Save your words!

The other day I was going through my computer files and I came across a letter I had written to my daughter, away at college. It was a wonderful discovery. The letter immediately brought the time and place and emotions back to me.

Through the years I have saved bits and pieces of my own writing. I have a stash of writings from other people, too, that I would like to pass on to my daughters – a hand written letter from my Dad to my Mom, on his way home to the U.S. from the Philippines on a transport ship after World War II; a letter from my Mother to my girls about some corn seeds they had pressed into the soil at her back door & the corn stalks that were now towering above her windows (along with photo proof); emails from my girls away at college. My writings and those of my family do not compare in magnitude with those who are famous among us, but they help to preserve a history of the times we have shared.

Our world is so much richer because people have taken the time to write about their life experiences. Books like “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls, “Angela’s Ashes” by Frank McCourt, “Night” by Elie Wiesel are just a few examples.

During April’s National Poetry Month, Washington County Library is putting its programming emphasis on writing – to encourage residenst to use their words to write stories and poems and more. Kids can attend a “Write a Silly Story” workshop presented by The Loft Literary Center. Workshop presenters will encourage participants to think about the things they know – family and friends and school and games and toys and vacations – and use them to make up a silly story. A Loft writing workshop for teens, “Read to Write,” encourages young people to discover that reading itself spurs people’s thoughts, gives them ideas for their own writing. And adults are not left out of the programming. Two workshops for adults, also presented by The Loft, will inspire those who would write. To find out more about these workshops, consult the Library’s events calendar, and enter the keyword “write.” Perhaps someone among us will write the next great poem, or short story, or memoir.

Do save your words – or at least some of them — and those of others who are important to you!  An assemblage of words that express thoughts and tell about life experiences may not be important to the world at large, but they may provide a valuable history for your family.

Library Woman is Joey Halbach, Community Relations Librarian for Washington County Library. Contact her at: joey.halbach@co.washington.mn.us

Come for the books, stay for the art…

Over the past few years Washington County Library has installed art rails at branch libraries in Cottage Grove, Forest Lake, Mahtomedi, Oakdale, and Woodbury to showcase the work of local artists.

On display during the month of March at the R.H. Stafford Library in Woodbury is the art of Alexandra Sherman. Alex combines color and comic style to create fantasy artwork. Using illustration markers and pens, she creates characters inspired by Japanese animation and manga.

The Park Grove Library in Cottage Grove has just issued a call for entries in what will be their first-ever “Community Art Show.” Approximately 40-50 art works in a variety of media will comprise the exhibition scheduled for April 1 through May 31 at the library. The deadline for entries to be received is Monday, March 24, 2014.

The Park Grove showing is open to local artists 14 years and older. Each artist may submit one or two items. Any media is welcomed. There are some size restrictions: nothing larger than 3’ by 4’, and nothing heavier the 30 pounds. Artwork must be delivered to the library on or before March 31. Interested artists, please contact RaeAnn Palmer, Librarian at the Park Grove Branch: phone 651-459-2040 or email RaeAnn.Palmer@co.washington.mn.us.

Staff members at all five library locations are always looking for local artists who would like to share their artwork with the community. If you are interested in sharing your artwork, have a conversation with your local librarian about bringing your art to the library.

Those of us who are not artistically inclined reap the benefit of enjoying the works of others! Consult the Library’s Events Calendar to find out what’s on display. Come for the books and more, and take some time to enjoy the art!

Library Woman is Joey Halbach, Community Relations Librarian for Washington County Library. Contact her at: joey.halbach@co.washington.mn.us

WHAT DOES THE FOX SAY?

Now that’s a very good question! The Norwegian musical group Ylvis seems to be pondering that very question in their 2013 song of the same name. The YouTube video of the song has been hugely popular. Toddlers to grannies recognize the tune. The riddle of what the fox says is never solved in the song.

I love the song, I think because of a personal experience with a fox sighting. As a grade-schooler, I was herding the cows home from the pasture in the late afternoon for milking time, following along behind using the well-worn path the cows had cemented into the ground over time. Suddenly off to my right on the hillside I spotted a red fox. It was an awesome and very memorable sighting – one that I still think about from time to time. What did the fox say? Absolutely nothing.

Children who visit the R.H. Stafford Library in Woodbury have a chance to talk about and write about things in nature with volunteer staff at the Science Museum of MN Collectors’ Corner every Tuesday afternoon from 4-7 p.m. and every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Kids can bring in natural objects that they have found and done research on. They can draw a picture of something they learned about on a trip to a National Park or a beach in Mexico. It’s all an effort to get young people interested in their natural surroundings. I wonder if anyone has reported on a fox?

The fox lyrics along with illustrations by Svein Nyhus have become a picture book. Washington County Library owns several copies.

