Monday, November 3, 2003

Middletown library denied funding

The second round of library construction grants have been awarded, and Middletown Library did not make the cut. But proponents are already planning ahead in preparation for the application deadline of Jan. 16, 2004 for a final opportunity at funding.

The process was very competitive," said District 1 Supervisor Ed Robey who attended Tuesday's meeting of the California Public Library Construction and Renovation Board with Middletown School Superintendent Robert Gomez and school board President Dauna Elledge-Burns. "Lake County's application was average, but it was not exceptional."

County Librarian Kathleen Jansen was likewise pragmatic. "On Saturday morning, the state posted project rankings, and we were within the 'acceptable' range. You kind of knew we probably wouldn't get it."

The board considered 66 applications for state matching grants to fund library construction projects in California, eventually awarding a total of $108.2 million to 16 projects.

In rendering its decision, the board considered findings by the Office of Library Construction Staff, individual application summaries and three hours of public testimony by approximately 100 individuals.

Robey said that part of the problem with preparing an application was that everybody involved is busy with full-time responsibilities. "I think we need to spend a little money on a professional grant writer," he added. "A lot of people in Sacramento were people who didn't get funded the first time, and that was exactly what they had done this time around."

Tuesday's awards represent the second cycle of Library Bond Act funding, money raised through the passage of Proposition 14 in March of 2000. The California Reading and Literacy Improvement and Public Library Construction and Renovation Bond Act designated a total of $350 million in funding, to be distributed during three funding cycles.

During the second funding cycle, the board received approximately $550 million in requests and it awarded just under its funding cycle limit of $110 million. "People were saying this just goes to show how competitive this is and how badly they need another library bond," Robey observed.

More information about library construction funding can be found on the Web site of the Office of Library Construction, www.olc. library .ca.gov/. Allocation of remaining funds will take place some time in the summer or fall of 2004.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

Library construction funds to be awarded Tuesday

The California Public Library Construction and Renovation Board will evaluate applications and award construction grants, 1 p.m. this Tuesday, Oct. 28.

It is then that proponents of a new Middletown Library will know whether or not they have the money they need to proceed with construction.

District 1 Supervisor Ed Robey has organized a vanload of people to travel to Sacramento and lobby on the project's behalf. On Wednesday, Robey indicated that attendees will include Middletown School Superintendent Robert Gomez and school board President Dauna Elledge-Burns. The meeting takes place in the Central Valley Room, on the second floor of the CalEPA Building, 1001 I St. in Sacramento.

Tuesday's awards represent the second cycle of Library Bond Act funding, money raised through the passage of Proposition 14 in March of 2000. The California Reading and Literacy Improvement and Public Library Construction and Renovation Bond Act designated a total of $350 million in funding, to be distributed during three funding cycles.

The grant process is highly competitive. From an available pot of $110 million, 66 agencies have asked for a total of $547 million. When allocating these funds, the state gives first priority to joint-use projects between the operating agency and one or more school districts. The County of Lake is partnering with the Middletown Unified School District to create a combined public and high school library .

Tuesday's meeting includes a welcome and introductory remarks by Dr. Kevin Starr, state librarian of California. The agenda also includes opportunity for making public comment.

Second-cycle grant awards are scheduled for Tuesday's meeting. If the county's application is unsuccessful, the bond's final funding cycle has a deadline of Jan. 16, 2004.

Originally published in the Clear Lake Observer American

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Library board issues annual report

The Lake County Library 's application for library construction funding is one of 66 projects declared eligible by the Office of Library Construction (OLC, www.olc. library .ca.gov/).

The Lake County Library has requested $1.8 million in funding for the construction of a new library in downtown Middletown. The library would be a joint use project with the Middletown Unified School District to serve both the public and Middletown High School.

The California Public Library Construction and Renovation Board will meet at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 28 in Sacramento. At this time, it will deliberate and make grant award decisions for the second cycle of Library Bond Act funding. The grant process is highly competitive, with 66 agencies asking for $547 million in funding from an available pot of $110 million. District 1 Supervisor Ed Robey is organizing a vanload of people to attend the meeting and lobby for the OLC's support.

An update on the Middletown Library project was included in the Library Advisory Board's annual report to the Lake County Board of Supervisors. County Librarian Kathleen Jansen delivered it to the board on Tuesday, Sept. 16.

"A long time dream of the community for a new Middletown Library is becoming a little closer to reality," the report states, adding that Lake County has purchased land across the street from the high school and that preliminary plans have been drawn.

One of the biggest changes to the library system this year is that it now has its own Web site, www.co.lake.ca.us/ library /. In addition, the library has purchased subscriptions to the Ebsco, ProQuest and Galenet databases -- for periodicals, newspapers and for biographies, literary criticism and other references sources respectively. "Galenet is kind of nice for students in particular," Jansen said.

