Wednesday, November 13, 2019

"Lori Grumet, Leader of the Abilene Public Library the Past 5 Years, Retiring" | Abilene Reporter-News

Article from the Abilene Reporter-News on Wednesday, November 13, 2019 by Timothy Chipp

Change is coming to the Abilene Public Library, both in the short term and in the future.

While librarians and city officials continue working toward building and opening Abilene Heritage Square in the former Lincoln Middle School, they'll do it with a new head librarian.

Lori Grumet
Lori Grumet, who has been in charge of the library system for the past five years, is retiring next week.

She's leaving it in great shape, she said, with an investing fan base, growing circulation, and strong online presence.

"The library's been doing great," Grumet said before Tuesday's annual meeting for the Friends of the Abilene Public Library.  "It's as popular as ever."

Grumet leaves Chris Gibson (Assistant Director of Community Services for the City of Abilene) in charge on an interim basis, with Janis Test, the city's senior librarian, there to assist.

Grumet's final year in charge brought with it a growing library.  From this time last year, 5,924 new library cards were issued to patrons, a sign of recruiting new visitors.

In 2018, the library attracted 5,334, according to the annual report released last year.

Likewise, growth happened in circulation (almost 830,000 items in 2019 vs. 803,000 in 2018) and digital downloads (246,000 items vs. 210,000).

Event attendance dipped this year, though, with 61,000 attendees, down from 66,000 last year.  Reference questions dropped by about 1,000 (48,300 vs. 49,200) and visitors decreased from 531,000 in 2018 to 514,000 this past year.

While the numbers may be a mix of good and bad, Grumet is leaving having helped implement one of the biggest programs the library has been a part of in a while.

Now in its second year, the library has partnered with the Abilene Independent School District to provide a free library card to all students simply through their student identification.

And students who may not be able to visit the library for whatever reason, Grumet said, can request and receive their materials through their classroom.

"And they can return them the same way," Grumet said.  "Year One showed us students want physical books.  I think we will see even more books circulating because of this program.

While gathered for lunch Tuesday, the organization dedicated to helping the library system behind the scenes made a change of their own.

Led by Emerald Cassidy and Kristina Campos-Davis, the Friends of the Abilene Public Library unveiled a new logo, a circular rendition of an opened book. 

The group elected Garret Smith its president for 2020.  He takes over for Judith Phaneuf.

Monday, November 11, 2019

"Reading for the Health of Our Veterans at the Abilene Public Library" | @ the Library Article

Veterans Day is intended to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.  The original commemorated the day the armistice was signed ending World War I, also known as "the war to end all wars," on the eleventh day fo the eleventh month at eleven a.m.  This is why we usually have a moment of silence at that time on Veterans Day.  Armistice Day was changed to Veterans Day in 1954, when Congress designated November 11th as t4he day to honor American veterans of all wars.

The Main and Mockingbird locations of the Abilene Public Library are closed today so our staff may honor the memories and the deeds of all who have served our country through the years.  The South Branch will be open during its regular hours.  But tomorrow, if you're interested, we have a wide range of materials about veterans that may interest you, especially if you are close to a returning soldier, airman, or sailor.

One that many find useful is Military Mental Health Care: A Guide for Service Members, Veterans, Families and Community by Cheryl Lawhorne and Don Philpott.  One review calls this book "Both thorough and tender."  Recommendations and resources pertaining to anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, anger management, suicide prevention, and drug abuse fill the book.  An extensive presentation on posttraumatic stress disorder includes symptoms and various treatments of the problem.  The discussion of traumatic brain injury - considered the 'signature wound' of the current war on terror - is adeptly handled.  A stellar section on grieving reminds us that 'grief has its on timeline' and comes in many forms: normal, pathological, acute traumatic, and complicated.  Ways to aid bereaved military children are offered.  A chapter on homelessness highlights a very sad situation: every night an estimated 67,000 veterans in America are homeless.  The stigma surrounding mental health issues contributes to the silent suffering of returning veterans and this guide makes it clear that every veteran 'deserves to get better,' and highlights the various kinds of help available to military personnel.

