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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Best of Music 2011 by Emily

One of my favorite things about the end of the year is reading through all of the “best of” lists.  I love seeing where my favorites have landed and sometimes I come across things that I missed out on completely.  This year something has changed.  For the very first time I feel compelled to create my own lists. 

It’s become an obsession really, and at the heart of this obsession is a book called “Record Collecting for Girls:  Unleashing Your Inner Music Nerd, One Album at a Timeby Courtney E. Smith.  Written along the same lines as Nick Hornby’s “High Fidelityand Rob Sheffield’s “Love is a Mix Tape,” Smith wants to interject a female perspective into music writing because as she says “girls get their hearts broken and make mix tapes about it, too.” 

This book is not for everyone.  First of all she focuses a lot (perhaps too much) on how men have shaped her music tastes.  This is a book that I wish I could have read when I was in high school. 

The parts of the book that stand out are about how to build your music collection.  Where do you find out about new music?  What about the future of vinyl?  And of course, my favorite, what are the rules for compiling top 5 lists? 

So, in the spirit of end of the year lists and my new found obsession to create them, it only seems appropriate that I end with one.  

Top 5 Albums of 2011 at Stillwater Public Library

5. “Pala” by Friendly Fires.  Danceable post-punk pop fusion.

4. “Tell Me” by Jessica Lea Mayfield.  Beautiful, dark songs about love.

3. “A Creature I Don’t Know” by Laura Marling.  Neo-folk with a lot more depth than Mumford and Sons.

2. “Tamer Animals” by Other Lives.  Cinematic pop with great percussion from a Stillwater band.  

1. “Let England Shake” by P.J. Harvey.  Highly relevant songs about war written by one of the best singer songwriters of all time.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Stillwater Public Library makes holiday giving a piece of fruitcake by Stacy

Weston Sumner, age four, and his mother Shawna enjoy a gingerbread house display on a trip together to the Stillwater Public Library.

With just weeks (now days!) to go until Christmas, many people have not completed their shopping.  Whether because it is difficult to find a meaningful gift or because finances are tight, gift giving can be stressful and often can result in overspending.  This year, gift givers will find many inexpensive and unique gifts at Stillwater Public Library to help complete shopping lists.

Anyone who loves to read loves the semi-annual Friends of the Library book sale.  Gift certificates for the sale are available at the Check Out desk and come in $5.00 increments.  Another option is to purchase a Friends of the Library membership.  Annual memberships are $10.00 and allow members to preview and shop the sale before it is opened to the public.  With memberships ending December 31, every person with an annual membership will need a new one for the 2012 book sales. 

A small version of those sales takes place year-round in the library’s north lobby.  The book sale is open during all library business hours, so even shoppers who wait until the last minute can purchase a meaningful gift all the way up to 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve.  A wide variety of novels, non-fiction, young adult and children’s books are available for $1-2.

Shoppers who have at least a few more days to plan have other options.  One is to purchase a book or magazine subscription for the library in the name of the recipient.  Go by the business office Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to arrange this gift. 

Another option is a gift to the Stillwater Public Library Trust.  The Trust gladly accepts monetary gifts of any size.  Trust monies are invested and the interest income is available to the library to use for equipment, programs and services.  These gifts have been invaluable in keeping the library running.

A great gift that is absolutely free is a library card.  Parents might consider purchasing a children’s book from the lobby sale and adding a “coupon” with a pledge to take the child to get a card on a specific day.  Both the parent and child need to be present, but as long as the parent lives, works or goes to school in Payne County, then the card is free.

Gift givers might also check out the library’s frugal gift list compiled for a program earlier this month.  It is located on the library’s homepage and contains gift ideas that generally cost $1-2 and take less than one hour to make.  Stop by the library’s craft section for how-to materials on making other similar gifts.

Speaking of books, there is not a much better gift for book lovers than a personalized list of books they are sure to love.  Purchase an inexpensive journal, and then let a librarian know which authors the recipient likes.  The librarian can assist in compiling a list of author “read-alikes” for the journal that will keep the recipient reading for months to come.

