Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Blogs Made to Order!

Do you have a topic that stumps or confuses you? Wish you had a professional who could write a brief topical summary or highlights on a topic of your choice for free? Or do you have a suggestion of a tidbit of information you think would benefit the rest of the library? Aren't you in luck-- the Mukwonago Community Library Blog is taking topic requests!

A few topics you might suggest: Retirement Resources, Why the Sky is Blue, How does the Stock Market Work, Family Orientated Video Game Suggestions, How to Start (or join-- there are already several going at the Library) a Book Group. Any suggestions are welcome, and if we don't use your topic we will let you know. Don't worry...we won't use your name unless you would like us to!

Suggest requests in person to Tristan Kelly, or via e-mail to tkelly@mukcom.lib.wi.us. Thank you!

Need a tax deduction? Donate to the library!

If you have an excess of gently used items that are 3 years old or less including books, videogames, DVDs, audiobooks, or other resources, consider donating them to the library. (No VHS, beta, or cassette items please). Those items will get put to good use by either being added to the collection or being sold at the Friends of Mukwonago Community Library book sale. Those donations are also tax deductible.

We also have drives for certain items at different times of the year. Currently the library is looking for gently used children's books to use as Reading Challenge prizes. Some of the prizes can already be seen on display in the library. A big thank you to all of you that have donated!

How does the donation process work?

Anytime the library is open bring in your donation items to the circulation desk. Upon request a receipt of the donated value of the goods will be distributed to the donor. If it is a larger donation the creation of an itemized list will be considered for special occasions.

It is the responsibility of the donor to assess value of items being donated. For more information on item assessment value please reference the IRS's Publication 561 (4/2007) that gives an explanation on how to assess the value of donated items. If you have more questions about itemized deductions please speak with your tax preparer.

An, of course, donations of cash or checks are always most welcome, especially now when we are getting very close to meeting our fundraising goal for the capital campaign. We will send you a thank you letter with the amount of your donation included. For those donations please stop in while the library is open or send them to Attn: Director Nick Weber, 300 Washington Ave, Mukwonago, WI 53149. Or if you have any questions please call Nick Weber at 262-363-6411.

Thank you and good luck with Uncle Sam!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

HELP! Avoiding E-mail Scams and Phishing

In 2008 the state of Wisconsin reported over 13,000 complaints of fraud and over 3,000 cases of identity theft. These numbers are predicted to have risen by almost 11% in the last two years. With identity theft on the rise it is a good idea to be informed on how to avoid it. One way to improve your safety is to be mindful of how you share your personal information on the web.

E-mail scams and phishing websites try to steal your personal information for their benefit. This could mean trying to use your credit card numbers for fraudulent purchases or selling your personal information to companies. Some scams are easy to spot, like the Prince of Nigeria personally e-mailing you to let you know you have inherited 21 million USD, and this money is all yours for a processing fee of 15,000 USD). Others like a realistic looking e-mail from the IRS inviting you to take a customer satisfaction survey are a little harder to catch. So what can you do to protect your identity and personal information?

The US Department of Homeland Security offers these security tips:

  • Be suspicious of unsolicited phone calls, visits, or email messages from individuals asking about employees or other internal information. If an unknown individual claims to be from a legitimate organization, try to verify his or her identity directly with the company.

  • Do not provide personal information or information about your organization, including its structure or networks, unless you are certain of a person's authority to have the information.

  • Pay attention to the URL of a website. Malicious websites may look identical to a legitimate site, but the URL may use a variation in spelling or a different domain (e.g., .com vs. .net). (For example irs.gov is the correct website, irs.com is not.)

  • If you are unsure whether an email request is legitimate, try to verify it by contacting the company directly. Do not use contact information provided on a website connected to the request; instead, check previous statements for contact information. Information about known phishing attacks is also available online from groups such as the Anti-Phishing Working Group (http://www.antiphishing.org/).

  • Install and maintain anti-virus software, firewalls, and email filters to reduce some of this traffic.

  • Take advantage of any anti-phishing features offered by your email client and web browser.

These are some tips that I have used:

  • Have at least two e-mail accounts, one is your normal daily use e-mail; the other is your “junk e-mail” account. When you need to provide your e-mail address for something and you are uncertain of the source you can provide your junk e-mail address. This will reduce spam in your mailbox and help protect private information.

  • Use a VISA or MasterCard gift card to make purchases online when you are leery of online vendors. The gift cards are available for a small fee and usually can be purchased through local vendors and are usually refillable. This way if your account information is stolen it isn’t an actual credit card, and the only amount that can be lost is what you currently have on the gift card.

  • Another more advanced tip is to use a web browsing program with built in security features. For instance Google Chrome is a free downloadable web browsing software that has more built in security then most competitors. It also boasts an “incognito” browsing feature, which means it will not save any internet history and less of your personal information, and it erases automatically when you close the window.

  • If get an e-mail from an unknown address and it isn’t something important, don’t open it or mark it as spam. If you do open the e-mail don’t click on any attachments or links located in the e-mail.

  • Be careful when you play online games. Though the game may be fun and free, sometimes when you download the game to you computer it installs spyware that collects information from your computer. It is easiest to play “flash games” that you don’t have to download from the internet.
  • Be wary of Facebook scams. These scams can be sent directly to your Facebook account making promising of free gadgets, gift cards, or cash (don't believe it!). Or in the case of Associated Content's article some scammers are going on Facebook and getting teens personal information. They are using this information to try to scam family members out of money, by pretending to be the teen and asking for money. Make sure to double check with other family members or call the number you have for that teen to double check. The safest bet is to have your child or teen set their Facebook account to private (which means people that aren't their friends cannot see their information).

The best tip of all you probably got from your parents: “IF IT IS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT IS!”

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What Celebrities Read

I found a neat little website that the Gardiner Public Library in Maine put together. Several years ago they contacted several celebrities to see what books the would recommend people read and if they had any memories of the library. Though the database is a little dated because they stopped collecting information in 2006 it is still great to checkout. See what Lucille Ball thought of libraries and what she would suggest to read!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Spotlight on Subscription Database: Mango Languages

I have been in numerous situations when knowing a second language would have been useful. For instance trying to help patrons at the library, directions for the new gadget I got for Christmas, going on vacation and when I accidentally turned my cell phone to Spanish (it was like that for at least a week). There have also been more serious situations, like when I got in a car accident on a Chicago freeway and other person involved didn’t speak English. Even without being fluent, knowing at least a few hundred words would have been really handy in those situations. In this blog I am going to talk introduce you to a cool subscription database that the library offers for language learning.

