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New Ulm Public Library

 

 

 

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

 
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"OFF THE SHELF"
ARTICLES
by LIBRARY STAFF

(in reverse chronological order from Jan, 2013 - present)

 

Apr 21, 2014 - A World of Books by Betty J. Roiger

Apr 14, 2014 - Tippi Hedren's Coming to New Ulm! by Betty Roiger & Kris Wiley

Apr 07, 2014 - Add More of the Little Moments by Katy Hiltner

Mar 31, 2014 - On the Rocks by Betty Roiger

Mar 24, 2014 - CAST(LE) and the Library: A Great Partnership by Kris Wiley

Mar 17, 2014 - 2013 At the Library by Larry Hlavsa

Mar 10, 2014 - Bloom Is Off the Rose by Betty J. Roiger

Mar 03, 2014 - No article

Feb 24, 2014 - April 15-Income Tax Time-Coming Soon by Linda Lindquist

Feb 17, 2014 - Read “The Giver,” and See the MLC Production by Kris Wiley

Feb 10, 2014 - New DVDs at the Library by Larry Hlavsa

Feb 03, 2014 - North of Boston by Betty J Roiger

Jan 27, 2014 - Enjoying Time Indoors by Katy Hiltner

Jan 20, 2014 - New Year’s Resolution by Linda Lindquist

Jan 13, 2014 - We Love Author Visits by Betty Roiger & Kris Wiley

Jan 06, 2014 - ITSSOCOLDIGOTTAREAD.COM by Larry Hlavsa

Dec 30, 2013 - Reading Program for Adults Begins January 6 by Kris Wiley

Dec 23, 2013 - There Is No History, Only Biography by Larry Hlavsa

Dec 16, 2013 - What's for Chrismtas? by Betty Roiger

Dec 09, 2013 - Yes, Betty, There Is a Santa by Betty Roiger

Dec 02, 2013 - Holiday Baking by Linda Lindquist

Nov 25, 2013 - Conversations From the Cubicles – We’re Wrapping Up 2013 With a Bow by Kris Wiley & Betty Roiger

Nov 24, 2013 - The Murder of JFK: the Survey Says by Larry Hlavsa
Nov 18, 2013 - Mark Your Calendars
by Katy Hiltner

Nov 11, 2013 - The Murder of JFK: the Biggest Cold Case Ever by Larry Hlavsa

Nov 04, 2013 - Where Were You on November 22, 1963 by Linda Lindquist

Oct 28, 2013 - Friends Book Sale November 7-9 by Kris Wiley
Oct 21, 2013 - Thanks to the Optimist Club and Library Friends
by Kris Wiley
Oct 14, 2013 - Scanning Your Family History by Larry Hlavsa

Oct 07, 2013 - Fall Into Reading by Betty Roiger

Sep 30, 2013 - Learn More About Longtime Civic Leader Fred Johnson by Kris Wiley

Sep 23, 2013 - October Musings by Linda Lindquist

Sep 16, 2013 - Meet Minnesota Author Peter Geye by Kris Wiley

Sep 09, 2013 - E-Books: An Update by Larry Hlavsa
Sep 02, 2013 - Armchair Traveler by Betty J Roiger
Aug 26, 2013 - Sharing Stories at the Library by Katy Kudela

Aug 19, 2013 - Need A Break Before School Starts? by Linda Lindquist

Aug 12, 2013 - Dakota War Commemoration Events Scheduled by Kris Wiley
Aug 05, 2013- Binge Much? by Betty Roiger

Jul 29, 2013 - Kids iPads are Coming! by Larry Hlavsa
Jul 22, 2013 - Oh, What a Summer! by Katy Kudela

Jul 15, 2013 - Trying to Lose Weight? by Linda Lindquist

Jul 08, 2013 - Epistolary Novels: the Next Best Thing to Writing Letters by Kris Wiley

Jul 01, 2013 - Great Civil War Reads by Larry Hlavsa

Jun 24, 2013 - Dont' Wait for the Next Big Read by Betty Roiger
Jun 17, 2013 - Digging Up Books! by Katy Kudela
Jun 10, 2013 - Amazing Pets by Linda Lindquist
Jun 03, 2013 - Listen Up! to These Library Programs by Kris Wiley
May 27, 2013 - Dig Into Reading and Discover Groundbreaking Reads by Katy Kudela
May 20, 2013 - End of the Internet by Betty Roiger
May 13, 2013 - Do We Have the Right Magazines? by Larry Hlavsa
May  06, 2013 - Are You Ready For Some Gardening? by Linda Lindquist

Apr 29, 2013 - Surplus to Some, Treasure to Others by Larry Hlavsa

Apr 22, 2013 - Library Staff and Volunteers are Great by Kris Wiley
Apr 15, 2013 - Tales from the Library Cubicles by Betty Roiger & Kris Wiley
Apr 08, 2013 - Pick a Poem for April by Katy Kudela
Apr 01, 2013 - April is Financial Literacy Month by Linda Lindquist

Mar 25, 2013 - Wool by Betty Roiger

Mar 18, 2013 - Interior Re-design at the Library by Larry Hlavsa

Mar 11, 2013 - Friends Team Up with Sven & Ole's for Book Fair by Kris Wiley

Mar 04, 2013 - What to Read Next? by Katy Kudela & Betty Roiger
Feb 25, 2013 - Oscar's Best Pictures at the Library! by Larry Hlavsa
Feb 18, 2013 - Hooray for Local Writers by Kris Wiley
Feb 11, 2013 - Black History Month Observed by Linda Lindquist

Feb 04, 2013 - Take Your Child to the Library Day! by Katy Kudela

Jan 28, 2013 - Doorways to Books by Betty Roiger

Jan 21, 2013 - Winter Blahs by Linda Lindquist
Jan 14, 2013 - Rebus and Other Cold-Weather Reads by Kris Wiley

Jan 06, 2013 - What New Ulm Adults Read by Larry Hlavsa

 

April 21, 2014

 

A World of Books
Betty J Roiger, Acquisitions

Just the other day, I was watching one of the morning TV talk shows. They were interviewing one of the stars from the new movie “Divergent.” The newsperson asked her if she had read the (very popular) books this movie series was based on. She smiled and replied that these were young adult books and said something to the effect that she was trying to be an adult. [She smiled.] She continued with: But the script was great.

OK. Let’s pause here. Turn away from the TV screen. Let’s think about what this young woman said and/or implied because it sure didn’t make me smile. I heard: Adults don’t read young adult books. Now, after that, I don’t even know where to start to discuss why that statement is flawed.

First, I think I will try to just string some words together. “To Kill a Mockingbird.” “Catcher in the Rye.” “Lord of the Flies.” “Tom Sawyer.” “Huckleberry Finn.” “A Wrinkle in Time.” “The Hobbit.” “The Wizard of Oz.” AND, um, that little series with a boy’s name, oh yeah, “Harry Potter.” I think you know where I’m going. But, yes, I will say it: If adults are not reading young adult books, they are missing the world. I mean that very seriously. Just because there is a YA (young adult) or junior label on something, please, never let that stop anyone of any age from reading it.

Second, I want to say that her statement made me very sad. To not delve into the world of a book because of the feeling that you were past an age is just disappointing. I heard another star say he hadn’t read “The Hunger Games” when he had a part in it, and that was his loss. I know Jennifer Lawrence read the books, and I know the kids from Harry Potter read Rowling’s books. They knew the worlds they were inhabiting and were interested in the books, the movies, everything. I think that is part of their huge success, plus the fact that the original material was just plain awesome.

There is a man named Mo Willems who consistently writes clever, funny, enjoyable picture books such as “That is Not a Good Idea,” “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus,” “Knuffle Bunny,” and the varied adventures of Elephant and Piggie. I can open “Can I Play Too?” when Snake asks Elephant and Piggie to play catch, and I literally fall apart with laughter. How can a snake possibly catch a ball? The reason I am talking about a picture book is this: It might not be on an adult’s usual reading list, but if I had missed reading Elephant and Piggie books, my life would not be as happy as it is. I can say the same about “Harry Potter,” “The Hunger Games,” “Wonder,” and scads of other junior books and young adult novels.

Finally, I’d like to say that I read a lot, and I remember a lot of the books I have read. But ask me to name a character from a book I read last year, and I might have to wrinkle my forehead and think a minute. Let me be a name dropper here for a minute: Tom & Huck, Bilbo Baggins, Scout and Jem, Katniss, Wilbur, Old Yeller. Did your imagination conjure up identities for most of those names? Yeah, well, they are characters in junior and young adult books. They are well written and alive in the imaginations of millions of readers. They have touched our lives and the lives of children for generations because these characters live in the worlds created in young adult or junior books, which are perfectly all right for folks of any age to read and enjoy.

April 23rd is World Book Night (and it’s Shakespeare’s birthday!). If you want a few laughs and a free (brand-new) book, come to the library at 6 p.m. to help celebrate books and spread the love of reading one book at a time.

 

April 14, 2014

 

Tippi Hedren's Coming to New Ulm!

by Betty J. Roiger & Kris Wiley


Kris: Who’s Tippi Hedren?

Betty: Who is Tippi Hedren!?!

K: Yeah, that’s what I asked. Who’s Tippi Hedren?

B: You’re kidding me! Tippi Hedren is a local, small-town girl from our very own Lafayette, Minnesota! And she is a glamorous movie star. Haven’t you ever seen Hitchcock’s “The Birds”?

K: Hmmm. Maybe?

B: OMG! I was 10 or 11 when I saw that movie! I still remember leaving the theater and starting the three-block walk home with a friend. It went pretty well, walking in the dark, until, for some unknown reason, a flock of blackbirds exploded into the sky en masse from the tree we were walking under. I don’t recall anything after that except our feet took flight as we flew home, too. “The Birds” was frightening and seemed utterly possible, nature run amuck. I thought it was brilliant.

K: OK. So this woman is a Minnesotan and a movie star. Got it.

B: No. [sigh] No, you haven’t. She is much, much more than that. This lady is a tireless advocate and supporter for saving exotic big cats. She has a preserve named Shambala where she gives homes and shelter to lions and tigers, mountain lions, and bobcats. Cast off from private owners, zoos, or circuses, unwanted, abused, or ailing big cats can find a home with Tippi. These large animals will be cared for and given safety because of her preserve.

K: That is pretty amazing. How do you know about that?

B: I’ve read about it for years. Tippi came on my radar with “The Birds,” but when I first read about Tippi and Shambala, I was really impressed that this movie star was so philanthropic to big cats. I mean, so many celebrities just want to be celebrities posing with their Starbucks coffee. Here was a woman who was devoting time and energy and money to create a haven and do some good in the world.

K: That really is something, isn’t it?

B: Yep. This lady is a true star. And she happens to be the mother of Melanie Griffith, who is a movie star in her own right.

K: Wow, then that means Antonio Banderas is her son-in-law! And he is famous for being the voice of “Puss in Boots” in the Shrek movies. So there seems to be a cat theme floating throughout the family.

B: Heh, yeah. Yep, there are definitely many sides to a person: where they’re from, what they do, who their family is, what they love. And there are many sides to Tippi Hedren: Minnesotan, movie star, mother, grandmother, animal activist.

K: Then I think we are very lucky to have her come back and speak to us here in New Ulm. As part of the Storytellers series funded by the Arts and Cultural Fund through the Traverse des Sioux Library Cooperative, Tippi Hedren will be speaking at the District Administrative Center (15 N. State) on May 1 at 7 p.m. The program is free and open to the public; seating is first come, first served.

B: I cannot wait! Just be aware when you walk up to the Junior High, there are a lot of trees around that building … and where there are trees, there are birds. Just sayin’.

 

 

April 7, 2014

 

Add More of the Little Moments
Katy Hiltner, Children’s Librarian


Just the other day I was reminded that the little moments in life add up to some of life’s most treasured memories. We may not easily recall these little moments. However, I bet many adults can recall at least one favorite book from their childhood. This past month, Betty Roiger had a wonderful display in the library featuring some of those childhood favorites (Harriet the Spy, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Little Witch, just to name a few). While these books have found their way back onto the shelves, it’s not too late to check one out today for yourself or even for your family. Along with recalling favorite childhood books, adults will just as easily remember the joy of listening to a book read aloud to them. I can still recall as a 2nd-grader listening to the school librarian read chapters from the book “The Boxcar Children.” It was the first time I had heard “Violet” used as a name, and like the children in the book, I wanted to drink cold milk from a chipped tea cup and eat freshly picked blueberries. I can honestly say that listening to the story of the Boxcar Children is nestled into my memory forever. I believe we never truly outgrow the joys of listening to stories read aloud to us, hence the popularity of audiobooks.


As a children’s librarian, I get to see a lot of neat trends taking place in our community. Lately, I’ve been noticing more and more parents checking out chapter books to read aloud to their young children. Some of the series going off the shelves include Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Tree House series, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series, and Kate DiCamillo’s Mercy Watson series. There are so many great read-aloud books available. To help in the search for a good book or series, Carla Fjeld has created a list of read-aloud chapter books for young children. This list will be available in our “Read-Alikes and Series List” binder at the library. If you’re interested in finding out more, just stop by the Children’s Desk. We’re happy to recommend a good book. Of course, sharing books together is great at any age! A popular series to share together as a family is, of course, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books. There is such comfort in hearing a story read aloud, and it’s a treat that one never outgrows.


As adults, we know that sharing books with children helps build their reading skills, vocabulary, and imagination. But please don’t just take this librarian’s word for it. I came across a wonderful Web site featuring “Ten Read-aloud Commandments,” according to children’s author Mem Fox. While I don’t have room to share all of these tips, I want to share just two. Fox states: #1. “Spend at least ten wildly happy minutes every single day reading aloud. From birth!” and #10. “Please read aloud every day because you just adore being with your child, not because it’s the right thing to do.”


Happy Reading Aloud!

 

March 31, 2014

 

On the Rocks
Betty J Roiger, Acquisitions

Is it too early to be thinking of beach reads? The snow IS almost gone, after all. For me, the term “beach read” means something light and fun.

“On the Rocks” by Erin Duffy meets these requirements. Abby is trying on wedding dresses when her phone starts ringing incessantly, and suddenly she discovers that her fiancé has dumped her via Facebook. She falls into a pit of despair (and ice cream) when she finds her life revolving around her two new best friends: Ben & Jerry. When her best friend, Grace, invites her to the beach for the summer, she goes, thinking she has nothing to lose but the extra weight she has gained.

Abby uses humor and sarcasm to get through her breakup, which made for a funny read. But what I really enjoyed were her jabs at technology and how it has changed and assaulted our lives in personal ways. It continues to blow my mind how insidious and invasive technology has become.

First, she is dumped on Facebook. Prior to 2004, we wouldn’t have even known what that meant since rings and invitations played a bigger part of our lives than the words “single status” on a computer screen. The instant and casual use of digital devices persists in prolonging Abby’s pain. Once her boyfriend, Ben, moves away, it doesn’t really end her connection to him as he continues to text her. And, because she isn’t over him, she continues to write back. At one point Ben texts that he is thinking of her. She reads it and responds that she is thinking of him, too. The next text reads: Sorry, that was meant for someone else. So she tries subterfuge unsuccessfully and texts back that hers was for someone else, too. Ouch!

Later, when she is in Newport and back on the dating scene, she finds out about a Web site that posts “walk of shame” photos of islanders who are caught walking home in the clothes they were last seen in the day before. Abby muses: “Once again I found myself dumbfounded at how technology had changed the way we all interacted. It used to be that people had to actually know you in order to humiliate you.” And on the topic of “sexting,” she says: “I really missed the old days, you know, when someone had to actually be in your presence in order to see you naked.”

One of the best (or worse) relationships Abby laments about is the one she has with her mother. I dare anyone to read the part about what her mother wears to her sister’s wedding and not laugh out loud. Abby sums up her relationship with her mother when being nagged about calling home. She thinks (but does not say aloud), “I’m trying to save money and the long distance calls to the underworld are pricey.”

Coming out just in time for the warm weather (hint, hint, weatherman), “On the Rocks” is a fun, breezy read. Pick this one up if you want to follow Abby after she finds herself on the bad side of social media, and find out how she fares in the battle of the sexes.

 

March 24, 2014

 

CAST(LE) and the Library: A Great Partnership
Kris Wiley, Assistant Library Director

The library enjoys partnering with community groups on projects and programs, and we’ve had great success when working with a number of local organizations. Our joint efforts ensure a greater number of people have access to educational and entertaining opportunities.

One of our long-time partners is Community and Seniors Together and its offshoot, CASTLE Lifelong Learning. We have shared programming ideas, facilities, and publicity opportunities for a number of years, and next month we’re working together on two great programs.

By coincidence, both events are scheduled for Thursday, April 10 – fortunately at different times! At 10 a.m. at the Community Center (600 N. German St.), the library and CAST will welcome photographer Doug Ohman for a one-hour slideshow presentation about the state parks of Minnesota. Ohman contributed the photography for the book “Prairie, Lake, Forest: Minnesota’s State Parks,” and he will share his beautiful work, including images of New Ulm’s Flandrau State Park. Ohman also has published “Libraries of Minnesota” and “Barns of Minnesota,” among other titles. I enjoy his engaging, personable approach to presentations, and I’m looking forward to this photographic tour of our state’s parks.

Then at 6 p.m. at the library (17 N. Broadway), the library and CASTLE will be host to a book discussion of “Simon’s Night” by the great Jon Hassler. The one-hour program will be facilitated by Ric Jacobsen, pastor at Oakwood United Methodist Church and a frequent CASTLE contributor. “Simon’s Night,” published in 1979, explores the issues and experiences of aging through the eyes of Simon Shea, a retired professor of English at a small Minnesota college. I expect lots of laughs and a few heartbreaking anecdotes during our discussion.

Copies of “Simon’s Night” are available through the library. Stop by or call us at 507-359-8334 to place a hold on a copy.

Both programs are free and open to the public. Ohman’s event is made possible by a Legacy grant from the Traverse des Sioux Library Cooperative. The book discussion is made possible through the generosity of CASTLE and Pastor Jacobsen. Participants in the book discussion do not need to be CASTLE members.

For a full list of library programs, visit the events page on the library’s Web site, www.newulmlibrary.org, or call 507-359-8334. All library programs are free and open to the public. See you at the library!

 

March 17, 2014

 

2013 at the Library

by Larry Hlavsa, Library Director

Every year the New Ulm Public Library has to file a statistical report with the State Library. Because the data requested is pretty similar each year, we compile it into a spreadsheet which provides an ongoing comparison of our services as the years go by. I thought I’d share with you some of the facts and figures from the latest report.

The most widely viewed statistical number among public libraries is circulation. Many public libraries—including those in the Traverse des Sioux region—saw overall circulation declines of approximately 10% in 2013. Here in New Ulm, our circulation was flat, down less than .3%. We think many factors contributed to our better-than-average circulation statistics including: the new materials added, the thorough weeding last year, e-books, programming and more.

But there were changes in those circulation stats. One example is that for the first time in our organizational memory, children’s materials out-circulated the adult materials. About 44.6% of our 2013 circulation was children’s materials, 43.9% was adult materials and 11.5% was teen or other circulation. Another example is electronic books. Usage of e-books continues to increase (now 500-600 items per month) since first offered in 2011, although the percentage of our circulation that such numbers represent is still quite small (less than 3%). One might say—“The death of the book has been widely exaggerated.”

Last year, Kris Wiley, our assistant director and master of programming kept our events schedule at the New Ulm Library quite full. For the second year in a row, the total number of library events exceeded one hundred. Considering our days open, that’s about one event every other day! Kris works hard at keeping programming varied and lively at the New Ulm Library, and some 3,500 customers attended library programs in 2013. As always, if you have ideas for a program, give Kris a call at: 359-8334.

Usage of Internet at the Library increased substantially in the past two years. Comparing 2013 with 2011 (data was unavailable for 2012), our usage at the Internet workstations increased from 15, 826 sessions to 21,767, or about 37.5%. Happily for staff, our reliable Userful workstations had an uptime last year of nearly 100%. Our contract renewal with this vendor was also cause for cheer as our per station daily cost declined nearly 40% to just $.82 per workstation per day. In the works for our Internet workstations, adding Microsoft Office to them sometime in 2014!

Our weeding project completed in 2013 resulted in a reduction in the size of our collection from 95,000 items to about 80,000. That may seem like a lot, but our collection had not been thoroughly weeded in decades. Most of the withdrawn items were exceedingly old, in poor condition, or unneeded duplicates of titles. This weeding project—which gave us a newer, cleaner, more up-to-date collection—left us a smaller, but better circulating collection.

Incidentally, have you ever looked through our “free” books shelf? Our free book shelf began in 2009 and since then nearly 15,000 items have been adopted by new owners. These are titles which have not sold in our book sales, gifts that were not in good enough condition to add to our collection, or withdrawn books whose condition precluded sale. We no longer throw out any books except those whose condition includes mold, missing pages, broken spines and so on.

Overall, we’re pleased with our statistical portrait of 2013. We’re even more pleased with each new library customer we see! Let’s make 2014 our best year ever!

 

March 10, 2014

 

The Bloom Is Off the Rose
Betty J Roiger, Acquisitions

If you tend to stroll through bookstores or libraries, you might notice that book covers develop in cycles. Silhouettes were big a few years ago. Then body parts were popular: a person’s back, the body from the waist down, legs, or the back of a head. I love book covers. I love watching their evolution. And I totally judge a book by its cover. Some just suck me right in. Right now I’m evidently a sucker for exploding flowers.


I read a book awhile ago called “The Husband’s Secret” by Liane Moriarty, which had a hydrangea blowing apart on the cover. The main character, Cecilia, is a typical wife and mother, harried and running to keep up with everything. The second sentence draws the reader in: “If it weren’t for the Berlin Wall, Cecilia would never have found the letter, and then she wouldn’t be sitting here, at the kitchen table, willing herself not to rip it open.” Here’s the thing. Cecilia’s husband leaves for a business meeting, she finds a mysterious letter, and believing there are no secrets between them, she asks him over the phone about it. He becomes nervous, says he wrote it when she had their first child saying how overwhelmed and proud and happy he was. Now since he’s embarrassed, he begs: Please don’t read it. (Ba ba bum! Cue the music of distrust!) And the stirring of mistrust and misgiving is raised in her mind. I was greatly amused by this woman’s inner dialogue. Still from the first page: “She wasn’t going to open it. It was absolutely clear that she should not open it. She was the most decisive person she knew, and she’d already decided not to open the letter, so there was nothing more to think about. Although, honestly, if she did open it, what would be the big deal?” I found this to be quite an enjoyable book. Cecilia is funny, the characters were believable, and the mysterious letter reveal was good. I would a read Moriarty book again.


Then I read a magazine article where they pointed out the emerging theme of bursting flowers on book covers. I wondered: Has the flower become the symbol of a marriage, and is the detonation of it the revelation of something horrible hidden within? I was intrigued. I remembered I had been seeing a lot of ruined flowers lately. The article showed a few books, one of which was “The Husband’s Secret,” which I had liked, and, so why not try another one? Suddenly I was sucked into a different novel with a flower explosion cover. “Before We Met” is written by Lucie Whitehouse. Hannah is a Brit living in America when she is swept off her feet by Mark, who is also British. He is a financial phenom, handsome, and fun, and he loves her. They marry, settle in England, all is well. Having moved puts Hannah out of a job and at loose ends. And then Mark goes on a business trip. (I am telling you, these business trips are poison to a marriage!) He doesn’t return when expected. She can’t reach him. People from his office think he’s on a vacation with her. What?!? He calls and tells her he’ll be later than expected. He’s lost his cell phone; she shouldn’t try to reach him. (Ba ba bum! Cue the music of distrust!) So she starts to dig. Digging into financial papers, Hannah realizes her savings have been cleared out. She wonders where the heck her husband is and what has he really been doing!?!

