Monday 26 March 2012

The Office Potluck – Feed the Mind and the Body, too

Let me say, right off the bat, that what I’m suggesting is not possible in all workplace settings, and I don’t advocate customer service be interrupted to do it

Do you have lunch potlucks at your workplace?   They’re quite a treat, and an educational tool as well!    We’re fortunate to have a lunchroom in which to do this, but even a small place will do.   While we had good cooks to start with, these gatherings have nurtured and encouraged contributions outside our comfort zone.   

We’ve had some elaborate lunches (like our festive and spicy Mardi Gras feast), but it doesn’t have to be complicated.  It can be a simple hors d’oeuvre table or veggie/fruit trays with a variety of homemade dips.   Depending on your staff numbers, by the time each one brings a little something, it can be a pretty appealing table.  If you have a refrigerator with a freezer,  you can do a sundae party, with 2 or 3 people buying ice cream while the rest bring a sauce or topping!

One of the best things about our potlucks is how we’ve all expanded our culinary horizons regarding what foods we think we don’t like.  We set cultural and geographical themes like Asian, Italian, Caribbean, Mediterranean, German,  place 2 or 3 related cookbooks on display (for referral at coffee breaks), then post a sign-up sheet, and the recipe ideas start to flow. Soon, individuals who thought they had little to offer, are cooking up a show-stopper dish.   Those of us who might be timid or undecided about our contribution just keep checking the list.  As it grows, we get inspired and fill in the gaps! You can always sign up for drinks, paper plates or napkins. 

We discovered our own cheerful decorator on staff, too, and she arrives, weighed down, on the morning of with a box of tablecloths, centerpieces, and sometimes even costumes!   It’s an event that feeds on itself, no pun intended.   You may find you have a Martha Stewart or Michael Smith in your office.   Hopefully, not a Gordon Ramsay to dampen your spirits!

So, borrow some cookbooks from the library, have your own little office display, and plant the seeds for your first office potluck.  Be smart, and get your boss to buy in.  Helpful Hint:  we do this for the boss’s birthday.  Find out his/her favourite foods and that can be your first effort.   (Note:  We did it for our former boss who conveyed this very important piece of information to his replacement … and the tradition continues. We must be doing something right!)
Wendy Trimper
Head of Branch Services

Monday 19 March 2012

Are you thinking of buying an eReader?

A few points to ponder...There are basically two types -- E-ink and LCD.
In terms of reading, E-Ink screens are more like physical books printed on paper. They are not backlit, thus they need a light source to be read, just like a book. Their benefits are that they produce less strain on the eyes and are a more natural reading experience. Also, you won’t experience glare in bright lights and direct sunlight. E-Ink also holds its charge for a very long time.

The drawbacks of E-Ink are that they cannot display moving images, such as video or cursors, nor can they display color.  E-Ink can only be displayed in shades of grey.

An LCD screen on an eReader is the same as the screen on your laptop computer or smartphone. The screen is backlit, thus requiring more battery power. Also, the glass screen creates a glare. LCD screens are also difficult to read in direct sunlight. Viewing an LCD screen over long periods of time is also less enjoyable than reading a book on an E-Ink screen.

The pros of an LCD screen is that it can display full color and video. In fact, many smartphones and tablets double as eReaders.

Which is best for you?
When deciding which type of eReader screen is best for you, there are two things you should consider: your usage and your needs. If you plan on reading outdoors or in brightly lit areas, on the deck, on the beach or for long periods of time, an E-Ink eReader makes sense because of its lack of a glare and its long battery life.  E-ink readers last for days while LCD readers only last for hours.  But if you’d like to read in the dark, such as in bed—an LCD screen may be better. eReaders with LCD screens can offer other options, such as video, gaming or web browsing.

Bottom-line:  for those of you who intend to use your eReader strictly for books and in well-lit areas, the E-Ink models are likely the best for you. If you are looking for an eReader that can do a bit more than simply read books, an LCD tablet or reader could give you more bang for your buck.  You should go to a store and actually handle the different models available to see which feel comfortable for you.

