Jan's Column 2020

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Past Columns

October 22, 2020 - Spooktacular Grab Bags

As of this Thursday, it is only 9 days until Halloween which some might call the first, of the last-quarter-of-the-year holidays. This year's celebration will be unlike celebrations of the past but as we've done ever since the pandemic erupted, we will try to keep the spirit of the day alive (or dead--whichever might be appropriate for this specific "holiday"). There are virtual opportunities to contribute and hear spooky stories read. There will be Spooktacular grab bags available for pick up. There are "I Spy" window decorationa all around the library. As the countdown to Halloween continues, the signs that this season is rapidly morphing into the the great big year-end extravaganza of gifting and regifting is alreasy in the minds of retailers. I am able to report (I know I'm not happy to report, and I'm not sure that I'm sad to report) that during my last foray into local grocery stores I spied with my little eye Buddy the Elf Coffee Creamers -- available in caramel waffle cookie, peppermint mocha, and frosted sugar cookie flavors. There were also chocolates appropriate for that year-end season as well. As we all know, reatailers tend to shrink the timeline between seasonal holidays. It is actually 26 days from Halloween to Thanksgiving Day and then another 29 days to Christmas. And just in case you can't wait until the start of 2021, it is 61 days from Halloween to New Year's Day so 70 days from the date of this column. To help while away the time between now and these special days (and the dark and the cold) you will find some of the new book titles that arrived recently at the library. Enjoy!

New Non-Fiction

Follow” by Les and Tamara Payne. A “New York Times” best-selling author traces her father’s life from turn-of-the-century Warsaw to bustling New York City, in an intimate memoir about family, memory and the stories we tell. Illustrations.

 

“Liar’s Circus: A Strange and Terrifying Journey into the Upside-Down World of Trump’s MAGA Rallies” by Carl Hoffman. The award-winning author of Savage Harvest presents an immersive report from deep within Donald Trump's rallies to offer insight into the sociological phenomena represented by the President's fervent base, its motivations and its formidable collective

power.

“Speaking for Myself: Faith, Freedom, and the Fight of Our Lives Inside the Trump White House” by Sarah Huckabee Sanders. A portrait of the Trump Administration by the former White House Press Secretary examines the battle between the 45th President and his critics, sharing related insights into her faith and experiences as a working mother.

 

“How to Astronaut: An Insider’s Guide to Leaving Planet Earth” by Terry Virts. A behind-the-scenes look at the training, basic rules, lessons and procedures of space travel by the former astronaut, space-shuttle pilot and International Space Station commander includes coverage of the realities of living long-term in space.

 

“Creativity: A Short and Cheerful Guide” by John Cleese. The Monty Python comic master shares lighthearted advice on how anyone can learn the skill of creativity, drawing on whimsical personal experience to explain how to get into the right frame of mind, develop worthwhile ideas and overcome blocks.

New Fiction

“In a Midnight Wood, No. 27(Jane Lawless)” by Ellen Hart. Attending a high-school reunion in their hometown of Castle Lake, Jane Lawless and Cordelia Thorn investigate former classmates to discover the truth about what happened to a boyfriend who went missing decades earlier.

 

The Killings at Kingfisher Hill, No.4 (New Hercule Poirot Mysteries)” by Sophie Hannah. Hired to discretely investigate murder allegations against a wealthy client's wife, Hercule Poirot swaps seats with a nervous train passenger before a second killing is complicated by a series of impossible confessions.

 

“One for the Books, No. 11 (Library Lover’s Mysteries)” by Jenn McKinlay. When a growing guest list upends her plans for a smaller wedding, Lindsey and her friends visit a prospective venue on Bell Island, where they stumble on the murdered body of the man who was to officiate.

 

“A Question of Betrayal, No. 2 (Elena Standish)” by Anne Perry. A sequel to “Death in Focus” finds daring young MI6 photographer Elena Standish embarking on a first mission in Mussolini's Italy to rescue and uncover the truth about a former lover who betrayed her six years earlier.

 

“Shadows in Death, No. 51 (In Death)” by J.D. Robb. Spotting an infamous assassin from Dublin among the onlookers at a Washington Square Park murder scene, Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her husband, Roarke, struggle to protect each other when they discover the killer is targeting them.

 

“The Brightest Star” by Fern Michaels. Writing biographies to support her family's struggling Christmas shop, Lauren is assigned to pen the life story of a handsome and surprisingly intelligent online retailer mogul who has put hundreds of small companies out of business.

 

“Chance of a Lifetime, No.1 (Providence Falls)” by Jude Deveraux & Tara Sheets. A series debut by the distinguished author of “For All Time” and the award-winning author of “Don't Call Me Cupcake” finds a 19th-century thief atoning for misdeeds by convincing the present-day woman he loves to marry another.

 

“The Coast-to-Coast Murders” by James Patterson with J.D. Barker. A baffling string of murders throughout the country leads Detective Garrett Dobbs and FBI Agent Jessica Gimble to the family of two Ivy League intellectuals who raised their adopted children in a traumatizing experimental environment.

October 15, 2020 - Half-Way Through October

Here we are, almost half-way through the month of October and the weather has turned, yet again, towards the gloom and cold one associates more with November. That balmy stretch of weather during the past week certainly spoiled us for this week's weather and the 10 day forecast. The evenings continue to happen earlier and the dawn's early light is appearing later every day. The dawn chorus has turned from full-throated (and if you'l allow me to anthropomorphize, or would that be cathect?) one might say joyous song to the petty squabbles that are now occurring around bird feeders, water sources, and the bush outside my living room window. Geese are practicing flying in formation as some get ready to move south. Migrant flocks of songbirds are passing through as suddenly a flock of robins appears and you realize you haven't been seeing any for a while. White-crowned sparrows have moved on through. The birds and squirrels are busy with stocking up on food for the coming cold. Now is the perfect time for you to stock up on some of the most recent books which have arrived at the library. If you still have too many things that need doing outside, including getting fresh air (and sunshine when it deigns to put in an appearance) then place holds on the titles in your to-be-read list. The availability of a book put on hold many days (or weeks, or months) ago is like an unexpected gift which can change the course and feel of your day. Below are some new titles which recently arrived at the library. Put some holds on them and enjoy!

New Non-Fiction

“The Home Edit Life: The No-Guilt Guide to Owning What You Want and Organizing Everything” by Clea Shearer & Joanna Teplin. The stars of Home Edit outline holistic, tech-friendly approaches to rendering everyday work more productive and fulfilling through organization, offering customizable, guilt-free recommendations for everything from office spaces and holiday storage to luggage and pet supplies.

 

“Nala’s World: One Man, His Rescue Cat, and a Bike Ride Around the Globe” by Dean Nicholson. The @1bike1world Instagram sensation shares the full story of his life-changing relationship with his rescue cat, Nala, and their inspiring bicycle journeys through the refugee camps, remarkable terrains and animal shelters of the world.

 

“Overstated: A Coast-to-Coast Roast of the 50 States” by Colin Quinn. The comedian star of the one-man Broadway show Red State, Blue State lampoons the idiosyncrasies of the 50 United States, sharing sharp-witted observations about their contradictory interpretations of the Constitution and a representative government.

 

“Solutions and Other Problems” by Allie Brosh. The creator of the award-winning “Hyperbole and a Half” presents a new collection of comedic, autobiographical and deceptively illustrated essays on topics ranging from childhood and very bad pets to grief, loneliness and powerlessness in modern life.

 

“Welcome Home: A Cozy Minimalist Guide to Decorating and Hosting All Year Round” by Myquillyn Smith. The expert home stylist shares step-by-step instructions on how to adapt the principles of her best-selling Cozy Minimalist Home for the rest of the year, outlining strategies to tasteful home decorating that can be readily adapted for impromptu gatherings.

 

“Whale Day: And Other Poems” by Billy Collins. A latest collection by the former Poet Laureate of the United States gathers more than 50 new poems that reflect the writer's signature mix of playful and serious language. By the author of “The Rain in Portugal”.

