Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Imagination Library promotes literacy

First Five Mendocino recently announced a significant milestone: since April 2009 it has distributed more than 50,000 books free of charge to children ages 0 to 5 through its role as fiscal champion for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

Parton launched her Imagination Library in 1996, to benefit children in her home county in East Tennessee. According to www.imaginationlibrary.com/, Parton’s vision was “to foster a love of reading among her county’s preschool children and their families by providing them with the gift of a specially selected book each month. By mailing high quality, age-appropriate books directly to their homes, she wanted children to be excited about books and to feel the magic that books can create. Moreover, she could insure that every child would have books, regardless of their family’s income.”

According to the website, Imagination Library became so popular that in 2000, Parton announced that she would make the program available for replication to any community that was willing to partner with her to support it locally.

“Since the initial program launch in the United States, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has gone from just a few dozen books to nearly 40,000,000 books mailed to children in the United States, into Canada and across the proverbial pond into the United Kingdom.”

According to the website, more than 1,600 communities provide the Information Library to almost 700,000 children every month. One of these is Mendocino County thanks to the fiscal championship of First Five Mendocino County in partnership with the Mendocino County Public Library and the Community Foundation of Mendocino County. United Way of the Wine Country is serving as 2012 sponsor as are individual donors.

What a great program this would be, to be duplicated locally.

In an article published this week in the Ukiah Daily Journal, Americorps volunteer Pheriche Robinson cites studies that emphasize early and frequent exposure to the written word: “Children who are read to learn 250 percent more words than those who are not exposed to reading with their parents.”

Imagination Library would be an excellent supplement to our libraries’ preschool storytimes, which take place from 10:15 to 11 a.m. Fridays at the Lakeport Library and from 11 to 11:45 a.m. Thursdays at Redbud Library in Clearlake.

Imagination Library would bring age-appropriate books into Lake County children’s homes where they would be familiar and accessible things. I believe that I read as much as I do today because I grew up surrounded by books.

As explained by Robinson, within a few weeks time after a child’s parents have signed the child up, one book per month will be mailed to the child free of charge from the time of sign-up until the child reaches their fifth birthday.

Each book that is mailed costs $2.50 including postage thanks to Parton’s relationship with Penguin, USA.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library offers a variety of resources to help start a program locally, including a “personal trainer” or regional director. It also provides a step-by-step replication process.

For more information about Information Library visit www.imaginationlibrary.com/.

Published Jan. 31, 2012 in the Lake County Record-Bee

Monday, January 30, 2012

Library Day in the Life in northern California newsroom

An out-of-state caller to the Lake County Record-Bee has just learned the benefits of inter-library loan for viewing ’90s Lake County, Calif. newspapers during Library Day in the Life, Round 8. According to founder Bobbi Newman:
 “It’s a chance to share your day, or week, with other librarians and hopefully the public at large. It started when I come discovered someone had searched ‘What’s a librarian’s day like’ to find my blog so I wrote a blog post suggesting that other librarians and library workers blog what we do all day at work.  Then we (and maybe patrons) could see what we do all day. A second objective is to escape the library echo chamber where we’re talking to each other and reach others outside of libraries.
“People participate by sharing a day or week by writing blog posts, tweeting, creating videos and taking pictures. Last round there were just under 250 people signed up on the wiki. There were over 800 people participating via Twitter.  It has grown to be an international project with participants from the USA, Canada, Great Britain, Scotland, Ireland, Denmark, Netherlands, Finland, France, New Zealand, Australia, Taiwan and Singapore. Participants are from academic, public, college, special, school libraries, professional organizations and library vendors.”
This call to the newsroom would easily have been in character at a library reference desk. Invariably I suggest that out-of-county and out-of-state readers initiate inter-library loan via their local library with the Lake County Library system.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

New bowling high of 98

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

‘Trueman Bradley’ advocates, entertains

Cover art: “Trueman Bradley: Aspie Detective” by Alexei Maxim Russell (Jessica Kingsley Publishers) 

In my desire to curate a definitive collection of books for people on the autism spectrum, I enjoy learning of and reading new titles.

