Wednesday, October 31, 2012

@ the Library Article: "Feed Your Brains with Books About Zombies"

As printed in the Abilenian, as part of the Abilene Reporter-News, by Marianne Vadney, Library Assistant at the South Branch of the Abilene Public Library.

Zombies have been a scary part of our culture ever since the immortal phrase, "They are coming to get you, Barbara," was first uttered in Night of the Living Dead more than 40 years ago.  What is it about these shambling disgusting corpses that draw us in?  They are in our movies, TV shows, games and - yes, now more than ever - our books.  New zombie books are flooding book stores and your Abilene Public Library for teens and adults, particularly, and they are incredibly popular.

Many people have heard of World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War and if you haven't, you soon will be hearing its name everywhere, as it is being turned into a major motion picture.

This adult novel by Max Brooks is about a survivor who takes it upon himself to travel the now wasteland of the United States to collect testimony of other survivors.

This interview-style novel will take you through men, women, and children who have managed to survive the zombie outbreak that has destroyed their world.

Another favorite adult novel of mine is Allison Hewitt is Trapped by Madeleine Roux.  This tale takes you, along with Allison, who is your average bookstore worker, as she, her co-workers and friends try to find safety in this newly infected world.  This book has a good amount of humor, as well as horror adventure and even a splash of romance.


Teen fiction is also picking up the pace with amazing books like Lone Star award winner Rot and Ruin by Jonathan MaberryThis novel follows Benny Imura and his brother as they live in a small settlement after the zombie apocalypse.

Benny has just turned the age where he must choose a profession so that he will continue to get rations, but he's not sure following in the family business of zombie hunting is the right choice.  In a life that is surrounded but sheltered from the zombies that now fill the spaces between settlements, Benny will learn that zombies are more different than he ever could have imagines and humans are so much worse.

Zombies Vs. Unicorns edited by Holly Black, is an awesome short story collection that pits writers of both genres against each other to figure out which is superior between these two fabled creatures.

Other popular teen zombie fiction includes Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan and Zombie Blondes by Brian James.

So, if you're looking for the latest craze in scary for Halloween, your Abilene Public Library has a full dose of zombie literature that ranges the spectrum.  Remember, as the sheriff said, "Well, there's no problem.  If you have a gun, shoot 'em in the head.  That's a sure way to kill 'em.  If you don't get yourself a club or a torch.  Beat 'em or burn 'em.  They go up pretty easy."

Staff Book Review: "Short-Straw Bride" by Karen Witemeyer

Short-Straw Bride
Author: Karen Witemeyer
Reviewed By: Alyssa Crow, Children's Librarian (South Branch)

Book Summary: Four Brothers.  Four Straws.  One Bride.  No one steps on Archer land.  Not if they value their life.  But when Meredith Hayes overhears a plot to burn the Archer brothers off their ranch, a long-standing debt compels her to take the risk.

Years of constant vigilance harden a man.  Yet when Travis Archer comes across a female trespasser with the same vivid blue eyes as the courageous young girl he once aided, he can't bring himself to send her away.  And when an act of sacrifice leaves her injured and her reputation in shreds, gratitude and guilt prompt him to attempt to rescue her once again.

Despite the fact that Travis is no longer the gallant youth Meredith once dreamed about, she vows to stand by his side.  But will love ever be hers?  Or will Travis always see her as merely a short-straw bride?

Personal Review: Once again, local author Karen Witemeyer has written a great read.  She has become one of my favorite historical romance writers.  Her stories come complete with strong characters, interesting plots, and a well-rounded romance, all with realistically developed Christian themes.

Short-Straw Bride focuses on Travis, the eldest brother of four who will stop at nothing to protect his family, and Meredith, the young woman who warns them of danger but tarnishes her reputation in the process.  It is Travis who draws the short-straw and marries Meredith to save her reputation.  I enjoyed seeing their romance progress and you can't help rooting for them throughout the book.  You come to realize that Travis wasn't the loser but the winner who drew the short-straw.

I think this book is well-written with likeable characters.  It really leaves you clamoring for the rest of the brothers' stories.  It is also relatively non-preachy for a Christian fiction title.  I am definitely looking forward to the next Witemeyer book, and if you want to read the one listed here, be sure to head out to your Abilene Public Library to get your hands on a copy as we own four (4) copies in regular print.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tall Tales & Huge Hearts Event @ Your Library

Illustrator Raul Colon
In conjunction with the NCCIL (National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature), kids and parents are invited to come out to a great event featuring acclaimed illustrator Raul Colon.  As the featured artist on exhibit through March 29 at the NCCIL, he'll make a special visit to Abilene and provide a children's program at your Mockingbird Branch (1214 North Mockingbird Lane).