 

 I have to say this book had the tension ratcheted up a little more for me. I would definitely read Lucie Whitehouse again, too. More of a thriller than Moriarty’s novel, Whitehouse’s book made me a little more cognizant about the general health of flowers and their explosiveness. Otherwise, when my husband, Doug, was putting on his coat and reaching for the car keys, why would I have searched his face and asked casually: “Hey, where ya going?” Doug: “Filling up the car. It’s going to get cold again. I’ll be right back.” Hmmm, THAT didn’t sound like a business trip. But it got me thinking maybe I need to stop with the damaged flowers and check out a different type of book cover.

 

February 24, 2014

 

April 15-Income Tax Time-Coming Soon
Linda Lindquist, Adult Services/Reference Librarian


April 15 is just around the corner and people are getting excited. As my granddaughter would say, “Whoopee, my birthday—what are you getting me?” But we as adults moan and think to ourselves, “Tax day is looming!” Another year has come to an end and that means it will soon be time to file your income taxes. Yes, April 15 is when our income taxes are due. Are you ready? Here are some tips on making this a less stressful time in preparing for income tax day.


Even though it is a necessary evil, it doesn’t have to be as stressful as we sometimes make it if we do some preparing. The best thing you can do is to be organized. This not only helps you, but it makes it easier and more efficient for your tax preparer (if you use someone else to prepare your taxes for you). It makes the whole process a lot shorter from start to finish, and you will get your refund much quicker (especially if you e-file and have your refund directly deposited to your account).


Here are a few steps to help make tax time a bit easier for you.


a. Take an envelope or folder and label it Tax Documents. Here you will place everything that you will need as you prepare for your taxes.
b. Make a list of all your interest-bearing accounts that you have (including checking, savings, certificates of deposit, etc.). Your tax form from last year will be a big help to you in getting all these accounts in order.
c. W2 forms.
d. If you have any stocks and bonds, get that information from your broker if you have not received this information already.
e. Every time you receive any kind of interest forms (1099-Int., 1099-Div, 1099-R) or any kind of tax statement, cross that off your list until they are all marked as received.
f. If you sold stocks or bonds or mutual funds during the year, gather all the information you can. You will need purchase prices and dates of when these transactions took place.
g. If you have rental property, you will need rent receipts, utility bills, mortgage statements, real estate taxes, repair bills, insurance bills, etc.
h. Gather all your receipts you plan to use when filing your taxes including but not limited to charitable donations, unreimbursed business expenses (gas, meals, travel, supplies, tolls, etc.), education expenses, child-care costs, documented moving expenses or job search expenses, medical expenses, medical insurance premiums, church donations, and/or pharmacy expenses not covered by insurance.
i. If you made any large purchases during the year, such as an automobile or large appliance, put those receipts in your folder as well.
j. Keep this folder handy as a general reminder to keep yourself organized and not to wait until the last minute to start preparing your taxes.


Keep in mind this is a very generic list. All of the above mentioned items may not apply to your particular situation or you may have a much more complicated tax situation. This is just something to get you started on the right path to filing your tax return. Some of the mistakes that taxpayers make when filing income taxes include waiting until the last minute to file, not being prepared, or losing out on deductions due to missing or incomplete information from lack of planning. You can request an extension to the filing deadline but keep in mind that you are still responsible to pay interest on any taxes you owe.


Many people like to do their own taxes and that is just great. Filing with the help of a program such as TurboTax can save you money but if your taxes are more complicated, you might want to seek the advice of a CPA to do your taxes. Consider how complicated your return will be when deciding the best way to do your taxes. One of the best books that I know of for helping with income taxes is J.K. Lasser’s “Your Income Tax 2014” for preparing your 2013 tax return. Subjects covered in his book include the basics of filing, what you have to report as income, what deductions can you claim, how much tax do you owe, strategies to help you save on your taxes, and planning ideas for your business. Once you are done, Lasser explains how you file electronically, filing extensions, amended returns, and IRS audits. We have a copy of this book at the library, please be sure to come in and check it out!

 

February 17, 2014

 

Read “The Giver,” and See the MLC Production
Kris Wiley, Assistant Library Director

I was a latecomer to the young adult book “The Giver” by Lois Lowry, and I checked it out only because Sue O. wouldn’t stop talking about it when we worked together. Once I started it, I couldn’t put it down, and I sure knew why Sue was raving. Beautiful writing, compelling characters, enough suspense to keep a reader guessing – all wrapped up in a dystopian setting. And Lowry published the book in 1993, long before dystopia became cool.

So I read “The Giver” last year, thought it was great, moved on to the next book on my pile, and didn’t give it much thought again until I heard that Martin Luther College Forum was planning to present the stage version. Actually, I got an e-mail from the play’s producer, Kristi Koelpin, wondering whether the library would partner on a program. We quickly agreed on an event that would provide a behind-the-scenes look at the making of a play. We called it Backstage Pass, and it happened last week.

Not too many people showed up for the program, but those of us who did had a fantastic experience. We learned about the sound system and how the sound technician pulled together effects that were approved by the director. And how the sound and light technicians have coordinated to bring Jonas’s visions to life. The heartbeat effect was particularly inspired.

Our next stop was the set, and the set managers shared how they worked with Kristi’s ideas to develop three areas on the stage. My favorite was the Giver’s office, which had loads of books all over the floor and a giant bookcase that was being painted by talented MLC students.

We saw the green room, which seemed to be the hangout for the cast and crew. Lots of chairs, a beat-up couch – it was so cozy and inviting I got a little nostalgic for my college days. There’s work done in the green room, though, because that’s where hair and makeup reside. I had no idea actors use white makeup on their eyelids to make their eyes pop. And props also are located in the green room, which is how I found out that all those books on stage actually were boxed up in the prop area.

Finally, we went back to the stage and met most of the actors. There were freshmen and seniors, novices and veterans represented, and I think all of them had read “The Giver” before they auditioned. The director and three of the actors worked on a scene, so we saw some of the stage directions. And then the director let the actors finish the scene – teasing me just enough that I can’t wait to see the full production.

I was amazed by the professionalism of the cast and crew and by their willingness to spend time presenting Backstage Pass. The production is entirely student-run, so these gifted young people are preparing a fantastic play while working as full-time students. And they all seemed as genuinely pleased to present this behind-the-scenes event as we were to attend. I hope this is only the first of many Backstage Pass collaborations.
I’ll be in the audience this weekend (the schedule is Friday, February 21 and Saturday, February 22 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, February 23 at 2 p.m.) enjoying the show and knowing just how much thought, time, and effort went into the production.

 

February 10, 2014

NEW DVDS AT THE LIBRARY
by Larry Hlavsa, Library Director

There’s always new books at the Library, but I’m here to tell you there’s always new DVDs as well. Though I’m usually immersed in the latest documentaries which have arrived (there’s a couple of those below), this month I’ve been watching more feature films. Here are some I recommend:

Inequality for All (2013).  Economist, columnist and academic Robert Reich produced this documentary on how the widening income gap in America is having a devastating impact on the economy. This film got very limited play in movie theatres last fall (shown in only one theatre in Minnesota), so if you haven’t heard of this, think of it as An Inconvenient Truth for the economy. Be forewarned, however, this is scary, disturbing stuff.

Captain Phillips (2013). A film that re-tells the story of the 2009 hijacking of a container ship by Somali pirates, the kidnapping of the captain of the vessel and his rescue by Navy Seals. Wonderfully acted by Tom Hanks, but also featuring a great performance by Somali-American actor Barkhad Abdi (whose family emigrated to the United States when he was 14, settling in Minneapolis). Abdi is a graduate of Moorhead State University and has received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in the film.

A Place at the Table (2012).  Tells the powerful story of three Americans who don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Attempting to illuminate America’s “hunger crisis,” the filmmakers portray these people as having missed out on the American dream, and as part of 50 million in America who don’t get enough to eat. Join actor Jeff Bridges and others for this intimate story.  Why Jeff Bridges?  In 1984, Bridges and other entertainment industry leaders founded the “End Hunger Network” aimed at encouraging, stimulating and supporting action to end childhood hunger. They’re still trying.

Enough Said (2013). This charming  romantic comedy was James Gandolfini’s last film (released after his untimely passing) and it’s a good one. Co-starring  Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, the plot centers around two divorced people questioning their own impressions and wondering if life really offers second chances.

Dallas Buyers Club (2014). An offbeat dramedy starring Matthew McConaughey as Texas cowboy, Ron Woodroof, whose life is turned upside down when he is diagnosed with AIDS.  Determined to survive his diagnosis, Woodroof looks for both legal and illegal treatments in his quest for life. Co-stars Jennifer Garner.

Downtown Abbey (2013). Season 4.  People keep telling me to watch this period British drama about life among the upper-crust in 1920s England.  So far I’ve resisted. But other Library staff  say it’s a marvelous drama, and well worth watching. The cast this season includes American guest stars Paul Giamatti and Shirley MacLaine, two of my favorites, so maybe I’ll finally succumb to temptation? Maybe you should, too?

So that’s what’s new this week. We’ll see you at the Library!

February 3, 2014

 

North of Boston
Betty J Roiger, Acquistions

Christmas Day found Doug and me out shoveling. With shovels. Cuz we don’t have one of those complicated things, you know, a kid to do it for us. While outside I started thinking about a James Lileks short story where he mentions shoveling. Lileks is a Minnesota author, and this is what he wrote: “When I began, I was determined to do a good job, to expose every last square millimeter of concrete to the cold sun. A brass band could march down my sidewalk. After a half an hour, I decided that people could damn well walk single file … Half an hour later, I was shoveling out a trail best suited for unicyclists.”

I was making a Lileks path, wide enough for a person to traverse, knowing Doug would come behind and shovel end to end on the sidewalk so elephants could easily navigate it. Being outside shoveling, basically alone in my own head, my mind bounced from books to TV. I was reminded of an argument between Archie Bunker and his son-in-law about what to put on their feet in case of a fire. Archie said, “A sock and a sock and a shoe and a shoe!” and Rob would put on a sock and a shoe. Archie was having a fit, and Rob said, “Your way you would be standing outside in the rain in wet socks. My way I could hop around on one dry foot!” That’s how Doug and I shovel. I just want to get some of it shoved aside so there’s walking room, and Doug wants every flake moved.

Anyhow, it was OK shoveling, but it got even better when a nice neighbor came over with one of those complicated things, you know, a snow blower, and bailed us out.

With no shoveling left to do, my brain slid back to the really cool book I had just read. I met the character Pirio Kasparov in Elisabeth Elo’s “North of Boston.” Since her best friend’s ex needs a hand on his lobster boat, she offers to help. It’s early, cold, and foggy when a freighter comes out of the gloom. There’s no time to react. Pirio dives; Ned has time only to give their location before the boat is totaled and he is lost. After four hours Pirio is saved, becoming a medical miracle for surviving hypothermia.

As time passes, she continues to ask how the investigation into finding the careless freighter is going, only to run into dead ends. So for the sake of Ned’s son, she starts to dig for answers on her own. This book took me places I didn’t know much about (perfumes, fishing, hypothermia, the evil men do for sport) but for me, Pirio was worth following. She is spunky, interesting, stubborn, and sarcastic. Sometimes her inner monologue had me laughing out loud. When she runs into an old lover at Ned’s funeral, she thinks, “More sadly, all the once-sharp bodily angles are rounded, as if it had been decided by the gatekeepers of middle age that they’d be better off padded for their own protection by a layer of fleshy bubble wrap.” Reading this mystery, I got totally and enjoyably wrapped up in a story that weaves together strands of Pirio’s life, her friends, world issues, and murder. And that was so much more fun than scoop, throw, shuffle, scoop…well, you get my drift. Drift, ha-ha, get it? Yeah, I am the world’s worst shoveler. But I know a good book when I read one.

 

January 27, 2014

 

Enjoying Time Indoors
Katy Hiltner, Children’s Librarian

While I encourage reading all year round, I think there is something extra nice about reading books during winter’s coldest days. For this librarian, there is nothing better than snuggling with a good book and a warm blanket. Add a cup of hot chocolate (with marshmallows, of course) and you’ve got a perfect way to spend time indoors.

Here in the Children’s Room, we always have an assortment of books to browse. Each month, we like to highlight a particular theme or genre in our book displays. This month’s featured displays are “Once Upon a Time…” (fairy tale picture books for all ages), “Snow Books” and “Valentine’s Day” (picture books), and “Travel Back in Time” (junior books). We’ve also created a “Books You May Have Missed” display in the junior area. These undiscovered library gems are reads just waiting to be checked out. Be sure to stop by this display to give these books a second look.

With a new year upon us, it’s always a good time to read something different. I was thrilled to learn of a fifth-grade class that’s reading mysteries. There are so many mystery books to choose from whether it be the classic Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys mysteries or something more contemporary like The 39 Clues or Keepers of the School series. If you’re looking for a mystery book, just browse the book stacks and look for a green mystery sticker on the book spines. In fact, you can look in the junior book stacks for an assortment of genres. A “sticker guide” makes it easy to find a favorite genre whether it be mystery, fantasy, science fiction, or historical fiction.

Once you’ve found a good book, be sure to tell others about it! The fifth-graders who are reading mysteries are having fun sleuthing, and they are excitedly talking about their books with classmates. It’s a reminder that at any age, you can surprise yourself with the discovery of a new genre. If you find a book you like, go ahead and tell others about it. For adults, the perfect opportunity to share books is by signing up for the Adult Winter Reading Program. Stop by the Service Center to report if something is a hot read or it left you cold.

Of course, we cannot stay cooped up indoors all winter. If you’re stuck on the not-so-great winter roadways, I’d highly recommend popping an audio book into your CD player. The library has great audiobooks for all ages. My main resource for audio book recommendations is our very own Carla Fjeld. As Carla will advise, the reader of each book makes all the difference. Thanks to Carla, I’ve discovered the joys of Rosemary Wells’ “On the Blue Comet,” and Jennifer Jacobson’s “Small as An Elephant,” both junior audiobooks. Two more titles to check out are the junior audiobook “Summer at Forsaken Lake” and the young adult audiobook “Cleopatra’s Moon.” These audiobooks are a great reminder of how a good book can help you escape to warmer places, if only for a short time.

While many of us are anxiously waiting for early signs of spring, there is hope in knowing that a book or an audiobook can give us the much relished escape from the cold of winter. As Dave Barry writes, “Reading [is] a vacation for the mind...” Here at the New Ulm Public Library, we invite you to stop by the library to check out a “book vacation.”

 

January 20, 2014

 

New Year’s Resolution
Linda Lindquist, Adult Services/Reference Librarian


You want to shed a few pounds or do something to get rid of that sluggish feeling you have been experiencing. January is a popular time for making this kind of resolution. Gray, cold, wintery type days make us want hot drinks, chocolate cookies, and thick sweaters. We don’t want to think of salad-based diets or tight fitting workout clothing. Juicing is a good way to add color and fresh fruits to not only pep you up but also to hint that summer will be here before we know it.


Are you feeling stressed and exhausted these days? By adding a colorful variety of fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet, in the forms of fresh juices and smoothies, you can decrease the harmful effects of stress and fatigue on your body. Two books that we have at the library are “The Juice Lady’s Remedies for Stress & Adrenal Fatigue” by Cherie Calbom and “The Handbook of Smoothies and Juicing: A Guide to Mixing Over 200 Healthy Drinks” by Judith Millidge. Calbom’s book has many recipes and tips for ways to lower your stress levels, how to combat stress eating, and nine common symptoms of adrenal fatigue. In looking through Judith Millidge’s book of smoothies, most of the recipes call for ingredients that you have in your refrigerator—you don’t have to make special purchases to make these smoothies.


Do you like to eat out but not really sure what is really healthy? “The Calorie King Calorie, Fat & Carbohydrate Counter” book should be of help. From Applebee’s to Culver’s to Perkin’s to Red Lobster, you are able to see how many calories are in the product, see the fat content, and the carbohydrate content as well. This is a very handy little book to keep on hand for reference. And the size is such that it can fit nicely in your purse. Another book for quick reference is entitled “Eat This Not That! Supermarket Survival Guide” by David Zinczenko. You can open this book to any page and find food items that can be switched to help you save pounds. The New Ulm Public Library has a newer edition of this book on order.


I have been hearing more and more about eating “raw.” I am not totally sold on this idea but I know that many people are, so I looked at a few of the books that we have at the New Ulm Public Library on this subject. Three of the books that we have on the shelves include “Raw Food for Real People: Living Vegan Food Made Simple” by Rod Rotondi, “Rawlicious: Delicious Raw Recipes for Radiant Health” by Peter and Beryn Daniel, and Erica Palmcrantz Aziz’s book “Fabulous Raw Food: Detox, Lose Weight, and Feel Great in Just Three Weeks.” Each of these books shows that a diet that includes a high percentage of raw foods is not difficult to achieve. Each books has recipes that gives a person the opportunity to decide just how much of a change they want to make in their eating habits.


Most of us know Al Roker from the Today show on NBC. At almost 350 pounds, he made a promise to his father that he was going to change himself. He managed to lose quite a bit of weight, but gradually he started gaining it back. That is when he devised a plan and stuck to it. It wasn’t always easy, it never is, but his book should be of inspiration to all. There will be setbacks and frustrations, just don’t lose faith in yourself. His book is informative and humorous as well. Look in the 613.25s at the library for his book as well as many other good reads. If you are searching for a particular book and do not see it on our shelves, stop at the Service Center. We can search our system and all of Minnesota for the book for you. Good luck to you in keeping your resolutions for 2014!

 

January 13, 2014

 

We Love Author Visits
Betty J Roiger, Acquisitions & Kris Wiley, Assistant Library Director


B: I’m so excited! William Kent Krueger spoke at the library last night!


K: I know! I was there. Actually I helped set it up for the library in conjunction with Donna Lambrecht and the United Way of the Brown County Area as the first program of this year’s Life Living Series.


B: I was probably the last New Ulm person to read “Ordinary Grace,” a novel set in a mythical small, German Minnesota town. I finished it this past weekend so I was glad to have some of my questions answered by the author himself.


K: He was an entertaining speaker. Narrated by a 13-year-old boy, “Ordinary Grace” takes place in the summer of 1961, when a series of deaths, possibly murder, suicide, or accident, unfolds as Frank struggles to understand a confusing adult world. I couldn’t hear all of your questions, though.


B: Well, I am always fascinated by titles, and I wondered at this one. At a funeral when Nathan, the Methodist minister, pauses before saying grace, his wife, who’s on her last nerve, snaps and says something to the effect “can’t you ever say an ordinary grace?” So I got that reference to the title, but I really felt Nathan lived an ordinary grace, quietly suffering yet standing firm, striving to put one foot in front of the other as his best self. Mr. Krueger told us that yes, the two characters that he felt had ordinary grace were Nathan and his son Jake, who stutters. And when he explained that, I could see that in Jake, as well.


K: There were some interesting questions about Krueger’s Cork O’Connor mystery series and why he decided to make Cork a composite of Ojibwe and Irish Catholic heritage. Krueger found the contrast an interesting dynamic, and as a reader I agree. In fact, I’m a big fan of the Cork O’Connor series and recommend it to people who like a protagonist who evolves throughout a series.


B: Because Krueger’s visit was funded in part through a Legacy grant from the Traverse des Sioux Library Cooperative, we were able to add a number of additional copies of the O’Connor series to meet demand.


K: Back to his talk: It was funny when Krueger said he wanted to be Hemingway when he began writing and it wasn’t until he failed that he really could write.


B: I know probably many locals liked the setting of “Ordinary Grace,” but I loved his imagery. His description of car lights flickering around outbuildings enchanted me: “Far off along the highway to Mankato car headlights flew across the face of the hills and barns and outbuildings and they reminded me of fireflies.” And this moment in the church at Bobby’s funeral was quietly evocative: “It was quiet in the church when he finished and the breeze that swept through the open doors cooled us and the flowers beside the coffin rustled as if someone had passed by.” Which I told Mr. Krueger, and he responded to the group by saying : “This woman thinks I’m Hemingway,” which brought a great laugh.

 
K: The best part for me was his plea to parents, friends, and relatives to exclaim when children they know show an interest in the arts. He wrote “The Walking Dictionary” in the third grade, and his parents “oohed and ahhed” over it, and that actually started him on his path.


B: I loved that, too. I’m all for early encouragement and enjoyment of the written word. You know I think all books, for any age, need to be enjoyed. I just love to be taken anywhere a book wants to take me. And plunging into a summer in Minnesota in 1961, sipping Kool-Aid, with “Have Gun Will Travel” and “Ed Sullivan” playing in the background during a cold winter weekend was a great place to visit.

 

January 6, 2014

 

ITSSOCOLDIGOTTAREAD.COM
by Larry Hlavsa, Library Director

It’s been a long time since I polled New Ulm Library staff for their favorite Web sites. However, I did so this week and got quite a variety of recommendations. You might find some of these interesting!

Topdocumentaryfilms.com – It has a long name, but this Web site is wonderful if you’re interested in FREE, streaming documentary films. While it hosts none of the films itself, the site provides transparent links to hundreds of full-length documentaries on Google Video and YouTube. Some of the documentaries are old, some are new; some are radical, funny, depressing, or all of the above. You can even sign up for a mailing list for when new documentaries are added. Maybe best of all, there are no advertisements in any of the videos. I love this site.

Bookriot.com – Assistant library director, Kris Wiley, loves this site and says that their motto—“Always Books. Never Boring” is pretty much spot on. What does it do? BookRiot.com is really about “talking about books with other readers.” There are professional writers who frequent this site, but there are more people just like you and me who simply love books. A key philosophy of the site is “the book is always better than the movie.” Isn’t that true!? Kris says the site has great tips on forthcoming titles, and suggests not missing the writings of “well-redheads” who provide great, funny reviews.

FantasticFiction.com – The main thing I can say about this site is –“Fantastic!” With information on over 350,000 titles and 30,000 authors, you can search by author or by title. And once you’ve found a title, besides info on that title, FantasticFiction.com provides links of where to buy it new, used or in e-book format. It even provides links to Abebooks.com (see below). I used it find 54 titles by James Michener including a $1 copy (plus shipping) of “Centennial.” One staff member said—“This site is great for finding information about the series of a particular author.” Great for finding information about forthcoming books as well!

EarlyWord.com – This site categorizes itself as the librarian/publisher connection, but don’t worry, they won’t check your library card for proof that you’re a bookworm. EarlyWord.com has lots of information on “best books lists,” lots of links to reviews, and lots of chat (including audio) with and about prominent authors. Great lists of award winners, publisher’s catalogs and even a list of books being made into movies! Our fiction expert, Betty Roiger, says—“EarlyWord.com is a bright and colorful site and fun to browse through. Early Word alerts me to good books that are coming out and has links to other book review sites. It uses fun popular culture references such as when an author shows up on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, or when Stephen Colbert gives a ‘Colbert bump’ to a book. Early Word is awesome for librarians and book lovers.”

Abebooks.com – This is a gateway extraordinaire for used books available through thousands of used booksellers selling millions of titles throughout the world. I’m almost sure that—“If you can’t find it at Abebooks.com, it can’t be found!” The vast inventory of Abebooks.com ranges across every possible genre and sector in publishing – new, used, rare, antiquarian, and even out-of-print. You can even look up the holdings of participating Minnesota independent booksellers! Or you could become an independent bookseller yourself through an Abebooks.com program. I have used Abebooks.com to find a number of vintage Abraham Lincoln titles that were not available in Minnesota.

