Friday, October 22, 2010

Blow, Blow Thy Winter Wind!

I've been told that this has been an unusually warm October, and I'm glad of it. I say that, of course, because our heating system is still in the process of being replaced. However, October is winding down and the chill is starting to really set in and the heat isn't quite done, though Bartingale Mechanical and Roshell Electric have been bent to the task.

So, I have some tips for people coming in to use the library:

1. Wear a sweater or sweat shirt--It's cool in here and we have big windows and high ceilings, which makes the lack of heating on a cold day even more apparent. If you come spend some time with us, bundle up, just a little.

2. Bring a warm drink with a lid--I say "with a lid" because accidents happen. Be kind enough not to drink your warm beverage while sitting at a computer, please. Hot cocoa makes a keyboard very sticky.

3. Be patient--Progress is being made quickly and the process has been expedited as much as possible. It will be as warm as the collective heart of Chippewa Falls in here before too long, I promise.

Let us take a cue from Ms. Emily Dickinson and be upbeat as winter approaches (though not begrudge its leaving):

Winter is good -- his Hoar Delights
Italic flavor yield
To Intellects inebriate
With Summer, or the World

Generic as a Quarry
And hearty -- as a Rose --
Invited with Asperity
But welcome when he goes.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Just recently, I signed up for satellite TV and, as embarrassing as it is to admit, I watch a little television on my lunch breaks. I notice lately that we are in full-tilt politics season and ads for candidates are literally one after the other, and increasingly obnoxious and negative. Public, visible politicking is all part of living in a democratic society. Politicians want to reach people.

A little while ago, a gentlewoman came into the library and seemed quite annoyed that I hadn't allowed a flyer for her organization to hang on one of our bulletin boards in the lobby. When I explained that I had researched her organization at the website of the Center for Responsive Politics and wasn't comfortable with the close ties it seemed to have with one of the major political parties (and other groups which backed it), she displayed a bit of anger, insisting that it was NOT affiliated with a party in any way. On her way out the door, she warned me that libraries will be in trouble when the political party opposing the one she just told me her organization WASN'T affiliated with came back into power. I thought it was a telling statement.

One thing that I like about being a librarian is that, though politics are sometimes involved in running a library, the job isn't--or shouldn't be--overtly political. Libraries, despite the occasional activist-librarian who insists otherwise, should not be sounding boards for political causes or the groups espousing them, regardless of whether they see libraries as an important social pillar or a drag on the public pocketbook.

The point I think I'm trying to make is that this library has policies in place that allow the library user to know with some confidence that the focus of our mission here is educational and cultural and that anything political--ANYTHING--is held suspect and taken on a case-by-case basis with some thought. Take, for instance, our meeting room policy in regards to who gets to use the rooms. One of the "restrictions on usage" says we'll disallow "political campaigns, although bi-partisan political forums are permitted." I, as your library director, apply this standard to our public notice space, too.

When an organization has demonstrable ties to a political party and makes efforts to be more visible during campaign season or engage in campaigning, even of a surreptitious sort, I make the judgment call that they are part of a political campaign and thus will not be allowed to meet here or display their literature, ESPECIALLY when they aren't forthcoming about who and what they are, who funds them and what they do with their money.

It isn't personal or a reflection of my politics as a director or those of the library board. It's common sense. And good politics.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Student Poetry Contest 2011

The Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets is sponsoring a poetry contest for students in grades 6-12.

There are three divisions, roughly coinciding with middle school, junior high and high school grade levels, and there are cash prizes in each division. The deadline for submissions is February 1, 2011. Click here for the rules and how to enter. Apparently the rules haven't changed since the 2010 contest.

Take a look and be sure to let a poetic student in your life know!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chippewa Valley Book Festival

This coming Tuesday, October 19, at 6:30 p.m, local author Jerry Polling will be here at the Chippewa Falls Public Library to discuss writing and the concept of "Rising and Falling Action."

Poling, who works for the University of Wisconsin at Stout, is the author of A Summer Up North, which chronicles the time legendary baseball player Hank Aaron spent playing minor-league baseball for the Eau Claire Bears. He also wrote After They Were Packers: The Super Bowl XXXI Champs & Other Green Bay Legends, a look at the lives of some professional football players after retirement.

I hear very good things about Mr. Poling's books from our resident baseball expert Joe Niese, and I hope you'll join me Tuesday night in welcoming Mr. Poling to the Chippewa Falls Public Library. I myself plan on giving him my most rapt attention.

And please, email this to a friend or two who might be interested. I'd love to see a proper welcome for this local man of letters.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Falls: No Laughing Matter

Many people love pratfalls and see clumsiness as an essential part of the classic comedic sensibility. Witness Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin stumbling and bumbling through scenes or, more recently, the work of physical comedians like Chevy Chase or Chris Farley.

But as tempted as we are to laugh at the idea of people falling down, it is a problem. As posted on this blog previously, Chief Tom Larson was alarmed to recently find out that Chippewa County leads the nation in fall-related hospitalizations per capita. Just this morning, he told me that 20% of the paramedic calls that the Chippewa Falls Fire Department goes out each year on are for falls.

This is a problem that is especially prevalent among seniors. Some facts (courtesy of the Chippewa Health Improvement Partnership):

>Almost 1/3 of all adults over the age of 65 fall each year
>1% of falls result in hip fractures
>25% of adults who break a hip are dead within six months
>25% of adults with hip fractures require long-term care at a cost to Medicare of $3.1 billion per year
>Falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries

And the fact is that the majority of falls are preventable. Simple things like decent lighting, picking up clutter and making sure the carpet on the stairs is tacked down can save you a doctor visit...or the life of a loved one.

Below are some links to some documents I scanned today that explain the problem and some things that can be done to help.

Facts on Falls for Seniors

Fall Prevention Brochure

Monday, October 4, 2010

Food for Fines Follow Through

"The charity that is a trifle to us can be precious to others."--Homer

Above you see just a portion of the food collected here at the library during the Food for Fines program in September. Just a while ago, I delivered said food to the Salvation Army Food Pantry at 521 N. Bridge Street here in Chippewa Falls. According to pantry coordinator Sally Hegg, the service sees about 30 people a day come through and it has been tough lately keeping food on the shelves.

Donations are always welcome, according to Ms. Hegg, and donations and contributions are tax deductible. The pantry's workers will be glad to give those who donate a receipt if they want one. Those who use the service must verify income & need. For more information, email Sally or call her at 715-726-9506 ext. 3.

The library will do Food for Fines again in the future and I urge you to watch this space for information on the upcoming "Give a Kid a Book" program, a coordinated effort of the Chippewa Falls Public Library, the Friends of the Chippewa Falls Public Library and The Spirit of Christmas of Chippewa County. During the Christmas season, we cooperate to include donated reading materials in gift packages put together for needy local families. The library will make donation boxes available for those patrons who want to make sure Santa includes a few new children's books under the tree.

For those who gave, THANK YOU! And we hope all our patrons continue to seek out opportunities to help local charities.