A World with Octobers

autumn-close-up-color-267313“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers,” says Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables. It’s not a hard sentiment to echo, especially in Northwest Arkansas. I’ve already bought two big, orange pumpkins, lighted my Walnut Coffee Cake candle, and placed a cheery scarecrow on my doorstep with a sign that says “Welcome.” But nothing signals the arrival of Fall like falling leaves.

Almost every Autumn, I think of a particular visit to a dear friend in Portland. Surrounded by brightly colored trees, she excitedly told me why trees lose their leaves every year: “The trees are bringing all their energy into their core so they’ll be able to grow again in the Spring. Isn’t that amazing?”

It’s true. Leaves are busy all Spring and Summer making sunshine into food with autumn-colorful-colourful-33109chlorophyll. The trees know they won’t be able to keep that up during the cold winter months, so they begin to produce less chlorophyll. Less chlorophyll means less green in the leaves, which means other pigments  get a chance to shine. Hello, Fall color! Gradually, the tree literally pushes off each leaf with abscission cells (definitely didn’t know what an abscission cell was before I wrote this).

Trees know when to say goodbye to one thing, in order to save energy for something else.

Like trees, we each have a limited supply of energy. Knowing how to spend our precious energy in each season can be tough. At the Library, we can’t tell you how to spend your energy, but we hope to offer programs and resources that might just offer some refreshment. For starters…

Dusty the Therapy Dog loves to relax with a book and a good pal.


  • Read a book. You saw this one coming, didn’t you? But for real, settle in by one of our big windows and try it!
  • Pet a dog. Dusty the Therapy Dog will be at the library eager for friends to read with on Tuesday, October 23rd at 4:30 in the afternoon.
  • Enjoy our NEW computers. Freshly installed, take care of some online tasks or get inspired by a good blog (why not start your own for that matter?). Thanks for your patience while we get them all set up. 
  • Get a tech helper. Come in any Wednesday from 3:00-4:00 and we’ll help you figure out your latest technological conundrum.
  • See a movie. Did you know we offer family friendly,  free movies (with popcorn!) every Monday at 4:30? Pull up a chair and join us!




Enjoy living in a world with Octobers.

Till next time,



Happy National Hispanic Heritage Month!

NWA Hispanic Heritage festival
The NWA Hispanic Heritage Festival celebrates Hispanic/Latino culture.

Happy National Hispanic Heritage Month! From September 15th to October 15th our nation is honoring and celebrating the positive impact of Americans whose lineage reaches back to Central and South America, the Caribbean, Spain and Mexico. Across the U.S., people will celebrate contributions from Hispanic/Latino Americans in art, gastronomy, government, sports, education and much more. The Library of Congress is even hosting a lecture on Brazilian chocolate!

But you don’t have to travel to D.C. to learn about and celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. For instance, thousands of people celebrate at the Northwest Arkansas Hispanic Heritage Festival at the Fayetteville square each year. And here’s a fun fact about the Latino/Hispanic American population in NWA, according to the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce website:

“This is our region’s fastest growing and second largest demographic, more than doubling in both Benton and Washington Counties over the last decade to more than 30,000 residents each respectively.”

So, why not take this opportunity to learn more about and celebrate your own culture, or your neighbor’s culture? You can imagine, even within Hispanic/Latino culture there is great diversity. Be careful not to overgeneralize. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Keep the posture of a learner, no matter what your cultural heritage.

Reading a book can give important insights into different cultures. In honor of National

american street
Winner of this year’s Américas Award

Hispanic Heritage Month, I decided to read American Street by Ibi Zoboi, winner of this year’s Américas Award and also a National Book Award Finalist. The Américas Award is “…given in recognition of U.S. works of fiction, poetry, folklore, or selected non-fiction that authentically portray Latin America, the Caribbean, or Latinos in the United States,” according to the National Hispanic Heritage Month Website.

American Street tells the story of Fabiola, a high-school aged Hattian immigrant who is separated from her mother upon arrival in the U.S. As I got wrapped up in Fabiola’s new life, I was struck by the complexity of cultural values, family ties, romance, money and survival, that all weave themselves into this heart-tugging page-turner.

