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Monday, September 21, 2015

The Surprising Sherlock Holmes

We are so excited to be celebrating Sherlock Holmes throughout the month of October. You grow up watching and hearing about certain characters so much, that you think you know all about them. However, I never actually read any of Doyle’s work. To prepare for the series, I dove into the Sherlock stories and some interesting articles and found that a lot of what I thought about our second favorite detective (everyone knows Nancy Drew rules) was not even true (well, “not true” in the sense of not being in the original stories, because of course we all know that Sherlock is fictional)!

For Sherlock buffs, the info below is old news. But others, here are some interesting tidbits:

·   Real-life Sherlock - Doyle was inspired to create his famous character by his medical school professor. University of Edinburgh’s Professor Joseph Bell was said to possess the ability to diagnosis his patients’ illnesses, nationality and occupation solely through observation. Sound familiar?

·   Cruel addiction - I was vaguely aware of Sherlock’s predilection for drugs, but I did not realize its severity. At times when his intellectual ability failed him, Sherlock turned to morphine and cocaine. In “The Sign of the Four,” Doyle describes the detective as having forearms scarred up and down with needle marks. But, in 1890 England, the use of these drugs was legal and even Queen Victoria was said to partake now and again.

·   Not the man we thought he was – We all think we know how Sherlock looked, acted and sounded, but most of what we think we know was born in the movies, not the stories. For example, Sherlock’s most famous exclamation never appeared in a Doyle story. It was in P.G. Wodehouse’s 1915 novel that we first read the line, “Elementary, my dear Watson!” And! Sherlock hardly ever wore his ubiquitous deerstalker cap AND his pipe was straight, not curved---I feel as though I never even knew the man!

·   Not too good at the book learnin’ – Get Sherlock a library card quick, because this genius (“experts” guesstimate his IQ at 190) did not hit the books in school. In “A Study in Scarlet,” Watson describes meeting Sherlock, and in part, grades the detective’s knowledge thusly: 1. Knowledge of Literature-Nil. 2. Philosophy-Nil. 3. Astronomy-Nil. 4. Politics-Feeble. 5. Botany- Variable. 6. Geology-Practical, but limited. 7. Chemistry-Profound. 8. Anatomy-Accurate, but unsystematic. 9. Sensational Literature-Immense. Watson is especially astonished to find that Sherlock has no idea the earth circles the sun. Astounding!

If you have more fascinating facts to add, then I highly encourage you to email ( or call (405.372.3633 x8106) us for an invite to join our SPL Sherlock discussion board at There, you can discuss your favorite Sherlock stories, show-off your Sherlock trivia, argue over symbolism and themes and talk Sherlock 24/7 through the entire month.

The Sherlock series starts Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. with an English Tea and Costume Kick-off hosted by scholar Dr. Bill Hagen. To see all of the events, visit or pick up a program listing when you come to the Used Book Sale Sept. 24-27.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Science fever @ the library

It makes me so happy to see how excited the community is about science right now. I hope this trend, which began when schools started emphasizing more science, tech, engineering and math, becomes permanent. The library loves science and technology because it leads to innovation and creativity and because it fosters so much more curiosity, which leads to bunches and bunches of reading!

Science fever is running throughout the library. We just had a great sci-fi based fandom event and introduced our new “Take It-Make It” invention kits, which will be ready for checkout in mid-Sept. We are also starting back up with the Lego Club and S.T.E.A.M. laboratory for kids and Video Game Programming Club for teens. Plus, we’ve been lucky to find several great ways to partner with our friends at the Oklahoma WONDERtorium, including during our next big series, “Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.”

Even my reading has been influenced by Science Fever. I absolutely love detail and realism in my fiction. I definitely prefer to read about things that really happen or could happen. Because of that, I thought that I did not like sci-fi/fantasy books, but reading “The Martian” by Andy Weir changed my mind.

Speculative sci-fi details events that have not happened, but they mostly, realistically COULD—which meets my reading needs perfectly. So, I was in reading bliss when I recently picked up “Seveneves” by Neal Stephenson.

