Library Notes

  • The library has a new AWE Literacy Station geared for children aged 2 to 8 years old. (See post.)
  • Book signing for author of "The Adventures of Stinkerpup" Isis Grayling on Saturday, June 3, from 2 - 4 p.m.
  • Summer Story Hour "Make A Better World" is coming! Beginning Wednesday, June 14th, this seven week program will continue every Wednesday from 10 - 11 a.m. through July 26th. (See post.)
  • The Arthur Johnson Memorial Library Board will hold their next meeting on Tuesday, May 16, 2017, at 5:30 p.m. in the meeting room at the library.
  • Are you interested in joining a new Writer's Group? Meetings held on Fridays, at 10:00 a.m. This is for any writer who wishes to meet with other writers. Beginners, experienced, published, unpublished, writers of fiction, non-fiction, memoirs, bloggers - all are welcome.
  • Preschool Story Hour is conducted every Wednesday morning at 10:00 a.m. We read books to the children and there is a project every week. It's never too soon to introduce your children to the library!
  • Schedule a meeting at the library. Call 445-9711 to get on the calendar in advance. The library stays open until 6:00 P.M., Monday - Saturday, except for Thursday, when it stays open until 9:00 P.M.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Learning to Read

I have heard and read a lot lately concerning children and teens with problems reading. This is not a new issue. In 1955, Rudolph Flesh wrote a book titled "Why Johnny Can't Read" (available at the library). That book was a best seller and is still in print today. Flesh addressed a problem that cropped up when the 'whole word' method of teaching took over the educational system. Instead of phonics (teaching the sounds of not only individual letters, but short vowel sounds, consonants and combinations spelled with two or three letters, vowels and vowel combinations spelled with two or three letters, the five long vowel sounds, and irregular spellings), children were taught to recognize words as a whole. Phonics was all but eliminated for a period, and eventually a generation of children grew up who did not have the tools to recognize that 'not' and 'knot' and 'bought' all had the same vowel sound but different spellings.

Reading is meant to be a smooth experience. With the right skills taught from the beginning, the eye will eventually recognize whole words without having to sound them out and a sentence will run smoothly together, its meaning clear because pauses to puzzle out a word are not happening every few words.

I know a couple in which the husband was taught by 'whole word' method and still has some difficulty reading and certainly has difficulty spelling; while the wife was taught from the beginning by a combination of 'whole word' with simple words such as 'a', 'the', 'it', 'Mom', 'cat', 'dog', etc., and with phonics to decipher all the consonant, vowel, and combination sounds that happen regularly. She reads well, spells well, and writes well.

So today's problem with children who are passed from grade to grade and read so haltingly that it translates into poor to non-existent spelling and writing skills is nothing new. But it is a larger issue as more and more children and teens seem to have this difficulty. The problem hasn't gone away - it has gotten much bigger. Part of the reason is not just the lack of phonics (because phonics did make a partial comeback), but with other factors that weren't identified in the 50s.

One issue was the way information dissemination changed. In the day, there was the printed word. If you lived at a distance from Washington, D.C., you read about what the government was doing in the newspapers. You read about what was happening with distant family in letters. There was no telephone. There was no radio. There was no television. And there was certainly no texting or tweeting with its own non-standard method of spelling. Reading was an extremely important skill and treated as such by teachers, parents and therefore, students. Spelling and writing naturally followed, since non-verbal communication was also a written skill.

With the development of technology and the spreading of news and communication by the spoken word, illiteracy was not such a severe problem. You could find out what was going on without having to depend on what you heard other people discussing. You could call your relatives. You could 'watch' the news.

So over the decades, functional illiteracy has increased. It often happens in family groups, from generation. Children whose parents don't read well or do not read regularly, and who see that it is possible to survive without reading, spelling and writing skills are much less likely to read well themselves. No matter what the teacher attempts to teach in the classroom (and math skills are vanishing as well with the invention of calculators and cash registers that figure totals automatically), unless the importance of these skills are on display in the home or are emphasized and proficiency encouraged by family adults, many children will not reach the level of their own individual ability, the level that almost any child who went to school a hundred years ago automatically achieved.

My parents were readers. They read for pleasure, they read for knowledge, and they read to their children. I remember learning to read myself and wondering impatiently in the first grade when I would be good enough to get past "See Spot run", and read the good stuff for myself. No more waiting for someone to read an interesting story to me. I wanted to do it on my own.

Perhaps that is what children, from a very young age, need to learn. Reading is fun. Books are hilarious or amazing or engrossing. Reading is cool. And while school might not be a child's first priority, because they love reading at least it won't be hard. Reading time will be fun, writing a paragraph easy, understanding the textbooks possible. Reading has a very important place in learning the skills necessary to get passing grades, earn a diploma, get a good job that you might actually enjoy, and of course, entertain yourself when there is nothing good on TV - or even when there is.