Who: For kids of all ages, and parents.

Kids Participating in 2010's Art Event
What: Join us for a children's activity where the guest illustrator will host an art lesson to all youth who come out.  You don't have to worry about bringing any art supplies with you as the NCCIL will  provide everything you'll need.  Kids will then be treated to a hands-on workshop where they will become artists in the making...who knows, this just may be the event that helps to cultivate new artists and illustrators of children's books for the future.

Where: At your Mockingbird Branch Library (1214 N. Mockingbird Ln.)

When: Saturday, November 10 @ 10:00 a.m. (Program Length: 1 hr.)

Cost: FREE Event!

Why: Because what better way is there to spend a Saturday morning then to engage in a fun activity designed to let your creativity shine.  Plus, while you're at the library, you also have the ability to view the great literature available for checkout at your library.  Thanks to the NCCIL, we're able to offer you another program at your true neighborhood branch aimed at expanding the minds of children.

Contact Information: If you have more questions about this special event, feel free to contact the NCCIL at 325-673-4586.

About the Illustrator: Raul Colon is an award-winning illustrator of over 30 children's books, having been recognized in the industry with receiving the Golden Kite Award, a Pura Belpre Award, and both a gold and silver medal in the Original Art show.  Currently residing in New City, NY with his family, he's known for using techniques that involve the use of watercolor washes, etching, and the use of colored pencils and litho pencils.  Together, his unique methods of illustrating works truly provides readers with something to be admired.

Don't miss out on your chance to attend this Free program!!!

New Online Videos From Your Library

Your Abilene Public Library has added some new videos to our online accounts on YouTube and Facebook.  Always offering new content each month from staff at the library, we've got new videos on book suggestions, crafting projects, and more.

Crafty Creations #46: Fun with Candy Crafts

For the latest episode, we're having fun with candy and showing you how to make two simple and fun crafts for kids.  Children's Librarian Alyssa Crow will show you how to make Lollipop Flowers, while Tremain Jackson, South Branch Manager, will show you how to make some Pumpkin Pops.  We'll also highlight two great children's books to checkout from the library, plus, Janis Test (Information Services Manager, Main Library) will share some information about library services. 

Project Teen #21: Making Pizza Cookies

Jessica Reyes comes back for another episode of the fun crafting series for teens, based on programming we've done at the library.  For this episode, it's all about showing you how to transform a plain cookie into a pizza.  You'll be amazed at how great these dessert treats turn out...so much you'll be making them all the time. 

Book Talk #13: Jim Butcher & Timothy Zahn

Alyssa Crow and I (Tremain Jackson) will return with the latest Book Talk episode to highlight popular authors and series available at your library.  Designed for the adult audience, we strive to introduce you to some great reading materials to get in on.  For this episode, we both chose sci-fi/fantasy series including Jim Butcher's Dresden Files Series and Timothy Zahn's Dragonback Series.  Look for these at your library.

Look out for these videos, and always check back for updates on a monthly basis.  Featuring something for everyone with crafting for kids, projects for teens, and book suggestions for everyone, there's always something we'll highlight to show you what your Abilene Public Library has to offer.  For any questions regarding the library's online videos, feel free to Contact Me and I'll be more than happy to answer your questions.

Book-to-Film Adaptations: November 2012

Literature often inspires film adaptations and each month we like to highlight those that will be hitting the theaters.  Check out this blog to see what they are, and be on the lookout for seeing them in the theaters, plus checking out the books they're based on from your Abilene Public Library.

Lincoln (Nov. 9)
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis & Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Rated: PG-13 for an intense scene of war violence, some images of carnage and brief strong language
Summary: As the Civil War continues to rage, America's president struggles with continuing carnage on the battlefield and as he fights with many inside his own cabinet on the decision to emancipate the slaves.  Based on the bestseller, telling the account of the final four months of Lincoln's life, you'll certainly want to see this film directed by Steven Spielberg and scored by John Williams. 

Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 (Nov. 16)
Starring: Robert Pattinson & Kristen Stewart
Rated: PG-13 for sequences of violence including disturbing images, some sensuality and partial nudity
Summary: In the final chapter of this breakout series, Bella has given birth to Renesmee and now the Cullens gather other vampire clans in order to protect the child from a false allegation that puts the family in front of the Volturi.  As the fifth and final installment in the series, the franchise has generated over $2.5 billion in the box office.  Catch the end of this franchise that began in 2008 and made vampires and werewolves the new "it" thing for young adults in the 2000's. 

