Engaging with the Community

The library is full of stories. Not only do we have shelves full of stories—both fiction and nonfiction—but by virtue of being an active community center, the library is also a place where so many stories happen. Today’s library is not only a provider of materials and information, but a provider of experiences as well. Yes, our users engage with the print, visual and audio stories, but they also form their own stories by connecting with the wider community of library users. They are not just passive readers; they are active participants – exchanging ideas, sharing interests, building friendships and often working together to create that most precious commodity – a community where we can all flourish.

Libraries offer opportunities to connect with one another and with the community in organized interest groups – book clubs, workshops, classes, reading programs, film discussions, arts and crafts.  Libraries also encourage informal exchange – as you share what you are reading with a neighbor or get to know other young mothers at our weekly storytime. Our annual Raynham Reads One Book, One Community is an example of both the organized and informal form of community engagement. The event is organized by the Friends of the Library to encourage discussion of a single book that all are reading. Community engagement is central to a library’s mission and success.

One of the most important ways the library encourages community engagement is to offer opportunities for teens to volunteer at the library. We do this through our Teen Advisory Group (TAG) which we began a couple of years ago.  TAG is a group of teens who are interested in becoming more involved in the community and the library. They give input on the library’s teen collection, help create programming, and volunteer at library events. They are a talented group of kids, and we love the energy, interest and ideas they bring to the library. Not only does the library benefit, but the teens benefit as well. Involvement in the community helps them build confidence as they have the opportunity to serve as mentors to younger children, learn how to manage time and resources, have the opportunity to communicate with adults and acquire community service hours. This summer the library has opportunities for dozens of community service hours that can be used to satisfy school requirements.

Our next TAG meeting is Wednesday, July 11, at 6:30. If you know someone who might be interested in joining TAG, encourage them to attend. The Teen Advisory Group is open to teens in grades 7 through 12 residing in Raynham. Applications are available at the library or on the Teen page on the library website, raynhampubliclibrary.org.


Posted in Services

Summer Fun Begins!

Libraries rock4Summer is just around the corner, and at the library, we couldn’t be happier. Summer is a special time for us, a time when the sounds of children’s laughter and eager, excited voices fill the library. Children love to read; they love to come to the library, and we love that they come.
Some may wonder about the importance of reading for children today. After all, so much of learning and entertainment involves looking at a screen. It’s tempting to think that reading doesn’t matter as much as it used to, but you’d be wrong. There are actually a number of good reasons why reading matters and why children should read. Here are just a few for you to consider.

Reading exercises our brains. It’s a complex mental task that involves strengthening and building brain connections. Reading gives us insight into the world around us – about people, places and events outside our own experience, and helps to build background knowledge. Reading develops our imagination, helps to develop empathy, improves our ability to concentrate and enriches our vocabulary. Most importantly, summer reading for children helps to prevent the dreaded “summer slide.” Numerous studies have shown that reading over the summer prevents “summer reading loss” – the dreaded summer slide in the loss of reading skills. Summer reading loss is cumulative. Children don’t always “catch up” in the fall because the other children are moving ahead with their skills. Having kids read four or five books during the summer can prevent the reading achievement losses that normally occur over those months.

Every summer the library offers an enjoyable way for children to include reading in their summer activities. It’s the summer reading program. The summer reading program provides quality learning activities that are fun, and encourages some of the best techniques identified by research as being important to the reading process. Research shows that free, voluntary reading is essential to helping kids become better readers, writers, and spellers. Children read more when they can choose materials based on their own interests. Self-selection of reading materials is an extremely important factor in motivating struggling readers, and is a key component of our summer library program.

This summer’s reading theme is Libraries Rock! We’re offering great music themed programs to inspire musical creativity as well as reading in every child. There are weekly activities and special events throughout the summer including a ventriloquist, family sing-a-long, karaoke night, an instrument petting zoo and a program featuring Australian instruments, Didgeridoo Down Under. Children who read ten books over the summer receive a ticket to our Ice Cream Social in August. This all makes for summer reading fun.

