Tuesday, November 21, 2017

BHPL's "Bestsellers"

Wondering what your neighbors are reading in Berkeley Heights? These "BHPL bestseller" lists are based on circulation statistics and current holds. 

Most Popular New Fiction at BHPL

Top Four Novels
1.   Don't Let Go by Harlan Coben
2.  Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
3.  Camino Island by John Grisham
4.  Two Kinds of Truth by Michael Connelly

Tied for Fifth Place
5.  The Breakdown by B.A. Paris
5. The Duchess by Danielle Steel
5. Secrets In Summer by Nancy Thayer
5. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
5. The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

Tied for Tenth
10. Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
10. Dangerous Minds : a Knight and Moon Novel by Janet Evanovich
10. The Store by James Patterson
10. The Rooster Bar by John Grisham
10. Origin by Dan Brown
10. The Midnight Line: A Jack Reacher Novel by Lee Child
10. The People vs. Alex Cross by James Patterson

Most Popular New Nonfiction at BHPL

Top Nonfiction (books by and about Hillary Clinton & possibly what she's reading)
1. Shattered : Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign by Jonathan Allen
2. Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed
3.  Option B : Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg
3.  What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton

The Next Three Nonfiction:
5.  Astrophysics For People In a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
5.  Killing England by Bill O'Reilly
7.  The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down : How To Be Calm and Mindful in a Fast-Paced World by Hyemin

Tied for Eighth Place: Food and Wine Books
8. Cork Dork : a Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste by Bianca Bosker
8. Christopher Kimball's Milk Street : the New Home Cooking by Christopher Kimball
8. Dinner in an Instant: 75 Modern Recipes for Your Slower Cooker, Pressure Cooker and Instapot by Melissa Clark
8. Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? by Mark Hyman
8. The Mother-in-Law Cure : Learning to Live and Eat in an Italian Family by Katherine Wilson
8. Smitten Kitchen Every Day by Deb Perelman

More Nonfiction Books Tied for Eighth Place (Geez):
8. Al Franken, Giant of the Senate by Al Franken
8. If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look On My Face? by Alan Alda
8. Confessions of a Wall Street Insider by Michael Kimelman
8. Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson
8. Sisters First:Stories from Our Wild and Wonderful Life by Jenna Bush
8. Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Cruising through France with Nina George's The Little Paris Bookshop

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George is the subject of this week's evening book group discussion.  If you can't attend the book group meeting, try out the Book Apothecary, which was inspired by the Literary Apothecary and like him, prescribes books for every mood. Or travel by armchair to warmer French climes with beautiful slideshows of the book market of Cuisery, Bonnieux, and Sanary-sur-Mer.

The publisher's discussion questions are available at ReadingGroupGuides and here are some of my own:

1.  This book was originally published in German with the title "Das Lavendelzimmer" (The Lavender Room). Do you think The Little Paris Bookshop is a good title? Why/why not?

2. If this book were to be made into a movie, who would you choose to play Jean Perdu, Manon, or one of the other characters?

3. Which part of the book was your favorite or your least favorite and why?

4. Has a book ever healed you or changed your life in some way? If so, which book?

5. We read the English translation by Simon Pare. Did you ever feel like you were reading a translation at times?

6. Would you read Nina George's next novel, The Little French Bistro?

7. Does this novel compare favorably with other literary journeys/ travel fiction that you have read?

8.  I found myself wanting to underline certain phrases and lines. Did you make a note of any passages that you particularly liked? 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Voting for Books

I told my preschooler that it was Election Day so I was going to go vote today.  This was the response: "We're having a pretend election at school too. You stick your head in a box with a tablecloth on top. And you make a red x if you are a red pepper, and a green x if you are a green pepper."  There's another election coming up here at the library, not for how ripe you like your bell peppers, but for next years' book group selections.  And unlike most elections, the voters will have a lot of say about on what's on the ballot.

Here are some titles that seem discussable and interesting to me, and hopefully borrowable in quantity for our book group. I'm looking forward to seeing what other members of the book groups recommend. Book group members, let me know which titles you'd like to add to this list.

Miss Hazel and the Rosa Parks League by Jonathan Odell.  A Great Group Read of 2015 by Reading Group Choices. In 1950s Mississippi two mothers, one black, one white, who don't get along, find themselves thrown together by circumstance.

A Mother's Reckoning by Sue Klebold.  Also a Great Group Read by Reading Group Choices and a book I heard discussed on What Should I Read Next?  Klebold is the mother of one of the Columbine shooters, and all profits from her memoir are going to mental health charities.

