Oak Harbor Library Blog

Friday, November 30, 2007

Nancy Pearl's Picks

An afternoon with Nancy Pearl is always time well spent, and last week's presentation sponsored by the Friends of the Langley Library was no exception. Nancy spoke about books, as she always does, but also about her life as one of the country's best-known librarians. She mentioned that in the past year, among other activities, she has been the featured entertainment on cruise ships destined for some pretty exotic venues. "Who would have believed that a librarian's life could be so exciting?" she asked the audience of book lovers.

She spoke extemporaneously from a list of titles, discussing each book like an old friend. Here are some of the titles I added to my short list of books to read:

Zookeeper's wife : a war story by Diane Ackerman. Norton & Co, 2007 - 940.5318 ACKERMA
If you enjoyed Water for Elephants, then this is a book for you. True story of the Warsaw Zoo during WWII, and how humans and animals were saved by everyday heroes.

Enslaved by ducks by Bob Tarte. Algonquin, 2003 - 636.0887 TARTE
An extremely funny anecdotal memoir of the Tartes and their animals.

Away by Amy Bloom. Random House, 2007. Psychotherapist Bloom's novel of a mother who sets out on a journey to find her daughter that takes her to Siberia via Alaska.

Stormy weather by Paulette Jiles. Morrow, 2007. Historical novel about those who remained during the great dustbowl of the depressing. Read with Egan's Worst Hard Time.

Then we came to the end by Joshua Ferris. Little, Brown, 2007. Nominated for the National Book Award, this first novel tells the story of the dot.com bust from the perspective of a group of advertising agency employees. Very funny.

Unknown terrorist by Richard Flanagan. Grove Press, 2006. Australian author Flanagan's tale of a man unfairly accused of terrorism and how hysteria can lead us down the wrong path. Well-written, thought-provoking and extremely moving.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Truth in Literature-Fahrenheit 451

"Fahrenheit 451...the temperature at which book paper catches fire, and burns." The library book group met earlier this week to discuss Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. This remarkable book was written in 1953, and still holds great relevance for today's world. In Bradbury's fictional future books are outlawed and firemen, who in a mythical past put out fires, are now charged with burning the interiors of homes and buildings where books are found. But, says Bradbury's character, Beatty, "it didn't come from the government on down. There was no dictum, no declaration, no censorship to start with, no! Technology, mass exploitation, and minority pressure carried the trick, thank God! Today, thanks to them, you can stay happy all the time, you are allowed to read comics, the good old confessionals, or trade journals." This is a world where all questioning or wondering has disappeared. Books only stirred up trouble, made people dissatisfied with the status quo, and brought problems for those in control.

The world of Fahrenheit 451 was missing three key elements: quality of information; leisure to digest it; and the right to carry out actions based on what is learned or understood from the interaction of the first two. Which of these have we been willing to sacrifice in our society?

Later in the story, Faber, a character who has illegally kept books in his possession says, "It's not the books you need, it's some of the things that were once in the books... The same infinite detail and awareness could be projected through the radios and televisions (insert Internet here - ed.) but they're not! Take it where you can find it, in old phonograph records, old motion pictures, and in old friends: look for it in nature and look for it in yourself. Books were only one type of of receptacle where we stored a lot of things we were afraid we might forget... The magic is only how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us..."

Join the library book group. It meets the second Tuesday of each month at 5:30 pm at the Oak Harbor Library. Take time to participate in reading and discussing literature that will get you thinking about issues and ideas. Find out more at our website www.sno-isle.org or by calling the library at 360-675-5115.

To quote Bradbury once more, "the good writers touch life often. The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her. The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies. "

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Strategic Planning for Sno-Isle Libraries

Last week I had the opportunity to participate in intensive library management training for strategic planning in public libraries. Presented by the Public Library Association, it was probably the best continuing education event I have ever attended. At Sno-Isle Libraries we are currently using a variety of methods to gather input from people all over the two-county area about how the libraries can best serve people and continue to contribute to the quality of life we all seek. Through focus groups and surveys, community leaders, library users, non-users, staff and board members are sharing opinions about where the library needs to go in the next ten years in order to stay relevant in the lives of citizens. As we create a vision for the future we will establish core priorities for services and set measurable goals to help us meet those priorities. With limited resources, it is not effective for libraries to attempt to be everything for everyone. We must focus on the priorities identified by our community and use our library resources (staff, collection, facilities and technology) wisely. Change is a given in the library environment as it is in all aspects of our modern world. We need your input on how that change should look. Please take time to add your thoughts, either online at www.sno-isle.org or by telephone if you are contacted by a surveyor.