Oak Harbor Library Blog

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Oak Harbor makes Top 10 "America's Dreamtowns"

The U.S. Census Bureau recently reported that 235,000 families moved from metropolitan areas to nonmetropolitan regions in 2006 -- an average of 640 families per day. Where are the best places for them to go? The answer may be in a new analysis of 140 micropolitan areas.

Bizjournals compared 140 micropolitan areas in 20 statistical categories, using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. A micropolitan area consists of a central community with 10,000 to 50,000 residents, along with the surrounding countryside. It is, in effect, a small-scale version of a metropolitan area. The study identified America's 10 "dreamtowns," the small towns that offer the best quality of life without metropolitan hassles. Guess who made number eight!

Here's what bizjournals says about Oak Harbor's quality of life:
Oak Harbor hugs the eastern shore of Whidbey Island in Puget Sound. It's reasonably close to Seattle, yet bills itself as part of Washington's sun belt, less prone to stormy weather. This is a rapidly growing area, with more than a third of all homes being built since 1990.

Quick stats
Area population: 81,489 (actually, that's all of Island County, but we won't quibble)
Population growth since 2000: 13.9%
Average commuting time: 25.5 minutes
Median household income: $49,022
Homeownership rate: 78.9%
Median house value: $267,300
Adults with bachelor's degrees: 27.3%

Well, we certainly love it here...and we're happy that the library is at the center of it all! Mary C

Want to read more about best places to live or retire? Try these titles:
Nextville : amazing places to live the rest of your life, by Barbara Corcoran. 2008.
Who's your city? : how the creative economy is making where to live the most important decision of your life, by Richard Florida. 2008.
Best places to raise your family: the top 100 affordable communities in the U.S. by Bert Sperling and Peter Sander. 2006.
Places rated almanac : the classic guide for finding your best places to live in America, by David Savageau. 7th ed., 2007.
101 best outdoor towns : unspoiled places to visit, live & play, by Sarah Tuff & Greg Melville. 2007.
Where to retire : America's best and most affordable places, by John Howells. 6th ed. 2006.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Books for New Moms (and Dads)

According to Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You're Expecting, "reading helps women have healthier pregnancies, make better medical decisions, and become better mothers." With more than 14 million copies sold, Murkoff's book is one of the most successful pregnancy books ever written. Sno-Isle Libraries has 30 copies of the 2008 edition in circulation, and also includes the title in its International Collections in Russian and Spanish. Murkoff's What to Expect Foundation also produces "Baby Basics," a more accessible guide for expectant moms. To date the 10-year-old foundation has distributed 350,000 copies of the book, which has also been translated into Spanish and Chinese.
At Sno-Isle Libraries, new parents have access to a wealth of information both while they are expecting and after the baby is born. The Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation provides a free Books for Babies kit to every newborn in our two-county district. Last week volunteers at the Oak Harbor Library put together 500 kits, ready to welcome new babies to Island County. If parents (and especially mothers) read, there is a greater chance that their children will, too. Parents who tell stories together, pretend play, hold a book and turn pages, sing songs, play games, share rhymes, talk about letters, and read aloud every day help their children succeed in school and in life. Ask a librarian for some suggestions for great read-aloud books, and have fun! Mary

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Why We Read

Just returned from a week's vacation in the Canadian Gulf Islands: what could be better than sitting by the ocean with a good book? I was with two of my sisters, and one of the books we all enjoyed was Nora Ephron's I Feel Bad About My Neck. Very funny, and right on target for women of a certain age (the neck begins to go around 50).
I especially appreciated the chapter called "On Rapture" - Ephron says, "I've just surfaced from spending several days in a state of rapture - with a book. I loved this book. I loved every second of it. I was transported into its world. I was reminded of all sorts of things in my own life....I felt alive, and engaged, and positively brilliant, bursting with ideas..."
Now that's what I'm talking about! I want every book I read to make me feel that way. It's a tough standard, I know. As Ephron says, "the state of rapture I experience when I read a wonderful book is one of the main reasons I read, but it doesn't happen every time or even every other time, and when it does happen, I'm truly beside myself."
She goes on to list the books that she has loved through the years: The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing; The Godfather by Mario Puzo; Smiley's People and others by John le Carre; most of Anthony Trollope; all of Edith Wharton and Jane Austen; Wilkie Collin's masterpiece, The Woman in White; and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon.
I keep hearing about Amazon's Kindle and other ebook readers: evidently one of the true tests for the technology is whether it can create the kind of escape into a good book that readers seek. It is that rapture that makes us feel as though we are surfacing when we return from "reading the most wonderful book." What are you reading? Mary C