After the 50 below wind chills earlier this week, one staff member suggested ITSSOCOLDIGOTTAREAD.COM for my list, but I’m sharp and realized she was pulling my leg. I think she just wanted the day off to catch up on some reading.

 

December 30, 2013

 

Reading Program for Adults Begins January 6
Kris Wiley, Assistant Director

Your New Ulm Public librarians love talking about books, and one of the ways we encourage your input is by sponsoring the Winter Reading Program for adults. This year’s program is scheduled for January 6 through February 28 and is open to all adults.

Here’s how this free program will work: Beginning January 6, register at the Service Center. Then log every book you read or listen to through February 28 on a ballot provided by the library. Drop the ballot into the designated box at the Service Center. Everyone who logs at least one title will be eligible to receive a free book. Log at least four titles to be eligible for additional prizes; winners will be drawn randomly.

This year we’re working with the theme “Burning Up for Books.” You’ll notice the ballots provided by the library come in several colors, which correspond to the thermometer on the bulletin board near the Service Center. Dark blue is for lousy books that leave you cold; light blue is for not-so-great books; yellow is for OK books; orange is for good books; and red is for great books that have you raving to all your friends and librarians. This is a completely subjective assessment, so you can base your selection on writing style, plot, character development, overall enjoyment, or any other consideration. Then take a look at the thermometer on the bulletin board. I’ll be posting the titles you read there, and you might see something new you would like to read.

Need some inspiration to get you started? How about reading books by the three authors who will visit the library for the Life Living Series? The library is thrilled to partner with the United Way of the Brown County Area for this year’s project, “Telling Our Stories.” On Monday, Jan. 13 at 7 p.m. in the library meeting room, we will welcome our first guest, bestselling author William Kent Krueger. Best known for his Cork O’Connor mystery series set in the North Country, Krueger will discuss his latest novel, “Ordinary Grace.” This standalone book is set in New Bremen, Minnesota, a fictionalized Minnesota River Valley town, in 1961. The story is told 40 years later from the perspective of Frank Drum, whose life changed over the course of that one summer.

The Life Living Series will continue Monday, Feb. 10 with author Kevin Kling and Monday, Feb. 17 with author Lorna Landvik. All programs begin at 7 p.m. and are free and open to the public. Seating is first come, first served. This series is made possible by the United Way of the Brown County Area and a grant provided by the Traverse des Sioux Library Cooperative and was funded in part with money from Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

Stop by the library to pick up a book by these great authors, and while you’re here, register for the reading program and share your reading experiences with us. See you at the library

 

December 23, 2013

 

There is No History, Only Biography
by Larry Hlavsa, Library Director

“There is properly no history, only biography” proclaimed that pre-eminent American philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson. As we approach the end of 2013, the list of those Americans departed in the past twelve months has grown long. Through the New Ulm Library you may borrow biographies, or autobiographies of many of these people. For the fledgling authors among you, some eminent Americans who died this year seem to have no biographers. Maybe you’re a biographer? Anyway, here are just a few of the people whose biographies you may wish to consider reading.

Jonathon Winters (d Apr 11, 2013, aged 87). The comedy pre-cursor of Robin Williams (and many others), Johnny was known, remembered and beloved by many of the babyboomer generation. Is there a one of us who has forgotten his character, “Maudie Fricket”? For his life and philosophy, see “Winters’ Tales: Stories and Observations for the Unusual” (1988). Sadly, there appears to be no biography out there yet on Jonathan Winters. This is one I’d personally like to do.

Roger Ebert (d Apr 4, 2013, aged 70). Is there anyone in their 50s to 70s who didn’t watch “Sneak Previews” or “At the Movies” with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert? Appearing throughout the last decades of the 20th century, these two critics guided many (dare I say most?) moviegoers of their generation. Ebert died this year after a courageous decade-long struggle with cancer. I give his memoir—“Life Itself” (2011)—“Two Thumbs Up!”

George Jones (d Apr 26, 2013, aged 81). If you’re not a country music fan, then maybe you won’t recognize the name George Jones. On the other hand, if you are a country music fan, how could you not recognize the name of the singer who dominated the charts for six decades. Jones was often termed “the greatest living country singer” and deserved the moniker. There’s no quality biography on him available yet so check out his autobiographical ” I Lived to Tell It All” (1996).

Annette Funicello (d Apr 8, 2013, aged 70). Who can forget their first love? For a lot of pre-adolescent boys of the 1950s, their first love was Annette Funicello of “Mickey Mouse” fame. While Ms. Funicello went on to many beach movies in her teens and 20s, to those of us who were pre-adolescent boys in the 50s, she will always just be “Annette.” Ms. Funicello succumbed to MS this year. She told her story in “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” (1994).

Ernest Borginine (d Jul 8, 2012, aged 95). Okay, I’m throwing in “Ernie” even though he died back in 2012. To me, Ernie was one of a truly select group of great actors of the post-war era. If you haven’t seen “Marty” (in which he plays a really good guy) or “From Here to Eternity” (in which he plays a really bad guy), then treat yourself some evening. You can also read his autobiography “Ernie” (2008).

Margaret Thatcher (d Apr 8, 2013, aged 87). No one can say the “Iron Lady” didn’t make a mark on the world, though perhaps as many regard it as a black mark as a positive one. Nonetheless, her story is fascinating and can be found in her autobiographical “Margaret Thatcher” (2013). A critical portrait of her can be found in “The Iron Lady: A Biography of Margaret Thatcher” (1990). The definitive biography remains to be written.

Pauline Friedman Phillips (d Jan 16, 2013, aged 94). If the name Pauline Phillips means nothing to you, how about “Abigail van Buren,” or “Dear Abby”? The advice columnist for generations was read by fans and critics alike over the last half of the twentieth century. You didn’t have to agree with Abby to find her columns required reading. Her story (and her sisters) can be found in “Dear Abby: The Unauthorized Biography of Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren” (1987).

Others who died in 2013 included: Deanna Durbin, Tom Clancy, David Frost, Elmore Leonard
Helen Thomas, James Gandolfini, Esther Williams, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Van Cliburn, Stan Musial, Peter O’Toole, Joan Fontaine and Ken Norton. Many of these have not been the subject of biographies, but much information on each of them can be found online. Don’t know how to find it? Ask for help at the New Ulm Library!

 

 

December 16, 2013

 

What’s for Christmas?
Betty J Roiger, Acquisitions

If you have been reading “Off the Shelf,” you might know that the staff has been talking about the best books we have read this year. Wouldn’t the best books also make the best gifts?

“Wool” by Hugh Howey made my list. Independently published science fiction, “Wool” takes place in a silo that looks out upon desolation. You wouldn’t think a lot could happen in a silo, but this is an amazing page-turner. The suspense and action build as characters move up and down the silo struggling to solve mysteries and stay alive. The good news is that Howey wrote the sequel, “Shift,” and completed the trilogy with “Dust.” So how are they? I was in line for them, but they keep checking out! Meanwhile, Sue O has flown through the series and loved, loved, loved them. So what am I waiting for? Well, Christmas. Hopefully they’ll be under our tree. (Please, Santa!)

Kris and I both recently raved about “Dead Mountain” by Donnie Eichar. This book would make an amazing gift. Solving the mystery of why nine kids didn’t hike out of Siberia in the 1950s was just the most engrossing nonfiction I’ve read in a while. Another nonfiction book I’m giving this year is called “Everything I Need To Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book” by Diane E. Muldrow. If you grew up with Golden Books like I did, this book will take you back and make you smile. Pictures of the tawny, scrawny lion and the pokey little puppy accompany a whimsical guide for grownups.


Need ideas for that young adult in your life? Try “Six Months Later” by Natalie Richards. Chloe falls asleep in study hall in May and wakes up to find snow on the ground. She’s gone from being a single, mediocre student to dating the handsome jock and getting straight “A’s.” Great as that seems, she has no memory of the past six months, her best friend hates her, and too many things just don’t add up. I liked discovering things right along with Chloe as she tried to create a timeline for her lost life. This was a fun little mystery. And (no spoiler) there is a cooler, cuter boy who shows up to help her. Yay!


I also liked “Throne of Glass” by Sarah J. Maas. In a world that once held magic and cures, the king is slowly destroying any and all things connected to knowledge and healing. Page one: Eighteen-year-old Celaena, the greatest assassin in all the land, is in prison. The king’s son wants her to enter a contest for the best (baddest) assassin. The prize … serving the king and living free. Even though the king is pure evil, Celaena takes the challenge. This is a great fantasy, the first of a trilogy. The characters are well developed, smart, and interesting, and there is a lot going on. This was a wonderful read. I’m currently reading the second book, “Crown of Midnight,” and it is as hard to put down as the first one was. Just where do an assassin’s loyalties lie?


For middle school readers, “Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library” by Chris Grabenstein was a lot of fun to read. Kyle is the main character; he is a goofball and an avid game player. When awesome game creator Mr. Lemoncello builds a library in his hometown, Kyle wants to win one of the coveted spots for a library lock-in. Only a dozen children are chosen to solve puzzles and play games to find the secret exit. This book had a funny “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” vibe that I really enjoyed.


There were a few picture books this year that I completely loved for different reasons. David Wiesner’s “Mr. Wuffles” is a wonderful wordless work of art. Mr. Wuffles is a gorgeous tuxedo cat that has a little, tiny, occupied spaceship trapped in his house. You have to “read” it to know what I mean. Beautiful, inventive, fun, and a little strange, this book was a feast for the eyes and the imagination.


“The Day the Crayons Quit” by Drew Daywalt is a hilarious take on what would happen if a box of misused crayons went on strike and left outraged notes for their bewildered user. Black wants to do more than just outlining, while Orange and Yellow are fighting. Both believe they are the color of the sun. Fun and funny, this picture book would be great for kids and parents who might have to read it over and over.


“How to Train a Train” by Jason Carter Eaton is just the best train picture book ever. Finding advice for the care and feeding of a new puppy or kitten is easy, but this book is everything you need to know to find and keep your very own pet train. First, you coax them to you with lumps of coal, and seriously, it just gets sweeter and funnier from there.


Whoever is on your Christmas list, books always make a great gift, and there are plenty of good ones from which to choose. Happy hunting and happy holidays!

 

December 9, 2013

 

Yes, Betty, There Is a Santa
Betty J. Roiger, Acquisitions

Back in 1897, a little girl wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper asking the question, “Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?” Virginia’s friends had told her there was no Santa, and she was worried. The response that was written to her has gone down in history. Part of it reads: “Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age.” And continues: “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist...”

I would like to add my two cents saying, I agree: Yes, there is a Santa--sometimes there are many. They go by different names and don’t always wear the red suit. And I doubt they are jumping in and out of chimneys, but they are just as generous as old St. Nick. I think if we look, we can find Santa embodied in the spirit of others.

This year when things were squeaky tight in the materials budget area, we were given an unexpected gift of $1000 from a very special Santa. If you are an avid reader or a member of a book club, this gift likely made a difference for you. This contribution allowed us to purchase approximately 90 more titles for our fiction collection that we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to finance.

The many Santas who make up the Lions Club of New Ulm very generously gave the library money for large print this year. Large print is a very important piece of our library, and we count on the Lions to supplement our large print collection for us. To be able to read at any age is a gift, and the Lions grant many people that continued joy.

Throughout the year, we have been given generous donations and memorials from various community members, much of which have gone into collections providing picture books, readers, junior books, fiction, and nonfiction for our community. Other donations have been provided by community groups for children’s and family programs.

Additional thanks really must go to the Santas who disguise themselves as Friends of the Library. Thanks to all the members who continue to renew or add their membership dues and for supporting the library with fundraising events. These right jolly (yes) old (no) elves graciously work to raise funds to facilitate our programs and materials. Not only do they support our library collections, many of our programs come to life due to our Friends. Thanks, too, to all the folks who browse our book sale and help us.

I did not know Hildegard “Kitty” Lieb, but there are many days I silently thank her. When “Kitty” died, she left the library an endowment, and that endowment’s interest has bailed out our dwindling materials budget many times over the years. What an extraordinary gift! She has been as welcome to our library as Kris Kringle is for eager children. Although it isn’t every year that we use the interest, I cannot begin to express how her continuing gift has enriched our collections.

Maybe this is the place where I can add that I also believe in the existence of another seasonal character, as well. I would like to extend a special thanks to The Grinch for dragging himself from his cave and enduring the children’s laughter and cheer with his begrudging good humor. Seeing The Grinch in action, I have to say I don’t know the last time I laughed so hard. Even The Grinch was playing Santa for us this year.

“Please tell me, is there a Santa Claus?” Well, I can attest, yes, I think that Santa exists. The Santas in New Ulm are mysterious and many, generous and thoughtful. And what would I say to Santa if I saw him? I would whisper a heartfelt “thank you.” The gifts you give us last the whole year and more. Merci. Gracias. Danke. Thank you.

 

December 2, 2013

 

Holiday Baking
Linda Lindquist, Adult Services/Reference Librarian


What’s that I smell? Cookies and breads baking? We must be getting closer to the holidays as all those wonderful smells come wafting through the air bombarding my senses. It makes me want to go home and dig out all my cookie recipes and start baking for Christmas.


I took a few minutes and went to the bookshelves here at the New Ulm Public Library to find what we have in our baking collection. Of course, I found a bunch of great cookbooks! Then I started to look online at Amazon and found some new and interesting cookbooks to add to the collection. Hopefully these new books will be here soon and out on the shelves for patrons to check out.


Are you going to be involved with a cookie swap this holiday season? Good Housekeeping’s book, “The Great Christmas Cookie Swap Cookbook” has many good suggestions for you. It starts out telling you how to host a cookie swap, then moves on to bar cookies, drop cookies, rolled and cut-out cookies, and then on to shaped and refrigerator cookies. There are lots of hints for decorating cookies as well. This is just a neat handy book to have on hand to help anyone during this busy time.


“Betty Crocker Christmas Cookbook” is a wonderful book to get anyone in the holiday spirit. It is full of wonderful Christmas cooking, decorating, and entertaining ideas. There are 250 recipes to help give you ideas for wonderful family feasts plus a holiday survival guide to help you plan, organize, and prepare a perfect party—without all the stress. Also included are some fun gift ideas and craft projects that everyone can have fun making and sharing. The pictures, as always, are wonderful.


All you Debbie Macomber fans will want to check out “Debbie Macomber’s Christmas Cookbook.” She loves this holiday and all its traditions and wants to share her recipes so everyone can have a joyous holiday season. She reminisces about her personal memories and observations both past and present. She shows you how to set a beautiful holiday table, how to decorate your home, and also how to make Christmas crafts and decorations with children. This cookbook can help you to create your own memories and traditions with your family.


A book that is on order for our library and should be here shortly is “Vegan for the Holidays: Celebration Feasts for Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day” by Zel Allen. Allen is a Vegan cooking expert who demonstrates that plant-based holiday foods are as delicious, innovative, and elegant as their meat-based counterparts. All of the holidays, from Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Day, are covered in this cookbook.


For kosher bakers, we have on order the book “The Holiday Kosher Baker: Traditional & Contemporary Holiday Desserts.” This is a modern approach to Jewish holiday baking that includes both contemporary and traditional recipes. This book is a collection of delicious, fail-proof baked goods. It includes many innovative and delectable desserts plus dozens of low-sugar, gluten-free, and nut-free treats to enjoy all year.


One other book that is on order and should be here shortly is entitled “The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays: 140 Step-by-Step Recipes for Simple, Scrumptious Celebrations” by Ree Drummond. This collection of recipes, photos, and homespun humor will help you celebrate all through the year. Some of the recipes included in this book are Resolution Smoothie on New Year’s Day, Whiskey BBQ Sliders and Dr. Pepper Cupcakes for The Big Game, Glazed Ham for Easter, Watermelon Sangria for a sizzling Fourth of July cookout, and perfect Popcorn Balls for Halloween. For Christmas she has included Caramel Apple Rolls, Christmas Rum Cake, and a selection of cookies perfect for Christmas delivery to family and friends.


Again, these are just a few of the cookbooks that are on the shelves now or will be here shortly. Come in and see what we have to offer.


Enjoy all your holidays all year ‘round.

 

November 25, 2013

 

Conversations From the Cubicles – We’re Wrapping Up 2013 With a Bow
Betty J Roiger, Acquisitions & Kris Wiley, Assistant Library Director

B: Cubicles are like confessionals, right? I confess I don’t read much nonfiction. I tend to wander off on tangents when I read it, much like reading a story problem: “Two people got on the train at Chicago, one got off in Philly, and if the train was going 50 miles an hour, how cold was it in New York?” and I’m gone.

K: But then last week we were discussing our best of 2013 picks, and I handed you “Dead Mountain” by Donnie Eichar.

B: Yep, I’d never heard of it. You handed it to me and said …

K: … It’s 1959, 10 Russian kids go hiking in the northern Ural Mountains, and only one gets back alive. I read it in two nights.

B: I handed it back and said: Gee, thanks for the spoiler.

K: And I said: You know that from the first page. And then you took it back.

B: I read it in two days, too. It is sort of a college-level merit badge hike, so nine youth trek toward an isolated mountain in Siberia. When they don’t return and there is no word, the search parties go out. They find their tent, solidly upright in the snow, filled with all of their packs and shoes, food left out, and nobody around. Why would anyone leave their only shelter, without boots, at night, in 25 degree below zero weather?

K: Brrr. Creepy and cold. The pictures looked as barren as a moon landscape.

B: Coldest cold case ever! But it read like fiction and put evidence together like an episode of CSI: USSR. Theories ranged from aliens to crazed convicts to avalanches and bomb tests. I gave it a 4 out of 5 —if someone had seen a Yeti, it would have ranked a 5 for me. Other than that, it was tragic, fascinating, bizarre, and illuminating. So glad I read it! What else made your list?

K: Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park was such an honest, real book. Sure, it says it’s young adult fiction, but I think most all of us can relate to the drama and tragedy of high school and bullies and first love. Rowell gets all kinds of kudos from both of us, right?

B: She sure does. I read “Fangirl” and loved it. Cath is starting college, her twin wants her freedom, her Dad is going off the rails, and although online she is one of the most popular authors of fan fiction, in college she is totally alone. It is angst and bravery, love and honesty and just so much darn fun. It’s falling down and getting back up. It’s finding that someone who loves you and will drive through a snowstorm to be there for you. Back to you, Kris!

K: I’m sensing a theme here. My very favorite book of the year was “Me Before You” by Jojo Moyes, and it’s about the relationship between a quadriplegic and his caregiver. Of course they don’t like each other at first, but then … love. But it’s not all hearts and flowers. There are serious issues here, most notably the right to die. I’m not afraid to admit it: I cried.

B: Big surprise! Well, so you were crying, so what?! It’s not a crime! Okay, more confession: I have to say I put a tearjerker on my list, too. I started reading “Love That Dog” by Sharon Creech out loud to Doug in the car. It is a junior book about a boy stuck in an English class having to write his own poetry. It weaves the boy’s efforts with well-known poems. It is beautiful, sweet, and touching. And caught me off-guard; halfway through, I was choking and sobbing, trying to get the words out to finish the story for Doug. The emotional power of poetry is amazing. I loved that dog, and I loved that book.

K: Books that brought smiles, books that brought tears, we’re posting all the staff’s favorites of 2013 on our Web site (www.newulmlibrary.org) and Facebook page. Stop by and let us know what made your best of 2013 list. See you at the library!

 

November 24, 2013

THE MURDER OF JFK: THE SURVEY SAYS
by Larry Hlavsa, Library Director

Last Tuesday, a crowd of over sixty New Ulmers (and a few out-of-towners) gathered to listen to my talk on the Kennedy assassination at the New Ulm Library. The audience viewed some video clips, watched a PowerPoint presentation and collected some handouts. Prior to the program, nearly fifty people in the audience filled out a brief unscientific survey. We did this survey before my presentation since I didn’t want anything I was presenting to change peoples views in any way. After all, the information I presented tended to support the argument that Oswald did not kill the president. The audience was composed mostly of people who’d lived at the time of the assassination. Only a few members of the audience were too young to remember the events of November 22, 1963. I’d like to share the interesting results of this survey with you.

The first question I asked was about Lee Harvey Oswald. Did he kill Kennedy by himself (22.7%), with others (61.4%), or was he innocent of any involvement (15.9%)? I found it surprising that nearly 85% of people thought Oswald was involved in some way in the murder, and that only a few thought Oswald was “a patsy” as he claimed in the Dallas County Jail the day after the assassination.

The second question was TRUE or FALSE, and asked the survey takers if they thought one or more agencies of the U.S. government were involved in a conspiracy to kill JFK. Perhaps tellingly, some 66.7% thought the government was involved, while 33.3% thought this was a false allegation. I’m not sure if this speaks more to the general distrust of government now, or to what we thought back then.

The third question asked the survey takers to check off as many people and/or organizations as they thought had been involved in the assassination. The list included: Oswald (87.0%), C.I.A. (39.1%), Lyndon Johnson (37.0%), the Mafia (30.4%), Secret Service (26.1%), the F.B.I. (15.2%), J Edgar Hoover (15.2%), Other (13.0%), the Russians (10.9%), Industrialists (10.9%), Fidel Castro (8.7%), Bankers (6.5%) and the military (4.3%). Our audience thought by a large majority Oswald was involved (87.0%) in the assassination, thought an agency or person in the U.S. government may have been involved: C.I.A. (39.1%), Lyndon Johnson (37.0%) or the Secret Service (26.1%). The Mafia (30.4%) was also suspected in the assassination. Other individuals or organizations on the list received far fewer votes. I found the absence of votes for Fidel Castro (8.7%) to be highly interesting! NOTE: The total percentages do not add up to 100% since the survey takers could check off as many choices as they wanted.

My fourth question dealt with the Warren Commission. Over the years it has received much criticism and skepticism over its report, so my TRUE or FALSE question was if the Commission had been “fair and impartial in its exploration of who killed Kennedy.” Only 22.0% of the survey takers thought this was the case; fully 78.0% thought the Commission had not been fair and impartial. It made me wonder: had the Warren Commission done a better job, would we now still have so much skepticism over its conclusions?

I also asked people where they were when they learned Kennedy had been shot. Since most of our audience was aged 55 to 75, nearly everyone listed where they had been, some in great detail. The vast majority of our audience, like me, had been in grade school, high school, a few had been in college. The most interesting comment was—“I was in the basement of our house, my husband called me and said they shot Kennedy. I didn’t believe him….”

It’s now fifty years later, and many of us still can’t believe it.

 

November 18, 2013

 

Mark Your Calendars
Katy Hiltner, Children’s Librarian

With a chilly breeze in the air, it is sure a good time to nestle inside with books. It’s also a great time to fill up your calendars with one or all of the library’s upcoming programs.

On Tuesday, Nov. 26 at 6 p.m., John Knisley will present “Winter Snoozers: Minnesota Wildlife Gets Ready for the Cold Season.” Open to all ages, this family program is a chance to learn about the wonders of wildlife.

Here at the library, we invite you to kick off the holiday season with a “Meet and Greet with The Grinch” program on Friday, Nov. 29 at 4 p.m. Stop by before the Parade of Lights to take a photo and wish The Grinch “happy holidays!” But please, don’t delay! The Grinch has to leave at 5:15 p.m. to get ready to join the “Whos in Whoville” for the parade.

The library staff is so excited about the Grinch’s visit that we’ve also planned holiday movies and crafts in the Children’s Room from 3:30-6 p.m. Our goal is to bring so much holiday cheer to the library that the Grinch’s heart just HAS to grow bigger. We hope to see you there!

