Friday, May 31, 2013

Free Computer Classes for Beginners

Did you know we offer a variety of free computer classes perfect for beginners? Check out our schedule for June. Classes last 1.5 hours and we do provide a laptop for use during class. Registration is required. Don't let frustration or lack of experience keep you from utilizing all that computers have to offer. Let our staff guide you through the basics. Stop by the Main Desk or call 618-344-1112 for more information or to register for classes. 

Posted by Jessica Lawrence, Librarian

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Travel the Historic National Road With Us! - July 10, 6-7pm

In honor of the Summer Reading Program, “Have Book, Will Travel!” the Collinsville Library will be hosting a fun and fascinating program about the historical National Road. Travel back in time with us and trace 200 years of American history right in our very own back yard! 

The National Road was the nation's first federally funded interstate highway. It opened the nation to the west and became a corridor for the movement of goods and people. Today, visitors experience a physical timeline, including classic inns, tollhouses, diners, and motels. 

Posted by Jessica Lawrence, Librarian

Friday, May 24, 2013

Film Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

Grade: A+
When J.J. Abrams rebooted the Star Trek franchise with 2009’s self-titled film he openly did so more in an attempt to convert a new generation to the long running sci-fi series than to please diehard fans. 2009’s Star Trek had something for everybody but featured more high-octane action, sexual suggestion, youthful angst, and pretty characters than the series was ever known for. For the first time Star Trek was a modern blockbuster and no attempt was made to disguise it with trailers featuring taglines such as “Not Your Father’s Star Trek”.

Into Darkness continues the ‘go modern’ approach but also is more geared towards those familiar with Star Trek lore than the first. For casual modern audiences the film is the most eye-popping spectacle driven event on screen so far this year, being composed of some truly outstanding and imaginative action scenes. Also the slender, dashing cast from the first movie returns in all their youthful exuberance and charisma. Previews for Into Darkness have not tried to distinguish the movie from the Star Trek of the past like the first film and instead have relied on the hope that modern audiences are familiar and infatuated with the new series and are now ready to dive right in to a high stake sequel.

While the first movie featured plenty of winks and nods to longtime fans the film was preoccupied with creating a new mythology to restart the franchise. Into Darkness is able to start freshly in the new Star Trek universe and as such is able to provide more subtle fan service for Trekkies. The relationships between Kirk, Spock, McCoy and the rest of the crew are as simultaneously fresh and reminiscent as ever. Whether this is your first or twelfth Star Trek film, there is something here for everybody.

Into Darkness centers on a mysterious new villain, played by Benedict Cumberbatch from BBC’s Sherlock, John Harrison. Harrison, a former member of Starfleet, has gone rogue and commits acts of terror and treason against the United Federation. Kirk, Spock, and the rest of the crew of the Enterprise are assigned with tracking down and eliminating the threat, but when they rendezvous with their target mysteries are solved and conspiracies revealed, unleashing a chain of events as fateful as they are explosive.

Despite previews suggesting a more serious and somber tone, Into Darkness picks up about where the first film left off. While there are some dramatic and tragic moments, for the most part the movie focuses on fun with exciting action, space spectacle, and the franchise’s signature dry humor. For young and old alike the film is pound for pound more entertaining than the excellent first iteration.

There is never a dull moment in Into Darkness. One of the movie’s greatest achievements is its pacing. Despite being two hours long, with plenty of twists and turns along the way, I simply could not believe the film was ending when the credits started to roll.

Abrams brings his signature style to the effort and provides another brilliant coat of fresh paint to the aging franchise. The famous lens flare effect so abundant in the first movie is back in full force and the sharp, bright colors and textures are equally striking. Abrams has succeeded in bringing a signature new look to the series that draws on and amplifies concepts of the original show. The space scenes are especially spectacular, in particular the sequence that has been highlighted in the trailers in which the Enterprise falls to Earth.

Throughout the film the cinematography is potent in not only keeping up with the action but also infusing an even greater energy to the on screen happenings. There are some exceptionally cool rear shots of the Enterprise blasting into space at warp speed, leaving a sparkling trail across the dark space sky. The soundtrack is dynamic and features a few signature motifs that tie elements of the plot together. Every element of mise-en-scene, from technological props and the gorgeous set of the interior Enterprise to CG backdrops of colossal planets and alien worlds is as drop dead gorgeous as one would expect from a benchmark of the science fiction genre.

The script, while sometimes predictable and a little action heavy, is solid and not only serves the compelling story but makes us care and relate to the beloved, enduring characters the franchise is renown for. Kirk is as honest hearted and bullheaded as Spock is cerebral and contemplative and the dynamics and depths amongst the crew is as inspiring, heartbreaking, and entertaining as ever before. The real champion of this aspect though is the cast. There is not a single lackluster performance in the film. Chris Pine again proves a perfect cast for Captain Kirk, with his boyish charm evolving to a commanding youthful roguishness over the course of the film. Zachary Quinto is simply brilliant as the not quite robotic Spock and Benedict Cumberbatch absolutely sizzles in his big screen debut, bringing a cold, steely, sharp-edged determination to the role that slices through the usually light hearted atmosphere of Abram’s Star Trek. Up and down the roster, from Simon Pegg as the goofy, hard working engineer Scotty to Zoe Saldana as the fiercely independent and capable Uhura, the cast is what truly brings the script to life and provides a rock solid foundation to what could have otherwise dissolved into an overly action packed CG eye candy fest.

As an adamant admirer of Star Trek: The Original Series and a big fan of Abrams first effort, my expectations for Into Darknesscould not have been higher and the film still managed to blow them away. Into Darkness has set a new precedent not just for the Star Trek franchise but for sci-fi action adventure in general. Easily the best film of the summer movie season so far and arguably one of the best science fiction efforts of the last decade, Star Trek Into Darkness now sits with its predecessor amongst the very best space adventures to ever blaze across the screen. It isn’t Academy material but I simply don’t see anyway Into Darkness,or any Star Trek movie, could be better.  