Isaac's Storm by Erik Larson. This is a nonfiction but reads-like-fiction account of the hurricane that hit Galveston in 1900. Alice who works at the library recommended it to me and it's of particular interest after this season's similarly record-setting hurricanes.

Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal. This was an Amazon best book of the month and follows a future celebrity chef through the stages of her life. Voted an Indies Choice best debut novel by the American Booksellers Assocation. 

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. This novel is set in 1862 in a cemetery on the night after Abraham Lincoln's 11 year old son was buried, and it's peopled by ghosts. An Amazon best book of the month that got a lot of attention.

Moonglow by Michael Chabon. The fictional memoir of Chabon's grandfather, complete with a deathbed confession and a family secret, tells the story of an entire era. I'm hoping it will be as great as Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. A New York Times Notable selection.

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong. A heart-warming account of a thirty-something year old daughter's year with her father, a history professor who has Alzheimer's. 

The Refugees is a collection of short stories about Vietnamese refugees written over the past twenty years by Viet Thanh Nguyen. It's a New York Times Notable pick, and Nguyen won a Pulitzer Prize for an earlier novel. 

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons. Some years the book group reads a classic, so I thought of this 1932 comic novel which "parodies the romanticised, sometimes doom-laden accounts of rural life popular at the time" (Wikipedia). Recommended by my sister, who also suggested the forgotten classics Fanny Fern's Ruth Hall and Dorothy Whipple's Greenbanks to me. I'll never be able to get enough copies of those for the book group, so Cold Comfort Farm it is.

Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart. This based-on-a-true-story novel is about one of America's first female deputy sheriffs, and it's set right here in New Jersey in 1914. NPR's Morning Edition has the story.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Books in Bookstore Settings

The dream of having a little bookstore of one's own is so common and so enticing that novels about bookstore owners is a sub-genre of its own. These books are popular with the library staff:

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson mentioned in this blogpost

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin reviewed in this blogpost.

Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley  You can download this charming 1917 novel for free online http://manybooks.net/titles/morleychetext04prnsw10.html

Reading about bookstores is closely linked to other bookish dreams such as:
So you want to own your own little library? Well just get one from...
The Little Free Library

Do you dream of delivering books by donkey?  Take a look at this video of the

You can follow the Biblioburro and Little Free Library on Facebook to keep up with your bookish day dreams.

Have your friends emailed you the slideshow of beautiful libraries worldwide to drool over, or do they just send those things to librarians? Well here is the slide show

The Berkeley Heights Public Library has a Pinterest account where we indulge in library dreaming. Follow us here https://www.pinterest.com/berkeleyheights/

And finally, pictured here is the temporary library location of the Berkeley Heights Public Library where we will be open to the public until our dream library is built at the new Berkeley Heights Municipal Complex on Park Avenue. Stay tuned for details of our move. Until then, happy book dreams.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Mysteries for the Squeamish

We had a patron, in fact quite a few over the years, who liked mysteries, but did not want any sex or violence in the books. That kind of mystery is generally called a 'cozy' or an 'English village mystery.'  The reference librarians started to keep a list of books for these readers, lists of what the patrons read and liked and what we would recommend next time they stopped by. I found my crumpled old list in the process of cleaning out the files in the Reference Department in preparation for the library move.
Here is the list of mysteries that would appeal to people who like the TV series 'Midsomer Murders' or who love Miss Marple.
Anything by Spencer Quinn as narrated by the Chet the Dog
Anything by Dorothy Gilman especially the Mrs. Pollifax series.
Anything with a priest in it like The Story Teller by Margaret Coel; Her Death of Cold by  Ralph McInerny;  anything by Father Andrew Greeley.

Any of the books pictured below are recommended for the squeamish mystery reader. Aside from a dead body or two, usually  killed out of sight at the beginning of the mystery before the reader becomes attached to the character, these mysteries will present a challenging puzzle without grossing the reader out with gory forensic details.

Related websites:
Cozy Mystery List
The Immense Popularity of Cozy Mysteries

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Halloween Displays at the Library

In October we see some really adorable displays pop up in the Children's Room. Where do all these things live between holidays? If you wander into the Children's Department storage spaces, they are jammed with stuffed animals, toys, and figurines for every holiday. Dare to open a closet door and risk a deluge of falling plush pumpkins and autumn leaf garlands. We are pretty sure Ms. Laura, the Children's Librarian, keeps the holiday decoration overflow at her house. Like every Children's Librarian, her head is packed with titles that match each and every festive occasion - and homework assignment too. Come take a look, and check out some books for your children on this and other holidays. Our holiday book collections and homework-appropriate titles will move with us to the new location, and I bet the displays will too.
Curious George in a Pumpkin Costume

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Books into TV Series: you can borrow both from the library

Mysteries rely on the setting to engage the reader - from country house to gritty urban locales to exotic places around the world, readers travel with their favorite detectives. Here are several dark and moody police procedural series that take place in northern England that have been turned into equally engaging television series.

