New Books in Our Own Backyard

backyard-bicycle-bike-630770Happy 2019! Of course, I always get a little blue packing up the last Christmas tree ornament and finally acknowledging that the Christmas cookies are too stale to eat anymore. But when the house is clean and the fridge is full of fresh groceries─I remember the excitement of new beginnings.

In the spirit of starting fresh, I decided to find a new book. As Wizard of Oz heroine, Dorothy Gale famously says: “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard.” I wasn’t looking for my heart’s desire exactly─just a book─but still, I decided not to look any further than my own backyard and read a book published right here in Siloam Springs.

And what a gem I found: Growing Up R.I.C.H.: Raised in Crazy Hollow by Jean Hurt.growing up rich It’s a delightful collection of short stories and poems about her life growing up in Arkansas and Oklahoma during and after the Great Depression. Although a dark time historically in many ways, Hurt’s writing shines with humor. She writes in her dedication: “I have tried to tell about the depression without being depressing.”

The book details one hilarious anecdote after another: how to dislodge a turnip from a cow’s throat, an intricate revenge plot using cow manure, the comedy of a cold, drunk man and some borrowed long johns, and on and on. Woven into the stories is a picture of what life was like for many people in our area of the country decades ago. We follow Jean into Saturday nights with neighbors listening to the radio and eating popcorn, scrubbing laundry on a washboard, and walking in shoes repaired repeatedly by hand.

beautiful-beautiful-girl-book-864938Hurt’s stories refreshed me with their originality, humor and perspective. Maybe you’d like to be refreshed with a new book too? If so, you’ll be excited about our 2019 Reading Challenge. First of all, there are PRIZES! To participate, pick up a list of categories and choose one that intrigues you (for example, “a nonfiction novel based on a true story”) then find a book that fits the category (I know some helpful librarians if you get stuck here). Read your new book, then pick a new category and start again. Oh, and to get in the drawing for a PRIZE write down your reads on an official reading log at the reference desk. Our first PRIZE is coming from Heart of the Home store downtown. Prizes from more fabulous businesses to follow!

You never know when you might find something new─right here in your own backyard.

Till next time,

Kendra

Advertisements

Anticipation

Merry Christmas from your Library Staff!

Staff pic

There’s nothing quite like waiting for something you want. No matter what this holiday season means to you, chances are, you’re anticipating something (even if it’s just the end of long lines at Walmart!). Sometimes as adults, we lose our sense of anticipation: that excited distraction that hangs out in the back of our minds and adds a buoyancy to the mundane. I think that’s part of why we still smile when we see a kid excited about Santa.

DSC00159
Santa makes his much-anticipated entrance to the Library.

 Those were the faces we saw this month at “Santa at the Library,” a program put on entirely by the Friends of the Library (with help from the Siloam Springs Kiwanis club, Once Upon a Time Books and a whole batch of AMAZING volunteers). Hope you enjoy this (very homemade) video montage of the anticipation and enjoyment that we experienced with Santa at the Library (and don’t miss the exclusive interview with Santa & Mrs. Claus at the end)!

CLICK HERE TO WATCH

 

IMG_6780
Santa gave us a reminder of the joy of anticipation, and there’s more to anticipate in 2019!

The fun doesn’t end after Christmas at the Library though. You can anticipate more fun programs coming up in the Spring! Stay tuned for…

our Adult 2019 Reading Challenge, designed to incentivize reading in genres you may not have previously explored.

Guest lecture on Arkansas’ involvement with Japanese internment camps from Kim Sanders (the exhibit curator for the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies).

1000 Books Before Kindergarten kicks off on Saturday, January 26th! This program will encourage reading during the vital early stages of child development.

 

Anticipating great things in 2019,

 

KendraL1

Meet Jennifer

IMG_20151001_172707021A few months ago I walked into the Library to find Jennifer decked out in Goofy apparel. I don’t mean her clothes were funny-looking, I mean “Goofy” with a capital “G.” Goofy’s stuffed head, smiled, well…goofily, from atop Jennifer’s forehead, and evidence of this comical cartoon icon graced the rest of her outfit to perfection. Jennifer herself was smiling, eager to serve our patrons and have a chuckle at the same time.                                                                                                                                                                                 This picture of Jennifer is especially endearing because it exemplifies her Jennifer-ness in three ways: Her silly side, her enthusiasm for helping people, and her ability to share with others the things that bring her joy.

