Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Library2Go: Downloadable Audio and Video from Newport Library

If you have a Mac or PC at home and a reasonably fast internet connection you can access thousands of audiobook and video titles from Newport Library’s “Library2Go” service.

From our homepage at www.newportlibrary.org, click on the Library2Go link that looks like this:

Have your library card number handy (it’s on the back of the card under the barcode) and your PIN, which is the last four digits of your telephone number. Follow the instructions and you’re ready to start downloading audiobooks and videos that can be accessed either directly from your computer or loaded onto your iPod or other mp3 player. Some titles can also be burned onto CD’s for that 20th century retro feel.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


For the past sixty years or so, strange beings have been at work: taking over people's minds, forcing them to do things, then disappearing as mysteriously as they came. No one knows what these things are, though they are colloquially called demons. They seem to have distinct names and personalities: the Piper. The Painter. The Kamikaze. The Angel of Mercy. Truth. Fanboys admire the demons and stage conventions to celebrate them. Jungians believe they're archetypes from the collective unconscious. Christians think they're satanic forces. Del thinks one of them is trapped in his head.

Del is a 30ish misfit who hasn't quite been able to pull his life together since he was possessed by the Hellion as a child. Ever since, he's been plagued by a feeling of unreality, voices in his head, and episodes of sleepwalking. And the Hellion hasn't ever possessed anyone since. What if the demon is still inside him, waiting to take control again?

Pandemonium is a fast-paced, scary, unpredictable book, loaded with fun pop-culture references (look for Philip K. Dick as a significant secondary character) and featuring a great rapport between Del and his brother. Does Del need a psychiatrist? A neurologist? An exorcist? The answer may surprise you.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

So, How Do I Get My Book Published?

Four local authors will share their experiences with self-publishing at the July 7 meeting of the Coast Branch of Willamette Writers.

John H. Baker, author of Camp Adair, will lead the panel, which also includes Patsy Brookshire, author of Threads; Carla Perry, author of Laughing Like Dogs and owner of Dancing Moon Press; and Sue Fagalde Lick, author of Stories Grandma Never Told and Freelancing for Newspapers.

Baker, a longtime educator, management consultant and 2009 Newport Community Legend honoree, self-published Camp Adair. His book tells the story of the building in 1942 of a massive army training base in farmland north of Corvallis. By 1944, it had become the second largest city in Oregon.

Brookshire used parts of her own life story for Threads, a novel set in Cannon Beach in 1917. She was raised in the Willamette Valley and moved away as an adult, returning years later to Newport. She has been writing since grade school. Like her grandmother and aunts, she is a quilter and used quilts as a theme in her self-published book.

In addition to a lifetime writing both technical materials and essays, short stories, and poetry, Perry founded the Nye Beach Writers' Series and writers on the Edge, Inc. She received the Oregon Governor's Art Award and the Stewart Holbrook Special Book Award for her outstanding contributions to Oregon's literary life.

Lick, a longtime newspaper reporter and editor, has published three books on Portuguese Americans, as well as Freelancing for Newspapers. Her work is also included in several anthologies and has been published in many newspapers and magazines. She has worked with traditional publishers and a print-on-demand company as well as publishing her own book.

The panel will discuss the various methods of getting a book published, including selling a book to a traditional publishing company, working with an online print-on-demand publisher, or self-publishing, including the advantages and disadvantages of each. They welcome questions and will have their books available for purchase.

Admission is free, and all are welcome to the meeting at the Newport Public Library, 35 NW Nye St. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the program starts at 7 p.m. For more information, contact Sue Fagalde Lick, 867-4692 or suelick@casco.net.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Summer on the Nile

Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russell is the story of Agnes Shanklin, a middle-aged, unmarried schoolteacher who, reeling from the deaths of her family in the influenza epidemic, takes a holiday to Egypt. 

 There she promptly runs into the Cairo Peace Conference of 1921. Never heard of it? At the 1921 Cairo Peace Conference, a handful of powerful British diplomats and politicians decided the fate of the Middle East. They carved up the former Ottoman holdings to create the modern state of Iraq, among other things. The consequences of their compromises and bargains remain with us today.

