Monday, July 28, 2008

Happy Birthday to Beatrix Potter!

Helen Beatrix Potter was born on July 28, 1866.

Ms. Potter is most famous for her children's literature, especially The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Peter disobeys his mother by entering Mr. McGregor's garden and nearly getting caught. His harrowing escape has been read by millions of kids over many generations.

I remember reading about his adventures as a child, and not long ago enjoyed hearing them again when Mrs. Norris read them to our storyhour kids.

You can find these and more of Ms. Potter's books in the library (or even most bookstores). Read them to the small child in your life. If that child happens to be yourself, don't worry... we won't tell!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bus Trip to Titanic Exhibit at Carnegie Science Center

The library is hosting a bus trip on Tuesday, August 26 to see the Titanic Exhibit at the Carnegie Science Center.

The cost of the trip is $52.00 per person and includes lunch.

Reservations are required and must be paid to the library by Monday, August 11. Make checks payable to: Ligonier Valley Library.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Shhhh! Libraries can be fun

Libraries are such serious places. You’ll never find anyone laughing in one. The other day, two ladies stopped at my desk to ask for help locating some essential reading material.

“Do you have any books on potty training?” one of them asked.
“Of course,” I said, swiveling in my chair to access our library catalog. “Would you like books for you or the child?”
A pause. Then, a quizzical look.
“Well…I already know how to…” her voice trailed off.
“No, would you like a book for the child to read or for you on how to train your child?”
Of course, I only made it through half of the explanation before we all started giggling. We giggled the whole walk back to get the books, in fact.
Yes, a little gem like this is part of what makes working in a library fun. We enjoy not only when these little incidents happen, but telling the stories about them for years to come.
We like it when people make inadvertent slips of the tongue and ask for “The Scarlet Pumpernickel” instead of “The Scarlet Pimpernel.”
I once referred to an award as the Bram Stroker award instead of the Bram Stoker award. The coworker who caught me saying it brings it up all the time.
I always get a laugh when I tell people that our DVDs and videos are located in two sections of the libraries.
“Adult movies are…” I begin.
“What?! You have adult movies!”
Explaining the term “Graphic Novel” is a ball of fun, as well.
Just last week, I recommended the latest book by J.R.R. Tolkien to someone.
“Isn’t he dead?” she asked.
“Children of Hurin” came out in April of last year. Tolkien died in 1973.
“Oh, it happens all the time.” I replied.
Probably the best laugh we can have at the library is generated by a simple question.
“Do you have any good books?”
“No,” we usually reply, “only bad ones.”

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Buggy Books for Young Readers

Since the theme for the 2008 Summer Reading Club program is Catch the Reading Bug @ your library, it only seemed appropriate to do a post on... you guessed it.... Bug Books! Here are a few selections from the shelves of the Ligonier Valley Library:

Bug Out!: The World's Creepiest, Crawliest Critters by Ginjer L. Clarke, illustrated by Pete Mueller - Introduces various bugs that hurt, help, hunt, and hide, including killer bees, ladybugs, army ants, and cicadas.

Ugly Bugs by Kerri O'Donnell - This book describes cockroaches, stag beetles, peanut-head bugs, praying mantises, walkingsticks, dung beetles, stink bugs, and mosquitoes.

The Very Ugly Bug by Liz Pichon - A bug is so ugly she scares away the bird that was about to devour her.

Bug Hunter by David Burnie - Presents general information about different insects and includes more than thirty activities to help study insects, such as building nets to capture butterflies and building moth traps.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Make a Book Happy...Take It On Vacation

In a library, books go through a sort of aging process. Like newborns that eventually grow up and don't receive as much attention as their newer siblings, books can be overlooked. In fact, they can even be forgotten.

Imagine the life of a book. It comes into the library all shiny and new. Its pages are unmarked and its cover not splattered with labels. It lands on the New Fiction bookshelf for the first six months and enjoys wide popularity. People pick it up and look at it. They leaf through its pages. The lucky ones get taken home by various folks. The very lucky ones get taken on vacation.

But over the years, the book's popularity wanes. People don't take it out as much. Its sits on the shelf and occasionally gets picked up by a browser or somebody who loves its author.

