Friends of Seattle Public Library Blog

The goings on of the Seattle Public Library.

Sounds of Vietnam – Folk Music to Make You Smile! August 15, 2010

Back by popular demand, Canadian duo Khac Chi performs traditional Vietnamese folk music with lively new arrangements, light-hearted humor and creative stage antics.  We’re sure that this year’s shows will delight young and old from ages  4 – adult again.  You can see them perform at 4 different locations this week:

  • Central Library:  Microsoft Auditorium, 2 p.m. Friday, August 20
  • Rainier Beach Branch:  11 a.m. Saturday, August 21
  • Beacon Hill Branch:   3 p.m. Saturday, August 21
  • Lake City Branch:  2 p.m. Saturday, August 22
 

Armchair Travels: What the Board is Reading July 14, 2010

The board members of the Friends of the Seattle Public Library seem to be doing a lot of armchair traveling these days, even if it’s exploring what it means to be an outsider here in America.  Here’s a sample of what they’re reading in case you’re looking for recommendations:

Tall Man : The Death of Doomadgee, by Chloe Hooper.  This true-crime story explores the death of an Australian Aborigine who was arrested for swearing at a white police officer and then died in jail within an hour.  While the book follows the manslaughter trial, Hooper also explores Aboriginal life and the long history of institutional racism in Australia.  Board member Connie found the story tragic, exhausting, and worth reading.  Critics have compared the novel favorably to Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood and Norman Mailer’s The Executioner’s Song.

 

 

Nomad’s Hotel : Travels in Time and Space, by Cees Nooteboom; translated from the Dutch by Ann Kelland.  Nooteboom is a Dutch novelist and travel writer, and this series of travel essays covers trips made from the 1970s through 2002.  The Booklist review notes that “descriptive travelogue ranks second to considerations of the destinations as repositories of the past. Whether in Venice, Isfahan, or Timbuktu, Nooteboom sees a place through its physical relics and literary associations. The traveler’s innate foreignness, however well informed before arrival in a new place, burgeons with significance for Nooteboom. A traveler arrives, sees, and departs, not likely to return.”

 

Gertrude Bell : Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations, by Georgina Howell.   Board member Mary enjoyed this biography of Gertrude Bell, an extraordinary woman who took the world by storm in the early 1900s.   The starred review in Booklist by Donna Seaman notes that “Born to British industrial wealth and civic prominence during the Victorian era, [Gertrude Bell] possessed boundless self-confidence, courage, and vitality. The first woman to earn top honors in history at Oxford, Bell was fluent in six languages, and became an intrepid traveler and celebrated mountaineer. Tragically unlucky in love, she romanced the world instead. Discovering her spiritual home in the Middle East, Bell transformed herself into a cartographer, archaeologist, writer, and photographer as she undertook perilous journeys to fabled desert outposts, commanding the respect of powerful Bedouin sheikhs. During World War I, Bell became the expert on Mesopotamia for British military intelligence, and a more crucial force in the forming of modern Iraq than that of her friend, T. E. Lawrence. From Cairo to Basra to Baghdad, Bell, against fierce adversity, devoted herself to justice.”

Digging to America, by Anne Tyler (e-book read by Blair Brown).  This novel follows two families who meet by chance at the airport to greet their newly adopted baby girls from Korea.  One family is very “American,” while the other family has more recent immigrant roots.  As the two families get to know each other, the Iranian-born narrator grandmother explores impressions of American, and what it means to try to fit in . . . . or not.  Board member Joan especially enjoyed listening to Blair Brown’s reading of the book, so the link above is to the Books on Tape version, which can be downloaded electronically.  It is of course also available in hardback and in large print.

 

 

 

 

Raptors, Rockets and Robots! June 20, 2010

This week we’re highlighting 3 cool science programs in the Seattle Public Library’s Summer Reading Program:

Save Our Amazing Raptors (SOAR):  Woodland Park Zoo educators will play show and tell with  live raptors (birds of prey).  Come ask questions and see these amazing birds up close.  Click here for a list of the library branches and times where you can see this program.  For ages 5 and up.

Paper Airplanes!:  Want to learn about the science of flight from the friendly folks at the Museum of Flight? Here’s your chance to build paper airplanes, two-loop gliders and straw rockets, while learning about aerodynamics and how a plane moves and is controlled. Available at the following library branches and times.  For ages 6 and up; groups and drop-ins welcome.

Robot Challenge:  Pacific Science Center educators want to help you explore the world of robots!  You’ll get to see how scientists use robots to investigate dangerous places, and then try your hand at programming a robot.  Think you’re the champ?  Come compete in teams against other programmers at the following library branches and times to see who will earn the title of Top Robot Programmer!  For ages 12-18.