New Fiction

“Battle Ground, No. 17 (Dresden Files)” by Jim Butcher. When the Last Titan, a being more dangerous than anything humanity has faced in a millennium, declares war on the city of Chicago,

professional wizard Harry Dresden embarks on a defense that permanently transforms the mortal world.

 

“Anxious People” by Fredrik Backman. Taken hostage by a failed bank robber while attending an open house, eight anxiety-prone strangers including a redemption-seeking bank director, two couples who would fix their marriages and a plucky octogenarian discover their unexpected common traits.

 

“Jack, No. 4 (Gilead)” by Marilynne Robinson. A conclusion to the story that began with the Pulitzer Prize-winning Gilead traces the story of prodigal son John Ames Boughton, who pursues a star-crossed, interracial romance with a high school teacher who is also the son of a preacher.

“Piranesi” by Susanna Clarke.” Living in a labyrinthine house of endless corridors, flooded staircases and thousands of statues, Piranesi assists the dreamlike dwellings only other resident throughout a mysterious research project before evidence emerges of an astonishing alternate world.

 

“Christmas Cupcake Murder, No. 26 (Hannah Swenson)” by Joanne Fluke. Firing up the Cookie Jar's ovens to attend a lengthy holiday checklist, Hannah Swensen helps loved ones manage seasonal doldrums before she is challenged to identify a skilled antique restorer found near death outside her bakery.

 

“The Darkest Evening, No. 9 (Vera Stanhope)” by Ann Cleeves. Discovering a toddler in an abandoned vehicle near the run-down home where her estranged father grew up, Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope approaches the property during a boisterous Christmas party before discovering the body of a woman outside.

 

“Next to Last Stand, No.16 (Longmire Mysteries)” by Craig Johnson. Walt Longmire visits the 7th Cavalry Headquarters of 1946 Fort Bliss, Texas to investigate links between a fatal heart attack, a fire that has destroyed a high-profile work of American art and a shoebox containing a million dollars.

 

“Robert B. Parker’s Fool’s Paradise, No. 19 (Jesse Stone)” by Mike Lupica. Surprised by the murder of a man he met the night before at an AA meeting, Paradise Police Chief Jesse Stone follows leads to one of the wealthiest families in town to identify the victim and his mysterious agenda.

October 8, 2020 - Get Out Your Sweaters

October has certainly arrived as if it was serious about distancing itself from summer not only chronologically, but seasonally too. Three days over the past weekend with overnight lows hovering right around the freezing mark has pretty much put the kibosh on the growing season. This weekend, I dragged my porch pots of green peppers that were still flourishing inside along with pots of flowers. My kitchen counter is littered with tomatoes of all sizes, of varying degrees of ripeness, and of various shades of color (purple, red, yellow, and green). Most of those tomatoes are green and about the size of shooter marbles. Whether or not they'll ripen into the cherry tomatoes they are meant to be remains to be seen. My cats are enjoying knocking them off the counter and batting them around the kitchen and under the refrigerator and stove. Those lucky green tomatoes will undoubtedly shrivel up before they ripen.This brisk, cold weather is a great excuse to get out your sweaters, dig that afghan out of the closet, and settle in for a good, long read. October has not only ushered in the colder weather, the flaming tree leaves, and shorter days, it also continues to supply us with books from the fall selections from all the publishing houses. Below is an assortment of some of the titles that recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

New Non-Fiction

“His Truth is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope” by Jon Meacham. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The Hope of Glory” presents a timely portrait of veteran congressman and civil rights hero John Lewis that details the life experiences that informed his faith and shaped his practices of non-violent protest.

 

“His Very Best: Jimmy Carter, a Life” by Jonathan Alter. An intimate portrait of the 39th President draws on fresh archival material to trace Jimmy Carter's improbable rise from a humble peanut farmer and complex man of faith to an American president and Nobel Prize-winning humanitarian.

 

“I Am These Truths: A Memoir of Identity, Justice, and Living Between Worlds” by Sunny Hostin and Charisse Jones. The Emmy Award-winning “View” co-host and ABC News senior legal correspondent traces her journey from a biracial child in a South Bronx housing project to a successful and influential Washington, D.C. attorney and journalist.

 

“Those Who Forget: My Family’s Story in Nazi Europe—A Memoir, a History, a Warning” by Geraldine Schwarz. A book published to international awards and acclaim offers an account of the author's German and French grandparents’ lives during World War II, an in-depth history of Europe’s post-war reckoning with fascism, and an urgent appeal to remember as a defense against today’s rise of far-right nationalism.

 

“Wild Thing: The Short, Spellbinding Life of Jimi Hendrix” by Phillip Norman. Published to mark the 50th anniversary of Hendrix's death, a commemorative portrait by the best-selling author of Shout! draws on interviews with friends, lovers, bandmates and family members to include coverage of Hendrix's segregated early performances and historic appearances.

 

Money: The True Story of a Made Up Thing” by Jacob Goldstein. The co-host of NPR's "Planet Money" shares a painstakingly researched, irreverent history of how humanity's invention of currency has shaped societies for thousands of years through collective choices that continue to impact everyday personal security.

New Fiction

“To Sleep in a Sea of Stars” by Christopher Paolini. A space voyager living her dream of exploring new worlds lands on a distant planet ripe for colonization before her discovery of a mysterious relic transforms her life and threatens the entire human race.

 

“The Invention of Sound” by Chuck Palahnuik. A father on the brink of uncovering his missing daughter's fate and a talented Foley sound artist find themselves on a collision course with Hollywood's violent underworld. By the best-selling author of “Fight Club”.

 

“The Constant Rabbit” by Jasper Fforde. In an England populated with anthropomorphic rabbits and humans, one hare family moves into a cozy little village that does not want them there and are defended by two human neighbors who take a stand against prejudice.

 

“The Exiles” by Christina Kline. Sent to a Tasmanian penal colony after conceiving her employer's grandchild, a young governess befriends a talented midwife and an orphaned Aboriginal chief's daughter while confronting the harsh realities of British colonialism and oppression in 19th-century Australia.

 

“Fifty Words for Rain” by Asha Lemmie. Abandoned by a mother who instructs her never to fight or ask questions, an illegitimate child of mixed heritage in 1948 Kyoto forges a powerful bond with her older half-brother against the wishes of their formidable grandparents. A first novel.

 

“All the Devils Are Here, No. 16 (Chief Inspector Gamache)” by Louise Penny. Horrified when his billionaire godfather is targeted in a near-fatal accident, Chief Inspector Gamache follows clues deep within the Paris Archives to uncover gruesome, decades-old secrets. By the award-winning author of “A Better Man”.

 

“Troubled Blood, No. 5 (Cormoran Strike)” by Robert Galbraith. Written pseudonymously by the acclaimed author of the Harry Potter novels, a latest entry in the best-selling series that began with “The Cuckoo's Calling” continues the high-stakes adventures of Cormoran Strike and his partner, Robin Ellacot.

October 1, 2020 - Where has time gone?

It is hard to believe that it is the first of October already.Where has the time gone? The seasonal changes are definitely abounding. The trees across the street from my office window are blushing deep shades of red. The street gutters are filled with tiny yellow leaves -- nature's confetti -- adding a festive air to the end of the growing season. My porch corps are all-but finished -- my tomato plants are mere sticks with ripening fruit attached. The days are so much short and dawn is so late in arriving. And frost. Last week there was frost on the roof tops -- very briefly, but it was there. The end of this week has highs in the 50s and 40s forecast for the end of the week. Could this be the first killing frost? Could this put an end to those pesky weeds that continue to pump out pollen until a hard freeze stops them? We can only hope.As I've noted numerous times over the years, books are published seasonally with big spring and fall pushes as well as smaller beach reading and Christmas gift giving seasons. Right now we are well into the fall season. It is the perfect time of year to spend those longer evenings reading (Well, any season is the right season to spend your evenings (and mornings and afternoons too) reading. Last Friday, seven boxes of books arrived. Below you will find some of the newer titles that have arrived at the library. Enjoy!

