Summer at the Library

Summer has officially arrived, and at the public library, we couldn’t be happier. Summer is a special time at the library, a time when children fill the building with excited voices and sounds of laughter. The Children’s Room overflows with youthful energy and enthusiasm. 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 is tempting to think that reading doesn’t matter as much as it used to. It seems so much easier to watch the movie than to read the book. There are actually a number of good reasons why children – and all of us – 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. Reading also relaxes the body and calms the mind, but, most importantly, reading is simply fun.

Summer reading programs in public libraries provide quality learning activities that are not only fun, but also 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 we’re putting lots of fun into reading for both kids and adults. Our Universe of Stories program offers reading incentives, weekly activities, movies, special events and tickets to our annual ice cream social. We’ll explore the night sky with the Museum of Science traveling planetarium, learn to play the ukulele, be amazed by floating beach balls with Mad Science, and laugh along with ventriloquist Kevin Driscoll and his dummies. Celebrate the summer with us. Register for reading at the Raynham Public Library. For more information, visit our Summer at the Library page on our website raynhampubliclibrary.org, or visit the library.

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Posted in Children, Readers, Services

Summer is for Reading!

Summer is almost here! You can soon take life 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. Wherever you go, go prepared. Sunscreen is a must. Bottles of water essential, and never forget to bring a book.

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. The best part of summer is all that time for reading! Long, lazy, sun-filled days are perfect for catching up on the latest bestsellers or favorite authors.

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 well-known authors. This summer’s books are especially outstanding. There are nail-biting suspense novels, pulse-pounding thrillers, tender romance novels, eerie true-crime stories, intriguing mysteries and historical fiction to take you to faraway times and places.

So here’s your chance to get away from it all this summer by getting into a book.

Suspense: Cari Mora, by Thomas Harris. Twenty-five million dollars in cartel gold lies hidden beneath a mansion on the Miami Beach waterfront, protected by the caretaker of the house, Cari Mora. As ruthless men close in on the treasure, Cari Mora shows surprising skills in her determination to survive. From the creator of Hannibal Lecter and The Silence of the Lambs, this is a story of evil, greed, and the consequences of dark obsession.

Fiction: Searching for Sylvie Lee, by Jean Kwok. Kwok has created a poignant and suspenseful drama that untangles the complicated ties binding three women, two sisters and their mother, in one Chinese immigrant family. When the eldest daughter disappears a series of family secrets emerge.

Romance: The Bride Test, by Helen Hoang. This is a charming, quirky love story set between a mixed-race girl from the slums of Ho Chi Minh City and an autistic young man whose mother is determined to find him a bride. Hoang shows that love can cross international borders as well as all boundaries of the heart.

True Crime: The Five: the untold lives of the women killed by Jack the Ripper, by Hallie Rubenhold. The author has thoroughly researched the lives of the five women murdered by Jack the Ripper in 1888 to present a revealing look at Victorian England, at the poverty of the time and at the misfortune of being born a woman.

Mystery: Death Below Stairs, by Jennifer Ashley. Young cook Kat Holloway takes a position in a Mayfair mansion and soon finds herself immersed in the odd household of Lord Rankin. When her assistant is murdered, Kat and footman, Daniel, set out to undercover the culprit. A light and entertaining read.

Historical Fiction: Mistress of the Ritz, by Melanie Benjamin. A captivating novel based on the story of the extraordinary real-life American woman who secretly worked for the French Resistance during World War II while playing hostess to the invading Germans at the iconic Hotel Ritz in Paris. This is another appealing story from the New York Times bestselling author of The Aviator’s Wife and The Swans of Fifth Avenue.

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

Posted in Readers

A “Third Place”

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover. You also can’t judge a library’s value to the community by simply the books on its shelf. Last week’s Friends of the Library’s Murder Mystery Dinner is a perfect example of community value added far beyond library books.

The dinner was the culmination of this year’s community read, A Little Mystery. The Friends’ group sponsors the read every year with a different book and theme. This year’s theme led naturally to the murder mystery dinner. More than 100 of us gathered at the Raynham Park Club to enjoy dinner and a little murder a la carte. For those of us caught up in the moment of this shared experience, it felt like a “village” event – that wonderful feeling of community and sharing that comes along all too infrequently.  It was a moment that gave me cause to reflect on how the public library contributes to the feeling of community.

Sociologist Ray Oldenburg has coined the term “third places” to identify those places in the community outside of home (“first place”) and work (“second place”). Third places refer to locations where people spend time, enjoy themselves, exchange ideas and build relationships. They are the informal spaces that are often mainstays in a neighborhood, places where both random and intentional in-person relationships are made. It might be a barbershop, church, local pub, golf course or gym. It might be the public library.