Mango Languages is a subscription database available from the library that you can use in the library on your home computer. You can participate in video courses to learn a plethora of languages: Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Croatian, Czech, Dari, Dutch, Farsi (Persian), French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Indonesdian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Pashto, Portugese (Brazil), Russian, Slovak, Spanish (Latin America), Tagalog, Tamil, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdo, and Vietnamese. (Whew!). What I loved about Mango Languages was the simplicity and pace of the lessons. In the past I have found a lot of learning software like Rosetta Stone to have a fast pace that can be discouraging. Mango Languages has a slower pace and prompts the user for a lot of interaction and practice. Most of the lessons operate in showing you slides with study material on it, sometimes the slides seem to take too long, but there is a forward button.

Mango Languages offers three types of courses, from Basic (which is a few hours), and two other more in depth lessons. I completed the Basic course for Latin American Spanish and was quite pleased with the results. In an evening I recalled basic greetings, simple conversation, and how to ask some important questions. My account even keeps statistics and lets me know how much time I have spent on lessons a practicing (four hours and counting). If I continue on to the other two courses there is about 100 individual lessons in all. There isn’t a lot of entertainment, so don’t expect pictures or graphics, but the coloring of the software is slick and bright.

I highly recommend that in the past if you have tried Rosetta Stone or a learn in your car type of resource and you got fed up or discouraged, check out Mango Languages! It is almost fun to learn… Adios!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Read Local Archived Papers

Are you looking for an article where you son or daughter was mentioned in the Mukwonago Chief or did you read a great article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel? You can find archived copies of those newspapers and 233 other Wisconsin newspapers ranging from issues dating back to 2005 through 60 days ago.

A selection of local newspapers that you might be interested in are:

Kettle Moraine Index
Lake Country Reporter
Sussex Sun
Oconomowoc Focus
Milwaukee Journal
Mukwonago Chief
Brookfield News
Elm Grove Elm Leaves
Menomonee Falls News
Muskego Sun
New Berlin Citizen
Oconomowoc Enterprise
Palmyra Enterprise
Waukesha Freeman

To access this database click on the link. You can search according to keywords, date, or newspaper title. If you have any questions call the Mukwonago Community Library reference desk. Have a great week!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Pizza Superhero Drawing and Writing Contest

Want a chance to win a slice of pan pizza? Then draw your best pizza superhero and write a description of their name and superpowers! Entry forms are available at the Mukwonago Community Library or you can print them out from the link listed below! The contest runs from December 20th to February 12th.

Good luck and happy drawing!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Learning About Your Health: Anxiety

More and more people are looking to the internet and other resources to educate themselves about their health and treatment options. Your physician should always be your primary source of information but the library can be a great supplementary tool in becoming educated on your health.

The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that over 18% of Americans suffer from an anxiety disorder. I will show you some resources on the internet and in the library to help you educate yourself about these illnesses. In much the same way you should be able to look up many different diseases, illnesses, and other health related material using the library.

Consumer Health Complete is a subscription database accessible through the library website with your library card. This database contains evidence-based reports reference books, fact sheets, pamphlets, news, drug and herb information, alternative sources, images, diagrams, and videos. If I perform a search in this database with the keyword “anxiety” I get a list of nine relevant articles that talk about different types of anxiety. One of those articles provides general information, treatment options, and supplementary information. For example I learned that some lifestyle changes including quitting smoking, exercising regularly, and reducing caffeinated beverages can help reduce anxiety. I also learned some of the many symptoms include diarrhea, difficulty sleeping, muscle tension, and nail biting. If I was going to talk to my doctor about the issue of anxiety I felt a little more comfortable because the article listed different treatment options, possible medications, and other organizations that could provide me with information. I also learned I could check out websites like Anxiety Disorders Association of America and Mental Health America.

MedlinePlus and PubMed are another two databases that are available for free through the National U.S. Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus is the easier of the two to use and provides a a thorough overview of what information is available. I was impressed that they provided resources for different ages and genders. Often your age and gender can greatly influence different types of treatment. It also includes a lot of information at a glance including directories, current clinical trials, statistics, organizations, and other research.

PubMed is a lot more complex to use then the other two databases. PubMed is is meant to support medical professionals . When you perform a search the results will be greater (in the thousands) that is because there are more citations for information and less full text articles. Be careful the articles will be full of technical jargon and may be difficult to follow. If you are looking for general information I highly suggest sticking with Consumer Health Complete as your first resource. Once you are ready to delve into something a little more complex like PubMed they do offer tutorials.

If you are looking for a lighter read then medical articles the library has a plethora of great books and magazines available for you to check out. If you go to the library catalog and do a search for the subject “anxiety” there are many different types of resources you can put on reserve. Some are available immediately like e-books and downloadable audio books. Other items you can put on reserve like books, DVDs, and magazines. Near the end of the blog post there is a list of items I found in our catalog.
*TIP* Remember if you would like to make your search results in the catalog more accurate, limit it by the type of resource you are looking for.

Beyond what resources the library directly provides there are also some websites that are more authoritative and trust worthy then others. Here are a few that I suggest for when you are looking up information on your health.

WebMD is a website that is most famous for helping people self diagnosis illnesses by identifying their symptoms. They also have a great interactive website where you can create your own account, read a current and accurate information, and find things written in plain English. They have an entire area of their website devoted to anxiety disorders where you can find all of the information linked to anxiety on one page. Some extras that you can find on WebMD versus other sites are a “community” or an area to talk about anxiety disorders, a physician directory to find specialists in your area, and recent news stories on anxiety. WebMD offers most of its services for free.

Family Service of Waukesha is a local nonprofit organization that received funding through the United Way to provide services including mental health. Though the website may not provide you with information you are looking for, it gives you the contact information for a local organization that may be able to guide you to resources.

I hope the resources we have provided for you will help your search for information about anxiety disorders. Other health information can also be looked up using the three databases mentioned, and you can use our catalog to look up materials looked at the library. If you have any questions please contact the Mukwonago Community Library reference staff at (262) 363-6456.


