Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy New Year!

I am not a big believer in New Year’s resolutions, but I am a big proponent of taking time to reflect. In our rush, rush, 24-hour news cycle world it is easy to lose perspective and get pulled along by the tide of all the stuff we feel we have to do, while totally losing track of the things that are really important. So, with a new year dawning, I find it very valuable to take a step back. To take stock and to look ahead with an eye on the big picture, without so much regard for the niggly little bits.

So, this New Year's Eve, or the day following, I'm going to try to take a little time to reflect back and to look forward. Watch some football, or a good parade, and just relax with friends and family. A lot happened in my life in 2008: <.shameless plug.>I published my history of the Village of Caledonia < /plug >, I left my job at UW-Parkside after eight years and I took this one in Mukwonago. Now my family and I are looking to move to the Mukwonago area.

All very exciting, good things, but all stressful nonetheless. And it is easy to forget that even good changes are stressful-- people aren't built to live in a constant state of stress. We need time to relax, recharge and refocus. The beginning of a whole new year is a perfect time to do that.

Happy New Year to everyone!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Rant or Rave: Stephen R. Covey

A big post-Christmas rave for Stephen R. Covey's book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Written in 1989, this book is still as relevant now as it was then-- perhaps more so as the internet, cell phones and many other new technologies have made principle-based living even more vital than it was 20 years ago. Likewise the follow up book, First Things First. I haven't yet read The 8th Habit, or his son's book, The Speed of Trust, but I have heard good things about them as well.

If you are interested in truly evaluating your life, what is important in it, how to make the most of it, and how the outside world can impact it, these books are highly recommended. Far more than just business "how-to" or "self-help" manuals, the books look deeper. With an emphasis on a principle-based approach to living-- as opposed to a personality-based approach-- I can't help but wish that more of the folks that ran/run our nation's financial sector had been following Habits 3: Put First Things First: Principles of Integrity & Execution and Habit 4: Think Win/Win: Principles of Mutual Benefit.

In other news-- I hope everyone who celebrates the day had a wonderful and joyous Christmas. The Library was closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but we are open today and tomorrow as usual. We will be closed next week Wednesday and Thursday, but will then return to our regular winter hours.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful

Seriously, this has been one of the worst Decembers I can remember in terms of the weather. Snow, cold, wind, repeat. For variety sake, the order gets mixed around a bit, wind, cold, snow, repeat. Ai Carumba, it's like a broken and annoying record.

Fortunately, it is warm inside at the Library and we will be open today, Friday and Saturday. Stop in and stock up on snow books... or perhaps, books about the Bahamas.

Speaking of broken records, does this sound familiar?: Outplay the opponent most of the game but allow them to hang around, give up a big play and lose the narrow lead late, then stage a furious comeback that either falls short or which is subsequently given away when the special teams and/or defense completely fails to do anything useful. Ye gods the Packers are frustrating and annoying to watch this year.

Fortunately, the Bucks actually look to be decent to good this year. Not anywhere close to the level of the Celtics or Cavaliers, but certainly a playoff team, and possibly a 2nd round playoff team if they can get up to the 5 seed.

Okay, I'm off to shovel. No, seriously-- a good inch has fallen since I came in this morning.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Happy Snow Day!

Well, the doppler radar for the area is a wide variety of colors, greens, blues, pinks and even orange, which is pretty, but not good for getting around. All the schools are closed and unfortunately, so is the Library.

Hopefully, everyone got enough books, dvds, cds and other Library materials earlier and has enough to weather the storm. So to speak. We should be open tomorrow, barring any sort of strange extension/expansion of today's storm.

I guess there isn't much to worry about in regards to a white Christmas. Enjoy the snow!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Win a Webkinz

Starting Monday, Dec. 22, the Libray will be holding an event to win a Webkinz-- either a cuddly penguin or an adorable samoyed. The more often you visit the Library and check out books, the better your chance to win! There is a limit of one entry per day, and only children and teens are eligible to win.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Rant or Rave: Christopher Moore

One of the joys of working at a library is the constant exposure to new authors and artists that is available to you. On the artist side of the equation, I am currently enjoying Coldplay's work, a band I had heard a lot about but hadn't really listened to previously. I like Viva la Vida quite a bit, so I hope the band and Joe Satriani can figure out the plagiarism lawsuit Satriani has brought against the group.

