Let’s Have a Conversation

Work in a public library offers fascinating insight into a community. People of different ages, gender, ethnicity, economic status and education enter our door all day long with diverse interests and needs. It is a fundamental principle of library service that we treat each and all equally with courtesy and thoughtfulness – whether they have come to borrow a book, look for a video, connect to the WiFi, join a storytime, pay a fine, attend a workshop, get help with their mobile device, FAX a document, type a resume or send an email.

Today’s public library functions as a reading room, book lender, video outlet, internet cafe,  preschool activity center, homework resource, local history repository, art gallery, coffee shop and office suite. The public library is multidimensional in a multidimensional world; our services are as diverse as the public we serve.

One of the most important services of the public library is as a public commons. The public library is used (and has been used since its origin) as a place of gathering – gathering for the exchange of ideas, for communication of thoughts, open discussion and conversation. The free exchange of ideas is, after all, the bedrock of a democracy. These conversations can be as simple as a book discussion – where there is often consensus, or as complex as a topic of national concern – where there may be little consensus.

One such topic of national concern that has certainly dominated our personal conversations these past weeks is gun violence. The concern being generated by the horrific deaths in Las Vegas and, more recently and closer to home, the shooting of a child by a child in Taunton.

On Wednesday, October 25, at 6:30, the library is hosting a Conversation about Gun Violence, sponsored by the group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a nonpartisan, grassroots organization that aims to reduce the gun violence that takes too many lives in our country every day. You are invited to join in a conversation that will answer these questions: · Why is gun violence prevention needed? · Is it about gun control? · Do we need this conversation in Massachusetts? · How can I take action to help reduce gun violence? · Can I make a difference?

While this program was scheduled months in advance, it, sadly, has gained more urgency is the wake of recent events. It’s a conversation that needs all of our voices.

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Posted in Services

“Hopping” at the Library

Whenever I see friends, I am invariably asked, “What’s going on at the library?” Not long ago, I was asked the question by a friend, and I responded that the library was really “hopping.” Thereupon my friend burst out laughing. The idea of a library “hopping” was just too much for her. Her picture of a library was of a quiet, staid place where nothing much happened but the settling of dust on library shelves. I had the pleasure of telling her that things have changed at libraries; they’ve changed a lot.

As an example of how libraries have changed and become the hub of activity, take a look at our October calendar. You’ll find the traditional morning story times, preschool children’s programs and afternoon book clubs, but you’ll also find films, crafts, workshops, cooking, book talks and exhibits. Yes, we have books, but we also have opportunities for you to connect with others who share your ideas and interests. Here is a closer look at this month’s happenings.

The month begins with our Sunday Film Series. These documentary films, on the first Sunday of the month, offer a thought-provoking look at social and cultural issues, insight into the nation’s history and ask the viewer to examine contemporary life. The October film, The Orphan Trains, looked at the ambitious effort to transplant children from the streets of New York to rural America. The November film, Fly Girls, takes a look at the wives, mothers, actresses and debutantes who joined the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPS) during WWII.

If you’re a film enthusiast, you might consider joining the Film Club. They meet the third Tuesday night of each month to discuss a previously selected film. This month’s meeting is Tuesday, October 17, to review A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night.

The Get Crafty monthly series on the second Wednesday of each month is for those who enjoy crafts. This Wednesday, October 11, Susan St. Germain offers an evening of wreath making with pine cones.

If you’re retired or thinking of retirement, Michael Graff’s workshop on Living a Tax-Free Retirement on Wednesday, October 18, is for you. You’ll gain a good understanding of asset allocation options and income distribution strategies that will enhance your tax advantaged retirement income and cash flow.

The Cooking Club meets the first Monday night of each month. It’s like a book club only instead of a novel, members meet to discuss recipes, and enjoy each other’s company. Each month they share a potluck meal prepared from the recipes they’ve chosen.

