Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Three Books To Inspire Readers in 2012

The new year is just around the corner. Despite what some may say about 2012, there is a distinct possibility that the world will not end on December 21, 2012. Actually, it seems pretty likely that the last minute gift items that will need to be purchased next Christmas will still be available on December 22, 2012. With that in mind, 2012 can be a historic year for other more plausible reasons. Will we have a new President? Which companies will thrive and which will parrish? Are William and Kate going to produce a new heir to the English Monarchy? A little more closer to home, what changes will the average readers make to improve their life? To be honest, 2011 has been a challenging year, and looking at the projection for the economy in 2012, there are more chanllenges in store for everyone. What is needed just before the ball drops in Times Square, is a little inspiration.

Self-help books have always been a hit in libraries. It's a great way to find answers to everyday problems without paying the high cost of consultants, job coaches or therapists. As a rule, these books are easy to read and for the most part enjoyable. Can these books really solve all the dilemas that the cover claims? No, not by itself. However, if a reader gets at least one good idea from these books and applies it to their life, then the time has not been wasted reading the ink on the pages. (Librarian's Golden rule number one of reading: If a reader has learned one new thing than the book was not a total waste.)

Librarians assisting readers looking for the right combination of inspiration and action to motiviate those around them should consider suggesting Simon Sinek's Start With Why: How Great Leaders Insprie Everyone To Take Action. The book is well written and gives sage advice for leaders who want to make a difference knowing that thinking outside the box is not enough. Answering the simple question "why" gives not only a reason but a focus for what needs to be accomplished.

Miracles are in abundance if we choose to see them according to Regina Brett author of Be the Miracle. Using short essays to illustrate how ordinary people find ways to overcome obstacles proves is not only eye opening, but also touches the heart. The patrons in your library are not inspired or touched by these tales, the community should be listed as needing life support. To put it simply, this book will take away reader's excuse and encourage them to find a way to be a miracle for others.

Barbara Sher explores the seven diffent types of scanners in Refuse to Choose! Use All of Your Interests, Passions, and Hobbies to Create the Life and Career of Your Dreams . Who or what are scanners? Ms. Sher's definition of people who have many interests but do not know which direction to channel their energy. This book is a must in every library's career/job resources section. Patrons who feel at a lost at what to do with their careers will find practical advice here on how to pool togehter all their interests and reel in a career that fulfills their needs.

This short list should be enough to launch readers into a brighter 2012. Actually, they can inspire the library community to zealously go after their goals. Why wait for January 1? Grab a book and get a head start on the new year. Better yet, start a book discussion group for Job/Career Seekers and suggest one or all of these titles. (Hint: This would be a good time to show the library director that you have interesting ideas for adult programming.) To be sure, there will be other titles to inspire readers in 2012. This is a good start to get the gears moving.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

On The First Day of Christmas My True Library Love ...

Christmas carols are playing constantly, 24/7 in most areas, and everyone hustling and bustling around to get chores completed before the magic date of December 24. It seemed appropriate to think about what would make for wonderful gifts for librarians. The past couple of years have not been kind, financially, to librarians all over the world. The need to advocate, preserve and protect libraries is more important now then ever. To name a few of the issues causing anxiety among librarians are budget cuts, staff layoffs, and less programming. Adding insult to injury is the increase demand for computer access, digital downloads and instructive workshops from resumes to cooking. These are a small piece of a very large picture that have made librarians echo Scrooge with "Bah Humbugs!" Wouldn't the season be brighter if people who are passionate about libraries would adorn our trees with the following gifts? For a brief moment, bask in the dream of these "miracle" gifts for libraries.

On the First Day of Christmas my True Library Love gave to me...

A blue bird in a huge money tree.

What library doesn't dream of a money tree that would magically appear when budgets are tight and demand is high. If a money tree is out of the question, the blue bird of happiness would be just as welcomed. Libraries are in need of happier times.

On the Second Day of Christmas my True Library Love gave to me..

Two computer learning labs.
A salute to all librarians in schools, universities and public libraries too, who educate patrons to navigate the Internet so that they may be savvy information collectors. Computer labs equipped with the best that technology has to offer is just the beginning to better library users.