Not all eReaders are compatible with the library software.  Click on this link  to see a list of  compatible eReaders.

Thursday 15 March 2012

What is YA? - Printz

You’ve probably heard of the Governor General’s Award, and the words Newbery or Caldecott might ring a bell. But how many of you know what the Printz Award is? The Michael L. Printz Award is an American award for a book that exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature. It is named for a Topeka, Kansas school librarian who was a long-time active member of the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA).  It is a fairly new award, but has quickly caught on as a prestigious award in it’s own right.  Let’s look at some of the winners and honors. 

The most recent winner and honors go to a slew of great books (as usual).  Honor books include Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler (possibly known to some readers under his nome de plume, Lemony Snicket) .  In a long letter accompanied by a box of mementos, Min Green tells her ex Ed Slaterton exactly why. In detail. There are really nice paintings by Maira Kalman to accompany the letters, and there’s a website called the Why We Broke Up Project , which is quite fun to explore  The Returning by Christine Hinwood might appeal to fantasy fans. Hinwood has created a world, including a very particular way of speaking, that grabs the reader and holds them in the story.  Featuring a large cast of characters and an intricate plot with a bit of war and romance thrown in, this one has something for everyone. 

This year’s winner, Where Things Come Back, by John Corey Whaley, is a complicated character-driven story involving a rare bird and a disappeared brother. The narrative twines around itself like a weedy vine and ends up in just the place you hope it will. 

Some of my favourite past winners and honors include Going Bovine by Libba Bray, in which 16-year old Cameron, dying of Mad Cow disease, sets off to save the world with the help of a garden gnome and a dwarf sidekick. If this story sounds unusual, that’s because it is. But the Printz Award recognizes great writing, and that’s what you’ll find in this wild romp.  In 2011, Marcus Sedgwick’s  Revolver was on the honor list – a grim, yet breathless read of revenge and retribution. In 2009, Terry Pratchett’s  Nation was given a Printz honor. Readers familiar with Pratchett’s work will be surprised to find him deviating from the Discworld and creating a whole new island and a new set of characters. This book is amazing as an audio, too.   The 2009 winner was  Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. Set in Australia, this book takes us into the inner jungle of a secret society at a boarding school and holds us there till the emotional conclusion.
I can still hear the resounding cheers when the 2007 winner was announced. American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang was the first graphic novel to be given one of the major ALA awards, and librarians were happy to see it. You get three stories in one when you read this smart, funny, and prickly story of racial stereotypes.  2007 was also the year of Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, one of my all-time favourite audiobooks.  In 2006, John Green’s first novel, Looking for Alaska won the Printz Award. Green has since become quite the Internet sensation with his Nerdfighting brother, Hank.    Canadians can also get in on this award, as Kenneth Oppel proved in 2005 with his novel Airborn getting a Printz honor. 

So, if you want to read the best of the best in YA lit, get over to the Printz website  and start your journey. You’ll find some great reads there!

WHAT IS YA? Will be a monthly feature, published on the 15th of each month, written by Angela Reynolds, our Head of Youth Services.  We are giving away YA books to go along with it! Make a comment below about one of the books we talked about, and you’ll be entered into a monthly draw for a YA review copy. Must be able to pick the book up at one of our branch libraries; no books will be shipped or mailed.

Monday 12 March 2012

Mobile Library Service

Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley is a beautiful spot. There are apple orchards, rocky inlets and beaches, mud flats, fishing and farming communities, and the North and South mountains. The people who call this area home are as diverse as the geography. Most of the rural communities are well off the beaten path and their strength is due to the residents. 

