"Essential Oils For Women's Health"

  • "Essential Oils for Women's Health", a FREE class presented by Tarin Giacomo, will be held at the library on Saturday, October 14th, at 2:00 p.m. Learn how to support balanced hormone levels, healthy immunity, a restful night's sleep and more using natural essential oils. We look forward to seeing you!
  • Crafts With Nikkie, a new children's program, will be held on Thursday, August 17th at 4:00 p.m. in the meeting room. Come and make a beaded necklace!
  • 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 Beginners, experienced, published, unpublished, writers of fiction, non-fiction, memoirs, bloggers - all are welcome.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.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thank you, Colfax County!

On November 6, during the general election, Colfax County voted 'yes' on GO Bond B for Libraries.  In fact, every county in the state except five voted for this bond issue. 

For years now libraries across the state have depended on the various library bond issues that have been passed.  They have helped keep the level of library service up in public, school and higher education libraries.  In our county, this means that public libraries and school libraries have received extra money to be spent on their collections and computer needs, both of which are crucial to public service and student needs.  As public and educational funds have been harder to come by, GO Bond funds have help fill the gaps.

I am naturally very pleased that the Arthur Johnson Memorial Library will be able to count on these funds once the 2010 GO Bond fund are spent.  Believe me, it's takes a weight off my mind and enables me to plan for the future of this public library with that much more confidence. 

But I am just as pleased for the school libraries in the county.  I know that school libraries in Raton often have ONLY these funds to spend on their collections.  Despite the rumors that books are dead (so libraries must be, too), school libraries and librarians still meet a crucial need in the educational process, and any money that helps them do so is money well spent.

The report I received this morning on a county by county count of the vote on this issue shows that there were 2,581 'yes' votes and 2,313 'no' votes in Colfax County. That was a difference of 268 votes.  It may seem that this is not necessarily impressive - but it is.  In all the years I have worked in this library, Colfax County has never voted 'yes' for a library bond issue.  This is a first, and it tells me and other librarians in this county that the importance of functional libraries is recognized in a way that it never has been before.

Just as interesting is the fact that Colfax County cast 4,894 votes.  The 2011 New Mexico census shows 13,640 as the population.  About 26% of that are juveniles, who cannot vote.  That leaves 10,094 adults of voting age.  If you consider that some of these adults were unable to vote for various reasons, including not being registered to vote, it is quite possible that Colfax County had a 50% turnout of registered voters during this election.  The ideal, of course, is that everyone votes; but the reality is that Colfax County has had much lower voter turnouts than 50% in the past.  This shows public interest in more than just the GO Bond issues, but a real desire on the part of many citizens to particpate in the governing of this county, this state and this country by making decisions with their ability to vote.

So I just want to say, congratulations, Colfax County, on this turnout, and thank you very much for helping keep your libraries in the county funded!

Friday, September 28, 2012

And this year's Centennial Celebrations are:

The State of New Mexico

The Girl Scouts of America

Oreo Cookies

Fenway Park



We're in good company!

Banned Books Week 2012

The yearly Banned Books display is up at the Arthur Johnson Memorial Library.  Books bearing yellow "Caution: Banned Book" labels are set out so that our patrons can see for themselves what has been banned and challenged in other locations, not only in the United States, but throughout the world.

 Before reading was such a universal skill, those who could read and write had the power to control what was copied and for what purpose.  But the invention of the printing press and the increasing ability of the common person to read broke the control of a few over the many.   Education became a reality for people who, in previous times, would have had no opportunity to learn to read.  With this ability came the spreading of many opinions, many beliefs, many facts, many debates.

Unfortunately, this opening up of knowledge, opinion, fiction and fact to humanity did not change human nature.  People really do believe in the power of the written word, and while most of us are willing to allow others their right to choose their own reading material, some are not.  Books are challenged and banned in this country every year.  These challenges and bannings happen mostly to school libraries, although public libraries also face their share of challenges.  Often a person can understand why a parent may not want a child to read certain material. It is harder to understand why a parent would want to keep that material from all other children within their area.  Challenging the propriety of a book in a library anywhere on the basis that it is unsuitable for all children or teens usurps the parental authority of other engaged parents over their own children.  Challenging the propriety of a book for anyone of any age displays an attitude, however well meant, that says, "You are not able to judge for yourself."