Zoboi makes tangible the abstract and often internal complexities of Fabiola’s life using symbols. For example, her new home in the U.S. is on the corner of “American” and “Joy.” Fabiola reflects on both streets:

“Joy and American. A crossroads. Intersecting. One is not the other. I look down Joy Road with its few street lights dotting the wide path. There are not that many houses and lots of open land. It can either mean endless possibilities or dark, empty hope.

I look down American Street with its houses in neat rows and the open slots like missing teeth. I know so many people back in Haiti, so many families who would kiss the ground and thank Jesus for a street like this, especially one named American” (111).

architecture-building-colorful-1292491Sometimes for Fabiola, there is a conflict between her personal joy and her quest to fit into a new American culture. Neither dream can come true for her without pain and struggle. Zoboi delicately brings out the history of pain and struggle for immigrants when she takes just a handful of pages to describe the history of Fabiola’s American house. The story begins in 1924 with Polish immigrants and moves through the development of Detroit all the way until Fabiola’s uncle purchases the house: “…a black man in a suit and with a funny accent decided to call it his little dream house. He wanted what the very first residents wanted: to be American and to have some Joy” (219).

All this is mixed in with her cousins’ dark secrets, her first love and her own high-stakes decisions about what she values most.You’ll find the book in our Young Adult section (be advised, there is mature content throughout the book). Ask a librarian for more great reads related to Hispanic/Latino American culture.

It’s a good time to live in Northwest Arkansas. National Hispanic Heritage Month reminds us of just a few reasons why!

Celebrating with you,


PS thanks a lot to these websites that provided much of the info for this blog:




Meet Leah

Leah makes new friends while learning about Summer Reading Programs at a Children’s Workshop in Little Rock.

The snake stared at her with beady, black eyes. Leah knew the snake was harmless─though huge─and its presence in the barn was more amusing than frightening. Still, when it started eating the chickens’ eggs, everyone decided the snake had to go.                                              “Please don’t kill it!” Leah told her dad, and it became her mission to save the crotchety old snake from beheading-by-shovel.                                                                   This is a somewhat comical episode from Library staff member Leah’s life, but it aptly reflects her character and attitude toward people. Leah finds worth and delight in what others may pass over or ignore. What might be pesky or inconvenient to some is humorous and lovable to Leah. She readily makes space for people just as they are. She will inconvenience herself to smooth the way for others. You can imagine she’s a terrific friend, coworker, teacher and Library staff person.

Leah moved to Siloam Springs as a 5-year-old from Indiana. She discovered a love for library work at the Rogers Library  while earning her master’s degree in Education at JBU. Happily, she accepted a position at the Siloam Springs Library just as it moved into the new building. A big part of Leah’s job is planning and implementing programs for our 7th-12th grade patrons. Her enthusiasm for the young adults in our library spills out into her colorful and engaging bulletin boards, imaginative programs and constructive after-school clubs.

When I asked her what she finds motivating about her job she said,

Leah takes the adventurous road in Iceland.

“when my teens and tweens ask me what we are going to do next and how excited they are for my programs. I have had kids get so excited to reach 7th grade so they can start attending the programs and just to know they want to be there makes me happy.”

Leah also talked about the relationships and memories she has with fellow library staff. She says, “I really love that all of us who work here are close and we have the ability to joke around with each other too.” Leah takes the time to make sure people feel included on the clock and off. It doesn’t take long to see Leah’s genuine care for fellow library staff and patrons─especially our young adults. Whether bringing back a souvenir from her most recent adventure, or geeking out over ideas for her next program, Leah puts her heart into her relationships and her work.

I asked Leah where she’d like to see the library in ten years. She explained that she’d like to see even more students reached by even more Y.A. programs. She also wants to see the Library increase in technology.

“Plus,” she adds, “I am kind of interested in seeing all the little kiddos we have running around get old enough to start coming to my programs.” 

Speaking of adventurous…Leah jumps off Victoria Falls Bridge between Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Leah gifts the library with a unique combination of intelligence (did I mention she’s working on her second master’s degree?), adventurousness (see photos), diligence (you won’t see her twiddling her thumbs at work…ever), compassion (just talk with her once─you’ll feel it), and witty puns (I don’t know how to make that into a character trait…but she shares great puns).  

And here are even more fun facts about Leah:

Favorite Meal: Anything with French fries and dipping sauces (typically ranch). I’m a big fan of chicken too, but I blame that on the fact that I have lived in Arkansas for so long.