The holiday cheer continues into December with a special guest visit by Mrs. Claus. She will be visiting the library on Monday, Dec. 9 and Thursday, Dec. 12 at 10 a.m. All are welcome to enjoy stories, songs, treats, and photos. With Santa so busy, Mrs. Claus loves to see the children at the library. The more the merrier!

But wait, there’s more! The library staff and ECFE will host a Bedtime Storytime on Wednesday, Dec. 11 at 6 p.m. Children and their families are invited to stop in to enjoy holiday stories and activities.

This holiday season, we hope that you’re able to fit any one of these programs into your schedule. Registration is not required. If you find out you’re available the night of a program, feel free to stop by. For more information about any of the children’s programs, please call 507-359-8336.

As Thanksgiving is next week, I want to take a moment to extend my thanks to all who make these library programs possible. There are many who come together to help…performers, presenters, sponsors, organizers, volunteers, and library staff. Thanks to all for your hard work and talents! Thank you also to the children and their families who support the library’s programming efforts. Each year, I am filled with gratitude for the support the community extends to the New Ulm Public Library. Thank you to all!

 

November 11, 2013

 

THE MURDER OF JFK: THE BIGGEST COLD CASE EVER
by Larry Hlavsa, Library Director

Everybody who knows me quickly realizes I’m a little obsessed about the John Kennedy assassination. I was thirteen years old, and in 8th grade algebra class, when we suddenly heard a girl screaming in the school hallway. Our teacher went to investigate and came back with the information that Kennedy had been shot in Dallas. Our school was dismissed early that day, and most of us went right home to our television sets.

As many people that weekend, I was glued to the television through the next forty-eight hours. I remained glued when Oswald was murdered (the first live murder in U.S. history), then for another twenty-four hours when Kennedy was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. As with many Americans, I cried often that weekend. It was the cruelest weekend of my teenage years, yet also the most memorable.

Like most people I initially accepted the notion that Lee Harvey Oswald did it, and acted alone. But as the Warren Commission released its report in September, 1964, and as the critics began to multiply, I increasingly became a skeptic myself. When bootleg copies of the Zapruder assassination film began to be shown in the early 70s on American college campuses, it became clear to me and many others, that at the very least, Oswald could not have fired the fatal shot.

Wednesday, November 22, 2013 will mark the fiftieth anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination. In recognition of that anniversary, on Thursday, November 14th at 6:00 p.m., I will present a program at the New Ulm Library entitled—“THE MURDER OF JFK: THE BIGGEST COLD CASE EVER.” Some would argue against dredging up the Kennedy case, but I have always found myself in the camp that says the assassination is a “cold case” and needs to be solved. The victim, a president of the United States, deserves justice and has never had it.

I will use this program to present an eclectic series of film clips, none of which bolster the Warren Commission’s 1964 conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald killed the president, and did so while acting alone.


However, please don’t come expecting a definitive answer as to who the real assassins were. Over the years critics have presented reasonable and sometimes convincing arguments that the assassination was the work of—the CIA, the CIA & Mafia, Fidel Castro, the Russians, Cuban exiles, the Secret Service, a clique of rich businessmen, Oswald, and yes, even Lyndon B. Johnson. After decades of studying the Warren Commission Report (not just the summary, but the twenty-six volumes of evidence), and the books of nearly every critic out there, the only thing I have is a guess as to the most likely guilty parties. After the presentation, I’ll present my guess. Maybe you’ll share yours?

Incidentally, you may have recently heard that recently the American government—which had denied for fifty years the existence of a secret military base known as “Area 51”—has finally admitted its existence. The government has also denied for fifty years that any of its agencies was involved in the murder of President Kennedy, yet it still holds many secret documents relating to the assassination which it withholds for “national security” reasons. Really, fifty years later?

At my presentation I will distribute a bibliography of books on the assassination. Some of these are now decades old, though new books on the topic continue to appear with regularity. Most of these titles are obtainable through your New Ulm Public Library. Join us on Thursday, November 14th at 6:00 p.m. for—“THE MURDER OF JFK: THE BIGGEST COLD CASE EVER.”

 

November 4, 2013

 

Where Were You on November 22, 1963?
Linda Lindquist, Adult Services/Reference Librarian


Think back 50 years ago to November 22, 1963, at precisely 1:00 p.m.—where were you? I distinctly remember sitting in history class when our principal interrupted over the intercom system informing us that our 35th president, John F. Kennedy, had been assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Very few moments are so indelibly etched in our minds that we can recall them clearly.


As you have probably seen or heard, there are many new books that have come out in the past few weeks and months on JFK. We have purchased several of these books for the New Ulm Public Library. I will highlight a few of these books, but I am not going in any order of importance. Not all of these books will appeal to all readers, but that is the beauty of it all. Readers are free to choose from all that has been written.


Robert Dallek’s, “An Unfinished Life,” is probably one of the best Kennedy biographies that have been written to date. Most Americans have turned Kennedy into a celebrity, and historians are not really impressed with this president. Biography writers like Kennedy as a subject, but they feel they have to come up with fresh information on him in order to sell their books. In his newest book, Dallek reveals information about Kennedy’s severe health problems and all the ways the people closest to him have tried to cover it up. “Camelot’s Court: Inside the Kennedy White House” is also written by Dallek. In this book, the author focuses on the fairy-tale aspects of the Kennedy family history and the workings of the Kennedy White House. Unlike his latest book, Dallek doesn’t reveal much new information on the Kennedys.


Thurston Clarke is the author of the book “JFK’s Last Hundred Days: The Transformation of a Man and the Emergence of a Great President.” In this book, Clarke suggests that the death of the Kennedy’s third child, Patrick, brought the parents closer together and may have signaled the end of Kennedy’s womanizing. He also contends that in the final 100 days he was becoming a great president. Clarke feels that Kennedy was persuading the House minority leader Charles Halleck and the Senate minority leader Everett Dirksen to support a civil rights bill. If Kennedy would have been re-elected, he would have pushed the bill through Congress.


Bill O’Reilly’s “Kennedy’s Last Days: The Assassination that Defined a Generation” is a gripping account of the events leading up to the most notorious crime of the twentieth century. O’Reilly vividly describes the Kennedy family’s life in the public eye, the crises facing the president around the world and at home, the nation’s growing fascination with their youthful president, and finally, the shocking events leading up to his demise.


The Editors of LIFE magazine have a new book out entitled “LIFE The Day Kennedy Died: Fifty Years Later: LIFE Remembers the Man and the Moment.” It didn’t take long after President Kennedy was assassinated that LIFE magazine reporters were on the scene. LIFE was always covering the Kennedys

 

October 28, 2013

 

Friends Book Sale November 7-9
Kris Wiley, Assistant Library Director

How amazing are the Friends of the New Ulm Public Library? Pretty amazing! This year alone, the Friends have donated funds for a set of encyclopedias, fiction books, special events, and iPads for the Children’s Room, and they were major sponsors of the Summer Reading Program. And that’s just the start. The Friends are the library’s fiscal agent for grants, the Friends apply for grants to support library programming, and the Friends are some of the library’s biggest fans. See what I mean? Super amazing!

The Friends couldn’t do all of this without community support for the group’s major fundraiser, the annual book sale, which is fast approaching. The book sale begins with a Friends-only preview sale Thursday, November 7 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. The sale continues Friday, November 8 from 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and Saturday, November 9 from 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Everything is 25 cents to 50 cents, and there will be a $3 bag sale Saturday. Our library meeting room will be filled with a wide variety of children’s books, bestsellers, nonfiction titles, classics, and DVDs, thanks to generous donations from the public. Last year in this very column I said we had the largest inventory in our history; I’m pretty confident this year’s stock is even larger.

For those of you who want first pick, here’s a great option: Become a Friend of the Library, and you can shop at the preview sale. Purchase your membership at the door Thursday evening, and you’re welcome to shop immediately. Members who haven’t paid their 2013 dues can pay at the door, as well. Memberships are $5 for individual youth, $10 for individual adult, $20 for family, $50 and over for corporate, and $100 for individual lifetime.

And for those of you doing some fall cleaning, there is time to drop off your book donations for the sale. Bring your boxed books to the library’s Service Center during regular library hours through Saturday, November 2.

All proceeds from the sale go to the Friends of the New Ulm Public Library, who turn around and give back to the library. Funds generated from this year’s book sale will help fund next year’s Summer Reading Program, new materials, special events, and many other things that make New Ulm Public Library a great place to work and visit. As you’re making your way down Broadway between November 7 and 9, stop by the library and show your support for the Friends and the library by purchasing a book. See you at the book sale!

 

October 21, 2013

 

Thanks to the Optimist Club and Library Friends!
Kris Wiley, Assistant Library Director

Your New Ulm Public Library is thrilled to partner with community organizations for a number of public programs. One of our long-standing partners is the Optimist Club of New Ulm, which just approved funding another year of free movie programs at the library. So for another year the library will provide free, family friendly movies at least once a month in our library meeting room – all because of the generosity of our local Optimist group. Thanks, Optimists!


Our next film screening is Saturday, November 16 at 10 a.m. Because of restrictions established by the movie licensing company, the library cannot advertise the name of the film in marketing materials outside of the library. However, I can tell you that the film is rated G and runs 104 minutes. Call our Service Center at 507-359-8331 for the movie title.


All movie events are free and open to the public. We have some beanbags as well as chairs and tables set up to accommodate everyone. We provide popcorn and soda at no charge. Our “theater” is enhanced with a sound system set up by our friends at New Ulm Community Access Television. I have been coordinating our film series for four years, and we continue to offer this programming because it’s an entertaining option for people of all ages that occurs in a safe, welcoming environment. You’re invited to join us anytime.


As long as I’m talking programming, I want to recognize the contributions of our Friends of the New Ulm Public Library. The group, which has more than 100 members, does so much for the library, from donating funds for materials to acting as fiscal agent for grants to being wonderfully active and committed library patrons. Thanks to the Friends for all of that and specifically for funding the library’s Noon Tunes program. The library schedules about four music programs each year, and local musicians share their time and talent by playing for about an hour in our adult fiction area. This program is unique in that patrons don’t have to sit in front of the presenter to listen and enjoy. The music fills the library for the enjoyment of all.


We have two Noon Tunes programs coming up. On Saturday, November 2 at 12 p.m., brother-sister duo Ross and Danielle Deopere will play folk and bluegrass music. The Deoperes are founding members of The Little Prairie Pickers, which regularly plays in the area. Check out the band’s music video at thelittleprairiepickers.com/media.html.


On Thursday, November 7 at 12 p.m., hall of fame musician Dick Kimmel will share his talents with a bluegrass set. Kimmel is a great friend of the library, playing with his band, Dick Kimmel & Co, and his duet partner, Jerilyn Kjellberg. We’re thrilled he’s coming back for a solo performance. Find out more about him at dickkimmel.com.


See our full listing of library programs at www.newulmlibrary.org. And thanks again to all of our community partners, including the Optimists and Friends. See you at the library!

 

October 14, 2013

Scanning Your Family History
by Larry Hlavsa, Library Director

The New Ulm Public Library will soon be getting a new ST ViewScan II Digital Microform Scanner System. This state-of-the-art system allows scanning of newspaper microforms to a USB flash drive and works with microfilm, microfiche and other media. This system will replace our borrowed Minolta reader/printer which has been on a long-term loan for the last three years from Community Research Technology, Inc. (aka Sports Central), a local group led by Herb Schaper. Because of Sports Central’s ownership of this 1990s equipment, the Library was able to get a sizable discount on the ST ViewScan II. We are grateful to Herb and his board for providing this benefit to us.

Also exciting is that along with this unit we will be acquiring a companion scanner in the form of an Epson Perfection Color V700 microform and photo scanner. It can scan book pages, documents, microfiche film transparencies, slides and even glass plate negatives. What’s it good for? Well, for one thing, all of those Kodachrome slide transparencies you have from the 1950s – 1970s can now be made digital and saved to a USB flash drive! The machine will also have Adobe Photoshop Elements software to process your photos. We think many users will find this a terrific new service.

What about our newspapers collection? Since we already own 50% of all historical microfilms from the Brown County region, our plan now is to request a Legacy Grant to obtain the other 50%. If successful, we will then be able to provide historians, geneaologists, family history writers, and others full access to all of the newspaper documents ever produced in the New Ulm area. We think that’s pretty exciting.

Some of you may ask—“Why get a new reader/printer/scanner? What about newspaper digitization? Aren’t all of these newspapers being digitized?” The answer is yes and no. Most Minnesota newspapers which pre-date 1922 will ultimately be digitized. In speaking recently to Jane Wong of the Minnesota Historical Society, I found out that 1 million pages of Minnesota newspapers have already been done. However, Jane estimates that leaves about 33 million pages left to do. It will take “many years” to do all of those since most of the funding is coming through ACHF, NEH and other grants. And some post-1922 newspapers may never be done since copyright may preclude their digitization.

Another question some have asked is—“Could there be competition in the Library for the use of this machine since it will serve multiple functions? That is, newspapers being researched and people digitizing photos.” Yes, it could, but your Library will provide access in the same way we do for Internet workstations. Each person will have one hour to use it as he or she pleases. After that, use will pass to the next person in line.

When will this exciting new piece of equipment be available? We’re hoping for a November launch. We hope you’ll find uses for this equipment, and we look forward to helping you utilize it!

 

October 7, 2013

Fall Into Reading
Betty Roiger, Acquisitions

 

Pull up a chair. Yeah, sit. Get comfortable. It’s story time, and I’m going to tell you about some good ones.


October: It’s that haunting time of year. Unfortunately, people can be haunted by a variety of things. They can be haunted by an experience or by things that happened in the past. There is also the unexplained. The “What-was-that?”, “Did-that-light-just-flicker?” things that happen. And that would be ghosts. Oh, yeah. Well now there is “Help for the Haunted.” John Searles has written one of the top 10 books published in September that librarians across the country love. I started this read with expectations of ghosts and ghoulies and bumps in the night. What I got were ghost hunters, mysteries, and a young teen trying to come to terms with the brutal double murder of her parents. And she wants to find out what the heck is in the basement. Did I mention the creepy doll yet? Well, there is also a really creepy doll. My advice: Yeah, don’t go down there. And get rid of that doll. I mean, isn’t that just common sense? But read this. It is a great fall, cool-night-read-with-the-lights-down-low so that when that floorboard creaks you can’t really see if anything is sneaking up on you.


Jason Mott’s “The Returned” just hit the shelves. Harold and Lucille are now in their golden years, having lost their only son in a drowning in 1966. Their relationship is comfortable, stable, tempered by both happiness and grief. And then Jacob comes back. He is still 8 years old. Everywhere in the world, deceased folks are returning home. And the living are flummoxed as to what to do with them. No, gang, this is not a zombie book. This book shines a light on society and people and the things people do when the world throws them a curve. Follow Harold and Lucille, lovely people who try to do the right thing in a world gone wrong. Seizing one last chance to be with the people they love.


The buzz around Rainbow Rowell’s “Fangirl” is loud. Cather is just starting college. She’s alone, bewildered and lost. An additional blow: Her twin wants to room separately, eat separately and have fun separately. The first person Cather meets is Levi, who is friendly. Her roommate: not so much. Cather worries. She worries about being alien. She worries about her twin. She worries about her dad being home alone without them. On the other hand, she has a secret. She writes fan-fiction for the most popular fantasy series ever written (think Harry Potter-ish), and she has thousands of fans. In fact, she is an accomplished writer in her own right; it’s just that she has borrowed someone else’s characters and world. And that’s something her English professor doesn’t understand. She wants Cather to write something original. “Fangirl” encapsulates the unknown: being on your own for the first time, meeting people who have no connection to you, and awkwardly falling in love. Some of the comments made in “Fangirl” felt like something my husband might have said to me way back when, so this really seemed true to life. I smiled, I laughed out loud, and I can’t wait to read this again one day. Loved it.


These three titles are all from the 10 books librarians picked to recommend to patrons for September. We have that list up by the front desk (each with a brief synopsis), and October’s list has already joined it. Several of us are adding our two cents to the sign and giving these titles either thumbs up, a so-so thumb, or thumbs down. So don’t just take my word for it (although I’ll vouch for these three), check out what other librarians like, too.


September 30, 2013

Learn More About Longtime Civic Leader Fred Johnson
Kris Wiley, Assistant Library Director

Your public library owes its beginnings to Fred Johnson, the longtime civic leader who was instrumental in establishing the New Ulm Public Library in 1937. Your Brown County Historical Society also founded by Johnson, in 1931. Johnson was a trailblazer who recognized the importance of documenting and preserving history. One of his most lasting legacies is a collection of more than 3000 signed photographs and letters from famous and historical figures.

For the past couple of months, samples of some of the more famous photos and letters have been displayed at the library. There were presidents and vice presidents; then there were authors. This month’s display is Famous Folks and includes the Wright brothers, Winston Churchill, the Mayo brothers, Andrew Carnegie, and Billie Burke. Stop by and take a look at the fantastic display the library staff has created.

Our tribute to Johnson culminates this Thursday, October 3 at 6 p.m. with a presentation by Johnson’s granddaughter, Joan Baeza. Baeza will discuss her grandfather’s legacy and collection and share family photos and heirlooms. This event and the displays are sponsored by the New Ulm Art & Collections Advisory Board. Then don’t miss Baeza as the Grand Marshal in the German-American Day Parade on Saturday, October 5 at 11 a.m. on Minnesota Street. The parade is sponsored by the German-Bohemian Heritage Society.

Here’s just a bit more about Johnson. He was born in 1870 in St. Peter and moved to New Ulm in 1889 to become the editor of the New Ulm Review. His list of contributions to the community was extensive and included helping to plan and build German Park, the city cemetery, and the boulevard on Broadway.

Joan Helen (Johnson) Baeza is the daughter of Norman and Geraldine Johnson and the granddaughter of Fred Johnson and Emma Seiter. Her great-grandparents are Adolph and Helena (Erd) Seiter, who were among the first settlers of New Ulm. The Seiters and Johnsons were proprietors of New Ulm’s historic Dakotah Hotel for many years. The hotel served as a hospital and refuge during the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862.


Baeza moved to Holbrook, Arizona, with her parents in 1949. She has a BA in English literature from Stanford University, and has been a rancher, writer, editor, and teacher at Northland Pioneer College. Her history “Arizona: The Making of a State” was published in 2012 by White Mountain Publishing Co. as an official Arizona Centennial Legacy Project. She continues to write from her home in the White Mountains of east central Arizona.


Join us this Thursday to learn more about Johnson, meet his granddaughter and see for yourself Johnson’s amazing collection of signatures. See you at the library!

(Biographical material courtesy of Joan Baeza.)

 

September 23, 2013

October Musings
Linda Lindquist, Adult Services/Reference

October means many things to different individuals…watching football games, cool crisp fall air, thinking about and planning that perfect Halloween costume, watching horror movies, and carving pumpkins, just to mention a few. When I started thinking of all these things, I decided my article was going to focus on books about Halloween. Here are just a few of the books that are on the shelves at the New Ulm Public Library.

When I think of Halloween, ghosts and ghost stories come to mind. Are you interested in spooky things or are in need of a ghost-hunting guide? Check out “The Minnesota Road Guide to Haunted Locations” written by Chad Lewis and Terry Fisk. These two individuals have done a great deal of research throughout the state of Minnesota looking for the scariest and strangest ghost stories. They spent many hours searching for the real history, tracking down different versions of the legends, and finding eyewitnesses to back up their stories. All you need to do is get in your car and check out some of their haunted locations. If you want a good ghost story, one that give you goose bumps, makes your hair stand on end, and leaves you terrified of the dark, read “Coast to Coast Ghosts: True Stories of Hauntings Across America” by Leslie Rule with a foreword by Ann Rule. Rule takes you on a nationwide journey, Seattle to Key West, to places where the dead refuse to rest. If you want more scary stories, the 133.1 section of the library is the place to go for stories about ghosts and haunted places. We also have several new books on order that will be in the library soon. “Shades of Blue and Gray: Ghosts of the Civil War” by Steven Berman and “Haunted Wisconsin” by Michael Norman will be on the shelves shortly.

Moving on to something not so scary, or maybe it is if you have trouble sewing like I do, check out the Halloween costume books. Do you have a young child that you want to make a costume for or are you looking for an idea for yourself? How about a costume for being a bunch of grapes, a crayon, or a fairy? What about being a television character or a rock star? Take a look at “The Fantastic Costume Book: 40 Complete Patterns to Amaze & Amuse” by Michelle Lipson & Friends, “The Halloween Handbook” by Bridie Clark and Ashley Dodd, or “Halloween Costumes” by Singer for some great ideas for costumes for you and your child. These books are located in the 394s and 646s.

These days, Halloween decorations are becoming almost as popular as Christmas decorations. More and more people are putting up displays inside and outside their homes. In our 745.5941 section you will find books to help you decorate for Halloween. You will find recipes for delicious treats, ways to carve and decorate your pumpkins, and ideas for decorating your home. Some of the books that I looked at included “Homemade Halloween: Quick and Easy Costumes, Decorations, and Not-So-Frightening Family Fun” put out by the Fox Chapel Publishing Company, “The Big Book of Halloween Fun” by Susie Johns, and “Pumpkin Painting” by Jordan McKinney. Any of these books can help to make your Halloween more fun.

In addition to the above mentioned books, new Halloween books are on order for the library. Titles of new books coming include “Embracing the Spirits: True Stories of My Encounters with the Other side” by Barbara Parks, All You Frightfully Fun Halloween Handbook” by the Editors of All You, “Adventures of a Ghost Hunter: My Investigations into the Darkness” by Adam Nori, “Extreme Pumpkin Carving: 20 Amazing Designs from Frightful to Fabulous” by Vic Hood, and “Mysterious Minnesota: Digging up the Ghostly Past at 13 Haunted Sites” by Adrian Lee. Be sure to check out the Halloween display in October featuring many of these books. There are also many books and videos available in the Junior and Children’s sections in the library as well. If you cannot find what you are looking for, be sure to ask a librarian for help.


Have a safe fall season and a Happy Halloween!

 

September 16, 2013

Meet Minnesota Author Peter Geye
Kris Wiley, Assistant Library Director

Do you realize just how many Minnesotans are writing books? We could spend the rest of our lives reading amazing books written only by our favorite sons and daughters. From mysteries (think William Kent Krueger and Julie Kramer) to war stories (Tim O’Brien) to Native American multigenerational sagas (Louise Erdrich), there is a Minnesota writer for nearly every Minnesota reader.


And then there’s Peter Geye. He’s getting special mention because he’s visiting the library on Monday, October 7 at 6:30 p.m. We’ll listen to him read from his second novel, “The Lighthouse Road,” and follow that with a discussion of the book. All are invited to this free program, which is funded through the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund by the Traverse des Sioux Library Cooperative.


There’s still plenty of time to read the book. Place a hold on a copy of “The Lighthouse Road” by calling us at 507-359-8334 or e-mailing me at kwiley@tds.lib.mn.us. Thanks to my generous co-worker (Katy!), several extra copies of the book have been ordered, so everyone who wants to participate will be accommodated. As a bonus, local bookstore Sven & Ole’s will provide a limited number of copies of “The Lighthouse Road” and “Safe From the Sea” (Geye’s first novel) for purchase at the event. Checks only will be accepted. Thanks, Sven & Ole’s!


So, about “The Lighthouse Road.” I can tell you it takes place in the North Country at the turn of the 20th century. I can tell you it’s the story of Odd, an orphan who is raised by an eccentric man in the wilderness of Gunflint, Minnesota. And I can tell you that Odd falls in love with the wrong woman but tries to make her the right woman. But I can’t begin to convey the sense of place this novel evokes – location is paramount to the story. And I can’t begin to tell you what a beautiful character Odd is and how well so many of the characters of Gunflint are portrayed. I hardly can wait to hear how Geye envisioned this novel.

