Library Column (04/24/12)
As so often happens, good news has come paired with bad news. First, the good news: The State of Tennessee has distributed Interlibrary Loan Funds to its public libraries, and we have received more than 3.5 percent of the total. That is pretty good for a small library in a small county. (Well, actually, it is very good.) During the reporting period, we loaned nearly 3,500 books to other libraries. Most went by courier to libraries in our region, but others were mailed to libraries all across Tennessee. A couple of our popular Christian fiction novels even went to a prison library. We said that they were doing mission work.
Thanks to the hard work of our staff and our willingness to share resources, we have $3,484 to spend on books and videos. We currently are placing the orders, and soon will begin processing books and movies. The “ILL money” we have received has been critically important to our collection development, allowing us to buy materials we could not have purchased out of our current operating budget. And now for the bad news: The state will no longer distribute ILL funds. We have been told these are the last, so we are trying to make the most of them.
We recently were alarmed by reports that the courier service which links the libraries served by the Watauga Regional Library may be in danger of extinction. Currently, books that we have no money to buy and no room to house are nevertheless available to our patrons because of the courier. We can request a loan from any of fifteen public libraries and two academic libraries in the region, which effectively expands “our” collection to some 2.5 million items. Many of our patrons take advantage of this free service, and we are happy to be able to provide it.
The most recent news we have been given is that courier service will continue after June 30, but in a different form. It will be provided by a commercial service and contracted through Tenn-Share, a resource-sharing consortium of which we are a member. We have been assured that the state will continue to bear the cost and that the level of service we previously have enjoyed will be maintained. You may be certain that the directors of the libraries in the Watauga Region are working together to protect our patrons and to find solutions to the problems we share.
We have added the following recent releases to our collection: The Innocent by David Baldacci; What Doesn’t Kill You by Iris Johansen; Breaking News by Fern Michaels; The Witness by Nora Roberts; Come Home by Lisa Scottoline; and Unnatural Acts by Stuart Woods.
Library Column (04/17/12)
Fairy tales are hot right now. Why not? The stories have time-tested appeal and the Brothers Grimm are not collecting royalties. With “Mirror, Mirror” currently in theaters and “Snow White and the Huntsman” scheduled for release on June 1, the raven-haired princess with the wicked stepmother is enjoying a resurgence of popularity. To further the fad, films featuring Hansel and Gretel and Jack the Giant Killer should be coming next year to a theater near you.
The trend is not confined to the cinema. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey takes inspiration from the Russian folk tale “Snegurochka” or “The Snow Maiden.” Jack and Mabel, a childless couple homesteading along the Wolverine River in Alaska in 1920, build a girl of snow on the evening of the first snowfall. The next morning they discover that the snow child has been destroyed. Jack observes petite footprints leading away from the plundered figure, but not towards it. First he and then Mabel glimpse a young girl with long platinum hair darting through the woods wearing the red scarf and mittens Mabel had put on their snow child.
Their neighbors--few and far between--assure them that there is no such girl living in the vicinity and conclude that Mabel must be suffering from cabin fever. She acknowledges that she has been depressed, dreading the cold, dark monotony and privation of the seemingly endless Alaska winter. Mabel also vaguely remembers a story her father used to tell her about a snow child who came to life, but surely this girl and the fox which hunts by her side are real, not a product of her memory and imagination.
Alaska native Ivey has embroidered her plot with details evoking the beauty and wonder of “The Last Frontier’s” wild places. If you felt cheated of your annual allowance of snow during our mild winter, this tale of arctic cold and human warmth should appeal to you.
Even very successful people sometimes crave a change. John Grisham has earned his fame and fortune writing taut courtroom thrillers, but he at last has indulged his long-standing desire to write a novel about baseball.
In 1973, rookie sensation Joe Castle, from Calico Rock, Arkansas, gave Chicago Cub fans something to cheer about. Not only was Calico Joe talented, he was refreshingly polite and unassuming. Even young Paul Tracey, the son of Mets pitcher Warren Tracey, counted himself a fan of Calico Joe. Paul was there, at Shea Stadium, on the August evening when Joe Castle’s career was ended by a pitch from Warren Tracey, and three lives were changed forever.
Library Column (for 04/10/12)
I have noticed that several of our recent acquisitions appear to have one or two elements in common. The hot topics are letters, filmmakers and—of course—murder and betrayal. Murder is always a popular pastime in novels, and letters are a common call to action. There have been filmmaker protagonists before, but two in one week, and both women? Perhaps Danielle Steel and Barbara Taylor Bradford met for lunch last year and decided that filmmaker should be the fashionable profession for Spring 2012.
A Letter from a Stranger sparks documentary filmmaker Justine Nolan’s search for the beloved grandmother she thought had died ten years earlier. As one might expect from Barbara Taylor Bradford, the novel is rife with deeply buried family secrets and dramatic locales of the past and the present.
In her latest novel, Danielle Steel examines Betrayal. Award-winning film director Tallulah Jones, called Tallie, appears to lead a charmed life. Eschewing the glamour of her profession, she enjoys satisfying relationships with her father, her daughter, her devoted personal assistant and her business partner, who is also her lover. When an audit reveals that someone in her circle has been siphoning funds from her accounts, Tallie tries to determine which of her loved ones has betrayed her.
A letter purportedly written by Jesus Christ to Joseph of Arimathea resurfaces after being hidden for more than 500 years. Believing it is genuine, biblical scholar Jonathan Lyons seeks affirmation from his colleagues after swearing them to secrecy. That may have been a mistake. The first chapter of Mary Higgins Clark’s The Lost Years takes place on the day of his funeral, and the precious parchment is missing. Or perhaps it made no difference. Jonathan’s wife, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, was found hiding in a closet, spattered with blood and holding the murder weapon. Their daughter is determined to learn the truth and retrieve the letter.
William Landay’s stunning legal thriller Defending Jacob finds Assistant District Attorney Andy Barber defending his fourteen-year-old son on a charge of murdering a classmate. Jacob maintains his innocence, and Andy is bound to believe him, but the mounting evidence appears to incriminate the boy. Andy is tormented by the realization that loyalty to his family might act at odds with his long-standing commitment to justice.
James Patterson and David Ellis’s Guilty Wives are four friends enjoying a hedonistic vacation from their husbands in Monte Carlo. The party slams to a halt when they wake on a yacht to find themselves charged with murder. They may be guilty of indiscretion, but could they possibly be guilty of killing the president of France?
Library Column (for 04/03/12)
The wait is over! After maintaining the privacy of our citizens for seventy-two years, the “Sixteenth Census of the United States: 1940” has been released to the public. How much was Granny’s home worth in 1940? What was Grandpa’s occupation and how much did he earn during 1939? The answers will probably surprise you.
Our country was emerging from the Great Depression in 1940. Many of the questions asked by the enumerators reflect this. Not only will you know where your grandparents lived in April of 1940, you will learn where they lived five years earlier. You may even discover that your family was forced to leave home, as many others were, to seek work during the lean years of the depression.
Two persons out of every forty were asked supplementary questions, which revealed one’s status as a veteran or as the dependent of a veteran. They also were asked whether they had one of those newfangled Social Security Numbers. Questions specifically for married women included her age at her first marriage and the number of children she had borne.
You may access the 1940 census schedules online at www.archives.gov. There is not yet an index, so you will need to know where your ancestor lived in order to determine the enumeration district number. The U. S. population in 1940 was 132,164,569, so you do not want to be searching for a needle in that haystack!
Maps of the enumeration districts are available on the National Archives website. If you require assistance, come to the library and ask for Angie. I will try to help you, but you must know your ancestor’s street address or be able to locate their farm on a map in order to trace their records with ease. If you do not know where Granddaddy lived in 1940, take heart: Both Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org have plans to index the census. FamilySearch is a free site, and Ancestry will allow free access to the 1940 census database through 2013. I wish you all happy hunting!
The library will be closed on Good Friday, April 6 and Saturday, April 7. No items will be due on those dates. If you will be leaving town for an extended vacation, please call the library at 743-6533 to renew your books by April 5.
While we are closed, you may return books to our drop boxes, which are located at the northeast corner of the library in Erwin, and at Town Hall in Unicoi. Since DVDs may be damaged when heavy books fall on them, please return DVDs to the library after we reopen on Monday, April 9.