Reading to children who are still too young to read to themselves is a first crucial step to engaging them directly with the printed word. DVDs and video games are fun, but they will not help anyone learn to read, spell or write. Pick books, especially ones with pictures for young children, that interest your child. Not every child wants to hear about Cinderella. They might want to read about Scooby-Doo or trapdoor spiders or lightning or horses or dinosaurs or giant digging machines. We have books for young children on all of those subjects and many more, including wordless books where you and your child can make up the story to suit yourselves. To a little child, making up a story to go with pictures in a book is reading and it will introduce them to the concept of a story to be 'read'.

This library makes an effort to select and purchase books to entertain, interest, and aid children from birth through high school. Throughout the year pre-school story hour, summer story hour, and now Nature Tales are programs where children can be read to by adults and have a good time. Children can come to these programs at the library in Raton and get a head start on learning to read themselves. We invite you to bring them in.

Preschool Story Hour - Every Wednesday at 10:00 a.m.
Nature Tales - Twice a month on Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. (Call 445-9711 for the next date.)
Summer Story Hour - Every Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. during the summer.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

"For Their Children, Many E-Book Fans Insist on Paper"

The New York Times reported on November 21, 2011, that parents who use E-Books all the time have a very odd double standard - they want their children to read 'real' books, not e-books. They laud the smell, the reality of turning a page, the intimacy of holding and sharing a book when it comes to what their children read. They had that growing up, and now they want it for their children.

Well, this is good news of course. Although the reporter uses the term 'dead tree' books at least twice (and I wonder what he calls furniture made of wood - 'dead tree' tables and chairs?), the journalist treats these inconsistent parents gently. According to the article, publishers say that children's books are on the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to E-book purchases. These publishers report converting more picture books, even though it takes longer, is harder, and is more expensive. But when the parents laugh at their own inconsistency on what they read and what they want their children to read, the reporter laughs along with them. He even reports what one parent has to say about an E-book at bedtime - it becomes less about reading together and more about the device. If a child can play a game on the same device they can read a book on, well, it seems that they will probably choose to play the game. So these parents prefer books to technological devices for their children.

This raises some interesting questions. What do these parents read on the Kindles and I-Pods? Newspapers and magazines? Work related material and books? Probably some fiction? And where do they use these devices? Does it work under the covers as well, before you go to sleep? Is it as good as a book when cuddled up under an afghan in a chair with a cup of hot chocolate on a cold snowy day? Or is it a convenient device for reading in the car or on the subway or at lunch time during a work day? Do they get caught up with a game instead of a book on the I-Pod themselves?

It is still less expensive to purchase an E-book than it is a regular printed volume, although from the sound of what the publishers had to say about picture books, those won't necessarily be cheap, and the price of simple text E-books has already risen. But if the Kindle dies, what happens to all those downloaded books? At the very least, it means purchasing another reading device instead of going to your bookshelf.

E-books are not a bad invention. They can be extremely convenient, they are easy to take along on a plane or wherever else you go, and for people who read a lot, that counts for something. They are the new hot thing that ties 'books' together with technology, and so they are fun and popular and very, very up-to-date. In a world where the newest hot thing is blazoned everywhere, from your latest tech device to TVs to billboards, it's not just convenient and cheaper to own an E-book reader, it's cool. Who wants to be left behind on the latest craze?

But obviously they don't fulfill all needs. Parents who insist on books for their children are saying, in essence, "My children won't learn to read as well with an E-reader. They won't learn to love a book, they won't learn to focus on the printed page, enjoy the illustrations as much and get lost in a story on an E-reader. I want real books for my children."

Adults who love to read have those needs, too. E-books will not vanish, although the devices will (and already have) change. But the niche they fill will not eliminate the desire and the pleasure to be had from printed, bound books. There is both the need and the room for both in this world.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thankgiving at the Library

What are we thankful for? For you. There are lots of reasons to be thankful for our patrons, so I thought I would list some:

