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New Ulm Public Library




17 N. Broadway, New Ulm, MN 56073
PH: 507-359-8331

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(in reverse chronological order)


ARCHIVE OF 2008 ARTICLES           

Dec 27, 2010 - What a Book Sale Means for the New Ulm Library by Larry Hlavsa
Dec 20, 2010 - Explore Novel Destinations With the Winter Reading Program by Kris Wiley
Dec 13, 2010 - Holiday Memories by Betty J Roiger
Dec 06, 2010 - December Decorations, Displays, and More
by Diane Zellmann
Nov 29, 2010 - Memories Are Made of This
by JoAnne Griebel
Nov 22, 2010 - Service Clubs Help Meet Library’s Needs
by Kris Wiley & Betty Roiger
Nov 15, 2010 - A Call from the National Archives
by Larry B. Hlavsa
Nov 08, 2010 - Plentiful Plots
by Betty J Roiger
Nov 01, 2010 - Listening to Books by Diane Zellmann
Oct 25, 2010 - Give an Old Book a Chance by Larry B. Hlavsa
Oct 18, 2010 - Valor, Courage and Soul by JoAnne Griebel
Oct 11, 2010 - Thank You for Being a Friend  by Betty J Roiger
Oct 04, 2010 - Dance the Nights Away, Courtesy of Your Library by Kris Wiley
Sep 27, 2010 - Storytime and More by Diane Zellmann
Sep 20, 2010 - Energy Management by JoAnne Griebel
Sep 13, 2010 - Fishing Legend Babe Winkelman to Speak in New Ulm by Larry Hlavsa
Sep 06, 2010 - Go to the the Library by Kris Wiley
Aug 30, 2010 - Battle of the Books by Betty Roiger
Aug 23, 2010 - Off the Beaten Path by Linda Lindquist
Aug 16, 2010 - Teen Summer Reading Program a Great Success by Kris Wiley
Aug 09, 2010 - Summer Splashes by Diane Zellmann
Aug 02, 2010 - Cool Documentaries! by Larry B. Hlavsa
Jul  26, 2010 - Beach Reads by Betty J. Roiger
Jul 19, 2010 - What Should I Read Next?  by Diane Zellmann
Jul 12, 2010 - Celebrate, Advocate, Recreate! by JoAnne Griebel
Jul 05, 2010 - Young Adult Books Aren’t Just for Teens by Kris Wiley
Jun 28, 2010 - nuCAT + Library = More Programs for YOU! by Larry Hlavsa
Jun 21, 2010 - What did you say? - Betty J Roiger
Jun 14, 2010 - Minnesota Mysteries by Betty J Roiger
Jun 07, 2010 - Great Characters Make for Great Books by Kris Wiley
May 31, 2010 - Make a Splash at the Library This Summer! by Diane Zellmann
May 24, 2010 - Weeding Improves Every Garden (and Library)! by Larry Hlavsa
May 17, 2010 - Teens: Make Waves at Your Library This Summer by Kris Wiley
May 10, 2010 - May is Older Americans Month by Linda Lindquist
May 03, 2010 - Calling All Musicians! by JoAnne Griebel
Apr 26, 2010 - Library Budget Challenges by Larry Hlavsa
Apr 19, 2010 - A Gift That Keeps Giving by Betty J Roiger
Apr 12, 2010 - Celebrate National Library Week by Kris Wiley
Apr 05, 2010 - Ha! Ha! by Betty J Roiger
Mar 29, 2010 - New Non-Fiction Books by Linda Lindquist
Mar 22, 2010 - Have a Listen to Audiobooks by Kris Wiley
Mar 15, 2010 - Books of Influence by JoAnne Griebel
Mar 08, 2010 - Parenting Shelf  by Diane Zellmann
Mar 01, 2010 - Plug In to Energy Conservation by Mary Schroeder, Youth Energy Summit Team Member & Kris Wiley
Feb 22, 2010 - Are You Tired of Winter? by Larry Hlavsa
Feb 15, 2010 - Join the (Book) Club by Kris Wiley
Feb 08, 2010 - Minnesota’s Voices by JoAnne Griebel
Feb 01, 2010 - Short and Sweet by Betty J Roiger
Jan 25, 2010 - The Winners Are . . . by Diane Zellmann
Jan 18, 2010 - Antiques, Antiques, Antiques by Linda Lindquist
Jan 11, 2010 - Conversations From the Cubicles by Betty Roiger & Kris Wiley
Jan 04, 2010 - Have You Tried our “Green” Computers? by Larry Hlavsa


December 27, 2010


What a Book Sale Means for the New Ulm Library
Larry Hlavsa, Director

The Friends of the New Ulm Library December book sale has now come and gone. You might ask yourself--what benefits have resulted from it?

Actually, there are many.

If you were a book donor, you benefited by removing some clutter from your life, getting a tax deduction and perhaps getting that good feeling of contributing to a worthy cause.

If you were a book buyer, you benefited by acquiring good quality used books at bargain basement prices. Our sale prices were just 25 and 50 cents for paperbacks and hardbacks respectively. If you came the final day, you could buy a whole bag of books for two dollars! Even if you didn’t make it to the sale, you might still benefit. There were many boxes of books that went unsold. You can still drop by the Library and find many of the unsold titles on our “free” book table. While these items weren’t the cream of the book sale crop, there are many interesting titles among them that you might find interesting.

The Library itself benefited in many ways.

Over three hundred of the books donated for the sale have actually been added to our collections. These will be available for years to come on our shelves. At a valuation of $10 a piece, that’s a direct benefit to the Library of $3,000. Thanks go to the many donors who provided such high quality titles!

The Friends’ generated $2,000 in profits from the sale, all of which will go towards Library materials and programs. Another $500 was received in the form of memberships and gifts. Incidentally, welcome to those who became Friends during the sale!

Many current members of the Friends of the New Ulm Library also benefited. Our book sale was a great chance for Library Friends to work together towards a common goal. Friendships were made or reinforced, and we even had some pizza together! Our thanks go to those many volunteers who made the sale a success.

Now we will eagerly await one year until the next Friends book sale--or maybe not a whole year. We’re currently discussing the possibility of an earlier, smaller, focused “cookbooks only book sale.” Let us know if you think that’s a good idea!

Thanks, New Ulm, for helping us achieve ever increasing success in our third annual Friends’ Book Sale!


December 20, 2010


Explore Novel Destinations With the Winter Reading Program
Kris Wiley, Assistant Director

I’m guessing many New Ulmers are spending this cold, snowy winter indoors reading and listening to books. Kids have the Summer Reading Program. Why not share your reading experiences by participating in the library’s Winter Reading Program for adults?

Here’s how this free program will work: Adults ages 18 and older can register at the circulation desk between January 3 and 28 and receive a coupon for three free books at the next Friends of the Library book sale (thanks, Friends!). The registration card, which we will keep at the desk, will be your reading log. Any books you read or listen to from January 3 through February 28 will count. When you finish a book, stop back at the library, ask for your registration card and write in the following information: title; author; and location of the book’s primary setting. Everyone who logs four titles will be eligible to win small prizes.

The location of the book’s setting helps tie the program with its theme, Novel Destinations. Although there are no restrictions on the books that can be read or listened to, I encourage everyone to try some international authors and titles. We’ll provide bookmarks with suggestions to get your creative juices flowing, or you might get ideas from fellow readers. Take a look at our world map on the bulletin board near the circulation desk. I’ll be posting the titles you read there, and you might see something you like.

In addition, we’ll have word puzzles that you can take home, and our display case will be decorated with titles from novel destinations. The library also will offer programs with international flavor. Join us on the third Thursdays of the month for our Foreign and Independent Film Series. On January 20, we’ll screen “Nurse.Fighter.Boy,” a Canadian drama that was an Official Selection of the Toronto International Film Festival. And local historian Denny Warta will be back for More Interesting History Tidbits on February 3. Denny shares his research, from ancient history to the present, in a truly unique way.

With all of these activities to get you through the winter, it will be spring before you know it. With your library card as your passport, book yourself a tour while you check something out. See you at the library!


December 13, 2010


Holiday Memories
Betty J Roiger, Acquisitions

Close your eyes. Er, no, open your eyes; otherwise you won’t know what I am going to write. Everyone knows that Christmas has its basis in the birth of the Christ child. Along with the meaning of Christmas it is also a season of smells, sounds, sights, tastes, and creative ideas that pretty much assail us at every turn. If you close your eyes and savor the smells, melodies, and mementos of the season, they bring memories back in a heartbeat.

The smell of cinnamon and other spices stir my memory of the cookies we made at Christmastime. I won’t ever forget my Mom’s and my first (and last) attempt at making popcorn balls. With my hands cupped around sticky popcorn hoping it would quickly set into a somewhat round shape, the doorbell rang. I ran to answer it, looked at the doorknob in consternation, used my elbows to turn it, and faced the not-at-all-happy postman. How I accepted the package…I don’t recall. I just remember his face as he looked down at my hands that were literally glued together. It still remains, all in all, a funny Christmas memory.

The songs of Christmas immediately take me home. “Silent Night, Holy Night,” “Joy to the World,” and “O, Holy Night” come on and I am right back at the nighttime services, which were so mysterious as church normally was held in the daytime. Nighttime church was a magical and lovely, soft and calming event. Hearing “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” has changed for me. As a kid I wanted loads of snow to come and loved the song. I still like the song, but now it can also mean slippery roads, dangerous conditions, and the possible reality of not getting home for the holidays. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” always makes me cry thinking of my Mom. She was a young woman during World War II and when this song came on the radio, it hit the hearts of all the women waiting at home for their soldiers with the uncertainty of togetherness on that Christmas or future Christmases.

Hanging ornaments on the tree can bring to mind purchased and homemade baubles. Growing up we had the traditional glass ornaments and for some reason we had three bulbs that were made of a beautiful plastic. At that time they were quite unusual. And each year, (behind my Mom and Dad’s back) my sisters and I would take one and dash it to the floor to see it bounce. These shenanigans caused us no end of laughter…up until the year one broke. It turned out they weren’t indestructible.

So, Betty, that’s a nice trip down memory lane. What does this have to do with the library or us? In the midst of a busy Christmas season, reviving a memory is as close as a book or CD on our shelves. The 230s section contains religion and has books on Christ’s birth. Christmas recipe books are in the 641s where you can find old favorites and new ideas. We have two sections, Holiday and Christmas, where music CDs can be found. And if you want to make holiday gifts or ornaments, 745.59 is the place to look. There are also plenty of holiday fiction books to provide moments of relaxation during a busy time. Come in, check something out, and have a safe and happy holiday season.

December 6, 2010

December Decorations, Displays, and More
Diane Zellmann, Children’s Librarian

The Children’s Room is filled with decorations. We have nutcrackers and gingerbread men, snowmen and snowflakes, pinecones and popcorn garlands, ribbons and Rudolph, and evergreen trees of all shapes and sizes.

Our puzzle table features two candy cane puzzles. It also has a few new puzzles. The Friends of the Library recently donated seventeen new puzzles. Eight are boxed and ready for check out; nine wooden puzzles are for use at our table. Because puzzles require kids to pay attention to shapes, playing with puzzles helps develop early literacy skills leading to letter recognition. Yes, putting puzzles together is educational as well as fun! We so appreciate the generosity of the Friends.

Our display cart is full of Christmas picture books, including many old favorites like “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” as well as several new arrivals. “It’s Christmas, David!” by David Shannon and “Olivia Claus” adapted by Kama Einhorn are new books about two of children’s favorite characters. My favorite new picture book this year is “The Elves’ First Christmas; The Untold Story of How the Elves First Met Santa.” The illustrations are gorgeous from cover to cover, and the story is delightful.

Our Junior display features both fiction and nonfiction Christmas books. Here you can find stories from the past like Richard Peck’s “A Season of Gifts” about the eccentric Grandma Dowdel who, in 1958, turns out to be a special neighbor with gifts to share. “Little House Christmas Treasury” is a collection of short stories that take place in the pioneer days. For a more present-day story, try Dan Gutman’s “The Christmas Genie.” A meteorite with a genie inside crashes into a fifth grade classroom, and the genie will grant the students one Christmas wish, but all must agree on it. That’s a real challenge for fifth graders.

The nonfiction books in this display provide information on holiday crafts, traditions, and celebrations around the world. Also included here are songs, poetry, and recipes for Christmas cookies and other treats. There’s even a book entitled “101 Questions about Santa Claus (As Answered by Santa Himself!).” Reading this book will definitely make you an expert about all things related to Santa.

Our Christmas video display has DVDs as well as videocassettes. Preschoolers might enjoy seeing some of their favorite characters in “Elmo’s Christmas Countdown,” “Thomas and Friends: Ultimate Christmas,” or “Frosty the Snowman.” School-age kids might prefer “Benji’s Very Own Christmas Story,” “Holiday on Ice: Under the Desert Sky,” or “Blizzard,” a charming story of how a young girl and one of Santa’s reindeer learn to share the gift of friendship.

While she is neither a decoration nor a display, Mrs. Claus is our special guest this week. Yes, Mrs. Claus is visiting Storytime on Monday, December 6, at 7:00 P.M., Tuesday, December 7, at 10:00 A.M. and 11:00 A.M., and Thursday, December 9, at 10:00 A.M. She is reading stories, singing songs, handing out treats, and posing for pictures. We invite children, their parents, and other caregivers to attend. Mrs. Claus loves to see the children at the Library!

December days seem to fly by. I hope children and their parents will take time to visit the Library and check out something to enjoy.


November 29, 2010


Memories Are Made of This
JoAnne Griebel, Library Aide

Author Peg Bracken once said “Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas.” The Christmas season is just around the corner. For many it can be a stressful time. This December take time for your family and yourself. Your library has lots of books to help you this season. If you are of German ancestry, try “Christmas in Today’s Germany.” This book from the World Book series is beautifully illustrated detailing German traditions; from pyramid trees popular in the mid-1600’s to today where there’s a Christmas tree in every home. Did you know that in German tradition the time between December 25 and January 6 is Die zwolf Rauhnachte (Twelve Nights); each of the twelve days represents a month. “The Flight of the Reindeer” by Robert Sullivan is illustrated with delightful drawings by Glenn Wolf. This is “the true story of Santa Claus and his Christmas mission.” Speaking of Santa Claus, Robert C. Hoffman’s “Postcards From Santa Claus” is a history of the Jolly Elf told through historic postcards. Hoffman’s book has a Victorian Santa, cards from the 1920’s, even Santa promoting a 1956 Ford Fairlane!

Christmas is a time of giving and sharing. A handmade gift of clothing, decorations, toys, or food is always special for the receiver and the giver. “Simply Christmas: Renew the Spirit” by Carol Field Dahlstrom offers ideas for giftmaking. “Rag Dolls and How to Make Them” has patterns and step-by-step instructions for rag dolls, keepsake and upside-down dolls. Patterns for doll clothes are included too. “The Great Book of Wooden Toys” has more than fifty projects illustrated with pictures, drawings and materials list for road graders, biplanes, train cars, even a Model T tank truck. Charities are in need of gifts as well. “Creative Kindness “ is a book of sewing and knitting projects to donate to charitable organizations. There are books on making your own giftwrap, holiday cookies, and traditions from around the world. Jennifer Basye and Peter Sander have compiled ideas for a joyous and eco-friendly Christmas in their book “Green Christmas.” They have lots of ideas, but one I want to share with you today is quiet time. The authors suggest reading together as a family. Perhaps Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol” or borrowing a DVD from the library. Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” is a classic seen by many every year. “Silent Night” is another DVD in the collection; it is the story of a family on Christmas Eve 1944 in Germany’s Ardennes Forest. Family time is such a part of Christmas; making memories, playing board games, telling stories, putting together puzzles, doing something together.

Jean Fritz, author of many childrens books said “When I discovered libraries, it was like having Christmas every day.” Visit your library today and all year round. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


November 22, 2010


Service Clubs Help Meet Library’s Needs
Kris Wiley, Assistant Director
Betty Roiger, Acquisitions

It has been a great time to work in the cubicles at New Ulm Public Library. Over the course of just a few hours a couple of weeks ago, Betty and I received word of generous donations from the Optimist Club of New Ulm and the Lions Club of New Ulm.

From Kris’ cubicle, a shout-out to the Optimists: For the second consecutive year, the Optimist Club is sponsoring our subscription to Movie Licensing USA, which allows us to show films from many of the major studios. Our free family movie days are great fun, and we have started a Crafts & a Classic program in which attendees bring their craft to work on and we show a classic film. At all of our movies, the Friends of the New Ulm Public Library provide popcorn and drinks. We have several movie events scheduled; call the library at 507-359-8331 for the dates and movie titles. Because of contract restrictions, I can’t tell you the titles in this article, but think big.

The Optimist Club of New Ulm is a nonprofit organization that raises and donates money to youth and youth organizations throughout the community. It is one of more than 2900 clubs around that world dedicated to “Bringing Out the Best in Kids.” The library is thrilled that that the Optimists’ vision meets ours in providing a family friendly entertainment option in the New Ulm community.

And from Betty’s cubicle, a shout-out to the Lions: I’ve been asking the Lions Club of New Ulm for money for large print materials for many years. And the Lions have graciously responded for many years. I just met several Lions members as Larry and I received their most recent donation of $2000 to build our large print collection. I even met a lady Lion named Tess. Tess informed me that, yes, women can join! And in the middle of the talk and interesting information being exchanged, some part of me registered how little I really knew about this association.

The Lions Club is a service organization. A businessman named Melvin Jones founded it in 1917. He had the idea that people who were successful could put their talents to work improving their communities. His personal code was, “You can’t get very far until you start doing something for somebody else.”

And that is why the Lions raise money for worthy causes, and all the funds they raise are used for charitable purposes. It might be common knowledge that Lions Clubs promote sight conservation, hearing and speech conservation, and diabetes awareness, just to name a few causes. Along with low-vision equipment, they provide the library much needed, much circulated and much enjoyed large print books. And that is where our intentions meet. Their motto is “We Serve.” And that is what the library does, as well. We try to get materials to meet patrons’ wants and needs so that they can learn, be creative, study, travel and just relax.

Thank you, Lions Club and Optimist Club, for your generosity. Thank you for doing something for someone else. The library and all of its clientele benefit.


November 15, 2010


Larry B. Hlavsa, Library Director

Do you always make notes on the back of your family photographs about who or what is in the picture? No? Well, I don’t either. And sometimes it makes it awfully hard forty years down the road for the grandkids to figure out what those family pictures were about.

Some time ago, I had a call from Jerry Simmons who works in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Jerry has eighteen photos taken in New Ulm during 1974-1975 which are a part of the DOCUMERICA Project. The DOCUMERICA Project was sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “to photographically document subjects of environmental concern” in the 1970s. This particular batch of photos was taken by a group of photojournalism students from the University of Missouri-Columbia, under the direction of one-time New Ulm resident Flip Schulke.

Well, guess what, the photographs were not fully documented! Jerry needs a little help from New Ulmers in identifying the people in these photos and any detail about their topics that can be supplied.

The New Ulm Public Library has posted these photographs in our display cabinet where they will be kept for the next two months. If you recognize anybody in the photos there are sheets on which you can write down any information you have. Jerry’s email address and phone number are also available. Any information gathered will be shared with Jerry before the end of the year.

Incidentally, these New Ulm photos and many others can be viewed at Just enter “new ulm” in the search field including the quotation marks.

Now, next time you get new batch of family pictures, you’ll mark the backs of each as to who and what they are, right? Trust me, your descendents will thank you!


November 8, 2010


Plentiful Plots
Betty J Roiger, Acquisitions

What makes anyone pick up a book? The cover might be interesting, the jacket information is enticing, or it is a book by a favorite author. Recently I have picked up some lighter fiction, fantasy, and a mystery.

I just read a young adult novel called “You Wish” by Mandy Hubbard that sounded amusing when I read the back cover. The main character, Kayla, is having a particularly horrible 16th birthday party and wishes that her birthday wishes actually would come true since they never have before. And so it begins.

It isn’t until the next morning when Kayla catches a glimpse of a blue-tailed, pink pony in her yard that she has any inkling that something is up. Getting out of bed, only to fall flat because her floor is covered in gumballs, in an effort to escape, she opens the door to a gumball avalanche. That’s when she realizes she has underestimated what is happening and thinks, “Hurricane Gumball is clearly a category five.” The next day a girl with messy strawberry red hair turns up in her closet wearing a blue dress and white apron, says her name is Ann, and is convinced she lives there.

Slowly, Kayla realizes that ALL of her wishes from ALL of her birthdays are coming true. And as crazy and awful as it is having a pony following her, and gumballs spilling out of her pockets, is the knowledge that she remembers her wish from her 15th birthday. She wished that Ben would kiss her. Ben, the boy she crushes on, who is now her best friend’s boyfriend. Kayla spends the rest of the book struggling to ditch a pony, trying to figure out what wish will interrupt her life next, wanting to stay friends with her best friend, and just doing her best to find her way with both hilarious and heartfelt results.

“Reapers are the Angels” by Alden Bell was an unexpected read. I expected zombies. I got a post-apocalyptic road trip taken by a young girl named Temple who can still find everyday miracles in the midst of horror and meanness. The beauty of the writing plus the depth of Temple’s character gave me an experience I’ll never forget. Yes, there is violence. Yes, it is harsh in places. But even as the world around her rots, the wonder and beauty of Temple endures.

If you are a Louise Penny fan, her latest book, called “Bury Your Dead,” is out. If you have yet to read Louise Penny, please start with her first book, “Still Life.” And if you haven’t read her, what are you waiting for?

I have not finished “Bury Your Dead” yet. Something major has happened at the beginning that is continually alluded to, and it makes me fear for my beloved characters. Penny’s books take place in a Canadian village called Three Pines, and if you haven’t heard me say it before, I want to retire there. Three Pines has a lovely bistro, usually with a fire going, a cozy bed and breakfast, and a new and used bookstore, and wonderful, eccentric people, including awe-inspiring artists and a foul-mouthed poet, populate it. And there are the murders that bring Chief Inspector Gamache to town. He is a kind and gentle man who uses his wisdom to solve mysteries.

Come visit the library. Pick up a book and find something appealing.


November 1, 2010

Listening to Books
Diane Zellmann, Children's Librarian


With some special holidays coming up this month and next, many families plan to travel to visit relatives or take a vacation. To make that trip in the family car more enjoyable, why not try listening to an audiobook (AKA talking book or book on tape)? Numerous families have already discovered how fun it can be to listen together.
If you have never listened to an audiobook, it’s time to try one. Our library currently offers books on CD or cassette. We have a nice collection of titles, and more titles are available through interlibrary loan.

For you parents who are thinking it would be better if kids just read the book themselves, perhaps you are not aware of some benefits of listening to books. Audiobooks can be a powerful literacy tool. They can expose listeners to new vocabulary words. Listeners hear a new word in the context of a story, correctly pronounced, and the word becomes part of their oral vocabulary. A bigger vocabulary leads to improved reading skills.

Audiobooks can provide a model of fluent reading, including appropriate phrasing, intonation, and articulation. Listeners are able to learn from a skilled reader.

Still more benefits include improved listening skills, lengthened attention span, and improved comprehension skills.

The biggest benefit of all is enhanced enjoyment of literature. Kids who enjoy books are more inclined to become good readers.


 Parents can help foster that enjoyment by providing the opportunity to listen to books and encouraging kids to participate in this family activity. Families can enjoy listening together and then discussing the story. That will certainly make the long ride more fun for everyone.
Our Children’s collection of audiobooks includes titles for a range of ages. Younger listeners might enjoy the classic “Winnie the Pooh,” or the laugh-out-loud humor of “Hank the Cowdog’s Case of the Missing Bird Dog” and “Freddy the Detective.”

The recently released movie “Ramona and Beezus” has renewed interest in Ramona books by Beverly Cleary. We have “Ramona Quimby, Age 8,” “Ramona’s World,” and “Beezus and Ramona.” We also have Cleary’s “Henry Huggins” for those who prefer a boy as the main character.

A good dog story is always a hit. Try listening to “Because of Winn-Dixie” or “Where the Red Fern Grows.” For a humorous story, try “Flat Stanley” or “Frindle.”

Due to tight budgets, we often purchase only the first book of a series in the audio format. Kids who listen to that first title often decide to continue reading the rest of the series. “Redwall,” “Land of Elyon,” “39 Clues,” and “A Series of Unfortunate Events” are examples of series for which we own the first book in audio format. Right now I am listening to “Midnight for Charlie Bone,” the first title in the Children of the Red King series, and it’s terrific. In the past I had never found the time to read this series. However, when the new audiobook arrived a couple of weeks ago, I decided to try it. Now I want to read all eight titles!

“A Season of Gifts” is written by Richard Peck and tells the story of a warmhearted Grandma Dowdel and her family as they meet an unusual family who move in next door just before Christmas in 1958. In three hours and fifty minutes, you and your family could listen to a very touching story about sharing.

If the idea of listening to a book interests you and your family, please stop in and browse our audiobook shelves. You just might find the perfect story for your family and have a great trip too. All the additional benefits are just icing on the cake.


October 25, 2010

Give an Old Book a Chance
Larry B. Hlavsa, Library Director

Unlike many of my fellow library readers, I don’t spend much of my time with “new” books. It seems I’m always finding something “old” that captures and holds my attention.

Smedley Darlington Butler

Recently, I happened to be surfing YouTube and happened across a name I was totally unfamiliar with--Smedley Darlington Butler. Unusual names always attract my attention, and I began eagerly looking up Mr. Butler, my eagerness increasing when I found out he was a decorated marine (two Congressional Medals of Honor) who’d written a small book entitled “War Is a Racket” (1935). In this small, biographical, controversial and today, largely unknown book, General Butler described his service as a soldier over thirty years, and in several conflicts, as having been little more than a pawn of big-business interests. Not exactly a sentiment you’d expect from a decorated Marine Corps general! Interesting.

Being an enthusiastic reader of biography, I then began looking for a biography of General Butler. Sure enough, I found one called “Maverick Marine” (1998) by Hans Schmidt. One reviewer described the book as—“a colorful story about a swashbuckling establishment-shaker.” The reviewer pointed out that Butler joined the Marines in 1898, saw action all over the world, but is remembered not so much for his military exploits, but more for the apostasy of his later years. A statement Butler made in 1935 sums up his drastic turnabout: "I spent 33 years in the Corps and...spent most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business." Butler also described himself as a racketeer for capitalism who "helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street." Fascinating.

You’d think two new old books would have been enough for me, but the dust jacket of “Maverick Marine” led me down another road. It described General Butler’s role in a 1933 plot to seize the U.S. government. A plot to seize the government?!? This documented incident is described in “The Plot to Seize the White House” (1973) by Jules Archer. Despite my B.A. degree in history, I cannot remember ever having heard of this 1933 plot. It involved a cabal of wealthy industrialists who wanted to overthrow the U.S. government in a fascist coup. Allegedly, their plan was to turn discontented WWI veterans into American “brown shirts,” led by a highly decorated and beloved general (yup, that would be General Smedley Darlington Butler), depose F.D.R., and stop the New Deal. Trouble was, they chose the wrong man to lead their coup d'état. Smedley blew the whistle on the plot, after which, despite congressional hearings, information on the incident was systematically suppressed by newspapers and the government alike. So it turns out that Smedley Butler is an unsung hero of American democracy! Wow!

Now, when you read old books like I do, it means that one library won’t have all of the old books you want. That’s why I love the MNLink Gateway, an online way to check the holdings of libraries throughout Minnesota. There are copies of each of these titles in one Minnesota library or another. When I need them, I’ll be able to borrow copies from those libraries through the New Ulm Library interlibrary loan program.

My winter reading will include all of the above, and probably some new old books. How about you? Old books can be pretty interesting, can’t they?

October 18, 2010

Valor, Courage and Soul
JoAnne Griebel, Library Aide

Michel de Montaigne, a writer of the French Renaissance, wrote, “Valor is stability, not of legs and arms, but of the courage and the soul; it does not lie in the goodness of our horse or our arms: but in our own.” In just three weeks we celebrate Veterans’s Day.  Veteran’s Day, formerly known as Armistice Day, has quite a history.  Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first Armistice Day November 11, 1919, to commemorate the ending of the Great War with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles at the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, 1918.  In 1938, Congress declared November 11 a legal Federal holiday to honor all who served in the War.  In 1954, then President Eisenhower signed into law legislation changing Armistice Day to Veteran’s Day in honor of the war veterans who served in the first World War and wars since.  For several years, Veteran’s Day was celebrated on the fourth Monday of October.  The national observance was changed back to November 11 in 1978.

Your public library has many books on the wars involving the United States.  Wilhelm Kaufmann’s “The Germans in the American Civil War” tells the story of the more than 500,000 German-born and first-generation Americans of German heritage.  The book details German accomplishments in the Civil War and includes a brief biographical directory.  “Phantom Warrior” by Forrest Bryant Johnson is a must read.  Johnson shares the story of Private John McKinney’s stand against the Japanese on the Philippine island of Luzon.  Few know of this battle, but this is a story of courage and determination.

William Guarnere and Edward Heffron served as paratroopers in World War II.  These men from the original Band of Brothers share their accounts in “Brothers in Battle: Best of Friends.”  “Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of U.S. Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan” by Doug Stanton is another gripping true story.  Another book on display is “The Wall: A Day At the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial.” “The Wounded Warrior Handbook” by Don Philpott and Janelle Hill is a resource guide for returning veterans and their families. Shoshana Johnson tells her story of being ambushed and captured en route to Baghdad.  She was the first black female prisoner of war in our country’s history and was held captive for 22 days.  Her story, “I’m Still Standing,” is a brutally honest account told with dignity and courage. 

Several DVDs are also available, including “Silent Wings,” the story of American glider pilots of World War II, and “Muse of Fire: Operation Homecoming Writing the Wartime Experience.”  For these and more stories of valor, check out the books available through your public library.

October 11, 2010


Thank You for Being a Friend
Betty J Roiger, Acquisitions

Maybe you’ve heard the sports catch phrase “Are you ready for some football?” when it gets to be fall. Well, perhaps the Friends of the Library (FOL) need a fall catch phrase, too – are you ready for a book sale? No, that’s copying. We need to think harder.

But it is getting to be time for our December book sale. We’ll need a catch phrase fast. In preparation for the sale we ask that you donate any books, DVDs or CDs that you no longer want or need to the library. The library adds any copies that it might be missing to the collection, and everything else goes into the FOL book sale. This year we hope to have the best book sale ever! We already have had some wonderful donations from very generous folks in the area. So our catch phrase might be “Thank you for being a friend.” (No, that was “The Golden Girls” theme song.) Think, think.

Who are the Friends of the Library anyhow? Well, they are people who support the library with their membership money, and some also work on the book sale.

