Category Archives: Libraries

Paris in July – Learn the language resources

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FacebookTwitterMore... summer, I hope you have signed up to participate in the Paris in July celebration hosted by Book Bath and Thyme for Tea. This is a month to celebrate anything and everything French; French food, French movies, French books and, for today, the French language.

There are a number of ways to study and treasure the French language. If you are like me, and unable to actually take proper French courses at a community college or University, do not fear. There are a number of free online language learning websites in addition to audio-cds and kits.

These are a few of my favorites (I have worked on all of these sites, and they have been very beneficial, although I don’t recommend using them all at the same time!)

Live Mocha –

This is like a free version of Rosetta Stone. With a combination of photos and words, you can learn the very basics of the language. Each lesson has a listening, speaking, writing, and matching segment for 20 slides. You learn the same 20 words with each of the different methods listed above. By the end of the lesson, you will be able to recognize that word based on how its written, pronunciation, and have an image association. If you have a special computer, you can record yourself speaking and other students will evaluate your pronunciation. The same goes for the writing portion, where others will evaluate your grammar and sentence structure.

Mango –

This is a database that is offered for free through most library services. Check with your local library to see if they have subscribed to this service. If they haven’t, go in and demand for it!

Mango is a way to learn a language on your own time at your own pace. There are a number of lessons provided with visually appealing graphics and slides. There is a narrator at all times to walk you through different conversations, vocabulary and pronunciation.

BBC – Steps language programs

The BBC is not only a valuable news resource, it also has an area devoted solely to the education of European languages. Through their Steps program, you will be walked through a 12-week course of the language of your choice. If you don’t want to sign-up for the weekly schedule, you can access all the worksheets and lesson plans for free online. The site provides videos of different events and conversations, as well as a print transcript of all conversations. If you sign-up for the 12 week program, you will get a nifty completion certificate from the BBC.

Also don’t forget to check out the Pimsleur and Berlitz audio-cds that you can listen on your iPod or in your car. These along, with various workbooks, you can find at your local library.

Top library blogs you should be following

Librarians fresh out of college, or not so fresh out of college (2008 graduation for me) are learning that the best way to climb the ropes of the library ladder is to improve technology skills and know-how. As more and more children are growing up in front of computers and with cell-phones clutched in their palms, librarians need to learn how to promote literacy through new means. An ebook, is still a book. Whether you are reading from a screen or from a paper page, you are still reading.

This post is to highlight some of my favorite library websites & blogs that focus on the growing trends in the field, as well as news from around the nation and around the world. These sites are key in helping bridge the gap between technology and literacy.

Library News
  1. Library Stuff –
  2. LIS News –
  3. Library Juice –
Librarian Blogs
  1. Lore Librarian –
  2. Librarian in Black –
  3. Mel’s Desk –
  4. Speak Quietly –
  5. Abby the Librarian –
  6. Swiss Army Librarian –
Library Fun
  1. A Librarian’s Guide to Etiquette –
  2. Awful Library Books –
  3. Unshelved Comic Strip –
Library Tools
  1. Google Librarian Central –
  2. iLibrarian –
  3. Infopeople –
  4. Webjunction –

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The Night Bookmobile – Review

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The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger

Age: Adult

The Night Bookmobile is a graphic short story that tells the story of a young woman who encounters a mysterious, disappearing Winnebego that carries the most valued elements of her past on the streets of Chicago. The night bookmobile is run by Mr. Openshaw and its hours run from Dusk to Dawn. Exploring through the stacks and stacks of books, Alexandra discovers that the bookmobile houses every single book she has every read, or attempted to read in her life. This chance encounter draws Alexandra into an almost obsessive cycle of reading, and trying to find the bookmobile once again, even going so far as to become a librarian to one day work for the bookmobile and The Library.

I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library. – Jorge Luis Borges, “Poema de los Dones”

This is the quote that kept running through my head while I read this graphic novel. Alexandra’s chance encounters with the bookmobile are sporadic, but timely.  She always comes across the bookmobile at a major turning point in her life, three major turning points to be exact. This book reads more like a cautionary tale against having too much love of reading and books (something unheard of among bibliophiles). Seeing the path Alexandra is drawn down is somewhat disturbing, but maybe because I see myself in her place. Who wouldn’t want their heaven to be full of books, read and unread? Audrey Niffenegger made an interesting point in the afterword:

As I worked it also became a story about the claims that books place on their readers, the imbalance between our inner and outer lives, a cautionary tale of the seductions of the written word. … What is it we desire from the hours, weeks, lifetimes we devote to books? What would you sacrifice to sit in that comfy chair with perfect light for an afternoon in eternity, reading the perfect book, forever?

