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Monday, December 24, 2012

The Reluctant Recommender by Rion

I am not in the habit of recommending books. Call it a phobia, but as a librarian, the subject is obviously unavoidable. Normally, I like to make recommendations on books I know are being adapted into films; however, I actually tend to be tightlipped about movies, too. I find it is a tricky business making recommendations because tastes widely vary and many people might not want to venture beyond the cover of a particular genre.  In the spirit of the coming New Year, I resolve to break my recommendation phobia starting now.

I recently read two books, “Warm Bodies” by Isaac Marion and “Unwind” by Neal Shusterman, which have lingered with me for a number of months. In the simplest terms, “Warm Bodies” is a zombie love story. There is gore to be sure, nothing over-the-top, but Marion is more interested in what it means to be human.  Marion illustrates the decay of memory and personality with a prose style that elicits compassion and sympathy for a zombie.  “Warm Bodies” has been adapted into a film and is set for release on February 1, 2013. I have no idea what the movie will be like, but I hope it was made with the same sensibility as Marion’s wonderful novel.

 Neal Shusterman’s novel, while not about zombies, casts a similar light on the question of humanity. “Unwind” is set in the “near future” after the Second Civil War is fought over the issue of abortion. The end of the war is brought about by the introduction of a process known as unwinding, which gives parents the ability to have their child’s body harvested as long as he/she is between the ages of 13 and 18. While “Warm Bodies” uses zombies to define humanity, “Unwind” uses harvesting.  Because nearly all of a person can be used, technically no one really “dies.” This book is equal parts unsettling and unbelievably thought provoking, and apparently is being adapted for film but has no release date.

For more recommendations, ask at the Help Desk.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Giving an Experience by Stacy


The thought of purchasing Christmas gifts makes me both excited and a little sick to my stomach.  The people on my gift list are fairly enigmatic and never really make it clear what they’d like.  I usually wait and wait, then finally make rash, overpriced purchases on December 23.  In fact, when I asked the brothers and sisters if they wanted to go in together on a gift this year, one of them commented that it must already be Christmas Eve if I’m already making definite plans.  To overcome my gift buying confusion and stress, I’ve started concentrating on purchasing experiences and classes instead.  There are many super “experiences” available right here in Stillwater.

·             First and foremost, bringing your children to get a library card has to be one of the best experiences you can give them.  It is exciting, free and gives them a chance to enjoy thousands of free books for the rest of their lives.

·             Our partners over at Meridian Technology Center have a huge array of computer classes that would make great gifts for a parent or grandparent.  You can also get a discount code at the library for an even better deal!  Some classes that are particularly useful and the discounted prices include: Learning to Use Kindle ($35), iPhone Essentials ($36), Android Phone Essentials ($35), Getting Started with Computers ($25), iPad Essentials ($36), Learning to Type ($67) and Photo Editing with Adobe Elements 11 ($116).  Visit the MTC website at or contact Susan at or 405-377-3333 x272 for more information. 

·             Our friends at the Multi Arts Center have classes for all ages ranging from  kids’ crafts to teen activities to quilting, sewing, drawing, jewelry making and a ton more.  Classes are as low as $10 each and you can buy a gift certificate of any amount and let your recipient choose the class.  For more information, contact Bill Miller at  or 405-747-8084.

If there are other “experiences” you’d like to make into gifts, just call the business or organization.  Most of the time, they will be glad to make arrangements for you to purchase some type of gift certificate for the experience or class.  Good luck shopping!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Christmas by the Book by Stacy

Newspaper tree with book spine bookmarks which are for sale for $3.00 each.

It seems like a perverse thing for librarians to like to do, but we LOVE ripping up books and making things with them.  If you’ve spent any time at all with us in the library, then you know that we are obsessed with finding things to make with deteriorated books.  Couches, bookcases, purses and more.  This holiday is no different.  We’ve just finished our new display filled with brand new book gift ideas, including ornaments, pop-up scenes, trees, more trees, wreaths and more.  

This year, we are super excited because one of our very wonderful Friends of the Library has made quirky, adorable, nifty bookmarks made from the spines of old books.  You can see the bookmarks at the front display near the sliding glass doors.  Each of the bookmarks on the paper tree and inside the display is available for purchase for $3.00.  They’ll make super stocking stuffers for your favorite readers.

If you are interested in creating book craft gifts yourself, then I suggest you come over to visit and check out one of the following books:

745.54 THOM - Playing with Books: the art of upcycling, deconstructing, and reimagining the book.  From vases and mobiles to jewelry and art, this book has a little of everything.  It’s not the most awesome book craft book I’ve seen (that one remains unwritten in my head!), but it will give you several ideas for beautiful, unique gifts.

745.5 OCC – The Repurposed Library: 33 craft projects that give old books new life.  This book’s best asset is its very detailed instructions on the most common book crafts like wreaths, lamps, shelves and ornaments.  It does have a few little unexpected surprise projects that I hadn’t seen, like a lovely book page quilt.