1. Without the public, there would be no reason for this library to exist.
2. We have two new groups using our free meeting room. Thank you!
3. People who haven't ever been in the library before have come to "Nature Tales". . . how exciting!
4. Thank you for telling us when you have a new grandchild, get engaged, are taking a wonderful trip, stories about your pets, whether or not you have your Christmas shopping done, and the fact that you appreciate us - not just the library, but us, as individuals.
5. Our two book clubs - one formed by adults this year, and one brand new one started by grade schooler, Ginger Baird. Good job!
6. Those who bring us fun things, like the holiday donations Daniel Hicks gives us all the time. Thank you, Daniel!
7. Noticing the effort we go to to decorate the library for special times.
8. Checking out books in special displays.
9. Using our movie collection since we don't really have a special place to rent DVD's in town any more.
10. Telling us jokes, asking how we are, giving us the kind of 'hard time' that means you like us.
11. Donating books, movies, audio books, magazines and furniture.
12. For so many coming to "Zoo To You" last August that the line snaked out the door, down the front steps and down the sidewalk. What a turnout!
13. Showing up in droves on Monday afternoon, after we have been closed on Sunday.
14. Using the book drops so your books won't be late.
15. Paying overdue fines without fussing.
16. Telling us which are your favorite paintings in the library.
17. Being just as amazed as we are the "Little House on the Prairie" was once a banned book.
18. Using our computers all the time. . .ALL THE TIME.
19. Showing patience when we are short handed and you have to wait in line.
20. Understanding when we make a mistake.
21. Coming to the library, using the library, appreciating the library.

THANK YOU!

Friday, October 14, 2011

A big Thank You!


The library staff was surprised to find a scarecrow made by Mrs. Aragon's class at Columbian Elementary School in front of the library, ready to greet everyone who comes in. We would like to thank Mrs. Aragon's class and the Raton Main Street organization for this great seasonal decoration. We love it!

Print vs Electronics

There is a video on Yahoo today showing a one year old baby with a magazine. She is pushing non-existent buttons and trying to make it work like an IPad. Needless to say, she's a little confused.
So the question is: is the next generation of readers even going to know what a book is?
Oh, yes.
Saying that children who learn how to use electronic devices will never use a book is like saying that using a dishwasher means you have no idea how to wash a dish in a sink. It's like saying watching TV means you can't figure out how to turn on a radio. It's like insisting the invention of the car eliminated bicycles from the face of the earth.
From the the wheel to the cell phone, man has developed and invented innumerable items that have enabled humanity to do a lot of things they never did before. It's true that some of these inventions have more or less swept away certain things. For example, most households don't make dip candles any more - they flip a switch for light. But many inventions that have stood for progress in the history of mankind still live side by side with what came next. Remember when computers were first gaining popularity in businesses and homes? They were supposed to do away with the reams of paperwork considered necessary to function in the 20th century. I don't know about you, but I am sitting in an office with a stuffed file cabinet and files on the counters, just full of all that paper that was going to be eliminated.
Libraries move with the times. That's why you find public access computers for patrons, books on CD, movies to check out and Ebooks. But you also find newspapers and magazines and upstanding files holding clippings and old photographs - and, of course, books. Lots and lots of books, purchased thoughtfully to try and meet the needs of everyone the library serves, from the smallest baby to the most elderly patron.
Given the current economic realities, I think it is safe to say that if hardly anyone checked out a book, there wouldn't be very many left in public libraries. When it comes to money, librarians are realists. They have to be. They are there to provide information, entertainment and education for the public, and there is only a certain amount of money each year to meet those needs. If reading print that you hold in your hands was a vanishing need, you wouldn't find new bestsellers, new picture books, new Chilton's manuals and the local newspaper on the shelves.
People still want and desire actual books. Many of us it find that it satisfies some sort of need that is buried deep in our psyche. Access to books was something the ordinary people did not have for millenniums. The ability to read was non-existent, it was a need that was not even recognized when survival took all their waking hours. That began to change with the invention of the printing press, the beginning of formal education for everyone, the other inventions that freed up time for things like, well, reading. This need has been passed along from generation to generation, and books were the basis upon which past generations gained knowledge and skills, improved their lives, and gave an immeasurable amount of pleasure. Reading a book is hardwired into us all, and it was there long before Steve Jobs gave us the IPad.
Electronic devices also have needs that books don't have. They have to be recharged. They don't work if you drop them often enough (and who hasn't dropped their cell phone before?). They can be disabled with viruses. Computers need operating systems and those don't come cheap. Devices and apps may use signals from satellites. Some may need to be plugged in to an electrical source.
A book, on the other hand, just has to be picked up and opened. If the electricity goes out, you can still light a candle and read a good book.
As for the baby girl trying to push buttons on a magazine, she just doesn't know what a magazine is for yet. My children didn't either, but instead of trying to push buttons, they tore out the pages and had a great time. They grew up to know what books are all about, and so will the babies of today.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

List of Furlough Days

Furlough Days at the library will be:
Monday, August 8, 2011 (done)
Monday, September 19, 2011 (done)
Monday, October 31, 2011
Monday, November 28, 2011
Friday, December 23, 2011
Monday, March 29, 2012
Monday, April 16, 2012
Monday, May 14, 2012

Friday, August 19, 2011

"Zoo To You" A Lot of Fun!

