Jan's Column 2021

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Past Columns

April 22, 2021 - Crane Count

This past weekend, I participated in something that took a year off during the pandemic lock down. I took part in the Annual Midwest (Sandhill) Crane Count. Last year the crane count was called off -- though I could never understand why because it is an activity that can be done alone and takes place outside. Regardless of the reasons for last year's cancellation, I went out and did my own crane count in 2020. This year I did my "official" crane count. There really is nothing quite like being up and out by 5 o'clock in the morning and listening and watching the world come alive. Cranes tend to hang out in marshy areas so not only was there patchy frost on the grass, but there was mist rising of ponds and hovering over ditches and fields. The robins and the red-winged blackbirds compete to be the first birds singing as the eastern sky changes from deep blue to a pale blue that's almost white then lemon and peach until the red tones take over and orange smears the horizon. As light comes the bigger birds start in and geese and ducks join in and finally the cranes start yodeling. It is truly magical and available to all who care to venture out before dawn and sit quietly and wait. I heard many cranes and saw six. There were turkeys, a pair of eagles, ducks, geese, a lone deer, pheasants, killdeer, mourning doves, and the list goes on and on. If you can't get out into nature, you can study up on it by using some of the field guides available at the library. Below are some of the new books which recently arrived. Enjoy! and keep an eye out for sandhill cranes!

New Non-Fiction

cover artSensational: The Hidden History of America’s Girl Stunt Reporters by Kim Todd. The award-winning author of Tinkering with Eden presents a vivid social history of the Gilded Age that examines the stories of women journalists who went undercover to champion women's rights and expose corruption and abuse in America.

 

cover artSecond Chance: A Marine, His Dog, and Finding Redemption by Craig Grossi. The author of Craig and Fred describes how his devoted canine companion and he visited Maine State Prison to work beside inmates who serve purposeful time in prison by training service dogs for disabled veterans.

 

cover artI Am a Girl from Africa by Elizabeth Nyamayaro. The award-winning humanitarian and former United Nations Senior Advisor on Gender Equality describes how an aid volunteer saved her life and inspired her work as an advocate for positive change in communities throughout the world.

 

cover artOn the House: A Washington Memoir by John Boehner. The former Speaker of the House shares candid tales from Washington, D.C.'s halls of power, offering insight into America's Republican Party and the leadership successes and failures of Presidents from the past half century.

 

cover artEmpire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Keefe. The award-winning author of Say Nothing presents a narrative account of how a prominent wealthy family sponsored the creation and marketing of one of the most commonly prescribed and addictive painkillers of the opioid crisis.

 

cover artBeyond: The Astonishing Story of the First Human Being to Leave Our Planet and Journey into Space by Stephen Walker. A 60th-anniversary tribute to Russia's history-making first space mission documents the story of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the program's repurposing of a nuclear ballistic missile and the Cold War challenges that shrouded the mission in secrecy.

 

New Fiction

cover artEternal by Lisa Scottoline. An aspiring writer, an athlete from a professional cyclist family and a mathematics prodigy find their bond tested by a love triangle and the spread of anti-Semitism and fascism in 1937 Italy. By the Edgar Award-winning author of Someone Knows.

 

cover artThe Red Book, No. 2 (Black Book) by James Patterson with David Ellis. Launching an investigation of his own when his instincts tell him that more is behind a political shooting on Chicago's west side, SOS Detective Billy Harney uncovers a spate of murders connected to his troubled past.

 

cover artThe Helm of Midnight, No. 1 (Five Penalties) by Marina Lostetter. When a death mask imbued with the spirit of a historical serial killer is brazenly stolen by thieves, an outbreak of terrifying murders reveals the mind of a calculating perpetrator who is searching for answers.

 

cover artPeaces by Helen Oyeyemi. Honeymooning aboard a historic former tea-smuggling train, newlyweds Otto and Xavier enjoy the locomotive's fantastical accommodations before encountering a secretive fellow passenger, who imparts a surprising message. By the award-winning author of Gingerbread.

 

cover artThe Music of Bees by Eileen Garvin. Three strangers navigating grief and devastating setbacks cross paths in a rural Oregon town, where they find unexpected friendship, healing and new chances on local honeybee farm. A first novel by the author of "How to Be a Sister”.

 

cover artThe Nine Lives of Rose Napolitano by Donna Freitas. A woman who never wanted to be a mother reconnects with her estranged husband in the wake of unexpected news and is challenged to reevaluate herself in an unanticipated role. A first adult novel by the author of Consent.

