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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Christmas Fiction

I love reading Christmas books. They are happy, inspirational and really get you in the mood for the season. But reading Christmas books can be a tricky proposition. This is really the only time of the year you can read Christmas fiction. Not because they aren’t available, but because most people find it disorienting to read books about Christmas at any other time of the year.

At the same time, if there is one time of the year that people have less time to read, it the time between Thanksgiving and the New Year. The interesting thing I’ve noticed about Christmas fiction, though, is that the books are all about half the size of normal books. I guess publishers know that people don’t have a lot of time to read and are helping us readers out.

At any rate, now is the time to start your Christmas reading. Here are three of my top picks, though we have hundreds more in paper, eBook and audio:

·         Christmas in Harmony by Philip Gulley – One of my very favorite series of eccentric village characters, this volume of the Harmony series will be enjoyable even if you have not read the other books. Always looking for a way to increase the church's profit margins, Quaker church member Dale Hinshaw brainstorms a progressive nativity scene that will involve the whole town, against the wishes of Pastor Sam and the other members. Meanwhile, Pastor Sam has his own concerns: he's having his annual argument with his wife, and he's worried that the four-slotted toaster he bought for her may be too lavish a gift.

·         Dashing through the Snow by Debbie Macomber – This sweet book, now a Hallmark Channel film, follows student Ashley and former Army officer Dashiell, as they try to get from San Francisco to Seattle before Christmas. Sharing a car after being unable to book flights, the two get mixed up in trouble and maybe even fall in love.

·         The Christmas Chronicles: the legend of Santa Claus by Tim Slover -  A 14th-century woodworker dedicates his life to making children happy, but when age and infirmity catches up with him, he is made a saint and moves north to make children happy forever.
If you would like to provide a gift to the library this season, there are several ways you can help us. Due to mid-year budget cuts, we currently are only able to purchase the highest demand books. Your gifts will go toward purchasing reading material.

·         Make a year-end tax deductible donation. The donation can be made on the library’s webpage at  via PayPal or by a check mailed to Lynda Reynolds, Library Director at 1107 S. Duck, Stillwater, OK.  

·         Use the library’s Amazon link when shopping. If you are going to shop online, please consider using our link. Amazon gives the library a percentage of the sale at no cost to you. Anything you purchase at Amazon, not just books, count.

·         Purchase a gift for family or friends by buying a $3 book tote or a Friends of the Library book sale gift certificate up at the checkout desk. Visit the business office to make a book purchase in the name of your loved one.

For more information, contact the Help Desk at 405-372-3633 x8106

Monday, November 21, 2016

Stillwater's African American History Project

In last week’s column, we announced our digital archiving program taking place Nov. 29-Dec. 1. Spaces have been filling up, so if you are interested in having your family history material digitized, be sure to call or email soon at 405-372-3633 x8106 or

I also mentioned our African American genealogy program on Wednesday, Nov. 30, at 6:30 p.m. It is part of the archiving project, as we will be digitizing material for attendees of the program as it is taking place.

The genealogy program is also part of a bigger project we have been working on here at the library, which is gathering the history of Stillwater’s African American community members. Mrs. Gloria Bailey, who grew up in Stillwater and attended Washington School, and her family have been working with me on documenting information about families, businesses, organizations and events that she recalls from her childhood.

The main reason we started the project is because not very much information about Stillwater’s African American community was included in compiled histories, which makes it difficult to answer our patrons’ history questions. If everyone with a little bit of information will come together to share what they have, then all of us will have access to as much more data.

During the project, Mrs. Bailey and I have been meeting so that I can ask her an array of questions about growing up in Stillwater. I knew about some of the information she provided, but have been thrilled and surprised with how much information she has been able to fill in.

A big part of the project has been identifying long-time community members we hope to interview with the gracious assistance of OSU’s Oral History Project. The hardest part of preparing for the interviews has been pulling together a list of questions we’d like to see asked. It’s hard to narrow down which questions to ask because there is so much we don’t know. Every time we meet, Mrs. Bailey recalls a new fascinating piece of Stillwater history.

For example, did you know there was a Black Chamber of Commerce? That there was a sit-in at one of Stillwater’s diners during the Civil Right era? That there used to be a park near 15th street? That people might be deemed a Lowlander or a Highlander based on where their home was located during Stillwater’s many floods?