We invite you and your child to visit the library, pick-up a reading kit and registration prize and add reading to your list of activities this summer. The fun begins Monday, June 25. For a complete description of the program, weekly activities and special events, visit our website, raynhampubliclibrary.org/kids/kids-summer-2018/ or call the Children’s Room, 508.823.1344.

Posted in Readers, Services

A Book By Any Other Name…

We know not to judge a book by its cover, but what about judging a book by its title? How many times have you picked-up a book because you were intrigued by the title? Or, ignored a book because the title didn’t capture your interest? Book titles are important; perhaps, as important as the content. Without a good title to catch the eye, books are more likely to languish on the shelf as readers give it a pass.

Writers often anguish over titles, considering and rejecting dozens before settling on just the right one. Finding a good title for a book is not as simple as one might think. Consider the titles Tote the Weary Load, Mules in Horses’ Harnesses, Bugles Sang True and Tomorrow is Another Day. Rather uninteresting and nondescript, don’t you think? Margaret Mitchell went through all these titles before she finally decided on Gone with the Wind. Would we have been as eager to read Harper Lee’s book if it had been titled Atticus instead of To Kill a Mockingbird? Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice started out as First Impressions. William Golding’s first novel was called Strangers from Within, but is now known as Lord of the Flies. The Great Gatsby could have ended up as Trimalchio in West Egg. And Catch-11 was thankfully changed to Catch-22.

As with everything else, titles are also a matter of trend. A glance at 19th-century classics reveals an inclination for naming books after the main character: Madame Bovary, Oliver Twist, Anna Karenina, Silas Marner or even, Moby Dick. Another popular title source for 19th century authors was location: Wuthering Heights, Mill on the Floss, Mansfield Park, Washington Square. Writers of the 20th century often employed poetry: Of Mice and Men (Steinbeck, citing Robert Burns); A Handful of Dust (Waugh, quoting T. S. Eliot); For Whom the Bell Tolls (Hemingway, lifting from John Donne); Tender is the Night (Fitzgerald, referring to John Keats). Today, quirky-lyrical titles are in vogue — titles such as The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore or The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry.

I’ll admit that I am a pushover for a good title. I’ll sometimes read a book based on its title alone.  These are a few titles that have caught my interest: Fig Season, Cold Comfort Farm, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, I’m Off Then, A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived, How to Fall in Love with a Man Who Lives in a Bush, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, Elvis is Dead and I Don’t Feel so Good Myself.

Posted in Readers

Interlibrary Loan

Every day is Christmas at the library. By that I mean, every day we get to open boxes of surprises. The boxes come to us each morning around eleven o’clock, and we never know just what we’ll find when we open them. Will there be best sellers? Celebrity biographies? Books of self-help or political scandal? Romance or mystery novels? Picture books for children? True crime? Cookbooks? The latest DVD series? Part of the fun in opening the boxes is discovering something new and unexpected – just like unwrapping gifts at Christmas.  The “gifts” these boxes bring are the books, DVDs, music, audiobooks and magazines that our library users have requested using our e-catalog.

It’s a simple process that brings these boxes to the library. Once you’ve placed a request or hold for a book, the request is automatically sent to a library in the SAILS network that owes the title. The owning library pulls the book from the shelf, enters the item bar code into the circulation software and places the item in one of the boxes to be picked up that day by the delivery van. The delivery van drops the boxes at a regional sorting facility to be automatically sorted using the item bar code number. Items intended for Raynham are sorted for Raynham, boxed and loaded back on the delivery van. Within a day or two we receive the item in Raynham, and a notice is automatically sent alerting the user that it’s ready to be picked-up at the library.