 

cover artGood Company by Cynthia Sweeney. A novel about the enduring bonds of marriage and friendship from the author of the “New York Times” best-seller The Nest.

 

cover artThe Venice Sketchbook by Rhys Bowen. Inheriting her beloved great-aunt's sketchbook, a recently divorced woman uncovers mysteries about her great-aunt's star-crossed romance with a nobleman in World War II Venice. By the award-winning author of In Farleigh Field.

 

cover artThe Last Bookshop in London by Madeline Martin. Taking a job in a London bookshop just as the Blitz begins, Grace finds comfort in the power of words, storytelling and community as the bookshop becomes one of the only remaining properties to survive the bombings.

 

April 15 2021 - Jonquils, Hyacinths, and Tulips

There is nothing like a long stretch of cloudy days and rain to green up the world. The grass suddenly needs mowing. The trees have gone from hardly-budded-out-at-all to lacy fingers stretching towards the sky looking for sun. Jonquils, hyacinths, and tulips and other bulbed plants have sprung from the earth with flowers full-blown. Ornamental crab trees, dogwoods, and magnolias are covered with flowers. Other trees, with less obvious flowers such as your oak, maple, elm, and birch trees (to name just a few) are merrily throwing pollen into the air. Suddenly the law is filled with robins. Grackles, red-winged black birds, and crows are calling raucously at all hours of the day and into the night. Geese have their first crop of goslings paddling behind them in ponds. April showers have brought not May flowers, but April flowers as this fecund season takes root. It is the perfect season to get out and visit the library on foot or on bicycle or using whatever form of transport you choose. Books from the publishers' spring lists are arriving daily. Items that have been in storage since the height of the pandemic -- such as Busy Bags, Bags of Books, and Backpacks are finding their way back to their accustomed racks. Make the library your destination as you step out into spring in Wisconsin. Below are some of the new titles which recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

New Non-Fiction

cover artComeback Season: My Unlikely Story of Friendship with the Greatest Living Negro League Baseball Players by Cam Perron. An award-winning sports writer describes his teenage correspondences with several surviving former Negro League players, sharing remarkable career stories about how their days on the field were impacted by racism, the KKK and major league color barriers

 

cover artEmpire of Ants: The Hidden World and Extraordinary Lives of Earth’s Tiniest Conquerors by Susanne Foitzik and Olaf Fritsche. Drawing on the expertise of a leading researcher, an introduction to the world of ants explores its remarkable international varieties as well as the species' surprisingly human-like behaviors and civilizations

 

cover artRemember: The Science of Memory and the Art of Forgetting by Lisa Genova. The Harvard-trained neuroscientist and best-selling author of Still Alice presents an exploration of the intricacies of human memory that distinguishes between normal and concerning memory loss while explaining the profound roles of sleep, stress and other contributing influences.

 

cover artBroken (in the Best Possible Way) by Jenny Lawson. The award-winning humorist and author of Let's Pretend This Never Happened shares candid reflections on such topics as her experimental treatment for depression, her escape from three bears and her business ideas for Shark Tank.

 

cover artHype: How Scammers, Grifters, and Con Artists Are Taking Over the Internet—and Why We’re Following by Gabrielle Bluestone. The former “Vice” journalist and Emmy-nominated producer of the Netflix documentary, “Fyre”, presents a revelatory examination of the con-artists, grifters and scammers of the digital age that outlines recommendations for protecting today's consumers

 

cover artJustice, Justice, Thou Shalt Pursue: A Life’s Work Fighting for a More Perfect Union by Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Amanda Tyler. Traces the long history of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s work for gender equality and a “more perfect Union".

 

New Fiction

cover artThe Path to Sunshine Cove by RaeAnne Thayne. The daughter of parents who died under traumatizing circumstances reevaluates her life on the road when she unexpectedly falls in love and reconnects with her sister, whose marriage has crumbled in the wake of a devastating diagnosis.

 

cover artDanger in Numbers by Heather Graham. Investigating a ritualistic murder in a small north Florida community, an agent from the State police reluctantly partners with an FBI cult specialist to uncover dark local secrets and the violent activities of a doomsday prep group.

 

cover artDouble Jeopardy, No. 57 (Stone Barrington) by Stuart Wood. Stone Barrington launches an investigation in coastal Maine, where he confronts high-connected and well-funded family enemies hiding in plain sight among the region's stately houses and private clubs. By the Edgar Award-winning author of Chiefs.