The evening with Geye will focus on “The Lighthouse Road,” but I’m sure he’ll answer questions about his first book, “Safe From the Sea.” One of our library book group regulars said she liked “Safe From the Sea” even better than “The Lighthouse Road,” which, believe me, is saying something. “Sea” takes place in the North Country of Lake Superior and focuses on the relationship between a dying man and his son. Copies of this book (which also comes in audiobook format) are available by placing a hold through the library.

If you enjoy book discussions, join us for this special event. And then consider joining our general book discussion group the first Monday of every month at 6:30 p.m. See you at the library!


September 9, 2013

E-BOOKS: AN UPDATE
by Larry Hlavsa, Library Director

The New Ulm Public Library, along with the other Traverse des Sioux Library Cooperative members, began offering e-books in May of 2011. Now, with over two years of e-book and downloadable audiobook “circulation” complete, I thought you might be interested in where this program stands.

Considering television commercials of the past few years, you’d think everybody owned a tablet, e-reader or smartphone, and that people are now mostly reading electrons, not the printed page. Well, not so fast! Our users in New Ulm now number 650 and they have checked out 8,558 items since our program began in May 2011. Among all Traverse des Sioux users, the circulation has totaled 82,767. But while electronic devices for reading books are extremely popular among a segment of our users, the most interesting statistic I’ve extracted from our statistics is that just 2.1% of New Ulm Public Library total circulations last year involved e-books or downloadable audiobooks. So while many people are enjoying books in an electronic format, far more continue to prefer—or at least use—printed books.

Our e-materials collection has certainly grown the past two years and now includes 701 downloadable audiobooks, 3429 e-books and 10 videos. Yes, that’s right, I said—“Videos. ” Recently, a few nonfiction videos have been added to the collection. For the present though, this will not include feature films. However, user demand will influence decisions about this collection. So if video downloads are of interest to you, let us know verbally and through your borrowing of these items.

So what items have been the most popular?

Over the last 30 days our most popular titles among all users have been: First Sight by Danielle Steel, The Newcomer by Robyn Carr, Fetching Raymond by John Grisham and Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich.

Over the past two years our most popular e-books among all users have been: Inferno by Dan Brown, Bride on the Loose by Debbie Macomber, Four Corners of the Sky by Michael Malone and Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James.

Over the past two years our most popular downloadable audiobooks among all users have been The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins and Mockingjay by—you guessed it—Suzanne Collins.

Considering just New Ulm users, the most popular titles of the past two years have been: The Help by Kathryn Stockett, The Litigators by John Grisham, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, The Ideal Man by Julie Garwood and Chasing Fire by Nora Roberts.

The e-books contract between the Traverse des Sioux Library Cooperative and Overdrive, Inc. is up in early 2014, so be sure and let us know if this service has been important to you. One way we know you’re enjoying the service is through statistics such as those above, but it also helps us when you verbally let us know that you have enjoyed the service and would like to see it continued. So please let us know.

Now, what e-book do I want to read next?


September 2, 2013

Armchair Traveler
Betty J Roiger, Acquisitions

It is a long trip, but it’s so worth it. I hadn’t known I was going to go today, but then everything fell into place. I had been at sixes and sevens, talking to Kris, telling her I didn’t have a book to read. She looked at me in complete astonishment. (Yes: mouth open.) There were no words. (I know!)

I had gotten done with “Visitation Street” on Sunday night and had paused, not really knowing where to go next. “Visitation Street” is by a new author, Ivy Pochoda, who is on Dennis Lehane’s new imprint. Doug had read “Visitation Street” and had liked it, really liked it. So, on his recommendation, that’s when I went to Red Hook, N.Y., on a hot summer night with two teenage girls who embark on an adventure on the Hudson River using a hot pink rubber raft. Only one girl comes back.

This was something more than just a mystery. The neighborhood had a pulse; each character became so engaging, I hardly noticed when the mystery became secondary. I found myself really wanting to know what was going on with everyone on “Visitation Street.” While wondering if characters would emerge unscathed or just wounded, this quote struck me: “He’s thankful for the projects’ residents who turn a blind eye to other people’s suffering so they can get on with their own.” This was a tough neighborhood where bad things could happen to good people. In the midst of the human struggle, you want some good to follow the bad. It turned out to be a great place to visit, but now I was done, gone from Red Hook.

“So, now what are you going to do?” Kris was speaking quietly to me, like I was as unpredictable as nitro, ready to burst without a novel to inhabit. “I don’t know, I just don’t know.” Books, books everywhere, and nothing was calling my name. Kris left. And that’s when it happened. The wonderful, regular, familiar UPS man brought our freight, and I unloaded the new arrivals. And, just like that, going about my business, sorting the “rush” books from the rest, I moved a stack next to my computer. There it was: “How the Light Gets In” by Louise Penny. And I knew I was going to Canada, back to Three Pines, back to Detective Inspector Gamache. I left Kris a note before I went to lunch scribbling: ‘gone to Three Pines, back soon’ since I knew she’d know where I was going.

It might be blazing hot here, but it’s winter back up in Canada, and that’s where I found Ruth, bundled up, sitting with Rosa, her duck, watching the children play hockey. Oh, yes, there’s trouble. The unsettled problems between Jean-Guy and Gamache keep festering. There is a missing woman, a body, and murder. And a big question is posed: Would you, could you give up who you love best to save someone else you love?

Well, there’s a light on at Gabri & Olivier’s B & B, and it looks like Clara’s probably painting at home. Maybe Myrna’s bookstore is still open. “Oh! but anyway, I’m in Three Pines, we're home – home! – and they're all here – and I'm not going to leave here ever, ever again, because I love them all! And... oh, Auntie Em, there's no place like Three Pines!” (To corrupt a quote) (And yes, that might seem over the top, but if you ever have the chance to walk into this world created by Louise Penny, you won’t want to leave either.)

So in the event that you want to visit someplace new, I’d recommend going to Brooklyn and strolling through “Visitation Street”; it is an interesting place. But if you want to go to Three Pines, check out Louise Penny because if Three Pines really existed, I would so be hanging around on the village green waiting to meet Chief Inspector Gamache. And Ruth and Rosa. And maybe … well, you get the picture.

 

August 26, 2013

Sharing Stories at the Library
Katy Kudela, Children’s Librarian


“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” — Emilie Buchwald


Is there anything more wonderful than to see children walk out of the library with stacks of books? This summer, the library staff saw hundreds of children participate in the summer reading program. Children and their families embraced the “Dig Into Reading” theme as they dug in the stacks to discover new books and treasured favorites. This children’s librarian didn’t think there could be anything better than watching the children’s collection circulate to so many families. This week, however, I was proven wrong. There is something just as exciting. What can it be? Family literacy efforts, of course! On the same morning, I saw a mom use a phonics book to teach her daughter to read and a dad who sat on the library’s turtle bean bag to share books with his preschool son. I also spotted a young girl who was practicing her reading skills while her sister listened. Oh, the joy of sharing books! It’s rewarding to see children become excited about learning to read. After all, teaching children to read gives them a necessary skill, and gives them a gift they will carry with them throughout their lives.


Here at the library, we encourage families to stop in to check out the many available resources to support early reading skills. There are books, books on tape/CD, readers, and beginning chapter books. Your child may even want to practice their reading skills on the newly installed iPad stations in the Children’s Room. Book apps make it possible to listen to and interact with stories such as the “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, “Mother Goose,” “Cinderella,”
and Sesame Street’s “The Monster at the End of This Book.”


The New Ulm Public Library’s programming also helps to reinforce children’s reading and learning. Stop by and check out these upcoming library programs:


Fall Storytimes

The library's fall storytime schedule will resume on Monday, Sept. 16. Storytimes are held on Mondays and Thursdays at 10 a.m. Each storytime is focused on a weekly theme which includes books and songs. These storytimes are geared toward toddlers and preschoolers, but all ages are welcome. Registration is not required.

Bedtime Storytimes
Beginning in October, the library staff and Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) will offer a series of Bedtime Storytimes. Held on the second Wednesday of each month at 6 p.m., these storytimes will include stories and simple activities. Mark your calendars for Wednesdays, Oct. 9, Nov. 13, and Dec. 11. Registration is not required for these programs.

Family Programs
This fall, the library will kick-off its family program schedule with a very special storytime. New Ulm resident Judy Gag Sellner will present a “Books by Grandma and Me” Storytime at the New Ulm Public Library on Tuesday, Sept. 24, at 6 p.m. A family program for all ages, Judy and her granddaughter Evelyn will share stories they have written together. Following the program, Judy and Evelyn will be selling and signing copies of their children’s books. All are welcome to enjoy an evening of storytelling. What could promote literacy better than sharing books and talking with a local author? This is a program that’s sure to entertain and inspire! Registration is not required.
Of course, the library is just one community resource. Don’t forget to utilize all of the terrific resources at your child’s school library, too! There are so many opportunities for children to access books. What a wonderful community we live in! May the sharing of books continue to flourish.

 

August 19, 2013

Need A Break Before School Starts?
Linda Lindquist, Adult Services/Reference

Still looking for something to do for those last days of summer? How about checking out some of the many festivals, fairs, and other events going on close to home? You don’t have to drive far to enjoy some of these events.

The Brown County Historical Society in New Ulm has U.S.-Dakota War Commemoration events planned the week of August 19-25. These events will be of interest to local residents as well as persons visiting the area. Bus tours, walking tours, and author visits are scheduled. The museum will also be having a free day on Saturday, August 24. Be sure to check out the museum’s Wanda Gag exhibit on the second floor and the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 exhibit on the third floor. For more information, check out the Brown County Historical Society’s Web site, www.browncountyhistorymn.org, for dates, times, and reservations. Also, be sure to stop by the New Ulm Public Library. We have several books at the library written by the visiting authors as well as many books on the U.S-Dakota War of 1862.


Festivals and state fairs are in abundance during the last two weeks of August in and around Minnesota. The Corn Palace Festival in Mitchell, South Dakota, goes from August 21-25. The original Corn Palace was established in 1892. Early settlers displayed the fruits of their harvest on the building’s exterior in order to prove the fertility of South Dakota soil. Each year, exterior decorations are completely stripped down and new murals are created. If you want to learn more, a book entitled “Corn Palaces and Butter Queens” is on order and should be in the New Ulm Public Library soon.


Of course, we cannot forget the “Great Minnesota Get-Together” that takes place each year at the end of August. This year, the Minnesota State Fair runs from August 22-September 2. The 320-acre Minnesota State Fairgrounds is located mid-way between Minneapolis and St. Paul and is known for its beautiful gardens and architecture reflecting the art deco and Works Progress Administration eras. It began as a territorial fair in 1854 and changed to the Minnesota State Fair in 1859, a year after Minnesota was granted statehood. And of course we have books in the library about our great state fair. “State Fair: The Great Minnesota Get-Together” by Susan Lambert Miller, “Minnesota State Fair: An Illustrated History“ by Kathryn Strand Koutsky, and “The Road to Blue Ribbon Baking” by Marjorie Johnson are just a few of the books about the Minnesota State Fair. These books are located in the 630 and 641 sections at the New Ulm Library.


If you have a really sweet tooth, you might want to take in the Mackinac Island Fudge Festival running from August 23-24. Fudge was not invented on Mackinac Island, but Mackinac Island’s fudge has become the most popular fudge in America. Early fudge makers would place their marble slabs in their front windows, set up the cooling fans to blow the wonderful aroma out into the street, and attract crowds to come in and purchase their wonderfully scented product. For more information about Mackinac Island’s fudge, contact the Mackinac State Historic Parks. Phil Porter has written a book entitled “Fudge: Mackinac’s Sweet Souvenir.” This book can be purchased through the Mackinac State Historic Parks’ website, www.mackinacparks.com. One more state fair that is close in our area is the South Dakota State Fair at Huron, South Dakota. This fair runs August 29-September 2. Check their website at www.sdstatefair.com for scheduled daily events.


These are just a few of the festivals and fairs going on in the area. Don’t forget to check out the county fairs, too! There are still plenty of days to enjoy these events before fall begins.

 

August 12, 2013

Dakota War Commemoration Events Scheduled
Kris Wiley, Assistant Library Director

New Ulm Public Library is pleased to partner with the Brown County Historical Society and several other community organizations to provide educational programming that commemorates the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. For a complete list of events, go to www.browncountyhistorymn.org or call 507-233-2620.

On Thursday, August 15 at 6 p.m. at the library, local historian John LaBatte will present “Accuracy-Balance-Respect and the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862,” which will include information about his blog, dakotawar1862.wordpress.com.


Lunch and a Bite of History is returning. This year’s sessions will be held from Monday, August 19 through Thursday, August 22 at the BCHS Annex. All programs begin at 12 p.m., and attendees are invited to bring their lunch. On August 19, independent historian Lois Glewwe will discuss her research into the march of Dakota prisoners through New Ulm to Mankato in November 1862. On August 20, independent historian Dr. John Isch will discuss the Dakota after the war, including the reservation system. On August 21, independent historian Curtis Dahlin will discuss his newest book, “The Stories and Burial Places of Civil War Soldiers and Militia Killed in Battles With the Dakota.” On August 22, independent historian Mark Diedrich will share the fascinating and unique story of Old Betsey, the most famous woman of the Mdewakanton Dakota tribe.


On Monday, August 19 at 6 p.m. at Wittenberg Collegiate Center Auditorium on the Martin Luther College campus, there will be a screening of the documentary film “Dakota 38.” After the film, there will be a discussion with Franky Jackson, Director of the Renville County Historical Society and Museum, and JB Weston of Flandreau, S.D., and Peter Lengkeek of Crow Creek, S.D, who were featured in the film. This project is made possible in part through funding provided by the Traverse des Sioux Library Cooperative through the Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.


It’s field trip time Tuesday, August 20 from 6:30-8 p.m. The public is invited to tour the New Ulm Battery House and learn about the Battery’s rich, 150-year history. The house is located at 2000 N. Spring St., which is near the compost site and the trap range off North Broadway and 21st Street.


On Wednesday, August 21 at 6 p.m. at the library, Family and Friends of Dakota Uprising Victims will discuss “The U.S.-Dakota War and the Settlers: The Aftermath.” Panelists will include: group co-founders Jan Klein, a descendent of the Charles and Caroline Cla(u)sen family, Birch Coulie, and Joyce Kloncz, a descendent of Carl and Johanna Heuer, Milford Township; and Matthew Boisen (Anton and Walburga Ochs, Milford Township); George Luskey (William Luskey, Tyrone Township, LeSueur County); Mary McConnell (Ellen, David and Joseph McConnell, Thomas Brooks, Birch Coulie); and Joan Wilcox (Johanna Lundborg Paulson, Sunburg (West Lake), Kandiyohi County).


On Thursday, August 22 at 6 p.m. at the library, Mark Diedrich will discuss the famous Dakota chief Little Crow in the context of the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862.


On Saturday, August 24, children preschool age and up are invited to the library for two programs. At 1 p.m., Bringing Books to Life will be a Dakota culture storytelling program with Lori Pickell-Stangel of the McLeod County Historical Society. This event is sponsored by the Brown County Historical Society. At about 2 p.m., members of the Wanda Gag House Association will present a hands-on historic crafts program. Supplies will be provided.

All of the programs listed above are free and open to the public. Seating is first-come, first-served. But wait – there’s more, including bus tours of the Leavenworth and Milford areas, walking tours of downtown New Ulm, a book signing with local authors, a New Ulm City Cemetery dedication and tours, and the historical society’s third-floor exhibit, “Never Shall I Forget.” I look forward to seeing you at this year’s Dakota War commemoration events!

 

August 5, 2013

Binge much?
by Betty J Roiger, Acquisitions

The jig is up. It’s no secret. We know you binge. How do we know? Because we are the ones checking out all of the DVDs to you guys. And, well, because we do it, too. Now that popular TV series come out regularly on DVD, saying: “Just one more?” is a pretty common occurrence. Anybody and everybody can go on a series binge once in a while, whether it is watching “Mad Men” or “Game of Thrones.”

We all have our favorite DVD series; just like some folks prefer vanilla over chocolate (yes, it happens!), some folks are diehard “Walking Dead” fans, and some people love “Downton Abbey.” I happen to like both. What I really would like to see is the “Walking Dead” cast guest star on “Downton”; that literally would be a riot. We could watch the dowager try to shrivel a zombie at 20 paces with one of her snarky comments: “My maid. She’s leaving. To get married. How could she be so selfish?” or Mary taunt Edith that no zombie would date her. That would be amusing until it was a mess. In that scenario I’m afraid Rick and Daryl would outlast the Grantham clan, or at the very least, outrun them.

I just want to assure “Walking Dead” fans that season three is on order and is due out at the end of August. With cataloging and processing, figure early September to be sitting on your couch as Rick and his group find and inhabit the prison as they continue to fight for their lives. It is the first introduction to the Governor. If you haven’t read the graphic novels, this guy is one seriously bad (think bad a bunch of times) guy.

“Dexter” season seven is here, or rather, it is checked out and has people waiting for their holds to be filled. “Dexter” is an unusual phenomenon in that the main character is a serial killer, AND the viewer is kind of, sort of, rooting for him. I know. That sounds weird, Betty. Yeah, who knew? Dexter works for the police and removes the “problems” that fall through the cracks of the law. Me? I do not encourage this kind of behavior … but I will watch it. This show has violent content, blood, and a good deal of humor. Really.

If you haven’t watched “How the States Got Their Shapes” on the History Channel, this show makes learning fun. Viewers learn many factors (such as guns, gold, even bar fights) can determine state lines. Every border reflects not only geography but our social, political, and religious history, as well. This series makes for a quirky, scenic, informative, entertaining binge.

“Orphan Black” is coming soon! Warning: This show is addictive! Sarah is a streetwise hustler who witnesses a woman jump in front of a train. Realizing the woman could have been her twin, Sarah assumes her identity to get access to her bank account, which leads to bigger problems. Then Sarah finds another woman who looks like her, and then another. The storyline is great, but it is the remarkable acting of Tatiana Maslani as many physically identical women, each with a distinct personality, accent, and mannerisms, that captivates viewers. She’s that good. I am intrigued by each clone but adore Alison, the uptight soccer mom, as well as Cosima, the scientist with dreadlocks.

September will bring season two to “Homeland” fans who are waiting for the next chapter of Brody and Carrie, and after that, can Sharknado be far behind?

So whether you like to watch science fiction, action, or educational, chances are we have something at the library you might like to see. Stock up on popcorn and chips, or be healthy and get some carrot sticks, just be ready for your next series binge.

 

July 29, 2013

 

Kids iPads are Coming!
by Larry Hlavsa, Library Director

Technology has become an integral part of library service over the past few decades. Computerized catalogs, e-books, digital magazines, Internet-enabled computers and PCs are now a part of almost every public library. For New Ulm Public Library, now comes the iPad.

A generous donation by a local family, and some supplemental funds from the Friends of the New Ulm Library, have allowed us to purchase two iPad4s. Each of these devices has been filled with at least twenty software “apps,” and on Monday, August 5th they will be available in our Children’s Room for public use.

The use of iPads is growing in public libraries. In fact, the Eau Claire, Wisconsin, public library two years ago became the first in the country to check out Apple iPads. While checking out iPads is a bit beyond our budget here in New Ulm, we are replacing our eight-year-old Windows games PCs, with the Apple iPads. They are easier to find software for, easier to configure, and they’re more fun for users!

Each of our iPads has games, books, puzzles, and educational apps for 2-10-year-olds to enjoy. We’ve used lists of the best apps from the American Library Association and other “best” compilers to choose what is on each iPad. I think youngsters are going to “flip” with enjoyment as they investigate these new machines. Each iPad has a different selection of apps so there will be over forty software choices for kids to enjoy.

In order to minimize the interference with other library users of iPad speakers, ear buds will be required for iPad use. Ear buds will be for sale at the Library for $2, or you may bring your own.

As far as we can tell, New Ulm Public Library is the first system in the nine-county area of Traverse des Sioux to offer iPads for public use.

We hope you’ll bring your 2-10-year-old kids to the New Ulm Library after August 5th to try out our new iPads. We think you’ll be impressed with this new means of delivering educational content and fun to youngsters. We know your 2-10-yearold kids will be overjoyed!

 

July 22, 2013

 

Oh, What a Summer!
Katy Kudela, Children’s Librarian

Summer days are breezing by! Can you believe that July is nearly over? It seems like yesterday we were making plans for the Summer Reading Program. Now it’s already the eighth week of summer, and we’re looking to wrap up the children and teen reading programs. Before we officially end the reading programs, I want to share a few of the summer highlights.

Our 2013 Summer Reading Program kicked off with a flourish of activity on June 3. Local performer Doug Hughes worked nonstop shaping balloons into swords, rabbits, flowers, and more. His program, Clowning Around with Summer Reading, was a huge hit with children and adults. While we don’t know just how many balloon creations he made that morning, we do know that 314 children signed up for the reading program that day. Since then, the reading program numbers have grown and grown. To date, 886 children and 72 teens have registered for the summer reading programs. There is no doubt about it…New Ulm and the surrounding communities have a lot of dedicated readers. Speaking of dedication, I want to give a shout-out to teen volunteer Gabby Budenski, whose creativity with teen programs has made yet another fun and memorable summer for reading participants and library staff!

Along with enjoying books, reading participants have “dug” into library activities too. This summer, the library welcomed several regional authors. Minnesota children’s author Laura Purdie Salas brought her love of poetry to the library and encouraged children and adults to read poems aloud. What a neat experience! Also in June, paranormal researcher Chad Lewis of Wisconsin captivated patrons with his multimedia presentation of Minnesota hauntings. I dare say a few audience members may have gone to bed that night with the lights turned on!

School may not be in session, but there is a lot of learning going on. In June, Teresa Peterson, a representative from the Dakota Wicohan, treated patrons to a Dakota storytelling and short language lesson. In July, Ikumi Miura led children and adults in a short Japanese language lesson and showed each participant how to write their first name in Japanese.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a “digging” summer reading program without a program that involves dirt. In June, Master Gardener Intern Lisa Pelzel showed children how to make a garden caterpillar craft. With sunshine and plenty of water, by now those caterpillars should be sprouting plenty of grassy hair!

Finally, I can’t mention summer reading without talking about all the family programs. Each summer, the library and park and rec host a Kids’ Concert in German Park. Despite this year’s overcast weather, plenty of families came out to rock to the tunes of Minnesota children’s musician Will Hale. With plastic blow-up guitars on hand, Hale had the crowd of children dancing and playing guitar. It was a sight to see! More music followed in June with a special Mother Goose storytime. Mother Goose had children singing, clapping, and dancing along to her music and nursery rhymes.

Wait, summer reading is not over yet! On Thursday, July 25, summer reading participants are encouraged to stop by the library for a Celebration of Reading. The Narren will be hosting a dance class from 10-11 a.m. From 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. crafts and treats will be available in the Children’s Room, and door prizes and sign-ups for prize drawings will be held throughout the day. Please note that this year’s grand prize winners will be notified by phone. To qualify for a grand prize, each reading participant must turn in their fifth and final bookmark by noon on Thursday. If your child has not completed his or her fifth bookmark, please know that we will honor bookmarks until Wednesday, July 31. So, if your child is close to being done, please encourage him or her to read just a little more. Judging by the smiles on children’s faces as they pick out their free book, the summer reading program leaves a positive impression which stays with them for years to come. Thanks for your continued support!

