Thursday, April 27, 2006


You may remember experiencing “corporal punishment” as a student in school. Although Virginia is not one of them, 22 states still allow spanking by public school teachers today.

Spanking in the home is another story, and it has fierce opponents and supporters. On one side, activists propose making it illegal for parents to spank their children. On the other side, an ABC News poll found that 66 percent of respondents approved of spanking.

April 30 is Spank Out Day USA. The library takes no position on the subject, but offers these books as a starting place to explore the topic of disciplining children:

Discipline, the Brazelton Way by T. Berry Brazelton.

Supernanny: How to Get the Best From Your Children by Jo Frost.

The New Strong-Willed Child: Birth Through Adolescence by James Dobson.

Nanny 911: Expert Advice for All Your Parenting Emergencies by Deborah Carroll.

Discipline That Lasts a Lifetime: The Best Gift You Can Give Your Kids by Raymond Guarendi.

Laying Down The Law: The 25 Laws of Parenting to Keep Your Kids on Track, Out of Trouble, and (Pretty Much) Under Control by Ruth Allen Peters.

Do you have strong opinions about spanking? Leave a comment below!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


As with many professions, librarians get stereotyped. After our April 3 entry on National Library Workers Day, Anonymous posted this response:

“You folks always get along so well. Do you ever get loud at your library meetings? I’m trying to imagine librarians being cranky or nasty. Does it ever happen?”

It’s great to know librarians have such a positive image! However, all too often the stereotypical 1950s image of Marian the Librarian rears her bun-wearing head. Library professionals today are information consultants, dispensing expertise on an ever-expanding variety of formats. It’s not your grandfather’s library anymore!

In addition to getting printed material in our branches, you can visit the library’s Web site and read e-books online or download audiobooks to your MP3 player. You can sign up for an RSS feed to get library news releases delivered to your e-mail box; you can also sign up to be reminded by e-mail when your books are due.

In addition, our librarians teach workshops on Internet navigation and how to use various software products, in addition to finding the answer to more than half a million research questions per year! Of course, our librarians are also experts on the latest books you might want to read.

If you’ve found any of our staff particularly helpful, let us hear about it!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Stolen Treasures

Matthew Bogdanos is a unique blend of warrior and art enthusiast who’s been called the Indiana Jones of Baghdad. After the war in Iraq started and the city fell in 2003, Colonel Bogdanos lead the mission to find priceless artifacts that had been stolen from the Iraq National Museum. His efforts have resulted in the recovery of more than 5,000 antiquities that had been scattered across six nations.

Present-day Iraq lies above the remains of legendary empires such as Babylon, Ur and Ninevah. Over the years archeologists have unearthed pottery, jewelry and cuneiform tablets thousands of years old, and these priceless historical relics had been preserved in the museum. Colonel Bogdanos detailed what it took to get them back in his book “Thieves of Baghdad: One Marine’s Passion for Ancient Civilizations and the Journey to Recover the World’s Greatest Stolen Treasures.”

On Tuesday, April 25 at 7:30 p.m., Colonel Bogdanos will discuss his book and his adventures in a special presentation at the Alden Theatre of the McLean Community Center. This event is free; tickets will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Writing Life

Public libraries and writers are closely linked. Libraries are important resources for scribes, especially those looking for local history and color. The staff of the Fairfax County Public Library’s Virginia Room reports that many writers have listed its resources in the acknowledgment sections of their books. The Virginia Room offers local history and genealogy, military history, maps, old photographs, rare books and government documents to researchers, writers and the public.

Some hi-tech futurists suggest the death of the book is imminent, but according to the American Association of Publishers, book publishing was still a $25 billion industry in 2005. Writers also have a growing number of other outlets, such as blogs, e-zines, e-books, etc.

If you’re in the area and would like to meet local authors, come to the Great Falls Library at 2 p.m. on April 22. Featured authors include Robert Jolles, Clarence Ashley, Cristina Mittermeier and David Morine. They will discuss their books, their publishing experiences, and answer questions from the audience. Light refreshments will be served.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Air and Space

Dr. Tom Crouch will present “The National Air and Space Museum Turns 30: The Past and Present of the World’s Most-Visited Museum” at 7:30 p.m. on April 26 at the annual meeting of the Friends of the Burke Centre Library. This free event will be held at the Commons Community Center at 5701 Roberts Parkway in Burke.

Crouch, an award-winning author, has been with the Smithsonian since 1974 and has served as a curator and administrator for both the National Air and Space Museum and the National Museum of American History.