 

Up Close and Personal at the South Park Branch Library March 20, 2010

Shawna Murphy

“I feel so personal about the South Park library,” Shawna Murphy told us.  “In this library, the staff know me and my family. The  level of service is just unbelievable. We’re all on a first name basis at my branch!”  Talk to anyone from this close-knit neighborhood and you’ll probably hear about two things: the pending closure of the South Park Bridge and reduced hours at the South Park Branch library. “Without the bridge out of the neighborhood the community will depend even more on our small library branch,” Murphy pointed out.

“Our library always has a lot going on,” Murphy, a mother and child care provider explained. ” The older kids in the neighborhood use our library as an afterschool hang out. Our kids section is in the front ¼ of the library so it’s the focal point.  And the computers are always jam-packed with neighbors of all ages, it is almost like the library functions as the South Park Computer Lab. “

Murphy and her small  child care group have been attending Story Time since the South Park branch opened three years ago, but reduced library service hours are impacting that routine.  “Our branch had to change the time of this offering,” Murphy said, “so story time is now offered at 11:15 instead of 10:15.  This new time frame will be a bit of a challenge because it will be cutting into our lunch & nap time and the children will not be at their best.”

In addition, the closure of the South Park branch twice a week, on Fridays and Sundays, cuts into Murphy’s personal routine. “Sunday was my personal day to go to the library, without the kids,” she confided.

When faced with dramatic budget cuts, the Seattle Public Library Board tried to equitably spread 7 day a week library service across the city.  Unfortunately, some of the neighborhoods where library service was reduced were in communities, such as South Park, where the library is greatly needed.  Driving to the next closest open library is sometimes difficult or impossible for families, and some report that it takes them two bus rides to find an open library.

Please help these communities by speaking out for restored library hours. Questions? advocacy@friendsofspl.org

 

Need Help Keeping Track of What’s on Your “To Read” List? March 10, 2010

At the Columbia City Book Fest last October we met a woman who keeps a small book (like an address book) with a list of all the books on her “to read” list.  That way, she has her list ready when she wanders into a library branch or a book sale. 

I clip out book reviews and scribble down recommendations from friends, and then log onto the Seattle Public Library website to put those books on reserve.  Or if I’m in a rush I’ll email myself a reminder or create a note on my Blackberry.

Did you know that if you log into your account on the Library website you can create your own list of books you want to read or have read?  Click here if you want instructions on setting up and managing your list. 

And if you’re looking for suggestions on what to read, consider these book recommendations from members of the Friends’ Board.  You can click on the links below to get to the SPL site to reserve copies.

Spooner, by Pete Dexter.  Daniel Kraus’ review on Booklist Online  notes that “Dexter’s sprawling account of the life of Warren Spooner may be classified as fiction, but it incorporates plenty from the author’s own history. True, false, it doesn’t much matter—this gregarious curriculum vitae is just the ticket for those who like their comic realism served up with a side of Garpian absurdity. . . .  The emotional core, however, is Spooner’s relationship with his cautious yet luckless stepfather, Calmer. A once-promising ship commander whose botching of a sea burial began his slide toward mediocrity, Calmer is the steady path that forever eludes Spooner. But as both men grow older, their emotional fumbling toward each other becomes downright moving. A big, satisfying maybe-memoir.”

Justice:  What’s the Right Thing to Do?, by Michael Sandel.    Professor Michael Sandel teaches a popular course at Harvard about the every day moral decisions we face.  Although our board member hasn’t read Sandel’s book, she enjoyed watching the PBS DVD of some of Sandel’s actual classes at Harvard, in which he uses hypotheticals to help his students and (the viewer!) think critically about issues such as affirmative action, same-sex marriage, surrogate motherhood,  and how to determine how much a life is worth.  Watching students stake out and defend their positions and the logical consequences of those positions, is touching, maddening, and ultimately inspiring.

Read My Pins : Stories From a Diplomat’s Jewel Box, by Madeleine Albright, with Elaine Shocas, Vivienne Becker, and Bill Woodward.  Our board member enjoyed this memoir by Madeleine Albright, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, who used her jewelry to make both personal and political statements.  “Before long, and without intending it, I found that jewelry had become part of my personal diplomatic arsenal. Former president George H. W. Bush had been known for saying “Read my lips.” I began urging colleagues and reporters to “Read my pins.” ” The book includes over 200 photos of pins from Albright’s collection, as well as many of the political figures and celebrities she met while wearing them.