 

July 15, 2013

 

Trying to Lose Weight?
Linda Lindquist, Adult Services/Reference


When people say losing weight, what comes to mind? Dieting. It seems that a new diet book (or maybe even more) comes out every week. Some dieting books that come to mind right away are “Atkins for Life: The Complete Controlled Carb Program for Permanent Weight Loss and Good Health” by Robert C. Atkins, “Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health” by William Davis, and “South Beach Diet Supercharged: Faster Weight Loss and Better Health for Life” by Arthur Agatston, and “Weight Watchers.” Dieting is definitely one good way, but there are other things we can do to lose weight as well.


One of the easiest things to do is walking. It doesn’t have to be for a long period of time. Even if you can only walk three or four times a week, walking is still good for us. We have several books on walking in the 613.717s in the library. These books cover everything from getting started with the right shoes, what to wear, stretching exercises, how far you should walk, etc. Some books you might want to look at are “Move a Little, Lose a Lot” by James A. Levine, “The Complete Guide to Walking for Health, Weight Loss, and Fitness” by Mark Fenton, and “Walking for Fitness: The Low-Impact Workout that Tones and Shapes” by Nina Barough. The important thing to remember is that you want to feel better and you don’t want to make this a chore. If you could find a walking buddy, so much the better.


Would you like to lose weight by undieting? An interesting book that I was looking at is entitled “Go unDiet: 50 Small Actions for Lasting Weight Loss” by Gloria Tsang. This is a guide designed to help a person lose weight for good by making small changes, one step at a time. When you are purchasing processed foods, check the ingredients list on the package carefully. Just because the list may have only four, five, or six ingredients doesn’t always mean that it is healthier than foods with longer lists of ingredients. When looking at the ingredients list, see if you recognize most of the ingredients. If you don’t know what most of the products are, maybe you should put it back on the shelf—it probably isn’t the best for you to consume. Some other hints to remember—try to shop at food markets whenever possible for the freshest food products. Also, avoid canned soups, processed pasta, frozen dinners, and frozen pizzas. For more tips, check out the appendixes at the end of this book. Tsang’s appendixes include nutrition requirements for an average healthy adult, 30 snacks less than 200 calories, and 50 small actions to help you undiet.


When dieting, always keep in mind that nutrition is very important. Anne Maczulak’s book entitled “The Smart Guide to Nutrition” is a good source to go to. In her book, she covers understanding the balanced diet, learning the truth about sugar, how to spot harmful fad diets, managing your salt intake, and learning how to choose nutrient-rich foods. The book also tells you which carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals your body needs to help you stay healthy, boost your immune system, and how to fight disease and aging. Diets come and go, nutrition doesn’t change.

 

Not all diets or programs work the same for everybody. Remember, weight loss doesn’t have to be just dieting. Sometimes changing some of our daily lifestyles will help to lose weight. We have many books in the 613.2s that may be of interest to you. Come in and check them out.

 

July 8, 2013


Epistolary Novels: the Next Best Thing to Writing Letters
Kris Wiley, Assistant Library Director

I used to write letters all the time. To my grandma, to my friends, to a childhood pen pal in Texas. Then the Internet was born, and I wrote e-mails to friends and colleagues (not to my grandma, though; she still got the real deal). Now there is text messaging, and I seem to communicate only in abbreviations. But I still love the idea of letters, which probably is why I’m drawn to epistolary novels.

My first experience with a novel written in letters was in college when I took an 18th century British literature class. There I was introduced to Fanny Burney’s “Evelina or the History of a Young Lady's Entrance into the World.” Evelina’s coming of age reveals much about British society in the era before Jane Austen. In fact, “Evelina” reminded me of Austen and the “sense and sensibility” of a young woman in that bygone time.

Since “Evelina” I have read several epistolary novels but none that has stuck with me as much as “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker. It’s a violent and painful look at the lives of black women in the South in the 1930s. I think the tears began before the end of the first chapter, and they didn’t stop until well after I finished the book. I have heard the movie is fantastic, but I challenge you to read Celie’s letters and not be as heartbroken as I.

Perhaps the most well-known epistolary novel of the past few years is “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. A perennial book club favorite, this is a World War II story that takes place primarily on the island of Guernsey, which was occupied by German soldiers. Juliet works for a newspaper in England, but when she receives a letter from a man living on Guernsey, she travels to the island, and she embraces the people she meets.

Just this past weekend, I finished “Letters from Skye” by Jessica Brockmole, coming soon to our shelves. Alternating between World War I and World War II, this is the story of Elspeth Dunn, a married woman who begins a relationship through letters with David Graham, an American college student. War tears them apart, and it’s only years later when Elspeth’s daughter, Margaret, begins writing letters of her own that she learns her mother’s story.

Notice how all these books are historical novels? Perhaps letter writing largely is a thing of the past, but I think the nostalgia we feel toward letter writing will continue to inspire novelists. And that’s great news for this reader. See you at the library!

 

July 1, 2013

Great Civil War Reads
by Larry Hlavsa, Library Director

America is in the midst of many upcoming Civil War anniversaries, and the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg is now only a few days away. It might be a good time to settle in with some good Civil War reads that you may have missed. Here are some suggestions, a few brand new, but all of recent vintage:

“1864: Lincoln at the Gates of History” by Charles Bracelen Flood (2009). This has been around for a few years, but it’s one of the most illuminating books I’ve ever read about the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln. The year of 1864 was event-filled, and to its breadth of drama, author Flood adds numerous details which will be new to the average Civil War reader. I read “1864” by listening to the full-length CD-book available here at the library. If you’ve got a long trip planned, this CD-book would be well worth taking along for your CD-player.

“Killing Lincoln” produced by Tony and Ridley Scott (2013). DVD. Based on The New York Times best-selling novel by Bill O’Reilly, this docudrama produced by National Geographic and the History Channel, is the suspenseful, tragic story of the events surrounding the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. While many aspects of the plot to slay Lincoln are widely known, much more of the background history unfolds in this insightful thriller. Actor Tom Hanks also does a fine job is his role of narrator.

“Lincoln” directed by Steven Spielberg (2013). DVD. What might seem to be of limited dramatic interest, the Congressional debates leading to the passage of the 13th amendment, instead provide the engaging backdrop to one of the best films on Lincoln ever produced. Everyone knows what a great actor Daniel Day Lewis is, and his third Academy Award for Best Actor in “Lincoln” was well-deserved. If you’ve seen “Lincoln”, see it again. If you haven’t, what are you waiting for?

“A Chain of Thunder” by Jeff Shaara (2013). Unless you’re a Civil War buff, the siege of Vicksburg, aka the “Gibraltar of the Confederacy,” is probably little known to you. Yet Lincoln said—“Vicksburg is the key! The war can never be brought to a close until that key is in our pocket.” Now, highly-regarded Civil War novelist, Jeff Shaara, brings us his long-awaited novel of Vicksburg, and it does not disappoint. NOTE: Vicksburg fell the day after Gettysburg ended, which explains its relative obscurity in American historical memory.

“Gettysburg: the Last Invasion” by Allen Guelzo (2013). The latest tome on Gettysburg “draws the reader into the heat, smoke, and grime of Gettysburg alongside the ordinary soldier.” By the first two-time winner of the Lincoln Prize, this history has been called “riveting, provocative, fascinating, insightful” and is due the accolades it has received. If you’ve read everything else about Gettysburg, this is still worth your time. That says a lot.

“Cain at Gettysburg” by Ralph Peters (2012). The story follows a tough Confederate sergeant from the Blue Ridge Mountains, and a German political refugee through the great battles of Gettysburg. Winner of the American Library Association's W. Y. Boyd Award for Excellence in Military Fiction, this novel has been called “savagely realistic.” 

Good reading, and Happy Fourth of July!

June 24, 2013

 

Don’t Wait for the Next Big Read
Betty J Roiger, Acquisitions

The good news is every new novelist wants to write the next “Gone Girl.” The bad news is every new novelist wants to write the next “Gone Girl.” When Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl” came out last year, it wasn’t her first rodeo as she already had written two novels. Prior to the hype, I was looking forward to her new book never realizing it was going to be “the” barn-burner of the summer. Now all of these fledgling novelists are trying to hit the target right out of the gate. And that just isn’t an easy task.

 

This spring I started to read “The Other Typist” by Suzanne Rindell because the reviews were calling it “Hitchcockian” with “Great Gatsby” flourishes. Ooo-kay. I like Hitchcock. And I really like F. Scott Fitzgerald. I started reading this book in fits and starts because something better came along in between. THAT is never a good sign. In the end I didn’t find it Hitchcockian or Gatsby-ish. I got to the last page wondering what the heck just happened—but not in a good way.

 

So it was with some trepidation that I started “The Execution of Noa P. Singleton” by Elizabeth L. Silver. Unlike “The Other Typist’s” speaker, I liked Noa (pronounced Noah) as a narrator. From the first page the reader finds Noa sitting on death row after being found guilty of murder. Ten years have passed, and the date of her execution looms. In all of that time she has never once uttered a word in her own defense. And suddenly the mother of the woman she killed wants to try to save her. Because reviews called this book unpredictable and haunting, I was looking for twists all the way along. “The Execution of Noa P. Singleton” isn’t like “Gone Girl”; it is something else entirely. And that’s a good thing. It is a story about truth and lies, deceit, love, and what human beings do to themselves and to each other. I closed this book, and I am still thinking about Noa. And I’m thinking that Elizabeth Silver is an author to watch.


I opened “A Hundred Summers” by Beatriz Williams after I finished with Noa. The first few lines set me down in 1931 following BFF socialites: Budgie driving “hell for leather” in her nifty convertible with her gal pal, Lily, holding on to her wool-felt cloche for dear life. I immediately knew I was in for a treat. Fast forward seven years. It is summer and Lily’s former best friend, Budgie, is arriving to open up her summer place with her new husband, Nick (Lily’s former fiancé), much to Lily’s dismay.

 

Alternating chapters reveal events in 1931 when Nick and Lily are falling madly in love and he has not a single interest in Budgie, contrasting with 1938 as Lily spends time on the beach with her 6-year-old sister, Kiki, and trying to hide her heartbreak when her old friends arrive.


“A Hundred Summers” is a tangle of adult situations all having adult ramifications. A storm is brewing, a storm not like anyone has seen in a hundred summers. And that’s just the weather. Williams’s jargon (traipsing, nifty, humdinger, darling) slowly took me away, unveiling a slower time when phones were located in out-of-the-way niches and television didn’t exist. This turned out to be my first fun summer beach read.


Having to be the “next big thing” is a lot of pressure. If I were looking for something good to read, I’d skip over “The Other Typist” and stop in for visiting hours at the prison for “The Execution of Noa P. Singleton” and certainly sprawl out on the beach in “A Hundred Summers.” Maybe the mantle of “The Next Gone Girl” is still out there; meanwhile, there are some good reads coming out for the summer. Come in and see what’s new.

 

June 17, 2013

 

Digging Up Books!
Katy Kudela, Children’s Librarian

The Summer Reading Program is in full swing at the New Ulm Public Library. Signing up is easy, and young readers of all ages are enjoying the “Dig into Reading” summer program. If you haven’t had time to sign up, please feel free to stop by. Children who register before July 1 still have plenty of time to complete the program’s five bookmarks and earn a free book. During a visit to the library, be sure to check out the children’s contests and activities as well as the weekly craft projects. There are bugs to count, gnomes to find, library questions to answer, and an “I Spy” jar. Children are also encouraged to build a gnome or fairy home, which will be put on display at the library. Please stop by the Children’s Desk for more information.

Now, summer is a busy time for families. You may be asking yourself, why should I sign my child up for the summer reading program? Just this past week, I had young patrons share two very good reasons. First, I heard from a boy who was debating whether or not to sign up. When asked if he liked to read books, he told me he wanted to become a better reader. Signing up for the summer reading program is a wonderful way to become a better reader! After all, reading, like most things in life, just takes practice. Just don’t take my word for it, ask children who’ve participated in the program. Yesterday, a girl told me that her school reading grade improved because she participated in last year’s summer reading program. Without hesitation, she signed up again this year. We can read the advice from experts and study statistics, but there is power in the words of children. This summer, we encourage you to sign your children up for the summer reading program so they can “Dig into Reading.”

This summer, I’ve had several older readers stop by the Children’s Room asking about the reading program. While they are a little bummed that they’ve outgrown the children’s program, we assure them there is still plenty for them to do this summer. Readers ages 13-18 may sign up for the teen reading program, “Groundbreaking Reads.” Teens may stop by the Service Center to complete a registration form. After reading a book, they write the title and author of the book and put it into the “Groundbreaking Reads” box (located by the former reference desk). By reading just one book, a teen earns a free book at the end of summer. Of course, the more books they read, the better a teen’s chance to win a grand prize. Most teens are going to read at least one book this summer, so signing up for the reading program makes sense. After all, who doesn’t want a free book?

Summer is a wonderful time for reading. While the weather in recent days may not lend itself to outdoor activities, there is always a book waiting to be read. Next time you’re driving or walking by on North Broadway, stop by the New Ulm Public Library and make this a summer of reading for yourself and your family!

 

June 10, 2013

 

Amazing Pets
by Linda Lindquist, Adult Services/Reference

Did you have a favorite pet when you were growing up? Maybe you lived vicariously through a friend’s pet. Maybe you read about some interesting pets in books through the years. Anyway, pets hold special places in our hearts. Many books have been written recently about special pets and here are just a few of them.

When I looked at the cover of this book, I couldn’t believe that anyone would want to adopt this dog. But one family sure did. “Oogy: The Dog Only a Family Could Love” by Larry Levin is just such a dog. With only one ear and a great deal of scar tissue on his face, you might wonder how anyone could love him. The Levin family took to him instantly, and he becomes a loyal and protective member of their family. Oogy overcame great odds. Being loved helped him to persevere despite all his trials, much as we as humans can overcome many trials in our lives.

“Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog” by John Grogan is about a young couple starting their married life who decides to adopt a puppy into their family. Marley is a lovable yellow lab pup, full of energy, and not a care in the world. He doesn’t know when to quit. Before long he is 97 pounds of uncontrollable energy crashing through screen doors, flinging drool all over guests, chasing through backyards, stealing women’s undergarments from clotheslines, and chewing and eating everything he can get in his mouth. But through it all, he is loyal and loves his family dearly. This is a great movie as well.

How much of an impact can an animal have and how many lives can one cat touch? Is it possible for an abandoned kitten to transform a small library into a tourist attraction, bind together an entire town, and eventually become world famous? Dewey Readmore Books, of Spencer, Iowa, is just that cat. “Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World” by Vicki Myron is a read that cat lovers (or any animal lover) will enjoy reading.

If you are a comic lover, take a look at “How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You” by Matthew Inman. This book is full of facts and jokes. If you need a good laugh, check this one out.

And one more book I want to talk about is entitled “A Dog Walks into a Nursing Home: Lessons in the Good Life from an Unlikely Teacher” by Sue Halpern. Halpern and her labradoddle get a new lease on life by becoming a certified therapy dog team. They visit nursing homes and share time with the residents living there. The book shows companionship, kindness, and giving love, while expecting little in return. It’s a good read to take your mind off everyday pressures.

There are many more books on our shelves about pets in general. Take a few minutes to check out some of these and other titles in the 636s at the New Ulm Library.

 

June 3, 2013

Listen Up! to These Library Programs
by Kris Wiley, Assistant Library Director

Your New Ulm Public Library loves to feature singers, songwriters, and instrumentalists, and summer is the perfect time to showcase musical programs.

The library’s Noon Tunes program in the adult fiction area provides a relaxing hour of music. This Tuesday, June 11 at 12 p.m., 2009 Minnesota Music Hall of Fame inductee Steve Moran will play a variety of musical styles and instruments. My introduction to Steve was watching him expertly play multiple instruments simultaneously on stage with the Wendinger Band. Steve, longtime band instructor at New Ulm schools, is sure to display his amazing solo talent. This program is sponsored by the Friends of the New Ulm Public Library and the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame.

On Monday, June 17 at 7 p.m., bluegrass group Barton’s Hollow will take the stage at German Park. This six-piece band, whose members are 16 to 21 years old, includes New Ulm’s own Ian Kimmel. Barton’s Hollow played German Park last year to a standing ovation, and I’m looking forward to hearing more from this energetic group. This program is co-sponsored by New Ulm Park and Rec and KNUJ and is funded by the Carl and Verna Schmidt Foundation.

Especially for kids, the library and New Ulm Park and Rec are sponsoring a rock concert with children’s performer Will Hale on Thursday, June 20 at 6:30 p.m. at German Park. Will is traveling from the Twin Cities to encourage children and their families to sing, dance, and have a great time. This program is funded by the Carl and Verna Schmidt Foundation.

On Monday, July 8 at 7 p.m., local favorite Dick Kimmel & Co will play at German Park. Dick Kimmel and Jerilyn Kjellberg are the vocal powerhouses at the front of the group, and they are joined by Graham Sones on banjo and Terry Johnson on bass. For select performances, they are joined by Ian Kimmel on mandolin and Tom Schaefer on fiddle. Dick Kimmel & Co’s blend of traditional bluegrass always draws big crowds. This program is co-sponsored by New Ulm Park and Rec and KNUJ and is funded by the Carl and Verna Schmidt Foundation.

All of these programs are free and open to the public. Seating is first-come, first-served. Call 507-359-8334 for more information. I look forward to seeing you at these concerts with your dancing shoes on!

 

May 27, 2013

Dig Into Reading and Discover Groundbreaking Reads
by Katy Kudela, Children’s Librarian

Summer is almost here, and the library is gearing up for its annual summer reading programs! With the themes “Dig Into Reading” and “Groundbreaking Reads,” this year’s programs will inspire children and teens to dig a little deeper to discover the wonder of books and the fascinating world around them.

To interest young readers of all ages, two reading programs will be offered again this summer. The children’s reading program is open to children ages 1 to 12, and the teens’ reading program is open to young adults ages 13 to 18. Registration for both programs begins on Monday, June 3 at 9:30 a.m. The kick-off program, “Clowning Around with Summer Reading,” is planned in the Children’s Room from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Watch for juggling fun and balloon creations! For those who can’t make it to the library on June 3, there is still plenty of time to sign up because registration will run through the month of June.

Children’s Summer Reading Program
The goal of the children’s program is for participants to read for 30 minutes a day for 25 days between June 3 and July 25. For those children who are pre-readers, they are asked to listen to books read to them for 20 minutes a day for 25 days. To help track their reading time, children who register will receive a “Dig Into Reading” summer reading record. The reading record features five easy-to-cut-out bookmarks and a reading certificate to color. After completing five days of reading (or listening), children will cut out a bookmark and return it to the library. This year’s bookmark activities include a variety of games and surprises, and all children who complete the program’s five bookmarks will receive a free book and be eligible to win one of 10 grand prizes. Children who are looking for some extra reading fun can also pick up a summer challenge sheet. Participants who complete this sheet while working on their 25 days of reading will receive a bonus prize when they complete the program.

While reading is at the heart of the summer program, the library staff has planned many activities to encourage children to be creative and have fun at the library. This year’s participants will be invited to build their own gnome or fairy home--watch for details at the library! There will also be weekly crafts, plenty of activity sheets, a family challenge sheet, and summer storytimes on Mondays and Thursdays at 10 a.m. This summer’s storytime schedule will kick-off on Thursday, June 6.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a summer reading program without library contests. This year’s contests include a Gnome Hunt, an I Spy How Many Items? jar, a Go Buggy counting contest, and an Unearth Library Gems contest, which will have junior readers digging in the stacks to answer weekly questions.

Another feature of the summer reading program is a calendar of special events. June’s library calendar is jam packed with many guest presenters, including Minnesota Book Award winner Laura Purdie Salas, author and paranormal researcher Chad Lewis, children’s rock ’n’ roll performer Will Hale, and even Mother Goose! Other featured June programs include a Dakota language program for children and adults, and a digging in the dirt garden craft project. Of course, June is just the beginning of summer fun. There are free movies and more programs to come. For a complete listing of the library’s calendar of events, please check out the library’s Web site at www.newulmlibrary.org. There is family fun for everyone!

Teen Summer Reading Program
Teens are invited to register for the Summer Reading Program at the Service Center. Throughout the summer, they will log every book they read on a slip of paper and drop the paper in a designated box at the former Reference Desk. Every teen who submits at least one slip will receive a book. Additional prizes will be drawn randomly from all submissions.

The library has several special events planned for teens, including a visit from paranormal researcher Chad Lewis on June 13; a Monday Night Concert in German Park with Barton’s Hollow on June 17; a Supernatural for Teens program on June 21;  a teen book group on June 28; a teen book trivia program on July 13; and a read the book, watch the film program on July 19. And don’t forget about Battle of the Books, the trivia-style competition open to teens throughout the Traverse des Sioux Library Cooperative. This year’s event is scheduled for August 3 in St. Peter. Interested teens must register with Kris (507-359-8334).

The New Ulm Public Library is fortunate to receive major funding for the 2013 Summer Reading Programs from the Friends of the New Ulm Public Library; the Minnesota Book Awards; the Carl and Verna Schmidt Foundation; 3M of New Ulm; and the Traverse des Sioux Library Cooperative through the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. The library also receives generous prize donations from local businesses, organizations, and patrons. A complete list of donors can be found on the library’s Web site. Thank you, donors, for your generous support!

As always, the most important reward of our summer reading programs is that these programs help children and teens maintain or even improve their reading skills that lay the foundation for school success. If parents and libraries work together to encourage summer reading, kids can be winners. So come to the library this summer for some good books and plenty of fun!

 

May 20, 2013

 

The End of the Internet
Betty J Roiger, Acquisitions

I remember when we had one computer in the library. I suppose that is hard for some people to believe at this technological point in time, but that’s how it was here in the 1990s. Even odder, the public and the staff shared it. It lived on a wheelie cart, and we moved it from place to place, floor to floor. The word “Internet” wasn’t a word that was often used, either. I remember Dan training us on the computer and telling us that “not everything on the Internet was true.” And he had a Web site to prove it.

This Web site featured a lovely tourist town with a castle, hot springs, an underwater city, and even nuclear submarine docks. Cracks in the earth sending up hot air kept the temperature balmy year round and made it convenient for whale watching. Maybe this even sounds like the adventure land you want to vacation to this year. Yeah? Well, it’s close if you want to visit; the Web site is describing a place called Mankato, Minnesota. (http://city-mankato.us/) Yep. It’s the Sibley County Hot Springs, and you, too, can “strap on an oxygen tank and dive beneath the crystal clear waters of the Minnesota River” to see “the Underwater City of Mankato.”

I know, right? When Dan showed us this Web site, considering where we live, of course we were all laughing and enjoying the information about the “great Mankato pyramid” and “haunted Mankato.” “Winter Solenoid” sounded great as it was “celebrated on the coldest day of the year” suitable for “tee shirts and Bermuda shorts” with plenty of “hot dish, bars, and jello” to go around! Who wouldn’t want to “get out of the harsh Minnesota winters of New Ulm to [go to] the balmy tranquility of Mankato”?

The thing was, people would find this Web site and believe it. In 2007, a woman brought her mother up from Kansas to visit the underwater city and was upset to find that it didn’t exist. Even though the last point of interest on the Web site is a “Direct link to The End Of The Internet,” people didn’t realize that this is a perfect example of what many people use the Internet for: This site is just for fun. (The end of the Internet looks like a bunch of stop signs with the warning “go back before your computer disappears into a black hole.”)

