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Thursday, August 4, 2016

Kindle



So—I have been a huge proponent of the Kindle Fire. Each time someone comes in to ask for a recommendation about an ereader, the Fire has been at the top of my list. You can do eBooks, plus get most of what an iPad has but at a significantly cheaper price.

And then, I looked at my reading list to see what I had been reading. Not much! And yet I have downloaded quite a few books to read. What was going on? I had also noticed several of my Library Shelf articles talk about the fact that I hadn’t read for ages, then I go on a reading spurt and recommend a lot of the books. So why do I keep having these reading droughts, especially since I am an avid reader and, well, it is sort of part of my job?

As I wondered about this question, I picked up my Fire, opened “Cryptonomicon” by Neal Stephenson, a book I was reading because I LOVED his novel “Seven Eves.” As I was reading, I stopped to look up info about the history of the “output-feedback mode stream ciphers” that appear in the book.

While reading about the history of that cipher system on Wikipedia, I laughed at myself because I was getting info off Wikipedia, even though I detest Wikipedia because of the misinformation that shows up on its pages, and I recalled that we had specifically added “information literacy” as a  goal on the library’s Long Range Plan to help our users better understand good vs. not good webpages, but remembered that I had not started a plan yet for beefing up our information literacy outreach, so I went to our webpage to look up the specific wording in the plan, but when I was looking for the long range plan link, I saw the slide on our homepage for the Mobile FabLab (maker space) coming on Friday, which made me remember that I had seen an ad for the comeback of the TV show “Battlebots,” which my husband loves, but that I HATE so since we stream TV, I looked up articles on how I could block out an entire site like ABC, so that I wouldn’t have to watch it, and then I felt guilty for wanting to deprive hub of something that makes him so happy, which me feel sad, and then I was sad, and then I became concerned that I had become sad so quickly, so I looked up whether or not you can get Seasonal Affective Disorder in the summer, and as I read the list of symptoms, I saw that not enjoying things you used to enjoy was on the list, and I thought about how I was certainly not enjoying the escape game I had been playing on my Fire, so I opened the game to see if I still didn’t like it, and I didn’t, so I went to the Kindle app store and browsed through a bunch of apps to find and download a new escape game to see if I liked that one, but in the meantime, I found a cross-stitching game app that looked fun so I downloaded it to play, but I didn’t like it so I deleted it, and when I deleted it, the icon for my episodes of “The Bletchley Circle,” about the women who worked as codebreakers at Bletchley Park during WWII, appeared, so I stopped and watched the last two episodes I hadn’t seen yet, but then I was finished with the series and wished I had more, which reminded me that HEY—I’m reading a book about codebreaking!, so I reopened “Cryptonomicon,” read a page and half, then fell asleep.

So, I knew what my reading problem was. I checked out several hardcopy books the following day, and read and enjoyed “Fates and Furies” by Lauren Groff (very literary, 3.5 stars); “Girl with All the Gifts” by M.R. Carey (dystopian, 4 stars)Britt-Marie Was Here” by Fredrik Backman (5 stars!); and “I Let You Go” by Clare Mackintosh (4.25 stars).

I still love the ease and convenience of eBooks, but before I go back to Oklahoma Virtual Library, I’ll be getting a plain old, no frills Kindle.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Law Day at the Library



This week the Stillwater Public Library is hosting two interesting and helpful programs related to legal issues.

On Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., Officer Tom Comstock will hold a public forum on “Police and the Community.” The program is an open discussion about public/police relations and is part of the SPD’s Community Outreach Program.

Comstock will be discussing topics such as the actions community members can take to assist the police, safe ways to respond should you get pulled over or stopped by an officer and types of responses that are specifically be illegal.

The program is not just about how YOU should respond, but also about how the police do. Comstock will be discussing what to do if you witness inappropriate actions by the police and what you would like to see from the police. What type of community involvement and interactions would you like to see?

As we hope you know, two of the library’s core tenets are openness and accessibility. We applaud the police department for doing this program and for their efforts to be transparent and open to the public. We hope you will join us in this important public discussion.

