Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Job Posting: Reference Librarian

One of our two reference librarians will be enjoying her last day of work tomorrow! She is looking forward to retirement, but we are sure going to miss her. She has forgotten more sources than we will ever have in our mental files, and remains calm and patient no matter what the request or obstacle. It will also seem strange to have a staff meeting in which we don't have to dodge her pen as she gestures! There are so many little things she has picked up responsibility for over the years, like cleaning the kitchen towels weekly, that we probably won't realize what half of them are until they suddenly aren't being done.

Somehow, though, we are going to have to find someone to fill her position (who may or may not get responsibility for the towels). Following is the official job posting. If you or anyone you know fits the qualifications and might be interested, you can contact our Personnel Department at 575-439-4399. This is a great place to live and, if we can say it without sounding too biased, a great staff to work with!



Applications are now being accepted for an


Full-Time Regular Position





EXPERIENCE: Master’s degree in library science, plus at least one year of library reference

experience; or Bachelor’s degree, preferably in liberal arts, plus at least two years of

library reference experience; or any equivalent combination of experience and training

which provides the required knowledge, skills, and abilities. Have MLS or Grade II

Library Certification or be able to obtain within 1st year of employment.


DIMENSIONS: Knowledge of: current developments in the library field; principles and practices of

professional library reference services, including use of traditional and computer

reference sources. Skill/Ability to: Demonstrate proficiency in both oral and written

communication; draft and prepare documents for the media; operate standard office

equipment, including fax machine, copier, calculator, microfilm reader and computer

using standard word processing, spreadsheet, and library reference software, and

establish and maintain effective working relationships with co-workers, other city

employees, other local libraries, community organizations, schools, vendors, and the

general public.


CONDITIONS: Library/office environment. Requires standing, walking, stooping and lifting.

JOB SUMMARY: Assists library patrons in locating material and answering reference questions;

examines review sources and selects materials for purchase; maintains nonfiction,

reference, and periodicals collection.

SALARY/WAGE: Hourly rate: $14.4165


PERIOD: Tuesday, June 29th, 2010 until filled

All interested applicants must apply at City Hall.

Located at 1376 E. Ninth Street, Alamogordo, NM 88310.


Monday, June 28, 2010

Nonfiction Monday: The Wonder Book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

A quirky, fun book by one of our favorite quirky, fun writers. Kids who giggle at Mom or Dad changing the words of songs ("Baa baa baby, have you any drool?") will love chuckling over this one with their parents. Silly poems like "The Less Famous Friends of Mary Mack" and groaners like the "Word Play (in Four Acts)" are illustrated in simple, cute line drawings by Paul Schmid. While some lines ("If oranges are oranges, I wonder why apples aren't called reds") are hardly new to adults, they may spark a child's imagination - and you may be surprised at what they then come up with on their own!

This book has plenty to inspire further creativity, and kids will want to hear some parts over and over again. Our only complaint is that it could have been longer and included more! We give it a

4 out of 5.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer Readers

Summer Reading is, of course, nothing without  its summer readers. There are those who decimate the shelves, reading everything in sight and requiring luggage to transport their choices:

And they say kids don't read any more...

The artists:

The regulars:

Sporting shirts from two other summers!

The large groups:

The small groups:

Where else can you make snowflakes in 100 degree weather?

The creative:

And those whose parents may want to consider therapy:

Seriously, girls? Guess we should be glad there weren't any marshmallow turtles around...

All of them are terrific, and we are thoroughly enjoying our summer with them!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Support Your Local Zombies!

Zombies eat brains. Libraries feed brains. If libraries have to close, or reduce hours and services, the zombies' natural food supply will dry up! Don't let this happen near you!


