Friday, May 29, 2009

Summer Reading sign-ups begin

Newport Public Library has summer programs planned for children of all ages. If you have a preschooler, a young reader or a teenager, we have a program for them to enjoy this summer. The theme for this summer’s reading programs is Be Creative @ your library and features programs with creative people creating art in many different ways.

The Read-To-Me Club is for children ages one to five years old and their families. The family keeps track of every fifteen minutes that they read together by filling in a reading wheel available at the library. Small rewards are provided for the children whose families read to them. Toddlertime and Storytime programs for preschoolers will continue at the library during the summer, June 16 – August 7. Toddlertime is at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Storytime is at 1:00 p.m. on Friday.

Children ages 6-12 can earn a Be Creative @ your library t-shirt by setting a reading goal for the summer and keeping track of the titles they read. When that goal is reached a t-shirt is awarded. There will be programs for this age group in Literacy Park every Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. beginning on June 17th with juggling comedian Curtis Carlyle. This program is sponsored by the Umpqua Bank, Newport Public Library Foundation, and an Oregon Legislature Ready-To-Read Grant from the Oregon State Library (including additional funding from the Lincoln County Library District)
The Teen Summer Contest, Express Yourself @ your library, is for youth ages 12 to 18. Teens signing up will receive a booklet for keeping track of their reading. For every 150 pages read, one hour of volunteer work given, or every hour spent reading to someone else, the teen will receive a raffle ticket. Raffle drawings will be held every Friday, beginning June 24th, for prizes donated by Oregon Coast Aquarium, Newport Book Center, Panini Bakery, Cafe Stephanie, Oregon Maid Ice Cream, Arctic Circle, Canyon Way Bookstore, Mo's Enterprises, Abby's Legendary Pizza, Coca Mocha Joe's, McDonald's Restaurant, Sea Towne Books, Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co., Newport Performing Arts Center, Pizza Cucina, Mariner's Square Attractions and Newport Candy Shoppe. Art and craft programs for teens will be held every Thursday, 2-4 p.m., beginning June 18th.

Sign-up and schedule information for all programs is available by calling the library, 265-2153, or online at

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A little joke between friends

I'm tickled to death by The Art of Detection by Laurie King, the latest in her series of mysteries starring San Francisco police detective Kate Martinelli. In the book, Martinelli finds an old manuscript, which may be a missing Sherlock Holmes story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The entire text of the story is included in the book.

I enjoy this for a number of reasons. For one, Martinelli, a pragmatic woman, is amusingly exasperated by all the Holmes enthusiasts who might have killed in order to obtain this document. Two, the story is narrated by Holmes, who (in the story) was in San Francisco in the 1920s, solving a case involving a transvestite lounge singer. If you've ever read a Sherlock Holmes story, you know that Doyle would not have written a story about a transvestite lounge singer.

But most of all I'm delighted because those of us who read King's other series, the ones starring Mary Russell and her husband, Sherlock Holmes, know that Holmes was indeed in San Francisco in the 1920s. We know that in Laurie King's universe, Holmes is not a fictitious character; we know that Martinelli's manuscript was not written by Arthur Conan Doyle but by Holmes himself. Kate Martinelli will never believe it, but we know the truth.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Hollows by Kim Harrison

1. Dead Witch Walking
Why do I love these books? They're brain-candy, but really delicious brain- candy, like liqueur-filled dark chocolate-covered cherries. This series is steamy but not mushy, with a fabulously strong but messed-up witchy protagonist, Rachel Morgan, and an action-packed storyline. There are werewolves, vampires, pixies, demons, --and humans,--all living in a post-"Turn" world, after most of the human race died out and all the supernaturals have come out of hiding. Rachel's first-person narrative is wry, with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments to lighten the dark drama.