Ideal Saturday: Sleep in till noon! I love a day to lay in bed with no alarm to wake me up. Add in a plateful of good food and a new superhero movie to watch and I am a happy librarian!

Favorite Quote: “You want weapons? We’re in a library! Books! The best weapons in the world!”

— The Doctor, Doctor Who Season 2, Episode 2

Leah’s adorable cat.


Favorite Color: I love dark purple and deep greens.

Current Reads: I just finished Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell and Monstress by Marjorie Liu. Frozen Charlotte was extremely creepy and really made me remember why I don’t like dolls.

Hope you’ve enjoyed an introduction to another one of our fabulous Library staff.

Working with awesome people,


Fiction is Good for Your Social Life

adventure-backlit-community-207896Let’s be honest, it’s not often that we associate social popularity with libraries (unless we’re talking about a popular author). Libraries are…well, a bit nerdy. If you want to be cool you need to be at a party! Mixing with the other cool people! Dancing to super loud music! Being SOCIAL!!

But there’s good news for all of us who enjoy spending Friday night holed up with a good novel. According to her 2012 article “Your Brain on Fiction,” Annie Murphy Paul says that reading fiction can benefit your brain’s ability to engage in relationships. Here’s how:

Research shows that your brain is actually reacting to the scenario in your novel almost as if that scenario were actually happening to you. Brain scans show activity in the olfactory cortex when a person reads words having to do with smell, according to a study published in NeuroImage conducted in Spain. Another study showed activity in the movement center of the brain (the motor cortex) when a person read descriptions of movement. This is true not only in a sensory context but also relationally. Psychologist Raymond Mar found that some parts of the brain used to make sense of a story are the same parts we use to understand and respond to people in relationships.adult-blur-depth-of-field-1181717

A good fiction book is almost like an experience “test run” for your brain. Now, that’s not to say they are a replacement for real life (so, yes, you do need to leave your house and meet new friends sometimes), but evidence suggests that you are actually strengthening your ability to interact with people by reading fiction.

Cool, huh?

Speaking of fiction, Ray Bradbury’s novel  Fahrenheit 451, illustrates a need for books, critical thinking and even quiet time alone to facilitate deeper relationships. In this futuristic novel, all books are systematically burned and people are flooded with constant entertainment to keep them from hearing their own thoughts (sound like a society you know??). Guy Montag, a “fireman” whose job it is to start the fires that burn books, talks with his neighbor, Clarisse, a young girl who begins to show him a new perspective on life.

He asks her,

“Why aren’t you in school? I see you every day wandering around.”

book-depth-of-field-hands-115001“Oh, they don’t miss me,” she said. “I’m antisocial, they say. I don’t mix. It’s so strange. I’m very social indeed. It all depends on what you mean by social, doesn’t it? Social to me means talking to you about things like this.” She rattled some chestnuts that had fallen off the tree in the front yard. “Or talking about how strange the world is. Being with people is nice. But I don’t think it’s social to get a bunch of people together and then not let them talk, do you?

There’s something about fiction that allows us to wonder about “‘how strange the world is,” as Clarisse says. It opens new horizons and allows us to try on a whole new world, just so we can wonder about it and see what valuable thing it might have to offer our own world. Armed with these thoughts and insights, we have more to talk about and wonder about with other people; we have new ways to engage with others.

So, even as Summer comes to a close and the busy routine of fall settles in, consider making time for a little fiction…and a little social time. The two can go hand in hand. Who knew?

Enjoying the story,


PS Library book clubs will help you read more fiction and make new friends! Sign up for a club at the library front desk.

  • Adult clubs will meet
    • Monday, September 10th at 7:00pm to discuss A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler
    • Tuesday, September 18th at 11:00 am to discuss The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty.
  • Young Adults (7th-12th grade) will meet

Thursday, September 13th at 4:30pm to discuss The Cruel Prince by Holly Black (or any Holly Black book) and to enjoy a Fairy Marimo activity.

Author of the Month

Have you heard about our Author of the Month Display? Each month, our very own Bonnie conducts careful research and compiles a collection of facts and highlights to honor a different author each month. This month, I’m handing the post to Bonnie to share with you this monthly gem. Enjoy!

