Wednesday, November 25, 2015

We Are Thankful

This year, in preparation for this blog post, I asked library staff what they were thankful for.  Everyone had pretty similar answers.  We're thankful for the usual stuff: family, friends, health, freedom.  I was a little frustrated because I didn't know how to make a blog post out of those answers. They seemed a little too generic.

However, in thinking about it, I realized that while the usual things aren't necessarily "interesting", they are still spectacular.  Family, friends, health, and freedom are the best things that life offers.  So as we spend time this weekend with our families and feast on turkey and dressing we are VERY thankful for our blessings. 

We at Franklin County Library hope that you also have a holiday surrounded by family and friends; that you have good health; that you enjoy the freedoms of living in our country.

See you Monday!  

Friday, November 20, 2015

Chance's Corner: The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Before I get started, I'll go ahead and admit that I've never seen the television show The Man From U.N.C.L.E., so in no way can I compare this film's merits with its original source material. It's a shame, I know, but life must go on. I also had to Google what U.N.C.L.E. stood for: United Network Command for Law Enforcement.

The film version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is more or less a precursor to the television series, with American spy Napoleon Solo and Russian spy Illya Kuryakin working against each other, and then slowly learning to work with each other. Set mostly in 1960s Rome (after sneaking a nuclear scientist's daughter across the Berlin Wall), Solo and Kuryakin are tasked with stopping an evil secret organization from getting their hands on a nuclear weapon.

Elizabeth Debicki serves up a deadly dose of beauty.
The feel of the movie is very 1960s Bond-era, which shouldn't be too much of a surprise since the Solo character was the brainchild of Ian Fleming. There's the cheeky humor, the over-the-top action, and then there's the dastardly villains spearheaded by fairly-new actress Elizabeth Debicki. I was delighted by the amount of screen presence she had.

Overall, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is a lighthearted spy adventure with an interesting assortment of cuts and edits from director Guy Ritchie that drive the action. Henry Cavill (a British actor playing American) and Armie Hammer (an American actor playing Russian) make a great duo that don't have to rely on their good looks to make their characters interesting.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is a movie I'd recommend you to check out at the Franklin County Library!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Marvelous Mondays! : Geodes

Yesterday I received in the mail an order I had placed for geodes and I decided to use them for Marvelous Mondays!  I got one out and read the instructions.  The instructions said to use a chisel and hammer and gently crack the geode open.  Well.... that didn't work!  I could not get the thing open!  I tried being gentle, then used more force, and finally took it outside and tried to smash it with a hammer on the concrete.  Nothing. 

So, I called John Tutor.  John is a local rock and crystal enthusiast.  When he stopped by he tried to get the geode open as well, but could not.  So he told me that he would make sure the kids had a good program.  He retrieved several of his rock picking tools, and a variety of crystals that he had dug out of the ground in Arkansas and returned in time for Marvelous Monday!.

He talked to the kids about where he had found the crystals and told them that these places were open to the public.  Anyone can go and dig them up!  With his tools, he was able to smash several of the geodes to show the kids.  We found pink, purple, white, and blue crystals.  He also let the kids take home shards of the crystals he had brought.

We very much appreciate John's willingness to share his knowledge of crystals with our kids!

Friday, November 13, 2015

New Books and First Line Friday

I am borrowing shamelessly from our Instagram feed for today's post. 

Chance spent yesterday afternoon and this morning preparing new Y and YA books to go on the shelves.

There is a Nimona (a graphic novel), a new series by Sarah J. Maas, several new releases, as well as a few to finish off series we already have.

To go along with the above picture, today's #firstlinefriday is taken from one of the new books.

#firstlinefriday is exactly what it sounds like.  I post a picture of the first line of a book and our followers try to figure out what book it is from.

Be sure and follow us on Instagram to see behind the scenes pictures from the library!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Julie's Journal : E-books and Reviews

In continuing to work on collection development, last week I purchased new e-books for our collection.  Our e-books are available through the Overdrive app and website.  To check out e-books, you need a library card and a password.  Call or come by the library to have your password set up. 

There are many benefits to e-books:
  • You can carry an entire library around in your pocket, which means you will never run out of something to read!
  • Font size and contrast can be adjusted for ease of reading.
  • E-book readers come with built-in dictionaries for instant definitions of unfamiliar words.
  • Our e-book library gives you access to thousands of books that we do not have on our shelves. 
That last one is my favorite.  Many times when I am researching books I find something I want to read that doesn't meet the criteria for adding to our physical collection.  Often the book is already available through Overdrive.  Because we are part of a consortium, over 60 different libraries are constantly adding new material to the library.  I love that our e-book library gives me access to so many books.  It is another great resource for finding (free!) materials, especially for a voracious reader like me. 