The current time is a couple of generations past the Turn. At the opening of the series, our hero quits her job with Inderland Security, which is law enforcement for non-humans by non-humans. But no-one is allowed to quit the IS, so Morgan has a price on her head. Add a mysterious new friend with an addiction to blood, a devastatingly gorgeous (and possibly evil) corporate bigwig who doesn't smell right, and a tiny pixie with a need to psychoanalyze. Rachel's life gets really complicated, really fast. Someone may sue me for saying this, but these books are about a thousand times better than that hokey vampire teen series-- you know the one I mean. I dare you to read just one.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Case of Carrie Buck

The library has several volumes of essays by Stephen Jay Gould, subtitled "Reflections in Natural History." Gould, a Harvard paleontologist, was brilliant at explaining the complexities of nature to a lay audience. And while his specialty was evolutionary biology, the topics of his essays ranged from the evolution of snails to baseball statistics, from the history of science to the relationship between science and religion. He was consistently interesting, and I like to dip into his essays from time to time. You can open his books pretty much at random, and always find something worth reading.

Recently I opened The Flamingo's Smile, and came across the essay "Carrie Buck's Daughter." It's about America's eugenics movement, and a test case which reached the Supreme Court in 1927: Buck v. Bell. At issue was the involuntary sterilization of those deemed by society to be genetically unfit.

In the case, the Supreme Court upheld the state's right to involuntarily sterilize 18-year-old Carrie Buck because, in the words of Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes:

"Carrie Buck is a feeble-minded white woman who was committed to the State Colony [for Epileptics and Feeble Minded] ... she is the daughter of a feeble-minded mother in the same institution, and the mother of an illegitimate feeble-minded child. Three generations of imbeciles are enough."

Gould's exploration of this case concludes that, while we know little of Carrie Buck's mother, both Carrie Buck and her daughter, Vivian Buck, were of normal intelligence. There was no pattern of three generations to indicate that there was any hereditary threat that warranted involuntary sterilization; there was no mental defect at all.

Why, then, did the highest court in the land rule that Carrie Buck undergo involuntary tubal ligation to prevent her from reproducing again?

Buck was an illegitimate child who was raised in foster care by the Dobbs family. At seventeen, she became pregnant out of wedlock after being raped by a Dobbs family member. She was committed to the State Colony for Epileptics and Feeble Minded, not because she belonged there, but to get her out of the way to have her child in secrecy, to hide her shame and to protect the Dobbs reputation. The nurse who examined six-month-old Vivian Buck for evidence of developmental disability admitted in her testimony, "perhaps my knowledge of the mother may prejudice me."

Gould writes, "Carrie Buck was persecuted for supposed sexual immorality and social deviance. The annals of her trial reek with the contempt of the well-off and well-bred for poor people of 'loose morals.' Who really cared whether Vivian was a baby of normal intelligence; she was the illegitimate child of an illegitimate woman. Two generations of bastards are enough."

Involuntary sterilization, based upon unsound science and rife with the sort of abuse found in Carrie Buck's case, was abandoned in this country after World War II, when eugenics became ineradicably associated with Nazism. We don't do things like that any more: but it may be that some of the underlying currents of this case (classism, sexism, moral judgment) are still with us, making the case of Carrie Buck worth learning about.

Like all of Gould's essays, it makes for fascinating reading.

Friday, May 22, 2009

More than a phone directory

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a phone book that let you find a business by its name, industry type, Yellow Page heading, geographic region, or any combination of these categories? If you have a Newport library card, you DO have this phonebook—it’s called ReferenceUSA.

A custom search lets you select how you want to search. Suppose I wanted to buy a book, but didn’t know what bookstores were in Lincoln County? In the example below, I looked up Yellow Page headings for ‘books,’ and selected ‘Book Dealers – Used & Rare’ and ‘Book Dealers – Retail.’ Then I limited the search to Lincoln County, Oregon.

Search results give the company name, address, and phone number. If there is a parent company, a link will show up under ‘Corporate Family.’ Clicking on a company name will give more detailed information.

Listings can also be downloaded to a spreadsheet, and saved to your computer!

To use ReferenceUSA from your home or office, go to the library’s website,, and click on the link for databases. All you’ll need to do is type your library card number, and you’re good to go! Ask the staff at the library if you need any help; that’s what we’re here for!

