Monday, August 27, 2012

Meet the Staff Monday - Diane

Diane has worked at the library for 12 years and has had several titles since she's been here. Diane is married and has two children and two grandchildren. She enjoys outdoor activities like gardening and golf. Diane reads mostly non-fiction and is currently reading Then Again by Diane Keaton and Let's Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson. Be sure to say "hi" to Diane next time you're in!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

International Fiction Book Club Meeting (August 15, 2012) - "A Star Called Henry" by Roddy Doyle

         The 28th occurrence of the International Fiction Book Club met on the evening of August 15, 2012 to discuss the novel, A Star Called Henry, by the Booker award winning Irish author Roddy Doyle.  To start the discussion I voiced the opinion that, if one was looking for an historical novel that tells the story of the Irish fight for independence, I would not recommend this book.  However, If one was looking for a novel with the look and feel of the Irish underclass during the first twenty years of the Twentieth Century with the fight for Irish independence as the backdrop, I would highly recommend this book.  All in attendance agreed.  Although many of the characters are based on real people, the protagonist of the novel. Henry Smart, is a fictitious mix of the strong-willed, fiercely independent and criminal stew formed by the extreme poverty and unhealthy living conditions in turn of the century Dublin.

           Henry is denied his own identity from birth since his brother, who died as a baby, was also named Henry, his father’s name.  His mother always saw the dead baby boy as a star in the heavens and wanted another name for the son who was to become more like his father than he would ever know.  But his father insisted on calling him Henry.  With a twist of irony, Henry calls himself by his mother’s maiden name when confronted by the police.  Fergus Nash to the police but Henry Smart became the legend of song through his many exploits and escapes against and from the English colonialists.  Henry’s father is a one-legged bouncer at a brothel.  He is also a hit-man who clubs those he has been given the name of over the head with his wooden leg.  One gruesome scene has him sitting on the chest of a clubbed police constable while he then slits his throat.  Reminiscent of  Jean Valjean in Les Mis√©rables, he shows his son how to disappear from a chase by dropping into the sewer system and the underground rivers of Dublin.  The young Henry, who prowled the streets since he was five years old, uses this tactic after he joins the Irish Republican Army.

         Henry as a member of the Independence Movement does not make any decisions of his own until toward the end of the book.  He is a rough and tumble teenager who carries out the orders he is given.  He learns that he is involved in a class war but only much later becomes aware of the criminal fight that uses the fight for independence as a means to control their underworld criminal activities.

         The author excels at dialogue and uses just the right amount of Irish slang to give the flavor of the times emphasis.  A key historical factor in the struggle was the failure of the 1916 Easter Rebellion.  Doyle works the mass execution of Irish rebels into his story with dramatic effect.  We talked about how one of the factual leaders of the rebellion tells Henry that they can never defeat the English.  It is only by provoking the English to overreact that they gain support.  Gain support they did and after the 1st World War the English made another blunder by sending groups of unemployed ex-servicemen to “clean up the Irish mess”.  These so called “Black and Tans” brought out more supporters of the Independence Movement who might otherwise stayed out of the fight.

         In closing the discussion, I had to mention William Butler Yeats and his poem, Easter, 1916, in which he uses the refrain, ...wherever green is worn a terrible beauty is born.  So too, a terrible beautiful is displayed by Henry Smart.

         We next discuss, Lost City Radio, by the Peruvian born author, Daniel Alarc√≥n, on the evening of September 19th, 2012.  Hope to see you then around 6:30 at the Blum House.

Posted by Jim Krapf, Library Clerk

Monday, August 20, 2012

Meet the Staff Monday - Courtney

Introducing Miss Courtney Locandro this Meet the Staff Monday! Courtney has worked at the library since she was in high school as a Page, and now she is with us as a Clerk as she studies at UMSL to become a pediatric nurse. Courtney is a volunteer at St Louis Children's Hospital, and she loves playing with the kids and seeing the smiles on their faces. Courtney loves music; she plays piano and has enjoyed the Muny this summer. Courtney really likes to stay in shape and enjoys 5k running, zumba and biking. The Hunger Games Trilogy and The Help are some of Courtney's favorite books, and she is currently reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Johnathon Safran Foer. Be sure to say hello to Courtney next time you see her!