Two books that I have read recently on Overdrive are worth a mention.  They are The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley and Vanya by Myrna Grant. 

The War That Saved My Life is set in England during WWII at the time of the exodus of children from London because of fear of German bombs.  The war is a backdrop to the story, but isn't a main player.  Ten year old Ada is crippled and her mother is deeply ashamed of her affliction.  As a result, Ada is confined to their one room apartment while her mother works and her brother attends school.  When Ada's brother, Jamie, is sent out of London with the other children, Ada makes her escape and goes with him to the countryside.  They end up in the home of Susan Smith, a woman who is grieving and is reluctant to take them in.  She provides what seems to her as the bare necessities but to Ada and Jamie, her home is luxurious.  All three begin to heal as they develop new bonds.  The story is heartbreaking, but hopeful.  It is shelved as a teen book, but the story is well written and developed and will appeal to all ages.  This book is available both as a physical book and an e-book.

Vanya is a biography of Ivan "Vanya" Vasilievich Moiseyev.  Vanya was a young soldier in the Russian army.  Drafted in 1970 at the age of 18, he left his home in a small village in Moldavia to become part of the Red Army in Odessa.  The official position of the army and the Russian government was one of atheism.  Vanya however was a Christian.  Through "re-education", imprisonment, torture, and eventually death, Vanya refused to recant his faith.  He was only 20 years old when he was killed in 1972.  Vanya left behind a good record of what was done to him and the miracles he experienced.  He sent letters home and, on a visit home, a recording was made of his story up to that point.  His story is extraordinary, and is not a story from antiquity, but a modern one.  For anyone who professes Christianity, Vanya's story is worth reading and pondering.  Vanya's story also highlights the importance of the 1st amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prevents any law prohibiting the free exercise of religion.  Vanya is a short book, with a powerful story.

Be sure to check out Overdrive for the thousands of books available!  There are also audiobooks and a few movies and magazines. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Julie's Journal : On Collection Development

The past couple of weeks, I have been focused on collection development.  Collection development is exactly what it sounds like – both purchasing titles for and purging titles from our collection – all the while keeping in mind the needs of the community, the materials that are being checked out on a regular basis, and the types of requests that we have been receiving.

Of course, the fun part is buying new books.  Yesterday morning one of our regular book salesmen made his annual visit.  Lisa and I sat down at a table and he started putting books in front of us – hundreds of books!  While keeping in mind the needs of our community and what we already have in our collection, we bought books for kids’ nonfiction and fiction, adult nonfiction, and inspirational fiction.  We spent over two hours looking at books and by the time we finished our eyes (and our brains) were glazing over.  In a few weeks, we will get a large shipment of books and spend several days preparing them to go on the shelves.  Of course, this is not the only way we buy books.  We spend lots of time on as well, ordering new releases as they become available!

The flip side of buying books of course, is weeding.  The idea of weeding leaves something of a bad taste in the mouths library lovers.  Book lovers, librarians included, never want to see a book disposed of.  Unfortunately, we are limited by the space we have available for books.  We want to be a living, relevant library.  This means of course that we must continue buying new books, which means that some of the old ones must go to make way for the new. 

Some areas of the library are easy to weed.  For instance, nobody cares if we get rid of the books about Microsoft Office published in the early 2000s.  Those books were great in their time, but are no longer relevant.  Likewise, our medical section is simple to weed.  We want to focus on the most current information available, and getting rid of books with outdated medical advice and remedies is a no-brainer.  Other areas are more difficult.  The history section comes to mind.  History doesn’t change, so all the older materials we have are still good, but new books are being written as well.  Deciding what to keep and what to purge is a headache.  Fiction is hard to weed as well.  Authors are constantly putting out new books that our patrons want to read, but everyone hates to see a book they love leaving the library to make way for new favorites.   I can run reports that let me see how long a book has been on the shelves, how often it has been checked out, and when it was last checked out, but weeding books effectively is still a difficult task.

Of course there is an upside to weeding.  All those books that we no longer have room for are available for sale.  So if your favorite book has been weeded, this is a perfect opportunity to add it to your personal collection – and at bargain basement prices too!  We have books for sale year round.  Some are donations, but some are books that have been weeded from our collection.  We want to see these books go to a good home.  Just come into the library and ask us to direct you to our book sale.  We just ask for a reasonable donation.  You get to set your own prices!