 

cover artThe Palm Beach Murders by James Patterson. Three stories from the world's best-selling author include the tale of a pair of divorcees who begin a strangely intense game of make-believe and a popular advertising exec who notices the people around him are being murdered

 

cover artThe Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton. Accepting a contract from a fledgling record company, a talented music artist in early 1970s New York endures racist responses to her activism, before a reunion interview decades later reveals explosive secrets.

 

cover artToo Good to Be True by Carola Lovering. Accepting the proposal of an older, sophisticated man after a whirlwind courtship, a woman struggling with severe OCD throws herself into wedding plans before discovering her fiancé's secret past and deceptive agenda.

 

cover artWhat Comes After by Joanne Tompkins. The grieving single parents of two recently deceased teenage boys forge an unexpected bond over the appearance of a mysterious pregnant girl who offers insight into the tragedy.

 

cover artOcean Prey, No. 31 (Prey) by John Sandford. Picking up a stalled FBI case involving three murdered Coast Guardsmen, Lucas Davenport teams up with detective Virgil Flowers to investigate the suspicious activities of a sophisticated boat and mysterious diver. By the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the Prey series

 

April 8, 2021 - National Library Week

National Library Week started on Easter Sunday this year. April 4th was also National School Librarians Day. Tuesday of National Library Week is reserved to honor library workers with their special day. Wednesday is reserved to honor bookmobiles. The rest of the week days are not designated for any particular group or aspect of libraries. Personally, I believe library patrons deserve their own day. of celebration during National Library Week. Without the you, our loyal, library patrons, there would be no reason for libraries of any ilk to exist. So come in on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday of this 2021 National Library Week and celebrate yourself!

Spring has certainly arrived in our area. There are flocks of robins just bob,bob, bobbin' along on lawns everywhere. Songbirds are singing to their sweeties and starting to set up housekeeping. Tis the season. Love is in the air. Not only do we have song birds a singing, we have motorcycles a revving and convertibles -- what would be the verb for driving around with the top down on a car? It couldn't possibly be "converting", could it? And while it is true that many Wisconsinites start wearing shorts when the daytime highs get into the mid 30s, this past week has brought flocks of short-clad natives out into the world. With all these signs of spring, can the arrival of spring book titles be far behind? Absolutely not. Below you will find some of the titles which recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

New Non-Fiction

cover artEleanor in the Village: Eleanor Roosevelt’s Search for Freedom and Identity in New York’s Greenwich Village by Jan Russell. The best-selling author of The Train to Crystal City documents the lesser-known story of Eleanor Roosevelt's abrupt relocation to 1920 Greenwich Village, discussing the former First Lady's motivations and how the region shaped her progressive political views.

 

cover artNorth by Shakespeare: A Rogue Scholar’s Quest for the Truth Behind the Bard’s Work by Michael Blanding. The true story of a self-taught Shakespeare sleuth’s quest to prove his eye-opening theory about the source of the world’s most famous plays, taking readers inside the vibrant era of Elizabethan England as well as the contemporary scene of Shakespeare scholars and obsessives.

 

cover artThe Loneliest Polar Bear: A True Story of Survival and Peril on the Edge of a Warming World by Kale Williams. An Oregonian science and environmental reporter shares the heartbreaking but hopeful story of abandoned polar bear cub, Nora, discussing the efforts of dedicated zookeepers, veterinarians and conservationists who are working to rescue the species from extinction.

 

cover artNo Pain, No Gaines: The Good Stuff Don’t Come Easy by Chip Gaines. The star of HGTV's Fixer Upper shares anecdotal insights into the value of a strong network, explaining how a team of family members, friends and neighbors can become an essential component of personal success.

 

cover artYour Time to Thrive: End Burnout, Increase Well-Being, and Unlock Your Full Potential with the New Science of Microsteps by Marina Khidekel. The experts from Arianna Huffington's Thrive Global offer science-based advice for how to establish small, healthy habits for sleep, nutrition and other self-care practices to counter burnout, reduce stress and unlock personal potential

 

New Fiction

cover artHalf Life by Jillian Cantor. A reimagining of the life of Marie Curie is told through two parallel timelines, including one that reflects her real-world achievements and another that explores how the world might be different had she made other choices.

 

cover artOf Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia. The daughter of a Cuban immigrant battles addiction and the fallout of her decision to take in the child of an ICE detainee, while her mother wrestles with displacement trauma and complicated family ties. A first novel.

 

cover artRed Island House by Andrea Lee. The National Book Award-nominated author of Lost Hearts in Italy presents a tale of love and identity that follows two decades in a marriage between an African-American professor and her wealthy Italian husband in tropical Madagascar.