Among the books I recommend is a growing list of fiction in which the main character has Asperger’s syndrome. Because they focus upon the experiences of one or few primary characters, I think they best illustrate what I and others say who are on the spectrum: “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.”

“Trueman Bradley: Aspie Detective” combines detective fiction and fantasy to advocate for the abilities of people on the autism spectrum. It’s a welcome addition to my recommended stories that feature an Aspergian protagonist.

I enjoyed this book, which is written by Alexei Maxim Russell and is published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. It presents characteristics of Asperger’s syndrome as assets in a professional career. It uses dramatization to illustrate prejudice and misconceptions about people who are on the spectrum.

The protagonist, Trueman Bradley, has come to New York City in order to be a detective. He models himself after a detective he has read about in comic books.

I enjoyed the characterization of Bradley, especially the way he exhibits traits reminiscent of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic detective Sherlock Holmes — a character who struck me as Aspergian.

Bradley is unfamiliar with Holmes but he has followed a comic book detective, reading every issue of the Slam Bradley comic book series. He leaves his small town and comes to New York City because it is where the Slam Bradley adventures are set. He later models himself after Dick Tracy.

When people remind Bradley of characters from the detective comic books, he gives them the names of those characters.

The fantasy aspect of the book is Bradley’s invention of equations that can direct him to pieces of evidence, identify suspects and eliminate unpleasant surprises. He programs his equations into a Dick Tracy-style wrist TV.

Bradley’s literal interpretation of expressions is an ongoing recurrence and it is a characteristic I relate to. Even when someone uses an expression with which I am familiar, I often consciously have to process what is said in order to arrive at the meaning.

I would recommend this book to anyone who would like to combine an entertaining storyline with advocacy and positive role-modeling of a character with Asperger’s syndrome.

Disclosure of material connection: I received a review copy of this book.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Curated with Storify: World Book Night USA

One million books will be given away April 23, 2012 by 50,000 passionate readers. CEO Carl Lennertz makes a presentation during ALA Midwinter ’12.

Teen website recommendation: Youth Journalism International

My distance-ed class through Cuesta College, LIBT 118, engaged in a semester-long discussion of websites that library workers could recommend for teens:

Youth Journalism International values a free and open press. Its Jan. 18 posting urges readers to push back against proposals in Congress “that would restrict the net.”

YJI believes that “The key to a better world lies with global understanding and truthful, effective communication.”

“Founded by two veteran reporters, Youth Journalism International works with more than 200 students across the globe, ages 12 to 24.”

While teaching students about writing, press responsibility and ethics, YJI also helps them become world citizens. This website would be a good resource for empowering teens to create journalism and to develop a world view.

Yarn Bombing @ Your Library: ‘Support Libraries’

Cynthia M. Parkhill attaches a length of crocheted fabric reading "Support Libraries" to railing outside Santa Rosa downtown library at night.
Nighttime installation of “Support Libraries” crocheted tag 
at Sonoma County Library central library.

Feedback from Sonoma County Library on Facebook, Jan. 24, 2012: “The Sonoma County Library is honored to have the Yarn Bombers support! Thanks so much!”

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Susan Cain presentation during ALA Midwinter ’12

‘It's a Book’ by Lane Smith

I’m looking forward to seeing It’s a Book by Lane Smith (Roaring Brooks, 201) at our local libraries.

This is so hilarious, especially the instant-messaging translation from Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.

From the publisher’s summary: Two readers compare a print to digital media, and learn books are still valuable.

Originally posted to the Facebook page of the Lake County Library

Starfire as a kitten! With littermates!

Here's a picture Ariana Sivan posted to my wall. It's my precious Starfire and her littermates born April 6, 2009.

