Saturday, May 20, 2017

Nine Truths and a Lie

Today I'm playing along with the latest Facebook meme, by listing ten live concerts or documentaries you can watch on Qello Concerts - the library's newest online offering - except for the one that I am lying about. Can you guess which?

1. Bruce Springsteen Live in Barcelona, 2002. The first concert released in its entirety, with a "deliriously insane" crowd.

2. The Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin, Festival Express, 1970.  For five days, the bands and performers traveled by train across Canada, performing at each stop.

3. Joey and Rory Country Classics: songs and interviews with the couple, before Rory's tragic diagnosis.

4. Beatles Beat Box. A 15 minute film with press interviews and worldwide footage documenting the rise of Beatlemania.
5. Coachella: a documentary about the music festival, 1999-2005.

6. Queen at Rock Montreal, 1981. The only Queen concert ever recorded.

7. Rage Against the Machine's Battle of Mexico City, 1999. As Rage Against the Machine supported political causes in Mexico, this concert attended by thousands in Mexico City was especially electric.

8. Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5. Written after his earlier works displeased Stalin, did Symphony No. 5 with its rousing final march appease the Communist Party, or is it a secret protest?

9. Audioslave Live in Cuba, 2005. The first American rock band to perform in Cuba, in Havana's the Anti-Imperialist Plaza, whose frontman was the recently deceased Chris Cornell.

10. Prince's music album Love Symbol Album: you will need a special key on your keyboard to search for this one.

OK, obviously number 10 is false: Qello does not have any Prince videos yet. But it was difficult to find something Qello didn't have, as there are more than 1500 music videos/concerts/documentaries available in dozens of genres, from the 1920s to the 2010s, Duke Ellington to Tiesto.

To get to Qello (pronounced Kwel-oh), go to the library's website, and click on All Things E, then scroll down to Qello Concerts.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Reading Ulysses by Bloomsday

Regular listeners of WNYC's Leonard Lopate Show on 93.9 FM will know that Leonard's book club is reading Ulysses, with the deadline of Bloomsday - June 16, the day on which the James Joyce novel takes place, 113 years ago. There's no way I will finish by this Bloomsday, but at least I've cracked open "the greatest novel never read" and gotten started.

In college when I was studying abroad, I visited Dublin with friends, one of whom had read Ulysses and dragged us across the city tracing Leopold Bloom's route. Now Ulysses is haunting me the way the stories of Flannery O'Connor niggled at the back of my mind after I sat in a rocking chair on her front porch, until I gave in and read A Good Man is Hard to Find. 

The Leonard Lopate radio show has had several Joyce scholars on to speak about Ulysses recently, and you can listen to them here.  Professor Michael Groden recommended listening to Ulysses; you won't get bogged down by points you don't understand because the audiobook will go on. BHPL has the complete audiobook on CD - all forty discs of it - along with a shorter audiobook that was adapted for BBC Radio. A dramatized reading of Ulysses that was originally broadcast on Irish radio is also available free online.

I am tackling the book, not the audio, but I'm taking it slowly.  After all, Ulysses was first published in installments over two years in the American journal The Little Review (March 1918 to September 1920). The publishers lost an obscenity trial after that and could not print the last four episodes of the novel. Read more about the banning of Ulysses in the 2014 book The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for Ulysses.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Consumer Reports & People magazine on your iPad/PC

If I had to name the two most in-demand magazines here at the library, it would be Consumer Reports and People magazine.  In fact, we have to keep the latest issue of People behind the circulation desk to safeguard it from a persistent thief.  And we often get calls or visits from residents looking for Consumer Reports, whose independent ratings are the mainstay of residents shopping for a new appliance or device or car.

It's very easy to swipe through a digital version of People or Consumer Reports now, even if the library is closed. Simply download the Flipster app from the app store.

If you'd rather read the magazine on your computer, go to the library website and click All Things E (E for electronic), then click on Flipster.

Either way, you will need your library barcode number handy once you open up Flipster.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Captain Obvious at the Library

Captain Obvious, the spokesperson for, is known for stating the obvious, obviously.
I was oblivious to Captain Obvious until I said something obvious to my son and he said,
"Thank you, Captain Obvious." Which got me thinking, We could really use this plain-speaking military type at the library. Just think, I thought, it's so obvious that libraries can save you money, we need this fellow as our spokesman. I really think the American Library Association should jump on this idea. Maybe Captain C. would even do some public service announcements for American libraries. Suggested scripts for Captain Obvious to recommend public libraries to the public:

Captain C: The Berkeley Heights Free Public Library is free, so it saves you money!
Captain C: If you borrow a book from a library, you don't have to pay for it, so it's free and that saves you money!
Captain C: Don't buy ebooks, borrow them for free from the library. It will save you money not to buy them!
Captain C: Don't buy DVD's, borrow them for free from your library to save money!
Captain C: A library card never charges fees like a credit card! That saves you money.

