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, http://wwwpulpheroesmorethanmortal.webs.com/.

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 http://waynereinagel.deviantart.com/.

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

Thursday, September 13, 2012

U.S. Public Libraries Weather the Storm

Public libraries continue to transform lives by providing critical services and innovative solutins to technology access, in spite of years' worth of cumulative budget cuts.

The U.S. Public Library Challenge: Use vs Funding, FY2011-2012

Technology Classes up 36%
Electronic Resources up 58%
Computers up 60%
Wi-Fi up 74%

Flat or Decreased funding down 57%
23 states report cuts in state funding to public libraries in 2011

Read more at www.ala.org/plinternetfunding

Posted by Katie Heaton, Branch Manager

Monday, September 10, 2012

Kindles @ Your Library

The Collinsville Memorial Library Center now offers Kindles for a three week check-out. This leading brand of e-book readers allows you to download, browse, and read e-books and other digital media! Once you check-out a Kindle, you can use our online database, OverDrive (www.library2go.info), to browse and download free e-books. All that's needed is a library card! We hope you take advantage of this exciting opportunity!
Posted by Jed Robbins, Library Assistant

Meet the Staff Monday - Gilberto

Meet Gilberto!  Born in Guatemala, Central America, Gilberto attended Medical school at the University of San Carlos in Guatemala.  There was a devastating earthquake in 1976 which gave him real life training in the medical field. To support his studies, Gilberto taught math classes to adult students.  Life in Guatemala was very precarious with very limited opportunities so Gilberto decided to immigrate to the USA.  The change was very radical and took him several years to integrate into American culture. He attended SIUE during the mid-80s while he worked in the Medical field in a general hospital in St. Louis.

You will see Gilberto working mainly at our library in Fairmont City where his Spanish language skills come in very handy; but he also works at Collinsville, you can usually spot him by looking for his shirt and tie.  Gilberto is constantly educating himself and is fascinated by computers, construction, health, and languages.  He also loves tree climbing, as you can see by his photo.  Next time you see Gilberto, be sure to say hello!  Or hola, bonjour, or any other greeting.  Chances are, he can answer!


Thursday, September 06, 2012

Mini Golf in the Library

The Collinsville Memorial Library Center is getting ready to tee-off and host its first ever "Mini Golf in the Library" Fundraiser.

At this fundraiser, which runs from the library's opening to closing (9am-5pm) on Friday, September 21 and Saturday, September 22, patrons will be able to play through nine holes of library-inspired Mini Golf inside the Collinsville Memorial Library Center. Admission for a round of Mini Golf will be $5 per person, and all funds raised will benefit the library's fall and winter programming (which includes things such as Teen Read Week, the Halloween Walk, and the library's Christmas festivities). Each year, these programs bring thousands of guests into the library. We hope to see you here!

Posted by Jed Robbins, Library Assistant

The Financial Aid Process - Paying for College

Did you know...

Making college accessible and affordable for all Illinois students is the mission statement of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC).  The ISAC is the financial aid agency in the state of Illinois that administers acholarship, grant and prepaid tuition programs. 

Recently, many are asking....Is a college education worth the cost?  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Education pays in higher earnings and lower unemployment rates per data collected for persons age 25 and over in full-time wage and salary workers.

Ways to Finance College:  Financial Aid Programs; 529 Savings & Prepaid Tuition Programs; Employer Tuition Benefits; and Tuition Payment Plans.  Know your options...

The First step in the financial aid process is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  A FAFSA is used to apply for state and federal financial aid programs.  In additon, some college use it to award institutional aid.  The application is available at no fee.  There are three ways to access a FAFSA. 

Paper FAFSA 1-800-4-FED-AID
Web:  www.FAFSA.gov
PDF:  www.FSA.ed.gov

Learn more at KnowHow2GOIllinois.org 

Posted by Katie Heaton, Branch Manager