Originally posted on Facebook

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Yarn Bombing: Freehand crocheted message tag

Crocheted rectangular panel reading "Support Libraries" lengthwise, with several rows of crocheted mesh in progress along the top long edge. The piece is worked in yellow and the letters are in alternating burgundy and blue.
“Support Libraries” freehand crochet message tag
This project is based upon Masquerade’s “I Wasn’t Here” message tag, featured in Yarn Bombing by Mandy Moore and Leanne Prain except that instead of combining knit and crochet, it is made entirely in crochet. Instead of embroidering the message onto the finished tag, the letters are crocheted as the crafter goes along.

Target dimensions are seven inches wide by the necessary length.

The tag is designed to be stitched around a railing. The mesh allows the tag to stretch and compact to fit a variety of settings where the crafter was not able to obtain exact measurement.

I begin by crocheting the strip that will include the message. This portion of the tag is made with single-crochet.

When made with worsted-weight yarn, I cast on 14 chains, which gives me 13 stitches. I use a size I/9 hook.

The first four and last four stitches of each row are worked in the main color, giving me a solid colored border. This leaves five stitches in the center in which to alternate colors to form lettering.

Depending upon the weight of the yarn and size of crochet hook used, a crafter may be able to cast on more stitches and work in greater detail, but he or she should continue to aim for a one-inch letter height. If the letters are too large, they will wrap around the surface of the object to which the tag is attached.

The lettering was formed freehand directly into the crochet with the unused color being carried along on the wrong side of the work. I introduced each change in color when the last two loops of the stitch I was working on, were on the hook. I yarned-over with the new color and pulled it through the remaining loops.

If I didn't like how a letter looked I unraveled those rows and attempted the letter again. I used a row of solid color between each letter and three rows between separate words.

After the message portion was created, I made a row of single-crochet along one long-end of the tag. Next, I chained five and made a single crochet in the third chain from the hook (working back along the long end). I repeated to end: five chains, single crochet in third chain from hook.

For the second row of netting, I chained five and made a single crochet in the netting from previous row and again continued to end. For the remainder of the tag, I continued working these rows along the length of the tag until, when lightly stretched it measured approximately seven inches.

Works Cited
Masquerade. “‘I Wasn’t Here’ Embroidered Tag.” Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti by Mandy Moore and Leanne Prain. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press. Print.

We need high-speed Internet now

As society becomes increasingly digital in the transmission and consumption of information, I read with concern about an emerging division that separates the haves from have-nots.

“Increasingly, we are a country in which only the urban and suburban well-off have truly high-speed Internet access, while the rest — the poor and the working class — either cannot afford access or use restricted wireless access as their only connection to the Internet,” Susan P. Crawford writes in her Dec. 13 New York Times opinion. “As our jobs, entertainment, politics and even health care move online, millions are at risk of being left behind.”

In other words, it’s no longer enough simply to access the web.

The subject came up again this week during #DFMChat on Twitter. From 9 to 10 a.m. each Wednesday, MediaNews Group editors engage in dialog about increasingly-digital journalism. Their comments can be followed by viewers via a search for posts using that tag.

Martin G. Reynolds, @reynoldspost, senior editor of community engagement for Bay Area News Group, responded to a question about how the “digital first” emphasis can help journalism: “Digital media empowers community to engage, but it can leave certain constituencies out of the conversation.”

My recent experience corroborated the need for reliable high-speed Internet; earlier that week I attempted to post links to articles on a Facebook page that I curate and the task of linking five stories took more than 20 minutes to complete.

When it comes to high-speed Internet access, Lake County residents have few options that have less to do with socioeconomic status and more to do with limitations of available infrastructure.

My family’s first Internet provider in Lake County refused to market Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) access to Lake County residents, even though it made this option available to customers in other areas. My family and I switched to the first provider that was willing to give us DSL. But even DSL and cable can have limitations during peak demand. And many more people — especially in rural areas — still have dial-up telephone connections.

The digital divide is also a concern with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which proposes to reform and modernize its Lifeline phone-access program to promote digital information literacy. Its National Broadband Plan proposes to build a “world-leading broadband infrastructure” according to Chairman Julius Genachowski in remarks dated Jan. 9.

Genachowski projects “universal broadband deployment by the end of the decade” via the Connect America Fund.

