Friday, January 27, 2012

What's a school without a library? Sad, that's what it is.

Every child in American should have access to a well-stocked school library. ~~Laura Bush

Laura Bush Library

I was fortunate enough to get to work at one of my favorite places the other day: the Coleraine Public Library.  It was kind of quiet in the morning, so I weeded through all that junk email that I rarely have time to go through.  I came across one that urged us to sign a petition to help fund school libraries.  

The role of a school librarian is different than that of a public library worker.  They have a stronger link to the children and their needs.  They give instruction as to the proper care and feeding of books.  They give instruction on how to find books.  They give instruction on how to find information.  They know what is going on in classrooms and play a role in providing teachers with materials to suppliment their instruction.  ( i.e. They know when the second grade class is studying trees and pull books for the teachers and students.)  School librarians lay the foundation with their students.  A child who has been to the school library understands how a library works.  They understand how to research topics to find the information they're searching for. 

The public library is able to provide books geared more towards pleasure reading.  A public library provides books that don't have anything to do with what is being studied in the classroom, books that are to be read just for the fun of it. 

The kids at our elementary school have been very lucky.  Not only do they have a beautiful, welcoming school library; but they have a public library right across the street.  The best of both worlds.  If a child is done with their schoolwork, they are free to go to the school library and read or take AR tests.  Once a week, their teacher may take them across the street for a short visit to the library to pick out something fun to read.  Once a week the class also visits the school library.  How great!  They are being given ample opportunities to develop a love of reading.  You can tell that they do love it.  Every time they walk into the Coleraine Public Library, their faces are alive with excitement over the books waiting to be checked out. 

Last year the school librarian had a smart board in her library.  She was able to turn the kids on to watching the bear cam, eagle cam, and more.  Those kids would then find books about eagles and bears to learn more about it.  How great!  Kids that maybe wouldn't have thought to check out a book like that are given the opportunity to expand their horizons because of a dedicated school librarian.  Both of my children brought home the web addresses to these cameras so that they could check on the bear den at home. 

A big thank you needs to go out to all school librarians who provide a place for children to explore beyond what is taught in the classrooms.  They also deserve a big thank you for tapping into the interests of children to find books that will spark a desire to read.  Thank you for exposing my child to more books than I possibly could on my own.  Thank you for taking the time to teach them how to behave in a library and how to treat the materials found in a library with respect.

How often does a reduction in education funding manifest itself in the school library?  Too often.  Technology is the wave of the future, so who needs books?  Unfortunately, technology is being seen as something that replaces libraries instead of being an extension of the services libraries offer.  Libraries=Information.  Technology=Information.  If we're getting rid of one to suppliment the other, aren't we robbing ourselves?  It's like taking everything you already know, but getting rid of half of it in order to add something.  Why can't we just learn more? 

I urge you to sign the petition.  It's pretty easy.  You do need to set up an account, but it was about the quickest account I've ever set up.  They need 25,000 signatures by February 4th, and needed only 7,027 more when last I checked.  Click here to help ensure that every child in America has access to an effective school library program.  Please, it's so important to our children.


 The library is the temple of learning, and learning has liberated more people than all the wars in history. -Carl Rowan

Thursday, January 19, 2012


“It's better to swim in the sea below
Than to swing in the air and feed the crow,
Says jolly Ned Teach of Bristol.”
Benjamin Franklin

Computer Pirate

SOPA, PIPA, what are they?  Well, for one thing, they're the reason Wikipedia was black yesterday.  SOPA is the House of Representatives version of the Senate's PIPA.  The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) are both attempts to curb online piracy.  Specifically, piracy facilitated by “foreign rogue websites,” meaning sites that are hosted outside of the United States, and thus outside the reach of US law.  I've heard that statement many times, and I still don't know what it means or how it would affect me.  So, I've been doing some reading.  

Pirates are bad.  Many of us love the romanticism of Pirates of the Carribean, but that's not the kind of pirates Congress is trying to squelch.    We all agree that it isn't right to download a movie and then pass it on to others for a fee, right?  We all know that most music you download isn't free, right?  We all know that it isn't right to copy something that belongs to someone else and use it as our own, right?  We all know this.  We all know that you can get in trouble for this.  The Digital Millenium Copyright Act covered this.  Many of us remember the woman from the Duluth area that was fined an excruciatingly large fine for downloading music from Napster.  It's wrong, don't do it.  If you do, someone will come after you and demand money. 

We had wireless here at the library for a while.  And then we got a notice from Mediacom stating that there had been a copyright infringement.  Someone used our wireless to illegally download a movie.  How?  I don't know.  I don't even want to know.  Who?  We don't know, and probably never will.  Long and short, we could be fined up to $250,000 for each copyright infringement.  Well, that's more than 10 times our annual budget.  For a movie we didn't get to see.  Our wireless has since been shut down. 

One person sure can wreck things for everyone else.

Piracy is bad.

That being said, it seems Congress is going a bit over-board with this.  SOPA and PIPA would make it even easier for copyright holders to shut down sights that they feel are misusing their material.  From what I've gathered, it would make it very easy for them to shut down a website that wasn't working the way they wanted it to.  If a company in Xepanislovakia has copies of your favorite song available for download for free, and a Google search pops up with that company; Google would be held liable.  Copyright infringement.  I'm put in prison because my cousin committed a crime.  Wikipedia links to a site that in some way violates copyright infringement laws, and Wikipedia gets shut down. 

