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  Archived Posts From: 2010


Evolution of a reader

Written on: February 16th, 2010 in Blog PostsLearning Journeys


Sometimes it strange how everybody’s learning/reading interests converge. At some point last week during Snowmageddon ’10, I looked around at my reading family and noticed that we were all reading books which were just about on the same topic. Normally our interests are much more obviously diverse- and even so, while the books we were reading all had evolution and natural history as a central theme, they were still very different!

My wife was reading Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier, which charts one woman’s struggle for scientific and social recognition in Victorian England, my daughter was devouring Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, the story of a girl’s discovery of science and the complexity of family life in 19th Century Texas, and I was reading Dry Storeroom Number 1, an eccentric history of London’s Natural History Museum.

For further reading, there are plenty of great books available through our libraries:
99% Ape: How Evolution Adds Up and Evolution: the First 4 Billion Years are both highly recommended by Choice Reviews (one of the most significant book selection resources for academic libraries), and would fulfill my non-fiction interests. Peter Dickinson’s Bone from a Dry Sea might be a good follow up read for Lucy, or to close the gap between fiction and non-fiction, she might be interested in Charles and Emma: the Darwin’s Leap of Faith, another 2010 award winner, which explores Darwin’s struggle to reconcile his faith with his discoveries. Our NoveList database suggests Diane Smith’s Pictures from an Expedition for Kirsten.

If we wanted to know more about the actual science behind the subject, we could always go to the MIT OpenCourseWare website and experience a free, virtual lecture series in biology and genetics: click here for the list of video lectures. You can view the first lecture in the MIT series below:


Snowy Sunday Book Reviews.

Written on: February 15th, 2010 in Blog Posts


  • The Three Weissmans of Westport is a light-hearted ‘chick-lit’ parody of Sense and Sensibility filled with “fine and wicked riffs.”
  • The Politician: an Insider’s Account of John Edwards’ Pursuit of the Presidency is as well known by now as Game Change, although much tawdrier. Andrew Young, who took the fall for Edwards’ affair, portrays a candidate “whose mental clutch completely slipped” under the pressure of the campaign and his own substantial flaws.
  • The Lost Books of the Odyssey is a fictional remixing of Homeric themes, with both hits and misses, but in which the author’s “imagination soars and and his language delights.”
  • Amy Green’s Bloodroot is an Appalachian gothic set in a hardscrabble blue collar world, which charts the struggle of “an all too ordinary woman trying to escape an inheritance of violence and poverty.” You can read an extract here.


    Dick Francis, 1920-2010

    Written on: February 15th, 2010 in Blog Posts

    Dick-Francis-author.-001Champion jockey and incredibly prolific mystery/thriller author Dick Francis died over the weekend at his home in Grand Cayman. Francis wrote thrillers set in the world of horse racing, at a pace of almost one a year for 40 years. His books are known for their hard-boiled style stripped of that genre’s sex and violence- the Queen Mother was one of his biggest fans and she disapproved of vulgarity. Find his books at any one of your Delaware Library Catalog libraries. Click here for a list.


    It’s (almost) Thursday: Kids (Authors) Say the Darndest Things

    Written on: February 12th, 2010 in Blog Posts

    aliceKathy here: We know humans rise to an occasion-or not-as dictated by their nature. While cooped up and only sporadically able to access stories of both linked to the Blizzard of 2010, I unknowingly explored the topic with my granddaughter through picture books. At 3.5 years, she has digested the concepts pushed forward in the Berenstain Bears and Little Monster series. Like her mother, she has read and reread the paperback books until they now fall open to her favorite spots. But, my own learning this week centered more on the rebels in the group.
    Enter David Shannon and Mo Willem. Rather, enter David and Pigeon. These characters bring to life that demanding toddler within us all. Shannon’s newest character is the wand-wielding Alice from Alice the Fairy. She explains life this way. “One time my Mom made cookies for my Dad. So I turned them into mine.” Amid the giggles-and the blasting snow-I remember that we are all just making our way as best we can.


    Snow Days for Wilmington, Kent and Sussex Co. public libraries

    Written on: February 9th, 2010 in Blog Posts


    FRIDAY FEB. 12th UPDATE: Digging out is proceeding apace, and Kent and Sussex Co. public libraries are starting to reopen today, although shortened hours may apply in some locations. Local conditions are still wildly different in different parts of the state, with local road conditions and the availability of resources to clear parking lots and entrance ramps being the main determinant of whether libraries are opening or remaining closed. Check your local library website for more info or check this blog for update info as it arrives.

    Here is a partial list as of 11 a.m. today, Friday Feb. 12th:

    • Bridgeville will be open Fri. and Sa. 11-6
    • Delmar, Fri. 9-4, Sa. 9-2
    • Dover, regular hours
    • Frankford, Fri and Sa. 10-2
    • Laurel, Fri. regular hours; Sa. 10-2
    • Lewes, Fri. 10-4 and Sa. 10-2
    • Millsboro, Fri. open until 4
    • Rehoboth, Fri and Sa. Regular hours

    ORIGINAL POST: Due to continuing travel difficulties and facilities issues in Kent and Sussex Counties, many public libraries in the Delaware Library Catalog system may remain closed for several more days or have reduced hours. Due dates for all items have been reset to February 16th at the earliest, and items on hold will remain available for pick up until that date. Please check your local library homepage for any special hours or closing announcements.