Mrs. Bailey is a font of information, but where we really lack is in printed material. Hopefully, many more of our community members have information to share. We ask that anyone with documents, photos, diaries, letters, annuals and other pieces of history about Stillwater’s African American community please come and sign-up for a digitization session, and then consider sharing a copy of your documents with the library. We are excited to see what we can pull together, together!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Preserve family and local history at Stillwater Public Library Nov. 29-Dec. 1

Stillwater Public Library is hosting a three day family and local history digitizing project in Room 119 of the library Nov. 29-Dec. 1. Included in the project is a Wednesday evening program on African American genealogy searching.

“The library is preparing to digitize many of its historic materials,” said Lynda Reynolds, library director. “We were the recipient of three preservation grants which enabled us to move our local history collection from a hot, humid and cramped closet to a larger room with collapsible shelving and space to preserve the material properly.

“At the same time, we built a “do it yourself” open book scanner with funding from the Oklahoma Department of Libraries that allows us to digitize books without causing so much damage to them.”

As a kick-off to its Special Collection area, the library is partnering with the Oklahoma Department of Libraries who will be bringing three scanners to help Stillwater and Payne County community members digitize their personal and local history.

“Our hope is that when community members get a copy of their material in digital format, they will consider allowing us to retain copies of the material related to local history,” said Reynolds. “We receive hundreds of requests each year and will use donated material to help people perform research and genealogy searches.”

Reynolds stresses that donating a copy of material is not required for participation in the project.

Potential items to digitize include family photographs, scrapbooks, letters, diaries, cards and other ephemera. Participants are encouraged to bring a flash drive to save the digitized material, but methods for saving will be provided for participants who do not have a device.

The digital project will take place Tuesday, Nov. 29, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Wednesday, Nov. 30, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.; and Thursday, Dec. 1, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

“Right after Thanksgiving is a perfect time to hold an event like this,” said Reynolds. “When community members travel across the country for the holiday, it gives them a chance to bring back local history material that has migrated out of Payne County and have it digitized.”

On Wednesday, Nov. 30, at 6:30 p.m., as part of the project, the library will also host a class on African American genealogy. Attendees of that program are invited to bring their material to be digitized during the program.

“We have long had difficulties being able to answer local history questions concerning Stillwater’s African American community,” said Reynolds. “Very little coverage was included in history books. We are hoping that community members will bring in information that will allow us to better answer questions, especially those related to Washington School and the Black Chamber of Commerce.”

The genealogy class and the digitization project are free and open to the public. To sign up for the class or for an hour long session Tuesday-Thursday, stop by the Help Desk, call 405-372-3633 x8106 or email

Participants with larger collections may be provided additional sessions or asked to leave material for a short period so that it can be digitized.

The Stillwater Public Library is located at 1107 S. Duck St. (the corner of Duck and 12th Ave.).  Visit the library online at

Monday, October 24, 2016

Friday Night Fun at the Library

In my early teens, there wasn’t a lot to do on a Friday night. There were a handful of home football games, and if we were lucky there might be a school dance followed by a mile long walk to eat at Pizza Inn. If we were really lucky, one of our friends’ parents had a VCR and we’d watch horror movies (Hard to believe we got away with watching films like “Pieces” and “Sleepaway Camp”). And if we were really, really lucky, one of our high school siblings would show great mercy (or capitulate to blackmail) and let us crouch down in the back seat of their car as they dragged Main. But truly, on Friday nights in a small town, there’s just nothing to do.

Kids today still have the same problem--few choices and very little to do, especially if they don’t have any money and don’t want to hang out with mom and dad. And that’s why our teen librarian, Amanda, has introduced “Fribrary.” Fribrary is a new program held at the library each Friday evening, usually from 6:30-8:30 p.m. It is for young adults in grades 6-12. It’s safe. It’s free. And it’s fun.

The first Friday of the month is “Teen Advisory Committee” when young adults can plan programs and give the library input on teens’ programming and reading needs. After the meeting, they’ll enjoy a film and food (I can absolutely promise you that neither “Pieces,” nor “Sleepaway Camp” will be shown). The second Friday is devoted to Anime Club, an already popular Friday night fixture.