Although she looks for any excuse to dress like Goofy, her more serious passion is helping people. Jennifer loves people by doing things for them. Whether it’s helping someone find the perfect children’s book, or opening her home, Jennifer is quick and bold to address the needs around her. Just one ongoing example of this at the Library is her weekly Tech Help hour on Wednesdays from 3:00-4:00. Stop by and let Jennifer help you with your latest technological frustration.

Jennifer was born in Louisiana, but grew up in California. Like many transplants in our community, JBU brought her to Siloam Springs, where she has settled and grown a family. The Library was a dream job, and a position opened up just as she was looking to supplement her family’s income.

Interacting with the public energizes her, which is probably one reason she has created many rewarding relationships here. Another reason is her ability to freely share the thoughts, events, stories and relationships that bring her joy. One of those joys is children’s literature. Jennifer appreciates a good story, whether intended for children or adults. She is a go-to person for children’s books.img_20180302_160736056.jpg

On a deeper level, Jennifer shares stories that touched or inspired her at the core. Her enthusiasm in sharing these more profound eureka moments, reveals again her desire to help people, and also her deep receptiveness to real joy.

Speaking of joy, Jennifer wants to share more of it with people who come to the Library. When I asked her what she wishes more people knew about the library, she said,

“I wish people would understand that our library isn’t just books. We have awesome programs and services to help people and to bring people together. Yes, we are a library and yes, we have books, but we also have children programs, family programs, authors that come, entertainers that come, we help with knowing how to use technology and so much more.”

Now, for some fun facts!

IMG_20150721_201335965Favorite Meal: Food. I love seafood and things grilled.

Favorite Quote: “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart…I’ll always be with you.”   – A.A. Milne Winnie the Pooh

Favorite color: My favorite colors are Fall colors and the Royal colors.

Ideal Saturday: A cool day with sunshine hiking in the woods and seeing awesome views, waterfalls, creeks, flowers, fungi, and other nature-y things.

Currently Reading:  A Lineage of Grace by                                                                 Francine Rivers

 

Jennifer loves to help people, share with people and just be silly with people. The initiative she takes to serve others is a gift to our Library and the community. We are thankful for her presence!

 

Till next time,

Kendra

Strong (Thankfulness) Muscles

I waited by the side of the pool for my turn to demonstrate that I could swim the thirty feet all by myself. Today was the day. The last day of swimming lessons.

“Don’t forget to tell your teacher ‘thank you.’” My mom had reminded me on the way. Panic struck my introverted heart.

active-blue-blur-346776“Could I just write him a card instead?” I asked hopefully.

“No, sweetie, today is the last day. You need to tell him in person.” It’s not that I didn’t like my swim instructor. It’s just that he was about four times my size and the pool echoed constantly with the shrieks and laughs and shouts of ten thousand other tiny swimmers (yes, ten thousand).

“Go!”

I paddled with all the strength my little arms and legs could muster. Breathless, I popped up from the water and bravely declared:

“THANK YOU FOR TEACHING ME HOW TO SWIM!” Mildly startled, the 20-something swim coach said, “you’re welcome,” and sent me back to the safety of the wall. Relief flooded my soul.

I never learned how to be an Olympic swimmer, but I did learn the importance of expressing gratitude.

This week is Thanksgiving, and while there’s lots of advice out there for how to stay physically fit during the holidays─I’d like to focus on another type of fitness: strengthening our thankfulness muscles. Atrophied thankfulness muscles lead to depression, discontent, bitterness and general unhappiness. Don’t worry if you’ve been a gratitude couch potato─a little bit goes a long way. Here’s a trusty acronym to make it even easier.

blackboard-business-chalkboard-355988T – think about it

The first step is to stop and think─even for one minute─about something you can be thankful for. If you’re reading this blog, be thankful you can read! We’re talking basic stuff here. Make a list, close your eyes, do whatever. Think.

H – have the courage to say it out loud

Words change the atmosphere. A genuine “thanks” lifts the spirits. Sometimes, we might be so used to someone doing something for us, that we don’t even think to thank them anymore. This can happen easily in families or between close friends. Other times it’s just awkward or emotional because someone did something that we can’t repay them for. But people need to hear our gratitude─out loud─and we need to give it. Thankful words strengthen relationships.

A – Act like you mean it

Have you ever heard someone say the words “thank you,” but they might just as well have said “you’re the inconvenience keeping me from the rest of my very important day”? People can tell what we mean by our words. If you’re gonna say it─mean it.

business-composition-desk-159774N – Notes!

I had a mentor in 7th grade who was a saint. She took a pack of hyperactive, sugar-loving, hormonal-feeling, awkward preteen girls to the local Wendy’s every week and somehow, in between Frosties and coming up with code names for boys we liked, she managed teach us about writing thank you notes. “The great thing about notes,” she would tell us, “is that you can read them over and over again.” You might never know the power your note had to encourage or inspire the person you thank. Nothing replaces a handwritten note.

