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Jan's Column 2019

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Past Columns

December 26, 2019 - Wish List

I fell asleep watching a holiday movie the other night, and when I awoke, I had started making a list, not of who had been naughty or nice, but of things I would ask Santa for if I got the chance. I shared the start of this list with some friends of mine who also work in libraries. With their help and the help of the spirit of Christmas (And okay, there may have been other spirits involved as well. But really, we were just drinking egg nog.)this is what we came up with.

Dear Santa,

We have all been extremely good this year. We would like you to seriously consider granting the following wishes.

We wish:

  • That the eagerly awaited new book by our favorite author is published early.

  • That our favorite author doesn’t die before we do, not that his/her style changes, nor that they become senile and start writing drivel.

  • That our favorite author doesn’t kill off our favorite character.

  • That best-selling books had literary merit (only occasionally) and that some might actually stand the test of time.

  • That the publishing houses still employed editors.

  • That the publishing houses still employed proofreaders.

  • That prize-winning books had obvious merit to us mere mortals and not only the panel that chose the book as winner (Please explain some of the Newberry and Caldecott award winners to me.)

  • That, as the mystic, Indian, library philosopher / theoretician, Ranganathan stated – “Every Reader his book” -- that every library patron finds something in our library that meets their needs.

  • And that as /Ranganathan also stated, “Every Book its Reader” – that every book on the shelves finds someone interested in reading it.

  • That courtesy and civility were strapped on by employees and patrons as they entered the library and that they continued to wear them as they returned to the community.

  • That no new subject headings with “War” and/ or “Conflict” following geographic locations do not need to be created.

  • That no new subject headings for diseases like AIDS, and SARS don’t need to be created.

  • That books were checked out for exactly the amount of time it takes for you to read it (even if your Aunt Trudy unexpectedly arrived from Cleveland for a two week visit and you won’t have a minute to read.).

  • That magically, there were enough copies of best-sellers so that no one had to wait, or only had to wait long enough to appreciate getting the book, but not long enough to be frustrated.

  • That books were always returned on time so fines didn’t have to be charged.

  • That society was such that people came to the library only for books and other library materials, and not to get warm in the winter or to cool off in the summer.

  • That society was such that libraries didn’t have to provide safe harbor for children that would otherwise be going home to empty houses after school and during school breaks.

  • That there were enough computers for everyone or that one would open up the very minute that you thought you needed it.

  • That all the diverse points of view in the world, country, state - what have you- could be expressed in the materials on the shelves and not offend anyone.

  • That library materials would come back in the same or better condition that they left the library in and had all their various parts.

  • That no matter the volume of your normal speaking voice, when you entered a library your voice would be the exact right volume to be heard and understood and yet not destroy anyone else’s quiet enjoyment.

  • That the book you loved as a child and vaguely recollect as an adult (color, but not the title – but maybe a few words of it, no author) could be identified and located for you.

  • That if you really, really loved a book you had just checked out and read, you could keep it.

  • That a library cat (or dog or what have you)could “work” at the library without having to worry about allergic reactions.

  • That each library could afford to buy all the books, audio books, and other media that everyone wants.

  • That every night, magically, all the books and other library materials would put themselves back in perfect shelf order.

  • That children and adults would be filled with the joy and love of reading.

Thank you very much dear Santa!

Your Librarian Friends (who, we would like to remind you once again, have been very good this year and every year).

P.S. We left the cookies out on the circ desk and the milk is in the refrigerator.

P.P.S. The library closes at 3 p.m. on December 24th and is closed all day on December 25th.

P.P.P.S. The library closes at 3 p.m. on December 31t and is closed all day on January 1st.

P.P.P.P.S. Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

December 19, 2019 - Boxing Day

A week from today is December 26th, also known in the UK and many Commonwealth countries as Boxing Day. In the 1830s this day was observed as a secular holiday on which postmen, errand boys, and servants of various kinds expect to receive a Christmas box of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas as thanks for good service throughout the year. Samuel Pepys diary entry for the 19th of December, 1663 mentioned this custom. The origin theory of Boxing Day links it to an older British tradition where the servants of the wealthy were allowed the next day off to visit their families since they would have had to serve their masters on Christmas Day. The masters or employers would give each servant a box to take home containing gifts, bonuses, and sometimes leftover food. A second origin theory is that alms boxes were collected during Advent and distributed the day after Christmas, on St. Stephens day – The day good king Wenceslaus rode out--. If you've got the post-Christmas blues, you can always celebrate Boxing Day with gift giving instead of gift returning, post-holiday sales shopping, or just sitting around starring at all the empty gift boxes that have suddenly occupied your house.

If these recent dark days have been getting you down, the good news is that the 8th, 9th, and 10th of December had the earliest sunsets of the year. Those days the sun set at 4:22 p.m. While we continue to lose daylight at the morning end of the day even after the winter solstice on December 21st at 10:19 p.m., we have already started gaining it on the evening end of the day. We actually won’t start gaining light in the morning(i.e having an earlier sunrise) until January 10th. But by then we shall of gained a solid 20 minutes at the end of the day. The dark days of winter provide the perfect opportunity to turn on a lamp and read. Below are some of the recently-arrived books at the library. Enjoy!

December 12, 2019 - How Time Flies

I was checking out a book on Overdrive at the beginning of this week for 21 days and was informed that the book was due on December 30th. This means, among other things, that New Year's Eve is only 22 days away and that the start of the New Year, indeed, the start of a new decade, is a mere 23 days away. My how time flies when ..... ( you fill in the rest of the phrase or choose from one of these tropes: when you're having fun; when you've got a groove going; when you get to a certain age; when you get towards the end of the year). Or as Virgil said, "Time flies never to be recalled". As the end of the year looms in the not-too-distant future, it's easy to get nostalgic, not only for the days and months of this year, but all the days and years of previous years. The library had it's 55th Anniversary on December 1st. Things certainly have changed in this library and libraries generally. Our community has changed so much in those 55 years as well. Change is the only constant of life which I believe Heraclitus said in about 500 BCE. Speaking of change, you may have noticed that the library catalog and some of its menus have changed since a week ago. These changes are due to the migration of all our data to a new and improved interface. Searching should be easier (once you get used to it) and all the functionality you're used to should still be there and possibly enhanced. As we head towards the New Year, I urge you to embrace these changes as improvements. Reflect on the passage of time and the changes that passage brings. I'll leave you with possibly my favorite quote about time( by Terry Wogan) : "Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana". Keep smiling! Enjoy the new books listed below.