The Burke Centre Library is one of two new branches being built with bond funds that were approved by Fairfax County voters in 2004. The groundbreaking ceremony for this new branch is scheduled for July 29, and construction will begin this fall.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Silent Screens

Almost a century ago, Charlie Chaplin debuted his silent film classic, The Tramp. It was released by Essanay Film Manufacturing Company on April 11, 1915. If it hadn’t been for the weather, the Chicago-based studio might have made the Windy City a film center, rather than Hollywood. But the company eventually opened Essanay – West in California and closed the Chicago operation five years later. Essanay itself didn’t survive competition from upstarts such as Paramount, but the California connection was made.

Chaplin’s hapless but good-hearted hobo would become the actor’s trademark character even after sound transformed the film industry. He was introduced in the Keystone Cops comedy, Kid Auto Races at Venice, in 1914 and last seen 32 years later in Chaplin’s feature, Modern Times.

The silent movie era is a bit of a misnomer. The theaters were never quiet. Live music accompanied the films, played on pianos, organs and sometimes even by full orchestras. In the heyday of silent films, the industry was probably the single largest employer of instrumental musicians in the U.S.

For more about film’s early years, check out:

Silent Stars
by Jeanine Basinger.

Working Class Hollywood: Silent Film and the Shaping of Class in America by Stephen J. Ross.

Seductive Cinema: The Art of Silent Film by James Card.

American Silent Film by William Everson.

Movies of the Silent Years by Ann Lloyd.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Hotel Rwanda

Some say the fuse was lit almost 100 years ago. In 1916 Belgian colonists arrived in Rwanda, and exacerbated the hostilities between the nation’s ethnic rivals, the Tutsis and the Hutus, by favoring the Tutsis and discriminating against the Hutus.

In 1959, the long-festering resentment between the two groups erupted in riots, resulting in the murder of 20,000 Tutsis and the Hutus assuming control of the government relinquished by the Belgians.

Fast forward to April 6, 1994. The presidents of Rwanda and Burundi were flying back from a summit where they had discussed ways to end the hostilities between Hutus and Tutsis. Their plans for peace went up in flames when their plane was shot down. The nation plunged into genocidal chaos and almost a million citizens were slaughtered over the next 100 days.

Today, on the 12th anniversary of that fateful plane ride, Paul Rusesabagina’s book will be released. “An Ordinary Man: The Story of Hotel Rwanda” describes how Rusesabagina saved 1,268 people from the 1994 Rwandan massacres. Rusesabagina himself will talk about his harrowing experiences on Monday, April 10 at 7:30 p.m. as part of the library’s Perspectives series.

You’re invited to join us for this free event, which will be held in the Center for the Arts building at George Mason University. You can find articles about the history of the Rwandan conflict in the library’s online databases. Check out:

Machete Season by Jean Hatzfeld.

In the Aftermath of Genocide by Robert E. Gribbin.

The Bone Woman by Clea Koff.

When Victims Become Killers
by Mahmood Mamdani.

Me Against My Brother by Scott Peterson.

Land of a Thousand Hills by Rosamond Halsey Carr.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Our Special Day

Every day is both somebody’s birthday and the anniversary of some event. For some 49 years, librarians have referred to Chase’s Calendar of Events to learn about events around which they can focus book displays or library programs. This year, the editors of that book missed an opportunity to return the favor.

Get out your calendar; Tuesday, April 4 is National Library Workers Day! While you might not find a greeting card at your favorite store, there are plenty of ways you can observe this occasion. Here are a few:

1. Stop by the library. There are books to check out and maybe some used books to buy. If you haven’t been in for a while, stop at the information desk and ask about our databases and downloadable audiobooks.

2. Join the Friends group for your local branch. They run the book sales, help with programs, and share information about the community.

3. Volunteer some time. You might want to shelve books, work with children, sort materials for book sale, compile a local history file, or assist with an English conversation group. If you have a library degree you might want to volunteer at our information desks.

4. Sign up for the library’s e-mail newsletter, FCPLEASE. You’ll get weekly updates about programs and book topics.

And, take a look at Chase’s when you come in. You’ll learn that April 4 is also Bonza Bottler day. It’s a day to celebrate when the number of the month is the same as the number of the day. (Now you’ll be ready for the next ones!)

Later this month, the library will begin a survey of its customers. We’ll be asking about how you use the library with an eye to aligning our collections and services to meet your needs. You can also post your thoughts about the library (and National Library Workers Day) by clicking on the word “comments” below.

-- Denise Morgan, Lorton Library manager