Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Happy (almost) New Year!

2009 was a good year. A lot of progress was made on the expansion front, both in “concrete” terms—building plans, drawings, cost estimates, etc.—and in “soft” terms—building connections to the community. We are always looking for suggestions and other feedback, so please let us know your thoughts on expansion!

Visits and check-outs were both up and demand for the library’s computer stations was up significantly. We had some terrific programs during the year, and another hugely successful summer reading program. The Winter Reading Challenge is in full swing right now, and plans for the Summer are already in the works.

Our collection was further weeded in 2009, a process begun in December of 2008, and nearly all areas of our holdings have now been weeded. While still short of stack space, the weeding has allowed us to add new titles and formats to our holdings and even provide us with a little space to grow into until the expansion is ready.

Thanks to the generosity of many of our patrons we are closer than ever to our fundraising goal, plus we have some new CD racks, a beautiful “Tree of Giving” in the lobby and will soon have wireless printing. It’s been a great year, and we’re looking for even better things in 2010!

Happy New Year everyone!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Rant or Rave: Treasure Island

I've been going old school lately, catching up on some of the classics I know I should've read when I was younger and never quite got around to. Hence, my last entry, Around the World in Eighty Days, and the current Rant or Rave title, Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. I've seen a variety of Treasure Island movies, including the muppet version (awesome, as nearly all things muppet are) and Disney's animated SciFi version Treasure Planet (not bad, with an interesting twist), but I had never read the actual book.

A big rave for the book for this simple reason: If you want to know how to talk like a pirate, THIS is your book. The parlance of the pirate is pretty good in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, but the lingo is better in this one. Far more authentic feeling, perhaps because it was written at a time when there really were still pirates around, not a hundred plus years after the fact. Indeed, much of what makes the Pirates of the Caribbean series so much fun was done first in Treasure Island.

Beyond the dialog, this is just a fun read. Full of adventure, danger, treasure and all the fun things of youth with a dollop of coming-of-age, morality and the search for a father figure thrown in for good measure. The novel is a fairly quick read, but it is fun throughout, with enough variation from the subsequent versions I have seen that I wasn't even certain how the plot line would unfold or the story conclude. Treasure Island is a terrific book for anyone over the age of eight, or thereabouts, who likes a good adventure story or wants to learn how to really talk like a pirate.

For an extra special treat, listen to the audiobook of the novel, read by Michael Page. It is a terrific piece of narration, one that really captures the cadence and quality of the pirates' language.

School's Out-- Come In to the Library

We hope everyone enjoy's their break and has a wonderful Christmas. With school out next week, stop down to the Library. You can sign up the kids (grades K-12) for our winter reading program, Pop Open a Good Book; every reader who completes the challenge will receive an ice cream coupon and a raffle ticket for a chance to win the Grand Prize. Enter the "Guess How Many Kernels of Popcorn" contest while you're here for a chance to win the Pass the Popcorn game.

On Tuesday, Dec. 29, we'll have a movie double feature. At 2 p.m. a group of guinea pigs-- with the aid of a fly and a cockroach (no, really)-- will attempt to save the world (naturally-- it's amazing how often the world needs saving). Later, at 6 p.m., a teenage wizard and his friends (who could they be?) will have to... wait for it... save the world! This is movie #6 in the series, and it is quite good, so bring a pillow and blanket, sleeping bag or bean bag chair and snuggle in for the show. As a bonus, there's no school the next day! Extra double bonus-- popcorn will be served!

Wednesday, December 30: FWii 4 All!
No school—come play! Everyone is invited to Wii with us from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. Some great new games will be available to “test drive” including New Super Mario Bros. Wii andLego Rock Band. Traditional favorites like Super Smash Bros. and Wii Sports Resort will also be available.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

BBB Books: Stalag Wisconsin

Did you know that Wisconsin was a popular destination for WWII German Prisoners of War? Neither did I up until about two years ago while I was doing research for my history of Caledonia and I came across this book:
There were PoW camps all over the place!

It was pretty common for the German PoWs to be "hired" out to local farmers to help cultivate and harvest crops-- something there was a high demand for since most of the able-bodied men of the country were off fighting in Europe or the Pacific. The prisoners were low-risk, no SS or high-level Nazi officers, and many of them were highly educated individuals, often professionals. Guards from the PoW camps would go along to keep an eye on the Germans, but they rarely caused any trouble.

It is a fascinating and little known chapter in Wisconsin's history, but one well worth checking out. Waukesha County had a PoW camp in Genesee, where 280 prisoners were held in two barns (p. 132-137). Stalag Wisconsin has over 75 photographs (says so right on the cover, so I know it is true!), and some of them are quite cool (see p. 85-88). The book is available in our non-fiction area under the call#: 940.5472775 COW

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Fun Sites for the Holidays

Here are a few websites to visit for some Holiday frivolity:
  • Elf Yourself. From the clever folks at JibJab, with underwriting by OfficeMax to keep it free, elfyourself.com is a fun, and surprisingly easy (they've really improved the interface from last year) way to send funny holiday emails to your friends and family.
  • Chin Carolers. They don't sing the entire song, unfortunately, but they do know the refrain from an awful lot of holiday tunes. (Hat Tip: Lois Duckey)
  • Tracking Santa Claus. NORAD tracks Mr. C's progress around the world.
  • Design Your Own Gingerbread House. Pretty intuitive and inventive. Allows for truly artistic creations, or just plain silly stuff, like adding a fish to your gingerbread house.
  • Christmas eCards. A variety of cards are available: some funny, some religious, some animated. 123greetings also has non-Holiday cards-- all for free.
  • Christmas Screensavers. If you want to make your computer more festive, this is a good website for you.
Most of these sites have advertising of some sort or other, which is why they are free, but the intrusion level isn't too bad. Have fun!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Upcoming Events

Tonight, Tuesday, December 15: Expansion Open House
At 6:30 this evening there will be an open house regarding the library's expansion plans at Village Hall. Please join us for an informative and exciting look at where we're heading. At 7:30 there will be a village board meeting which will include a further discussion of expansion.

Monday, December 21: Pop Open a Good Book
The start of our winter reading challenge "Pop Open a Good Book". Registration begins on the 21st and every reader who completes the reading challenge will receive an ice cream coupon and a raffle ticket for a chance to win the Grand Prize.

Tuesday, December 29: Harry Potter for the Holidays
Join us Tuesday, December 29 at 6 p.m. for a showing of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Bring a pillow and blanket, sleeping bag or bean bag chair and snuggle in for the show. As a bonus, there's no school the next day! (Though there is Wii play at the Library)

Wednesday, December 30: Wii Play
No school—come play! Everyone is invited to Wii with us from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. Some great new games will be available to “test drive” including New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Lego Rock Band.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bold, Bizarre, Beautiful Books

This will be an ongoing, occasional series of posts highlighting some of the cool, strange, and beautiful books we have at the Mukwonago Community Library that most of us don't know exist. No particular criteria for inclusion other than I found them to be intriguing and/or fun and want to let others know about them as well.

BBBB #1: Skyscrapers

Over a foot-and-a-half in length, this book is a terrific photographic and historical review of skyscrapers and our fascination
with them. While this tall, but narrow, volume would serve well in a "coffee table" capacity, it is also chock full of fun details and intersting narratives about the quest to build the tallest buildings in the world. Why do we build up? What is our fascination, and sometimes dread, with being high up above all else?

This book examines those questions as well as providing some terrific photographs. It both eye-candy and history, rolled together with a little societal examination and exploration of human nature.