Agnes makes the acquaintance of some of the most important men and women of the twentieth century. T.E. Lawrence rescues her from rude porters. Gertrude Bell treats her condescendingly. Winston Churchill gets her drunk on gin-and-tonics. She rides camels, flees from riots, and even encounters a handsome German spy. Could this be the best vacation ever?

Dreamers of the Day is great summer reading: an entertaining page-turner, but with a serious heart.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Boys with bombs

There was a great deal I did not understand about the Columbine Massacre until I read Columbine by David Cullen.

I didn't know that the teens who murdered their classmates that day, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, were not bullied misfits striking out against their persecutors. I didn't know that they did not, actually, target jocks, popular kids, or Christians. They were not part of a group called the Trenchcoat Mafia. They were not goth.

Most of all, I did not realize that the Columbine incident was never meant to be a school shooting at all. Had things gone according to plan -- the explicitly documented plan Harris left behind -- Columbine would have been a bombing, like Oklahoma City but worse: an act of American terrorism. The boys meant to bring that school down, with its thousands of students, teachers, and administrators inside.

This book is an incisive and detailed explanation of what really happened. Cullen explains who the boys were, and how they came to kill thirteen people that day. Not only that, Cullen tries to explain why the story has been told so wrongly in the years since. It dispels myths. It describes the blundering confusion of the press, and the appalling cover-up perpetrated by Jefferson County authorities afterward.

It is a frightening book to read, but one that brings light to one of the darkest days America has ever known.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Vogon Poetry: Ode to Douglas Adams (1952-2001)

My soul is surely having the longest, darkest, grimmest tea-time ever, Douglas Adams, and I want you to know, you are still sorely missed. Your ridiculous existential wisdom, your wandering ruminations, your impeccable comic timing, and your masterful depiction of the yearning for perfect sandwiches-- I thought I could live without them all. I thought, in a pinch, someone else would do; Terry Pratchett maybe, or possibly, in the dark, Robert Asprin. But alas. If I had the specs, I would surely construct some sort of peachy-pink 2-legged electronic praying device dedicated to beseeching whomever is in charge of these things to get his or her act together and bring forth another tender-hearted genius of the absurd.

What does all this mean? If you haven't read Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, you probably should, quickly followed by several rounds of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. If you have, and you enjoyed it, Wikipedia believes you may also enjoy Neil Gaiman and Jasper Fforde-- excellent in their own way, but no Douglas Adams. Which is, I suppose, as it should be. However, if anyone believes they know of an author or a book that rival Adams/Dirk Gently, bring it on. (By which I mean, kindly recommend it in the comments section of this blog.)

One Sick Tube: Surf Videos At Newport Library

Being the surf capital of the Central Oregon Coast, Newport has its share of good surf spots, surf shops, and a decent collection of surf movies and documentaries on DVD and VHS here at the library. From classics such as Endless Summer and Five Summer Stories, to recent low-budget releases and classics-yet-to-be, our surf video collection dishes out some tasty waves.

Bordering on the psychedelic, Zen And Zero chronicles a Cali to Costa Rica surf trip by a sometimes hapless lot of landlocked Austrian (Austrian?) surfers.

One of the more intriguing new films is The Lost Wave: An African Surf Story. Veteran waterman Sam George travels to the island nation of Sao Tome to report on a legend concerning a tribe of coastal villagers who, it is said, invented surfing completely on their own, free of any outside influences.

Beneath The Surface is pure surf candy dream journey. Film-maker Dana Morris packs a quiver of world-class surfers on a journey around the world, surfing 25 countries from Java to Japan, Hawaii to Jamaica.

Brokedown Melody, in addition to being a pretty decent surf flick with some of the world’s best surfers, has the added bonus of a soundtrack laid down by uber-mellow surf maestro Jack Johnson.

This is just a sampling of our collection. So, if the winter waves at Happy’s aren’t co-operating or summertime Agate is nothing but windblown slop, stop by Newport Library and check out a few of these titles. It’s the next best thing to being there. No wetsuit required.