K – Kick it up a notch

There’s always room to grow in gratitude. What would be a gratitude challenge for you? Maybe you’ve lost the habit of simply saying “thank you” to your close friends or family. Maybe you know there is a difficult person at your office (or at your thanksgiving dinnercity-exercise-fashion-373984 table), how might you express gratitude even for them? Is there someone who has helped make you the person you are today? What would it look like to tell them “thanks”?

Our capacity to be grateful can be strengthened. Just like stronger muscles, a stronger capacity for gratitude leads to greater health. And as a bonus, you don’t have to change into gym clothes or do any crunches!

Thank you for reading this blog. Your time and attention mean a lot.

Till next time,

Kendra

Holiday Helpers

adrenaline-amusement-carnival-66143Halloween can seem like the tipping point of a roller coaster, signaling a thrilling rush into the holidays. Well, “thrilling” can be one word. Other words might be “stressful,” “hectic,” and “expensive.” We want to enjoy the holidays, but…dog gone it when the turkey fryer doesn’t perform as advertised, and all three kids have Christmas concerts in different places, and no one would coordinate for a family picture─well, the holiday spirit feels about as relevant as a Hawaiian Santa during an ice storm.  

So, in preparation for the challenges to come, I’ve solicited the help of some of the experts who leave their advice tucked away in our shelves. Here is a hopefully helpful smattering of what they have to say. But don’t take my word for it, use our handy search computers or ask a friendly librarian about where to find more!

Gifts

If you’re like me, you can feel like the gift you give is a direct representation of the love you have for someone. It’s time to forget that. It’s the intangible stuff like listening and choosing to be present that really communicate love. I like what Clark Howard says box-close-up-gift-842876about kids and gifts: “Remember, your kids don’t love you based on what  material goods you give them; they love you based on how much of your heart you share” (Clark Howard Living Large in Lean Times pg.83. On the shelf at 332 H83).

But….a nice gift certainly is meaningful over the holidays. I love these picks from some of our authors:

  • Find a cute mug, stuff it with your favorite drink mix, and wrap it all up with a good book. Come visit our Friends of the Library bookstore and get a good book at a bargain price (Mary Hunt Cheaper, Better, Faster pg. 150. On the shelf at 646.7 H91).
  • The holidays remind us of the importance of family. Dig up a vintage family photograph and put it in a plain frame. Give it to an older family member and thank them for their legacy (Mary Hunt Cheaper, Better, Faster pg. 150. On the shelf at 646.7 H91).
  • For the men in your life who are hard to buy for─consider a smattering of small gadgets for the home. Visit your local hardware store and put together a toolbox (or put a few smaller tools in a mug). “Stroll the aisles and you’ll get all kinds of great ideas…let your mind wander. You’ll be quite a hit” (Mary Hunt Cheaper, Better, Faster pg. 143. On the shelf at 646.7 H91).adult-blur-close-up-736842
  • What do you love to do for people? How could you meet a need? Try giving an “IOU gift.” Sometimes people feel uncomfortable “cashing in” on a service.To really knock this one out of the park, try setting a reminder for yourself in January to follow up with the recipient and remind them how much you want to wash their car, babysit their kids, or buy them lunch at their favorite sandwich shop (Mary Hunt Cheaper, Better, Faster pg. 138. On the shelf at 646.7 H91).

Making Conversation

  • Real Simple’s Celebrations offers dozens of question ideas to ask around your dinner table. From “Do you have a favorite book or author?” to “What are the most important things in life?” These questions will keep you talking till the gravy coagulates (pg. 23, on the shelf at 642.4 R13). breakfast-caffeine-coffee-1528013 (1)                                                                          
  • The Penny Game can also inspire conversation. Put a penny with a date sometime during the childhood of each of your guests. Hide it under a plate or glass, then have each person share a significant memory from the year of their penny (The Reluctant Entertainer pg. 95. On the shelf at 642.4 C83).                                                       
  • Hosting a larger party and want to make sure you make time to talk to everyone? Steal Cheryl Najafi’s party mingling secret: “To avoid getting held up in a long conversation, always hold a tray of food. That way, you can dip into a pocket of conversation, say a few words, dole out nibbles, and duck away to the next group” (You’re So Invited pg. 179. On the shelf at 793.2 N14).