New Non-Fiction

“Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents” by Isabel Wilkerson. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The Warmth of Other Suns” identifies the qualifying characteristics of historical caste systems to reveal how a rigid hierarchy of human rankings, enforced by religious views, heritage and stigma, impact every day.

 

“Covid 19: The Pandemic That Never Should Have Happened and How to Stop the Next One” by Debora Mackenzie. In an accessible narrative, a veteran science journalist lays out the shocking story of how the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic happened and how to make sure this never happens again.

 

“Elliot Ness and the Mad Butcher: Hunting America’s Deadliest Unidentified Serial Killer at the Dawn of Modern Criminology” by Max Collins. In the spirit of Devil in the White City comes a true detective tale of the highest standard: the haunting story of Eliot Ness's forgotten final case–his years-long hunt for "The Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run," a serial killer who terrorized Cleveland through the Great Depression. 

 

“Family in Six Tones: A Refugee Mother, an American Daughter” by Lan Cao & Van Cao. The author of Monkey Bridge describes her experiences of being a refugee immigrant and mother, reflecting on how her family has been impacted by war while exploring how cultural differences have shaped her relationship with her American daughter.

 

“Good Company” by Arthur Blank. The Home Depot co-founder and owner of the NFL's Atlanta Falcons draws on his experiences with revitalizing troubled organizations to outline practical approaches to a values-based business that utilizes the cooperative potential of purpose and profit

New Fiction

“The End of the Day” by Bill Clegg. Following his acclaimed New York Times bestseller, “Did You Ever Have a Family”, Bill Clegg returns with a deeply moving, emotionally resonant second novel about the complicated bonds and breaking points of friendship, the corrosive forces of secrets, the heartbeat of longing, and the redemption found in forgiveness.

 

“The Midwife Murders” by James Patterson and Richard DiLallo. When two kidnappings and a stabbing occur on her watch in a Manhattan university hospital, a fearless senior midwife teams up with a skeptical NYPD detective to investigate rumors that shift from the Russian Mafia to an underground adoption network.

 

“Migration” by Charlotte McConaghy. A woman who has dedicated her life to protecting the environment convinces a fishing captain and his salty crew to follow the world's last flock of Arctic terns on a migration of dark revelations. A first novel

 

“The Night Swim” by Megan Goldin. A popular true-crime podcaster finds an unsettling note on her windshield begging for help before she uncovers dark community secrets from the past and present, including one involving the disappearance of her own sister.

 

“The Palace, No. 3 (Simon Riske)” by Christopher Reich. When a man to whom he owes his life reaches out from prison, international spy Simon Riske recruits a daring investigative reporter and a rogue Mossad agent to thwart an international conspiracy targeting major European cities.

 

“We Are All the Same in the Dark” by Julia Heaberlin. The discovery of an unknown girl found by the side of the road a decade after an unsolved disappearance compels a young police officer's investigation into dangerous local and personal secrets. By the best-selling author of “Black-Eyed Susans”.

 

“The Wicked Sister” by Karen Dionne. Living in self-imposed exile in a psychiatric facility where she is tortured by fractured memories of her parents' murder, Rachel uncovers maternal secrets and an unspeakable act of evil that unveils the true nature of her bond with her sister

 

“The Book of Two Ways” by Jodi Picoult. Experiencing memories of a man other than her husband while surviving a plane crash, and end-of-life doula on the brink of a fateful decision envisions two disparate paths that find her staying with her family or reconnecting with the past.

September 24, 2020 - Summer Reading Results

The Summer Reading Program ended August 31st. At last, all the books have been counted, all the pages and minutes read accounted for, and I can finally give you all the 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 345 people signed up for the Summer Library Program. Over 14,000 books were read. The books read convert to 1,068,524 pages. That’s almost 3,100 pages read by every participant.

There were 1,408 activities completed. 120 reviews were written and 3,067 badges were earned>

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 (1,068,524 times 9” or) 9,616,716 inches—always show your work if you want to receive full credit. Then we take those inches and divide by 12 to give us 801,393 feet and then divide by 5,280 to give us 151.8 miles. 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 to LaCrosse then up Hwy 14 to Winona, MN and to the parking lot of the Great River Shakespeare Festival near 450 Johnson Street. Heading south via I 90 those miles would put you on the street where I lived growing up in Oak Park, IL. How cool is that? Even though this was a really unusual year which made for a really unusual Summer Reading Program a whole lot of reading was done! Congratulations to all the Summer Reading participants.

September 17, 2020 - Feels Almost Normal

What about those Packers, eh? I was surprised by the sudden arrival of the first game of the NFL season. It was nice to have something that feels almost normal happening in real time. It was interesting that the NFL used specially tailored crowd noises to add "Merely corroborative detail, intended to give artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative." (Gilbert & Sullivan, "Mikado, Act 2). I would have to say if the cameras hadn't panned the empty stands, one might have believed we weren't in the midst of a pandemic -- except for the masks. The masks were a bit of a giveaway. This past Sunday was also of note because the clouds that glowered upon our houses for the past week were finally displaced with sunshine and slightly warmer weather. All the past rain has done nothing to slow the advancing of the fall season. Plants are dying back, pollen makers -- such as ragweed -- are slowing down in the pollen production area. Birds are flocking up and eating very heartily at neighborhood feeders as they start booking their trips for further south. Geese are doing formation flying in anticipation of migration too. All the signs of fall and harvest have assembled and it won't be long.... (you provide the finish to this sentence). In the meantime, there are plenty of new books to choose from at the library. Below is a sampling of some of those titles. Enjoy!

September 10, 2020 - Days are Getting Shorter

Today is the second Thursday of the month. There are four Thursdays in this month (and almost every month when you think about it although occasionally you get a 5th Thursday thrown in just to see if you're paying attention). That means that we are half way through the month, at least as far as Thursdays go. It was a long, lonely spring, an interesting summer with nature and the weather doing their usual things while we, poor humans, did the best we could to enjoy nature and the weather and do some things that resembled normal while staying masked and socially distanced. Now, suddenly we are well into September and the days are getting shorter, the day time highs and overnight lows are steadily dropping and the pandemic continues on its merry way. It used to be once you got past Labor Day, not only had the playgrounds at the schools started to fill with children and the sounds of their voices but you put away your summer clothes and shoes ( you wore white dress shoes during the summer between Memorial Day and Labor Day) and brought out the sweaters, flannels, and corduroys. This year the playgrounds aren't filled with the sound of children playing. But the publishing houses have started flooding us not only with their fall book titles, but with many of the titles that weren't published earlier this year and which are now shipping out of those big, book warehouses somewhere out East. It's the perfect time to sit back with a pumpkin-based bakery product (doughnut, scone, cookie) and a pumpkin spice hot caffeinated beverage (or pumpkin and spice flavored barley-based adult beverage) and read. Below are some of the fall titles that recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

September 3, 2020 - Very Strange Year

This has been a very strange year no matter how you look at it. This year, Labor Day is as late as it can be. Our Summer Reading Program went until the August 31st thus ending later than it ever has. School has started with not as big a flurry of back-to-school ads, although kudos to the stores who gave that advertising tradition a shot during these pandemic times. At least that felt a little like the old normal. September does continue to be National Library Card Sign-Up month. If you don't have a card, inquiring minds might want to know why you are reading this, but perhaps you are reading this in anticipation of getting a library card which is very easy to do. And since the library is mostly open now -- with brief closures during the day for cleaning-- a library card is a very useful thing to have. You can use it to check out books from Overdrive, our online source for electronic books, audio, and some video. Or you can use it in person to check out books, dvds, magazines, cake pans, and other things ( a telescope and metal detector leap to mind). On very rare occasions, I know my library card has been able to remove a layer of snow/ice (not the welded on type) from the windshield of my car. It pay to have a library card in your wallet! Those solid forms of precipitation aren't that far a way. Those fall field crickets that start singing at the end of July or the beginning of August presaging the first frost by six weeks, started singing in my neck of DeForest on August 8th. That would put their first frost prediction for September 12th, and once you have a frost, can solid precipitation be far behind? Until then, you will find some of the summer book titles that are still arriving from the publishers. Enjoy!