It was the three or four pages of disclaimers that really had us howling, though. “Do not operate a motor nor non-motor vehicle when viewing this page. Do not mix with … chocolate… … Some assembly required. … Freshest if eaten before date on carton. … Does anyone really know what time it is? … Please remain seated until the ride has come to a complete stop.” And even: “Mankato, as portrayed on these pages, DOES NOT EXIST!”

Back in the day, when we helped people we would do our best to guide them to reliable sources. Now almost everyone has their own home computers and the personal ability to Google or Bing. Let’s hope that anyone who goes on the Internet takes what he or she sees and reads with a grain of salt. Cuz like Dan said: Folks need to know that just because it is on the Internet doesn’t mean it is true. “Crystal clear waters of the Minnesota River”…ha, if you believe that, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.

 

May 13, 2013

Do We Have the Right Magazines?
by Larry Hlavsa, Library Director

Last fall the New Ulm Library made a decision to reduce the size of our magazines collection. We had been noticing for some time less public use of the collection, and figured it was a good place to cut, based on the reduced usage. Why are fewer people using library magazines? My theory is that with SmartPhones, iPads, PCs and other electronic devices all accessing the Internet, people may just be getting more of their casual reading on such devices, rather than through magazines.

One of the titles we dropped was the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Lo and behold, we got a complaint, and the complaint was not without some validity. The patron lamented that we just didn’t have much in the way of financial publications any more. Well, he was right, if you just consider “print” magazines we only carry MONEY, ENTREPRENEUR and MINNESOTA BUSINESS. That is a pretty slim selection!

But wait, consider that twenty years ago we didn’t have the electronic access we now have. The Electronic Library of Minnesota (ELM) offers our library customers full-text searching of such magazines as FORBES, BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK, FORTUNE, THE ECONOMIST and the HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW, just to name a few. Twenty years ago, libraries also didn’t have Internet access, but now we have eleven public Internet workstations for our customers to search hundreds, even thousands of business publications across the world. While such access may not be as convenient for some people, it is more convenient for others. And it certainly represents an expansion of our collection in a wide variety of subject areas.

But even that’s not all. Soon, your Traverse des Sioux libraries will offer electronic access to forty or more magazines through a vendor called “Zinio.” You can check out: zinio.com on the Web for a preview of what is to come. While only a few of these are likely to be financial magazines, they will nonetheless expand our collection in a number of subject areas, not to mention making access to our library even more of a 24/7 proposition.

But back to the issue of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. We would love to hear from more New Ulmers about whether you think we should reinstate this title to our collection. It’s a $284 a year subscription, or about 8% of our subscription budget, just for that one title. But tell us if it’s important to you that we have the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Comments on either side of the issue will help us decide if this newspaper should remain a part of our collection.

Just submit a “comment form” (available at the Library’s Service Center), or give me a call at: 359-8332, or email me at: lhlavsa@tds.lib.mn.us

P.S. Maybe there’s another magazine or newspaper you would like to see us subscribe to? Please let us know what you’d like in our collection. We--and our materials--are here for you!

 

May 6, 2013

Are You Ready For Some Gardening?
by Linda Lindquist, Adult Services/Reference

As I sit here working on my May article on gardening and look out my window—it is snowing. It is May and it is still snowing—and not just a few flakes, it is accumulating on some surfaces. But that is not going to stop me from thinking spring and planning my garden. And to be honest with you, I have already bought a few packets of flower seeds. I am determined to not let this snow stop me.
I want to start with composting. Now you might think that composting can only be done if you live in the country—not so. Composting can be done on a farm, in the suburbs, or in a city apartment. “Composting Inside & Out” by Stephanie Davies is a good place to start. She gives a complete overview of the composting process and where you can find the equipment necessary for composting. She also has step-by-step instructions for different methods of composting, different ways you can use the compost you produce, and she tries to answer questions on problems that may come up.

Do you have some bushes, trees, or plants that need pruning? Have you done some pruning in the past and damaged or killed plants? Then “Cass Turnbull’s Guide to Pruning: What, When, Where & How to Prune for a More Beautiful Garden” is just the book for you. One hundred sixty plants are covered in her book. Turnbull gives friendly, expert advice for the home gardener. Cass’ mission is “to end the senseless torture and mutilation of trees and shrubs caused by mal-pruning.”

And now the fun part really begins—selecting the plants for your garden. This time I am concentrating on flowers. A book I found in our collection is entitled “Annuals and Perennials: A Gardener’s Encyclopedia: Select the Best Plants for Gardening Success” written by Geoff Bryant and Tony Rodd. Over 1300 plants are described in their book. I do not have the “green” thumb when it comes to gardening, but I think I have found a book that will help me to plant and grow the flowers that are suitable for our climate. Maybe you are interested in doing some landscaping in your garden or yard. “Landscaping with Native Plants of Minnesota” by Lynn M Steiner should be of help. She covers flowers, trees, shrubs, vines, evergreens, grasses, and ferns suitable for Minnesota’s harsh climate.

Some of you are probably thinking, I don’t have room for a garden. You may live in a small apartment or a condo in the cities or maybe you just don’t want or have time for a huge garden. How about container gardening? William Aldrich and Don Williamson’s book “Container Gardening for the Midwest” may meet your needs. Almost any plant that can be grown in a conventional garden can be grown on a smaller scale in a container. Gardening should be fun and enjoyable, and container gardening is no exception. Even if you have room for only one container, you can still derive much pleasure from it.

All of the books mentioned above, and many more, are available at the New Ulm Public Library. Gardening books are located upstairs in the Reference area in the 631-635 section. Be sure to ask if you have any problems finding the book you are looking for. If you are looking for a particular title and we do not have it, ask and we will check all of Minnesota to see if that title is available. Happy gardening!!

 

April 29, 2013

 

Surplus to Some, Treasures to Others!
by Larry Hlavsa, Library Director

I’ve been involved in many rummage, garage, porch and estate sales in my life. I’ve always found them fun. Often I find nothing in a particular sale for me, but you have to take a risk sometimes to find a treasure. Have you read the story about the person who found a Picasso in Shreveport, Louisiana at a garage sale for $2?

The New Ulm Library is having a rare “surplus sale” from noon on May 6th through 7:30 p.m. on May 7th. We have an old microfilm reader, stuffed animals, tables, a storyboard, book stand, a circular mirror, an electronic keyboard, several desks, some large tables, a library card cabinet, a photocopier, some old portable typewriters, and more. None of these are items the library has any more use for, and all are being sold for bargain prices. These are being sold on a “first-come, first-served” basis so get to the library early if you’re interested.

While there are no “pre-sales,” you can have a look at our surplus catalog any time before the sale. Multiple copies of the catalog are in the Service Center at the library for your review.

Incidentally, if you’re the kind of person who likes to do some research first, here’s a couple of library-owned titles that may help before attending your next rummage, garage, porch or estate sale:

The Garage Sale Millionaire: Make Money with Hidden Finds from Garage Sales to Storage Unit Auctions and Everything In-between by Aaron LaPedis (2012).

Garage Sale Gourmet : Streetwise Shopping for Fun, Profit, and Home Improvement by Anita Chagaris (2005)

On the other hand, if you want to clear your life of clutter, rather than adding to it, you might try checking out:

Conquer the Clutter: Reclaim Your Space, Reclaim Your Life (2005).

Now I’ve looked carefully through the items in our library surplus sale, and I don’t believe there’s a Picasso anywhere to be found. But you may find some other “treasure,” something that you have a use for that can be purchased cheaply. Join us for our surplus sale on May 6-7!

 

 

April 22, 2013

 

Library Staff and Volunteers Are Great
by Kris Wiley, Assistant Library Director

April always is a fun time of the year at the library. We’re looking forward to spring (especially this year!) and planning for the Summer Reading Program. We’re reading the hot new books and discovering authors who will become like old friends. And we’re recognizing the contributions of our library staff and volunteers.

Last week we celebrated National Library Week, a time to recognize and honor the contributions libraries and library workers make to our communities. Tuesday, April 9 was National Library Workers Day, when we honored our dedicated and hard-working team for its service. The library staff strives to provide a comfortable and helpful atmosphere, so whether you’re working on a computer, finding a book, attending a program, studying, or visiting us for any other reason, you always are welcome.

Library visitors most often see the finished product of our staff’s efforts – from functioning computers, to a storytime presentation, to a book that’s available for checkout off the shelf. All of that is possible because of much work behind the scenes. Staff selects materials and catalogs materials and processes materials. Staff is trained to locate materials and check out materials and then check those materials back in for the next user. Staff plans, promotes, and performs storytimes. The New Ulm Public Library staff brings a multitude of talents and skills to the library, and together we do our very best to make the library a great place to visit.

This week we are celebrating National Volunteer Week, a time to recognize and thank our volunteers for their service to the library. We have a fantastic group of volunteers that steps up in a number of ways. The volunteers tidy shelves, deliver books, clean books, copy and fold brochures, assist with programs, facilitate a book group, and help in many other ways that make a huge difference. Their selfless contributions – always done with a smile – ensure the library is a wonderful place to work and visit.

Several of our volunteers have been with the library for a number of years, and we are especially grateful for their long-term dedication to the community. Volunteering isn’t always particularly glamorous – remember when I said our volunteers clean books?! – but the rewards can be great. Volunteers connect with others, strengthen communities, and become more well-rounded people. In fact, research has linked volunteering with improved health (see www.nationalservice.gov). Many organizations in our community would be thrilled to meet with you and discuss how you can be of service. To quote Martin Luther King Jr., “Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.” Think about how your time and talents could benefit others, and consider volunteering.

                                                                                                                                                           

April 15, 2013

 

Tales from the Library Cubicles
by Betty J Roiger, Acquisitions & Kris Wiley, Assistant Director

Betty: Hey, Kris … what’s up?
Kris: W – e- l – l, World Book Night is coming up next Tuesday, April 23.
B: Really? I cannot wait. Last year, it was a blast.
K: I know! It was fun to give away copies of “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins, “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card, and “Blood Work” by Michael Connelly. And to hear everyone read favorite poems and short stories.
B: Sue had us all leaning forward with that sort of creepy Mary Elizabeth story.
K: Yeah, that was memorable.
B: You had the best job though.
K: ?
Betty: You were emcee, and you got to throw candy at people.
K: To people, toward people.
B: Details, details. Candy coming at a person at any speed is welcome. Everyone wanted to guess the quiz questions and win. They were into it, rapid-fire answers for candy.
K: Do you want to spill what’s happening this year?
B: Sure! Well, Gigi told me about a unique book she had read called “My Ideal Bookshelf.” It is about the personal favorites of more than a hundred people: celebrities, chefs, authors, fashion designers. They all share the books that have helped them, defined them, let them follow their dreams.
K: We took a look at the book and decided to have a paper template of a bookshelf that people who attend could fill in with their much loved books. And we have markers and funky paper for people to make up their own cool book spines.
B: And then do we talk about our favorites? Because I don’t like to choose.
K: So, what’s your favorite book?
B: What?! Did you not listen? I don’t like to single one out … then the other books on my ideal shelf will feel bad.
K: OK, then, what are some of your favorites?
B: It changes. For instance, I loved “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle when I was younger. I’d have to say “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee is just about a perfect book for me. So, what’re some of your favorites?
K: “The Blind Assassin” by Margaret Atwood and “Rebecca” by Daphne DuMaurier are right up there. “Olive Kitteridge” by Elizabeth Strout.
B: “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien changed my life. “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” by J.K. Rowling rocked! I wonder if “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio will make my ideal bookshelf?
K: So…as I was saying… adults and teens are welcome to join us for World Book Night on April 23 at 6 p.m. in the adult fiction area of the library. Remember! We are giving away books!
B: And you know I love “A Game of Thrones” by George R.R. Martin.
K: You are still talking … you are not going to quit, are you?
B: [sigh] My ideal bookshelf isn’t big enough.

 

April 8, 2013

 

Pick a Poem for April
by Katy Kudela, Children’s Librarian

There is nothing like sitting down to read your favorite childhood book. Just this past week, I shared some of my favorite fairy tales with the children at storytime. It was wonderful to see that “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” captured their attention just as well as it did mine years ago. It’s true that some stories never grow old! The same can be said with poetry. After all, many of us can name a nursery rhyme just like that. Some of us might even have a poem or two tucked away in our memories. My earliest poetry memory comes from the Childcraft Books, which sat alongside the World Book Encyclopedias my parents had lining the bookshelves. Inside the Childcraft Book of poems was the silliest poem I’d ever heard…

“I never saw a purple cow,
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I'd rather see than be one.”
--Gelett Burgess

As a child, I recited this poem again and again as if it was the funniest joke in the world! Poetry is perhaps the best example of the power that words can bring. In just a few short phrases, poetry has the power to paint a picture in words. Leonardo da Vinci is quoted as saying, “Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.”

This April, celebrate National Poetry Month with a visit to the library. The library has an assortment of poetry books for all readers. You will find several poetry book displays set up in the Children’s Room. You can also browse the 811 sections in the picture book, junior, young adult, and adult nonfiction collections. You will find a wealth of poets from Robert Frost to Maya Angelou to Jack Prelutsky. You might even discover a book you have not read before like Laura Purdie Salas’ “BookSpeak!” which is a collection of poems that is all about books. Here’s part of her poem called “This is the Book”:

“…And she is the reader
who browses the shelf
and looks for new worlds
but find herself.”

I encourage you to take time this month to add a poetry book to your stack of checkouts. By reading one poem a day, you will be enriching your world, and the best part is that it only takes a few minutes! Browsing the stacks this April, you just might find a poem or two you want to add to your collection of memories or your child’s collection of memories. As poet Maya Angelou says so well, “Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.” A book of poems may be just the book that opens your child to the wonderful and imaginative world of literature. It might also be the book that reminds us as adults the power a few words can hold.

 

April 1, 2013

 

April is Financial Literacy Month
by Linda Lindquist, Adult Services/Reference


Are you sufficiently educated about your personal finances? Have you taught your children how to handle money? Are you ready to change your financial situation? April is Financial Literacy Month and now would be a good time to address these questions.

During these challenging economic times, it is important for individuals and families to establish and maintain healthy financial habits. The more we know about our personal finances, our savings, and our credit card debt, the better off we will be. And the sooner we begin teaching our children, the better off they will be as well. April is a time of new beginnings; a perfect time to begin doing this.

There are some basic steps you should take to get started on the road to financial stability. First, you need to examine your attitudes about money. Are you ready to accept the responsibility for changing your financial situation? Secondly, clear out financial clutter—get rid of unnecessary papers and receipts. Items to save are paycheck stubs, canceled checks, and documents pertaining to buying and selling or improving your home. Receipts for major purchases should be kept as long as you retain that item, and individual income tax returns should be kept for seven years (according to the Internal Revenue Service). Another step is to get a copy of your credit reports. There are three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. These are three separate entities and information contained in each of the reports varies slightly. To get a free credit report, visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call 1- 877-322-8228.

Another step is to make a list of what you “need” and what you “want” and then rank this list according to how important these “wants” and “needs” are for your family. You need to set some short-, mid-, and long-term goals. Short-term goals should be able to be attained in two years. Mid-term goals may take two to five years to complete. Long-term goals may take more than five years to accomplish, but it is important to have some goals in each category.

Another important step is to track where all your money goes. Make a list of your variable expenses—those that change from month to month such as clothing and food expenditures. Next you will want to make a list of fixed monthly expenses—car payments, mortgage payments, rent expenses, utilities, etc. Finally, you will want to identify periodic expenses such as insurances that are paid once or twice a year, vacations, income taxes, etc.

The above mentioned steps are just a few that are mentioned on a web site to help individuals find financial freedom. The web site is: www.financialliteracymonth.com. In reading through the steps, I found several ideas that are easy for all of us to follow and that can help us to attain our financial wellness. And it is never too early to teach our children money management. Simple daily tasks such as watching us at the ATM machine, paying our bills, balancing our checkbook, or talking about our spending decisions are lessons we can teach our children. Giving them an allowance and showing them how to save a portion of it is a valuable lesson for them. Have your child take a portion of their saved money to the store to purchase a small item that they want.

As always, we have books at the New Ulm Public Library that can be checked out. We have many personal finance books in the 332s section. Some books to teach children about money management include “The Berenstain Bears and Mama’s New Job,” A Bargain for Frances,” “Sheep in a Shop,” and “Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday.” Not all of these books are at the New Ulm Public Library, but we can get them from other libraries in our system.

April is the official National Financial Literacy Month. But you can start on any day or any month of the year to create successful strategies to better your financial position.

 

March 25, 2013

Wool

by Betty Roiger, Acquisitions

I don’t peek for Christmas presents. When someone says: “Close your eyes, and put out your hands,” I don’t open my eyes. And I don’t look at the last page of the book. But then I started “Wool” by Hugh Howey.

I hadn’t ducked into a Science Fiction world for a while because I have plenty to read. I went out to talk to Kris at the front desk; she was checking in “Wool” and gestured at the cover, saying, “This is getting some buzz.” “I know,” I said, “I’ve wanted to read it.” She thrust it at me saying, “Here!” “Uhm, what?! That’s sort of line jumping.”
(sputtered my inner dialogue). “I have a stack of books waiting to be read, and this one needs to wait its turn.” But “Wool” didn’t wait its turn. “Wool” cut in line and moved to the front and thankfully, gratefully, I am glad it did.

“The children were playing while Holston climbed to his death”... is how “Wool” starts. You like Holston right away in the story, even as he climbs the spiral stairway of the silo, to the up top. Questions abound. He is going to his execution, but will he clean? He broke the rules, he wants out, and that means a death sentence. (I know!) Not much of this makes sense to anyone reading this. Why a silo? Why does he want to die? Why can’t you go outside? What is cleaning? One of the best parts of this “Wool Omnibus” is that the answers are revealed quickly but not so quickly to spoil the intriguing premise. Once you are in the silo, with Holston, then with Jahns, and Marnes, and you begin viewing the hydroponic floor, the growing floor, IT where the techies work, you know with each step up or down you are entering a complete and fascinating world.

Usually the character you first meet is the one you follow through the book. But from the get-go it doesn’t look good for Holston. Who exactly am I shadowing? I’d advise you to head below 140 floors to down deep on those spiral stairs and get to Mechanical to find Jules. Jules is the character you really want to follow. She is the best mechanic maybe ever.

This book is addictive; once you enter, you do not want to leave. “Wool” is a wonderful world to be sucked into, not that it is necessarily a wonderful world. I found myself reading slower, slowing down to remain in the silo with Jules. At the same time, I flipped forward to the next chapter to see if everyone I liked remained intact. (Yes, I know! I don’t peek.) Yet “Wool” has its own rules. (So I had to. I needed to know!) This book is intense and irresistible. Hold on while “Wool” unravels and then re-stitches itself into something else. Follow Jules up top and down deep; it is worth it to get to the bottom of the secrets. I peeked. You’ll be flipping the pages, too, to find out what’s next. And then, you just might not want to leave, either.

If you like Science Fiction, please give “Wool” a shot. And here’s the thing. If you don’t read Science Fiction, do not let that stop you from trying “Wool.” This could take
place anywhere, anytime, which I think is the mark of a good story. And “Wool” is simply a good story. Come in and check something out.

 

March 18, 2013

Interior Re-design at the Library
by Larry Hlavsa, Library Director

Doing more with less seems to be the standard these days in state and local government. But how do you do more with less when your library offers its services in a building designed in 1976, at a time when staffing multiple levels and floors was not so problematic?

Your New Ulm Public Library has five floors open to the public. We have just over seventeen people (or about the equivalent of ten full-time people) to offer services on these five floors, and we’re open six days a week, including four evenings. We’re spread pretty thin.

As budgets have dropped in the past few years, we’ve done our best to maintain services. So far, so good. But we know that since 80% of our budget is people, future budget cuts will result in lowered staff levels. We’re trying now to be proactive in looking at how and where we offer services.

As the years go on, and people leave or retire, there is an increasing probability that they will not be replaced at the same hourly level, or they may not be replaced at all. If that’s the case, and we want to continue maintaining services, we have to reduce the locations where we offer service to the absolute minimum. Our Service Center (formerly the Circulation Center) is being looked on as the place where in the future those services will be offered.

While in the future the other four floors in our building may not be staffed, we are also looking for ways to give them a staff presence. One way is to move our managers (library director and assistant library director) to offices on empty floors to maintain a staff presence on those floors. Moving them there would also make them more available to the public.

Most of our ideas are in still in the formative stages, but a committee was recently formed to begin looking at the options. Included on the committee is the library director, two librarians, a library aide and two members of our library board. The committee will meet every month or two to plan for the interior re-design of the library. Its purpose will be to develop a design that will make the library a continuing place of education, programming, learning and fun.

Assistant Director Kris Wiley will be project manager for this interior re-design effort and will lead the aforementioned committee. She can be reached at: 359-8334, or by email: kwiley@tds.lib.mn.us.

Incidentally, now is a great time for you to express your thoughts about the interior design of the library. We encourage you to contact Kris with any of your thoughts, suggestions or ideas!

 

March 11, 2013

 

Friends Team Up With Sven & Ole’s for Book Fair
Kris Wiley, Assistant Library Director

Our Friends of the New Ulm Public Library is a fantastic organization. The group supports the library in any number of ways, from providing funding for materials and programs to attending events to advocating for library services.

The Friends’ major fundraiser is the annual book sale, which is held in the library basement in late fall. The proceeds from the sale, as with all of the Friends’ funds, go toward making your library even better. Now the Friends have a new opportunity to raise money. In partnership with Sven & Ole’s Books in New Ulm, the Friends will benefit from a book fair this Friday, March 15 and Saturday, March 16. Customers must mention the book fair when they check out, and 25 percent of their sale will benefit the Friends.

It gets even better. The bookstore is accepting pre-orders for William Kent Krueger’s newest novel, “Ordinary Grace.” Customers must order the book at the store, and for every pre-ordered copy of “Grace,” Sven will give $8.25 to the Friends. And he’ll get your copy signed by the author. The book’s publication date is March 26; Sven will have your signed copy available for pickup at the store April 5. Sven & Ole’s Books is located at 2 North Minnesota Street; the phone number is 507-354-6421.

If you are not familiar with William Kent Krueger, he is best known for his Cork O’Connor series of mystery novels set in northern Minnesota. “Ordinary Grace” is a departure. The publisher’s introduction to the book sets the tone: New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. The Twins were playing their debut season, ice-cold root beers were selling out at the soda counter of Halderson’s Drugstore, and Hot Stuff comic books were a mainstay on every barbershop magazine rack. It was a time of innocence and hope for a country with a new, young president. But for 13-year-old Frank Drum, it was a grim summer in which death visited frequently and assumed many forms. Accident. Nature. Suicide. Murder.

Sven has been in contact with Krueger and received this quote from him: “When I first began contemplating the writing of ‘Ordinary Grace,’ the seed for all my imagining was New Ulm. As the novel grew, I added elements of other towns in the lovely Minnesota River Valley, but New Ulm—an earlier, smaller, maybe simpler version—was always at the heart. I’m so grateful to everyone there who offered me stories and inspiration.”

There is a book trailer for “Ordinary Grace” on YouTube and can be accessed at http://youtu.be/Mv-t9cuet5c

The mission of the Friends of the New Ulm Public Library is to support your library. In just the past year, the Friends have donated funds for large-print books, audiobooks, and numerous programs, among other things. All proceeds from this book fair event will go toward continuing their support of library materials and programs. So if you’re out shopping this Friday and Saturday, stop in at Sven & Ole’s.