Thank you, Captain Obvious!

How do libraries save you money?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Software Upgrade at the Library Scheduled for this Friday

Happy Library Staff Awaiting Software Upgrade
Thursday night, April 27, in the quiet and darkest part of the night, while library staff and patrons are home sleeping soundly, the library servers in the basement will be upgraded! A new and completely different-looking catalog and circulation system will be loaded overnight, somehow magically and remotely, by our software vendor. When the librarians arrive for work on Friday morning and boot up their computers, they will be confronted by... something unlike what the library has been using for years and years. The staff has been feverishly practicing on the new system and feels ready to go, or as ready as we'll ever be. ------------->
For our library patrons, when you use the online catalog, it will look more colorful. If you need help, be sure to ask at the reference desk. We will be open as usual during the upgrading process. Please bear with us while we curse and swear, er, fumble, um, patiently tap, tap, tap, brows furrowed while we search for and check out books and so on.

Vocabulary Quiz for Library Software Upgrade:

Why do we want to go from a 'client-based' to a 'web-based' system?
What is our 'ILS' and why are they making us upgrade?
How does 'TLC', our ILS, get into our server room in the middle of the night for the upgrade?
Can we lock them out?
What is the difference between an OPAC and a PAC and what did they do with the card catalog?
What happened to Melville Dewey and his Decimal System?
Would Mr. Dewey like this upgrade?

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The White House Chef mystery series

This will be a short post about one of my favorite series.  Julie Hyzy started the 'White House Chef' Mysteries in 2008 with State of the Onion and ended in 2016 with Foreign Eclairs.  The seven other titles include: Home of the Braised; Affairs of Steak; All the President’s Menus; Buffalo West Wing; Hail to the Chef; Eggsecutive Orders: and Fonduing Fathers.  Olivia Paras, Head Chef in the White House kitchen, was in charge of all things food related from daily meals for the First Family to assisting in planning large scale events.  Checking dietary restrictions, allergies, and protocol for how and what to serve visiting dignitaries was crucial.  Making the Secret Service a little crazy was an added benefit of her job. Ollie had a knack of finding herself in the middle of espionage, sabotage and mayhem.  The books also included a little romance and a few recipes.

Moving on to the reason for this post, Ollie Paras and the White House Chef Mysteries, as written by Julie Hyzy, have come to last meal.  The author had been hired to write the series, but did not own the concept or copyright.    When the company that owns the series ran into financial problems, the problems quickly trickled down to the level of delayed payments to the author.  ReadJulie Hyzy’s blog to understand how little she was being paid for each book purchased.  If Work-for-Hire is a common publishing practice, I wonder how anyone can afford to write.  I understand that the company is spending money to produce and promote the books, assuming the risk of poor sales, and, generally, not making a fortune on the great majority of books published.  It is not my intention to question the convoluted contracts between authors and publishers, I am just expressing my disappointment that the Ollie Paras I have known and enjoyed may not be seen again.  Yes, a different author could be offered a similar Work-for-Hire agreement, but the pairing of Ollie and Julie was a good one.

"All Good Things..." , author Julie Hyzy's blog post about the end of her 'White House Chef' series.

Author Julie Hyzy's website listing her books including her other mystery series, 'Manor House mysteries.' 

All the President's Menus by Julie Hyzy is available to borrow as an ebook from eLibraryNJ.

- S. Bakos

Life and Death at the Library

Strains of bagpipe music filled the library this Saturday afternoon. A bagpiper was playing for guests leaving a wedding at the church next door. The library has also witnessed many funerals next door, also with bagpipe accompaniment.  When a library regular goes on to that great library in the sky, his or her obituary is printed out for the staff to reminisce over. 

Earlier today a pair of filmmakers identified themselves and said they hoped to film a short interview in the library at some future time, a time when the library is busy. I pointed this out and one said "But libraries are generally quiet, aren't they?" If only the bagpipes had started up then, but it was morning, and bagpipes in the morning means a funeral, so it was all for the best.

Now I can hear children's voices downstairs in the children's department. "Daddy! Can we have theeeeeeese?  Can we take them HOME?" I help an obstetrician download an audiobook while chatting about the c-section rate.  Someone from children's calls upstairs and says "Run this through your memory bank: a picture book told from the ants' point of view." This turns out to be Two Bad Ants.