For help arranging any of these gifts, call 405-372-3633 or email 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Funny book blogs by Stacy

My favorite books are about real life—so that includes a lot of stories about death, divorce, illnesses, dying dogs, catastrophes and other melancholic topics.  If you have similar tastes, you may need a laugh, so here are a few funny book blogs that will make up for all of the usual misery you like to read:

I am pleased to find some authors are giving books better, more descriptive titles (see “Angry Housewives Eating Bon-Bons which is in fact about angry housewives who eat bon-bons and “Miss Peregrine's School for Peculiar Children” which is actually about a school for peculiar children run by a woman named Miss Peregrine).  However, most books do not have titles that describe what the book is about.  That is why every book club discussion guide ever written includes the question:  “Why did the author give the book this title and what does it mean?”  

Better Book Titles is a blog that allows submitters to retitle books to better describe what the reader can expect.  Just think how much easier it would have been to have had these titles in choosing whether to read the following famous books: 

·             “A Clockwork Orange” Anthony Burgess.  Retitled: “Way Easier to Watch than Read.”
·             “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson.  Retitled: “This is the First Book I’ve Read in Six Years.”
·             “War And Peace” by Leo Tolstoy.  Retitled: “War and Peace and Russians and Hard Names to Remember and Even Harder to Pronounce and Lots of Talk, Talk, Talk. And Snow.”
·             “Joy of Cooking” by Irma S. Rombauer.  Retitled: “1001 Reasons it *Stinks* to be Vegan.”

Beware—some of the retitles are a bit risqué.

Most libraries have “deselection” policies.  We use these guidelines as a way to remove outdated material and to keep information up to date and reliable.  Awful Library Books is a site that contains actual, current library books that should have resulted in a librarian getting her license revoked!

From 1978's "The Complete Guide to Disco Dancing" by Karen Lustgarten
535 libraries own this title (including one here in Stillwater).

·              1978’s “Child Safety is No Accident: A Parents’ Handbook of Emergencies.”  A major concern of this book includes not letting children play in or around mine shafts.
·              1963’s “Let’s Visit Australia.”  In discussing Australia’s troubling low population, the author explains that “there is a fear that if Asians are admitted, soon there would be so many people of the yellow races that the white Australian way of life would be in danger.”
·              1988’s “The Re-Mating Game: Dating and Relating in Middle Life.”  Top tip? Why not try a Love Boat style cruise?

Bless their hearts—sci fi readers like my dear hub feel like they must eternally justify their reading habits.  In reality, it is just those awful covers that give many sci-fi books a bad rap.  Good Show Sir contains the best of the worst of these covers.

If you’ve come across an awesomely funny book blog, send it in.  We all need a good laugh!

Stillwater, OK

Monday, December 5, 2011

Small Business Services: Online and In Person by Stacy

If you have a small business or are thinking about starting one, then be sure to check out the library’s many resources located inside the library and online.

We recently created a new Small Business Center which pulls together our hardcopy small business resources into one convenient location.  The SBC includes materials on everything from starting a business, dealing with employees and filing taxes to merchandising, marketing and rescuing a failing start-up.  We also post local business related classes, brochures and tax materials in the same area.  When the 2011 tax forms arrive, look for publications like Tax Guide for Small Business, Retirement Plans for Small Business, Business Use of Your Home, and be sure to pick up forms like the W-2 and 1099 MISC year-round from us.

Our online Small Business Reference Center is a great resource if you can’t make it into the library.  This service, located on our database page under EBSCO HOST, includes hundreds of full text industry-specific trade journals.  Just a few titles include “Restaurant Hospitality,” “Retail Merchandiser,” “Auto Week,” and “Travel Agent.”  It also includes the most popular Nolo business titles such as “Legal Guide for Starting and Running a Small Business,” “Smart Policies for Workplace Technologies,” “Marketing Without Advertising” and twenty more.

E-Reader users should visit our downloadable service.  While we’ve only begun to collect business e-books, we do have several including “Branding Your Business” by James Hammond, “The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do about It” by Michael E. Gerber, and “The New Positioning: The Latest on the World's #1 Business Strategy” by Jack Trout.

Whether you come in to visit or stay at home using our website, the library has reliable, up to date information for your business.  Just ask at the Help Desk for assistance or explore online at

Monday, November 28, 2011

Have a Happy Gluten Free Holiday by Stacy

Several years ago, my husband’s whole family was transformed when it found out that a significant number of them are sickened by gluten.  Kids had been crying out in pain in the middle of the night, some were the tiniest ones in their class, and adults were perpetually sick with all sorts of baffling symptoms. 

