Thursday, December 27, 2012

Best Books of 2012

As another year ends, obliterated by time's inexorable march to oblivion, one's thoughts inevitably turn to literature. "What were my local library staff's favorite books of 2012" you have undoubtedly been asking yourself for the past several days. Well, it is now time to find out...

Megan - Life After Death by Damien Echols
Cecilia - Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
Theresa - Bared To You by Sylvia Day
Jim K - Procol Harum: The Ghosts Of A Whiter Shade Of Pale by Henry Scott-Irvine
Jess - Winter Of The World by Ken Follett
Alison - The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
Leslee - The Mark Of Athena by Rick Riordan
Jim R - Killing Kennedy by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
Riche' - A Winter Dream by by Richard Paul Evans

Posted by Grahm Underwood

Saturday, December 22, 2012

International Fiction Book Club Meeting (December 19, 2012) - "Malinche" by Laura Esquivel

         The International Fiction Book Club met on the evening of December, 19th, 2012 to discuss the novel, Malinche, by the Mexican novelist, Laura Esquivel.  A unanimous thumbs down on this one.  Though the Mayans were an earlier civilization than the Aztecs featured in this semi-romantic/semi historical novel, the setting seemed appropriate for our inquiry into the myth of La Malinche and the origin of modern Mexican ethnology as we approach the death of one cycle of life and the birth of another.

         Esquivel’s attempt to fictionalize the traitor/translator Malinalli , who has been written about numerous times over hundreds of years, rings hollow.  There is little documentation about the woman who became Hernán Cortés’ concubine at age sixteen.  She has been viewed as the mother of the Mexican nation since the birth of her son by Cortés was the first child born of indigenous and European blood.  But she has also been viewed as a traitor since she aligned herself with Cortés while helping to translate the words of welcome from Montezuma upon the arrival of the conquistadors to Tenochtitlan.

         As a group, we felt that the author failed to illuminate the subject.  Instead of writing a novel set in that time period (the early 16th century) and have interaction among characters paint a three-dimensional panorama of the destruction of the Aztec Empire and the conquest of Mexico, she infuses her ideological revisionist theories into the thoughts of Malinalli and in the process paints a two-dimensional portrait of a romanticized heroine.  Instead of rape victim we have a seductress.

         One member of our group called this book an historical romance with the emphasis on romance.  He also mentioned that the novel is full of cliches and “is stylistically awful”.  I would agree.  A quote from Esquivel from an interview with Adriana Lopez is revealing:

                            In the collective subconscious, Malinalli plays the role of the
                            mother and  Cortés father,  and if we think that she was a
                            whore and that he was a thief and an assassin, what does that
                            make of us?  I think that it is important to change our perception
                            of the Conquest.  We must stop seeing ourselves as victims of
                            the Spanish...It is important to revise history, to see things a
                            a different way...that our skin contains all colors...If we saw
                            things this way, wouldn’t we feel proud of our past?

          When I read this passage to our group it put our discussion in perspective.  Perhaps an essay pleading her case with honesty would have been more appropriate for Ms. Esquivel.  But she is an accomplished author who chose to use the guise of the novel to hide her intent rather than illuminate the violent reality of the Conquest of Mexico.

         We begin 2013 with a meeting at the historic Blum House which is next door to the Collinsville Public Library.  On the evening of January 16th at 6:30 p.m. we will be discussing, The Snow Child, by Alaskan author, Eowyn Ivey.  You may check out this title at the front desk and feel free to join us.  Happy New Year!  

Posted by Jim Krapf, Library Clerk

Monday, December 17, 2012

5th Annual Art & Author Holiday Market

This month the Library hosted its 5th annual “Art & Author Holiday Market” at the historic Blum House.  It was a wonderful day full of festive fun and lots of local holiday shopping!  The Blum House was on the Holiday House Tour and the Library added a little Christmas cheer by welcoming local artists and authors in to share their one-of-a-kind wares. Included among the goods for sale were: hand-crafted wooden bowls, made-from-scratch goat’s milk soap, jewelry, hand-knitted crafts, woodwork of all kinds including a complete toy train, hand-painted ornaments and glasses, and books and stories by a wide-array of local authors. We hope you had a chance to stop by and view the beautiful, historic Blum House and to peruse the plethora of wonderful local artisans and authors. If you didn’t get a chance to visit us, make sure to check out our up-coming web-page with information on all of the vendors and their wares. 