August 27, 2020 - Just Because

Assuming you are reading this on Thursday, the 27th, that means there is still a whole weekend and a day to record all those books you've read this summer and to continue to read those books you have stacked up around the house in your TBR(To Be Read) piles. I am so confidant at this writing that the community met or exceeded the community reading challenge that will result in ice cream being served to all drive-in concert goers on September 1st. That I have started buying up the local supply of ice cream cups. Today is not only 4 days (not counting today) until the end of the Summer Reading Program it is also National Just Because Day. This is day offers up an opportunity to do stuff…just because and to celebrate this day any way you choose. Not because you have to, just because. And just because you may find some interesting titles listed below, cast your eyes further down this page. Below you will find some of the newest titles which recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

August 20, 2020 - Drive-In Concert

As of the publication date of this writing,there are 11 days left to the end of the Summer Reading Program. You all have done a terrific job of plowing through pages and pages of books to reach the 10,000 books read mark. Which by the way has "won" a final concert on the Market Street stairs of the library with local celebrity, songwriter, singer, author, educator, and all-around nice guy, Stuart Stotts. This summer's reading program community challenge was two-fold. The first part of the challenge -- 10,000 books-- has already been achieved. I have it on very good authority that the second part of the challenge --12,020 (10,000 books and the current year)-- is within easy reach. This is no reason to slack off now. Reaching a community goal depends on each member of the community recording the books they have read, preferably, as the read them. The second part of the goal is ice cream for all of you who attend the drive-in concert. I am so confident that you all will achieve that goal that I have started to stockpile ice cream Dixie cups (which is a term from my childhood and which I am using generically here). So, read up, record those titles, put the concert date in (on) your calendars for the drive-in concert on September 1st. Please check our website for time and details. Below are some of the new titles which recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

August 13, 2020 - Community Reading Challenge

The Summer Reading Program continues on apace. As of this writing (Monday, August 10th at the crack of dawn) the Community Reading Challenge part of the Summer Reading Program stood at 10,909 books read. The challenge is to read 12,020 books by the time the program ends on August 31st. Having read over 10,000 books means that there will be one more drive-in concert on Market Street. Details are still being arranged. Watch our website and social media for details. Since the goal has been met and the concert secured, "Why keep reading and recording what we read?", I hear you ask. The first reason, of course, is always that reading is a good thing to do in and of itself. The second reason is that reading during the Summer Reading Program can bring actual rewards as well including the ability to donate Dragon Dollars earned to three designated charities. The third reason -- and at this point possibly the most important at this point-- is ice cream. Some anonymous donor will provide ice cream for all concert attendees if the goal of 12,020 books are read by August 31st. So keep reading and logging the books you read on the Beanstack app or use the paper form available on our website. Below are some of the new books which recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

August 6, 2020 - Seasonal Changes

We are mostly through the first week of August and already the seasonal changes are becoming more and more apparent. I could point to how thin the dawn chorus has become, how cool the nights have suddenly turned, how much shorter the evenings have become, how quickly the tomatoes are ripening, and how the summer reading program has come to an end as indicators that summer is rapidly waning. I could point to all of the items enumerated above except the last item. The Summer Reading Program has not ended but shall continue to jog on until August 31st. We will officially declare summer and the Summer Reading Program on the last day of this month. There is still plenty of time to read books, record them in our Beanstack app, win fabulous prized by earning Dragon Dollars to spend in the library’s store or donate to one of three charities, and help move the needle on the community challenge that has been set at 12,020 books read over the course of the summer. If the community does manage to read that number of books there will be a drive-in concert on the Market Street steps of the library and (possibly) ice cream for everyone. Details are available on our website. To help reach this community to goal, below you will find some of the new books which recently arrived at the library.

Remember to read and record what you’ve read! Enjoy!

July 30, 2020 - Eve of Harry Potter Birthday Party

Today, July 30th, is among other things, the eve of our annual Harry Potter Birthday Party celebration. This is usually the biggest event we do all year with the highest attendance. So "How," I hear you ask, "can you hold this event during the pandemic?" "By providing a limited number of Potter-party-in-a-bag bags .", you hear me reply. The bags will contain really cool thing like special pens, Potter-themed zipper pulls, instructions on pretzel wand making, recipes for the drinks we normally serve -- "pumpkin" juice (no pumpkins are harmed in the making of it) and butter beer, trivia sheets, some kind of "fortune teller", a nod to potions, and other items too numerous to mention (and which I can't recall at the moment). Only a limited number of these bags are available and the number of items will not , unfortunately, include one each for everyone in your family or group. Think of these bags as a springboard to having your own party. We couldn't get a piece of birthday cake in the bags so perhaps you might make or get your own cake, whip up a batch of pumpkin juice or a butter beer, get into a Potter-based costume, take a picture, and share it with us. Pickup of the bags is planned for the 31st of July (Harry's actual birthday if a fictional character can have an actual birthday that is). Details will be on our website before you read this.

The Summer Reading Program continues through the end of August. Below are some new titles for you to peruse.

July 23, 2020 - "Normally"

Normally, at this time of year, I would be counting down the days to the Harry Potter Birthday party annual event at the library as well as counting down the days to the end of the Summer Reading Program which, normally, follows soon thereafter. "Normally" is the operative word here and since about March of this year, nothing has been what you could call "normal". This year we will be celebrating Harry Potter's Birthday by sending out parties in a bag so that you can celebrate at home and perhaps share some of your celebration with us via social media. We have also extended the Summer Reading Program until the end of August. "Why would we do that?", I hear you ask. For s couple of reasons. First, we put a rather high-priced prize in our prize store and want to give people a chance to earn enough dragon dollars to "buy" it. Second, getting books to read for some of you this summer has been a bit more challenging this summer than in previous years so we thought we would extend the time through the month of August.This means that there is still plenty of time to read, earn dragon dollars, get fabulous prizes with those dragon dollars, or donate them to one of three charities: the Dane County Humane Society, the DeForest Area Needs Network (D.A.N.N.) or the endowment fund of the DeForest Area Public Library. So keep reading! Below are some of the new titles recently-arrived at your library.Enjoy!

July 16, 2020 - Harry Potter

A little over two weeks from now, on July 31st, we will be celebrating Harry Potter's Birthday. This year, unlike in previous years, we will not be having a large birthday bash at the library. Instead all you Potterheads will be able to pick up a party in bag so that you and yours can celebrate in your homes. Our staff wizards are currently assembling the bags which will be available (possibly on Harry's birthday eve day -- that would be July 30th) if all goes well and everything arrives from Diagon Alley. Those delivery owls are a little less regular due to the pandemic so the date the party-in-a-bag will be available is fluid right now. Watch our website and FaceBook page for more details. The number of bags available will be limited.

If the Harry Potter Birthday celebration is near at hand, can the end of the Summer Reading Program be far away? No it can't. The Summer Reading Program will end on August 8th -- so a little more than three weeks. There is still plenty of time to record the books you have been reading over this summer, earn Dragon Dollars, and "purchase" prizes in the library's store. If you don't want to come in, prizes can be picked up through curbside delivery or our electronic locker. Below you will find some books you might care to read between now and August 8th and add them to your list. Enjoy!