Particularly poignant is the section on the World Trade Center, pages 66-67, which opens with the following passage:
At 12:18 p.m. on Friday, February 26, 1993, everyone's worst urban nightmare came true: a bomb exploded in the World Trade Center (WTC), collapsing walls, igniting fires, and leaving 50,000 workers and visitors gasping for air and stranded in darkness in the shafts of the 110-story towers.
Of course, it turns out that wasn't the worst urban nightmare, only a foreshadowing of a far more horrific and tragic event.

Overall, though, this is a fun book and an informative one. It begins with ancient "skyscrapers" like the pyramids of Egypt and the Mayan temples in Central America and follows mankind's desire to build up all the way to the partially completed Kuningan Persada Tower in Jakarata, Indonesia.

Skyscrapers can be found in the oversize materials section, near the reference collection, under the call # OV720.483 Dupre.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Expansion Open House: Dec. 15

Join us in one week at village hall for a look at the preliminary plans for expansion! On Tuesday, December 15 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the village hall board room, the library and our architects will have drawings of what an expanded library might look like and how it might be arranged. Del Wilson, of Uihlein-Wilson Architects, will be available for questions, as will the Library Director and Library Board members.

Stick around at 7:30 for a Village Board meeting which will include a presentation about the expansion and a Q&A session with the Village Board members. As we head into a new year, it is time to get excited about all the terrific things an expanded and renovated library can offer the community!

Come on down to village hall, Tuesday, December 15 and see how our plans are progressing.

Mukwonago Community Library: Rooted in the Past, Growing for Tomorrow.

Rant or Rave: Around the World in 80 Days

Though I have seen movie adaptations of Jules Verne's classic story, and read some variations on the theme, I had never actually read Around the World in Eighty Days. This hole in my reading was recently addressed, and I must say in a most enjoyable fashion. As is usually the case with these things, this post will be a rave.

In and of itself, the story is a good one and Verne tells it very well. His characterizations of the unflappable, proper British gentleman, Phileas Fogg, and his overly emotional, volatile French valet, Passepartout, is both amusing and reflective of 19th century norms and mores. Their trip around the world is fascinating and fun and there is enough tension to keep the reader engrossed from beginning to end, even when knowing the ultimate resolution of the journey (as I did).

Beyond the story itself, however, was the great fun of being taken back in time by Verne. Though his contemporary, H.G. Wells, wrote The Time Machine, Verne's work most definitely serves as a trip backwards in time, to a different world. The flavor of a world deeply imprinted by British imperialism is clear throughout the book, and so to are Verne's depictions of 19th century India, China, and the American west.

Today's world truly is smaller than ever before, but a sense of the vastness of the earth for 19th century travelers can readily be found in Around the World in Eighty Days. Ship journeys took weeks, not days and transcontinental railways could be interupted by buffalo herds-- or require disembarkment because the rail lines haven't been completed (despite advertisements to the contrary).

So, a big rave for Verne's classic-- it holds up well more than a hundred years later. It is fun and it is fascinating as a travelogue of the past.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Reading List

Facebook has tons of little games, apps, notes, quizzes, and widgets flying around it. One that caught my eye was this one: "The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books here. How do your reading habits stack up?"

Interesting question. Well, here's the list-- the ones that I have read have an X after them. How does your reading compare?

1 Pride and Prejudice -
2 The Lord of the Rings - X
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte -
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling - X
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee - X
6 The Bible - X (much of it. I know I haven't read all of it)
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte -
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell - X
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman -
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens - X

Section 1 = 5

11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott - X
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy -
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller - X
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare - (complete!?! Nope. A lot of them, but... wow)
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier -
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien - X
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk -
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger - X
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger -
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot -

Section 2 = 4

21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell -
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald) - X
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens - X
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy -
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams - X
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky -
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck - X
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll - X
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame - X

Section 3 = 6 (what a weird mix)

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy -
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens - X
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis - X
34 Emma - Jane Austen -
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis - X
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini -
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres -
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden -
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne - X

Section 4 = 4

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell - X
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown - X
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez -
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving -
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins -
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery -
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy -
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood -
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding - X
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan -

Section 5 = 3

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel -
52 Dune - Frank Herbert - X
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons -
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen -
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth -
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon -
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens - X
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley -
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night - Mark Haddon -
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez -

Section 6 = 2

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck - X
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov -
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt -
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold -
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas - X
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac - X
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy -
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding -
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie -
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville -

Section 7 = 3

71 Oliver Twist- Charles Dickens - X
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker - X
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett - X
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson -
75 Ulysses - James Joyce -
76 The Inferno – Dante - X
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome -
78 Germinal - Emile Zola -
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray -
80 Possession - AS Byatt -

Section 8 = 4

81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens - X
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell -
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker -
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro -
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert -
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry -
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White - X
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom -
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - X
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton -

Section 9 = 3

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad -
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery - X
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks -
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams - X
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole - X
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute -
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas - X
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare - X
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - X
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo - X

Section 10 = 7

Total = 41

Cool-- now I have some more books to add to my reading list. And some of these I only vaguely remember, having read them in high school and college.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Libraries Are a Bargain

First of all, I hope everybody had a wonderful Thanksgiving. For myself, I believe I am fully recovered from the food coma that was Thursday. The Packers smoking the Lions helped.

Now onto more mundane stuff-- it is difficult to pin down the exact economic impact of libraries, but recent studies indicate that it is significant. In Wisconsin, a study done in 2008 indicated that for every tax dollar spent to support libraries, the state's residents got back over $4 in goods and services. The full report can be found here, along with links to other studies.

This echoes findings found in the rest of the country, as well. Studies done in Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas and Washington show similar results. In Ohio, a study showed that nine public library systems generated an annual economic impact of nearly four times the amount invested in their operations.

Libraries draw people to a community, bring people in to shopping districts and downtown areas. We offer job training and retraining help in difficult economic times, and help to those learning the vital computer skills so important in the 21st century. We connect individuals and groups and offer a backbone of knowledge that benefits not just our patrons but everyone they interact with before and after their visits.

The Wisconsin Library Association had a catch phrase a few years back that I think sums it up well: If knowledge is power, than libraries are power plants.

And we are-- efficient, highly flexible and adaptable power plants.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Hours

Well, there aren't any. We're closed tomorrow. But we are open on Friday and Saturday for our normal hours (9-5 and 9-4 respectively).

Happy turkey day everyone!

Happy Thanksgiving!

What a remarkable holiday—one dedicated to appreciating all of our blessings and good fortune! I mean, I like all of our holidays-- celebrating Christmas or Valentine's Day or our Presidents or brave soldiers is all good. And the candy and costumes on Halloween is cool. But Thanksgiving is one that really invites us to take a step back and take stock of all that is good and right and, yes, lucky in our lives. It is easy to get lost in the nitty gritty of daily life and lose track of the important things-- family, friends, helping others, appreciating life in all its joys and tragedies-- so having a day dedicated to appreciating all that we have is a tremendous day indeed.

The library is thankful for all of the wonderful volunteers and donors that help us year in and year out. We are lucky to have such wonderful and dedicated supporters, willing to give of their time, talent donors that help us year in and year out. Truly, the library would not be the wonderful, community jewel that it is without the help of the people and businesses that support us year ‘round.

As director, I am thankful for the wonderful staff here at the library—day in and day out they provide great service and do all they can to make the library the best it can possibly be. I am also thankful for the opportunity to serve the wonderful community of Mukwonago. Seeing the range of people who use the library for personal growth, family entertainment, interaction with friends and neighbors... well, it's a wonderful and satisfying feeling.

