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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Books and Pilgrims

According to the Pilgrims brought very little with them on their journey to the New World but the necessities of life. From written accounts it’s known they had Holland cheese, dried beef, salt port, hard tack, wheat, peas, oil, butter, two dogs (for hunting) and possibly chickens or pigs. The written accounts also say, however, that “some passengers brought a good number of books …” According to the Pilgrim’s Hall Museum Web site the Pilgrims brought a few different versions of the Bible on the voyage including the Geneva Bible. The two most popular books in early Plymouth were John Dod's Exposition Upon the Ten Commandments, and their own pastor John Robinson's book Observations Divine and Moral.

Happy Thanksgiving all.

Mary Mulrenan, Fairfax County Public Library

The painting is The First Thanksgiving by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1863–1930) and is in the public domain for use.

Friday, November 20, 2009

What We’re Reading

If you are seeking reading recommendations, you may want to check out National Public Radio’s weekly What We're Reading blog. According to NPR, the weekly listing “brings you our book team's shortlist of new fiction and nonfiction releases, along with candid reactions from our reporters, critics and staff.” The Nov. 17-23 list includes Open by Andre Agassi, Under the Dome by Stephen King, Going Rogue by Sarah Palin, The Faith Instinct: How Religion Evolved and Why It Endures by Nicolas Wade and Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays by Zadie Smith.

Closer to home, you can find Check It Out, a monthly list of eight staff favorites at your local library branch or visit the Staff Favorites page on the library’s Web site for the online version.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Community Dialogues

For those of you who have not yet participated in the community dialogues for the FY2011 budget process, you have three more chances. Additional sessions have been added for Wednesday, Dec. 2. Residents who aren’t able to attend a session are encouraged to submit comments and suggestions through the budget hotline at 703-324-9400 or the online form. The new meetings will be held Wednesday, Dec. 2, 7 to 9 p.m. at Hayfield Secondary School (7633 Telegraph Rd., Alexandria), Herndon High School (700 Bennett St., Herndon) and Lake Braddock Secondary School (9200 Burke Lake Rd., Burke). Registration is required to attend and seating is limited to 70 participants. Register online.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Money Matters

As we all look more carefully at how we spend scarce dollars these days, the library offers books on all aspects money management. Some of our new 2009 titles include:

365 Ways to Live Cheap: Your Everyday Guide to Saving Money
by Trent Hamm

Safe Money in Tough Times: Everything You Need to Know to Survive the Financial Crisis by Jonathan D. Pond

Miserly Moms: Living Well on Less in a Tough Economy by Jonni McCoy

Recession Proof Your Financial Life by Nancy Dunnan

Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties
by Beth Kobliner

The AARP Retirement Survival Guide: How to Make Good Financial Decisions in Good Times and Bad by Julie Jason

If you are looking for a reliable online resource, check out, a Web site sponsored by the U.S. Financial Literacy and Education Commission. It offers information and links for a variety of subjects such as budgeting and taxes, home ownership and planning for higher education, retirement and other life events.

Also, check out these upcoming library programs:

What's in Your Credit Report? Nov. 12, 11 a.m. Sherwood Regional Library
Review the information found in credit reports, how to use this report to guard against identity theft and how to dispute credit report errors. Presented by the Consumer Affairs Branch of the Fairfax County Department of Cable Communications and Consumer Protection. Adults.

Identity Theft. Nov. 16, 6:45 p.m. George Mason Regional Library Learn how to protect yourself from thieves who want to steal your information. Presented by Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Greater Washington/MMI. Refreshments. Adults.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Libraries Without Books?

Ever since the Web became an intimate part of the lives of many Americans, there has been debate over both the future of the book and the library as an institution that traditionally houses them. I was browsing the Web recently and came upon this article, ("The Future of Libraries: With or Without Books," CNN, Sept. 4, 2009).

“Books are being pushed aside for digital learning centers and gaming areas,” the article begins ‘Loud rooms’ that promote public discourse and group projects are taking over the bookish quiet. Hipster staffers who blog, chat on Twitter and care little about the Dewey Decimal System are edging out old-school librarians.”

The article goes on to offer a great summary of the exciting trends in library services across the globe and the challenges facing U.S. public libraries, which rely on scare taxpayer funds to exist. The U.S. institution may not be able to adapt as well to the technological advances that libraries in other countries are embracing.

Libraries, according to Jason M. Schultz, director of the Samuelson Law, Technology and Public Policy Clinic at the University of California at Berkeley Law School, have always had two purposes as “places where people can get free information; and they're community centers for civic debate.”

As one can imagine, there is no agreement among library professionals as to whether trends that embrace the digital world actually help or hinder libraries. "It's a source of tension in the field because, for some people, trying to re-brand can be perceived as a rejection of the [library] tradition and the values," says Linda C. Smith, president of the Association for Library and Information Science Education. "But for other people it's a redefinition and an expansion."

Younger librarians do seem to understand that change is in the air. One graduate student in library science says “Sure I love to read. I read all the time. I read physical books. But I don't have the strange emotional attachment that some people possess."

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

My Horoscope Says …

On November 1 the horoscope in The Washington Post for Scorpios said “Watching TV is easier than reading a book, but it doesn’t stay with you as long. You are like a book: not so many flashy images, but the impression you leave people with lingers.”

I don’t mind not being flashy, but the writer was certainly being a bit vague with that last line. People can leave a negative “impression” that lingers. But I am in agreement that TV is easier then reading; it doesn’t require as much of the brain, and because it’s a visual medium, you don’t need your imagination as much as you do with a book. Also, I think books deserve more credit than merely “lingering” with readers; it sounds so temporary. Books teach and inspire and motivate; they can truly change people, help people. I suppose TV can do that too, especially if you are one of the contestants in a reality TV program: learn to dance, lose weight, find your soul mate or become the next American idol. Alas, we must leave the comfort of the couch to do any of those via TV.