Hello, my name is Bonnie.  You might have seen me at the front desk checking out your items or fiddling with the Author of the Month display, which is what I’m here to talk to you about today.  This month we are honoring Larry McMurtry, known most notably for his 843 page response to the overly romanticized Old West genre titled: Lonesome Dove.

Larry Mcmurtry's first pony
Larry McMurtry on his first pony.

Born in Wichita Falls in 1936, and raised in Archer City, TX, Larry McMurtry spent his earliest years on his grandfather’s ranch where he learned to ride at age three and herd cattle by age four.  There were no books in the house until McMurtry’s older cousin enlisted in WWII and left him 19 boys’ adventure stories.  He soon became a voracious reader: using books as a means to escape the mundane.

McMurtry’s first published novel.

McMurtry earned his B.A. from University of North Texas in 1958 and his M.A. from Rice University in 1960. His first book, Horseman, Pass By, was published in 1961 after he completed the Stanford University writing program.  McMurtry was not expecting the book to be successful but was surprised when the novel was adapted into the film titled Hud (1963), propelling his career as a writer and screenwriter.

“Writing is a form of herding.  I herd words into little paragraph-like structures.”  ― Larry McMurtry

One of McMurtry’s insightful memoirs.

McMurtry’s works mostly take place in Texas, accurately portraying both the beauty and harsh loneliness of the landscape and its effects on human nature.  He often explores the theme of new orders supplanting the old in his fictional works.  Additionally, McMurtry has written several personal memoirs and books on the American Old West.

McMurtry has won:

  •  Writer’s Guild of America award and Golden Globe for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2006.thumbnail(1)
  • Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1986 and Spur Award for best Western Novel in 1985.screen(3)
  • Spur Award for Best Novel of the West in 1998.


“Great readers (are) those who know early that there is never going to be time to read all there is to read, but do their darnedest anyway. ” — Larry McMurtry, Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen: Reflections on Sixty and Beyond

Larry McMurtry at his bookstore, Booked Up Inc.

Amidst meeting deadlines for countless writing projects, McMurtry still has found time to pursue his hobby of book collecting, keeping a collection of around 28,000 books in his private library in his hometown of Archer City, TX.

McMurtry also owns a second-hand bookstore business called Booked Up Inc. located in Archer City  as well.

Thankfully you don’t have to drive all the way to Texas to read one of Mr. McMurtry’s books.  Just swing on by the library and pick one up.  (They’re on display by the front, main entrance.)  But if you do feel like taking the trip, don’t forget:

“Only a rank degenerate would drive 1,500 miles across Texas without eating a chicken fried steak.” — Larry McMurtry, In a Narrow Grave: Essays on Texas

Happy reading,


P.S. Check out Bonnie’s new display every month on the shelf directly to your right as you enter the library!

Summer Reading Program 2018

Hi, this is Ivy, your friendly librarian staff member who hides in the backroom during the day and emerges in the evening to serve the nice patrons who just got off from work! This was a year of firsts and experimentations during our summer reading program: D_Slogan_colored

On a personal level, this was the first year that I didn’t sit and hand out as many prizes as I have in the past. So even though I wasn’t as actively participating in the summer reading program, that doesn’t mean I didn’t see the great and wonderful things that were happening! I guess you can think of me as the fly on the wall observing all aspects of the summer’s activities.  

Learning about musical instruments with the Scott Family Amazeum

I know from experience that the reward in seeing the children and parents participating first hand in the summer reading program is one of the things that makes the summer great for us as staff members. You can ask any of us, and we can tell you without a doubt that YOU – our patrons – made this Library ROCK!


It’s an exciting time of year because we get to see so many of our wonderful families who might not be able to participate in library programs as much during the school year.

Musical fun with Dino O’Dell

We had Monday Movies, Family Events on Tuesday evenings,Wednesday Preschool Storytime with Ms. Julia, two Thursday Preschool Storytimes with Ms. Melody, two Thursday Elementary programs with our program coordinator, Ms. Delilah, and our Young Adult Program with Ms. Leah.

On top of our regular weekly programs, we had adult programs led by other great staff members: Ms. Valerie, Ms. Dolores, and Ms. Stephanie, and many passive programs that the patrons could casually participate in. That’s a lot of involved staff members and volunteers!


Our volunteers were a great help with summer reading registrations!