It is a very haunting story, very much in step with Niffenegger’s style. I love my books, I love the stories, the characters and the lives I can spyon  in any book I pick up and read. But I’m not sure what I would sacrifice for that perfect book in that comfy chair with the perfect lighting. This book brings up many thoughts on life and death, being anti-social and the difference between living for a dream and living in reality. I think any reader who comes across this book should take a pause and really understand why they read and just where books fall in line with their priorities.

The Night Bookmobile
by Audrey Niffenegger
Abrams, 2010
ISBN 9780810996175
33 pages


Find this book at your local library

The night bookmobile

1 : 1 Reading Challenge

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The 1: 1 Reading Challenge will span January – December 2011.

For every 1 book borrowed from the library, borrowed from a friend, newly purchased, or sent for review, then 1 book must be read off of my bookshelf. I must follow the sequence:  1 borrowed book, 1 bookshelf book (although as many bookshelf books can be read in a row, no more than 1 borrowed book may be read consecutively.)

Exceptions to the rule:

Cookbooks, craft books, gardening & home improvement. These books will be exempt from the ratio.

Sounds pretty easy right? I have this bad habit of splurging at library bookstores where books can cost as little as 25 cents. This is my attempt to preserve what little shelf space I have on my two bookshelves, both of which are already filled to capacity.

I’ll be keeping a monthly statistics log with the following information updated on the 1st of each month.


Total number of books owned: 220

Total number of books read that I own: 82

Number of books left to read on my bookshelf: 138


I am aware that there are many similar challenges floating around the hundreds of book blogs in cyberspace. While everyone and anyone is more than welcome to follow my model and rules, this will not be a very formal challenge. I have a bad track record with challenges. This is really just a way to motivate myself to read more of the books that I own and to be more particular about the books that I bring into my apartment to put on my bookshelf.

I often turn to the library stacks or go to my favorite used bookstores for new selections because I never want to read the books on my bookshelf. Why did I buy these books in the first place? I had an interest in them when I selected them. They went through a rather strict selection process. I usually spend about 5 minutes perusing a book before making my final purchase. As it stands, I’ve read about a third of all the books that I live with. In an ideal world, only have a third of my books should be unread.

The challenge will begin bright and early January 1st. Until then, I have roughly a week to prepare my bookshelves and myself for this challenge.


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Is there a bookworm out there who has never made the statement; “I will read every single book in my public library”?

I made that statement in 9th grade. I walked into the library, bright eyed and full of enthusiasm to start reading. I left home with the very first book on the shelves from the adult fiction, nonfiction, teen fiction, and children’s fiction sections.

I made myself comfy on my bed, the books stacked to my right and a plate of cookies stacked to my left. I picked up the first book, the adult nonfiction and turned the pages to see what I had blindly picked up (I didn’t check the titles on any of the books, nor read any synopsis).

Turns out, the first and last book on my “read through the library” experience was about a famed scientist out in boonies in Texas who claimed to have been abducted by aliens, written in immense detail.

I regret having given up my reading quest because of some nutty guy who probably just had a really graphic dream. Maybe that’s why I started working as a librarian, to constantly remind myself that I need to read every single book in the building.

If I were to start again, would I narrow it down to just Adult fiction and nonfiction? I think nonfiction would be more fun, more challenging to say the least.

Sometimes I think it would a lot of fun to participate in all those one year challenges; A Year Without Made in China, The Happiness Project, Up for Renewal, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. But instead of spending a year trying to be healthy, or a year not buying products from China, I would only invest a month or two.

What would be awesome, is if I can compile 12 different topics and delegate one for each month of the year. Write up all my experiences in a separate blog and then turn that blog into a book and turn that book into a movie.

Or maybe I’ll just keep staring longingly at the library shelves, endlessly plotting towards a better self-education.