Piracy is bad.

The majority of us aren't pirates.  Most of us are good, upstanding, law abiding citizens of the world.  SOPA and PIPA are an attempt to help get rid of people who aren't law abiding citizens of the world.  Unfortunately; at the same time, SOPA and PIPA put us onto the slippery slope of censorship, with a bit of Big Brother thrown in for good measure.

Mixed metaphors abound.  I'm all for giving credit where credit is due.  I would hope other people would be as well, but not everyone is.  Lots of people want something for nothing, and there are lots of people out there that will provide it.  Generally there's some hidden cost, but nothing up front.  Your favorite song from Xepanislovakia may be free along with a cookie that will introduce you to a bunch of spam.  SOPA and PIPA are kind of a way to get rid of that.  Except they've gone a bit too far with it.

Now that Wikipedia and the rest are back up and running, does that mean the fight over SOPA and PIPA is over?  No, it isn't.  The vote on PIPA is scheduled for January 24th.  I'm hoping that Congress got the idea that this isn't a good idea.  But, it might be a good idea to send them a reminder.

Pirate Skeleton

“There is no shortage of well-known pirates, including: Henry Morgan, Captain Kidd, Blackbeard, Blue beard, Yellowbeard, and Yellow beard with Black Roots, who surmised that, if blondes have more fun, then blond pirates must have a heck of a lot more fun.”
Cuthbert Soup, Another Whole Nother Story

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Happy Birthday to you, you belong in the zoo.

How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?  ~~Satchel Paige

Yun Zi celebrates 2nd Birthday

Next week is my birthday.  My last year in the 30s.  Here's hoping I don't get a lot of snickering "How many times have you been 39?" over the course of the following year.  I've never been one to lie about my age.  I own my years.  That being said, I'm not sure how I feel about being almost 40.  It works for other people, but I'm not sure how it works for me.

Of course, age is relative.  Thirty is OLD, until you hit it.  Each decade marks a decline in how old old is.  Really, you're only as old as you feel.  I like that quote by Satchel Paige, and it did get me thinking about what age I feel that I am.  I know for awhile I would automatically answer "27" when asked my age, if I didn't give myself time to come up with the right answer.  I'm not sure why, but that was the age I subconsciously thought I was for many years.  Now if I had to unthinkingly answer the same question I would probably put myself at 32. 

But I'm not.  I'm 38, soon to be 39.  That means I've got a year to plan the big party.  Or maybe find a zoo to visit next year.  A zoo somewhere warm.  Since I'll be turning 40 on a Wednesday, I think perhaps I'll have to take a week long vacation.  

But that's next year.  This year I'll just have to enjoy the cake and ice cream.  And candles.  I love blowing out the candles and making a wish.  You can't get a wish to come true if you don't blow out the candles and make one.  I'm thinking that I'm going to wish to spend my 40th birthday at the zoo.  Or maybe not, I can't tell or it won't come true.

Happy birthday to you, you belong at the zoo. 

Birthday Cake

There are three hundred and sixty-four days when you might get un-birthday presents, and only one for birthday presents, you know. 
~~ Lewis Carroll

Thursday, January 5, 2012

“What an excellent tool the internet is for freaks.” ― Stieg Larsson, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

“Don’t ever fight with Lisbeth Salander. Her attitude towards the rest of the world is that if someone threatens her with a gun, she’ll get a bigger gun.”
Stieg Larsson, The Girl Who Played With Fire

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Män som hatar kvinnor) Photo

I read the book a couple months ago and really enjoyed it.  I read the second in the series a few weeks later and stopped there.  I didn't want to read The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest because then it would be over.  So, I waited.  Last weekend my husband and I saw the movie.  I loved it.  It had been long enough since I read the book that I didn't remember exactly what had happened, and could relax and just enjoy it instead of picking apart the differences between the two. 

Of course, as soon as we got home I had to hurry to finish the book I was reading so that I could read The Girl Who Played With Fire again.  I didn't remember much of it.  I suppose that's what happens when you are an avid reader.  I remembered some key scenes, but couldn't remember how they all fit together.  I stayed up entirely too late pretty much every night this week.  I was sad to see the book come to an end.  There's only one book left in Stieg Larsson's trilogy.  I started it this morning.

It's going to be awhile until anything gets done around my house. 

I also got the Swedish version of the film via inter-library loan.  I don't know how interested my husband is in watching it, but it's on my list of things to do this week.  (Laundry; bah, it'll still be there next week.)   

Stieg Larsson had planned to write ten books.  His death in 2004 came before his books became the huge commercial hit that they have become.  At the time, he had three completed manuscripts.  It was only shortly before his death he had tried to get his books published. 

I had heard that the book was a little difficult to get into.  You have to read the first hundred pages or so before you can really remember who all the characters are.  So, I downloaded the audio version (thank you Arrowhead Library System for making that possible!)  I listened to the first part of the book and only started reading the actual book when I had trouble understanding part of it after listening to it a few times.  From that point on, I was hooked. 

If you haven't read the series, it might be something to consider.  Sure, the first hundred pages or so are kind of hard to get through (from what I've heard), but after that it goes along pretty quickly.  If you have no desire to read it, go see the movie.  It may be a bit graphic in parts, and a bit dark; but it's a mystery/thriller that will leaving you wanting more of Lisbeth Salander.


“Consider this a fair warning.”
Stieg Larsson, The Girl Who Played With Fire