In July the Friends of the Library gave our fiction budget an infusion of money. This money enabled me to purchase 56 new fiction titles. It also freed up my regular budget to purchase additional titles, such as any books that were missing from a series. I was able to replace damaged items that are still in demand and buy talking books. It really helped stretch my fiction dollars.

When you open a book or DVD and see the “Donated by the Friends of the Library” plate inside, you can immediately know two things. This material was purchased by money given by the FOL. And you also know that this material would not be a part of our library if it weren’t for the Friends’ generosity.

Lately some people have been renewing their memberships. Some members are also checking a box that says donation, thus giving over and above what their membership is. Thank you. All of this money goes to the Friends of the Library. And ALL of the Friends’ money comes back to the library in some form. Whether it goes to support our programming or purchasing books and DVDS or for some other project, every single bit of it comes back to the public library. Here’s a tip of our hats to our anonymous donors who give the Friends monetary gifts. Seriously, we appreciate your altruism and “we like you, we really like you.” (Nope, that’s too much like Sally Field’s catch phrase.) But we really do like you.

Giving to the Friends is giving to the library. No one is paid to be a Friend; nobody is paid to be on the board or to help with the book sale. These people are all volunteers. When there is a Friends of the Library event and there are goodies, well, someone volunteered to bring food. And the best part about being a Friend, besides having the library and the public benefit, is that you can choose how involved you want to be. “And that’s a good thing” ... er, no, that’s Martha Stewart’s trademark line.

So in lieu of a catch phrase, drop off your unwanted books and videos at the library. Come to our book sale in December. Thank you for everything you have donated this year in materials, memberships, time and money. The Friends plus the library: Together we can “just do it.” (nope, that’s Nike ...)

October 4, 2010

Dance the Nights Away, Courtesy of Your Library

Kris Wiley, Assistant Director

When you think of dancing, your local library likely isn’t the first place that comes to mind. That’s about to change because New Ulm Public Library is sponsoring free (yes, free!) ballroom dance lessons the next four Monday evenings.

Newcomers as well as seasoned dancers of all ages are invited to join us from 7-8 p.m. at Turner Hall, 102 S. State St. in New Ulm, on Oct. 11, Oct. 18, Oct. 25 and Nov. 1. On these evenings, local dance instructor Geats Lemyre will teach a number of dances, including swing, tango, cha cha, rumba, waltz and foxtrot. No registration is required.

These lessons are a lead-in to the New Ulm Dance Celebration, scheduled for Nov. 6 at Turner Hall. An optional dinner ($45 per couple) will begin at 6 p.m. Dance lessons with Geats will be from 7-7:30 p.m. Then Christine Rosholt and her band will play three sets from 7:30-10 p.m. The dance lessons and entertainment are free. Registration for the Dance Celebration is requested; call the library at 507-359-8331.

You may be wondering how the library got involved in this great program. It all started with a simple request from a patron. She had attended a dance program, she knew grant funds were available, and she wondered if the library could put something together. At about the same time, we received information about the Minnesota’s Greatest Generation in the Libraries program, a partnership between Minnesota Regional Public Libraries and the Minnesota Historical Society. Funding for the program was made possible through the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, also known as the Legacy Fund. With the help of the Greatest Generation state coordinator, Geats, and the folks at Turner Hall, the library is thrilled to bring this intergenerational program to New Ulm.

Once word got out about our project, we were contacted by TVbyGirls, a nonprofit organization from the Twin Cities that uses the tools of media to work with youth to help build leadership and communication skills. With the help of the Minnesota Historical Society, TVbyGirls plans to create a documentary that will explore the significance of dance for the Greatest Generation and profile New Ulm community seniors’ reflections on their lives in the 1930s and 1940s. New Ulm area teens will work with the seniors at the dance lessons and Dance Celebration, and the final product will be a film that the community can share. Seniors and teens who are interested in this aspect of the project should contact me at 507-359-8334.

Just look at what can come from a simple request. We hope to see you at Turner Hall over the next several weeks dancing the nights away!

September 27, 2010


Storytime and More
Diane Zellmann, Children’s Librarian

Much is happening in the Children’s Room at the Library these days. Storytime began its fall session last week. We have a poster display coming soon. We have application forms for parents who want their children to receive free books. And Marc Brown, the popular author of the Arthur books, is making two appearances in the TdS area this week.

Toddlers and preschoolers have begun showing up for Storytime, bringing their smiling faces and happy voices. They can expect to have lots of fun because of course we read books at Storytime, but we also sing songs, perform fingerplays and action rhymes, and even befriend a few puppets. Each child will meet other children and have opportunities to interact with them.

These toddlers and preschoolers will also be learning something while they’re having fun at Storytime. Each program features one pre-reading skill, such as letter sounds, letter shapes, and rhyming words. Children learn to enjoy books and see others enjoy them too. These pre-reading skills help develop early literacy and help increase the chances that children will find it easier to learn to read later on.
Each week we have four Storytimes, and each program lasts about 30 minutes. These sessions are free and do not require registration. Here is the schedule:

Mondays 7:00 P.M. Family Storytime
Tuesdays 10:00 A.M. Preschool Storytime
Tuesdays 11:00 A.M. Preschool Storytime
Thursdays 10:00 A.M. Toddler Storytime

All children are welcome. We encourage parents, grandparents, daycare providers, and other childcare individuals to bring children to Storytime.
The poster display begins next week on October 7. Kids in grades K –12 in all New Ulm schools have been invited to design and create a poster that depicts their interpretation of human rights. The New Ulm Human Rights Commission sponsors this contest. Mark your calendar so that you remember to stop in at the Library to see this sure-to-be spectacular display in the hallway leading to the Children’s Room.

You may have heard about the new program called Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library that will provide a free book every month to every child in Brown County from birth until their fifth birthday. If you would like more information and/or a registration form to sign up your child, please ask at the Children’s desk. The United Way of the Brown County Area is sponsoring this “don’t miss” opportunity.

If you have ever read the popular children’s books about Arthur and D.W. or watched the Emmy Award-winning “Arthur” television show, you will be thrilled to hear that the author of these books, Marc Brown, will be appearing in our TdS area on Saturday, October 2. He will speak in St. James at the Armstrong Middle School at 10:00 A.M. and in Mankato at the South Central College Conference Center at 2:00 P.M. Both programs are free and open to the public and are funded in part by the Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage fund. Please call our library (359-8336) for more details.

Now that you know a little bit about these exciting programs, all you need to do is take advantage of what works for you and your family. Enjoy!

September 20, 2010

Energy Management
JoAnne Griebel, Library Aide

Schools are back in session and the trees are dressed in autumn colors. Living in Minnesota we know the signs, winter is not far off.

With a Minnesota winter approaching, now is the time to think energy and discover ways to make the best use of available energy. October has been designated as “Energy Management is a Family Affair Month”. Your public library and public utilities have resources to help you.

A book that is proving popular with our patrons is “Save Energy Cut Your Bills” by Nick White. Another recent title is “Shift Your Habit” by Elizabeth Rogers, an environmental consultant. Her book covers more than just energy conservation, but she has lots of great ideas. Switching to an ultra low flow showerhead can save on your water bill; replacing filters on the furnace and air conditioner units can save heating and cooling costs.

Jeffrey Langholz’s “You Can Prevent Global Warming and Save Money 51 Easy Ways”
has a chapter on “Fun With Furnaces” and “Winch the Water Heater.” This is not only an informative book, but entertaining as well. Daniel Chiras offers 65 projects that are
designed to reduce your utility bill, protect your health and help the environment. Projects found in “Green Home Improvement” include flooring, caulking, insulate while you paint, rainwater barrels and home energy audits.

Your public library has appliance meters and whole home meters to help you calculate kilowatt usage in your home. The meters are available for checkout at the circulation desk. The federal government website has an energy star home
advisor to help you assess your home, get recommendations for you to implement thus increasing energy efficiency and home comfort.

The city’s Public Utilities has several programs available as well. These include a programmable thermostat rebate, furnace rebate and furnace cleaning discount (from service provider). For information on programs and providers, see the city website at and click on Public Utilities. Applications for the programs are found here as well.

You have many resources available locally to help you and your family make “Energy Management a Family Affair.”


September 13, 2010

Fishing Legend Babe Winkelman to Speak in New Ulm
by Larry Hlavsa, Library Director



Fishing is a favorite activity of many people in Southern Minnesota. But even if you’re a fisherman, there aren’t many nationally recognized names you can hear and instantly make the association with Minnesota and fishing. Al Lindner is one. Babe Winkelman is another. And next Tuesday, September 21, at 7:00 p.m., in the Martin Luther College Auditorium, Babe Winkelman will be bringing his expertise to New Ulm.

Made possible through the efforts of New Ulm Public Library and the New Ulm Area Sportfishermen, and as the result of a Legacy Grant, Babe Winkelman will be joining us for an evening of fishing talk. Babe will provide a multimedia presentation, then will be available for questions. The evening will conclude with a drawing for door prizes and an opportunity for autographs. Be sure and bring the youngsters, as they will have a separate drawing for prizes!

A Minnesota native, Donald "Babe" Winkelman grew up on a small farm near the tiny town of Duelm, Minnesota, where he fished, hunted and observed wildlife. As he grew up, Babe lived an outdoor life, polishing his hunting and fishing skills. During the 1960s, he developed a "pattern" approach to fishing that he continues to teach others today.

Babe’s full-time fishing career began in 1975, but you may remember him also for his commercials for “Deep Woods OFF.” Babe started producing for television in 1978; then in 1985, he got his first national television exposure on the show “Good Fishing.” On it, Babe educated anglers, but entertained them and their families as well. Babe’s informal style and the integration of his family in the show served to make it a popular Saturday tradition for many families. Each show ended with his memorable tagline--"until then, hey...good fishing!" Babe’s companion hunting show "Outdoor Secrets" began later, and also proved popular. Now, some twenty-five years later, Babe still appears on both shows via broadcast and cable stations.

In 1988, Babe was inducted into the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame. In 1992, he was inducted into the Sports Legends Hall of Fame, and, in 2001, he was inducted into the Minnesota Fishing Hall of Fame. That certainly seems enough to qualify him as a “legend”! While honors like these are satisfying, Babe’s unofficial title as "America's Most Versatile Fisherman" also speaks loudly to his talents as an angler.

The capacity of the MLC Auditorium is large and should provide more than enough space for everyone who wants to hear “Babe” Winkelman expound on Minnesota fishing. We hope to see a large crowd next Tuesday at this rare opportunity to see a true Minnesota legend! "Until then, hey...good fishing!"


September 6, 2010

Go to the the Library
by Kris Wiley, Assistant Library Director

You probably know that New Ulm Public Library checks out movies on DVD and VHS, but you might not know that we show movies in our meeting room – for free!

Through the generosity of the Optimist Club of New Ulm, we purchased a subscription to Movie Licensing USA that allows us to show family friendly, blockbuster movies. We’ve screened “Up,” “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs,” and “Alice in Wonderland,” among others. Our Friends of the New Ulm Public Library provide the popcorn and drinks, and then out come the beanbag chairs so kids of all ages can enjoy the show.

Our monthly family movies have been publicized in the New Ulm Journal and KNUJ, among other places, but you may have noticed that the title of the film is not mentioned. This isn’t by accident. The contract with Movie Licensing USA stipulates we may advertise through the public media “as long as the movie title and studio name are not used.” To find out what movie we’re showing, call us at 359-8331 or stop by the library. We can advertise the title in the library, so we hang posters and hand out bookmarks, and we’re happy to tell you the film title over the phone.

Regular moviegoers have noticed that we recently made improvements to our “theater.” The Friends of the Library purchased a projector; maintenance technician Jay Hughes painted a large screen; and our friends at New Ulm Community Access Television worked their magic to improve the audio system. New theatergoers will be amazed at the quality of the picture and sound. A big thanks to all of our partners!

These enhancements come just as we prepare to expand our movie screenings. The library received an Arts and Cultural Heritage Funds grant for a one-year subscription to Film Movement, which distributes award-winning foreign and independent films. Beginning October 21 at 6 p.m., and continuing every third Thursday through September 2011, New Ulm Public Library will show the latest release from Film Movement. The first film is “Jaffa,” an Israeli drama in Hebrew with English subtitles. Find out more about this movie and watch the trailer at

We have another exciting movie opportunity coming later this year. Through a “We the People” Bookshelf grant supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association, the library received public performance rights to “The Civil War” by Ken Burns. With this acquisition, Library Director and Civil War buff Larry Hlavsa has developed a program titled “Ken Burns’ The Civil War & More.” Over nine Tuesdays beginning December 7 at 6 p.m., viewers will screen an episode from the series, and Larry will follow up with a short presentation on a related topic. Teens and adults alike can enjoy this offering.

With all of these great opportunities for people of all ages, it makes sense to go to the movies … at the library. Just follow the aroma of popcorn to the library theater!


August 30, 2010

Battle of the Books

by Betty Roiger, Acquisitions Librarian


Saturday, August 7th, my husband and I were lucky enough to participate in the 2nd “Battle of the Books” (BotB) put on by Traverse des Sioux Library System. Let me give you a little background on what it is. BotB is an opportunity for teenagers around the system to read the same four books and then competitively answer questions pertaining to these books in an effort to win a prize. This year the winners were each awarded portable DVD players. But no one goes away empty handed; each teen gets a ten dollar Barnes and Noble gift certificate just for playing.

We are a nine county system. Teams from any of these counties may enter. A team is made up of four students, ages thirteen to eighteen. Some counties are represented by several teams and some not so many. If there are an uneven number of kids who are interested, teams can be formed when everyone gets to the event. Players might not know everyone on their team; they just have to know these books. And any combination will have a chance of winning. New Ulm had one team this year. They did well and seemed to have a good time.

Early in the year, librarians in our system choose titles they think would make good choices for the kids to read and answer questions about. Then they narrow their selection down to four titles. In the spring, word goes out to anyone who wants to participate. If teens want to get involved, they sign up at their local library and receive the four books, totally free of charge, to begin reading in preparation of the summer competition.

At the event, each team is seated at a table with one white board to share between them. It is here that they write their answers. They have 30 seconds to very quietly confer and discuss their response. Points for correct answers are tallied on a big screen, and the competition is on. There is no chance of stage fright as kids are in a panel of four and no one is singled out. This is a team sport. Questions about characters, plot lines, and settings are all asked and answered. Points are accumulated as the competition goes on. Judges discuss and decide parameters for correct answers. Kids have a chance to contest or defend their answers, although there is a time constraint.

There is a preliminary round after which the highest scorers move on. The secondary round has more difficult questions and the highest scorers keep going. At last it is the final round, which consists of the top scoring teams.
Now it is time for the most difficult questions. This round seemed to fly by, and before we knew it the reigning champions from last year won again. They wanted to defend their title from the previous year and did it. But then all the kids did a good job—it was amazing how close the scores were.

If you have any teen readers in your family BotB is a good opportunity for them to get four free books, have fun being with other readers, learn to compete with the reassurance of a group around them, and win a gift card to a book store. (And what could be better than that for any reader?)


August 23, 2010

Off the Beaten Path
Linda Lindquist, Adult Services/Reference

When ordering new books for the library, titles can be misleading. Sometimes the book is not what you expected at all. The book that I want to discuss today tells us exactly what it is about. The title is “Off the Beaten Path: A Travel Guide to More Than 1,000 Scenic and Interesting Places Still Uncrowded and Inviting” put out by Reader’s Digest. It catches your interest from the cover all the way to the back index.

All 50 states are covered in the third edition of this travel guide. In each section there is a map of the state with all the points of interest numbered and highlighted. In Connecticut you can visit a castle, a lighthouse, a clock and watch museum, and Harriet Beecher Stowe Center to name just a few sites.

