and television shows such as The Outsiders, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Red Dawn, Hidalgo, ER, 24, Longmire, Castle, Sons of Anarchy, and in several Criminal Minds episodes as the dreaded Reaper. Out of all those accomplishments, he is mostly known as Ponyboy Curtis from The Outsiders.
C. Thomas Howell as Ponyboy
Now that you know a little bit about him, here's the story of how we got to meet.

Julie texted me early this morning while I was at lunch and told me they were filming a movie on The Square. A stray extra had wandered into the library and said it was the movie Spirit Riders. I remember reading about it in the Winnsboro newspaper, and the paper said C. Thomas Howell was starring in it. With bated breath, I asked Julie if he was out there. She didn't know. Undeterred, I grabbed my copy of the movie The Outsiders (which I had just watched the night before!).

I slowly walked into the library and turkey-necked to see if I could see any noticeable actors. None really stuck out to me. As it sunk in that Howell really could be out there, my nerves turned to jelly. How could I approach him without being a creeper? I didn't want to mess up any takes or draw the wrath of a stressed director. All these things kept running through my mind. But with the determined pushing of Julie and Lisa, I grabbed the movie... I grabbed the library's copy of S. E. Hinton's The Outsiders... and I (meekly) went out to get the gold!

I cornered one of the assistants by the movie trailers and asked if C. Thomas Howell was there. She said he was. My stomach flipped. I asked if he would be willing to sign the book and movie. She said I could catch him on his way back to the trailer. Sooooo... I meandered around a bit until I saw him coming down the Franklin County Courthouse steps. They did a short scene at the base of the steps and then he started to head to his trailer. I took in a deep breath and went in for the kill.

He was very nice to meet, and he signed both the movie and book for me. I thought it would be dorky to ask him to put "Stay Gold" (a VERY famous line from The Outsiders) so I didn't. He put it anyway! I was truly star struck.

Lance Henriksen, of Aliens and The Terminator fame, is also starring in Spirit Riders. I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for him, too!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Gearing up for Fall!

If you didn't know, school starts Monday!!  For Franklin County Library the first day of school means a shift from our Summer Reading Program to new and varied events for both kids and adults.
First up this fall is an Arts and Crafts show.  Beginning September 2nd through September 12th, we will be displaying arts and crafts from members of the community.  This means YOU!  If you have anything you consider artsy or crafty you would like to display please bring it to us.  We will make sure your name and contact information is on it and you can pick it up on the 12th.  Anything from quilts to needlework, painting to scrapbooking, woodworking to metalworking to jewelry will be great!  We already have a gentleman who is going to display fiddles that he has hand carved. 
In conjunction with the Arts and Crafts show, on Thursday, September 11th, we will be having a Craft Supply Swap.  You can bring your extra supplies (i.e. fabric, paint, thread, needles, etc) and go home with new ones!  We have done this before with plants, but never craft supplies.  It should be a lot of fun.   

Beginning September 16th, we will begin a fall series of Computer Classes.  The classes are at 5:30 and will cover topics such as Excel, Social Media, Apps, and Jobs and Resumes.  Class size is limited, so please call the library (903-537-4916) to reserve your spot. 

Beginning September 8th, we will resume Marvelous Mondays!  Every Monday that school is in session, we will have a short activity for kids at 4:15.  We conduct science experiments and create crafts.  The activities usually last about 15 minutes.  I've already been working on new activities for this year! 

It looks like the Fall is going to be busy at Franklin County Library.  Come on in and see what we're doing!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Reading Takes You Places

Come in and tell us where the book you are reading is set.  We'll put it on the bulletin board.  Let's fill it up!!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Julie's Journal : What I did on my summer vacation!

You may have noticed that I didn't come to work last week!  Every year I try to take a week off in August after our summer at the library has slowed down and right before my husband, Jason, goes back to teaching 5th grade.  This year, our week was extremely busy.  Saturday we went to Carrollton and picked up Jason's grandmother, Wanda Baxter.  She stayed with us through Wednesday and we had a great time. 

We spent all day Monday in Paris, visiting relatives and cemeteries and other family points of interest.  Wanda showed us the graves of great-great grandparents, the house where she was born, and the location of the home of her grandfather, although the house is no longer there.  We also visited with her brother, Billy Smith, and a couple of her nephews. 
The grave of Jason's great-great grandparents.
Miss Wanda told us old stories about Jason's ancestors, and we found out that two of his grandfather's uncles actually had a service station in Bogata and his great-great grandfather was born in Bogata.  Jason grew up in Dallas and had no idea that he had any connections in this area at all!  Miss Wanda also brought old pictures which I scanned and am going to make a scrapbook with.  I highly recommend spending time with your older relatives.  There's no telling what you'll learn about your family history!

Later in the week, on Friday, Jason and I went to Arlington and took in a Texas Rangers Baseball game.  They didn't win, but we didn't care.  Just going to the stadium is a lot of fun.  There were fireworks after the game, too, set to Elvis music. 

All in all, it was a great week.  Not very restful, but a lot of fun!  Hopefully, we'll get to do it all over again next August!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Chance's Corner: Texas Traveler - The Very Busy Weekend!

This Texas Traveler edition is jam-packed with two exciting adventures! Why? Because I had a very busy weekend!