Databases can be accessed from the county's Web site by typing in your library card barcode number.

The Lake County Library 's circulation figures for the 2002-2003 Fiscal Year include:

  • Lakeport -- 90,597;
  • Redbud -- 50,000; 
  • Middletown -- 13,216; and
  • Upper Lake -- 8,628.

Since September of 2001, Lake County has been connected to the Dynix automation system, which links it to Sonoma and Mendocino County libraries. According to the report, the number of books the library system loaned out-of-county has continued to increase.

During Fiscal Year 2002-2003, Lake County Library lent 32,662 volumes, compared to 14,873 books lent during the preceding year. It received 17,513 volumes this past fiscal year from branches outside of Lake County, compared to 9,723 volumes the previous year.

Originally published in the Clear Lake Observer American

Saturday, August 2, 2003

‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’

Book cover: "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" by J.K. Rowling
Here’s what I knew when I started this book: that someone close to Harry would die. And that at some point within the book’s 870 pages, Dumbledore would tell him, “Sit down, Harry. I’m going to tell you everything.”

It would’ve been hard to miss the hype leading up to the June 21 release date of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Scholastic, 2003). Long before the date was made known, author J.K. Rowling and the fifth book in her best-selling series have been regular topics of discussion in nearly all news media. And the maddeningly few details we were allowed to know ahead of time have been endlessly repeated and speculated upon.

To begin with, we waited for more than two years for Rowling to deliver a manuscript to her publisher. Speculation ran amuck that Rowling was suffering from writer’s block. The details of her personal life – her purchasing a castle, her new marriage and her new baby – were all up for grabs by an inquiring public.

Once the manuscript was delivered, of course, the hype went into overdrive. There were those tantalizing clues that went for more than $45,000 at a Book Aid International benefit auction. There was the book’s $29.99 price tag, the highest to date for a hardcover children’s book. And to top it off, there was the matter of that death that we knew would come.

So after all that hype, is the fifth book worth it? The answer is a definite, resounding, yes! I don’t think I’m engaging in hyperbole when I say this series is possibly the biggest thing to happen to children’s literature in a very long time, if ever.

These books have transcended their primarily juvenile target audience to bring an increasing number of adults into the fold. As for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, it is an exciting and fast-paced story. If Book 4 marked a turning point in the seven-book series, then Book 5 builds upon its themes and explores their implications for the wizarding society that forms a backdrop to Harry’s story.

With the news of Lord Voldemort’s return, factions have developed among members of the wizarding community. The Ministry of Magic, which seems as hopelessly mired in bureaucracy as anyone’s worst muggle government nightmare, has taken an official position opposing the warnings of Headmaster Albus Dumbledore. The ministry installs a particularly loathsome “High Inquisitor” at Hogwarts, who makes sweeping changes in curriculum and staffing.

The “Daily Prophet” (the witches’ and wizards’ mainstream newspaper) launches a non-stop smear campaign against Harry, who is the only living witness to Voldemort’s return.

After all, everyone knows that Voldemort is dead. He has not returned. Case closed, end of story.

On the other side of the conflict is a secret socity, “The Order of the Phoenix,” whose members opposed Voldemort the first time around. Now that Voldemort is back, the society regroups in preparation for the coming battle.

In the midst of this increasing turmoil, Harry and his schoolmates still have to go about the business of growing up. Now one year older, Hary has much more depth in keeping with his physical, emotional and mental development.

Rowling’s grasp of the maturing human psyche is uncanny when portraying her hero. Harry’s increased belief in his own abilities are beginning to chafe against the protective restrictions imposed by adults. The acting-out of these true-to-life growing pains prompted one unsympathetic muggle of a reviewer to dub Rowling’s creation “Harry Snotter.”

And then there’s the matter of that death. Harry will lose someone who is very close to him. And Harry will have to grieve.

It’s only to be expected that death will enter the picture at some point in a person’s life. And as my husband and I read this book – together, as we read many other books – we remarked to each other that Rowling is presenting an accurate depiction of what a person can expect to grapple with upon losing someone they love. In a way, she’s preparing her readers for the inevitable death of loved ones in their own life process. It’s almost as if she’s saying to her readers, “Here’s what you can expect to go through. You’re going to be sad. You’re going to be angry. You’re going to cling to any possibility that the person you love will come back.”

If you strip away all the magic and fantasy from Rowling’s books, what you’re left with is an intimate and knowing portrayal of the growing up process. In each volume of Rowling’s series, Harry ages one year. The themes he (and Rowling’s readers) are exposed to are increasingly complex. As a result, readers of the “Harry Potter” books are, quite literally, growing up with J.K. Rowling’s boy wizard.

To this reader, at least, they couldn’t be in better hands.