On Friday, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Payne County attorneys return to the library for the free “Ask a Lawyer” program. You are invited to the library to meet face-to-face with a local attorney and ask legal questions free of charge. Questions on most legal issues can be asked, including those involving consumer problems, family law, wills and estate planning, property, personal injury and criminal issues. Participants are asked to limit their questions to those not involving current in-court cases. 

Local attorneys will provide each participant with advice on what steps are needed to resolve the legal problems. All questions are confidential, and several attorneys will be on hand at once to provide a wider base of legal knowledge. Participants are encouraged to bring a list of questions for the attorneys, as well as any documents concerning the issue.

Why bother attending the event? Sometimes, we have smaller legal issues that we don’t believe warrant making a trip to an attorney. This program is a great way to relieve those nagging legal issues you may have been carrying around all year, and sometimes, you find out that the little, nagging issue is actually very important and needs immediate attention.

“Ask-a-Lawyer” is also one of the few chances you have to get access to attorneys who have experience in such a wide variety of issues. Although attorneys do not “specialize” here in Oklahoma, attorneys often have much more experience in certain areas. We always try to pair you up with the attorney who has the most experience in the area of your legal issue.

Most importantly, it is a chance to get correct advice. As “Law Day” chairman Jimmy Oliver has said, “The internet has changed the way people receive information. Unfortunately, this can lead to people receiving incomplete or inaccurate information about legal topics when searching on the Web and speaking to people who aren't lawyers.

“With ‘Ask a Lawyer,’ citizens can speak with a licensed local attorney to get correct legal advice from someone knowledgeable about and trained on the topic." I highly concur. You may be able to get away with getting an apple pie recipe off the Web, but don’t try it with legal issues!

The event is free and open to the public on a first come, first served basis. “Ask-a-Lawyer” is a part of “Law Day,” a national event aimed at providing the public with access to and knowledge of the legal system, while highlighting the role of attorneys in the community.

Last, because of the potential for severe weather tonight, the OSU Science Café planned for 6:30 p.m. at the library is postponed. We will send out the rescheduled date when we receive it. Stay safe!

The Stillwater Public Library is located at 1107 S. Duck St. (the corner of Duck and 12th Ave.). For more information, contact the Help Desk by phone at (405) 372-3633 or by e-mail at askalibrarian@stillwater.org or visit the web site at library.stillwater.org.   

Monday, April 4, 2016

Legendary Book Sale!



The booksale is coming up on April 14-18. The sale is an official part of Stillwater’s Legends Weekend, which is apt because the sale is LEGEND (wait for it) ARY! I asked around to see what other people thought about the booksale and got some great responses about why people love this sale:

·         “I’m always surprised by the types of books I can find. I love Art and Philosophy and the sale has books that I wouldn’t expect it to have.”

·         “I like that my whole family can find items they love. The booksale has something for everyone of any age, with any interest.”

·         “The books that I like are so easy to find. They are split up in categories so I can go right over to what I am looking for.”

·         “It is so vast.”

·         “I like how affordable it is to replace our kids’ whole library every six months. We bring in all of their books to donate to the sale and get to take home a whole new batch. It keeps them interested in reading.”

·         “Great selection with thousands of books. Cheap, cheap prices.”

·         “My favorite part of the booksale? The best part is how the sale benefits the library and helps give us even better services and programs and books.”

The last statement is one of my favorite parts of the sale too. All of the funds the Friends of the Library make goes right back into the library. It is certainly the reason our library has been able to provide amazing programs like our “Great Gatsby” and “Fire in Beulah” series. Here is a quick reminder of the upcoming series programs courtesy of the Friends of the Library booksale:

·         Stillwater Runs Dry: Mob & Prohibition in Oklahoma, Tuesday, April 5 at 7 p.m.

·         1920's Lego Club Challenges, April 6 and April 14, sign-up on the library’s webpage at http://library.stillwater.org under the “Register for Programs” button.