Luckily, much of that is now under control.  Everyone has had to learn a whole new way of living (I love watching the little ones who can barely read furrow their brows in concentration to go over every ingredient on a snack they’re given).  And though one mistake in a dish can take down the entire family, most meals are as good if not better than before.

This year, we’re having Thanksgiving with MY family which scares me just a little because, as I said, one mistake can have my husband out of commission for weeks.  As I went through the menu with my sister-in-law, I was so grateful that they offered to go out of their way to make many dishes my husband could share. 

If you have a gluten intolerant friend or family member sharing your holidays, cooking a few gluten free dishes (ones without wheat, barley, rye and innumerable other items you’d never believe) isn’t so hard.  The library has many books on the subject to accommodate these needs.  Just a few include:

·             250 Gluten-Free Favorites” by Donna Washburn and Heather Butt-see the recipes for their pumpkin dessert and the pie crust recipes.

·             Complete Gluten-Free Cookbook” by Donna Washburn and Heather Butt- has great sides like mushroom &sweet potato casserole and potato salad.

·             Wheat-Free, Gluten Free” by Michelle Berriedale-Johnson- great turkey stuffing.

·             The Gluten-Free Vegetarian Kitchen” by Donna Klein- some favorites include kasha tabbouleh salad and out of this world pancakes.

Be sure to keep food packages and recipes, so the gluten intolerant guest can double check ingredients.  Even better, consult with the guest ahead of time.  Check the internet to find out which food brands are gluten free (especially on things like turkey and ham).  Never assume!  The most innocuous seeming ingredients can end up being the worst (hello vanilla extract and sour cream—you know I’m talking about you!).  And definitely use different utensils and dishes for the gluten-free items—cross contamination can make people sick.  Just a little prep work and investigation can help make you the perfect, beloved host—so let us help!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Back on the Court (or at 15 rows or so up in the stands) by Stacy

Several years ago, there was a time in OSU basketball (formerly known as "The Time Which Shall Remain Unspoken," but now for brevity's sake--"The Troubles") when a failing economy coincided with some difficulties within the program.  During "The Troubles," I quit attending games (no, I am not a fair-weather fan-"The Troubles" were just too troubling).  It was just last week that I attended my first game in nearly four years and it was an exciting experience that reminded me why I love Cowboy basketball.

Ok-I'm going to be honest here and say that I really really considered taking a book with me in case I got bored.  Turns out-I didn't need one!  This team is exceptionally athletic and it was the first time I've enjoyed a running game.  Even better was how businesslike they were-it was all about going to the office and getting the job done as a team.  With the current packages and prices, if you haven't been attending games, it is definitely time to think about going back. 

Anyway, that very good experience has me interested in basketball again and any good budding obsession starts with lots and lots of books.  If you're in basketball-mode or are missing the NBA, then here are some of the top books on basketball from this year:

·              "ShaqUncut: My Story" by Shaquille O'Neal-out this week, this autobio is already in Amazon's top 100 even though (as I am writing) it hasn't even been released yet. 

·              "CrazyBasketball: A Life In and Out of Bounds" by Charley Rosen-a tell all about the strange and crazy times of the CBA by a once player turned ESPN announcer.

·              "Scorecasting:The Hidden Influences behind How Sports Are Played and Games Are Won" by Tobias Moskowitz-in this Malcolm Gladwell like book, the author explains and sometimes debunks the facts every fan knows about sports.  One of the best sections is on the home field advantage which should be especially interesting to Cowboy fans.

And there are a ton more excellent books on the game--a bunch have won the Pulitzer Prize (but don't let that turn you away!).  Drop in if you need help finding them (or if you'd like us to borrow for you a copy of Coach Ford's Oscar worthy acting debut in the movie "The Sixth Man"!)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Watch History Come Alive by Mary Beth

Like many of you, I’ve just finished watching the latest Ken Burns’ documentary “Prohibition” on public television.  And no doubt like many of you, I found it fascinating.  Much of the history leading up to the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment was unknown to me or maybe just forgotten from those long ago days in American history class.  One thing I am sure of is that the 100 year period this documentary covers was just as tumultuous and transforming as events in our country today. 

I’ve always liked history and in my view no one does a better job of presenting it than Ken Burns.  Since the Academy award nominated “Brooklyn Bridge” in 1981, Burns has excelled in his efforts to tell the story of our country’s transformative events using a rich narrative and eye-popping visual landscapes.   He has gone on to direct and produce, in collaboration with other talented individuals, some of the most acclaimed historical documentaries ever made.  

