Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Just One Item - Ashley

We have challenged every member of our staff to pick just one item to recommend to our patrons. It's easy to rattle off a list of favorites but to single out and stand by just one suggestion requires discipline and commitment. This succinct and straightforward approach will not only provide passionate suggestions but will offer a tailored window to learning a little bit about each staff member's unique personality and tastes.

Ashley has been with the library for seven years, transitioning from page to clerk with grace and ease. She is a professional dog trainer and recently even hosted a dog-training event at the library. She just purchased her first house in town with her boyfriend Alexander. Oh, and she is a roller coaster aficionado. 

Ashley's pick is the Harry Potter series (which is kind of cheating but we'll let her slide since it's all part of the same story). "This is a series that every generation should read. It's not just about magic, it's about love, friendship, and bravery. To believe that you can make it through the tough times, but also be able to lean on the ones that mean the most to you to get through any situation. Be true to yourself and never give up."

Posted by Terry Pierson, Library Clerk

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Just One Item - Megan

We have challenged every member of our staff to pick just one item to recommend to our patrons. It's easy to rattle off a list of favorites but to single out and stand by just one suggestion requires discipline and commitment. This succinct and straightforward approach will not only provide passionate suggestions but will offer a tailored window to learning a little bit about each staff member's unique personality and tastes.

Megan has worked at the library since August 1999, when started as a page at age 16. Megan can most often be found in the children's library and is always more than happy to help the kids in whatever way she can, whether it's with homework or a game. Megan has three children of her own and her family loves to travel and explore the local area.

Megan's one item is The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. "I believe that instilling a love of books at an early age is essential to developing a lifelong passion for reading".

Posted by Terry Pierson, Library Clerk

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Top Ten Reasons - Bad Movie Night

On Friday, October 2nd the MVLD Bad Movie Club will be screening the cult classic Troll 2,  a film so bad there is even a whole documentary, Best Worst Movie, dedicated to its spectacular ineptitude. Here is a list of the top ten reasons to attend this event.

10) The beautiful and historic Blum House is the ideal setting to watch a low budget horror film.
09) You enjoy one or more of the following: meat, cheese, crackers.
08) Two words - vegetarian goblins.
07) George Hardy is the greatest actor/dentist of his generation.
06) There will be live music by local troubadour Michael McGraw.
05) Teen Read Week is a national literacy initiative created by the Young Adult Library Services Association, a division of the American Library Association.
04) Hands down, Troll 2 features the best use of a "double-decker baloney sandwich" in the history of cinema.
03) You will get to vote on what film we show for the next bad movie night.
02) It's free!
01) Obviously, the ladies.

Posted by Grahm Underwood, Library Clerk

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Italian Fest at the Library

The Italian Fest, Collinsville Main Street's annual extravaganza and celebration of Italian culture, is this weekend. The library is finding plenty of ways to participate and tie the festivities in to our ongoing centennial celebration. Make sure to stop by the library and check out these features while you're up on Main Street for the party.

To kick off the festivities, the library hosted the ninth annual "Italian Film at the Library" on Thursday night. Human Capital is an award-winning film by Italian director Paolo Virzi. The event had a great turnout and was sponsored by the Italian Film Festival of St. Louis. Free gelato was provided by Spirito's, the Italian Store on Main Street.

The library is home to the Italian Fest Exhibition "Exploring Venice and the Veneto" through the entirety of September. This celebration of Italian culture is composed of displays of authentic carnevale masks from Italy and more reflections on the country's art and history.

We also have displays dedicated to our in-house collection of Italian materials, including cookbooks, language kits, children's educational material, and tomes on folklore and tradition.

The fourth annual "Mini Golf in the Library" will be running all day Friday and Saturday. Each of the nine holes is dedicated to an event in the last 100 years to celebrate the library's centennial. Admission is only $3 and proceeds benefit library programming but the first 100 guests play for free. This is a fun and creative way to explore the library and is a blast for kids and the whole family. The staff works hard on this event all year so please support our efforts and come see what all the fuss is about.

Finally, the library will be marching in the Italian Fest parade Saturday at 4pm. Nearly the entire staff will be walking and handing out balloons. We hope to see you there!

Posted by Terry Pierson, Library Clerk

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

100 Years, 100 Candles

The Collinsville Library is celebrating its centennial this year and we are conducting plenty of fun and creative ways to get the community in the birthday spirit. 100 hand-painted candles now adorn the front lawn, turning the whole campus into our own giant birthday cake.

Don't miss seeing this imaginative spectacle - come to the library today!

Organizations and individuals can support the library by sponsoring a candle. The candle will be inscribed with the donors name and displayed proudly with the rest. Contact the library at 618-344-1112 for details.

Wayne, the library's Maker-in-Residence, constructed and erected the candles. Great job, Wayne!

Posted by Terry Pierson, Library Clerk

Sunday, September 13, 2015

What I Learned From Video Games


The educational value of video games has been debated since the medium’s ascent. While there are plenty of studies and essays related to the academic, technical, and vocational merits of gaming, these scholarly analyses often overlook some of the more simple and fundamental benefits of playing games. Video games, as much or even more than traditional games and sports, can teach important character traits such as discipline, perseverance, teamwork, and self-confidence.

I grew up playing games. Mario and Sonic were integral parts of my childhood. I admittedly spent way too much time in front of a screen and no doubt neglected some glorious summer days to stay cooped-up inside trying to catch-up to my friends in a certain game or just getting whisked away in a virtual adventure.

My family was supportive of my interests and passions. There was an NES at my grandparent’s house since before I can remember and some of my earliest memories are of my first Gameboy. I am eternally thankful for their open-mindedness and indulgence as I believe these games helped teach me integral character traits and planted the seeds for my deep-rooted love of culture, narrative, and art.