'Vera,' based on the novels by Ann Cleeves, starring the irascible, but highly effective, police detective Vera Stanhope. Vera unflinchingly solves crimes in the windy chill of beautiful Northumberland, UK.

'DCI Banks,' another blunt and edgy police detective, comes to life based on the books by Peter Robinson. Banks solves crimes from the windswept and rainy moors of Yorkshire to the urban areas of Leeds.

Away from the wild moors and urban projects of Northern England, we go to the beautiful university city of Oxford to follow another character whose TV life became more well known than the books.
'Endeavour' imagines the early life of Inspector Morse, the Oxfordshire detective created by Colin Dexter.

The more whimsical comedy-drama, 'Midsomer Murders' is the long-running television series based on Caroline Graham's mysteries. There are more episodes of the television show by far than there ever were of Ms. Graham's books. Ms. Graham's and Mr. Dexter's books are out of print and hard to find, but well worth it if you can track them down.

Off to Scotland for the 'Shetland' series based on the novels of Ann Cleeves: 'Red Bones,' 'Raven Black,' 'Blue Lightening,' 'Dead Water.' Again the beautiful, but at times slightly menacing, landscape and weather makes a perfect backdrop for these mysteries.

To Sweden for more grey, windswept landscapes and a moody detective with 'issues', watch 'Wallander' based on the novels by Henning Mankell.

From mysteries to non-fiction and an urban setting, try 'Call the Midwife' based on the biography of an English midwife in post-war London, written by Jennifer Worth.

On a lighter note, try 'Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries' based on the Phryne Fisher mysteries by Kerry Greenwood. The intrepid Australian Flapper solves crimes in post World War I Melbourne. The costumes and Victorian architecture are fantastic in this tv series.

Related Resources: Some of these books and movies can be found in our library catalog and some can be found on our downloadable resources listed on our All Things E page.

The 'Shetland' series by Ann Cleeves is now available as a downloadable audiobook from Hoopla. The 'Vera' tv series is also available on Hoopla now. Music from the 'Inspector Morse' series is available on Hoopla.
Several of Henning Mankell's books, 'Call the Midwife' and Ann Cleeves' and Peter Robinson's books are also available on 'eLibraryNJ.'

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Consumer Reports: A Self-Help Guide

Consumer Reports is one of the most-asked-for magazines here at Berkeley Heights Public Library.  You are always welcome to come look at it here and have us print out the article you need.  But if you're lying awake at 3 a.m. worrying, here's a tongue-in-cheek guide on how to get a Consumer Reports product review online from home using Flipster.

Step 1: Dishwasher on the fritz?  Congratulations, admitting that you have a problem is the first step. 

Step 2: Go to the BH library web site and click Databases and Articles.  Click on Flipster.

Step 3: Ignore the very tempting rabbit hole called People Magazine.

Now we come to a fork in the road. If you're just interested in product ratings, and don't want to scroll through some irrelevant search results, click Consumer Reports Buying Guide. Note: Not everything makes it into the Buying Guide - mostly just expensive purchases.

However, the Buying Guide comes out in December, so depending how far away last December was, you may want to click on plain old Consumer Reports to get the most up to date review.

Step 4: Type in the product (washers or shrimp or smartphones) that is currently making you worry about future buyer's remorse or adverse health effects.  

Step 5: After you type in your search change the dropdown from "this issue" to "all issues."  In this case, issue refers to the month and year the magazine was published, not your anxiety.

Step 6: Now you can print your Consumer Reports article.  Click "print" which is located in the right-hand column and then "print all pages in view" for your article.

Parting advice: If you decide to download the Flipster app, be warned that you can't print from the app.  It is very good for reading People on your iPad, though.

Addendum:  After publishing this post, I realized the search feature in Flipster is not perfect.  When I searched for bicycle helmets and then just helmets in Consumer Reports, the latest ratings on those (August 2016) were omitted from the search results.     