Posted by Jessica Lawrence, Librarian

Monday, December 10, 2012

Meet the Staff Monday - Theresa

Here is our last but not least Meet the Staff Monday! Many thanks to our awesome staff members for their contributions.  Chances are if you have visited the library in the past 7 years you have met Theresa in one area or another.  She started at the library in January 2004 as a part time clerk and is now a full time supervisor at the main desk.  Her first love is her family.  She met her husband when she was just 15 years old and after 15 years of being together they have a beautiful family of 2 girls and 2 boys.  In her spare time (which is hard to find) she participates along with her husband and 4 children, in Krav Maga and Mixed Martial Arts at The Premier Martial Arts studio on Main Street here in Collinsville.  She currently has her second degree red belt and will be testing for her black belt in 3-6 months.  She's an avid reader with a few favorite authors like Jodi Picoult, Nicolas Sparks, and Dean Koontz, but she really likes to discover new authors by browsing the shelves and picking books whose titles or covers catch her eye.  When she gets a chance to watch TV she like to watch and root for her favorite drivers Tony Stewart and Jimmy Johnson in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.  She also enjoys history themed documentaries and anything that will make her laugh.  Her daily goal is to try and make someone else's day better and always find a positive outlook on everything.  Her life goal is to provide a safe, happy, loving home for her children to thrive in, to watch them grow into independent strong individuals, and maybe someday retire and let them take care of her.   If you’re at the library take the time to say hello to Theresa; I'm sure she will have a smile for you.

--Posted by Alison Donnelly, Children's Librarian

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Library Ornaments Add a Little Christmas Cheer!

Support your library and add some library Christmas cheer to your home this year with our beautiful handmade and special hand-blown glass commemorative ornaments.  All ornaments are for sale at the Main Desk. Stop by and take yours home today!

Posted by Jessica Lawrence, Librarian

Monday, December 03, 2012

Meet the Staff Monday Special Bonus Double Edition!

Due to an unmitigated attack of forgetfulness on the part of our intrepid staff correspondent, today we are bringing you not one, but two excellent episodes of Meet the Staff Monday!  

Hang on to your hats! It's Meet the Staff Monday featuring the Library's officially crowned best dressed staff member! Meet the lovely Sydonie M. Blandon. She has been employed at the Collinsville Library since August 2010. Syd enjoys working with the public, especially in the children's library (give this girl a raise). She also enjoys participating in the Homebound Program, where the Library delivers materials to those who can't get here by themselves. Some of Syd's favorite authors are; Nicholas Sparks, Rhonda Byrne, and Dr. Wayne Dyer. She loves to spend time with her three children; Paula (29), Marcus (25), and Ashley (21). Syd also likes traveling, bowling, cooking, and baking (especially around the holidays). Make sure you say hello to Syd next time you stop by!

Yet again, it's the most wonderful time of the week. Meet the Staff Monday! Meet Theo Tate. He started working at the library on October 24, 2011. Four days later, his favorite sports team, the St. Louis Cardinals, won the World Series. Speaking of sports, Theo is a longtime sports journalist, having worked as a sports writer/designer for the Suburban Journals of St. Louis for more than 11 years. He also worked as a sports intern for the Reading (Pa.) Eagle-Times for two summers in the late 1990s. In March, Theo wrote his first novel, Ladies’ Night, a fictional satire about a life of a professional basketball league for 12-year-old girls. A graduate of University of Central Missouri (go Mules and Jennies!), Theo also enjoys writing, running, traveling (so far, Atlanta and Las Vegas are his favorite cities to visit), golfing, bowling and playing music. Theo is also a disc jockey; he has all kinds of music and has every number one hit song on his iPod. Theo’s favorite book is Calico Joe by John Grisham, favorite movie is Little Man Tate and favorite food is pizza. He is a very busy bee who will run wherever you need him to to find the book you are looking for!

--Alison Donnelly
Children's Librarian

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

International Fiction Book Club Meeting (November 21, 2012) - "13 rue Thérèse" by Elena Mauli Shapiro

         On November 21, the International Fiction Book Club met for the 31st time to discuss the novel 13 rue Thérèse by Elena Mauli Shapiro.  Ms. Shapiro lived in Paris until she was 13 years of age and then moved to the States with her family.  Though written in English, this novel is entirely French, both in setting and character of style.  I say character of style because it is through a peculiar style that characters gradually emerge.  Or do they only seem to emerge?

         French novelists of the 20th century often explored the boundaries of what a novel could be.  The Oulipo (Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle, or Workshop of Potential Literature) was formed in 1960 by the acclaimed novelist, Raymond Queneau, and nine other writers, mathematicians, professors and so-called pataphysicians (after Alfred Jarry).  Their raison d’être was to analyze traditional literary forms and constraints in an effort to create new language structures based on a relationship between mathematics and literature.  Sound bizarre?  Well, some of their preoccupations are best left to a select group of intellectuals.  However, the games these thinkers play have led to a number of literary masterpieces by Queneau himself, Georges Perec and Italo Calvino among others.  The first comment made by one book club member was that this book reminded him of Perec’s novel, Life: A Users Manual.  Having also read that book, I knew what he meant.  Though, strictly speaking, the mathematics of this novel might not be defined in Oulipian concepts, the spirit of constraint and making a novel out of a box of memorabilia is surely in the Oulipian spirit.