Click on the titles to reserve them.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Cut Paper

I was so excited to discover the illustrations of David Wisniewski.

We have several of his children's books, but the one that caught my eye was The Wave of the Sea-Wolf, a Pacific Northwest-themed picture book based upon a Tlingit myth. I like the story, which features a strong and resourceful heroine; but the thing that caught my eye is Wisniewski's illustrations.

I don't know if you can tell from the picture, but the illustrations are made with layers of intricately cut paper. Some of the layers stand out from the rest, so that the shadows between them create depth and drama.

Wisniewski died in 2002, but his vibrant artwork lives on.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Come On, I Haven't Got All Day!

Think about this: You’re in long, slow line at the grocery store, Wal-Mart or Home Depot. You look over at the self-checkout machines, and there’s a free station. You’re in a hurry, so you think, “How hard can it be?” You only have a couple of items. You decide to give it a try. As you approach the machine, you’re a little excited and a little scared. Having never used the self service check out, you’re concerned about looking foolish. Not to worry, a helpful clerk is more than happy to guide you through your first transaction, and after stumbling a few times, you manage your first self-check transaction. The next time you’re at the store, you immediately go to the self-check station. This time, your experience is smoother and you manage the whole transaction by yourself. You walk out the door whistling and saying to yourself, “I’m never gonna wait in line again.”

Newport Public Library recently installed its first self-check machine and the response has been very positive. Self-check provides patrons with a quick and easy way to check out materials, and it eliminates waiting in line, when circulation staff are busy helping other patrons.

The beauty of self-checkout is that it gives patrons a choice. Self-check is there for patrons who want to use it. It’s as simple as that. We will always have staff at the circulation desk. We haven't gone into hiding in our offices. Customer service is still our number one priority.

So, use self-check, or come to the Circulation Desk. Either way, we want your time at the Library to be on your terms. If you’re in a hurry, then self-check may be for you. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, then self-check may be for you. If you want more privacy, self-check may be for you. If you just like trying new things, self-check is definitely for you. Next time you visit the Library, why not give it a try?

Looking for more ways to save money?

There's one very simple concept that I didn't learn at my parents' knee (sorry, Mom & Dad), which took a good decade of adulthood to learn the hard way-- what you spend must always be less than what you earn. Reading The Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn was a revelation to me, especially the concept that it's possible to save for emergencies and the things you want, even if you currently live paycheck to paycheck!

Amy Dacyzyn and her husband decided to become a single income family in the late 80's so she could stay home with the kids, and over the following years, Dacyzyn became so skilled at supporting her growing household on one income that others started turning to her for advice. She started a newsletter, which snowballed into an underground frugality movement on the East Coast in the early to mid-nineties. The three volumes of The Tightwad Gazette contain the best of the tips from the newsletter. More importantly, to my mind and my budget, they model thrifty thinking and sensible economic planning in a way I had never encountered before.

Dacyzyn is the first to say all her tips aren't for everyone. Some people are comfortable wearing yard-sale clothing, some are not. Some people will wash out and re-use resealable plastic bags, while others believe it's a waste of time to save 3 or 4 pennies. Some can't imagine a Christmas that doesn't top out the credit cards. But the multitude of tips and common sense suggestions, as well as basic budgeting advice, guarantee there's something for almost everyone. For those who are already fiscally responsible, the book is an inspiration and a validation of trying to live sensibly in a culture of consumerism and debt. For those who need better financial skills, the book is a primer of basic concepts in a very readable, easy-to-digest format.

For web-oriented folks, sadly, the Tightwad website seems to have been abandoned in 2001. But another fine website based on a similar type of financial philosophy exists at www.getrichslowly.org/blog/.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Getting Your Money’s Worth

This morning’s Today Show had a segment about the important role that libraries play during the current difficult economic times.

People are checking out books on writing resumes, making a good impression during a job interview, and improving their job skills. They can use our computers to search for jobs and write resumes, or bring in their own computer and use our free wireless connection.

