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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Starting Your Own Business



On Saturday, Feb. 13, 10 a.m.– noon, Brad Rickelman, Assistant Director of the Meridian Technology Center's Center for Business Development, is holding another session of “How to Start a Business." The class, which will be held at the library, teaches potential business owners the essential details necessary to begin their own start-ups.

Brad has taught the class two or three times a year over the past several years and if I were thinking about starting a business, I would not do so without first attending Brad's class. He really knows what he is talking about and is entertaining to boot!

Students attending the class will learn how to create a focus for their business, research financial requirements, determine the revenues needed to offset expenses, hiring the right team, handling marketing and advertising, searching competition and reviewing the requirements for a business loan application.

For anyone who cannot attend the class or would like to read more about starting a business, the library has a rather large collection of books on all facets of the topic. Because business owners are often very busy, we urge you to check our digital collection of e-books available day and night for free on Oklahoma Virtual Library. Some especially helpful step by step titles include:

"Practical Financial Management: A Guide to Budgets, Balance Sheets and Business Finance" by Colin Barrow, which introduces basic financial literacy to budding entrepreneurs.

"Starting a Successful Business: Choose a Business, Plan Your Business, Manage Operations" by Michael Morris, which provides the information that business owners who fail within a year usually do not consider. The book covers how to turn a new  idea into a stable and profitable business and takes the reader through each important step of the start-up process.

The digital library also includes modern business classics, such as one of my favorite, "Start with Why" by Simon Sinek, which helps leaders determine the purpose behind their business or organization. It is a process that helps focus your efforts and inspire you, the people you work with, and your customers.

These books are available to borrow with a Stillwater Public Library card. You can browse the collection from our website.

“How to Start a Business" is free and open to the public. Registration is required, but will be taken up to the day before the class. To sign-up,  go to the registration tab on the library's website at library.stillwater.org, email askalibrarian@stillwater.org or call 405-372-3633 x 8106.

Monday, December 21, 2015

RIP Great Authors



Besides the obligatory “Best of” lists, there are also the “Famous People Who Died” end of year lists. These lists are always awkward because whose deaths do you highlight and whose do you ignore? The awkwardness is especially apparent during award season when higher profile celebs who have died get a thunder of applause, while lesser known people in the industry, usually someone like a “gaffer” or “best boy,” get only a polite smattering of claps.

This year, the world lost many amazing authors. Some, like historical fiction genius E.L. Doctorow and Nobel Prize winners Guenter Grass and Doris Lessing, were technical masters. Others, like “The Thorn Birds” author Colleen McCullough and everyone’s 1980s dirty secret Jackie Collins, were just hugely popular.

All authors leave a lasting impression on the world, because they leave their thoughts behind as books. But several authors who passed in 2015, forever changed how we read. Here are some of them:

·        True crime is one of the very most popular genres checked out at the library. People love to read the gruesome details of real crimes, and one of the very most talented authors was Ann Rule, who died in July at 83 years old. Rule shot to fame in the true crime world with her 1980 autobiographical crime story, “The Stranger Beside Me,” which detailed her friendship with and the murders by Ted Bundy. For the next 25 years, Rule ruled the NYT bestseller list with her more than 30 books.

·        Ruth Rendell, best known for her 24 book Inspector Wexford series, is credited with the changing the face of modern mysteries from gentle cozy reads to psychological thrillers. Rendell, who died in May at 85 years old, has inspired many mystery and horror writers, including Stephen King. Rendell published over 60 books, including those under her pen name, Barbara Vine.

·        Swedish author Henning Mankell died in October at 67 years old. He was writer of the dozen fabulous Inspector Kurt Wallander mystery series books. His series, and its popular translation onto TV, was a major influence in making Swedish mysteries so popular in the U.S.

·        Before readers lost themselves in the sprawling worlds of Hogwarts and Westeros, there was Discworld. Terry Pratchett’s comedy series transported readers into another world over the course of 41 books. Pratchett was the master of serialized fantasy and his success is likely one of the reasons we always get at least three and four books for every story, rather than just one. Pratchett dies in March at the age of 66.

RIP to all of those brave enough to put themselves on paper.

END

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Best List



It is the time of the year that the “Best of” lists come out. I like these lists because it helps me find good books that I might have otherwise missed. Some of them, though, sort of miss the mark on what will interest the general reader. Luckily, there are plenty of lists from which to choose.

Many times we look to the New York Times to tell us which books were the best, but I find many of the items on its list to be somewhat inaccessible and a tad, or a lot, too literary. So, what were probably the very best “written” books this year? The fiction titles include “The Door” by Magda Szabo;A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories” by Lucia Berlin; Outline by Rachel Cusk; The Sellout” by Paul Beatty; and “The Story of the Lost Child (Book four of The Neapolitan series) by Elena Ferrante.