         As a young girl Mauli Shapiro lived in an apartment house in Paris.  An old woman with no interested relatives died alone in the same building.  The landlord allowed tenants to take her belongings and the author’s mother took a box of mementos that included love letters, photographs, church gloves, a rosary and other evocative objects dating from the 1st World War through the mid-50s.  This box of memories gave Mauli Shapiro incentive to create a story to go along with the objects and also a way to re-discover her lost childhood.  As we discussed, what first appeared as a gimmick, the inclusion of scans of the objects at various times in the book, becomes a fascinating addition to the conceit within a conceit that the author so deftly weaves.  When confronting the first couple of scans of a letter, handwritten in French, and a photo of a man you are immediately involved but a tad suspicious.  As we later find out we have reason to be suspicious though that does not become fully evident till the end.

        A secretary at a university, Josianne, plays a little game of seduction with newly hired professors that she finds attractive.  Upon their arrival, she is the one who assigns their office.  As bait, she places the box of mementos in a filing cabinet where the professor is sure to find it.  She has had several conquests before the American, Trevor Stratton, takes center stage in her trap.  When he shows her a picture of men in uniform posing for a WW 1 photo she points out how effeminate the British soldiers look.  When he questions her about how she knows they are British, she explains that the dark uniforms are British and the grey uniforms are French.  How did Josianne know this?  Was it explained to her by a previous suitor who fell into her trap?   Trevor never lets the reader know for sure how much he has figured out as he writes letters addressed to “Dear Sir” explaining his project of trying to determine the fate of the original owner of the box, Louise Brunet.

         Over the course of the book we gradually enter into the life of Louise Brunet.  At various times, the author plays tricks with narration as Trevor enters into Louise’s life and also has an affair with Josianne.  But, is this story real?  Is Trevor the seduced or the seducer?  These questions and many more will be answered only if you read the book.  All present declared the book an easy read and I pronounced it a small masterpiece in the Oulipian tradition.  From her website, the author explains “people often get caught up in plot, in the broad scope of what happens, but its how it happens on the micro level that actually makes the story.  Fiction is really all in the delivery too.”

        We will next meet on December 19th to discuss Malinche by Laura Esquivel.  Feel free to check out a copy at the front desk and join us.

Posted by Jim Krapf, Library Clerk

Monday, November 26, 2012

'Tis the Season for Christmas Music

'Tis the season for Christmas music, and the Collinsville Memorial Library Center has got you covered. Our large collection of holiday music has everything from classic Bing Crosby recordings to a quickie cash-in album by forgotten boy band All-4-One, with a whole lot in-between and several new Christmas releases added every year. In fact, with so much holiday music to choose from we asked a few of our staff members to share some of  their favorite Christmas songs and records. Shockingly, no one selected Rosie O'Donnell's A Rosie Christmas.

Leslee recommends the album These Are Special Times by Celine Dion. "I love her version of 'O Holy Night', that is a great great song!"

Courtney really likes the progressive edge that Trans-Siberian Orchestra adds to seasonal music. "I've seen them in concert like three times, and they're always spectacular."

Jed's pick is Under the Mistletoe by Justin Bieber. "People might think I'm just trying to be funny, but I'm not! I sincerely love this record."

Terry gets into the holiday spirit with Bob Dylan's Christmas in the Heart. "The WTF factor for this album is through the roof. But it's more than just bizarre, it's also bizarrely endearing."

Grahm digs Mistletoe Jam by The Christmas Jug Band. "Ain't no party like a jug band Christmas party y'all."

Theo can't get enough of the song 'All I Want for Christmas is You' by Mariah Carey. "I just love Christmas music in general, it's my favorite part of the season really."

And the final word (as always) goes to Barb, who recommends "anything sung by Dean Martin. I love Dean Martin."

Posted by Grahm Underwood, Library Clerk

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Food For Fines

From November 23 until December 16 you can pay your fines with non perishable food items.  For every non-perishable food item you bring in we will waive $1.00 in overdue fines and then donate that food item to the Collinsville Food Pantry.  This only works for overdue fines not billing fees but it's a win, win for all - your fines are paid and you're helping those in your community.  For more information please call the Collinsville Library at 618-344-1112 or the Fairmont City Library at 618-482-3966.

Open Mic Night a Success!

Poetry is alive and well in Collinsville IL, as our recent open mic night at the Blum House proved. Five area poets shared original works while two more read poems from favorite authors. The styles of these poems varied greatly, but the quality of work remained shockingly high throughout the evening.  Background music was provided by local artist Wiggpaw, who used cassette players (!) checked out from the Collinsville Memorial Library Center to create rich, textured soundscapes. At the snack table the brownies were the stars of the night, easily moving more units than the homemade cream cheese raisin pound cake and cherry vanilla cupcakes combined. A good time was had by all.    