But I digress. The staff here at the Library has introduced me to the works of Christopher Moore, author of Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, The Stupidest Angel and Bloodsucking Fiends. So, this Rave is for Christopher Moore. As you can probably guess from the titles, Moore's stuff is pretty irreverent-- and definitely not kid-friendly as it contains plenty of profanity and what the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) would label Adult Themes. They are also really, really funny in a quirky, Douglas Adams sort of way.

Interestingly, I have not read any of the books I listed above-- though I intend to read all of them in the near future-- but rather started at the end, with Moore's two latest novels: A Dirty Job and You Suck. Of the two, I liked A Dirty Job more, but they were both a blast to read (actually, listen to-- I "read" both of them in audiobook format).

You Suck was fun since it is a vampire tale and includes a character who was once the Cheddar Queen of Fond du Lac, but the ending was somewhat abrubt and not entirely satisfying to me, plus it is a sequel to Bloodsucking Fiends, and I generally try to avoid reading sequels without reading the preceding book. But it was a hoot reading You Suck shortly after Interview With the Vampire, as the two retellings of the classic vampire story could hardly be more dissimilar.

But I found A Dirty Job to be the more engaging, laugh out loud funny of the two. Part of the preference might also be due to the performers of the audiobooks-- Fisher Stevens is just awesome as the reader of A Dirty Job, while Susan Bennet is good, but not great, at reading You Suck.

At any rate-- I am looking forward to reading the rest of Moore's books. I don't think he'll make it into my very favoritist authors (Adams, Terry Pratchett, Stephen R. Donaldson), but I'm definitely anticipating some well-spent hours curled up with a good book. And if you're looking for some fresh, fun reading (or listening) and don't mind profanity and a rather peculiar viewpoint of the world, I recommend Chris Moore's stuff.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Midnight Magic Wrap Up

The weather was cold and windy, but that didn't stop everyone from having a great time this past weekend at Mukwonago's annual Midnight Magic festivities. We are fortunate at the Library to have the parade route end practically at our front door, making us a popular viewing and warming up location.

And, honestly now, what says Happy Holidays and Welcome to Winter more than... giant sausages in the snow?!

Inside, the Friends of the Library were busy with their annual bake sale. Thank you to all those that baked for this event and also to all who bought the yummy treats-- all of the proceeds will be used to benefit the Library.

In the Library's community room, folks could get a cup of coffee, hot chocolate or hot chai tea to warm up. Thanks to Katie and the great people at Espresso Love for the beverages. In addition, several local authors were available to our patrons, and many folks took advantage to get a signed Christmas present.

The silent auction and raffle ended at 7 pm, and there was a flurry of activity shortly before the deadline as folks jockeyed for the items they really desired:

In the end, everyone had a great time. Particularly these happy raffle winners:

It was my first Midnight Magic experience and it was a very good one. I'm already looking forward to next year's festivities-- I hope you will all join us!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Goodreads and Library Thing

Two different patrons have recently asked me if it is possible to track what they've read using Library circulation records. My standard response was that no, of course not. Though the Patriot Act allows an authorized federal, state or local law enforcement official to access circulation records with a court order, we don't give that information out to anyone without a court order and we do not keep those records long term.

In both cases the individuals were disappointed, not reassured. They weren't concerned about privacy issues, but instead were hoping they could take a look at their own record to see what they had already read. In one case, keeping track of the many Nora Roberts books and series was the difficulty, since Ms Roberts has written over 150 novels.

Fortunately, though the Library's circulation records cannot be used for this purpose, there are two online websites that can do what these patrons want to do-- Goodreads and Library Thing. Goodreads allows people to "add" titles to their "bookshelves", thus creating a list of books already read and also a "to read" list. It is pretty slick, though there is some front-end work of loading in the books you've already read during your life. This can be kind of fun, however, since you can also rate the books as you go and it may remind you of a few titles or authors who had drifted out of your conscienceness over time.

Library Thing is a little different, though it can also be used to track what titles have been read or which are on the "to read" list. It is essentially a "self-cataloging" web tool, allowing members (free for the first 200 titles, and only $10 a year or $25 for a life-time membership) to create their own personal catalog of book titles owned. You can also check out other member book lists, finding others with similar tastes. Indeed, one of Library Things selling points is that it is the world's largest book club. There is also a review function, genre specific groups, a blog and various other nifty bells and whistles.

Both sites are well worth your time to check out if you like reading and books. I know I spent a good two hours yesterday creating my own bookshelves at Goodreads yesterday. And it was a good two hours. Quite a lot of fun and an interesting romp down memory lane, adding books to my list that I had nearly forgotten I had actually read, yea these many years ago.