In a statement of support, the American Library Association lauds “the Commission’s continued commitment to digital literacy training in order to bolster broadband adoption in the United States.”

Libraries have traditionally served to bridge information divides, which is one of the reasons that I advocate generous support for libraries. My first Internet access was through terminals at the Sonoma State University library; today as a volunteer for the Lake County Library I observe people using Internet connections that are offered through our local libraries.

To view Genachowski’s remarks and the ALA’s statement, visit http://networkedblogs.com/swnag.

As our society continues to address the need for broadband connectivity, my only concern is that these changes keep abreast with advances in technology.

More and more public assistance programs require applications to be submitted online. The end of the decade is a long time to wait when connectivity is needed now.

Published Jan. 17, 2012 in the Lake County Record-Bee

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Recommended website for teens: ‘How to Deal with Being Bullied’

My distance-ed class through Cuesta College, LIBT 118, engaged in a semester-long discussion of websites that library workers could recommend for teens:

The purpose of “How to Deal with Being Bullied” is to reassure the targets of bullying that they are not at fault and that there are resources that can help them. The content reflects a belief that bullying is wrong, that its consequences can be harmful, that it violates a victim’s rights.

The website is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in partnership with the Department of Education and Department of Justice. It was launched within this past year to address recent suicides of teens.

The webpage is part of a concerted effort by the U.S. government to provide resources to combat bullying. It advises specific things that the victim of bullying can do.

Companion pages are geared toward “Kids,” “Teens,” “Parents,” “Educators” and “In the Community.”

The website also addresses the behavior of the person who has done the bullying, taking the approach that the person may think that he or she was only joking around. It asks that person to “Put yourself in their shoes.”

I think an important component to teen services is for library employees to recognize that some teens may be victims of bullying. The library should be equipped to refer adolescents to resources like the one above, combined with resources that are specific to the local community.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

‘Chase the Chill,’ anyone?

My desire to explore loom-knitting techniques led to a surplus of hats. Limitations of storage thankfully coincided with an interest in making the world a better and more interesting place.

As a result, hats mysteriously appeared in a local community landscape.

It intrigued me to speculate how people would react to suddenly seeing hats. Would they notice, given the hats’ similarity in coloration to the objects they adorned? Seeing a hat, would a viewer be tempted to take the hat for him- or herself?

I didn’t expect the hats to remain permanently and in fact hoped that they would find their way to an adoptive wearer’s head. Particularly given the cold weather this time of year.

Roughly one month later, I returned to the community and dropped off another hat.

Part of the fun is in not knowing precisely what will become of the hat, except that I hope it will eventually be claimed by a person in need of it. Part of the fun too is imagining the delight of an onlooker at such an unexpected and whimsical discovery.

My explorations in public knitting led to discovering a coalition of knitters who participate each year in a movement named “Chase the Chill.”

“Scarves draped on trees, bridge walkways, signs and other public locations appeared overnight in downtown Easton, PA, for the first time in fall 2010,” according to general information on Facebook for “Chase the Chill, the Original.” “Each one included a hang tag inviting anyone to claim ownership of the scarf.”

Chase the Chill combines yarn bombing with altruistic knitting. It distributes scarves in public places so that anyone can help themselves.

Originally founded by Susan Huxley, there are few rules to participate: “Anyone can participate in any part of the process. Join us in Easton or start your own event in another location.”
As a result, there is also a “Chase the Chill in Winnipeg,” which bills itself as a copycat event with the same mission as “the Original.”

Lake County yarncrafters — and for that matter, yarncrafters in surrounding counties as well — why not create our own “Chase the Chill” event for the Northern California area? The drops tend to happen in November and December so we have plenty of time to make scarves (or in my case, hats).

World Wide Knit in Public Day will be observed from June 9 to 17 this year; it could be a perfect opportunity to build up our supply for a concerted drop next fall.

But since it’s cold now, why don’t area knitters act on their own as productivity allows? Let a steady stream of hats grace public places where people in need can find them.