Our goal at Franklin County Library is to be a living library; constantly evaluating the needs of our community and changing to meet them.  Our patrons are encouraged to let us know what they are interested in and what materials they want us to add.  We strive to meet as many needs as we can.  Be sure to be on the lookout for new books coming soon!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Tom's Two Cents: "Zinky Boys" by Svetlana Alexievich

Just when I thought, after finishing "The Nightingale," that I was leaving the subject of war behind, I realize that I'm still mired in it.  For some time I've been trying to get a handle on the complex causes of WWI (Remember Barbara Tuchman's "The Guns of August "?), and now I've started a new work on that war from the Russian point of view, "The End of Tsarist Russia," which deals not only with Russia's role in the First World War, but the revolution and civil war that overlapped and followed.  Now comes the news that the Nobel Prize for Literature has been awarded to a Russian woman journalist, Svetlana Alexievich, for major contributions in a relatively new genre, "literary non-fiction."  As far as I know, only a few women, and only two Americans, Pearl Buck and Toni Morrison, have won the Nobel, in both cases for their fiction.

Svetlana Alexievich is a bit of an anomaly.  Most of her work falls under the category of journalistic "reportage," and her major subjects have been war, disaster, i.e., the nuclear one in Chernobyl, and the effects of such on human survivors, especially those of Russian nationality.  Though she writes in the first sentence of her 1990 "Zinky Boys," the story of Russia's nine-year war in Afghanistan, "I never want to write another word about...war," that [after her last book on WWII] I could ... be upset by the sight of a child with a nosebleed", she has doggedly continued to produce book after book of mostly interviews from soldiers/participants in war, their families and the devastation wreaked on all concerned.  For this she has been both condemned (mostly by the Russian government) and applauded (by the World Community).

"Zinky Boys" seems to me to be a hybrid:  it's certainly not fiction, but it doesn't really seem to fit the new category of "narrative non-fiction," either.  (See the current exhibit at the Library, just past the Librarian's office, on the right.). Narrative non- fiction is just that--a true story, with a definite narrative or narrative elements.  Eric Larsen's "Dead Wake" comes immediately to mind.  But Svetlana Alexievich does not follow this pattern:  after a personal introduction of twelve very gripping and moving pages, she goes into a recording of voices from the war followed by voices from home, in three chapters, all framed (and in a sense unified) by a phone conversation from a protestor, who takes issue with her whole, essentially objective, approach to the Soviet War in Afghanistan.

If one doesn't wish to quibble about such questions as what genre she is writing in and concentrates strictly on what she has to say, one would have to conclude that her writing is both horrific and heartrending at the same time.  But is it literature?  I really don't know.  The subject of war in literature goes all the way back to Homer and "The Iliad".  Many superb novels, "War and Peace," and "Gone with the Wind," to mention only two, have dealt with it, both from the participants and indirect participants point of view.  As a young man I read "From Here to Eternity" and "The Naked and the Dead," both huge literary best-sellers, and long before that, there was "Red Badge of Courage," "All Quiet on the Western Front," and "A Farewell to Arms."  Some of these were written from first or second hand experience and/or involvement in war itself, but all had a narrative structure, character(s), and conflict.  Svetlana Alexievich touches another kind of nerve, one so sensitive and so terrible that she is chastened by some of her readers that "such things should not be written about."

I don't have a comment about that, other than to say that we seem to live in an age in which no holds are barred.  Is it necessary or advisable to go to the brink to make a statement of belief or non-belief?  Is Svetlana Alexievich a voice crying in the wilderness, and if she is, is that voice a necessary one in literature, despite its refusal to be categorized?  The Nobel Committee obviously thinks so.

ADDENDUM:  The October 26 issue of The New Yorker has a very informative article called "The Memory Keeper" on Alexievich.  The book reviewed above is called "Boys of Zinc," referring to the sealed zinc caskets that bodies from the Afghanistan War were returned to the USSR in.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Chance's Corner: Two-Sentence Horror Stories