My friendship with the Easter Bunny dates back over more years than I care to remember. This time of year, E. B.--as I call him-- has more claims on his time than a presidential candidate. Although he has a prior commitment in Peoria this Saturday, he has made arrangements with a few of his helpers to hide some eggs so that the good girls and boys of Unicoi County can enjoy an Easter egg hunt.
Grab your Easter basket and hop on over to Fishery Park in Erwin Saturday, March 31 from 11:30 to 2:00. A parent or another responsible adult must accompany each child. Participants will be divided into groups by age so that older children do not run over the toddlers. Each plastic egg will contain a surprise, so every child should be a winner.
The Easter egg hunt will be free for everyone, but this event will also be a fundraiser for our Summer Reading Program. Hot dogs, potato chips and soft drinks will be available for a nominal charge. Tickets will be sold for various optional activities such as corn hole, crafts and glitter tattoos. Come have some fun while supporting your library! And if you would like to help, please call Kristy or Cindy at the library at 743-6533.
People dream of tropical islands during the winter. Islands inhabiting northern climes are the stuff of summer fantasies. Martha’s Vineyard is one of those shimmering reveries, but the beachside cliff from which Benjamin Blaine plunged to his death seems less than idyllic in Richard North Patterson’s latest, Fall from Grace. When Blaine’s son Adam returns to the island, the question he struggles to answer is whether the celebrated author simply slipped and fell, whether he hurled himself from the precipice when he realized that brain cancer was about to claim his life, or whether he was pushed from the promontory by one of his disinherited relatives or by one of the beneficiaries of his new will.
Stay Close is Harlan Coben’s new stand-alone suspense novel. What do an alcoholic photographer, a suburban housewife and a detective have in common? All are haunted by the unexplained disappearance of Stewart Green, who vanished from Atlantic City seventeen years ago. Now another man has gone missing on the anniversary of Stewart’s disappearance, and the detective finally perceives an elusive connection: a total of fourteen men have disappeared on Mardi Gras during those seventeen years.
Happy spring! We have sprung forward to Daylight Saving Time, trees are budding, flowers are blooming and allergy sufferers are sneezing. Much of our very mild winter has felt like spring, but the spring season has now officially arrived. At 1:14 this morning the vernal equinox occurred, making today this year’s first day of equal parts light and dark. The second, the autumnal equinox, will be observed in September.
An enduring myth maintains that a raw egg can be balanced on its end only on the day of the vernal equinox. I have never made a serious attempt to balance a raw egg, but other people have. It seems that it can indeed be done, not only on the vernal equinox, but on any other day of the year, as well. First, the bad news: It is not easy to do, requiring patience and an egg of just the right shape. And now, for the good news: Like most such beliefs, it is best to take this superstition with a grain or two of salt. Salt, in this case, can make it easier to balance that egg by providing an almost invisible smidge of support. If you would like to try your luck balancing an egg--without salt--come by the library today (March 20) and we will cheer you on!
The egg’s obvious symbolism of fertility and rebirth links it to Easter and spring in general. Most Americans are familiar with Easter egg hunts and the annual White House Easter Egg Roll. My late husband’s Bulgarian ancestors brought over to America their custom of egg cracking. Friends and family take turns tapping their Easter eggs small end to small end until one of the eggs cracks. The individual who holds the egg that survives the process of elimination is believed to have good luck for the coming year. I never had much luck at the family “egg wars.” I preferred my mother-in-law’s Ukrainian tradition of pysanky, Easter eggs elaborately decorated with folk art motifs using a wax-resist (batik) method. The pysanky are works of art, but fragile.
Children’s Easter Egg Hunt
We will be using the sturdier plastic eggs for our children’s Easter egg hunt. Join us on Saturday, March 31 from 11:30 to 2:00 at Erwin’s Fishery Park. Parents or responsible adults must accompany their children. Participants will be divided into groups by age so that older children do not run over the toddlers. Each egg will contain a surprise, so be sure to bring your Easter basket!
The Easter egg hunt will be free for everyone, but this event will also be a fundraiser for our Summer Reading Program. Hot dogs, potato chips and drinks will be available for a nominal charge and inexpensive tickets will be sold for optional activities such as corn hole, crafts and glitter tattoos. Come have some fun and support your library!
Most of our patrons know that we have a collection of large-print books for people who have difficulty reading regular print. And many know that we have audio books, which appeal to people who have trouble seeing to read as well as multitaskers who like to enjoy a good book while they are driving or doing housework. In addition, we maintain some special collections that you may not realize we own.
If you speak Spanish, or if you want to learn, we have an assortment of bilingual books and books solamente en español that may be perfect for you. These include a number of children’s books; Spanish translations of novels by Dan Brown, Willa Cather, Christopher Paolini, Francine Rivers and Nicholas Sparks; and books such as Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Volver a Morir (Dead Again) by Rosana Ubanell which were first published in Spanish. We also have non-fiction titles available. We even have applications for a library card in Spanish.
We have another special set of small, thin volumes which are designed to boost adult literacy. The Gemma “Open Door” Series are stories intended for adults but written with an accessible vocabulary. The authors are respected Irish writers who advocate the benefits of reading, and who are willing to put their pens (or laptops) where their mouths are. These resources may be found on the second shelf of the bookcase where we house our regular print “New Books.”
Calling All Easter Bunnies!
We currently are planning an Easter egg hunt for the younger children. If you would like to help by donating plastic eggs or individually wrapped candies, please bring them to the library, or call us at 743-6533. We also are hoping (or hopping) for a visit from the Easter Bunny himself. If you would like to play the part, or if you have a costume that we may use, please call the library and ask for Kristy or Cindy.
The Board of Trustees of the Unicoi County Public Library will meet in the library lobby at 6:00 PM on Thursday, March 15. The public is welcome to attend.
Clive Cussler and Justin Scott have teamed up for their fourth Isaac Bell adventure, The Thief. Shortly before the First World War, detective Isaac Bell prevents the kidnapping of two scientists from the ocean liner Mauretania. A second attempt at abduction results in the death of one of the inventors. What secret knowledge could be so vital, and to whom is it worth a human life?
Kristy has decorated and set up a suggestion box in our adult stacks across from our new books. All of our patrons are welcome to leave us comments and suggestions. You may sign them or leave them anonymously. From time to time, I may address a question or concern in this column, but don’t worry, I will not reveal the patron’s name, even when I do know it.
A recent comment suggested that a loan period of more than two weeks would be helpful. Our normal loan period is set at two weeks because we have only one copy of most books. We want to keep them circulating and most readers can finish a book within that time. If you have not been able to complete a book within the two weeks allowed, you may request a renewal for another two weeks. As long as there is not someone waiting for it, you may renew it one time. That would give you four weeks to read the book, which should be sufficient for most titles except, perhaps, War and Peace or one of those especially long Dickens novels. If you still need more time, please call the library at 743-6533 to see whether we can accommodate you without inconveniencing other patrons.
Recent releases by best-selling authors are likely to have long lists of patrons hoping for a call from us to let them know their turn has come. These titles will not be renewed, so if you borrow a stack of books, read the new releases first so they can be returned on time. You can tell our recent releases from older books because they have a colored dot on the spine with the month of acquisition written inside it.
The Board of Trustees of the Unicoi County Public Library will meet in the library lobby at 6:00 PM on Thursday, March 15. The public is welcome to attend.
One of those books with a “2/12” dot on the spine is Jonathan Kellerman’s Victims. His twenty-seventh novel to feature psychologist Alex Delaware and LAPD detective Milo Sturgis begins with a crime scene as gruesome as any left by Jack the Ripper. Alex knows there must be a common thread which binds the serial killer’s apparently unconnected victims. Can he find it before the mounting death toll grows any higher?
Jodi Picoult’s Lone Wolf is Luke Warren, a divorced father of two who has devoted his life to the study of wolves. When he and his teenage daughter are injured in an automobile accident, Luke’s estranged son Edward is called home from Thailand to decide whether his comatose father should remain on life support. Edward must wrestle with the pain and guilt of his history with his father in making that decision.
As a child, I considered myself unfortunate to have been born on December 26. My family never merged my birthday gifts with Christmas presents, but celebrating my special day in the aftermath of Christmas always seemed, well, anticlimactic. The only people whose birthdays I did not envy were leaplings, boys and girls who had been born on a leap day. I figured a birthday every year—even on the day after Christmas—was better than one birthday every four years. I pitied the leaplings, who had to observe their anniversary either one day earlier or one day later than their “real” birthday. Of course, as I have aged, I have begun to see the advantage in having to claim only a quarter of one’s actual years as “birthdays.” In fact, I recently concluded that leaplings may have the best birthday of all.
