Friday, September 4, 2015

Summer 2015

Summer Reading Program - a ritual so ingrained in our staff member minds that it's jarring when you run in to people who don't know what it is or how to participate in it. This was the case with our State Governor a few years back when he created a program for children to continue to read throughout the summer. Apparently, no one on his staff told him that practically every public library in the nation, let alone Kansas, has a summer reading program.

Our theme this year was "Every Hero Has a Story", and we had visits by heros ranging from firemen and policemen to the Batman!

This year, Hutchinson Public Library had:

1037 children sign up for the program with 601 reading 10 books/10 hours or more! That means in a period of about 10 weeks, over 6,000 books were read!

103 young adults signed up with 65 turning in 5 or more completion forms! There were a grand total of 1035 completion forms turned in (these represent either 1 hour of reading or 1 book read)

 More than 550 children came to the Summer Reading kick-off Celebration, 1136 children attended summer story times, 238 people participated in family time programs, and 395 children came to July craft days.


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

CREEEEAK! (flutterflutterflutter)

Damn bats! Always with the bats in here! Phew! Dusty too.

In defense of a Liberal Education by Fareed Zakarias a compelling read. I liked it a lot, not because I hold a liberal arts degree (majors in English Lit. and Psychology), but because something is being lost in our society - critical thinking. There is a lot of talk about the importance of technical education, engineering and the like. No doubt these are very important to our collective success. However, a successful engineer needs to be able to tell a compelling story, sell an idea, think laterally at times and most importantly enjoy learning.  If we've learned anything in the past 2 decades it's that you have to continually learn new skills, change with the technology, and be mentally flexible to succeed. A background in the liberal arts provides you with the skills to survive the ever-changing world we live in..

Give Zakarias' book a read.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

ZZZZZ WHAT!?

Wow! It has been months since I last updated this blog. Embarrassing, for sure. So, I have a great post I'm working on about the reading preferences of digital natives. The key phrase there is "working on". In the meantime, enjoy this picture of a computer system with 8.8 MB of storage:



That is slightly less than 1/10th the storage space needed on my cell phone for the Google Chrome app!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Teens and Reading

Lots of interesting food for thought in this Nielsen survey: Nielsen Books and Consumers U.S.

The teaser is that despite their growing up with technology as much a part of their lives as anything else, teens lag behind other age groups in ebook purchasing. There are a number of reasons posited for this seemingly strange result. Among them are obvious ones, such as teens are much less likely to have credit cards with which to buy econtent. I think this is a bit of a stretch though, considering every teen I know uses a parent's card or gift cards to Amazon or iTunes for digital content. Another theory is that teens share a lot of books and that is MUCH easier to do with a printed book than with econtent. This seems more plausible to me. It makes me wonder though what more we could be doing as a library to cater to the reading tastes of teens. How can we be more responsive in our collection development and reach out to these younger readers in the same way we've traditionally reached out to other groups of readers.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Tarzan, John Carter, and Julian?

This month, our science fiction discussion group jumped in to the way-back machine and read the first part of Edgar Rice Burroughs' "The Moon Maid". This is a future history story of Earth Burroughs began in 1919. It is pretty safe to say that we agreed this particular story has not stood the test of time. Burroughs didn't spend much time thinking through any of the science, even of his day, around physics, planetary science, etc. The image I had in my mind of the story's narrator was that of the "Great White Hunter" or European gentleman explorer on a trip to some "savage" land like Africa and reporting his observations of the savage peoples he encounters through the thoroughly prejudiced eyes of a man of his time. I guess for me it ended up being more like a fantasy adventure story or western-like story that happened to take place on the moon.

On the plus side, we had candy and cookies and a good discussion of the future reading list!

If you are interested in joining us in 2015, please contact me at gwamsley@hutchpl.org. We have the first 3 months worth of books lined up, but all bets are off after that. each member will be bringing 4-6 suggested titles, we'll combine them in a list and vote on what to read to fill out 2015. Also, at least one choice should have a movie version to go along with it. Finally, we are open to considering a different meeting time if that helps grow the group. Currently, we meet the first Thursay of each month at 7pm.

Next month - Alan Moore's Watchmen

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Zone One

The SF Book Discussion group met November 6th and discussed the Colson Whitehead book Zone One. If we had only known, we could have included this book in our 2012 series of apocalyptic science fiction reads! Personally, I was extremely impressed with the writing and think this must be the most literary zombie apocalypse book out there. Whitehead has a great way with words and uses his command of the language to great effect.

Unlike most apocalypse-themed books where mankind is struggling to rebuild, I never had the feeling that the stubborn tenacity of mankind might prevail. Rather, I had this feeling of impending doom. A sense that rather than being salvageable, human civilization itself had become infected and would be better off if someone shot it in the head like any other skel.

As an added bonus, Whitehead introduces the concept of PASD - Post Apocalyptic Stress Disorder. This is why I would have loved to have finished our series of apocalyptic books back in 2012 with this one - then we would have understood, I think, why we all sort of felt the way we did after reading so many depressing, world-destroying books! We were suffering the stresses of surviving the apocalypse.

Silliness aside, I highly recommend this book EVEN IF zombies are not your thing. I think the other members of our discussion group would say something similar. Whitehead's writing makes it worth the effort.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Good Show Mr. Gaiman!

My favorite library advocate Neil Gaiman makes another articulate defense of libraries in this article from The Guardian.

In answer to this: "If you imagine yourself as a kid now, why not get that stuff on your phone? Why do you need the building? " Here's what Gaiman had to say:

"I think, firstly, nobody is curating the information for you. Nobody is giving you a safe space. I used to love libraries at school. Because school libraries had an enforced quiet policy, which meant they tended to be bully-free zones. They were places where you could do your homework, you could do stuff, whether it was reading books, or getting on with things that you wanted to get on with, and know that you were safe there. And people responded to your enthusiasms. If you like a certain writer, or a certain genre, librarians love that. They love pointing you at things that you’ll also like. And that gets magical. If you like RA Lafferty, you’ll like Ursula Le Guin, you’ll like Tolkien. And there’s web access. I’ve talked to a lot of librarians, and one of the things that they do is help people who do not have web access. Most job applications, and a lot of information on benefits and things like that, are out on the web. We act as if a smartphone and internet access are now handed out at birth. But it’s simply not true. A lot of people don’t have web access."
This is the heart of the matter here. Libraries curate the information. Librarians care about you and your interest. It doesn't matter what the interest is, they're going to help you along with it. It doesn't matter if you're looking for a pastime fiction book or a new career, there's a resource for it ready and at your disposal.

Thank you Mr. Gaiman.