I am completely obsessed with this very long book that details plans to save the Earth’s heritage after the Moon breaks into pieces, heralding a 10,000 year firestorm across the globe. There’s not a bunch of character development (same issue with Weir’s book but still loved it), but the story is exciting, suspenseful, and is really making me think about what I would do in similar circumstances. I will be picking up many more sci-fi books at the Fall Used Book Sale, Sept. 24-27.

If adults want to get in on the science fever fun, check out the library’s latest Sci-Fi Film Discussion Series, “Close Encounters of the UnKind.” Local sci-fi film buff, OSU Visiting Professor of English Tim Prchal, is leading us through several classic films about alien species invading Earth.

After watching the film on the big screen, Tim leads a discussion on the films’ story elements and themes, sci-fi film history and determination of which parties were truly unkind in these close encounters.
The series takes place the first Wednesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. The next one will be on Sept. 2. Participation is free (including the popcorn and sodas!).
What could be cooler? Science + book club-like discussion + popcorn and a film!

If you’d like more info about any of these events or help finding a good sci-fi book, visit our website at or contact us at or 405-372-3633 x8106.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Do-It-Yourself with CHILTONLibrary

In this climatically challenged and widely dispersed part of the country, we have to have our cars and we have to have them working. We’re lucky to have a bus here, but it doesn’t run all day or go everyplace that we need to go. So when your car is on the fritz, it can feel like a crisis situation. No worries though. Among all the other things the library offers, we also provide a fantastic car repair database. It is all yours with a few taps on your keyboard, if you have a Stillwater Public Library card.

Last week, we replaced our old car repair service with a new one, CHILTONLibrary. The impetus for the change was the hub’s continuous grouching about how bad the old database had become. He couldn’t find any meaningful car repair instructions on the old service, and I started noticing that more and more of the most useful info was disappearing (and yet the price kept going up).

After looking for some alternatives, we called in the help of several library users who work on their own cars and had them try out both services. All involved agreed that the CHILTONLibrary service was superior.

CHILTONLibrary provides expert advice on repair, maintenance, and service for cars, trucks, vans and SUVs. The information is continually updated and includes step-by-step repair procedures, diagnostic trouble codes, wiring diagrams, and troubleshooting for most vehicle makes, models and years. The instructions often include easier to understand photos, diagrams and videos.

The database is still accessible on the same page at You can access the service online from anywhere and use it at any time. It you want to put the app on your phone, I’ve got it listed on our “Apps” page--that way, you can pull up the repair info right under the hood.

It’s a pretty good tool for do-it-yourselfers, but it’s also good for professionals. CHILTONLibrary includes short sample tests with content approved by master technicians that provide an assessment of your overall readiness to pass an ASE certification exam. Use this option to get a better understanding of your strengths and weaknesses before you take the test.

Now then—for those of us who can barely figure out how to get gas in our cars? CHILTONLibrary provides a tool to help estimate repair time. So, the next time you go to get your car fixed, you can run the estimating tool to see whether you are getting a fairly standard labor price or not.

If you need help using the service or just want to know more about, let your librarian at the Help Desk know.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Write @ the library!

Writing can be hard work. Sometimes words flow right through your pen (or finger or keyboard), but many times, finding something to write or finding the words to write what you mean can be, at the very least, painful.

The library has always encouraged people to read, but more and more, we’ve been encouraging users to create what is being read. Writing becomes much easier as an adult if you have already started writing as a child. During “Summer @ Your Library” this upcoming week, kids and teens will get to meet a few of the people who have made a living with their writing. Hopefully, some of kids and teens will be inspired to start writing themselves.

On Tuesday, July 14, at 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., singer and songwriter, Monty Harper, takes the stage for “Hanging out with Heroes at the Library!”

“My superpower is songwriting,” said Harper. “I’ll be showing off that skill as I sing, while kids sing and clap along, provide sound effects and guess the heroes from their favorite children's books.”

Harper began dabbling in songwriting just for fun around 1989, the same year he entered the Master’s program in mathematics at Oklahoma State University. He found he had a knack for entertaining neighborhood kids with his songs, and by the time he completed his degree in 1992, he was fielding a slew of requests for appearances at schools and libraries. Since then, he has released eight titles on CD.