Both sites also offer members the opportunity for social interaction with other members if they desire. But it is all optional, and you do not have to interact with anyone if you choose to use the sites just for keeping track of books owned and read.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Celebrate National Cookie Day!

Today is National Cookie Day. Celebrate with a good cookie book, just like we did at Preschool Storytime. Some of the books we enjoyed were If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff, Mr. Cookie Baker by Monica Wellington, and The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins. We also enjoyed homemade oatmeal raisin cookies.

Would you like to hear a good story? Come visit us at Preschool Storytime on select Wednesdays at 10:00 AM. Would you like some freshly baked cookies to take home? Visit us during the Library's Midnight Magic Bake Sale on Saturday, December 6 beginning at 9:00 AM.

A Very Good Night

Last night was the kickoff to Mukwonago's annual Midnight Magic celebration. Most of the festivities occur this Saturday, Dec. 6, but at 6:30 last night the Library was privileged and honored to play host to Santa. He magically lit the beautiful tree near the front of the Library:

Nearly fifty hearty souls braved the fresh snow and chilly temperatures to come out and see the beautiful tree. The tree had been prepared earlier this week by John Bronk and Peter Weinenger, and after it was lit, the crowd joined in singing a few carols. Then, it was into the Library's community room to warm up.

Inside, the kids gathered towards the front to hear Tracy Hein, principal at Prairie View Elementary School, read Clement Moore's classic poem, A Visit From Saint Nicholas, better known as The Night Before Christmas. Written in 1823, the delightful poem recalling a Christmas Eve visit from "a right jolly old elf" is still as engaging today as it was nearly 180 years ago.

After the reading, Santa answered the children's questions-- 'Santa, are you magic?', 'How do you get into houses with no chimney?'-- and then invited them all up to give him their preliminary Christmas wish lists. While they were waiting, the kids stopped over to the craft table and made their own ornaments-- with the help of their parents a few Library elves.

Overall, it was a truly magical night. A wonderful way to kick off Midnight Magic and the holiday season. The Library was honored to be a part of it, and I hope everybody had as much fun as we did. Hopefully, we see you all this Saturday for the main Midnight Magic festivities. It should be a great day, just as yesterday was a great night.

One final note-- the Friends of the Library silent auction and raffle is still going on, so stop in today, tomorrow or Saturday and place you bid or enter the raffle. There are some great prizes available and the money all goes to support the Library and its services.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Quote for the Day

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."
-- Eleanor Roosevelt, 1937

Wow. If only we could all internalize the profound wisdom of that short statement. Eleanor Roosevelt was a remarkable woman.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Rant or Rave: Interview With the Vampire

Anne Rice's reinvention of Bram Stoker's Dracula has achieved tremendous commercial success and fair amount of critical acclaim as well. Interview With the Vampire and her subsequent vampire novels have won Rice thousands of devoted fans and inspired a major studio film adaptation starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. And I had always meant to read it, if for no other reason than to see what all the fuss was about, but somehow had never gotten around to it.

So, I took advantage of the Mukwonago Community Library's CD audiobook holding of the book to give it an overdue "read". As with all audiobooks, the reader of the novel is very important, and this particular adaptation features Frank Muller. Frank is a prolific audiobook narrator who does a good, though I would not say great, job with the source material. His voice characterizations are generally good and he is ever reasonably believable as the voice of Claudia, the child vampire.

As a totality, I'd have to say that my review of the book would be neither a rant, nor a rave, though it is a bit more of the former and less of the latter. Rice's re-interpretation of the vampire myths and legends is ingenious, and some of the topics she explores are quite riveting. Particularly the existence of Claudia and her conflicted relationship with her "father", Louis-- the title character of the book.

There are moments in the book that are luxurious and wonderful to experience, but in the end I was left with the feeling of having eaten too much of an overly rich food. The prose is so... prosaic, so elaborate and sensuous that after awhile I grew tired of it, wishing rather that the story would get to its point.

Additionally, I found the themes of ennui, angst and retrospection that Rice explores through the character of Louis to get rather tedious after the first part of the book. In the end, Louis is a bit of a twit. Lestat seems the more interesting individual, so perhaps I will take a look, or listen, to The Vampire Lestat, but I will admit that I am not in a hurry to do so-- much like a rich dessert, I think my palate will be best served by leaving Ms. Rice for a while.