Anna Karenina (Nov. 16)
Starring: Keira Knightley & Jude Law
Rated: R for some sexuality and violence
Based On: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Summary: Set in late nineteenth century Russia high-society, the aristocrat Anna Karenina enters into a life-changing affair with the affluent Count Vronsky.  Placing Knightley in yet another period piece, although the critics reviews of the film have been mixed to positive, it may struggle to find a foothold in the U.S. when pitted against other heavy hitting releases. 

Life of Pi (Nov. 21)
Starring: Suraj Sharma & Irrfan Khan
Rated: PG for emotional thematic content throughout, and some scary action sequences and peril
Based On: Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Summary: This is the story of an Indian boy named Pi, a zookeeper's son who finds himself in the company of a hyena, zebra, orangutan, and a Bengal tiger after a shipwreck sets them adrift in the Pacific Ocean.  Filmed on a massive budget of $100 million, this film utilized a ton of effects and will be released in 3D. 

Killing Them Softly (Nov. 30)
Starring: Brad Pitt & Ray Liotta
Rated: R for violence, sexual references, pervasive language, and some drug use
Based On: Cogan's Trade by George V. Higgins
Summary: Jack Cogan is a professional enforcer who investigates a heist that went down during a mob-protected poker game, thus setting off a chain of events in New Orleans.  Based on the 1974 novel, it's already received early positive reviews from the critics so you might certainly want to be on the lookout for this crime movie in the theaters.

And there you have it, your look at November's Book-to-Film Adaptations to be on the lookout for.  Don't miss them, and if they sound to be of interest to you, also look out for the the books they're based on at your Abilene Public Library.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Internet Sites of Interest: FastWeb

Your Abilene Public Library uses a number of online sites to assist patrons with a number of reference questions.  Each week, we'll introduce you to a different site we use on a regular basis, to show you a number of credible sites out there to use whenever you need them and at your convenience.

FastWeb is a must online resource for all high school juniors and seniors getting ready for college.  Locating scholarships, grants, entering contests, and more are big ways to help finance a college education, and there are plenty of resources to help you do just that...the important thing is, the sooner you start, the better off you'll be.  FastWeb will serve as a FREE and one-stop resource for hunting down that free money you want.

Completely free to use, by visiting the website, the first thing you'll do is Register, located in the upper right hand corner of the screen.  It will take some time to complete the signup process, but the site will compile some basic information about you.  Such includes your name and email address, when you plan on starting college, your age, school activities you were involved in, your interest, and more.

Once you have completed all of that information, FastWeb will do the rest for you, and you'll be happy at the lengths it goes to in providing you with some great information.  For instance, taking your information you provided, it will search across its extensive listing available of available scholarships and contests and hold those for you in your own personal account.  Based on the criteria you entered, it will match you with scholarships you can apply for, alert you in the future when new scholarships become available, send out notices when the deadlines are about to expire, and more.

And remember, it's completely FREE!!!

If you're looking for extra cash for college, this is definitely one of several great online resources to utilize.  Additionally, FastWeb offers more free services including information on the Financial Aid Process, information on personally financing portions of your education, career planning, videos, resume building skills, and so much more.  As you can see, although this database first started as a search for scholarships, it's now offering so much more that's valuable to all future college students.

Try it out for yourself if you're a student, or if you're a parent or adult who knows of a student needing to get started with the scholarship hunt, this is a great website to refer others too.  Your Abilene Public Library does house some great print resources on the entire college experience, especially the financial aid aspect, but if you need even more resources, that are up-to-date, this is one of many great online resources to use.

We'll provide you with more in the future so be on the lookout for our Internet Sites of Interest blog entries, where each time, we'll introduce you to another great site staff at the library use often to help those in the community.  Remember, these aren't databases subscribed to by the Abilene Public Library, so anyone with access to the Internet is more than welcome to use them at any time.  Plus, if you need any assistance, feel free to Contact Me and I'll be more than happy to help you.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

New York Times Bestsellers Top 5

Many patrons browse the new materials section of the library to discover the latest popular reads.  Part of finding those reads is browsing the New York Times Bestsellers list we make available to locate that popular book, or to get yourself on the reserve lists.  Check out this blog to discover the latest titles to lead the pack on the Hardcover Fiction & Non-Fiction lists for the upcoming week.

Hardcover Fiction Top 5

#1: The Panther
Author: Nelson DeMille
Weeks On List: 1
Position Last Week: n/a
Call Number: F DEMILLE
Summary: Posted to Yemen, the anti-terrorist task force agent John Corey and his wife, an F.B.I. agent, pursue a high-ranking Qaeda operative - who is out to avenge the death of the Libyan terrorist Corey killed in New York.

#2: The Twelve
Author: Justin Cronin
Weeks on List: 1
Position Last Week: n/a
Call Number: SF Cronin
Summary: A sequel to "The Passage" continues its story of life after an apocalypse.