The library sponsored Zoo To You on Wednesday, August 10th. The display is never here longer than two hours so that the animals don't get stressed, and before we even opened our doors at 10:00 A.M. that morning, we had a line forming outside. It took half an hour to get everyone in the building. Over 186 adults and children came to see a baby alligator, a Kingsnake, a rattlesnake (with fangs but no venom), a hedgehog, a guinea pig and an Australian parakeet (who loved all the attention!) Other artifacts like animal skins were available for touching and feeling. The docents who brought "Zoo To You" to the library were wonderful in the way they handled the animals out of their containers and cages so that everyone could have a good look. They also were a mine of information on each creature and the artifacts. For example, did you know that a Kingsnake is imperious to a rattlesnake bite? In fact, Kingsnakes kill rattlesnakes. They kill their prey by constriction, just like a boa constrictor, and often have colorful skins.
Thanks to the community for attending this exhibit. We hope you had a good time - we certainly did!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

"It Has A Red Cover"

When a library patron is trying to find a book that they read once upon a time and they don't remember the author or title, the request usually goes something like this - "I read it when I was in college (or' when I was a child', or 'forty years ago'), and it was about someone who owned a Model T car (or 'a dog like the one on that commercial', or 'a man and a woman in Africa'), and it had a red cover."

If we shelved books by the color of their covers, it might actually be possible to go through the collection of books with red covers and see if their particular book was in the library. That is, if we didn't have much else to do, like shelving returned materials, answering the phone, processing new books ( some of which probably have red covers), taking care of the bills to be paid, making copies for patrons or sending faxes for patrons, checking all types of materials in and out, dealing with the budget cycle, doing the paperwork for grants, working on long term projects, mending books to extend their lives, withdrawing books that need final rites, straightening up the magazine room after a day's worth of reading has scrambled things, putting books back in order so they can actually be located on the shelf at some point in the future, helping patrons with the computers and aiding the public directly in all kinds of ways.

I used to think this was one of those 'patron' things, a description used by people who are afraid of the Dewey Decimal system and don't have very good memories. Then one day I heard myself say to another staff member, "We need to pull that book about World War II for someone. You know, the one about the black airmen. . .I think it has a red cover."

Huh. Obviously it wasn't just a patron thing, it was a people thing, maybe even a 'being human' thing. And clearly the color red is deeply embedded in our psyches, because when we finally found the book, it wasn't red. It was blue. I thought about how many times I had had a request for a book with a green cover or a yellow one, and there weren't many, if any. No, it was usually all about a red cover.

I wish I could report that we have always found the book with the red cover that the patron is looking for, but sadly, that is not true. Instead, we focus on the dog or the continent or even what the man and the woman did for a living. Sometimes we are successful, sometimes we aren't. And I have never yet filled one of those requests by looking through all the books with red covers.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Are School Libraries Important?

There seems to be movement afoot in this time of 'no money' in which some schools are considering closing their school libraries. Theoretically it will save money, and perhaps that is true for some schools who have invested heavily in their libraries, their collections, their computer labs and their staff. (But if that is the case, those schools probably won't consider closing their libraries down, if only because so much money has been pumped into them.)

Unfortunately, those schools are probably outnumbered by schools who have always put libraries on the back burner because other things are more important. Things like another office staff member, raises for administration, the cost of gas to get girls sports teams and boys spots teams to different locations on different days (what ever happened to scheduling those games on the same day?), upgrading the computers in classrooms and offices, and who knows what else. For those schools, eliminating libraries probably seems logical on the surface, even though the libraries in those schools are funded with a pittance anyway and the savings may just be a drop in the bucket.

Often school librarians are not seen as equal partners with teachers and administrators in the education system. Reading is taught in the classroom and textbooks are used there to teach the three R's. Work done outside the classroom is the student's responsibility. If information is needed for an assignment, the student is expected to locate it.

What parents and everyone involved in education needs to remember is that libraries in schools are supposed to be able to supply primary and supplementary material on the premises for this very reason. Librarians can help students with books, periodicals, and computer resources for research, book reports, and sometimes (gasp) with materials a student wants to use outside homework and required reading. Teachers don't have time to walk students individually through finding everything they need. Modern education methods have left them with so much paperwork and evaluation to do, not to mention hoping they meet the mandated goals set by the federal government so the school can receive enough funds to operate, that they are lucky to have time to get through the curriculum during class. There aren't enough hours in the day to help students with outside sources one-on-one.