Happy Birthday, Leaplings!
Since only one person in 1,461 is born on February 29, only about a dozen leaplings call Unicoi County home. If you are one of this lucky dozen, come into the library on Wednesday, February 29 for a little treat.
Leap Year Traditions
Several traditions have grown up around leap year and its surplus day. In the British Isles and other parts of northern Europe, a woman was permitted to propose marriage to a man only during leap years. The gentleman was free to refuse her suit, but he was required to pay a fine, ranging from a kiss to a silk gown to a dozen pairs of gloves, to salve the lady’s wounded heart. In fairness to her prospective bridegroom, an Englishwoman bent on proposing matrimony was required to wear a scarlet petticoat to signal her amorous intentions. “Leap Year,” a DVD in our video collection, is premised on an Irish variant of these old customs.
Perhaps the most famous offer of marriage from a woman to a man was Queen Victoria’s proposal to Prince Albert in 1839—not a leap year. As a reigning monarch, she could not entertain a proposal of marriage from a man who was not her equal in rank. Albert accepted her offer, and the rest, as they say, is history.
When was the last year-divisible-by-four that did not contain 366 days? The answer is 1900. The final year of the nineteenth century was evenly divisible by 100, but it was not evenly divisible by 400, so it did not have a leap day. While 2000 was divisible by 100, it also was divisible by 400, so February, 2000 had twenty-nine days. Our current Gregorian calendar is far more precise than the old Julian calendar which it replaced, and it is expected to remain accurate to within one day for the next 8,000 years.
The second season of Masterpiece Classic’s “Downton Abbey” has ended, and those of us who have vicariously entered the precincts of the Edwardian manor house each Sunday evening since December are suffering through withdrawal. The award-winning series will return next January for a third season, but in the meantime, how can we cope without Lord and Lady Grantham, Matthew and Lady Mary, Bates, Anna, O’Brien and Daisy?
John Galsworthy may be one solution. His Forsyte Saga has twice been serialized for British television. On the other hand, E. M. Forster may be your Wedgwood cup of Earl Grey tea. His novels Howard’s End, A Passage to India, and A Room with a View have all been made into popular, Academy Award-winning movies. Both authors generally are considered to be among the best-loved writers of the Edwardian era.
If you secretly yearn to immerse yourself in the rarified atmosphere of the old British gentry and aristocracy, you might enjoy Austenland and Midnight in Austenland. Shannon Hale’s imaginary resort [Sorry, ladies!] in the English countryside caters to women for whom no man can measure up to Jane Austen’s hero Fitzwilliam Darcy. Ladies who travel to “Pembrook Park” dress, dine, dance and discourse in the manner of an Austen heroine. They also are required to maintain the strict decorum expected of Regency debutantes as they are “courted” by actors playing eligible beaux.
A silver ring has been found in our ladies’ restroom. If you have recently lost one, please call the library at 743-6533 to identify it.
With the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympic Games just five months away, James Patterson and Mark Sullivan’s Private Games is a timely title. A madman who calls himself Cronus, after the Greek Titan who ruled the world before Zeus overthrew him, is determined to restore the Olympics to their ancient glory. In order to attain his goal, he intends to eliminate those who have corrupted the games with greed and cheating. Peter Knight and his associates at the “Private” investigation firm are equally dedicated to defending the London games.
In Robert Ludlum’s The Janson Command, former assassin Paul Janson teams with champion sharpshooter Jessica Kincaid to rescue an American doctor abducted by pirates off the African coast. Author Paul Garrison takes the action to five of the seven continents and introduces his readers to the host of unsavory characters Paul and Jessica encounter in their quest for the truth behind the doctor’s disappearance.
The forty-four men who have held the office of President of the United States are undoubtedly among the most scrutinized, analyzed and lionized figures in history. Two of our most recent acquisitions take former presidents as their subjects. Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard’s Killing Lincoln examines the conspiracy that attempted to decapitate the federal government in the wake of the Civil War. Lincoln was assassinated and Secretary of State William Seward was wounded, but the conspirator designated to murder Vice-President Andrew Johnson failed to go through with his assigned mission. And that is why Tennessee can boast three of her favorite sons (Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk and Andrew Johnson) as presidents. If the conspirators had fully achieved their objectives, it would have been only two.
Drawing on the stories he has collected over the years from the president’s friends and colleagues, Chris Matthews paints a portrait of Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero. This popular new biography begins with the story of a “second son” whose parents pinned all of their social and political aspirations on their firstborn son, Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Since Jack was a sickly child, and bedridden much of the time, he had an opportunity to read and develop his love of history, his wit and humor. When Jack’s elder brother was killed during World War II, his parents transferred their political expectations to Jack, who soon commenced his own journey to the White House and, ultimately, Dealey Plaza.
Since our upcoming holiday was originally instituted to celebrate the birth of our first president, Ron Chernow’s 2011 Pulitzer Prize-winning biography Washington: a Life might be a timely choice. Those of us old enough to remember celebrating “George Washington’s Birthday” may recall that it was observed on February 22 (not necessarily a Monday). But when was George Washington born? His birth would have been recorded in the family Bible as occurring on February 11, 1731, according to the fundamentally flawed Julian calendar then in use. When Great Britain and its colonies adopted the more reliable Gregorian calendar in 1752, that date became February 22, 1732. The difference was only eleven days. The change of year resulted from moving the start of the new year from March 25 back to January 1.
The library will be closed on Monday, February 20 in honor of Presidents Day. No books or videos will be due on that date. You may return books to either of our drop boxes, which are located at the northeast corner of the library in Erwin and at Town Hall in Unicoi. Please do not deposit videos in the drop boxes, since they may be damaged if heavy books fall on them. Thank you!
With the unseasonably mild weather we have enjoyed so far this winter, it has not been difficult for our staff to look ahead to our Summer Reading Program. Last week, Kristy, Cindy and I went to Tennessee’s Summer Reading Program mini-conference in Brentwood. Drawing on their experience with last summer’s program, Kristy and Cindy presented the session entitled “Marketing/Partnerships/Fundraising” to attendees from all across the Volunteer State. I am very proud of the outstanding job they did. They represented Unicoi County with grace, distinction and good humor.
After the Marketing/Partnerships/Fundraising session, Kristy, Cindy and I split up to cover as many other presentations as possible. We have returned to Unicoi County with lots of ideas to make this year’s Summer Reading Program the best ever. Once again, we will offer activities for young listeners and readers of all ages, all centered on the 2012 theme of “Night,” which is being used by libraries in all fifty states.
This year the slogan for the children’s program is “Dream Big—Read!” Cindy will be in charge of these sessions for our younger kids, helping them to build and maintain reading and language skills. Kristy will be leading our teens and middle school students, who will be urged to “Own the Night.” Her goal will be to motivate teens to read and discuss literature. I will head our program for adult readers, since you are never too old to benefit from reading. Our adults will be encouraged to get “Between the Covers” of a good book to experience the joy of reading.
How you can help
Summer Reading Program activities will be scheduled for the months of June and July. Between now and then, we will be planning and fundraising. If you would like to help, we would appreciate donations of plastic Easter eggs and small wrapped candies. Call Kristy or Cindy at 743-6533 for more information.
We recently cataloged and processed sixty-nine new books, most of which checked out shortly after being placed on the shelf. Call us if you would like to add your name to the hold list for any of our new titles.
Among the current best-selling novels, we received Elizabeth George’s Believing the Lie, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s Gideon’s Corpse, and James Luceno’s “Star Wars” novel Darth Plagueis. Best-selling nonfiction titles Killing Lincoln by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, Elizabeth the Queen by Sally Bedell Smith, Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie, and Jack Kennedy by Chris Matthews have been added to our collection, as well. Come see what you can find!
In 1914 and 1915, and again in 1920, veterans of the Civil War who resided in Tennessee were sent questionnaires that gathered biographical data and stories about the experiences of the veterans before, during and after the war. Some men who had served in Tennessee units but who then lived in other states also responded to the surveys. The five volumes of The Tennessee Civil War Veterans Questionnaires, which we have housed in our History Room, preserve this priceless information.
