Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Parcel Tax

Can we get this on the ballot in November? It's one of the few taxes I think I totally approve of!

A proposal to charge Los Angeles residents a $39 yearly parcel tax to help fund the city's libraries moved a step closer today to being placed on the November ballot. The Parks, Health and Aging Committee approved the proposal endorsed by the Board of Library Commissioners, and forwarded it to the full council. City Librarian Martin Gomez said recent budget cuts and layoffs slashed his staff from 1,100 to 800 employees.

If you see my post from yesterday, this is significantly less per year to have access to one of the largest lending libraries in the country than it would to buy the books. It is also a promise that your tax is going to a useful resource and not into some void.

Monday, July 26, 2010

What would you do if the library closed forever?

What would you do? Do you go to the library at all right now? If you do, did you know that:
1. If you borrow one book every three weeks the total cost to buy those same books would be on average $175 ($10 a book every three weeks)
2. If you borrow two books or more every three weeks think about the cost then.
3. If you have children who love to read or be read to, there are books not available at Borders, Amazon, Barnes and Noble that are currently only available through the library. These books would be unavailable to your children.

Do you pay taxes in your paycheck to the state and city? If so over the course of the year with the proposed and existing cuts to libraries and the rec&park programs in LA county you will be paying the majority of it to cover salaries for politicians who are essentially removing your benefits.

To learn more about the budget cuts to the library read here.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Elizabeth George

So I started and have tried to finish "What Came Before He Shot Her" but I can't do it.

I cannot get past the introduction or set up. It is almost as if there are too many suspects to be set up and it seems as if there are three or more actual stories being written. I usually like to have lots of suspects and lots of compelling reasons to consider the mystery. This is coming across as confusion and filler. I'm not excited about the characters. They are boring me to death and they should be more interesting.

The characters as they have been set up so far are a motley family that doesn't tell the truth nor do they really want to be a family. First the grandmother up and moves back to Jamaica, then the three children are stuck with an aunt they don't know and who doesn't want them. One of the kids has some mental issue but isn't defined, the only girl is becoming a hooker, drug addict and supreme liar, and then the story is semi told from the other boy's point of view but the aunt keeps jumping in.

My main problem is I can't get focused on the book. Can't get lost in it. Trust me when I say I open a P.D.James and don't want to put it down but the Elizabeth George has sat on my nightstand.

So I tried it but it didn't fit for me.
It is going back to the library on Tuesday.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Recent Books 7-23-10

Went to the library on Tuesday to pick up a few more books.
Grown up Books:
1. P.D. James "Mind for Murder"
2. Fodor Hawaii Travel
3. Elie Weisel "Night Trilogy"

1. Penguins
2. Penguins
3. Dragon
4. The Malted Falcon

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Candy Shop for Bibliophiles

"The best candy shop a child can be left alone in, is the library." Maya Angelou

Wylie has a love of the library that almost matches mine. He is also just a little bit in love with the librarian who is so patient and kind and sweet. I read him the quote above and Wylie asked if we could do sleep overs in the library! What an idea!

NPR has a piece "Why the Next Big Pop-Culture Wave After Cupcakes Might Be Libraries" the article is here. (Thank you Valerie for sending it to me)

I would love it if libraries ended up being a hip and fun place to go, especially if it got rid of the cupcake affair that the US has right now. Here are my thoughts on how good it might be for the US toddler -adult population:
1. Might help end obesity among young children
2. Most likely will increase knowledge and keep kids in school.
3. Increase the funding of public libraries over the funding of wars as people will actually read about history and not repeat it.
4. Increase the writing capabilities of all who jump on the library band wagon.
5. Foster surrogate grandparent programs for children.

Okay the last one was a bit of a stretch but really retired folks could and should offer to read to children at the local library, offer to help in literacy programs, and of course instill of love of reading.

I remember in childhood and early adolescence going to the local library at home during the summer to watch old movies, learn about cultures other than my own through reading and listening programs, and the best was the day I was old enough to move over to the adult stacks. I also remember when the library was parked at the beach. Yes I said parked. It was a mobile home that held at most 400 books but had all sorts of books and you could request a book from the central library. It is now a large building in the town with many of the programs I grew up with at my local library. This is in a beach town! Why can't we have library programs like that now in more urban areas?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Protests in Los Angeles

There are protests currently in Los Angeles at the Central Library due to the closure of libraries in the county on Sunday and Monday. This is after the libraries and staff have taken significant hits due to budget shortfalls.