745.593 URE – The Altered Book Scrapbook.  Even though most of us have probably played around with altering books into journals or scrapbooks, this is still one of my very favorite book project books.  There is just no better gift whatsoever than a personal scrapbook made from a book that means something to the recipient.  Scrapbooking techniques change pretty quickly, but this one still gives great inspiration.

Book Scene
So, happy page ripping and creating!  Just remember that the library books are OFF limits for crafting, but we’ve plenty in our year round lobby sale.


Friday, November 9, 2012

New Juvenile Series by Levonn

When most kids first develop a love of reading, they also develop a love for chapter book series.  In the early sixties, I fell in love with the “Nurse Cherry Ames Adventures,” which have just been released again.  My own children loved "Box Car Children" by Gertrude Warner and “Goosebumps” by R. L. Stine, which is another series that has seen a revival in popularity.  Then of course, there were the “Babysitter Club” books by Ann Martin, “Hank the Cowdog” by John Erikson, “Hardy Boys” by Franklin Dixon and “Nancy Drew” by Carolynn Keene.  Whatever decade we grew up in, we have all had our first experience with a just-can't-get-enough-series.

Are you looking for a great series for your children to love?  Your kids have probably read their way through the “Magic Tree House” books by Mary Pope Osborne, and you might not be able to stand one more “Junie B. Jones” by Barbara Park.  Maybe, your children just aren't quite ready to attack the length of “Harry Potter” by Rowling.  It’s probably time to come by Stillwater Public Library to get help finding a new series to start your child reading.

Some popular new series include “Allie Finkles Rules for Girls” by Meg Cabot and “Sisters Grimm” by Michael Buckley. 

You might try a series by a well-known current author, such as Dan Gutman’s “My Weird School Daze” and “Baseball Card Adventures,” or Debbie Dadey's “Mermaid Tales” or “Keyholder" series. 


For some light-hearted fun, try “Dear Dumb Diary” by Jim Benton or “Melvin Beederman: Superhero” by Greg Trine. 

A good scary choice is “Chronicles of Ancient Darkness” by Michelle Paver.

No matter their tastes, interest or reading level, we have a series that will capture each young reader’s heart and imagination.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Small Business Bonanza by Stacy

According to the SBA, small businesses accounted for 67% of new American jobs created since the beginning of the 2009 recession.  These small businesses are crucial to our own community which is why many agencies are devoted to helping successfully grow Stillwater small businesses.

Wednesday, on Oct. 24, local service providers are pooling their resources for the Fourth Annual Small Business Conference.  I’m most impressed with the array of topics being offered and the heavy hitters of the local business education world who will be speaking.  Every attendee will leave the conference with a new vision for growing their business.  Topics and speakers include:

·           Importance of Networking-Kyle Eastham, business owner
·           Using Paypal - Dr. Brian Whitacre, OSU
·           Introduction to Social Media & Strategic Planning for Social Media - Mandy Gross, Communications Services Manager, Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center
·           Choosing the Right Business Structure - Attorney & Accounting Professor Monika Turek
·           Advanced Social Media & Evaluating Your Social Media Efforts - Megan Horton, OSU Communication Services
·           Visual Displays - Dr. Cosette Armstrong, OSU

The event will be held at the library and runs from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Registration is $25 and includes lunch.  To register, go to or contact Suzette Barta at 405-747-8320.  

While you are at the conference, stop by the library’s small business center to check out material on a wide-variety of business issues including some of our latest titles like:

·           The small business guide to government contracts by Steven Koprince

·           Grow your handmade business by Kari Chapin

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Scary Books for the Tween Set by Andrea

One of the most difficult questions a librarian may be asked from a child is when a child says “I want something scary to read. Can you help me find a book?” It is difficult, because what they usually mean is they want something just scary enough to be entertaining, but not too scary. So as a former child who loved a good ghost story, and in honor of Halloween, I want to present some of my favorite spooky authors who can still be found in the juvenile and young adult sections of the library. As always, if you are not sure if something is suitable for your child, please peruse the material first. 

Betty Ren Wright and Mary Downing Hahn are both excellent writers of suspenseful haunted tales, usually with an intriguing mystery at the center of the story.  John Bellairs’ books are a great mix of gothic mystery, adventure, and the paranormal, which boys especially might like. Joan Aiken’s books are not necessarily about ghosts, but are British, dark, and strange. I loved the Witch Trilogy starting with “Witch's Sister” by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. 

One book I read over and over which has long been out of print, but is now available in e-book format from our Overdrive website is “The Little Vampire” by Angela Sommer-Bodenburg. Alvin Schwartz's “ScaryStories to Tell in the Dark” has long been popular, although there is some controversy over the illustrations in the new editions as they are not nearly as scary as the originals. Other authors to try are Peg Kehret and Zilpha Keatley Snyder.