Our library has been teaching computer classes for over ten years, and demand has shifted from learning how to use the Internet to learning how to use word processing and spreadsheet applications. We teach one or two classes a week, and often have waiting lists for the next month’s classes. The schedule for upcoming classes is available on our website.

We also share our catalog with the other libraries in Lincoln County, including the Oregon Coast Community College, and the libraries in Tillamook County. If you look in our catalog and find something you want from another library, you can place a hold on it yourself, or call us and ask us to place a hold on it. Our courier service, provided by the Lincoln County Library District, brings items to us three times a week from other libraries. In this small, but not insignificant way, our library expands to offer you even more than what is within our building.

When the budget is tight, libraries are a great place to borrow books and videos, and participate in free programs. Children have storytimes and summer reading activities. Teens have creative monthly programs. And adults have monthly Literary Flicks, a Reading Circle, and the occasional lecture by poets and authors.

Michele Longo Eder reads from her book

As Anne Herbert said in The Next Whole Earth Catalog, “Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries.” We welcome you to use our library, good times or bad.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Love is a warm dog

Dog Years by poet Mark Doty is a dog memoir. There are lots of these, the most popular being Marley & Me by John Grogan. I think that Dog Years accomplishes more than most books about our canine friends.

Written in the years following the death of Doty's lover from AIDS and the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001, it is a meditation upon grief and loss. Doty's relationships with his dogs, Beau and Arden, helped him through these crises; their deaths bereaved him anew. It is a profoundly sad book, one that explores the human-animal bond without sentimentality, but with great tenderness. This passage illustrates the author’s approach:

The old man who lived on my block in Provincetown devised a method to help his ancient springer spaniel walk, when the dog became too old and weak to hold himself up. Antony made a rope harness that he'd slip around Charlie's torso, and he'd haul the old sad sack up, a few inches off the ground, and then the dog could move his legs on his own, and together they'd go for a walk. This always seemed to me a synthesis of love and art; craft found a way, for a while, to keep the beloved other in the world. Love and art -- those two towers can't be knocked down, can they?

No, indeed. If you would like to put a hold on Dog Years, click the picture.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Genre Bending: Where Do I Shelve the Gay Pirate Romances?

As a fan of the late Patrick O’Brian, I am always on the lookout for the next best thing in nautical fiction. Exploring the Amazon.com forest a while back, I uncovered some new (to me) titles and their rather startling covers: Ransom, False Colors, Brethren: Raised by Wolves. Pirates holding hands. What was this? Delving deeper, I discovered the genre of gay nautical fiction. Gay, nautical romances to be precise. Their fans gush. The reviewers, to a woman, almost always give the books five stars. Yes, that’s right. Most of the reviewers, and therefore I assume, most of the readers of gay historical romance, are women. Not being in any way competent to explain this, but curious nonetheless, I decided to read a few for myself.

The first one I read was Brethren: Raised By Wolves, Volume 1. Competently written, no Patrick O’Brian, but lots of rum, sodomy and the lash. John WIlliams, Viscount Marsdale, turns to a life on the high seas to escape traditional family obligations (read: marriage and heir-begetting). Gaston the Ghoul: a little mad, very intelligent, and one hell of a good guy to have watching your back in a fight. Mostly because he’s a medical doctor. The two men meet aboard a pirate ship and become “mates.” They want to...they spend nearly 500 pages almost.... but not quite.... Maybe in volume 2.

The next on my list was Ransom, by Lee Rowan. No pirates this time, but stout-hearted oaks of the British Royal Navy. Two young lieutenants, innocently dreaming their secret lusts (in the same bed, oddly enough). Oops, more pirates. They want to...they spend several hundred pages almost... These guys actually do. Several times. And it’s a series!

As with everything else in the world, there are numerous online fan sites for readers of gay romances. Google it. Amazon it. Read it without having to actually pay for it at Newport Library.

Click here to reserve Ransom, by Lee Rowan.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Better Late Than Never

As librarians, we are conditioned to promote everything new. New programs, new databases, new technology, new this, new that. In the world of libraries, “NEW BOOKS” is the granddaddy of all library promotions. You can go into almost any library in the country and immediately find a section – right up front – that showcases that library’s most recently purchased books.