This winter, let the fox be your muse. Find out more about foxes – what tracks do they leave in the snow, what do mother foxes “say” to their young, and more.  If you are lucky enough to experience a fox sighting, share the thrill with others. Enjoy the Ylvis picture book and other tales about foxes. My personal favorite – “My Lucky Day” by Keiko Kasza. The fox in the Kasza tale proclaims, “This is my lucky day!” But is it really?

Library Woman is Joey Halbach, Community Relations Librarian for Washington County Library. Contact her at: joey.halbach@co.washington.mn.us

THE LIBRARY: SO MUCH MORE THAN JUST BOOKS

When I think ”library” I conjure up images of stacks of books, bins of music CDs, shelves of recorded books, displayers with DVDs, and on and on – the physical materials. In reality a library is so much more! It’s book clubs and storytimes and computer workstations and Dog Gone Reading and Senior Surf Days and databases and…

Just thinking ahead to the next couple of months:
The library is a source for tax forms. The actual physical forms haven’t arrived just yet, but when they do they will promptly be placed in the public area for folks to peruse. And if we don’t have the form you are looking for, you can proceed to one of our computer workstations, and search tax sites to find it. A librarian will gladly give you some assistance in finding the form you are seeking.

The library offers legal programs. Throughout the year Washington County Library and the Washington County Law Library partner up to offer legal programs, free and open to the public. On Tuesday, February 4, 1:30 p.m., find out about bankruptcy and wage garnishment when attorneys from the Volunteer Lawyers Network present the program “Bankruptcy: What You Need to Know” at Wildwood Branch Library, Mahtomedi.

The library offers special entertainment and informational programs for kids and adults.
For kids: In January the MacPhail Center for Music presents their “Musical Snowstorm” program at all library locations. Throughout the County during February — in celebration of I Love to Read Month — musician and storyteller Jack Pearson will entertain children and their families with songs and stories.
For adults: attend author programs — Gloria VanDemmeltraadt in January, Kao Kalia Yang & Julie Kramer in February; attend informational programs — “Gangsters in White Bear Lake & Mahtomedi: A Sequel” coming up in February; attend a craft workshop, “Make a Civil War Sewing Kit” in February.

The library recycles materials that are no longer popular by conducting book sales throughout the County. The Oakdale Library is first up for the year with their book sale planned for February 7 and 8 during regular library hours.

Free tech classes help folks get up to speed with technology—in February Science Museum PC trainers will present three Microsoft PC classes at Park Grove Library and Twin Cities Media Alliance will train on Apps, Linkedin and Google Docs at Oakdale Library.

More information about these programs, classes, activities, and others can be found on the Library’s Events Calendar. Or call your local library with questions. The general info number for Washington County Library: 651-731-1320.

Library Woman is Joey Halbach, Community Relations Librarian for Washington County Library. Contact her at: joey.halbach@co.washington.mn.us

WINTER READING FULL SPEED AHEAD!

A North wind is hammering out a raucous melody on the wind chimes outside my bedroom window, yard work is pretty much done for the season, the winter tires are on the car, and my husband and I have pretty much mined Netflix for any of the shows we want to watch. Time for some serious winter reading!

Washington County Library has an Adult Winter Reading program called Winter Jackets that starts on January 2 and runs through the end of February. It’s meant to encourage reading at a time when the winter doldrums set in. Now is the time to tackle that 400-page biography you’ve always wanted to read. Or find that long-ago bestseller you couldn’t get your hands on when reading it was the rage.

If you’re not sure what to read, the Library has an excellent e-resource – the NoveList Plus database. If you have enjoyed a book by a particular author, use it to find more books by that author or consult a list of Author read-alikes. If you like books about World War II, search for titles by subject. Click right from the database to the Library’s catalog to see if Washington County Library owns the title.

Another idea, consult the Library’s READ page. A link to Bookletters on that page will put you in touch with lists of new materials at Washington County Library. In addition, find reading lists and a list of Staff Suggestions, new each month.

Finally don’t forget to talk to friends, or your local librarian. It’s a good bet that one of the books librarians will be recommending is the Library’s One County, One Book pick for 2014 – “The World’s Strongest Librarian” by Josh Hanagarne, the inspiring story of a Mormon kid with Tourette’s who overcame his disability with books and weight-lifting. Hanagarne will speak at WCL on March 29 at 1:30 p.m.

Winter Jackets reading is really simple. Pick up some review forms and a list of suggested titles…read…and then submit your reviews at your local library for a chance to have your name picked in a prize drawing. Enjoy!