-The anxiety cure [electronic resource] : an eight-step program for getting well ( 2003) completely revised and updated 2nd ed. DuPont, Robert L., 1936-

-Anxiety disorders [electronic resource] : a medical dictionary, bibliography and annotated research guide to Internet references (2003)

-School phobia, panic attacks, and anxiety in children [electronic resource] (2003)
Csóti, Márianna.


-Don't panic [electronic resource] : taking control of anxiety attacks (2009)
Wilson, Robert R.


-My anxious mind : a teen's guide to managing anxiety and panic (2009)
Tompkins, Michael A.
-Overcoming anxiety for dummies 2nd ed. (2010)
Elliott, Charles H., 1948-
-Rae : [my true story of fear, anxiety, and social phobia] (2010)
Swiggett, Chelsea Rae.
-The mindful path through worry and rumination : letting go of anxious and depressive thoughts Kumar, Sameet M. (2009)
-Worried sick : defeat your fears and live a happier life (2004)
Burns, David D.
-Yoga for anxiety : meditations and practices for calming the body and mind (2010)
NurrieStearns, Mary.


-High school survival kit [nonfiction videorecording] / CWK Network (2008)


-Psychology today [magazine] : 2006 thru the current year

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Library Holiday Hours

Just a reminder that the library will be closed:

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

Friday, December 24th, 2010

Saturday, December 25th, 2010


Friday, December 31st 2010

Saturday, January 1st, 2010

Monday, January 3rd, 2010

Enjoy your holidays!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Thank you for your Support During Midnight Magic

The Friends of the Library had an amazing turnout this year for the Midnight Magic auction, raffle and bake sale. The auction grossed about $3,010, the bake sale about $400, and the raffle about $400. For a total of about $3,800!

Thank you to the Friends of the Library, all of the volunteers, and everyone that bid on or purchased items. It is this kind of support that makes the library an ever better place.

Also, a huge thank you to all of the businesses and individuals in Mukwonago that contributed the wonderful prizes. We are fortunate to live in such a generous and supportive community.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Read to Win this Winter

In the last blog I showed you where to find ideas for some great reads, in this post I am going to tell you how to win some great prizes by reading those books! Registration for all programs begins December 20th and contests end on February 12th, 2011. (Make sure you register, otherwise you won’t be entered in the contest!).

Carry Out a Good Book

For our K-12 patrons there is a chance to win a pizza a month for a year! That’s right; you could win hot, cheesy, delicious pizza, once a month for a year. All you have to do is read 500 minutes of your favorite books by February 12th, 2011. Once you complete those minutes you will be entered in for a chance to win the pizza! (Only one entry per patron.)

Books that Have Been Made Into Movies

For our adult patrons there is a chance to win a gift basket with movie goodies or ten other prizes. All you have to do is read a book that has been made into a movie, and then check out and watch the movie. (That sounds tough!). Every time you read the book and watch the movie you will be entered to win the prizes. (Unlimited entries for this program, the more you read and watch, the more you could win).

Drawing for all prizes will be done at the end of the program. Good luck!

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Way For Teens To Find More Reading Ideas

I want to make sure you have plenty of books on your "wish to read" list. You may have noticed the new area on the library catalog that links to best seller and suggested reading. This is a great way to check out new books straight from the library catalog. Some of the lists you can link from there are some of the bestseller lists including: New York Times Fiction, New York Times Nonfiction, Publisher Weekly Fiction, Publishers Weekly Nonfiction, LA Times Fiction, and even more! If you click on the "more best seller lists" like LA Times, Library Journal, Washington Post, Christian Booksellers Association, and Barnes and Noble.

If the bestsller lists aren't enough for you there are even more selections with the suggested reading list. Directly from the catalog you can link to the National Book Award for Fiction, Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Edgar Award (Mystery), Hugo Award (Science Fiction) and World Fantasy Award. To access more click on the more recommended reading lists to access suggested award winner from Fiction, Nonfiction, Science Fiction, Horror, Biography, Cookbook, Travelbooks, Children's, Western, Mystery, Fantasy, and Young Adult.

I am here to tell you there even are more lists and suggestions out there! To take you directly to the source I have included some links to some of the “Best Books of 2010” lists below. Three books from each list are highlighted in this blog, to read the rest of each list click on the link provided. Not all of the “best of lists” have been awarded for 2010 yet. But if you want to look at the current nomination list I have included that link for you. (You could even vote for your favorites!) These lists can be used to start building your hold list for 2011, or even as gift ideas for people on your holiday shopping list. Happy Reading!

YALSA Top 10 Books of 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Internet Browsing On Thanksgiving

The Mukwonago Community Library wishes everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! On this turkey day if you find yourself browsing the internet we have a few suggestions of websites you can visit to keep the Thanksgiving theme.

Websites for Children:

Plimoth Plantation Museum
This website has a special interactive lesson for young children K-6 that will teach them about the original Thanksgiving. Take a peak inside a Colonial English settler’s cottage and learn about the Wampanoag Indians that helped them survive their first winter.

Scholastic’s Mayflower Tour
This is a great website for K-6 children to take an inside look of the Mayflower. Also peak around to see what was served at the first feast and learn about the Pilgrims' daily life.

Websites for Everyone:

Hulu Presents: A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
Hulu is a free website and trustworthy website that allows you to watch television and movies at home on your computer. A perfect holiday treat is watching A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving with your family.

The History Channel’s Thanksgiving
The History Channel’s website has a great background on Thanksgiving history and short videos on subjects like the Mayflower, Pilgrims, and even pumpkin pie!

Watch the Macy’s Day Parade Online

NBC is posting the Macy’s Day Parade online.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Spotlight on Subscription Database: Learning Express

Learning does not have to be expensive or time consuming. The library offers a vast variety of learning resources to you for free. One of those awesome tools available at the library, or on your home computer, is the subscription database Learning Express. It is a resource that offers self-paced learning videos and study materials from improving your grammar, learning computer skills, through obtaining American citizenship. The subjects offered are listed below and each has its own Learning Center. Each Learning Center has different tools that include quizzes, instructional videos, tutorials, and practice material.