Often, this promotion of all things new comes from our professional zeal to let you all know that we love what we do and that we are on the ball when it comes to having the latest information, the latest technology or the latest bestseller. Another reason we promote new is that many patrons only want the “new stuff” and we want to make it easy for them to find the new stuff.

Over the years, I have found myself wondering if we do our patrons a disservice by segregating our new materials from the rest of our collection. Here’s why: I find more books – more readable books – books that have changed my life – when I take time to casually browse library shelves. For some reason, I like books that have “a few years on ‘em.” Some of my most favorite books are ones that I missed when they were new, but found later, while browsing library shelves.

I am now in the process of reading – for the fourth time – Nina's Journey: a Memoir of Stalin's Russia and the Second World War. I first read this book twenty years ago, when I ran across it while browsing the shelves of a library. The story is as fresh today as it was when I read it those many years ago. Even though I know what’s coming, I find myself unprepared for Nina’s story of brutality, poverty, hunger, cold, torture, bombings, loving sacrifice and political sellouts. I am once again amazed in the human capacity to experience and survive horrific conditions, horrible people, hopeless situations and numbing heartbreak. Nina does it all, and she manages to find bits of humor and joy along the way.

This book remains one of my absolute favorites. Unfortunately, if you are one of those people who only checks out the new stuff, you’ll never have an opportunity to read it.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Do you have a favorite audiobook reader?

I do. I like Anna Fields, a Pacific Northwest resident (her real name was Kate Fielding) who died in 2006. She had a smooth, soothing contralto voice and was capable of rendering a wide array of accents and speaking styles. Fields gave one of my very favorite audiobook performances, narrating Betty Smith's delightful 1943 novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

Fields' neutral accent slipped easily into the shrill, flirtatious Brooklynese of Aunt Sissy, calling out the window to a police officer: "Yoo hoo! Johnny!" she cries, and blows him a kiss. Sissy calls all her men Johnny.

Did you know that you can search for your favorite narrator in the Newport Library's catalog? Just type the narrator's name in the box and set the search to "Author keyword," and you will soon have a list of audiobooks narrated by the performer of your choice.

Many of these will be Library2Go items, which are free downloadable audiobooks. If you aren't interested in these, you can limit the search to tapes and CDs.

And if you are interested in the Library2Go audiobooks but aren't sure how to begin, the library is offering a free class. Downloadable audiobooks are free and easy to use; you can listen to them from your computer, burn them to disks, or put them on your MP3 player. The class will be held on Friday, June 19; space is limited, so please pre-register.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Ever run out of things to read?

Hard to believe, but it is possible to run out of things to read even when you work at the library. Recently I found myself unmoved by the vast number of books that crossed the circulation desk, and went looking for inspiration. I looked -- (drumroll, please)-- in the online catalog. (OK, that was kind of anticlimactic, sorry.)

There's an awful lot of value packed into the opening page of our catalog, including great research aids and links to magazines and databases online. There are multiple links to try if you're looking for reading ideas, including staff pics and the newest New York Times bestseller list. Just for fun, I tried the Bestsellers and Awards link, which brought me to a page listing dozens of awards for different types of books-- children's, Western, young adult, Latino, history, fantasy, biography, and at least five kinds of mystery. I randomly picked the Anthony Award, which is a prestigious award honoring the best mystery novel of the year.

The page showed a long list of selections, starting with the most current winner, What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman. There were other familiar authors on the list too, like William Kent Krueger and Michael Connelly. Hoping to find a new author, previously unknown to me, I randomly picked Still Life, a cozy village mystery with eccentric, well-drawn characters, by Louise Penny, and Tilt a Whirl, a first-person mystery featuring a young part-time summer cop in a seaside town, by Chris Grabenstein. I have to say, mission accomplished-- both books were good, solid reads. The Louise Penny book was slightly out of my usual mystery subgenre-- I tend toward bloody serial killer books with terribly troubled detectives-- but the writing was good enough and the characters complex enough I didn't mind the coziness. I can't wait to go back and see what other award-winners I've missed!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Paradise Lost