I regret that none of my lineal antecedents had the opportunity to fill out a questionnaire, but I am grateful that several of their relatives, friends, neighbors and fellow soldiers did record their answers. From their responses, I learned how these men were housed and educated before the war began. I also read about their experiences in the Union and Confederate armies. Most importantly, for me, I finally was able to understand why my great, great grandfather John Wesley Dotson had taken his family and left his home in Grainger County after the war. His cousin, in his questionnaire, tells of the abuse he suffered at the hands of “Union Soldier,s and stragglers” “some months after ‘Lees Surrender.’” Apparently Grainger County was not a safe haven for Confederate veterans after the war.
Once again the State of Tennessee is giving its veterans a chance to document and preserve their experiences. The men and women who served their country in Korea and Vietnam are invited to participate in separate online surveys at www.tn.gov/tsla/VetsProject/koreanwar (or /vietnamwar). If you would prefer to set your pen to paper, hard copies of the questionnaires are available from the Tennessee State Library and Archives at: Tennessee Remembers: Korean War Veterans (or Vietnam Veterans); TSLA; 403 7th Avenue North; Nashville, TN 37243.
The Tennessee State Library and Archives is also accepting donations of original material concerning the Korean and Vietnam Wars for inclusion in their “Tennessee Remembers” projects. Letters, photographs, film, audiotapes, maps, artifacts and all other kinds of original material relating to these conflicts are being sought. Professional archivists and conservators will preserve the materials for the benefit of future generations and organize them so they are accessible for research by the public.
Our veterans were participants in our nation’s history. The Tennessee State Library and Archives wants to preserve their unique perspective. If you have questions about the Veterans Projects or you need assistance taking the online questionnaire, please call the Unicoi County Public Library at 743-6533. And thank you for your service!
We are back after the (week-long) intermission with the second half of our “Staff Picks for 2011” award winners. Last week we announced Kristy’s choice, Lost December by Richard Paul Evans, and Leanne’s favorite, Jamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch.
Connie enjoyed Sharyn McCrumb’s latest, The Ballad of Tom Dooley. For that matter, so did Leanne and I. I took my copy to the Czech Republic last September. It was somewhat surreal reading about Tom Dooley in Prague, but I couldn’t wait. Since Prague was the birthplace of Franz Kafka and the setting of the Jewish legend of the Golem, I suppose surreal actually was appropriate.
Both Connie and I are looking forward to McCrumb’s next novel, which we are told will be set during the American Revolution. As a “local girl,” Sharyn McCrumb enjoys a strong following among our library’s patrons. Four months after Tom Dooley’s debut, we still have readers on the hold list. Expect her next “Ballad Novel” to generate another long queue.
My pick is Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks. Based on a kernel of history, the author vividly imagines what the life of Caleb Cheeshahteaumauk, the first Native American to graduate from Harvard, might have been like. His story is narrated by the fictional Bethia Mayfield, the brilliant daughter of a Calvinist minister living on Martha’s Vineyard in the seventeenth century. Although deprived of a classical education by the customs of her time, Bethia absorbs the lessons offered to Caleb and her brother as she goes about her chores. When the boys go to Harvard, Bethia accompanies them, but as a servant, not a scholar. Still, she will not be denied an education. We have Caleb’s Crossing available in regular print, large print and audio book versions.
Kristy and I have been cataloging a sizeable shipment of new books. We have kept Leanne busy getting them ready to go out onto the shelves or to those patrons who already have them on hold. By tackling and taming the challenge of 1Q84, she has proven herself mistress of the art and science of covering dust jackets. Haruki Murakami’s homage to George Orwell’s 1984 comes with a translucent dust jacket that our supplier would not even try to cover. Leanne, however, took it in stride and 1Q84’s evocative dust jacket is beautifully protected and ready to lend. Come check it out, (or any of our sixty-eight other new books)!
With the old year fresh in our memory and the new year encouraging us to celebrate, the season of awards has begun. The Golden Globes were given out last Sunday and the Oscar nominations will be broadcast on January 24. In the spirit of the season, the staff of the Unicoi County Public Library would like to announce our picks for the best books of 2011. Kristy and Leanne’s favorites appear below, and the remainder will be revealed in next week’s column.
Kristy’s choice is Lost December, a retelling and updating of the parable of the prodigal son, by Richard Paul Evans. Recent business school graduate Luke Crisp blows through his sizeable trust fund with the help of his “friends” rather than return home to take over the family business. Of course, he comes to regret that decision. Too ashamed to face the father who has disowned him, Luke accepts a low-level position in one of his father’s shops.
Leanne liked Man Booker Prize finalist Jamrach’s Menagerie. Carol Birch’s beautifully written tale of the sea begins in Victorian London, where young Jaffy Brown survives a much-too-close encounter with a tiger that escaped from the menagerie. Given his apparent affinity for animals or, at least, luck, Jaffy goes to work for Jamrach and, years later, is sent on an expedition to bring back a Komodo dragon. Even if he is able to find the fabled beast, can he get it--or himself--back home to London?
Library Foundation Annual Meeting
The Unicoi County Public Library Foundation will hold its annual meeting at the library on Thursday, January 19 at 10:00 AM. Patrons and the public are invited to attend. You may join the Library Foundation as a patron with an annual contribution of $25.00 or more. A $25.00 donation will pay for the purchase and processing of one book.
The purpose of the Foundation is “to supplement the operating budget of the Unicoi County Public Library and to help maintain the library building in order to continue to improve library services to the residents of Unicoi County, Tennessee and of all its communities.” The Foundation provides more than a quarter of the library’s annual budget. If you would like to support your library, then please consider joining the Foundation.
The Board of Trustees of the Unicoi County Public Library will meet at 6:00 PM on Thursday, January 19 in the library lobby. The public is welcome to attend.
Library Foundation Annual Meeting
The Unicoi County Public Library Foundation will hold its annual meeting at the library on Thursday, January 19 at 10:00 AM. Patrons and the public are invited to attend. You may join the Foundation as a patron with a contribution of $25.00 or more. The purpose of the Foundation is “to supplement the operating budget of the Unicoi County Public Library and to help maintain the library building in order to continue to improve library services to the residents of Unicoi County, Tennessee and of all its communities.” The Foundation provides about a quarter of our annual budget. If you would like to support your library, this is one way you can do that.
The Board of Trustees of the Unicoi County Public Library will meet at 6:00 PM on Thursday, January 19 in the library lobby. The public is welcome to attend.
New Year, New Releases
Janet Evanovich has teamed with Dorien Kelly to produce the new novel Love in a Nutshell. “The Nutshell” is a summer house that Kate Appleton, newly single and newly jobless, hopes to transform into a bed-and-breakfast. To earn the capital she needs, Kate takes a job spying for a brewer who suspects he is a victim of sabotage. The $20,000 bonus she has been promised if she fingers the saboteur keeps Kate motivated, along with a ripening romantic interest in her new boss.
In Breakdown, Sara Paretsky’s fifteenth V. I. Warshawski novel, the Chicago private eye focuses on the death of a man found in an abandoned cemetery with a stake driven through his heart. Was it merely coincidence that a group of privileged young girls were nearby performing a ritual inspired by their favorite vampire novels? A partisan political television host thinks not, but V. I. seeks the truth.
A Devil Is Waiting to assassinate the U. S. president when he visits London, but not if Sean Dillon can help it. A fanatical mullah has issued a fatwa blessing anyone who will accomplish the mission. Banking heiress and Afghan war hero Sara Gideon joins the “Prime Minister’s private army” in Jack Higgins’s most recent Sean Dillon thriller.
James Patterson and Maxine Paetro have joined forces once again for Private: #1 Suspect. The prime target of the police investigation is “Private” director Jack Morgan himself, who falls under suspicion for the murder of a former girlfriend when her body is found in his bed. Will his crack team of investigators be able to prove his innocence?
Welcome, 2012! This promises to be an especially eventful year. The presidential election is likely to dominate our national news, but there will be much more to excite our imaginations during this leap year.
The Games of the XXX Olympiad will be held in London from July 27 to August 12, 2012. The 2012 Summer Paralympic Games will commence seventeen days later. Expect your library to mark the occasion with suitable programs for children and adults.
What do the novels Les Miserables, The Great Gatsby, The Hobbit, World War Z, Cloud Atlas and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter have in common? Not much, except that each is the inspiration for a movie scheduled for release this year. If you want to read (or reread) the book before you see the film, you still have plenty of time. Four of these movies are set to premiere among the Oscar contenders in December.
Another event scheduled for April has been seventy-two years in the making. The 1940 census will be released to the public on April 2, after that information has remained private, in accordance with federal law, for more than seven decades. If you are new to genealogy, these population schedules may be a good place for you to start your search for ancestors. If you are an old hand, you will enjoy this peek into the lives of your grandparents and great grandparents.