I recently used it brush up on some computer skills for Microsoft Excel 2007. In college I had taken formal courses on computer skills including the Microsoft Excel 2003. When the new program of Excel 2007 came out I felt like I had to learn an entirely different program! Over time I found out how to do a lot of things through trial and error. Talk about time consuming…. Even though I found my way around Excel 2007 from my own experience I wanted to see if there was anything else I could learn so I checked out Learning Express’ Advanced Video Tutorial for Microsoft Excel 2007.

After watching the video I felt like an old dog that could learn new tricks! I was expecting a long and droning video that lasted forever. Instead I watched an easy to follow video progression course where you could skip ahead according to what tasks you want to learn. Each section of video is from a minute to four minutes long. So in under fifteen minutes I learned a few new ways to collaborate and share my spreadsheets, how to merge files, and a few new protection features for more private documents. (Warning: learning can be addictive.)

Another portion of Learning Express that I tried out was the Workplace Skills Improvement area. In this economy it seems like everyone has to learn how to make a stellar resume, search for every possible opportunity of employment, and interview well. The tools available can help you improve your skills in all of those areas. It was kind of fun to take the career placement test and search for jobs all in one screen without bouncing to multiple websites.

I was also very impressed with the College Preparation area. I wish I would have had this when I was preparing to go to school. I think I would have scored a little better on my placement testing. So if you are gearing up for ACTs or SATs (or know someone that is) I suggest using the quizzes and study guides to brush up on your skills. There are a lot of books and software out there that will try to charge you an arm and a leg for a product that isn’t even as good as the one for free at the library.

I haven’t even touched on all the subjects and tools available through Learning Express. Why don’t you check it out and leave some of your thoughts in the comments. To access the database please have your library card number ready and access the database from the library website. You will have to create a user name and password to access the lessons, but this will also aid in tracking your progress.

Elementary School

Math Skills Improvement
Reading Skills Improvement

Middle School

Math Skills Improvement
Reading Comprehension Skills Improvement
Writing Skills Improvement
High School Entrance Exams Preparation

High School

Math Skills Improvement
Reading Comprehension Skills Improvement
Vocabulary and Spelling Skills Improvement
Writing and Grammar Skills Improvement

College Preparation

ACT Preparation
Advanced Placement (AP) Preparation
CLEP Preparation
CUNY Skills Assessment Tests Preparation
PSAT/NMSQT Preparation
SAT Preparation
THEA Preparation
TOEFL iBT Preparation
TOEIC Preparation

College Students

Math and Reasoning Skills Improvement
Reading Comprehension Skills Improvement
Vocabulary and Spelling Skills Improvement
Writing and Grammar Skills Improvement
Graduate School Entrance Exams Preparation
Technical and Career College Skills

Computer Skills

Adobe Flash Courses
Adobe Illustrator Courses
Adobe Photoshop Courses
Corel WordPerfect Courses
Microsoft Access Courses
Microsoft Excel Courses
Microsoft Outlook Courses
Microsoft PowerPoint Courses
Microsoft Project Courses
Microsoft Publisher Courses
Microsoft SharePoint Designer Courses
Microsoft Visio Courses
Microsoft Word Courses
Windows and Mac Operating Systems Courses

GED Preparation

GED Practice Exams
GED Preparation Courses
GED Skills Improvement
Spanish-language GED Preparation

Workplace Skills Improvement

Business Writing
Job Search, Resumes, and Interviewing
TOEIC Preparation

Occupation Practice Tests

Air Traffic Controller
Civil Service
Commercial Driver's License (CDL)
Emergency Medical Services
Law Enforcement
Nursing and Allied Health
Real Estate

Skill Building for Adults

Math and Reasoning Skills Improvement
Reading Skills Improvement
Writing and Grammar Skills Improvement

U.S. Citizenship

U.S. Citizenship Preparation

Recursos para Hispanohablantes

Mejora de las habilidades de lectura y escritura
Mejora de las habilidades matemáticas
Preparación para examen GED

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hey Teens! Do You Have Game?

Attention K-12 kids, do you have game? There is no school the day after Thanksgiving so come on down to Mukwonago Community Library to challenge your friends to different board games or come to make some new friends! Old-Fashioned Game Day will be taking place on Friday, November 26th, from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm. Here are just some of the games that we will have ready for you to play.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Gobble Up Some Great Movies @ Your Library this Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is a great time to share thanks and food with your loved ones. Try a new tradition this year by watching a Thanksgiving themed movie. Below are a few suggestions for you to Gobble up! Have a Happy Thanksgiving from everyone at the Mukwonago Community Library!

Thanksgiving Themed Movies

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Midnight Magic Library Events

Come see the magic start coming to life at the Mukwonago Community Library with the events and donations leading up to Midnight Magic! This year the Friends of the Library are once again participating by having a silent auction, raffle, and bake sale on Saturday, December 4th.

The silent auction and raffle have already started at the library with signup sheets and items on display in the library lobby and on top of the large print shelves. Come in anytime the library is open and place your bid on the signup sheets for the silent auction or purchase tickets for the raffle. Tickets are $1.00 each or 6 for $5.00. The final drawing is December 4th at 6:00 pm.

Some of the great prizes include rounds of golf, tickets to local events, gift certificates to local retailers, and a large variation of other products. This year the auction and raffle are featuring beautiful handmade items created by talented residents of our community. Below is a picture of just some of the wonderful items we have available. Come see what we have to offer and good luck winning your favorite item. Thank you to everyone that is donating items or volunteering time for this event.

If you have any donations for the silent auction or raffle, please drop them off at the library. We are particularly looking for crafters to donate their hand-made items. Also, if you like to bake for the sale, contact Laura Frisch at 262-363-6411 for more information. All proceeds of the event will go towards the library.

For more information about the magic that is happening in the rest of the community this season check out the Mukwonago Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Center website.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Notary Republic Services Now Available

The library now has Notary Republic services available. Those hours are from Monday thru Thursday 3:30 pm to 8:30 pm, and one Saturday a month. The village of Mukwonago also offers Notary services Monday thru Friday from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm. Between the two institutions Notary services are available Monday thru Friday from 8:00 am to 8:30 pm. There is no cost to receive the services. Please ensure you have all parties and documents necessary to complete your notary business. Please call ahead during the hours listed for any questions. To reach the Mukwonago Community Library call (262) 363-6411 and to reach Mukwonago Village Hall call (262) 363-6420.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Auto and Small Engine Repair Information @ Your Library

Is your rusty Chevrolet held together by chicken wire? The Mukwonago Community Library has resources that can help you maintain, fix, or learn about your truck, van, car, ATV, snowmobile, or tractor. These resources include subscription databases on the internet as well as print manuals. The subscription databases are great because they are accessible 24/7 from your home computer, and all you need is your CAFE library card!