July 9, 2020 - Trifecta

Since we passed the July 4th holiday last week, we have passed the middle holiday of the the trifecta that frames our summer season. It won't be long until we are looking at that final holiday, Labor Day. Although "long" in the phrase "It won't be long" is a relative term. In this case it is 61 days away and we all know how much can happen in that kind of time frame. Speaking of midpoints, while the Summer Reading Program continues on, we passed the midpoint (day 42 of an eight-four day program) somewhere around June 27th. If you haven't signed up yet (It's easy. Instructions are on our website. There is an app for that.) there are still 30 days left to read books, participate in activities, earn badges that can translate into prizes, and, if you're so inclined, donate some of those hard-earned badges / dragon dollars into donations for some worthy causes. While some publication dates have been delayed as have some shipping dates due to the pandemic, books continue to arrive at the library. Below you will find some of the new titles which have arrived. If you can't get away for an actual vacation and the staycation we've all been living in these past months is wearing a little thin, there's nothing like taking a vacation in a book and getting lost in a different place, time, and life. Enjoy!

July 2, 2020 - 4th of July

The 4th of July will soon be upon us. This is the first time in forever --well, at least in all the years I've been here and that may seem like forever to some of you -- that the 4th of July parade has been cancelled. There have been a few times that the parade was postponed due to weather and possibly a couple of times when it was cancelled due to weather. This is a first in a time filled with firsts. As much amembers of the library staff and I might grouse about giving up time on the holiday to saunter (I would not go as far as to call it "marching". There is too much stopping and starting for that.) down the crowd-lined streets of DeForest under a blazing sun often in high humidity to toss candy at the smiling faces of children (and adults), not being able to do that this year feels like a loss. There is good news, despite the parade's cancellation, the candy will keep until a happier time and we are planning on doing a virtual parade in and around the library. Keep an eye out for virtual parade. Sorry we can't offer anything but virtual candy at this point. I can offer you some new books this week. For some inexplicable reason all the books that arrived this week were fiction which is probably a good choice for a holiday weekend.

Enjoy!

June 25, 2020 - Summer

Now that the first day of summer has officially arrived -- it showed up on June 20th at 4:43 p.m. CDT-- we are suddenly surrounded by all the signs that the season is moving on apace.  The early batch of goslings that hang out around Lake Windsor and the pools at Token Creek have lost most of their downy feathers and are marching around like miniature adults. The robins are working on their second broods of nestlings. Those pale robins you've seen hopping around your lawns looking for worms are probably this year's juveniles and not mom robin who is busy sitting on her eggs.  The early summer crickets have been chirping away for the past couple of weeks. Not to worry, these crickets are not the one's whose song indicate the approach of frost; these are the ones whose arrival indicates that summer is here (or at least the soil has reached the temperature they need to hatch).  The cricket chorus has joined with the frog chorus and the dawn and dusk chorus of birds to fill those long summer nights with song. At the library the signs of summer abound -- a little differently this year, to be sure. The Summer Reading Program is under way.  You can record the books you read and earn badges and tickets for drawings and Dragon Dollars which can be spent in our store. The Concerts at the Rocks series is underway. So far one has been inside because of rain, the other outside. By the time you read this, Tuesday's performance shall have already happened. The weather forecast at this point looks okay so hard to tell it it will be a drive-in concert or a live-streamed performance.  Weather has always been anxiety producing for these programs: this year it gets combined with building capacity and social distancing.But the show does go on!

Phase Two of Forward Dane started last week. This week, because we have a newly-installed people counter and have an accurate way of monitoring the number of people in the building, appointments (except for computer use) are no longer necessary.  We will be closing the library for 15 minute intervals during the day to sanitize high-touch areas and computers, and masks are still appreciated as is wearing gloves (which we provide) when handling the collection.  Curbside delivery will continue. Our hours will continue to be 9:30 to 5:30 Monday through Saturday with the last curbside pickup at 5:15.

Below are some of the new books which recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

June 18, 2020 - Juneteenth

Today is the eve day of June 19th. June 19th is the official, State of Wisconsin, observation day of Juneteenth. On that day in 1865, General Granger rode into Galveston,Texas to enforce General Orders, No 3 which stated that "The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free..." Texas was the most remote of the slave states and it took two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation for that official news to be made known. This day was recognized as a holiday of significance in the 1980s in Texas. Other states followed suit in making it a holiday. This year's celebration in the Madison area is online this entire week. It is a time to celebrate the legacy of Juneteenth and the rich heritage of African Americans. One way of celebrating and observing this holiday (aside from attending some of the virtual sessions being offered) might be to read some of the many books that treat on the topic of slavery, Reconstruciton, and racism -- some of which this library owns, some of which this library would be happy to get for you from another library. Happy Juneteenth!

If you read the last part of the above carefully, you may have noticed that I implied that books are moving between libraries again. That is true. But please realize that while books are moving again they are not moving as fast as was their wont. There is 3-day a week delivery now -- a really great improvement from zero-days a week delivery-- but nothing like the 6-day a week delivery you were used to. While you're waiting for your holds to arrive, below are some new books that recently arrived at the library.

Enjoy

June 11, 2020 - As Rare As Hen's Teeth

It has finally happened. I have no new books to report this week. Let me clarify. I have no new bestselling, popular adult author books to report. During Safer @ Home and subsequently, your library continued to order and receive new books. Hence I was able to tell you about new titles arriving locally even it you couldn't get a hold of those titles immediately. The publishing trade and book jobbers have been laboring under some of the same constraints we all have so that new titles are a tad slower to ship which helps to explain this lacuna. Even without the pandemic-based explanation for this gap in bestsellers, there is precedence. There have been times in the past when I was stuck without a book to tell you about. These times were as rare as hens's teeth. These times were as likely to occur as pigs flying, mules foaling, or a blue moons shining down upon us ( by the way, there will be a blue moon this October -- just saying). If you have scanned this page, you have, undoubtedly, noticed there are book titles below. These are new Children's and Young Adult titles. Since the last day of school occurred this week which we at the library hope will launch hundreds of students into our Summer Reading Program, I thought I would take this opportunity to share some books for our younger readers. Enjoy!

June 4, 2020 - Opening up a Little

This week we opened the library up a bit to the public. There are a lot of rules in place right now as we try to keep you, our staff, and our collection safe. And by keeping our collection safe I mean that right now, most of the items on our shelves have been quarantined for weeks and weeks. Newly returned items have been quarantined for 72 hours before they were shelved. This makes our collection "safe" which is why we ask that you have clean hands or are gloved when you handle it, thus keeping it safe for other browsers. Making appointments to use the library is unusual to say the least, but for right now, it's the best way we have to monitor the number of people in the building so that we don't exceed the percentage of capacity guidelines established by public health. As the guidelines relax, so will the need for appointments. I hope you will continue to bear with us as we all navigate this uncharted territory. Curbside delivery will continue while everyone gets use to going into public spaces again and feeling comfortable doing so. The delivery of materials between libraries is just starting now as well. The past couple of weeks materials returned to other libraries before everything shut down finally made their way back to their owning libraries. Now items on hold at other libraries are beginning to move so some of your holds will begin showing up at our library. "About time!" I hear you say. I concur. Below you will find some of our new titles that arrived via UPS during the past week. Put them on hold! Enjoy!

May 28, 2020 - Forward Dane

As some of you are aware, Dane County entered Phase One of the Forward Dane plan on Tuesday, May 26th. This allows businesses, community centers, libraries, and other operations to be open at 25% of capacity. The library building has many rooms with varying capacities. Our collection right now has been quarantined for a couple of months. The newly returned items are doing their time in quarantine before being returned to the shelves. In order to allow public access that will keep our patrons, our staff, and our collections safe we will be reopening using a phased approach as well. We all wish it were possible to go back in time and just fling the doors open and proceed with business as usual, but we can't. Beginning, June 1st, in order to monitor the number of people in the building we will be making appointments for library use. The appointments will be for 45 minutes which will give you time to use a computer, make copies, print out forms, and browse the collection. At the end of the appointed time all patrons will leave the building and computers and other areas will be sanitized. More details will follow on our website and social media.We apologize in advance for this transition phase. Please bear with us as we try to keep everyone safe and follow the public health directives. Curbside service will continue. Our hours are 9:30 to 5:30 Monday through Saturday. Hours will expand back to our regular hours as restrictions are lifted. We look forward to seeing you ! Below are some new books. Enjoy!