People are often surprised that book challenges, bannings and even burnings still happen in the United States.  Regrettable though that is, even more extreme reactions happen across the world.  "The Satanic Verses" by Salman Rushdie (1988) resulted in world wide bannings, rioting and death.  This extreme reaction was based on religious belief.  Of course, religious belief in the United States has resulted in the burning of Harry Potter books by a church in our own state and a church in Greenville, Michigan, as well as Halloween burnings, by invitation only, of what a church in Canton, North Carolina called "Satan's bibles" - those that were not the King James version.  These book burnings in our own country all happened in the new millennium. 

Most often, book challenges and bannings occur from a desire to maintain certain standards, protect the innocent, even help create a (hopefully) Utopian society.  Anxiety and fear about the exposure of everyone from individuals to societies to 'unacceptable' material can manifest themselves through these attempts at censorship. 

Libraries everywhere stand in opposition to moving backward in time to when the few determined what the many were allowed to know. What we choose to read ourselves should be under our own control. 

This community has always displayed a respect for the rights of others to choose their own reading and viewing material.  Perhaps that is, in part, because this library makes no attempt to force anything on anyone. We do not take prisoners. We hold no one hostage.  Our goal, like the goals of public libraries across this nation, is to meet the varied needs and desires of each individual - even if they have been banned somewhere else.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Thanks to Zoo To You

Zoo To You was ready for everyone when the library opened the doors this morning.  As usual, it was set up in the children's section of the library and it was three steps from the vestibule to the animals, artifacts and poster displays.  This year Zoo To You brought a three banded armadillo from Brazil; a galah, or rose breasted cockatoo in Australia;  a tiger salamander; a western box turtle; a corn snake; and an alligator.  The artifacts, which are often confiscated items, included pelts, skins, a mounted skeleton of a viper, a stuffed sea turtle, feathers, eggs affected by environmental poisons and other items.

It's safe to say that the armadillo was the star of the show.  Much smaller than the armadillos found in Texas, this little fellow zipped around his large cage, going in and out of his house, exiting by pushing it up from the inside and crawling out, attempting an unsuccessful jail break or two, eating with his specialized tongue and entertaining all the adults and children.  An armadillo's shell is formed from keratin, which is what human fingernails and mammalian hooves are made of.  This particular species of armadillo is the only one that can roll itself entirely into a ball.

 The rose breasted cockatoo was a beautifully plumaged bird.  Shades of pink on the head and breast contrasted with shades of gray elsewhere.  In Australia these birds are common and can be found on lawns just like sparrows are found here. In fact, large flocks are nuisances to farmers, as they will descend on young wheat fields and decimate them.  Still, this  bird was like nothing I've ever seen and he seemed to know it, preening for everyone.

Corn snakes are found in New Mexico and are usually referred to as gray rat snakes.  They subdue their prey by constriction, just like a boa constrictor (although not that large), and are not poisonous.  The western box turtle and tiger salamander are also native to our country.
The alligator was about 18 inches long.  Every now and then he made little  "Ar! Ar!" noises, which the docents say alligators make as both territorial and danger signals in the wild. The Albuquerque Biological Park has three alligators now, all released illegally into the community in Albuquerque by former owners who no longer wanted them.  Alligators grow about a foot a year and can reach 300 pounds in ten years.  This small alligator is fed once a week.  In their natural habitat, alligators can go as long as two months without feeding, provided their last meal was a hearty one.
Well over 100 people attended this program and filed through, listening to docents Mary Ramsey and Sandy Ligon, who handled the animals to show off their various points and were a fund of information and encouragement when it came to examining all the creatures.  All the docents who travel with the Albuquerque Biological Park Zoo To You exhibits are volunteers.  Sponsors provide the funding for the program, which makes this one of the few traveling zoo exhibits that visits the public for free.

 Everyone who came seemed to find something of interest - but even if that had not been the case, the program would still have been a success simply because one little girl took her mother back home to bring library books to return so she could check out two books on display on armadillos and alligators.  She came back with a camera and took so many pictures of both of those animals, as well asthe  salamander. . .and the cockatoo. . .and the empty armadillo shell. . .and the docents, that her mother said they were going to be redecorating the walls of her room.

Someone is going to be dreaming about Zoo To You.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Dog Day of Summer

Two Mondays ago patrons were waiting outside before 1:00 p.m. for us to open.  It was hot.  Instead of standing under the shade of the trees on the walk, people were waiting on the steps by the front doors where the heat was radiating off the marble.  It was definitely summer.