Another useful book for vets is The Wounded Warrior Handbook: A Resource Guide for Returning Veterans by Philpott and Janelle Hill.  A starred review in Library Journal says it "offers straightforward answers to questions commonly asked by wounded U.S. military veterans and their family members as they struggle with the complexities of receiving their needed care.  Well organized, comprehensive, and relatively easy to follow."

As with the other print resources not mentioned here, the online options available to search for veterans concerns are myriad, and librarians at each location can help you determine the best information available for your needs.

So, as we take time today to honor those who have fought so we may enjoy American freedoms; remember that gratitude can be not only a symbolic thing, but a practical one as well.  Whether you've served or not, come into your Abilene Public Library and take a look at these and other resources which will open a window of better understanding into the lives of veterans from all wars.

Article Contributed by Janis C. Test, Information Services Manager

Monday, November 4, 2019

"Try Something New at Your Library" | @ the Library Article

Sometimes it can be a lot of fun to try new hobbies.  What better place to embark on that journey than your Abilene Public Library?  For those who prefer to dip your toe rather than jump in with a splash, we have two perfect options - Maker kits, and books on "mini" hobbies.  Maker kits allow you to try something new without having to buy all the equipment - your just have to buy consumables for each craft.  The books introduce the same techniques as popular pastimes but require less work space, time, and materials.  Both are great ways to try something different, but make sure it is the right fit.

Third generation farmer Brett L. Markham authored Mini Farming Guide to Vegetable Gardening: Self-Sufficiency from Asparagus to Zucchini.  Learn his tips and tricks for maximizing and harvesting the best vegetables you can produce.  For those who dream of having their own flower garden, Mini Meadows: Grow a Little Patch of Colorful Flowers Anywhere Around Your Yard by Mike Lizotte demonstrates how to create an informal flower garden in your yard with as little as 50 square feet.  He guides the reader through choosing seeds and soil as well as how to draw pollinators (available as a Hoopla eBook).

Also available through our free Hoopla service is Mini Patchwork Project: 6 Sewing Projects for the Contemporary Crafter written by Beth Studley.  She offers quick project that utilize small amounts of fabric that a home sewer might already have stashed away.  Similar in scope is Sheena Rogers' book, Mini Cushions in Cross Stitch: 30 Original Designs to Make.  Stitchers of every skill level can make the intricate designs using her comprehensive instructions, from samplers to pin cushions.

Safer than candles, mini-lights are no longer just for holidays or special occasions.  Highlight a collection or bring your garden to life with help from Decorating with Mini-Lights: 40 Sparkling Ideas & Projects for Home & Garden by Marcianne Miller.  She provides ideas that can be used throughout the year, indoors and out.

Our Maker Kits give you many options of things to try, from calligraphy to soap making, cake decorating to jewelry making.  Each kit has a book, resource binder, and comes with all resuable equipment.  Consumable supplies (such as yarn, paper, fabric, food, etc.) must be purcahsed by the patron and will be listed on the kit as needed.

Checkout 1 kit at a time for 3 weeks, then return it to the Main library.  Many patrons have already enjoyed getting to try their hand at new skills without having to invest much as a beginner. 

Between the "mini" books and Maker kits, you can get started discovering which new hobby might be right for you...If you love it, you might even be able to have something made as a present by Christmas!  Stop by any Abilene Public Library location for the books, browse our free Hoopla service, or drop by Main Library for a Maker Kit.  With our help, you can check out how to discover a fun, new leisure-time activity to try.

Article Contributed by Deborah Tarsiewicz, South Branch Librarian

Sunday, October 27, 2019

"The Power of the Informed Voter" | @ the Library Article

While many voters may believe that a Constitutional Amendment election is no big thing (after all, the Texas Constitution has had 498 amendments passed since its adoption in 1876), it is important that you make your voice heard, and go into the voting booth informed about the 10 issues on the ballot.  Some of these proposed amendments may very well affect your life, your business, your education, or more.

