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Thursday, January 30, 2014

“Metropolis” Screening at Anime Club by Emily

Monday, Feb. 3, at 6:30 p.m., Stillwater Public Library Kicks-Off “One Book, One Community: Stillwater Reads Fahrenheit 451.”  Following that event, we’ll have weekly programs and activities for all ages.  I’m so excited that the library is including an anime film as an event in the series on Saturday, Feb. 8. at 2p.m.  We’ve had an anime club for teens for several years now, and I love the idea of inviting adults to attend so they can see that anime isn’t just for kids – it can be entertaining and thought provoking for all ages.

 I didn’t really start to watch anime until after I graduated college.  I had held some preconceived notions about manga (Japanese style comics) and anime (Japanese animation) and never took the time to actually read or watch any.  Luckily, a friend of mine showed me the error of my ways, and made a number of suggestions.  I started with a manga by Osamu Tezuka called “Ode to Kirihito” and I was hooked.  Osamu Tezuka is often referred to as the “Father of Manga.”  The film that we’ll be screening – “Metropolis” – is based off of a manga of the same name written in 1949 by none other than Osamu Tezuka.

 “Metropolis” was released in 2001, and also has connections to Fritz Lang’s silent that came out in 1927 (Tezuka incorporated some of Lang’s imagery).  The film takes place in a dystopian world where robots and humans live together, but are not equal.  Robots are discriminated against and forced to dwell in the city’s lower levels.  Many of the humans living in Metropolis are unemployed and living in poverty – they blame the robots for taking their jobs.  

 In the heart of the expansive city lies a grand tower called the Ziggurat, which was built by Duke Red, a wealthy businessman attempting to seize control of the city.  Red also commissioned Dr. Laughton, a scientist with questionable practices, to build a humanoid robot named Tima in the likeness of his deceased daughter.  Duke Red has plans for Tima to merge computers with human consciousness and control all of Metropolis.   But, before Tima can be turned into a super-android Detective Shunsaku Ban and his nephew Kenichi interfere and rescue Tima.   Kenichi and Tima get separated from Detective Shunsaku and end up on a journey together in Metropolis.  The two begin to fall in love, but can a robot love?

 The film is visually stunning and will leave you philosophically questioning the nature of technology and the virtual world.  We hope that community members of all ages will join the teen members of our Anime Club to screen, then discuss the film and how it relates to “Fahrenheit 451.” Japanese snacks will be provided.   

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Ray Bradbury’s Future by Stacy

In February and March, the Stillwater community will be reading Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” for the library’s latest One Book, One Community series.  You can join your neighbors for scholarly presentations, theatrical performances, films and many book discussions.  One of the most fascinating aspects of “Fahrenheit 451” you’ll find are the details Bradbury describes that sound an awful lot like our lives today, but were nowhere close to being reality back when he wrote the book in the early fifties.  I’m listing a few below; but when you read the book, I challenge you to note some of the other examples and share them during your book discussions.

How many of you put in your earbuds at night to fall asleep to the sound of music or the soothing voices in an audiobook?  In “Fahrenheit 451,” the main character, Montag, has a wife, Minnie, who wears tiny seashell-like devices that fit into her ears and play music while she drifts to sleep.  Those small devices are very similar to the earbuds and mini-ipods or the Bluetooth technology we use today.

Montag’s wife is also consumed with the giant, wall sized television screens that play non-stop all day long.  Today, 80 inch flat screened televisions aren’t uncommon in homes, and with projectors, some of us are watching TV on an entire wall.  Minnie’s screens play the type of sensationalistic shows that sound an awful lot like reality TV shows today.  Her TV shows also let the public interact with the people in the TV programs which is very similar to the live tweeting we do that can change the outcome of results on shows like “The Voice.”

Bradbury also predicts twenty-four hour money dispensing machine like our ATMS, constant surveillance like today’s satellites and street monitoring, and much more.

To me, Bradbury’s ability to predict the future is what makes the book so unnerving.  If he was so able to see the technology we would be using today, is he right that this technology will overtake our lives and lead us to stop reading and interacting with each other? 

Bradbury once said, “People ask me to predict the future, when all I want to do is prevent it.” Well, I say let’s help him out by getting a library card, picking up a book and bringing our kids to the library.   And of course, one way to keep his most dire predictions unrealized is by signing up for our “One Book, One Community” event.  The Kick-off is Monday, Feb. 3 at 6:30 p.m.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

My Library: Rediscovered By Tiara

I remember when I was a kid discovering the library and all of its wonders for the first time. I spent several delightful summers at the library entertaining new interests and making new friends. I enjoyed field trips to see various performers and shows, and I even had the opportunity to be a part of one of Rana McCoy’s first Children’s Operetta’s: Cinderella.

Indeed, I have fond memories of this library from my childhood.  And now, from my front row seat at the Help Desk, I am a witness to all of the action in the library.  I see who is coming and going; I see which books are flying off the shelves; and I see how the library is shaping young minds. 

Particularly, I realize how my interests changed since the first day I walked in to the Stillwater Public Library. I may have been 8 or 9. I would tag along with my dad and older brother. I started off only wanting to play games on the computer, but found myself mindfully roaming through the isles looking for something to keep me occupied. Eventually, I would sit on a couch for hours until I finished the R.L Stine or Roald Dahl book that I planned to just skim. From then on, I spent my time in the young adult section reading mysteries and anything that looked suspenseful.

Though, I still loved to get on to the computer, somewhere along the line I upgraded from playing games to using the computer to type up my own stories and poems. I would scour the World Wide Web for places to post and reads material written by kids like me or people with my interests.

Now, I love getting reacquainted with my library and seeing how others discover it every day. And this time around, I am the one that gets to answer people’s questions and assist with finding or recommending books. It feels great to be a part of the discovery process, and I couldn’t ask for a better place to be.

Serial Reading by Steven

I'm a reader. I try to read every day. Every time I finish a novel that has grabbed me, I wish that it would continue. That I could stay in the world that it has created in my mind. Magically, that happens with series or serial novels. I can revisit familiar characters over a span of time and new things keep happening. The following, in no particular order, are a few that I have plunged happily into.

·        Robert B. Parker's western series starts with the book “Appaloosa” featuring lawman for hire Virgil Cole and his deputy Everett Hitch. Parker is known for his series with the Boston Private Detective Spenser, Private Detective Sunny Randall and Paradise Police Chief Jesse Stone, all set in contemporary times. These western novels are a terse modern take on the traditional genre, filled with beautifully spare dialog.

·        John D. McDonald's series features Travis McGee, Salvage Consultant. If someone has been robbed and there is no legal recourse, he'll try to get back whatever has been stolen, for a fifty percent fee. This series was written in the sixties and seventies and is amazingly prescient as to the environment, consumer culture, greedy development, and what it means to be honorably human. 

·        F. Paul Wilson's Repairman Jack novels, starting with “The Tomb”, are a unique combination of science fiction, horror, and crime.

Stephen King's Dark Tower series, beginning with “The Gunslinger” is now up to 8 volumes. King has written a complete fantasy world incorporating the past, present and a possible dark future when things run down. 

 ·        Dean Koontz's novels about Odd Thomas, a fry cook in the Southern California town of Pico Mundo, are suspense filled and humorous at the same time.

There are many more that I haven't mentioned, or been introduced to, in every genre imaginable. One of my pleasures in reading is discovering a new author with and established series. There is a handy link from our website at to find out the order of books in almost any series. Just scroll to the bottom of our main page and click on “What's the next book in this series?” under FAQs.  The link will take you to the “What’s Next” database where you can enter an author’s name, series or individual book to get started on exploring a series for yourself.