#3: The Casual Vacancy
Author: J.K. Rowling
Weeks on List: 4
Position Last Week: 1
Call Number: F ROWLING
Summary: The sudden death of a parish councilman reveals bitter social divisions in an idyllic English town; a novel for adults by the creator of Harry Potter.

#4: The Bone Bed
Author: Patricia Cornwell
Weeks On List: 1
Position Last Week: n/a
Call Number: M CORNWELL
Summary: A paleontologist's disappearance in Canada turns out to be connected to crimes much closer to home for the chief medical examiner Kay Scarpetta; the 20th Scarpetta book.

#5: NYPD Red
Authors: James Patterson & Marshall Karp
Weeks On List: 2
Position Last Week: 2
Call Number: M PATTERSON
Summary: Detective Zach Jordan and his beautiful partner (and ex-girlfriend) must stop a deranged killer who has targeted a glittering New York film festival.

Hardcover Non-Fiction Top 5

#1: Killing Kennedy
Authors: Bill O'Reilly & Martin Dugard
Weeks On List: 3
Position Last Week: 1
Call Number:  92 KENNEDY
Summary: The host of "The O'Reilly Factor" recounts the events surrounding the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

#2: No Easy Day
Authors: Mark Owen & Kevin Maurer
Weeks On List: 7
Position Last Week: 2
Call Number: 359.9 OWE
Summary: An account by a former member of the Navy SEALs, written pseudonymously, of the mission that killed bin Laden.

#3: Killing Lincoln
Authors: Bill O'Reilly & Martin Dugard
Weeks on List: 56
Position Last Week: 5
Call Number: 92 LINCOLN
Summary: The host of "The O'Reilly Factor" recounts the events surrounding the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

#4: America Again
Authors: Stephen Colbert, et al.
Weeks On List: 3
Position Last Week: 4
Call Number: 818.6 COL
Summary: The mock pundit of Comedy Central's "Colbert Report" tells how to bring America back from the brink.

#5: Who I Am
Author: Pete Townshend
Weeks On List: 2
Position Last Week: 3
Call Number: 92 TOWNSHEND
Summary: The rocker's memoir.

Look for these titles at your Abilene Public Library and discover for yourselves why they've become such hits in mainstream literature.  If they're not available, don't hesitate to get on the reserve lists to make sure you secure your spot in line for these popular titles.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Author Read-Alikes with David Baldacci

David Baldacci is one of the heavy-hitting bestselling suspense writers that many avid readers flock to when a new title is released.  Providing you with face paced novels that contain their fair share of double crosses, plot twists, and more that keep you on the edge of your seat, his series and standalone novels help to set the standard in mainstream contemporary fiction.

Allow your Abilene Public Library to introduce you a little more to this author, and the style of writing he's most known for putting out, so we may then highlight additional authors who write in similar styles.  We do this in hopes of showing you even more great reads to look for at your library.

Baldacci's novels have a tendency to deal with politics, the government, and the legal system, and what fans appreciate about his works is that in each one, you know that the hero of the novel will ultimately win, you just never know how he/she may do it.  It's this sense of having a "happy" ending that has readers cheering for the honorable hero in his novels.  When pitted against the most pressing of challenges, you can always expect that the hero will find a way to overcome them and come out on top.

Although known for writing in multiple series, as well as writing great standalone titles, a great place to start is with his Camel Club Series, which happens to be my favorite.  Beginning with the title The Camel Club, you'll be introduced to characters joining forces from five of his previous novels, to become the political watchdogs on the lookout for conspiracies in our own government.  Each comes with their own strengths to add to the table, and led by Oliver Stone (although not his real name) a former member of the "Triple Six" division of the CIA that was composed of highly-skilled government assassins.

If you're a Baldacci fan yourself, and you're looking for more suggestions on authors who write similar to him, you're in luck because there are plenty to mention.

Read-Alike Author: James Grippando
Grippando also writes fast paced novels that deal in the areas of corruption and conspiracies much like Baldacci.  One major difference between the two is that Grippando's novels have a tendency to be a tad bit more violent and descriptive in those scenes than the featured author.  Be that as it may, writing with characters you'll easily like, each of his novels are certain to please all who have an interest in the complexities of intricate plots where you never know how the story will play out until it's over.

Read-Alike Author: John Grisham
Grisham is by far one of the most comparable choices to list as the themes in Baldacci's novels go hand-in-hand with what Grisham became known for.  Also focusing on themes of corruption, the legal system, double crossing, the Mafia, and more, each of his works star a lead protagonist readers want to get behind.  In the majority of each of his novels, it always appears as if the odds are against each character until somehow, they figure out how to save their hides in the end.  Fast paced, great plot twists, and smart plotting is what defines him and great titles to try out includes any of his early legal thrillers such as The Firm, The Pelican Brief, A Time to Kill, The Runaway Jury, etc.

