Banned Books Week

This week we are observing Banned Books week, annual event celebrating the freedom to read. And the freedom to read whatever we choose, even materials some might consider unorthodox or unpopular.

In the past we have created displays of books that have been banned or challenged in libraries and schools across America, sometimes asking readers to guess why a particular title was banned. Or in what year The Great Gatsby was challenged. Or displaying  challenged books with paper flames around them. All eye-catching ways to bring the issue of intellectual freedom to the forefront quickly.

This year Katie has created a more personal display. We do have a small stand of banned books and the lists from the American Library Association of the most frequently challenged books.

This year, we are asking you, our readers and library patrons, to tell us who instilled in you your love of reading, what fictional character from a banned book would you want to have to lunch with, etc.

We would love to have your input, please stop by the second floor this week (9/25-10/2).

We hope to leave the display up past the end of the “official” celebration, because celebrating the freedom to read is a lifelong effort.

 

Family Rocket Day, 9-24-16

In the second session of a family rocket day, one family built and shot off rockets in the Discovery Lab at the Mamie Doud Eisenhower Public Library. Using the rest of the Estes Gnome rockets,  three youngsters and their mother built three rockets. We then went outside to launch said rockets.

The Gnome rocket makes a good first-time project as they are easy to build and can be launched soon after completing.

I enjoy presenting these programs as it is a joy to see the little ones’ eyes light up when the rocket they’ve made launches.

-Steve

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Family Rocket Workshop at the Library

Today 5 families built and launched rockets. I chose the Gnome rocket from Estes. The Gnome is small and easy to build; it took about 20 minutes to complete the kits, and the rockets were ready for launch. The Gnome rocket uses a streamer for recovery (as opposed to a parachute).

Each family got to launch their rocket two times. The rockets went up about 800 feet and tumbled to the ground after the engine ejected the nose cone and streamer. The orange streamer made for an easy recovery.

And as a bonus, I got to launch my rocket (orange one below, from a previous rocket program) once.

A good time was had by all.

There is another family rocket program on September 24, 2016 @ 10am in the Discovery Lab.

-Steve

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Denver Tool Library

Recently, two of us from the adult reference department at the library took a field trip to the Denver Tool Library. Located at 555 Santa Fe Drive in Denver, the DTL is a community resource where members can borrow hand and power tools that they otherwise might not have access to.

The membership costs $80 a year and a tool may be checked for approximately 4 days. The library is open on Tuesdays & Thursdays, 3pm-7pm and Saturdays & Sundays, 10am-2pm.

Librarian Sarah Steiner started the library about a year and a half ago after raising over $20,000 in an IndieGoGo campaign.

Tools run the gamut from saws, screwdrivers, hammers, mallets, clamps, tape measures, squares, table saws, chain saws, routers, brad $ finish nailers. Check out their online inventory of tools for a comprehensive list.

Even more impressive is a bike station where members can work on their bicycles.

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Blindspot

MV5BMTkxNDc1MTk5NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTM4MTc1OTE@._V1_Blindspot starts with an intriguing premise:  a naked woman (portrayed by Jaime Alexander), covered in tattoos, is found stuffed in a duffel bag in the middle of Times Square. It seems as though the woman has amnesia and can’t remember anything about her life prior to being found. Nicknamed “Jane Doe,” the woman is turned over to a crack FBI team headed by Kurt Weller (portrayed by Sullivan Stapleton) after the police find Weller’s name tattooed on Jane’s back.

The tattoos all have symbolic meanings which point to crimes or criminal activities. So the basis for the show is that each week the FBI team deciphers a tattoo with Jane’s help and prevents a crime (also with Jane’s help). Jane quickly demonstrates that she has had extensive training in weapons/shooting, hand-to-hand combat, lock picking, demolitions, foreign languages, etc. Weller is quick to add her to his team but it soon becomes apparent that Jane may be working against the interests of the FBI and even the US Government. As the FBI team and Jane continue to search for information about her identity, the truth is slowly revealed about Jane’s origins.

Blindspot has a lot going for it: Jaime Alexander is excellent as Jane Doe. She brings raw physicality to the role but there is also an undercurrent of vulnerability due to her character’s memory loss. Also good is actress Ashley Johnson as Patterson, a FBI techie/hacker who helps the FBI team navigate the cyber/digital world. In most shows like this, there is the temptation to put her character in glasses to make her look smart, but the writers have opted to write her smart instead; kudos to them. Finally, the action happens at breakneck speed and is fast and furious.

