Tuesday, September 27, 2011

“All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome” at Lake County Library

Cover image: All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome

In my column a couple of weeks ago, I wrote about placing an interlibrary loan request for “All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome” by Kathy Hoopmann. At the time, the book was unavailable in the Lake County Library and its cooperative partnering libraries.

A person named Geoffrey brought a copy of the book to the newspaper office, with instructions that it be donated to the local library. I entrusted it to our library Director Susan Clayton and as of Saturday, I located it in the online catalog. The book will be shelved under 618.92 among juvenile non-fiction in the Lakeport Library.

As of my viewing, the book had already been checked out and had one hold placed against it. Thank you Geoffrey, I think this book will be a wonderful addition to our library.

Published Sept. 27, 2012 in the Lake County Record-Bee

Read a banned book this week

Banned Books Week began Saturday and is being observed through this coming Saturday. As a lifetime reader and more recently as a library volunteer, I welcome this occasion every year to think about the effects of censorship.

My church library had some books mysteriously vanish but the books were later replaced thanks to a generous donation by United Christian Parish.


The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) records book challenges that are reported to it. From these, it compiles its annual list of most-frequently challenged books.


For 2010, the most-frequently challenged books are:

  1. “And Tango Makes Three” by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson;
  2. “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie; 
  3. “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley;
  4. “Crank” by Ellen Hopkins;
  5. “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins;
  6. “Lush” by Natasha Friend;
  7. “What My Mother Doesn't Know” by Sonya Sones;
  8. “Nickel and Dimed” by Barbara Ehrenreich;
  9. “Revolutionary Voices,” edited by Amy Sonnie; and 
  10. “Twilight” by Stephenie Meyer.
The OIF has recorded more than 10,000 book challenges since 1990, according to a sample “Letter to the Editor” posted on its website. The OIF estimates that less than one-quarter of challenges are reported and recorded.

People who challenge books may think they have helpful intentions, but the removal of books is an overtly aggressive act. To quote again from the sample opinion column, “Censorship denies our freedom as individuals to choose and think for ourselves.”


In the OIF’s own words, “Intellectual freedom — the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular — provides the foundation for Banned Books Week (BBW).  BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.


“The books featured during Banned Books Week have been targets of attempted bannings,” according to the OIF. “Fortunately, while some books were banned or restricted, in a majority of cases the books were not banned, all thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, booksellers and members of the community to retain the books in the library collections.”


In observance of Banned Books Week, consider reading a book that has been the subject of attempted challenges. There are a number of really good books, both classic and contemporary, on the OIF’s compiled lists.


Look for displays of banned books at a public library. Readers can also find out more online at www.ala.org/bbooks or www.facebook.com/bannedbooksweek.


Published Sept. 27, 2011 in the Lake County Record-Bee

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New Middletown library breaks ground

The Middletown library groundbreaking on Wednesday was very welcome news to this library volunteer.
Each week that I shelve books presents me with an interesting challenge to fit the library’s inventory into its finite space.

Middletown has outgrown its community library. The library collection has expanded and evolved to keep pace with the information needs of the members of its community.

Our library shares resources between branches among a three-county system of Mendocino, Sonoma and Lake. Several times a day staff at the various libraries are pulling hold requests.

But as steadily as books leave the Middletown library to fulfill patrons’ needs, others as steadily return.
I never know from week-to-week whether the number of books that have left the library exceed the number that have come back. But I think it contributes to the ease with which I can find — or not find — space to fit books on the shelves.

Sometimes the shelves are packed to capacity so I set the returns into a pile as neatly as I can so that they will be ready for shelving when space becomes available.

Last week while I shelved, I looked with Gehlen Palmer, the Middletown library director, out the window at the open field across Highway 29 from the library. For as long as he’d worked there, Palmer said, he believed that space would be the perfect place for a Middletown library.

On Wednesday, Lake County took its first tangible steps toward making that dream a reality. Now, it seems as though each day when I ride past the site on the bus, there is a growing collection of large machinery parked on that open field.

These are pretty exciting developments!

The new Middletown Senior Center and Library complex will be located at 21256 Washington St. between Douglas and Callayomi streets in Middletown. According to the County of Lake, the new dual-use facility will comprise 12,377 square feet of space that includes a 4,400-square-foot senior center, a 5,450-square-foot public library and a 2,527-square-foot common area. The complex will provide a new home for the Middletown library and the existing senior center operated by Middletown Seniors, Inc.

To give readers an idea of how much more space will be available to these two entities, the existing Middletown library is 1,790 square feet and the existing senior center is 2,100 square feet.

I would like to acknowledge the history of the Chauncey W. Gibson Library, as it was compiled by Jan Cook. The Middletown branch library was originally dedicated in May 1929. It was named to honor an Oakland resident who first donated a large number of books and then funded construction of a permanent building for Middletown’s first library.

According to Cook’s history, Gibson made his offer on the condition that Middletown’s citizens would provide the land. The complete history was published in Fall 2009 issue of Booknotes, a newsletter for the Friends of the Lake County Library.

The Gibson library is a beautiful building that has served Middletown well. It justly honors a man whose generosity enhanced the lives of Middletown residents. There is no shame to this building that it has become too small to meet the community’s growing information needs.

I really look forward to shelving returned books in our new Middletown library. What a relief it will be to know that there is room on its shelves for our library collection to expand.

Published Sept. 20, 2011 in the Lake County Record-Bee

Monday, September 19, 2011

‘The Son of Neptune’

Book cover: "The Son of Neptune" by Rick Riordan
The Son of Neptune is the second book in Rick Riordan’s series Heroes of Olympus. If you read the original series, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, or saw the film “The Lightning Thief,” you were introduced to the Greek gods and their demigod offspring.