 

cover artMrs. Wiggins by Mary Monroe. A tale set in the world of the award-winning Mama Ruby series follows the experiences of a woman from an at-risk family who marries a preacher to establish a safer life before discovering her husband's desperate secret.

 

cover artSunflower Sisters by Martha Hall Kelly. Union nurse Georgeanna Woolsey, an ancestor of Caroline Ferriday, travels with her sister to Gettysburg, where they cross paths with a slave-turned-army conscript and her cruel plantation mistress. By the best-selling author of Lilac Girls.

 

cover artTill Death, No. 3 (Have Brides Will Travel) by William and J.A. Johnstone. A latest entry in the series that includes The Shotgun Wedding continues the misadventures of drifters-turned-lawmen Bo Creel and Scratch Morton as they attempt to safely deliver a new group of mail-order brides to New Mexico territory.

 

cover artThe Consequences of Fear, No. 16 (Maisie Dobbs) by Jacqueline Winspear. Entreated by a witness nobody believes to investigate a murder, Maisie Dobbs uncovers a conspiracy with devastating implications for Britain's war effort during the Nazi occupation of Europe. By the award-winning author of The American Agent.

 

cover artNo Way Out by Fern Michaels. Struggling to remember the accident leading to her boyfriend's disappearance, a coma patient and video game developer starts over in rural Mississippi, before an inexplicable reunion threatens everything she has rebuilt. By the best-selling author of the Sisterhood series.

 

April 1, 2021 - April Fools' Day!

Happy April Fools' Day! Not only are we at the beginning of a new month and can finally say goodbye to a fickle and windy March, but we are only a few days away from the beginning of National Library Week. National Library Week seems to be a moveable feast. In 2018, it started on April 7th; in 2019 on April 8th; in 2020 on April 19th. This year it starts on April 4th which just happens to be Easter, another moveable feast. There are a number of celebratory events planned for the week. Please check our website and social media for details.

But lets, get back to April Fool's Day. Where did this custom of frivolity and pranking arise?

According to some historians it may date back to 1582 when France switched from the Julian calendar (the new years starts with the spring equinox around April 1st) to the Gregorian (the new years starts January 1st). Those who were slow to adopt the January 1st date became the butt of jokes and were called April fools and had pranks played upon them. According to other historians April Fools Day can be linked to the Roman festival of Hilaria which was celebrated at the end of March. Followers of the cult of Cybele dressed up in disguises and mocked their fellow citizens and magistrates. This was said to be inspired by the Egyptian legend of Isis, Osiris and Seth. These pranking practices spread through Britain in the 1700s and in Scotland a two day event which started off with the hunting of the "gowk" -- the word for a cuckoo (bird) or fool-- which sent folks off on fake errands. Day two -- Tailie Day== involved pinning fake tails on people (i.e. "kick me" signs). Harmless pranking is the name of the game with harmless being the most important word. And now that you know all about today, below you will find some of the new titles which recently arrived at the library. No fooling! Enjoy!

New Non-Fiction

cover artElizabeth and Margaret: The Intimate World of the Windsor Sisters by Andrew Morton. This biography of Queen Elizabeth II and her sister Margaret examines their early idyllic youth as the closest of sisters as well as their often fraught relationship after their father’s death and Elizabeth’s ascension to the throne.

 

cover artThe Agitators: Three Friends Who Fought for Abolition and Women’s Rights by Dorothy Wickenden. The best-selling author of Nothing Daunted chronicles the revolutionary activities of Harriet Tubman, Frances Seward and Martha Wright, discussing their vital role in the Underground Railroad, abolition and the early women's rights movement.

 

cover artEverything Will Be Okay: Life Lessons for Young Women (from a Former Young Woman) by Dana Perino. The Fox News co-host and best-selling author of And the Good News Is… draws on her personal boundary-breaking experiences to counsel readers on how to find inspiration and motivation in today's world.

 

cover artUnwinding Anxiety: New Science Shows How to Break the Cycles of Worry and Fear to Heal Your Mind by Judson Brewer. A step-by-step plan is clinically proven to break the cycle of worry and fear that drives anxiety and addictive habits.

 

New Fiction

cover artRaft of Stars by Andrew Graff. Fleeing into the woods believing that they have accidentally murdered an abusive parent, two young boys, unaware that they have become the focus of a desperate search, navigate dangerous natural threats in their effort to survive.

 

cover artThe Women of Chateau Lafayette by Stephanie Dray. A multi-generational saga based on true events is set in an extraordinary castle in the heart of France, where a schoolteacher, a socialite and a noblewoman question their roles and identities in the face of three major wars.