For more information about “Chase the Chill,” look for “Chase the Chill, the Original” and “Chase the Chill in Winnipeg” on Facebook. To join a conversation on Twitter about taking part in a Northern California event, use #ChasetheChillNorCal hash tag.

Published Jan. 10, 2012 in the Lake County Record-Bee

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Webinar about autism in the workplace

As an experiment in immersive learning about tools for online journalism, I live-Tweet a pre-recorded webinar about autism spectrum disorders in the workplace. It takes two sittings to get through the webinar and I curate the results in Storify.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Ravelry: Elizabeth models ‘Warm Autumn Wrap’

Brown tabby-and-white cat sitting on folded ripple-patterned afghan, crocheted in light green, light brown and a light-green-and-brown varigated yarn.

My project is featured picture for a pattern for “Warm Autumn Wrap” by Anne Halliday on Ravelry.com. That’s Elizabeth modeling the afghan, which I made for my mother-in-law.

Originally posted to Facebook

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

An information curator’s year in review

This past week, our newsroom was focused on compiling a “Year in Review:” the top 10 stories, “Best of the Rest” and notable deaths in 2011.

As an information curator (a professional editor and library volunteer) there were commonalities in several of my selections: 2011 was notable for enhancing readers’ access to information on a variety of fronts.

• At the top of my list is Lake County’s cat euthanasia rate: more cats killed in Lake County than in any other county in California. It doesn’t have any direct relationship with this column’s theme, except that I am an editor who shares her home with a cat who fills my life with love and delight.

If you have a cat or dog, get it spayed or neutered to prevent the birth of more animals than you are willing to be responsible for. Don’t adopt an animal unless you are willing to care for that animal for its entire life.

Thanks for reading.

Continuing on, here are my selections from the perspective of an information curator:

• Lake County broke ground in September on a new library and senior center in Middletown. This development was absolutely thrilling to this library volunteer.

The library collection has outgrown the current building’s 1,790-square feet; the new building will give the Middletown library 5,450-square-feet.

• KPFZ 88.1 FM can be heard via the Internet at www.live365.com.

Online accessibility was bittersweet on Sunday because radio station programming was dedicated to the memory of radio host Steve Elias, who died Thursday. The direct URL to stream KPFZ online is www.live365.com/stations/steveelias.

• Record-Bee’s parent company shifts to “digital first” emphasis upon reporting the news.

In September, MediaNews Group appointed John Paton as its CEO and entered an agreement with Digital First Media to provide management services.

This quote from a column by Vacaville Reporter opinion page editor Karen Nolan offers a good summary of the change in focus: “If newspapers are going to survive, (Paton) believes, they must become digital content providers that also publish newspapers, instead of newspapers that also publish
digital content.”

What this means for Record-Bee readers is that stories are often posted online immediately after writing and editing. Staff reporters and editors post breaking developments on Twitter. Stories are further updated online as information becomes available.

To read Nolan’s column online, visit www.thereporter.com/columnists/ci_19630518.

• For the first time during 2011, Lake County took part in the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)’s Big Read with a variety of featured activities.

“Featured writer Edgar Allan Poe, 150 years post mortem, touched the lives of many teens with his descriptive, poetic language and obsessive fear of entrapment and oppression,” Big Read project director Robin Fogel-Shrive wrote in a recent column in the Record-Bee. “It was wonderful to see these kids value Poe’s literary merit and relate to personal struggles as emerging, but not quite, adults.”

I would love to see Lake County’s continued participation in the NEA’s Big Read. To learn more about the Big Read visit www.neabigread.org/. Read Fogel-Shrive’s column about the power of stories at www.record-bee.com/ci_19612335.

• Lake County Law Library provides access to the EBSCOHost legal reference database with complete text of Nolo Law books.

This is a valuable resource; just a few weeks ago I found a book about copyright that I wanted for a class assignment. To access Nolo e-Books, visit www.co.lake.ca.us/Government/Directory/Law_Library/ebsco.htm.

Published Jan. 3, 2012 in the Lake County Record-Bee