Archive for November, 2006

The long and winding road.

It’s a pretty exciting time to be Director of the Meadville Public Library. In the next few months we will have completed out latest round of physical improvements to the library and we will be introducing our new web-based on-line patron catalog computerized card catalog).

As for those who have suffered the noise and dust of the library’s remodeling over the past few years, you will be happy to know that the end is near. As I write this column the last of the planned renovations is being completed on the Main Floor.

The Main Floor remodeling, when finished, will increase the library’s nonfiction collection by almost 400 square feet and allow us to add additional seating. The other benefit is that one of the library’s big windows will be uncovered to let in the afternoon sun.

Of course none of the remodeling and expansion of the library would have been possible without a generous gift through the Helene Barco Cultural Center by Helene and Jim Duratz six years ago. That gift provided the space to relocate the Historical Society, which then allowed the library to expand the Fiction area, move the administration office to the old Historical Society storage room and now to expand the nonfiction area.

Along the way the staff has moved 45,000 books (in Non-Fiction the collections were moved no less than three times), installed more than a half mile of new shelving, used over 100 gallons of paint, laid over 8,000 square feet of carpet, assembled 15 cherry tables and constructed a conference and computer room for staff use. And yes, the library staff did this work, not contractors. When I say we have a staff that can get things done I mean it!

Another example of our library’s hands-on attitude is the new circulation system that will be installed shortly. The circulation system is a computer program that manages all of the library’s circulation and catalog functions. Our current system dates back to 1991 and is sadly lacking in many ways, especially not being able to serve up pages from the web.

Starting three years ago, Meadville’s library staff along with librarians from all over Crawford County decided to plan for our next computerized circulation program. After countless hours of meetings, presentations and sales pitches, Crawford County librarians decided that the best candidate was an open source program called Koha (pronounced co-HA).

Over the past year, the Crawford County Federated Library System has been working with Liblime, a company in Athens, Ohio to write new features and improve the standard Koha program. At the same time, librarians from the county have been meeting weekly to begin plannng the transfer to this new system. We will hopefully begin rolling out the new Circulation system at the beginning of the new year here in Meadville and in the spring to the rest of the Crawford County libraries.

What will the new circulation system mean for you? Well, a little or a lot, depending on your needs and your Internet skills. First of all, nothing will change concerning library cards, checking out books or finding books you have checked out in the past. The new system will allow you to use your card at any Crawford County public library without having to re-register at each facility.

The biggest difference will concern accessing the library’s information through the Web. By going to you will be able to access our computerized card catalog and find out whether a particular book is on the shelf not only at this library but in any public library in Crawford County. You will be able to view book covers and even connect to to read their reviews and comments concerning books you select. Needless to say, anything the current circulation system can do, the new system will do better; you will have more access and control of your library card account.

As you can tell, we have been busy trying to upgrade and expand both our facilities and our circulation services so we can provide you, our patrons, with the best access to information – whether it be in a book, a magazine or on the Web. Come in and check out our improvements.

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Our anticipated renovation is well under way and our additional space should be ready in a month or so. The current plan is to move Large Print books to the new space. We will shift Books on Cassette to the original Large Print shelves and thus be able to spread out our new magazines and have more room for Books on CD. All plans are, of course, subject to change.

Fall is a wonderful time to travel-cooler temperatures, fewer crowds and beautiful scenery. We have added some travel books and memoirs to help plan your trip. Try Pennsylvania Wilds: Images from the Allegheny National Forest for inspiration, or Seasons on Harris: A Year in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides by David Yeadon. More traditional travel guides include Fodor’s Walt Disney World with Kids 2007; Rick Steves’ Best of Europe 2007; Mexico; DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Alaska; DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Washington, D.C.; Insider’s Guide to North Carolina Mountains; and Fodor’s Las Vegas. My vote would be for the North Carolina Mountains.

The history of wars is a topic of interest to many of our patrons. We have added some titles to consider. Try Donald Miller’s Masters of the Air: America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany; War by Other Means: An Insider’s Account of the War on Terror by John Yoo; A Life in Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Missing Agents of WWII by Sarah Helm; Lynn Homan’s Black Knights: The Story of the Tuskegee Airmen and The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright. Another title to consider is Six Frigates: The Epic History of the Founding of the U.S. Navy by Ian Toll.

The conventional wisdom is that if one wishes to keep the peace, one should not discuss politics or religion. However, if you decide to bring up these topics, we have several new books to add to the debate.

In no particular order, we have The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief by Francis Collins; Why the Christian Right is Wrong by Robin Meyers; Panja Idliby’s The Faith Club: A Muslim, a Christian, a Jew: Three Women Search for Understanding; Hugo Chaves: Oil, Politics, and the Challenge to the United States by Nikolas Kozloff; A Heretic’s Guide to Eternity by Spencer Burke; Daniel Dennett’s Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon; Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris; The Holy Vote: The Politics of Faith in America; Richard Posner’s Not a Suicide Pact: The Constitution in a Time of National Emergency; Robert Price’s The Reason-Driven Life: What Am I Here on Earth For?; and Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq by Thomas Ricks. Several of these are bound to get the blood moving.

Stop by, between trips, to see how our renovation is progressing and to look over the new books and the older ones, too. We think you will be pleased by both.