The amendments cover whether Texas should have a personal income tax or not, flood control measures, cancer prevention research, municipal judges, tax relief for disaster areas, tax exemption of precious metals, funding public education, allowing sporting goods taxes to support state parks and historic sites, new rules on law enforcement animals, and assistance for water projects in distressed areas.  Lots of ground to cover, especially if you aren't familiar with the background.

With early voting upon us, your Abilene Public Library would like to remind you that we have free Voters Guides from the Texas League of Women Voters to help you make informed voting choices in this election.  Even if you have made up your mind, the Guide, which can be carried into the voting booth, has even-handed information on all the issues.  Guides are available in both English and Spanish at all library locations.

The Voters Guide is also available online.  The League of Women Voters is strictly nonpartisan; it neither supports nor opposes any position, party or candidate at any level of government.  Each election year, the League publishes the Voters Guide to help citizens prepare to cast an informed vote.  The Guide will have information both in favor of, and against, each proposed amendment.

You know what they say - If you don't vote, you can't gripe!  Early voting continues through November 1, with Election Day on Tuesday, November 5th.  Early voting can be done at the Taylor County Plaza at 400 Oak St. or at the Mall of Abilene near the movie theatre.  You can get more information on hours, which vary, by Clicking Here.

So pick up a voters guide at any Abilene Public Library location and arm yourself with the knowledge you need to make your vote count.

Article Contributed by Janis C. Test, Information Services Manager

Monday, October 21, 2019

"Book Your Library for a Presentation" | @ the Library Article

Most Abilene organizations are on the lookout for program material for monthly or quarterly meetings.  Your Abilene Public Library can help with that!  We have a vast array of services we offer which we are happy to make you better acquainted with.  Library staff members often speak to various groups in the community, and best yet, booking us for a presentation is free.  From non-profits to schools, businesses to social clubs, we've presented all over the community on what the Abilene Public Library has to offer.

What topics have we talked about in the past?  We've hosted presentation on things including programs and services available to youth at our three library locations.  Many might not be aware of our wide range of services from After Hours events for teens, Make & Take sessions, chess and gaming clubs, storytimes, and more.

Another popular topic we've presented on are the technology resources we offer, including our popular OverDrive and Hoopla services.  Did you know your library card affords you with access to a great collection of digital eBooks and audiobooks available for checkout on leading smartphones, eReaders, tablets, and even your P?  We certainly do.  Plus, with the Hoopla service, you have access to a large selection of streaming media including movies, TV shows, audiobooks, and music albums that are always available to borrow.  Think of it as a Netflix-style borrowing collection for libraries.  We can teach you all about the technology we offer, as well as give you an introduction on how to use them, through our informative presentations.

Adult services are another popular topic to speak with groups about, introducing people to a comprehensive list of online databases, collections, and resources available to take advantage of.  The possibilities are endless as to the types of presentations we can tailor specifically for your group.  Plus, on the chance we don't already have something prepared before you ask, we can certainly create an engaging program to suit your needs, with some advance notice.

In the past we have presented to many local groups including schools in Abilene and Buffalo Gap, the Rotary & Kiwanis Clubs, the International Rescue Committee, the Big Country, the Big Country Iris and Daylily Society, local MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers) groups, and more.  We have more presentations lined up for the fall and winter months, but if you'd like to take advantage of this outreach service, your Abilene Public Library would be more that happy to oblige.

Public library services are meant for everyone in the community to enjoy and be informed about, so allow our staff to introduce you to the wide range of opportunities we can provide.  If you're interested in learning more, or wish to book a presentation with us, feel free to contact me, Tremain Jackson (Technology/Multimedia Manager) at 325-437-4564 and I'll be happy to answer your questions and schedule a presentation.

I invite you to take advantage of this little-known service at your Abilene Public Library and see exactly what we can do fory ou.

Article Contributed by Tremain Jackson, Technology/Multimedia Manager

Monday, October 7, 2019

"Getting Nerdy With It" | @ the Library Article

Remember when being a nerd wasn't cool?  Me neither!  Nerdy things have always been awesome and the library embraces all things nerdy.  One of our most well known events, Lib-Con, will be celebrating its 7th annual event this spring.  But if spring seems too excruciatingly far from now, we have plenty of fun to keep you going!