This information will be available for online searching free of charge from the National Archives website. The 1940 census will not be indexed by name when it opens. In order to locate your relatives, you will need to know their address and the enumeration district in which they lived during the census. If you have their address, you should be able to locate the enumeration district. If you don’t know their address and you are unwilling to eyeball the more than 132 million entries, be patient and wait for the names to be indexed. Ancestry.com has announced that they will make both the images and their indexes available free of charge until the end of 2013, but it will take some time to complete the project. If there is sufficient interest, we will arrange a genealogy workshop to help you navigate the census websites.
Among the last books we cataloged in 2011 were 77 Shadow Street by Dean Koontz, Deadline by Fern Michaels and D.C. Dead by Stuart Woods. If you have had your fill of company and parties, open Koontz’s tale of a lethally haunted luxury apartment building. You soon will appreciate the benefits of companionship once again.
How many of you got an eReader, tablet or smartphone for Christmas? If you are among the millions who did, I want to tell you how your public library can still help you save money by borrowing books instead of buying them. First, go to our library’s website at www.wrlibray.org/libraries/unpage.html. If you find our address unwieldy or hard to remember, just type “Unicoi County Public Library” into your search engine. You can’t miss us.
Under the heading “Quick Links,” click on “R.E.A.D.S.” This will take you to the Regional eBook and Audiobook Download System for Tennessee. In the upper left-hand corner, under the “download digital media GUIDED TOUR,” click on the link “Supported Portable Devices” to see whether your Christmas present is compatible with R.E.A.D.S. Most devices are supported, but some will work more easily than others.
Then take the tour and consult the “Quick Start Guide.” If you need assistance, go to “My Help” for answers. In order to use R.E.A.D.S, you will need an account with a Tennessee library. If you already have your library card, a supported device and the software that it requires, then you are ready to begin. If you still need to apply for a library card, then bring your photo ID and proof of address to the library and we will process your application. It takes about twenty-four hours for R.E.A.D.S to validate your card number.
R.E.A.D.S is available to you twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week and any place you have internet access. When I visited the Czech Republic last September, a member of our mission team borrowed books while we were dining at an internet cafe. Another reason our patrons like R.E.A.D.S is because there are never any late fines. At the end of the loan period, the book automatically returns itself.
In observance of New Year’s Day, the Unicoi County Public Library will be closed on Monday, January 2. No items will be due on that day. If you should want to return a book, you may use our drop boxes which are located at the northeast corner of the library in Erwin and at Town Hall in Unicoi. Please do not deposit DVDs in the drop boxes, as they may be damaged when heavy books fall on them. Bring them into the library during our regular business hours.
We will be open our usual weekend hours, from 11:00 AM until 3:00 PM, on Saturday, December 31. On behalf of all our staff, I wish you a happy, safe and prosperous New Year!
‘Tis the season for holiday gatherings. Most organizations host a luncheon or dinner for their members and most workplaces organize a party of some sort for their employees. We who work at the Unicoi County Public Library see no reason to break with tradition. We prefer theme parties. Last year we chose “Feliz Navidad” as the theme for our office Christmas party and enjoyed Mexican food amid south-of-the-border decor.
This year we chose as our inspiration “Food in Literature.” The frugal feast lovingly prepared by Mrs. Cratchit for her husband and their six children in Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol sprang immediately to my mind. Just about every year I reread the classic and share once again in Mrs. Cratchit’s anxiety about her plum pudding. That confection, “like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top,” has intrigued me since my childhood.
I was even more fascinated when I learned that plum pudding is made with raisins, currants and candied fruit peel, but not with plums. In seventeenth century England, the word “plum” (or “plumb”) was used to refer to raisins and other fruits. When Little Jack Horner sat in the corner eating his Christmas pie, he probably pulled out a raisin, but “raisin” doesn’t rhyme with “thumb.”
Since I have survived my fair share of culinary disasters, I can sympathize with Mrs. Cratchit’s fretful fantasies. Nevertheless, I promptly volunteered to bring plum pudding to our office party. Considering my own limitations in the kitchen and Mrs. Cratchit’s expert opinion about the delicacy of plum pudding, I utilized my better-honed skills and searched the internet for a Christmas pudding to purchase. It currently is biding its time in my refrigerator, waiting for its big reveal.
And by the way, don’t worry: Our books are safe. While our pudding may be garnished with a modest sprig of holly, and perhaps a dusting of powdered sugar snow, it definitely will not be set aflame in the library!
In celebration of Christmas, the Unicoi County Public Library will be closed from Friday, December 23 through Monday, December 26. No items will be due on those dates. If you would like to return a book, please use the drop boxes located at the northeast corner of the library building in Erwin and at Town Hall in Unicoi. Since heavy books may damage DVDs, please return DVDs to the library during regular business hours. If you need to renew an item, please call the library at 743-6533 by Thursday, December 22.
Hey, kids! Have you ever come to the library in your pajamas? We normally would not encourage such extremely casual dress, but Friday afternoon will be an exception. Our “Polar Express” Christmas party on December 16 will take the concept of “casual Friday” to new heights. Put on your best pajamas and join us from 4:00 to 5:30 to hear the beloved story and enjoy snacks and crafts suggested by the book.
And speaking of crafts, if you have any of the round plastic Coca-Cola bottles that look like ornaments sitting around, please bring them to the library. Miss Cindy has plans to recycle the bottles into a craft project for our younger patrons. As always, we appreciate your help.
We want to thank the Erwin Monday Club for putting up and decorating the Christmas tree in our reading room. The red felt cardinals and poinsettias and the glittering snowflakes and pinecones have gotten our staff and patrons into the holiday spirit!
Red Mist, Patricia Cornwell’s 19th “Scarpetta” thriller, takes up where Port Mortuary left off. When chief medical examiner Kay Scarpetta sets out to investigate the murder of her deputy Jack Fielding, she finds herself caught in a web of terror that may well span the globe.
When Death Comes to Pemberley, the victim is a familiar scoundrel whom Jane Austen fans will not mourn more than civility demands. Mr. Wickham, the seducer and all-around bad egg made infamous in Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, is dead, and his widow Lydia brings the news to her brother-in-law Mr. Darcy’s palatial estate at Pemberley. Darcy’s aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, always warned her nephew that the Bennett family would pollute “the shades of Pemberley.” Now they have brought danger and a mystery to that great house.
Austen aficionada P. D. James begins her book with an apology to Miss Jane, who certainly did not relish such indelicate subjects as murder.
Rin Tin Tin: the Life and the Legend is a biography of the dog who saved Warner Brothers from bankruptcy and who became Hollywood’s top box office draw. Susan Orlean begins Rinty’s story with his rescue as a puppy from a bombed-out kennel in France during World War I. She follows the original dog and his successors on their journey through silent films, talkies, radio, and television to today’s current Rin Tin Tin. This recent release was a donation from one of our generous patrons.
Last Tuesday was just like Christmas at the Unicoi County Public Library. Our friendly UPS driver and his seasonal assistant wheeled in thirteen boxes of books purchased with our latest allotment of LSTA (Library Services and Technology Act) funds. Since we were busy that afternoon, it took us until close of business just to unpack them and check them off the packing list. It may take us until Christmas to get all 381 books cataloged and processed, but you may look forward to seeing a large number of new books on the large-print shelves and in the children’s room shortly. And for those who prefer our audio books, expect new titles to hit the shelves soon!
The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development will send their mobile career center, the Career Coach, to the Unicoi County Public Library’s front parking lot on Tuesday, December 6. The Coach is scheduled to arrive at 10:00 AM and will be here until 2:00 PM. The Coach’s friendly and professional staff will help job seekers hone their resumes and interview skills and develop search strategies. Their onboard database of available positions covers the entire state of Tennessee. So come on down and get your job search rolling with the Career Coach!
Please note that any time Unicoi County schools are closed because of inclement weather, the Coach will not be able to make the trip from Knoxville.
Michael Connelly’s Detective Harry Bosch has been given three years in which to retire from the LAPD. In other words, he has been put on The Drop—Deferred Retirement Option Plan. Determined to make the most of the time he has left, he wants cases. Bosch gets his wish: During the course of one morning, he and his partner David Chu are assigned two cases.
Can DNA evidence point the finger at an innocent man? Well, a match has been found between a twenty-nine-year-old criminal and a twenty-one-year-old crime. Could an eight-year-old boy have raped and murdered the victim, or is there something seriously amiss at the new Regional Crime Lab?