The third Friday focuses on Makerspace activities, while the fourth Friday is reserved for special standalone programs like the one this Friday (Oct. 28) themed on “Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.” On Friday, teens will be making old-time and peculiar photos and buttons and sample some peculiar food. They’ll also have chances to win passes to the movie and everyone will get some sweet swag sent to us from the movie promoters. The fifth Friday of the month, which is fairly rare, will bring “Fandom Friday.”

Fribrary is currently an experiment. We’ll assess its success when we take a mid-December holiday break, and decide whether to continue on. So, we encourage anyone who is interested to attend now. For parents, I’d have to think that it would be an awfully convenient way for you to avail yourselves of two quiet hours on a typically frenzied Friday night.

For more info on the program, give Amanda a call at 405.372.3633 x8127 or email her at

Monday, October 17, 2016

Library celebrates their Friends Oct. 16-22

Thirty five years ago, the Friends of the Stillwater Public Library had their first used book sale, and they have been sweating and toiling every year since to make sure that our community has everything its library needs. This week, we join together to celebrate our Friends along with other libraries across the nation who are celebrating “Friends of the Library Week” Oct. 16-22. I am pretty sure, though, that our Friends are the very best in the nation.

Twice a year, the Friends hold giant used books sales. The work involved requires hours and hours of labor all year long. Each week, the Friends haul, move, sort, categorize, inspect, and box hundreds of books donated by the community along with ones removed from our collection. They spend an intense several weeks preparing for the sales, and it takes a ton of Friends to pull off each event.
The results of their efforts can be seen throughout the library: huge numbers of books, digital resources, pieces of equipment and furniture, training for librarians, all of our programming and so much more. If you come into the library this week, you’ll see everything their hard works has given us marked with a bright pink sign. It is amazing how much they contribute and what we wouldn’t have if not for our Friends. Here are just a few of their recent contributions:
  • Wandoo, the summer reading program tracker
  • Library Thing for Libraries, the service that lets us see reviews and images in our catalog
  • Public computers
  • The notary service
  • A large portion of our eBooks
  • All of the book club kits we purchase
  • The Great Gatsby/Fire in Beulah series
  • Book with CDs for adults with developmental disabilities who are beginning readers
  • ALL adult, teen, and children’s summer AND year round programming
Personally, I know without a doubt that there is no way I could do my job if it weren’t for the support of the Friends.

So this week, please take the time to say “thanks” to the Friends you know and to the people you see in the library always wheeling around beige carts overflowing with books. Better yet, why not become a Friend yourself and let us give you some love too! Friends memberships are $10 per year, or you can get a lifetime membership for just $100. Joining is easy-just pick up a Friends envelope at the Checkout Desk.

The big benefit of being a Friend is getting into the Thursday preview at the fall and spring book sales. You can also sign up to help sort books throughout the year and help at the book sales. But---the real benefit is knowing you are helping provide free access to information and reading resources for your entire community. Thank you Friends!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Starting Your Small Business

On Saturday, Oct. 15, at 10 a.m.-12 p.m., Brad Rickelman, Assistant Director of the Center for Business Development at Meridian Technology Center, will teach a weekend session of “Beginning Your Business” at the Stillwater Public Library.

The Center for Business Development has been partnering with the library to provide a beginning business class the last several years. Rickelman hopes it will help people who want to start a business understand the processes that need to be completed before opening.

“One of the most common errors is taking big steps before your have done the appropriate planning,” said Rickelman. “This class will help prospective business owners avoid that mistake.”

Students in the class will learn about common errors in beginning a business, how to research and develop the market for products or services and how to plan financial needs.

“Starting Your Business" is free and open to the public. Registration is required and will be taken until Oct. 13 at 5 p.m. To sign-up, go to the library's website at, email or call 405-372-3633 x 8106.

Stillwater has a network of organizations that assist business owners, including the Center for Business Development at Meridian Technology Center which provides business consulting and coaching, business incubation and networking and education events. Other resources include:

  • OSU Payne County Extension, which hosts monthly meetings and learning opportunities for home based businesses.
  • Oklahoma Small Business Development Center at OSU, which provides entrepreneurs with professional business consulting at no cost, including management training and vital information they need to grow and succeed.
  • Stillwater Public Library, which provides hard copy books and eBooks on business and management subjects and the Small Business online database, which provides thousands of articles, videos, and books on all manner of business.

Library hours are Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The Stillwater Public Library is located at 1107 S. Duck St. (the corner of Duck and 12th Ave.).