Posted by Grahm Underwood, Library Clerk

Monday, November 19, 2012

Meet the Staff Monday - Megan

It's the day you've been waiting for! Meet the Staff Monday! Today, meet Megan. She has worked at the library since August of 1999, when she started as a page at 16. After graduating from high school, Megan moved up to the clerk position. She works a lot on the children's floor, which is her favorite place in the library to work (of course). When Megan is not at work, she am usually reading, listening to music, going to concerts, and spending time with her kids (Zac and Taylor) and boyfriend (Travis). Normally this time of year, she would be watching hockey just like her little brother (Matt, see last week's post). Megan, too, is not sure what her whole family is going to do without the game this winter. Megan's favorite bands include Hanson, The All American Rejects, and Hellogoodbye. Some of her favorite books are "The Kite Runner", "Still" Alice", "To Kill a Mockingbird", "Water for Elephants", and anything by Chelsea Handler. Be sure to come and say hi to Megan next time you stop by!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Trading Faces

Here's something fun for your Thursday night! In each of these pictures, we've swapped the faces of two of our staff members! Can you tell which ones they are?!

Posted by Jed Robbins, Library Assistant

Books & Movies Club R.I.P.

November 14th marked the final meeting of our "Books & Movies Club. The fledgling club's inability to maintain a steady attendance was the primary cause for disbandment. Although, in a somewhat predictable twist, the last meeting turned out to be the group's largest ever. "We went out with a bang", said club organizer Grahm Underwood. "I guess we should have selected Fast Food Nation sooner, maybe things would have turned different" he joked.

The Collinsville Memorial Library Center still host several great book clubs for all age levels covering a wide variety of genres. Interested readers are encouraged to ask our staff for details. These clubs are free, easy and fun.

Posted by Grahm Underwood, Library Clerk

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Meet the Staff Tuesday - Matt

We were closed yesterday, so without further ado, here is your Meet the Staff Tuesday! Meet Matt(hew). He has worked at the library since August 2004. Matt started off as a page and worked his way to a part time clerk, and now he is a full time clerk. He works half of his week in the Collinsville building and the other half at the Fairmont City branch, where most know him as "Shaggy". (I cannot imagine where that name came from.) Matt is typically the go to guy for quick computer issues. At our staff picnic in September we had our first ever Survivor: Library edition and Matt won every round. He is a true library champion! Outside of work Matt has a beautiful baby girl, Sophia who will be two on New Years. He and Chelsea just got engaged on September 29th and their wedding date is still to be decided. If you know Matt you know that he is an absolute hockey nut, so with no season this year he is having withdrawals. He is also anticipating the return of a minor league team next year to St. Charles. Why couldn't they start this year?!

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

PRC Spotlight - November

This month's PRC Spotlight is our Giant Hands-On Flower Model! Learn about the different parts of a flower with this model. This three-week checkout makes a great supplement for your classroom!

Posted by Jed Robbins, Library Assistant

Monday, November 05, 2012

Meet the Staff Monday - Leslee

It's Meet the Staff Monday! Today we are introducing Leslee Hamilton. She is our Interlibrary Loan and Genealogy Technician. Leslee has been working here for 17 years and absolutely loves her job. She started loving libraries through helping her grandmother at the Twin Echo school library when she was younger. In 1990, she began a school project about genealogy which she continues working on until this day. When she is not working she often spends her time reading, doing genealogy, or doing counted cross-stitch. Leslee will read anything except for poetry or Shakespeare. She enjoys reading series books the best with the Harry Potter series being one of her favorites. Leslee lives in Collinsville with her mom (Suzanne), sister (Kendra), nephew and niece (Zach and Zoe), and shih tzu (Jasper). Leslee really doesn't enjoy having her photo taken, but she does actually like this one, from twelfth grade! Be sure to ask Leslee if you have any questions about local history or genealogy; she'd be happy to help you.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

5th Annual Art & Author Holiday Market

Just in time for Holiday gift buying! Buy local, buy original. Meet local authors and artists. Books, art, jewelry, unique finds and more! Join us at the historic Blum House for a festive and fun-filled day at the Collinsville Library's 5th Annual Art & Author Holiday Market on December 1st from 12:00-5:00pm. Hosted in conjunction with the Christmas in Collinsville and the Holiday House Tour. The Holiday Market will be held at the Blum House next door to the library at 414 W. Main St., Collinsville, IL 62234. Please call Jessica at 618-344-1112 for more information.

Posted by Jessica Lawrence, Librarian

Monday, October 29, 2012

Meet the Staff Monday - Katie

It's Meet the Staff Monday! Today we are introducing the Fairmont City Library Center's Branch Manager, Katie Heaton! Katie has worked at the Library District since 1997 and she loves programming, cataloging and training staff. Katie may be our sportiest staff member! Katie lives in Collinsville, IL and she was born and raised in Caseyville, IL. She has been married to her husband Craig for 31 years. Katie and Craig have four daughters. Candace, married living in Canada expecting her first child in January. Cara, married, living in St. Louis and has a 7 month old son. Rachael and Kristina are still living at home. Rachael is currently working at Treehouse Wildlife Center in Dow, IL and Kristina is attending CHS. Katie likes to spend time outdoors with her family. They enjoy camping, hiking, kayaking, biking or mountain biking, and watching wildlife. At home she likes to work in her yard and spend time with her family and grandson. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

International Fiction Book Club Meeting (October 17, 2012) - "Star of the Sea" by Joseph O'Connor

