Friday, January 28, 2011

‘Farm City’ by Novella Carpenter

Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter (Penguin Press, 2009) is this year’s “common read” for Cuesta College, the school where I’m taking my (distance-ed) courses in Library and Information Science.

It’s an interesting dichotomy, to live in such a strongly agricultural area and read about everything the author went through to create a farm out of a vacant lot in Oakland.

Posted to the Facebook page of the Lake County Library

Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story

The UUCLC Lending Library’s Book of the Month for February 2011 is “Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story” by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Stride Toward Freedom” tells the classic story of nonviolent resistance in America, the Montgomery bus boycott — the first successful large-scale application of nonviolence resistance in America.

King described his book as “the chronicle of fifty thousand Negroes who took to heart the principles of nonviolence, who learned to fight for their rights with the weapon of love, and who, in the process, acquired a new estimate of their own human worth.” It traces the phenomenal journey of a community, and shows how the 26-year-old King, with his conviction for equality and nonviolence, helped transformed the nation and the world.

 “Stride Toward Freedom” was released through “The King Legacy,” a partnership between Beacon Press and the Estate of Martin Luther King Jr. Beacon Press is printing new editions of previously published King titles and is compiling King’s writings, sermons, orations, lectures and prayers into entirely new editions that include significant new introductions by leading scholars.

This partnership brings together the legacy of one of the most important civil rights and social justice leaders in the world with one of the oldest and most respected independent publishing houses in America.

 Look for this book by King with other titles in the UUCLC Lending Library. Look for the portable library cart in the sanctuary on Sundays.

Cynthia Parkhill
UUCLC Lending Library
February 2011

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Library purchasing recommendation: Dark’s Tale by Deborah Grabien

Book cover: Dark's Tale by Deborah Grabien
The purpose of this paper is to recommend the inclusion of Dark’s Tale by Deborah Grabien in the inventory of the Morro Bay Library and, through it, the San Luis Obispo and Black Gold Cooperative library systems. A keyword search confirmed that this book is not already among its holdings.

Dark’s Tale is Grabien’s 13th published novel ― but her first book for a non-adult readership (Hackett). School Library Journal places the book’s readership at grades four to seven (Jonker).

Other books by Grabien include While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Rock & Roll Never Forgets and London Calling (Kinkaid Chronicles) and a series of mysteries featuring the ghosts of characters from folk ballads: Cruel Sister, The Famous Flower of Serving Men, Matty Groves, New-Slain Knight and The Weaver and the Factory Maid (Grabien, Home page) among others.

Morro Bay Library is part of the San Luis Obispo County Library, “which operates 15 libraries throughout the County [that] provide a wide array of services and programs for children, teens and adults” (San Luis Obispo County). Children’s storytimes are offered at 10 a.m. Thursdays at the Morro Bay Library (San Luis Obispo County Library).

Among a school-age population who would be potential readers for this book are 303 students at Del Mar Elementary School and 240 students at Morro Bay High School (

Morro Bay Friends of the Library encourages children’s library involvement, offering one free child’s book from its Friends sales shelf with a child’s Friends membership (Morro Bay Friends of the Library 9).

Morro Bay is additionally part of the Black Gold Cooperative Library System, which encompasses Blanchard/Santa Paula, Lompoc, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Santa Maria library systems (Black Gold Cooperative Library System).

Dark’s Tale is the story of a cat who has been abandoned in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. The arrival of coyotes threatens Dark’s survival and that of every other animal in the park.

“Pulling elements of the story from her real-life experiences with cat rescue, Grabien touches on some animal-rights themes, leaving them open-ended for readers to consider” (Jonker).

A Booklist review observes that two human characters “occasionally serve as mouthpieces for the author’s views,” which the reviewer believes breaks the flow of the narrative (Phelan). Grabien acknowledges in a Cat Fancy interview that Dark’s Tale was inspired by her husband’s and her experience feeding feral cat colonies and by the incursion of coyotes into Golden Gate Park (Hackett). Grabien also discusses these experiences in an afterward to her book (Grabien, Dark’s Tale).

Grabien admits during the interview that the most difficult part of writing her book was “Trying to tone down how furious I was at how the situation with the coyotes was handled by the local animal control department and city officials” (Hackett).