May 21, 2020 - Spring

There are many things that are hard to believe about the spring of 2020. How quickly time moves on and how quickly the season advances are only two of those things. The white-throated sparrows have migrated through (at least in my backyard) on their way to their breeding grounds in Canada. The song of the white-throated sparrow is said by some to sound like "Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody" or if you live across the border to sound like "Sweet Canada, Canada, Canada". No matter what song they may be singing, they have certainly moved on which is a sign that spring has not only arrived, but that it is progressing.There are geese with good-sized goslings by the pond down by Portage Road and Hey 19. The corn is popping out of the fields all over the place. Dandelions and Yellow Rocket (Barbarea vulgaris) are littering the fields and ditches with their cheerful yellow flowers ( Did you know that both sources of edible greens in early spring? Neither did I until just now.) Nature is moving us rather quickly towards summer. And we all know what summer means, right? The start of the Summer Reading Program which is already getting underway. Keeping tracks of books read will once again be electronic using the Beanstack app from phone or computer. So far, all our plans for programs are virtual.As public health orders evolve, so will our plans. There are new books listed below which, once read, can be added to your summer reading program list which will earn you Dragon Dollars for prize purchases or for donations to selected charities. Enjoy!

May 14, 2020 - Firsts

Well. What an interesting Mother's Day we had. I can't recall the last time there was snow on Mother's Day, although just because I can't recall it doesn't mean that it hasn't happened before. What I believe may not have happened before is that there was snow combined with a pollen alert. These past few months have certainly been a time for firsts. First time doing curbside delivery from the library; first time closing the library for a pandemic; first time delivering programs virtually; and first time heading into a Summer Reading Program that looks like it will have a large (if not total) virtual component.

Previously in this column, I had mentioned some titles that might help one think about sheltering at home during this covid-19 time. My hold came up this past weekend on Albert Camus's The Plague. It is about the city of Oran being in an extended lock down. because of the bubonic plague Perhaps not the happiest of books to be reading, but it does give one some perspective. Camus's description of the inhabitants's response to the increasing death toll and rising restrictions on personal life resonates in our time. The outbreak of the plague in the book lasted for months and months. This took place in the 1940s and it's interesting that people keep meeting in groups, that cafes stayed open, and social distancing was unheard of at that time. The book ends on an optimistic note. Here are two quotes: "So all a man could win in the conflict between plague and life was knowledge and memories." and "What we learn in time of pestilence is that there are more things to admire in men than to despise." I'll leave you with that and encourage you to read the book if you get the chance or can find it in a stack of your old college books

Below are some new books -- not necessarily Nobel Prize literature caliber--. Enjoy!

May 7, 2020 - May Flowers

April showers have certainly brought May flowers, at least around the library. The tulips and daffodils and crocus are blooming even with more frosty evenings in the offing. The trees are leafing out. Those trees that haven’t quite made it to full leaf are providing lacey silhouettes, softening the landscape. The grass is so green that if humans could eat and digest it, we’d all be taking spoons to it. It looks so lush and tasty. Songbirds are busy feathering their nests. The males are singing their little hearts out looking to impress some likely lass. The geese have not only found their true loves, they are already rearing offspring. Lerner and Loewe referred to May as that lusty month in the musical, “Camelot”. If you look around at all the bird activity you can see why. At this very minute, outside my office window at the library, two house sparrows (males) are chasing each other round about a tree. This tree has provided a nesting site before so I’m sure the two sparrows are disputing who has the right to set up housekeeping there. It truly is a lovely time of year as all the new life and the relentlessness of the seasons brings hope. The spring list of books from publishers also bring hope to bibliophiles. The United States Post Office and UPS bring books to the library which brings more, tangible, hope. Below are some books you might hope to get your hands on. These books recently arrived and shall have remained in this library (at least for now) until one of you, Gentle Readers, requests it. Enjoy!

April 30, 2020 - Curbside-Pickup

The good news is that the library is back in the curbside-pickup business. We started providing this service on April 24th and shall continue serving you this way until we can do more. While we are ramping up this service, we ask your kind indulgence. We are still figuring out some of the logistics. Right now our hours are 9:30 to 5:30 Monday through Saturday. We may adjust hours as we move forward and figure out what works best for you, Gentle Reader. Please watch our website for changes.

The better news is that as of right now, the new books you have been reading about recently in this very column, are in our library. Because the delivery service of our library system is not moving books between libraries, our new books are likely to stay around for a while. If you don't know exactly what you want, we have a Grab Bag form on our website which allows you to tell us vaguely what you are interested in and we will vaguely try to match your request and bag those items up for curbside delivery.

The best news is that I have some new books to tell you about this week. Books have been ordered all along so new books will continue to arrive -- maybe not almost daily as was their wont, but they do keep on coming. Below you will find some of our newest titles. Enjoy!

April 23, 2020 - National Library Week

Happy National Library Week! I hope you are all finding a way to join the celebration virtually. This week we have a Virtual Escape Room that was created by your local library staff. Major props go to Jess, our Digital Librarian, Raechel, our Teen Librarian, Brian, our Circulation Librarian when he isn't in character as his alter ego, the Library Elf, and Norbert, our dragon. We hope you enjoy this escape room and we look forward to the time we will be able to offer you a physical escape room. This is the first National Library Week I have ever experiences in all my many years as a librarian and they are many -- I started out as a reference librarian in the year of the U.S. Bicentennial. You do the math!. But never, in all those years, was the library closed during National Library Week or for anything else except for your occasional blizzard or some major equipment repair. This has been a first for all of us.

The very good news is there is a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. The most recent Safer at Home Order allows public libraries to offer curbside service beginning April 24th. Happy National Library Week! We will be resuming service on April 24th. As of this writing all the details have yet to be determined such as the precise hours of availability. During this curbside-delivery time we will only be able to offer the materials we have in our collection since delivery between libraries has not restarted. More details will be posted on our website on how you can limit holds to just our items and how to schedule a pick up time. Beginning on April 24th we will be answering our phones. Please bear with us as we resume this service. Below you will find some of the new books that we have at our library. Enjoy!

April 16, 2020 - Palgue Years

While we are waiting for this quarantine to end, let me remind you not only that great works of literature have been written during plague years in the past, but that books have indeed been written about that experience as well. As I'm sure you all recall, Giovanni Boccaccio wrote his most famous work The Decameron after the epidemic of 1348. That book is structured as a frame story and contains 100 tales told by a group of seven young women and three young men sheltering in a secluded villa just outside Florence to escape the Black Death. This book is available from Project Gutenberg as a download. In 1947, Albert Camus, wrote The Plague. Plague sweeps through the French Algerian city of Oran. The response to it allows the author to ask a number of questions relating to the nature of destiny and the human condition. Camus won a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957. This book is available on Overdrive but has a hold list on it. The final book I would draw to your attention is The Stand by Stephen King. This book has been described as King's apocalyptic vision of a world blasted by plague and tangled in an elemental struggle between good and evil remains as riveting and eerily plausible as when it was first published in 1978. I remember reading the book then, and for months afterwards I jumped every times someone near me coughed or sneezed. This book is also available through Overdrive.

We are getting closer to the end of the Safer at Home order that is now in place. What the next order will be is anybody's guess and I, for once, will not speculate. We here (virtually) at the library are working hard to bring you programs online. We are continuing to order, receive, and process real books so that when that time comes -- which it will-- when we can at least crack open our doors wide enough to make curbside deliveries, there will be new physical books. Some of those new titles are listed below.  Enjoy and stay well!

April 9, 2020 - Join Our Reading Challenge

Today there are fewer titles than usual. This is mostly due to the fact that the book order that arrived last week had a preponderance of children's books, not best-selling titles or non-fiction titles which might be of interest to you. As I may have already noted, or should have already noted, since you can't get physical books from us currently, now might be the time to overcome your resistance -- nay, some might call it an aversion-- to E-books because there are many titles available now on Overdrive. These titles may not be the titles listed below, but surely some of the titles available will pique your interest. In the meantime, knowing what titles are coming might also be of interest to you.