Someone wonders where the Bill O'Reilly audiobooks are. As I'm busy with another patron, I give him the Dewey Decimal numbers and direct him "past the pink flamingo," a phrase that gives me endless satisfaction whenever I get to use it.  People are preparing for trips and vacations, which means they are willing to drive here from other towns to check out a copy of Fates and Furies and they need to be able to watch their Hoopla videos while offline.

Happy reading and have a good trip.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Not Too Old and Not Too New

It's me, Ellen. Thank you to all the patrons who have welcomed me back- some with candy. I swear, none of us have aged a bit while I was gone.

While getting back into the swing of things, I found this useful list from Reading Group Guides, the site for book groups: the books whose guides were most requested by book groups in 2016. I've reproduced the "new favorites" half of the list below.

Behold the Goldilocks zone - these books are not too old (leaving you nobody to discuss the book with) and not too new (does anyone enjoy waiting lists? Or not being able to renew a 500 page book?).  I have linked to the library eBook versions, many of which you can start reading right now using the Overdrive app. See also: library bookshelves.


"Ongoing favorites" requested in 2016 included The Book Thief, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, The Gold Finch, My Brilliant Friend, The Boys in the Boat, Me Before You, Big Little Lies, The Invention of Wings, Lila, and The 100-Year-Old Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, among others.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Spring is Sprung and the Bears are Back

The local online paper 'TAPinto' just posted its first bear sighting story of the season, which reminded me of the recurring posts on this blog about area bears and related children's books. Enjoy our librarian blogger's musings about bears.
A few years ago, before I had a smart phone and city alerts were coming to my landline...

"The blinking telephone message light greeted me last night when I got home from work. The police reverse phone emergency system informed me that a "free-ranging" bear had been spotted near Summit Middle School and was last reported heading in a "westerly" direction.  Last time I got that message was the day I had left the outside door propped wide for my dog and forgot to close it when I left for work;  what if a  bear had headed into my house and found a "just right" sized bed or chair or perhaps raided the cupboard looking for porridge? I wonder what they mean by a "free-ranging" bear. Would that be something different from a bear with a plan or a GPS? While I was pondering that mystery, I started to think about how bears are portrayed in children's books, so cute and cuddly and, well, human. Some well-known literary bears spring to mind:

The many versions of the story of Goldilocks and her nemeses, the Three Bears, who I think of as Mr. and Mrs. Three and Little Three, Jr.
The Berenstain Bears, whose eponymous (always wanted to use that word in a sentence) series features moral lessons for young children about proper behavior in school, at the doctor, with the babysitter, on a boat, at night etc. There's no situation these books don't address. Every day has teachable moments for these poor bears. My son was addicted to this series; me not so much. I prefer:
Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson as a read-a-loud for preschoolers, Michael Bond's Paddington series is fun to read to older children. My (now grown) kids still refer to Paddington "having a tussle with a sticky bun" in the station cafe. It is one of those family catch-phrases. Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey is a classic; I love McCloskey's illustrations and the old-fashioned 3-tones pictures. And Daniel Pinkwater's stories about Larry the Polar Bear who floats on an ice flow and ends up in Bayonne, NJ is a must read.
If approached by a real bear, remain calm and report it to the NJ bear hotline    
For more information about real bears, read the NJ Department of Environmental Protection's 
Bear Facts page.'

[Originally posted April 2011]"

Friday, March 3, 2017

Preschool and Elementary School Online Learning for Children

Last week while visiting my grandchildren I spent time walking backwards, chasing downhill and up, reading stories and, yes, watching shows on the Nickelodeon TV channel. I was surprised to see 'ABC Mouse' advertised during a show about humanoid monster trucks that my three year old grandson loves. "Wait!" I felt like saying, "don't buy that stuff, parents, get it free from your local library."

Whether you are reading this from your cozy spot in Berkeley Heights, NJ or have stumbled upon this blog post by Googling and are somewhere else in the world, here is what librarians want you to know:

Your library has so many resources available for free and librarians hate for you to spend money on something we can teach you how to use without getting out your charge card. 

Libraries have done a pretty good job letting people know that we have books. Most people realize that libraries also have DVD's and books on CD. Many people realize libraries have downloadable e-books for free. Students may know that we have databases that can be used for researching term papers. But libraries also offer streaming and downloadable resources for children. So if your child or grandchild really, really NEEDS to be entertained so you can cook that Mac 'n' Cheese in peace, you can turn on a fun and educational library resource and know that the child will not be bombarded by commercials or unsuitable content while you boil up that orange goop or even tackle something more challenging.
Several online educational resources for children including ‘ABC Mouse’ are offered free from the Berkeley Heights Public Library.