Want to tell a spooky campfire story, but don't feel like going into a long, detailed tale? How about giving a two-sentence horror story a shot, then? Sounds pretty basic, right? But how could two sentences be scary? Well, read on below if you dare and see for yourself!
  • "I can't sleep," she whispered, crawling into bed with me. I woke up cold, clutching the dress she was buried in. - By VaultKid321
  • The longer I wore it the more it grew on me. She had such pretty skin. - By blaqkmagick
  • You hear your mom calling you into the kitchen. As you are heading down the stairs you hear a whisper from the closet saying “Don’t go down there honey, I heard it too.” - By comparativelysane
  • My wife woke me up last night to tell me there was an intruder in our house. She was murdered by an intruder 2 years ago. - By The_D_String
  • There was a picture in my phone of me sleeping. I live alone. - By guztaluz
  • I can’t move, breathe, speak or hear and it’s so dark all the time. If I knew it would be this lonely, I would have been cremated instead. - By Graboid27
  • I begin tucking him into bed and he tells me, “Daddy check for monsters under my bed.” I look underneath for his amusement and see him, another him, under the bed, staring back at me quivering and whispering, “Daddy there’s somebody on my bed.” - By justAnotherMuffledVo
  • Growing up with cats and dogs, I got used to the sounds of scratching at my door while I slept. Now that I live alone, it is much more unsettling. - By Miami_Metro
  • There's nothing like the laughter of a baby. Unless it's 1 am and you're home alone. - By Wartortlesthebestest
  • I love listening to my wife's sweet lullabies over the baby monitor. Until I see my wife pull into the driveway. - By homogenous-homophone

For a little fun, I decided to give it a try, and this is what I came up with:

  • A dog licks my fingers as I hang my hand off the side of the bed. The funny thing is, I don't have a dog. 
  • I tried on all the clothes in the house and none of them fit me! That's probably because this isn't my house.
It's pretty fun and simple to do. You should give it a try!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Marvelous Monday! : Slime

I'm a little late getting these pictures up, but Monday's activity was slime! 

Slime is made by mixing Elmer's glue with a solution of water and borax.  We also added food coloring for fun colors.  

Be sure to come by at 4:15 on Mondays to see what we're up to!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Poet's Perch : Little Things by Julia A. Fletcher Carney

Little Things

Little drops of water,
Little grains of sand,
Make the mighty ocean
And the pleasant land.

Thus the little minutes,
Humble though they be,
Make the mighty ages
Of eternity.

Julia A. Fletcher Carney

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Tom's Two Cents: "The Nightingale" by Kristin Hannah

I'm not entirely sure what to say about "The Nightingale" by Kristin Hannah.  First perhaps just a few indisputable statements of fact.  Except for a few chapters, including the first and last, most of the story takes place in WWII France during the German occupation.  It involves two sisters, their separation early in life, their conflict of personalities, and their ultimate reconciliation after the end of the War.  The elder, Vianne, is conventional and conservative; the younger, Isabelle, is rebellious and radical.  From that, it's easy enough to guess which one joins the French underground resistance and becomes known by the code name "Nightingale."  Ultimately this is a classic survival story, a genre that has worked well for most readers from the beginning of time.

Why this one didn't work well for me is still a bit of a puzzlement, but I'll try to explore some of the reasons.  Despite the dire circumstances both sisters were placed in, I found it difficult to be consistently engaged in their lives.  Sexist as it may sound, I think it was party because they were women.  I don't see this work as a man's book, any more than I can see most spy thrillers as a woman's book.  I think it's written primarily for a female audience by a woman who knows how to engage a female audience.  Women in war dominated by men who both caused it and fought in it, yet women who manage to triumph each in her own way over it, sends a powerful message to women caught up in the meaningless tragedy of war today, especially in the Middle East, where women's rights have yet to evolve.  Historically this story also reminds its readers of the huge part women played behind the scenes in WWII.

That said, I still felt myself staying at a very safe distance, possibly because of the wartime chaos the story is forced to dredge up.  This is in no way a pretty story, it is filled with tragic twists and turns, some that seem reality based and others that seem more manipulative in nature.  Hannah handles nearly all of her material with discretion and hardly a hint of vulgarity--a tribute to her refusal to descend to the lower depths of language, even when she describes and narrates the worst kind of hell.  That being said, there is a kind of predictability to the story that is a bit unsettling, and the male-female relationships, with the possible exception of the Beck-Vianne relationship (the one I found to be the most intriguing in the book), stay strictly within the bounds of the stereotypical.

All in all, I would say that for those who like a descent into modern Hell and a triumphant emergence, "The Nightingale" is probably a good read.  For those like me, who prefer to walk cautiously around the periphery of Hell and simply look down, not so much!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Chance's Corner: Horror Movies

Do you feel that creeping shiver running down your spine? The haunting season is upon us!

It's my favorite time of the year, when the air is chilled to perfection and the fall colors are bright and crisp. It's also a perfect time, and a reasonable excuse, to watch my favorite horror movies. As I always say, "Play those spooky movies, fright boy!"

Wait, what? You haven't seen a good horror flick in awhile? Well, have no fear (yet), we've got you covered with our specially selected horror films!