As we navigate through this plague time and I use the term plague metaphorically, it is perhaps good to know that infectious diseases have been the scourge of humanity for a very long time. If you remember your Elizabethan history (and who doesn't) you may recall that the theaters were closed rather frequently due to plague. During their closing in 1606 Shakespeare supposedly had the time to write "King Lear", "Macbeth", and "Antony & Cleopatra". So while we are all staying at home we can but hope that there are writers out there scribing literary masterpieces to enlighten and inform our humanity. If not, we'll just have to make do with the next James Patterson novel which should be here any minute now. In the meantime, read whatever format you can, perhaps join our reading challenge (Reading Safer @Home-- visit our webpage to find out about joining and logging your books & activities), and stay well.

April 2, 2020 - Overdrive

Having been snake bit two weeks in a row when describing what services the library is still providing as I invoke my muse on Monday mornings to write this little bauble that keeps you from seeing the new books right away, I have determined this week to say nothing. I think we can all agreed that that is the safest course of action. The library is closed by the Safer at Home Order. No physical materials will be leaving the building until that order is superseded. Virtually we are offering some programs and ways to interact with your library. If you need your weekly book fix (or daily depending on how hardcore you are) Overdrive is what I can offer. Tens of thousands of dollars' worth of books have been added to the collection so that there are many titles available to be download and read right now. The titles available won't be today's best sellers, but they are probably yesterday's or yesteryear's best sellers. If you don't have an E-reader such as Kindle you have your phone. The Kindle app can be downloaded on your phone, tablet, or desktop computer, and you can read books there. Often you can adjust the type size and background/ type color combination. If you need to smell and feel the weight of books to enjoy reading, this won't do that for you. But if you want to read, it's the only option right now. Below are some of the newer titles that arrived at our library prior and may or may not be in LinkCat so that you can place a hold for that time in the future when physical books from your local library are a possibility again. BTW, we are still ordering books and books will continue to arrive so that when that glorious day comes we'll have new books to offer you. Stay well!

March 19, 2020 - Our Intention

The burning question on everybody's mind right now -- at least about this library-- is, are you open? At this writing (5:30 a.m. on Monday, March 16th) I can not say for sure that the answer I give now will be true when you read this. While I can say that our intention is to stay open while we can without endangering the safety of the public and library staff; while I can say that we are taking measures to sanitize contact surfaces; while I can say we are encouraging anyone who feels sick (members of the staff and public) to stay home; while I can say we are encouraging everyone to wash their hands (for the 20 seconds prescribed by all public health agencies) after handling library materials; while I can say that we are not having gatherings of 50 or more; while I can say that we have moved our computers to create social distancing; while I can say we are reminding people that libraries are public places and therefore have germs and virus (this is always the case because we are a public place); while I can say that we are doing all that is prudent and reasonable to assure the safety of our staff and our public; while I can say we are exploring ways to continue providing service and programs without face-to-face interactions; while I can say we are following public health guidelines as they emerge on a daily or more frequent basis; while I can say that we trust you, our library patrons, to use your best judgement and to do your own risk assessment about visiting the library; while I can say all of this, I can also say that the decision to remain open may be taken from us. If that is the case, know that we will do all we can to provide service virtually and through our electronic locker system. Please check our website and social media for updates. Below are some of the new titles that have recently arrived at the library -- you can place holds on these without having to visit the library just go to our website; www,deforestlibrary.org and follow the LinkCat link. Enjoy!

March 12, 2020 - Booky's Prediction

I believe Booky, the library's prognosticating Badger was correct. Spring has arrived early and seems somewhat determined to stay even with basketball playoffs looming in the not-to-distant future. The leading indicator of spring for me is the return of the red-winged blackbirds. I noticed them on the afternoon of Friday, the 6th which is about a week earlier than last year's arrival. Another indicator of spring is the end of the Winter Reading Program. True, it ended on February 28th, but all the tallying wasn't done until now. I shall now regale you with those rather impressive numbers. 139 participants logged a total of 7, 256 books! They also completed 368 activities, wrote 68 reviews, and earned 1,467 prizes. Some of those prizes included dragon dollars that were donated to one of three charities. Dragon dollars which I committed personally to change into U.S. dollars. During this Winter Reading Program $335 were donated to the DeForest Area Public Library's endowment fund; $315 to the Dane County Humane Society; and $288 to the DeForest Area Needs Network (D.A.N.N.). I shall be making those donations in the not-too-distant future. In the meantime, books in the publishers' spring lists continue to arrive. Below you will find a sampling of few of the new titles which have recently arrived. Enjoy!

March 5, 2020 - Cranes

This past week I had the opportunity to attend a library conference in Nashville, TN. As I started my journey, to pick up a fellow librarian who lives over towards Sun Prairie, a pair of Sandhill Cranes flew over Hwy 19. Now you all, know how much I love Sandhill Cranes (and other birds as well) so that was really cool – to have them return to Wisconsin at the start of the last week of February. (Why back in the day, cranes didn’t show up until St. Patrick’s Day which probably tells you something about how weather patterns have changed). We headed south through the part of Indiana where cranes gather in the fall prior to migrating further south. There were hundreds of cranes loafing around feeding up before pushing on north, or perhaps they wintered over and never left. We continued driving south and came upon a field along I – 65 that had at least a thousand cranes. Usually I have to go out to Nebraska to see cranes in those numbers. What a way to start a conference. Driving back on Saturday, while stopped at a rest area in Kentucky, there were robins hopping and perching in trees. There were migratory flocks of grackles taking a break and strutting around. There were a few meadowlarks singing away. There were small, migratory flocks of red-winged black birds everywhere. Chirping the song that announces springs’ arrival as far as I’m concerned. We drove further north and started seeing a little snow persisting in the fields and ditches. By the time we got to Wisconsin the snow cover was everywhere. I find it heartening that spring is only a few hours’ drive south from here and that the birds are getting in position and poised to come north, any day now. A whole parcel of books arrived this week. Below are just a few of the new titles. Enjoy!

February 27, 2020 - Roller Coaster

Today the WIAA basketball tournaments begin. Even though we've had a predication of an early spring, and one must admit that the roller coaster ups and downs of temperatures has been indicative of springtime in Wisconsin, that doesn't mean that we shall escape the basketball tournament snow storms. Whether (weather!) it's the WIAA girls tournament or the WIAA boys tournament, or even the NCAA tournaments later in March, it seems we always get clobbered with a big, wet, spring snow storm. As much as I like traditions -- most of which are "fine" and "old" -- this is one that I can certainly do without. If forecasts hold, the basketball-tournament snow storm arrived this week to start the basketball-tournament- snow storm season off to a good start. If the storm didn't arrive, well, you and I both know there is a snow storm lurking somewhere in March. While we're waiting for the snow to fly, there are sign's that spring is arriving slowly every day. The day's are rapidly lengthening. If you think about it, it's only 4 months until the longest days of the year, so there's a lot of time to be added to each day to get us there The birds also are thinking spring, While birds are still flocking around feeders, they have started to sing at least a few notes of their lets-get-together-and-build-a-nest songs. You also may have noticed all the new books that are arriving. Those come off of the publishers' spring lists. At least the book publishers think spring is here! Below are a few of the new titles that arrived recently. Enjoy!