Go to our Database links at to find ‘ABC Mouse.’ Sign up for a free account and start learning!  Preschool to elementary age children will learn pre-reading and reading skills through fun online games. Other children’s online resources include:

‘BookFlix’: Animated children’s books and read-alongs. 

‘Hoopla Kids’: Movies, TV programs, music and e-books that can be viewed on your computer, tablet or mobile device. Use the Hoopla Kids Mode by toggling to ‘Kids’ in your Hoopla app settings. Hoopla offers content for adults and children. Parents can toggle from adult mode to children’s mode in the app. Each BHPL card holder can view, stream or download up to eight free Hoopla items per month. One item may contain a TV series or musical album but that only counts as one item. Lending periods vary by title and format.

‘TumbleBooks’: animated storybooks that also work on iPads. Children will be entertained and learn while using ‘Tumblebooks’ and the other library resources for children. There are no fees and no advertisements! If you watch Nickelodeon TV and see ‘ABC Mouse’ and other resources advertised, don’t buy them before checking out the free access that your local library provides. 

 I wrote about these online resources in our monthly email newsletter, The Buzz, which can be found on the library website here. You can read the Buzz online or you can have a link to it emailed to you monthly. Come in to talk to the children's librarian or reference librarians about these fun online learning activities and other library resources which are free, free, free, did I mention that? It's hard to compete with talking monster trucks, but libraries are trying.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Books for Book Clubs

The Berkeley Heights Public Library has two book groups. The Evening Book Group's book selections over the years can be found on our website here. The Morning Book Group's lists are here. Librarians are often asked for book recommendations for local book groups. Here is a list of five books that each book group especially enjoyed in the last few years. Please ask our reference librarians if you would like more recommendations for your reading group.

Evening Book Group
 All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
 The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
 The Round House by Louise Erdrich
 The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
 We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

Morning Book Group
The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah
 A Man Called Ove by F. Backman
 Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
 The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
 In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson

Other sources to consult for picking a book for a book group:
Reading Group Guides
GoodRead's Book Group Suggestions
Amazon Book Club Picks

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Simultaneous Reading is against My Reading Rules

If you have ever read one of my earlier posts, you know I have strictly enforced Reading Rules.  At the moment, however, I am reverting to bad habits.  Not reading more than one book at a time or becoming distracted halfway through a book are Rules I have been ignoring. Here is my current reading list:

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman:  (Hoopla e-audio) To say that Ove is set in his ways is an understatement. The man is set in cement at the beginning of the story.  Listening to Ove has made me miss a very dear, very curmudgeonly patron who died several years ago.  I can almost hear John’s voice instead of the excellent narrator.

Home Sweet Home by April Smith:  (OverDrive eBook)  This book is set in South Dakota during the days when Joseph McCarthy’s hunt for communists and communist sympathizers turned neighbors against neighbors and made everyone seem somehow suspicious.  It is loosely based on actual events and a well-known libel trial.  The details of life in South Dakota, surviving natural disasters on a cattle ranch, made the story even more interesting.  The earlier story from the 50s and 60s ties into events in the mid-1980s.

Washington’s Farewell: the Founding Father’s Warning to Future Generations by John Avlon:   (OverDrive eBook)  Washington’s Farewell, when he announced that he was done serving as President and wanted to retire, as opposed to his first farewell from military service, was referred to and frequently quoted during the recent election.  It seemed time to refresh my memory and revisit Washington’s words, thoughtfully provided in an appendix.  The political scene was as frantic and frenetic then as it is now.  It was interesting to see the Founding Fathers jostling and evolving as the founding words had to be put into action and process.  I had forgotten that the Farewell was published in a newspaper and not presented as a speech.

Swimming Lessons by Mary Alice Monroe: (OverDrive eBook)  As a cat is easily distracted by shiny toys, I was distracted by a book by one of my favorite beach authors.  I enjoyed wrapping up in a blanket while visiting some familiar places in South Carolina, seeing some old friends, and catching up on the continuing struggles of loggerhead turtles.  I needed warm breezes from the ocean to relax after Ove’s frostiness, snow storms and floods in the heartland, and political firestorms when New York was still the capital city.

I may have already told this embarrassing story, but years ago I put down the book I was reading to make a cup of tea.  When I started reading again I was about twenty pages along before I realized I was reading the wrong book.  Somehow I hadn’t realized the characters had changed and I was in the middle of the Bataan Death March.  This is why I need to focus on one book at a time and not to try to juggle reading, listening, mixing fiction and non-fiction, and time traveling.  Reading Rules exist for a reason.

- S. Bakos 

To find ebooks to borrow, go to our All Things E page for Hoopla, eLibraryNJ and more downloadable resources.