Oak Harbor Library Blog

Monday, September 29, 2008

Goodbye Charlie

Charles Edward Rhoads, 1918-2008

The library and the community lost a true and caring friend last week when Charles Rhoads, Friend of the Oak Harbor Library, died as a result of a stroke. Mr. Rhoads and his wife, Pat, started volunteering at the library just after it opened in its current location on the campus of Skagit Valley College. As trained and qualified shelf-readers, they adopted fiction and nonfiction shelves in the library, ensuring that books were in order and in good condition for those wanting to read them. Mr. Rhoads tended to hang out in the mystery section - and it always looked good thanks to his efforts. He would get quite cranky if he found things out of order!
As a member of the Friends of the Oak Harbor Library Mr. Rhoads participated in bringing children's programs, library improvements and outreach possibilities to the library annually. For this, and for all his other contributions to our community, we thank him. We will miss him very much. Mary

Monday, September 15, 2008

Freedom to Read: Did She or Didn't She?

Freedom to Read week is coming up at the end of this month, and the Oak Harbor Library is celebrating with book displays and programs that highlight books banned or challenged in the United States. It's exciting to see the reactions from people who love books and libraries to the idea that this freedom could be challenged. There is no doubt that freedom of expression, free access to information and the right to use that information without fear of interference by any authority are among our strongest American values.

In the news lately has been the question of whether Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska and now Vice Presidential candidate, banned books at the Wasilla Public Library while she was mayor of the town. The short answer is that she did not. The facts about Sarah Palin and the town librarian are of interest, however. According to most reports, Palin asked the librarian, at a public meeting what the town's policy was on book banning. The librarian, Mary Ellen Emmons, replied staunchly that she would "fight anyone who tries to dictate what books can go on the library shelves." According to an article in the Frontiersman, Emmons also informed the mayor that it was a constitutional question, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) would be likely to get involved as well. Palin never put the question to the test, but instead fired Emmons (along with most of the City's department heads) for lack of loyalty. After a major community outcry, Emmons was restored to her position, where she stayed for most of Palin's two terms as mayor.

As John Berry, Library Journal editor, has said, "The history of librarianship is littered with the bodies of librarians who have jeopardized and frequently sacrificed their jobs and careers" defending our freedom to read. Mary Ellen Emmons (now Baker) is just one of a long line of librarians of whom we can be proud.

Celebrate your freedom to read: choose a book that has been banned or challenged, or join us for a free showing of Fahrenheit 451 on Saturday, September 27 at 2pm in the Library Meeting Room.

Mary C

Monday, September 8, 2008

News from the Genetic Frontlines

According to new research about 40% of all men carry a genetic variant which is linked to a higher risk of marital discord and divorce. Men who lack the gene variant are more likely to be devoted and loyal husbands. The gene, which influences brain activity, appears to predict whether partners report men as emotionally close and available or distant and disagreeable. Hasse Walum, lead researcher and postgraduate student at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, said that the study is the latest piece of evidence that biology - down to the level of individual genes - plays powerful role in shaping complex human behavior. "There are, of course, many reasons why a person might have relationship problems, but this is the first time that a specific gene variant has been associated with how men bond to their partners," he said. The scientist emphasized that more work needs to be done to replicate findings and to examine interactions between genetic and environmental factors.
Interested in reading more about human genetics? Check out the following titles at your library:
What it means to be 98% chimpanzee : apes, people, and their genes, by Jonathan Marks. Berkeley : University of California Press, 2002.
Survival of the sickest : a medical maverick discovers why we need disease, by Sharon Moalem.
New York : William Morrow, 2007.
Darwinian detectives : revealing the natural history of genes and genomes, by Norman A. Johnson. New York : Oxford University Press, 2007.
When a gene makes you smell like a fish-- and other tales about the genes in your body, by Lisa Seachrist Chiu. New York : Oxford University Press, 2006.