Monday, March 29, 2010

Kayak Attack

So this weekend I got the chance to hang out with some members of the Pure Water Paddlers, the local kayaking organization. They came down to the library to help us put together a really great-looking display about kayaking.

I got the feeling that these are some physical folks. They were climbing ladders, drilling holes, sinking eye-bolts and moving big boats around. Apparently kayaking does the body--especially the upper body--good.

The Paddlers are hoping to drum up interest in what sounds like a very interesting, fun, healthful and not overly expensive hobby--I was told the cost range for a good kayak might start as low as $300.00 and stretch up to $3000.00. Well, it's cheaper than a motorcycle, anyway.

The display includes information on becoming a member of the club as well as some of the paraphernalia involved with being a safe and effective kayaker. So come by the Chippewa Falls Library and look up high on the wall for a kayak and head in that direction to see the full display.

By the way, I was told that the club will let newcomers borrow a boat during one of their outings so an informed decision can be made about whether to pursue the hobby further. Just so you know.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

New Database Alert! Mango Languages!

Mango is FREE at the Chippewa Falls Public Library! Mango is an online language learning system that teaches real conversation skills for practical communication. Through fun and engaging interactive lessons, Mango makes learning a new language fast, easy and incredibly effective. The system is completely web-based and remotely accessible (if you have a library card), so you can learn anywhere you have an internet connection. As you listen to and repeat after native speakers, you'll learn more than just words and phrases. You’ll learn how those pieces can be rearranged and combined to make new thoughts, new conversations, and even more practical communication! In no time at all, you'll be able to navigate all sorts of everyday situations — get directions, order a meal, make new friends — the possibilities are endless!

Mango is FREE at your local library - learn more by visiting us online:

Thursday, March 18, 2010

New Database Alert! A to Z Maps

Starting today, the Chippewa Falls Public Library subscribes to two nifty WorldPress databases, called A to Z Maps Online and A to Z the USA.

Now, if you're in the library building, you don't have to log in to use them. Just click the link labeled A to Z Maps or A to Z the USA on the computer desktops and you'll go right to them. But if you're at home, you'll need to enter your library card number in the blank at the top right of the homepage. Do that, click "enter" and you'll be in.

A to Z Maps has more maps than can easily be discussed in the space of a blog, but I do have the time and room to tell you that it has country maps, state maps, county maps and even some amazing antique maps, including some of Wisconsin going back to the early 19th century. Also, the antique panoramic maps are really worth taking a look's one of Chippewa Falls in 1886:

Most of the images are in the public domain and can be used for presentations and such with no copyright issues. For more information, contact the reference department.

A to Z the USA, on the other hand, is a more focused database, concentrating on the United States, with far more text-based information, although it, too, offers many maps. Just mouse over the map of the U.S. and click on the state you want to find out more about.

Should you click on Wisconsin, you'll see sidebars that offer to take you to more information about the animals and plants, the economy, the flag and seal, food and recipes, and even the natural hazards of the state. Just like A to Z Maps, you can log in from home, provided you have a library card.

If you don't have a card, get one.

Email me if you have any questions or requests regarding databases...I'll refer you to the right person.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

In the Back...

A lot of people get the idea that libraries are just places where books come in and go out and questions are answered, perhaps not sensing that there is a whole world of activity--financial, legal and technical--going on in the parts of the library where the public can't see.

Like what, you ask?


A book or DVD or CD comes in (after being selected and ordered) and it's like a newborn babe: nude and unsullied. So how does the public find it? We can't just throw it in a big box and wish our users luck, can we? No. First, it has to be covered to protect from sweaty hands and cigarette ashes and syrup. Then we have to mark it so other libraries who use it know where it needs to go when they are done with it. Then, it needs to get a call number and label and barcode. But which call number? Is a book about Lance Armstrong kicking rear in the Tour de France a biography or a book about cycling? Sometimes that work has been done elsewhere and we can just plug it into our computers...but sometimes we have to figure it out ourselves, and it can take a while.