         It was a cold, blustery, rainy evening.  No, that’s not the beginning of a novel, just the weather report from the International Fiction Book Club meeting of October 17, 2012.  Star of the Sea by Joseph O’Connor took center stage.  Even though it was nasty outside, inside we had a pleasant conversation about a most horrible time in Irish history - the Great Famine.  The seeming “present” of the novel takes place on the ship, The Star of the Sea, a freighter that is carrying 5,000 lbs. of mercury for the Alabama Mining  Co. in 1847.  Also on board are hundreds of would-be emigrants fleeing eviction and ruin for the promise of a better life in America.  But the present tense is a misnomer.  As one member commented, this is a sort of meta-fiction with various narrators including an omniscient voice, the Captain’s log, various letters and passages from an unfinished novel by a character aboard the ship.  This character is Grantley Dixon, an American journalist who puts together all of these pieces of the puzzle that make up the final voyage of what becomes a “coffin” ship.  He publishes this novel with the aid of an epilogue that clues in readers to the answers of some of the ship’s mysteries on Easter Sunday, 1916, when he is in his nineties.  So, we have a book within a book just as the ship’s passengers could be said to comprise a microcosm of the Irish cataclysm in the mid nineteenth century.

          Coffin ship, since many die on the voyage.  Puzzle, because as the ship moves closer to its destination we gradually find out more and more about the relationships that haunt the group of passengers to which we become familiar.  David Meredith has been disinherited twice by his father, Lord Meredith, even though the estate has been sold to sheep herders.  David’s position in the House of Lords is no help in this matter and as we discover more about this man we see the embodiment of hypocrisy.  Perhaps he represents English guilt.  Only when he finds out he has six months to live does he attempt to help the sickly.  His first love, Mary Duane, is now his maid and unaware of their true familial bond.  Pius Mulvey, referred to as the “ghost”, because of his habitual lurking about the deck, is the central character that ties together the disintegrating threads of both Irish families and society in general.  He can be said to embody evil but he also absorbs evil.  We know early on that a murder is about to take place.  O’Connor deftly fuses Dickensian style intrigue with parodies of both the Romance novel and Gothic suspense while adhering to the principle espoused by David Meredith, “Everything is in the way the material is composed.”  History of the subject matter is gained through osmosis when the characters are delineated through their passions and fears.   Everyone agreed that the form of this novel fit the subject matter and the epilogue only added to the nineteenth century feel.  Thumbs up unanimously.

         Our next meeting will be November 21st when we will be discussing 13 rue Thérèse by Elena Mauli Shapiro.  Check out a copy at the front desk and come  join us.

Posted by Jim Krapf, Library Clerk

Monday, October 22, 2012

Meet the Staff Monday - Karina

It's Meet the Staff Monday! Today we are introducing Karina Almeida. She was born in Long Beach, California in 1993, and after five years of living there she then moved to Fairmont City, Illinois. Karina lives with her two parents and two sisters, her being the middle child. Karina is Mexican-American, Spanish being the primary language she speaks at home. Some of her favorite activities are going out with friends, dancing, shopping, and horse back riding. She also enjoys her volunteer work at the Holy Rosary Catholic Church with the PSR Program, which she has been doing for the past 6 years. Karina went to Holy Rosary Catholic School and graduated in 2007, then she went to Althoff Catholic High School and graduated in 2011, she is now attending SWIC, she isn't so sure on what career she wants yet. She has been working at the Fairmont City Library Center since August of 2011 and every now and then you will see her beautiful smile at Collinsville too!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Meet the Staff Monday - Jim

It's Meet the Staff Monday! Today, meet our second Jim! Jim Ritter has been working at the Collinsville Library since May 2009. He is an ordained clergyman in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and spent 22 years in parish ministry.  Jim continues to serve the church by filling in for vacationing pastors and by visiting a number of home bound members of his home church.  He is married to Terry and has five children: Tom is a graduate assistant at ULA- Monroe in their media relations department, Andrew is teaching with Americorps in Philadelphia, Mark is a Sophomore at Metro East Lutheran High School, Hannah is in 4th grade at Good Shepherd Lutheran School, and Rebecca is home in heaven after just ten days of life on earth. Jim enjoys walking, is a fan of wildlife art - especially Canada Geese and Ducks, and enjoys discussion religion, theology and conservative politics. Stop by and say hello to Jim next time you see him!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

We Can't Wait! We Can't Wait! For These Very Important Dates!

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the first telling of Alice in Wonderland, and we're celebrating the occasion by hosting two weeks of fun events and programs leading up to the Halloween Walk at the library!

From October 15th-19th, we'll be having a Cheshire Cat Smile Contest. You're invited to come up to the Main Desk, put on a cat mask, and give us your best Cheshire grin. We'll take your picture and at the end of the week, staff will vote on a winning smile, whose owner will earn a little prize.

From October 22nd-25th, you're invited to stop by the Main Desk to play a game called "Beat the Queen of Hearts!" If you draw the Queen of Hearts from a deck of cards, you'll win a sweet treat! (If nothing else, you'll get a good chuckle because the staff that's working behind the Main Desk will be wearing playing card costumes all week!)