December 5, 2019 - Old Bafana

Today, December 5th, is St. Nicholas Day Eve. In some Northern European countries and some communities in the United States it is celebrated by children (with adults conspiring). Tonight, children put their shoes out in the foyer (or outside their bedroom doors) and in the morning the shoes are filled with small treats like candy, oranges or other fruits, tiny toys-- if the child has been good! Otherwise the shoe(s) are filled with coal. This is a nice lead in to a couple of other seasonal gift givers. In 18 days the big guy in the red suit will be making visits to good boys and girls. I don't think Santa leaves much coal in stockings these days (or at least that possibility is seriously down played in all the seasonal advertisements). The Italians have a 12th-day-after-Christmas gift-giver that ties into the story of the three kings searching for that special child.The kings stop and ask an old women (witch) for directions. She is too busy sweeping to help them. She later repents and is forever searching for that child and brings gifts or coal to all the children she visits while looking for the special child. Children today know her as Befana, the old woman who flies a broom and wears a black shawl over a dress dirty with soot from the chimneys she climbs down to deliver her gifts. For the good children she brings sweets, toys and book and she brings onions, garlic and coal for the bad children. I mention Old Bafana because the library will be hosting a musical performance based on this story on this Sunday, December 8th at 2 p.m. Bafini cookies and "coal" as well as hot chocolate will be served. Bring the whole family and enjoy this performance sponsored by the DMB Community Bank.

Below are some of the new books that have recently appeared at the library. Enjoy!

November 28, 2019 - Thanksgiving Day

When you sit down at your Thanksgiving Day meal, it will undoubtedly be with some combination of family and friends. As is true with any gathering of a large group that meets on an infrequent basis, those who are missing are as noticeable as those present. In your early decades those absent were undoubtedly fulfilling conflicting familial obligations. As the years rolled on it was because those absent are permanently gone. Thanksgiving can become a celebration by survivors filled with gratitude that they can still gather together as well as being thankful for the bounties of the harvest. Once the grandchildren begin arriving, the whole cycle of life (of the clan) begins again. I’m sure the first Thanksgiving was an acknowledgement of survival and of gratitude. I think we can all connect with those early settlers. In the midst of our daily life and the perils to life and health that we are all subject to, it is good to have a reason to sit down at a table filled with food at a time of year when the land is dormant and fecundity is but a distant dream, and hold hands, and say “thank you”. I hope you have a joyous time with your families and friends on this holiday. As always, I am thankful for you, gentle readers, who keep the literary and literacy flame alive. Enjoy the new books listed below and have a very happy Thanksgiving. The library will be open on Black Friday. Below you will find some new book titles to help you survive the day after Thanksgiving. Enjoy!

November 21, 2019 - Read Friday

If tomorrow were Thursday instead of today, it would be the earliest date Thanksgiving Day could fall. This year, with Thanksgiving Day falling on the 28th (the 4th Thursday of November) that makes it the latest date the holiday can occur. This means, among other things, that Black Friday (the day that consumers supposedly push retailers from the red side of their collective ledgers into the black side of their collective ledgers) is also as late as it can be. This results in a shorter Winter Holidays’ shopping season and probably explains all the “Black Friday” sales already taking place. I was amazed. No. Perhaps “dumbfounded” would be a better word, to see that Black Friday now appears on my Google calendar as a “real” holiday. Speaking of Black Friday, the library will be open as per usual on the Friday following Thanksgiving. We do encourage everyone to make it a Read (pronounced “red”) Friday by coming in and checking out some books or getting comfortable somewhere in our cozy library and reading a book or a magazine or newspaper or brochure or anything with print on it. Speaking of reading, the Winter Reading Program will start on Monday, December 16th. If you want to start training for the Winter Reading Program, a November Reading Program is currently underway. Use your Beanstack app to access it or you can go to and find the program, “November Reads”. Speaking of reading which leads me to speaking of books, below you will find some of the recent titles which recently appeared at our library. Enjoy!

November 14, 2019 - Holidays

We sailed past the first November holiday at the beginning of this week and today -- if you are reading this on Thursday the 14th-- we are exactly two (that’s 2, the number that follows 1) weeks away from Thanksgiving Day. As we all know, Thanksgiving Day this year is only 26 days until the end of the holiday shopping season (because if you haven’t got things purchased by December 24th you’ve pretty much blown it). So let this serve as your official two week warning for Thanksgiving and your 40 day notice for the end of this year’s shopping season. There are a few other important dates approaching in December. On Sunday, December 8th, a special musical story, Old Befana, will be performed by Ken Lonnquist and his Merry Troupe. On December 14th, that jolly guy in the red suit will be here to ask every boy and girl who appears “Have you been a good girl or boy this year?”. On December 21st, the winter solstice arrives so it “officially” becomes winter then. (Yeah, like it hasn’t felt like winter since the end of October this year!). Round and about that same time the library’s Winter Reading Program will start and run through the end of February when we all hope that spring, or the promise thereof, will be right around the corner. As you can see, there are lots of good things to look forward to in the not-too-distant future and to help you get there, we have a number of new books. Below you will find a sampling to whet your appetite. There are many new books that never make it to this list so you will just have to come in and look for yourself. Enjoy!

November 7, 2019 - October Weather

Back in 1921, T.S. Eliot wrote in “The Wastelands” that “April is the cruelest month”. I would beg to differ. I believe that the last few days of October, 2019 have a better claim to that title. I mean really! Two snow storms of four inches each nearly back to back in Wisconsin before (please note bolding for emphasis) Halloween and all the little kids in their costumes bedraggled by traipsing through the snow that still lay upon the ground, surely that kind of weather puts October, 2019 into the running as a strong contender for the titles of “cruelest month”. And maybe, just maybe October in Wisconsin should be considered the “cruelest month” anyway. We all remember the Halloween Blizzard of 1991, don’t we? What makes snowfall in October seem “cruel” to me is that I am still anticipated cerulean blue skies streaked with a few white clouds above while the trees hold up their arms filled with yellow and red and orange leaves. I’m still remembering the warmth of late summer days as the temperature rockets from near-freezing overnight lows to sweater weather during the day. In October I’m still holding on to those glorious fall days or at least their potential. By the time November rolls around I’m pretty much resigned to the gloomy, gray skies that accompany this transition month -- the month we start seriously moving from fall to winter. There is nothing “cruel” about November since it so often lives up to my expectations. Now that we gained back that hour from Daylight Savings Time, there is all that extra time (well, 60 minutes anyway) to read. Below are some of the new titles that recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