Library Woman is Joey Halbach, Community Relations Librarian for Washington County Library. Contact her at: joey.halbach@co.washington.mn.us

FREE TO READ, FREE TO BE

I think the author Chris Bohjalian wrote his latest book just for me! The title: “The Light in the Ruins”, published July 2013. It’s a story of war and murder, at once both historical fiction and a murder mystery that has its setting in Italy during the Second World War and the aftermath.

I say it was written for me because I was fortunate to tag along with my husband in September of 2012 to a conference in Florence, Italy, with a side adventure into Tuscany. In the book, place names, references to artwork, and more were familiar because of my trip. The book brought me back.

I’ve read Bohjalian before –“ Skeletons at the Feast.” That time Bohjalian took me across Europe, fleeing West ahead of Russian soldiers, racing for my life. The female heroine was Prussian, a citizen of the region where some of my husband’s ancestors were from. They had emigrated well before that time. Regardless, my knowledge of his family’s settlement in Prussia made the story very real to me. If his family had stayed, they might have had a similar frightening experience.

We are very lucky to have authors like Bohjalian who can transport us in place and time, who can help us to experience the terror of war, who can remind us that we do not want that kind of terror to occur anywhere in our world.

And in this month of November as we celebrate Veterans’ Day, we are reminded of the men and women past and present who have fought and who continue to fight to keep us safe and free — free to read, free to be.

Library Woman is Joey Halbach, Community Relations Librarian for Washington County Library. Contact her at: joey.halbach@co.washington.mn.us

 

MAKE SOME MEMORY MOMENTS AT THE SMART PLAY SPOT

Memory moments, have you had one? I’ve been having them all of my life. They happen when I’m in the midst of a particularly pleasant experience and I think to myself, “I don’t want to forget this.” It’s not just remembering the event, but more; it’s recalling the sights and smells and sounds that go along with it, as well!

I had a particularly fun memory moment a couple of summers back. My three grandchildren and I were having a tea party, seated around a table at the back of the house. It was late in the afternoon on a warm, sunny day. The baby of the group was only a little more than a year old, but she was in on the party with all the rest. The twins, age four, were heavy into the pouring, filling and refilling the cups, even running to the garden hose to replenish the teapot.

As I watched Baby Charlotte take tea, more often than not spilling most of the contents of her cup on the table, the ground, and herself, I was giddy with laughter! It was a moment I hope to bring to mind as long as I am able to. In that simple moment, all of the children were honing their fine motor skills, pretending, sharing, and more.

Compliments of the Minnesota Children’s Museum and other funders, the R.H. Stafford Library in Woodbury is the lucky recipient of a Smart Play Spot. Yes, it’s a place where preschool kids can come and play and learn. There’s a picnic table, a grill, a boat, a food market, and more for kids and their caregivers to explore. It won’t be quiet – there will be squabbles about taking turns and sharing. Anticipate hearing a hearty crew of fisher people singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat!” And there will be shouts across the room – “Mom, it’s a bear!” Kids will be practicing the five skills that help to prepare them for school: talking, singing, reading, writing, and playing. They will be pretending, meeting new friends, playing with moms and dads and grandmas and grandpas. And I’m hoping users will have some memory moments, have experiences so phenomenal they will commit them to memory and make those memories last a lifetime! Come check it out!

Library Woman is Joey Halbach, Community Relations Librarian for Washington County Library. Contact her at: joey.halbach@co.washington.mn.us

WHAT’S IN YOUR WALLET?

I hope there’s a library card in there! Most Washington County residents or people who own property in Washington County are entitled to a FREE library card. And OMG the access to information and materials that it provides is out of this world!

I grew up in the 1950s when my Galesville Public Library was mainly a repository of books. I’m not complaining. For that time and place, it was great to have a city library. Mrs. Huss stocked the shelves with books for kids and teens and adults, and when the library didn’t have what I needed she got materials for me through Interlibrary Loan. Our Elementary School had no library, just some carefully guarded books the teacher kept in a cabinet in the classroom.

Today’s library is still a repository for books. And the librarians of today do a fantastic job of keeping their collections current — tossing outdated information, tossing materials that are no longer popular, tossing materials that are just plain shot from lots of use.

Audio visual materials like records and audio cassettes and VCR tapes made their way into libraries in the 70s and 80s, but in today’s libraries they have been replaced by books and music on CD and DVDs.

But the real magic of today’s libraries is the electronic access. We first saw the transformation from a card catalog filled with trays of index cards to a computer catalog in the 80s, with continued improvements through the years. A search of our new Discovery Catalog brings up a whole array of resources — books, CDs, DVDs, magazine articles, library program information and more. And you can do all of these searches remotely. Magic!

At first our computers were just for materials searches, but since the 90s the Library has offered Internet workstations for public use. With a library card, a customer can enjoy one hour of computer time – to check email, to search for information using the Library’s electronic databases, to do word processing and more. Magic!