(I wonder if we could get zombies on the endangered species list, which would make it illegal to harm their natural habitat?!)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Retro Tuesday: Blackwater by Eve Bunting

"Thirteen-year-old Brodie Lynch was ready for the perfect summer of adventure along the awesome Blackwater River. That was before everything changed forever. When a harmless prank goes too far, the unthinkable happens. Brodie's lies make him a hero, but inside, his guilt tears at him like the treacherous current of the Blackwater itself, which has become a horrifying reminder of his part in the tragedy. In this gripping new coming-of-age novel, a young boy is faced with a choice between right and wrong and ultimately learns that truth can offer hope in even the darkest moments."
Just a quick blurb on this one. The plot moves quickly - the prank which leads to the death of two classmates happens almost at the beginning, and while Brodie's cousin bends the truth to make Brodie a hero, it is soon evident that someone else saw what really happened. Unfortunately, it was also pretty evident who that person was, so no big shocker at the end.

We liked the realism of the ending, though - no Disney finish for anyone. Lots of fodder for discussion - what would Brodie have done if there wasn't a witness? What might people's reactions have been if the truth had been told from the beginning. It was an accident...but it was still his fault...but he did try to save them...where does he really fall between hero and villain? He did try to correct his cousin's lies at first, how much does that count for? Not the best we've read with this type of storyline, but worth an afternoon read. We give it a

3 out of 5.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Fancy Nancy Father Daughter Tea Party

Fathers often get the shaft, holiday-wise. Mother's Day falls nicely at the end of the school year, when teachers and librarians are looking for nice fun crafts to keep the kiddos busy until school lets out. Father's Day? Beginning of June. No school, and librarians are often too thick in the middle of Summer Reading to add an extra event. We weren't too sure how this would go over ourselves, until we started getting sweetly formal voicemails like, "Janey will be attending the tea Saturday, escorted by her grandfather." Two little girls informed us that they were hoping their new dresses would be ready in time. We decided to buy more cookies...

We ended up with 24 daddies and daughters, just the right number for our room. We had a plethora (that's a fancy word for lots) of pink:
Our planned backdrop never arrived, but at the last minute we remembered the castle tucked away in the storeroom:

This young princess was escorted by her big brother.

We invited our guests to come in their fanciest attire, and they certainly did not disappoint.

The hats! The gloves!

And the Daddies! The one who just got in from Okinawa last night, but who made sure he got his girls to the tea party. The Grandpa who not only brought his granddaughter, but let her plaster stickers on his face. The Daddy who, when another Daddy couldn't make it at the last minute, added an extra princess to his family for the afternoon (a little girl he had never met!) He is our hero for the week!

All our Daddies were very special, and it was so much fun to watch them glueing sequins and stringing jewelry with their princesses. We made tiaras and picture frames together, and took pictures atthe castle to go in the frames. Daddies and Grandpas wrote the stories of when they first met their princesses. More sweetness!

Some more pictures we just have to share:

Them're some good cupcakes!

Tooooooooooooo cute!

In short, we completely overdosed on cuteness today, and are already looking forward to doing this again next year. We would like to thank all our Daddies and Princesses for coming today, and wish them all the very best of Father's Days!

Madwoman of Bethlehem, by Rosine Nimeh-Mailloux

"In mid-20th century Bethlehem, a woman finds that the only way to take control of her life is to feign madness. It is 1957, and Amal is an inmate of the Bethlehem Oasis for Troubled Women, having feigned insanity for nine years in order to avoid being put to death for the murder of her abusive husband. When a violent attack by a fellow inmate confines her to bed, Amal must not only heal physically, but also come to grips with her traumatic memories. These take her back to the harsh childhood, restricted life, and violent marriage that culminated in her 'madness' and incarceration.
Amal's story offers compelling insights into cultural norms that exist throughout the world even today, norms that tolerate the violence, repression, and abuse of girls and women. Perhaps most disturbing is that the author brings us into a world where the guardians and foot soldiers of repression are women themselves, often mothers and grandmothers who've experienced no better, and whose only power comes from what they can wrest from their relationships with other women. Amal ultimately finds hope and redemption through her relationships at the asylum and hospital, finally discovering that the support and kindness of others gives her the strength to forgive the past and take control of her future."

