Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Looking for information?

Folks who read blogs are a select group of computer-savvy people (wink wink), but even computer-savvy people sometimes need help finding information. That's what the little "L-net" icon is for on our homepage: access to reference expertise, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from the comfort of your own computer.

L-net is the "Oregon Libraries Network", an online reference service intended mainly for Oregon residents. Librarians from all over the state, including Newport, answer questions via online chat or email. According to the guidelines, you're welcome to ask any 'genuine' question. We can't just chat for fun, we need information to seek! If you're a student, we won't DO your homework for you, but we can probably help you if you're stuck on a problem or if you need help finding good sources of information for a report. We get all kinds of questions on all kinds of topics, from adults and children, and we're happy to try and answer them all. (Note: the actual reference librarian in the real-world library will also do this. Crazy, huh?) On the rare occasion when we can't find an answer for you right away, we'll keep looking, consult with others, and email you the information as soon as we can.

One caveat: L-net librarians can't help you with renewing books or with questions about fines on your account; for those types of issues, you will need someone at your own library to help you. When you go through L-net, you could be chatting with someone in Portland or Newberg or Eugene or Southern Oregon. There are even Ohio librarians who help out nights and weekends.

Check out L-net by clicking on the icon on our homepage, or go to and choose Chat or Email. To see examples of reference chats, go to, and to find out more, try

Monday, April 26, 2010

A gr8 deb8

According to the American Library Association, the most-challenged books of 2009 were a trilogy of young adult novels by Lauren Myracle: ttyl, ttfn, and l8er, g8er.

Challenges to these books have included: requests to restrict access to the books by moving them; requests to limit them to those over a certain age; requests to label them as explicit; and requests to remove them from libraries completely. Reasons cited include offensive language and that useful umbrella term, "unsuited to age group."

Naturally, I immediately checked out ttyl and read it.

The book is composed of the Instant Message conversation of three tenth-grade girls. Angela loves parties, clothes, and boys; she is also generous and kind. Maddie is reckless and outspoken, but vulnerable to the stings of peer pressure. Zoe is serious and wants to be taken seriously, which is why she's been spending so much time outside school with one of her teachers: he respects her.

It's a little hard for me to imagine what all the furor is all about. It's true that the language these girls use is sometimes profane. They gossip, meanly. They speculate about sex, and they are aware that sex, drugs, and alcohol are available to them, if they choose. But although they flirt with danger, they are basically responsible kids. They engage in some naughty talk and some unwise behavior, but they remain good friends.

The truth is, I enjoyed this quick and funny read, textspeak and all ("what r u 2 luvbirds up to this weekend?"). I wonder if some of the indignation it arouses comes from the fact that it consists of IMs. After all, IMs can't possibly have any sort of social value or literary merit.

Can they?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Reaching out to Preschoolers

Tucking the flannel storyboard under my arm and slinging the book bag handle over my shoulder, I head out the back door to another outreach story time, rain or shine. When I arrive, I quickly fix the three legs of the tripod that will provide a stage for my stories on-the-go.

I love the opportunity to share stories, songs and tidbits of trivia with bright-eyed preschoolers and kindergartners. Rebecca Storyweaver, Jan Eastman and I share the outreach circuit that includes over a dozen Preschools, Day Care Centers and Early Childhood programs in Newport.

The clamor begins when I enter the room, “Did you bring your kitty? Did you bring Cricket?” I can expect to get these questions every time, since my grey-striped puppet, Cricket begins every presentation with his timid, shy manner and silly questions. Inez, the enthusiastic, book-loving mouse travels with Rebecca, while Jan packs Loretta the childlike, lovable rabbit in her bag for class visits.

With a multitude of themes to choose from, it’s a great opportunity for us to share a well-known classic fable or one of the shiny, new children’s books. There’s time for a book, a song, a flannel story, another book and a good-bye song with our puppets shaking paws or blowing kisses.

The big return comes when I’m back at my post in the children’s area of the library and a bouncing preschooler bounds down the stairs. After giving a giant hug to Clifford the Big Red Dog, the child exclaims “I saw you at my school!” Other times a precious four year old might whisper to their grown up “That’s the story girl who reads to us.” That’s secretly my favorite namesake.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sita Sings -- for free!

It's a movie that has won over 20 awards and earned a rare 100 percent Tomatometer reading (that means that it was liked by 100 percent of film reviewers tallied by the website Rotten Tomatoes). In spite of all this, copyright conflicts prevented the widespread distribution of Sita Sings the Blues, a film by Nina Paley.

I've wanted to see Sita Sings the Blues ever since I read Roger Ebert's review of it in 2008, but it seemed unlikely to come to Newport. Then I learned the film is now available for free online viewing or download through Nina Paley's website. I watched it on my home computer this weekend, and it is truly a charming and funny film.