Read-Alike Author: Brad Thor
Thor is a personal favorite of mine as he focuses primarily on political and government conspiracies and how they all play out.  You'll find much action within his novels including explosions, threats, terrorism, shootouts, and so much more, all adding to the storylines that keeps them fast, interesting, and complex.  Once again, much like with Baldacci, you can always expect the good guys to win out in the end, but you never know how in the world they'll do so.  A great place to start with this author is at the beginning with his 2002 release of The Lions of Lucerne.  11 additional novels have been released since that time and hopefully there will be more to come in the future.

Read-Alike Author: Brian Haig
Haig is the lesser-known author of the three mentioned here, but that certainly doesn't mean he can't hold his own.  Known for also authoring novels that are fast-paced, packed full of action, contain smart plots and storylines with political intrigue, and more, if you haven't tried out one of his novels, you certainly are missing out.  As well as being an author, he's also a military analyst for Fox News, coming from a military background as his father was the former U.S. Secretary of State (Alexander Haig).  Although he hasn't been churning out the books too incredibly quickly, he has authored the Sean Drummond series, featuring the special forces officer turned Army JAG lawyer Major/Lieutenant Colonel...try saying that five times in a row.  That series began with 2001's Secret Sanction, and includes five additional sequels that may be of interest.

So if you're a fan of intricate plots, double crossing, complex storylines, government corruption, and more, all involving strong lead character you know will overcome their adversaries in the end, be sure to look out for these read-alike author comparable to David Baldacci.  With so many additional titles to suggest at your Abilene Public Library, you shouldn't be without a great book to read.

Don't miss out on taking advantage of our services, and our resources, and if you ever need assistance, be sure to Contact Us and staff will be more than happy to help you.  

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Get Your PIN @ Your Library

Your Abilene Public Library has gone through some upgrades to offer patrons extra security while using library services.  With these changes, we encourage everyone to setup your PIN (Personal Identification Number) if you have not already.  PIN's are personal passwords that can be 4-10 characters long consisting of numbers, letters, or both.

Every library cardholder has a PIN and if you did not set one up our system automatically generated one for you.  To find out what your PIN is, call us and provide us with your library card number, and staff will be able to tell you what your PIN is, or reset it for you if needed. for you to remember.

Self-Checkout PIN Screen
With our new upgrades, PIN's will be needed to checkout materials at our Self-Checkout Stations utilized across all three (3) branch locations.  We do apologize for the initial inconvenience this may pose to frequent visitors; however, this upgrade is a new security feature to help protect your account against misuse.

Limiting the use of your library card to you, as an authorized library cardholder, is at the utmost importance at your Abilene Public Library and we're happy to provide you with these extra security features.  If you have any questions, feel free to Contact Us and we'll be happy to assist you.

Events @ Your Library (Oct. 29 - Nov. 3)

Keep up with the great programs and events your Abilene Public Library has to offer by reading this weekly blog each Thursday.  For a complete listing of events, be sure to visit our main website to view our interactive events calendar, and remember, all programming is offered to you free of charge.

Guest Presenter: Riley Wills, ACU
Oct. 30 @ 6:30 p.m.
Main Library
202 Cedar St.
325-676-6025 for Info.
Riley Wills returns to provide a free workshop to teach people what it takes to create an effective website whether you need it for personal use, a business, or an organization you're involved with.  Come with something to take notes on, as well as your questions, to get the expert advice you need for free.

Rebecca Martinez, Aug. 2012
"The Tooth Fairy's Sister Returns"
Guest Presenter: Rebecca Martinez, Abilene Pediatric Dental
All Ages
Nov. 1 @ 6:30 p.m.
South Branch
1401 S. Danville Dr.
325-698-7565 for Info.
The Tooth Fairy's Sister will return, after first appearing in August to provide a program on oral hygiene with fun demonstrations, songs, stories, and more.  Rebecca Martinez did an excellent job and she'll be back to follow-up with kids and make sure they're still practicing the techniques the Tooth Fairy's sister taught them so don't miss out on this fun event.

Don't miss out on any of these great events, and don't forget to take advantage of our weekly storytime programs about any of these programs and be sure to come out and attend the ones of interest to you!!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Teen Read Week a SUCCESS @ Library!!!

Last week was Teen Read Week (Oct. 14-20) and this is a national initiative organized by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), which is a division of the American Library Association (ALA) to dare teens to read for the fun of it.