    Neither Snow nor Rain….

    Written on: February 8th, 2010 in Blog Posts

    snow-booksWill prevent us from bringing the Sunday reviews to you! And by the way, that’s not really the motto of the Postal Service (click here for the full story from the USPS Historian).

    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot sympathetically examines a complex tale of medical ethics, scientific progress, and the human aspect of both. HeLa, the cell line developed by scientists from the subject’s cervical cancer have revolutionized medicine, and have been used in medical research for decades without the consent or, for a long time, the knowledge of Henrietta Lack or her family. As her daughter notes “I would like some health insurance so I don’t got to pay all that money every month for drugs my mother cells probably helped make.” You can read a transcript of an interview with the author at this link from NPR.

    • Where the Love of God Hangs Out by Amy Bloom is a short story collection characterized by “beautifully wrought prose, with spunky humor and a flair for delectably eccentric details.”
    • Don DeLillo’s Point Omega is a return to form by the dazzlingly creative author, whose recent offerings have failed to satisfy.
    • Little Richard: The Birth of Rock ‘n Roll by David Kirby presents its subject as “a living rebuke to the ruthlessly segregated world in which he grew up.”
    • William Boyd’s Ordinary Thunderstorms is a comedy of identity, of a sort- a Rendell-like thriller reimagined to tell the story of modern London and internet culture.
    • Jesus, Jobs, and Justice is a long-overdue work that “details the contributions of black women to almost every important aspect of the struggle for racial justice”


    Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

    Written on: February 5th, 2010 in Blog Posts

    Dating Abuse

    Governor Markell recently declared February to be Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month in Delaware, in an attempt to raise awareness and to encourage parents and children to learn more about the issue. One in five teenagers who have been in a serious relationship report being subjected to physical violence by their partners, and verbal and online harassment are increasingly common.

    The Delaware Library Catalog includes a number of up-to-the-minute resources for youth, counselors, teachers and pastors with advice and information on identifying and helping victims of dating violence. You can view some of the titles in the catalog at this link. Books targeted at parents include But I Love Him: Protecting Your Teen Daughter by Dr. Jill Murray, and Saving Beauty From the Beast, by Vicki Crompton.

    The youth advocacy organization Do Something has created this resource guide for teens faced with dating violence or wanting to learn more about it. The organization also created the Teen Dating Bill of Rights, which can be printed out from this link. Other helpful online links include the Teen Dating Violence resource kit. This organization also operates a national helpline: 1-866-331-9474 (1-866-331-8453 TTY) provides an incredible assortment of resources, including factsheets, curriculum materials, resources for non-English language speakers, and policy information at this link. You can view their PSAs and other video resources on YouTube.

    In 2008, the National Library of Medicine presented a program on teen dating violence as part of its program for National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The two-hour presentation featured panel discussions on the myths and realities of teen dating violence as well as a call to action to raise awareness and create programs to combat it. You can view the presentation at this link (real media player required)


    What You’re Searching For

    Written on: February 4th, 2010 in Blog Posts

    Wordle: 500 most popular catalog searchesNew year’s edition! These are the 500 most popular library catalog search terms for January 2010- the larger the word, the more often it was used in a search. Click on the image to the left to see the full size version.


    It’s Thursday! lost boy, lost girl…lost book? Check your shelf.

    Written on: February 4th, 2010 in Blog PostsLearningLearning JourneysReading

    Kathy here:  Conversations about our reading, our learning are good on any day; but beginning today, Thursday will be my day to do that here. And, I get to begin with a joyful reading experience.

    After meandering through several non-fiction titles, including Shop Class as Soulcraft by Matthew Crawford, I needed fiction. Enter Stephen King’s newest tome, Under the Dome. Sigh. While this Lord of the Flies-like tale held my interest – the man absolutely can create a tense moment – it is not the “vintage King” the critics claim. It’s Richard Bachman. Boy, I wish that guy still existed. Maybe then we would see another Christine or The Shining.

    With my “scary side” unsatisfied, Peter Straub came to mind. While King is the BOO/in your face gore sort of horror writer, Straub is the what was that noise/did I see something over there sort. I needed to reread Ghost Story. But, with my copy missing and the library’s checked out, I was forced to settle. I finally pulled Straub’s lost boy, lost girl down from my bookcase –  a bargain purchase picked up a few years back – and sat down to read.

    The book was devoured in a day.  Weirdly enough, I unknowingly reserved the follow-up novel, In the Night Room, on CD for my commute. Nice. So, lesson learned. Wander those stacks at the library or the bookcases in your own home for a previously discarded gem. Or maybe you already have…if so, share your story with us?


    Mobile Access to Databases Now Available

    Written on: February 3rd, 2010 in Blog Posts

    The Delaware Library Catalog is currently testing a new interface for database access on mobile devices. The interface provides a slimmed down set of features for accessing most of the EBSCO databases, including news and current affairs, medical and nursing science, world-renowned academic journals, and more. Click on the Play icon to view the online tutorial below:

    Send this link to your mobile device to try out this new service. Works best on iPhone, BlackBerry (javascript must be enabled), and Palm. Let us know what you think! Email your comments or questions to
    The FAQ from the database provider is here