Being a “third place” gives us the opportunity to know our users, and for them to get to know others in the community. We’d all like to think we live in a place where people care about others. Life is a lot easier when you are part of a network of friends and family, a community, a neighborhood. If you have a library card, then you are part of the community in a unique way – you are part of a community of library users. We care about our users and offer them opportunities to connect with each other – whether it’s through a summer reading program, a storytime, a book club, a program on a shared interest, a community read, or a murder mystery dinner. We care about our users becoming active learners and intellectually curious, independent adults, and we offer materials and services to support that end.

The “third place” public library contributes to the community in a way that enriches the common good, building and strengthening the bonds that tie us together – creating a place we all want to live in.

Posted in Services

Resistance Fiction

Next year will mark the seventy-fifth anniversary of the end of World War II, and as the 2020 dates approach, publishers are eager to capitalize on the public’s interest. Dozens of books have already been published, with dozens more soon to be published, to commemorate the war and its close. Along with the expected non-fiction titles recounting these world-changing events are an abundance of novels which seek to portray the emotional side of the turmoil and chaos that engulfed the world.

These are not, however, novels that rely solely on tears, tragedy and self-sacrifice to carry the plot. These novels are packed with strong female characters and intricate story lines that celebrate the courage and devotion demonstrated by women surviving in the harshest of circumstances – women who not only survived, but who actively resisted their oppressors. There are so many of these novels being published that it’s created a totally new sub-genre of historical fiction – Resistance Fiction.

Set primarily in France where the resistance movement was strong, these novels combine adventure, romance, intrigue, cunning and courage to make thrilling, entertaining and satisfying reading. There is something that fascinates us about these novels. Is it the danger, the intense emotion, the intrigue? Or, is it the combination of tremendous risk and passionate romance?  If you enjoy historical fiction, you’re sure to enjoy reading Resistance Fiction. Here are a few titles we recommend.

All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr, tells a multi-layered story centered on a young blind woman who gets gradually drawn into the French Resistance. This award winning novel speaks powerfully to the human connections that transcend the forces that divide men and nations. The Lost Girls of Paris, by Pan Jenoff, is a story inspired by true events of friendship and courage among a handpicked group of British female spies sent to France by a top secret government division during WWII. Mistress of the Ritz, by Melanie Benjamin, is based on the story of the extraordinary real-life American woman who secretly worked for the French Resistance during World War II, while playing hostess to the invading Germans at the iconic Hotel Ritz in Paris. Kristin Hannah’s, The Nightingale, has touched readers with the story of two sisters who struggle to maintain family under Nazi occupation and deprivation.

Looking for more titles? Check-out the Resistance Fiction book display and pick-up a copy of the book list at the library.

Posted in Readers

So Much More Than Books

It always surprises me to hear someone make the comment that libraries are about books.  Are you surprised that I am surprised? Aren’t libraries about books? Well, not to my mind. Libraries are not about books and have never been about books; libraries are about ideas. Libraries are collections of ideas on many subjects, from different authors, composers, artists, scholars, illustrators and innovators that are transmitted to us in various formats, printed text being one.

We’ve become accustomed to the book as the primary medium for the production, transmission, circulation and dissemination of ideas since the invention of movable type and the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in 1450. In fact, it was the Gutenberg’s invention that allowed for the dissemination of ideas. But for centuries prior to Gutenberg, humans used all kinds of materials to create lasting records of their ideas, even before there was written language.

Some of the earliest efforts of humankind to communicate ideas can be found on the painted cave walls of Spain and France. Experts date these paintings to the Upper Paleolithic Period, some 30,000 years ago. Writing on bone, shells, wood and silk existed in China long before the invention of paper around the 1st century AD. Clay tablets were used in early Mesopotamia. Ancient Romans used wax tablets. Papyrus scrolls were used in Ancient Egypt – more than 500,000 of them filled the Great Library of Alexandria before it was destroyed by fire in the first century BC. In the monasteries of the Middle Ages, monks worked in a scriptorium to preserve parchment manuscripts. Cave walls, bone, shells, wood, silk, clay, wax, papyrus, parchment and finally paper, the history of recording ideas is a long line of innovation. The invention of the personal computer in the last half of the twentieth century has allowed yet another innovation – the digital or downloadable electronic resource. As we move forward into the twenty-first century, streaming digital is becoming another popular transmission medium.

There are books at the library, of course. But there are also videos, electronic databases, streaming content, downloadable digital e-books, digitized resources, compact discs – both for music and audiobooks, software tutorials and mobile apps. We acquire and make accessible all kinds of materials, from print to digital, from toys to STEM learning kits. (We’re even thinking of acquiring a ukulele.)

Today’s library is so much more than books.

Browse our shelves or access our digital e-library content at http://raynhampubliclibrary.org.

Posted in Services

Welcome Spring – Visit a Zoo!