 

cover artThe Bounty, No. 7 (Fox and O’Hare) by Janet Evanovich. Straitlaced FBI agent Kate O'Hare and international con man Nick Fox reluctantly team up with the fathers who taught them everything they know to prevent a shadowy international organization from claiming a fortune in Nazi gold.

 

cover artNot Dark Yet, No. 27 (Inspector Banksby Peter Robinson. Investigating the murder of a property developer in Yorkshire, Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks and his team begin scanning the victim's security tapes only to discover that a brutal second crime was also captured.

 

cover artA Question Mark is Half a Heart by Sofia Lundberg. A successful Manhattan photographer is drawn back to her past as a poverty-stricken child in Paris whose daily realities were shaped by an abusive parent and a friend who still remembers her deepest secrets. A first novel

 

cover artGathering Dark by Candice Fox. Risking her freedom and custody of her son to help a former cellmate find her missing daughter, a once-respected surgeon requests the assistance of the detective who arrested her for murder a decade earlier.

 

cover artThe Girls Are All So Nice Here by Laurie Flynn. Receiving ominous threats during a 10-year college reunion, Ambrosia and her best friend discover that they are being targeted by an unknown adversary who would exact revenge for a dangerous secret from their past.

 

cover artThe Lamplighters by Emma Stonex. A debut non-pseudonymous novel of psychological suspense, based on true events, follows the experiences of three wives on a remote Cornish Coast tower when their lighthouse-keeper husbands go mysteriously missing

 

cover artThe Other Emily by Dean Koontz. Haunted by the unsolved disappearance of the love of this life a decade earlier, writer David Thorne visits her suspected killer in prison before meeting a woman who uncannily resembles the person he lost.

 

March 25, 2021 - Spring Started

Spring started this past Saturday, March 20th, at 4:37 a.m. I believe only the robins and my cats were awake to greet it. Of course once the cats are up and greeting things – the dawn, each other, their empty food dishes, the early birds—I, unfortunately, am not far behind. Perhaps it because I do not watch network television anymore and get my information from newspaper and weather websites, but the arrival of spring this year seemed singularly unheralded. If a co-worker hadn’t mentioned it to me Saturday morning, I would have been completely oblivious to spring’s arrival. I guess it really does pay to go to the library where information is all around you! The birds have been singing about the arrival of spring. The mini flock of cardinals, house finches, sparrows, chickadees, and juncos that have been visiting my porch rail for seeds, have started to drift away. They are able to find food in the wild closer to potential nesting sites. A few long-time porch-perchers seem to be bringing girl friends “home” to enjoy the seed buffet. Spring is indeed in the air. Just like the swallows return to Capistrano every March 19th, and the vultures return to Hinckley, Ohio every March 15th, so the book publishers have begun pushing out their spring list of titles. Below you will find some of the new titles that recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

New Non-Fiction

cover artAlready Toast: Caregiving and Burnout in America by Kate Washington. Despite feeling profoundly alone while providing care to her sick husband, a writer discusses how she discovered she was one of millions of exhausted and stressed unpaid caregivers in America and argues that more should be done to support them.

 

cover artFutureproof: 9 Rules for Humans in the Age of Automation by Kevin Roose. Technology columnist lays out a hopeful, pragmatic vision of how people can succeed in the machine age by making themselves irreplaceably human.

 

cover artHow Rights Went Wrong: Why Our Obsession With Rights is Tearing America Apart by Jamal Greene. An eminent constitutional scholar reveals how the explosion of rights is dividing America, and shows how we can build a better system of justice.

 

cover artThe Energy Paradox: What to Do When Your Get-Up-and-Go Has Got Up and Gone (Plant Paradox) by Steven Gundry. The best-selling author of The Longevity Paradox expands upon previous discussions about gut, microbiome and mitochondrial health, linking immune malfunctions to the physical and mental symptoms of fatigue while outlining recommendations for bolstering energy and brain stamina.

 

cover artThe Zoologist’s Guide to the Galaxy: What Animals on Earth Reveal About Aliens – and Ourselves by Arik Kershenbaum. Using universal laws that govern life on Earth, a noted Cambridge zoologist presents an engaging, scientifically sound exploration of what life may be like on other planets and in space, discussing such speculative topics as supersonic animals and alien emotions.

 

cover artProfessional Troublemaker: The Fear-Fighter Manual by Luvvie Ajayi Jones. The award-winning podcaster, motivational speaker and author of the best-selling I'm Judging You shares whimsical, transformational advice based on her grandmother's techniques to counsel readers on how to overcome fear-related obstacles and pursue meaningful goals through disruptive choices.