Nerdy teens may be interested in visiting Fandom Club which meets every Tuesday 4:30PM to 5:30PM at the Main Library, 202 Cedar downtown, where they are invited to meet other fans, discuss favorite fandoms, create fandom based art, and play fandom games.  For teens and young adults, the Mockingbird Branch library at 1326 N. Mockingbird provides space for Dungeons and Dragons groups to meet every Monday from 5:30PM until 8:00PM Dungeons and Dragons basic books and dice are provided for use.

In October, the Main Library will be hosting a very special event on October 25th from 5:30PM until 8:00PM for ages 16 and up.  Join us for dancing and mystery at this after-hours event - a Masquerade Ball and a Poe Escape Room!  As the library shuts down for the day, our party begins!  We'll teach you a very simple waltz step, then turn you loose on our dance floor.  Masks are required, but we'll have some in case you forget yours.  Fancy dress or cosplay highly encouraged, and when you need a break from dancing you can attempt to solve the Poe Escape Room.

If you are looking for a dance with a little more rave and a little less raven, then on January 3rd the Main Library will be partying down after hours from close until 8:00PM at the Fandom Dance Party.  Our DJ will be providing the music so come and join the fun.  Keep an eye on our homepage as it gets closer to the event for more information.

If you are looking for something fun to do and you are a kid or teen then you should check out the South Branch's Pokemon Meetup that occurs every Sunday.  Kids ages 7-14 are invited to play for the first hour starting at 1:30PM, and players ages 15 and older are invited to play from 2:30PM to 5:30PM.  Both experienced and new players are welcome to play the Pokemon Card Game.  South Branch is located in the Mall of Abilene next to J.C. Penney's.

For more information on these and other programs the library provides, be sure to check out our website or call us at any of our locations.  Also, did you know Lib-Con has a Facebook Page.  Join in for information on the big event as well as nerdy trivia and more.

Article Contributed by Marianne Vadney, Mockingbird Branch Librarian

Sunday, September 29, 2019

"Celebrate Our Authors at the West Texas Book Festival" | @ the Library Article

It's time once again for the 19th annual West Texas Book Festival, beginning this Friday, October 4 and running through Sunday, October 6.  We have so many wonderful authors and books to showcase, I'll have a hard time squeezing everything into this space, so I'll try to hit the highlights, and complete information can be found on our website by clicking on the Festival graphic.  Or, you can come by the library and pick up a brochure, which has all the information about every wonderful, free program!

Friday, we have Abilene's own Mary Helen Specht, author of "Migratory Birds" who will be doing a writing workshop at the Abilene Public Library downtown, 202 Cedar, beginning at noon.  She will concentrate on "Writing is Rewriting: The Craft of Revision" because as all writers know, after the initial work of writing is done, polishing and revising can be the line between a book that sells, and one that doesn't.  Feel free to bring your own lunch, or there will be some lunches available at the workshop.

On Saturday, the Abilene Convention Center will be bursting at the seams with great programs at 9AM, a panel of children's authors, including Liz Garton Scanlon and Janee Trasler, will share the secrets of life as a picture book writer.  These ladies have multiple books published with national publishers, so you will want to hear them.

At 10AM, we have two simultaneous programs - "Poetry for Everyone" with poet Sylvia Vardell, where she will talk about why poetry appeals to some, and not to others, and a fun panel moderated by Festival founder Glenn Dromgoole on "Ten Books for a Desert Island."  The panel will include our A.C. Greene Award winner James Ward Lee, Local minister Damon Parker, AISD librarian Chrissy Adkins, and Mary Helen Specht, talking about the must-have books they would take with them on that lonely island.  There will be a variety of titles, and lots of lively discussion.

