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Friday, September 27, 2013

Banned Book Week by Stacy

This week is Banned Book Week, a time when we ask citizens not to take their right to read for granted.  What a perfect week for this to fall, because it’s also the Friends of the Library’s Used Book Sale, which starts with the Members’ Sale, Thursday at 5 p.m., and runs through Sunday, Sept. 29.

You can choose to purchase anything you want, including perhaps some of 2012’s Most Challenged Books.  According to the American Library Association (ALA), the 2012 list features:

1      Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey.  Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group.

  “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie.  Reasons: Offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group.

        “Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asher.  Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group.

4      “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E. L. James.  Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit.

5      “And Tango Makes Three” by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson.  Reasons: Homosexuality, unsuited for age group.

6      “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini.  Reasons: Homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit.

7      “Looking for Alaska” by John Green.  Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group.

8       Scary Stories series by Alvin Schwartz.  Reasons: Unsuited for age group, violence.

     “The Glass Castle” by Jeanette Walls.  Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit.

    “Beloved” by Toni Morrison.  Reasons: Sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence.

The important thing to note is that “challenged” does not mean “banned.”  It means that a person asked for a book to be removed from the shelves or for it to be restricted in use.  I figured that most challenges were made through school libraries, and they are, but I was very surprised to see how many challenges public libraries receive.  In the past decade (2000-9), around 1600 challenges were made at school libraries and about 1200 were made at public libraries.

And we all know that books are only challenged by “certain” groups, right?  Wrong!  According to the ALA, books are challenged for a myriad of reasons and by people with all sorts of beliefs.  ALA shares an interesting quote from the book, “Free Speech for Me—But Not for Thee: How the American Left and Right Relentlessly Censor Each Other,” by Nat Hentoff.  He says “the lust to suppress can come from any direction.”

Be assured that your trusty librarians are here to protect your right to read regardless of political, religious or other viewpoints.  (Not to take this matter lightly, but I have to confess bafflement at the lack of books challenged for plain bad writing!)  Please join us at the book sale and in the library this week and celebrate your freedom to read!

Friday, September 20, 2013

How to Shop a Book Sale by Stacy

The library book sale is my “Black Friday.”  The day I anxiously await each spring and fall.  The night before the sale, I take out the money I plan to spend and set out the clothes and shoes that will comfortably allow me to work, shop and, if need be, crawl under tables.  

 That night, I make sure to get a full eight hours sleep, so that Grouchy Stacy will not ruin the best day of my year. 

In the morning, I make sure to sweep the hair into a tight pony so that it won’t fall in my face as I mill through thousands of books.  Next, I perform 20 toe touches, a handful of sideways bends and 10-15 lunges, a routine I will repeat throughout the day to make sure that I’ll be in top form for the sale.  

Then, I eat a good solid breakfast because I know that dinner time will come late on this day.

In the spring, I always pay my membership dues so that I can go right into the fall sale.  Some people like to line up early and wait on the lobby steps for the sale, but by this time in my life, I am very aware of my weaknesses and know there is a possibility that I will get so anxious to shop that I will run people over in my exuberance.   So I hang back in my office until 5 minutes or so have gone by, then I make my move.

Having grabbed my big book bag, I head to the hobby section to look for old books on little known and obsolete hobbies.  Next to that, I check for old-fashioned books about the life of women—1950s cosmetology books, hygiene from the 1940s, etc.  I end this section with 1950s decorating books and anything from the 70s about taking care of dogs.  The Friends have all of the books very well sorted so I can move from subject to subject with ease, finding all of my golden oldies while leaving the bestsellers and new/newer material to others.

From there I move on to look for fiction books with amazing paper covers, the LPs—especially anything having to do with Lawrence Welk, and then I go to the children’s section to look for books with super cute illustrations.  Once I have my fill, I look for the husband who always has a massive stack of sci fi, home improvement and electronics books. 

We sit on the back steps looking through our books to make sure we have everything we want and that we need what we have.  Sometimes, I find myself trying to repurchase books that I donated myself.  I try to make myself put those back because I know I had a reason to let them go when I was not in a shopping frenzy.

After we pay and go home, we spend a silent hour ooh’ing and aw’ing over what we’ve bought.
Then, we repeat the whole thing again on Friday evening or Saturday afternoon.  I actually really enjoy going to the sale again, once more of the books are gone, because I can see and touch every single book if I want.  Treasures that were hidden in Thursday’s mass of books get uncovered for the Friday and Saturday shoppers.  

Last, since I am usually at the booksale on Sunday anyway to help with removing books, we attend one more time for the $1 bag sale.  I especially like this day because even though the books are super cheap, there are always a several I am on the fence about.  On $1 bag day, if the books I was uncertain about before are still there, then I know they were meant to be mine!

That Sunday night, I find places on my shelves for all my new treasures and remove the books that I will be donating to the library’s next sale, and then I eagerly wait six more months when I can repeat my routine all over again!

Friday, September 13, 2013

National Library Week by Stacy

What’s one of the best investments you can make?  A card at the Stillwater Public Library!  This smart card gives you access to thousands of books, eBooks, audios, journals, the highest quality databases, classes on important topics, exciting programs and more.

Starting this week, Stillwater Public Library will celebrate National Library Card Sign-up Month.  The observance started in 1987 when President Reagan's Secretary of Education, William Bennett, challenged the nation to get every child a library card, and then get them to use it. 

Since then, a library card has become the most important school supply of all by getting essential resources to all community members and teaching children responsibility through borrowing and returning material.  And with the 4-10x return on investment that libraries yield, kids get to see a positive example of the tax system at work.

