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Division of Libraries

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  Archived Posts From: 2010


Saving Money with Your Public Library

Written on: March 4th, 2010 in Blog Posts

This story caught our attention recently- all the way from Massachusetts’ Cape Gazette:

A library card can be a real money-saver, according to University of Delaware Cooperative Extension educators. A family that spends $12 for two DVD rentals, $6.99 for a paperback and $27 for the reference book a child needs for school in a month could be spending more than $500 a year unnecessarily.
“Don’t give up reading or movies; rather, discover all the free offerings that are as close as your local library,” says Maria Pippidis, a family and consumer science educator with University of Delaware Cooperative Extension. “A library card saves you from pulling those other cards – debit and credit cards – out of your wallet,” notes Pippidis. “If you haven’t been in a public library lately, you may not know about the wide range of print, audio and video items that can be checked out, free of charge.”



It’s Thursday:Fiction reading as a learning tool?

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


After zipping through 2 fiction titles in one week on my commute and zapping through 2 more over the weekend, I stopped and looked around. My fiction selections for the last few years have been confined to “reading with my ears” as I ride to and from work each day. But over the last few months even this has waned. So, what’s up? It’s the words. I am in need of imaginative narrative, of a beautifully turned phrase. Has this happened to you? Sometimes we need to form mental images of people, things and places that do not exist. Or, maybe they do exist but have been reinvented within a story.

In terms of my learning paths, fiction often provides the context for my non-fiction explorations. It provides color to the pencil drawings. A fellow librarian once said, “Non-fiction helps me learn about my world outside. Fiction helps me learn about my world inside.” Beautiful words, aren’t they? Find many more in my favorite reads from last week: Kostava’s The Historian and Hambley’s Homeland.


Joyce Carol Oates and the Lockport Public Library

Written on: March 2nd, 2010 in Blog Posts

Erie Canal Locks

We’ve posted before when public figures have praised the importance of libraries to their own lifelong learning and accomplishments, and when they have emphasized the importance of public libraries to culture and society. (see here and here, for instance). This recent article on the Smithsonian Magazine website is the latest in what we hope will be a never-ending series.
This recent article appealed to me on two fronts. Joyce Carol Oates is a literary author who is incredibly well-regarded by critics and the reading public alike, and in a previous job, I spent several years working on the papers one of the world’s most famous capitalists that no-one has ever heard of- John J. Raskob, who was born in Lockport and wrote nostalgically about the town through his long and fascinating career- I was so steeped in his letters and the minutiae of his life that I felt like I knew the streets of the town even though I had never walked them. Good writers can do that.

The full article is lengthy but well worth taking the time to read, and as good as summary of the cultural and societal importance of public libraries as anything else that I’ve seen. Here’s an extract:

The Lockport Public Library has been an illumination in my life. In that dimension of the soul in which time is collapsed and the past is contemporaneous with the present, it still is. Growing up in a not-very-prosperous rural community lacking a common cultural or aesthetic tradition, in the aftermath of the Great Depression in which people like my family and relatives worked, worked and worked—and had little time for reading more than newspapers—I was mesmerized by books and by what might be called “the life of the mind”: the life that was not manual labor, or housework, but seemed in its specialness to transcend these activities.

Read the whole article at the Smithsonian Magazine website.


Sunday Book Reviews in Brief

Written on: March 1st, 2010 in Blog Posts


This week’s New York Times Book Review presents a typically outstanding selection of fiction, nonfiction and biography- all available from your local public library. We’ve listed a few of the reviewed titles below, and you can click on the link to check availability in your library and to place a hold- remember, even if the book isn’t in ‘your’ library, our vans cross the state from North to South, East to West every day to bring the books you want practically to your doorstep from whichever library they are available from!

  • Willie Mays: the Life, the Legend, by James Hirsch recounts a story from “before ballparks were named for corporations…before the innocence of the game was permanently stained”. According to Pete Hamill, who reviews the book this week, this authorized biography is “a book as valuable for the young as it is for the old,” which reminds us “of a time when the only performance-enhancing drug was joy.”
  • Deborah Blum’s The Poisoner’s Handbook tells the story of forensic toxicology in jazz-age New York, a city where the meeting of violence with graft and corruption meant that the consequences of any crime could be evaded if the correct palms were greased.
  • In The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi Durrow, a biracial girl is transplanted due to family tragedy to Oregon, and must grapple “with confusion over both her identity and a complicated, mysterious family history.”
  • John D’Agata’s About a Mountain is the story of the Yucca Mountain nuclear storage facility- a “chronicle of the compromises and lies, the back-room deals and honest best intentions” and an eye-opening appraisal of the breathtaking risks inherent in the venture.
  • Princess Noire: the Tumultuous Reign of Nina Simone, by Nadine Cohodas sets out to confirm the conflicted and often disturbed singer’s genius, but struggles to keep the chronicling of her musical talent and innovative performance style from being overshadowed by her vivid personal and public persona- which mixed African liberation and black militancy with self destruction and mental illness.