October 24, 2019 - Temperature

As I write this, it is a rather dark, rainy fall day in Wisconsin. The end of October is rapidly approaching with Halloween only a week away. Trees are still holding on to most of their leaves and many don’t seem to be trying at all for the bright, vibrant reds, oranges, and burgundies that can fall days with blue skies simply glorious. It is hard for me to believe that the high temperature today will be a paltry 60 degrees. This past Saturday, I was in Valencia, Spain and the temperature was a balmy 80 degrees. It was 55 degrees in Barcelona on Sunday when I started my journey home at the airport at 3: 15 in the morning. What a difference a few degrees of latitude can make! While on vacation, I did manage to keep reading with the help of books I’d put on hold using Overdrive. It’s amazing how much you can read on an airplane trip that lasts for (seemingly) days and days. Before you ask, and in case you’re interested about what books a librarian might read on vacation, I’ll tell you. I read “Blackout” by Connie Willis in the “Oxford Time Travel” series and a Louise Penny mystery, “The Brutal Telling”. I would have to say my consumption of books was negatively impacted by all the sightseeing. Now that there is no more sightseeing in my immediate future, I can get back on track with reading. The good news is a lot more books I’ve been waiting to read arrived while I was away. Below are a few of the recent titles that arrived at the library. Enjoy!

October 17, 2019 - Crisp Days

Another week gone by and frost warnings and advisories are showing up with greater frequency -- after all it is the middle of October and it is only 14 days until that first holiday of the last quarter of the year.

The garden harvesting has pretty much finished. There are a few late bloomers that are continuing to finish up fruit/ vegetable production or to go out in a blaze of floral extravagance but the end of the season is upon us. Many fields are standing empty as those crops are harvested. As the absolute end of the growing season approaches the football season is well underway. "How about those Packers?, eh"

With the crisp days and even crisper nights that are upon us, and with the number of daylight hours dwindling, it is the perfect time for book lovers to curl up with a good book -- perhaps under a blanket with a dog or cat serving as foot warmer-- and a hot cup of something. The fall book titles continue to show up which makes curling up with a good book that much easier. Below are some of the book titles which recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

BTW, if anyone has seen any woolly bear caterpillars, let me know. I can't make my winter forecast without collecting as much data as possible about the size of the stripes. Your participation makes for a better forecast. Thanks in advance for your help.

October 10, 2019 - Vacation

As I am writing this, the Green Bay Packer’s game has just gotten underway.According to the weather app on my phone, it is about 60 degrees in DeForest. I, however, am neither listening to (nor watching neither) the Packer's game, nor am I enjoy a balmy 60 degrees. I am on vacation about 3,832 miles away from the DeForest Public Library in a rather northerly direction. I am enjoy trees and fields cover with hoarfrost and rime, a few flakes of that four-letter word that starts with "s", and, at the higher elevations seeing that four-letter word that starts with "s" on the ground in depths of six to eight inches ( I'm just guessing on the depth: I did not get out and measure). The temperature right now is 39 degrees. So, enjoy the heat while you have it! Even though I am on vacation, thousands of miles from, you, Gentle Reader, I am thinking of about you. And even though I am not physically around to welcome the new books to the library, through the wonders of technology, I do know some of the titles which recently and I am able, through the use of wi-fi and the internet, to send you these words as well as a brief description of some of the new titles you might enjoy You know, a good book is sometimes as good as a vacation; sometimes a good book is better than a vacation. While I'm trying to enjoy my vacation, I hope you can take a little vacation with some of these books. Enjoy!

October 3, 2019 - Frost

You know it’s October in Wisconsin when you hear the “f” word ( and by “f” word, I mean “frost”) in a weather advisory for the northern part of the state one day and two days later the high is forecast to be in the low 80s. And, typical of Wisconsin weather, that summer-like temperature will be immediately followed by high temperatures approaching 60 degrees with more clouds and rain. All the rain and wind so far this fall season has done nothing to increase the fall foliage although the fall flowers are certainly putting on a great show. This time of year the twilight times are getting shorter which means the opportunities for daylight activity are foreshortened. Personally, I think the best times for reading are before the dawn’s early light and in the evenings are light fades from the sky. As previously noted, the fall is also a prime time for book publishing. There are hundreds of new titles flooding the bookstores and libraries this time of year. Many bestselling authors have new titles coming out like Stephen King, Stuart Woods, Janet Daily, and James Patterson -- Well, James Patterson has a new title coming out every five minutes or so but he is the great exception. Below you will find some of the new books which recently arrived at your library. Check them out! Enjoy!

September 26, 2019 - Upcoming Holidays

Now that fall has officially arrived and we are rapidly approaching the tenth month of the year, one wonders if it’s too early to start the countdown to the big winter holiday (90 days until Christmas Day). If it’s too early for that how about Halloween ? October 31st is only 35 days away and with aisles of candy in grocery stores (and most any store that sells candy, now that I think about it) there is obviously opportunity and time to stock up for that big day. Since we are exploring countdowns to special fall dates, I hear you asking, “Well, what about Thanksgiving Day, then?” Glad you asked. This year Thanksgiving Day will be celebrated on November 28th (which is as late a date as possible for “Turkey” Day) and that is sixty-three days away. As much as I hate to be the bearer of sad tidings, it is only 86 days until the first day of winter. However, the good news is that that means the Winter Reading Program will be underway. It is never too early to get into shape and start training for that winter marathon of reading and what better way than to practice on the plethora of fall books which have been arriving since before fall officially arrived. Below you will find some of the new titles that have arrived recently at the library. Enjoy!

September 19, 2019 - Fall

Even though the weather has stayed warm and muggy -- especially in the library as our air conditioning unit has been in the process of being replaced (which should be a thing of the past on Monday the 16th but which I don’t know as of this writing) so naturally, the weather turned back towards summer---. Fall is definitely arriving. Here we are in the second week of the Packers’ regular season and the Badgers’ football team has already has it’s bye week. The days are rapidly getting shorter. Indeed, the autumnal equinox shall be upon us before next week’s library news shall be written. Fall officially arrives on Monday, September 23rd, at 2:50 a.m. The fall flowers are in bloom across fields, roadside ditches, and gardens. Birds are joining up in migratory flocks. Geese are making seasonal v-shaped flyovers; either practicing flight patterns for migration or, if they winter over, engaging in age-old, seasonal rituals. The publishing houses continue to release their fall front lists ( front lists are new books; back lists are older books kept in stock).Those books continue to arrive -- almost daily-- at the library. Below you will find some of the titles which recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

September 12, 2019 - End of Summer

The signs are all around and beginning to abound. The end of summer is upon us and we are speeding towards fall. Overachieving trees have already started to show their colors with sumac and some maples and oaks making their turn from green to yellow and orange to the reds and burgundies they will wear for a while. Crops are starting to finish and fields once covered in wheat or oats have been harvested, leaving only stubble. These cropped fields now provide forage for birds that have not been visible except in flight for the past few months. Geese and cranes and flocks of blackbirds are swirling overhead and landing on the stubble-filled fields to begin fulling up for their migration. The nights have gotten cooler and longer. The days have gotten shorter and cooler as well. It suddenly seems to be sweater weather, perhaps not all the time but at least in the early mornings and evenings. Bird song has diminished to a few chickadees and cardinals sending up occasional melodic notes while the crows and jays bark out their territorial warnings. Dawn, now, is quiet and so much later now. But with the turning of the year from summer to fall, the book publishers have moved from their early summer "beach reads" to the much larger fall list of books. As the leaves begin to fall from the trees, the books begin arriving in large numbers from the publishers. Below you will find some of the new titles that arrived recently at the library. Enjoy!