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Playaways Are Here!

We're proud to announce the addition of Playaways to our audiobook collection! According to the Playaway website,, these devices "provide simple and immediate access to audio and video content through easy-to-use, pre-loaded players." Our collection already has over 50 titles, and it's growing fast! Be sure to check them out next time you're in!

Posted by Jed Robbins, Library Assistant

Friday, August 17, 2012

"Reading is So Delicious!" Cooking Classes

Inspired by our Summer Reading Program theme "Reading is So Delicious!" the library sponsored summer cooking classes generously hosted by Chef Kathy Seibel. Classes offered included "Kitchen Essentials," "Quick and Easy Appetizers and Salads," "Spectacular 30-Minute Meals," and "It's Not Just Cake Mix." Fun was had by all who attended and it was wonderful to see people of all ages and backgrounds coming together to cook and laugh in the library kitchen. Sometimes they even shared their culinary creations with the staff at the front desk. What a treat! Those orange creamsicle cupcakes sure do look delicious.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Meet the Staff Monday - Colin

Ahoy! It's Meet the (Pirate) Staff Monday! Avast! There be fortune to be found! Part of a folk/traditional singing group, Colin keeps himself busy. After a long haul at sea, he spends his time entertaining crowds with his fellow pirates. Colin is currently pursuing a degree in business entertainment with hopes of being a voice actor. A newcomer to the library, he takes his duties as a clerk most seriously. Like any good pirate he casts his gaze towards the greatest bounty, and what could be greater than the treasures that library holds!

Adult Summer Reading Program Comes to an End

What a great summer we had here at the Collinsville Library! We had record participation in our adult Summer Reading Program with almost 300 people taking part. A huge thank you goes out to our generous library sponsors. We couldn't do programs and events like this without the amazing support of our local area businesses and organizations! Take some time to stop in and support our sponsors: Friends of the Collinsville Library, Porter's Steakhouse, DoubleTree by Hilton, Missouri Botanical Garden, Raging Rivers Water Park, and "A Little Bit of Sugar." 

Posted by Jessica Lawrence, Librarian

Friday, August 10, 2012

Summer Reader Extraordinaire!

The staff of the Children's Library are so proud of Madeline Mueller! Entering first grade at Twin Echo Elementary School, Madeline pledged to read 100 books this summer all by herself to fulfill her reading goal as part of the library's Summer Reading Program. She knocked it out of the park and read way more, so we made a special prize basket for her. Madeline likes to read chapter books and picture books.  Here she is with our Children's Librarian Miss Alison and Library Clerk Miss Megan. Congratulations to Madeline and her awesome family for making reading a big part of their lives.  

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Local Author Spotlight - Cole Gibsen

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 Cole Gibsen, whose recent young adult novel Katana has been a hit with people of all ages. Here's how the conversation went:

JR: What made you want to write?
CG: I've loved books for as long as I can remember. Some of my fondest memories are watching Levar Burton host Reading Rainbow on PBS, sitting on my Grandpa's lap while he read me the Sunday comics, and devouring the entire Black Stallion series when I was old enough to read for myself. And it was that love of books that sparked my imagination for coming up with stories of my own. I'm always looking at things from abandon houses to items discarded on the side of the road and thinking, "Hmm. I bet there's a story there."

JR: Do you stick primarily to one genre, or do you write all types of different things?
CG: Young adult fiction is my absolute favorite. I think it's because the teenage years are so full of "firsts" as well as angst and drama. All that emotion makes for fun story telling.

JR: Who are your favorite authors?
CG: Too many to list. I'm constantly reading in order to keep up to date on what's hot and new for the young adult market. However, I am partial to my local writer buddies Heather Brewer and Antony John.