Sita Sings the Blues is an animated film that tells the story of Sita, wife of Rama, from the ancient Sanskrit epic The Ramayana. There are musical interludes, during which Sita breaks into the songs of 1920s jazz chanteuse Annette Hanshaw. (It is these, apparently, that caused the copyright issues.) Interwoven into Sita's story is the story of Nina, a modern American woman whose husband breaks her heart. Each component of the film has a different animated style, from a loose scribblevision for Nina's story to a hilarious and wildly creative 2-D for the musical interludes.

Next time you want to see a great movie, you don't have to go out. You don't even have to come in to the library and check out one of our thousands of DVDs (although of course you're welcome to do that, too). Surf over to here, turn up the speakers on your computer, and watch Sita Sings the Blues. You won't be disappointed.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Farewell to a volunteer

Annette "Tobie" Elizabeth Hickcox

July 3, 1965 - April 9, 2010

Annette volunteered at Newport Public Library for over ten years. She loved to work in the Children's Room, shelving books and making everything neat and tidy. We will miss her smile, her hugs and her joyful nature. She had friends all over the world that she kept in touch with and her kitties were her faithful companions. A few years ago she started classes at Oregon Coast Community College and discovered she was an artist. School made her very happy.
She will be sorely missed by all who were fortunate enough to know her.
Services will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 18 at the Calvary Baptist Chuch in Newport.

Fake Meat and Interlibrary Loan

This blogpost is both a shout out for ILL (Yay!) and an example of a rather odd book that I could only find through ILL. For those who are unfamiliar: Interlibrary Loan is when we request materials from libraries outside of our consortium so you can borrow items we don't own. We charge $1 to help offset the cost of this service, which you pay when you pick up your item. This is different from simply placing a "Hold" in our catalog-- that's when you request an item owned by Newport or one of the other member libraries in Lincoln and Tillamook Counties.

I was craving Thanksgiving dinner in March, so I was surfing the internet in search of a make-your-own-tofurkey recipe I'd used somewhat successfully a couple of years ago. I came across a reference to a book called Simply Heavenly!, which was reputed to have great fake meat recipes. Alas! the book was not listed in our Beachbooks catalog. I quickly filled out an ILL form (which you can do online, by the way: it's under Services on our webpage).

A week or two passed, and voila! A beautiful copy of "Simply Heavenly: the monastic vegetarian cookbook" was mailed to Newport Library, just for me. Since then, I have been making UnBeef, UnPork, UnHam, UnSausage, and even UnShrimp (although I wouldn't recommend that last one) out of vital wheat gluten. I'm sure it sounds rather odd to a non-vegetarian, but fake meat products are expensive, and it's very cool to be able to enhance your diet with rare items for a much lower cost.

The UnMeat recipe is rather long, so I'm including a "Cheez" recipe instead. (The monks of Holy Protection Orthodox Monastery are vegan, based on a belief that early Christians followed a strict vegan diet, and that doing so is good for body and spirit. The book also includes a recipe for fake eggs, called "N'eggs"!)

Parmesan Cheez 1

1 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 TB onion powder
3 TB Schilling's Vegetable Supreme Seasoning

Mix all together. Sprinkle on a cookie sheet. Cover with a piece of waxed paper. Roll out thin. Remove the waxed paper. Put in a 200F oven for 2 hours. Grind fine and store in a covered container in a cool place.

I liked the book so much that I decided to buy myself a copy, before I looked online and found that it goes for more than $50, being rare and out of print! Hello, photocopy machine. And thank you, ILL.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Sea of Words: Nautical Fiction @ NPL

Since the death of Patrick O’Brian in 2000 (has it really been that long?), I have searched high and low for his literary successor. Evidently, book publishers have noticed the demand for good nautical fiction, and several heirs-apparent have appeared over the past few years. Here are a few you might enjoy.

Adam Lewrie series by Dewy Lambdin: Probably the most prolific of contemporary naval writers. The 16-volume series is ribald and picaresquely comic. Captain Adam Lewire is a philandering, disobedient cad, but a lovable and successful one. And he sails with two cats, Toulon and Chalky. His wife keeps taking him back, so I guess we should too. The first in the series is The King’s Coat.

Thomas Kydd series by Julian Stockwin: Most stylistically similar to O’Brian. The captain, Tom Kydd, is an engaging, sympathetic hero who has risen from the ranks of common seaman to his current captaincy. Like O’Brian’s hero, Lucky Jack Aubrey, Kydd, too has a “particular” friend, Renzi, who is sometimes called upon by the English government to engage in espionage. The first in the 10-volume series is Kydd.

The author also has an entertaining, multi-media website at with lots of dusty corners to poke around in.

William Rennie series, by Peter Smalley: An intriguing new series by an Australian writer. Rennie is a complicated and brooding man, prone to fits of inexplicable anger. Unlike some of the other series, the Rennie books revel in the grittier side of Naploeonic-era Royal Navy life. The first in the series is HMS Expedient.