August 15, 2019 - Summer Reading Program Results

All the books have been counted, all the pages and minutes read accounted for, and I can finally give you all of the amazing numbers about how many people read how many books! Every year, for more years than I care to remember, I have been reporting the number of pages read in concrete terms. I have converted the number of pages read (or pages listened to, or time spent reading) into inches, then converted those inches into miles, and then plotted that number of miles on a map. Since I have been doing this annually for enough years for this to have become a tradition, and since I’m wise enough not to tamper with a fine tradition, here goes!

This year 568 people signed up for the Summer Library Program. 499 finished some books or challenges and read a grand total of 21,929 books. 3,037 prizes and 4,711 badges were awarded and 150 book reviews were written. Before I can start mapping the results, I have to convert all those books to pages read. So go make yourself a cup of coffee while I do the math.

Participants managed to read 1,876,300 pages (last year a paltry 952,944 pages were read) which is quite an impressive number! Now, on to the calculations which begin with this question: “If you laid all the pages of the books that were read end-to-end how many miles would they stretch?” The average size of a page is 9 inches tall which gives us (1,876,300 times 9” or 16,886,700inches—always show your work if you want to receive full credit.). Then we take those inches and divide by 12 to give us 1,407,225 feet and then divide by 5,280 to give us 266.5miles. And, voilà! If you laid all the pages read during the Summer Reading Program end to end and drove north and west via I90/ 94, you would end up outside of Minneapolis at Crane Lake near Minnetonka. Heading south via I 90 E and US-41 you’d end up in Otterbein, Indiana. Any way you look at it, that’s a whole lot of reading was done this summer! Congratulations to all the Summer Reading participants.

August 8, 2019 - Final Countdown

The final countdown to the end of the Summer Reading Program has begun. As of today, August 8th, you have one day -- that’s 24 hours-- until the 2019 Summer Reading Program is over. It ends on Friday, August 9th so get all your titles challenges entered by the end of day tomorrow. On Saturday, August 10th, from 1 to 3 p.m. Join us to celebrate the end of the Summer Reading Program. There will be a variety of activities, crafts, and snacks. The results of the Teens vs. Staff reading challenge will be revealed with Raechel, our Teen Librarian, either wearing or eating pie ( if the Teens win she wears it; if staff whens she eats it.). We are also counting down until the last long holiday weekend of summer. Labor Day is only 25 days away which means that the start of school is 26 days away. I’m sure you are all aware how close the start of school is getting by the number of back-to-school ads which have been appearing with increasing frequency as we get closer to the date. If your child or grandchild doesn’t already have a library card, consider getting one for them. September is Library Card Sign Up month for a reason. It coincides with the return to school because as you, Dear Reader, know, a library card gives you access to a world full of information, entertainment, and wonder. If you’re wondering if there are any new books for you to peruse, add to your hold list, or check out, wonder no more! Below you will find some of the books which recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

July 25, 2019 - Harry Potter

A week from today, assuming you are reading this on Thursday, August 1st, the Harry Potter Birthday Party -- which takes place every year on Harry's birthday which we all know is July 31st--will be a thing of the past and the Summer reading Program will be winding down with only 9 days until the end of the program party on Saturday, August 10th. The preceding rather long and convoluted sentence seeks to point out that 1) the Harry Potter Birthday party is on July 31st so still plenty of time to plan and attending (You do not need to bring birthday presents.There will be cake!), and 2) that there is still plenty of time to add titles to your Summer Reading account and earn dragon dollars to spend in our store or donate to one of three local charities. While summer is entering its later phases in nature -- i.e. some crops are awaiting harvesting, hay is being cut and baled, corn depending on how soggy the fields have been is beginning to tassel, and roadsides and field edges are filled with chicory, Queen Anne's lace, dock, and mullein -- the summer book publishing continues as if it were the beginning of that book publishing season. The books just keep on coming. There are "beach " reads and serious reads galore. Below you will find a sampling of the titles which have arrived at the library recently. Enjoy!

July 19, 2019 - Dawn Chorus

If you think this summer is whipping by very fast, you are correct. The Summer Reading Program has been running since May 18th and will end, 84 days later, on August 10th with a big party. We passed the halfway mark in the program way back on June 29th. There are only 12 days until the big Harry Potter Birthday Bash. (Please do plan on attending. There will be a number of interesting activities and photo ops. You can come in costume. There will be cake!). This week we passed the mid-point of summer or at least the time of the year between Memorial Day and Labor Day – which is 98 days this year. The midpoint was July 15th (if my math is correct). There is still plenty of summer left which the heat wave this week has certainly reminded us about. While there is still plenty of summer left for reading books on the beach and lying in a hammock in the shade of some big old trees, there are seasonal changes already beginning to happen. The dawn chorus is getting thinner with cardinals, mourning doves, and a few robins still joining in. The nestlings that the robins in the tree near my driveway (who did not like me getting in and out of my car) have fledged. The breeding season for the birds is winding down and loose flocks are starting to form again. The wheat fields and oat fields seem to be ready for harvesting. The corn fields – depending on how soggy the fields were in the spring – are (mostly) well past knee-high (by the 4th of July) and some are even thinking about tasseling. Oh, and did I mention the back-to-school ads have started? Well, they have. We must always have our eye on the future rather than being in the now – at least the advertisers would have it so. For those of you who are presently enjoying the summer and a more leisurely pace there are plenty of new books to help you escape to different lives, different worlds, and different times. Below you will find some of the recent arrivals at the library. Enjoy!