There is a more reliable yet less convenient way of searching and reading Consumer Reports from home. Use your computer or laptop to go to Databases and Articles and click EBSCO. Type your product (bicycle helmets, for example) in the search box and type Consumer Reports in the publication box. Then hit search. To bring the newest article up to the top - click Relevance and click Date Newest. You may choose to read either the PDF or HTML version of the Consumer Reports articles that come up.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Reference Questions Roundup

Going through the unfinished drafts of blog posts, I discovered this one from the early days of the blog. In celebration of our twelfth year, here is our 1,232nd blog post - a litany of reference questions and an observation about one of the hardest types of question.

Do you have a map of the travels of St. Paul? Where can I find an annual report of a company? Do you have the tax form for filing returns late? Who invented Mrs. (Santa) Claus? Who is the CEO of Overlook Hospital and what is his phone number? Can you get me the Texaco Star Theater featuring Ed Wynn on cassette? What were the reviews of the play "Diary of Anne Frank" when it first appeared in Israel and Germany in 1955 and 1956? Does Columbia Middle School have a time capsule and where is it? How can I get rid of the smell of a dead deer from the road in front of my house? Can you get me the Fugitive Slave Cases, 1850 - 1860 from the United States District Courts in Pennsylvania? Where did the glaciers stop in Berkeley Heights? How can I find missing classmates for my 60th high school reunion? I need to see the Williamsburg paint colors. Can you get me Joan Hamburg's recipe for ginger cookies; she mentioned them on her radio show. How can I learn how to read an annual report? I read a book from this library that I really liked a few years ago, but I don't remember the author or title, can you find it? I need the N.J. law about unlawful dumping of trash. Do you have a form for a living will? What newspapers do they have in Omaha, Nebraska and what are the phone numbers? What should I read next? Do you have the book that gives the value of cars? Who is my N.J. state representative? Can you find an obituary in the Star Ledger - I don't know the person's name or when he died. How should I prune grape vines? How do you distill water?
We get questions like this every day in the Reference Department, by phone, by email and in person.

Which one of the above is the most difficult question? I think it is, "what should I read next?" What people like to read is completely subjective and often hard to describe. The so-called "readers' advisory" question is definitely the trickiest one to answer successfully.

So answering questions that can be answered with a fact is far easier than answering a question that requires a subjective judgement based on the taste of the person who asks the question. But if you do ask your local public librarian what to read next, the librarian will try very hard to figure out what kind of reader you are, what reading mood you are in, and will try to steer you towards something enjoyable. Forget 'book guilt,' librarians just want people to enjoy reading.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Great Courses and Pimsleur have come to Hoopla

The Great Courses are courses taught by university professors selected for the popularity of their lectures, and I have been a fan of them for some time now.  Now I can listen or watch many of them from anywhere, because Hoopla has begun streaming hundreds of the courses on demand. The Great Courses available at Hoopla are mostly audiobooks, but there many videos as well. You can get started with Hoopla at BHPL's All Things E page.

Hoopla has also recently added several Pimsleur language learning courses, including the Little Pim videos for children.  If your small child is afraid of that other early-language-learning creature, Muzzy, the green monster, then the Little Pim courses may do the trick with a panda in a starring role.  

Happy learning!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Building Codes and the Dreaded Deck Question

Faithful readers of this blog will know that the librarians in the Reference Department of this and other public libraries answer questions about any topic on earth to the best of our ability. Where is the 'Consumer Reports' issue about cars? How much is my used car worth? What is the cost value of this old stock certificate I found in my sock drawer? How can I open an offshore bank account to avoid taxes? (True question.)  If you click on 'Reference Questions' in the label cloud on the blog sidebar, you will find all the posts where we wrote about weird and interesting questions that we enjoy. The reference books you see in the pictures on this post are of local ordinances and rules about building codes. These books are used to help library patrons find information about building a deck or other construction issues. Truthfully, only a trained construction official can really slog through these codes without bursting into tears of frustration. These books will be going with the Reference Department to our new, temporary location because, much as we are perennially puzzled by the Deck Question, we can't go anywhere without our local building code books.

Laugh Out Loud

Our newest display, thanks to our Head of Circulation and Display Maven Extraordinaire, Ann-Marie, features funny books. If you are looking for something entertaining to read and to tickle your funny-bone, stop by the bookshelf near the Reference Desk and pick up a book by Bill Bryson, Erman Bombeck, George Carling, Mindy Kaling, Aziz Ansari, or other humorists.
Laugh Out Loud Book Display
The book 'Texts from Jane Eyre' looks interesting. The subtitle is 'and Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters.' For example Edgar Allan Poe explaining to a friend by text why he can't leave the house because of some bird. Hamlet sending depressed texts to a friend. Jo and Meg from 'Little Women' have issues. From early literature to Harry Potter's Ron and Hermione texting each other, this book will make you wonder what people in history might have texted if they'd had a smart phone. J/K (just kidding.) IMHO funny books are the best things for tough times.
More Funny Books on Display

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Marian the Librarian Returns

This blog post was first published on October 21, 2009. It features our favorite, if slightly prim, librarian, Marian. Here at the Reference Desk, we rarely have this kind of biblio emergency, but you never know...