On Wednesday, July 15, at 2:30 p.m., teens will get to meet two writers.

This week’s program is about writing in various forms,” said Emily States, teen librarian. “Whether you’re into hip hop, poetry or graphic novels, we’re trying to give some insight into the creative process.”

First up will be author G. Neri with whom teens will interact through a live Skype chat.

Neri is the Coretta Scott King honor-winning author of “Yummy: the Last Days of a Southside Shorty” and the recipient of the Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award for his free-verse novella, “Chess Rumble.” His other novels include “Knockout Games,” “Surf Mules” and the Horace Mann Upstanders Award-winning, “Ghetto Cowboy.”

Neri will discuss what inspires him to write and how he comes up with his ideas for stories.

“Ideas are like driving at night across Alligator Alley in Florida,” said Neri “A lot of bugs will hit your windshield, but every once in a while a real whopper will smash into you and you have to stop because you can’t see clearly anymore. A great idea will literally make you stop in your tracks.”

Neri will also share his journey to becoming an author and answers questions from teens who want to get serious about writing.

“At the end of the day, writers write. Period,” said Neri “You’re either going to find the time and the means to do it, or you’re not. I always say that if you can live your life without writing, do it. If you can’t and you write, even if you’re told you’ll never be published, then you’re a writer.  It doesn't matter how good you are.”

Following the Skype chat, Gregory Jerome, a hip-hop musician and poet, will lead teens through a writing workshop and perform some of his own music.

The writing program is for students in 6-12 grades.

On Thursday, July 16, “Summer Cinema” features a Disney animated classic about a young girl who disguises herself as a male soldier and bravely takes her father's place in the Imperial Army. The film shows at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

For more information about upcoming summer programs, visit us at

Monday, March 23, 2015

Busy Week Filled with True Grit Activities

Grab your cowboy boots and hat, as well as your calendar. The upcoming week will be the busiest yet for “One Book, One Community: Stillwater Reads True Grit.” “True Grit” book discussions start this week throughout town and tons of events are packed into this week’s schedule.

To start things off, this Friday, the Student Union will hold a reception at 6 p.m. for the Western Heritage Art Exhibition. The event gives you a chance to see the artwork celebrating the West and to meet some of the artists. The art is on display in the Student Union’s Cowboy Underground through April 20.

At 7 p.m., right after the reception, head to the Student Union Theater for a screening of the 2010 version of “True Grit” directed by Joel and Ethan Cohen and starring Jeff Bridges, Hailee Steinfeld, Matt Damon, and Josh Brolin. The film is rated PG-13 and lasts 110 minutes.

About the movie, Ethan Cohen said that his 2010 version would be more faithful to the Portis’ book than the 1969 version, including more of its humor, as well as more of its violence. The 2010 version was nominated for ten Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best acting roles for Bridges who played Rooster Cogburn and for Steinfeld who played Mattie Ross.

We had a huge turn-out for the 1969 film and Dr. Hagen gave us some fascinating insight into the filming of the movie. He will provide commentary again for the 2010 version. The Student Union Activities Board is sponsoring the program and they will be selling refreshments during the movie. An ASL interpreter will be present.

The next day, Saturday, March 28, RoundUP Stillwater will be holding a square dance for adults and high school students with developmental disabilities. The event includes dinner, games and contests including roping and pig calling. Jim Howard & the Highway Home will provide the music, square dance calling and square dancers who will help participants with the different steps. Prior to the dance, Cosmetology students form the Meridian Technology Center will doing make-up and hair styling for women. For more information, email me at or give me a call at (405) 372-3633 x8124.

To round out the busy week, we will have Pistol Pete related activities at the Territorial Plaza in Perkins on Tuesday, March 31. Beginning at 6 p.m., you can take a tour of the Frank Eaton home, as well as some of the other historic buildings in the area. Afterward, the OSU Library’s David Peters will discuss Eaton and highlight some of the amazing historical items housed in its Frank Eaton Collection.

There is still plenty of time to get involved in this community-wide reading event. Just go to our “True Grit” webpage at to sign-up for a book and to look at the full schedule of remaining events.