And there's more to be thankful coming up-- Midnight Magic is next week! Lots of fun family activities, including Applebell the Imp on Tuesday night, the annual Tree lighting on Wednesday night and a variety of great things to do on Saturday, December 5th. Watch the parade, then swing into the Library to do some Christmas shopping at the Friends of the Mukwonago Library bake sale and silent auction, then meet the local authors who will be joining us between 1 and 4.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tree Lighting: Wednesday, Dec. 2

The traditional kickoff to the Chamber of Commerce's Midnight Magic festivities is the lighting of the Village Christmas tree by Santa Claus. The Library is fortunate to have that very tree in our "front yard". Please join us on Wednesday, December 2nd at 6:30 for the tree lighting, followed by some caroling.

We will then move inside, to our meeting room, where Tracy Hein, principal at Prairie View Elementary School, will read A Visit From St. Nicholas, more commonly known as The Night Before Christmas. After that, the children will have a chance to sit on Santa's lap and tell him some of their Christmas wishes.

Last year, the weather was cold but the turnout was still very good and everyone had a great time. Hopefully this year the weather will be better, but regardless everyone will have a good time as we kickoff the holiday season in style. We hope you can join us on the 2nd!

Some photos from last year's tree lighting:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Genre Links

For those of you who like particular genres of fiction-- mystery, romance, SF, etc.-- this post is for you. The Waukesha Public Library has put together a fine list of genre specific websites for your viewing enjoyment. These websites vary in quality, timeliness and thoroughness. Inclusion of a site on this list does not constitute an endorsement by either the Waukesha Public Library or the Mukwonago Community Library.

Science Fiction and Fantasy

Expansion-- Preliminary Plans

We had another round of presentations/discussion with our architects last week and things are starting to round into shape. These are all very preliminary, of course, but they at least give a taste of what we're looking at and how it might fit with the existing structure:

Option A (expand west and north)

Option B (expand east)

Option C (expand east and north)

Each option has its strengths and weaknesses, but overall, the consensus was that C was the best of the three. It takes nothing out of the western green space, allowing full development of that area as a park, and is the most efficient to build and operate, saving money during construction and in the long-run.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remember Our Veterans

Today is Veterans Day, a day to remember and honor all of the brave men and women who have served in our country’s armed services. It is held on November 11 in remembrance of the ceasefire on November 11, 1918 that effectively ended World War I. Originally meant to honor the veterans of that war, the day has grown to include all who have served in our country’s armed services.

This year, the Library is honored to have a display of memorabilia from the Badger State Chapter of the 82nd Airborne Division.
Currently in our lobby, the display features photographs, equipment, badges and more from Wisconsin 82nd Airborne veterans of World War II.

The 82nd Airborne was organized on March 25, 1917 and is an elite paratrooper unit of the U.S. Army. Members of the unit typically parachute behind enemy lines and work to disrupt enemy supply lines and communications. They were a vital component of D-Day during World War II, as they were dropped behind the German lines with a mission to destroy bridges and railroad lines in order to cut off the Germans ability to resupply their forces in Normandy.

Unlike most units, the 82nd Airborne drew recruits from across the country, rather than being geographically focused. It is truly an All-American force with a long and proud history of service to our country.

The display will remain at the library for the next three months.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Rant or Rave: Something Wicked This Way Comes

In high school, Ray Bradbury was one of my favorite authors. I revisited Dandelion Wine a while back and was just as entranced by it as I had been twenty-five years earlier. I'll take that back-- I think it resonated more with me as a nearly 38-year-old than it did as a 16-year-old.

But I had almost no memory of Something Wicked This Way Comes. I know I read it, and I remember the general gist 0f the book-- evil carnival comes to town, two young boys are the only ones who really know what's going on, tension and mystery ensue-- but that was about it. So, when the library got in an Audiobook of Something Wicked, I had to check it out.

What a treat. First off, I read it at just about the perfect time of the year, starting it just before Halloween and finishing it shortly after. Suspenseful, creepy and surprising, the book is made for cool fall evenings filled with falling leaves, and hints of winter. It is a book of contrasts: Good and Evil, Youth and Age, Innocence and Guilt, Day and Night... oh so many wonderful contrasts.

The language is gorgeous. Rich, descriptive yet not heavy-handed or over-wrought ala Anne Rice or Charles Dickens. Bradbury's prose is nearly lyrical, in many ways a poem. Perhaps it is this that makes it sound soooo good read aloud.

The imagery is deep, and beautifully executed, though I suspect some of Bradbury's allusions might be lost on a teenager, or even a twenty-something-year-old. But even if you didn't get all of what he is trying to convey, every reader will get more than enough to be "on the edge of their seat" for much of the book. It also gives a glimpse back through time, to the Depression era and what life in the Midwest was like in the early 1930s.

It is that rare treat of a book that you can't wait to finish, yet you want to last as long as possible because you know there aren't that many books in the world that will delight and entertain you this thoroughly. If you haven't guessed yet, this is most definitely a Rave posting.

Bonus points if you listen to the CD audiobook-- Paul Hecht does a marvelous job narrating the story.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Rant or Rave: Angels and Demons

Dan Brown is a talented writer with a creative mind-- but he suffers greatly by being too clever by half, in my opinion. So, a tampered Rant against Angels and Demons. Minor spoilers likely exist below-- read at your own risk.

First the good news-- the drama builds well, the storyline is engaging, and the overall writing quality and storytelling is good. The "treasure hunt" across Italy is quite well done and fairly suspenseful, though the fire in the church scene is a little hard to believe-- Really, the bad guy had time to run everybody out of the church, string the Cardinal up, stack up all those pews and start the fire? And nobody noticed or interrupted him? Really?

Now the bad news-- the characters are rather cartoonish, the dichotomy between church and science is far too black and white, and Mr. Brown's prejudices shine through far too often and in a rather garish fashion. More significantly, there are not one, not two, but at least three separate cliff-hanger endings and not one, not two, but three separate Hitchcockian surprise twists at the end. It's all too much, too convoluted, too over the top.

Oh, and Robert Langdon should've been dead many times over. Long before his completely improbable (I won't say impossible because, well, I guess it could happen) survival from the doomed helicopter, he should've been dead. Seriously, he's a Harvard professor who is a good swimmer against a trained killer. The hassassin had... three, four opportunities to kill Langdon?

The escape in the fountain was pretty good, the others... not buying it. And the whole Pope/Camerlengo back story "gotcha" twist at the end? Also not buying it. Suspension of disbelief only carries you so far, even with some great storytelling.

I won't say Angels and Demons was a complete waste, it had some fine moments and the philosophical questions raised are intriguing ones. But I really do think Dan Brown was being too clever by half. Oh, and he's kind of an academic version of a name dropper-- it would be interesting (or maybe not) to try and count the number of obscure references to academic peculiarities and topics mentioned or briefly described in Angels and Demons. Enough already!

This could have been a fine, intriguing suspenseful book without a good third of the "intrigue" and "surprise!" twists that Brown throws in. Instead, I found myself shaking my head and, on at least one occasion, groaning out loud as the tortured plot device was dragged into the storyline.

As a side note-- The da Vinci Code is better. It too suffers a little from Dan Brown's desire to be extremely clever, but it is less heavy-handed than Angels and Demons.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Goodbyes and Hellos

Long-time librarian Jacquie Hipsman will be sorely missed. She was a dedicated, friendly, and enjoyable professional for nearly two decades to both the library's users and her colleagues. Her laugh was contagious and her curiosity was boundless. She knew all the ins and outs of the library and was always willing to share her knowledge and experience with others. Arizona's gain is most definitely our loss.

But I believe you will all find Kim Blaha, our new librarian, to be a friendly, knowledgeable and helpful presence at the library. Kim started on Monday and is rapidly learning our library.