I may also peruse the film one of these days. Mostly because I, like many critics, can't figure out why they cast Pitt as Louis and Cruise as Lestat instead of the other way around. And I'm curious to see Kirsten Dunst in the roll of Claudia.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Wii Had a Good Time at the Library

Dozens of people turned out at the Library today to play some Wii games. They enjoyed activities such as downhill skiing, karting, and bowling. We hope to see you at our next Wii event on Friday, January 2 from 9:30-11:30 AM and 1:30-4:30 PM.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Gobble, Gobble!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope the holiday is a festive and happy one for everyone. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because, if you get into the spirit of the day, you almost have to take a step back and really look at your life and all the blessings you have. Yes, it can be hectic and stressful cleaning and cooking and traveling, but hopefully you will all have the opportunity to pause at some point and really, truly be thankful.

Be thankful for friends and family, of course, and for all those in your life that love and care about you. Be thankful that you are alive, that you live in a free country, and that you live in an age when you can communicate with people all around the world, easily and freely. Be thankful for the servicemen and women who defend our country and help to preserve our freedoms. On the heels of an historic election, be thankful that you can vote-- even in America it wasn't all that long ago that women and minorities couldn't.

If you are lucky enough to have a job, house, car, etc., be thankful for all of those things-- and remember those that don't and do what you can for them. If, like me, you are a sports junky, be grateful for the athletes that can't spend Thanksgiving with their families because they are playing a game for your entertainment (and if you would want to root for Kurt Warner on Thursday, I wouldn't be opposed, since he is my quarterback in my fantasy football league).

And remember to relax and enjoy-- and be thankful that we live in a world of enough plenty where we can relax and enjoy. Then, on Friday, come back into the Library and be thankful for all the wonderful things we have to offer to you. Enjoy our DVDs, or read our newspapers, or play a little Wii with the kids. Oh-- and we have books, too. Good ones! Free with membership (which is also free).

So, I'll add that onto the list, too. Be thankful for free, public libraries. I know I am.

And, just because it may be the single funniest turkey-related TV episode EVER, be thankful for Youtube and the fact that you can watch this whenever you like.

"As god is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Go Pack Go!

Towards the purpose of everyone getting to know a little more about me-- my favorite sport is football and my favorite team is the Green Bay Packers. You can make the argument that I had little freewill in this matter, growing up as I did in the Fox Valley, about 25 minutes south of Lambeau Field. But there was always the possibility that I could have rebelled against my parents and grandparents and supported (shudder) the Chicago Bears.

While I was clearly well-indoctrinated to be a fan of the Packers as a child, I also received a healthy dose of "Think it through, then make your own decision" and consequently I prefer to believe that I arrived at being a huge fan of the Packers mostly independently. Given how awful the Pack was during most of my formative years (the Pack had two winning seasons in the time between when I was 7 and 18. Two. And one of those was the strike shortened year (5-3-1), while the other was 1978 (8-7-1)) I am either diehard, a masochist or terminally thick. I prefer the first of those three options.

So, as I prepare for a meeting that will keep me from watching most of the Packer v. Saints game tonight, I felt it only appropriate I take a short bit of time out to post my support for the team from the smallest market in ANY professional sport. Go PACK Go!

Interesting side note-- I lived in Los Angeles for nearly three years. It was impressive how many Packer bars there were out there. Packers, Steelers, 49ers and Cowboys. Also impressive is the dedication of those bars and their patrons-- NFL games start at 10 in the morning on the west coast. Yikes! A hardy group, no doubt. On the plus side, the Monday night games got done by about Nine-o-clock. That was kinda cool.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Library Closures: Nov. 27, Dec. 12

Unsurprisingly, the Library will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 27. We'll be open the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving, but not on the actual holiday. Stop in on Friday the 28th to participate in our Wii Play programs, or on Saturday the 29th and 9:30 for a Wii Fit session (adults only for Wii Fit, please).

Additionally, we will be closed on Friday, December 12 for the entire day for some long overdue collection maintenance and a staff educational in-service. We will reopen Saturday, Dec. 13 for our usual hours.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wii at the Library

Wii are lucky here at Mukwongo Community Library. Wii will have the opportunity to showcase three new games purchased by Waukesha Federated Library System.

The debut of Wii Music, and Rayman: Raving Rabbids 3 will be on Friday, November 29th at Wii Play. Stop in anytime, 9:30 AM through 11:30 AM and again 1:30 PM through 4:30 PM.