Okay. The book is covered and catalogued and is ready for some eager reader. Well, then it has to be shelved--and correctly--or it might as well be lost. Shelving and shelf care is a bigger job than it sounds, and anyone who might scoff at that idea is welcome to volunteer to do it! We could use you! Next, when someone pulls an item down, it has to be checked out. The user's card account has to be checked for fines and overdues and the item has to be scanned and de-magnetized, lest the security system embarrass our user at the door. Oh! And don't forget collecting fines and fees and keeping track of the money! And don't forget that all the books coming back to us have to be checked in and put away. Now, none of this is an "every few minutes" kind of thing. These are constant processes, going on from open to close and beyond.

Reference and Interlibrary Loan

Uh-oh. A user can't find the book he so desperately wants to read! What now? The reference and interlibrary loan specialists spring into action. They know how to get books for locals from far away and exotic places like Rice Lake and Milwaukee! Now and then, a book can only be found across state lines. Reference and interlibrary loan folks know how to make it happen.

Or maybe a user just wants to know the answer to some trivia question that came up at the Tomahawk Room the night before...maybe the next day he's still wondering which baseball hall of famer (who wasn't a pitcher) has the lowest batting average. You can ask at the reference desk, and they'll tell you all about Ray Schalk.

Business and Acquisitions

But how does all this keep going? Someone has to keep tabs on the budget, the expenditures, the building maintenance, the income from fines, fees, copies. What about the copy paper? Is there enough? Somebody has to be watching the taxpayer's money, right?

And what about all the stuff the library offers...? It has to be selected and purchased. What about the policies that help us decide WHAT to buy and offer? Well, the library board has to think about and discuss many issues to keep the place running clean and legal.

So the next time you walk in the library and look around, it may seem calm...but there is more going on than you might see.

Think about it.

Monday, March 8, 2010

USDA Construction Grant...Show Support?

Here's part of an email I got that you, dear reader, may find interesting. Would you be interested in attending this meeting? If you can't, do you know anyone who would be? If so, email me!

"Informational Meeting March 16, 10-12 at Menomonie Public Library
USDA, as a result of the Stimulus package, has $100 million to give away in grants and loans for public library building projects!
  • For towns with populations under 20,000
  • The smaller the community and/or average income, the higher chance of getting a grant
  • For new building, renovation, additions
  • This is a grant to MUNICIPALITIES.

To help you figure out the requirements and how to apply for these funds, USDA officials will be holding an informational meeting Wednesday March 16 at the Menomonie Public Library.

You will want to invite:

  • Library board members
  • Municipal officials "

But, of course, I want to invite anyone who wants to show up and look serious about libraries. So let me know!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Cradle to Grave

Ever stop to think about what makes the library unique among a community's public services? It isn't just the fact that, unlike many, you can take it or leave it...And it isn't the fact that the library is pretty much user-centered in its mission. What makes a library unique is the fact that it is designed to serve the taxpayer across his or her lifespan and through all possible levels of social attainment.

Think about it...suppose a town builds a new jail. It benefits all by keeping criminals off the streets, so it offers safety. But how can the people footing the bill--taxpayers--interact with it daily? Drive by and look at it? Stand basking in the safety of quiet streets?

Or, how about a nice, new high school? Provides safe learning space for our teens, right? Jobs for teachers and principals and coaches and janitors. But if you aren't a teacher, student or a parent of students...

Now, I'm not making the case that jails and schools aren't surely necessary. They are and I thank Providence for them regularly as one who has children and fears psychopaths on the loose. My point is that the direct and immediate investment-to-return turnaround of the library is what makes it a unique service. A child can be a library user from the day of her birth in the ghetto and bring back the last two books she'll ever read on her Glory Morn 80 years later, upon which she woke up in a mansion.

From the cradle to the grave, the library gives back to the citizen. That is what makes it unique...and indispensable.

Think about it.