She comes to us from Indiana, where she worked as a reference librarian in a community very similar to Mukwonago.
In addition to her reference experience, Kim has also done a variety of programming efforts, including developing the Young Adult program at her previous library. Kim is both curious and quick and she has an excellent sense of humor. She has already hit it off well with the rest of the staff and I'm sure she'll hit it off with the community just as readily.

Say “Hi” to her next time you’re in.

Monday, November 2, 2009

This Thing On?

Wow, has it really been that long since I posted anything? Yikes! Sorry about that.

Okay, well some catching up to do then. Expansion plans are still moving ahead, though we did reschedule our final meeting with Uihlein-Wilson into November to allow time for full development of all our options. Depending on the Village and their fiscal situation, we hope to be able to further develop our plans in 2010 and break ground in 2011. We'll see how it plays out.

Jacquie retired (waaah!), but we have hired a friendly, experienced replacement for her, so I think we'll be okay.

The library participated in a variety of Halloween events, including the Rotary Club's inaugural Halloween Haunt. I think things went quite well for a first year effort.

Thanks to the generosity of Jeanne and Bob Romanowski, we have some new, attractive and user-friendly CD racks in the library.

More and more and more, but I'll try to expand on the above and fill in the gaps during the course of this week.

Sorry for the long absence!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Books on DS

A strange, yet intriguing, concept. Hopefully they do a little more than just transfer the text to the screen-- the interactive capabilities of the DS is really a large part of its charm. With the stylus and touchpad technology, it would be possible to allow the reader to be a bit more "active" in the story.

Thinking about it, the "ideal" book to put on a DS or other handheld would seem to be the Choose Your Own Adventure books. I loved those books as a kid, but the DS format would allow more seemless adventuring and also potentially some great graphics and mini-games to further immerse the reader.

Still, intriguing. We do check out DS games at the library, so I think we'll have to purchase a few of these when they come out to see how well they work and how much demand there is for them.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Rant or Rave: Audiobooks

Overall, I love audiobooks and generally rave about them. They make long trips much more enjoyable, and even the commute to and from work, or one of the many activities my kids are engaged in, more entertaining. Plus, I am "reading" works of literature that I doubt I would otherwise have found the time to begin, much less complete.

But there is a flaw in the audiobook appeal-- most of the books are read by a small number of narrators, a few hundred or so. Consequently, eventually you will hear a voice you have heard before reading to you. This isn't necessarily bad, but it is disconcerting. For example, I am currently listening to Dan Brown's Angels and Demons, which is fairly entertaining, but by no means a great book. It is being read by Richard Poe (one of the most common and popular of audiobook readers), who does a good job with the material. The problem is that the last book I heard Poe read was John Steinbeck's East of Eden.

Now, Dan Brown is a pretty good author with a knack for intrigue and puzzles. But he is not, by any stretch of the imagination, in the same league as John Steinbeck. Yet, hearing Poe's voice still brings back images and recollections of East of Eden and it takes a little bit of adjusting for me to shift gears to Angels and Demons. I suppose this is a testament to the quality and lasting resonance of Steinbeck's work, but it is still... weird.

So, a minor rant against... well, what? I'm not sure exactly. But whatever it is, I wish it would stop.

Diva's Still Got Game

Got give credit to Brett Favre. He can still play and the Vikings look very good.

That said, if he still played behind the Packers Offensive (and it is pretty offensive) line, he'd probably be dead now. That unit is awful. I believe Ted Thompson made the right call on moving forward with Aaron Rodgers despite the fact that Brett's skills clearly haven't deteriorated that much.

That said, I think Ted Thompson has done a lousy job of making sure our offensive line is both talented and deep. At this point, it is neither. Similarly, the defensive line. Not as bad as the O-line, but part of the appeal of the 3-4 was supposed to be a more effective pass rush. How's that been working out for us? Anybody seen ANY pass rush, much less an effective one?

Not too early to panic, but there is an old football adage that games are won and lost in the trenches, which is to say, on the offensive and defensive lines. Which is not terribly reassuring. As always, Gregg Easterbrook's take on the NFL is definitely worth a read-- and though he gives credit where credit is due to the diva, his overall take on Favre and the amount of attention he gets (and craves) is spot on, in my opinion.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Return of the Diva

So, there's this football game you might have heard about coming up Monday. Vikings vs. the Pack, with some old dude quarterbacking the Vikings. Not looking forward to the non-stop hype this weekend.

Should be a good game, though, and I really think the Packers will win-- if for no other reason than that the Vikings hired Mr. Noodle from Sesame Street to be their coach. And though I don't want Brett to get hurt, I wouldn't be at all upset if he were to play really, really awfully. A Pick-6 to Woodson or Harris would be a nice finishing touch, really.

For football news that only briefly touches on Brett Favre, check out this week's Tuesday Morning Quarterback. For my money, still the best weekly football essay out there. With a free, and clearly explained, global warming analysis to boot!

Meanwhile, the Brewers continue their long fade back into the depths of mediocrity and the Badgers look to continue their strong start to the season. And the leaves are changing. I guess fall is here!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

TTDNTMiLS #6: Buildings and Grounds

The property the library actually occupies was rarely, if ever, mentioned in library school. Shelves, desks, reading areas, study rooms, meeting rooms, and many more interior aspects of a library were discussed, but the outside... not so much. Consequently, upon becoming Director of the fine Mukwonago Community Library, I was surprised to learn that I was not only responsible for the inside of the library (including, restrooms, HVAC units, wiring, light bulbs and... well, you get the idea), but that I was also responsible for the outside of the library.

Now, the village does do our lawn mowing and snow removal and they do help with many other routine maintenance tasks, but they don't help with garbage enclosures. Honestly, I had never once thought about garbage enclosures at libraries before becoming the director of one. But we all have them, and they need to maintained and updated just like everything else. So, we're in the process of getting a new enclosure. The old one was too small, too rickety, and hard to access for both the staff and the disposal guys.

The new one, by comparison, is a virtual mansion. Over twice as large, much sturdier and much easier to access. Plus, it will be comparatively inexpensive because the industrial arts program at the Mukwonago High School is providing us with the labor needed, meaning the only cost is the materials themselves. Good experience for some enterprising students and a lower cost for us-- super!

Another thing they never talked about in library school: landscaping. Fortunately, our entirely volunteer Garden Committee does most of this for us, and they do it exceptionally well. Here are a few samples of their work:

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Economic Impact of Libraries

Many people love their local library. We love the books. We love the smell. We love the movies and the programs and the computer access and the magazines. We love studying there, researching there, and going to storytimes and other programs there. For us, the library is a wondrous place, full of fun, full of adventure, full of opportunity.

But what about those folks in the community who don’t love, or even use, the library? It’s important to for them to know just how valuable a good local library really is—not just in societal or cultural terms, but in cold, hard economic terms. A recent survey we conducted indicates that over 90% of the people that visit the Mukwonago library do other shopping and business within the village during their trips to the library. Additionally, in a 2007 survey of Wisconsin residents, 29.7% of respondents list access to a good library as a strong factor in deciding where to live. Another 31.7% list it as a contributing factor—nearly two-thirds of those surveyed consider the local library in deciding where to live.

Finally, it should be noted that the Mukwonago Community Library is not only an economic asset for the community, it is also an incredibly efficient municipal entity. We have the lowest cost per circulation in the county and among the lowest in the country. For every tax dollar that goes to the library, nearly six dollars worth of materials and services are made available to our patrons. So tell everyone you know how economically valuable the library is!

Monday, September 28, 2009

We're on Facebook

The Library has three places to visit us on Facebook. There's the main Library page, plus both our Adult Services and our Teen Territory departments have joined the web 2.o revolution. Not tons of content as of yet, but we're working on it. Join our legions of fans! Okay, okay, join our dozens of friends.

Plus, I have a profile there now, too.