For more spooky tales, visit the Help Desk.  And for an awesome, spooky good time, go to the Red Dirt Zombie Halloween Festival which will be held downtown on Oct. 30.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Happy or Unhappy Boss Day? by Stacy

‘National Boss Day’ is October 16.  Some of us will be getting a card and cake for our boss or maybe taking them out to lunch.  Other employees though are probably just trying to make it through the day dealing with a boss they’d rather not have.  If you are one of the unlucky latter, the library has tons of material on making your situation more manageable.  Come in to check out some of the following choices:

·             Coping with toxic managers, subordinates and other difficult people” by Roy Lubit.  Lubit describes twenty types of toxic boss behaviors, then how to artfully deal with your problem boss without losing your job or sanity.

·             Throwing the elephant: Zen and the art of managing up” by Stanley Bing.  Bing teaches the Zen method of working with your difficult boss.

·             Followership: how followers are creating change and changing leaders” by Barbara Kellerman.  Kellerman explains how employees can change their own response to their rank, their superiors and work situations.

Now, if you are the boss who finds no sweets on your desk Oct. 16, you may want to think about coming by to check out one of the following:

·             Good boss, bad boss” by Robert Sutton.  Sutton helps managers assess whether they are good, so-so or inept and what to do to become one of the good ones.

·             Managing to stay out of court: how to avoid the 8 deadly sins of mismanagement" by Jathan Janove.  Janove explains the worst eight sins managers commit and how to correct them.

·             Too many bosses, too few leaders” by Rajeev Peshawaria.  Being hired as a manager does not mean you are necessarily a good boss.  Peshawaria explains what managers need to do to lead.

And last, if you are unhappy at work, you may want to reflect on whether it is your boss who is the problem or whether it could actually be you (or both!):

·             Working for you isn't working for me: the ultimate guide to managing your boss” by Katherine Crowley.  Crowley explains how to distance yourself from and depersonalize bad boss behavior, while also helping you examine whether you are part of the problem.

·             Drama-Free Office” by Jim Warner and Kaley Klemp.  Find out whether you are the person in the office causing all of the drama and how to correct it if you are.

Stop by anytime for all sorts of resources on being happier and more effective at work whether you are a manager or an employee.  Investigate our material on emotional intelligence at work, time management, project management, inspiring others, delegating, planning, collaboration and working with or managing different types of employees.

Happy Boss Day!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Thankful by Carline and Stacy

I knew I wanted to start our column this week by thanking the community for the huge show of support at this fall’s booksale.  We often worry about whether or not we will be able to continue offering the quality services we do, but luckily, our community keeps showing up year after year making it possible.  In preparing this “thank you,” I saw a column our delightful librarian Carline Talent wrote for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.  I think it says everything that we are feeling about your support:

What are we thankful for? YOU!  Here are a few of the reasons why:
1.      Your beautiful smile and friendly hello.
2.      Your patience waiting in line when we are helping another customer or on the phone.          
3.      Your diligence in bringing materials back on time, allowing another customer the opportunity to borrow those items.
4.      Your careful handling of borrowed library materials so that the next customer has a clean and gently used item to enjoy.
5.      Your understanding when we sometimes make mistakes.
6.      Your very generous support of the library by way of gifts and donations to the Friends of the Library for their book sales.
7.      Your wonderful and carefully thought-out suggestions for ways to improve our services and update our collection.
8.      Your helpfulness in keeping the library neat and clean so everyone can relax and enjoy their time spent in the library.
9.      Your watchful willingness to alert staff when you see something that should be brought to our attention.
10.  Your kind and thoughtful comments that make our day!      

YOU are the reason we are here.  We strive to give you the most helpful and friendly service possible.  We look forward to many years of your continued patronage and hope that we earn your thanks for your library and library staff.

Thank you Stillwater!

Monday, September 24, 2012

book both bitter and sweet by Heather

My newest favorite book is “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” by Jamie Ford.

The cover illustration of Ford’s debut novel was what initially intrigued me.  Once I began reading the story of Henry, a young Chinese American growing up in Seattle at the height of World War II, I knew this would be a heartwarming, sentimental journey. 

Henry falls in love with Keiko, a Japanese American, when they are school mates and thus begins a story of love, sacrifice, forgiveness, and honor.  Told in a poignant manner, the book follows Henry’s difficult relationship with his father, as well as his relationship with his first love, and then that of his own son.  It also follows characters through the internment camps in the United States.
A picture of a sign over the door of Japanese-American business placed there the day after Pearl Harbor.
The development of “Hotel” is extremely well done, and one can’t help but be touched as Henry’s story is told.  This book, although a work of fiction, is believable and thought provoking (I think it would make an excellent book club choice and we have this set as a kit).  Even though it is told from the perspective of years ago, it still is relevant to the world of today. 

I am grateful to have been able to read this wonderful book and was personally touched by Henry’s tender story.  Ford seems to truly have a gift for touching the reader’s heart in a powerful way.  If you read this book and love it, then consider some of the read-alikes such as:

·             SnowFalling on Cedars by David Guterson

·             SuchSweet Thunder by Vincent Carter

·             Whenthe Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka