Monday, May 02, 2016

Welcome to New Staff!

Say hello to three new staff members!

Vicky Hart takes the helm today as the new executive director of the Mississippi Valley Library District.  Vicky has a variety of experiences in public libraries, including as past director of the Tri-Township Public Library in Troy, IL.

Ginny York is stepping in as the district-wide youth services technician, a position she held previously at the Collinsville Memorial Library Center.  Ginny enjoys sharing a love of reading with children of all ages and will be leading and coordinating children's activities.

Trevor Wood is our newest clerk.  You'll be seeing him around the building at various stations, and perhaps you can ask this film buff for recommendations and reviews.

Join us in welcoming these great additions to our library and community!

Posted by Kyla Waltermire, Branch Manager-Collinsville

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Staff Haiku

In celebration of National Poetry Month we invited staff members to write a haiku. There were no thematic restrictions. Please feel free to tell us what you think the next time you visit the library!

Pizza is so good
I had to write a haiku
Professing my love
- Terry

Not shaving my beard
It is playoff hockey time
Let's Go Blues, cup time!
- Matt

Tornado warning! 
Another meal eaten with
Toilet lid table
- Kyla

Spring season is here
Celebrate March, April, May
With rain and sunshine
- Theo

The kids are anxious
Two more months until summer
California bound
- Theo

There is nothing quite
Like the sound of ducks walking
Wet across thin ice
- Tara

Cheese is my main squeeze
It's the bees knees, you agree?
Get me some now, please!
- Stephanie

Ice cream is my friend
Oh how I love you, ice cream
Get in my belly!
- Ashley

Writing this haiku
Didn't seem like it would be
Quite so difficult 
- Megan

Who invented rules
For a poem that can only
Have three little lines?!
- Megan

Posted by Terry Pierson, Programming Technician

Monday, April 11, 2016

21 Underrated Books

GQ recently asked several authors to share their favorite "underrated" books--books that they adore and want everyone to read, but for whatever reason haven't gotten much attention.  Here are some of the suggestions (the full list can be found on GQ's website):

The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead
Recommended by Jonathan Franzen

"As in a dream where I’m shouting at the top of my lungs and nobody can hear me, I’ve been advocating for Christina Stead’s The Man Who Loved Children for 20 years, describing it as the greatest family novel ever written and one of the greatest 20th-century novels of any kind, and waiting for even one person to tell me I’m right. Only in Australia, where Stead was born and lived until she was 25, do I regularly encounter people who’ve even heard of it. But here, I’ll say it again: For psychological depth, for indelible characterizations, for savage humor, for muscular prose, for disciplined insanity, The Man Who Loved Children has very few peers in world literature. Please, will someone who is reading this get back to me and say I’m right?"

Random Acts of Senseless Violence by Jack Womack
Recommended by William Gibson

"Basically this book feels, today, like a novel set in the unending nightmare aftermath of a Trump presidency, and in the meantime, here in the real world, we have come to have the dystopian coming-of-age narrative as a hugely popular form. Random Acts is exactly that, but scripted in the mode of Cormac McCarthy, set in New York City, and narrated via the heartbreakingly convincing point of view of a young girl."

Buffalo Soldiers by Robert O'Connor
Recommended by Adam Johnson

"When it was published two dozen years ago, Buffalo Soldiers flashed neutron-bright into my literary vision. Its savage humor and scabrous story line follow Ray Elwood, a jaded U.S. soldier attempting to navigate the corrupt and carnivorous nature of America’s war machine in peacetime Germany. Heroin deals go bad, tanks are stolen, and a beautiful one-armed woman free-falls from the high dive. As timely as ever, this dark and blistering novel is an important antidote to all those feel-good tales of human triumph."

Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys
Recommended by Lauren Groff

"Jean Rhys is most famous for her stunning Wide Sargasso Sea, a blistering retelling of Jane Eyre from the perspective of the Creole “madwoman in the attic,” but her penultimate novel, Good Morning, Midnight, is one of the most troubling, moving, nightmarish, and strange narratives I know, a modernist masterpiece that’s not nearly as celebrated as it should be. In an era when autofiction feels like a new discovery, it’s nice to remember that great prose stylists like Rhys mastered the form a very long time ago."