Ted Reinstein, the popular Channel 5 “Chronicle” contributor, joins us on Wednesday, October 4, to discuss his latest book, New England’s General Stores, Exploring an American Classic. Ted shares the rich history of these iconic institutions and the role they played in small town community life. You’ll be able to purchase a signed copy of the book.

Two other authors visit the library during October. We’ve invited Richard Higgins to talk about his book, Thoreau and the Languages of Trees, since this year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Henry David Thoreau. Rich joins us on Sunday afternoon, October 15. Local author, Pamie Roy reads from her debut novel, Fig Season, on Sunday, October 8, at 2:00 p.m.

The outstanding watercolor exhibit, Brushstrokes, by Marco Vizcarra, continues throughout the month, and especially for children, we showcase A Haunted Dollhouse, just in time for Halloween.

As you can see, the library offers something for every age and interest. It really is “hopping!’ For more information about these programs and other activities at the library during October, call the library at 508-823-1344, visit the library’s webpage, raynhampubliclibrary.org, or drop-by the library and pick-up a monthly calendar. The library is open Monday through Wednesday, 10:00 to 8:00, Thursday 10:00 to 2:00, Friday, 10:00 to 5:00, Saturday, 10:00 – 2:00 and Sundays 12 noon to 4:00 October through May.

Posted in Services

Tracing Your Family Tree

ancestryIrrespective of the fact that I work surrounded by shelves of books full of wonderful stories, I think that the best loved stories are not from books, but those from our own families: the stories one heard from grandmothers and grandfathers, older aunts, uncles and cousins – the stories of visits to the “old place”, the stories of things and events “before” or “way-back then,” the stories of people long gone but still remembered. This oral tradition is, after all, how literature began – with stories told and retold until they could be fixed in written form. Families are the repositories of our individual history, those particular stories that help us understand our heritage, appreciate who we are and where we have come from.

Many of the stories passed down from generation to generation become altered with the telling. Parts get exaggerated or embellished for effect, or shaded to suit the storyteller. Names, dates and connections get lost or confused. Stories you once accepted as fact turnout to be fiction. For example, I had always believed that part of my family tree were Sudetenland Deutsch; I recently discovered that they, in fact, were Swiss. This astounding fact I discovered in Ancestry Library Edition, a new electronic resource at the library.

Ancestry Library Edition is a powerful tool that searches through census records, birth and death records, immigration records, family histories, military records, court and legal documents, cemetery records, directories, photos, maps and more.  The library staff has spent time getting familiar with this new service, and as they searched through Ancestry Library Edition each of them uncovered amazing details, previously unknown, about their own family histories.

Most of us are curious about our family history; some of us actually take on the task of tracing the family tree, and a few of us become obsessed with it. There are several reasons to choose to research our past. On the practical side, it allows us to validate (or not) those family stories handed down from generation to generation. Genealogical research also offers a way to trace medical conditions in order to evaluate the risk of getting or passing on certain medical conditions. It can be used to trace land ownership, and resolve disputes over the origin of family heirlooms or other legacies. It’s a way of learning more about a parent, grandparent or connecting with living relatives.  And finally, genealogical research is a way to fulfill the desire to pass on our heritage to future generations.

But at its heart, knowing our family history is about satisfying basic human curiosity. It’s about finding answers to the questions that confound us throughout life: Where do I come from? Why am I here? What is going to happen to me? Genealogy offers insight into the lives of our ancestors, and satisfies the need to understand how we fit into the broader world around us. It helps us to connect to a family thread passing through time. If you’d like to get started on knowing more about your family history, the library offers Ancestry Library Edition on all of its public computer workstations. Need help in getting started? Just ask.

Posted in Services

What’s in your wallet?

There is a popular advertising campaign that ends each of its commercials with the question, “What’s in your wallet?” If you were to answer the question, what would you say – a credit card, debit card, health insurance card, gym card, driver’s license, a few bills and coins, old receipts? Would you say – library card?