Nothing captures spring in New England as does this excerpt from Robert Frost’s poem, Two Tramps in Mud Time. “The sun was warm but the wind was chill. You know how it is with an April day when the sun is out and the wind is still, you’re one month on in the middle of May. But if you so much as dare to speak, a cloud comes over the sunlit arch, a wind comes off a frozen peak, and you’re two months back in the middle of March.”

Yes, spring, at last! We will take it – wind chill and all. It is such a pleasure to lift winter weary eyes to the bright blue sky, to feel the warmth of the sun, to hear the sounds of birds nesting in trees, and to see spring bulbs displaying their colors. Even April’s cool rainy days can’t dampen our spirits, because we know winter is over. Gone are the heavy coats, woolen scarves and mittens to be replaced by light sweaters, nylon jackets and umbrellas. The more optimistic among us have even been seen wearing shorts and sandals. We all walk with a lighter step and a lighter heart. We have turned the page on winter.

Spring is a wonderful time to explore the natural world, and there’s no better way to do that than to visit a zoo. It’s a wonderful outing for the entire family, full of fun, excitement, discovery, learning and the great outdoors. The library can help you with the visit through our pass program; it’s actually one of the most popular services we offer. With funds provided each year by the Friends of the Library and the Raynham Cultural Council, we purchase passes that allow for free or discounted admission to many area zoos and museums. You select the day, choose the place, and reserve the pass using your library card, pick-up the pass from the library and you are good to go.

There’s nothing quite like taking children to a zoo. It’s fun to watch as they run from exhibit to exhibit, marveling at the size of an elephant, the height of a giraffe or the playfulness of monkeys. It’s an educational feast. There is always something for them to learn as they explore the environment and make new discoveries – from watching the animals to attending the keeper talks. They use all of their senses to take in their surroundings and expand their understanding about animals. They learn the way an animal smells, the sounds it makes, the way it moves and what it looks like. Zoos offer a true multi-sensory approach to learning.

The library offers passes to the Buttonwood Zoo in New Bedford, the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence and the Capron Park Zoo in Attleboro. Get the family together, choose a date for an outing and reserve a pass online at raynhampubliclibrary.org. If you’re more in the mood for indoors activities, then choose from passes to the New England Aquarium, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Museum of Science or the New England Whaling Museum.

For more information about this program, pick-up our museum/zoo brochure, visit the library’s website, raynhampubliclibrary.org, or call the library at 508.823.1344.

Posted in Services

Let’s hear from the author!

trust-meWho doesn’t love an author book talk? Authors love book talks because it gives them the opportunity to connect with their readers and fans. It’s an opportunity to introduce themselves, as well as their books, to an audience. They hope to provide background information about their books and interest audience members enough to purchase the books.

Audiences love book talks because they get a behind-the-scenes look at the writing and creative process. They get to hear amusing, unusual or interesting stories surrounding the book. These are stories about the actual process of writing the book, the author’s personal stories that connect to characters and plot lines, and stories from the author’s life that provided inspiration for the book.

Author book talks are the staple of bookstores, libraries, literary festivals, weekend retreats, middle schools, high schools and book clubs. Everyone enjoys hearing from a “published” author and getting to know the person behind the name on the cover of the book. Hank Phillippi Ryan, author of this year’s Raynham Reads selection, Trust Me, gives a book talk at the South School Community Center on Wednesday, April 10, as part of Raynham Reads 2019…a little mystery. What can you expect to hear?

An author’s book talk appearance usually involves three parts: introduction of self and personal background, reading selections from the book, and question and answer period.

Ryan’s background is particularly interesting and varied. A native of Indianapolis, Indiana, who after a brief stint as an editorial assistant at Rolling Stone Magazine, began her career in television news, first in Indianapolis then Atlanta, as political reporter and weekend anchor. Ryan joined Boston’s WHDH in 1983 as a general assignment reporter and was subsequently named principal reporter for the station’s investigative unit. She has won numerous Emmy Awards and Edward R. Murrow Awards for her investigative and consumer reporting. Ryan is also a nationally bestselling author of 11 mystery novels who has won multiple prestigious awards for her crime fiction. National reviews have called her a “master at crafting suspenseful mysteries” and “a superb and gifted storyteller.”

Ryan’s book talk about Trust Me is sure to spark a lively question and answer period, since there are so many twists and turns in the plot line. We welcome Hank Phillippi Ryan to Raynham and invite the public to attend the event. Autographed copies of the book will be available for purchase. The South School Community Center is located at 305 South St. E in Raynham. Raynham Reads is a community read sponsored by the Friends of the Raynham Public Library, the Raynham Cultural Council and the Raynham Public Library.

Haven’t yet read the book? Copies are available at the library.

Posted in Readers, Services