On the Third Day of Christmas my True Library Love gave to me..

Three Fantastic Grants for library programs.
On a practical level, not many libraries have the ability to give time to writing grants these days. With staff layoffs and uncertainty of libraries remaining open, librarians are spending more time on the reference desk and less time with finding grants. If the world were a perfect place, grants would be awarded by the snap of a finger.

On the Fourth Day of Christmas my True Library Love gave to me..

Four Elected Officials Calling
If elected officials were to come into the library on a regular bases, they would quickly learn how much the community needs the library. Libraries are the foundation of every neighborhood, yet traditionally it is the first department to be cut. Consider this question for a moment: Would my elected official be less willing to cut the library's budget if they witnessed how the library was used daily? If the answer is "yes", it's time to start calling those officials.

On the Fifth Day of Christmas my True Library Love gave to me..

Five Full-time Librarians on duty, day or night.
There really is no need for explanations for this gift, is there? Part-time librarians are not only damaging the image of the "professionalism" of librarians but it is also a bad management trend.

On the Sixth Day of Christmas my True Library Love gave to me..

Six Generous Donations
Donations can come in all shapes and sizes. From donated books, computers to checks, all donations are welcomed at the library.

On the Seventh Day of Christmas my True Library Love gave to me..

Seven bookcases filled with the latest bestsellers fiction.
Why only seven book stacks filled? Honestly it could be more, but why portray librarians as greedy?

On the Eighth Day of Christmas my True Library Love gave to me..

Eight Marvelous budgets saving electronic databases
There are so many electronic databases that are out of reach for most librarians. Wouldn't it be nice to have access to eight databases that would cover the needs of all patrons? Yes, it may be true that this is a tall order but we are going for the miracle angle.

On the Ninth Day of Christmas my True Library Love gave to me..

Nine Successful Fundraising projects.
Add to that fundraising projects that do not take up staff time and energy. Practically speaking for all libraries, this is not an outlandish request.

On the Tenth Day of Christmas my True Library Love gave to me..

Ten Awesome Book discussions for every reader.
If librarians want circulation to go up, getting patrons fired up about a book is the best way to achieve that goal.

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas my True Library Love gave to me..

Eleven library geeks spreading the library news!
If libraries had geeks that would spread the good news about the library daily, much of the Public relations hurdle that libraries face would be removed. Look around the library, there may be eleven library geeks waiting to be discovered!

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas my True Library Love gave to me..

Twelve authors at the library.
An author to visit the library every month of the year would be a wonderful gift to receive. It would be the best illustration of how the written word and libraries have been and always will be a great partnership. A marriage made in heaven so to speak.

Here's a wish that every library receives at least one of the items from the library's Twelve Days of Christmas. If your library's twelve days would be filled with different items, don't be shy about sending in suggestions.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas Favorites Old and New!

The season would not be complete without making a list of wonderful stories that warm the heart of every person who has made Christmas wishes. There are a ton of books that try to capture the spirit of Christmas but not all pass the test of conveying the message of the season. Adult readers may remember Christmas favorites such as The Christmas Jar. Even Mike Huckabee and Glenn Beck have tried their hands at sharing sentimental Christmas stories. There is something different about children's books that make the holiday that much more special. (Perhaps that is why Beck's and Huckabee's book were published in picture book form.) it may be that the illustrators create such memorable works of arts that pull the reader right into the story. The authors play a huge role to with the gift of storytelling that can entertain readers of all ages. It's that combination that must be present for the book to continue to be read year after year. In honor of he 25 days of Christmas, here are 25 titles that will "wow" any library crowd or bedtime readers.

1. Snowed Under and other Christmas Confusions Serge Bloch
By far one of the most original Christmas books to come along in a long time. It's a hilarious look at figures of speech that can make a youngster believe that someone who is snowed under is frankly quite cold and trying to get out from under a snowy mound. Pictures are simple and fun.

2. Gift of the Magi O'Henry
Timeless tale that should be read to every child. There are many versions of this book with beautiful illustrations that capture the story's message of love and sacrifice.