So, bring the whole family down to the library this month.  Library cards are free to those who live, work or go to school in Payne County.  And they are simple to get--just come in with a photo ID and something with your name and address, like a utility bill or your driver's license.  Fill out one short form and your card can be issued on the spot!

September by Stacy

September is an amazing month—the best of the entire year.  First—it is the Fall Friends of the Library Booksale.  This year it is held Thursday, Sept. 26 through Sunday, Sept. 29.  And second is the weather.  The first cool breezes come in and I can start pulling out my winter clothes.  But, September also remains one of the saddest months because each year we’ll remember the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the Pennsylvania plane crash.

I still remember that day very well.  It was exactly my one month anniversary working at the library.  I was in Ponca City, enjoying my Tuesday morning off, drinking a cup of coffee with my brother-in-law while my sister and her newborn slept in.  I was supposed to go to the OSU library later to learn to use their catalog more thoroughly.  When we saw footage of the first plane, we thought a beginning pilot in a little four seater had an accident.  As we watched live and saw the second plane hit, we gasped, screaming THAT WAS NO ACCIDENT. 

 As the events of the day unfolded, we became slightly hysterical—my sister wondering what kind of world she’d brought a newborn into---me thinking every place and thing was going to be hit—unsure whether to get the heck out of an oil town like Ponca or whether to stay away from what seemed in my scared mind a potential target—OSU.

Twelve years later, what we saw still seems surreal.  Obviously, I am a huge believer in the power of books.  Books have the ability to help heal pain by taking us through terrible events but in a safe environment.  They also help us remember things we should not forget.  Two books on 9/11 that I have read and recommend are:

“One Tuesday Morning” (9/11 Series, Book 1) by Karen Kingsbury.  The Christian fiction author writes about Jamie, a young mother whose firefighter husband is killed in the WTC collapse.  Jamie does not know this because a man who looks just like her husband but who was no memory is returned to her.  Many people criticize the book because of the very unrealistic premise, but, really, how realistic is it that two planes would fly into and bring down the WTC?  Parts of this novel are so touching it will bring you to tears and make you feel hope.  I did not particularly enjoy the follow-up books Kingsbury made into a series, but I do recommend this one. 

"Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" by Jonathan Safran Foer is the story of Oscar, a young boy whose father died in the towers.  Oscar finds a key in his father’s belongings and goes on a quest to find what the key will open.  This is a quirky and experimental book.  It is very often incredibly heart touching and draws parallels between events of WWII and 9/11.  A movie based on the book came out in 2012, which I thought was equally as good.
I was actually surprised to see that several hundreds of fiction books use 9/11 as part of the story, but not that many have become popular.  I’m not sure if these others books deal with the subject respectfully and movingly or just exploit the topic, but the other books I plan to read include: 

        "Falling Man," Don DeLillodetails how the 9/11 events affect the life of a tower survivor
“The Good Life” by Jay McInerney – two well off couples reassess their lives after 9/11.
        “Absent Friends” by S J Rozanthe long held secrets of a group of friends come to light after 9/11.  
If you are looking for stories or non-fiction material on this subject, visit with your librarian for assistance.  I hope that each of us has a peaceful Sept. 11.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Wildcrafting Stillwater by Stacy

We’re so excited to be hosting local foraging expert, Jackie Dill, in a program titled “Wildcrafting Stillwater” on Thursday, Sept. 12 at 6:30 p.m. 

Jackie will discuss how to locate and harvest edibles, herbs and mushrooms that grow in the Stillwater area.  She’ll also discuss delicious dishes and household products, like laundry soap, that can be made with items you find.  She’ll even tell us how to locate material to use in crafting and share examples of the crafts she has constructed.

When I first spoke with Jackie, I asked her for some easy recipes, as I thought I’d try my hand at one or two for the program.  Jackie suggested making an easy and lemony tea from Sumac.  The first thing I envisioned was how much trouble I’d be in for serving up a tray of poison-ivy-like cocktails to our library guests, but she assured me that it is NOT that type of sumac.  It turns out that there is a poisonous sumac with white berries and an edible sumac with red or purple berries which is also known as “The Wild Lemonade Berry.”  I figured it might be best if I read some books or listen to Jackie’s presentation before trying out any treats on anyone.

If you’d like to read up before or after the program, we have a display on foraging and using foraged items.  The display is located near the Help Desk and the books are available for checkout.  Some of the items include:

   “Backyard Foraging: 65 familiar plants you didn't know you could eat” by Ellen Zachos covers identifying useful plants, harvesting etiquette and ways to prepare and eat the items found.

  “The Feast nearby: how I lost my job, buried a marriage, and found my way by keeping chickens, foraging, preserving, bartering, and eating locally (all on $40 aweek)” by Robin Mather is a charming semi-memoir from a recently unemployed food-journalism veteran featuring delicious recipes using foraged edibles. 

 “Hunt,gather, cook: finding the forgotten feast” by Hank Shaw discusses the virtues of filling the dinner table through hunting, fishing and foraging overlooked and underutilized wild foods.

 “The wild table: seasonal foraged food and recipes” by Connie Green helps readers identify numerous wild delicacies, and then provides step-by-step preparation and cooking techniques for many recipes, including several signature dishes from noted chefs.
If you’ll be attending the program, there will not be handouts, so please be sure to bring a notebook and a pen so you can take notes.  To find out more about foraging locally, visit Jackie’s site at  For more material on the subject, stop by and ask a librarian!