Amal's name means "hope". What we found most intriguing in reading this story - and what we can't quite explain - is that, as horrific as Amal's story is in places, we never lost hope for her. There are some really heart-wrenching bits that should have driven the reader, let alone Amal, to despair. There are certainly enough things conspiring against her to make it hard to believe things could ever improve.

As the story jumps (seamlessly, we might add) back and forth between Amal's present life in an insane asylum, and the events of her life that led her there, we see glimmers of kindness and hope - sometimes even coming from those who had been her oppressors in the past. In the end, however, it is Amal herself who holds the power over her own freedom, literally and figuratively. An emotional rollercoaster, well worth the ride. We give it a

5 out of 5.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Product Review: Nostalgia Electrics Cotton Candy Maker

Yum. Yumyumyumyumyum. Did we say yum?

We wanted a cotton candy machine, but were not looking forward to messes of sugar and constant purchasing of flavoring, etc. This one promised you could use hard candy, but didn't say how much - would we be going through handfuls for each serving? We decided to take a chance, and when it arrived, the staff tested it out.

And tested it.

And tested it.

Yes, this candy works, but what about this one? And this one? And does every single flavor work? We have to be sure, you know:)

Needless to say, it works great! It only takes two pieces of hard candy to spin a respectable serving size, and the kids had fun mixing and matching flavors (cinnagrape, anyone?)  The machine comes with two plastic cones, so rather than buy a million cardboard ones to be thrown away afterward, we just slid each portion onto a plate. It works best when you let it warm up first. It cools down again very quickly, which is good for safety. Oh, and do wait until it has stopped spinning to add the next candy - those turtles who are a little impatient will have it thrown right back at them (within the container, though, so you don't have to worry about Death by Jolly Rancher).

The kids were fascinated with how simple it was to use, and asked all sorts of questions that led to scientific discussions of centrifugal force - and these were the teens! Nostalgia may want to bump up production, as quite a few are planning to ask for one of their own. A good selling point for moms: you can use sugar free candy. Or coffee flavored candy. Use whichever point would work best on your particular Mom!

Picture Book Wednesday: Violet by Tania Duprey Stehlik

Violet is worried about her first day in a new school - will she make friends? Of course she does, and the day is ending just fine until her father comes to pick her up. Her father is blue, and she is - well, violet. A classmate asks her why they are different colors, and she doesn't know how to answer. When she goes home and tearfully asks her mother (who is, of course, red), her mother gets out the paints to show her how colors can mix to make other colors.
That's pretty much it. Not a terribly subtle story, but not too heavy-handed, either. A nice choice for very young children who are just beginning to ask questions about race and skin color. Kids older than 5 or so will want something with a little more substance. Violet's mother tells her people should like her for who she is, but we don't learn who she is - just that she is violet. Since her skin color is the only identity she is given in the book, mom's admonition falls a bit flat.
Regional differences might also affect this book's reception. Where we live (southern New Mexico, with an Apache reservation on one side and an Air Force Base on the other), just about everyone has a rich, mixed ethnic heritage. Children here might wonder what the big deal is. On the other hand, our friend in northern Ohio, who teaches at a mostly-white, affluent school, recently discovered her children think American Indians all wear feathers in their hair.
Of course, this story lends itself to all sorts of activities with color mixing or elementary genetics, as well as serving as a good conversation starter. We give it a
3 out of 5.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Nonfiction Monday: Unshelved collections, by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum

We are cheating a little on our Nonfiction Monday selection by blogging comics, but only a little. Comic books are shelved here, as in many libraries, in the 700's, so that makes them nonfiction. Better yet, if you've ever worked in a library, it won't take you long to recognize every scenario in these strips!

Dewey, the young adult librarian and main character, says the things librarians would like to say but would probably get fired for. For example, remember just Friday we were complaining about the AC going all wonky? Here is today's comic strip (which we receive on our work e-mail because it is TOTALLY work related):

Hmm...would printing this out and taping it to the thermostat be considered just as bad as saying it ourselves?