If you're a Facebook fanatic (or even casual user), check us out, write something on our walls, let us know what you think. Photos and other stuff to come.

The Dogs Are Back In Town

Actually, they never left, but just as a reminder-- the library now has four therapy dogs that stop in for our Paws to Read program. The dogs are excellent listeners, providing a safe, non-judgmental audience for young kids unsure of their reading skills or older folks learning English as their second (or third) language. We have Scooby the Golden Retriever here from 7-8 pm on Monday Oct. 5 & 19, Navarre the Samoyed here from 7-8 on Tuesday Oct. 6 & 20, B.J. the Rottweiller from 6-7 pm on Wednesday Oct. 14 & 28, and Cinnamon the Afghan Hound on Thursday Oct. 15.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Disturbing... Yet Funny

In one sense, this article in The New Scientist is profoundly disturbing. That papers should be published, thus tacitly endorsed as scientific and accurate, that are complete gibberish is worrisome. As is the trend of charging authors to publish their work-- as noted in the article, the very definition of vanity publishing, and it certainly does not reflect well on the potential validity of such "science".

But the actual submission is really amusing. I think my favorite line from the "paper" is this one: "On a similar note, we show a novel application for the study of semaphores in Figure 1." Semaphores, you say? Wow, that actually sounds a lot like Terry Pratchett's satirizing of the World Wide Web in recent Discworld books. Gotta love a good semaphore.

The whole thing is a hoot. Another high point is the opening to the Implementation portion of the paper:
Our implementation of our methodology is pseudorandom, wearable, and collaborative. We have not yet implemented the centralized logging facility, as
this is the least private component of our method.
Absolutely love a wearable implementation. It's an experiment and a stylish, yet comfy garment! What more could you ask for?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Rant or Rave: The Colour of Magic

The Colour of Magic is Terry Pratchett's very first Discworld novel. There have been more than 30 since that one. I love them all. They very in their flavor and overall enjoyability, but that range is from good to absolutely fantastic. At his best, Pratchett is in my top five favoritest authors. At his worst, he is still better than the majority of authors I have read in my life. Oh, and as you might guess from the spelling, he is British.

But this isn't a Rant or Rave about the book, which is frankly one of the weakest of the Discworld books, but of the made for TV movie of the book, also British. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I haven't read the book in many years, so my enjoyment wasn't overly colored by my perception of the movie's "accuracy", but it definitely captured the feel of Pratchett's world and it's overall satiric and ironic over- and undertones.

The heart and soul of the Color of Magic (American spelling) is the Luggage, Twoflowers and Rincewind. And the movie pretty well nails all of those quite nicely. The acting is very good, the CGI and other effects are good, occassionally great, and the script and pacing work quite well.

So, a big rave for The Colour of Magic. An even bigger rave for Terry Pratchett and the Discworld books. If you haven't read them and enjoy British humor (along the lines of Monty Python or, perhaps, Eddie Izzard), then I strongly recommend them to you. They are all extremely funny, and the best of them are also highly satiric, lampooning such things as Death, the Cinema, Anthropology and Mythology, Economics, Race Relations, Police forces, Art, Music, War, and... well, probably a little bit of everything else as well.

Monday, September 21, 2009

About That Poll...

Initially I was discouraged by the results of the poll in last week’s Mukwonago Chief, but a few things reassured me. First, it was only 125 votes, hardly representative of the Mukwonago community. Second, online polls are notoriously imprecise and, as noted in The Chief, unscientific. But here’s the most interesting fact about it—it is still open. Go to http://www.livinglakecountry.com/polls/56715842.html and you can still vote. As I write this entry, the vote had changed considerably—55% in favor and 45% opposed, with 215 total votes. So, a huge thank you to everyone that voted in favor of expansion.

We have a tremendous library, but it is too small and too old to best serve the community. We need study rooms for all our students, traditional and returning; we need another, a larger meeting room to meet the needs of our growing, inter-connected community; we really need a bigger, separate children's area so that kids can be kids (with apologies to Chuck E. Cheese) and have some fun while they read and learn at the library; and we need more shelves to hold our collection, so that we don't have to pull a book off the shelves every time we add a new one.

A Slightly Different Poll
The library surveyed 265 of our patrons two weeks ago, and 83% of them shop or run other errands as part of going to the library. This number is even higher for out of village patrons, with nearly 95% doing other things in the village when they visit the library-- shopping at the grocery store, visiting the pharmacy, eating lunch at one of the many restaurants and fast food joints in town, going to Ace Hardware or Home Depot, etc., etc. Which reassures me that the library is a strong component not only of the social and cultural life of Mukwonago, but also of its economic well-being.

If the library doesn't expand and the inevitable age and space constraints begin to take their toll on our ability to serve this community, we could easily start to lose our patrons to other libraries. And if they go to another library to meet their information, reading, viewing and other library needs, they'll go to some other community's grocery stores, gas stations, drug stores, restaurants, bike shops, hardware stores... well, you get the idea.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Rant or Rave: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

I enjoyed the Harry Potter series quite a bit. I don't fully embrace them as enthusiastically as some, and exactly why Harry was such a HUUUUGGGEEE hit is still unclear to me, but they are very well written, the characters develop extremely well during the series and the general tone and character of the books got better as they went along.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, book #6, was probably my favorite of the series. I loved the gradual revealing of Voldemort's past, the interaction of Harry with Dumbledore, and the ending was absolutely riveting.

But I approached the movie version of the book with considerable reluctance. Overall, the movies had failed to live up to the books. Not that surprising, most movies fail to live up to their books, but the thing that always made the Potter movies at least pretty good representations of their written originals was the absolutely terrific casting of the movies. With one, glaring exception. When Michael Gambon took over the role of Dumbledore in movie three after the death of Richard Harris, that casting went from just about perfect to pretty darn poor.

Gambon never fit the role in movies 3, 4 and 5, alternating between abrasive arrogance and fidgeting impatience. He never conveyed the sense of quiet confidence and compassion that is so central to the Dumbledore personae and which Harris achieved seemingly effortlessly.

Which was the central reason for my concern over movie #6. The Half-Blood Prince involves Dumbledore far more often, and more signficantly, than any of the previous books. With that in mind, and my serious reservations over the casting of Gambon as Dumbledore, I really wasn't expecting much from the movie.

So I put off going to The Half-Blood Prince but this past weekend, finally broke down and went to see it. I was pleasantly surprised when Gambon seemed rather more like Dumbledore than I had ever imagined possible. He was actually quite good in the role. And the movie itself found a good pacing, rolling in enough of the multiple plot lines of the book to make it a rich experience without losing the overall flow of the story. The cinematography reflected the darker, more somber atmosphere of the sereis by book number six, but there was enough of the book's good humor to leaven the darkness and dread. As always, the acting was stupendous.

And then came the finale. And I was sooooo disappointed. The rest of the movie had well captured the tone and tenor of the book, so by the time the climax came around, my initially lowered expectations had begun to rise. This was a good movie, one that was not always "true" to the book in literal terms, but was a very good big screen adaptation of it, along the lines of Peter Jackson's treatment of The Lord of the Rings.

So, I was really looking forward to the conclusion since, as I mentioned above, I thought the ending to book six was just riveting. But they CHANGED it. I won't go into detail, but I can't figure out WHY. There was no reason to do it, and the changes they made weren't insignificant ones. Rather, they were substantial changes, and not a single one of them made the movie better. Dreadfully disappointed.

Rant or Rave? I really liked the first 90 or 95% of the movie. Big raves for it, with only a few minor complaints. But the ending... urgh. I left the theater thinking, "Boy that could have been a really, really good movie. Why'd they have to screw it up at the end?" So, a big rant against the changes made, for no discernably good reason, at the end.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Are You Ready for some Football?!