July 11, 2019 - Parade

Thanks to everyone that helped out on the library’s float and as dispensers of candy in the 4th of July parade. Rosie/ Buttercup, the library’s cow who usually occupies a spot on the shelves at the beginning of fiction on the second floor, joined us on the float this year. She had a really good time feeling the breeze, smelling the scent of new mown grass wafting on the breeze, hearing hundreds of children yelling “We love the library!” (She knew they were cheering for her too), and keeping me company. BTW, that gray blob in front of her with the United States flag sticking out of it represented the moon landing: she was our cow about to jump over it which ties back to the summer reading program theme of a Universe of Reading – so all things about space, the planets, astronomy, etc., can tie into that theme. She and I decided that there would be no actual jumping on the float as it went down the street. Brian, the library’s mischievous elf, also joined us and walked the parade route. He was more interested in getting candy than dispensing but he sure had a good time! The 4th of July is an important holiday for public libraries. The idea of free speech, of a free press, of access to information so the citizenry can make informed decisions about who represents them and what laws there should be, all sort of come together in the idea of the public library. It’s great to have candy, picnics, and fireworks to celebrate the 4th of July. It’s great to have public libraries to get your bestselling books and dvds and attend entertaining programs. But we shouldn’t lose sight of the seriousness of actions the day commemorates and celebrates. And now for something completely different! The countdown to the big Harry Potter Birthday Party is twenty days and counting from today (the 11th). It is July 31st because that is Harry’s birthday. It is always on the 31st because it is Harry’s birthday. Hope you can attend. There will be cake. There will be crafts. There will be photo ops. I will be bartending and mixing up library’s version of Butter Beer. Costumes are encouraged but no required. New books are listed below. Enjoy!

June 20, 2019 - Summer Solstice

Today is the eve of the summer solstice. Tomorrow at approximately 10:54 a.m. the solstice will occur and summer will, at least astronomically arrive. This is the day when the sun in the Northern Hemispheres travels the longest path across the sky so we have the most hours of daylight. In this geographic area that means 15 hours, 22 minutes, and 14 seconds. From June 19th through the 23rd we have 15 hours and 22 minutes of daylight as additional seconds first go up as we approach the solstice and then start their slow, downward, march to the shortest day of the year. Even though summer has officially arrived astronomically, it often takes a few weeks for meteorological summer to arrive when the average high temperatures in July hit 83 degrees. Although, given the rather wet, cloudy, and cold June we’ve been having so far, it’s hard to believe summer of any sort -- astronomical or meteorological-- will be arriving soon. But summer has arrived at your local public library. The summer reading program is well underway with a plethora of programs to choose from for all age levels from toddlers to adults. The summer Concert at the Rocks series will continue with a performance by David Landau on Tuesday, June 25th at 1 p.m. and with Stuart Stotts on Tuesday, July 2nd at 1p.m. Our Concert in the Park series will kick off Bucky Badger and members of the UW Band on Tuesday, July 9th, at 6:30 p.m. in Firemen’s Park. Be sure to mark your calendars for these great performances. All those extra minutes and seconds of daylight around the summer solstice give you that much more time to read in natural light. Below you will find some titles which recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

June 13, 2019 - Bloom

It is that time of year when all the flowers, trees, and grasses are in bloom, are about to bloom, or have just finished blooming. The flowers around the library are a riot of color. While the tulips are rapidly fading, more flowers emerge almost daily to take their place. The road sides are abloom with flocks of phlox and yellow rocket being the most conspicuous while the shaded, bosky areas have trillium, columbine, jack-in-the-pulpits, and mayapples making an appearance. The violets, spiderworts, and foamflowers, and jacob's ladder are also putting forth their colors. It is perhaps the most colorful time of year. Sure, the fall has a great color display, but you don't get the blues and purples that you do this time of year. And all those tones of reds, oranges, and yellows will be arriving soon with the daisies, poppies, and tiger lilies. Checkout the library gardens when you come to checkout some books. The Summer Reading Program is well underway. You can log the books you read using an app on your phone or on a computer or library staff can help you do it. The more books you read the more Dragon Dollars you can earn to buy fabulous prizes in our "store" or to donate to three local charities. To help you decide what to read next, you will find a list of some of the new titles which recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

June 6, 2019 - Bustin' Out

June has arrived and it is certainly is “bustin’ out all over/ All over the meadow and the hill! / Buds’re bustin’ outa bushes …..” Rogers and Hammerstein certainly got that right. Everything is growing, well, like weeds (and especially the weeds!). All the critters are out and about and some are raising their first batch of youngsters already. Almost all of the common songbirds should be nesting already and those who got an early start may already be rearing their young. I know there is a very noisy and territorial chickadee that lives in the tree under my bedroom window that is making sure other chickadees stay away. A robin is also making a large number of trips into a tree near my backdoor which makes me suspect their might be little robin mouths to feed. The flowers, wild and tame, are painting the landscape with a rainbow of colors and the lush green of grass makes it look edible. The early vegetables – lettuce, radishes, asparagus, and rhubarb – are abundant and freshly and locally available. All this makes me ask, along with the poet, James Russell Lowell, “And what is so rare as a day in June? / Then, if ever come perfect days;/ …No matter how barren the past may have been, /'Tis enough for us now that the leaves are green;/We sit in the warm shade and feel right well/ How the sap creeps up and the blossoms swell;” I hope you are enjoying this lovely time of year when you can still sit outside with a book (and a breeze to keep the mosquitoes away) and just feel things growing. As you read your books outside (or in) you can make your Summer Reading Program totals grow by entering your titles in the library’s new app – at Sign up then sign in and enter what you’ve read. Details are on our website or circulation desk staff can help you too. Below are some books you might like to read and then add to your total. Enjoy!

May 30, 2019 - Day of Remembrance

Today, May 30th, is the original date chosen by General John A. Logan – a leader of an organization of Northern Civil War veterans—in 1868 when he called for a nationwide day of remembrance. The purpose of the day was to decorate the graves of comrades who died for their country during the late rebellion. The date of Decoration Day was chosen as May 30th since it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.” On that first Decoration Day about five thousand participants decorated the graves of about 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers in Arlington National Cemetery. Southern states honored their dead on different dates. It wasn’t until after World War I, that the holiday, which was becoming known as Memorial Day, honored all Americans who had died in all wars. General Logan had chosen a date that historically, not a whole lot happened – not just during the Civil War. When Memorial Day became a moveable holiday to get us all that three-day weekend we all appreciate, it put the holiday on dates when Civil War battles did occur: In 1862 the Battle of Hanover Court House, VA; in 1863 The Siege of Port Hudson, LA began (and lasted 48 days); In 1864 there was a skirmish at Salem Church, VA. Other Wars had other battle. Now that you know more than you wanted to about Decoration Day and today’s date, it’s time to get to the books! Below you will find some of the recently-arrived books at the library. Enjoy!