Some time ago, we ordered the entire seven-book (so far) collection, and we have been stretching it out to read only on our lunch hours (yes, turtles get lunch hours - what, you think we don't have to work, too?) As one reviewer (Michael Jantze, creator of The Norm) warns, "Do not read this book in a library. You will get in trouble for laughing out loud." We are always getting in trouble, so that's nothing new.

You don't have to work in a library to appreciate the humor, though! This is a great set for your personal library, your staff lounge, or your library shelves. You can click on the link above to order through Amazon, or go to their web site, http://www.unshelved.com/ (for some reason, Blogger is not letting me link). They have t-shirts!

For more reviews of great nonfiction books, click over here.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Andy Mason

One good sign that a performer is a lot of fun is when the librarian forgets to take a head count.

Let's see, one...two...three...that's some really nice hair, btw.
This is about a third of the room, so we'll call it 60.
A good number, especially with the AC going all wonky again!

Today we had Andy Mason, one of our absolute favorite singer/songwriters (think Raffi, but better looking). This is the third year he has performed for our Summer Reading Program, and he has quite a group of loyal followers. He is better known to many as "The Pizza Guy", thanks to one of his most popular songs, "Everybody Likes Pizza".

In addition to spinning catchy tunes that WILL be in your head the rest of the day (right now we have "My Hair Had a Party Last Night" - and we don't even have hair!), Mason is great at crowd control, knowing just when to bring the kids to their feet to get the jiggles out;
 and patiently listening to detailed descriptions of this week's boo-boo. He is also quite adept at bringing out the inner pirate;


In short, a great time was had by all, and we highly recommend the Pizza Guy to anyone looking for an entertainer!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Insatiable by Meg Cabot

Publisher description:
"Sick of hearing about vampires? So is Meena Harper.
But her bosses are making her write about them anyway, even though Meena doesn't believe in them.
Not that Meena isn't familiar with the supernatural. See, Meena Harper knows how you're going to die. (Not that you're going to believe her. No one ever does.)
But not even Meena's precognition can prepare her for what happens when she meets—then makes the mistake of falling in love with—Lucien Antonescu, a modern-day prince with a bit of a dark side. It's a dark side a lot of people, like an ancient society of vampire hunters, would prefer to see him dead for.
The problem is, Lucien's already dead. Maybe that's why he's the first guy Meena's ever met whom she could see herself having a future with. See, while Meena's always been able to see everyone else's future, she's never been able look into her own.
And while Lucien seems like everything Meena has ever dreamed of in a boyfriend, he might turn out to be more like a nightmare.
Now might be a good time for Meena to start learning to predict her own future. . . .
If she even has one. "
So, we begin by complaining about all those vampire stories in which the dark and dangerous vampire falls in love with the beautiful woman and nobly refrains from killing her, and then proceed to write a novel about a dark and dangerous vampire who falls in love with a beautiful woman and...gotcha.

There are so many vampire novels out there, it would be impossible to read one and not see echos of others. We saw Twilight, we saw Evernight, we saw Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Don't expect a whole lot of originality here.

Do expect a fast-moving story, a couple good steamy bedroom scenes (definitely adult or older YA), quirky characters, and a heroine with a little more intelligence and personality than Bella (we really don't like Bella). Cabot's humor serves this novel - definitely more romance than horror - well. Our favorite passage, an exchange between vampire hunter and motherly nun, waiting for the vamps to arrive:
"I'll put some garlic on her door, for good measure," the nun said with a hearty nod.
"Excellent idea," Abraham Holtzman said. "The oldies are still the goodies."
"And I've got my Beretta semiautomatic," Sister Gertrude added cheerfully, patting her habit, "right here with the silver bullets. That ought to take out a few of those dirtbags."
Hee hee, we do like old ladies with guns. Hey, shades of Stephanie Plum! (What would happen if Cabot and Evanovich cowrote a book? Note to selves: possible future blog post, authors who should collaborate.)