There’s a lot more where this came from too, for example…

Decorate for less:

Gold is in! Try spray painting your autumn decor gold to make lovely and inexpensive accent pieces (Mary Hunt Cheaper, Better, Faster pg. 185. On the shelf at 646.7 H91).

Class Parties

Cookie cutter cuteness comes to the rescue when it’s time to pass Christmas gifts to your children’s classmates! Find inexpensive christmas cookie cutters. “Lay the cookie cutter in the  middle of a piece of clear cellophane. Fill the center of the cookie cutter with tiny candies such as jelly beans. Gather the cellophane and wrap with a bow” (Mary Hunt Cheaper, Better, Faster pg. 196. On the shelf at 646.7 H91).aroma-art-beverage-1251175

Entertaining

Sandy Coughlin redefines the perfect host: “Being a hospitable hostess means loving, giving, and making others feel warm and welcomed. It’s not about stuff, glamor, or glitz. It’s about fostering authentic relationships” (The Reluctant Entertainer pg. 33. On the shelf at 642.4 C83).Phew! I feel better already!

Enjoy the holiday season and let these resources help lighten the load.

Till next time,

Kendra

Meet Tabatha

IMG_4361Like a strong cup of coffee in a hand-painted teacup, Tabatha brings a unique mixture of bold strength and delicate beauty wherever she goes. She blends hard work and high ideals, whirring energy and painstaking focus, a vision for a better world and a vision for a better living room.                                                                                                                                                Originally born in Alaska, Tabatha’s family moved to Arkansas where Tabatha grew up in a house her dad built. In 2003, Tabatha moved over to Siloam Springs so her mom could go back to school at JBU. Tabatha got to join her mom as a student for her final 2 years there, after she graduated high school.

Although an Arkansan in many ways, Tabatha has spent significant time overseas in countries including Iceland, Nepal, Egypt and Israel. About her time overseas she says, “I feel it has definitely broadened my worldview and given me a different perspective on life.”

Tabatha is the kind of person who thinks about long-term impact on a global scale. She carries a deep commitment to what is right both in an ultimate-big-picture sense and in the tiny-every-day details. From putting together a party, to helping someone get a library card, Tabatha takes pains to get things just right. Speaking of parties, Tabatha has a talent for honoring people with hospitality. It doesn’t matter if you are the neighbor kid next door or her dearest friend, everyone is a VIP at Tabatha’s house.

20180309_145303
Tabatha joins the fun during Eric Carle week for “Dress Like a Farmer Day.”

When I asked her what brought her to the Library and why she likes it, Tabatha said, “The library was a place I felt would be a good fit for me: A place I could see myself growing as well as being able to give.  I love being part of a team as well as part of the larger Siloam Springs community. One of my favorite parts is the relationships I get to be a part of with staff and patrons. A library is a place to stop, reflect, learn, and grow. It is also a place to spark vision and develop creativity.  While there are definitely busy times and people in a hurry, often times there is opportunity to share stories, ideas, and like interests.”

Tabatha’s attention to detail, passion for what is right and talent for hospitality are all gifts she brings into her relationships inside and outside the library. We are thankful for the strength and beauty Tabatha offers our community.

Now for some fun facts:

IMG_4766 (1)Ideal Saturday: My ideal day would probably consist of some combination of the following depending on my mood:  journaling, catching up with family and friends (maybe going bowling or to the movies), hiking or swimming, a yummy smoothie or milkshake, a pedicure with a friend, and perusing a few shops for something fun for my house or wardrobe.

Favorite Meal:  I would probably have to say red curry, although I could probably write at least 10 plus “favorites.”

Favorite Color:  I mostly stick with neutrals. Cream is probably my “go-to” color.  However, green might be one of my favorite “colors.” Green frequently represents life, and l absolutely love the touch plants and greenery add.

Favorite Quote: “The most complicated skill is to be simple.” -Dejan Stojanovic

Currently Reading: Right now I am reading the book of Numbers in the Bible, but I also enjoy reading Christian Suspense as well inspirational and challenging books like Corrie Ten Boom.  

Hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know another one of our fabulous staff.

Till next time,

Kendra

P.S. don’t forget about our PAC for beginners class this Saturday (October 27th) at 11:00 a.m. Join us at the Library and learn how to navigate the Library catalog! Space is limited, so be sure to register at the Library Front Desk.

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
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,

Kendra   

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,

Kendra

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

http://www.fayettevillear.com/hispanic-heritage-festival.html

www.hispanicheritagemonth.gov

www.loc.gov

Meet Leah

IMG_1647
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,

IMG_2274
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.” 

DSCN2831
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

IMG_1600
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,

Kendra

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,

Kendra

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.