And of course, there are the traditional favorites, CS Forester’s Hornblower, Dudley Pope’s Ramage and Alexander Kent’s Bolitho series, all of which can be found in the CRSN catalog.

Monday, April 12, 2010

If I were crafty ...

1. I could make pretty thank-you cards for my friends.

2. Or maybe I'd fashion interesting jewelry out of found items and mismatched old pieces.

3. Or I might learn how to knit a hat.

Are you crafty? The Newport Library has a huge selection of books on all sorts of arts and crafts. Want to learn how to create realistic paper flowers, or make unique bead boxes, or get some ideas for your next needlepoint? The library has books on all these, and more.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Never Look Away by Linwood Barclay

You can't judge a book by its cover-- or by its plot elements, apparently. I absolutely would not have picked up this book if I had known there was a diamond heist at the center. Why? Because diamond heists usually bore me: they're about greed and violence and short-sighted criminals who are not going to be interesting characters. (If you happen to be a brilliant, philanthropic, and sensitive diamond thief, I apologize; come up and introduce yourself sometime.)

In Linwood Barclay's newest book, tone and character development easily transcend the bare bones of plot. (There's a lot more to it than a heist, never fear.) Reporter David Harwood thinks he is happily married, with a contented wife and an adorable four year old son, but his life is a house of cards built by a sociopath. As the cards fall one by one Harwood struggles to preserve his life, and his little boy's. How well does he really know the people he loves? Never Look Away is less predictable and much more engaging than most thrillers, and a good read for those who enjoy action as well as those who prefer exploration of character.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Portrait of a library fan

According to the London Times online, Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards will rave about books and libraries in his upcoming autobiography.

The Times quoted him as saying, "When you are growing up there are two institutional places that affect you most powerfully: the church, which belongs to God, and the public library, which belongs to you. The public library is a great equaliser."

Richards' autobiography is scheduled to be released this autumn.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Poet and Don't Know It?

Do you remember that old childhood jingle?

You're a poet,
But you don't know it,
And your feet show it.
They're Longfellows,
And they smell like the Dickens!

Well, if you ever wanted to dip your Longfellow toes into the pool of poetry, April is the perfect time. In recognition of National Poetry Month, the library is offering poetry workshops on Sunday afternoons, led by local poet Marianne Klekacz, author of When Words Fail.

The first meeting took place on April 4. Marianne led the participants through a series of writing exercises, and then turned the program over to Penelope Scambly-Schott, who read from her Oregon Book Award-winning book, A Is for Anne: Mistress Hutchinson Disturbs the Commonwealth, and her newest title, Six Lips.

The next two workshops take place on April 11 and April 18, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. On April 11, Marianne will lead people through additional exercises, followed by readings from guest poet Peter Sears. The final workshop will be an open mic, where everyone can share the poems they’ve been working on.

If you'd like to have fun while finding YOUR inner poet, come join us at the library!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Love and war

Tatiana Metanova, almost seventeen, sits on a bench and eats an ice cream. She sees a handsome soldier checking her out, and she gives him a smile. Tania and Alexander strike up a conversation, and pretty soon they find they've spent the whole day together. The attraction between them is strong and immediate. Then Tania finds out that Alexander is the boy her sister is in love with. She's crushed.

Boy meets girl; so simple and natural. The problem -- or one of them -- is that Tania and Alexander live in Leningrad, Russia, in 1941, and the Nazis are about to embark upon a brutal 900-day siege of the city. As the residents of Leningrad grow hungrier and more desperate, the Metanovs come to rely upon Alexander's Red Army resources for food and other basic necessities. Alexander is, after all, Tania's sister Dasha's boyfriend; for the sake of her family, Tania must stifle the growing love she feels for him.

That is just the very beginning of this big, sprawling romance set against the devastation of World War II's Russian front. Tania, though young and naive, is a born survivor with the toughness to withstand hardship. Alexander is trapped by his own loyalties in an impossible situation. And the chaos and horror of war grow worse every day.

If you're in the mood for a big love story - I mean a sweeping, epic, string-section-and-kettledrums love story - check out The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Big Changes Coming

We are excited to announce that, in 2010, the Newport Public Library will transform itself from a traditional library into an electronic data center.

"Books are so 20th century," said library director Ted Smith.

The familiar shelves of books, DVDs, and CDs will be replaced with rows and rows of computer data ports, where patrons will be able to plug in and download books, music, and movies to their portable devices.

"Heck, pretty soon you'll be able to download 'em straight into your brain," said Smith.

Supervising librarian Sheryl Eldridge smiled bravely through her tears as she described the benefits of the change. "I think people will be surprised by how much space we have," she said, "once the books are gone."

"We're gonna put in a hoops court," added Smith.

Patrons will begin to see some changes immediately, such as the large book-mulching machine in the lower parking lot. The transformation is expected to be complete by April Fool's Day, 2011.