Is There a Librarian in the House?

People don't become librarians for the fame, fortune or excitement, but there's a little Walter Mitty in all of us...
Marian the Librarian is flying to a librarian convention, nodding off in her middle seat, which she has thoughtfully not tipped back to avoid annoying the passengers behind her, and trying not to snore or drool or touch either arm rest lest she infringe on her seatmates' personal space, she hears the P.A. announcement,
"Is there a librarian on board? we have a slight emergency in Business Class requiring immediate biblio assistance."
Marian jerks awake instantly, eye's pop open, she nods apologetically to the passenger in the aisle seat and indicates she needs to get by. Grabbing her bookbag from under the seat, she hurries up the aisle to the Flight Attendant and whispers,
"I'm a librarian. How can I help?"
"There's a passenger in extreme distress, hyperventilating over a book he's reading and looking pale and clammy, almost like he's in shock," the FA explains as she leads Marion through Business Class to a seat where, indeed, a male passenger, middle-aged, well-dressed, is breathing unevenly with his hands gripping the latest Dan Brown best seller tightly.
"Oh dear, that's the third case I've seen this week. Deadly Prose Syndrome with Implausable Plot Complications. We have to act quickly."
Marian carefully pries the stricken man's fingers from the Lost Symbol and places it in a sick bag for disposal.
"I'm afraid the only treatment for this patron, er patient, is an immediate infusion of The Classics or failing that, any book with sufficient character development, three-syllable words and dependent clauses to act as an antidote. I think this will work."
Marian riffles through her black bag and pulls out Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, and places it gently in the man's hands.
"That should do it. I may have to read it aloud to him at first but then his ability to read on his own should kick in and he'll be right as rain."

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Goodbye, BHPL App. Hello, BHPL Mobile Web Site

The Berkeley Heights Public Library launched its own app back in late 2011.  Back then our catalog was not easy to use on a smartphone, and neither was our web site.  After six years, the app is in need of technological updates, but upgrading doesn't make sense now that both the library's web site and its catalog have a mobile version that is designed to be displayed on small screens.

Old BHPL app

As of October 15, the Berkeley Heights Public Library app will not be useful anymore.  We wish it would self-destruct, but it won't - feel free to delete the BHPL app from your phone or tablet.  We can help you with that if you stop by the reference desk with your device. Or, you can just ignore BHPL app if you prefer.

So how do you search the library's holdings, renew your books & DVDs and check out our hours, upcoming events, etc. when you're not near a computer?  Open up your phone or tablet's browser (for example, on my iPhone I would use Safari) and navigate to the library's web site at http://bhplnj.org. This is what you will see:

If you'd like to make an icon for the library's web page on your iPhone or iPad, tap the blue square with an arrow coming out of the top (I've circled in red, above). Then tap Add to Home Screen.  Voila - you can pretend it's a library app.

If you liked checking out ebooks and e-audiobooks using the BHPL app, your best bet is to download the Libby app in the app store.  It's easier to get started with than the old Overdrive app, and it lets you check out ebooks and e-audiobooks, plus read them, all within the same app.

Libby app

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Climbing Over the NY Times Paywall. Also: Newspaper Sticks

Are you tired of getting the message that you've reached your limit of 10 NYTimes.com articles this month? The Berkeley Heights Public Library now offers one-day passes to the New York Times web site.

To get your free access, go to the BHPL web site and click All Things E, then click the link to the New York Times.  You will need your library card's barcode number, and you will also need to have a login for the New York Times web site.  I had one from back when the New York Times was free as long as you logged in, but if you don't have a login, just click Register.

Of course you may also read the New York Times or another newspaper here at the library in one of our comfortable chairs.

The New York Times Book Review is kept on a stick. Fun newspaper stick fact: you are allowed to take the publication off the stick while you read it. Fun newspaper stick fact 2: our library regulars are evenly divided between those who leave the stick on and those who take the newspaper off. Which side are you on?