Speaking of which I think we need to acknowledge our awesome volunteers and give them a round of applause! We have the best volunteers, and our programs wouldn’t have been as much of a success without them. They have done everything from helping shelve books, to prepping for programs, to actually performing programs. They have also been there to take reading logs and to give you prizes during our Tuesday Family Events. They are a kind, caring, and smiling bunch of people that have helped put our minds at ease knowing that the patrons and programs are being well cared for. 


Karaoke at the Opening Celebration

This was our first year trying out the beginning and ending celebrations on a Saturday in hopes of having the working parent be able to also participate and have fun with their children.This was also the reason we had Tuesday Family events in the evening this year.  

Rock painting at the Opening Celebration

The beginning celebration was held at the library with crafts, face painting, snow cones, karaoke, a traveling magician, and bouncy house inflatables. And our ending celebration was held at the very fun, and always awesome, Siloam Springs Family Aquatic Center. There were a lot swimming concessions, and prizes. Lots of prizes! This was also where we honored the top readers of all the age groups, and every child that read 3 hours or more during the summer received a congratulatory certificate and prize.



Kids enjoyed rocking out in the Young Adult section.

However, the summer reading program isn’t just about all the great programs we try to provide, but it is also about the reader! Whether you are a beginning reader, an unsure reader, or avid reader, the summer reading program is to celebrate you.

This is the part that the staff members truly love about the summer reading program. Sometimes we see a child that is struggling to read finally click with the reading bug during the summer, and we want to be right there with that family and rejoice with them. One mom came in in July and said she could tell her daughter’s reading had improved over the summer as they’d been involved in summer reading!

Young adult readers find a cozy spot to read on a warm, summer day

Another parent shared that their daughter wasn’t sure she even wanted to do summer reading, but after getting involved, she didn’t want to give her books back to the Library –  she liked them so much. Those kind of comments make our hearts sing!


During August, we will be taking a break from programming, but we will resume our regular weekly activities the day after Labor Day.

Dusty the Therapy Dog

We also have a very special reading helper, Dusty the Therapy Dog, who comes in once a month and would love to be read to by the children of the library for Reading with Dusty the Therapy Dog. If your child is struggling to find motivation to read, or is wanting a non-judgmental reading companion, Dusty is here to help. 


A special thank you, again, to all of the people that made this year’s Summer Reading Program a success; but most importantly, thank you readers for reading with us and sharing your summer with us. Congratulations on another summer reading program! Oh, and join us next year on an adventure into space with A Universe of Stories, which will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first space walk on the moon.


Until your friendly librarian staff member emerges again,


Summer Must-Read

arches-architecture-art-316080If you’re looking for a good read this summer, Anne Patchett’s Bel Canto deserves a spot on your list. The fictional story is loosely based on the events of the Japanese Embassy hostage crisis in which a group of terrorists in Peru took hundreds of hostages for over four months beginning in December 1996. Patchett presents a riveting account of relationships formed and human insights found in the most unlikely of circumstances: a terrorist capture.

Mr. Hosokawa is the guest of honor at a party in a small, impoverished country that desperately needs the economic boost his huge electronics corporation could bring. However, a foreign investment is far from Mr. Hosokawa’s mind. He came for the guest entertainment: a world renowned opera singer named Roxane Coss. The party becomes a hostage situation when terrorists invade the vice-president’s home.

At first, panic expresses itself in Spanish, Japanese, Russian, English and French. Wealthy businessmen and foreign dignitaries find themselves suddenly uncertain of their survival. As days turn into weeks though, unexpected bonds begin to form across countries, languages and political agendas. Music and relationship give voice to the human soul within hostage and captor alike.chair-classic-daylight-97074

Ann Patchett drew me in with her compelling characters, her poignant insights into the human heart, and her gentle-yet-brutal reminder of the oppression that power and class can induce. The action is low-impact but the emotion, personality and sagacity kept me gripped.   

As a bonus, I got to enjoy Bel Canto with the morning book club at our library. I asked Donna, a member of the group, to chime in about this must-read. She says,

bel canto“I have read this wonderful book three times, and hope to read it even again. In the story, the characters are held fugitive by a small band of revolutionaries.  The are frightened, angry, uncertain of their futures but are calmed, even sustained, by the singing of the captive soprano in their midst. An opera singer must practice every day    and her singing becomes the high point, indeed, the focal point of their many days as hostages.