Okay, okay, this is pretty much completely un-library related, but I am a passionate sports fan and have been an enthusiastic Packer backer for my entire life. With that comes a life-long disdain for the Chicago Bears. So, Sunday night's hard fought, frequently ugly but ultimately beautifully ending 21-15 victory over the Bears was a fine, fine event.

What was most encouraging was that they managed to pull out a close game-- the Packers lost 7 games last year by 4 or less points-- and the defense looked good. Really good. Granted, the Bears offense isn't going to remind anyone of the brilliant San Francisco 49'ers offense under Bill Walsh, but they should be at least average this year.

Also encouraging is the fact that they won even with Aaron Rodgers and Donald Driver having off nights. Rodgers got rattled a bit early when his right tackle kept wiffing on protecting him from getting smacked by 260 pound Adewale Ogunleye, and Driver dropped a couple of tough passes, but the type he nearly always catches despite their difficulty.

In addition to the football itself, the return of the NFL also signals the return of one of my very mostest, favoritist, bestest sports writers, Gregg Easterbrook, and his always interesting, often funny, and usually very enlightening weekly column, Tuesday Morning Quarterback.

Can the 2009 Packers bring the Lombardi trophy back to Wisconsin? I sure hope so-- and I'm looking forward to watching the attempt, one week at a time.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Guitar Hero: Bassoon Edition

Okay, not really. But this little gem of a YouTube video does capture what classical music might be like on Guitar Hero or Rock Band. It is fascinating to watch, and really gives you a sense of the depth and richness of that most famous of all symphony openings. How Beethoven managed to hold all that in his head is amazing. But then, I suppose most geniuses are amazing in their realms of expertise.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Workshop Completed

We had our second two-day workshop with Uihlein-Wilson Architects yesterday and Tuesday. Very good sessions, lots of information. I'll try to post a more substanative summary in the near future, but there is a lot to digest. Sorry for the light blogging. Okay, non-existent blogging.

To fill the void a little, what could be more appropriate than celestial bodies in the void of space.


These are only a few of the amazing images you can view at the Hubble Site. If you like space, the final frontier, you can spend much happy time at the Hubble web page.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

When did Monopoly become a franchise? Even more peculiar, when did Scrabble? I stopped at Toys R Us with my son tonight, and I couldn't believe how many variations of Monopoly and Scrabble they had. No exaggeration: 16 versions of Monopoly and 10 versions of Scrabble. Star Wars Monopoly, Classic Monopoly, Monopoly Jr., Dog Monopoly, Travel Monopoly, New and Improved Monopoly with fully Irridiated Chance Cards (ok, maybe not, but sheeeesh).

Several versions of Operation, including a Hulk version. A new and improved Game of Life. Three or four different Risk variations, Disney Sorry, Simpsons Clue.

Apparently the major toy manufacturers have totally run out of ideas for games and are simply sticking other merchandising properties onto existing games. How pathetic.

Fortunately, there are some good games out there. They are more expensive, take longer to play and you have to go to a speciality game store or buy online to get them, but they are out there. I happened to like the Empire Builder series, but the Formula Deux racing games, Settlers of Catan and other Mayfair Games and Steve Jackson Games offerings are a lot of fun.

Actually, this fall or winter, I hope to start a game evening at the library to highlight some of these great games. They really are a lot of fun. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

School's In For Autumn II, Humor Edition

Doesn't seem like summer can be over, but there you have it. Part of the problem is that it rarely got warm enough to seem like summer. Which was great in many ways-- I'm a big fan of temps in the 70s and lower humidity, but June, July and August really did feel more like an extended spring rather than actual mid-summer.

At any rate, if you now have some more time on your hands with the kiddies off to school, feel free to waste some time at the Museum of Animal Perspectives' flickr site. Truly a mind-bending experience-- who would have thought sticking a camera on an animal's head or back could be so fascinating?

Friday, August 28, 2009

School's In for Autumn

With apologies to Alice Cooper, it appears that school was not out forever. In fact, it is just around the corner. As children sigh and parents rejoice, I'll just remind everyone that the library is a tremendous resource for students and their parents. Not only do we have great books and magazine, but also so outstanding online resources available at home. All you need is your library card.

To highlight just one such resource: Britannica Online provides a wealth of information on a variety of school topics including: Language Arts, Math, Social Studies and Science. It also includes an online dictionary, atlas, in-depth analysis of countries around the globe, and a continually updated news feed from the BBC News and other sources. As a bonus, there is a search function that allows you to look up particular topics of interest with a pretty good result in most instances.

Additionally, the website is actually subdivided into age appropriate resources for Elementary, Middle, and High schoolers. The default is to the High School page, so if you want to explore the Elementary or Middle School pages, you'll need to scroll to the bottom of the front page and click on the Elementary or Middle School "buttons".

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Meet Dewey Renew

Dewey isn't real, but he is cute. He's joined the library for a short time to tell everyone about the importance of renewing their library materials. If your materials are due, please return them or renew them-- you can do it online, by calling us, or by stopping into the library. This is particularly important now because beginning Monday, October 5, the library will begin charging fines on overdue children's material.

The renewal periods and fines will be the same for children's materials as they are for adult materials. As Dewey says, "Don't delay, renew today!"

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Rant or Rave: Inkheart

It is a truism that movies from books are never as good as the book. There are a few that come close, The Lord of the Rings being the shining example, but even there the books outstrip the movies despite the excellence of the films. Inkheart is not the exception to the rule. I will throw out a big rave for the book-- it is an intriguing and extremely well-written book-- but the movie... not so much. As a frame of reference, the key and intriguing plot device for the book and its sequels is the ability of a few rare individuals to actually read things out of a book-- people, animals, items, etc.

Actually, Inkheart's not a bad movie, so I wouldn't say I was ranting against it. Actually, it's a rather entertaining movie, which I can say with some confidence because I saw it without having read the book and thought it was pretty good. But its downfall is trying to be a film version of an extremely good, somewhat iconic book. Were the movie a standalone creation it would be fairly entertaining, reasonably well crafted and pretty well acted.

But it IS based on a book, yet some of the key bits in the movie NEVER happen in the book and, in fact, actually run counter to what happens in the book. The chief example of this (spoiler alert for the movie) is when, in the movie, one of the main characters reads aloud from The Wizard of Oz and brings the tornado OUT of the book, thereby freeing them from captivity in a dangerous and spectacular manner. It's a good scene and fun to watch.

It is also completely and without exception NOT in the book, Inkheart. Nothing remotely like this is in the book. So, it's a bit of stretch to have a key event in the movie center on something that is made up out of whole cloth.

So, best case scenario, watch the movie before reading the book. This is what I did and I found the movie entertaining, though certainly not great. Fun and entertaining. Then read the book and appreciate just how much better it is than the movie. Alternatively, if you have already read the book but not seen the movie, check it out but realize going in that it is NOT going to be a visual rendition of the book you love so much as it is a fun story utilizing many of the same elements of the book you love.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Apologies for the lack of blogging over the last 10 days. Things have been a bit busy here at the Mukwonago Community Library, but I hate leaving big holes in the blogosphere.

Last week Wednesday and Thursday, our architects were in the house to hear from the community on its needs, wants and concerns. We had a number of very good sessions and I think they went back to their offices with a full quota of information and feedback to digest. At the next workshop, September 8 & 9, they will be presenting a variety of different approaches to the expansion question, along with the pros and cons, and then seek further feedback on which of the proposals strike a chord, which are duds, and what elements of each spark the most positive response.