February 20, 2020 - Twos and Zeros

While today is not quite a palindromic day, it still sure has a lot of twos and zeros in it. It has been two weeks and two days since the Ground Hog’s Day early spring prediction. We have had two sub-zero mornings since that prediction and snow and a couple of days of colder weather. We have also had sun and above freezing temperatures on a number of days. The extended forecast has not only temperatures in the mid to upper 30s but also a few 40-degree weather days. I won’t say it – or type it—because I don’t want to jinx anything but, it (meaning winter) just might be almost (insert 4-letter word here that starts with an “o” and ends with and “r” and has a 4-point Scrabble consonant in it). One of those old weather adages that I am so fond of dropping into conversations is that “As the days lengthen, the cold strengthens”. When we started the year, sunrise was at 7:29 a.m. and sunset was at 4:33p.m. The sun is now rising at 6:48 a.m. and setting at 5:35. If gaining that much daylight cost a few days of cold, I’m okay with that. The Winter Reading is approaching its end which will be the 28th of this month. There’s still plenty of time to record your books and still plenty of time to read as well. Below are some of the new titles that recently arrived at the library. Read them and record them! Enjoy!

February 13, 2020 - Valentine's Day

In years gone by (and why, I ask am I one of the few who remember those years gone by?) this week would have contained two nationally recognized holidays, i.e Valentine's Day and Lincolns birthday. Tomorrow is, of course, the commercial holiday that follows the Super Bowl, Valentine's Day. The celebration of this holiday on February 14th, started out in in the 5th century as a feast day set by the Catholic church to honor St. Valentines -- there were two Valentines martyred around February 14th by Claudius the 2nd in the 3rd century.There is a theory that the establishment of this saint's day was to overlay chaste romantic love on top of the Roman spring festivities of Lupercalia which were all about fertility, reveling, and welcoming spring. Chaucer took this saintly holy day into the realm of love birds (literally) and it wasn't long before poems and declarations of love, a.k.a., Valentines, became associated with the day. Centuries later printed postcards and greeting cards began to appear and chocolate and other tokens of love became associated with the day as well, and voila! The conflation of a pagan holiday with a Christian saint's day was complete. Another conflation this week is what happened to two of the United States' great presidents' birthdays. Abraham Lincoln's birthday (February 12th -- which isn't even on many calendars anymore as a national holiday) and George Washington's birthday (February 22nd) were conflated into President's Day which will be celebrated this year on February 17th.

 

BTW, this week's Studio 203 features a do-it-yourself Valentine craft. Nothing says "I love you" like a handmade attempt at a card. After you create your masterpiece, check out some of the new books that have recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

February 6, 2020 - Classic News

By the time you read this, this will be the opposite of breaking news. I suppose you could call it "outdated news", or "superseded information", or "out-of-date", "dated", "olds", or "stale" news. I prefer to think of what is to follow as the reporting of a classic news story that you have become accustomed to read about at this time of year. On Sunday, February 2nd, at 7:12 a.m. Booky, the library's badger, waddled his way outside to greet the dawn. There was a band of pastel orange clouds smeared across a baby blue sky. There were no shadows to be seen. Booky thus felt confident in prognosticating an early spring. By the way, the library's naughty elf's umbrella did not influence Booky's prediction -- at least I don't think it did. The prognosticating rodent to the east, i.e. Jimmy the (Sun Prairie) Groundhog did see his shadow. Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow and predicted an early spring. Always remember and never forget, that the American badger (Taxidea taxus) feeds mostly on rodents. Personally, I would tend to believe Booky rather than Booky's lunch. And now that we have passed two major calendric marks on the way to spring -- how fortunate we were to have both Groundhog Day and the Superbowl occur on the same palindromic date -- can the publisher's spring book lists be far behind? I think not. Below you will find some of the new titles recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

January 30, 2020 - A Year Ago Today

A year ago today we were right smack in the middle of the polar vortex of 2019. The Dane County Regional Airport report a daytime high of -10 degrees. That night we went to -26. On the 31st we started a slow climb out of the deep freeze with a daytime high of -5 and an over night low of -25. By Groundhog Day it was 44 degrees. So far this year, (knock wood) we have yet -- officially- to have dipped into negative numbers temperature-wise. Isn't Wisconsin weather grand? This coming weekend is not only Super Bowl Sunday, but also Groundhog. Booky, the library's badger, traditionally has been making his prediction (with 100% accuracy, I might add) for the past few years. It is Super Bowl Sunday, so I can't guarantee he will be available for prognostication on that day. We will just have to wait and see. In the meantime, a number of new books have arrived at the library. Below you will find a sampling. Come in and checkout some of these new titles. Enjoy!

January 16, 2020 - Snow

This past weekend we finally got a little snow on the ground. As of this writing (Monday), it is as yet unknown if that snow cover will persist or if the warmer weather predicted will melt it off -- again. The snow cover has brought many birds into the bird feeders, especially onto the suet packs. Last Friday, when all the dire weather predictions had a two-pronged snow attack heading our way over the entire weekend, I happened to drive past the grocery store around noon. The parking lot was packed. People were stocking up in front of the impending (predicted) storm. The large number of cars was true at the library. There was an uptick in foot traffic at the library as people came in to stock up on movies and books to get them through the weekend as the storm, with it's 6-10 inches of snow--kept them housebound. When I got home, I noticed frenzied feeding activity on the suet packs outside my windows as twilight fell. A study in 2013 out of Western University in London, Ontario posits that birds have an internal barometric pressure sensor and the urge to eat is trigger by the shift in barometric pressure in front of a storm. So we at least a working theory about the bird behavior. One wonders if there were no dire weather forecasts to goad people to stock their larders, if some internal sensor would send us scurrying off to the store and the library as a storm moved towards us. Whatever your reason , even if you don't feel an internal urge to visit the library, the weather forecast for this week should be about 85% conducive for stocking up at the library. Below are some of the new titles that have recently arrived. Enjoy!

January 9, 2020 - Winter Reading Program

The Winter Reading Program is well underway as we get firmly entrenched in this new decade. The Winter Reading Program runs until February 28th so there is still plenty of time (50 days to be precise or 1200 hours or 72,000 minutes) get some reading done, enter those titles in the program app, earn dragon dollars which can then be used to A) "purchase" fabulous prizes from our prize store, or B) donate those dollars to one of three charities (I will personally donate US dollars to those charities in the same amount of those dragon dollars). Read for pleasure. Read to pass the time. Read for a worthy cause. Read because it's winter and there isn't a lot to do and spring seems so very far away. Speaking of spring, you have noticed I am sure that the days have been getting longer at the sunset-side of things. The earliest sunset we experience at this latitude is 4:22 p.m. during the early days of December. By the time you read this, sunset will be at 4:40. Sunrise has finally started getting earlier moving from the latest sunrise -- at 7:29-- and, as of the 7th, is at 7:28 a.m. The light has started to return to our winter season. In fact, it is a mere 70 days until Spring officially arrives at 10:50 p.m. Now would be a great time to check out some of the library's books on gardening and start making plans. It won't be long before you can start planting seeds indoors. While you're waiting for longer and warmer days to arrive, you find a selection of books which have recently arrived at the library listed below to help while away the time. Enjoy!

January 2, 2020 - Resolutions

So. How are you doing on the resolutions? So far, so good? They (the experts) say that it takes eighteen months to habituate a behavior, especially if it’s a big change like getting up and exercising every day, or keeping a food journal, or giving up smoking, or not swearing, or not eating chocolate (why would anyone want to stop doing that?), or whatever the activity is. If it is true that it takes 18 months to firmly entrench a habit of healthy living or, putting it another way, of giving up a not-so-healthy life style, then congratulations. You made it through the first day. It gets easier after that or so they (the experts) tell us. With day one under your belt, you only have 539 days to go until you won’t have to think about the behavior you are trying to cultivate or get rid of. After all that those days have gone past, your new habit shall have become totally automatic and part of your new, healthy life style. If you need a little help keeping your mind off how many days there are left to go before you can stop worrying about relapsing (It’s only 12,936 hours after all.) we have a number of new books that will engage and entertain you so you won’t be able to hear those dark chocolate Hershey kisses calling you from that bowl across the room. Wait! I can hear the little tissue paper tongues rustling softly in the distance. Why don’t you go ahead and look at all the interesting new books we have at the library while I go see what those pesky little chocolates want. Happy New Year!