Archive for June, 2008

A number of years ago I ran across a cartoon which showed a lady amidst shelves of books speaking to a librarian, “I have never been in a place with so many books and not be able to get a cup of coffee!”

We can all chuckle about that, however more and more libraries across the country now have cafes. As a matter of fact, the newly-remodeled Pelletier Library on the Allegheny College campus has a cafe called The Wrecking Ball.

Libraries traditionally have separated food and drink from their major resource, books. Frankly, food and print materials do not mix well. Food not only stains but causes books and magazines to deteriorate. Publications with glossy paper are coated with a material made of clay and if they get wet, will turn into a single, solid brick.

Librarians have traditionally been taught in library school (yes, there are such places) that food and drink should be forever separated from books. Managers of book shops have never been indoctrinated with this philosophy, so we now have a society expecting to ave a double mocha cream el grande latte available while they peruse the latest Grisham.

We are not the only library asking this question. A quick Google search returns 1,830,000 hits for the search terms “libraries” and “coffee.” I also found numerous blogs written by librarians about cafes in libraries. And it is not just college libraries reporting this trend. There are countless public libraries as well as public high schools writing about coffee bars in their facilities.

All of this explanation leads to the question – “Should Meadville Public Library have a coffee bar?” Our latest user survey posed that question and 20 people responded in the affirmative. However, to really get a good answer, we need to poll more people. Starting the first and running the whole month of May, we conducted a poll here at the library. The question was simple: Should the Meadville Public Library have a coffee bar? Yes or No. Patrons voted at the Main Floor and Fiction Circulation desks. Votes were also collected on our web site at

We plan to post the results on our web site and present the results to the Library Board. The question is, do patrons think libraries should embrace change and offer refreshments to complement the relaxing atmosphere or should libraries strictly control the environment in order to protect their materials and furnishings?

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We have an exciting new addition to our collection of books on CD. Recorded Books has a line named Modern Scholar which is a collection of college level courses taught by great professors who are enthusiastic about their subjects and have reputations for being great lecturers. Thanks to a one time bit of extra money, we are adding thirteen titles. The courses include Ethics: A History of Modern Thought; Walt Whitman and the Birth of Modern American Poetry; The American Presidency: From Theodore Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan; Journeys of the Great Explorers: Columbus to Cook; Rethinking Our Past: Recognizing Facts, Fictions, and Lies in American History; Take Me Out to the Ballgame: A History of Baseball in America; World War I: The Great War and the World It Made plus six interesting others. These are currently on order and we hope to have them available soon.

All the lists for the best this and thats of the previous year are published in December and January and that is true for lists of best books, also. Some of the best known lists are The New York Times Best Books and Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year. I also look at Booklist Editors’ Choice and a best books list fromLibrary Journal. For fun, this year I also looked at a list from EW. com (Entertainment Weekly) and one from Hudson Booksellers. While the goal of perusing all these lists is to see how many of the titles the library has, the most interesting aspect is that there is not a lot of overlap of titles among the lists. Some of the most interesting sounding books that are here in the library appear on a single list. For example, The New York Times has Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression. Hudson Booksellers has Sin in the Second City by Karen Abbott, and Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Agent Zigzag by Ben Macintyre and David Michaelis’ Schulz and Peanuts are on the list. Publishers Weekly lists Touch and Go: A Memoir by Studs Terkel; Shadow of the Silk Road by Colin Thubron; American Islam: The Struggle for the Soul of a Religion by Paul Barrett and Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy by Donald Kraybill. A few of the books that appear on more than one list are Rick Atkinson’s The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944; How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman; Edith Wharton by Hermione Lee; Jeffrey Toobin’s The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court; A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah; The Zookeeper’s Wife: A War Storyby Diane Ackerman; Walter Isaacson’s Einstein; Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA by Tim Weiner; and The World Without Us by Alan Weisman. These are all books that the Library has, along with lots of other books on various lists and worth reading–something for everyone.

I can’t finish the Spring newsletter without mentioning that Spring is finally here and along with it is the urge to be outside and dig in the dirt, at least for a lot of us. As most of you know, we have many gardening books, ranging from the most basic “how and where to plant a seed” to “how to create a professional looking landscape” to “going green” to “how to make compost”. A lot of these books will be on display as well as on the shelves, so come in and browse.