Auto Repair Reference Center™
If you are looking to repair your vehicle the Auto Repair Reference Center (ARRC) database is a great resource. With an easy to use interface that contains a comprehensive collection of automobile repair reference information. ARRC contains information on most major manufacturers of domestic and imported vehicles, with coverage on over 35,000 vehicles from 1945 to now. It has a variety of information including almost a million drawing and photographs, 99,000 technical service bulletins and recall information, and over 158,600 wiring diagrams. All of these are easily printable and most include specifications and maintenance schedule. It is also a great resource because it is continually updated, so check for your automobile here. Please only use this database in Internet Explorer, it may not work properly in other web browsers.

Small Engine Repair Reference Center™
If you are looking to repair your ATV, mower, tractor, motorcycle, Jet Ski, snow blower, or other small engine the Small Engine Repair Reference Center subscription database is a fantastic tool. This comprehensive resource contains 410 reference books in full text with original photos and illustrations that guide the user through every job that goes back 25 years. It aids in detailed engine and transmission disassembly and is searchable by product type, brand, model type, and engine type. Most articles are printable PDF which makes transporting this information to your shop or garage easier than ever!


The library has a collection of print manuals available for you to browse through. The largest resource for the print collection is our collection of Chilton repair manuals. We just received the new 2010 editions, so look for them on the shelves in the near future! The reference manuals are not available for checkout, but you can look at them in the reference collection and photocopies can be made for 15 cents per page. Other manuals include Outboard Motor, Haynes, and other general information items.
If you are looking for a manual to take home with you and we don’t have it available in the library, stop by, call, or e-mail the reference desk. Through Interlibrary Loan we may be able to borrow what you need from another library in the state.
Good luck with your repair or project!

Today’s blog article was written by the newest edition to the Mukwonago Community Library staff, Tristan Kelly. Tristan will be a new face behind the reference and circulation desk most weekdays in the afternoon and evening hours. She just graduated this year from UW-Milwaukee with a Masters in Library and Information Science and is excited to be working here. She loves a good challenge so make sure to bring in your reference questions!

Welcome Tristan!

Long-time librarian Janet Kosky will be sorely missed, but I believe you will all find Tristan Kelly, our new librarian, to be a friendly, knowledgeable and helpful presence at the library. Tristan started on Monday and is rapidly learning our library. Say “Hi” to her next time you’re in.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tea & Mystery Update

The Tea & Mystery event is rapidly approaching-- this Sunday, from 2-4 pm. One of the two featured authors, Deb Baker, will be on the TMJ's Morning Blend (Channel 4) tomorrow, Oct. 19 between 9 and 10 am. She'll be talking about her new book, and will also plug the event here at the library. Check it out!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Rant or Rave: The Lost Symbol

I haven't done one of these in a while and I rarely do rants, so I guess its time for one. I sincerely regret that I wasted over 17 hours of my life listening to Dan Brown's latest "thriller", The Lost Symbol-- it is a dreadful book, on many levels. I have read three of Mr. Brown's books now, and they have gotten progressively worse.

There are some minor spoilers below, so if you have not read The Lost Symbol and still plan to, I will first encourage you not to waste your time and second note that you may learn more about the book than you wish to know in the review below.

The first of Dan Brown's books that I read, The Da Vinci Code, was fairly entertaining and rather clever. It was also somewhat preachy in parts and you definitely got the feeling that Mr. Brown wanted you to know that he is a terribly clever fellow who isn't afraid to drop names. But I enjoyed it.

Angels and Demons
was my second read, though it is actually the predecessor to The Da Vinci Code. Angels and Demons was still somewhat entertaining, but the heavy-handed anti-Catholicism wore on me as the book progressed and the "gotcha" Hitchcockian twist at the end was fairly absurd and really stretched my ability to suspend my disbelief in order to enjoy the story. I didn't regret reading it, but I wouldn't really recommend it to anyone, either.

The Lost Symbol has all of the flaws of the other two books and almost none of their pleasures. About the only thing I really liked about The Lost Symbol was that Brown set the novel in Washington, D.C., a city that truly is full of marvels and which very rarely receives its due as a great tourist destination.

So, why didn't I like Symbol? Well, the most obvious answer, and the one that grated on me throughout, is that the writing is really quite poor. There are over 100 chapters in the book and I would guess that over half of them end with a "cliffhanger" similar to the following: "What he saw chilled him to his bones," or "Then, like an oncoming truck, it hit her." Do this once or twice and it can be an effective literary device. Do it a half dozen times, but spread them out over the course of a 500+ page novel and they won't really register as more than a minor annoyance. Stuff several hundred of them (no, I didn't count, but many chapters had more than one of these "oh my gosh" non-surprising "revelations") and you start to dread the next time someone in the book sees something or learns something "startling" that the reader is not privy to until much later. Or, to quote from this review by Samuel F. Lytal, "The purpose of a cliffhanger is not for you to realize it is a cliffhanger, but instead to compel you to turn the page, not laugh at the author's lack of subtlety."

There is far, far too much laughing at Dan Brown's lack of subtlety in The Lost Symbol.

Other annoyances: The pacing is lousy. The puzzles are rather dull. The supposedly clever people are far too often incredibly stupid. The villain is both unbelievable and two-dimensional. The big "thing that will shake our democracy and our world to its core" turns out to be rather trivial and banal.

There are a few interesting and entertaining tidbits in the book. Some of the history of the Masonic order and of Washington, D.C. is intriguing, and the presentation of the "science" of noetics is okay, though Robert Langdon is arguably the worst skeptic in the history of the world, accepting wild leaps of logic and intuition on the flimsiest of "evidence" and analysis. The best part of the whole thing is probably the whirlwind "tour" of D.C. that the book takes us on.

Yet even these niceties can only help make a truly horrible book into a fairly bad book. Which is a shame, because throughout Symbol, and most of Angels and Demons, I kept thinking "This could really be quite a good book if it were written by someone other than Dan Brown. Someone better than Dan Brown."