Patchett’s characters are so real, so vulnerable, so human, that we care about the captors as well as the hostages. You will hurry to read the last page to learn the ending.  But Bel Canto will stay with you for a long time: like a beautiful song.”

You’re invited to more great reads like this one at our adult book clubs every month. Clubs meet the second Monday of every month at 7:00pm and the third Tuesday of every month at 11am. The Monday group’s book will be Reading with Patrick by Michelle Kuo to be discussed on August 13th. The Tuesday group will be reading Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg to be discussed on August 21st. We’d love to have you! Get a book while supplies last and sign up at the Library front desk.

Reading with you,



Library-18-EditA good novel is full of surprises. If the Library were a novel, Valerie would be one of those surprises: the unexpected plot twist that first throws you off and then makes you laugh and then touches your heart.

At first, you will love Valerie for her playfully straight-faced humor. And don’t worry, she can take it just as well as she generously gives it out. But if all you know is Valerie’s quirky sense of humor, you’ve missed out. While Valerie may be the first person to make a snarky remark, she’s also the first person to give you a handmade card when you experience a loss. She recognizes the hard places that life brings to each of us, and invites laughter to soften the sting.

Valerie also knows how to celebrate. Birthdays are better with one of Valerie’s detailed cards. And she’s going to share her know-how at our Music Paper Craft event this month, Thursday, July 19th at 5:30 in Library Meeting room A. You can make your own greeting card out of sheet music! Her card making hobby evolved from a love of scrap booking, which incidentally, also comes in handy at the Library where Valerie maintains our Library scrapbook. Valerie’s finesse for all things crafty extends to library displays as well. She is also an avid gardener and a member of the Primavera Garden Club in our community. AND she makes a mean zucchini bread among other tasty treats.

Valerie with her four grandchildren.

Valerie grew up in New York, where she learned to adore Italian food. As an adult, she moved to Virginia Beach, Virginia and raised two daughters. When her youngest daughter started kindergarten, she started working in the Library system. She worked for the Virginia Beach Library for over twenty years, possibly serving such distinguished patrons as Pharrell Williams, author of the popular song, “Happy.” If there’s one thing we’re happy about though, it’s that one of Valerie’s daughters moved to Fayetteville, because that’s what brought Valerie to Siloam Springs.

When I asked Valerie what inspires her to keep working at the Library, she said, “The customers and co-workers─seeing all of the children grow up and still utilize the library. They are all our future. Reading may have changed over the years with e-books and other electronic devices, but reading is still a part of all of our education and life is a learning experience.” You can see Valerie live out these words as she walks into a Library

Valerie dressed up for Eric Carle week at the Library this past Spring.

program hand-in-hand with her granddaughter.

And now, for some fun facts!

Favorite Meal: Italian food. Growing up in New York─the best foods. My children loved my eggplant parmesan, the grandchildren love my garlic bread.

Favorite color: Pink

Vision for the Library in ten years: Will I still be alive in ten years?!

Ideal Saturday: My ideal day would be on a beach somewhere.

Currently Reading: The Sound of Glass by Karen White, and Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney (with my granddaughter every time she spends the night).

Valerie is as irreplaceable to our Library as your favorite plot twist in a novel. She brightens and betters the Library with her humor, intricate crafts, care for people and love for life. Sure, you can count on her to tease you mercilessly if say, you forgot your lunch one day (not that I’ve ever done that), but when life throws a curve ball, you can also count on Valerie to be there for you─with lots of love and humor in tow.
Till next time,


The Great American Read

og-img.pngDo you have a favorite book? The books you love say something about who you are. Maybe it says something about what you love, or what captures your imagination, or what you think is important. Books can say a lot about a nation as well.