This new series introduces readers to the gods in their Roman aspects. The members of Camp Halfblood learn that there is another group of demigods, children of the Roman gods, who have historically been the enemies/rivals of the children of Greek gods. For that reason each camp has been kept ignorant of the existence of the other.

Originally posted on Facebook

Thursday, September 15, 2011

EqUUal Access: Accessibility guidelines

The Accessibility Banner consists of a dancing chalice surrounded by six accessibility symbols: a wheelchair, signing hands, a brain, an ear, a Braille symbol and a person walking with a cane. The dancing figure was chosen because it symbolizes how we could all 'dance' if there were full accessibility for all. The surrounding double circles symbolize Unitarianism and Universalism. The heading words 'Accessible and Welcoming to All' are in an italic font to suggest or hint at the dancing theme.
EqUUal Access has prepared Accessibility Guidelines for Unitarian Universalist Congregations, which were approved Sept. 7 by the EqUUal Access Board. EqUUal Access promotes equality and access for Unitarian Universalists with disabilities.

I served on the policy committee that generated this document. Full inclusion and participation is of personal significance to me and the EqUUal Access policy committee offered a chance to act on this conviction.

From Rev. Barbara F. Meyers, writing at the EqUUal Access blog: “Policy Committee member Cynthia Parkhill wrote the section on Advocacy, and also pointed out that the needs of people using a printed copy of the document were different from those using an on-line copy. This resulted in having two different versions, one for print and one for online use.”

The purpose of the guidelines, according to EqUUal Access, is to address the “inclusion of all people (whatever their ability may be) in activities and physical accessibility to facilities of the Unitarian Universalist Association and its member congregations.

“It is the goal of this document that our religious institutions, the UUA and every Unitarian Universalist congregation become not only fully accessible under the law, but take the next step to truly welcome people with disabilities, and integrate people with disabilities into every facet of UU religious life.”

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

‘Little Free Libraries Are Coming to Town’

"Little Free Library," birdhouse structure filled with books
Source: Little Free Library

As reported by Michael Kelley in Library Journal and summarized on Utne.com, Rick Brooks and Todd Bol are on a mission to top Andrew Carnegie’s 2,509 libraries.
“The diminutive, birdhouse-like libraries, which Brooks and Bol began installing in Hudson and Madison, Wisconsin, in 2009, are typically made of wood and Plexiglas and are designed to hold about 20 books for community members to borrow and enjoy. Offerings include anything from Russian novels and gardening guides to French cookbooks and Dr. Seuss.” 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Interlibrary loan expands resources

As a patron of Lake County Library, I have the combined catalogs of Lake, Mendocino and Sonoma counties available to me. Lake County is additionally part of the North Bay Cooperative Library System, which allows me access to the holdings of Napa, Solano and Marin county libraries. Public and community college libraries alike are represented by the cooperative.

I access the "SuperSearch" telnet connection via a link accessible from the Lake County Library’s online public access catalog.

With so many libraries’ holdings available to me, it is not often that a book is unavailable either through the domestic catalog or through the North Bay cooperative.

The delightful picture book, "All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome," by Kathy Hoopmann, is one such book not readily available.
To obtain the book through Interlibrary Loan (ILL), I began by looking it up via Worldcat.org. It allowed me to sort my results by distance from my location and I thought this information might be useful to staff at the Lake County Library when placing my ILL.

As it turned out, however, Jan Cook, the library technician who handles ILL, had to look it up for herself as part of the process of placing an ILL. I paid a visit on Aug. 19 to request my ILL.

Cook used an Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) interface available to the Lake County Library. It accesses the same online database as Worldcat.org but is designed for use by library staff. As Cook explained to me, "It’s like looking through two different windows to see the same thing."

The OCLC results displayed which libraries had the book and whether its status permitted borrowing. Cook selected four or five libraries as potential suppliers for my book.

I asked what would happen if all of the libraries attempted to supply the request but Cook said only one library would be given the request at a time. OCLC would wait a few days and if that library didn’t respond, that request would expire and OCLC would send a request to the next library in the queue.

I was able to designate which branch of the library to arrange pick-up at, same as I would when placing holds through our catalog or through "SuperSearch."

I place "SuperSearch" holds regularly online, when an item is not in our domestic catalog. Because I’ve found so much available through the domestic catalog and through the North Bay cooperative, I’ve not pursued ILL requests with libraries outside the area.

My one prior experience was to request newspapers on microfilm from a library in Madison, Wis. The request was placed through an in-person visit to the Lake County Library. Once the microfilmed newspapers arrived, I used the microfilm reader on-site.
I think that ILL is a valuable resource, whether among member libraries of a shared catalog system or cooperative or between libraries in a larger geographic area. The books usually take longer to arrive when ordered via ILL, but I think the wait is worth it.

Even though our combined library catalog and our cooperative membership gives me access to so many materials, it is nice to know that ILL can make so many more resources available.

Published Sept. 13, 2011 in the Lake County Record-Bee. A version of this was compiled for Cuesta College LIBT 105, Library/Information Center Collections.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

‘Libraries and Autism: We’re Connected’

Logo: Libraries and Autism: We're Connected
Libraries and Autism: We’re Connected
Scotch Plains Public Library and the Fanwood Memorial Library, with their partners, created “Libraries and Autism: We’re Connected” in 2008. It offers a video and online resources with recommendations for best practices. I particularly like the statement about “using individuals on the spectrum and with other developmental disabilities as staff and volunteers in the library.”