Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Morality Play by Barry Unsworth

The BHPL First Friday Book Group will discuss Barry Unsworth's Morality Play this week. Booker Prize winner Unsworth turns to historical fiction in this murder mystery set in war and plague-ravaged 14th century England. A troupe of traveling players put on a play to make money to pay for the burial of a fellow player. Diverging from the dramatic tradition of the times which was the formulaic, didactic morality play, they present a play about a current murder in the town where they are staying.
In an interview, Unsworth discusses the theme of finding meaning, expressed in the book in this way:
"Players are like other men, they must use God’s meanings, they cannot make meanings of their own .... if we make our own meanings, God will oblige us to answer our own questions, He will leave us in the void without the comfort of His Word’ "
The players discuss and mistrust their decision to deviate from the norm to act out a play about a current, secular event, but they go ahead with the play anyway.
Unsworth says,
"It was especially relevant to that particular phase of theatrical history where there was a transition into a secular mode away from what is Bible-based and religious. ...traditional forms, forms that are sanctioned and accepted, forms that are done over and over again. From them you move away into areas where you make your own forms or your own meanings and you take the responsibility, in other words, you become modern man. You become recognisably a creature that inhabits our world. "
For the whole interview, A Warning Voice, with Gary Podmore, click here.
Morality plays are described in the Encyclopedia Britannica Online article, available from the BHPL website, Morality Play.
"Together with the mystery play and the miracle play, the morality play is one of the three main types of vernacular drama produced during the Middle Ages. The action of the morality play centres on a hero, such as Mankind, whose inherent weaknesses are assaulted by such personified diabolic forces as the Seven Deadly Sins but who may choose redemption and enlist the aid of such figures as the Four Daughters of God (Mercy, Justice, Temperance, and Truth)."
For reading discussion guides try the following links:
Reading Group Guides

Monday, July 30, 2007

Genealogy Program Tuesday Night

Genealogy Program
Tuesday, July 31 at 7:00 pm.
Learn how to use BHPL’s HeritageQuest database in your genealogy research. Last Tuesday’s Ancestry genealogy program was so successful, that the library is offering another program which will cover the features in HeritageQuest Online. This database features the U.S. Census, 20,000 family history books, PERSI index to local history articles, Revolutionary War records, and the records of the Freedman’s Bank. The class will last about 90 minutes.

If you like Agatha Christie mysteries, try these authors

The other day, a patron wanted to know what mystery authors she might like to read. The BHPL reference librarian "interviewed" her to find out what her reading interests were. The patron said she is an Agatha Christie fan and doesn't like violence in books. This generally means that she would like the genre of mysteries called "cozies" or "English village mysteries" often featuring an amateur detective who uses intellect, common sense, keen powers of observation and a lot of nosiness, rather than brute force, to solve mysteries.

Here is the list the librarian made for her. For all you "cozy" mystery fans, you might like to try the following authors:

Antonia Fraser - Jemima Shore mysteries (British TV reporter)

Ann Granger - Mitchell and Markby mysteries - Meredith Mitchell works in Foreign Office and with her detective boyfriend Markby solves a lot of crimes set in English villages

Katherine Hall Page - Faith Fairchild mysteries - a caterer married to a minister in Massachusetts

Alexander McCall Smith - No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series(shelved in Mystery under McCall) - set in Botswana

Joan Hess - Claire Malloy mysteries - set in a bookstore

Donna Andrews - American; humorous; main character is an artist

Dorothy Cannell - interior decorator in an English village, humorous

John Sherwood - widowed horticulturist in an English village

Since you like Agatha Christie, we also recommend Margery Allingham and Ngaio Marsh who were Christie's contemporaries.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

You Finished Harry Potter, Now What to Read?

OK, you gobbled down all the Harry Potter books like Hagrid at an all-you-can-eat buffet for giants and now what can you read? The Waterboro Public Library blog answers that question in this blog post containing a list of Harry Potter "read-a-likes."
Librarians spend a fair amount of time helping patrons find books similar to books they have read and/or authors similar to authors they love and it's an art not a science. At BHPL we use the Novelist database to find fiction that might match a patron's tastes.
Here are some more links to fantasy reading lists for readers suffering from Harry Potter withdrawal. Of course these titles aren't the same, but you might find something...
BookSpot's list
Rockland Public Library
and from the American Library Association website there are several lists available.

P4A Antiques Database at the Library: the "Red Baron's" Goggles found!

P4A (prices for antiques) which is contiuously updated, contains auction records for thousands of items. The database is free and available both in the library and from the library website by BHPL patrons.
An excerpt from the P4A Basement Newsletter discloses some exciting discoveries:
"Okay, not really, but sometimes searching the database does give me the feeling of rummaging around in a basement or attic, minus the dust and the bugs! Just last week, I discovered the aviator goggles pictured here. While they seem unassuming and frankly, a little dilapidated, they actually belonged to Manfred von Richthofen, the legendary Red Baron! With a solid provenance, they brought $48,875 when they sold at auction in 2005. The sale included a number of Red Baron artifacts, including his scarf, his handkerchief, and even a small section of his plane. Have to wonder what Snoopy, the World War I flying ace would make of that?