JR: What are the biggest obstacles you've had to overcome to become a published author?
CG: Getting my first book published wasn't easy. It took me two manuscripts, two years, and two hundred rejections before I landed my agent. It then took another year and a dozen more rejections before we received an offer on KATANA.

JR: What are the names of your past works?
CG: I am the author of the mermaid novel BREATHLESS, the teen samurai fantasy KATANA, and it's sequel SENSHI, which will release in the spring of 2013.

JR: What other hobbies do you have?
CG: When I'm not in front of my computer writing I can usually be found at my sewing machine sewing costumes for comic conventions, piecing together quilts, or making felt hair accessories.

JR: What's your favorite thing about writing?
CG: It feels good to let the voices in my head out for some air every once in awhile.

JR: Any previews of upcoming projects?
CG: Well, I'm currently working on a new young adult project that has banshees...

If you'd like to see what Cole is up to, you can always check out her website at: or follow her on twitter at: If you're interested in checking out her books, visit your local library or a bookstore near you!

Posted by Jed Robbins, Library Assistant

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

"Caching" In At The Library

Did you know that there's a Geocache hidden in the Collinsville Memorial Public Library? Why not try to find it on National Geocaching Day, which happens to be next weekend?!

Geocaching is an outdoor sporting activity in which participants use clues, GPS, mobile devices and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers called 'geocaches' or 'caches'. Geocaches are currently placed in over 200 countries around the world and on all seven continents, including Antarctica and on the International Space Station. A typical cache is a small waterproof container containing a logbook where the geocacher enters the date they found it and signs it with their established code name. Within a ten mile radius of Collinsville, there are over 361 geocaches waiting to be found. If you're interested in finding out more about this unique hobby, visit

Posted by Jed Robbins, Library Assistant

Monday, August 06, 2012

Meet the Staff Monday - Barbara

This Meet the Staff Monday we are introducing our Director, Barbara Rhodes.  Barb has been at the library for 17 years and has accomplished much in her career.  The Mississippi Valley Library District was envisioned and established under her direction, and the Fairmont City Library Center came to be in existence due to countless hours of grant writing and research in the community.  As the Library became aware of unserved, low income families, it became a priority for Barb to expand the District and give access to library services to all of the Unit 10 school system. 

Barb is known for being a very forward thinking Director and mentor to her staff. She grew up in Mount Olive, raised her three children in Edwardsville, and now lives in Collinsville. She studied Education at SIUE and was a teacher before discovering the world of librarianship. When she is not working, Barb enjoys crocheting and spending as much time as she can with her adorable twin grandsons, Ben and Ryan. She also enjoys going to concerts, the theater, Cahokia Mounds and Saint Louis Zoo.

Mississippi Valley's "First Day"

Last week, staff members from the Mississippi Valley Library District - which encompasses both the Collinsville Memorial Library Center and the Fairmont City Library Center - represented the library district at Collinsville's fifth annual First Day Family Festival. According to The City Scoop (the official newsletter of the City of Collinsville), "The purpose of the First Day event is to strengthen the relationship between the Unit 10 School District and the City government, all while showcasing everything the City, School District, civic groups, and businesses have to offer residents of Collinsville." At the library's booth, Leslee, Jess and Jed encouraged people to sign-up for library cards, promoted the library district's upcoming programs, and handed out some sweet treats!

Posted by Jed Robbins, Library Assistant

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Library Garden

This year we had the wonderful opportunity to start a 
Collinsville Library Garden behind the historic Blum House. 
The garden was generously sponsored by our wonderful Friends of the Library! 
Thank you Friends. 

Behind the Blum House garage. 
We just cleared out the area so the top soil can be delivered. 
Thank you to Collinsville Ice and Fuel for generously donating 2 tons of top soil!

The soil has arrived!

Ready to start planting.

April 28, 2012 
Everything planted and secured under a pest net 
to try and keep the animals away from this bounty! 
Planted the day before the hail storm. Somehow it survived!

June 2012
The garden is flourishing!

Our first small harvest! What beautiful radishes and beans.

Posted by Jessica Lawrence, Librarian.