Wii Fit rolls out on Saturday the 30th at Tech Talk from 9:30 AM through 11:30 AM.

Upcoming Events

The Library has some great events coming up, so stop in and check them out. Tomorrow morning at 10:00 am, bring your young ones in for our lapsit storytime. On Saturday come in for our Paws to Read program-- an opportunity for youngsters to read to a trained service dog. This Saturday, Steinway the Great Dane will be available in the library from 2 to 4 pm. Scoopy, the Golden Retriever, will be in next Monday night (Nov. 24) at 7 and would love to have some young folks read to him.

Tuesday, Nov. 25 at 6 pm, the Library will be hosting Family Film Night with a showing of the classic film, Lady and the Tramp. Bring a pillow and a blanket and snuggle in.

We will be closed on Thanksgiving, Nov. 27, but the popular Wii Play program will be back next week, on Friday the day after. Come in and work off some of that turkey and tryptophan. These session will feature the new Wii Music release as well as other favorites like Guitar Hero, Ravin Rabbits and Mario Kart. Game with us from 9:30 to 11:30 and from 1:30 to 4:00.

And if that's not enough, come in for Tech Talk on Saturday, Nov. 29 at 9:30 for a demonstration of Wii Fit. Try out the new Wii fit board and learn how the Wii is attempting to avoid contributing to the couch potatoisation of the world.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Your Library: A Place to Catch Up

Whether it is finally reading all those literary masterpieces you've meant to pick up for years, brushing up on small engine repair, or re-watching Indiana Jones I-III before sitting down with your new copy of The Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls, the Library is the perfect place to get up to speed.

For me, I've been taking advantage of the Library's holdings for shows that air on HBO and Showtime-- stations which I do not have. For the past few weeks I have been immersed in the saga of Tony Soprano and his families. I did not participate in the Sopranos craze when it was happening between 1999 and 2006 because we don't have HBO. So, I heard how awesome it was, but never got to appreciate it directly.

But now-- now I can check out the Sopranos one season at a time and watch them at my leisure. Usually one a night, but sometimes two in one day, while other days are just too full to share any time with Tony, Christopher, Carmella, Paulie and all the rest. And now I understand what all the hype was about-- the writing and acting is as good as I had heard and better than I expected (I was prepared for the reality to not match the hype). Just great stuff.

I am currently in the middle of season 4 and already I am sad to think there are fewer unviewed episodes than there are ones I have watched. Still, what a cool thing-- to have those episodes available to me simply by having a library card.

Once I do finish the Sopranos I think my next adventure will be to dive into the second season of Dexter. I saw the first season on NBC last year and liked it a lot, so I'm curious to see the second season and also to see it unedited from the original Showtime broadcasts. I know the Sopranos aren't as good on A&E as they are in their original HBO format, so I'm curious to see how much different the original Showtime cuts are than the NBC edits.

Final point-- if there is a TV show, movie or book that you'd like to see the Library own, let us know. All requests are reviewed by the staff, but we generally do purchase requested items since we know that there is a demand for them and we do our best to keep our patrons happy.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Silent Auction Items of the Day: #16 and #18

Item #16 is two general admission tickets to the Milwaukee Art Museum, while item #18 is two tickets to the Milwaukee Public Museum. Bid on item #16 and spend a day in Milwaukee, soaking in the marvelous art collections of the MAM, set in the lovely Calatrava designed building. The art museum is currently featuring a first of its kind interactive art display, where you help create the art! If you wait until next year, you can view the museum's upcoming "SENSORY OVERLOAD: Light, Motion, Sound, and the Optical in Art Since 1945.

Or rediscover the Milwaukee Public Museum and visit the butterflies, the Streets of Old Milwaukee, and the T-Rex. The Titanic exhibit will be running at the MPM through next May, and though there is an additional entry fee for it, the exhibit has received rave reviews. Item #18, valued at $22, currently has a bid of $10, less than the price of one ticket.

Stop in and bid on either or both!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Silent Auction Item of the Day: #36

Over the coming weeks, we'll be highlighting the many and varied items up for bid and raffle in the annual Midnight Magic Silent Auction and Raffle. All proceed benefit the library and bidding will remain open until the evening of Dec. 6.

Item #36:
Participate in a murder and the subsequent investigation! Well, not an actual murder, of course, but item #36 is a murder mystery dinner hosted by longtime Mukwonago residents Pat and Renee Hitt. The prize will be awarded to the top 8 bidders, with a minimum bid of $300 (for all 8 slots) or $38 per individual slot.