 

New Fiction

cover artThe Affair by Danielle Steel. A fashion magazine executive navigates a scandal involving her son-in-law's affair with a Hollywood actress, while her daughters support each other through infidelity, commitment issues and personal secrets. By the best-selling author of Neighbors.

 

cover artEverything After by Jill Santopolo. Helping troubled students navigate personal losses, a university psychologist is forced to reckon with her own painful past when a tragic event compels her to reevaluate her goals, passions and sense of identity.

 

cover artMeant to Be by Jude Deveraux. The award-winning author of  A Knight in Shining Armor presents a latest historical family saga chronicling the lives and loves of three generations of women in a small Kansas community.

 

cover art2034: A Novel of the Next World War by Elliot Ackerman & James Stavridis. Two former military officers and award-winning authors present a near-future geopolitical thriller that depicts a naval clash between America and Asia in the South China Sea of 2034. Co-written by the National Book Award-nominated author of Waiting for Eden.

 

cover artThe Committed by Viet Thanh Nguyen. A sequel to the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Sympathizer finds the unnamed "man of two minds" and his blood brother dealing drugs in 1980s Paris, where he navigates the worlds of privileged clients while trying to reconcile two politically polarized friends.

 

cover artDark Sky, No. 21 (Joe Pickett) by C. J. Box. Reluctantly accompanying a Silicon Valley tech baron on an elk hunting trip, Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett finds himself defending his high-profile charge from a vengeful sharpshooter. By the Edgar Award-winning author of Long Range.

 

cover artFast Ice, No. 16 (NUMA Files) by Clive Cussler & Graham Brown. Investigating the disappearance of a NUMA colleague on the icebergs of Antarctica, Kurt Austin and Joe Zavala are confronted by a radical environmentalist who would use a Nazi-era weapon to usher in a new Ice Age

 

March 18, 2021 - One-Year Anniversary

I warned you a couple of weeks ago that we were quickly approaching a number of one-year anniversary sates and that I would undoubtedly feel compelled to comment upon them. Well. Here we are. On Match 12th, the Governor declared a health emergency in response to Covid-19. On March 13th, an order was issued to close all schools on Wednesday, March 18th. On March 17th at 5 p.m., all mass gatherings pf 10 or more people were prohibited in the state. We closed the library doors at that time and started curbside service. Social distancing and facility capacity became phrases that were interjected into most if not all conversations. Wearing a mask hadn't yet become the norm. St. Patrick's Day had a very dystopian feel as Wisconsin began to shut down in an attempt to stem the spread of the virus. It is sobering to think that a year later, we are still wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and assessing building capacity as things start to open up. Mass gatherings have increased in size in reverse order of how they decreased in size a year ago. We look forward to offering in-person programming to large groups soon, but room size still constrains our ability to social distance attendees. Watch our website and social media to see when these opportunities become available. In the meantime, you will find some of the new books which recently arrived at the library listed below. Enjoy and stay well!

March 11, 2021 - Winter Reading Numbers

The Winter Reading Program ended mere weeks ago and already I have all the numbers for the 2020/2021 program. This year we had a slightly smaller group of participants – 123 compared to 139 last year. There were fewer competitions undertaken this year –83 compared to 94; fewer activities partaken in – 315 compared to 386; reviews written – 54 compared to 68 and fewer badges earned – 1,542 compared to 1,690. So all-in-all this year seems to show a decline that matches up with fewer participants. However, in one category (and I might argue the most important category), the number of books read this year’s participants read 7,942 books compared to 7,256 books last year. That’s 686 more books or nearly a 9.5% increase. There were some truly dedicated readers this winter! And before you ask, donations to the charities were as follows: The DeForest Area Public Library Endowment -- $293; DeForest Area Needs Network (D.A.N.N.) -- $163; Dane County Humane Society $155; and the Homeless Action Network DeForest (HAND) -- $111. That’s a total of $722 which I shall be donating to those groups in the very near future. Thanks to everyone for participating. Below you will find some new books which recently arrived at the library. I hope you enjoy them!

March 4, 2021 - A Year Ago

A year ago I had just gotten back from attending the Public Library Association's biennial national conference in Nashville with a friend and fellow library director. We sat in large rooms filled with people, we ate at normally-crowded restaurants, we listened to live music in a honky tonk bar where people were jammed in on top of each other. We did all this and thought nothing of it. I wouldn't see this friend until the Christmas holiday when we met in a very large, deserted venue and chatted from five yards apart (masked of course). When I got back from the national conference I went to Illinois to have lunch with my niece. That was the last time I have seen her in real life. As the virus ramped up and the number of people allowed to gather together declined the library started offering curbside service. I will leave this historical retrospective here with curbside service. Tune in next week for the next historical look back. In the meantime, you will find -- listed below-- some of the new books which recently arrived at the library.