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

This is a terrific and creepy book. Stephen King liked it (or so he says in the blurb on the back cover)-- but more to the point, I liked it. It's a suspense novel with some fairly familiar ingredients: attractive dysfunctional reporter with family problems seeks truly evil, truly perverted, even-more-shocking-than-the-last-ten serial killer who (gasp) targets sweet little girls in small town America.
But the first-person narrative is so well done that the familiar ingredients feel fresh again.
Camille Preaker's dysfunction, self-mutilation by cutting, is an integral part of the story, not just a gimmick to make her more interesting. You may guess who the bad guy is before the end, or you may not-- there are plenty of red herrings-- but in either case, it's twisted enough to keep you on your toes, as the tension ratchets ever higher.

We have four copies of this book in the system, one at Newport.
Check it out.

Ambiguous Noir

“Detective Sivart?”
“Yeah, Charlie.”
“I can’t remember the name of this game.”
“It’s an old game. Older than chess. Older than curse words and shoeshine. Doesn’t matter what you call it, so long as you know how to play. Everyone’s in on it, except one guy, and that guy’s ‘it.’ Okay?”
“Detective Sivart?”
“Yeah, Charlie.”
“I’m ‘it,’ aren’t I?”
“And quick, too.”

I love Golden Age mystery novels: Agatha Christie, Ellery Queen, Rex Stout, and especially Dorothy L. Sayers. These novels are comforting even though they deal with murder and mayhem. Why? I think it's because of the way in the end of the book the truth is always discovered, the baffling clues always add up to a coherent solution, and justice always done. What could be more comforting?

When The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry arrived at the Newport Public Library, we put it in the Mystery section, because it's about a detective who investigates a series of crimes. Also, the blurbs on the cover say that the author plays upon the conventions of the Golden Age of detective fiction. Naturally, I had to read it!

The Manual of Detection stars Charles Unwin, a nondescript office clerk, who idolizes crime-fighter detective Travis T. Sivart. When Sivart vanishes, Unwin investigates and finds himself in deep waters. He encounters Sivart's nemesis, the fiendish carnival performer turned crime-lord Enoch Hoffman. He wards off the sensual spell of femme fatale Cleopatra Greenwood. And, as so frequently happens to detectives in mystery novels, he is accused of murder himself.

So far, it sounds like a pulpy mystery, right? But as I read it, I realized that Berry's novel manages to confound and defy the principles of mystery fiction. Unwin's investigation ends up in the realm of dreams, where anything is possible, everything unreal. Unlike the classic mystery novelists, Berry does not assure the reader that puzzles can be solved and truth discovered. In fact, the effect of The Manual of Detection is to suggest that one can never really know anything.

This book is strange, funny, charming, and bewildering all at once. I think that people who like mystery novels will enjoy it; but you won't find it in the Mystery section. In light of its genre-bending nature, it's been moved to general fiction.

Interested in reserving this book? Click here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Salmagundi: Newport Library's New Presence On The Web

Yeah, I had to look it up, too.
Salmagundi: “The term does not refer to a single recipe, but describes the grand presentation of a large plated salad comprising many different and disparate ingredients.” - Wikipedia
Sounds like us.
Social networking on the web really took off in 2008-2009 and since youʼre there, Newport Library wants to be there with you. We want to find out what you want. We want to tell you what weʼre doing. We want to start a dialogue that makes us relevant to how you access information.
Weʼve dipped our toes into the water with this blog and we hope to make a bigger splash in the future. Look for library audio and video projects, online tutorials, and reviews to staff picks old and new.
We encourage you to comment, either online or in person, (you know where weʼre at, donʼt you?) and you can expect us to comment right back at you. Let us know what we can do to make Newport Library the tag right next to Google on your bookmarks toolbar.
Speaking of Google, 12 Quick Tips to Search Google Like an Expert is a very useful article on how to improve your Google search results. You, too, can search Google like a librarian.