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Join Fiction Department’s Summer Reading Club with weekly activities for young adults, additional prize give-aways and an end-of-summer party.

We are regularly adding books to the Young Adult collection, so come in and check out what’s new. Young Adults will enjoy the fourth and final installment of Maximum Ride: The Final Warning by James Patterson. In Peeled, by Joan Bauer, a high school journalist and her friends try to help solve the mystery of a “haunted house” stirred up by greedy developers. Meg Cabot has written Princess Mia, the ninth book in the exciting Princess Diary series. Brady Steele discovers proof of life on Mars when a meteor crashes through his roof. Find out what happens to Bradley in Go Big or Go Home, by Will Hobbs, as he discovers that he may have been exposed to something deadly along the way.

A few new non-fiction titles for young adults to consider: Kaplan 2008 ACT Strategies for Super Busy Students; Kaplan 2008 SAT Strategies for Super Busy Students; Speak with Success; Amazing Card Tricks; A Brief Political and Geographic History of North America; Ask CosmoGIRL About Nutrition & Fitness. The new Unzipped series for newswriting, short stories, presentations, research papers and more is a great way to prepare for college and beyond. For sports enthusiasts, we have the How to Improve sports series for soccer, basketball and karate.

Did you ever long to write your own story but just didn’t know how to get started? If you are between the ages of 13 and 18 we invite you to come and join the fun at the “Teen Writers’ Workshop” every Wednesday afternoon between 4 and 5 p.m. Stop by the Fiction desk for more information on this fun and informative workshop.

Join us for all our summer activities and remember, the more you enter the better your chances of winning!

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Summer will be here before you know it and the Fiction Department is gearing up for another great season full of prizes, games and activities. The Summer Reading Club will run from June 2nd through August 8th with a drawing on the last day for many great prizes. Patrons may submit up to one entry per day when checking out fiction books. There will also be weekly activities for young adults and additional prize give-a-ways they can enter, plus an end-of-summer party with fun, food and games. While waiting for the activities to start, here are some new arrivals to try.

For the more literary minded, we have Armageddon in Retrospect by Kurt Vonnegut. This posthumous book contains twelve short stories collected and introduced by Vonnegut’s son. The Last Chicken in America by Ellen Litman is a book of twelve interconnected stories about the struggle of Russian-Jewish immigrants living in a Pittsburgh neighborhood trying to adapt to an American way of life. Unaccustomed Earth, by Pulitzer Prize winning author Jhumpa Lahiri, is a series of stories continuing the theme of Indians in America that she explored in previous novels. River of Heaven, by Lee Martin, spins a story of complex relationships between friends, family and 50 years of secrets.

Mystery lovers will want to try A Carrion Death, a new mystery set in Botswana, by writing duo Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip collectively known as Michael Stanley. Mma Ramotswe is back in The Miracle at Speedy Motors, the ninth installment of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Mysteries by Alexander McCall Smith. For history buffs, The Disagreement by Nick Taylor, set during the Civil War, takes us through the life of one young man as he makes his way during this difficult time.

Don’t forget to sign up for prizes whenever you check out a book – the more you enter the better your chances of winning!

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Summer’s almost here! The 2008 Summer Reading Club, “Catch the Reading Bug” starts June 2 and lasts until August 8. This state-wide theme features cartoon insects from artist Harry Bliss whose work with Doreen Cronin has yielded such best-sellers as “Diary of a Worm,” “Diary of a Spider” and “Diary of a Fly.”

This summer’s program is open to children from toddlers to sixth graders with enough prizes, activities and performers to make the summer fly by.

Activities will have a buggy theme and special programs will include a magician, Doc Dixon, and the annual pet show in July cosponsored by Dad’s Products. There will be programs about many interesting and helpful insects. Each arts & crafts program will be divided into two activities – one for younger children and one for older, elementary-school-aged-children.

To participate, a child must be a member of one of Crawford County’s libraries. Preschoolers and summer visitors will receive a summer library card. An Insect Investigator’s special notebook will be issued to record each reader’s and listener’s progress through summer reading pleasure and prizes.

For every library book read, children will get a stamp in their notebook. Preschoolers must listen to two books to get a stamp. For every four stamps, a prize may be selected from the display case. When 12 stamps have been collected, participants qualify for two chances to win one of the Grand Prizes. The drawing for the prizes will be during our Summer Reading Club Party at 10 a.m. on August 8th.

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