The list of Burns’ films is ever growing but included in the more well-known ones are “Baseball,” “The Civil War,” “Jazz,” “Lewis and Clark,” “Mark Twain,” last fall’s “National Parks,” “Baseball: the Tenth Inning,” “Thomas Jefferson,” “The War” (about WWII) and “The West.”  All of these great films are available here in the library.  If you missed them when they first aired on PBS, do yourself a favor and check them out for an unforgettable learning adventure.

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Pox Upon You! By Danielle

The recent media attention surrounding a presidential candidate’s statement about a vaccine makes “Pox : an American history” by Michael Willrich a timely acquisition for the Stillwater Public Library.  By describing the views and tactics of anti-vaccine advocates who feared an increasingly large government, this book chronicles how America's war on smallpox during the Progressive Era sparked one of the twentieth century's leading civil liberties battles.  For those interested in history, science, politics, race, and culture, it’s a fascinating, well researched book.  

When faced with medical advice questions, such as “who do you trust?,” librarians are taught to offer this advice--look at reliable sources.  What is a reliable source?  Ideal sources include published sources like medical journals, recognized textbooks written by experts in the field or medical guidelines produced by nationally or internationally reputable experts.  One other important factor when reading medical information is to make sure it’s current, and in some cases not older than one year. 

If vaccines are a subject matter you would like additional information on, here are a few current selections from Stillwater Public Library. 

·              Vaccine: the controversial story of medicine's greatest lifesaver” by Arthur Allen. “An account of vaccination's miraculous, inflammatory past and its uncertain future.”

·             Deadly choices :how the anti-vaccine movement threatens us all” by Paul A. Offit.  The story of anti-vaccine activity in America, its origins, leaders, influences, and impact.”
·             The vaccine book: making the right decision for your child" by Robert W. Sears.  “Dr. Bob Sears provides an in-depth look at each disease/vaccine pair and covers everything you need to know.”

·             Sexually transmitted diseases” by Lauri S. Friedman and Jennifer L. Skancke, book editors.  “Introducing issues with opposing viewpoints.” 

·             The great influenza :the epic story of the deadliest plague in history” by John M. Barry.  "This crisis provides us with a precise and sobering model as we confront the epidemics looming on our own horizon."

Monday, October 24, 2011

Can I Please Get A Pet? by Gayla

With the days getting shorter and fall-like weather approaching, this could mean less outdoor playtime for your child. Have you considered a companion who teaches life lessons about friendship, responsibility, loyalty, and empathy? For many children, the family pet can be a best friend and a wonderful experience. 

Our library has several books that help explore the World of Pets in both the
Children’s Easy and Juvenile areas. They can be found in Non-Fiction with call numbers in the 636’s.

Let’s Get a Pet” by Harriet Ziefert tells everything you will ever want to know about picking out the perfect family pet.  The “My First Pet” library from the American Humane Association series by Linda Bozzo tells about different animals such as cats and birds that make great pets.  This book series explores how to care for your first bird or your first cat. 

If you are looking for something a little different and tiny, then how about a pocket pet? A pocket pet is an animal small enough to carry around with you and stow in your pocket.  Perhaps a Degu, Flying Squirrel, or a Duprasi? “Pocket Pets” by Alvin Silverstein is an ideal book to use as a guide for which animals are suitable as pets and which are not. 

Jean Craighead George demonstrates how anyone can talk to their dog once they know the language in her book titled “How to Talk to Your Dog.”  Totally Fun Things to Do withYour Dog” by Maxine Rock is filled with games and activities for kids and their favorite four-legged friend.  Kids can discover new variations on playing catch and fetch, or teach their dog to play hide and seek.  The book shows how to throw a party for their special pooch-pals from dog weddings to birthday parties, and party games. 

Studies have shown that children can benefit from the presence of a non-judgmental pet. Pets help with loneliness, grief, pain, and fear.  A pet gives a sense of security, encourages exercise helps to broaden acquaintances, but most importantly unconditional love.  Learn more at the library!