That is where a school librarian as an education partner can come in handy. If the school system has realized the value of an information specialist, kept the collection up to date, and made sure the library computers actually operate, students can find the guidance they need to information and knowledge. Otherwise, young students are dependent on parents who are already hard pressed for time to get them to the public library to find the book on their list. Students without computers need to find a way to get to the public library which is often the only other place in town with free Internet access, as it is in Raton. High school students who can drive have to be dedicated to go to the library for research and writing in between extra-curricular and social activities.

Public libraries help by providing books, magazines and computers for students who get there after school hours or on weekends. But the public library is meant to cover the needs of the entire public and should not be considered the primary or only source for all educational needs. Often, especially in a small town, they will not have the space or the funds to cover the needs of all classrooms at all levels or for all subjects for hundreds of students.

Which is why schools who consider closing their libraries are short changing students who are required by law to attend their institutions. The U.S. has fallen behind many other countries in the numbers of students who graduate and the amount of knowledge they graduate with. Ignoring or closing school libraries will not help improve that situation one bit.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Treasure Trove of Local History

Since July 2010, the library and archivist Sharon Niederman have been working tabulating the historic records at the library. This work was made possible by a grant from the NM Historic Records Advisory Board. National funds and/or the state through the state legislature provide the money for these grants. In our case, these funds pay the archivist to do the majority of the work while the library provides at least 20% of the money funded in 'in-kind' work and contributions.

During this last year, the Victor Grant collection of photographs of the Maxwell/Beaubien family was selected for preservation work during the coming funding cycle. I am pleased to announce that the application for re-grant funding in regard to this specific project has been awarded to the library for the 2011-2012 funding cycle.

Local libraries all over the country are rich in local history, and the Arthur Johnson Memorial Library is no exception. The Victor Grant collection is one small part of what this library holds. Upstanding files on Raton, photograph files of Raton and the surrounding area (most of them of times past), old city directories, cemetery records and other records compiled into two books by Nancy Robertson in the 1970s, scrapbooks, upstanding files on subjects of general interest in New Mexico, Father Stanley booklets on towns and villages in New Mexico, and the Raton Range on microfilm since the 1880s are all held in this library. If you have a local or or state historical interest, it might pay off to see if we have anything on your subject.

Many of these materials need preservation work. Many need expanded records in the catalog to more efficiently aid patrons in finding what they are looking for. It's a huge job and will not be done in one or two years.

But the NM Historical Records Advisory Board has given us a start. Applications for funding have come from libraries, organizations and cities all over the state, including the Navajo Nation, El Palacio Magazine, the Palace of the Governor, and UNM Hospital. For the last two funding cycles only ten grants have been awarded out of approximately 30 applicants each year, and we have now received two of them. This tell me that the New Mexico Historical Records Advisory Board realizes that the history of the state is based in large part on the local history found in each area and community. They found our collection and our specific aim this year to be worthy of funding.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Library Statistics. . .Keep Reading!

Statistics, how dull. Right?

Wrong, wrong, wrong. When it comes to library statistics, you might be surprised to learn a few things about your local library. For example, did you know this library holds over 50,000 volumes? (Not including magazines and newspapers.) These materials are books (of all sorts for all types of people), audio books (in case you are taking a long boring trip on the road), music CDs, video games, and movies? Yes, in a town where the only way left to get a DVD is to buy one. . .there is another way. Each of these materials can be borrowed free of charge! They can be used in your own home at your own convenience for anywhere from a week to three weeks for those who live in or just outside Raton, or three weeks to six weeks for those who live in another area. The key word, of course, is "borrowed". The AJM Library is funded by the city of Raton and all the materials in it are city property. We lend them to you, you bring them back. If not, the word 'free' goes away and there will be a fine or a replacement cost due. But as long as anything you borrow is returned on time, it's one of the best economic deals in town.

The next statistic concerns our public access computers. The fifteen machines we have are used over 11,000 times a year. That means each computer averages being used 750 times per year. Not just by the same 750 people either. There are as many reasons for using the public library's computers as there are users. Those who are traveling, those whose computers have viruses and whose printers are not working, those who want to do a little research on an upcoming trip, those who come after school for help with classwork, and those who do not own a computer all use the library public access computers for free. There is that word 'free' again. Printing costs 15 cents per page, black and white, but using a computer costs absolutely nothing.