This year's theme was It Came from the Library and your Abilene Public Library increased our tween and teen programming to encourage young adults to discover the fun there is to be had at the library.  Teens are usually one of the hardest demographics to attract to libraries; however, we don't seem to be having any problems with that.  Offering a great selection of popular young adult literature, graphic novels, manga, videos, magazines, databases, and more, we also increased our teen programming for that week.  Over 90 people attended three (3) teen events at your Main & South Branch Libraries...and THAT'S AMAZING!!!

Creating Unique Zombie Pops
The fun started on Monday, Oct. 15 as the South Branch Library hosted a Spooky Edible Crafting Workshop.  Over 20 tweens and teens came out to make a ton of creepy delights led by librarians Tremain Jackson & Alyssa Crow.  Such included Jack-O-Lantern Pumpkin Pops, Zombie Heads, Bloody Eyeballs (oh so tasty), Vampire Teeth, Bloody Slides, and more, we made a ton this week.  The perfect way to kick off Teen Read Week at the library.

Jessica Scoops Up Brain Ingredients
Over 50 people flocked to the Main Library on Tuesday, Oct. 16 and participated in Jessica Reyes' Chocolate Brains Workshop.  With brown and green "plastic" chocolate in hand, we were busy making brains, spinal cords, zombies and more.  This program eventually got so busy we had to keep adding tables and chairs in the auditorium to meet the demand.  Now that's something we love to see happen at the library.

Zombie Board Gaming Fun
Finally, on Thursday, Oct. 18, we ended Teen Read Week by going back to the South Branch Library where we all joined in on playing a Zombie board game.  Organized by Marianne Vadney, those who came out had to make sure they were ready to battle through hordes of zombies to avoid having their players be eaten right off the board.  This was the first time we played such a game at the library, but the popularity of zombie gaming at libraries for teens is continuing to grow.

All in all, we had a SUCCESSFUL Teen Read Week at the Abilene Public Library with tons of tweens and teens rushing out to the library to make use of our resources and to join in on our activities.  We certainly showed youth they don't need all the gadgets to have fun at the library, because by interacting with us, anyone could see and/or hear that we were having a blast.

Take advantage of all the great services and programs your Abilene Public Library has to offer, and if you have any questions, feel free to Contact Me and I'll be more than happy to answer your questions.

Staff Book Review: "The Snow Garden" by Christopher Rice

Reviewed By: Tremain Jackson, South Branch Manager

Book Summary: Atherton University, freshman year.  Kathryn, Randall, and Jesse come from different worlds, but find themselves drawn together in unexpected ways.  For each of them, college promises a bright future and a way to disconnect from a dark, haunted past.  But as winter sets in, their secret histories threaten to disupt the layers of deceit that protect their fragile new lives.

One dark night a professor's wife is found drowned in an icy river, and rumors of murder threaten the safe haven of Atherton.  Within days, Randall's illicit affair with the professor is about to be revealed in the local press.  Then, an old mystery emerges from the shadows - the discovery of a co-ed's corpse in a frozen creek twenty years before makes these accidents of the past and the present look a little too closely connected.  Gradually, the three friends find themselves snared in a web of lies, a web spun long before their days at Atherton.  Snowbound on the university campus, they are unwitting captives of a malevolent force that drives inexorably toward the "snow garden" of the title - a place of nightmares that is all too real, and all too near.

Personal Review: This novel was Rice's (the son of author Anne Rice) second after his bestselling debut A Density of Souls.  This novel proves that he had the writing skills to continue authoring great novels.  This sophomore effort took readers into more of a murder mystery that I found to be highly intriguing and engaging; however, for readers who object, there are homosexual themes included.  Although it's not the driving force of the novel, Rice's works do contain strong central characters whom happen to be gay.

That being said, although I didn't find the same raw passion in his first novel, I found myself enjoying this story very much based on Rice's writing style.  True to murder mystery form, he has the habit of dangling pieces of information in front of you to keep you pressing forward to discover so many twists he allows to unravel one by one.  Finding myself being driven by the plot, I couldn't help but to finish this novel in one sitting.

To try out one of his books, you're bound to become a fan of his novels, for unlike many of the standard mysteries I've read, Rice has the ability to make the dramatic aspects of his work as much of the central part of the story as the underlying mystery.  He doesn't rely upon overly descriptive crime scenes or the gory details of murders to drive his novels, but instead spends more of his energy focusing on flushing out the central characters, thus allowing readers to become more engaged in them, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Rice proves in this story that he's a talented storyteller and has much more to offer with each new novel he writes.  In all I have found myself diving into, it's his ability to hook you into an intriguing page-turner, with character you can't help but relate to, that keeps me coming back for more.  In his works, he's able to distinguish himself as a formidable writer, without having to be caught in the shadow of his mother's career, but instead, come out as being an engaging author in his own right.  If you're a fan of strong characters, plot twists, murder mysteries, and clever use of metaphors in a dramatic sense, you won't go wrong by trying out this novel for yourself.  With five bestselling novels under his belt, he's certainly doing something right.