Wicked Plants: The Weed that Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities, by Amy Stewart.     “They may look sweet and innocent, but anyone who has ever broken out in a rash after picking a hyacinth blossom or burst into violent sneezing after sniffing a chrysanthemum knows that often the most beautiful flowers can pack the nastiest punch. . . . . There are plants that can kill with a drop of nectar, paralyze with the brush of a petal. From bucolic woodland streams choked by invasive purple loosestrife to languid southern fields overrun by kudzu, some plants are just more trouble than they’re worth. Culling legend and citing science, Stewart’s fact-filled, A–Z compendium of nature’s worst offenders offers practical and tantalizing composite views of toxic, irritating, prickly, and all-around ill-mannered plants.”  –From Carol Haggas’ review on Booklist Online.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, by Lisa See.  Here’s Kristin Huntley’s assessment from her Booklist Online review:  “Mystery writer See, author of The Interior (1999) and Dragon Bones (2003), takes readers to nineteenth-century China to explore a complex friendship between two women. Lily is the daughter of a farmer in Puwei Village, and Snow Flower is the daughter of a respectable family from Tongkou, and though the two girls have very different backgrounds, Madame Wang pairs the two as laotong, or “old sames,” a bond that will last them a lifetime. . . .  . Their friendship is cemented during their youth and then put to the test when the girls prepare for marriage and Lily discovers a startling secret about Snow Flower’s family. . . .  See’s writing is intricate and graceful, and her attention to detail never wavers, making for a lush, involving reading experience. This beautiful tale should have wide appeal.” 

Reviews from Booklist Online are excerpted with permission.

 

A Friend is Someone Who Likes You (and Who Volunteers at the Friends’ Book Sale!) March 1, 2010

One of my best-loved books from childhood is A Friend is Someone Who Likes You, by Joan Walsh Anglund.  What child could resist a book (a hardback book of my very own!) that had been inscribed “I bought this in London for a sweet little girl on her fifth birthday.  With love, Auntie Mae.”   That book has accompanied me back and forth across the country through many moves, and still sits on my bookshelf today.  It is a sweet reminder of how much I enjoyed reading books as a child, and of course of my Auntie Mae.

Fast forward more years than I’d like to think, and I’m now a Friend of the Seattle Public Library.  With the help of numerous volunteers, the Friends sponsor their famous twice-yearly Book Sales.  The next Book Sale is on April 16 – 18, 2010, and will be held at Magnuson Park, at the Hangar in Building #30, 7400 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, 98115.  Free parking is available, and Metro bus routes 30, 74, and 75 will also get you there.

Over 200,000 items will be offered for sale, so there’s bound to be something for everyone!  Hardbacks, paperbacks and audio books in the regular section are $1.00, and videos, CDs, and DVDs are $1.00 per piece.  There is also a special room for better books and for rare/collectible books and sets, where prices are as marked.

Once again we need about 350 volunteers to help with all aspects of the sale, from set-up to clean-up.  Won’t you be a Friend, and sign up via the volunteer form on the Friends’ web site or by emailing book.sale@spl.org?  You can volunteer for one (or more!) of the shifts that run from Thursday, April 15 through Monday, April 19.  Volunteers receive a coupon for two regularly priced books of their choice, and can also receive Community Service credit.

Any questions?  See the Booksale FAQ on the Friends’ website, and feel free to contact the Book Sale office at 206.523.4053 or book.sale@spl.org.

 

Amy’s Story: “I Just Really Love Reading” February 22, 2010

We know children love libraries.  This year we’re asking kids to tell us why. Here, Amy says that when she goes to the library she gets SO many books she can hardly carry them!  I asked Children’s Librarian Amy LaVare, at the High Point branch library, what a pile of books that high might look like. For that, see the accompanying photo to Amy’s essay.
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Why I like the Seattle Public Library
By Amy Pottharst, age 7
 
I think reading is important because if you are bored it gives you something to do. I just really love reading. My favorite kinds of books are mysteries. Books are sometimes so suspenseful and I really love that.  I was 4 ½ when I started reading and my mom says she could barely keep up with me!  Sometimes in the summer we walk or ride bikes to the library to get some books and then we go to a nearby park or to the wading pool. When we go to the library I get SO many books I can barely carry them all!  
 
My younger brother Danny (4 years old) loves getting books too. He goes every week for story-time and was disappointed when there was no more story-time in February.  We usually sit side-by-side and read quietly together. He copies everything I do!
 
The library is great because we can check out books for my book group. We raised money for a group called Pennies for Peace.  We learned about this group from the book “Listen to the Wind” by Greg Mortenson.
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Would you like to become a friend of the Seattle Public Library?  Will you share your story about what the Library means to you?  Email us at advocacy@friendsofspl.org.
 

 
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