I took off from work (gasp!), and went with the family to lounge around in the cool waters of the Splash Kingdom waterpark in Canton, Texas. It's a pretty nice place. Not too big... not too small. The only drawback is the lack of shade. There's a lot of sun beaming off that hot pavement! That's really my only complaint about the place. Despite that small setback,  my nieces had tons of fun being adventurous and going down the big slides. I took one adventurous turn, but it really reminded me why the lazy river is my favorite attraction.





I went with the family to the Winspear Opera House in Dallas to take in a performance of The Phantom of the Opera. Words simply can not express how the performance was. I could say... Spectacular! Beautiful! Stunning! Touching! Those are all great words, but still do not cover how much I enjoyed the show. The sets were immense and immaculate. It seemed to have a life of its own as it effortlessly moved and transitioned from scene to scene. My favorite transition was the introductory descent into the Phantom's lair beneath the opera house. I also enjoyed the grand reveal of the famous chandelier and its great collapse.

The singing was superb. I had goosebumps throughout the entire performance hearing my favorite songs belted out live and in person. Surprisingly, the regular actor for the Phantom was not available, so his understudy, Allan Snyder, was in his place. I looked through the program, and Snyder's name and photo was listed way, way down at the bottom. Let me tell you that Snyder should be bumped all the way up to the top! He was incredible.

I was worried that my dad wouldn't enjoy the performance but he actually did. He said he especially enjoyed the second act because it was very tragic. I agree with him on that. Let's just say... some man-tears were shed. Well, I shed them. Dad just laughed at me.







Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Tom's Two Cents: The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee, by Marja Mills

A recently published memoir, "The Mockingbird Next Door," now available at the Library, is a fitting and poignant tribute to one of America's most famous authors, Harper Lee, whose "To Kill a Mockingbird" became a modern classic, selling over thirty million volumes and translated into umpteen foreign languages.  One is reminded of another Southern writer from the neighboring state of Georgia (Ms. Lee resides in Monroeville, Alabama), whose first and only published novel, like Ms. Lee's, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and virtually overnight made that author the most famous name in the book world: Margaret Mitchell and "Gone With the Wind."  Both women never wrote another book, and both had their lives changed irrevocably by the publication of that one, spending most of the rest of their lives artfully dodging the spotlight, totally perplexed and unprepared for such instant fame.  Lee is now 88, living in an assisted living home, her health severely impaired by a stroke; tragically Mitchell's life was cut short when she was killed in an auto accident at the age of 49.

"The Mockingbird Next Door" is the story of the author's relationship to both Harper Lee and her older sister Alice before, during, and after she rented the house next door to them in Monroeville, Alabama.  Sent to Monroeville by her employer, The Chicago Tribune, to try to get just one interview with the reclusive Nelle Harper Lee, author Marja Mills so ingratiated herself to both Lee sisters that she finally ended up renting the house next door to them and staying for over a year.  The result is a nostalgic and delightful view of Nelle ( Harper) and Alice Lee and their Southern small town world, both present and past.

Unfortunately, the publication of the book has created a small tempest, for Harper Lee has disavowed any connection with it or its author, who, in my opinion, has gone to considerable lengths to protect Lee's privacy, even as she reveals her as the smart, insightful and creative woman she obviously is.  "Mockingbird" is as much the story of small town Southern life and of Lee's remarkable older sister, Alice, a lawyer like their father, who formed the model for Atticus Finch, as it is of Lee herself.  Totally unimpressed by the money that fame has brought her, Lee and her sister (who died at the age of 103, active until virtually the end of her life!) continued to live in the same house, a brick three bedroom, two bath rambler they had shared with their parents, with no television, no internet (they did have a fax machine for communicating, since both were quite hard of hearing), no cell phone and wonder of wonders, not even a washing machine!  Wouldn't you love to have met Harper Lee doing her laundry at the local Laundrymat?

The two things they did splurge on were books and eating out, though in the small town of Monroeville and its environs, eating out hardly meant spending a lot of money--it usually meant lots of cups of coffee at the local McDonalds and several meals of fried catfish at Dave's Catfish.  The books, magazines and newspapers were something else: they virtually furnished the house, stacked on every conceivable surface that could be found, except the two chairs the ladies occupied.  Lee's characteristic comment on the so-called "conveniences" of modern life was an old-timey word which she was very fond of using:  "Mercy!"

Despite the richness of its small town portrayal of Harper Lee, this book does not attempt to explore the other major aspect of her life except by occasional allusions to it: Lee spent part of every year in her apartment in New York City from the age of nineteen until long past the success of her book in 1960, followed by the equal success of the film, starring Gregory Peck (who became a close friend) in 1961.  Initially she worked for British Airlines, later of course she did not have to work at all, but she kept her New York life as long as she could. Whether her biographer Gerald Clarke, whose book on her she also disavowed, spends equal time on both major places in her life I don't know.  There is a chapter of sorts in the book devoted to her long-time friend and neighbor, Truman Capote, and their research collaboration on his famous non-fiction novel, "In Cold Blood."  Their relationship from childhood through adulthood is probably worthy of a book itself.

"The Mockingbird Next Door" is certainly not a good read for everyone; its small town, anecdotal nature becomes a bit redundant at times; but for those of us fascinated by Lee and her famous book, as well as the nature of Southern small town life, now and then, it is well worth the time spent.  I recommend it!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Most Read Books in the World

I found this in my virtual wanderings.  I thought it was a very interesting infographic from Jared Fanning.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Watermelon Day and Ice Cream Day!

I thought you might like to see a few pictures from the last two events of the summer.  Watermelon Day was this morning, and Ice Cream Day was last Friday.