Look out for a copy of The Snow Garden by Christopher Rice at your Abilene Public Library as we own a copy in regular print.

@ the Library Article: "We Can Point You in Direction of Sources of Political Information"

As printed in the Abilenian, as part of the Abilene Reporter-News, by Janis C. Test, Information Services Manager at the Main Branch of the Abilene Public Library.

The "noise" of a presidential election year sometimes makes it very difficult for one to be an informed voter, even if you are trying to watch all the debates and keep abreast of both sides' views.

Your Abilene Public Library can help you cut through the noise, provide impartial information about candidates, and even help you check those "facts" that are flying on all issues on all sides.

Now that early voting is upon us, the 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 the general election. 

Even if you already have made up your mind, the guide, which can be carried into the voting booth, has information on each office and selected issues, which each candidate is asked to address in 75 words or less.  Candidates who do not return their questionnaire from the league have only their names and party affiliation listed.

Guides are available in both English (all library location) and Spanish (Main Library and Mockingbird Branch only).

The voters guide also is available online at www.vote411.org.

After the league's print deadline, a number of candidates added responses to the site, including Gov. Mitt Romney, President Barack Obama, and eight state and regional candidates.  The online voters guide to include all who responded in VOTE411 by noon Oct. 12.

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.

Your library offers two databases that may help clarify candidates' positions on a variety of issues.  World News Digest and Issues and Controversies, both from Facts on File, have extensive coverage of the 2012 presidential race, and of many world and domestic issues inetrest.

Issues and Controversies is especially helpful because it includes equally both sides of any issue it covers.  Facts on File has more than 65 years of service with exceptional editorial content and decisions...in fact, you'll likely remember the print version as a staple of library reference.

Last, but not least, take a look at our Web Guide.  Under the topic Government & Politics you can find a wealth of nonpartisan information about government and our political system.  Scroll down toward the bottom of the page and you'll see the heading Politics.  This section contains such librarian-vetted sites as www.vote411.org, www.politicalinformation.com and www.votesmart.org.

Political Information is a nonpartisan guide to more than 5,000 political websites, ranging from grass roots issues and activist resources to the official websites of representatives and campaign sites. 
Project Vote Smart is a nonpartisan, non-special-interests-funded site tracking the performance of more than 13,000 political leaders: the president, the U.S. Congress, governors and state legislators.  It is a great resource that offers "a wealth of facts on candidates and elected officials, including biographies, addresses, issue positions, voting records, campaign finances, and evaluations by special interests."

You know what they say - if you don't vote, you can't gripe.  So check into some of these resources at any Abilene Public Library location and arm yourself with knowledge to make your vote count.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Improved Online Catalog @ Your Library!!!

Your Abilene Public Library has upgraded our online catalog to provide library cardholders with some new features when accessing the catalog at home or at your library.

Enhanced Online Catalog Features
Don't worry, we didn't go through a massive change meant to confuse you, but there have been a few updates implemented to make your use of the online catalog a bit easier and more user-friendly...because when we're talking about technology, the simpler it is to understand the better.

But what's new about the online catalog?  Let's take a look...

Abilene Library Consortium Logo
Streamlined Main Page
You'll search for library materials the same as you've always done, but you'll have access to features on different areas of your screen such as Library Info now located on the right-hand side.  Here you'll find great links to see the new materials we've added to our collection, as well as award lists.  At the bottom of the screen, also find recommended reading lists and bestsellers assistance.  Perfect for helping to guide you to the materials you want.

Performing a Search
After performing a search by title, author, subject, etc., your results are generated on a new screen, as usual.  Now, locating the materials you want has never been easier.  In your new search results page you'll be able to...
  • Place Holds: you'll now be given a Place Hold button in your search results in for reserving an item without having to view the full item record like before.
  • View Location Holdings: under each listing in your search results, you'll see image icons alerting you as to where that title is housed.  You'll see picture icons for all three (3) public library locations, as well as the university library holdings too. Remember, your Abilene Public Library card allows you borrowing privileges from our three (3) private universities (Abilene Christian University, Hardin-Simmons University, McMurry University).
  • Link Directly to Titles: instead of clicking on the Where is It button to find out if an item is available, or what the call number is, now you can simply click on the title of the item to get more information.  That is certainly a big improvement over the past catalog features.
  • Search Databases & Downloadables: if you want to continue your search outside of the catalog, you may do so in one click on the right-hand side of the screen in the Continue Search In section.  Here, you may click on EBSCO Discovery (performing a search through our databases) or through Downloadables (to see if we have it as an e-Book or digital audiobook through the OverDrive collection).  This is definitely helpful.
These are just a few of the tweaks that have been added to the online catalog at your Abilene Public Library we wanted to make you aware of.  We hope that you find some of them to be beneficial when it comes to performing searches for library materials you want at your library.