The brief article is here.

Here are other things going on with the library that show how Los Angeles priorities for education and knowledge are messed up. In June the LA Times reported:
"Last week(June 21) Los Angeles officials moved ahead with plans to lay off an estimated 278 employees; more than one-third are library workers. The city's Board of Library Commissioners voted earlier this month to cut one day of service from every branch starting in July."

We now know that the 1 day cut turned out to be 2 days and that the hours were cut as well. On top of that as of July 1 employees were not supposed to be part of the furlough and unpaid days off deal. They still are when hours of the branches are cut and the hours of librarians are cut.

Here is another thought on the value of a library:
Andrew Carnegie felt his fortune (financial and educational) were due in part to a wealthy gentleman, Col. James Anderson, opening his personal collection of books (over 400 titles) to the working boys. Carnegie had access to books he never would have been able to read or browse due to the generosity of Col Anderson.

How many hard working young adults or teens are losing the options that the library brings by closing it on Sunday and Monday?
How many doors are being shut by closing the one that opens minds?

Travel Books

We are contemplating a real vacation. I'm looking to find books on our potential sites in the library. A complaint about the Library, ALL the travel guides are 1 to 3 years out of date. So do I trust the information to be correct about hotels and excursions? Do I trust the information about safety etc?

Prior to going on our honeymoon to Paris and Monaco, we read several travel guides to plan some must see things, but the best reading were the travel guides about the culture, the essence and the people. It is tough to find those in the library as easily as the bookstore.

I also have time tonight to go to the library and look for books but alas due to budget cuts the library isn't open today.
To the bookstore I go...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

PD. James Cover Her Face

For a debut novel it was fantastic. The main story is an unwed mother working in an English Manor (c.1960s) is found strangled in her bed. There are a minimum of 8 suspects all with some type of motive but also with some type of alibi. It is a small town with gossip. It is also a small town in which secrets are kept very well and while not directly affecting the murder or the mystery they pop up just to keep the main character Adam Dagliesh on his toes.

The murderer is not reveled to the bitter end. It it is a shocker. I thought I had it figured out. I had ruled out the obvious suspects (as in any good mystery it's never the obvious one) and had zeroed in on the one I thought was quiet enough and motivated enough. I was wrong.

In the midst of this story, money is involved yet not as motive, love is involved but not until the end and it involved the deceased, another murder is attempted, and of course there is Adam Dagliesh with his own issues.

Wonderful read. Can't wait to move on to her second novel.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Reading Lists

I love seeing lists of books that Americans should have read by the end of college. I also love seeing the lists of books that are deemed the top 100 novels of all time or even better the top 100 banned books. In either case I wonder who made the selections and why.

In my search for those lists I found the Modern Library. They have a board list and a reader's list of the top 100 novels. I have worked my way through many of these lists as a source of what to pick up at the library if I can't think of the next book to read. I also look at the emails or facebook notes that travel around with lists of books and everyone indicates what they have read. There are books I haven't read on those lists and those become my next selection for the library.

The top 100 banned books list can be found here. This is the ALA's list and it indicates how many of the classics are banned which is thoroughly shocking. If we ban books even if they are ones we feel we disagree with or promote ideas that are shocking we purposefully limit our children's ability to make decisions.

Take a moment and compare these lists. The top 100 books to read and the top 100 banned books have many of the same books listed.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Los Angeles Public Library New Hours

The LAPL has shortened its hours. You can read everything here. In a review of libraries around the country this is pretty common as the hours are reduced due to budget cuts. Here are the hours for the Fairfax County Public Library. These hours are odd to say the least and kind of like trying to remember the alternate week schedule my high school had for certain courses.

In other news, we have a national push for literacy in children. This includes getting children in preschools and ready to read. Read more about it here.