Unfortunately, it was written by Dan Brown, and it is not a good book. So, a big, ranting BLECH for The Lost Symbol.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Old World Wisconsin Photo Display

The Mukwonago Community Library is thrilled to host a traveling display of Old World Wisconsin's Annual Photo Contest winners. Every year, OWW takes entries from its visitors, selecting the top three pictures in the areas of: 1) Pioneer Life, 2) People, 3) Agriculture, 4) Nature and 5) Historic Structures. Normally, the winning photos are displayed at Caldwell Hall on the OWW grounds, but that building is still recovering from this summer's tornado. So this year, those pictures are all a part of a traveling display. And we're the first stop!

You can't miss the display, as it is in the front lobby of the library, so check it out the next time you visit. We'll have the photos here through Friday, November 12. Details on the annual photo contest can be found here. Details on Old World Wisconsin can be found here. It's a fabulous place-- beautiful, fun and educational. A rare combination outside of your local public library.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Jack-O-Lantern Jaunt this weekend

The 8th Annual Jack-O-Lantern Jaunt is this weekend, Friday Oct. 15 and Saturday Oct. 16. This is a fun, family-friendly event, held at the Field Park grounds on the corner of Highways 83 and NN. All of the money raised at the Jaunt is donated to charity, and this year the proceeds will go the Mukwonago Food Pantry and to...(drumroll)... the Library's Expansion Fund!

So come out to Field Park this weekend-- the weather should be fine-- and have a great time while supporting two great causes. The event runs from 6-10 pm both nights. Further details on Jack-O-Lantern Jaunt can be found here. All of the pumpkins are carved by local organizations and individuals. Here are a few examples from previous Jaunts:

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sign O' the Times

3:12 on a Tuesday afternoon and we currently have seven patrons using laptops or netbooks here in the library. On the wired computer stations-- six patrons. It seems that wired, desktop computers may soon be the wave of the past. Indeed, there are some indications that wired anything might be a thing of the past in the not so distant future.

My kids don't remember a time when phones weren't wireless. They were shocked the first time they came to my office and saw a phone that was limited in how far it could go by the wires sticking out of it. Well, not actually shocked. But certainly surprised. Will their kids be surprised to find tvs and lights and other electrical devices that actually have to be plugged in? My money is on yes.

For good or ill, we do live in interesting times.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Halloween Happenings

Wear your costume and

come trick-or-treating at the Library.



Tuesday, October 26, 6:30 PM

An evening storytime for families of all ages.



Wednesday, October 27, 10:00 AM

A preschool storytime for ages 3-6 years.


Thursday, October 28, 10:00 AM

A lapsit storytime for ages newborn to 36 months.


Thursday, October 28, 2:00 PM

For grades 4-8.

Previous experience helpful but not required.



Friday, October 29, 2:00 PM

A story and a craft for grades K-3. Please register.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fox 6 Piece on Expansion

In case you missed it, Fox 6 did a quick (3 minute) interview about the expansion and the Night on the Town event on their morning WakeUp segment. You can find the interview on their website: http://www.fox6now.com/news/wakeup/interviews/ then look for Mukwonago Library: A Night on the Town.

Or, just click on the video. =)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Night on the Town Event!

You may have seen it in the paper, or heard about it around town, but if not-- please mark your calendars for Sunday, Sept. 26. The Library is holding A Night on the Town, a fundraiser for the expansion project featuring John McGivern. All proceeds will benefit our expansion fund, and the night should be a lot of fun.
Some of the details:
  • A pre-performance gathering at Heaven City. It will feature gourmet hors d'oeuvres and a wine tasting, with a separate cash bar available. This "opening act" kicks off at 5:45.
  • Doors at the Mukwonago High School Auditorium open at 7:15, with material on the expansion available for viewing. The Blood Street Blues Band, a local jazz group, will provide entertainment until the curtain is ready to go up on the main event.
  • 8:00-- the Main Event. Jim "Lips" LaBelle will be your host, and he will introduce the Premiere, an award-winning female quartet that are part of the Sweet Adelines.
  • John McGivern, local storyteller, actor and radio personality will take the stage after Premiere is done to bring you some of his one-of-kind stories and reminiscences.
This will be an awesome night of entertainment, food, community spirit and most of all, fun. And all the money will go to the Library's expansion, helping to ensure that Mukwonago has a top-notch cultural center that is good for everyone.

Details on the event are available here. Details on the expansion, and how you can help us reach our goal, are available here. Please, call the library with any questions, or send an email to us.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Super-Dooper, Splendid, Spectacular, Stupendous, Simply Sensational, End-of-Summer Scavenger Hunt is HERE!

The Library's Summer Reading Program ends on Saturday, Aug. 7, but there's still fun to be had at the Mukwonago Community Library before the summer is over. All families with school-age children are eligible to participate in the SDSSSSSEoS Scavenger Hunt. One lucky family will win a $100 Kohl's gift certificate, and every family that successfully completes the hunt will receive a special prize.

This contest ends Friday, August 27 at 4:00 pm, but don't wait to start until the last minute-- there are 50, yes five-zero, items on the list and all of them need to be brought into the library and verified to qualify for the drawing for the $100 gift card.

Full rules and the scavenger hunt list are available in the Library, but here's just a small taste of the things you and your family will be hunting for:
  • #6: Fly Swatter
  • #17: Stick of White Chalk
  • #33: Steel Wool
  • #39: Blue Crayon
  • #47: Coin Purse

Expansion Planning Update

The Library's plans for expanding and renovating are coming together nicely. Check out the newest plans below. This isn't the final look for the building, but it is getting close.

The image above shows the expanded library from the south looking down, toward the north. This image lets you see the look of the new library's roof line and, roughly, how the parking will look on the east and southeast portions of our lot.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Not Just Nautical Knots-- TONIGHT!

Join us this evening at 5 bells (6:30 pm for landlubbers like me) for a presentation on knot tying and much more. Which side is port and which starboard? Come find out! Craig Grisham, technology support person here at the library, will be your host for an informative and fun evening of nautical terminology and knot tying techniques. He will also relate a few of his exploits on the open seas.

There will be prizes for sailors 12 and under and fun to be had by all. Make sure to find out why five bells is 6:30-- I'm sure there is a good reason, but I can't imagine what it might be.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Summer is Here!