Are you interested in checking out Hawaii? One would think that all the islands would be similar but that is not the case—all five main islands have a character all their own. Each of the islands has lesser known beaches, scenic waterfalls, hiking trails, and cultural attractions.

Anyone interested in visiting Indiana? In August you can take in the Little Italy Festival. September has the Indian Wizard of Oz and Johnny Appleseed festivals. The Parke County Covered Bridge Festival and Southern Indiana FiberArts Festival both take place in October. In December, Lafayette, Indiana, has the Dickens of a Christmas festival. And if you are interested in museums, check out the Museum of Miniature Houses and other Collections in Carmel and the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum in Auburn, Indiana.

What about Iowa? Our neighbor to the south has more than just cornfields and tall prairie grass. How about visiting the ice cream capital of World in LeMars? Or maybe you are into exploring caves. Maquoketa Caves State Park has a network of 13 limestone caves for your enjoyment. Winterset, Iowa, has several covered bridges, is the birthplace of John Wayne and the setting for the movie ‘Bridges of Madison County’ starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep. Winterset is a fun and interesting city to visit.

And we couldn’t go without mentioning Minnesota. Starting at the top and going to the bottom of the state, many state parks, museums, and historic sites are highlighted. The R. D. Hubbard House, built by Rensselaer D. Hubbard (founder of Hubbard Milling Company) in Mankato and Glensheen Mansion, built by Chester Congdon in Duluth, are just two of the more famous houses in Minnesota. New Ulm is cited in the book. Some of the sites mentioned include Hermann Monument, the Glockenspiel, the home of John Lind (Minnesota’s first Swedish-born American governor), the Wanda Gag House, and of course, Schell’s Brewery.

All points of interest mentioned in the book have a website enabling you to visit before making travel plans. The last page of each state has a listing of seasonal events around which to make plans. What a wonderful book to help plan a vacation or just do some armchair traveling.


August 16, 2010

Teen Summer Reading Program a Great Success
Kris Wiley, Assistant Library Director

New Ulm area young adults made waves during the 2010 Teen Summer Reading Program at New Ulm Public Library.

More than 50 young adults registered for the Summer Reading Program, and 27 teens submitted 198 reviews. Wow! Congratulations to all the teens who participated in this summer’s program.

Based on the reviews that were turned in, teens in the New Ulm area are reading a wide variety of material – from “The Lovely Bones” by Alice Sebold to Nancy Drew to vampire books. Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series was popular, as well. But the most read author? J.K. Rowling, whose Harry Potter series continues to fascinate teens. “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” the third novel in the series, was the most reviewed book of the summer with four submitted. I am transcribing many of the reviews, and they are being added to our Web site’s Teen Book Reviews page. Take a look at, click on Teens then Teen Book Reviews.

Teens who submitted at least one review were eligible to win a variety of prizes. Thanks to the following businesses and individuals who donated prizes: Family Video, Haar Friseure, Penazz Hair & Day Spa, Target, Sven and Jean Eelma, Melessa Henderson and Betty and Doug Roiger.

Throughout the summer, teens participated in a number of special events. Teen Game Day brought together teens to play Wii, card games and board games. Thanks to Blaine Tuttle from Family Video for bringing the Wii and games (and for participating!), and thanks to Happy Joe’s for donating pizza. Craft time featured origami, and we shared paper-folding techniques. Thanks go to library staffers Betty Roiger and Tracey Mehlhouse for their origami expertise as well as the participating teens for sharing their origami favorites. We also hosted a special teen movie event with refreshments. All of our movie programs are sponsored by the Optimist Club and the Friends of the New Ulm Public Library.

A special thank you to the entire staff of the New Ulm Public Library as well as the New Ulm Journal, KNUJ and all of the local businesses who publicized our events. It was a true community effort.

We’re already thinking about next summer’s program, so if you have ideas for how to make the 2011 Teen Summer Reading Program even better, contact me at 507-359-8334 or

August 9, 2010


Summer Splashes
Diane Zellmann, Children’s Librarian

Another Summer Reading Program has ended. Once again we had so much fun! Kids definitely made a big splash at our library. Now that all of this splashing action has come to end, we have time to evaluate and say thanks.

Congratulations to the 936 kids who registered for our program. (That’s a record-setting number for our library!) These kids read lots of books and won some very cool prizes. They also fished in our pond, answered trivia questions, completed the weekly crafts, counted seashells, and named our giant fish. Some attended a magic show or sang and danced with Bob the Beachcomber. Some attended our camps and learned about weather, water, and bookmaking. Others drew sea serpents. These sea serpents are still on display in the hallway near the Children’s Room. Come in and take a look!

Congratulations to the parents of these 936 kids. Parents provide the encouragement, cooperation, and often the transportation that enable kids to participate. If research is correct, these kids will return to school this fall with their reading skills intact or even at a higher level. That’s a nice reward for kids and their parents.

We thank the local businesses of Casey’s, McDonald’s, HyVee, and Subway for contributing prizes, treats, and awards. The Minnesota Vikings, Lynx, and Timberwolves provided an assortment of prizes too, and we thank them.
We also thank the New Ulm Community Center for hosting five of our special events. A special thank you goes to the Friends of the Library for serving frozen juice bars at our kick-off and for their monetary donation. Still more thanks go to the New Ulm Jaycees and the New Ulm Shriners for their monetary donations. Several individuals donated their time, items, or money. We sincerely thank all of these individuals. Without these donations, the Summer Reading Program would not have happened.

Sometimes the people behind the scenes receive little, if any, recognition, and so I say a huge thank you to the staff of the NUPL for their extra efforts. Their donations of time and effort helped out in so many ways.

Publicity for our events is vital to the success of our programs. The Journal, KNUJ, NuCat, and the city sign on Broadway did an excellent job of keeping everyone informed about what was going on at the library. We appreciate their assistance and thank their staff members who made the extra efforts on our behalf.
Again, we congratulate all of our program participants, and we thank everyone who contributed in any way to help make our program a big splash. We are already looking forward to summer 2011!


August 2, 2010

Cool Documentaries!
Larry B. Hlavsa, Library Director

My film interests lean strongly to the documentary genre. Just as with my reading, I find so many true stories out there that I find watching documentaries more enjoyable than feature films. Among the many great documentaries available, I thought I’d share a few of my favorites. While these are not all brand new, they’re all genuinely memorable. Some are bizarre, a few frightening, others thought-provoking and even disturbing. One is cinematically among the best films ever made. While the New Ulm Library doesn’t own every one of these documentaries [NOTE: Sep 7, 2010--We have now purchased copies of all of these!], they are all available in one or more libraries in our region. Ask a librarian to help you request one.

“H. H. Holmes: America’s First Serial Killer” (2004). I had never heard of H. H. Holmes when I recently stumbled across this documentary of his life. Mr. Holmes, a contemporary of Jack the Ripper, was far more adept at murder than Jack the Ripper could ever have imagined. Mr. Holmes, a licensed physician, designed, built, then utilized a castle of horrors in Chicago during the early 1890s. Mr. Holmes, who supervised the design and construction of his block-long, three story castle, was the only man who knew all of its rooms, dead ends, shafts and chambers. While the number of his victims will never be known, the documentary suggests he may have murdered over 200 men, women and children during his short career. His “castle” doubled as a newly opened hotel during the1893 World's Fair Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Mr. Holmes likely used his position as a hotel proprietor to take the lives of scores of fair visitors during this period. A fascinating, but disturbing look at evil.

“Wild China” (2008). This extraordinary five-part BBC production is cinematically one of the most beautiful documentaries I’ve ever seen. Deftly interweaving scenes of the people, wildlife and natural beauty of China, you’ll likely overwork the pause-button on your DVD player, trying to get a closer look at some of the images. I watched the six hours of “Wild China” in one sitting; then watched it a second time a few days later. But as gorgeous a documentary as it is, don’t bother with “Wild China” if you’re interested in the politics, economic issues, human rights issues or foreign policy of this gargantuan nation. “Wild China” is not about that. Do sit back and enjoy it as a wonderfully graceful portrait of one of the world’s most ancient cultures, and a nation blessed with some of the most fascinating flora and fauna in the world.

“Murder of JFK: a Revisionist History” (1999). I was 13 years old when John F. Kennedy was killed and, as a result, I’ve always had--like so many of my contemporaries--an abiding fascination with all things related to the assassination. Over the years, I’ve eagerly read all of the conspiracy books, viewed the documentaries and even read the documentation. Yes, I actually read most of the 26 volumes of Warren Commission testimony. So I was very surprised to find a relatively new documentary with information, images and background that I’d never seen before. I was amazed at the detailed information revealed in this DVD. The “Murder of JFK” places the assassination within the context of the sociopolitical atmosphere of the times. That may sound dull and pedantic, but there’s much to learn here about Castro, the CIA, the Dallas police and Lee Harvey Oswald that you may never have heard before. Be forewarned, however, this film does not answer so many questions, as it raises new ones!

“Capitalism: a Love Story” (2009). This Michael Moore film is pretty much an attack on capitalism, so if you equate capitalism with democracy, then this is certainly not the film for you. If, however, you found the events of the near economic meltdown in 2008 disturbing, you just might want to give Michael’s film a chance. He won’t make you feel warm and fuzzy toward the barons of Wall Street; in fact, his revelations about “dead peasant” insurance may startle you, causing your mouth to flop open at the audacity of corporate America. There are fascinating historical tidbits here such as Franklin Roosevelt’s “Second Bill of Rights” and his admonition—“People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.” In the end, as one reviewer suggested, Michael’s film really is “a tragedy disguised as a comedy.”

“Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill” (2005). A gorgeous, emotional film about a misplaced flock of undomesticated parrots and their unique relationship with a homeless man in the Telegraph Hill section of San Francisco. Through intimate close-ups of each member of the flock, we become part of the man’s avian family, connecting with each bird on an emotional level. My favorite review of this film put it succinctly—“This is an excellent movie -- by all means, flock to it!”

July 26, 2010

Beach Reads
Betty J. Roiger, Acquisitions

Usually a beach read is a book you can read fast and easily. It is something light and fluffy to pass the time, a book that can be interrupted, one you can drop into your bag at the end of the day along with your towels and lotion. For instance, normally one wouldn’t drag a tome like “War and Peace” to the beach.

And beach reads don’t have to be set on a beach, although Diane Chamberlain’s “Summer’s Child” does take place on one. I picked up “Summer’s Child” because the premise of 11-year-old Daria, who discovers a newborn infant on the beach one morning, just attracted me like a fish to bait.

Fast-forward 20 years, Daria and the foundling, Shelly, are sisters, and Shelly wants to find out who left her there and why. I liked this book, I liked most of the characters, even if I felt that the good-looking-neighbor-who-Daria-has-always-had-a-crush-on was a little dense to the crush as everyone recognizes it but him. Still, an attractive hero who is a little slow isn’t enough to derail this novel. There are enough things going on that keep the mystery of “Summer’s Child” interesting. And if you like a twist for the ending (which I do) I think you’ll find at least five in the last 40 pages. So it kept me involved all the way to the end.

As entertaining as “Summer’s Child” was, “On Folly Beach” is a whole ’nother thing. Wow! This book takes place in the South and alternates between the war
years and today. The back cover talks about an old African custom of hanging bottles on trees to ward off evil. Well, I wasn’t far into this book and I felt like the writing had a music of its own—maybe like bottles swaying lightly in the wind, tapping each other like chimes.

In the ’40s you meet Cat. Beautiful, self-centered Cat, widowed when Jim died Cat, who wants everything and everyone. Maggie, Cat’s cousin, is not as striking but responsible, smart, and determined to keep her promise to always take care of Cat, no matter how hard that proves. She, too, mourns the loss of Jim, who died in the war. And then there’s Lulu, Maggie’s sister, who reads Nancy Drew and sees much more than she lets on. She has lost many people in her young life so she trusts few, and her love for Jim has her creating bottle trees.

In the present-day chapters, Emmy has lost her husband to a different war, the war in Afghanistan. Loving books and having no direction, her mother pushes Emmy toward Folly Beach: a place she once loved. So Emmy finds herself buying a bookstore in Folly, and in going through the store’s old books she becomes intrigued with the scribbling on some of the pages. Passages reveal a man’s writing and a woman’s and a seemingly clandestine relationship playing out between the two. As Emmy reads these messages, the related story unfolds in the ’40s.

I haven’t finished “On Folly Beach” yet. I can tell you that “Summer’s Child” is a great beach read. But “On Folly Beach” is simply a great read. This isn’t a book you just throw back into your beach bag. And I could rush through it to write this article, but as good as it is, and as much as I want to know what will happen next, I also don’t want to leave Folly. I want my visit to last as long as possible. I’m in a time where women cannot get nylons due to the war effort and so they draw seams up the backs of their legs with eyeliner to simulate stockings. And the losses of sons, brothers, and fathers are as hard to endure as the grief the women who are left behind have to bear.

Read “On Folly Beach.” You’ll never regret it. Like a siren, this book will lure you in, and you’ll go willingly. I have to finish this article now because Maggie and Lulu, Emmy and Heath are all waiting. And I want to know what is going to happen next. Lucky me, I didn’t find a beach read this time, I found a really wonderful read that happens to take place on a beach.

July 19, 2010

What Should I Read Next?
Diane Zellmann, Children’s Librarian

Summer is a busy time in our Children’s Room. Over 900 kids have signed up to “Make a Splash – Read.” They are fishing in our pond, answering trivia questions, naming giant fish, searching for hidden fish, guessing the number of seashells, and trying to solve the Raining Riddles. They are also reading. Many of these kids, as well as their parents, have stopped at my desk to ask for suggestions of what book to read next. Here are a few of the titles that I have mentioned to them.

For beginning readers (ages 5 to 7), I often recommend the Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems. We own eleven titles in this series. With titles like “Can I Play, Too?” and “I Love My New Toy,” kids can be successful reading books containing humor and charm. I also suggest the Fancy Nancy early reader books by Jane O’Connor because Fancy Nancy is a favorite character of so many young girls. For Scooby-Doo fans, Gail Herman has written some Scooby-Doo readers that are entertaining, and the Frog and Toad books by Arnold Lobel are wonderful classics for beginning readers.

Some older kids (ages 8 to 13) want to know about the newest books. I point them in the direction of our “New Books” display. Right now our new nonfiction display has books for sports fans, like “Ultimate Guide to Baseball; Facts, Stats, Stars, and Stuff” by James Buckley, Jr.; books for kids concerned about the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, like “Destroying the Oceans” by Sarah Levete; books for girls who want information about themselves, like “Head-to-Toe Guide to You” by the creators of Girls’ Life Magazine; books for the curious kids, like “Does It Really Take Seven Years to Digest Swallowed Gum? And Other Questions You’ve Always Wanted to Ask” by Sandy Donovan; plus an assortment of other informational books.

On the new fiction shelves, kids can find Cathleen Bell’s “Little Blog on the Prairie,” a story about a girl who attends a frontier family history camp but keeps in touch with friends on her cell phone. “The Adventures of Jack Lime” by James Leck is a new book about a kid who acts as a private investigator, solving problems for his fellow students. In “The Best Horse Ever” by Alice LaCroix, Abby finally gets her own horse but has trouble with her best friend. Additional new titles are here as well.