Happy reading!

Posted by Kyla Waltermire, Branch Manager-Collinsville

Friday, April 08, 2016

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for St. Louis sports, as both the Cardinals and the Blues are playing for the next couple of weeks. This overlap can only occur for a very limited period twice a year and is contingent on the teams making the playoffs. In April, the Cardinals season generally starts in the last week of the Blues’ NHL season, whereas in October the Cardinals will usually have to of already made it to the playoffs to coincide with the Blues’ opening night. These limited stretches are nirvana for the region’s sport fans and are enhanced by the friendly and active relationship between the two clubs. Sports is nearly a language of its own in this area and whether you’re just looking to pass the time between games or show off to your friends, the library has a litany of materials at your disposal.

St. Louis Cardinals items available through the library

The Matheny Manifesto - Mike Matheny
A young manager's old-school views on success in sports and life.

One Last Strike - Tony La Russa
Fifty years in baseball, ten and a half games back, and one final championship season.

Pitch by Pitch - Bob Gibson
A personal view of one unforgettable game.

St. Louis Cardinals Championship Collection
Official World Series films from the past eight decades.

St. Louis Cardinals Greatest Games of Busch Stadium 1966-2005
Filled with more than 17 hours of Cardinals passion, this collection includes the complete game broadcasts.

St. Louis Blues items available through the library

100 Things Blues Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die - Jeremy Rutherford
The definitive resource guide for both seasoned and new fans of the St. Louis Blues.

Tales from the St. Louis Blues Locker Room - Bob Plager
A collection of the greatest Blues stories ever told.

Gateway City Puckchasers - Darin Wernig
The history of hockey in St. Louis.

The St. Louis Arena Memories - Jeff Gordon, Patti Jackson
The history of the St. Louis Arena in chronological order, supplemented with pictures from conception to implosion.

The St. Louis Blues Note by Note - Jim Woodcock
The most comprehensive retrospective on the team's first 35 years.

Posted by Terry Pierson, Programming Technician

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

25 Escapist Novels

Needing to get away from reality for a while?  Flavorwire recently shared 25 great escapist novels for your reading enjoyment.  The list (which you can find here) includes:

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor


The Princess Bride by William Goldman (one of my favorites!)

The library has copies of these great choices available for you to take home with your library card.  Happy reading!

Posted by Kyla Waltermire, Branch Manager-Collinsville

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Cinematic History of Batman and Superman (Part 2 of 2)

    It didn’t take long for the caped heroes to regain favor in movieland. In 2005, Batman Begins introduced a refreshingly realistic take on the character after the extravagance of the Schumacher films. In Batman Begins, director Christopher Nolan sought to portray how such a complex and troubled person as Bruce Wayne would actually be in the real world. Christian Bale proved to be a near perfect fit for the role, imbuing the character with a moody aloofness while still retaining elements of the charismatic playboy persona typical of the young billionaire archetype. The film was a success critically and commercially, ensuring the continuation of the series.
    Around the same time, DC was priming Superman to be reintroduced to moviegoers with 2006’s Superman Returns. Unfortunately, the film underwhelmed and only served to set the character back. The decision to make the film a continuation of the Reeve’s led series of the seventies was an interesting one to say the least and the over-the-top, cartoon feel of the movie was at odds with the grounded presentation of the new Batman series. Ultimately, Superman Returns amounted to an odd one-shot that really did connect more to the original series of films than anything relevant at its time. 

    Luckily for DC, Batman was about to reach new heights with 2008’s The Dark Knight. The second in a planned trilogy for “the Nolanverse”, the film turned the series “what if it was real” lens to the franchise’s most famous villain, The Joker. Actor Heath Ledger gave a haunting performance as the character for which he won an Academy Award. Tragically, the recognition was posthumous as Ledger died of a drug overdose in the months leading up to the film’s premiere. The Dark Knight was (and remains) the most successful DC adaptation ever and is able to count itself among the exclusive company of films to gross more than one billion at the box office worldwide. The conclusion of what is now known as The Dark Knight Trilogy, 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises, can also lay claim to the one billion box office benchmark, although bloated expectations and the fallout of Ledger’s absence took a toll on the film’s popularity and critical reception.