However there are some problems. The writing seems lazy at times: there is nothing novel and the show seems to be a mash up of The Bourne Identity, Memento, 24, The X-Files, The Blacklist, Salt, et al. It defies logic to have a 5′ 9″,  110 lb. woman throw around 6′ tall, 200+ lb. men around like rag dolls, no matter how well trained she is. It also seems that the FBI would not allow an outsider like Jane to join and FBI team, much less give her a firearm and allow her to assist at active crime scenes. To enjoy this show, suspension of disbelief is a necessity.

Worth a look if you like fast-paced action-adventure TV shows with a compelling protagonist.

Skip it if logical inconsistencies and/or lazy writing drive you nuts.

Click on the following link to place a hold:

Blindspot

-Steve

 

 

Essential TV: Better Call Saul

MV5BNjk5MjYwNjg4NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzAzMzc5NzE@._V1_Better Call Saul is a spinoff from the acclaimed and wildly popular AMC television show Breaking Bad. Better Call Saul is the backstory of James “Slippin’ Jimmy” McGill who was introduced in the second season of Breaking Bad as money-laundering-lawyer Saul Goodman (played by Bob Odenkirk.)

As the series starts, Saul has made good on his promise to relocate from New Mexico to Nebraska and become a manager of a Cinnabon. He is shown constantly looking over his shoulder to see if the long arm of the law is coming for him. These scenes are set are in the present and shot in black and white to contrast with the the flashback to Saul’s beginnings in Albuquerque. The black and white scenes occur after the events detailed in Breaking Bad.

In the past (now in color) and six years before the events in Breaking Bad, Saul’s origin story starts with him as James McGill, esq., a newly minted lawyer struggling to make ends meet. He works out of a cramped office/washroom in the back of a nail salon. He takes low-paying public defender jobs, defending low-lifes and other bottom-feeder criminal types. As it turns out, he is very good at his job, but it doesn’t yet make him an appreciable amount of money.

Using a flashback within a flashback trope, the series slowly reveals Saul’s beginnings as Slippin’ Jimmy, a low-level con artist and grifter in Chicago. The show effectively details Jimmy’s metamorphoses into Saul Goodman

Characters from Breaking Bad make appearances in Better Call Saul; McGill comes across Tuco (played by Raymond Cruz), the crazed, drugged out meth dealer through a scam gone wrong. Predictably, things go very bad for those who cross Tuco. Saul/McGill shows his prowess as a lawyer in talking Tuco out of executing two hapless accomplices in the scam.

The real standout is the development of McGill’s relationship with Mike “Badass Grandpa” Ehrmantraut (played by Jonathan Banks). At first they can’t stand each other, but after reluctantly working with each other, they slowly develop a grudging respect. Mike’s backstory as a dirty cop is fleshed out as well.

Worth a look if you liked the Saul Goodman character from Breaking Bad.

Skip it if you don’t like ethically-challenged lawyer shows.

Click on the following link to place a hold:

Better Call Saul

  • Steve

 

 

 

Post-Summer Reading reviews

Summer Reading Programs in the library world are like Christmas for normal people. The excitement of all the planning, making the theme your library’s own, ordering the prizes, prepping the weekly trivia questions–fun, all fun. Running it is also a blast for us at the desk; summer is here and people have time to come to the library because they want to and not just because they have to print something out last minute, they playfully spar about who will answer the question correctly first at the desk quiz and spend some good time deciding what kind of chocolate will be their weekly reward.

But best of all we get to spend more time with our patrons chatting about what they’re reading and what they think we should be reading. An option in our SRP was for readers to write a mini-review to be posted in the library. We have found that people like to know what the librarian recommends they read, but they really like to know what their neighbors have been reading and recommending.

Below is just a sampling of some of the reviews our talented readers wrote. We asked the reviews to be anonymous, so thank you to our unnamed commentators!

The Girls She Left Behind by Sarah Gravesgirls
An engaging and readable story centering on finding a missing girl–and unraveling all of the family drama that is her unknown baggage. The protagonist is Lizzie Snow, an ex-Boston homicide detective who has baggage of her own. As a Maine sheriff’s deputy, she is drawn into a complex situation compounded by unknown relationships among the less-than-forthright characters.

Most Wanted by Lisa Scottoline

An engaging book with an impr3obable story line. The plot is based on a woman who believes her artificial insemination donor is a serial killer. In the beginning it is hard not to empathize with her. Even when the plot starts degenerating into implausibility, there is a need to complete the book to discover the resolution. I’d rate the book 5 stars for readability and 3 stars for plot.

 

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondomagic

Ms. Kondo shares her philosophy on how to de-clutter and tidy your house once and for all. She has a big ego and claims her method never fails. She has some good suggestions, but some of her ideas seem a little crazy. Overall, she has inspired me to take control and make changes that I hope will last.

To place any of the books reviewed on hold, simply click on the title.

-Sarah