At 11AM, W.F. Strong will talk about "My Greatest Hits from West Texas" and you won't want to miss this one!  Strong, an ACU graduate, is the author of "Stories from Texas: Some of Them are True" and has a regular segment on the Texas Standard program which airs every day at 10AM on our local NPR station, KACU.  His entertaining storytelling will enthrall and make you laugh.

After our Boots & Books Luncheon, you can take your pick of "Love in Texas" with romance writer Audrey Wick, or "Black Man in the Huddle" with Robert Jacobus.  I guess it will depend on whether you are more interested in wonderful, Texas based romance novels, or a gripping book on the integration of college football in Texas, including information on five black players from Abilene's Woodson High School who were in the forefront of this.

Whatever you fancy, we'll likely have it for you at this year's Festival, including a chance to see what your neighbors have published in the past year at the Local Author's Showcase on Sunday afternoon at 2PM at the South Branch Library in the Mall.  Please put us on your schedule, and don't hesitate to call for more information - 325-676-6025, and all the books from these authors will be available for purchasing and autographing during the Festival.

See you there!

Article Contributed by Janis C. Test, Information Services Manager

Sunday, September 22, 2019

"All About Tea, From A to Z" | @ the Library Article

Many little girls have "tea" parties, even though they have no idea what tea actually is.  If you are a fan of "Downton Abbey," you may consider having an event to celebrate the movie release with high tea (which doesn't really refer to the drink as much as the sandwiches, cookies, and other refreshments with it).  In the southern United States, iced sweet tea appears everywhere.  Hot tea puts in an appearance much less frequently but can easily be found in Chinese restaurants.  Since tea originally came from China, tea in Chinese restaurants makes sense.  If you'd like to learn more about tea, its origins and traditions, your Abilene Public Library is the place to go.

According to legend, somewhere around 2730 to 2750 B.C.E. an Emperor Shen Nung discovered tea when some leaves blew into his pot of boiling water.  Apparently the scent was refreshing so he tasted it and had the first cup of tea.  As a scientist, he felt compelled to research the plant further according to "A History of Tea" from the Peet's Coffee website.  The website names the Emperor as Shen Nong but three other sources name him as Shen Nung.

All actual tea comes from various cultivars of the Camellia Sinensis plant.  It grows at the higher altitudes.  Tea grows as far north as Turkey on the northeast end of the Mediterranean Sea and as far south as Argentina almost at the southern tip of South America.

The growing season for tea lasts from March to October through December depending on the region and temperature.  Because no cold season occurs in Africa, the growing season lasts year 'round there.  The growing season and harvest season are basically synonymous with the plants being harvested about once a week during growing season.

Black tea, green tea, Ooling (which is somewhere in between) and white tea all come from the same plant.  The type of tea depends on how it is processed for the first three and partially when it is picked for the last.  High end tea is made from the bud and first two leaves.  White tea frequently comes from specific "white" cultivars.  This type of tea is picked young and minimally processed with little oxidation allowed.

These days, herbal teas are popular.  Herbal teas are not actually tea unless mixed with Camellia Sinensis leaves and/or buds.  Infusions or tisanes created from other plants make up the category of herbal teas.  Some of the most popular tisanes include chamomile, rose, black cherry bark, lemongrss, spearmint, peach, and lavender.  Many herbal tisanes provide health benefits as noted in The Healing Power of Tea: Simple Teas & Tisanes to Remedy and Rejuvenate Your Health by Caroline EDow.

For more information on tea, check out The Story of Tea: A Cultural History and Drinking Guide or The Tea Enthusiast's Handbook: A Guide to Enjoying the World's Best Teas by both Mary Lou Heiss and Robert J. Heiss.  Also try The Harney & Sons Guide to Tea by Michael Harney or The Green Tea Book: China's Fountain of Youth by Lester A. Mitscher.  For an explanation of the ppoular, at least with Manga and Anime fans, Japanese tea ceremony take a look at The Japanese Way of Tea: From its Origins in China to Sen Rikyu by Sen Soshitsu XV.  Most of these titles and more may be found on the Abilene Public Library's shelves.  Come see and check them out.

Article Contributed by Marie Skufca, Information Services Librarian