The potential for problems with all the crime lab’s current cases is one political hot potato, but another is tossed to Harry (or perhaps at him) before he can blink. The son of city councilman Irvin Irving, Bosch’s former colleague and enduring nemesis, apparently commits suicide, and Irving insists that Bosch spearhead the investigation. Can there possibly be a connection between the two cases?
With Thanksgiving behind us and Christmas looming large, it is time to remind you that we may close the library in case of ice or snow. As long as our dedicated staff can safely drive to and from the library, we will be open. If driving becomes dangerous, we may open late, close early, or even be closed all day. If you notice that the roads are covered with snow or ice, please call the library at 743-6533 for information about schedule changes. Let’s all drive carefully and have a safe winter season!
The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s mobile career center, the “Career Coach,” will be rolling into our front parking lot on Tuesday, December 6. The Coach is scheduled to arrive at 10:00 AM and its staff will be available to help job seekers polish their resumes and search for employment around the state until 2:00 PM. They have informed me that they will not be able to come if the Unicoi County schools are closed for inclement weather, so hope for a sunny day.
With V is for Vengeance, Sue Grafton has worked her way through the alphabet from “A” to “V.” California private investigator Kinsey Millhone is hired to prove that Audrey Vance, a woman whom Kinsey helped arrest for shoplifting, did not commit suicide.
What Sue Grafton has done for the alphabet, Janet Evanovich has done for numbers. The last time I checked, Explosive Eighteen had 121 patrons in the Watauga Region waiting for their turn to read her latest. Happily, the waitlist for our library’s copy is not nearly so long. Give us a call if you would like to add your name to it.
When Michael Crichton died in 2008, he left a biological thriller unfinished. Richard Preston has completed the novel. When I opened Micro to catalog the book, I found the map of a familiar landscape--a map on which I could practically pinpoint the location of my former home in Honolulu. Recalling the lush vegetation and the exotic wildlife that surrounded our quarters, I have no trouble imagining the microbiological riches--and perils--that might dwell there. Consequently, I am glad this book was published decades after I left the Islands. The flowers were beautiful and fragrant and those playful mongooses were captivating, but the unseen microorganisms might have been deadly!
As much as I like turkeys (both in the wild and on my plate), my favorite symbol of our Thanksgiving holiday is the cornucopia. The horn of plenty is a colorful and graceful design and one that is rooted in Greek mythology. While hidden from his murderous father, the newborn god Zeus was nursed by a divine goat named Amalthea. When the playful infant broke off one of her horns, it continued to supply boundless nourishment and became the cornucopia, spilling forth a never-ceasing stream of fruits, vegetables, nuts, flowers and—occasionally--coins. It is a very appealing image. If we had a cash-dispensing cornucopia at the library, just imagine what we could do!
Exhibiting the classical iconography favored by our Founding Fathers, the Great Seal of the State of North Carolina portrays Liberty standing and Plenty seated with a cornucopia at her feet. Who would not want to live in a state blessed with freedom and prosperity? Tennessee may be just a bit more practical than our neighbor to the east. Our seal emphasizes “Agriculture” and “Commerce,” presumably as the path to prosperity, golden goat’s horns notwithstanding.
Classical imagery is something that young adult readers may not encounter often. Nevertheless, many are familiar with the cornucopia, thanks to the wildly popular “Hunger Games” trilogy by Suzanne Collins. In a post-apocalyptic North America characterized by hunger and brutality, young people from each district are chosen to fight as gladiators. The Cornucopia that is the centerpiece of the Hunger Games is filled with weapons and supplies, but like its mythological counterpart, it provides the things that are needed for survival. Look for the premiere of “The Hunger Games” movie on March 23 and, this Thanksgiving, be grateful we live in Tennessee and not in “District 12!”
The Unicoi County Public Library will be closed for the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, November 24 and Friday, November 25. The library will be open our regular hours, from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM, on Saturday, November 26.
No books or videos will be due on the days when we are closed. Books may be returned to the book drops located at the northeast corner of the library in Erwin and at Town Hall in Unicoi. Please do not return DVDs to the drop boxes, because they may be damaged when heavy books fall on them. We thank you for your help in preserving these materials for all to enjoy!
Where were you on Friday, November 22, 1963? Most Americans born prior to 1955 can tell you precisely where they were when they heard the news that the President had been shot. I was in Mrs. Boling’s fourth-grade classroom at Avoca Elementary School when the principal made the announcement over the school’s intercom. We went home early that afternoon and watched TV for four days: the news; the speculation; the funeral; the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald. I learned more about history and “civics” in those four days than I would have learned in four ordinary weeks.
If you had the opportunity to do so, would you go back in time to prevent the assassination that changed our history? In Stephen King’s latest, 11/22/63, thirty-five year old English teacher Jake Epping is given a chance to visit a time that he never knew, when cars were big, gas was cheap and service stations were called that for a reason. But can he alter the future? The newspaper headline on the front of the dust jacket shows history as we know it. The headline on the back cover suggests a happier ending. Only 842 pages from the fertile imagination of Stephen King stand between you and the answer.
The board of trustees of the Unicoi County Public Library will meet at 6:00 PM on Thursday, November 17 in the library lobby. The public is welcome to attend.
Catherine Coulter offers us a new “Sherbrooke” novel, Prince of Ravenscar, wrapped in a particularly attractive black damask dust jacket. A glimpse of a raven flying toward a lakeside castle supplies an intriguing relief to the elegant severity of the cover art. The title character and his young nephew, who, in 1831, fancies himself a vampire before vampires were in vogue, romance a debutante and her charming aunt. The sugar is spiced with the mystery surrounding the death of Ravenscar’s first wife and the danger posed by her vengeful brother.
With the holidays fast approaching, publishers are jockeying for a share of the Christmas buying bonanza. Expect a new novel from one or another of your favorite authors just about every week. Sue Grafton, Janet Evanovich, Michael Connelly and, of course, James Patterson will release new titles later this month. Be on the lookout for them, or call us at 743-6533 if you would like to be added to the list.
When I look back over my family’s history, I take pride in the accomplishments of all my ancestors, but the veterans who served in wars from the American Revolution to World War II hold a special place in my heart. My father and his five brothers were sailors in the Pacific during the Second World War. As a young man, their father braved the jungles of the Philippines during the Philippine Insurrection that followed the Spanish-American War.
They were discharged after their service relatively unscathed, but one of my Revolutionary ancestors miraculously survived fifty-four saber cuts received in a “minor” skirmish with “Bloody” Banastre Tarleton. If you are not familiar with “Bloody Ban,” Tarleton was the model for the brutal Colonel Tavington in the movie “The Patriot.” It is no wonder we craved our independence.
While I am proud of the service of all my forefathers and grateful they survived, I am thankful to all the veterans who have served and died in the cause of liberty.
In honor of Veterans Day, the library will be closed on Friday, November 11. No books will be due on that date. We will, however, be open our regular hours (from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM) on Saturday, November 12.
The board of trustees of the Unicoi County Public Library will meet at 6:00 PM on Thursday, November 17 in the library lobby. As always, the public is welcome to attend.
A mailman attempting to deliver a package discovers a gruesome crime scene. An Army colonel, his wife and their two children have been executed in a small house in rural West Virginia. Since they had lived near Washington, DC, why had they even been there? Crack military investigator John Puller is assigned to help the local homicide detective find out in David Baldacci’s Zero Day.
A little girl growing up in a five-star hotel in New York City. Sound familiar? Danielle Steel’s heroine is not Eloise, but Heloise, and her home is not the Plaza, but Hotel Vendome. Heloise’s father, Hugues Martin, transformed the sow’s ear Hotel Mulberry into a silk purse which demands constant attention. Heloise learns the business from childhood at her father’s heels and later at school in Switzerland. Of course, both father and daughter find romance at the Hotel Vendome. Give us a call and make your reservation. Who wouldn’t enjoy a few nights in a luxury hotel?
When I visited the Czech Republic in September, I made a point of visiting local libraries and bookstores. The town of Slany, where our team stayed most of the time, has a population roughly equivalent to that of Unicoi County. Their library, located on the town’s central square, is housed in half of a building, formerly a grammar school, which was built in the seventeenth century. Individual rooms open off a hallway that surrounds an open courtyard where teens gather to study and chat. Filled with natural light like our own library, it seemed to be a very pleasant place to spend an hour or two, but we had lots of sightseeing to squeeze into our free hours.