The Annapolis Valley Regional Library Bookmobile is proud to bring library service to many rural communities. The Bookmobile serves 34 community stops in West Hants, Kings and Annapolis Counties during a three week schedule year round. An example of some of the isolated communities we serve are Summerville and Cheverie (District of West Hants), Springfield and East Dalhousie (Kings County), and Maitland Bridge to Bear River (Annapolis County). The Bookmobile averages 21, 896 kilometres annually with a monthly circulation of 2,266 items. Mobile library service began in 1949 in our region. There are many wonderful stories over the years about patrons arriving to the Bookmobile by tractor, bicycle, four wheeler and even snowmobile, or with a sled, or a wheelbarrow! The community stops which we serve have become community gathering spots, and the Bookmobile has become a lifeline to the communities. Neighbors gather on the Bookmobile to catch up, and to stock up on books, DVDs, magazines, audio books and more. This winter snowshoes were made available for patrons to borrow through a partnership with Annapolis County Recreation. We like the idea of the library providing exercise for the mind and body.

Bookmobile Celebration Tours have been held with some schools. During these events, each class is invited onboard the Bookmobile. Our staff offer interesting informational sessions and share the magic of a mobile branch, followed by a wonderful storytime! It is rewarding to see the children’s faces light up when the Bookmobile travels through their community, and when they bring their families to our community stops. Also for parents who have memories of visiting the Bookmobile as children, to share the wonder of the experience with their children. We eagerly anticipate invitations to be included in community events, and participate in parades and festivals. Click here for a printable invitation to your community event.

Joining the library is FREE! The next time you see the Bookmobile parked in your community – stop by and say hello! We are looking forward to meeting you! Our staff members can register you for a library card and help you meet your reading needs. Click here for a calendar of scheduled stops.

The Bookmobile may be closer than you think.
The Bookmobile is one of the services offered by the Outreach Services Department with the Annapolis Valley Regional Library. Other services include Books By Mail and Van Delivery of book deposits to schools, day cares, institutions and residential facilities. More on these services in the next few weeks!

Monday 5 March 2012

Who needs beaches?

March Break is looking pretty exciting from here. Libraries have so many great programs planned, how will you decide which ones to go to? Many will fill quickly, so if you see something that appeals, register!

We are offering drawing workshops and advice with Mark Oakley in Bridgetown on March 13, and in Annapolis Royal on March 14. Local guitarist Caleb Miles will be teaching guitar workshops in Kentville on March 13 and Wolfville on March 15. Actor John Dunsworth (have any of you ever seen Trailer Park Boys?) will be doing a workshop in Bridgetown, and later in the week, you can learn to write plays.  If crafts are more your style, try making a Sock Monkey in Kentville or jewelry in Kingston, or perhaps a yarn pom-pom in Annapolis Royal.  Maybe you’d rather decorate a cupcake in Wolfville?  Or attend an art workshop in Berwick? 

We’ll be showing the movie HUGO in Bridgetown (March 6) and in Berwick on March 16.  And celebrating another great book, we are hosting a Hunger Games Party in Kentville on March 18. Bring your friends and see who is the last standing in our Cornucopia Challenges.  This program is going to be so much  fun, and there will be cupcakes! 

If you enjoy looking at the stars, head over to Annapolis Royal on March 14. Keji interpreter Colleen Anderson will be pointing out some cool stuff! Speaking of science, did you know that Mad Science will be in town on March 16? Find them at the Windsor and Wolfville branches.
Girls can have tons of fun at GirlPower in Middleton and Berwick. Ages 12-18 are invited to play x-Box Kinect at the Teen Lounge in Lawrencetown. There’s a Sleepover at the library in Bridgetown, a Magic Show in Kentville, board games in Port Williams, and lots of storytimes to choose from. There are computer classes and games all week long, and there’s a treasure hunt, too. 

Did we mention that all of these programs are FREE for you to attend? Many of our programs have been made possible by sponsors and grants, and we really appreciate that!   For a link to a printable flyer with all these activities, click here, or ask for a copy at your local library. See you during March Break.