Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It closes at 8pm

I totally thought it closed at 8:30pm. I have one book waiting for me and two for Wylie. We were able to drop a bunch of our books off in the night bin but I was really looking forward to my new books.
Oh well, I will go tomorrow.
OH wait, it's only open from 10 to 5:30 tomorrow which means Wylie and I cannot go.

Banned Book Week

It's banned books week. I love finding out what and why people have banned books. I remember from my youth hiding books from my teachers because they felt the books were inappropriate or too advanced or something else that I thought was equally dumb. Some of the books I remember reading and being told to not read or getting in trouble for...

1. Flowers in the Attic--Okay I now realize that it was a bit racy and harsh, but really banning it? Why not have a discussion about the topics.
2. Hitler Stole My Pink Bunny--This was a coming of age story about two friends in Germany (one Catholic and one Jewish) dealing with the war and the restrictions. Not sure why it was deemed inappropriate but it dealt with a ton of great issues for me.

This list of banned books makes me laugh. I've read far to many of these books and truly do not understand why someone would keep from reading these. Remember "If we do not remember our history, we are doomed to repeat it."

Here are some of the banned/challenged books that Wylie (my almost 4 year old) has enjoyed:
1. Wind in the Willows--I mean really what is so offensive or horrible about this book?
3. Charlotte's Web-Again, is the offense of this book that animals can talk?
4. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz--remember it's fantasy

Here are the books that are on the list that I really think should be banned because reading them is absolutely a miserable experience (keep in mind that I have problems reading Henry James)
1. Lord Jim
2. The Sound and the Fury
3. Naked Lunch
4. The Bostonians

So take some time today and read a banned book. You might just learn something new!

For those of you who think the books listed might have a reason, keep in mind Harry Potter books make the top ten almost every year.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Gangs are more important than libraries?!

Okay, it's a recession, it's a tough economic time for a county and city with more people than some states. However the latest in Los Angeles city leaders inability to understand the importance of the library in educating and building the quality of people is shocking. The LA Weekly ran a piece on the changes. Read the article here.

The general point is this:
1. Other cities have had to make cuts to the libraries, all the other major cities have made a point of trying to save their libraries understanding what a difference it makes for the city. Los Angeles keeps cutting the library more than any other public resource.

2. Villaragosa feels that cutting the funding for the libraries is better than cutting funding for gang intervention.

3. In parts of the city where gangs are more prevalent the libraries are closed two days a week: Sunday and Monday. Kids who used to have a quiet place to escape gang culture have essentially lost two days of freedom and two days of learning or reading.

4. I find the following shocking: "By the Weekly's calculations, Los Angeles taxpayers are shelling out $5,245 for each at-risk youth enrolled in GRYD. Reopening the 64 branch libraries on Mondays and the nine big libraries on Sundays and Mondays would cost just $10 million, according to Peter Persic, the library system's public relations and marketing director. With Los Angeles libraries serving up to 15,000 children daily, that works out to a cost to taxpayers of just 65 cents per child annually — probably to greater effect."

5. Use of the public library has increased not decreased during the recession. It is more than just books. "Reflecting the effects of the recession, visits to Los Angeles public libraries jumped from 16 million in 2007 to 16.6 million in 2008 and 17 million in 2009. In a city of 4 million, there's a major demand not just for free books to read but for free wireless and Internet access."

What bugs me most about this decision is that just yesterday it was noted in the paper that another supposed gang reduction group Homeboy Industries received $1.3 million from the city to continue its tattoo removal and gang intervention program. The number of people served by this $1.3 million= 665 or $1954 per person. The article is here.

This is personal to me in several ways (we had to live next door to one of the supposed gang intervention groups for three years) but mostly because the benefit is very difficult to trace or quantify. Much less many of these groups end up being shut down because it's just another way for gangs to get money from the city. These groups don't stop kids from joining gangs, they don't cut down on the number of thugs going to jail for gang related activity, nor do they truly protect people from the gangs. SO, tell me how do these people deserve the money and effort more than the libraries which have a proven track record?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Update on hold

I'm now number 66 on the list of 162 copies of the next Stieg Larson book "The Girl Who Played with Fire".
This is moving much faster than the Artisanal Bread in 5 minutes a day book.

Latest Library Fines

We paid $2.65 in fines last night for books that we returned just a tad late. Just a tad.
One of the books The Confederacy of Dunces was returned for the second time late. Wyatt finally broke down and bought it so he doesn't have to worry about late fees and the like. Hopefully he'll finish it soon.

We brought home several new books and one favorite last night.
The kiddos list:
1. Mrs. Brown on exhibit--Museum poems
2. Pirate Bob
3. Pirates of Underwhere--A mix of chapter and graphic novel writing. We previously read another book by the author Chet Gecko The Malted Falcon
4. Halloween Night
5. The Teeny Tiny Ghost
6. The Ordinary Boy-a beloved story by Colin McNaughton.

The grownup:
1. Juliet Naked-Nick Hornsby --looks to be an easy read but fun.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition

1. Did you know that in the mid to late 1800s at the height of the temperance movement the average american drank 7 gallons of liquor a year?! Yes, I too was shocked. It would be the equivalent of the average american in 2010 drinking three times as much as they do right now!!!!!!
2. Did you also know that the brewers and distillers really thought nothing would come of the temperance movement? They also refused to join forces to fight the 300%+ taxes on their products.
3. Did you know that by 1900 there were nearly 300,000 saloons in the US (that is the count of those that were legally operating)? In San Francisco this amounted to one saloon for every 96 residents!
4. The Women's Suffrage movement and the temperance movement were motivated and orchestrated by many of the same people.
5. Ultimately Prohibition came to be as state after state was bullied and fell to the agreement to be dry. It was affected by representation in the urban and rural counties by state. Essentially a congressman with 70K constituents in the city had one vote while the rural (most often temperance movement) congressman with 10K constituents had one vote. The passing of the amendment greatly affected how states viewed their rights and their voting districts.

Can you guess what book I'm reading? It's a fantastic read. It's full of information without being dry and boring. The writing is scholarly without being pretentious or lecture style. He adds color to the many different figures and honestly has some shock factor too.
I am only up to the ratification of the amendment and can't wait to read about the actual decade.

I Heart Stieg Larsson

I was on holiday in Kauai for a week. I had a library book I was finishing up but I didn't want to bring it with me just in case I lost it or wanted to read on the beach or at the pool. I bought the first in the series of Stieg Larsson's books. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Great hero and anti-hero. Set up for a fantastic understory that identifies and builds the characters. He writes with a style that allows for silence by his characters without having to write. You know by the words they speak if they are quiet or loud. Lisbeth Salander and Kalle Blomkvist are unique and would make you take a second glance when they walk down the street but they would also blend in unseen.
The story is the classic locked room. The distractions to Blomkvist, Salandar and others aren't meant to throw one off the case, they are to build and add to it. You can feel the compulsion in the leads. The story is compelling and I want more.
Unfortunately I am number 177 on the hold list for the next book The Girl Who Played With Fire. My guesstimate is sometime in the next three months I will actually get the book.