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 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?

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]"