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.