School's out and summer has begun (okay, officially it is still four days off, but once school's out, summer is here). The place to be cool this summer is the Mukwonago Community Library. There is simply tons of cool, "wet" and "watery" things happening here during June, July and August-- the theme this year is "Make a Splash at the Mukwonago Library".

Next week alone we have a Pirate Pajama Party at 6:30 pm on Tuesday the 22nd. The next morning, join us at 10 am for "Silly Songs and Stories." Teens can play many of their favorite Wii games in the afternoon, 1:30-3:30 pm on Wed., June 23. That night, you can be a detective, or a suspect, in the Library's Murder Mystery Party: Hulas and Homicides, 6:00-8:30 pm. Thursday is lapsit storytime at 10 am, then Ocean Origami for grades 4-8 at 2:00 pm.

And those are just the one-time events. The weekly reading challenges are ongoing throughout the summer, with separate challenges for children, teens and adults. Join in the fun and you could win a cool prize in one of our raffles. Story and drawing challenges are also underway-- tell us about "The One That Got Away," or draw a sea monster. And we have a "Guess How Many Origami Frogs" contest open to children as well.

Later in the summer, we'll have our Second Annual Recipe Contest, a bunch of cool movies-- with water/fish themes, and a Hula dance troupe. Visit our Youth Services and Adult Services web pages for a full listing of what's going on. Or, stop in to the library and pick up our brochures that give a full listing of the special events and activities available throughout the summer.

Make Waves this summer-- at the Mukwonago Community Library!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Self-Check is Here!

The new self-check unit is installed and open for business! Just scan your library card, then scan your books and other materials one and a time, and voila, you are done. The unit will tell you your account status and print out a receipt for all of your check-outs. It's simple and fun!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Rant or Rave: The World Below

This is a Rant or Rave that I am surprised to be writing. Sue Miller is not "my kinda author". Frankly, though I had heard her name on a few occasions at the library, I really didn't know who she was, nor what kinds of books she wrote. It is sometimes difficult to break me out of my norms of historical fiction, classics, science fiction & fantasy and non-fiction. Certainly, if I was consciously to step outside those norms, I doubt Sue Miller would've even been on my list of potential authors to explore. Certainly, she would not have been near the top of that list.

Funny thing happened on the way to forum-- I heard Sue Miller speak at the Milwaukee Public Library Spring Literary Luncheon. More, I heard her read from her latest book, The Lakeshore Express. And I was impressed and engaged. Far more so than I expected. She was quite charming and interesting, and her book was good. Very good, actually.

So, upon returning to the Mukwonago Community Library, I checked to see if we had any of Ms. Miller's works on audiobook. And, lo and behold, we had The World Below on CD. And, lo and behold, it was good. Really, really good.

Oh, there are bits and pieces that don't quite fit, especially at the beginning, and there are a few places where the narrator describes events from the past in a level of detail and specificity far beyond what she could actually know about those events. But these are minor quibbles. The World Below references the human ability, skill and foible both, to present one version of yourself to the world, while maintaining a quite different perspective and history hidden below the surface. Known only to a few, and visible to others only at rare moments when circumstances are just right.

It resonated strongly with me, perhaps because from time to time, I find myself wondering what if? What if I had gone to prom with someone else? What if I had pursued a different course of study in college? What if I hadn't grown up in the country? What if, what if, what if? The World Below echoes those What Ifs, explores the ways we justify things in our past. Paper over some of the hurts and what ifs that didn't go at all the way we expected them to. It is a rich, deep look into human nature, particularly into the worlds we all create-- one on the surface, and one (maybe more) below.

The World Below is not an easy book. It twines together the life stories of several generations of one family, and following who is where is why is when can be challenging. But it is most definitely worth investing the necessary time and energy to fully appreciate. As an added bonus, it also does have a historical fiction section, as Miller's descriptions of Georgia Rice's stay in a Maine tuberculosis sanitarium added much to my understanding of what it must have been like to have TB in the early 20th century. I know of diseases like TB and polio, of course, but in a hypothetical "gee, that sounds bad" sort of way, rather than through any personal experience. Miller vividly transforms that theoretical understanding into something much more profound and personal with her elegant narrative.

It is a fine, fine book. Once I return from my current jaunt back into the classics (Great Expectations), I will give The Lakeshore Limited a read to see if it is as good, or better. Anyone else have any feedback on Sue Miller's work?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Budget Simulator

The size and growth of our nation's debt is an issue of concern to many, regardless of political affiliations or ideological preference. If you'd like to try your hand at reducing America's debt and developing a fiscally responsible federal budget, then go to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget's (CRFB) new budget simulator and give it your best shot.

It's an interesting exercise, and provides a pretty good overview of the areas where reductions can be achieved (though it makes no provisions for the actual political or social/cultural impacts of the various choices).

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Scoopie Night for the Library

Plan your dinner for Monday, May 24 at the Mukwonago Culver's, where 10% of your purchase will benefit the library's expansion and renovation project. In addition, library volunteers (myself and other staff members included) will be serving food during the promotion.

This event is only from 4:30 to 7:30 pm, so lunch at Culver's that day won't help the library (though the food will no doubt be tasty). You will need a flier for us to get credit, which you can print out here. Additional fliers will be available at Culver's that night.

Come out for butter burgers and frozen custard on Monday night and help the library out at the same time-- Win/Win!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Self-Check Coming!

The library has ordered a self-checkout station, and it should be installed before the start of the Summer Reading Programs. This station will allow you to check out materials by simply scanning your card, then scanning the items you wish to check out. The process is very similar to the machines they now have at many grocery, department and home improvement stores.

Waukesha, New Berlin and many other libraries around the state and the country are using these stations, and all report that their customers find them easy to use and very convenient. The new checkout station will be just to the east of the circulation desk, where one of the catalog access computer stations is right now.

Holds, ILL and video game items will still need to be picked up at the circulation desk, but the rest of our materials should be able to be checked out at the new station once it is up and running.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Rant or Rave: Dracula

In my continuing quest to catch up on "classic literature" that I should've read in high school or college, but didn't, I listened to Dracula last month. It was quite good, though if it weren't the first vampire novel, I doubt it would have lasted this long and generated so much follow-up literature. Parts of it are terribly melodramatic, in the 19th century tradition of idealized romance and British propriety, while a few parts make you roll your eyes at the obtuseness of the main characters.