3. Christmas Lighthouse Toni Bozzeo
Inspired by the Fly Santa Program, which is a New England Tradition since 1929, this tale reminds readers that Christmas are always brighter when shared with loved ones.

4. Jingle the Christmas Clown Tomie de Paola
No one can weave a wonderful story quite like Tomie de Paola. The rich Italian culture shines through this folk tale that will inspire even the littlest of hearts.

5. The Christmas Magic Lauren Thompson
Perfect book for Christmas Eve at bedtime. Santa's preparation for his midnight ride is told in details. From feeding his reindeers, to waxing the sleigh and finally the magic ride across the sky.

6. There Was No Snow on Christmas Eve Pamela Munoz Ryan
Beautifully written and illustrated retelling of the Nativity story which reminds children that for the new born babe did not shiver in the cold snow. Rather, he laid in an open manger and felt the desert air brush against his cheeks.

7. The Littlest Angel Charles Tazewell
A classic tale of a cherub who in size was the tiniest of all the angels, but his gift to the newborn King was greater than anyone could have ever given. Timeless.

8. Who is Coming to Our House? Joseph Slate
All the animals in the stable are getting ready for a very special visitor.

9. Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story Sally Lloyd - Jones
Heaven and Nature sang on the night the Babe named Jesus was born. Their hymn "Its Time! Its Time!" Not every ear heard the chorus but every eye was able to see the night sky dazzle with the brightest of stars.

10. Bear Stays Up For Christmas Karma Wilson
Its hard to be a bear at Christmas. This is the time of year when all bears hibernate for the Winter. Bear makes a decision that this will be the Christmas he will not miss.

11. A Pirate's Night Before Christmas Phillip Yates
This book is definitely for the buccaneer who dreams of adventure, the high seas and of course, a treasure map.

12. The Grinch Who Stole Christmas Dr. Suess
If this book is not read at Christmas then it might as well cancel the tree trimming parties, the holiday dinners and other celebrations. Grinch has become a huge part of Christmas traditions that without him, everything loses its magical touch.

13. Cobweb Christmas Shirley Climo
One Christmas Eve, Tante comes to realize that everyone, even the tiniest spider, wants to be a part of Christmas.

14. The Polar Express Chris Van Allsberg
Michigan author, Chris Van Allsberg takes children on a magical train ride to be with Santa at the North Pole on Christmas Eve. A very wonderful and powerful reminder that Santa is real for all those who believe.

15. A Wish To Be A Christmas Tree Colleen Monroe
A lonely fir's only wish seems like it will never come true. The woodland animals come together to help Fir become the most beautiful Christmas Tree in the forest.

16. Mistletoe David McPhail
A young girl's request from Santa seems to have been misunderstood. Instead of a real pony, she receives a rocking horse. Disappointed at first, the little girl goes back to sleep. In her imagination she sees herself riding the "pretend" pony, whom she names Mistletoe, and going on wonderful adventures. Turns out that Santa knew what she wanted all along.

17. The Christmas Box Eve Merriam
A whimsical story of a large family who awake on Christmas morning to find only one large present under the tree. Who is it for? Everyone! Inside the box is a gift that is perfect for each family member.

18. This is the Star Joyce Dunbar
Done to the rhyme of "This is the House that Jack Built". A unique retelling of the nativity story.

19.Home For Christmas Jan Brett
Just as de Paolo brings Italy to young readers, Brett brings the beautiful Scandinavian landscape for young eyes to feast upon. Little Rollo is not happy at home because of the chores he must complete. Off he goes to runaway and never come back. He soon finds out that there really is no place like home. In the nick of time, he makes it home for Christmas.

20. On Christmas Eve Liz Rosenberg
A modern day tale of a family's plans for Christmas take a turn for the worse when weather prevents them from reaching their holiday destination. How will Santa find them? Not to worry, Santa has a way of finding every good little boy or girl, where ever they roam.

21. Bearer of Gifts Kenneth C. Steven
A tale of a simple carpenter followed a star in the sky that led him to the babe in the Manger. From the moment he meets Jesus, the carpenter's life is changed. In a miraculous minute his clothes are transformed to a red suit that everyone recognizes today.