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Cataloging: or why librarians love Melville Dewey

Melville Dewey
Okay, librarians have a reputation for following rules.  How else would we be able to find books, DVDs or audio books?  The public doesn’t understand that Mr. Dewey and his cataloging system takes us only so far and then we start bargaining and, on rare occasions, arguing.  Mr. Dewey would frown on the amount of creativity that sometimes creeps into cataloging.  Here are several examples that may never be decided to everyone’s satisfaction or comfort level:

Books on famous gardens appear in both the 700’s (art and architecture) and the 900’s (travel) –be happy they aren’t also in the 600’s (gardening, pets, cooking, etc.)  

Should a book detailing the London known by Dickens be on the shelf next to a London travel guide? Where would you place a memoir of a year living in a foreign country?  Biography or travel literature? 

Due to the 200th anniversary of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, those books appear in both the travel section and a more specific U.S. history classification.

There is not enough space on any blog to describe the various ways to catalog Shakespeare and confuse everyone searching for a regular version, annotated version, graphic version, or a version plus criticism

If an author has written 57 mysteries, should his one novel sit alone and forgotten on the fiction shelves? Perhaps this non-mystery shares the same characters as the mysteries.

What makes a book a mystery?  Does it require a dead body or just a puzzle to be solved?

Science fiction vs. fantasy vs. dystopian? Please...

The 920’s are the place where collective biographies go to be ignored and forgotten.

Although I could continue this list of the vagaries of cataloging, the answer is fairly easy.  The books should be placed where the public expects to find them.  If you think that clarifies the issue, guess again.

- S. Bakos
Where's That Book?


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Art Books at the Library Have Their Own Room

What Does This Sign Mean?
Art books, or as we in the library biz call them in Dewey Decimal-ese, the 700's, have their very own room at Berkeley Heights Public Library. If you are browsing in the non-fiction stacks and have wandered from the 010's (Bibliography, not to be confused with Biographies), through the 100's (Philosophy and Psychology) and so on through the 600's, ending up in the 690's (Buildings), you will jump right into the 800's (Literature.) So we put up a sign explaining where in the world the 700's are. See photo. But you might wonder what a 'Circ Desk' is. Again with the Library Land Lingo. Circ is short for Circulation which refers to the library department whose intrepid staff members are the front line in library customer service; they check books in and out all day, put books on hold for patrons, create library cards, shelve new materials, find lost books, send out overdue notices, create book displays, and collect fines :-( among many, many other responsibilities. The closest I can describe working at the Circ Desk is that it is a cross between working retail and being a bartender, but without the fun of serving beer. We take your fines, but you do not get beer. We do listen to whatever stories you may have while we wipe down the counter with seltzer, or at least we wipe down the computer monitors with anti-static cloths.
So anyway, BHPL has a terrific collection of art books, craft books, books on knitting, holiday crafts, hobbies and collecting of all kinds and at the end of the 700's are books on photography, music, sports and games. So come on in and browse in the 700's room which is the room behind the big glass window near your friendly library Circulation Staff.

Related websites:
The Dewey Decimal System explained 

Library Terminology Glossary  

Do you like those quizzes on Facebook? Do you like libraries? Try these fun library quizzes.

Staff Picks or What to Read Next

The library staff has an ongoing display of our favorite books for readers to choose from, because finding the next good book to read is always a challenge and a familiar question at the library. In fact, when librarians go anywhere and admit to being a librarian, that is among the first questions we get.
"Can you recommend a good book?"
To which we answer, "it depends, what do you like to read?"
The other common question is, "I thought libraries and librarians were unnecessary now that everything is on the internet."
The answer to that is, "Why, no, we're still here."

My favorites from the shelves above are 'The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid' by Bill Bryson, the author's really funny memoir of growing up in Des Moines, Iowa. We recommend this title often and almost everyone reports back that they loved it. 'The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry' by Gabrielle Zevin is a short, sweet love story about a bookstore owner. Each chapter begins with a quote from a short story which will lead you to more good authors to read.  Spencer Quinn's series about Chet the Dog are excellent for dog lovers and mystery lover and are very funny, as told by the dog Chet. Follow Chet on Facebook for more canine hijinks and fun.
In this shot above, my pick is 'Merry Hall' by Beverley Nichols, a 1950's memoir by an avid English gardener who buys an old manor house and revives its garden with the help of his skilled, but opinionated gardener. Lovers of P.G. Wodehouse will like the whole series.
'Packing for Mars' by Mary Roach is the very funny and determined science writer's research into what it will take to put a person on Mars. Ms. Roach tries the zero-gravity experience at NASA with predictably nauseating results and stores her own urine in the frig to her husband's disgust. She discusses the realities of what a body must endure for such a long space voyage. 'Pompeii' by Robert Harris is a terrific book of historical fiction about the destruction of Pompeii by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. You will notice another Bill Bryson book: 'A Walk in the Woods.' This is laugh-out-loud funny and the audio version is terrific. Be prepared to be caught laughing while you commute and listen to it. Speaking of humor, but of a slightly more farcical, hyperbolic (I'm trying not to say raunchier) type, Carl Hiaasen is a friend of Dave Barry, enough said if you like the really crazy humor coming from Florida's journalists-turned-novel-writers, which I do. And you will notice another book about a bookstore owner, 'Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore' for fans of 'A.J. Fikry' (see above) but with a slightly techy/fantasy/futuristic plot twist.
Happy Reading.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Librarian Terrarium