On Wednesday, October 24th, there will be an Alice in Wonderland Movie Night and Costume Contest in the Community Room. The costume contest will begin at 3:30pm, and the movie will begin at 4pm. The winner of the Costume Contest will get free popcorn and soda at Library Movie Nights for a year!

On Thursday, October 25th from 3-5pm, you are cordially invited to attend a Mad Hatter's Tea Party at the Blum House (which is located next door to the library)! Alice, the Queen of Hearts, the Mad Hatter, and the White Rabbit will be in attendance as you make a craft, enjoy some tea, and pet real bunnies.

To finish the festivities with a bang, Saturday, October 27th marks our annual Halloween Walk through the library! You're invited to stop in the library between the hours of 11am and 2pm to see the library like you've never seen it before - transformed into the world of Alice in Wonderland! Children are encouraged to dress-up and will receive some sweet treats during this event.

Posted by Jed Robbins, Library Assistant

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Meet the Staff Tuesday - Jim K.

Since we had a day off yesterday, here is your delayed Meet the Staff for the week! Today, meet one of our two Jims! Jim Krapf joined the staff at the Mississippi Valley Library District on September 15, 2009. On that day, he also turned 59 years old and became the 2nd oldest person on the staff. Previous to his employment on the Collinsville staff, Jim worked for the Glen Carbon Centennial Library and the Lewis and Clark Library System. He is most proud of his career at AT&T which ran from 1980 to 2000. Jim enjoys helping people and tries to keep abreast of the latest trends while still finding value in being old fashioned. With a B.A. in English Literature from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville and an M.A. in International Affairs from Washington University in St. Louis, is it any wonder that he moderates the International Fiction Book Club? Some of Jim’s favorite authors include: Thomas Bernhard, Raymond Queneau, Claude Simon, Victor Hugo and Georges Simenon. In his spare time he writes poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction under an assumed name. If you are looking for some literary fiction with a global setting, Jim's definitely a great person to ask!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

If You're Crafty And You Know It...

Attention, DIY mavens: whether you sew, knit, crochet, scrapbook, stamp, embroider, paint, quilt, or bead, bring your crafty creations to share and your works in progress to complete at our new "Yarn, Paper, Scissors Craft Group." All are welcome to attend the meetings, which are every other Monday evening from 5-8pm at the Blum House! For more information, please call Jessica at 618.344.1112.

Posted by Jed Robbins, Library Assistant

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Cookin' Up Some Fun!

Looking to expand your cooking skills?! Then join our delicious and fun-filled cooking classes at the library! These classes will be presented by Certified Culinarian, Kathy Seibel. With Kathy's guidance and expertise you will learn some cooking basics including techniques, skills and some quick and tasty recipes. Registration is required and is in-person only. The cost of each class is $5.00 and is due at the time of registration. Cash only please. The cost of each class covers all food supplies. Please visit the Main Desk to register. All classes will be held in the Community Room kitchen. (Please note: Tuesday classes are from 6-7:30pm. Saturday classes are from 9:30-11am.) Call 618.344.1112 for more information.

October 16 & 20: Apples to Apples - The leaves are changing and fall is in the air. Say goodbye to summer and hello to fall. Learn a fantastic and simple homemade applesauce recipe and finish with a sweet apple treat that is sure to delight everyone!

November 13 & 17: Thanksgiving 101 - Learn the basics of creating a simple and fabulous Thanksgiving for your family and friends. Create a delicious side dish or dessert that will compliment any Thanksgiving feast.

December 11 & 15: Christmas Cheer - Whether it's chestnuts roasting over an open fire or the smell of fresh baked Christmas cookies in the air, it's just not Christmas without delicious smells filling the house. This holiday season we will learn some delicious Christmas cookie recipes and top it off with divine dessert shots.

Posted by Jed Robbins, Library Assistant

Monday, October 01, 2012

Meet the Staff Monday - Jessica

Jessica is our Adult Services Librarian and loves planning programs and events for the library.  She was born and raised in beautiful Bloomington, Indiana and attended Indiana University where she studied English Literature and received her Master’s in Library Science.  Jessica spent four years as a Children’s Librarian working for the Chicago Public Library before joining the wonderful staff of the Collinsville Memorial Library Center.  Some of Jessica’s favorite things are reading, road trips, camping, photography, rare books and knitting.  Jessica loves learning new things and enjoys reading many different genres.  Her favorite books include Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin and The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and she is currently reading A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The International Fiction Book Club met the evening of September 19th, 2012 at the Blum House to discuss Lost City Radio by the Peruvian born writer, Daniel Alarcón.   To understand the author’s perspective that inspired him to write this book, I gave a little background gleaned from a 2007 interview with the San Diego Reporter in which he describes important events that led to his development as a novelist.  Born in 1977 in Peru, Alarcón moved with his physician parents to Birmingham, Alabama when he was 3 years old.  During his childhood, every other year he would make extended stays with his parents back in his homeland and attend school while he was there.  He experienced the Shining Path guerrilla movement without really knowing what was happening.  The blackouts in his school were a time for playing jokes.  Then, in 1989, his uncle, a leftist university professor and union leader, disappeared from the earth.  In 1999, Alarcón went to Peru and investigated his uncle’s disappearance.  In 2001 he won a Fullbright scholarship to do anthropological work in Peru.  He would often listen to a radio program entitled,Busca Pesonas (People Finder). The Lost City Radio program is loosely based on this experience of listening to people search for their lost loved ones.