Every year the library uses a formula provided by the New Mexico State Library to average how many individuals come to the library. In the 2009-2010 fiscal year, this library was visited 34,164 times. The statistics for the current 2010-2011 fiscal year show that the average is going to be over 38,000 visits. During times of economic woe, people use the library more. Can't afford a subscription to the Albuquerque Journal? That's all right, we have it here in the library. Can't travel to a book store this weekend for the latest best seller? (That good old price of gas!) Call the library and see if our copy is available. Interested in a book that is out of print and this library doesn't have it? We will use the inter-library loan system to see if we can borrow it from another library for you. Need a place to use a computer or read a magazine while the car is being fixed or your wife is getting her hair done? Here we are.

Last year 2,647 people attended programs at the library. These programs were for people of all ages and a variety of interest. Many were children, and the schools brought students for tours as well. Some adult attendees were aspiring writers. Some had an interest in the world of science. Others took computer classes or saw historical artifacts. Some actually discussed books. The meeting room in this library is open for scheduling as long as the event scheduled is not a 'for profit' venture. Want a free space to meet in? Call the library.

The library accounts for 4% of the city budget. That's all. The materials provided, the individuals served, the computer usages, the programming, the 48 hours open per week - all of that is provided with a very small portion of the public money that comes into the city coffers each year to meet the needs of its citizens.

It does so with three full time staff members, one part-time aide, and one maintenance person on the payroll. (Volunteers who work for love of the library are very much appreciated and do not cost the city a dime.) The numbers of paid staff have gone down from four full time staff and two part-time aides in past years to the current level. Still, the library is serving more people and providing just as many programs, computers and services (if not more), than when we had more staff.

It is obvious from these statistics (and in the end, all they are about you more than they are about us), this library serves the public in a large way with a small fraction of the city budget. The numbers prove it.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Newport Beach, CA, Considers Bookless Library

Newport Beach has a plan on the drawing table to move the Balboa Branch of their public library to 'spanking new' 2,200-square foot quarters in the proposed Marina Park project. (http://today.msnbe.msn.com, March 30, 2011.) Part of the plan includes several alternatives for this relocation. One alternative is to eliminate most or all of the books and turn that library into "a kind of community center - a place where citizens could gather, chat. . .and surf the web."

There are several interesting/horrific concepts involved in this alternative. First of all, Newport Beach is 'faced with crushing budget problems" and this could be a part of their solution - remove all books. It seems odd to me that they want to spend money on building a "spanking new" library facility in a new location but are willing to remove the books to save money. That seems a little odd. "Look! We have a new building! And we save a portion of the cost by eliminating the books!" What a political statement.

Of course, there will be computers and maybe Ebooks and a nice place to sit by the fire and play with your laptop; but if Newport Beach library users in that area want a book, they will have to request it at an electronic ordering station, then wait for someone to deliver it to them from another branch. If someone comes in who doesn't have the funds to own an Ereader or, heaven forbid, expects a library to have books, they will be disappointed and disenfranchised.

Libraries try to meet the needs of all their patrons. This includes the technological and traditional services. As one person commented on this article, "As California goes, so goes the rest of the nation". I hope they are wrong. The concept of libraries as social and electronic centers only is disturbing, to say the least.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Right or Privilege?

There was a discussion recently between New Mexico librarians on whether libraries in this country are a 'right' or a 'privilege'. I am inclined to believe it is both.
Free public libraries have been a part of this nation since it practically was one. As the nation has grown, so have the amount of public libraries. Libraries have become so much a part of our national consciousness, that you could hardly find a soul that would claim they are not a right belonging to all citizens. They are there to serve the public, which covers everyone.
But in economic times like these, tax dollars decline. Libraries are then frequently designated a 'quality of life' service, as opposed to fire/EMT and police services. You might never need the fire and police services personally, but the 'right' to have access to them is safety oriented and very basic. So you might not have access to the computers or materials you use daily or weekly at the library (often because you cannot afford as an individual what the library provides for free), but those safety services will always be available and creating a safer community, whether you call on them yourself or not.
Conclusion: a 'right' can vanish when the money is shrinking unless the public makes it clear that they expect it to be there.
As for being a 'privilege', that also applies. Every citizen has the right to public library services, but criminal activity in a library can cancel that 'privilege', just like federal convictions can cancel the right, or privilege, to vote.
Criminal activity does happen in libraries. Physical and verbal abuse, deliberate theft, damage of public property, all these things are punishable by law. When they happen in a library, those who perform these acts are often banned from using the library again. That privilege is gone. It is a public employee's responsibility (in this case, the librarian's) to maintain a safe environment for everyone who works in or uses the library. It is also their responsibility to protect and maintain public property paid for by the tax dollars that provide the department, the use of which is both a right and a privilege.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

"Librarian Chic"