Fleur Reading
Is that a frog reading a book on a mossy bank near a miniature Jade Tree? Why, yes. It seems that over the winter one of our reference librarians made a half-dozen terrariums and documented them in her crafting blog.  The Librarian Terrarium with a figurine of yours truly, Fleur the Frog Blogger, really caught my eye.
For more terrarium information, try our library books:
The New Terrarium, Creating Beautiful Displays for Plants and Nature by Tovah Martin (call# 635.98 MAR)

Fairy Gardening, Creating Your Own Magical Miniature Garden by Julie Bawden-Davis (call # 636,977 BAW)

Search for related subjects like 'Bonsai' and 'container gardening'  in the library catalog.

Follow the Crappy Crafters blog for more terrarium pictures and other easy crafting and upcycling projects. There is another terrarium with a frog figure, see if you can spot that in the slide show on the blog.

-Best Regards,

Fleur the Frog Blogger

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Alan Alda's Latest Book

If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating by Alan Alda was just reviewed in The Star Ledger, and so the holds list at the library is now growing for this title. Famous as 'Dr. Hawkeye Pierce' in the television series M.A.S.H, Mr. Alda is also known for hosting the PBS series Scientific American Frontiers and has had a lifelong interest not only  in the sciences, but also in how scientists can better communicate their knowledge to the layman. This interest led him to found the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University. Drawing on his theater background and natural curiosity, the author discusses how theater techniques such as improvisation exercises can improve empathy and create a better rapport between scientists and layman or between doctors and patients. Would scientists who could communicate more effectively be able to get more research grants and public understanding of their work? Would a doctor who could communicate more clearly with his patients contribute to his patients' well-being? How can we all listen more and increase empathy which would lead to better communication? What is 'theory of mind' and what happens if we don't have that understanding of 'being in another person's shoes?' How does telling a story rather than giving a dry recitation of facts affect a person's memory? All of these points for improving human communication are considered in this book.

I just finished the book and would like to go back and read it again in order to understand all the research and studies the author covered about improving human communication of all kinds, but the book is due today and library readers are waiting for it. How could I have written a better review that would really grab you? Well, for that you will have to read the book and let me know.Did I mention that a huge, scary, hairy bear is first on the holds list? No? Well, just see if that image in your mind makes you remember this book and review.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Saturday Staff Summer Picks

This Saturday a few of us who have had many years' experience working at BHPL - please call us the A-team, not old-timers, please - are filling in a few gaps on the "Summer Staff Faves" display bookshelf.

"The Summer Guest" by Alison Anderson is Urmi's favorite. Novelist describes the premise: "After a diary documenting a friendship between a young Ukrainian doctor and author Anton Chekhov is found, Katya Kendall believes it may be the key to saving her struggling publishing house." If you enjoyed "The Optimist's Daughter," "All the Light We Cannot See" or "Napoleon's Last Island" you may enjoy this one as well, according to Novelist.    

I chose "Hypothermia" by Arnaldur Indridason for the display. It's been five years since I read this Icelandic mystery, but I still think about it.  It's haunting and deals with a sinister plot behind a presumed suicide at a lake house, plus the reopening of the cold case of a young couple who went missing one summer day.

"A Backpack, A Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka" by Lev Golinkin is Alice's selection.  It's a wonderful memoir about a boy and his family immigrating from Russia in the 1970s which is both comic and touching.  If you are wondering about the title - Lev's family left with his teddy bear in his backpack, plus eight crates of vodka to grease the bureaucratic wheels for their escape from Russia.