The Hollywood Librarian – DVD review

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The Hollywood Librarian, directed by Ann Seidl

95 minutes

I checked this DVD out from my local library mostly because of the title.  The subcaption for the DVD is “A Look at Librarians Through Film.” That being said, the title is misleading when it comes down to the actual content of the documentary. Very small portions of it are dedicated to librarians in film, and those snippets are only used to supplement the rest of the content. is basically a documentary on the value and relevance of the written word, of libraries and librarians as the guardians of freedom, as creators of civilization and as a friendly and welcoming face in any given community.  The content is jumpy and isn’t focused on any central theme.

Ann interviews librarians from various cities across the US on topics ranging from literacy, to the Patriot Act. There is a good portion of the documentary devoted to the closing of the 3 libraries in Salinas, CA (the birthplace and muse for John Steinbeck).

Had the focus been narrowed to any one of the topics in this documentary, it would have been a fantastic film. Each topic (the history of libraries, the Salinas libraries, Carnegie, Patriot Act, etc) would have made for great single subject documentaries because of the breadth of information for each topic.

One major annoyance I had with this DVD, and maybe it was just my disc, was that it could only be viewed in full screen mode. Anything that was written on the screen was cut off so it was unreadable for the most part, which was a shame, because there were some really thoughtful quotes and facts printed on the screen.

I do appreciate the sentiment of the film towards librarians, and this is one of the only documentaries on libraries and librarians. It is valuable towards differentiating the role of librarian in today’s world with that of the film stereotypes. With the frequency of statements like “libraries won’t be around in 10 years” that I hear from people whenever I mention that I am a librarian, this DVD was a refreshing reminder that my job has relevance and sustainability. No, I do not feel like my job is threatened by the Internet. The role of the library is to evolve with society and meet their needs and provide a service that goes beyond just helping them find information.

If you are looking for a DVD on librarians in Hollywood movies, this isn’t for you. If you are looking for a general documentary on libraries and librarians, then this might be a good starting off point before jumping into a more specific subtopic.

The Library Card – Review

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The Library Card by Jerry Spinelli

Age: 10-13

Four kids, with difference backgrounds, families and lives, come into contact with a simple blue library card that soon changes their lives and helps shape their most important decisions.

The book is broken into four section, each section devoted to one of the 4 kids. The first section is about Mongoose and Weasel. Both are slackers in school and dream of dropping out and running away. Although once Mongoose finds  a library card amongst a stash of candy loot that he lifted from the grocery store, their plan to drop out and run away is no longer all that simple.

Brenda is a TV addict who has to turn off the TV for one entire week for the Great TV Turn-Off and turns to the library for comfort.

Sonseray is a troubled child who lost his mother to a drug overdose. He and his uncle are constantly moving from place to place because of Sonseray’s antics until he one days steps through the library doors.

Finally, April takes a trip on a bookmobile in a new town that soon changes her perspective on life and the people in it.

I really liked this book and I think it sends a good message to kids. I’m not just saying that because I’m a librarian. Each child faces a slew of difficulties, from peer pressure to feelings of abandonment. The stories are funny, tragic and hopeful. Lives can change when someone is presented with a different set of options.  For these kids, it was a change of routine and a friendly face in an air conditioned building.

I would say this book is a good read for both boys and girls because of the three male characters in two of the sections. I think the boys will enjoy the girl chapters too, because of the content (what kid can’t relate to the torture of no TV for a week?) The themes of friendship, identity and creativity are good for the pre-teens who are just starting to discover things about themselves and are looking for a direction for development.

The Library Card
Jerry Spinelli
Scholastic Books, 1997
ISBN 0590386336
148 pages


Find this book at your local library

What To Read Next?

In a book rut?  Can’t figure out what book to read next?  Here are some great websites to help you narrow down the search, or possible add more books to your TBR pile.