Stillwater, OK

Monday, October 17, 2011

Bad Halloween memories by Stacy

I love Halloween, which is sort of odd because growing up I experienced several traumatizing Halloweens.  Back in the 70s, we didn’t have baskets to collect candy.  We used paper grocery sacks---those were the olden days when bags still came with handles.  The year I was three, my bag dragged during the entire tour of the neighborhood.  As you can guess, at some point on the trip, I looked into my bag and found nothing there.  It was fairly traumatic and I can still remember every facet of that Halloween in all its horrid, vivid detail. 

Then there was the time my mother made us eat dinner before trick or treating.  We weren’t allowed to leave until the plate was clean.  The problem was that dinner was “Chinese food.”  Chop suey.  From a can.  No offense to La Choy, the fine producers of this cuisine, but I feel certain that Chinese food was never meant to be canned.  Needless to say, there was no Halloween for me that night.

My last bad memory was a result of my misunderstanding of the punk influence on early 80s pop music.  I was dressing with my friends as a member of the all girl band, “The Go-Go’s.”  I had the requisite mini skirt and tied headband, but how I felt a safety pin through the earlobe fit in, I just don’t know.  Apparently, just because your ears are pierced doesn’t mean that a safety pin will safely fit through your ear without creating a bloody, gory mess.

In Stillwater, it is easy to create wonderful Halloween memories when you have awesome events like the Downtown Halloween Festival on Tuesday, Oct. 25 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.  The festival will include bouncers, carnival games, fair food, a costume contest and trick-or-treating with downtown merchants.  All you need is a costume, and the library can help with that.

If you are short on time, consider:

·       Child’ Play: Quick and Easy Costumes” by Leslie Hamilton which has quirky ideas like dressing as a dinner table or a tube of toothpaste and super easy ideas like the “Backwards Dressed Boy or Girl” (literally the kid just dresses backward!)

·       Easy Costumes You Don’t Have to Sew” by Goldie Chernoff which is notable for standouts like a monster lobster, a totem pole and a super easy ladybug.

·       The Most Excellent Book of Face Painting” which really is most excellent because it shows how to apply makeup masks step by step.

If you have more time to prepare, browse our costume sections for inspiration.  We have all sorts of books on folk costumes from around the world or the popular fashions from each decade.  If you plan to stick to the festival’s theme of “Our Haunted Circus,” then look for:

·             Be a Clown” by Mark Stolzenberg

·             The Most Excellent Book of How to Be a Clown” by Catherine Perkins

·             Balloonology: 32 Projects to Take You From Beginner to Expert” by Jeremy Telford

Whichever costume you choose, you are bound to make wonderful memories this Halloween at Downtown Stillwater.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Scientists in the Field by Jeanna

How do scientists really spend their working lives? Are their careers really all about white lab coats and advanced mathematics? Not necessarily. “Scientists in the Field,” a series of juvenile non-fiction books published by Houghton Mifflin, follows a variety of scientists to locations as exotic as the cloud forest of New Guinea and as familiar as your own back yard to prove that science can be fun, intriguing and extremely important.

In “Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World’s Strangest Parrot,” readers meet a team of scientists and volunteers who are trying to save a species of large, flightless, honey- scented parrots from extinction. With only ninety-one living kakapos, it’s a tough job, but the humans seem to love it. 

In fact, one of the coolest things about the series is how much the scientists and their assistants love what they’re doing. Whether it’s studying snow leopards in Mongolia, teaching trumpeter swans to migrate in the northeastern United States, or tracking trash in the open ocean, the researchers are dedicated, enthusiastic, and certain that they can make a difference.
Lavishly illustrated with full color photographs, “Scientists in the Field” books are visually as well as intellectually interesting.  Information is delivered as part of a captivating, real-life storyline, enjoyable for adults and children alike. Glossaries at the end of each book provide simple definitions for unfamiliar terms and some books have pronunciation guides beside unusual words.

To enhance the very personal quality of these books, some pages are printed in what looks like handwriting, complete with fake sticky notes.  In “The Hive Detectives: Chronicle of a Honeybee Catastrophe,” the scientists even answer questions about themselves, including how they became interested in bees, which bees they like best, and what their worst sting has been.

Whether your child likes frogs or space exploration, volcanoes or the ocean, “Scientists in the Field” has a volume that will encourage those interests while opening up the wonderful possibilities of real-world science.  And don’t forget to drop by with your 3-7 grade students on Saturday, Oct. 15 for “Born to Do Science,” Monty Harper’s program featuring real working scientists!

Stillwater, OK