The NYT’s 100 notable books of 2015 is also out. I find that list to be more appealing to my tastes, while still being sufficiently literary to make what I read meaningful.

A list I really do like is Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2015. PW names a top 10 list which is fine, but I like its ancillary list that includes the top books in an array of fiction genres and non-fiction topics. Readers get a chance to see titles in topics they enjoy and to be exposed to great books that would never get top 10 attention. Incidentally, Ferrante’s novel is the only fiction title repeated on both the NYT and PW very top lists.

The list at the top of MY list is LibraryReads’ Favorite of Favorites 2015. This list is compiled by librarians and the title of the list really says it all. These are librarians’ “favorite” books, not necessarily the “best,” which is a huge distinction. Just because something is technically excellent does not mean that it has “soul.”

However, it is nice to read something that really is the “best” sometimes, so why not mix it up and try a bit from all of the lists. For more “Best of 2015,” see our webpage compiling different lists at http://library.stillwater.org/best_books_2015.php. Then, hop onto our Facebook page and tell us which book you thought was the best of the year.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

The library anytime, anywhere



This past year, Stillwater Public Library has been working to make it easier for you to use the library when you are outside of it. Several elements have been added so that you can better access the library 24 hours a day, anywhere.

The first change will be a relief to eBook users who have encountered an expired library card at the most inopportune times. The nightmare of being on a long trip with no reading material, then trying to download a book at night, only to find your card is expired, is over! You can now renew your own card anytime and anywhere just by logging into the library catalog. 

When your account appears, you will see an option on the right side of the screen that will allow you to renew your library card. Please keep in mind, that if your contact information has changed, then you must email or later call the library, so that we can update your account. And don’t forget you can also renew your hardcopy library material in the space place. The easiest way to get to your account log-in is to click “RENEW” on our homepage at http://library.stillwater.org.

The second addition will be a big help for mobile device users, especially those who use the library on a phone. While you can certainly see our catalog on a small phone, it hasn’t always been very easy. However, we have now added the BookMyne app, which will display a simple, streamlined view to look up books, check your account, and even download eBooks right from our catalog.

Be sure to check our Apps page which provides information about other library services that can be used through an app. Just scroll to the bottom of our homepage and click the “Apps” link under “Online Tools.” You’ll find apps for magazines, learning a language, car repair and more.

Last, everyone will be excited to hear that we are currently working toward online bill pay! We do not yet have it, but are looking for services that will let us provide that option.

If you have suggestions that would make using the library remotely easier for you, we want to hear them! Just email askalibrarian@stillwater.org, click the “Comments” link on our homepage or call the Help Desk at 405-372-3633 x8106. Your opinions matter to us.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Supernatural Stillwater



Halloween has become one of many people’s favorite holidays, especially over the last ten years. Several suggest that Halloween’s increasing popularity is due to the chaos happening in the world around us. As we perceive the world becoming scarier and more out of control, we escape through the one night when we enjoy being afraid, knowing that our fears will disappear at the end of the night.

Another way of controlling the unknown is to investigate it. Instead of fearing strange occurrences, many people have started investigating them. One of those groups is the Oklahoma Paranormal Investigation Syndicate (OPIS). On Halloween Day, from 2-4 p.m., OPIS founder, Clint Hancock, will be at the library to present “Paranormal Investigation 101.”

Clint will be teaching supernatural enthusiasts how to track ghostly activity, while demonstrating how to accurately collect information using specialized equipment. He and other investigators from various paranormal research teams in Oklahoma will share stories about their scariest experiences in the field.

Obviously, most of us want to know if there is any paranormal activity going on here in Payne County. Clint says there are several “hot spots” right here in the area, including one particular place just outside of town—somewhere that most of us have visited.

If you are interested in these types of phenomena and want to learn more about investigating their origins, then sign up now for the class at http://tinyurl.com/spookyspl, or you can call the Help Desk at (405) 372-3633 x8106.

If you’d like to read more about paranormal investigation, check out our display filled with books on the subject.

“The Perfect Medium: Photography and the Occult” provides photos from archives and museums across the world that seem to have captured a paranormal presence. Most of the photos are from the 1800s to the mid-1900s. Of course, even then, before Photoshop, photographers were experimenting with ways to alter what was captured on film, but the volume still provides a fascinating chronicle of paranormal photography through history.

Another good choice is “The Oxford Book of the Supernatural,” which provides some of the best writings on ancient and modern phenomena across the world. All items in the displays are available for check out.

When I first started working at the library, one of my colleagues told me that the north building was haunted. It’s true that when we go over to close the meeting room wing, we hear strange creaks and unexplained noises. I don’t believe that any paranormal activity is going on, since the building is, after all, very old. But, when I am alone over there late at night and those clicks, pops and creaks start up….well, let’s just say I don’t mind having my radio with me, just in case. I’ll be interested to see if we can learn a little something about our own library “ghost.” I hope you’ll join us.