Every day dozens of small white vans are busy shuttling thousands of books and other library materials around the network. As part of the SAILS library network, we participate in resource sharing with 72 libraries and branches in 40 communities throughout Southeast Massachusetts, as well as libraries throughout the state. Every day we receive delivery of items that our users have requested as well as the items being returned to Raynham that we have loaned to other libraries. This amounts to quite a few items. This past year we loaned more than 15,000 items from our library to libraries in the SAILS network. We also borrowed almost 20,000 items from those libraries. This past year some 14 million items were shared across the state by the 600 libraries participating in the service. That’s a lot of boxes and a lot of books.

What does this mean for you? It means that you have access to anything that interests you. Simply request an item through our e-catalog, and we’ll notify you when it arrives in Raynham. Need help in getting started? We are always here to answer your questions.


Posted in Services

Heroism and Tragedy

Stories of tragedy and heroism at sea are compelling reads, and the story of Frank Quirk and his crewmen’s sacrifice on the Can Do is compelling without a doubt. Michael Tougias has written a riveting tale in Ten Hours Until Dawn, the Raynham Reads one, book, one community selection for 2018.

With dangerous winds and impossible seas created by blizzard conditions, any prudent man could have chosen to stay in harbor and keep safe, but Frank Quirk and his mates chose to put their lives in peril to rescue an oil tanker with a crew of 32 floundering in the high seas. It was February 6, 1978, and the New England coast was being pounded by Storm of the Century. Quirk understood the odds. He had even cautioned the Coast Guard station at Gloucester to think twice about sending rescue ships into the area, saying “You may get up there, but I don’t think you’re going to get back…” However, when the Coast Guard rescue ship gets put in just as terrifying of a position as the oil tanker, Quirk, the captain of the pilot boat Can Do, volunteers to help. The ensuing tragedy is almost inevitable. As Tougias’s subtitle indicates, Ten Hours Until Dawn is the true story of heroism and tragedy aboard the Can Do.

There has been much discussion lately about heroism. We have illustrations of both heroism and the lack thereof with two recent incidents – the hostage crisis in France, and the tragedy of the Parkland shooting. In France a young police officer volunteered to exchange himself for hostages and was subsequently killed. In the Parkland shootings, a security officer has been called into question for his failure to enter the building during the deadly rampage. What inspires an individual to self-sacrifice? What motivates an individual to do what is right instead of what is safe? Is altruism inherent in the human genome? Is it a trait that is hard-wired or is it a trait that develops in response to environment and nurturing? What inspired Frank Quirk and his men to make that fateful decision? These are a few of the questions to be discussed on Wednesday, April 11, at 1:00, when the community comes together to discuss Ten Hours Until Dawn. You are invited to join the discussion. If you haven’t read the book yet, there are copies available at the library.

On Sunday, April 15, at 2:00, we take a closer look at the blizzard conditions during February 1978, with a documentary film and shared memories.

The author, Michael Tougias, joins us later in the month for further discussion of the book and a slide lecture on the events of the Can Do. The presentation will be at the Community Center on Sunday, April 29 at 2:00 pm. Raynham Reads 2018 is a cooperative project of the Friends of the Raynham Library, the Raynham Cultural Council and the Raynham Public Library.

Posted in Readers


You may have missed the 90th Academy Awards ceremony earlier this month. The industry has bemoaned the fact that the television audience was down to only 26.5 million viewers. If you did miss the televised event, you surely don’t want to miss reading the books that inspired many of the winners and nominees. This year’s ceremony was a tribute, once again, to the written word as well as the visual artistic and technical merit in the American film industry. Here’s a look at some of the best books-to-movies this past year.

Thank You for Your Service, based on the book by David Finkel, is a profound look at life after war. No journalist has reckoned with the psychology of war as well as David Finkel. In The Good Soldiers, his bestselling account from the front lines of Baghdad, Finkel shadowed the men of the 2-16 Infantry Battalion as they carried out the infamous surge, a grueling fifteen-month tour that changed all of them forever. Now Finkel has followed many of those same men as they’ve returned home and struggled to reintegrate–both into their family lives and into American society at large.

Our Souls at Night, novel by Kent Haruf, is a tender account of coming to grips with lost, loneliness and old age. In the movie version, Robert Redford and Jane Fonda perfectly portray the two aging neighbors that seek refuge and comfort in each other. It’s a beautifully written, life-affirming story.