We thoroughly enjoyed the big battle (you know there HAS to be a big battle, no spoiler here), and parts of the ending that we really can't mention more specifically without ruining it. It is definitely set up for a sequel, which we will be looking forward to. For pure entertainment value, we give it a

4 out of 5.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Teen Cafe: Survivor (insert name of city)

Our first Teen Cafe of the summer looks to have been a rousing success. The theme for the week was pirates and shipwrecks, so we played our own game of "Survivor". The teens divided into two tribes (boys vs. girls was the hands-down choice), then faced a mental challenge, a creativity challenge, and a physical challenge to see which tribe got to stay on the island.

Before we began our challenges, we gave each tribe ten minutes to come up with a name and create a banner. After five minutes, the banners looked like this:

The girls finally settled on the Ninja Turtles, and began - but did not have time to finish - this very sweet banner:

The boys...never did agree on a name. But they had fun drawing:

First up then was the intellectual challenge. Each group had a set of puzzle pieces in a bag, and had to assemble the puzzle with no idea of what it looked like. To make the puzzles we had written quotes about friendship on two posterboards, staggering the words so they weren't in straight lines, and cut them into pieces.

The boys finished first on this one, and received their first immunity idol. Next up was the creativity challenge - face painting to match their tribe's name (or lack thereof). In the interest of time, only one person from each tribe had his or her face painted. This is where we had our one injury of the night: while we were using officially safe face paint, the boys got a little too close to their volunteer's eyes. He wouldn't wash it off until we took his picture, however, so here he is:

the red eyes just made it creepier

And here is the girls' ninja turtle:

A judging panel of three staff members voted (2 to 1) the girls as winners, so they had their first immunity idol, and we were on to the physical challenge.

We had the feeling the tribes would be divided by gender, so our physical challenge was not one of strength of muscles, but rather strength of stomach. We had two places set with the exact same food items - and yes, these were all actual food items, purchased mostly at the local oriental market. Once again we had a volunteer from each tribe, preferably someone who knew they were not allergic to seafood! The winner would be the person who ate the most items. No time limit, drinks were encouraged, and no one was to be forced to eat anything.

looks gross...smells worse...no, I don't think I need to taste this

We need to figure out how to post the video here, it is hilarious. Jesse went for drama and expediency, beginning by shoveling several unidentified items into the seaweed wrap and biting in. He couldn't hear Miss Ami over the noise of the crowd, informing him that he had just mixed salted miniature shrimp with pickled garlic cloves, and that it might not taste...oh, well.

Mary, on the other hand, quietly and calmly surveyed the feast and methodically went from worst to easiest, plopping the baby octopus into her mouth right off the bat, saving the quail egg for the end. She decided the baby clams weren't half bad, but the dried squid was a bit tough and chewy.

Both gamely did their best for their tribe, but what did Jesse in at the end was...the baby food. Yes, he ate the squid, the octopus, the sardines, etc., but one taste of stage 1 turkey baby food and he was through. We can't blame him - have you ever tasted the stuff? No wonder babies spit their food out!

So, the Ninja Turtles were the winners, but Jesse got extra candy anyway. Next week's theme, Winter Wonderland, should be less dramatic but just as much fun - think marshmallows, and lots of them! We will also be trying out our new cotton candy machine (which, truth be told, the staff has already tested...extensively). See you there!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Product Review: Hot Dog Roller from Nostalgia Electrics

Librarians don't just purchase books, we purchase stuff. Sequins, floor cleaner, puppet stages, chocolate-covered bugs, sun lamps, you name it. These purchases tend to happen on very tight budgets, so we are very interested in knowing what works and what doesn't.
We have a regular program for middle and high school students called "Teen Cafe". Something different happens each night, from murder mysteries to karaoke, but one rule always holds true: if you feed them, they will come! This summer, thanks to a gift card donation, we were able to invest in a few items we hope will get a lot of use. Tonight we tried out the first of these, the hot dog roller:
One of our staff members has one, and had brought it in to the lounge a few times, so we already had some idea of what to expect. Like, that it would roll (the name was a big hint there, too.) Unfortunately, ours didn't - the pin that goes in the hole that makes it spin kept working its way out after a few rotations, so we had to improvise to keep it pushed in:
Probably not the method recommended by the product safety division.*

It did, however, cook the hot dogs nicely and evenly, once we got it spinning, and the exposed areas did not get too hot. We know the one our staff member has works fine, so it may be a hit or miss. We will return this one and see if we have better luck with the replacement. Having hot dogs in addition to the usual chips and cookies was a nice change, especially since many teens (and our YS Librarian) treat this as their evening meal. All in all we give it a

4 out of 5.