However, having read Grabien’s book, I do not agree that viewpoints expressed by human characters detract from the story’s narrative. To my thinking, city policies in regard to park management have a direct bearing upon Dark’s existence in Golden Gate Park. These concerns are quite reasonably on the minds of the humans who feed Dark and the other animals.

The School Library Journal review identifies an audience for this book among fans of Erin Hunter’s Warriors series (Jonker), as did publicity that accompanied my promotional copy of the book.

Having read and enjoyed Hunter’s series, I agree with the assessment. I further observed that Night Whispers, book No. 3 in Hunter’s Warriors: Omen of the Stars, currently has 12 holds placed against eight available copies in the Black Gold Cooperative Library System.

In summary, because of its ready-made audience among Hunter’s Warriors fans, as well as because of a compelling story that is worth reading in its own right, the addition of Dark’s Tale to the Morro Bay Library inventory would enhance the holdings of the San Luis Obispo County Library and the entire cooperative system.

Works Cited

  • Black Gold Cooperative Library System. Welcome to the Black Gold Cooperative Library System. Web. 22 Jan. 2011.
  • Morro Bay, California. Web. 22 Jan. 2011.
  • Grabien, Deborah. Dark’s Tale. Uncorrected bound proof. New York: Egmont USA, 2010. Print.
  • Grabien, Deborah. Home page. Deborah Grabien. Web. 22 Jan. 2011.
  • Hackett, Stacey N. “Catch Up With Author Deborah Grabien.” Cat Fancy Sept. 2010. Web. 22 Jan. 2011.
  • Jonker, Travis. Rev. of Dark’s Tale, by Deborah Grabien. School Library Journal 1 May 2010. Web. 22 Jan. 2011.
  • Morro Bay Friends of the Library. “Junior Membership Application.” Among Friends: Morro Bay Friends of the Library Newsletter Winter 2011: 9. Web. 22 Jan. 2011.
  • Phelan, Carolyn. Rev. of Dark’s Tale, by Deborah Grabien. Booklist 1 March 2010. Web. 22 Jan. 2011.
  • San Luis Obispo County. 2010 Annual Report: 34. Web. 22 Jan. 2011.
  • San Luis Obispo County Library. Children’s Programs. Web. 22 Jan. 2011.

Compiled for Cuesta College LIBT 105, Library/Information Center Collections

Friday, January 14, 2011

Second semester at Cuesta College

I'm really looking forward to the beginning of class. I'm taking three courses this spring, two of which are one-unit courses that last for half a semester. So I will have two courses in progress at any one time this spring, beginning on Jan. 18.

First up are LIBT 102, Introduction to Web Technology, and LIBT 105, Library/Information Center Collections. I have my textbooks for both of these classes. I still need to buy a textbook for LIBT 212, Research Skills, which begins March 21.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Facebook commenting on Record-Bee web site

The Lake County Record-Bee recently introduced a new article commenting system on its web site, Commenting is enabled via Facebook, the social networking site, and requires a Facebook account. The Record-Bee published the following information to explain Facebook commenting.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Cats (and people) are not defective dogs

Book cover: 100 Thing Challenge by Dave Bruno
In what has earned my pick for the worst beginning to a book, Dave Bruno risks alienating a sizable portion of his readership in "The 100 Thing Challenge" (Harper, 2010).

The book arrived in our newsroom just in time for the New Year's holiday with its accompanying focus on new year's resolutions. In his book, Bruno documents his effort to reduce the number of his personal possessions to an even 100.

With his preface, Bruno sets the scene for his "contented middle-class lifestyle." All well and good so far -- until he brings up the subject of the cat that "we have living with us."

Unlike his dog, whose faithfulness Bruno praises, he says cats have their own agenda. To which I respond,  "You say that like it's a bad thing."

Bruno claims that no one ever equates cats with being a part of the "good life." He repeatedly stresses that pet cats  are replaceable.

There is no other word than  "whomperjawed," coined by my heroine Molly Ivins, to describe my reaction to these statements. Setting aside the possibility that Bruno will alienate lovers of cats, what do these statements even have to do with the subject of his book?