Friday, October 26, 2012

What's the Scariest Book You've Ever Read?

In honor of Halloween, I thought it would be fun to ask this question, and I hope you'll respond. I'll get the ball rolling by answering it myself.

Sometime in the 1980's, I was in a hotel room alone in Columbus OH. I always read when I go to bed, and on this occasion, I was reading Rosemary's Baby. Do you remember this book? It was one of the first modern horror novels to become a national bestseller. It was extremely well written and was having its intended effect on me.

As I lay there reading, I noticed that the picture on the wall in front of me was swaying, but I thought I was tired and my eyesight was just blurry. Then I noticed that the armoire next to my bed was shaking. Now I was starting to get a little worried. Next, my bed started shaking. Pretty soon, everything in the room was shaking vigorously. Now I'm not only worried but scared to death.

I had been in a couple of minor earthquakes, and I decided that must be what was happening. So I got up and opened the door. If this was an earthquake, there would be people in the hallways, talking and escaping. However, my hallway was totally empty and quiet. Total fear now!

I thought about calling the desk, but I was afraid I was imagining all this and I would sound like a weirdo. In my mind, it was better to die in an earthquake or be possessed by the devil than appear like an idiot. (Vanity can definitely get you in trouble.)

By now, the shaking had stopped. I wanted to go to sleep but I was too petrified. I realized I would not be able to sleep until I had found a satisfactory answer for what had happened. I finally came up with the idea that the room next to mine was a utility room which contained a laundry - and the shaking was caused by a washing machine that was overloaded. After all, hotels have bedspreads and blankets to wash, and they are very heavy. I guess I was really sleepy, because I convinced myself this was true and finally fell asleep.

The next morning I dressed quickly, packed up my stuff, and went downstairs. I wanted to get out of that room as soon as possible! On the way, I noticed a room number on the supposed utility room, but I imagined they didn't want people to know it was a utility room. I went in the restaurant to have breakfast, and I noticed the newspapers people were reading had huge headlines. "Earthquake Hits Columbus!" Such a relief! I was not crazy after all nor had I been possessed by the devil.

Then I heard everyone talking about the earthquake. Apparently, the hotel had been evacuated. Why did I not know about it? Why didn't I see or hear people in the hallway? When checking out, I asked the people behind the desk. They were horrified! Apparently, I was the only person staying on my floor, and they forgot about me! I pretended that I slept through the whole thing - I wasn't about to confess what I had really been doing. (There's that vanity again!)

By the way, I left my copy of Rosemary's Baby in the hotel room and never finished reading the book. I also have never read another horror book - I'm not taking any chances. So it remains the scariest book I've ever read.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Shutters! And Librarians!

What do the two have in common? Not much, except that Librarians from around the State will be in town next week, and they are all gonna come by to see our new Shutters!

First things first... About the Shutters...

It's been a long time coming! At least it seems to me that way. Way back in 2008 we asked the City of Natchez to find the funds necessary to get the Library building painted and the shutters repaired (replaced) and painted. There were no funds available for the Library at that time. Another request was made. Still no funds.

Finally, last spring, we came up with the idea of the Friends of the Library raising the necessary funds and getting the City to get the work done.  Great idea! We asked the City and they agreed to this arrangement. This is not new news! You've heard this story before.

Well, we raised nearly $37,000 and were shocked to find that wasn't enough! The shutters and exterior were in much worse shape than we realized. But, the City agreed to pay the balance! Yea!!!!! Be sure to thank Mayor Butch Brown and the Board of Alderman.

So, the painting is completed (and looks great by itself) - and this week the shutters are being hung! They are Be-U-Ti-Full!!! If you haven't driven by the Library this week, make a special trip! I posted a picture on my Facebook page and got comments and "likes"  from all over the country - from some of the many people that made donations to the project. The shutters are really beautiful, and it is amazing the difference they make to the building. Our new paint scheme and the new shutters makes this nearly fifty-years-old building look practically brand new!

Among the celebrations the City of Natchez is preparing for (along with the three-hundred years anniversary celebration) is a not-yet-mentioned one. The Judge George W Armstrong Library will celebrate its 50th anniversary in June of 2015! We should have a party - and maybe we will!

And, now to the Librarians...

Bet you thought I forgot about them! They'll be back in town next week. There will be librarians from all around the State! school librarians; public librarians; university, community and junior college librarians; even special librarians. Now, you're probably thinking, "that's rude - aren't they all special"? Well, yes, but "special libraries" are those other than school, public, or college-level. The MS Department of Archives Library would be considered a "special library" - the library at a medical school would be a "special library" - a large attorney firm might have a law library that we would refer to as a "special library."