Tune in tomorrow to hear how our first Teen Cafe of the summer - "Survivor (name of our city)" went.

* and no, we did not leave it like this, we have no great urge to set the building on fire this week.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Nonfiction Monday: Cool Crafts recycling series from Capstone

This great series also gives fun crafts for old wrappers, cans, and bottles; old jeans; and old t-shirts. There are dozens of craft books out there advertising ways to recycle your trash. What we liked about this series is that we saw some new crafts, not just the same old make-a-purse-from-your-jeans (although that one is included as well). We might have to try the CD window wrap to brighten up the back wall of our tank. Maybe a t-shirt rug for sunning under the heat lamp?

Directions are easy to follow, probably best for older elementary to teens due to use of things like hot glue guns and sewing needles - which makes sense, because the crafts would appeal to that age range most. And of course, the books themselves are printed using post-consumer waste, so they are green inside and out. We recommend for any public or school library, or for that crafty teen in your life!

For more reviews of great nonfiction books, click here

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Magic Thief series by Sarah Prineas

From the publisher: "The heart pounding series about an incredible place where even a thief may become a wizard, and cities run on living magic."

Harper Collins is being sneaky. They don't send us the FIRST book in a series, they wait and send us the second or third (or in this case, both), so the first has to move from our "TBR" list to our "TBR right now so we can read the sequels" list, and we spend the entire week immersed in said series.
Not that we are complaining, especially when the series is such a great one! Much credit goes to the very likeable characters, from our hero Connwaer, to his gruff but very human mentor Nevery, to Rowan, to Benet to Kerrn to...well, everybody! Except maybe Nimble. We have no use for Nimble. The plots move quickly, with a great mix of action and character development. There's even a web site here where you can play games or check out an interactive map of Wellmet. Something to play with while you are waiting for the next book in the series. There will be a next book, right? Right???

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Summer Reading Time!

We haven't been posting much since school ended here. Tuesday morning it looked like every parent in town woke up and said, "Ohmygosh, the kids are home, what do I do with them?" We have been registering around 100 kids a day, not counting the 80 or so from the Boys' and Girls' Club yesterday!

If you are local, stop by the library any time to get signed up - the program is for birth-age 18, and it's completely FREE. New this year is an adult summer reading program, hosted by the Friends of the Library. Check out their many activities at http://www.folbookworm.com/. Stay tuned to the blog for pictures and updates - programs begin next week (free lunches began today), and we have a whole lot going on!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Picture Book Wednesday: Cat the Cat series by Mo Willems

We looooooooooooove Mo Willems (who doesn't?!) Some author/illustrators become successful with one series, then try to repeat that with a new series and fall flat. Not Willems, he just keeps getting better! The pigeon...Knuffle Bunny...Elephant and Piggie...all sure-fire crowd pleasers (although you MUST do voices when reading the Elephant and Piggie books aloud, or it just doesn't work.)
Now, for the very very beginning readers, we have Cat the Cat. And his friend Hound the Hound. And Chick the Chick. And...Blarggie Blarggie. With, at the very most, six words to a page, the books move very quickly, but you have to take time to stop and look at the pictures. Cat the Cat is such an exuberant little feline, always cheerful - unless one of her friends is distressed, in which case she quickly turns empathy into action. Just way to cute, perfect for story times for the littler ones, for begining readers, or as gifts for preschoolers. We can't wait to see this series continue - and to discover what Willems comes up with next!