New additions in just the past couple of years are eBooks and digital magazines. Set up an account and download books and magazines to your electronic devices. No need to visit a library — unless you need help to get it all working! Magic!

No matter if you’re a kid heading back to school, a Grandma doing genealogical research, or a Dad escaping the fray with a runaway best seller – a library card is something you need. Free and easy, just bring along a photo ID with current address to a Washington County Library and you’ll walk away with a lot of MAGIC!

Library Woman is Joey Halbach, Community Relations Librarian for Washington County Library. Contact her at: joey.halbach@co.washington.mn.us

Got Treasure? What’s It Worth?

Do you have a treasure squirreled away that you would like to more about? Want to find out if it has any value? Here’s your chance. Washington County Library is offering antique appraisal events at three Washington County Library locations during the month of September.  

I wonder what my Ansel Adams photographs are worth, still in the same envelope they were in when my Dad, recuperating from war injuries in the 40’s at Yosemite National Park, purchased them…. I’d like to know about a necklace handed down from my Grandmother, an ornate tarnished metal piece….

Mark Moran, former senior editor of Antiques and Collectibles Books and author of more than 25 books will visit three libraries to examine and appraise objects. At each of the three events, up to 40 people may bring one item for Mr. Moran to evaluate. Pre-registration is required for those who want to have an item appraised.

·         PARK GROVE BRANCH, Cottage Grove
Thursday, September 12, 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Call 651-459-2040 or visit the Park Grove Branch to reserve your spot — beginning August 12.

·         WILDWOOD BRANCH, Mahtomedi
Tuesday, September 24, 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Call 651-426-2042 or visit the Wildwood Branch to reserve your spot — beginning August 26.

·         HARDWOOD CREEK BRANCH, Forest Lake
Wednesday, September 25, 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Call 651-275-7300 or visit the Hardwood Creek Branch to reserve your spot — beginning August 27.

The appraisal events are open to all. You don’t have to bring in an item in order to attend. Mark your calendar and enjoy a fun evening. These programs are paid for with money from Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

If you miss this opportunity to talk with an expert, a wide variety of price guides are available from Washington County Libraries to help you research your item’s value. Another excellent resource for identifying and pricing art, antiques and collectibles is Washington County Library’s “Price It!” online database, available 24/7 from computers in the library and remotely.

Library Woman is Joey Halbach, Community Relations Librarian for Washington County Library. Contact her at: joey.halbach@co.washington.mn.us

Critters in your yard…critters at your library!

Already Mr. and Mrs. Robin have set up housekeeping on a downspout at our back door. Unfortunately, their new digs are just above our water hose, and they are annoyed when we try to draw water, swooping and scolding when we get near. But the eggs will hatch, the babies will take flight, and their infringement on our space will be short-lived.

However, Japanese beetles have become a problem, attacking our kiwi plants, and deer have become frequent visitors, leading us to research ways to control these pests. Luckily Washington County Library has an arsenal of books and a selection of magazine articles loaded with gardening tips.

Just a couple book titles specific to the topic:
“Rodale’s vegetable garden problem solver: the best and latest advice for beating pests, diseases, and weeds and staying a step ahead of trouble in the garden” by Fern Marshall Bradley and “Deer-proofing your yard & garden” by Rhonda Massingham.

There will be critter infestations at many of our Washington County Library locations this summer, as well, but of the light-hearted variety. Kids are invited to drop off stuffed-animal “critters” at their library for a week of Critter Camp. Librarians treat the critters to a week of library adventures — reading to them, recommending titles, and giving them free reign to explore all of the nooks and crannies in the library. The critters, of course, get left alone at night when library staff members go home, and sometimes they get into a little mischief. But by the end of the week, the critters have made friends and learned a lot about the library. When kids pick up their critters, they find out what they did at camp, courtesy of photos librarians have taken to document the camping experience. Yes, it’s a light-hearted view of library use, but fun for kids, their critters, and parents, too.

Libraries who have scheduled Critter Camps include:
Oakdale Library – June 22 to June 29, with camper drop off during library open hours on the 22nd
R.H. Stafford Library – June 24 to July 1, with camper drop off during library open hours on the 24th
Hardwood Creek Library – July 16 to July 23, with camper drop off during library open hours on the 16th
Park Grove Library— July 25 to August 1, with camper drop off on Thursday evening, July 25, 6:30 p.m.
Camp rules are not the same for all camps, so consult the Library’s Events Calendar at www.co.washington.mn.us/library for details.

Wishing everyone good reading and a positive critter experience this summer. Staff members are always at hand to help you research a solution to your critter dilemma.

Library Woman is Joey Halbach, Community Relations Librarian for Washington County Library. Contact her at: joey.halbach@co.washington.mn.us