Anyway, the 500 member Mississippi Library Association will hold its Annual Conference in Natchez next week. Remember, they were here in 2004 and again in 2008 - and they're planning to come back  again in 2015. Hey, another party! Librarians love to come to Natchez, and we are all looking forward to their visit. They'll be here Tuesday - Friday. But, don't expect to be "shushed" - they'll be here having a good time.

And, they'll come by the Armstrong Library to see our new "look" - we'll be so proud! And so should you be. Thanks, one more time, to all that made a donation to the project! Come by and see the results of your generosity!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Happy (and Safe) Halloween

When it comes to their child's safety, parents lay the ground rules early: No wandering the neighborhood unsupervised; no trespassing on to other peoples property; and absolutely, positively NO taking candy from strangers. But on one special night, there's always something spooky in the air. Could it be that witches and warlocks are lurking in the bushes, and ghosts are rising from their graves? Or is it that kids across the country will be out after dark, knocking on strangers' doors, and cramming candy by the pillowcase full?

As scary as it may sound, keep in mind that Halloween heebie jeebies have always given parents a cause to pause. And because Halloween may present many opportunities for kids to use poor judgement, it also gives parents to chance to teach important lessons about responsibility and safety. What exactly can you do to keep kids safe without scaring them silly, you ask? The answer to that is simple -- just use the same rules that you talk about the rest of the year!

I know, I know...You're thinking, "You can't have both safety AND Halloween!" But contrary to popular belief, the two aren't at all mutually exclusive. Here are some tips to stay safe on Halloween while having fun doing it!

  • Small children should ALWAYS have an adult with them while trick-or-treating. This is true whether it is daytime or dark. But, the LAST thing kids want to be haunted by is a boring (or down right bored) adult escort. The presence of said adult does not, however, need to get in the way of fun. Just look at it as an opportunity for the adult to recapture some of that old youthful Halloween glee.
  • More mature children can go trick-or-treating without adult supervision (in a group of course) as long as they stick to a familiar, trusted route that is not completely abandoned. For older children, a curfew on Halloween shouldn't be a matter of debate. You should expect your kid(s) to be back by a specific agreed upon time, no if's, and's, or "but mooooommm"s!
  • If your neighborhood has few or no trick-or-treaters, or is just generally unsafe, you can drive a carload of kids to other neighborhoods that are safer. Also, there are Halloween carnivals and haunted houses in just about every community. Local newspapers and radio stations tend to have information about them leading up to Halloween. These events provide safe activites in a safe enviornment where kids can hang out with friends and make new ones, too!
  • Make sure your kids can see AND breath through their masks. If you too will be wearing a costume, whatever costume you wear, make sure you can keep up with the children! (It wouldn't hurt to bring a flashlight along either.)
  • As a general rule, you shouldn't let your children eat their candy before you've had a chance to see that it hasn't been tampered with. There is nothing wrong with telling children who will be unescorted that they cannot eat their candy until they get home (try giving them candy before they leave home -- it may help temptation).
  • Have your child carry glow sticks so that cars can see something (but it is best to caution them to stay out of the street!)
With all this being said, you just want to remind your children (and yourself) that the laws (state, federal, and the ones that you just now made up in your head) don't take a break during Halloween. So, have a safe and spooky Halloween!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Searchasaurus: The Dinosaur with All the Answers

I'm not sure about anybody else out there, but I remember learning my letters and colors and numbers when I started kindergarten. Now I had the gist of how it all worked, but it was Mrs Malhew who taught me the fine art of smooth round little a's and straight pointy capital A's.  Today the kids are learning these things long before they see the traditional classroom.  And kids in elementary school are expected to do much more detailed reports with pictures included.

As I noted in my last blog post,  I was really impressed with the Reference database CREDO. So I just had to look for more great nuggets of knowledge. This time I went to the EBSCO Database and found 45 database titles that covered Academic Journals, Business Journals, Health and Nursing,Teacher Reference Center, Humanities, Hospitality and Tourism and much more. I have used a few of these on a regular basis helping high school and college students find sources for their research papers.

This time I wanted something for the little people and sure enough there it was, Searchasaurus.  Searchasaurus is an exciting and easy way for young students to experience online searching.  It is an animated interface with a dinosaur theme that encourages students to enhance and develop basic searching skills.  Students will be riveted by the colorful animation, complete with erupting volcanoes and a dinosaur guide, as they gather information on a wide range of topics.  Searchasaurus offers reading level limiters making it easy for students to read and research appropriately challenging materials.  Searchasaurus has a Dictionary, Encyclopedia, Pictures, Biographies and Teacher Resources.  Searchasaurus offers a tutorial to help parents and students navigate their way through the site and make research a pleasant endeavour rather than a task.

Did you know earth is not the only planet where lightening can be seen?  Scientists think that lightening can also be found on Venus, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune! Go check out Searchasaurus and other useful databases through MAGNOLIA which is totally free through your Library.

Happy Hunting!!