The classic tale of Cain and Abel is recast in Elia Kazan’s film adaptation of John Steinbeck’s novel, East of Eden. James Dean stars as the brooding, ‘bad’ son, Caleb, who yearns for affection from his devoutly religious, self-righteous father Adam, played by Raymond Massey. Caleb and his brother, Aron, grew up in the Salinas Valley on a lettuce farm, believing their mother, Kate, was dead. When Caleb learns that she is alive and owns a brothel in Monterey, he visits her, setting in motion a series of events that topple the smug illusions of his brother and threaten to destroy his father. One of the film's posters exclaimed: “East of Eden is a story of explosive passions and Elia Kazan has made it into a picture of staggering power.”

In addition to Dean and Massey, the film also stars Julie Harris, Burl Ives, Richard Davalos, and Jo Van Fleet. Van Fleet won the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. The film also won the 1955 Cannes Film Festival award for Best Dramatic Film, and the 1956 Golden Globes award for Best Motion Picture Drama.

East of Eden will be shown at the library on Tuesday, June 9, at 6:30 p.m., as part of the library’s Literary Flicks series. Earlier the same day, at noon, the Reading Circle will discuss the book. Both programs will be take place in the McEntee Meeting Room of the library.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

International Economics NOT for Dummies

Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy

A DVD on global economics. Doesn’t that sound like fun? Maybe “fun” isn’t the optimal word, but “impressive” just might be. Narrated by David Ogden Stiers, this three disc series follows the struggle between competing beliefs about how the world’s economic resources should be shared.
Disc one, “The Battle for Ideas”, contrasts the free-market philosophy of Austrian Friedrich Hayek against those of John Maynard Keynes, the English economist who believed that government had a responsibility to regulate the economy.
Disc two, “The Agony of Reform” chronicles the often catastrophic effects of free-market reform in Russia, Latin America, Poland and India during the last three decades of the 20th century.
Disc three, “The New Rules of the Game”, weighs the risks and the rewards of globalizations and poses the question “Is global terrorism the dark side of global trade?”
Using impressive historical footage and interviews with world political and intellectual figures such as Margaret Thatcher, Milton Friedman, Bill Clinton and many, many others, Commanding Heights is an intelligent yet entertaining look at contemporary economic problems, the historical and social context that engendered them as well as competing approaches to their resolution. Given the recent massive level of government intervention in economies around the globe, it seems the pendulum is swinging once again and the issues brought up in this series are all the more relevant. Highly recommended.
Click here to reserve Commanding Heights.

Monday, June 1, 2009

One Grownup's Favorite Picture Books

Whenever a new shipment of children's books comes in to the Newport Library, I eagerly dig through them. To be clear, I don't have kids, and I don't do storytime. I like picture books for myself.

These are a few of my favorites:

Superhero ABC by Bob McLeod

I've been reading comic books and graphic novels for over twenty years, so naturally I would love to know more about the adventures of such crime-fighters as: The Volcano, who Vomits on Villains! (It's Very gross.) And Multiplying Mike, who becomes Many More Men in Moments!

Coco the Carrot by Steven Salerno

The story of an unusually elegant carrot, who escapes the crisper drawer, makes herself a fabulous hat, and embarks upon a life as a world-traveling fashion designer, eventually ending up in Paris. Where else would an elegant carrot go?

Wave by Suzy Lee

A child plays in the waves on a sandy beach, observed by a group of thoughtful seagulls. The plot of this book is told entirely in the expressive drawings: perfect for an Oregon coast summer afternoon.

Hooway for Wodney Wat by Helen Lester

Surely one of the most infectiously funny books in the library, this is the story of a wat -- sorry, I mean a rat -- named Rodney, whose speech impediment makes him the butt of jokes at rodent school. That all changes after Rodney's encounter with Camilla Capybara, the largest and most overbearing rodent in class. Sure to be enjoyed by anyone who likes to see an underdog save the day. (This one is very popular at Newport Library's storytimes. Hooway!)