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Our summer was busier than ever with almost 1,200 more entries in this year’s Summer Reading Club than last year’s. There were games and activities to occupy both young adults and adults. Thanks to everyone who participated and congratulations to the winners!

With fall now upon us, we’re facing cooler temperatures, beautiful foliage and of course, that means it’s time to stock up on more good books to read. Just a few new titles we’ve added in Adult Books: Stork Naked: A Xanth Novel by Piers Anthony; The Collectors by David Baldacci; Farewell Summer by Ray Bradbury; The Hounds and the Fury by Rita Mae Brown; Motor Mouth-An Alexandra Barnaby Novel by Janet Evanovich; Finding Noel by Richard Paul Evans; The Mitford Bedside Companion by Jan Karon; Lisey’s Story by Stephen King; The Red Gloves Collection by Karen Kingsbury; The Adventure Stories, Vol.4 by Louis L’Amour; The Brethren by Beverly Lewis; The Bancroft Strategy by Robert Ludlum; Fool Me Once by Fern Michaels; Black Girl/White Girl by Joyce Carol Oates; Hundred Dollar Baby by Robert B. Parker; Road of the Patriarch, Book III by R.A. Salvatore; Dear John by Nicholas Sparks; H.R.H. by Danielle Steel, and Murder at the Opera by Margaret Truman.

The results of the Teen Survey have been compiled with the most frequent answers appearing below: How often do you visit the library? (Every two weeks) What time is best for you? (Weekday afternoons) What new material would you like to see added? (Top 5 – fantasy, music CD’s, mysteries, thrillers. science fiction) Would you be interested in any of the following activities? (Top 5 – craft projects, Summer Reading Club, Teen Advisory Board, guest speakers and tied for fifth –book discussion group or trivia contest) What are your hobbies? (sports, drama, art, crafts, camping)
Which of the magazines in our collection do you read? (Seventeen, Teen People, Teen Vogue, Transworld Skateboarding and tied for 5th – Mad and Teen Ink) Which magazines would you like to see removed? (Top 5 – none, American Cheerleader, Teen Vogue, Mad, PC Gamer) Any magazines you would like to see added? (CosmoGirl, none, and cartoon magazines – each received more than one vote) In the next couple months we plan to add the following magazines to our young adult section: Current Science, Shonen Jump and Shojo Beat. CosmoGirl will replace ElleGirl, which ceased publication. Thanks to all who took the time to complete the survey. We hope to implement more of your suggestions soon.

Did you know that both Fiction and Young Adult departments have an “Ask a Librarian” site? Just like the reference service offered by the Main Desk, we offer an “Ask a Librarian” link on our fiction and young adult blogs. Any question relating to fiction or young adults may be sent to us through these links. You may access them by going to the Fiction or Young Adult page and clicking on “Ask a Librarian.” We will happily answer your questions as soon as we can.

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Commmonwealth Libraries, along with school and public libraries, provide on-line resources from reliable publishers to help locate useful information for students. You need Internet access and your public library card and you’re ready to start.

Go to our library’s web site,, and look for the icon above. (It’s in the lower right-hand corner of the home page.) Click on the icon. You’ll need to type in your library card number and the letters and numbers on the blue “Power Code” sticker on the front of your card.

The POWER Library (Pennsylvania Online World of Electronic Resources) has sorted dozens of information sources into subject categories. In the top golden bar there is a link to the “Children’s List” which offers resources of particular interest to children.

Many hours of exploration and discovery can be enjoyed by sampling each of these information sources.

“Access PA” helps you track down favorite books or older books that our library doesn’t have. Books on “Access PA” can be borrowed for you through the library no matter where they are in the commonwealth.

“NoveList K-8” has a key word search that helps track down stories if all you can remember is a part of the story or a part of the title.

“Book Collection: Non-fiction” helps to pinpoint the informational books that might help with last minute book reports or with information you need to complete a homework assignment. The entire text of the book is available in some cases, and you can choose the reading level or check to see how many pages the original book has.


The “Primary Search,” “Kids Search,” and “Middle School Search” sites provide citations to magazines, and in some cases, the full text of the article.


The “AP Multimedia Archive” provides access to news photographs sorted into the following categories: Today, U.S. News, International, Sports, Entertainment, Weather, and Correlations which are the state educational standards for selected subjects. The maps on this site were used in various published news articles. Another good source for maps is SIRS Discoverer, also found on the Power Library web site. Do a bit of exploring and you’ll be surprised how much “Power” you have.

If you go back to the Meadville Public Library main page and click on “Children” (under Departments) you will find even more sources if you select the heading “Homework Help.”

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2006 Summer Reading Club Grand Prize Winners

YWCA music classes (K – Grade 1) MacKenzie Dingeldein
YWCA music classes (Grades 2-4) Madison Mitcham
YMCA 3-month Family Membership Hannah Kaufman
Haley Hunter
Gaylin Petro
Jacob McMullen
Kaitlyn Price
Lasy Welsh
Wild animals stuffed animal collection and book
Nina Cosdon
Shipwreck books Charli Severo
Junie B. Jones books and bag Elaina Snyder
Neon bright stuffed animals and book Courtney Brubaker
Fishing gear Danielle Waresak
Wizard books Brid Freiberg
Board book collection Kairlyn Labonowski
Beatrix Potter books and puppet Nicholas Sternby
Pony Pal books and model horse Suzan Gard

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