Patricia Moore, from the New Mexico State Library, just sent out a message to all of us in Library Land. It said, "Today's NYT style section has a Q&A with a boutique owner whose best sellers include a blouse that retails for $1995.00 and is described as what the owner calls, '...librarian chic - sexy but with prim cap sleeves."
Naturally I went to the website and was very disappointed. There was no photograph of this blouse. I also wanted to see what kind of model they might have put it on. Did she weigh more than 100 pounds? Was she wearing glasses and were her eyes unfocused from being on the computer too long? Was her hair in a bun or was it dyed? I mean, was she even holding a book? If you are going to use the term 'librarian' to sell a blouse that no librarian in the country can afford, these are important questions. Exactly how are we being portrayed?
Just so you know, I don't think I have ever been 'librarian chic' in the entire time I have worked in the library. I dress for comfort. This particular blouse might require an expensive pair of heels, and there is no way I could possibly get through the day in heels. It might require an expensive skirt or fabulous pair of slacks, and I do not wear clothes that I can't afford to snag, tear, get newsprint smudges on, or wear to sweep the basement.
As for sexy. . .well. It will probably surprise some of you to learn that there are individuals out there who think the library is a great place to pick up women. Really. It is true that I have never had anyone try to pick me up, but just about every other female who has ever worked here, not matter what their size, age, or style, has had at least one person give it a try. I don't know what causes this. Is it the friendly line, "Can I help you?" Are books some sort of aphrodisiac? Whatever the cause, not one of them was wearing any kind of blouse that cost over $1,000.00.
As for this particular expensive blouse, I don't suppose I need to see a picture of it. Even if I could find an exact duplicate in K-Mart for $19.99, I wouldn't buy it. I don't like cap sleeves.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Book Sale Coming!

The Friends of the Library will be holding their annual book sale on Saturday, March 19, 2011. The sale will be held on the second floor of the library from 10:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M. This is a wonderful opportunity to stock up on used books at great prices. There is plenty of fiction and non-fiction, enough to satisfy all types of readers, including the youngest ones! Come to the sale and plan to carry away a sack of books to meet all your reading requirements!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"Art Techniques: Improving Your Art" Workshop

The Raton Plein Air Society of artists is hosting and conducting a new workshop at the Arthur Johnson Memorial Library. This workshop is for adults, 18 years of age and up, and will meet in the library on the first and third Thursdays of each month, beginning in February and running through May.

The name of the workshop reflects the goal of those who will be conducting and participating in these ongoing workshops. The medium focused on in the workshops will be oil painting. Five aspects of oil painting will be addressed: drawing, self portraiture, still life, landscape and surreal/fantasy. Techniques and demonstrations given by different members of the Raton Plein Air Society will aid those attending to prepare for the next meeting. The work of attendees will be shown and discussed within the limits of each painting type and assignment addressed each month.

The members of the Raton Plein Air Society have each been involved in painting for decades. Various degrees in architecture, design and fine arts were the springboard that led Society members to a life long involvement in painting. They invite anyone interested in developing their artistic ability to attend the initial meeting on February 3, 2011, at 6:00 P.M. Mr. Sam Hughes will give a demonstration on drawing for the first workshop.

Refreshments will be served.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

New Mexico Newsbank : Access newspapers and magazines online at home.

The Arthur Johnson Memorial Library now provides a link on this blog through which library patrons with library cards can access three New Mexico newspapers and ten other national publications on their own computers at home. The New Mexico newspapers are:

Albuquerque Journal
Las Cruces Sun-Times
Roswell Record

National publications are:

Baby Talk
Family Life
Foreign Affairs
Newsweek
Parenting
Popular Science
State (web publication)
Stateline.org (web publication)
U.S. News and World Report
Washington Family Magazine

The text of these magazines is now available to you at home. Go to the arthurjohnsonmemoriallibrary.blogspot.com. On the right side of the screen, find the link that says "New Mexico Newspapers". Click on that link. It will take you to a sign up page which requires your personal library card number. (Those patrons who have 3 digit patron numbers must preface their number with a zero - 0.) Once you have entered that, you will find a screen on which you can take a short cut to the New Mexico publications or nation wide publications. Select one. Each of those search screens have places to put in key words and dates in order to search for specific articles or to read the publication.

This resource can be used at the library on the public access computers or on your personal computer at home. In either case, you must go to the library blog, arthurjohnsonmemoriallibrary.blogspot.com, to begin.

Since the Albuquerque Journal no longer delivers daily in our area but send the newspapers through the mail, it is no longer necessary to wait until the next day to read the most current issue of the Journal available.