I see once popular titles like "The Bridges of Madison County" by James Waller that have now developed a layer of dust. Like a puppy in a pet store, it strives to get noticed and taken home and, when it isn't, seems to despair that it will never go home with anyone.

You can help these lonely, once-popular-but-now-forgotten books. Pick up a bestseller from years ago. Browse the hard to see bottom and top shelves in the library. The books on these shelves are always forgotten because people don't look up or are too lazy to kneel on the floor.

Make an old book happy again. Read one! Take one to Bermuda! Just don't leave it on the plane.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

True Crime Fans Aren't Serial Killers

Do you like to read true crime books? Are you embarrassed to tell anyone about it because they will think you are a serial killer? You are not alone!

True crime has been considered a genre since Truman Capote released "In Cold Blood" in 1966. He credits himself with the creation of the "nonfiction novel." Today, True Crime has its own section in bookstores and a whole aisle at the Ligonier Valley Library.

Upstairs on the mezzanine under the call number 364.15, you can always find people sitting on a stool perusing a true crime thriller. Sometimes when I walk by, a person might pretend to be looking at books across the aisle so I won't think they are looking at True Crime books. Typically, though, they will be so engrossed in what they're reading that they won't even look up.

Many people read true crime books. Yet the general public believes that other people will think they are sick if they find out their little secret. In other words, it's not a good thing to bring up on a first date...

True Crime has come a long way since "In Cold Blood." Yes, there are those mass market paperbacks about the latest crime in the news. Yet there are also literary greats like "In Cold Blood" that are being published even today.

"Thunderstruck" and "Devil in the White City" are two literary True Crime books that come to mind. Written in 2006 and 2003, respectively, these books took the reading world by storm when they were published.

Other "literary" True Crime books include "A Death in Belmont" by Sebastian Junger, "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" by John Berendt, and "The Executioner's Song" by Norman Mailer. Mailer's book, however, is classified under fiction because of fictionalized conversations. The story, however, is true.

Some classic True Crime titles include: "Helter Skelter" by Vincent Bugliosi, "Shot in the Heart" by Mikal Gilmore, and "Blind Faith" and "Fatal Vision" --both by Joe McGinnis.

Of course, the most famous True Crime writer has to be Ann Rule. She is famous for "Small Sacrifices" and "The Stranger Beside Me." The latter is about Ted Bundy. She worked with him in a self-help clinic before he went on to become famous--or infamous.

So, the next time you're embarrassed to admit that you read True Crime books, don't be. We at the Ligonier Valley Library understand because we see people reading them everyday!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Michael List of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh will present "Bug Mania," an interactive and entertaining series of sketches that will introduce all of the diversity, life cycles, and ecological importance of insects -- the largest and most diverse animal group on Earth.

The Mania starts at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 10.

"Bug Mania" is one of our many fun Summer Reading Club activities scheduled for this year.

This program is free and open to all.

Monday, July 7, 2008

More mysteries .... for younger readers

Many readers were introduced to the world of mysteries by Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys (such as our commenter to the post from June 17th, "What's in a Mystery?"). Young readers eagerly tagged along on their crime-solving adventures. While those characters are still around, here are some other detectives being read by a whole new generation of mystery lovers.

The Nate the Great series by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat. The first book in this series bares the name of it's leading character, Nate the Great. Readers follow along as the Pancake-loving crime fighter solves the mystery of the missing picture.

Bones and the Birthday mystery by David A. Adler, 5th in the series. In his latest case, young Jeffrey Bones tries to discover the whereabouts of his grandfather's missing birthday present.

A new mystery series features Enola Holmes. (Can you guess who her big brother is?) The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets : an Enola Holmes mystery by Nancy Springer introduces Fourteen-year-old Enola Holmes, who disguises as a beautiful woman, to find clues in floral bouquets as she searches for the missing Doctor Watson, a companion of her famous older brother... Sherlock.

If the above characters are a little young for our Teenager readers, then how about these aspiring detectives:

The Angel of Death : a forensic mystery by Alane Ferguson
Seventeen-year-old high school senior Cameryn Mahoney uses skills learned as assistant to her coroner father to try to unravel the mystery of a local teacher's gruesome death, while also awaiting a possible reunion with her long-missing mother.

