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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 or visit the web site at   

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 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

·         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

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Grab Your Glad Rags Now

By now, word is starting to spread around town about the giant reading series by the library, Sheerar Museum, Mt. Zion Baptist Church, and the OSU Library. The series, “Two Books, One Community: The Great Gatsby and Fire in Beulah,” (2B1C) will be held March 8 – April 29. The schedule is packed full of over 20 exciting events celebrating the turbulent twenties, as well as 20 book discussion, including our new discussions with “a twist.” We are excited to have a series with two books that are so different, while also being so alike.

Two of our biggest events feature fashion, including our dance finale on April 23. That evening, we will be dancing the night away while the Stillwater Community Jazz Band takes us on a musical jazz progression from the 1920s onward. Ahead of time, we’ll be giving out coupons from Louie’s, so plan to make a whole date night of it!

Of course, we do hope that everyone will want to dress up in 1920s era costumes for the dance (plus we’ll have a costume contest!), so start planning how to get your outfit NOW! Not sure what to wear or how to get a costume?

One option for learning more about 20s fashion is to attend our Fashion Show being held at the Stillwater High School on March 22. OSU Apparel Design and Production Professor Dr. Adriana Petrova will be explaining all about 20s fashion as models show off outfits from the era. The clothing is being loaned by OSU’s Department of Theatre (a big thanks to the amazing Rana Webber!) and by Mrs. Martha Ray and the Oklahoma Historical Society. You are sure to get tons of ideas when you attend this show.

Another option is to check out the fashion links on our 2B1C website at . It includes 1920s era catalogs, online resources and titles of costume/clothing books you can check out at the library. Some of the books include:
  • “Vogue: History of the 20th Century Fashion” by Jane Mulvagh is a wonderful book with many examples from every year in the 1920s.
  • “Style Me Vintage” by Naomi Thompson has a nice little section on the 1920s that breaks down the fashion into the essentials.
  • An old classic “Couture” edited by Ruth Lynam provides detailed explanation of 20s clothing, as well as examples.
  • “Ladies Vintage Accessories” by LaRee Johnson Bruton features 20s items throughout the book, including shoes, hats and purses.
  •  “Stepping Out: Three Centuries of Shoes” by Louise Mitchell has several pages of 20s era shoes to get inspiration if you are going to purchase similar modern shoes or adjust something you already have.
So—getting going! Start sewing, do some eBaying, scour vintage shops in the area and OKC and Tulsa or just repurpose something you already have. Grab your glad rags and get ready to dance! (and if you don’t know how to dance, be sure to attend our two dancing programs!)

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, email or call 405-372-3633 x 8106.