Please try out the Newsbank and let is know what you think. This service has been made available to New Mexico libraries through the New Mexico State Library and paid for by this state agency.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Income Tax Forms (Free) and Printing Income Tax Froms Off The Internet (15 cents per page)

I don't know why income tax time seems to roll around so frequently. It usually seems like a year between each Christmas, but the distance between each April 15th seems to get shorter all the time. Part of the reason for me is that I start worrying in December about getting my personal forms in January and hoping that I get it all done before April 14th so I won't have to stay up all night in order to meet the deadline the next day.

When you work in the library and get shipments of forms sent for free handout by the IRS and the New Mexico Department of Taxation, taxes are also on your mind for quite a while. People ask for the forms before January 1st. In fact, people trickle in all year asking for last year's forms, forms from other states, forms from so many years ago that not even the IRS has them posted online. So taxes, like overdue books, seem to be an inescapable part of life at the library.

As far as the new tax forms go each year, I have never noticed a reliable 'received by' prediction from either entity. We are usually unable to tell patrons when the forms will be here. Sometimes they arrive (in part) before January 1st. More usually they arrive afterward in several batches that contain different forms. Sometimes New Mexico Income Tax forms are here first. Sometimes IRS forms are here first.

This year, no individuals are receiving paper forms and instruction books from the IRS in the mail. It seems that the IRS wants as many forms as possible to be submitted online. Or perhaps they are busy saving tax payer dollars by canceling all that printing. However it is, this has upset a number of people who have always used these forms. I don't blame them. Fortunately, the IRS is still sending forms to public libraries who filled out the request paper work for such forms much earlier in the year. We filled out that paper work.

In the last week I have received a notification from the IRS that we may receive forms by the end of January. That was followed immediately by an email that said a shipment had left their warehouse and might be to us by January 17th. Two days later I received an email saying that the UPS now had the order. Before any of these emails, we received Schedule M - "Making Work Pay Credit" - in bulk without any instructions, and 1040EZ forms without any booklets. In between the last two emails we received 1040EZ booklets and 1040A forms. I got another email today saying another shipment had left their warehouse, and UPS brought us a delivery of forms for Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled (no instructions), and perhaps six instruction booklets on Child Care and Dependent Care Expenses. Truly, the shipping methods of the IRS are mysterious. As for the shipping methods of the NM Department of Taxation and Revenue, they are currently non-existent since we have not yet received any forms or instruction booklets from them to hand out.

We will receive more forms and booklets. I hope they are all here soon. You can always call the library (445-9711) before making a special trip to pick up forms that may not be here yet. If you are in a hurry, we can help you print IRS forms and New Mexico tax forms off the Internet, as well as the booklets. Just be aware that it costs 15 cents a page to print at the library. That can get expensive when the forms and booklets provided to us by the IRS for the public are free - after they arrive.

Also, please pick up your forms in a timely fashion. Once the ones to hand out free are gone, we charge 15 cents a page to make copies of each form that we set aside for that purpose.

In the meantime, the IRS has declared that this year's filing deadline is April 18th, not April 15th. This is because there is a holiday specific to Washington D.C. only that celebrates the day President Abraham Lincoln emancipated the slaves, and it falls on April 15th this year. So we all have three extra days to get our taxes done.

I wish that made me feel better than it does.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Welcome to 2011 at the Library!

It's a new year at the library and we would like to thank all our patrons and supporters for what we know will be their faithfulness during the coming twelve months. As usual, we will be available to schedule the meeting room for clubs and groups; we will be happy to schedule class tours (one for home schooled children is already on the calendar this month); we hope to start developing an e-book collection; and we just want to see all of you who come in to check out books, movies, audio books, video games, music Cd's and magazines. Don't forget that we have fifteen public access computers. Time is limited only when all computers are in use, and the very least amount of time you can use a computer is half an hour. (The longest amount of time is all day!

Our hours are:
Monday - 1:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M.
Tuesday - 10:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M.
Wednesday - 10:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M.
Thursday - 10:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M.
Friday - 10:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M.
Saturday - 10:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M.
Sunday - CLOSED

Internet computers begin going down one half hour before closing.

Patrons who wish to get a library card must provide a photo ID. (Parents must provide their own photo ID when co-signing forms for their children.)

Regular books, movies, and audio books go out for three weeks for residents, six weeks for those patrons designated 'county'.

New fiction, music Cd's, magazines, and video games go out for one week.

Preschool Story Hour occurs every Wednesday morning at 10:00 A.M.

Summer Story Hour is for children from birth through 5th grade and occurs every Wednesday during the summer for 6-8 weeks. (Beginning date will be selected later for 2011.)

The Friends of the Library sell donated used books. They are always interested in finding new members. Call the library (445-9711) for contact information.

To all of you who use the library, we appreciate you! For those who have yet to discover us, we hope you come by soon.

Happy New Year!