May 23, 2019 - Memorial Day

Here we are coming up to the holiday weekend that (usually) marks the beginning of summer. Why, back in the day, it used to be that you never put your garden in until after Memorial Day because there was still the slightest risk of frost. Now that risk of frost has retreated a couple of weeks closer to April. It used to be that you didn’t wear white summer clothes or linen until after Memorial Day. The same went for footwear. No white shoes or sandals until summer was truly and irrevocably established by passing Memorial Day on the calendar. While it certainly has been cool, these past few days and I am still wearing sweaters (Okay. I will admit it. I always wear sweaters. Rain or shine, winter or summer, I wear sweaters. I do change from wool to cotton – once we get past Memorial Day.) and some have complained about wind chills still being in effect or that wind chills should still be in effect (“should” being the operative word here), we are rapidly approaching the summer solstice (less than a month away). Once we get past Memorial Day, I shall take the winter survival gear out of the back seat of my car (A winter jacket, assorted snow brushes in assorted conditions, ice scrapers of varying sizes and efficacy, winter boots, a snow shovel, spare mittens, hats, and socks, and a gallon of windshield wiper fluid to name most, if not all the survival gear) and not feel that my doing so will result in a late spring snow squall. Once we’re past Memorial Day, the summer reading program shall have been running for 10 days now and you may have already started logging titles that you have read. You can do this on-line or on-phone via a handy-dandy app. Details are on our website or ask at the circulation desk when you come in. Below are some new titles to whet your reading appetite. Enjoy!

Bon appetit!

May 16, 2019 - A Universe of Stories

If today is May 16th (which I have it on the best authority that it is), then can the start of the Summer Reading Program be far away? The answer to this rhetorical question is a resounding, "no". The Summer Reading program begins this week, in two days -- just 48 hours from now-- on Saturday, May 18th. The Summer Reading theme is "A Universe of Stories" which we shall be interpreting as exploring various universes including space ("The Final Frontier" -- intentional homage to "Star Trek" TOS). To launch this theme on Saturday, there will be a program at 1p.m. featuring a local student, Payton Kelly-Van Domelen who, at the age of 13 in 2017 won the UW Madison Chemistry Department’s Wisconsin Crystal Growing Contest and she prepared her experiment for research on the International Space Station, handed it over to NASA, watched the rocket launch at the Kennedy Space Center, and Skyped with the astronauts about her experiment. This summer, we will be offering an entire space academy of programs, challenges, and opportunities to read and learn. The details will be available on our website and in a hard copy "syllabus". This summer we are also launching a new app to more easily keep track of what you read and to challenge you and the entire community to reach some rather stellar goals. To speed (dare I say, "warp speed") you on your way, there are some new titles listed below for you to peruse. Enjoy!

April 25, 2019 - Spring

The signs of spring are certainly abounding. The crocus and tulips are blooming around the library and the daffodils are ready to pop open any minute. The magnolia tree is filled with blossoms and the trees are budding out. Overachieving trees have even started to leaf out, turning their silhouettes lacy. And the dawn chorus is starting before dawn these days. Motorcyclists have appeared on the highways and byways in ever increasing numbers as the warm weather removes the threat of snow and / or mix precipitation from the forecast. Perhaps one of the surest signs of spring is that Wisconsinites have started wearing shorts and T-shirts even if the overnight temperatures are still sometimes dipping below freezing. Now, I have not yet abandoned turtlenecks completely nor have I taken all the winter paraphernalia out of the backseat of my car. The snow shovel, extra windshield wiper fluid, the assortment of scrapers, the assortment of snow brushes, and the spare socks, gloves, boots, and ski caps, will remain just where they are for a few weeks longer. I don't want winter to think it can sneak back and catch me unprepared.

As sure as the flowers are pushing up into the sunshine, the spring books are arriving at the library. Below you will find an assortment of new titles which arrived recently. Enjoy!

April 18, 2019 - Crane Count

This past weekend was rather cold and gloomy, but it didn't keep this Midwest Crane Counter out of the field. The annual Midwest Crane Count has been going on since 1976, but Yours Truly has only been doing it since 1994. That makes this count my 25th anniversary. I had been doing the same sites for the first 23 year and last year got shifted to two new sites. These new sites are closer and have a lot more cranes showing themselves, i.e. they are grazing on open corn fields instead of hiding in brushy, marshy, areas. With these two sites I can do birding-by-eye instead of birding-by-ear. The count starts at 5:30 a.m. when all self-respecting cranes are still asleep. The early risers are geese (who seem never to be quiet) and red-winged black birds. The dawn chorus fills in as light comes into the world. This Saturday, there was a rather spectacular sunrise with dark clouds starting to press in from the north and west. From about 6:10 a.m. cranes were making their presence know. There were 9 cranes on one site and 10 on the other site. One pair of cranes was so anxious to be counted that they stood in the middle of the road at the top of a rise as the car crept up on them. They were counted with big exclamation points! The coolest thing about one of the sites is that across the road from a large pond there is a tree with an eagle nest in it. The male eagle was sitting on a branch next to the nest and then moved further off to preen in the morning sun. The female eagle's head was just visible over the edge of the nest. The last trip past the nest before the Crane Count ended, she was up on the edge of the nest leaning into the nest bowl engaged in feeding behavior. How cool is that! No nest cam required! It was a great day to see cranes and all sorts of nature (deer, muskrats). More crane counters are always needed. Maybe next year you might have your own story of the count to share with others. Speaking of stories, below you will find some of the new books that recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

April 11, 2019 - Winter Donations

Last week when I gave you all the data about the Winter Reading Program, I forgot to mention the donations of dragon dollars to various charities. The Dane County Humane Society shall receive $353. The DeForest Area Public Library Endowment shall be receiving $285. The DeForest Area Needs Network shall be receiving $127. How this works is the dragon dollars you earn throughout the reading program (winter or summer) can be donated to one of the above three groups. Yours Truly will then convert those “dragon dollars” to U.S. dollars by writing a check. Currently Bank Berg is the only place that the library currency can be exchanged for real simoleons and only for charitable donations. If you personally hand me a hundred dollars in dragon currency, I will not give you a benjamin.