Perhaps the most frequent request I get from kids and their parents is about books in a series. Since there are so many books for kids written in series these days, I keep a list at my desk of favorites and also refer to a website that lists both the series title and the individual book titles. Just this week, three new titles in their series have arrived. “Crispin: The End of Time” by Avi is the third in a trilogy. “Fire in the Sky” is the fifth and last in the Seekers series by popular author Erin Hunter, who also wrote the Warriors series. “Fire in the Sky” completes the story about bears Lusa, Toklo, and Kallik. Tracy Barrett”s “Case That Time Forgot” is number three in the Sherlock Files series. This mystery series has interesting characters and good cases to solve.

Another new title, “The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary” by Jeff Kinney, is a companion book to the extremely popular Wimpy Kid series books. Kinney takes readers behind the scenes of the making of the movie based on his books. Be prepared to wait in line for this book.

Summer is a great time to read some good books. The Children’s Room at the library is a great place for kids to find those books.


July 12, 2010

Celebrate, Advocate, Recreate!
JoAnne Griebel, Library Aide

July is Park and Recreation Month. Since July 1985, the National Recreation and Park Association have celebrated our parks. This year we are asked to “Celebrate, Advocate, Recreate!” by reminding our leaders of the important role parks play in our lives. Parks are a place to enjoy nature, picnic, exercise, enjoy playgrounds and meet neighbors.

Here in New Ulm we are privileged to have a wonderful park system with ball fields, playground equipment, hiking trails, skating rinks, and picnic shelters.

Not only do we have access to city parks, but the county maintains several parks as well. You can find out more about Brown County parks by visiting Your library recently acquired “The Great American Staycation” by Matt Wixon. He suggests ways to make a vacation at home fun for all. Check this out for ways to enjoy local parks.

Several state parks are nearby including Flandrau and Fort Ridgely. Our state parks have an interesting story. Roy Meyer’s “Everyone’s Country Estate” explores the growth
of Minnesota’s state parks beginning in 1885 when “Minnehaha State Park” was authorized. Did you know the first park sticker act was passed in 1953? Meyer tells a great story.

“National Parks America’s Best Idea” by Ken Burns is available at the library in print and also on DVD. The photographs are breathtaking! For the armchair traveler your library has other DVDs on parks including “Denali: Alaska’s Great Wilderness.” If you enjoy road trips try “National Geographic Complete National Parks of the United States.” It includes parks, monuments, and historic sites together with battlefields, trails, and recreation areas. National Geographic explores the history, geology, flora and fauna of these sites. “Frommer’s National Parks of the American West” gives travel tips for national parks including, fees, climate, where to stay, tours and exploring the park by car.

Other new books include “Moon Minnesota Camping: Complete Guide to Tent & RV Camping.” The guide divides the state into five regions. Maps show the location of campgrounds. Each campground entry includes details on campsites, facilities, fees, reservations, contact information as well as a description of the area. See what the area has to offer.

Now is the time to get outside and enjoy the area parks, enjoy a picnic, visit historic sites, hike the trails, or just sit, relax and listen to the birds sing.

July 5, 2010


Young Adult Books Aren’t Just for Teens
Kris Wiley, Assistant Library Director

Have you checked out our young adult section lately? There’s something for nearly everyone. Suspense? Check. Romance? Check. Action? Adventure? Check and check. Teen books have all the appeal factors adults look for in a good book, but the difference is there is a younger protagonist who usually is dealing with coming-of-age issues. How can we not relate? We’ve all been there.

The crossover appeal hit the big time with the “Twilight” series by Stephenie Meyer. The love triangle of Bella, Edward and Jacob has resonated with readers, and the blockbuster movies have added to the fervor. Readers who have finished that series often look for other vampire books in the teen section – those with a little less bite, so to speak, than adult vampire novels. You might want to move on to the Blue Bloods series by Melissa de la Cruz, about high-brow vampires who reincarnate; the Morganville vampire series by Rachel Caine, about 16-year-old Claire, who goes to college in a town filled with vampires and vampire hunters; or the House of Night series by P.C. and Kristin Cast, about a girl named Zoey who is Marked for special gifts by the vampyre goddess Nyx.

If vampires aren’t your thing, or if you’re caught up with the myriad vampire series, you might want to try the following standalone novels. Themes of loss, love and hope make them great choices for teens and adults.

“If I Stay” by Gayle Forman – Mia is taking a drive with her brother and parents when everything changes in an instant. An accident kills Mia’s family, and she is left in a coma reflecting on her life and deciding whether to stay or go.

“Wintergirls” by Laurie Halse Anderson – Anderson’s latest book is a disturbingly real look at eating disorders through the eyes of Lia, who has anorexia. Lia struggles to make sense of the death of her former best friend, Cassie, from complications of bulimia, as well as find the strength to heal herself.

“Along for the Ride” by Sarah Dessen – Dessen is wildly popular for those wanting a solid teen romance with family issues thrown in. This one introduces Auden, who is book smart but doesn’t have many friends. Auden spends the summer with her father and stepmother in a beach town. There she bonds with girls at her stepmother’s clothing store and with fellow insomniac Eli, a quiet loner working through the guilt caused by his friend’s death.

“The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak – A popular pick for adult book discussion groups, this is one of those books that will stay with you. Narrated by “Death,” it’s the story of Liesel, who comes of age in Nazi Germany.

We have all these and more in our young adult section. Stop by the library and check it out!

June 28, 2010


nuCAT + Library = More Programs for YOU!
Larry Hlavsa, Library Director

I’ve had enough comments to know that many people in New Ulm know about the close relationship between the New Ulm Community Access Television office and the New Ulm Public Library. But since I’m sure just as many don’t, here’s some background. nuCAT coordinator Dan Anderson and his crew moved into the Library’s basement in September, 2008, after some two months of construction. The construction converted some old Library storage space into a small office and community access television space, with video editing stations, audio mixers and much esoteric equipment. The Library’s meeting room, right next door to the new office, was also fitted with new lighting and audio connections for video productions.

What this all means is that increasingly video productions of Library events have been produced in the last several months for later broadcast on the local community access channels. These include; author talks, musical performances, question & answer sessions with local officials, subject talks by local experts, genealogy workshops and student presentations. Given the fact that the Library now has three staffers who have received full nuCAT training, we hope you’ll be seeing more and more of these events on the local access channel.

But maybe you didn’t know that nuCAT is always looking to train more videographers? A series of three workshops can be taken without charge that will get you started in video production. It’s a great opportunity to provide your community a service while giving yourself a new set of skills. Personally, I’m most interested in the editing aspect of video production, but maybe you’re more interested in camera work? Whatever your video interests, nuCAT can provide you a base from which to enhance your capabilities. And once you’ve gotten the training, volunteering to film, edit or produce a library event is also something you should consider. Library staff is pretty much fully occupied in managing library operations, so getting some volunteers to help out in filming, editing and producing our events would be a big plus for us. Are you interested?

Want to check out the kinds of productions that nuCAT graduates have produced? The local community access channels are 3 (on NU Telecom) and 14 (Comcast). A schedule of the week’s programming can be found on a link on the City’s Web page at: Want more information on the workshops available through nuCAT? Contact Daniel Anderson, nuCAT coordinator, at: 359-8290.

Finally, remember that the Library is always interested in what your ideas are for programming. If you’ve ideas for events, or subjects you’re interested in, contact the Library’s Assistant Director, Kris Wiley at: 359-8334.

June 21, 2010


What did you say?
Betty J Roiger, Acquisitions

Maybe you’ve heard a variation of this joke. “A panda walks into the library. He eats a sandwich, then draws his bow and shoots two arrows. As the panda starts walking out, the librarian calls after him, “Why did you do that?” The panda shows her a badly punctuated dictionary. “I’m a panda,” he says. “That’s what it says we do.” The librarian reads the page that says, “Panda: Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.”

Punctuation. What is it for? Well, it attaches things that need to be connected and breaks apart things that need to be separated, but misuse it and it can create hilarious results. It can change the meaning of a sentence by connecting the wrong things or breaking apart things that need to be put together. Commas are the most used and most abused punctuation and when put in the wrong place or if they are left out, well, you might just wind up with a “panda” story.

Think about the sentence “Slow children walking.” Written without a comma, these children are just lollygagging along, taking their own sweet time. But at a school intersection, the sign: “Slow, children walking” would be a great help warning vehicles to slow down and watch for any kids crossing.

Try this sentence without a comma: “Go get him doctors.” Putting a comma after him (“Go get him, doctors”) sounds like there is someone making a mad escape from a hospital with the doctors frantically trying to give chase. But say someone has fallen and a passerby yells this sentence as a cry for help, it needs to look and sound like this: “Go, get him doctors” so passersby will run and find a doctor.

Pretend there is an unidentified object on the floor, and a husband asks his wife, “What is this thing called, honey?” Removing the comma leaves the sentence as “What is this thing called honey?” and implies that the substance that bees create is a complete mystery to the person speaking.

I think you have caught the gist of comma usage and how important it really is. In the children’s room we have several books by Lynne Truss in the 428.2 section. One deals with commas, one with apostrophes, and the other one with basic punctuation. They are very funny to read and the pictures are comical, making learning both enjoyable and easy.

In parting, if someone says to you, “Where do you think we’re taking you? To the dungeon?” you might have a jolly laugh together. But if she says, “Where do you think? We’re taking you to the dungeon,” well, if I were you I’d start making tracks in the opposite direction.

June 14, 2010


Minnesota Mysteries
Betty J Roiger, Acquisitions

It seems like there are certain times of the year that the publishing business really puts out new books by their best authors. Right now at the beginning of summer we are having a bonanza to choose from. Maybe their plan is to give everyone good beach reads, or something to do after working all day in the garden. In any case, summer is a boon for readers.

Every June we can expect the new Janet Evanovich book which will entertain readers with the new adventures of Stephanie, Morelli, Ranger, Lula and Grandma Mazur. Our copy isn’t here yet, but I’m expecting it soon. Call in to place a hold since it isn’t in the catalog yet. But while you’re waiting…perhaps I can interest you in some other novels.

Two of my favorite Minnesota authors have come through again. Brian Freeman just recently came out with “The Burying Place.” It didn’t disappoint. If you’ve read Freeman, you already know his characters: Detectives Stride, Serena, Maggie. As usual, this one takes place up in northern Minnesota. What is unusual is that Stride is suffering flashbacks from his fall off of a bridge, which in turn is affecting his personal relationship with Serena and also with his partner on the force, Maggie. But there is no time to sort out his problem. The child of a wealthy doctor and his wife has gone missing, and in a parallel mystery, women have been disappearing in the area. The story plays out, revealing the innermost workings of the characters to uncover what has happened to the child, who is stalking women and making them vanish, and where the burying place is.

Also from our own Minnesota is the mother / daughter writing team of P.J. Tracy. The first book was called “Monkeewrench” and introduced readers to an eclectic, wounded band of computer geniuses (Grace, Harley, Annie, Roadrunner accompanied by Charlie the dog) who are involved in solving murders. Enter the cops, Magozzi and Gino, and you have a motley team of crime solvers. As usual, in “Shoot to Thrill” the crime involves the Internet and its ability to move information to millions of users in minutes. Someone is murdering people and posting the events on the Internet for the perverse viewing of others. The Monkeewrench crew can go where law-abiding computer users cannot, and the FBI enlists its help to try to track these postings so it can shut them off and also track the murderers down. Some interesting new characters are introduced in this book. And as for the romance between Magozzi and Grace, well, I don’t really know what is going on there and therefore cannot wait for the next book. One other good thing about P.J. Tracy books is that the characters do have a sense of humor that helps to lighten the heavier, more brutal aspects.

If you are looking for some escapism reading, there are some good books at the library. And keep your eyes open for upcoming books by Nelson DeMille, Nora Roberts, James Patterson (the man does not sleep, he publishes so much) and many more that will be coming out soon. Come in and check us out.

June 7, 2010


Great Characters Make for Great Books
Kris Wiley, Assistant Library Director

I just finished “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest,” the final book in the Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson. First published in Sweden, the crime series has become an international sensation, not least because of its female protagonist. Lisbeth Salander is as unique a character as you’ll find in fiction – tough, smart, complicated and flawed.

One of the benefits of committing to a good series is that the characters evolve as the reader evolves. In the best series, the reader develops a relationship with the characters. Lisbeth became part of my life, and it was a bittersweet feeling to turn the final page and realize that’s the last I’ll read of her (Larsson died in 2004).

Lisbeth is one-of-a-kind, but there are other exceptional fictional characters out there. I’m sure you have your favorites, so stop by the library and talk series with us. Or keep reading to learn more about some of my other favorite people.

Detective Inspector John Rebus in the series by Ian Rankin. Over the course of 17 novels, we follow the ebbs and flows of Rebus’s life. It’s mostly messy, sometimes even cringe-worthy, but Rankin doesn’t pull any punches. We see the Scottish detective in all his flawed humanity, through alcoholism, failed relationships and gruesome murder cases, and is it ever worth the ride.

Frank Bascombe in the trilogy by Richard Ford. “My name is Frank Bascombe. I am a sportswriter.” So starts “The Sportswriter,” in which Frank copes with the aftermath of the death of his oldest son followed by divorce as well as the dreaminess that has overtaken him as he approaches middle age. Introspective and beautifully written, “The Sportswriter” is followed by “Independence Day,” which won a Pulitzer Prize, and “The Lay of the Land,” where we continue with Frank on his life journey.

Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. “The Hunger Games” is a young adult book that should be required reading for teens and adults. Sixteen-year-old Katniss lives in a dystopic North American country called Panem. She volunteers to take her sister’s place in the Games, a fight to the death among 24 young people from across the country. Katniss’s resourcefulness, as well as the help from her neighbor Peeta, ensures she will be among the last standing. “Catching Fire” is the second book; “Mockingjay,” the final book, will be released in August.

May 31, 2010


Make a Splash at the Library This Summer!
Diane Zellmann, Children’s Librarian

The Summer Reading Program is about to begin. The Children’s Room is full of frogs, fish, salamanders, and more water-loving creatures. There will be lots of splishin’ and splashin’ and readin’ going on this summer.

We invite all kids from ages 1 to 13 to sign up for this free program. Brochures explaining the program are available at the Library, and the information is also included on our website at Registration begins on Monday, June 7, when the Friends of the Library will be handing out frozen fruit bars to all kids who register before 3:00 P.M. that day. Even parents will receive a treat this year! Kids who can’t register that day still have plenty of time to sign up because registration will run through early July.

The goal of this program is for kids to read for 30 minutes a day for 25 days between June 7 and August 5. The pre-readers (AKA read-to-me’s) just need to listen to books read to them for about 20 minutes a day for 25 days.

Kids should come to the Library and sign up; they will receive a bookmark that they use to keep track of the days when they read. Kids earn a prize after reading for five different days (or listening for the read-to-me’s), and all who complete the program will be eligible to win 1 of 10 grand prizes.

In addition, we have other activities that encourage kids to be creative and have fun. On Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10:00 A.M., storytimes will entertain kids from ages 3 to 8; people of all ages who enjoy stories are welcome. There are four Splish Splash Camps for kids of ages 8 to 13. It’s raining riddles on our bulletin board, so kids can try to guess the answers. Everyone will want to enter our Wet & Wild Kids Photo Show. We also have crossword puzzles, word finds, and coloring sheets available every day and a special craft activity set up each week.

We have contests too. Kids can earn points by catching fish in our pond or by answering questions in our Wet and Wild Trivia contest. Our Seashell jar is full, and kids can guess how many seashells are in it. Ten fish will be hiding in the Children’s Room each week, and kids can try to find them. Everyone who loves to draw can enter our Super Sea Serpent Art Contest.