Saturday, May 31, 2003

Editor of Clear Lake Observer American

Effective tomorrow, I'm managing editor at the Clear Lake Observer American. Friday was my last day at the Lake County Record-Bee. I wrote as many stories for the paper as I could, and my co-workers gave me a fine send-off. Two cases of microwave popcorn were labeled as being from the Department of Homeland Security and from Cal Thomas, with the latter bearing the scratched-off name of Molly Ivins as its intended recipient.

Thursday, April 3, 2003

Anniversary at peace rally

Jonathan Donihue, a certified massage therapist at Dr. Wilkinson’s Spa, and Cynthia Parkhill, a 1986 graduate of Calistoga Junior/Senior High School, have been together 11 years. The couple’s anniversary, Feb. 16, 2003, coincided with a peace march and rally in San Francisco, allowing them to take part in something larger than themselves while commemorating their personal milestone.

Published April 3, 2003 in the Weekly Calistogan

Saturday, February 1, 2003

Book review: The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness and Peace by Jack Kornfield

Through his work as a Certified Massage Therapist, my husband Jonathan meets and corresponds with a variety of interesting people. One of them works for New York publisher Bantam Books, and she recently sent him advance reading copies of books by modern Buddhist authors.

One of the books is a brief little volume by Jack Kornfield, The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness and Peace (2002). After looking through the book, Jonathan told me it’s a perfect introduction to basic spiritual principles. Given his experience with religious and philosophical matters, I trust Jonathan’s opinion of Kornfield’s book.

“You hold in your hand an invitation,” Kornfield writes in his introduction. “To remember the transforming power/ of forgiveness and lovingkindness./ To remember that no matter/ where you are and what you face,/ within your heart peace is possible.”

The book was written shortly before the events of Sept. 11, 2001 and, in a brief dedication, Kornfield acknowledges the “tragic events of terrorism and war [that] swept over the United States and the world.

“May the eternal truths and practices offered here be dedicated to the benefit of all who have suffered,” Kornfield writes. “May all beings find a path to peace.”

The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness and Peace is divided into three sections, devoting itself in turn to each of these principles. Each section is then divided further -- into a set of quotations, reflections and stories illustrating the principle in question, and a collection of meditations to assist in incorporating that principle into the reader’s daily life.

The meditations begin by applying the principles of forgiveness, lovingkindness and peace to the familiar and the intimate -- oneself, one’s family and friends, for example. Then they expand to include areas that may be more difficult, such as extending forgiveness or wishing peace to one’s enemies.

One nice thing about this book is that it does not confine itself to any one ideology. Inspirational words from a variety of traditions find a home in its pages, and sometimes a thematic grouping of quotations illustrates the common ground that these traditions can have.

“The ancient words of Ecclesiastes remind us:

“To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven/ a time to be born and a time to die,/ a time to plant and a time to reap that which is planted,/ a time to kill and a time to heal,/ a time to break down and a time to build up,/ a time to weep and a time to laugh,/ a time to mourn and a time to dance.

“So, too, we are taught by the Tao:

“There is a time for being ahead,/ a time for being behind;/ a time for being in motion,/ a time for being at rest;/ a time for being vigorous, a time for being exhausted;/ a time for being safe,/ a time for being in danger.

“The Master sees things as they are,/ without trying to control them./ She lets them go their own way,/ and resides at the center of the circle.”

Another nice thing about this book is that in teaching about forgiveness, lovingkindness and peace, Kornfield acknowledges the human limitations that can stand in the way of achieving these principles -- in a way that is free of rebuke or condemnation.

“For some great pains you may not feel a release; instead you may experience again the burden and the anguish or the anger you have held,” Kornfield writes in the meditation on forgiveness. “Touch this softly. Be forgiving of yourself for not being ready to let go and move on. Forgiveness cannot be forced; it cannot be artificial.”

For readers who are having difficulty incorporating the principles of forgiveness, lovingkindness and peace, Kornfield offers supplemental practices intended to help in easing the transition. In the case of forgiveness, these supplemental practices are “letting go, grieving and reconciliation.”

Throughout the book, the reader is encouraged to listen to and trust his or her own feelings and intuition in determining where he or she may be in the process, and in identifying the barriers that stand in his or her way. Especially good for beginners but suitable for people at varying levels of spiritual awareness, The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness and Peace is a book that offers compassion, encouragement and support along each individual reader’s spiritual path.

Originally published Feb. 1, 2003 in the Lake County Record-Bee

Sunday, January 5, 2003

Recognized as ‘local book reviewer’

Yesterday I took a sackload of book donations down to Gehlen Palmer at the Middletown library. “It’s our local book reviwer!” a woman exclaimed as I arrived at the Middletown library.

True to form, I took a couple volumes away with me, purchased from off of the Friends of the Library shelf, and placed a hold on In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner.

Saturday’s Record-Bee contained my review of Architects of Peace: Visions of Hope in Words and Images by Michael Collopy. Next week’s featured title will be Chance Place by Frankie Schelly.