  • Jaws
    • Often credited as the first summer blockbuster, Jaws kept people out of the water and made Steven Spielberg the man we all know him as today... a legend. PS: Don't let the PG rating fool you.
  • Friday the 13th
    • Friday the 13th is one of the quintessential slasher flicks that has spawned numerous sequels... some less necessary than others (I'm looking at you Jason X (Jason in Space)). The plot is the basic setup, campers go out in the woods, they do "stuff", and they die horrible deaths. The ending will give you a real jolt.
  • Alien
    • The tagline is: "In space no one can hear you scream." That's a perfect reflection of the isolation and claustrophobia packed into Ridley Scott's sci-fi horror masterpiece. My favorite part is when Sigourney Weaver is running around, covered in sweat, with strobes flashing, steam spewing, and alarms blaring a five-minute countdown to self-destruction.

  • Halloween
    • This is it. This is the movie. Always imitated, often copied, Halloween set the slasher genre on fire. The film score by itself is just enough to give anyone chills. That's powerful.
  • Oculus
    • I half expected this to be something that's been done before and mediocre, but I was wrong. Completely. Totally. The constant interplay between the past and present, reality and the surreal, reveals a well-developed story that manipulates you just as much as it manipulates the characters. As reality does start to set in, it's all the more horrifying.
  • The Babadook
    • With quick style and an eerie, emotional performance by Essie Davis, The Babadook is one of the scariest films in recent years.
  • The Shining
    • Tracking shots. Yelping, wailing music. Twins. It's hard to look away from this hypnotic piece of Stanley Kubrick genius often shadowed in conspiracy and myth.
  • The Conjuring
    • While the ending delivers the obligatory exorcism, every second before it crackles with tension and delivers scares that rightfully earned an R rating. 
  • The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
    • Not as true as it seems, but still a classic about a family of demented cannibals who manage to spill some of Marilyn Burns' real blood.
  • Psycho
    • It's a tale of a boy and his mother, and it's also the tale of why you should always lock the bathroom door while showering!
  • The Birds
    • Based off true events (yes!) and Daphne du Maurier's short story, The Birds is a tale of man against nature... and man doesn't necessarily win.

Can't handle a good scare? Don't worry, we have some more kid-friendly flicks you may enjoy.
  • Casper
    • While it won't be winning any awards, Casper is still a fun little flick about a friendly ghost and his crude ghost uncles learning to accept the new "fleshies" that have moved in.
  • Hocus Pocus
    • Backed by a massive cult following, Hocus Pocus is an absolute must-see family fright flick! Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy chew up the scenery as wickedly funny witch sisters bound and determined to live past sunrise... otherwise it's curtains. They evaporate! They cease to exist! Dost thou comprehend?
  • The Addams Family
    • They're creepy and they're kooky, mysterious and spooky, they're altogether... terrific! If you like your humor a little on the dark side, then this movie is for you. 

Come check these wonderful films out at the Franklin County Library before your worst nightmare comes true... the movie already being checked out!!!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Julie's Journal : Narrative Nonfiction

Narrative nonfiction, often also referred to as creative nonfiction, is a literary term for a text that presents a true story written in a style more closely associated with fiction. The writer pays close attention to elements of plot structure, character development and themes to make the story as compelling as possible.*

Examples of authors of narrative nonfiction are Erik Larson, David McCullough, Laura Hillenbrand, and Bill Bryson.  The books are meticulously researched and factual, but read like fiction.

I have been reading One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson.  The summer of 1927 was a time of so many important events, it's hard to believe they were all happening at one time.  It was the summer of Babe Ruth's neck and neck home run race with Lou Gehrig (Ruth won with a record 60 home runs).  It was the year of the first real talking movie picture.  Television was invented.  Charles Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic in his plane, The Spirit of St. Louis.  Al Capone was at the height of his reign over Chicago.  Bombings of public officials were rampant, blamed mostly on Italian anarchists.  I found it interesting that the "car bomb" was preceded by the "wagon bomb".  The Model T was the most popular car in America.  Work on Mount Rushmore started.  The Mississippi flooded, leaving an area the size of Scotland under water.  There were several high profile murders and executions.  Bryson's writing is quick and humorous, and very clever.  I read several parts of the book out loud to my husband.  I wanted to share with him the fascinating pieces of history I had never heard and the author's quick wit.

I brought several narrative nonfiction books down from upstairs and created a display just past Lisa's office.  Come in and pick one out to try!

*Read more :

Tuesday, September 29, 2015