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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Science fever @ the library

It makes me so happy to see how excited the community is about science right now. I hope this trend, which began when schools started emphasizing more science, tech, engineering and math, becomes permanent. The library loves science and technology because it leads to innovation and creativity and because it fosters so much more curiosity, which leads to bunches and bunches of reading!

Science fever is running throughout the library. We just had a great sci-fi based fandom event and introduced our new “Take It-Make It” invention kits, which will be ready for checkout in mid-Sept. We are also starting back up with the Lego Club and S.T.E.A.M. laboratory for kids and Video Game Programming Club for teens. Plus, we’ve been lucky to find several great ways to partner with our friends at the Oklahoma WONDERtorium, including during our next big series, “Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.”

Even my reading has been influenced by Science Fever. I absolutely love detail and realism in my fiction. I definitely prefer to read about things that really happen or could happen. Because of that, I thought that I did not like sci-fi/fantasy books, but reading “The Martian” by Andy Weir changed my mind.

Speculative sci-fi details events that have not happened, but they mostly, realistically COULD—which meets my reading needs perfectly. So, I was in reading bliss when I recently picked up “Seveneves” by Neal Stephenson.

I am completely obsessed with this very long book that details plans to save the Earth’s heritage after the Moon breaks into pieces, heralding a 10,000 year firestorm across the globe. There’s not a bunch of character development (same issue with Weir’s book but still loved it), but the story is exciting, suspenseful, and is really making me think about what I would do in similar circumstances. I will be picking up many more sci-fi books at the Fall Used Book Sale, Sept. 24-27.

If adults want to get in on the science fever fun, check out the library’s latest Sci-Fi Film Discussion Series, “Close Encounters of the UnKind.” Local sci-fi film buff, OSU Visiting Professor of English Tim Prchal, is leading us through several classic films about alien species invading Earth.

After watching the film on the big screen, Tim leads a discussion on the films’ story elements and themes, sci-fi film history and determination of which parties were truly unkind in these close encounters.
The series takes place the first Wednesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. The next one will be on Sept. 2. Participation is free (including the popcorn and sodas!).
What could be cooler? Science + book club-like discussion + popcorn and a film!

If you’d like more info about any of these events or help finding a good sci-fi book, visit our website at or contact us at or 405-372-3633 x8106.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Do-It-Yourself with CHILTONLibrary

In this climatically challenged and widely dispersed part of the country, we have to have our cars and we have to have them working. We’re lucky to have a bus here, but it doesn’t run all day or go everyplace that we need to go. So when your car is on the fritz, it can feel like a crisis situation. No worries though. Among all the other things the library offers, we also provide a fantastic car repair database. It is all yours with a few taps on your keyboard, if you have a Stillwater Public Library card.

Last week, we replaced our old car repair service with a new one, CHILTONLibrary. The impetus for the change was the hub’s continuous grouching about how bad the old database had become. He couldn’t find any meaningful car repair instructions on the old service, and I started noticing that more and more of the most useful info was disappearing (and yet the price kept going up).

After looking for some alternatives, we called in the help of several library users who work on their own cars and had them try out both services. All involved agreed that the CHILTONLibrary service was superior.

CHILTONLibrary provides expert advice on repair, maintenance, and service for cars, trucks, vans and SUVs. The information is continually updated and includes step-by-step repair procedures, diagnostic trouble codes, wiring diagrams, and troubleshooting for most vehicle makes, models and years. The instructions often include easier to understand photos, diagrams and videos.

The database is still accessible on the same page at You can access the service online from anywhere and use it at any time. It you want to put the app on your phone, I’ve got it listed on our “Apps” page--that way, you can pull up the repair info right under the hood.

It’s a pretty good tool for do-it-yourselfers, but it’s also good for professionals. CHILTONLibrary includes short sample tests with content approved by master technicians that provide an assessment of your overall readiness to pass an ASE certification exam. Use this option to get a better understanding of your strengths and weaknesses before you take the test.

Now then—for those of us who can barely figure out how to get gas in our cars? CHILTONLibrary provides a tool to help estimate repair time. So, the next time you go to get your car fixed, you can run the estimating tool to see whether you are getting a fairly standard labor price or not.

If you need help using the service or just want to know more about, let your librarian at the Help Desk know.