For more information, or if you have any questions about the online catalog, feel free to Contact Me and I'd be happy to answer any of your questions.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Internet Sites of Interest: Texas Online

Your Abilene Public Library uses a number of online websites to assist patrons with a number of reference questions and this week, we're going to show you another credible site out there to make use of if needed.

Texas Online is the Official Website of the State of Texas and regardless of whether you're new to the state, or a longtime resident, this website can provide you with many functions of interest.  Under this site, you will have access to many great tools and resources including...
  • Renewing Vehicle Registration: skip a trip to the DMV by using the online portal to renew your vehicles registration, change an address, order specialty plates, etc.  You will need the proper documentation to do so, just as you would if performing these tasks in person.
  • Renewing a Drivers License: if you meet the online requirements, renew your license or ID online without having to visit the DMV.
  • Accessing the Veterans Portal: search information on current benefits, forms, services offered, toll free numbers to call, frequently asked questions, and more.
  • Obtaining Voting Information: voting is right around the corner for the most major election in the U.S. and you can get all your voting information through this site such as upcoming elections, polling places, schedules, and more.
  • Accessing the 2-1-1 Services: this amazing registry connects you with services compiled by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, committed to helping Texas citizens connect with the services they need.  Information is provided for over 60,000 state and local heath and human services programs and all at the touch of a mouse.
  • Frequently Asked Questions: sometimes you might not know where to start so check out this listing of F.A.Q's received at the website...someone may have already asked the question you needed an answer for.
  • Live Assistance: if you need help from an actual person, connect with someone and chat with them online and in real time.  This site does warn you that the chat feature is not a government agency and is not staffed by government employees.  They also remind you not to provide personal or confidential information through a chat session for your own protection.
  • Agency Information: if you need to look across the different agencies in your area, or across the state of Texas, this is an easy way to see them all at the same place.
  • And so much more...
This Texas Online portal certainly is your one stop place to look for any information concerning the state, including having direct access to government information and more than 1,000 online services.  Whether you choose to enter your own personal search using the internal search engine provided on the website's main screen, or you use some of the Quick Links and/or category designations, there's so many great ways you can utilize to get the information you need. 

Look out for more Internet Sites of Interest blogs and be introduced to another great site staff at the library use often to help those we serve.  Remember, these aren't databases subscribed to by the Abilene Public Library, so anyone with access to the Internet is more than welcome to use them at any time.  Plus, if ever you need assistance, feel free to Contact Us and staff will be more than happy to help you. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

November's Cover-to-Cover Book Club Selection!!!

If you're looking for a great book club discussion group, try our Cover-to-Cover Book Club at your Abilene Public Library.  Meeting on the third Thursdays of the month, this group reads everything including bestsellers, fiction, biographies, non-fiction, classics, etc.

For November, the featured selection is The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton and we invite you to look out for a copy at your library and then attend the book club discussion group on Thursday, November 15 @ 7:00 p.m.  For more information, be sure to contact Ann Mount, 325-676-6025.

Author: Kate Morton
Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 552
Copies Owned: 3 regular print
Call Number: F MORTON

Book Summary: In 1913, a little girl arrives in Brisbane, Australia, and is taken in by a dockmaster and his wife.  She doesn't know her name, and the only clue to her identity is a book of fairy tales tucked inside a while suitcase.  When the girl, called Nell, grows up, she starts to piece together bits of her story, but just as she's on the verge of going to England to trace the mystery to its source, her granddaughter, Cassandra, is left in her care.  When Nell dies, Cassandra finds herself the owner of a cottage in Cornwall, and makes the journey to England to finally solve the puzzle of Nell's origins.  Shifting back and forth over a span of nearly 100 years, this is a sprawling, old-fashioned novel, as well-cushioned as a Victorian country house, replete with family secrets, stories-within-stories, even a maze and a Dickensian rag-and-bone shop.

Be sure to check out this title from your Abilene Public Library, or borrow one from a friend if you'd like, and then come out ready to discuss this title with other avid readers in the community.  Again, the Cover-to-Cover Book Club will meet on Thursday, November 15 @ 7:00 p.m. to discuss this title, so be sure to get in on the reading fun.