Other adults were not so empathetic. Much more so than today, a majority of parents, teachers, and other authority figures simply didn’t understand games or see any value in them. I don’t know how many times I heard that they were a waste, distraction, or nothing more than childish entertainment. This mindset was immortalized for me by Mr. Feeny, of the popular after school sitcom Boy Meets World, who said: “[Your generation] has the highest level of technology at your fingertips... and how do you use it? To beat King Koopa and save the princess; shame on you - you deserve what you get.” I can remember, even way back then when I first saw that particular episode as a kid, feeling frustrated, misunderstood, and prescient. I loved Mr. Feeny and had the utmost respect for his faux-authority and episodic moral lessons. I could understand his point and position, and see that there was some truth to it, but was a little shaken that someone so smart could get something so wrong and be so unfair.

In a roundabout way, this was one of the first lessons I learned from video games: to think for myself. I may not have always been able to articulate it but I have always believed in the artistic, narrative, and aesthetic value of video games. I read ferociously as a child and was a movie junkie but to me they were all one in the same. I never subscribed to the idea of a hierarchy in mediums of media and always felt I was taking as much from Final Fantasy as I was that week’s reading assignment. That I had a disagreement and fundamental philosophical difference on the issue with so many teachers and adults taught me to question authority and perceived norms as well as to stand up for my beliefs and hold true to them even in the face of adversity. It also taught me at an early age that the world and culture are ever changing landscapes and different generations don’t always see eye to eye. Finally, I had to learn how to disagree with someone respectfully and recognize that just because we may differ on one issue doesn’t mean we don’t have anything else in common. These types of epiphanies from generational rifts in media are not new to video games -others could say much the same about comic books, television, and rock ‘n roll - but for generation X, gaming was the revolutionary medium.

Now, what about those “important character traits”? Can video games really teach such integral life skills? If you believe in the power of sports to be a positive influence on developing minds and young spirits, the answer has to be the same for video games. Like any game or sport, the goal in every video game is to win. However, that doesn’t mean that the game only has value when you beat it. In fact, as a kid, I rarely finished a game or saw it through to the end. Still, there were lessons to be learned along the way and trying to reach that goal, with all the setbacks and challenges inherent to the task, was as educational and positively formative as achieving it.

If you have ever played them, you know the later levels of Mario and Sonic games can get pretty tough. My friends and I may have been able to cruise through the opening worlds without breaking a sweat, especially after playing them ad nauseam, but getting past the last world of Super Mario Bros. 3 or the final boss in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 seemed like a nearly insurmountable task at the time. Still, we would play those levels over and over, trying and failing countless times, investing limitless hours into conquering the obstacle. I recognize now that what we were really doing was practicing. Like any skill or hobby, gaming doesn’t come naturally and overcoming the big challenges takes discipline, commitment, hard work, and perseverance. The struggle also evidences that it’s okay to lose and that the only way to get better at something is to brush yourself off and try again. This is a foundational lesson I learned from bitter defeat at the hands of King Koopa more than on a baseball diamond or in a gymnasium.

Of course, winning is also nice, and finally overcoming a challenge that seemed unconquerable is a pretty neat feeling. It is satisfying to drop Bowser into the lake of lava or make it out of the Pillar of Autumn without a second to spare. There is a real feeling of accomplishment in sticking with a game long enough to overcome even its toughest obstacles and this can be a subtle but effective confidence boost, especially for the young-and-awkward crowd that composes gaming’s stereotypical audience.

In addition, as hard as some may find it to believe, games are a social tool, or at least a very adept social catalyst. Nowadays, this is more true than ever with the popularity of online gaming, but even before this golden-age, games were a communal bridge through local multiplayer and just as conversation fodder in lunchrooms or at water coolers. Often when someone gets stuck in a game or experiences something special, they reach out to others for tips or just to share the moment. Growing up, my friends and I played games constantly and I have no doubt that this common interest facilitated our relationship and strengthened our friendship.

Video games have already forcefully inserted themselves into the field of mainstream entertainment - Grand Theft Auto V is the highest grossing entertainment release of all time (in any field) - but there is still antiquated resistance to recognizing games as art or educational tools. This old-fashioned opposition will inevitably fade with time, and one day in the near future there will probably be a new medium that is debated, and video games will become passe instruments of entertainment for grandparents. Until that time it is important to understand and recognize the value and merit of gaming so as to best extract the strengths and benefits of the medium.

Posted by Terry Pierson, Library Clerk

Friday, September 11, 2015

Just One Item - Kyla

We have challenged every member of our staff to pick just one item to recommend to our patrons. It's easy to rattle off a list of favorites but to single out and stand by just one suggestion requires discipline and commitment. This succinct and straightforward approach will not only provide passionate suggestions but will offer a tailored window to learning a little bit about each staff member's unique personality and tastes.

Kyla has been with the library for nearly two years and is our Collinsville Memorial Library Center's Branch Manager. Collinsville is Kyla's hometown but she was previously the Director at a library in northern Illinois. She moved back home when career opportunities arose for herself and her husband Sean and they now live in town. Kyla wanted to stress how much of a struggle it was "narrowing everything down to one item when each of us are complex and multi-faceted in our interests." Well said, Kyla. Our readers thank you for enduring this grueling exercise for their amusement. In a final show of defiance, Kyla picked an audiobook so that she could also offer an accompanying reminder that we have portable CD players available for checkout.

Kyla's one item is Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. "This story is filled with a quirky array of characters such as Sister Mary Loquacious of the Chattering Order of St. Beryl and an equally ridiculous set of circumstances. Gaiman and Pratchett deftly weave the absurd with the divine to make something uniquely...well, human."

Posted by Terry Pierson, Library Clerk