I'm Not Scared, Foreign Film on Thursday Night

As part of its Summer International Film Festival, the Berkeley Heights Public Library will be showing I'm Not Scared directed by Gabriele Salvatores on Thursday, August 2, at 7 p.m. in the library meeting room. Come join us! Thriller. Italian. 2003. 108 minutes. Rated R

Plot Summary: The late 1970s saw a rash of kidnappings in Italy. In a remote village in the southern part of the country, nine-year-old Michele is playing amid the ruins of an old villa, when he makes a startling discovery: a little boy is chained to the ground at the bottom of a hole. Not knowing what to make of what he’s seen, he brings the child food and water, his innocence prevents him from doing anything more. He thinks no one will believe him, so he doesn’t tell his parents. But when they learn of his experience, they inexplicably caution him not to say anything. When a “bad man” visits his parents and the adults begin to argue while watching TV news coverage of the latest kidnapping, Michele gradually begins his loss of innocence. Because we see the events unfolding through Michele’s uncomprehending eyes, the viewing audience shares his childlike confusion, effectively heightening the suspense. Part thriller, part coming-of-age tale, the film won two Donatello Awards.
Admission is free and no reservations are required.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Read to Your Dog?

Librarians wage the battle for literacy and library use using all means imaginable and some means you would never imagine, including programs where children can read to a dog! According to a post on a librarians listserv-
Libraries that Offer Dog Reading Programs include:
Maywood Public Princeton Public Ridgewood Public (22 dogs !), Somerville Public, occasionally Caldwell Public which had a successful program, but currently can’t find interested dogs/handlers, Keansburg Waterfront Public, Middletown Public, Cape May Public, Randolph Public, occasionally Morris County, Highland Park Public, occasional starting in July 2007 East Brunswick Public, Roxbury Public River, Vale Public, just starting Watchung Public, occasionally Parsippany Public, Springfield Public, Wharton Public, Bernards Township Public, occasionally Wood-Ridge Public, occasionally Henry Inman Branch of Woodbridge Public, South Brunswick Public and possibly others...
Many people think that dogs prefer picture books about dogs like Gene Zion's classic Harry the Dirty Dog, or the really funny Detective LaRue by Mark Teague featured on this summer's NJ Summer Reading Program poster. Sources not-for-attribution, but rather hairy, tell this blogger that cookbooks are also popular in the canine literary community. Never assume, reading tastes are so personal.

Upcoming Programs at BHPL

The BHPL Summer Foreign Film Festival continues tonight at 7:00 pm.
Join us for the last four films of the Foreign Film Festival at BHPL this summer. Free admission, but seating is limited. Films start promptly at 7:00 pm, so please come early. Some films may be suitable for viewers seventeen years and older.

Fear and Trembling __Thursday, July 26
I’m Not Scared______Thursday, August 2
No! _______________ Thursday, August 9
Volver ____________ Thursday, August 16

Genealogy Program: Tuesday, July 31 at 7:00 pm.

Learn how to use BHPL’s HeritageQuest database in your genealogy research. Last Tuesday’s Ancestry genealogy program was so successful, that the library is offering another program which will cover the features in HeritageQuest Online. This database features the U.S. Census, 20,000 family history books, PERSI index to local history articles, Revolutionary War records, and the records of the Freedman’s Bank. The class will last about 90 minutes.
Ancestry Online is available free from library computers. HeritageQuest is available to Union County library card holders from the Union County Library Connection webpage.
Also available from that webpage is Proquest's Historical Newspapers database which includes the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, USA TODAY, the Boston Globe, and the Atlanta Journal/Constitution. The Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune

Shakespeare in the (Not Quite) Park

Next Stage Ensemble of the NJ Shakespeare Theatre presents:

Saturday, August 4 at 7:00 pm - Henry IV, part I

Bring lawn chairs, ages 10 and up, presented in the BHPL (not quite the park) parking lot.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Berkeley Heights Named Best Place to Live

Money Magazine named Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, 45th out of 100 in its Best Places to Live article on Monday. The rating was based on Financial, Housing, Education, Quality of Life and other factors. Berkeley Heights rated above average for libraries available within a fifteen mile radius.

Summary of Harry Potter Books 1 - 6

To review the Harry Potter saga quickly before the seventh and last title comes out at midnight tonight, go to the Star Ledger which ran a series that summarized the first six Harry Potter books. Follow this link. Scroll down to the first in the series and read in reverse order (the latest post is first on "Madame Coco Foxglove's" blog.)

Monday, July 9, 2007

Weddings - United States - Planning

"Weddings - United States - Planning" is the Library of Congress subject heading for wedding planning (when in libraries, always backwards, think.) When that phrase is plugged into the BHPL OPAC (ie: looked up in the library catalog: when in libraries, always use unintelligible acronyms) there were nine hits.
If you search the term "weddings" in Yahoo, there will be 140,000,000 hits! From this it might be inferred that while the internet provides large quantities of relatively undifferentiated and underevaluated information, libraries provide high-quality, edited, professional information, but less of it. Not that libraries compete with the internet, but the difference is good to keep in mind. Also, libraries provide humans to sort through and find information and the internet doesn't, even though Yahoo's directory is somewhat human-directed.
And finally all this means that weddings are BIG business in the U.S. these days. So if you want books on the subject, browse in the 392 to 395's on the library shelves. If you want websites, knock yourself out looking at those millions of websites.
For a title that is as exhausting as planning a wedding, try:
The best friend's guide to planning a wedding : how to find a dress, return the shoes, hire a caterer, fire a photographer, choose a florist, book a band, and still wind up married at the end of it all by Lara Webb Carrigan. 395.22 Carr