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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Libraries Nowadays by Stacy


When I was working in public libraries twenty-five years ago, we didn’t do anywhere near the things we do in libraries today.  Most of the day was spent looking up facts in the almanac, retrieving back copies of magazines and spelling words for people over the phone.  But, of course, computers changed all of that. 

When people began using computers more and more, librarians wondered if it would mean the end of librarianship, and to some extent it did—librarianship as we knew it anyway.  Because most people can look up general facts on their computers, I certainly no longer spend much time looking up telephone numbers or the state flower of Minnesota.  However, I surely spend an awful lot of time helping people learn to construct their resumes, search for jobs, make flyers for their businesses, fill out applications for social security and VA benefits and use all manner of electronic devices.  

Somewhere along the way, being a librarian changed from needing to be nimble with an encyclopedia to being someone who’s comfortable helping people tackle some of the most important parts of their lives.  This shift is reflected in a new report from the American Library Association ( which describes how the public is leaning more and more on libraries for support.  I’m proud to say that in many areas, Oklahoma libraries are ahead of the national average.  More Oklahoma libraries are helping people access government services, fill out online job applications and learn how to use computers. 

It’s funny--the computer, which we all thought would make librarianship much more simple (or obsolete) has actually made it so very much more complex.  We hope that you will continue leaning on us for anything connected with your information needs.  Sure, it makes the job harder, but it so much more rewarding than just giving out the Time & Temp number day after day.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Downton Abbey Read-alikes by Stacy

Whilst rather young, my sister and I were quite voracious readers of Edwardian romances.  We often sprinkled words from those novels into our conversations.  Many of the words with which we were enamored often seemed to include contractions, such as “shan’t” and “oughtn’t.”  I must say, I don’t think it much helped our cause in relating to other children in our Small Town, Oklahoma home. 

I am simply aflush once more with the intoxication of those little used words, as I’ve just finished back to back seasons of “Downton Abbey.” What a perfectly remarkable series!  One filled with history, melodrama, romance, mystery and a delicious number of “shan’t”s.  If you also loved this show, then you “mustn’t” miss the following “Downton Abbey” read-alikes: 

·           Howards End” by E.M. Forster.  Forster’s classic follows three families at the turn of the century--the wealthy Wilcoxes, the eccentric, intellectual Schlegel siblings and the lower class Basts.

·           TheRemains of the Day” by Kazuo Ishiguro.  At the end of his thirty year career serving Lord Darlington, a butler reviews his life’s work and questions whether it was as meaningful as he thought it was. 

·           TheForsyte Saga” by John Galsworthy.  Nobel Prize Winner John Galsworthy's trilogy spans the 1880-1920s.  This family epic introduces the Forsyte family, whose early problems in love continue through later generations.

·           Fallof Giants” by Ken Follett.  The first book in the “20th Century” series follows five families through World War I and further into the 1900s.  Follet’s excellent research and characterizations make this brick of a book enthralling to read.

·           The House at Riverton by Kate Morton.  Grace Bradley, a servant at Riverton House before the First World War, remains close with the daughters of Hartford family.  She also holds the sisters’ deepest secret.  

·           The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones.  An elegant birthday supper party goes terribly wrong.

·           Parade’s End by Ford Madox Ford.  Sometimes listed as one of the best English novels written, this epic tale follows English society before and after the Great War.

Mystery lovers may want to explore Charles Todd’s Bess Crawford and Ian Rutledge series, Jacqueline Winspear’s MaisieDobbs, Deanna Ray’s Lady Julia Grey and Anna Dean’s Dido Kent.  And if you need more suggestions, you simply must visit us at the Help Desk!

Stillwater, OK.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Fifty Shades by Stacy

I did it.  I'll admit it and I'm not ashamed.  I just read all the books in the "50 Shades" series AND I even liked them okay.  “50 Shades” is a series that completely describes most women's number one fantasy, and I'm not talking about The Sex parts.  No--the fantasy that we wish were true and that is so well portrayed in these books is that a woman can change a man from what he is into what she wants him to be.

In this series, E.L. James writes of a man named Christian Grey.  Through the three books, you learn that his very sad past has resulted in Christian's inability to have a typical relationship.  Through the devotion of Ana, a fairly average 23 year-old, Christian learns he can in fact have a loving relationship.  

Much has been made about the novels' dalliances into the darker side of the bedroom.  In fact, some libraries refuse to carry the book; however, except for a handful of scenes, that "darker side" is not really a part of the couple's relationship.  Ana actually is not super crazy about most aspects of Christian's "interests" and refuses to take part in most of it, which is when Christian realizes that he was substituting his "interests" for a meaningful relationship.

Now don't get me wrong, there is a major amount of The Sex in "50 Shades," to the extent that it becomes repetitive and rather boring after a while.  But, The Sex was not the objectionable part of the book for me--it is the part that tells young women (and young men, or even old women and old men) that you can change another person if you just keep after it long enough. 

But, as long as I think of the books as fantasy fiction, I’m not bothered so much.  The writing and story are no better or worse than the young adult trilogy upon which “50 Shades” was based, and it has been fun seeing the frenzy of articles about who should play the very distinctly characterized role of Christian Grey in the movie version. 

Who's Christian Grey?
So, as a librarian, if you ask me whether you should read the book or not, I’ll have to say: Sure—it’s ok (only just ok)—but remember!!!!!!--unlike Ana, you still have NO hope whatsoever of getting the Old Man to load his dishes after he eats!

Stillwater, OK.