When first thinking about writing on this subject, Alarcón thought maybe it would be a work of non-fiction.  We discussed how perhaps he was overwhelmed at the task of trying to explain the philosophy and history behind the civil war that plagued Peru through the 80’s and into the 90’s.  One would also likely have to try and deal with the extraordinary politics of 20th Century Peru.  From 1930 to 1980 there were 6 militarycoups and democracy was only a relative term and still continues to be a work in progress.  I read an excerpt from a research paper I wrote in 1999 explaining the origin and philosophy of the Shining Path, which the Illegitimate Legion of the book is based upon.  A few people commented that the author did not engage the reader enough by avoiding historical detail that could illuminate a struggle that started back in the 16th century when the Spanish conquered the Incas.

So, by setting the story in a fictionalized country the author attempts to “collectivize the experience of displacement”.  He did not want to get caught up in the particular details of Peru’s civil war.  Norma is the voice of the Lost City Radio program and has a devoted following because of her bringing together families and friends who were lost during the war.  The war has been over for 10 years in the “present” time of the novel.  Most of the action, however, is omnisciently given through flashbacks of Norma’s relationship with Rey, her eventual husband, and part-time messenger for the IL whose missing case is brought to the forefront of Norma’s life once again by the appearance of a boy from the village in the mountains where Rey did field work in Botany.

We see the life of the indigenous people through various characters and the author uses events that resonate with symbolic meaning.  We talked about how one such device was perhaps pivotal in removing any attempt at historical detail.  Tadek was a ritual that the remote village people used to discover who was guilty of a crime.  A young boy is given an hallucinogen and blindfolded.  He is led to the forest where he is surrounded by the possible suspects.  The first person he touches is the guilty one and must have his hands cut off.  Alarcón handles this brilliantly and the blind justice of both the government and IL death squads revolve around this portion of the story.  The question was asked whether or nottadek was practiced in Peru.  In the interview mentioned above, Alarcón explains that it was not.  He had read a book about Haile Selassie and it described a tradition of this sort that was practiced in Ethiopia.

Though the book succeeds because of adept writing, even while changing time-frames within the same paragraph, it was a common remark that it failed on a larger level without focusing on details of the war in Peru.  A short story forced into a novel?  Perhaps, but it was a good enough read to foster a lively discussion.

Next up, on October 17th, is Star of the Sea by Irish author, Joseph O’Connor.  See you there.

Posted by Jim Krapf, Library Clerk.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Meet the Staff Monday - Jed

Jed Arthur Robbins has been working for the Mississippi Valley Library District for just over two years. At the library, Jed does a little bit of everything – including, but not limited to, creating graphics and flyers for the Collinsville and Fairmont City Library websites and other displays, blogging and Facebooking/Tweeting for the library, sending and receiving items to and from libraries that aren’t in our immediate library system, teaching computer classes, and planning events for patrons as well as staff. While on the subject of planning events, Jed organized his first neighborhood Block Party when he was in sixth grade and has been involved in the community ever since. He volunteers as much as possible with different groups and entities in town, and he loves local politics. Outside of work and community involvement, he has two sisters (Rachel & Jessa), a niece (Kaylee), a nephew (Kadyn), a girlfriend (Caity), a dog (Riley), a hamster (Alice), and a turtle (King Triton). Jed’s favorite book is 365 Ways to Change the World: How to Make a Difference – One Day at a Time by Michael Norton. His favorite television shows are “Lost”, “The Amazing Race”, and “Modern Family” (which he’s currently working his way through Season 3, so don’t spoil anything for him). The craziest thing that Jed has ever done was jumping out of an airplane a few summers ago, but he’d do it again in a heartbeat, and he’d love to be on a reality television/competition show someday. If you have any connections to reality show producers, please pull him aside at the library and let him know!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Your child's class could meet the Rams!

On behalf of our friends at the St. Louis Rams, we want to share their extra special webpage with our parents and teachers. Children ages 6-12 can enter to win a Rams classroom visit at their school.

The child simply goes on line and in three sentences or less, tells the Rams why he/she thinks his/her teacher/principal/lunch lady/bus driver (whoever!) is the best school person ever. Each child who wins will receive a pair of game tickets for each child in his/her class, tickets for the teacher and “school favorite” nominated, as well as complimentary enrollment in the Rams Kids Club for each class member. Rampage or a Rams Cheerleader will deliver the tickets and other cool Rams items to the classroom, the Friday before the game. There are seven games, so seven classrooms will win. This is such a great initiative the Rams are putting out there! Good luck!