On Friday of last week, we recognized the fine work of our two high school senior artists, Anna Boelck and Jessica Schreib, for creating the beautiful Giving Tree in the lobby. The leaves on the tree recognize all of the generous individuals and businesses that have donated to the expansion fund to date-- so as we begin fundraising in the near future, we're looking to add still more leaves to our tree. The Library Board and the Friends of the Library both came out to thank the artists for creating a lovely work of art that will grace our lobby for many years to come.

Monday and Tuesday were catching up days, as the staff "reassimilated" huge quantities of materials that were returned now that the Summer Reading Program is completed. Additionally, we have already started planning for our fall events. Miss Jane has some great programs coming up later this year, and there are some fun adult programs queing up for your consideration as well.

Yesterday was Wii day, with open Wii gaming in the afternoon and the evening. The new Wii Sports Resort was a popular choice for our gamers, but some of the "classics" like MarioKart and SuperSmash Bros. were also popular. Another day of Wii play is on tap tomorrow, from 9:30-11:30 and from 2-4. Stop in and try your hand at archery, frisbee golf, 100 pin bowling (very cool!), and many more.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Last Day: Zuchinni Recipe Contest

Today is the last day for entry into our Zucchini Recipe Contest. You don't need to submit a sample today-- just the form and the recipe. Actual samples will be judged next Monday night. Remember there are three areas to enter recipes in: Breads & Muffins, Desserts, and Relishes & Other-- so give us your best! And while you're at it, submit the recipes to the Chamber of Commerce, too. They are looking for recipes for their cookbook.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Tres Cool

The Louvre is now available online. Simply visit: http://cartelen.louvre.fr/cartelen/visite?srv=crt_frm_rs&langue=en to explore the musuem's vast collection. You can search by keyword, by room or by department (paintings, sculptures, etc.). Additionally, there is a special area for new acquisitions.

The search engine itself is a little clunky-- it took me about 15 minutes to find the Mona Lisa room (room 6 of the Grande Gallerie-- that's her waaaayyyy at the end), and there is no actual image or information on the Mona Lisa or many of the other prominent holdings of the Louvre. Which is odd-- wouldn't da Vinci's works be some of the first, if not the very first, works you'd include? The only reason I can think that they haven't is preservation concerns, but there must be a way of getting a good image of the painting without damaging it, right?

Finding the Venus de Milo was easier, though still a little awkward. The close-up shots are also very cool, though not necessarily easy to spot-- they pop up off the tiny links below the image of the sculpture herself. And the captions are all in French, unfortunate but not surprising.

Despite these shortcomings, the ability to virtually "tour" much of the Louvre is very cool, and the close-up imagery of many of the world's most famous artwork is extremely cool. Hopefully, they will add the other premier works of art in the future.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Schedule for Listening Sessions

The "final" version of the listening workshops for next Wednesday and Thursday is this:

Wednesday, August 12

9:30 – 10:30 a.m. Executive Session: Building Committee
Introductions, overview of workshop
Key issues and upcoming workshops scheduled

10:35 – 12:00 Library Staff Group I
Collection sizes
Service issues
Patron and staff program needs

12:00 – 12:45 p.m. Lunch

1:00 – 2:30 p.m. Friends of the Library, Library Board, neighbors

2:30 – 4:00 p.m. Break/Working

4:00 – 5:30 p.m. Library Staff Group II
Collection sizes
Service issues
Patron and staff program needs

5:45 – 7:00 Dinner

7:00 – 8:30 Neighborhood Group Listening Session

Thursday, August 13

9:00 - 10:30 a.m. Municipal Staff (at village hall)

10:45 - 12:00 p.m. Business/Chamber of Commerce Group

12:00 – 1:00 p.m. Lunch

1:00 – 3:00 p.m. Working Session

3:00 – 4:30 p.m. Report out and adjourn

Most of this workshop is focused on getting input from the library staff and municipality, but we do want community feedback as well. The prinicple place for community input during this workshop is 7-8:30 on Wednesday, August 12th. If you can't make that time, however, the public is welcome to attend the 1-2:30 slot on Wednesday and the 10:45-nooon slot on Thursday. If none of those times work, stop in during one of the staff sections.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Quote for the Day

It's important to be surrounded by people who think differently than we do. We don't learn anything if we surround ourselves by people who think the same way we do.
--Ted Olson (bottom of the page)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

1000 Cranes for Peace

This summer the Library is highlighting the crane, graceful birds that have been embodied in a variety of legends, poems and stories. Our "One Thousand Paper Cranes for Peace Club" has been busily folding cranes all sommer long. You can see there handiwork hanging in the library, as pictured above.

The goal is to work together to make one thousand paper cranes as a wish for world peace by Peace Day on August 6th. Next Thursday! We currently have over 700 cranes "flying" above the children's reference section, so we're getting close, and today at 1:30 still more of the beautiful, paper avians will be added. Come join the club (for 3rd through 8th grade), it's not too late!

For anyone interested in learning how to fold a paper crane, two of our club experts have demonstrated the process for us. Just click on the video below and follow along!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Attention all Cooks

The Best Zucchini Recipe Contest deadline is rapidly approaching. There are three categories to enter in: 1)Breads & Muffins, 2)Cakes, cookies & desserts, and 3)Relishes and other recipes. Entry forms are due by next Monday, August 10. Be creative and enter your best dish containing zucchini.

Or be a judge and come to sample and vote for the winners, and collect the entry recipes. A total of six prizes will be awarded; one in each of three categories chosen by a panel of appointed judges, and one each by public vote. Winners will receive a $10 gift card to The Elegant Farmer, a $10 gift card to Crate and Barrel, and a grocery tote bag.

Get your official entry form at the Library or online. Entry forms are due by Monday, August 10th. Limited to the first 30 entries. Voters from the public need not register. Judging is on Monday, August 17 at 6:00-7:00 p.m. or until samples run out.

Insert Fork

The Brewers are done. Cooked, finished, over. Playoff contending teams do not lose to the worst team in baseball two nights in a row. At home. By 5 and 8 run margins. They just don't.

All teams go through rough patches during the ridiculously long Major League Baseball season. In July, the Brewers are 7-16 and have not won a series. That's a big rough patch, but perhaps you could write it off as an anomaly, and hope for a turn-around in August and September. Certainly, in the ridiculously long MLB season, one bad month does not completely ruin your chances.

But. The Washington Nationals are easily the worst team in baseball. Before arriving in Milwaukee on Monday, they had won ten games on the road, while losing 35. Since arriving in Milwaukee they have not just won two road games in a row, they spanked the Brewers-- 14-6 and 8-3.

Since the all-star break, the Brewers are 4-8 against teams with an overall record of 171-228. That's not a rough patch. That's just bad. Bad enough to say, it is time to pack it in for 2009-- let's make some trades to keep our farm system stocked, reload and refurbish our rotation and try again next year.

Turns out, one really good starting pitcher and two all-star position players is not enough to get to the playoffs. It is, however, a very good start. If the Brewers can fill in the holes around Gallardo, Fielder and Braun, the Brewers are legitimate World Series contenders. But the clock is ticking.

There's always next year.


Friday, July 24, 2009

Listening Sessions on Expansion

The first workshop regarding the Library’s anticipated expansion will be on and Wed. August 12 and Thursday August 13. Much of this first session will be spent getting library and village staff input, but the later afternoon and evening of the 12th will be devoted to listening to the needs and concerns of the community, especially the immediate neighborhood.The second workshop will on Sept. 8 and 9, and it will incorporate even more community involvement and feedback. The final session will be on Oct. 14 and 15, at which time Uihlein-Wilson will present their three approaches or concepts for expansion to the community. After the presentation, we will be able to give them more feedback, allowing them to further refine the approach.