Library cards have been around as long as libraries and much longer that any of the other types of cards that may be in your wallet. The first cards, or tickets, were probably issued at membership libraries, 18th-century organizations where members contributed fees, and sometimes books from their own collections, in exchange for the right to check out materials. Benjamin Franklin co-founded the first such membership library in Philadelphia in 1731. Just as libraries have evolved from private to public funding, the library card has evolved from paper ticket to paper card to the library card of today, a square of plastic with bar code for quick scanning. Tomorrow’s card may simply be a digitized image carried not in your wallet, but on your smartphone.

In its most common use, a library card serves as a membership card. It’s a visible symbol of your membership in the library’s community of users.  The person who holds a library card has borrowing and other privileges associated with the issuing library. The library card also serves as a method of identification when borrowing materials. The card holder presents the card at checkout and takes responsibility for the item until returned. The library card speeds up the checkout process, ensures that the transaction is accurate and protects the user’s account from errors.

September is Library Card Sign-up Month, a time when we join public libraries across the country to encourage everyone to get a library card. Unlike the libraries of Benjamin Franklin’s day, libraries today are publicly funded and library cards are free. If you’re not a library card holder, we encourage you to register for a card during the month of September. As an incentive, we’ll enter your name in a prize drawing.

Of all the cards in your wallet, the library card is the best value. It allows you free access to books, CDs, DVDs, audiobooks, magazines, resources on local history, downloadable music or e-books, streaming video and discounted admission to area museums and zoos. It allows the use of on sight computer workstations and gives you free access to WiFi. It enables you to receive help in locating materials that answer your questions and connects students to resources for homework assignments.

The American Library Association estimates that two-thirds of Americans have library cards. Almost 7,000 folks in Raynham have one. Check your wallet; are you one of them? If not, what are you waiting for? Applications are simple. Drop-by the library, show us a photo-ID, give us contact information, and you’ll get your card immediately. Then, put it in your wallet.

 

Posted in Services

Summer Reads!

Summer is here at last You can now take things a little easier, slow down, relax, slip into those comfy flip-flops and enjoy all that summer has to offer, whether it’s lounging by the pool, dozing in the hammock or sunning at the beach.

As far as the library is concerned, the best part of summer isn’t the weather, the family cookouts or the time spent hanging out with friends, even though all of those are great. The best part of summer is that there is so much time for reading! Long, lazy, sun-filled days are perfect for reading whether you’re lounging in your own backyard or at the beach or lake house.

Publishers work overtime to get their books in print before the summer demand peeks, so our shelves are full of newly published titles – from literary debuts to new works from favorite authors. Looking for summer reading ideas? Here are few of our suggestions.

Fiction: The Women in the Castle: A Novel, by Jessica Shattuck is a story of three women, haunted by the past and the secrets they hold. The three women’s lives are abruptly changed when their husbands are executed for their part in an attempt to assassinate Hitler. They band together in a crumbling Bavarian castle to raise their children and keep each other standing. Rich in character development, the book gives us a clear understanding of their sense of loss, inner strength and the love they have for each other.

Fiction: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A Novel, by Gail Honeyman. Meet quirky Eleanor Oliphant, who struggles to relate to other people and lives a very solitary life. When she and the new IT guy happen to be walking down the street together, they witness an elderly man collapse on the sidewalk and suddenly Eleanor’s orderly routines are disrupted. This is a lovely novel about loneliness and how a little bit of kindness can change a person forever.

Non-Fiction: The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore, is the story the so-called “Radium Girls” who painted luminescent faces on clock and watch dials using a paint mixture that contained radium. Instructed to “lip-point” their brushes as they painted, they absorbed such high doses of radium that they literally glimmered. With such a coveted job, these “shining girls” were considered the luckiest alive–until they began to fall mysteriously ill. As the fatal poison of the radium took hold, they found themselves embroiled in one of America’s biggest scandals and a groundbreaking battle for workers’ rights. The Radium Girls explores the strength of extraordinary women in the face of almost impossible circumstances and the astonishing legacy they left behind.