Obtuse until you remind yourself that the characters aren't steeped in vampire lore, the way much of the western world is. The concept that Count Dracula could form from fog, or transform into a bat, or command wolves was brand new to everyone when Bram Stoker wrote Dracula in 1897. So, you can forgive the main characters most of their complete blockheadedness in regards to the Count's activities.

Three interesting tidbits from Dracula that I had no idea about before reading it:
  • It is written entirely in the form of diary entries, newspaper articles and personal narratives. There is no "omniscient author". It gives the novel a very different feel than we are used to today, and also provides a fascinating glimpse into turn-of-the-century British mores and customs.
  • In addition to introducing the concept of vampires into popular culture, as well as the singularly evil Count Dracula, the novel also introduced the world to the stereotypical insane asylum resident, often caricatured in cartoons. In the novel, the patient Renfield plays a significant role, and Stoker's depiction of his psychosis and reaction to the proximity of the Count are clearly the inspiration for many portrayals of a "typical" madman on stage and screen.
  • Dracula also introduced the character of Van Helsing to the world. A dutch doctor who also happens to be familiar with the legends and myths of the eastern European lands. Van Helsing, though physically vibrant for his age, is far more intellectual and philosophical in Dracula than he is often portrayed as in later movies. Certainly NOT like the ripped, action-figuresque Hugh Jackman from the 2004 film.
The ending to Dracula is a bit abrupt, and far too conveniently coincidental for my tastes, but overall it is quite a fun read. In addition to the main storyline, the novel also provides some interesting insight into the culture, beliefs and science of its time. A fascinating century-plus long look backwards. So-- a fairly enthusiastic Rave for Dracula.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Back in the Saddle Again

Sorry for the long pause in posting. April wound up being a very busy month. Lots of programming and events, coupled with a significant increase in expansion project activity. April saw Spring Break week, Earth Day activities and more.

May will be busy too, partly in preparation for our Summer Reading Program challenges and events, but also with its own fun events. Registration for the children's and adult's summer reading challenge begins June 1, with the kickoff date of Monday, June 14. Join in the fun! This year's theme is a beach/water-related one, with Make A Splash @ the Mukwonago Community Library for the kids and Ride the Title Wave @ the Mukwonago Community Library for our adult patrons.

Join us Monday, May 24 between 4:30 and 7:30 at the Mukwonago Culver's for Scoopie Night. Bring along a flier and 10% of your order will be donated to the library's expansion fund. Copies of the flier are available to be printed off of our website. Details on the expansion project and its progress are available here.

Several Rant and Rave segments to come, as I have been listening and reading during the past month, just not posting as much (okay, at all). For details on other summer events and programs, be sure to check out our Youth Services web page and our Adult Services web page. You can also follow us on Facebook.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Food For Fines

Coming in May: Our second Food For Fines drive. For each non-perishable food item received, we will reduce your fines by $1.00. The maximum reduction is $20, and the reduction does not apply to lost items or fines from other libraries.
Expired food will NOT be accepted.
The drive runs from Monday, May 10 through Saturday, May 15.
Food will be donated to the two Mukwonago Food Pantries.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Stuff this Week

A busy week, so my apologies for not posting more and providing more advanced notice-- remember, you can always check our online calendar to see what's happening as well. So, it the spirit of better late than never, here's a breakdown of the remaining Spring Break week at the library:
  • Tonight, Tuesday April 6: Job Hunting Workshop; 6:30-7:45
  • Tomorrow, Wednesday April 7: Pigeon Party-- fun and games for K-2nd graders; 2:00 pm
  • Thursday, April 8: Mad Hatter Tea Party-- enjoy tea and crumpets while make a mad creation; grades 7-12, 2:00 pm
  • Friday, April 9: Game day-- we'll have a Wii station (but only one), and a variety of board games.
Next Tuesday, April 13, LaBak the magician will be here for an evening of magic and fun, starting at 7:00 pm.

Join us at the library!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Rant or Rave: Uncle Tom's Cabin

As part of my "Catching up on all the books I probably should've read when I was younger but somehow never got around to," tour of literature, I recently read Uncle Tom's Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Classic title, about which I knew next to nothing except that it was vehemently anti-slavery and had a major impact on the abolition movement in the mid-1800s, culminating ultimately in the Civil War. That's about it. Things I did not know about Uncle Tom's Cabin:
  • It was the best-selling novel of the 19th Century, selling over 300,000 copies in its first year of publication, and the second-best selling book to the Bible.
  • It was made into a multitude of different plays and dramatic performances during the second half of the 19th Century, none of them authorized by Harriet Beecher Stowe.
  • That there was a controversy regarding Stowe's descriptions of southern slave life since she never actually visited any southern plantations, relying instead on written narratives and interviews with escaped slaves.
  • My understanding that the Uncle Tom character of the book was a race traitor, a figure to be scorned, even a villain, came from the unauthorized plays and 20th Century literary criticism, not from the book itself.
The writing in Uncle Tom's Cabin is good. Not great, but good. Actually, at its best it is great, but the book is quite uneven-- some sections are extremely engaging and well-written, while others suffer from either heavy-handed "preaching" from the author or over the top melodramatic prose.

But while Stowe's actual writing is inconsistent, the story and the subject of the book are not-- her vivid depiction of the evils of slavery, the negative, nearly inconceivable harm it did to so many people-- comes through brilliantly. To get a true sense of what slavery was like as little as 150 years ago, read this book.

So, a nearly unqualified rave for Uncle Tom's Cabin. It is a powerful, generally well-written and engaging story that will give you a new appreciation for just how awful an institution slavery was, and is, in our world. The only qualification is to be aware that at times the author does interject herself too much into the narrative-- telling, rather than showing-- and this can be distracting and annoying on occasion.

Final note-- if anyone ever calls you an Uncle Tom, simply smile at them and say "thank you." It will likely confuse them, and then you can tell them that Uncle Tom was a compassionate, kind and spiritual man, who always helped others and sacrificed himself to protect others from harm and injustice. Stowe's book is a Christian book, strongly grounded in 19th Century Protestant Theology, and Uncle Tom is in many ways a Christ-like figure. Never violent, willing to bear physical and emotional wrongs stoically to help others with the support of his faith, Uncle Tom is not a race traitor or a subservient whipping boy. He is a strong, principled man who doesn't compromise his beliefs even when it costs him severe beatings.