Most Mondays are like this, unless it's in the middle of the winter and there is a raging blizzard. Then people who are waiting for us to open sit in their cars.  People come early throughout the morning every Monday, despite the fact we have only opened for half a day for several years, and didn't open on Mondays at all for several years before that.  They yank on the door, pause, yank again, then read the hours posted before leaving to do something else.  But the patrons who come every Monday know when we open and they wait by the door, almost as though it's a race and the first person in wins a prize.

The moment we opened the doors on this particular Monday, half a dozen people streamed in.  I thought, "It will settle down now, they are all in."  It didn't.  With hardly enough time to sign up one person on the Internet and start checking in DVDs, more people started following each other inside. About that time I had to help a gentleman determine what kind of book he wanted to read and where to find it.  We were just going through the process when I spotted a dog.

It was a medium sized brown short haired dog with perky ears and a collar and tags.  It was trotting past the desk, looking around and headed for the back of the building.

I said, "Whose dog is that?"

Of the dozen or so people standing in line or milling around up front, not one claimed the dog.  They looked at it and didn't seem to be disturbed.  But I was facing a dilemma.  Did I desert my patron and race after the dog (we have a 'no pets' policy that certainly covered a visiting dog sans owner), or did I zip through the interview and then go after the dog?  I glanced around.  Everyone was going about their business, apparently uninterested in the fact that we had a dog inspecting the premises.  So I did my best to compress 4 minutes of chat and questions into thirty seconds and headed to the back with the patron in tow where I expected to find the dog as well.

But I didn't spot it.  I showed the patron the shelves that might interest him and walked back to the front of the building.

"Where's the dog?" I asked the people still up front.  A boy said, "Maybe he went upstairs."

Really?  Seriously?  Of course the dog probably went upstairs.  Just what I needed, a major hunt for a dog on two floors with two staircases for the dog to go up and down while patrons were waiting for service and the only other staff person was getting overwhelmed.  It was time to make another choice. Spend who knew how long hunting all over the building for the dog or help the next person waiting for service?  Just as I was in the middle of running a fax and listening anxiously for a shriek or bark, the dog came trotting silently into view, still apparently interested in his surroundings.

I had pushed my luck far enough and was about to drop everything when a young man called the dog to him, and headed to the front doors.  (I silently blessed him for the help.)  The dog came willingly, meeting a woman and two girls as they were coming in the library.  There was a mild pile up, then the young man called the dog to the other side of the vestibule and escorted him outside.

And that was that.  A strange dog had noticed the people piling in the door, followed them in to see what it was all about, seen the sights (except for those on the second floor), and left the building.  And all the human patrons didn't seem to see anything much out of the ordinary about it.

It's at times like these that I love this library and its patrons.  Including the one on four legs.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

In Memory

Richard H. Azar was the Library Director of the Arthur Johnson Memorial Library from 1993 - 1998.  He began working at the library at the age of 15. At that time the library was located in Ripley Park and named the Carnegie Library.  Richard worked at the library off and on for decades, both before and after its relocation to the present location, and took the Director's position in 1993 when Librarian Betty Lloyd retired.

While working under Mrs. Lloyd, Richard brought the first public computers into the library and the community.  Under his guidance and computer expertise the library moved from checking books out by hand to an automated system. The Arthur Johnson Memorial Library was the first library in the state to have Internet access.  The Friends of the Library purchased the first public access computer and Richard constructed the library's computer network which grew from one check out computer and one public access computer to a system that expanded as the community's needs grew.

 During his tenure as Library Director, Richard expanded the usable space in the library in 1995-1996 through the use of the Library Building Fund and an LSTA Grant.  Before renovation, the entire check out collection with the exception of the back issues of magazines and the basement collection was housed entirely on the first floor.  After the renovation, a full second floor, a periodical room, a microfilm/computer room, a  meeting room, an elevator, a new staircase, the revelation of architectural features and the repainting of the first and second floors provided Raton with a special, spacious library to use. Most librarians would have closed the library during this time of reconstruction.  Richard surprised everyone by providing library services during the entire period. Staff met patrons at the doors, took their books, brought them new books and materials, and conducted reference work in the midst of construction while the patrons waited in safely in the tiny front vestibule.  Staff wore hard hats and dust masks provided by their director, and the library served the public regardless of noise; ladders and tools everywhere; windows, ceilings, walls and floors removed; dirt; the smell of paint; and moving every shelf, book, piece of furniture and all the equipment a full four times before the job was done.

Richard began hiring teenagers as part time employees in the early 1990s.  The first two hired, Aimee Maldonado Feldman and Angie Manfredi, are professional librarians today.  This teen employee program lasted until it was no longer possible to hire them due to lack of funds.  As as result, some truly excellent young employees got their first on-the-job experience at the library because of the program instituted by Richard Azar.