Reader’s Advisory Online Database – read-a-likes

Novelist  – by grade/reading level

Lexiles – by grade/reading level

What Do I Read Next – navigation guide

Fiction Connection – search by tags

Overbooked – booklists

Reader’s Advisory – For Librarians

Best Seller Lists

  • Amazon Movers & Shakers
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Booksense Bestsellers
  • Christian Booksellers
  • Essence
  • L.A. Times
  • NY Times
  • Publishers Weekly
  • S.F. Chronicle
  • USA Today
  • Reading Groups and Guides

  • BookBrowse Reading Guides
  • Book Group List
  • Reading Group Choices
  • Reading Group Guides
  • Overbooked Best Bets for Book Groups
  • Publishers

  • Bloomsbury
  • HarperCollins
  • Hatchett
  • Holtzbrinck
  • Penguin
  • Publishers Group West
  • Random House
  • Simon & Schuster
  • Small Press Distribution
  • Soho Press
  • Soft Skull
  • Bookmark and Share

    A sad loss for the library world

    I recieved this notice in my e-mail today about the death of one of the library world’s most ardent and vital figures in promoting literacy and equal rights for education.

    Many new and future librarians can learn a lot from Judith Krug’s example.

    Judith Fingeret Krug, 69 passed away April 11, 2009 at Evanston Hospital.  Advisor, author and public servant, she was a remarkable leader in the struggle to educate the public concerning the right to the free expression of ideas.  Judy was an inspiration to all who knew her.

    She was the Executive Director of the Freedom to Read Foundation and Director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association for over forty years.    She worked tirelessly to guarantee the rights of individuals to express ideas and read the ideas of others without governmental interference.  Through her unwavering support of writers, teachers, librarians, and above all, students, she has advised countless numbers of librarians and trustees in dealing with challenges to library material.  She has been involved in multiple First Amendment cases that have gone all the way to the United States Supreme Court.  In addition, she was the founder of Banned Books Week, an annual week-long event that celebrates the freedom to choose and the freedom to express one’s opinion.

    During a time in our nation’s history when an individual’s rights to access information are constantly under attack, she worked to ensure the public’s right to know through traditional means, as well as through the Internet.  Her legacy is a lifetime of passionate commitment, advocacy, and affirmative actions to protect the Constitutional rights of citizens granted under the First Amendment.

    Recipient of countless awards and offices including: the Joseph P. Lippincott Award, the Irita Van Doren Award, the Harry Kalven Freedom of Expression Award, and most recently the William J. Brennen, Jr. award, from the Thomas Jefferson Center for Free Expression.  In July, she will be honored by the Freedom to Read Foundation for her years of vision and leadership.  In addition, she served as a senator and Vice President of the Phi Beta Kappa society.

    Born in Pittsburgh, Judith graduated from the University of Pittsburgh and received a Masters degree from the University of Chicago and a PhD from the University of Illinois.

    She is survived by her husband Herbert and her loving children Steven (Denise) of Northbrook, and Michelle (David) Litchman of Glencoe and five adoring grandchildren: Jessica, Sydney, Hannah, Rachel and Jason.  Additionally, she is survived by her brothers, Jay (Ilene) Fingeret and Dr. Arnold (Denise) Fingeret of Pittsburgh PA, and her sister and brother-in-law, Shirley and Dr. Howard Katzman of Miami, FL. She was preceded in death by her sister Susan (Steve) Pavsner of Bethesda MD.

    Services will be held at Beth Emet Synagogue, 1224 Dempster St., Evanston IL, Tuesday April 14th at 10:00a.m. followed by internment at Shalom Memorial Park.  In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to The Freedom to Read Foundation, 50 East Huron, Chicago Illinois 60611, or .

    – Deborah Caldwell-Stone

    Deputy Director, Office for Intellectual Freedom

    American Library Association

    50 East Huron, Chicago, IL  60611

    800-545-2433 x 4224

    Do you know where your library is?

    Admit it, not every reader is a library user, and not every library user is a reader. At the library I meet tons of people each week that tell me “I live just down the street and never knew you were here!” Libraries are not just about books anymore. Libraries are about providing programs and events for families, adults, teens and kids. Libraries are about free computer/Internet use and free computer classes for those wanting to learn. Free programming for teens after school to keep them occupied, their brains working and help keep them out the trouble. The library is about storytimes and crafts for toddlers to help promote literacy, hand-eye coordination and other basic motor skills still developing. The library is about the community. If you live near a library, but have never stopped by, go on. Poke your head in. I promise they won’t bite. Check out the Library Friend’s bookstore. Did you know that most libraries rely on their Friend’s budget to help put on programs and craft and other major events? Buy a book from the Friend’s bookstore and help the library out. =)

    Don’t know where your local library is? Go to this website and search for your nearest library. Go to to find out which books from your TBR list can be found at the library nearest you.