 

March 4, 2013

 

What to Read Next?
Katy Kudela, Children’s Librarian, and Betty J. Roiger, Acquisitions

“So many books; so little time.” It’s certainly a wonderful problem to have, but trying to decide which book to read next is a predicament for many readers. Here in the Children’s Room, this question comes up a lot. Sometimes it’s young readers looking for something else to read while they patiently wait for the next Rick Riordan book. Other times it’s parents hoping to draw their children into a new book series. Luckily, as one young patron said, our library has a lot of good books!

No matter the age level or the interest, the shelves of the New Ulm Public Library offer something for everyone. Even better…if we don’t have the book you’re looking for, we can search for the book in other libraries. It’s really that easy! So, with an abundance of books sitting on the shelves, the question still stands: “What to read next?”

If you’re looking for new children’s picture books, the 2013 Caldecott books are a great place to start. This year’s medal winner is “This Is Not My Hat” written and illustrated by Jon Klassen. Follow along with a very small fish who thinks he is outsmarting a very much larger one.

Judging from this year’s winners, the world of picture books is flourishing! Klassen also illustrated another honor winner: “Extra Yarn,” written by Mac Barnett, demonstrates the magical gift of generosity. Toni Buzzeo wrote “One Cool Friend,” which is beautifully illustrated by David Small in black and white with touches of color. This book is the story of a suit and bow-tied boy who finds a friend in the penguin he “liberates” from an aquarium. Humor ensues.

While in the Children’s Room, be sure to check out this month’s Dr. Seuss picture book display. There you can locate your favorite Dr. Seuss book or perhaps discover a book you have not yet read. With 44 children’s books written and illustrated by Theodor Seuss Geisel, there is an assortment to choose from. If the books are checked out, please stop by the Children’s Desk and we can request a book from another library.

For junior readers looking for a good book, the best place to start just might be the library’s “Read-alikes and Series Lists.” Created last summer by library aide Carla Fjeld, this resource offers many book suggestions. Don’t forget that you can always ask the library staff, too. While we try to read as many books as we can, we also ask readers to share their favorite titles. After listening to readers, we know that Jake Maddox writes some cool sports books and Margaret Peterson Haddix writes page-turning science fiction books. Nancy Drew and The Boxcar Children are also proving to be timeless favorites.

Junior readers may also want to branch out and try something different. A great place to start is the series “You Choose.” A reader might be a first-class passenger on the Titanic or a German immigrant traveling to America. These books put readers in the driver’s seat. A reader gets to choose who to be, where to go, and what actions to take.

Minnesota author Rachael Hanel presented her “You Choose” book “Can You Survive Antarctica?” at a recent family program. First, audience members were asked to test their knowledge of foods to take to Antarctica. Unlike a summer camping trip, a trip to Antarctica (even in the summertime) becomes a survival mission. Hanel then read aloud from her book and let the audience choose its paths. Sharing the book as a read-aloud created an educational and entertaining evening. With a variety of topics available, the “You Choose” series would be fun for families to share. In fact, it’s a good reminder that all kinds books are made for sharing. You can share riddles at supper, read a chapter before bedtime, and listen to an audiobook in the car!

So, if you stumble upon the question “What to read next?” please remember your local library has many books to browse, and the staff is always happy to help.

 

February 25, 2013

 

Oscar’s Best Pictures at the Library!
Larry Hlavsa, Library Director

I’m one of the one billion people who watched the Oscars last Sunday night. Okay, the widely publicized estimate of one billion viewers is probably suspect, so let’s say I was one of the hundreds of millions. Close enough.

I love the Oscars, despite the fact that my favorites rarely win. I’m always happy to argue about best actor, best actress, best director, best screenplay, and similar categories, but the “Best Picture” selection is always among my top five films of the year. I rarely am upset about the Academy’s choice in the “Best Picture” category. This year I saw most of the nine nominated films before Sunday night, and while I wish “Lincoln” had won (I admit a decided prejudice for anything about Lincoln), “Argo” was a very fine film.

This got me to thinking. How many of Oscar’s “Best Pictures” over the last thirty years can you borrow from your local public library? I decided to do a little research to find out.

Calculator and IOLS (integrated online library system) in hand, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Traverse des Sioux libraries own 297 copies of “Best Pictures” from the last thirty years, and that we own one or more copies of all thirty “Best Picture” films since 1982.

Trivia fanatic that I am, however, I wasn’t done. I then began wondering—Which film do we have the most copies of? Since libraries purchase multiple copies only of items that are circulating well, it seems fair to say that the more copies we own, the more times they have circulated. My logic says: most owned = most watched.

The “Best Picture” that we own the most copies of turns out to be “Titanic,” James Cameron’s epic 1997 film about the doomed ocean liner. Looking for still more statistics I then used our IOLS reports to determine that our twenty-five copies (both VHS and DVD) of “Titanic” have gone out an amazing 2,191 times. We may be landlocked here in southern Minnesota, but we still like sea disasters as much as any part of the country.

To help you out next time you’re at the Library, here’s the list of “Best Pictures” from the past thirty years. Remember, all of these can be obtained through interlibrary loan if New Ulm Public Library does not directly own them.

BEST PICTURES

Terms of Endearment (1983); Amadeus (1984); Out of Africa (1985); Platoon (1986); Last Emporer (1987); Rain Man (1988); Driving Miss Daisy (1989); Dances With Wolves (1990); Silence of the Lambs (1991); Unforgiven (1992); Schindler’s List (1993); Forrest Gump (1994); Braveheart (1995); English Patient (1996); Titanic (1997); Shakespeare in Love (1998); American Beauty (1999); Gladiator (2000); A Beautiful Mind (2001); Chicago (2002); Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003); Million Dollar Baby (2004); Crash (2005); The Departed (2006); No Country for Old Men (2007); Slumdog Millionaire (2008); Hurt Locker (2009); King’s Speech (2010); The Artist (2011); Argo (2012).

 

February 18, 2013

Hooray for Local Writers
Kris Wiley, Assistant Library Director

Except for an occasional newspaper column, I’m a reader, not a writer. I’m enthralled by words on a page and their ability to evoke emotion and memory. Much of my spare time is spent curled up with a book, and I love talking about what I’ve read, which makes being a librarian here in New Ulm pretty fantastic. My co-workers and our library patrons love the written word as much as I.

All that is to say I am in awe of writers – their creativity, their diligence, their ability to share what is in their head. Before I came to New Ulm, I knew writers only by their work; I rarely attended author events. Then I moved here and quickly realized how fortunate our community is to have a number of published writers eager to share their gift. The library has been host to many readings featuring local writers, and we are continuing that commitment over the next month. All of these upcoming programs are free and open to the public, and they begin at 6 p.m. Books will be available for purchase, and they will be added to the library’s collection.

This Thursday, February 21, Gary Wiltscheck will share “The Story of Sr. Adelaide Koetter.” Sr. Adelaide grew up in Freeport, Minn., and became a missionary nun on Kariru Island off the coast of New Guinea. On March 17, 1943, she was one of about 40 people killed by Japanese soldiers. Wiltscheck has photos taken by and letters from Sr. Adelaide during her mission to supplement his presentation. In addition, Gary will discuss Lt. James McMurria, who crossed paths with Sr. Adelaide in the South Pacific and went on to be captured by the Japanese and held as a prisoner of war for 1000 days. The Brown County Historical Society is a partner.

On Tuesday, February 26, Rachael Hanel will present an interactive program for all ages based on her book “Can You Survive Antarctica?” Hanel will share a short reading from her book and ask attendees to choose their “fateful path.” To further bring the book to life, Hanel will ask attendees to pull items from a bag and decide if the supplies will help them on their adventure. By the end of the program, readers will find out firsthand if they have what it takes to survive Antarctica. The River Ranger Program is a partner.

On Thursday, February 28, Sheila Wingate will talk about her new book, "Courtland, The Early Years: 1855-1910." She will share information about her research as well as the history of Courtland Township. The photographs in the book tell stories of Courtland readers might not know about. The Brown County Historical Society is a partner.

On Thursday, March 7, novelist Dave Gehrke will be on hand with his second mystery, “Goodbye Ginny Madison.” The book is about a romance writer pretending to be a mystery writer so he can solve a real mystery, clear his live-in uncle of a murder charge, convince his housekeeper to fall in love with him without her discovering he’s really a romance writer pretending to be a mystery writer, so they can all live happily ever after. When it comes right down to it, all Greg Monroe wants to do is say goodbye to Ginny Madison, his romance writer nom de plume.

On Thursday, March 14, Pell Johnson will share stories from his second book, “Fowl Deeds: The Adventures of Fowl Hunters on Swan Lake, Nicollet County Minnesota and a Few Other Interesting Places.” He will be at Orchard Hill Assisted Living at 3 p.m. and the library at 6 p.m.

For more information about these and other programs, call the library at 507-359-8334 or visit www.newulmlibrary.org. See you at the library!

February 11, 2013

 

Black History Month Observed
Linda Lindquist, Adult Services/Reference


The month of February is historically considered Black History Month as designated by the United States Congress in 1926. This is a time when we can remember the struggles, accomplishments, and contributions of African Americans. All month long we celebrate and highlight people and events of Black history in the United States and around the world.

Here are just a few of the things that can be done to celebrate Black History Month:

1. Read Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
2. Visit a local museum or art gallery. Most will be featuring African American artists, musicians, etc. during the month.
3. Check with area colleges and universities to see if they have special programs or events commemorating Black History Month.
4. Listen to music by Scott Joplin, Charley Pride, Bob Marley, Beyonce, or other African American musicians.
5. Check out a book.

We just purchased some new books about African Americans for the New Ulm Public Library. One title is “Black White Blue: The Assassination of Patrolman Sackett” by William Swanson. Patrolman Sackett was on the St. Paul police force when he was killed by a sniper’s bullet in the 1970s. There was much racial tension during that time. It is a true account of crime and punishment, race, and community.

Rachel L. Swarns has a new book on Michelle Obama entitled “American Tapestry: The Story of the Black, White, and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama.” Michelle Obama’s family saga is a journey from slavery to the White House in five generations. This is not only a family history but also about a nation going through racial intermingling and slavery. James McBride, author of “The Color of Water,” stated, “A grand, important book that shows how American bloodlines are rarely wholly black or purely white, neither one race nor another. Nowhere is that more true than in “American Tapestry,” an eloquent history of the First Lady’s family.”

“King: A Biography” by David Levering Lewis is in its 3rd edition. The 1st edition was published shortly after King’s assassination in 1968. It is a very readable book and full of historical insight. Lewis tells of King’s achievements but also points out his flaws and limitations. It is a classic biography capturing the voices and feelings of the times of King’s legacy. |

One other book that was recently purchased is “The Black Revolution on Campus” by Martha Biondi. She combines research with interviews to tell how students turned the slogan “Black Power” into a social movement. Biondi illustrates how Black studies have produced innovations that have had an impact on research and curriculum on campuses over the past 40 years.

These are the newest books we have on our shelves about African Americans. African American authors, with books on our shelves, include Walter Mosley, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Zora Neale Hurston, and Bill Cosby to mention a few.

One more thing…be sure to check your local TV listings, especially PBS. There are many specials, documentaries, and movies that will be shown during the month of February commemorating Black History Month.

February 4, 2013

 

Take Your Child to the Library Day!
Katy Kudela, Children’s Librarian

A celebration is buzzing through libraries called “Take Your Child to the Library Day!” While every day is a great day to stop by the library, this celebration is a chance for families to stop by their local libraries for an extra day of fun. Inspired by a librarian in Connecticut, this grassroots celebration has become an annual event held on the first Saturday of February. This year, librarians across the United States and Canada are joining in the fun.

The New Ulm Public Library will celebrate its own “Take Your Child to the Library Day!” on Saturday, Feb. 9. The celebration will kick off with a preschool storytime presented by the Narren at 10:30 a.m. All are welcome to come learn about the history of these masked characters, listen to fun stories, and enjoy juggling entertainment!

For children who like crafts, be sure to stop by the Children’s Room to make a bookmark or two. The library staff will provide the ink, stamps, and cardstock¬—we ask children to supply the ideas and talent! This craft project will be available throughout the day or while supplies last.

We are encouraging children, tweens, and teens to sign up for the “I love this book” contests. Like last year, these contests are a fun way for readers to share their favorite books. Teens and tweens are asked to fill out a slip that names their favorite book or books. Younger children are asked to draw a picture of their favorite book character. All of these book suggestions and drawings will be featured in displays at the library. Each teen, tween, or child who enters the contest has a chance to win two free movie tickets to Carmike Cinema 3 in New Ulm. For more details, stop by the children’s desk or the service center. The contest runs through Friday, Feb. 22.

Of course, a visit to the New Ulm Public Library would not be complete if you don’t take a few minutes to browse the library’s collection. From fiction and nonfiction books to audio books, movies, and puzzles, there is always a discovery waiting to happen. If you don’t have a library card to access these materials, take a minute to stop by the service center. Signing up for a library card is easy, and the staff will be happy to help you. Children also can get their own library card if they have a parent or guardian with them. By taking just a few minutes to sign up for a free library card, you immediately open yourself and your children to a world of wonder, learning, and fun. As children’s author Marc Brown (“Arthur” books) says, “Having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card.”

 

January 28, 2013

 

Doorways to Books
Betty J. Roiger, Acquisitions

Opening a book is like walking through a doorway. Books welcome you, invite you in, and it’s up to you whether you want to take that step, go inside and take that journey to explore a new and unknown place.

A fellow librarian sent me a link that said librarians picked “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore” as one of their top three titles of 2012. Although I had purchased it for the library when it came out, I had slid it way back in my “things to read someday list.” I just finished it. Out of 5 stars, I’d give it a 5. Yeah, it’s good.

At first, I thought it was a book lover’s book and would trash technology. But it unfolded into a quest, involving people who loved books and embraced technology. It is hard to describe this experience, but it hooked me fast, the writing was enjoyable, and the tale, well, quite a tale was being spun. This book makes a reader stop and think about our lives right now and realize that where we are is hardly short of astonishing. Here’s a sentence: “My phone couldn’t even connect to the internet back then.” It mashes up books and where we are, what happens every day, and it basically says: “It’s all good, let’s go for a ride.” And it’s quite a ride. It’s hard to say more than that except that the cover glows in the dark, and how cool is that?

The next book I entered was a novel of suspense called “And She Was” by Alison Gaylin. I didn’t know anything about this book other than Harlan Coben endorsed it on the cover saying he was a fan. Now I am, too. The main character is Brenna Spector, who is a missing persons investigator. She has that neurological disorder that allows her to remember every detail every day of her life. Somehow she makes all that work for her. The book starts out fast with a missing woman who turns out to be tied to a decade-old missing child, and Brenna is on the case. Brenna also has an over-the-top, ultra-cool dude macho computer specialist partner who makes for some comedic moments. But the parts that had me laughing out loud involved a really annoying, “shushing” librarian whose sole purpose in life seems to be making Brenna’s life more difficult, making me wonder if the author had a bad library experience in her past. Meanwhile, her characters were interesting, and the mystery was involving.

At the moment, I’ve opened the door into “The Death of Bees” by Lisa O’Donnell. I am now immersed in a completely different world in the poorer neighborhoods of Glasgow, Scotland. From the first page the reader knows that it is Christmas and that two teenage sisters have just buried their ne’er-do-well dead junkie parents in their back yard. Having grown up emotionally and physically neglected, possibly abused,
survival is the only thing they understand for certain. And if authorities find their parents gone, they fear they will be separated and put into foster care.

Marnie is 15, street smart, and hardened. She knows if she can make it to 16 she can legally take care of her sister, Nelly. Nelly, is odd, eccentric, and speaks in a posh Bette Davis accent. Help comes from an unlikely source, when a neighbor’s dog shows an overly enthusiastic interest in their back yard. And so this elderly gay neighbor begins to feed and nurture them, giving them some semblance of stability, as least, he thinks, until their parents return. There is a black humor here, darkness and light, goodness and cruelty. This is harsh, gritty, realistic, and riveting, and I can’t wait to read what comes next.

In closing, I would like to encourage you to step through your own doors by opening a book. You never know what worlds there are to explore between the covers until you step in. Check something out, that first step might be a dilly.

 

January 21, 2013

 

Winter Blahs
Linda Lindquist, Adult Services/Reference


Are you (or your children, for that matter) getting tired of the cold, winter days and nights and looking for something new and different to fill those hours? This could be a perfect time to start a new hobby. Or it may be a good time to start thinking of that special vacation you are looking forward to. The following suggestions may be of interest to you.


Scrapbooking or journaling are hobbies that many people enjoy. It doesn’t have to take much to get started, it’s a great way to organize pictures, and a story can be told at the same time. Scrapbooks and journals can be as simple or as elaborate as you want to make them. A good way to get started is to attend a workshop at a local craft shop. The workshop will allow you to try tools and materials before you purchase them. Some of the books at the library on this topic include “Start Scrapbooking: Your Essential Guide to Recording Memories” by Wendy Smedley and “The Organized & Inspired Scrapbooker” by Wendy Smedley and Aby Garvey. Janet Pensiero’s book “Totally Cool Journals, Notebooks & Diaries” has some neat projects to help a young person get started scrapbooking or journaling.


Are you a knitter but tired of making afghans, scarves, sweaters, gloves, etc.? How about making some knitted jewelry? “Little Knitted Jewels” edited by Kara Gott Warner and “Beaded Bracelets to Knit” by Leslieanne Beller look interesting and challenging (challenging for me, easy for others). These projects make use of leftover scrap yarns and walk the knitter through several useful techniques such as knitting with beads, working in the round, knitting with wire, and more.


This really isn’t a hobby, but maybe you are thinking of taking a winter vacation yet or possibly looking forward to next summer’s vacation. New Ulm is such a German community, and maybe you are looking forward to a trip to Germany. “Eyewitness Travel Germany” is one of our newer travel books on Germany. Included are many sights to see in the different regions of Germany, hotels to stay in, and of course restaurants to capture the flavors of Germany. Also included in the book is a practical information section giving advice on when to go, visas and passports, customs regulations, taxes and tipping, traveling with children, etc. Or maybe you would like to take a vacation but you or someone in your group is limited because of being in a wheelchair or having a problem walking. Check out “22 Accessible Road Trips: Driving Vacations for Wheelers and Slow Walkers” by Candy B. Harrington. Included in the book are trips to Pacific, Mountain, Central and Eastern states. Once you have looked through and read this book, you will see that being a slow walker or in a wheelchair is no longer a barrier to going on vacation. If you have young children in your group (or the young at heart regardless of age), take a look at “America’s Best Zoos: A Travel Guide for Fans and Families” by Allen W. Nyhuis and Jon Wassner. The book gives a brief description of the zoo, address, website, admission and fees, and featured exhibits.


Guess I have rambled on long enough. These are just a few of the books that you can check out at the New Ulm Public Library. If you are looking for something that you cannot find on our shelves, let us know. We will check other libraries in our system or check in MNLink for books. Enjoy the rest of your winter.

 

January 14, 2013

 

Rebus and Other Cold-Weather Reads
Kris Wiley, Assistant Library Director

This week’s cold spell coincides perfectly with the return of one of my favorite fictional characters – Scottish detective inspector-turned retired civilian investigator John Rebus. After 17 thrilling books, author Ian Rankin said goodbye to Rebus in 2007, and I was left with a void in my reading life. But now Rebus is back in “Standing in Another Man’s Grave,” and I couldn’t be happier.

Rebus is one of those flawed characters whom you can’t help but adore. He’s irascible, complicated, and brilliant, which is a wonderful combination for making few friends and many enemies. He’s also determined, which provides for dramatic storylines. There are many recurring characters in the series, but Rebus is the glue. “Standing in Another Man’s Grave” is the first book to feature Rebus since he retired from the police department, and now he is reviewing cold cases as a civilian. The long-lost case of a missing girl followed by the disappearances of two women catch his attention, and he quickly realizes the tragedies are connected.

I mentioned our current cold snap because as much as the Rebus series revolves around the main character, the weather plays an almost equally important part. Edinburgh, Scotland, has to be one of the consistently chilliest, dampest places on Earth, or so you would gather from Rebus’ forays on the city streets. He always seems to be popping into a pub to warm up with a pint or going into a shop for a milky coffee to fend off a chill. I end up shivering right along with him.

I suggest reading the series in order to get the full flavor; Rebus evolves over the course of 17 books, and, as a reader, it’s enjoyable to evolve with him. Start with “Knots and Crosses.” I’ll be reading “Standing in Another Man’s Grave” with a cup of hot chocolate and a thick blanket.

If you aren’t cold enough yet, there are a couple of other wonderful detective series in which the weather plays a great supporting role. Go even farther north in Scotland to Aberdeen for the Logan McRae series by Stuart MacBride. Or head to Iceland for Arnaldur Indriðason’s Reykjavik Murder Mysteries featuring Inspector Erlendur. Or travel to Denmark for the Department Q series with Carl Mørck by Jussi Adler-Olsen. Then curl up and enjoy!

 

January 6, 2013

 

What New Ulm Adults Read

by Larry Hlavsa, Library Director

Ever wonder what New Ulm is reading?

Well, I have, and as we’ve been weeding the New Ulm Library book collection the past several months, it has become clearer what kinds of books are most popular with local readers. Some of what we’ve found out is surprising, and some of it is unsurprising. Here’s a list of the types of materials and subject areas most in vogue among local readers.

Mysteries. Everyone seems to love a good mystery, and New Ulm is no exception. In fact, mysteries are so popular here that the library is starting a Mystery Book Group! The group will meet the last Monday of every month at 6:30 p.m. All are welcome to join. The first title to be discussed comes from the Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley. Stop by the Library’s Service Center to place a hold on a copy of the book today. You can also ask for a large print copy or an audiobook if you prefer.

Large print. The population of New Ulm is quite fond of large print books. While our senior population is responsible for much of that popularity, other elements of the population use large print materials as well. As my own eyes have aged, I know I’ve grown more appreciative of large print books. Incidentally, we’re very thankful to the Lion’s Club of New Ulm which annually contributes funds to help develop this collection. Thanks, Lions!

Self-help. I guess there is a reason why there are so many self-help books published—they are extremely popular with readers! That’s certainly the case here in New Ulm. Psychology is the primary area we’re talking about, although self-help covers other areas as well. Topics like: how to have a better marriage, how to raise children and how to deal with stress are just a few of the topics we have books on.

Cartoon, anime and graphic novels. I frankly was surprised to see how popular these kinds of books are in New Ulm. Staff have said in the past that they were, but until I looked at the circulation statistics I wasn’t a believer. Now I am. I even found one title for myself—Rex Libris. I, Librarian—“The astonishing story of the incomparable Rex Libris, Head Librarian at Middleton Public Library, and his unending struggle against the forces of ignorance and darkness.” Wow! Who says librarians are boring, or unpowerful? Certainly not Rex Libris! Our selection of cartoon, anime and graphic novels is quite large, so you’re bound to find something you’d like on our shelves.

Popular novelists. No surprise here. Best-selling authors are as popular in New Ulm as anywhere else in the country: Janet Evanovich, Nora Roberts, Lee Child, Debbie Macomber, Nicholas Sparks and John Grisham are just a few of the more popular authors in New Ulm.

E-books. Our e-books collection began in 2011 and is steadily increasing in popularity. Traverse des Sioux libraries circulated 34,670 e-books in 2012; of these, 3,543 were by New Ulm Library cardholders. While still a small portion of our total circulation, we are watching these e-books stats carefully. Are e-books the future of libraries? Or will the book remain supreme? Stay tuned. The jury is still out.

Other collections of ours that are popular include: World War II, the American Civil War, inspirational books, science fiction/fantasy, cookery, resume, and—as one fellow staff member put it—“anything new!” With more than 80,000 items in our collection, we’re bound to have something you would like. So come on in and have a look!


 

Last updated: April 22, 2014