22. The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey Susan Woiciechowski
A lonely woodcarver who lives on the edge of town and has lost his wife and child, finds no joy in life One day he receives a request from a widow and her son. Reluctantly he agrees to help them. In the process, he finds the miracle of life and Christmas is that joy can return after a tragic loss.

23. The Little Fir Tree Margaret Wise Brown
A beautiful story of Christmas traditions that can be broken because of small miracles in a family's life. A sweet story about love, family and the Christmas spirit.

24. The Christmas Tree Ship Carole Crane
Inspired by true events of the little schooner carrying up to 5,000 trees. The trees are on their way to Chicago from Northern Michigan. The Captain of the Rouse Simmons, aka the Christmas Tree Ship, would sell the Christmas trees or give them away to needy families.

25. Snowmen at Christmas Caralyn Buehner
This light hearted tale reveals the mystery of what Snowmen do on Christmas night.

These books are sure to delight many readers. Yet, there may be some that may not have made the list of twenty-five. Any suggestions of new or old titles would be welcomed. After all, favorite books were meant to be shared.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Librarians To The Rescue

The Librarians as heroes who gallantly come in the nick of time to save the day is hardly an overused theme in movies, literature or other art forms. Maybe its time to change that. After all, there is a librarian action figure doll that has caused some librarians to groan. Why? Perhaps, it's becasue she looked too much like the "sterotypical" librarian. Bun in her hair. Practical low-heeled shoes with plain blue business suit. Of course, there is the reading glasses to make the look complete. (The model for this doll is Nancy Pearl, who is a librarian in "real" life.) Her weapon of choice: The Dewey Decimal System combined with a push button Shusher action that is out of this world. What's not to love? For the librarians who embraced this doll, which has been out now for years, it is a fun reminder that what we do everyday can change lives. Maybe one day we will all be able to don on a red cape and go out to save the world.

Librarians can have some comfort in knowing that there are books, and films which place librarians in a hero's light. (No, the Music Man is not one of the films in mind, but having said that, the movie is wonderful.) For example, Kellogg's The Mysterious Tadpole is a wonderful tale of a young boy who needs to find a good place for his ever growing tadpole. To whome does he turn to for help? The librarian at his public library. After dutifully researching the tadpole's origin and background, she found that the tadpole was related to the Loch Ness Monster. Nothing can be done but have a fundraiser to help build a pool for the tadpole.

For a real "super" strength hero-librarian, look no further than Library Lil by Suzanne Williams. This wonderful book published in 1997 tells of a little girl who has always wanted to be a librarian. She smart, strong and knows how to balance a stack of encyclopedias in one hand while reading a volume in her hand, using her teeth to turn the pages. How tough is she really? Tougher than the moter cycle crowd who think reading is for "lily-livered cowards." She's a true librarian at heart when she teaches the leader of the biker group to be a library assistant. Now that's quite an accomplishment that not many librarians may be able to achieve. (However, there is at least one librarian who pens a blog who is trying on a new cape as this posting is being typed.)

Noah Wyle (of ER fame) starred in the film The Librarian. His character Flynn Carsen applies for the position because he likes to learn and belives that a librarian's job is well suited to fill that need. However, what he comes to find out, once employed by the Metropolitan Public Library, is that the job entails protecting famous historical and magical items. It's kind of like an Indian Jones of the library world. This could be used as a tool to entice new blood into the field, but it may be a tad misleading. On any given day, in public libraries around the world, librarians do protect the most important historical and magical items of all time: the written word. How noble!

However, as we get our sites back down to earth, two titles to consider that show how librarians really have an impact on the lives of children is Mora's Tomas and the Library Lady and Winter's Biblioburro: A true Story From Columbia. In Mora's book, Tomas' family are migrant workers who never stay in one place for very long. Fortunately for Tomas, he discovers the local public library and the helpful librarian that enables him to discover a whole new world. Luis Soriano's true story is in Winter's book. What Soriano did for a Columibian communityis equivalent to Bookmobies going to urban areas that do not have access to libraries. Both tales inspire to reach out to help those who do not know the magic of books.