Details on the exact times and topics for these workshops will be forthcoming, so mark your calendars and stay tuned. We want and need your input and involvement to make the library the best it can be for our community. The August and September sessions will be held in the Library’s meeting room. The location for workshop three has yet to be determined.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Well, That's a Relief

Apparently, flesh-eating robots are not in development. In a clarification that sounds like it is coming straight out of The Onion, we get this statement:
“We completely understand the public’s concern about futuristic robots feeding on the human population, but that is not our mission,” stated Harry Schoell,
Cyclone’s CEO. “We are focused on demonstrating that our engines can create usable, green power from plentiful, renewable plant matter. The commercial applications alone for this earth-friendly energy solution are enormous.” (emphasis in the original)

Of course, how do you guarentee the vegetarian robot doesn't obtain a taste for meat? Bacon, say (since bacon makes everything better), and from there it's not that big a step to human flesh. Well, okay, yeah it is, but still. Although a biomass fueled robot is a cool idea.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Rant or Rave: Audiobooks

I used to be a book purist. I turned my nose up at audiobooks, Kindles and the like. Then I got this job in Mukwonago, while still living just northwest of Racine-- roughly a 50 minute drive one way. And I tried an audiobook to fill some of that driving time. Loved it.

Since then I have listened to many books, and just this year I have read all of the following classics on audiobooks: Of Mice and Men, East of Eden, The Grapes of Wrath, The Hobbit, To Kill A Mockingbird, Nineteen Eighty-Four, and The Great Gatsby. Without the ability to "read" in the car, I might-- and I stress might-- have gotten through two or three of these books. More likely I would've read one, maybe two.

And those are just the classics. In addition, I have listened to two Elmore Leonard novels, Fool by Christopher Moore, Two for the Dough by Janet Evanovich, part of a Harlan Coburn novel (didn't like it), and Lion in the White House (a biography of Teddy Roosevelt).

There is no chance I would've read anywhere close to that amount of material if I wasn't able to "read" while driving. Even now that I live much closer to work, I still find audiobooks to be very useful because I do a fair amount of driving for my job and because I am inevitably ferrying my children to various events, occasions and get togethers.

So, a HUGE rave for audiobooks!

A Busy Week

On Monday, the Page Turners Book Club met in the afternoon to discuss the book Don't Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhoold. That evening Mary Blott, Executive Director of the Mukwonago Area Chamber of Commerce, talked with our patrons about Staycations-- fun, local and inexpensive vacation and relaxation opportunities during the summer.

Tuesday night was Espresso Self night, with local teens painting with espresso. The art is very cool.

Last night, the Library hosted an open mic event, and local authors, musicians and artists came out to read, sing, play and discuss their works. Fueled by some excellent coffee donated by Espresso Love, the night was a lot of fun.

This morning, Miss Jane had her lapsit storytime for our littlest patrons-- newborn to 36 months-- a session that featured quite a bit of quacking. Later today and tomorrow, there will be gatherings of the 1000 Cranes for Peace Club. 1:00-1:30 both days, the event is open to grades 3-8. Help us reach our goal of 1000 paper cranes by the end of the summer. Current crane total: 213.

Also today and tomorrow, we will have visits by our therapy dogs for the Paws to Read progam. Today at 1:30, Cinnamon will be in the house, while tomorrow at 1:30 B.J. will be available.

We are having a fun, creative summer at the Library-- come join the fun!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Rant or Rave: The Great Gatsby

Well, it isn't a rave, but I suppose it isn't really a rant, either. Pretty much a, "Huh. What's all the fuss about?"

The Great Gatsby isn't a bad book. Actually it's a pretty good book. But i wouldn't classify it as a great book, and I really don't get it being consistently included on various Top 100 Books In the ENTIRE Universe lists. I really don't.

Gatsby is an intriguing figure, but the other characters are primarily caricatures and the "twist" at the end is nearly soap operaish in both its overly melodramatic staging and its extreme unlikelihood. So how exactly it has become this masterpiece, a potential "great American novel" is beyond me. Fitzgerald is a talented writer-- perhaps the only thing saving the story from spiraling completely into absurdity-- and some of his imagery is iconic. But the story itself? Eh. Take it or leave it.

Still, I am glad I read it. It was not a waste of my time, by any means. But I can't really wrap my head around the sincere adoration the book has received from so many quarters.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sports Tidbits

It's a library blog, so I won't spend too much time on this, but I do enjoy sports, playing and watching, so I have to pop in with these observations from time to time.
  • The baseball season is WAAYYYY too long. 162 games is absolutely preposterous. 120 would be just fine, allow the season to start later and end earlier, and improve the overall product since less players would break down over the course of the season. It will never happen, of course, because the owners and the league would lose 25% of their revenue, but still.
  • Ken Macha is doing a fine job with the Brewers. I agree with nearly all of the moves he's made and his calm, calculated approach to the game is a welcome breather from the tightly wound anxiety of Ned Yost. The one move I don't agree with? Having Carlos Villanueva pitching as a late reliever, occasionally even in the closer role. Villanueva is a pretty good pitcher, with some good value as a long reliever (as a former starter, he can go two or three innings semi-regularly). But he is not a closer. Or even the set up guy to the closer. Case in point, last night, when Manny Parra, recently returned from a stint in the minors, pitched brilliantly and left the game after seven innings with a precarious 1-0 lead. Enter Carlos V., supposed set up man and alternate closer. A single and a triple later, the score is tied and the flood gates are open. Brewers lose 5-1. Ugh.
  • It is appearing more and more likely that Brett Favre will play as a Minnesota Viking next year. Unbelievable. I cannot remember a sports icon so firmly and consistently determined to trash EVERYTHING about his legacy. Two years ago, Brett Favre was a demi-god in Wisconsin and everywhere Packer nation has taken root. He was, arguably, the most popular Wisconsin sportsfigure ever-- though fans of Lombardi, Starr, and Yount might disagree. But now? The hissy fits, the Diva stomp offs, the high school histrionics and communication via cell phone. The lies, the exaggerations, the stated desire to get back at Ted Thompson no matter the cost, fans be damned. It is breathtaking. In a year-and-a-half, Favre has managed to go from beloved icon to a disliked, even hated, representative of all that is wrong in sports. And now he will likely not only play against the Packers but with one of their two biggest rivals. He will be booed at Lambeau field. Loudly and lustily I suspect. And he'll have earned all of the ill will, derision and scorn that will be heaped upon his back by people who used to adore him. Unbelievable and unbelievably sad. He could have retired as the most popular guy in the state and one of the classiest, most down to earth guys ever to have played the game. Instead, his legacy as a great QB will always be tainted by his classlessness, his disregard for the fans, his narcissism and his small-minded vindictiveness.
  • As a contrast to Favre and his "me, me, look at me, aren't I great, me!" attitude, I watched the Wimbledon Final last weekend. Good heavens what a match. I cannont imagine how crushing it must have been for Andy Roddick to have played that well, for that long against the best tennis player ever... and to lose. To have his serve broken once--once!-- in five sets... and to lose. And yet afterwards he showed tremendous class and sportsmanship. He acknowledged the fans and he lauded Federer. To borrow a British expression-- it was Brilliant!
Go Brewers! Go Packers!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Best Invoice Evah!

I don't like getting bills-- who does?-- but one came across my desk this morning that made me chuckle. We don't do much business with the Oriental Trading Company, since most of their stuff is poorly made, yet over-priced, but sometimes we pick up small "prizes" for our various children's programs and events. Here's the rundown on our most recent OTC order:

1 Mega Notepad Assortment (250 pc)
6 Mini Sticky Hands & Feet On String (6 Dz)
4 Mini Noise Putty (4 Dz)

Mini Noise Putty? I really have to find out exactly what that is. And I can't quite shake the visual that "mini sticky hands & feet on string" pops into my brain. I hope the kids laugh at them as much as I did.