"Villette" by Charlotte Bronte is another one of my picks. Pretend you are a kid on summer break who's been assigned a classic, but this time read the one that's better than Jane Eyre. Gentlewoman Lucy Snowe becomes penniless in England and decides to look for a governess position in a Brussels-like city in Belgium, but soon finds herself teaching English at a girls' boarding school.  This semi-autobiographical novel is almost 700 pages long, so clear your reading calendar.

Monday, June 5, 2017

More Memo Fun

How would any organization run efficiently without the time-honored memo? Here at the library, each department has a memo clipboard and the staff table is littered with memos. Today's memo concerns the main printer which the public computers print to. The big printer had a hissy fit over the weekend and we apologize to any patrons who did not get their printouts on Sunday. On Monday morning, the printer spat out all those homework assignments and other things you needed so badly the day before. Again, we apologize. This called for a memo. Sometime printers just like to hoard printouts, only to regurgitate them later en masse. Sometimes printers like to chew up paper and get all jammed up. Sometimes printers only print in black and white, or, as with ours a few months ago,  print everything with a jaunty slash of pink ink. We cured the printer of the pink problem. It doesn't jam if we only feed it the exact kind of paper it likes. But sometimes, it still hoards. We could read it Marie Kondo's 'The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up,' but you know, printer storytime would only mean we had let the printer win by driving us totally into fantasy land. Printers can do that. Remember the scene from the movie 'Office Space' where the cubicle dwellers take the bad printer outside and beat it to death? Watch that scene on You tube here


The library staff did not smash the printer to smithereens with a baseball bat. We wrote a memo. By the way, not so long ago there were no printers in libraries, only clay tablets and little reeds to make wedge-shaped marks. It's true, you needed a strong arm and a sturdy book bag to take home your borrowed clay tablets, but they never jammed up :-)

For more thoughts on memos from our blogger, go to Memo Memes: Passive Agressive Memos at the library

Logging into your Library Account

The Berkeley Heights Public Library upgraded the software used for our online catalog and patron accounts at the end of April 2017. To log in to your account from the catalog, click on 'Log in' which is on the upper right of the catalog screen. You will have to enter your barcode from your library card and your pin, which is the last 4 digits of your phone number. If this information was remembered/saved by your computer or device previous to a month ago, you will have to enter it once again and ask it to remember the information. When you have logged in once, your computer should remember your login credentials going forward. If you see the message saying that the connection is not secure, you can log in anyway. We are in the process of getting an HTTPS website, a secure website, like a bank or online retail store. You can recognize secure sites because there will often be a little padlock in the upper left of your screen in the address bar. Because libraries do not take credit cards or handle financial information, having a secure site is not something that most libraries in New Jersey currently have. Because patrons have expressed concern about our site's security, we are going ahead with getting a secure website soon. Meanwhile, you can ignore the security warning on our login page, or not, depending on your concerns about online security. If you would prefer for the staff to place holds for you and answer questions about materials you have checked out, just call us.

To login into your account, go to our home page


Click on 'My account'

Enter your credentials to access your holds and checked out materials.

Or call the library with your questions.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

What Should I Read Next? the Podcast

Audiobooks used to be my go-to listening on commutes, but then I had too many accidents of the bibliographic - thankfully not automotive - kind.  For example: I finally reached the last CD of Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian, disc 22, and it was too scratched to play. The book was not readily available to me at that time so I'm still fuzzy on the ending.  Then there was the time I listened to Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall with the chapters mixed up, because the CDs weren't loaded in order. . .  and the time that I was told by a friend that I missed a lot of important photographs that were in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, including the crucial flipbook at the end.


So lately I have been listening to podcasts while I drive. I have a lot of favorites (The Moth, This American Life, TED Radio Hour), but the one that I have been listening to without fail for the past couple of months is What Should I Read Next.  Anne Bogel, who blogs at Modern Mrs. Darcy, cheerfully interviews one guest each week and they talk about what the guest is reading now, three books the guest loves and one book the guest hates; then Anne recommends more books that she thinks the guest will like. If you, like me, love to listen to conversations about books, tune in.  

You can't go wrong with the episode where Anne interviews Kathleen Grissom, author of the Kitchen House; or the episode entitled The Library Is Running My Life with Carolyn McCready, an acquisitions editor at a publishing house; or Episode 60 with cookbook author Melissa Joulwan.  I like hearing Anne's logic for why she selected her particular recommendations for that guest, and I usually end up adding a title or two to my own TBR (to be read list) too.

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, bhplnj.org 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 Hotels.com, 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 O. would even do some public service announcements for American libraries. Suggested scripts for Captain Obvious to recommend public libraries to the public:

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

Thank you, Captain Obvious!

How do libraries save you money?