In Mudbound, by Hillary Jordan, prejudice takes many forms, both subtle and brutal. The story is centered in the Deep South right after World War II. Two young men, one black and one white, return from the war to work the land. One is haunted by his memories of combat; one has come home with the shine of a war hero. It is the unlikely friendship of these brothers-in-arms that drives the story to its powerful conclusion.

One of the most anticipated books-to-movies this past year was the children’s novel Wonder, by R.J. Palacio. It’s the story of Auggie Pullman, who was born with extreme facial abnormalities, and his struggles to be accepted as just another student while enduring the taunting of his classmates. It’s a moving and uplifting tale.

Every year there are dozens of films based on books new and old. If you want to get a jump on films due to be released this year, here are a few books you’ll want to read: A Wrinkle in Time, by Madaleine L’Engle, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Annie Barrows, Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, Where’d You Go Bernadette, by Maria Semple, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter.

Posted in Readers

Once upon a time…

This past week I had the pleasure of introducing my three year old grandson to stories that begin with the phrase Once upon a time. There is something thrilling about the phrase, Once upon a time. When we hear Once upon a time, we are immediately transported to another land – an imaginary land of giants and trolls, talking animals and elves, wicked witches and wolves, magical spells and enchanted beans. When we hear Once upon a time our imagination takes flight. We know that we are at the beginning of a fantastical journey; we are going to hear a fairy tale.
Fairy tales, folktales and fables, of course, have been with us for a long time, both in oral and printed form, and appear in all literate cultures. Some of the oldest tales come from Aesop, 6th century Greece (The Tortoise and the Hare, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, and The Ant and the Grasshopper). We are all familiar with the tales published by Charles Perrault in seventeenth century France (Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood), by the Brothers Grimm (Snow White, Rapunzel, Rumpelstiltskin) in Germany in 1812, and by Hans Christian Andersen in Denmark in 1835 (The Ugly Duckling, The Emperor’s New Clothes).
Fairy tales have been told and retold, published again and again, illustrated by innumerable artists, and adapted into dozens of plays and movies. What is the enduring appeal of these stories?  Why should we, you might wonder, continue to read these old and, after all, often frightening tales (children lost in woods and found by a witch who fattens them up to eat them in Hansel and Gretel, or wolves chopped open by hunters so that grandma can escape in Little Red Riding Hood) to our little ones?
First of all, fairy tales are great fun, both for the storyteller and the listener. You can huff and puff and blow the house down, you can climb up and down the giant beanstalk, you can trip, trap across the ogre’s bridge, you can spin hair into gold, and slip your foot into a glass slipper. Bring all of your theatrical talents to the story. There’s no such thing as too much drama in the telling of a fairy tale.
Fairy tales are a way for children to experience danger in a safe and satisfying way. The violence within the fairy tale is always contained, the evil is always overcome and the hero always vanquishes the villain. The child relishes the danger knowing that it will be reversed by the end of the story. The child can identify with the small, the weak or the downtrodden (Cinderella, sweeping the hearth, for example) who, in a gratifying reversal, is able to overcome the odds and triumph, to marry the prince.
Fairy tales teach children right from wrong, not directly, but by implication. In the story of The Three Little Pigs, for example, children learn the two lazy pigs, who have built their houses of straw and sticks, must turn to their hard-working brother who built his house of bricks, for safety from the big, bad wolf. There is always a moral to the tale.
Fairy tales use repetition in the telling with phrases the child will quickly acquire “Not by the hair on my chinny, chin, chin” or “Who’s that trip trapping across my bridge?”  Such repetition is comforting to the child. He can anticipate the story and alleviate his fears.
If you haven’t read a fairy tale to a child recently, you’re missing a wonderful experience. The Children’s Room has a large collection of beautifully illustrated fairy tales. Browse the collection and find the one that’s just right for your telling.
Posted in Readers