Here's the back story:
It is August, 1959, in the small town of Mukwonago. The local high school class of 1954 has scheduled its five year reunion to coincide with the return of Rockford "Rock 'N Roley", the nationally famous rock 'n roll star. Rock, a member of the '54 graduation class, has agreed to begin the festivities with a concert. A group of Rock's high school friends have planned to meet with the star after the show to talk about old times. Excitement is running high until the recollection of a high school prank leads to the discovery of murder. The friends must dig into the past to determine who amongst them has committed the crime.
Don't just go to a play, be a part of it! Who knows, maybe you'll even discover that you are a murderer!

Library Survives Pirate Boarding

It's always a little worrisome when you knowingly invite pirates to your place and let them roam. Pirates aren't exactly known for their consideration of other people's property, after all. Nor for their cleanliness, for that matter. But sometimes you have to take a chance. Fortunately, last weekend's pirate encounter was contained to the Library's meeting room and we managed to avoid being plundered and burnt to the ground.

Certainly all those that attended had a great time learning about the pirate life from re-enactor Jim Schneck and his young assistant pirates. The crowd was enthusiastic, sometimes enthralled and the number of hats, cutlasses and skulls and bones was great to see. Thanks to Jim and to everyone who came out. Altogether now: Arrrghh! Avast ye scurvy dogs!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bid Early, Bid Often!

The Friends of the Mukwonago Library are holding their annual Midnight Magic Silent Auction and Raffle as we speak... okay, as I type. There are some fabulous items up for bid and included in the raffle, so stop in to the Library and check them out. Get your Christmas shopping done early and then bask in the warmth of knowing that your purchase is benefiting the Library.

Silent auction bids are being accepted now through 7:00 pm on Dec. 6, the night of Midnight Magic. Raffle tickets may be purchased until that time as well, with the drawings for the winners be done that evening after 7:00.

Here's a small sample of the many wonderful items open for bidding or in the raffle:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Gocks Gather at the Library

In honor of October's Teen Read Week, we celebrated Teens at the library all month long with several programs including the Goth Sock Contest. Teens were invited to grab a sock and adorn it with bits of this and that to create a unique personality. The results prove that the Teens in Mukwonago have abundant creative talent. Here are the contest winners:

"Vladimir Shade” by Joshua S., grade 9
$75 gift card to Brookfield Square to buy some new socks!

“Evelynn” by Jordan H., Grade 10
$25 gift card to Brookfield Square to buy some new socks!

“Veronica Oleander” by Katie S., grade 7
$25 gift card to Brookfield Square to buy some new socks!

Other entries receiving some Rocky Rococo Pizza:

“Charlotte” by Caitlyn L., grade 10
“Darkness” by Joey B., grade 8
“Steve Hades Middleton” by Allison R., grade 8
“Spooky” by Alison K., grade 7
“Susie” by Kailyn L., grade 7
“Moonunit” by James B., grade 9

Congratulations Winners!

To view more images of the Goth Sock puppets, visit Teen Territory at the Mukwonago Community Library on Facebook or on the blog at http://teenterritory53149.blogspot.com/

Books & Bears Drive

Two freshmen at Mukwonago High School are challenging the community to donate books and stuffed animals to the Mukwonago Food Pantry. Brooke Malsch & Kristie Martinez are asking the community to donate one new stuffed animal and one new book as a set, to be included with the Thanksgiving baskets the Food Pantry distributes.

It's a terrific project and the Library is pleased to be a drop point for book & bear sets. There's a box for donations by the check out desk. For further information, check out the project's website at: http://mukwonagobooksandbears.blogspot.com/

Monday, November 10, 2008

Avast Maties!

Okay, it's cliched, but you have to admit that the moment you hear or read the word "avast" you instantly know that pirates are involved. Does avast ever get used in any other context? I suppose it must, but I'm not sure what that context would be-- the term is a nautical one for "stop" or "cease". In theory then, you could tell someone to "Avast that dog!" Of course, they'd probably look at you funny. Or decide that you were a pirate.

Which brings us back to where we started: Pirates! The Library will be holding a Pirate themed event tomorrow (Tuesday) night at 6:30pm. Aarghh! A Pirate Program, features Jim Schneck, a pirate recreator, who will describe the truth and fiction of pirate life. All those attendees who dress like a pirate-- and who doesn't like dressing up like a pirate?-- will receive a special surprise.