While the library is open --except for periodic short closures for sanitizing -- curbside/foyer pickup is still an option as is our electronic locker. No matter how you choose to get your books, I hope you enjoy them!

February 25, 2021 - End of February

How can it be nearly the end of February already? And if it is nearly the end of February, that means it is nearly the end of the Winter Reading Program. And if it is nearly the end of the Winter Reading Program, that means you are running out of time to log the books you have read during the program. (It ends at 5 p.m. on February 26th) It also means that very soon after the end of the Winter Reading Program your opportunity to redeem the Dragon Dollars you have earned will end also (5 p.m. on February 28th). We hope you had fun participating and learning all about owls!

After this past weekend's snow fall, you might be thinking that an early spring is out of the question. If the ten-day weather forecast holds true, we should be having a thaw this week which will head us into the month of March with the feel of spring in the air. NCAA college basketball will get underway in the middle of March which is, unfortunately and predictably, when we can expect a nice big spring snow storm. The nice thing about snow is March is that it usually doesn't stay around long. With spring in the air and just around the corner, the publishing houses are also starting to crank up produation to get the spring lists of books out to libraries and book stores. Below you will find a few of the new titles that recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

February 18, 2021 - Holidays

February is a month rife with holidays. We passed Valentine's Day over the weekend and on this week's Tuesday, Mardi Gras ( also known as Shrove Tuesday) passed us by. This week's Monday also celebrated Presidents' Day -- which conflates Abraham Lincoln's birthday (February 12th) and George Washington's Birthday (February 22nd although he was actually born on February 11th but because of the change from the Julian to Gregorian calendar (in 1752) his birthday got moved to the 22nd). And just to jam one more celebration on to February 15th, which is President's Day this year, it is also Susan B. Anthony Day. This day celebrates her birthday on this actual date in 1820. What a holiday rich first half of February we have. I would also note one more date to remember. On February 5th, the first confirmed case of Covid-19 was reported in Wisconsin. We sill begin hitting a number of one-year anniversary dates around Covid-19 as we progress through this year. Spring is coming (though though not quickly enough), daylight is returning, the cold snap is passing off, vaccinations are occurring, and the sun is shinning at least some of the time. Spring and life are beginning to stir and so is hope. If you've been hoping for some new books, your in luck. Below are some of the new titles which recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

February 11, 2021 - The Days Lengthen

The days certainly have been getting longer. Why, we have gained nearly 25 minutes at the sunrise side of the day and over an hour and a half on the sunset side of things. All of that extra daylight is very much appreciated by most of us. I'm sure that I mentioned this previously. It is old weather lore that says, "As the days lengthen, the cold strengthens." I would have to say that this past weekend, this week to date, and the forecast until Tuesday, the 16th all would seem to confirm that lore. While this is perfect weather to stay in side and read, you might consider venturing over the library on February 14th to listen to some music from our mezzanine celebrating love as well as Mardi Gras which will be on Tuesday, the 16th -- when the weather is supposed to start getting back to more normal temperatures. At the keyboard will be our own, Nolan Veldey. I believe there may be also be cookies. Tuesday the 16th, is also the beginning of a three-book, Read Woke, series. The book being discussed will be "The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963". You can register to join the book discussion from the calendar on our website. I hope to see you there! While we all await the arrival of warmer temperatures, and eventually spring, I would urge you all to read, record your books in our Winter Reading Program, and earn Dragon Dollars for your own use or to give to our designated charities. Below are some of the new books which recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

February 4, 2021 - Booky the Badger

Farewell to January and hello to February. Time seems to be really flying as we head into a new month that brings us two, count them two, major holidays. I am, of course, speaking about Ground Hog Day -- which shall already have occurred by the time you read this-- and the Super Bowl. If the weather predictions hold for Tuesday, and at this writing sunrise on Tuesday is fewer than 24 hours away which improves the accuracy of the forecast many fold, then Booky the library's prognosticating Badger, will undoubtedly see his shadow which means six more weeks of winter. Looking closely at that weather forecast it looks like the upcoming week, including the weekend, will be frigid (would this be an arctic outbreak?). The nice thing about frigid weather is that it provides the perfect excuse to stay inside, with a hot beverage, possibly a pet (cat or dog--absolutely your choice, and your pets, I suppose), possibly a knit or crocheted throw draped over your lap (and under the pet), a fire crackling softly in the hearth (or on your computer screen), and --the most important ingredient of all-- a good book. Below you will find some of the new titles which recently arrived at your library. Enjoy!