Five special events will entertain all interested kids and their parents. We begin with a Puppy Show and Peter Bloedel’s Magic/Vaudeville Show in June. July brings the Underwater Adventures Aquarium from the Mall of America and Bob the Beachcomber. August features Wendy’s Wiggle, Jiggle & Jam Program.
For the second year, we are offering some additional rewards for kids. Through the Dive into Saving for College Sweepstakes program, all Minnesota kids who participate will have a chance to win a $1,000 cash-for-college prize and help their library win $500. New this year are 1,000 instant win prizes that kids can win just by participating in their local program.

As always, the most important reward of our summer reading program is that it helps kids maintain or even improve their reading skills that lay the foundation for school success. If parents and libraries work together to provide incentives for reading, kids can be winners. So come to the Library this summer for some good books and splish splashin’ fun.


May 24, 2010


Weeding Improves Every Garden (and Library)!
Larry Hlavsa, Library Director

Have you ever thought about how important weeding is to a garden? If you don’t weed a garden, eventually the weeds will choke out the plantings, suffocate them or, at the very least, make them hard to find. Weeding a garden isn’t fun though, and it’s easy to avoid. I’ve done so many, many times. I’d rather be playing golf, fishing, writing, attending a ball game or doing just about anything else than weeding. Of course, when I get home and look at my garden, there are those pesky weeds. They absolutely never take care of themselves. There’s an old saying—“The only sure things in life are death and taxes.” I would change that maxim slightly—“The only sure things in life are death, taxes and weeds.”

I bet you’re saying to yourself—“What does gardening have to do with the New Ulm Library?” It’s probably something the public never thinks about, but weeding our library’s collection has a lot to do with how good the collection is. Most people might guess that the more materials we have on our shelves, the better our collection is. Well, if we were an archives that might be true. I have my own personal archival collection on Abraham Lincoln. My collection has a narrow focus, much more so than the public library. I am collecting items on Lincoln’s life with an eye toward keeping them. While I may weed my Lincoln collection occasionally because of an item’s condition, or because it is a duplicate, it is not something I generally do a lot. I add items slowly to my Lincoln collection, and I remove them even more slowly.

Our public library collection is quite different. We collect in many subject areas, in many different formats and in many different genres. Our goal is to collect things our public wants to read now, to collect items that entertain or educate, to collect items to serve the varied needs of our public and to be constantly turning over our collection, making it serve the needs of our public. “Turning over” our collection means weeding it. It means reclaiming shelf space for new items, for new subjects, or for new books about old subjects.

Our library’s collection statistics show that we finished 2009 with 93,177 items to serve our New Ulm community of 13,568 people. While a laudable number, I believe our seven items per capita also reflects the need to weed our collection more vigorously. For example, I was shelving some returned books this morning and noticed a copy of Theodore Sorensen’s Kennedy (c)1965 on the shelf. While a fine book—I read it myself many years ago—after 45 years on our shelves, it’s probably long overdue for withdrawal because of its condition and long diminished popularity.

As with our personal gardens though, it’s always easy to find something else besides weeding that needs to be done. Weeding is not a top priority in most libraries, not because of a sense that it’s unimportant, but because weeding books can be a long, slow and laborious process.

You may notice some emptier shelves in the weeks and months to come. That’s because we’re recommitting to weeding here at the New Ulm Library. But we’re going about it professionally, weeding for appropriate reasons, reasons that make the process a long, slow and laborious one. The good news is that, by weeding, we reclaim space for new materials or new services that better reflect the needs of our community. Our Library “garden” is going to be more beautiful as our weeding gets completed.


May 17, 2010

Teens: Make Waves at Your Library This Summer
Kris Wiley, Assistant Library Director

Teens, make waves at the New Ulm Public Library by participating in the Summer Reading Program!

The teen program, whose theme is Make Waves at Your Library, runs from June 7 through Aug. 5. Young adults ages 13-18, and 12-year-olds who will turn 13 this summer, are eligible. On June 7, teens who register before 3 p.m. will receive a voucher for a treat provided by Friends of the New Ulm Public Library. Registration continues through July 9.

Teens who sign up should complete a review form for each book read during the summer; review forms will be available in the young adult section of the library. Drop the review form in the box located at the first-floor reference desk. At the end of the summer, winners will be selected randomly to receive great prizes.

There also will be four games to play during the summer. The games, including a word find and trivia, will be located in the young adult area. Complete the game, fill out your contact information, and drop off the paper at the reference desk. The person with the highest score will win; in the case of a tie, the winner will be selected randomly. Prizes include DVDs, a card game and a board game.

Mark your calendars for great programs in conjunction with the Summer Reading Program. On June 19 from 2-4 p.m., Family Video is partnering with us for Teen Game Day at the Library. Family Video will bring its Wii and games, and we also will have board and card games. On June 22 at 3 p.m., Peter Bloedel’s Perpetual Vaudeville Show is an all-ages program that will take place at the New Ulm Community Center. On July 7 from 2-4 p.m., it’s Teen Craft Time. On July 21 at 4 p.m., we’ll have a movie presentation just for teens.

The Summer Reading Program, with its special events and prizes, really is an incentive to read. And for those of you who enjoy sharing your love of reading, we’ll have All About Books book talks June 21 and Aug. 2 at 3 p.m.

There’s something for every teen this summer at the library. Read; write reviews to be eligible for prizes; attend special events – and have fun!


May 10, 2010

May is Older Americans Month
Linda Lindquist, Adult Services/Reference

I received an email the other day giving me information on May being Older Americans Month. This tradition was begun back in 1963 to honor the contributions of older Americans and to give them support as they enter the next stage in their lives. The theme this year is Age Strong! Live Long!

Older Americans are living longer and are more active than ever before. They have lived through wars, hard times, as well as times of prosperity. They have seen new technologies in medicine, communications, and industry. Minorities, women, and disabled Americans have all won equal rights during their lifetimes. And the baby boomer generation—the largest in our nation’s history—is expected to number 71.5 million by 2030.

Keeping the growing population of older Americans healthy and active is going to increase the demand for senior services. Older Americans are supporting each other by becoming better educated and more financially secure than their predecessors. They are also contributing more to their communities through civic and volunteering opportunities. Older Americans are volunteering more at group meal sites and delivering food to homebound seniors; they provide transportation for older adults who cannot drive; they help seniors with home repairs, shopping and errands; and they also provide counseling, information, and referral services. By giving of their energy and commitment, it reminds all Americans—not just senior citizens and their caregivers—to do their part to enhance the quality of life for older generations.

And don’t forget your local library. Just recently, we purchased a series of read-aloud, large-print books for memory-challenged adults. These books are written by Lydia Burdick and are entitled “The Sunshine on My Face,” “Wishing on a Star,” and “Happy New Year to You!.” The books are very colorful, have few words, and there are questions in the back to help you share these books with your loved ones. If your loved one(s) can no longer read for themselves, the pictures are worth sharing with them.

So remember, May is Older Americans month and enjoy some extra special time with your Older Americans.


May 3, 2010


Calling All Musicians!
JoAnne Griebel, Library Aide

Mark your calendars! Thursday May 20 at 6 pm, Nashville insider Gabriel Farago will be at the New Ulm Public Library. The author of “Secrets to Success in Country Music” will present a workshop to assist aspiring musicians. Gabriel's interactive seminar is applicable to all genres. Bring a vocal demo (on CD, DVD, or cassette) for an on-site evaluation.

The music industry has seen a lot of changes, especially in technology. Harvard Business School’s Anita Elberse has studied sales of two hundred plus recording artists. She found iTunes at $.99 are causing quite a change in sales. Consumers are buying more music than ever, but are selecting individual songs rather than entire albums. According to an article in the Harvard Business Review March 2010, a 1% increase in download music resulted in a decrease of 6% in album sales. This article and many more about the music business are available through ELM, Electronic Library for Minnesota. Titles found in ELM include Billboard, Music Week, American Music Teacher, Electronic Musician, Folk Music Journal, Guitar Player, and Music Trades to name a few.

Your public library has some new books of interest to musicians. “Secrets to Success in Country Music” by Gabriel Farago. The author discusses everything from the basics to investors and image to managers and Nashville. Budding musicians will find useful advice in this book. “Music Law How to Run Your Band’s Business,” published by NOLO is an essential guide to partnership and performance agreements. Publishing your music and legal issues regarding recording are also covered. “Complete Guitar Course” edited by Sorcha Armstrong is a step-by-step guide including an instructional DVD. The “Music Business Made Simple” by J.S. Rudenske is a guide to becoming a recording artist. Chapters cover being an artist first, a formula for performing, entertainment attorneys and managers, and finally getting a record deal.

There are several websites every songwriter and musician should be aware of. The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) represent more than 380,000 members and is a leading performing rights organization. For more information go to . Copyright Registration of Music Circular 50 is available from the U.S. Copyright Office. It can be found at . Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI) collects license fees and distributes them as royalties to members whose works have been performed. They represent over 400,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers. This organization can be found at .

These materials and more are available through your public library. Remember to mark your calendars for the presentation by Gabriel Farago on May 20 at the New Ulm Public Library.


April 26, 2010

Library Budget Challenges
Larry Hlavsa, Library Director

As many individual Americans & their families cope with tough economic times, so too is the New Ulm Public Library being impacted by factors beyond our control. With the state cuts in Local Government Aid, there are consequent cuts being made throughout Minnesota in public libraries run by our cities and counties. In 2009, the New Ulm Public Library cut its budget 3.6%. In 2010, our budget is being cut an additional 5%. That’s a very consequential reduction of $65,396 in two years.

You might remember the “trickle-down” theory of economics? Briefly, that meant making things better for business and/or those on top of the economic heap, would result in the good times trickling down to the masses, that is, the rest of us. That was the theory anyway. Well, “trickle-down” seems to work in reverse as well. Since these days times are economically bad for many states, the bad times are now trickling down into the services our cities and towns provide to their communities. In Minnesota and other states (along with other city and county agencies) public libraries are being hard hit by budget cuts and reductions.

At New Ulm Public Library, our current plan to survive the 5% overall cut in our budget, or $37,396, includes the following measures: four mandatory staff furlough days with the library being closed on those days, all materials expenditures are being cut 11%, magazine subscriptions cut 14%, computer supplies & equipment cut 20%, interior renovation cut 32% and office equipment and furniture replacements cut 45%. We have even reduced our maintenance staff budgeting by 40%. While these are all serious cuts affecting our services, other libraries in the state and in our region are suffering even worse cuts of 40-50% in materials, mandatory staff furloughs of up to two weeks and even permanent building closures.

Ironically, studies have shown that people use their libraries more when economic times are hard, but that doesn’t mean that libraries across Minnesota and, for that matter, across the country, are immune from cuts. We’re not. Here in New Ulm we are doing our best to minimize the impact of our library budget cuts on the New Ulm community. For example, our four days of closure are being selected to minimize the impact on users (choosing less busy days), our programming is being enhanced through the use of grants and we are foregoing the replacement of furniture and equipment wherever possible.

I’m happy to report that the one program not being cut is the 2010 Summer Reading Program. Indeed, it may be the best program ever thanks to an appropriation from our Donations & Memorials Fund by the Library Board, a generous contribution from the Friends of the New Ulm Library as well as donations from the Jaycees and the Shriner’s Club. And an especially huge thank you goes to an anonymous family which provided $1,000 toward the program’s $3,300 total budget!

I know we’ll make it through this tough year and that we all look forward to better times coming. We hope you’ll bear with us as we try to do more with less during these tough days of 2010.


April 19, 2010


A Gift That Keeps Giving
Betty J Roiger, Acquisitions

In March I was given $500 from the Friends of the Library to purchase some adult fiction. Let me tell you how this money helps build our collection and gives to the community in various ways.

This money enabled me to purchase 29 regular print fiction titles and seven large print titles for the library. But adult fiction wasn’t the only area impacted by the Friends gift. I also was able to apply my budget toward purchases in other areas and bought 17 fiction and nonfiction talking books on CD and 12 new DVD titles.

Let me tell you about some of the things I purchased with this gift. “Never Look Away” by Linwood Barclay is a novel about a man who unintentionally enters a nightmare. A would-be family outing turns into just that when David Harwood takes his son and wife to a local amusement park. When his son, Ethan, goes missing, he starts looking for Ethan while his wife runs to find security and then she, too, disappears. I have to tell you I just finished this. If you enjoy a story that pulls you in and keeps you wanting to read just a few pages more, this one is great. There are twists and turns, suspicions, lies, well-rounded characters, and a good story to support them. Prepare to stay up late reading this one.

Another novel called “Matterhorn” by Karl Marlantes is a story 30 years in the making. It is about the war on the front lines of 1969 Vietnam. But the reviews say that the author doesn’t just introduce you to Vietnam, but rather drops you into the jungle, disoriented with only a green lieutenant as your guide. It is said to be intense, authentic, moving and relentlessly dramatic.

“Barbary Pirates” by William Dietrich takes our hero, Ethan Gage (think Indiana Jones), around the world in search of a priceless artifact, the Mirror of Archimedes. If the mirror actually exists, it would enable its possessor to conquer the world. In his search, Gage is just trying to stay a step ahead of nasty pirates who want the mirror for themselves. The author includes real characters and historical events, blending fact and fiction into the action-adventure.

Since I diversified my materials budget to buy audiovisual materials, I was able to get these titles on talking book CDs: “American Conspiracies: Lies, Lies and More Dirty Lies that the Government Tells Us” by Jesse Ventura, “Spark: The 28-Day Breakthrough Plan for Losing Weight,” and “UR” by Stephen King (which is available only in Kindle and talking book,) plus many others. Also new to the library are DVDs like “The Blind Side,” “Up in the Air,” “Food, Inc.,” and “Precious,” which are already in demand.

Thanks to the membership fees and fund raising of the Friends of the Library our collection is growing in several areas and enabling us to meet the expectations of our patrons. So come in and check something out.


April 12, 2010

Celebrate National Library Week
Kris Wiley, Assistant Library Director

This week we celebrate National Library Week, a time to recognize and honor the contribution libraries and library workers make to our communities every day.

First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is an observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. This year’s theme is Communities Thrive @ Your Library.

In today’s tough economy, libraries offer free resources to help people find jobs and learn new skills. People of all ages and backgrounds find entertainment, develop skills and come to find their place in the community. People gather for book discussions, for storytime with their children or to volunteer or look for volunteer work. New Ulm Public Library helps the community thrive.

What makes the library unique is access to trained professionals to help people find and interpret the information they need to make a difference in their lives. Our libraries also help keep us connected, providing a space for people of all ages, classes and races to come together, while keeping us connected to events and people around the world.

On Tuesday, April 12 we recognized our staff on National Library Workers’ Day. New Ulm Public Library is privileged to have a dedicated and hard-working team, and one day isn’t sufficient to thank them for their service. Our children’s staff develops programs and a vast collection of resources, and year in and year out it produces a fantastic Summer Reading Program. Our reference staff constantly blows me away with its vast knowledge of topics obvious and obscure. Our tech staff works diligently behind the scenes to ensure the materials you use are processed efficiently and effectively. And our circulation staff is on the front lines, greeting you, ensuring you get your questions answered and making sure you have a great experience.

New Ulm Public Library has a wealth of knowledge among our staff and materials on our shelves from which to choose. And don’t forget our programs. Children’s storytimes continue through April, and special programs are held several times a month. See a full schedule on our Web site at, or call the library at 359-8334 for a list of events.

How can New Ulm Public Library help you thrive? National Library Week is the perfect time to find out.