Rave: The Phantom Tollbooth

I vaguely remember reading Norton Juster's classic book, The Phantom Tollbooth, in probably 4th or 5th grade. I definitely remember how much I enjoyed it and how it actually inspired me to attempt to write something in the same vein. That effort involved some really bad prose (hey, I was 10) and something about an animated garbage can. The particulars of the book, however, have long since drifted into the deep, dusty recesses of my mind. Most likely keeping company with Encyclopedia Brown, the Three Investigators and the Choose Your Own Adventures series.

Fast forward to the now when I am thinking about books for my own children. Is The Phantom Tollbooth still good? Would it make sense in the 21st century as opposed to the late 1970s when I read it? Well, the best way to find out is to read it again.

So I did. And happily it is as good as I remember it and I think I probably appreciate it more as a 39-year-old than I did as ten-year-old. In many ways, Juster is a precursor to another of my favorite authors, Douglas Adams. They have the same facility to play with words, to string them together in a manner that is simultaneously absurd and brilliant, laughable and yet very wise.

Here are just a few tidbits to give you a flavor:
  • Tock: The watchdog whose midsection is a watch and who needs to wound periodically.
  • Alec Bings: A boy who floats in the air, slowly growing down to the ground instead of growing up from it.
  • Subtraction Stew: A delicacy of Digitopolis, the kingdom dedicated to numbers and math in all their facets, it makes you hungrier with every serving. Consequently, it is very important to eat it only when you are quite full.
  • The Island of Conclusions: Which you can get to very easily, by jumping naturally, but which is harder to leave, requiring a long swim through the Sea of Knowledge.
From my perspective, the true genius of The Phantom Tollbooth is the way it all seems so effortless. The wordplay, the crazy and inspired ideas, the puns, the upside-down and inside-out perspective on the world is all so smooth, so... natural that you wonder why you hadn't thought of things in that way yourself. Quite remarkable. And a lot of fun.

I highly recommend The Phantom Tollbooth to young readers and grown-ups alike. Forty-eight years since its creation it is still fresh, fun and thought provoking.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Rant or Rave?

One of the "regular" features I hope to incorporate into this blog are reviews of books, DVDs, and other materials available at the Library. Just some food for thought and a starting point for some impromptu discussion.

This particular Rant or Rave will be two-fold: Audiobooks: Rant or Rave and Lisey's Story, by Stephen King. I'll end all of the suspense and give the quick and dirty evaluation here: Rave. I am now a big fan of audiobooks and Lisey's Story is one of King's better efforts.

Okay, audiobooks: Love them. I presently have a 40 minute one-way commute, so having one of the many novels I haven't had a chance to read to keep me company is most excellent. And there is a certain richness to the audiobook-- you can't skim or skip or read quickly. The story will unwind in its own time and I can only sit and listen to that story being told at whatever pace the author and reader have determined is appropriate. In that way, audiobooks are somewhat akin to a play or movie, yet deeper and fuller than any dramatic presentation can be.

One other quirk to the audiobook-- the reader of the book makes a huge difference in the overall success and quality of the novel itself. Again, similar to a play or movie-- the best script in the world is easily reduced to dreck if the direction and acting is substandard and hackneyed. By the same token, a good reading of the material can greatly enhance the overall impact and effect of the written material. I recently listened to a collection of Harlan Ellison stories as read by the author-- and they were fantastic. I've always liked Ellison's edgy fiction, but it was SO much better when read by him as he intended it to be read.

Lisey's Story: I have been a Stephen King fan since about fifth grade when I read The Shining. Scared me to my toes, but I also loved it. After reading other King novels, it became clear that his work is a bit hit or miss. Or perhaps more acurately, his work at its best is tight, riveting and pure storytelling and at its worst is bloated, meandering and ponderous.

Lisey's Story falls into the former category. It is not quite on a level with The Stand or the best parts of the The Dark Tower saga, but it is very fine storytelling indeed. It is the story of Lisa Landon, Lisey, widow of bestselling author Scott Landon. Of the love they shared, of the secrets we all hide, even from ourselves or from those we love the most and are closest to. It is about memory, and grief, and loneliness and the creative process. There is quite a lot of suspense in the novel, but very little horror.

In many ways it is an autobiographical look at King himself and perhaps an answer to that age old question for popular and prolific authors: Where do you get your ideas? And it is King at his best, with little fluff or distraction, gracefully unwinding the story of a life. He is one of the finest storytellers of the 20th and early 21st century, though not as highly regarded as the Hemingways, Steinbecks and Vonneguts of the literary world.