Monday, September 17, 2012

Meet the Staff Monday - Grahm

It's time for another installment of our ongoing "Meet the Staff" series. Today we present Half Empty Prisms: Grahm Underwood Before the Water Wars. Grahm began working as a Clerk for the Collinsville Memorial Library Center on June 3, 2011...
Three weeks later he and his wonderful wife became the proud parents of a baby boy. Currently Grahm runs our Books & Movies Club as well as helping to teach the free computer classes we offer every month. Also, he has written this list of fictional band names...

The Bodice Rippers
Everyday Decay
The Blue Romantix
Meltdown Romantics
Sky Replacement
The Rix
Molly Ringworm

P.S. We let our staff write their biographies all by themselves!


Friday, September 14, 2012

Local Author Spotlight - Wayne Reinagel

As part of the library's continuing efforts to learn more about our community, our very own Jed Robbins recently had the opportunity to interview local author Wayne Reinagel, whose recent epic action-adventure stories have been a hit with people of all ages. Here's how the conversation went:
JR: What made you want to write?
WR: I began reading classic fiction at a very early age, enjoying timeless masterpieces such as 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, Dracula, Frankenstein, Three Musketeers, War of the Worlds, the Sherlock Holmes mysteries. From the moment when I first discovered that people made a living writing and illustrating books, I knew that was what I wanted to do with my life.

JR: Do you stick primarily to one genre, or do you write all types of different things?
WR: Thus far, I have thoroughly enjoyed writing epic action-adventure stories, usually involving a large cast of interesting characters and weaving the storyline around events from various other novels and real-life events. I have even created my own vast universe, where my characters live and breathe, a strange and unique place known as Infinite Horizons. It is possible that I will explore other genres in the future.

JR: Who are your favorite authors?
WR: I have enjoyed the works of many of the writers from Victorian era (late 800’s), including Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes), classics, Jules Verne (Journey to the Center of the Earth & Mysterious Island), Mark Twain (Tom Sawyer & Huck Finn) and many more. Other favorite writers are from the pulp magazine era (circa 1930’s - 1940’s), including Raymond Chandler, Kenneth Robeson, and Walter Gibson.

JR: What are the biggest obstacles you've had to overcome to become a published author?
WR: Years ago, when I first began writing novels, I opted to create my own publishing house, Knightraven Studios. In the long history of book publication, self-publishing a book has never been easier. These days, with the advent of ebooks and print on demand, even big publishing houses are having serious problems being competitive with the self-publishers.
JR: What are the names of your past works?
WR: About five years ago I started working on an epic-length ‘Steampulp’ story involving dozens of Victorian era characters of the late 1800’s combined with a group of four heroes of the 1930’s pulp era in a universe known as Infinite Horizons. My first novel was Pulp Heroes - More Than Mortal, which takes place in 1945, at the end of WWII. The second, Pulp Heroes - Khan Dynasty, was a prequel, which takes place in 1938. I am currently writing the third and final book of the trilogy, Pulp Heroes - Sanctuary Falls. Last year, I started another, slightly darker series, often described as Gothic Horror Steampunk. The first novel is Modern Marvels - Viktoriana, which takes place in 1888. I also wrote a short story, "Hunter Island Adventure", and an epic, humorous, medieval poem entitled, "The Scarlet Dragon’s Tale". More information on all these titles can be found at my website,

JR: What other hobbies do you have?
WR: I enjoy art media of all kinds, specifically painting. Fortunately, being self-published also means that I can use my own artwork to illustrate my books. Using a computer program called Adobe Photoshop, I created digital paintings for each of the covers and also the interior art for each of my novels. Many of these full-color illustrations can be found at the website listed above and at

JR: What's your favorite thing about writing?
WR: Exploring the ability to properly express myself through words, helping my readers visualize my stories by painting a mental picture of distant locations and events. I have taken my readers around the world and sometimes back through decades of time. My novels are vastly more complex than your average story, and the characters in are more realistic - living, growing and sometimes even dying. My stories are a bit unique and often described as ‘epics.’ They are not a light snack, but rather an eight course dinner including a dessert and appetizer, and as such, not intended to be consumed at one sitting.

JR: Any previews of upcoming projects?
WR: I have created outlines for six other novels and several dozen short stories that I hope to work on after I finish writing and illustrating Sanctuary Falls. I believe the next book will be the second novel in the Modern Marvels trilogy, subtitled Gothika.

JR: In your opinion, why should people read your books?
WR: I try to write fun, fast-paced, entertaining stories, and offer the reader the best bang for their buck. These are action/adventure stories, wild roller-coaster rides and that should leave the reader wanting more. A reader recently emailed me and stated that after he finished Khan Dynasty, which is nearly 600 pages long, he couldn’t wait to start reading the next novel. That’s a high compliment, indeed. Another described my books as, “Lightning in a bottle.” I don’t think I can come up with a better description than that.
Posted by Jed Robbins, Library Assistant