   When it was announced that Superman would be rebooted, rumors began to swirl about the possibility of a crossover movie with Batman to begin a Justice League cinematic universe that would compete with Marvel’s burgeoning field of Avengers films. Hopes were high that Bale would return as Batman, establishing a continuity with The Dark Knight Trilogy. However, by the time Man of Steel released in 2013, with a young British actor named Henry Cavill as Superman, it was clear that this would be the beginning of a new lineage of DC films.

   The stage is now set for a DC Cinematic Universe to establish the immortal characters of The Justice League for a new generation. Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice picks up where Man of Steel left off and introduces Ben Affleck as a grizzled and tested Batman. As the subtitle implies, the confrontation between the two poster boys of DC Comics is only a prelude to the formation of The Justice League, as the film also prominently features Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. As history has shown, however this series of films is received, Batman and Superman will persevere inexorably through time. For now though, for the first time ever, bragging rights are unmistakably and inexcusably on the line - everyone’s watching! 

Posted by Terry Pierson, Programming Technician

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Cinematic History of Batman and Superman (Part 1 of 2)

       Before Marvel teamed with Disney to take over the world with their Cinematic Universe, DC Comics’ Batman and Superman were indisputably the most iconic superhero characters ever. Long before Iron Man or Spider-Man made their Hollywood debut, The Caped Crusader and The Man of Steel had already starred in nearly a dozen feature length blockbusters, not to mention countless cartoons, TV shows, comics, and video games. Now, for the first time ever, these two larger-than-life characters are set to appear together and square-off on the big screen. In a way, Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice is a film that has been decades in the making.

    Not counting serials or shorts, Superman first appeared in 1951 in Superman and the Mole Men, a small-budget and low key affair that failed to prophesy the character’s potential. Batman made his debut in theaters nationwide with 1966’s Batman, a film adaptation of the popular television series starring Adam West known for its cheesy dry humor, vibrant colors, and “Bat-everything” gadgets. The fifties and sixties were a time of humble origins for superheroes in cinema and it’s hard to imagine that anyone back then could begin to guess the heights the genre would reach. 

    Batman would lay dormant for more than twenty years, as Superman took the spotlight with a series of films starring Christopher Reeve. The first film in 1978, which was just titled Superman, is still considered a classic today (93% on Rotten Tomatoes) and defined the character for a generation. By most measures, Superman was the first superhero film to take the box office by storm and heralded the coming age of comic book blockbusters. The second film, Superman II, was considered a worthy successor but the third and fourth were so abysmal that they retired The Man of Tomorrow from the big screen for the next two decades. 

    Meanwhile, Batman roared back into mainstream culture in a big way with 1989’s Batman by director Tim Burton. The dark aesthetichs and grim presentation of the material was more in line with the tone of the books and was a far cry from the zany and goofy Adam West Batman of the sixties. Michael Keaton played a mysterious and eccentric Bruce Wayne while Jack Nicholson’s performance as The Joker seemed to cement the archetype of that character (until the blueprint would be rewritten nearly twenty years later). Batman was more successful than anyone would have ever dreamed and practically guaranteed the ascent of a new genre of masked heroes. 

    Burton and Keaton reunited in Batman Returns (1992), which was generally successful and well-received but didn’t quite live up to the gold standard set by the first film. The reigns of the franchise then switched hands to director Joel Schumacher, who plunged the series into mediocrity with Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997), two films so maligned as to now almost be considered parody. Val Kilmer starred as the titular character in the former, with George Clooney donning the suit for the latter. All star casts of Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, and Arnold Schwarzenegger only contributed to the films’ infamy, leaving some to wonder if the brand had been irreparably damaged. At the end of the 20th century, both Batman and Superman seemed to have run out of steam, with cancelled and abandoned projects muddling through the years and a bad taste left from the deflating end of the previous series.

Posted by Terry Pierson, Programming Technician