Recent Books 7-9-10

The Grown-ups:
1. P.D. James 'Cover Her Face' 1962
2. Elizabeth George 'What Came Before He Shot Her' 2006
3. John Kennedy Toole 'Confederacy of Dunces' 1980

1. PD James: I'm beginning to read P.D. James most famous for 'Children of Men' but really a fantastic mystery writer with two series of books. Her first book Cover Her Face was published in 1962. It is very well written with descriptions that carry you beyond the words, a mystery with as many suspects as an Agatha Christie novel and most of all characters that are more than just cardboard cut outs. I've was drawn to her after reading Children of Men and I read a 2007 novel she wrote in the Inspector Dagliesh series which was one of those books I could not put down. My goal is to read her books in order and observe how her characters developed and how her writing style changed over the years.

2. Elizabeth George: This is another writer that I was turned on to based on my enjoyment of P.D. James. George is a newer author and her books tend to be harder to get in the library. This is again a series of mysteries that I will try to read in order.

3. John Kennedy O'Toole: I have read this book before and enjoy it when I reread it. Fantastic description of life in New Orleans among those who are not pretty, not connected and in general trying to make it through life. It is not a pretty book. The story can be depressing and emotionally cringing at times. It can also make you laugh out loud at the antics of the anti-hero. If you don't find just a little bit of yourself in the main character then you must be a perfect human being. Wyatt has currently checked it out to finish reading it.

The Library connection: I can get each of PD James and Elizabeth George's novels in order from the library through inter-library loan. LOVE IT. I may have to wait to get some of the newer mysteries but I can wait and put them on my list. We can look up books that we normally would have gone to Barnes and Noble or Borders to get, and RESERVE them through the library pick them up and enjoy. If we don't like it or don't make it through it we can renew on line or return it and make another choice. Think about the dollars saved!!!!

The Kiddo:
1. Peter Dodson 'An Alphabet of Dinosaurs'
2. Chief Seattle 'Brother Eagle, Sister Sky: A Message from Chief Seattle'
3. Anthony Aveni 'The First Americans: The Story of where they came from and who they became'
4. Lucille Penner 'Dinosaur Babies'
5. David Sheldon 'Barnum Brown: Dinosaur Hunter'
6. Gail Gibbons 'Dinosaurs'
7. David Lambert 'DK Guide to Dinosaurs'
8. Jon J Muth 'Stone Soup'

The Review: DK books on any subject are fantastic. The Dinosaur one is fantastic covering the birth, life, death, and discovery of dinosaurs. It covers the nature and source of the naming of dinosaurs as well as the process in which the bones, eggs, and poop became fossils. Dinosaur Babies is another fantastic read. It comes from the I can Read series geared toward 1st graders-short sentences, simple subject matter, and engaging storyline. The kiddo has started word recognition from this book. Brother Eagle, Sister Sky is just plain fantastic. Wonderful illustrations and information on the message of Chief Seattle. We've read this one a few times already.

The Library Connection: We walk into the library and the kiddo hunts for the librarian. He has subjects or topics in mind that he wants to get books on and knows exactly who to ask for books. In the past we have asked for Mummies, Seasons, Trains, Elephants, and Sharks. This week it was Dinosaurs and American Indians (NOT NATIVE AMERICANS according to my son). He clearly asked for the subjects and we were brought deep into the stacks. The best part of this is that my son learns that there are a variety of books in different places based on subject and numbers. The librarian takes him by the hand, explains that a particular number relates to the subject. She also points out when the subject can be found alphabetically. LEARNING OPPORTUNITY FOR EVERYONE. Finally, he remembers when we go back to the library the aisle in the stacks in which he can find certain books.

The Library Report-Introduction

I love reading. I love books. I want to instill that same love of reading and books in my son.

I currently live in California in a city that is slowly killing the public library. The excuse is budget deficit and recession.

This is the one resource throughout the year that all people can utilize and especially those hit hard by economic downturns. It is the refuge for those too poor to afford air conditioning in the summer. It is the source of reading hours and literacy growth for many. The library is where people can access online job boards and free internet. The books are lent for three weeks for FREE, unless of course you are like me and rack up late fees of 10 cents a day.

I do not understand how reducing the hours the library is open affects the budget in any way shape or form. How about cutting resources that do not directly affect the education, the support and the community connections that are so desperately needed in an economic downturn. The school system here is already horrible and for parents who want to help their children be the best students they can this is the one resource that is free and accessible.

I will be watching carefully the changes to public libraries around the country and in my own city. I will also be writing about the books my family checks out from the library and our reviews of those books.