Final words: kudos to Mare Winningham, who reads the story with admirable timing and excellent voice characterizations. She captures the central figure, Lisey Landon, extraordinarily well, but also voices the central conflict/danger of the book, Zack McCool/Jim Dooley extremely believeably. I think my appreciation for Lisey's story was greatly enhanced by hearing it read so extremely well.

So, any other thoughts? Contrary opinions? Suggestions?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Vote Well

Voting is one of the most basic rights of all Americans. But with that right comes a certain amount of responsibility-- to make an informed choice. If only there was a place that had lots of current information available in a variety of formats... newspapers, online databases, wireless access for your laptop, easy access to the Web. One-stop shopping if you will. If only....

Oh wait, that's right. There is such a place-- the Library! What a coincidence that this is a library blog. But it is-- so come in and peruse the papers, or check out the candidate's websites, or fact-check the candidate's claims.

Here are some quick links that might be of use.

Candidate's websites:
U.S. Congress
State Assembly
Local & National Newspapers:
Fact-checking websites:

Fall Cleaning

Yes, typically we all clean up our homes and businesses in the spring-- after the winter. But there were some things that needed attention at the Library that just couldn't wait for next year.

Chief amongst those was the planter by our front door. A wonderful tribute to the community and its commitment to the Library, it was definitely starting to show the wear and tear of twelve years of Wisconsin weather. Over the past month, Dennis and Dave from Berg Construction has been renovating the planter and the process is nearly complete.

The last of the white "scale" will be cleaned off of the bricks in the next week or so, and all of the names that have fallen off of the planter will be replaced. Additionally, the Library's Garden Group is building a cover for the planter for the winter! Between Berg's great work and the new cover, the planter should once again be a beautiful testimonial when spring returns.

In addition to the planter, the Library's eaves are getting a long overdue fresh coat of paint. Severely weathered over the last twelve years, the eaves were in desperate need of both a fresh look and a sealing against the elements. Both should be accomplished by the end of the week.

And if that isn't enough, a serviceberry tree was recently donated to the Library in honor of Kathy McBride, the longtime Director of the Library. The tree was planted this morning, and it will remain a beautiful addition to the Library's landscaping for many years to come.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Free Wii and other Halloween Happenings at the Librarii

With no school on Thursday and today, the Librarii offered a chance to play Wii in our communitii room. Several dozen participants tried their hands at Guitar Hero, Mario Kart, Rayman Ravin' Rabbits, Smash Bros. Brawl and many other popular titles. Even a few of the staff got involved, completely butchering Hit Me With Your Best Shot and Slow Ride.

In addition to the Wii play, which ran from 9:30-11:30 and 1:30-4:00 on both Thursday and Friday, the Library had a Goth Sock Puppet-- or Gock Puppet-- contest. All of the entries were excellent, really showing some creativity, thought and effort-- good job to all of the entrants. The winners of the gift cards will be announced soon.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Thank You!

I've written this before, but it bears repeating-- thank you to everyone in the community for the warm welcome I have received since taking over as Library Director this September. The Mukwonago Community Library truly embraces that central term-- community. I've only been in Mukwonago for two months, but I already feel comfortable here.

The Mukwonago Chief has been, and continues to be, excellent to the Library and I deeply appreciate the time and space they give us every week. This blog is in no way meant to replace what the Chief provides, rather I see this blog as a supplement to the information in the Chief. It is an opportunity to provide additional information regarding the Library to the Community it serves and in a more timely manner. In this space I hope to highlight our programs or new materials, provide occasional reviews of whatever it is I'm reading/viewing, have other staff members contribute their insight, and heap lots of well-deserved praise on everyone who makes this Library so popular and so excellent in all that it does.

I also hope that, as time goes by, the comments section will provide a place for feedback from everyone out there that likes and uses the Mukwonago Community Library. That is the beauty of this forum-- while it is primarily driven by the blogger, there is ample opportunity for the reader to respond, to disagree, to suggest. In short, to discuss.

And I love discussion. I truly believe many of the best ideas and approaches spring from discussion. From interaction. From ideas bouncing back forth and around and about and suddenly becoming something completely different from what they started as, yet better, fuller, richer and more interesting and useful. This is not a formal place. While it must remain respectful, it is a place for the free and open interaction of ideas.

Okay, enough preliminary blather-- back to the main point.

Thank you!