Rat Life : a mystery by Tedd Arnold
After developing an unusual friendship with a young Vietnam War veteran in 1972, fourteen-year-old Todd discovers his writing talent and solves a murder mystery.

No Time Like Show Time : a Hermux Tantamoq adventure by Michael Hoeye
Watchmaker-mouse Hermux Tantamoq enters the exciting and somewhat shady world of show business to investigate a mysterious blackmailer at the Varmint Theater.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

From the Staff of the Ligonier Valley Library


The library will be closed on Friday, July 4th,
but will reopen on Saturday, July 5th at 10:00 am.


Yesterday, I was summoned to the Westmoreland County Courthouse in Greensburg to perform my civic duty of being a potential Juror. I arrived at 8:30 a.m. found a seat, then waited. They call this the "hurry-up, slow-down" process. You race to get there on time, then wait for as long as it takes. The process is actually kind of interesting, they make you aware of everything from what will be expected of you to how your day will play out should you be picked or not. But then, you wait... and wait... and wait.

Naturally, I was happy to see that a number of people had brought books to read. For my own part, I was excited to have the chance to up my Summer Reading Club minutes! I took two books with me in case I needed a little variety in my wait, Open Season by C.J. Box and Small Favors by Jim Butcher. Maybe I should have been reading Runaway Jury by Grisham.

While it might have been interesting to actually serve on a Jury (especially being an avid mystery reader), I have to confess feeling slightly relieved when they dismissed us (they settled). The whole idea of making a decision that will effect other people's lives is frankly a little intimidating; regardless of whether the case is civil or criminal.

I'd like to thank the ladies who work in the Jury Commissioner's Office. They should be commended for trying to make us as comfortable as possible, and doing so with smiles and good humor.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Book Ideas @ the library

Ever walk into the library not knowing what to read next? Why not get some suggestions from the library's booklists?

Booklists are an easy way to find out which books are highly recommended on certain subjects. For example, if you like books about the Civil War, pick up the booklist about Civil War Fiction. If you like to read about the people stuck on a deserted island, pick up the booklist called "Tales of Survival." Several topics are represented in our booklist section, located in front of the library's Circulation Desk.

Other booklist topics include: Fiction in the Form of Letters and Diaries, Period Mysteries, Novels with Twist Endings, Pulitzer Prize Winning Fiction, Gen X Books, Robot Tales, True Crime Books, Forgotten Best Sellers, Nice Novels, and Nonfiction that Reads Like Fiction--to name a few.

Another form of booklist that is popular is one that contains readalikes. Readalikes are books just like another book you might have read. You can pick up booklists containing readalikes for "The Da Vinci Code" and "Marley & Me," for example.

So the next time you're in the library and looking for something to read, why not pick up a booklist and see if any of the titles jump off the page at you.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Two weeks is a long time to watch extras

If you're a movie nut like me, you might like watching all the bonus features that accompany a movie on DVD. This usually includes behind the scene footage, a blooper reel, and a commentary track if you're lucky. These extras make the movie experience even better because you get to learn more about what went into making the film itself.

Unlike a video store, which allows you to rent a movie for only one or two nights, the library lets you to borrow a DVD for two whole weeks. That's plenty of time to watch all those bonus features. And, if you've ever seen the Ligonier Valley Library's copy of "Jaws," you know the extras include a two-hour "making of" documentary.

The other day I watched the entire commentary about the movie "Swing Time." Released in 1936, it is the quintessential Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie. I thought the commentary was amazing. The commentor went through the whole film and gave detailed accounts about the movie, the dances, and facts about the stars themselves. It was like reading a whole book about Astaire and Rogers, yet it took only 90 minutes to listen to it.

The two most interesting things about the movie are: 1) This movie includes the dance that took 47 takes to film and made Ginger's feet bleed. 2.) This movie is only available from the Greensburg-Hempfield Library, but you can order it through the Ligonier Valley Library and receive it as soon as the next day thanks to our new Polaris system.

Yes, that's right, if our library doesn't have the movie or TV show you'd like to see on DVD, one of the other 19 libraries in the system might--and you can order them yourself online through our county catalog! (But, be careful, if you order too many at once, they might all come in at once!)

So, movie fans, check out some movies at the Ligonier Valley Library, or pick them up here by ordering through our county system, and take your time enjoying all the extras after you watch the movie itself.