·         Town & Gown's Theatrical Production of “The Great Gatsby,” April 7-10 and April 14-17. Purchase tickets at http://www.townandgown.org

·         Snapshot Stillwater 1920’s, April 9-17, self-guided tour of 1920’s Downtown Stillwater. Pick-up a tour booklet at the library.

The booksale begins with the Thursday Members’ Preview from 5-8 p.m. Memberships are on sale at the door for $10 and can be applied to the fall sale. The sale is open to the public Friday, 12-8 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. On Sunday all items are $1 per bag of books.

For more info about this legendary booksale, visit our webpage.

Monday, February 29, 2016

A diverse reading experience



I got a chance to sit down with Aletor Beresford-Cole with the African American Student Association and Alpha Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Both groups are co-sponsors of the library’s reading series starting March 8, “Two Books, One Community: Great Gatsby and Fire in Beulah.” The latter book tells the story of three women leading up to the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot.

I asked Aletor, who grew up in Tulsa, if he had learned about the riots in school. I wasn’t surprised to hear that he hadn’t, but he did get to learn about it while on outings to places like the Greenwood Cultural Center. This seems to be the experience of many people with whom I have spoken, regardless of their race.
I asked Aletor if, when other black people he knew learned about the riots, they were shocked. He said no, that being treated badly by others was so typical in their lives that very little surprised them anymore. As children, they had to learn to navigate the world prepared to face attacks for being black.

Aletor shared with me reoccurring incidents of being called “Boy” (and not in an affectionate way), of being watched like a hawk while shopping, of being stopped by police when he was out at night and of many other incidents. During all of this, he had to stay calm and just walk away, because a black man standing up against this treatment just leads to trouble, while the perpetrators almost always leave unscathed. Aletor learned at a young age to pick only the battles that had to be fought.

Aletor still struggles understanding why so many people are suspicious of him. He asks what is it about him that is so threatening or offensive? It is especially hard for him knowing that, while he is not in classes studying for a marketing degree or at his job on campus, he and the members of his organizations are doing things like going out to retirement communities to help seniors learn computer skills, going to schools to mentor at risk children and volunteering for community organizations. They spend their time being an asset to the community. He also wonders about the trigger in people that makes them distrust him and about what is inside people that make them treat others like they do.

Many black people are asking these questions right now. I asked Aletor why he thinks that the fight for civil rights has increased again after being seemingly dormant for decades. Aletor said it really isn’t that the fight has increased, but that now the entire world can see firsthand what it is like to be black. Social media has become black people’s best weapon against the treatment many regularly receive. 

But he doesn’t think social media will really change things much—little has changed even as video after video is released. Aletor and I talked about what it would take for real change. Football came up a lot. We talked about recent incidents at the Universities of Missouri and Oklahoma and whether it was the football teams threatening not to play that made the schools’ administration finally act. We both agreed that change is most likely to occur when people’s and organizations’ pocketbooks are affected.

I closed our conversation asking Aletor whether he thought that the library’s “Two Books, One Community” series would make any difference to race relations in our community. Aletor very kindly and diplomatically said that anytime someone shines a light on a divisive issue, it a good thing.

I don’t know if this series will make a difference to anyone, but I do know that it definitely won’t work if we don’t have a true cross section of our community present at our discussions. Old and young. Black, Hispanic, Native American, Asian, and White. Rich and poor, male and female. We have so many ways of dividing ourselves up, but we want this series to be an impetus for pulling our community together—for figuring out how we are alike. And we can’t do this until we have some real discussions.

One thing that holds us back from talking to each other is fear that we’ll say something offensive and not know it. I awkwardly asked Aletor if anything I had said or asked was offensive without me knowing it. Aletor told me no and that he was surprised that I had asked about some of his experiences as a black person, because very few people ever do. Let this be the time that we talk civilly, ask questions and let these two books help us understand what it’s like to be in another person’s shoes. 

For information about the series, our 20 events and 20 book discussion and getting free copies of the books, visit http://library.stillwater.org/TheBeesKnees.php.