PBS has created a unique series that will explore what our favorite books collectively say about our nation. After an extensive survey and consulting a team of experts, PBS compiled a list of 100 books that provide the basis for this mini-series (starting in September). Readers (like YOU) can then vote on your favorite book(s) from the whole list. The show will look at shared threads between books on the list, provide interesting historical information, and feature celebrities and readers throughout the nation.506994

The book list varies significantly in literary style, characters and time period. It takes us back to the 1600s, where John Bunyan leads us on an allegorical journey through peril and redemption in The Pilgrim’s Progress. 51qk5zEmCfL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_It shows us the too-long-hidden struggle of African Americans in the 1960s with Kathryn Stockett’s The Help. It journeys to the dystopian future of George Orwell’s 1984 and its commentary on our present reality. We’ll re-enter a world in the turmoil of World War II and a young boy in the throes of adolescence in John Knowles’ A Separate Peace. It’s the simple eloquence of Anne of Green Gables, the tragic glory of Wuthering Heights. It’s mystery and romance and philosophy. It’s the old and the new and the what-might-be. You can hear the heart and mind of American readers resonating with the diverse themes and stories. It’s the Great American Read.51QXpcxLJyL._SX309_BO1,204,203,200_

You can pick up a hard copy of the book list (complete with check-boxes) at the library. It’s not just a great booklist though. The Great American Read is also a search for America’s favorite book, and YOU can weigh in. There are currently two ways to vote for your favorite book. The first way is to go to The Great American Read voting page charlotte's webon their website. The second way is to post on Facebook or Twitter using the official hashtag for your specific book. The hashtag for each book on the list is found HERE. For example, if Anne of Green Gables is your jam, you could vote by posting something like this on Facebook:

“Cried all over again reading Anne of Green Gables #VOTEGables.” That “#VOTEGables” is the key to casting your vote.0T21N8K_J5XUblCsb

The full PBS series will air on September 11 of this year. Once the show begins, you will also be able to vote through phone calls and texts. Voting ends on October 18th and the winner will be announced in the last show of the series.

And guess where you can pick up almost all of those 100 books?? It’s a little place I like to call…the Siloam Springs Public Library. That’s right! You’ll find them with a little green sticker on our front display shelf (Note: if your favorite read is a series, only the first book will be displayed). Don’t be fooled though, those books aren’t for show, they’re for reading!! So read something new or pick up an old favorite and cast your vote.

Happy reading,



Universal Class


Sharpen your photography skills with Universal Class.

The Arkansas Summer is upon us! Personally, I plan to increase my ice cream consumption, spend time with people I love, and go on an adventure or two! If you’re like me, summer can make you feel like trying something new. But where to start? What to try?


How about a new hobby like cake decorating, photography or candle making? Maybe you’re more practical and you want to work more efficiently by improving your Excel skills, or work more effectively by improving your interpersonal communication skills. Maybe you’re a homeschool parent and you want to brush up on your geometry before next year.

Now, yes, you could read a book, and─of course─I would never discourage that…but wouldn’t it be great if you had a real teacher? And other students to bounce ideas off of?


Universal Class can help you gain tools to improve your interpersonal communication skills.

I’d like to introduce you to a gem of the Library called Universal Class.


Universal class is an online venue for continuing education classes. From bread baking to ancient myths, assertiveness training to industrial psychology─Universal Class offers almost every subject you can think of. Normally, these classes cost about $75 each, but if you have a library card, you get them ALL for FREE!!!

I’d like you to let that sink in for a moment.

And then there’s more.

These classes are legit. You do real homework that is graded by a real instructor. You will also have required quizzes and tests that must be passed before the next lesson can be “unlocked.” You are gonna do some real learning.

Do I get credit for these classes? Good question. While you do not get high school or college credit, you can receive “Continuing Education Units (CEU)” for over 500 of the classes.

Universal class can help you brush up on your math skills.


What’s a CEU?? You might ask. A CEU is a way to measure education that is not your typical high school or college credit. If you work in nursing, engineering, or many other professional fields, you may be required to obtain a certain number of CEUs throughout your career. Only your specific company/industry can tell you what CEUs you need and where you can get them. And if you need specific credit, be sure Universal Class qualifies by talking to someone knowledgeable in your organization/educational institute. Universal classes do meet an official standard set by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).


One of our very own library staff is currently working her way through the mythology courses and loving it! Her endorsement of the classes held a lot of weight with me because she is currently working on her second Masters degree. If someone can sniff out a good class, I imagine it’s her!

What do you want to learn? Universal Class can help.


So how do you get to this treasure trove of knowledge?! You can find it on our library website, or simply click HERE. Enter your library card number and click the big, green “GO” button.

And you’re off!!

Learning with you,