January 28, 2021 - Data

Only a few more days, and Booky, our prognosticating badger, along with those weather-forecasting dilettante groundhogs that live in Pennsylvania and Sun Prairie, will be making their duration of winter forecasts. This means we will be at the beginning of the month of February which along with the two important holidays of Ground Hog Day and Valentine's Day is the beginning to the countdown of one-year anniversaries of events marking the arrival of Covid-19. We're not there yet, but we are getting close. Last year at this time, I was still blithely pulling together data for the annual report the library submits to the Department of Public Instruction which eventually ends up at the federal level at the Institute for Museum and Library Services. The data we will be reporting from the year 2020 is going to look a whole lot different from previous years (and future years, I hope!). The physical circulation of materials was greatly diminished as was the physical attendance at in-person programs. Digital use of materials and programs, however, was astounding. I'll keep you posted as the data comes together; I'm sure there will be data points that amuse as well as inform. With a winter weather advisory just finishing up over the past weekend and another one arriving on Monday evening, one would have to say that it's great weather for settling in with a good book. Below are some of the new titles that have recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

January 21, 2021 - Signs of Spring

The third week of January already which means we are well into our Winter Reading Program ( have you joined up yet?) and less than two weeks away from Ground Hogs' Day. With very few sunny days to it's credit, January has still managed to plod along under dreary skies to get us to these last ten days of the month which, by the way, are usually the coldest. The old weather lore, "As the days lengthen, the cold strengthens", is often right, but given the year so far, it's hard to tell if the weather will behave normally when most everything else isn't. About this time of year, as you long-time readers know, I begin looking for signs of spring or for at least winter's end. So here are a few to turn your thoughts towards warmer days. The chickadees have started singing their "phoebe" song which means, among other things, that they are starting to look for dates and are beginning to shop around for nest sites. Speaking of nests, eagles -- including the famous Decorah pair-- are nest building and pair bonding and well on the way to putting eggs in their nests. The area owls (for those of you who have signed up for the Winter Reading Program you would know that owls are our theme because we want everyone to give a hoot about reading) are have become rather quiet because they are most likely already sitting on eggs. Raptors have to bring chicks into the world very early in the year so the young have lots of time to not only fledge but learn to hunt successfully. My final sign is this: I have a garden every year on my porch, in pots. When the weather turns frosty, I drag in the pots and the live by the porch door and get watered every couple of weeks. Some plants live. Some die. This year my impatiens seeded themselves and one of them put forth a little red flower yesterday. One flower might not a spring make, but it certainly gladdens the heart. Below are some new books which may also gladden your hearts. Enjoy!

January 14, 2021 - Cloudy Days

Normally by this time of -- almost the mid-point of January-- I would be optimistically pointing out the lengthening of days and perhaps, begin the countdown to Ground Hogs Day where we would find out if there were six more weeks of winter in store for us. However, these first couple of week so January have been mostly cloudy and if not cloudy, then foggy. It is so very difficult to celebrate the return of more daylight when the street lights are coming on at three o'clock in the afternoon. Indeed, we have gained daylight. There earliest sunset during those dark, December days was at 4:29. At his writing, sunset is at 4:40 p.m. and sunrise has, finally, begun getting later. It is now at 7:31. We haven't seen a sunrise that early since Christmas Day. The good news is that even though we can't see it to be cheered by it, the days are getting longer and that no matter what February 2nd will roll around in just 19 days. And once we're in February you can almost see spring popping it's head up over the horizon. In the meantime, theses dark days lend themselves rather nicely to reading. Below you will find some of the new books that have recently arrived at your library. Enjoy!

January 7, 2021 - Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! Here we are a week into the new year already. My how time flies during the holidays. This week, finally, some new books have arrived at the library. That pesky pandemic has disrupted the publishing trade a bit. Books that were ordered at the beginning of summer are only just arriving. Publishing dates have been pushed back for many months in some cases. All of which makes having a steady stream of books coming into the library for your reading pleasure a challenge. A challenge we can't do anything about. The books will arrive when they arrive. However, if the year is beginning as it means to go on, then there is hope that there will be weekly deliveries of new books. If 2021, decides to imitate last year, it's hard to say what might have in store for us -- I'm only talking book-wise here. In the meantime, there are plenty of books below some of which might pique your interest. Enjoy!