(Some material courtesy of


April 5, 2010

Ha! Ha!
Betty J Roiger, Acquisitions

March was International Mirth Month. I hope you laughed a few times last month because it is good for you. I was just reading in a magazine about how relaxing and revitalizing laughter is for our bodies and minds. Norman Cousins, the author of “Head First: The Biology of Hope,” found that when he watched a couple of hours of a Marx Brothers movie and laughed out loud, he had several pain free hours from inflammatory arthritis. Cousins wrote a book about it and began a movement to study how our minds affect our bodies. (So a penguin, a giraffe, and a polar bear walk into a bar and the bartender says: “What is this? Some kind of a joke?”)

Anyway, this magazine article mentioned a test they did. They had people hold pencils between their teeth, which actually forces a smile with a person’s facial muscles, while another group of people put the pencil between their lips, pursing them in a frown. The ones who were forced to smile with their teeth showing reacted happier to various situations than the people whose lips were puckered in a frown. (A duck walks into a hardware store and says, “You got any raisins?” The man explains that it is a hardware store and they don’t sell food. The duck leaves. The next day, the duck walks in again and says, “You got any raisins?” and the man, frustrated, says, “No, we don’t, we sell nails and hammers.” The duck leaves. The next day, the duck appears and when he asks for raisins, the man loses it and says: “No, we don’t have raisins and if you come in here and ask again, I will nail your feet to the floor!” The duck leaves. Next day, the duck walks in and asks the man, “Do you have any nails?” The man is greatly relieved and says, “Ironically, we are all out of nails, but expect them any day now.” And the duck says, “Great, you got any raisins?”) (By the way, ducks really talk like this.)

There are now countries that are having designated laughter events where people all laugh, because not only is it good for you, it also seems to be contagious. Have you ever been somewhere, where maybe it was not exactly appropriate to laugh, and someone started to laugh, and you caught it? Once a friend and I were at a lecture about the migration of Native Americans. The lecturer used a statement like: “So they packed up their homes, and the Winnebagos followed along behind.” Ironically, my friend and I both had the same instant image in our heads of very large, cumbersome, mobile homes following along behind the Indians, and we got the giggles. We tried to stifle them. As we were just getting a grip, the speaker mentioned the Winnebagos sneaking up behind someone and then we were off again. I have to say, we were stared at, and possibly shunned, but I couldn’t stop laughing and I really tried. And today, years later, I STILL think it was funny. Laughter is contagious.

(A three-legged dog limps into a saloon and says, “I’m lookin’ for the man who shot my Paw.”) Wait for it, it’ll come. (Two men walked into a bar, the third one ducked.) Enjoy some laughs, and if you want to learn more about the mind-body connection check out authors Andrew Weil, Wayne Dyer or Joan Borysenko, just to name a few.

March 29, 2010


New Non-Fiction Books
Linda Lindquist, Adult Services/Reference

This month we are highlighting a few of the new non-fiction books that have been purchased recently for the New Ulm Public Library. It was hard to pick out just a few—there are so many good ones.

How about a late winter vacation or starting to plan your summer getaway? New touring books include Alaskan cruises, Cancun, Cozumel, Europe, Hawaii, Mexico, Washington D.C., and Walt Disney World. If you don’t want to leave Minnesota, we have a new book for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and a book entitled “61 Gems on Highway 61” written by Kathryn and William Mayo guiding you around Minnesota’s North Shore.

Some books are not meant to be read, they are to be looked at for a short time, put aside for a while, and then come back another time to continue looking at it. Many times these books are referred to as coffee table books. They tend to be large volumes and have many wonderful pictures in them. One such volume is entitled “Michelangelo—The Complete Sculpture, Painting, Architecture” by William E. Wallace. Included in the book are photographs of his works, his sculpture, and his architecture.

Another coffee table book is entitled “The Football Book” from Sports Illustrated. This is an expanded edition and every football fan will enjoy browsing and reading this book. Present day players and older players are highlighted and the articles are short and easy to read.

The last coffee table book is entitled “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” by Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns. All the parks from the establishment of Yellowstone in 1872 to Congaree in 2003 are highlighted in this book. Ken Burns does a wonderful job with the photography in this book. Nevada Barr worked seasonal jobs in several national parks in the middle of her career in the theater. She has written a series of novels about a female park ranger working in a different national park when a mysterious murder takes place and needs solving. We have many of her books at the New Ulm Public Library in the fiction area.

And talking about authors, Debbie Macomber fans take note. We have her cookbook entitled “Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove Cookbook” now on the shelf. She has included recipes for breakfast, lunch tea, appetizers, dinner, dessert, Easter, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Many of the recipes have pictures accompanying them which make you want to rush out to the kitchen and whip them up.

These are just a few of the many new non-fiction books at the New Ulm Public Library. Stop in and pick out a few that are of interest to you.


March 22, 2010

Have a Listen to Audiobooks
Kris Wiley, Assistant Library Director

I’m planning to visit friends in Iowa this weekend. Ten hours round trip in the car – alone. Doesn’t sound like much fun, does it? Actually, I’m looking forward to it because I’ll be listening to a book.

Audiobooks provide an entirely different experience from reading. Instead of having to create an image from scratch, there is a voice to go by. Plus, you can listen to the book when you drive, walk or clean. That doesn’t work with a physical book. But not every great book translates into a great audiobook. It all hinges on the narrator. Can he or she or they make you feel as though you’re part of the story? The best ones accomplish this, just as a great writer does.

Audiobooks come in all kinds of formats, including MP3, iPod, compact disc and cassette. A handful of libraries in our regional system even have Playaway, which is a preloaded audio player about the size of an iPod that runs on batteries. Plug in your headphones, and you’re ready to listen. New Ulm Public Library has audiobooks in cassette and CD formats, and we cover every age range. Ask a staff member for assistance or browse through our collection.

If you’re looking for recommendations, try, which sponsors the Audie Awards to honor the best in audio publishing. Or give the following audiobooks a listen.

“The Help” by Kathryn Stockett. I read the book first and loved it. Then my book group picked it to discuss, and I thought I would try the audio version. Wow. The cast of narrators navigates the Southern dialect masterfully. It felt as though I was living in Mississippi in 1962.

“The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein. A book narrated by a dog was not on my priority list. Then a friend told me how great it was. Another trip to Iowa brought the opportunity to listen to this one, and was it ever worth it. A single narrator (Christopher Evan Welch, who narrated the movie “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”) makes Enzo and Denny, his human owner, come alive. A word of caution: If you’re driving while listening to the end of the story, you might want to pull over to the side of the road. Tears are pretty much guaranteed.

“Dairy Queen” by Catherine Gilbert Murdock. This coming-of-age novel introduces us to D.J. Schwenk, who lives on a dairy farm and tries out for the high school football team. Narrator Natalie Moore gets the tone of this painfully funny book just right.

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. The Jim Dale-narrated version is must-listen. Dale, who won a Grammy Award for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” keeps the action moving, and his British accent is fantastic. His ability to shift among a multitude of characters is amazing.

The big question is, what will I take with me this weekend? My pick: “Half Broke Horses” narrated by the author, Jeannette Walls, who will speak at Martin Luther College on June 10 at 7 p.m. as part of the Traverse des Sioux Library System’s Storytellers series.


March 15, 2010


Books of Influence
by JoAnne Griebel, Library Aide

Words are powerful. Collections of words in a book are more compelling. Jay Parini has compiled a list of thirteen books that he believes changed America. In “Promised Land” he discussed books that shaped America’s concept of self. Parini begins with William Bradford’s “Of Plymouth Plantation” written between 1620 and 1647.

“The Federalist Papers” is a collection of essays in favor of the proposed Constitution of the United States. Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay wrote the majority of these essays, which first appeared in New York newspapers. These essays were instrumental in the formation of our government.

“Walden” by Henry David Thoreau is another book that has greatly influenced America. Parini says, “Henry David Thoreau defines American independence. He moved from the Concord village to the nearby woods at Walden Pond on July 4, 1845, declaring his own liberation from a world of material obsession, war, and slavery, as well as ordinary pettiness and spiritual lassitude.” I remember reading Walden in school, but think now might be a good time to read it again with the insight of years.

Other titles listed in “Promised Land” include “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” and “The Feminine Mystique.”

Our favorite writers have been influenced by their favorite books. In “For the Love of Books” by Ronald Schwartz, 115 authors reflect on the books they love most. Former Poet Laureate Rita Dove remembers a children’s book, “Harold and the Purple Crayon.” She says this book was special for her “ because it showed me the possibilities of traveling on the line of one’s imagination.”

Norman Mailer’s list of influential books includes “Anna Karenina” by Tolstoy and “Look Homeward, Angel” by Thomas Wolfe. William Manchester, a celebrated historian, lists “Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain; “A Passage to India” by E.M. Forster and “Time and Again” by Jack Finney as some of his favorite books.

Visit the library for these and other books of interest.


March 8, 2010

Parenting Shelf
by Diane Zellmann, Children’s Librarian

We have a new collection in the Children’s Room. It’s called the Parenting Shelf and includes adult books that might interest parents of preschoolers. You can find this collection on one end of the shelves housing the nonfiction picture books. It’s right next to our Caldecott Corner shelf that features award-winning books.

Since busy parents of preschoolers might not have time to get up to the Reference floor, we moved several books from that collection over to the Children’s Room and have added a few new titles as well. Already a few parents have expressed appreciation for having easier access to these materials, and possibly others will too.

The books in this collection provide a range of advice for parents. From baby food to potty training to bedtime issues, parents often feel that they could use a little help in figuring out what to do. Books here also can teach parents skills such as baby sign language and or how to play with a child while stimulating imagination and expanding vocabulary.

I will shine the spotlight on just a few titles to provide some idea of what parents could find on this shelf. “Calming Your Fussy Baby” by pediatrician T. Berry Brazelton gives step-by-step advice on topics from newborn crying to toddlers’ tantrums. In fewer than 90 pages, parents can learn a lot.

Michael Cohen, M.D., has written “The New Basics; A-to-Z Baby and Child Care.” The A-to-Z format allows parents to quickly find advice on a wide variety of topics. Dr. Cohen says that his book will help parents know “when to worry, when not to worry, what to do, and what not to do.” His intent is to help parents relax.

“Just Two More Bites! Helping Picky Eaters Say Yes to Food” by Linda Piette offers help to parents frustrated with their child’s eating habits. The chapter entitled “Mealtime Do’s and Don’ts” helps solve those day-to-day struggles.

Some of the books available here are those that local ECFE instructors feature in their classes and that they recommend to their students. “Love and Logic” and “1, 2, 3 Magic” are two popular titles ready for checkout.

This Parenting Shelf collection is rather small right now, but we hope to enlarge it as we find additional titles that offer assistance to parents of young children. If you are looking for this shelf and can’t find it, please ask at the Children’s desk. The reward could be happier parents as well as a happier child.

March 1, 2010

Plug In to Energy Conservation
by Mary Schroeder, Youth Energy Summit Team Member
and Kris Wiley, Assistant Library Director

Soon you will be able to use your local library in a unique way to help the environment and save money through energy conservation. In partnership with the grades 10-12 Youth Energy Summit team from New Ulm High School, appliance and home energy meters will be available for checkout.

To launch this initiative, the YES! team will be host to a program titled YES! We Need to Conserve on March 9 at 7 p.m. at New Ulm Public Library. The YES! team will speak briefly about climate change and the importance of conserving energy. New Ulm Public Utilities Commission Engineer Pat Wrase will discuss where energy in New Ulm and the surrounding area comes from.

The YES! team then will teach attendants how to use the energy meters, which were funded through a grant from the New Ulm PUC. Two types of meters will be available at the library. The individual appliance meter identifies which appliances are costing the most money and, as a result, using the most energy; the owner then can decide to dispose of those appliances or reduce how much they are used. The home meter shows how much energy an entire home uses. Try turning on the heat, air conditioning, washer, dryer or shower when the meter is in use and compare the energy being used to when those items are turned off.

Four home and 24 appliance meters will be available for two-week checkout immediately following the program and thereafter by asking at the circulation desk. You also can place a hold on a meter using the library’s online catalog or making a request to the reference staff at 359-8335. Each meter will be packaged in a plastic case. Written directions will be included, and a phone number and E-mail address will be listed to assist with troubleshooting. Library staff will be unable to answer questions about the use of the meters.

The YES! team is a group of students dedicated to promoting energy conservation and renewable energy sources in its school and community. The 10th-12th-grade YES! group is planning to have a booth on Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) at the New Ulm Home & Self-Improvement Show on March 26-28 at the New Ulm Civic Center and teach elementary school students about saving energy. The 8th-9th-grade team, which works closely with New Ulm’s Putting Green, is working on composting biodegradable waste from school lunches one day a week.

The library is delighted to combine our energy with these students’ in order to help you save yours.

February 22, 2010


Are You Tired of Winter?

by Larry Hlavsa, Library Director

With March fast approaching, we’re getting towards the end of winter, and that’s the hardest part for me. While I know that it will be soon be over, I’ve been cold for so long, I’m becoming impatient. I want to see something green, something yellow, maybe even something red. I’m tired of the grays, whites and blacks of winter. I want to be warm. I want to hit something! I want to go golfing!

My son has been hitting golf balls in our living room for months. I’m lucky he doesn’t lift weights. The floor might now be in the basement. As it is, there’s a growing indentation in the rug. It’s a hard situation for me. I want to encourage his practicing, but I don’t want to have to replace the rug.

I’ve told him about some great books to read that will keep him busy until the season starts. Here they are:

Fore! Play: the Last American Male Takes Up Golf by William Geist. The journalist and humorist laughs his way through the sport in a way that will be enjoyable to any golfer. Geist’s humorous approach to the game seeks to find out what’s behind the country’s growing obsession with hitting golf balls. What, me, obsessed?!

Amen Corner by Rick Shefchik. This is a fiction title, but how can you not love this description—“The body of the Masters rules committee chairman is found floating in the pond in front of the 12th green on the morning that Sam Skarda, a 37-year-old police detective from Minneapolis, arrives at Augusta National Golf Club to play in his first Masters.” Author Shefchik is a resident of Stillwater, Minnesota who must have gotten mighty tired of winter in 2005 when this was written, but he did us a favor. This may help you through the winter of 2010.

Merry Wives of Maggody by Joan Hess. A mystery fiction title that combines my two favorite sports, golf and bass fishing. “On the opening day of the first Maggody Charity Golf Tournament, poor braggart Tommy Ridner, excited to have won the hole-in-one prize, a $40,000 bass boat, turns up dead in the prize boat, his head bashed in by a golf club.” Surely a tragic ending for poor Tommy, but I think the important question is, who winds up with the bass boat?!

Fearless Golf: Conquering the Mental Game by Dr. Gio Valiante. Most of the library’s golf books are about technique. I ordered this one recently since it’s all about what's inside your head. For me, that’s the hard part about golf, what’s inside my head! You know what I mean. Those thoughts as you stand over a four-foot putt like—“You don’t really think you’re going to make this, do you? Really?”

Like I said, I told my son about these books, but sadly, he wasn’t impressed. I can still hear the thump, thump, thump in the living room as he practices with his 60 degree wedge. I guess I’ll just have to replace my carpeting with artificial grass.

February 15, 2010


Join the (Book) Club
by Kris Wiley, Assistant Library Director

I've been a voracious reader for a long time, but it wasn't until two years ago that I joined a book group. I had all kinds of reasons for not joining: The Oprah book club craze didn't spark my interest; reading was a solitary activity, my alone time; I was an English major and already had been forced to talk about books. But my roommate at the time was persistent. She said it would be a great way for a few book lovers to connect, and she was right. We talk about books, we talk about our lives, and we share a love for the written word. I've made a connection with some of those women, one so strong that even though I live nearly 300 miles away from them, I still make it back for a discussion once in a while.