The bookstores in Slany were small, but interesting, with the latest translations of novels by Dick Francis and John Sandford taking pride of place. Thinking ahead to our weekend destination, I bought a map of Prague and a volume of fairy tales in Czech and English. A book designed to help a Czech child learn English can also help an American adult learn Czech!
The five-story bookstore on Wenceslas Square in the heart of Prague was a huge treat. Since Prague is a capital city with a sizeable population of diplomats, international residents and tourists, books and newspapers were available in many languages. Most of our group purchased English/Czech dictionaries and other language books, but they are heavy and I can order those here. The Czech rendition of Pride and Prejudice I deemed to be worth the effort to lug back home. After all, I could readily translate the novel’s justly famous first line, since I know it by heart. The rest of it might take a while…
Because they have been asked to attend a job fair on November 1, the Career Coach will not be coming to the Unicoi County Public Library this month. Barring any other job fairs or mass layoffs (or really bad weather), it should return here December 6.
John Grisham is back. The Litigators are ambulance chasers Oscar Finley and Wally Figg and their new associate David Zinc, an overworked young attorney with a leviathan firm who burned out one day and wound up drunk on the doorstep of Finley and Figg. When Wally stumbles upon a potential class-action lawsuit goldmine, the prospects of Finley and Figg start to look up. The maker of the alleged bad drug, however, will fight to the bitter end and take the battle to the Supreme Court.
Get in the spirit of the holiday on Thursday, October 27 with “Ghost Stories by Candlelight” here at your library. Join us at 6:00 PM as we turn down the lights and turn up the goose bumps.
Before you trick-or-treat in downtown Erwin on Monday, October 31, stop by the library for our Halloween party. The program of snacks, crafts and face painting will begin at 4:30 and last until 5:30. With their faces painted, their treat bags decorated and their tummies tamed, Unicoi County’s ghouls and boys will be ready for their big night!
Fans of Iris Johansen’s “Eve Duncan” thrillers are on tenterhooks awaiting the final installment in the trilogy that promises to solve the mystery behind the disappearance of Eve’s daughter Bonnie. The reviews that I have read agree that this conclusion is “stunning,” so call and add your name to the reserve list as soon as possible.
In case you are wondering just what a tenterhook is, it was a metal hook which held freshly cleaned and newly woven woolen cloth tautly onto a frame, called a tenter, while it dried so that it would not shrink or crease. Fields full of tenter frames were once common sights in English manufacturing districts, but now the term tenter has become rather mysterious. The phrase “on tenterhooks,” however, still evokes an image of something, or perhaps someone, tightly stretched and threatening to snap--like someone who has been waiting for six months to find out what happened to Bonnie!
Marcia Muller’s San Francisco private eye Sharon McCone receives an e-mailed plea for help from her mentally ill half-brother Darcy Blackhawk. When her reply goes unanswered, she sets out to discover his whereabouts. While following Darcy’s trail through the City of Whispers, Sharon stumbles upon the body of a young woman, and clues that appear to link her brother to the unsolved murder of an heiress two years earlier.
Authors James Patterson and Richard DiLallo request the pleasure of our company at The Christmas Wedding. Gaby Summerhill is a fifty-four year old widow with four busy children who have not spent Christmas together since their father’s death. Gaby has a plan to bring her brood home for the holidays. She invites them to her wedding, but refuses to tell them which one of her suitors will be the groom. Wouldn't you be curious?
October is my favorite month of the year. I love the tawny autumn foliage, the bright blue skies and the soothing juxtaposition of warm sunshine with cool breezes. October, however, has a dark side. I am not referring to witches or vampires or anything that has to do with Halloween, but something which, to me, is much more alarming: the annual Public Library Survey, which gobbles a prodigious portion of my time each October.
As with most things we dread, the anticipation has proven worse than the reality. The bulk of the annual survey is behind me now. All the numbers have been added, and the percentages calculated, so now we have some time to reflect on the fiscal year gone by. Our collection has grown to 63,433 items, so I don’t want to hear anyone in the county say that he or she has nothing to read! If you would like to borrow a book, audio book or DVD, come to your library. You just might meet your friends and neighbors. Library attendance is up by four percent, and circulation has risen by eight percent.
Of course, there are some books that we don’t own, but we can get just about any book you want from one of the eighteen other libraries in our region. We were very happy to borrow 1,259 books for our patrons during the past fiscal year. We were even happier to lend 3,153 of our own books to patrons of other libraries in the Watauga Region. The greater the number of books we lend, the greater the amount we get to spend on books each September!
Join us Thursday evening at 6:00 PM for a Halloween classic. We will serve popcorn and candy, so bring your favorite soft drink for a theater experience.
We will be telling “Ghost Stories by Candlelight” next Thursday, October 27. I have been told that we share our building with thirty-six spirits, so the library is a venue suited to spooky stories. Join “all” of us next Thursday at 6:00 PM. Don’t worry. Although I have been here late at night, I have never seen or heard anything that frightened me. At least, not yet!
A young woman born to comfort and respectability and a young man born to lawlessness and violence fall in love, are separated and each go their own way. Some authors might let them part and never meet again, but Nicholas Sparks is not one of them. His lovers will meet once again, and one will offer the other The Best of Me.
The foliage cloaking the higher elevations has started to blush. Pumpkins destined to be jack-o-lanterns huddle on porches awaiting their big night. Bats chatter and flutter through the twilight chill. The “Count”-down to Halloween has begun.
We should be wearing warm sweaters and craving hot soups, but our recent sunshine and warm afternoon temperatures may have you clinging to summer. To get in the spirit of America’s second favorite commercial holiday, join us at 6:00 PM this Thursday, October 13 for a classic movie that never fails to evoke the proper Halloween atmosphere. Bring along your favorite non-alcoholic beverage and enjoy the popcorn and candy which we will provide.
We will show another classic horror flick next Thursday evening. The following week our Thursday program will be “Ghost Stories by Candlelight.” If you would like to share your favorite spooky story, please call the library at 743-6533 for further details. If you just want to listen and shiver, gather your courage and come to the library at 6:00 PM on Thursday, October 27.
Kyle Mills is the author of Robert Ludlum’s The Ares Decision, the latest entry in the “Covert –One” series created by Ludlum. A lethal parasite which produces violent insanity in its victims has returned to life after a periodic dormancy. U.S. Army Colonel Jon Smith, Covert-One’s top microbiologist, matches wits with forces that perceive the parasite as the ideal weapon of terror.
Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agent Virgil Flowers is back on the case in John Sandford’s Shock Wave. Not everyone in the small town of Butternut Falls is happy about the “PyeMart” that will be built on the banks of the scenic Butternut River. Local merchants and environmentalists are up in arms, but someone is angry enough to bomb PyeMart headquarters and the Butternut construction site. With two people dead and two badly injured, Virgil goes up against an increasingly sophisticated bomber.
The Affair, Lee Child’s sixteenth “Jack Reacher” thriller, harks back to the time when Reacher was still a military policeman. Why did the career soldier leave the Army? Because of a difference of opinion with the top brass about how a politically sensitive murder case should be handled. Fans certainly would not expect Reacher to don kid gloves even when the prime suspect is an Army officer and the son of a hawkish U.S. Senator, so they will not be disappointed.
I recently returned from a trip to the Czech Republic. I previously visited the beautiful city of Prague and the fertile countryside of the old kingdom of Bohemia in 1986, when the country was a part of Czechoslovakia and shrouded by the Iron Curtain. The nation is now a member of the European Union. It appears much more prosperous and modern, and its people much happier than before.
Even while at work and play in the Czech Republic, I occasionally encountered reminders of Unicoi County’s upcoming Apple Festival. Although we found no apple pie—let alone apple butter--on the table there, the Czech version of apple strudel appeared fairly often on dessert menus. When we visited a museum devoted to medieval art, I noticed that paintings of the Madonna and Child often portrayed the infant Jesus holding an apple as a symbol of his humanity. And I was happy to know that when my adventure there ended, I still had our Apple Festival to look forward to!
As usual, the Unicoi County Public Library will be open during both Friday and Saturday of Apple Festival. Taste-tempting treats, rousing entertainment, and booth after booth of appealing craft items will crowd downtown Erwin on October 7 and 8. Although several streets will be blocked by vendors, your library will still be accessible. Just take Elm Avenue south past Love Street and Erwin Utilities to Iona Street. Turn right at Iona and cross over Main Avenue to Nolichucky Avenue. Turn right at Nolichucky. The Unicoi County Public Library will be on your left in our beautiful and historic old depot building.