Non-Fiction: Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, by David Grann, recounts the series of unsolved murders that rocked the Osage Indian Nation in Oklahoma during the 1920s. The oil-rich Osage were already victimized by unscrupulous businessmen and societal prejudice, but these murders were so egregious that the newly formed FBI was brought in to investigate. The book is rich in history and wonderfully written.

Beach Read: What would summer be without that yummy beach read? Named one of Coastal Living’s 50 Best Books for the Beach, The Forever Summer, by Jamie Brenner, has all the ingredients of a great beach read – mystery, romance, family secrets ,richly imagined characters, and of course, delicious descriptions of Cape Cod.

Need more ideas? Pick-up a copy of the July BookPage magazine for reviews of the latest titles. Free copies are available in the library’s front lobby. Enjoy the summer!

Posted in Readers

Read This Summer!

buildbetter world2Summer 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. Well, 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. Sadly, some children and families regard the summer break as just that – a break from school and other “requirements.” However, 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 encourage 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 Build a Better World.  We’ll build a pirate playhouse, read about pirates and hear pirate stories. We’ll create a fairytale world with a playhouse castle and read about knights and princesses. We’ll image a trip to the moon as we build a spaceship and learn about outer space. Children will have the opportunity to read weekly with a Book Buddy, use their imagination to build with Wonder Gears or Legos and to enjoy stories, songs and games. Children who read five books over the summer receive a ticket to our Ice Cream Social. There are weekly drawings and special events including a magician, a popular children’s band and a Mad Science “Fire & Ice” program. This all makes for summer reading fun.

We invite you and your child to visit the library this summer, pick-up a summer reading kit and registration prize, register for special events and programs and add reading to your list of activities this summer. The fun begins Monday, June 19. For a complete description of the program, weekly activities and special events, visit our website, raynhampubliclibrary.org and click on Summer Program, or call the Children’s Room, 508.823.1344

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Summer Vacation Guides

Summer is just around the corner, and we all look forward to warm sunny days and that promise of respite from routine – the summer vacation. For most of us, summer vacation means travel of some sort. It could be a short easy car ride to a mountain retreat or cottage on the beach, or a longer more arduous trip involving cross-country travel. If you are one of the more adventurous, you might even be planning a trip to exotic places and foreign shores.

Why do we travel? If you’ve traveled recently, you know travel is not glamorous or graceful. It can be challenging, even grueling – especially air travel. Air travel involves enduring long lines and/or delays, the many annoyances of the airport – and often fellow travelers – and uncomfortable seating in crowded conditions. However, we endure these discomforts, because we all have our reasons for traveling – the need to get away, the need to experience the new and different, the need for a change or curiosity about the world and other cultures. And because it offers so much to so many different people, travel holds an allure for us all.

St. Augustine once wrote, “The world is a book, and he who doesn’t travel reads only one page.” In the book of the world, all pages are different. We are looking for something new, something unseen – the next page in the world’s book, if only for a little while. That’s what makes travel so interesting, intriguing, and inviting. It beckons us to new lands and unfamiliar surroundings. It gives us a respite from the regimented world of 9 to 5. It shows us new places, people, and cultures. It’s always giving us something new – not only outwardly, but also inwardly.

If you’re planning travel as part of your summer, the library can help. We’ve just updated our travel collection, so you’ll find the newest editions of Frommer’s travel guides to destinations around the U.S. as well as around the world – from Florida to the Pacific Northwest, England to Australia. If you’re planning a stay-vacation or vacation closer to home, you can still take a trip with the works of travel writers such as Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling, In a Sunburned Country), Douglas Preston (Lost City of the Monkey God), Paul Theroux (Riding the Iron Rooster, Last Train to Zona Verde), William Least Heat-Moon (Blue Highways) or Peter Mayle ( A Year in Provence).

No matter where you are going, make the library a destination this summer.

Posted in Readers