Book discussion groups are alive and well in the New Ulm community, too. You check out the book club bags we have on our library shelves. You place holds to create your own book club bags. Some New Ulm Public Library staffers are members of your groups.

It has been awhile since the library has been directly involved in an adult book discussion group, and we’re changing that now. Our first adult book discussion meeting is scheduled for April 5 at 7 p.m. in the fiction area of the library. We'll talk about “Sweeping Up Glass,” a debut novel by Carolyn Wall set in Depression-era Kentucky. If you're a reader of this column, you'll remember that Acquisitions Librarian Betty Roiger and I praised the book. But you don't have to love the book to join in the discussion. In fact, some of the best conversations come from exchanging differing viewpoints. Everyone is welcome.

I'll have 10 copies of the book, including one large print, set aside. Contact me at or at 359-8334 to request a copy. I'll take down your name and number, and the book will be yours until the night of the discussion. There also are copies available through the Traverse des Sioux Library System catalog, and you can place a hold so a copy is routed directly to you.

While I have the attention of book clubbers, Betty Roiger is seeking suggestions for new book club bags. Have you read something you just know will generate a great discussion? Is there a book that has flown under the radar and deserves a closer look? We’re also interested in hearing about the book clubs around the area. Do you have a name? What are you reading? Stop by the library or call 359-8331 to fill us in.

As an aside, NUPL has an ongoing teen book discussion group. One month we read “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury; another month we talked about the books we read over the holidays. For our meeting March 3 at 3:30 p.m., we're reading any book by Irish author Darren Shan, who has penned the Cirque du Freak and Demonata series for young adults.

See you at the library!


February 8, 2010


Minnesota’s Voices
by JoAnne Griebel, Library Aide

We think of New York City as a publishing center. Did you know Minnesota has many small press/independent publishers? This March we celebrate the fourteenth annual Small Press Month.

Small publishing houses have several advantages for a new author including personal attention and promotion of each title published. Independent publishers offer a broad range of literary voices from poetry and history to regional fiction. Small presses introduce us to new and diverse writers. The 2009 Small Press Month poster quotes author Sherman Alexia: “The small presses represent what is most brave, crazy and beautiful about our country and our literature.”

Successful Minnesota small presses include Loonfeather Press of Bemidji whose authors have won the Minnesota Book Award. Milkweed Editions of Minneapolis, Holy Cow! Press of Duluth, Graywolf Press of St. Paul and Meadowbrook Press of Deephaven are just some of Minnesota’s publishers.

This month the Reference display features books from Minnesota’s small presses. Coffee House Press in Minneapolis published “Minnesota State Fair” by Kathryn Strand Koutsky and Linda Koutsky. This richly illustrated history of the State Fair is a unique collection of photos and trivia. The first Minnesota State Fair was held in 1859; admission was 25 cents. The Coffee House Press slogan is simply “Good books are brewing at” Catherine Watson’s “Roads Less Traveled” is published by Syren Book Company of Minneapolis. Minnesota Heritage Publishing of Mankato was started by Julie Schraeder to aid authors in self-publishing. “Feisty Lydia: Memoirs of a German War Bride” by Edna Thayer is one of their recent publications.

Milkweed Editions is one of the largest independent publishers in the country. Their mission is to make “a humane impact on society, in the belief that good writing can transform the human heart and spirit.” Milkweed Editions publishes literature for middle school students, adult fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Titles include “Willow Room, Green Door” in which author Deborah Keenan expresses her curiosity about the world in poems. Bill Holm’s “The Window of Bremnes” is the story of his home in Iceland. “Stories from Where We Live: The Great lakes” edited by Sara St. Antoine is a delightful read expressing a love of nature.

Minnesota has many interesting authors. Stop by your library and read the unique voices of Minnesota.


February 1, 2010

Short and Sweet
by Betty J Roiger, Acquisitions

I love books and writing and authors. Who knew, right? Writing fascinates me. At one time or another as a lover of books I think: hey, maybe I could write a book. And then I think: that really would be very difficult.

Some authors write detailed descriptions of clothes and settings. Some do major historical research. J.R.R. Tolkien, for example, devoted long passages to the incredible and difficult journey the Hobbits had to make in “The Lord of the Rings” that went on for pages and pages. Though I loved that series, I have to admit, even I was tired after reading about one of those expeditions. One of my favorite authors is George R.R. Martin who writes 900+ page tomes. He devotes alternating chapters to different characters to change up the narration.

What I am trying to say is that words and the way someone weaves them together can be diverse and magical. I don’t just read long books and series; I try to read many genres. So I am also a fan of “The World’s Shortest Stories.” Talk about difficult writing. These writers synthesize complete stories into 55 words or less. Here are two examples.

“Bedtime Story” by Jeffrey Whitmore

“Careful, honey, it’s loaded,” he said, re-entering the bedroom.
Her back rested against the headboard. “This for your wife?”
“No. Too chancy. I’m hiring a professional.”
“How about me?”
He smirked. “Cute. But who’d be dumb enough to hire a lady hit man?”
She wet her lips, sighting along the barrel. “Your wife.”

“Out of the Fog” by Curt Homan

Lyn clutched her purse as footsteps approached along the fog shrouded lane. Emily, a fellow prostitute, emerged.
“Any business?” asked Lyn.
Emily shrugged. “Some. And you?”
“Not yet, tonight.”
“’Tis slow because of The Ripper,” Emily sighed. “Seems everyone’s afraid of Jack.”
“Actually, the full name’s Jacquelyn,’” Lyn said, pulling the knife from her purse.

I love short stories in that they can encompass an entire narrative. They make you think; they take you somewhere even though they aren’t full-length books. And I applaud the fact that someone wrote, pared down, and cut, thought about it, and cut again to make these stories into what I like to think is sudden fiction. These stories are perfect to read when you don’t have a lot of time to spare.

Here at the library we have a lot of diverse things to read and enjoy. Come in, browse, and check something out.


January 25, 2010


The Winners Are . . .
by Diane Zellmann, Children’s Librarian

The excitement of winning is all around us these days. From the Super Bowl to the Academy Awards, there seems to be something of interest for everyone. For those who love books, there are winners too. The Caldecott and Newbery Awards are two very prestigious awards that were announced last week.
The American Library Association (ALA) awards the Caldecott Medal each year (since 1938) to the illustrator of the most distinguished American picture book for children published in the previous year.

The 2010 Caldecott Medal goes to Jerry Pinkney, for illustrating and writing “The Lion and the Mouse.” When this book arrived at the library last fall, the gorgeous front cover filled with a lion’s face caught everyone’s attention. After reading it, a few of us had an inkling that it might become the Caldecott winner.
The story is a retelling of Aesop’s classic fable about a little mouse who helps a majestic lion. Pinkney’s illustrations completely tell the story; only a few words are included. An owl screeches, a mouse squeaks, a lion roars; both children and adults will love making those sounds. This book is a gem. If you are a fan of beautiful illustrations, you will enjoy this book. You can find it in our Caldecott Corner in the Children’s Room.

In addition to the winning book, ALA names honor books as well. This year “All the World,” illustrated by Marla Frazee, and “Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors,” illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, are the Caldecott honor books.

The ALA awards the Newbery Medal each year (since 1922) to the book that is the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature published in the previous year.

The 2010 Newbery Medal winner is “When You Reach Me” by Rebecca Stead. It’s a complex mystery about 12-year-old Miranda and her mother who live in Manhattan in 1979. Miranda’s best friend stops talking to her, she receives notes from an anonymous writer, and a strange homeless man is hanging around. Stead’s book has an intriguing plot and interesting characters that should appeal to kids in grades 5 to 9. This book is in our Junior Fiction collection, and the audiobook is available here as well.

ALA names honor books for the Newbery too. This year’s honor books are “Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice” by Phillip Hoose, “The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate” by Jacqueline Kelly, “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon” by Grace Lin, and “The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg” by Rodman Philbrick.

If good books interest you, come to our library and check out a couple of these award-winning titles. See if you agree with the judges.


January 18, 2010


Antiques, Antiques, Antiques
by Linda Lindquist, Adult Services/Reference

As you look around the rooms in your home, do you often wonder if any of your furnishings are really old and worth anything? How about that dining room table with the claw feet or the secretary with the beveled glass door? Or maybe that beer stein of your grandfather’s sitting on the shelf? How about that cut-glass bowl sitting in your china hutch? Or maybe you have some old toys or figurines that belonged to your parents or grandparents.

Most of us probably have some items in our homes that are considered antiques. Are you interested in seeing if they are of any value? There are different ways of checking on the value of older items. The computer is one way of doing some research on the value of older articles. In doing some searching on the internet, one site that came up is The author is telling interested persons the signs to look for before purchasing antiques. He has been in the business of buying antiques for over 25 years. Always check the item over carefully before purchasing and if possible, take it out into bright sunlight. Do not be in too much of a hurry when checking over an item; it is so easy to be fooled.

How about checking out some of the antique collecting books or magazines available in the New Ulm Public Library? We have “Warman’s Antiques & Collectibles 2010 Price Guide”, “Kovels’ Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide 2010”, and “Schroeder’s Antiques Price Guide for 2010.” Warman’s price guide has information on crocks, glassware, artwork, firearms, phonographs, Tiffany collectibles, toys, etc. The above mentioned books are all reference books that stay in the library, but we have older editions of these books on the regular shelves that can be checked out. We also have two magazines in the library about antiques, Antiques and Collecting and Antiques Roadshow Insider.

And I saved the best for last. We are going to have our own Antiques Roadshow event (just like the television show) in the library on January 28. Carol Bode of Cherry Lane Antiques and Appraisals of New Ulm will be at the New Ulm Public Library at 7:00 p.m. Come and listen to what she has to say. If you so wish, you may bring one (1) item along that she will appraise. (No gems will be appraised.) Friends of the New Ulm Public Library are sponsoring this event. Should be a fun and interesting evening for all!


January 11, 2010


Conversations From the Cubicles
by Betty Roiger, Acquisitions, and Kris Wiley, Assistant Director

Betty: Hey, Kris, let’s have a book talk!

Kris: OK, what’ll we discuss?

B: Well, we’ve both read “The Lace Reader” by Brunonia Barry.

K: Yes, you liked it better than I did.

B: Yep, I adored it – it surprised me, and I always appreciate it when an author can surprise me.

K: I’m not as enthusiastic, but I think it would make a good book discussion book – there are many topics to hit on.

B: So, OK, let’s discuss. There are the prophecies some can read from the lace, the grandmother’s mysterious disappearance …

K: I think you should stop there.

B: Too many secrets would be too easily revealed?

K: Yes, everything is woven together so well. Why don’t we try something else?

B: We both read “The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie” by Alan Bradley. You recommended it to me.

K: I got a kick out of the 11-year-old narrator; calling her “precocious” is an understatement. But as I recall, you weren’t enamored of Flavia.

B: No. I had a hard time getting into it what with Flavia’s relationships with her sisters. That is, until I remembered how my sisters used to tie me up …

K: Your sisters tied you up!?!

B: Oh yeah, I urged them to. Either they tied me very loosely or I was a knot phenom. I thought I’d be the next Houdini. (And they got a few moments’ peace.) But back to Flavia, she was splendidly devious getting even with her sisters.

K: Yes, her knowledge of poisons was prodigious, but then her sisters returned the favor in a clever way. Siblings are like that.

B: And all the while she was solving the mystery of the body in the garden.

K: I can’t wait for the next book in the series, “The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag,” which comes out in March. This time Flavia is on the case of the murdered puppeteer.

B: I’ll be in line for that one as well. So now you’re reading “Sweeping Up Glass.”

K: And it is breaking my heart.

B: I read it before you so it’s not as fresh. I know Carolyn Wall’s narrator’s voice in Olivia was so wonderful I barely could put it down during lunch hours to make it back to work.

K: Olivia has an amazing spirit, which is a testament to Wall’s gift as a writer. This is her first novel.

B: I thought I had an original thought comparing Olivia to Scout in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” but that’s actually many readers’ reaction. It says so on the book, duh.

K: Veering back to Olivia, it’s just such a hard life, and then there is her mother’s treatment of her and losing her father …

B: But she continues to rise. I’m not making light, but my favorite cartoon is Wile E. Coyote. He falls, there’s a puff of smoke and he’s a pancake. AND then he GETS back up. So does Olivia – she loves her grandson, Will, even as she had not been loved. And he is a straight and true character if ever there was one. Sometimes he is the voice of reason. And that is because of her. She stands up. (And she stands up for the wolves, and you know me …) I loved that book. Finish it so we can talk some more.

K: OK. So, you read the Luxe series and loved it. Now I’m reading the Luxe series, and I love it.

B: Will and Elizabeth, Henry and Diana, the evil, conniving Penelope. It was a wonderful immersion into that age of early 1900s New York.

K: It was my introduction to Anna Godbersen as an author. I’ve raced through the first three, but you say you were disappointed in the last.

B: OMG. But I can’t tell you.

K: If Henry and Diana don’t get together in the last book, I am pitching it across the room.

B: My lips are sealed. I just thought the characters of Elizabeth, Diana and Penelope were so well defined, and then Godbersen kind of hurried to tie up all the loose ends. And that’s all I’ll say in case a book comes flying my way.

So I suppose you haven’t read any good zombie fiction?

K: No! That is your bailiwick. I draw the line at vampires.


January 4, 2010

Have You Tried our “Green” Computers?
by Larry Hlavsa, Library Director

Is your computer “green?” Well, at the New Ulm Public Library, our public computers and catalog stations now are. Let me tell you about them.

In late November we installed a product called Userful Desktop. All of our public Internet workstations (11 stations) and all of our catalog workstations (6 stations) are now on this platform. By moving to this solution we were able to replace all of our locally managed, Microsoft-based, Internet workstations with remotely managed, vendor updated, Linux-based stations.

There were a lot of reasons for this migration. Our old PCs were an average six years old. They needed to be replaced as they were beginning to break down with regularity. They also took too much technical expertise to keep locked down and running smoothly and we had no such expertise on site. Then there were the never ending patches, fixes and updates to apply. Malware, adware, spyware and viruses had also become increasingly problematic. Several different software packages had to be used and constantly upgraded to deal with those finicky problems. Frankly, the New Ulm Library simply could no longer keep up with the management of these machines.

So what did we do? We looked “outside the Microsoft box.” We found an efficient operating system that was free (Linux), an Office Suite that was Microsoft Office file compatible and was also free (OpenOffice), and a vendor (Userful Corp.) that had designed a solution just for libraries like us. The Userful solution incorporated filtering, scheduling, authentication and print management. This was the just the integrated solution we needed! Another advantage was the vastly reduced amount of adware, spyware, malware and viruses in the Linux world. And finally, since fewer CPUs were required, the costs of new hardware was significantly reduced.

I know what you’re thinking though. You’re wondering—“Why is this solution more “green?”

Well, we reduced our usage of CPUs from 17 to 6. That’s eleven fewer CPUs requiring electricity! And since electrical generation equals CO2 production, our reduction in electrical usage means 20,546 lbs of CO2 diverted or one car off the road for a whole year. Then there’s the reduction in electronic waste once our equipment becomes no longer usable. Instead of 17 CPUs, there will be only 6 to dispose of. That’s pretty green!

We’re pleased that our new solution provides so many benefits from an environmental as well as from a cost/support perspective. If you haven’t been in to try one of these stations, please do so. And if you have any questions, let me know.

Last updated: Monday, December 31, 2012


Last updated: December 31, 2012