Park at the Library!
The parking spaces in front of our main door will be reserved for those patrons who are using the library. There is no charge for parking while you are using our facility. For those who want to attend the festival, convenient parking will be available in the library parking lot on Friday or Saturday for a donation of $5. All funds raised will help support library programs. Our parking lot will open at 8:00 AM each day of Apple Festival. Business hours will be the same as usual. The library will be open from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM on Friday, and from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM on Saturday.
While you are enjoying Apple Festival, be sure to visit our book sale in the basement. The sale will be held during our normal business hours. Our shelves are filled to overflowing with a variety of books and videos that should appeal to virtually every age and taste, so come discover a hidden treasure at a bargain price!
We get reference questions every day here at the library. Some we can answer off the top of our heads. What is the state postal code for Mississippi? Well, it isn’t MI. Since there are four states whose names begin with MI, that abbreviation will send your letter to Michigan. Mississippi is MS; Missouri is MO; and Minnesota is MN.
Many inquiries are easily answered with a quick search of the internet. What is the highest point in Unicoi County? Big Bald, at the North Carolina state line, has an elevation of 5516 feet. That is more than a mile, or 1.68 kilometers, above sea level. Whether English or metric, that is a very impressive height.
Some questions require more extensive research. Requests for genealogical information frequently fit this category. Since our staff and our time are limited, we can’t always answer these questions for you, but we will try to set you on the path to the right answer.
And then a few questions are simply unanswerable. This is my favorite. A patron recently called to renew her DVDs, but she also had a question for me. Her toddler had been helping her put away the groceries, and had put away one item a little too well. She couldn’t find it. Her question: “If you were two years old and you put away the Shake and Bake, where would you have put it?” Anticipating a midnight snack, my son once stored the ice cream under his bed. I hope the Shake and Bake enjoyed a better fate!
This week’s “Thursday at the Library” movie will be a comedy adapted from a literary classic. Join us at 6:00 PM on Thursday, September 29 for popcorn and laughter.
Our first three meetings in October will feature movies suitable for Halloween. On October 27, we will gather for an evening of candlelight and ghost stories. Our beautiful, historic depot is alleged to be the home of some thirty-six spirits. I, personally, have not seen one, and that is fine with me, but I do enjoy hearing stories about ghosts. If you would like to spin a yarn--or just to shiver--plan to join us at 6:00 PM on the last Thursday before Halloween and get into the “spirit” of the holiday.
Robert B. Parker’s Killing the Blues is the new Jesse Stone novel written by Michael Brandman. Paradise, MA stands on the brink of its lucrative summer tourist season when a rash of auto thefts and then a murder generate bad publicity and political pressure for the police chief.
Miss Cindy would like to invite preschoolers to listen to a story on Friday, September 23. Just come to the Children’s Room at 10:30 AM, and bring your mom, dad, grandparent, or other responsible adult with you. Our preschool story time will last for half an hour.
School age children may take their turn from 3:00 to 4:00 on Friday afternoon. Join your friends at the library to hear a story and make a craft that relates to the story’s theme.
Our adult reading program will not meet this week, but will resume at 6:00 PM on Thursday, September 29. Join us that evening for a movie comedy with a literary provenance.
I met author Sharyn McCrumb when she spoke last fall at the high school. I asked her then what the subject of her next novel would be, so I have been eagerly anticipating The Ballad of Tom Dooley for nearly a year. I still remember, as a little girl, hearing the Kingston Trio sing “Hang down your head, Tom Dooley.” I believe it was one of the first songs I ever learned, not counting “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” Of course, at five years old, I did not fully comprehend the implications for poor Tom. I simply thought it was a catchy tune.
Researching my family history reintroduced me to Tom when I traced one of my 19th century ancestors to a mountaintop farm at Trade, Tennessee. After fleeing Wilkes County, North Carolina, where he was suspected of the murder of Laura Foster, Tom stayed near Trade under an assumed name for about a week. Soon after Tom Dula left Trade, he was captured by Colonel James Grayson and two Wilkes County deputies. On a research visit to the Johnson County courthouse at Mountain City, I discussed the incident with one of Colonel Grayson’s descendants.
Publicity for McCrumb’s The Ballad of Tom Dooley promises to tell the true story behind the ballad and the legend, and hints that Tom may have been innocent of Laura Foster’s death. The story, which in the mid 1860’s was avidly covered by the sensation-hungry national press, is much more complex than the ballad suggests. As someone who appreciates historical research, I am looking forward to hearing the evidence.
The American Library Association designates September as “Library Card Sign-up Month,” so I recently checked our numbers. The Unicoi County Public Library currently has 10,568 registered borrowers. According to the 2010 Census, our county has a population of 18,313. When I calculated the percentage, I noticed it is the same [58 percent] as the percentage of gold in 14 karat gold, which is an alloy of pure gold and other metals. That sounds pretty good, but there is room for improvement.
In August, we issued fifty new library cards. If you have been meaning to visit the library and get your own “passport” to books, videos and audio books, well, come on down and bring the kids. We will be happy to sign you up as we go for the 18 karat gold!
The Board of Trustees of the Unicoi County Public Library will meet in the library lobby at 6:00 PM on Thursday, September 15. The public is welcome to attend.
Because of the board meeting which is scheduled for Thursday, our adult reading program will meet at 6:00 PM on Wednesday, September 14. There will not be a program during the following week. Our regular weekly meetings will resume on Thursday, September 29.
We will offer two story times for children on Friday, September 23. Miss Cindy will entertain preschoolers with a story from 10:30 to 11:00 AM. School age children may come for a story and make a craft from 3:00 to 4:00 PM. Come join the fun!
Clive Cussler’s latest offering, co-written with Justin Scott, is another adventure for Isaac Bell. The detective who investigated crimes associated with railroads in The Chase and The Wrecker, andespionage aboard battleships in The Spy, takes to the air in The Race. In 1910, aviation was still a budding and hazardous technology, and crossing the country by air in less than fifty days was a feat worthy of fame and a $50,000 prize. [According to several internet inflation calculators, that $50,000 would now be worth more than $1.1 million.] The publishing magnate who offers the prize sponsors daring aviatrix Josephine Frost, whose violent and vengeful husband Harry has just killed her lover and tried to kill her, as well. Any man who attempts to defend Josephine will find himself in peril. Bell’s mission is to keep Josephine, publisher Preston Whiteway and himself alive for the duration of the race.
The Unicoi County Public Library has wonderful patrons. Not only do most of you bring back your books on time and in good condition, you bring us donations of books and videos and even gifts of overabundant produce. You drop coins into our little blue piggy and occasionally tell us to keep the change when you pay for a copy or fax. Perhaps best of all, you smile when you find that eagerly anticipated new novel or open a new email account so you can see pictures of your grandchildren. Thank you! You give us all a chance to do a job we love.
The Board of Trustees of the Unicoi County Public Library will meet in the library lobby at 6:00 PM on Thursday, September 15. The public is welcome to attend.
Our adult reading program is ongoing. We meet at 6:00 PM each Thursday for a movie, game or discussion that celebrates our love of reading. The exceptions will be September 15 and 22. Because of the board meeting on September 15, we will meet instead on Wednesday, September 14. There will be no meeting on September 22.
I have noticed a pattern in some recent new releases. Novels by two or more authors with very different styles--but released in the same week--can, surprisingly, share a common thread. It makes me wonder whether there might be some unspoken, unwritten “memo” shared among those writers, like those random days when a group of friends or co-workers all choose to wear pink, or green. This week is one of those weeks and those tantalizing threads are jewels, thieves and danger.
James Patterson has teamed with Marshall Karp, author of the Lomax and Biggs mysteries, for Kill Me If You Can. For struggling art student Matthew Bannon, luck has many facets. Fortune seems to smile on him and leads him to a medical bag filled with diamonds. Well, we know Fortune is fickle. “The Ghost” has already killed once to possess those diamonds, and he is more than willing to kill once again. Are diamonds a guy’s best friend?
Heartwishes is Jude Deveraux’s latest offering in the Edilean series. “The Heartwishes Stone” is a long-lost talisman reputed to grant wishes to members of the Frazier clan. When the intimate dreams of the Frazier family start to come true, it appears that the legendary stone has awakened. But where is it? And why is an international thief pursuing the family jewel?