If there was any one thing Richard's staff believed, it was that he knew just about everything.  Need a certain book?  Need to know how to locate a certain fact? Need trained on the computer or any aspect of library work? He was the repository of knowledge and expertise that everyone leaned on and learned from.  I personally owe him a debt of gratitude for providing me with a career in library service.  He hired me, trained me and provided me with the ability to do a job that I have enjoyed for almost two decades.

 Even though he resigned in 1998, he still worked for the library as a computer consultant, most often on a volunteer basis. More than that, he helped individuals and businesses as well.  His generosity with his time and expertise in many areas was a clear sign of his character.  His honesty, intelligence, fearlessness, and kindness will not be forgotten.

Thayla Wright,  Library Director

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Fast Forward New Mexico FREE Computer Classes

Residents and small businesses in the Raton area will soon have the opportunity to improve their computer and Internet skills when the award-winning "Fast Forward New Mexico" training program comes to the Arthur Johnson Memorial Library in April, May and June.

The mission of Fast Forward New Mexico is to increase statewide broadband adoption and promote computer literacy and Internet proficiency in order to better prepare residents to participate in economic development and educational opportunities. The initiative also reaches out to entrepreneurs, artists and small businesses.

The eight Fast Forward New Mexico hands-on training courses are divided into two types of classes. The Basic Skills Series covers topics such as email, online job applications, and Internet searches and also educates people about taking online courses and purchasing the right computer. The Small Business Success Series teaches entrepreneurs and small businesses how to increase their profitability by using Internet tools to reduce costs and increase sales through e-commerce, e-marketing, and social media. Each class is 6 hours long and will be given three times in one week. Each class is 6 hours and is spread over two days: Thursday and Friday morning, or Thursday and Friday afternoon. The third time the class is given will be on Saturday morning and afternoon.

Basic Courses will begin on April 12 and are for people who have always wanted to learn how to use a computer and had difficulty finding someone to teach them. Students can learn how to set up a computer, search the Internet and use email.

Small Business Success Series classes will start May 3. Instructors will introduce students to new ways to improve and manage their business with technology, sell their products online and reach customers everywhere.

An Open House/Kick Off event to introduce the community to the training program will be held from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm on Saturday, March 31, at the library located at 244 Cook Ave. The public is invited to come and learn more about the free training and get assistance registering for classes. Refreshments will be provided by FFNM.

More information and registration for training classes is available at the library. You can also call the library at 445-9711. Registration can be done in advance of the Kick-Off event. People should try to register as soon as possible to ensure they have a spot in these popular classes.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Playaway Audio and Visual Story Books for Children

Audio and visual Playways are a new feature at our library. Picture books and chapter books in these new formats are available for checkout. Playaways are small, hand held audio and visual materials that come with ear buds. Each case holding a Playaway has instructions for use on the left inside cover of the case. They are simple enough to use that even I can figure it out, which means that your children will have them mastered after one use.

Audio books have been a part of our collection for some time, but have always required the use of a cassette or CD player. A Playaway is a small self-enclosed system that travels easily wherever you and your child may go. They are a convenient way to keep children happy and occupied with no external noise and little adult help needed except for very young children.
The library has purchased a selection of picture book Playaways with multiple picture books on audio Playaways and visual Playaways, and audio chapter books for children.

Playaways use ear buds for quiet use while traveling in the car, when adults are busy and children are waiting, times when noise is not appreciated, or just for drawing a child into the private world of books. The audio Playaways use rechargeable batteries which are checked out with the Playaway and must be returned in the case with the Playaway. The video Playaways use an internal rechargeable battery and are checked out with a charger that must also be returned. Ear buds will be sold at the desk for $1.00 each and will become the property of the person purchasing them. They can then be used by that person with any Playaway checked out thereafter. (Selling ear buds individually will prevent the spread of colds and flu.)

Adult audio Playaways are also available for purchase by the library, but due to the cost of each Playaway, the library has decided to begin with children's materials. The selection of Playaways available is displayed on laminated sheets so that parents and children can see what each Playaway holds and choose what they would like to check out. Desk staff will be happy to check out your choice after our Playaway Policy has been read and signed by the child's parent and notes stating this has been done have been placed on both parent's and child's computer record. A demonstration on how to use the Playaways will be given at your request.

Come in and see what we are talking about. Any child raised in this era of technology and gadgets will love to give a Playaway a try, and we will be interested in your opinion when you bring them back!