As of today, National Library Week has passed the mid-point (5/7ths point to be precise). Stop by and help us celebrate. Stop by and check out some of the cool things we have. Stop by and make something in the Studio or in the Workshop. Help put together a jigsaw puzzle. Or check out some books. Speaking of books, below you will find some of the titles of books which have recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

April 4, 2019 - Winter Reading

As you may or may not recall, this year's Winter Reading Program ended on the first day of spring this year (due to all the inclement weather previously). And, as you may or may not recall, after each reading program when we have had the opportunity to tally up all the numbers, I take time in one of these weekly columns to tell you the astonishing numbers of items read. I shall now do that. During the Winter Reading Program 145 participants read 5,788 books (or 560,616 pages) and completed 531 challenges. Those seem like pretty good numbers, don't they? They seem even better when compared to last summer's reading program when 410 participants read 951,944 pages. That means that during this winter's program when compared to the previous summer's program that 35% of the number of participants read 59% of the pages. The participants this winter were obviously very serious about their reading. This held true for taking challenges as well. Last summer 824 challenges were completed. This winter's participants completed 531-- which is 64% of the summer's number by 35% of the number of participants. Hat's off to those intrepid Winter Reading Program readers! Props! Bravo! Since this winter's reading program lasted until spring, can the Summer Reading Program be far away? Actually not. As of today, it is only 44 days until Summer Library (a.k.a. Reading) Program starts. Below you will find some new titles to help you start training for the next reading program and challenges. Enjoy!

March 28, 2019 - Flocks of Robins

While it is true that "one robin doesn't make a spring", I think it can be safely said that flocks of robins everywhere pretty much do make a spring. True, we still have a few more days of basketball championships to be gotten through to avoid the dreaded basketball-tournament-snow-storm curse, but, at least at this point, the extended forecast seems to indicate we may just have avoided that. This year the swallows returned to Capistrano well before their festival day of March 19th. The buzzards (a.k.a. turkey vultures) returned to Hinckely, Ohio on March 15th where they were sighted flying over the Hinckley Reservation at 7:58 a.m. The major spring markers in the bird world have been achieved. I saw my first buzzard on a drive back from a library system meeting in Reedsburg a week ago today. As you well know, if you see one buzzard there are bound to be more and there were and there are. With spring more firmly entrenched daily, as the piles of snow turn black and melt away, and as the first hint of green appears in the fields and lawns, the spring list of books from the major publishing houses have started to arrive. Below you will find some of the new titles that recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

March 21, 2019 - March Madness

We are about to enter into the "March Madness" time of the month. The men's NCAA basketball tournament will take over the airwaves and may, if history is an indicator as far as weather is concerned, bring us the chance for one more winter storm. Or not. Currently the weather forecast looks positively balmy. The birds are certainly not indicating a return to winter. They have been arriving in loose flocks for the past week or more. Robins are singing and hopping about on the lawns; mourning doves are moaning; house finches are serenading their ladies; the goldfinches are putting on their golden coats; the killdeer are starting to scurry along the sides of roads and across parking lots; and the red-winged black birds seem omnipresent. Over the past weekend I ventured up to Goose Pond which is about thrice it's normal size and across the road to the north and has been across the road that divides. There is still plenty of ice on the ponds so no birds on it per se. However, the fields surrounding it are littered with geese with a few ducks sprinkled in and of course a a pair or family group of Sandhill Cranes are dotted very sparingly on the fields of stubble. The spring migration is definitely underway. The publisher's spring book lists are also migrating to the library's doors. Below you will find some of the recent titles that have arrived at the library Enjoy!

March 7, 2019 - Subtle Signs of Spring

Another week has gone past and we are still have sub-zero overnight temperatures and highs in the single digits. But that was earlier this week. Tomorrow looks like we should be climbing above freezing and should remain there for a while. Even though we have advanced to meteorological spring (that was on March 1st) we have yet to arrive in astronomical spring (that shall be on March 20th). But subtle signs of spring are beginning to appear if you look real hard. The days are most definitely longer, but in the mornings and the evenings. And even though the birds are still hanging around the bird seed feeders and suet blocks there seem to be more of them. Some song birds that haven't wintered over are beginning to stage north. The cardinal population has doubled around my house and there are a few more juncos hanging around too. The chickdees have started singing their "phoebe" song instead of just chip notes and warning calls. Mourning doves have started to appear. They are one of those birds you don't notice have been gone until you see them again. And cranes. Did I mention that sandhill cranes have been spotted in Dane County about 10 days ago?Well, they have been. Bunnies are out scrounging -- indeed some have climbed the rather high snow banks by my driveway to eat berries off a tree (sure it's a small tree but still, an unusual food source for rabbit. Squirrels are out and about. Everything seems to be stretching a bit and blinking in the sunlight (if there is any sunlight) and thinking that this long winter may, indeed, come to an end. In the meantime, there are plenty of new books to read. Below are some of the titles that have recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

February 21, 2019 - Winter Weather

Another week, another couple of “Winter Weather Advisories”. This is beginning to feel like a winter that will never end which is great for working your way through your TBR (To Be Read) pile of books, but it is getting old. However, even in the face of relentless snows, there are subtle signs that a change in the season is coming. The most noticeable is that length of day. Since that shortest day of the year when sunrise was at 7:25 and sunset at 4:25 we have gained a whole lot of daylight. Sunrise is now at 6:47 a.m. and the sun stays up in the western sky until 5:36. If my math is correct that means we’ve gained over two hours of daylight. The birds are also starting to change their tunes. Chickadees have started singing their “phoebe” song; the great horned owls have found their mates with all their hooting back in January and are now settling down to setting up housekeeping. The other birds breeding in Wisconsin at the end of February are Rock pigeons (a.k.a. the common pigeon that hangs out almost everywhere but seems to like underpasses and bridges a lot). Horned larks are starting to migrate into and through the state. In the midst of the seemingly-endless winter the business of living continues. If part of the business of your life includes reading, below you will find some of the new books that have recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

February 14, 2019 - Weather Predictions

Here we are in the middle of February (it is, indeed Valentine’s Day) and if the weather predictions hold true as I am writing this, we shall have had 3 snows with cummulations of up to 8 inches. Way back in November (the 15th to be precise) I wrote about the folklore for predicting the number of snows a winter had in store based on when the first trackable snow arrived which was November 9th. I shall reproduce here, the various methodologies: 1) Count the number of foggy mornings in August. This number will be the same as the number of snowfalls for the following winter, according to my calendar/ journal there were 8 foggy mornings. We shot by this number months ago. 2) Count the number of days from the first snowfall until Christmas. This number will also give the correct number of snowfalls to expect (which would be 46). This one may prove to be closest to the actual number3) Count the number of days from the first snowfall of the season to the preceding New Moon. This will tell you how many snows the coming winter will bring. The preceding New Moon was actually November 7th but two snows makes absolutely no sense around here, so let’s calculate from the October 8th, new moon. That would be 32 days or 32 snows. We passed this number at the end of January. 4) The date of the month of the first snowfall in which the paw prints of a cat can be seen predicts the number of snowstorms for that winter season (that would be November 9th or 9 snows. Cf. above. Counting the snows recorded on my calendar since that first trackable snow on November 9th, we have had 37 snows not counting the three we may be getting at the beginning of this week. Assuming method two, above, could be correct, we only have 9 more snows to endure (and three may already be done with by the time you read this). Perhaps spring is just around the corner. In the meantime, there are lots of new books to help you while away the time until that white stuff quits falling from the skies. Enjoy!

February 7, 2019 - Rodential Prognosticators

Crazy weather leading up to the day that those of us who are less than fond of winter wait for, Ground Hogs’ Day. All three rodential prognosticators agree with this year’s prediction. Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow and predicted an early spring. He is correct in his prediction about 39% of the time. Our neighbor to the east, Sun Prairie’s Jimmy the Ground Hog has also predicted an early spring.

Jimmy’s handlers claim and 80% accuracy rate, but they are his handlers after all. Now the library’s celebrity badger, Booky, has also made a prediction this year. Booky the Badger did not see his shadow and he too predicts an early spring. Booky has a 100% accuracy rate. In his admittedly short career of weather prognostication he has been batting a thousand. After the polar vortex last week, I’m sure we all appreciate a prediction of an early spring (which as of this writing is already occurring (41 degrees at the airport at 2 p.m.). While you are waiting for the mountains of snow to melt away and some sunshine to return, there are plenty of new books arriving at the library all most daily. Below is a sampling of some of our recent arrivals. Enjoy!

January 31, 2019 - Deep Freeze

Today is the last day of January and if forecasts hold true we shall at last be climbing out of the deep freeze. The one upside to this bitterly cold weather is that it makes staying inside and reading much more appealing. Below you will find some of the new titles that have arrived during the past week. Some of them are from authors that have publishing runs of way over 100,000 copies. Other authors, not so much. But each author has something to offer – a different perspective, a unique turn of phrase. Some of these books probably take place in locales that aren’t experiencing sub-zero wind chills which will help you, at least while you’re reading, imagine you are in warmer climes. As I’m sure many of you are aware, the Super Bowl, is this upcoming Sunday. If you’re not a fan, then reading might be the perfect anodyne to all the hoopla. All the opportunities the cold weather provides for reading means you can earn more Dragon Dollars during the Winter Reading Program. Stay Warm! Enjoy!

January 24, 2019 - Arctic Blast

As you may or may not remember, last week I mentioned that colder weather was probably in store, since -- and I quoted some old weather-lore-- as the days lengthen, the cold strengthens. Which, indeed, it is doing. Tomorrow, depending on the accuracy of the weather forecasts,, my have daytime highs in the minus single digits. We all knew this arctic blast was almost for sure going to happen , after all it is Wisconsin, but I feel somewhat responsible for having mentioned that possibility out loud. I probably knocked wood, but in retrospect, I am sorry to report, I can not guarantee that I did. If a scapegoat is needed, I'm willing to own this, but I'd also like a little bit of credit for all the bright sunlight: It seems only fair. It does look like the climb out of the icebox will start on Saturday, January 26th, which is good timing. The reception in honor of Children's Librarian, Louise Valdovinos will be happening at 1:30 on that afternoon. Check our website for more details ( There will be cake!

In the meantime, if the cold blast is keeping you indoors, there are plenty of new books listed below for you to settle in with. Enjoy!

January 17, 2019 - Almost Balmy

A week ago we were having almost balmy weather. This week, not so much and the extended forecast is looking a bit more seasonal, which, we all know, means colder. The weather-lore tells us that "as the days lengthen, the cold strengthens". This does seem to be the case -- at least for the upcoming seven-to-ten day forecast. After that, who knows/ The days truly have been lengthening on both the sunset and sunrise parts of the day. In December, from the 8th to the 10th, sunset was at 4:22 p.m. We started gaining minutes at that end of the day on the 11th. But sunrise keep getting later and later. Sunrise stabilized at 7:29 a.m. from December 29th to the 9th of January and then started getting earlier. As of today, the 17th, sunrise is at 7:25 (so that's 4 more minutes of daylight in the morning) and sunset is at 4:50 p.m. ( so that's 28 minutes in the evening). If my math is correct, we've gained 32 minutes of daylight and we're still smack bang in the middle of January. And being smack bang in the middle of January means we're about smack bang in the middle of the Winter Reading Program. Still time to join up; still time to read books and earn dragon dollars. And right now we seem to have new books arriving daily. Below you will find some of the recent arrivals at the library. Enjoy!

January 10, 2019 - Craniac

This past weekend, the first weekend in January, a friend of mine -- who is also a craniac like me—and I went on a mini road trip to northern Indiana to see if we could find some sandhill cranes to make our monthly quota of seeing cranes. The Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area near Wheatfield, Indiana is a staging area for Midwest sandhill cranes. They take a break here and refuel on the cornfields before heading further south for the rest of the winter. The Indiana DNR gives crane counts during the peak of the migration season – October through December. The last count on December 18th had a count of 2,578. The odds seemed pretty good, based on the mild weather and lack of snows in that area that some cranes would still be hanging around. And, indeed there were. Not thousands, but hundreds of cranes were loafing and dancing and feeding on cornfields; there wasn’t a trace of snow to be seen. In fact, the snow cover had pretty much disappeared by Beloit. It was warm – 54 degrees. You could smell the earth. There were people riding motorcycles. It felt like spring was just around the corner. The ten-day forecast has the temperature return to more normal highs and lows, but it sure was nice to have a little break with some fine looking sandhill cranes at the beginning of January. As we all know, there is still plenty of winter-like weather ahead of us which shall provide opportunities to read and to use the books you read to participate in the Winter Reading Program. Below are some recent additions to the library’s collection. Enjoy!

December 20, 2019 - End of the Year

As I predicted a few weeks ago, the end of the year is rushing towards us with accelerating speed. Tomorrow, Friday, December 21, 2018 at 4:22 p.m. the Winter Solstice occurs.While tomorrow has the fewest number of daylight hours, sunset (at 4:26 p.m.) has already gained four minutes from the earliest sunset that occurs at 4:22 at the beginning of the month. By the time next week’s column rolls around, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day shall have passed and we will be looking towards the new year and those celebrations. This Saturday, December 22nd, there is an Escape Room challenge. There are five sessions occurring from 9:30 on. Some of the sessions are full. Check online to register. Christmas Eve Day there is a family movie in the morning. The library will close at 3 p.m and be closed all day on Christmas Day. There are more opportunities to try your reasoning skills against the Escape Rooms from Wednesday the 26th through Saturday, the 29th. If you have time, during the flurry of activity that seems a hallmark of this holiday season, check out some of the new books that recently arrived at the library. Enjoy! Happy Holidays!