Editor's Note:  There is one way Into Darkness could have been improved - including William Shatner.
Posted by Terry Pierson, Library Clerk/Page

Library Sleeveface - May 24, 2013

This striking young singer is seen here in our nonfiction section, kindly posing for a photo from an admiring fan. This sweet sixties vocalist is a part of the melodious Ray Conniff singers. These singers are easy on the ears and great for summer listening. Many of their songs can be found in our record collection as well as at our bi-monthly Friends of the Library Booksale. Can you guess which of our librarians is this stunning vision in yellow?

Posted by Courtney Locandro, Library Clerk

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

FREE Movie Nights at the Library

Join us for Movie Night every Thursday at 6pm in the Community Room! Admission is FREE and popcorn and soda are sold for $1.00. Check out the movies we will be playing in June.

Posted by Jessica Lawrence, Librarian

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

"Have Book, Will Travel!" Summer Reading Program

Bring your sense of adventure to the library for our upcoming “Have Book, Will Travel!” adult Summer Reading Program. The Library will launch the Summer Reading Program on June 1. Participants have a chance to win prizes for reaching their reading goals including a grand prize gift basket. The first 30 adults to finish six books between June 1 and July 15 will earn an insulated drink tumbler or reading light. Registration opens June 1 and the program continues through July 15. To learn more about this exciting summer adventure at the library, please call 618-344-1112.

Posted by Jessica Lawrence, Librarian

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Film Review: The Great Gatsby

Grade: B+

It has been said that Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby is a case of style over substance. If this is true it is either by deliberate design or is completely appropriate nonetheless. The film, like the title character, is flashy, mysterious, magnificent, and grand. Like Gatsby himself the film shows off to conceal what is in reality much simpler than what meets the eye. There may be a case of style over substance, a sort of magnificent hollowness, but intentioned or not it feels like the perfect fit for Fitzgerald’s work and confirms that Baz Luhrmann was meant for the material.

From the outset Gatsby seems fit for Luhrmann. Having made his name on pageantry and pomp with films like Moulin Rouge and Rome + Juliet, the glitzy, fabulous world of Gatsby is as fantastic, extravagant, and explosive as the director’s reputation would suggest. From the stunning, other worldly portrayal of New York City to Gatsby’s wild and unbelievable parties, the film’s visuals are coursing with an unrestrained glamour and animation which borders on surrealism. This in part serves to present the roaring twenties in all their hyperbole. The visuals in Gatsby, as equally striking as even the best science fiction or fantasy, seem to ask if this time was really as we remember it and if this world of indulgence ever even really existed. The Great Gatsby moves like a dream across the screen, never feeling fully grounded or surefooted but always with the hint of a greater depth.

Much has been made of the soundtrack, which was produced by rap/hip-hop mogul superstar Sean “Jay-Z” Carter. Popular contemporary music has been a signature of Luhrmann’s movies and Gatsby is undoubtedly the most dramatic example of this staple. Visuals of twenties era America, in both its splendidness and horror, are accompanied by the distinctly twenty-first century sounds of Jay-Z himself as well as other modern artists such as Beyonce and Jack White. The effect can be overstated and is sure to be controversial but ultimately succeeds in shaping an identity for the film.

All of this overblown artistry may have fallen flat if it wasn’t supported by some truly amazing performances from an all star cast composed of Tobey Maguire,  Carey Mulligan, and Lenoardo Dicaprio. Dicaprio and Maguire are both in full stride and it can be argued that the film represents a new peak for both of the decorated actors. There is a sincere and palatable chemistry between the two and every scene featuring them both is a high mark of the movie. Dicaprio is every bit the charismatic enigma that Gatsby is imagined to be while Maguire’s trademark softness and sensitivity is perfectly suited to the real lead character of the story Nick Carraway.

The Great Gatsby is an unabashedly ambitious film and always soars towards monumental heights even when it doesn’t always quite reach them. Some may not connect with the severe visual emphasis and boldly creative artistically intense direction. Many may have wished for something more understated and otherwise typical of what one would expect from a great work of literature from the twenties based on the period. Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby was born as a divisive, unusual, and passionately expressive effort from a militantly individual perspective. It is already shaping up to be one of those works of art you either love or hate, with not  a lot of potential for middle ground. That is often the mark of a great work of art and while, again like the title character himself, The Great Gatsby doesn’t always achieve its sky high ambitions it at least always stays comfortably off the ground and in the clouds for trying. 

Posted by Terry Pierson, Library Clerk/Page

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Star Trek: Hope in Tomorrow

Science Fiction often paints a rather bleak portrait of our future. Whether it is human creativity or consumer appetite that is prone to pessimism regarding technology, the majority of future fiction in print and film is dedicated to horrifying dystopias where everything that can go wrong with technology and social progression has. The Hunger Games, 1984, Minority Report, and The Terminator are just a few examples in an endless list of dour future prophecy in fiction.

Star Trek is somewhat unique in science fiction in that overall it shows a positive utopian future as compared to the dystopian “technology has betrayed us” approach so common in the genre. In Star Trek (The Original Series) technology has catapulted humanity into a bright, exciting future where “no man has gone before.” Technology has reignited the flame of freedom in humans, serves and conveniences their every need, and rarely goes awry or backfires. Civilization has not just unified on Earth but largely across the entire universe under the banner of Starfleet, The United Federation of Planets. The show first aired in the sixties so this optimistic faith in peace came at the height of social unrest in the United States and in the middle of the Cold War. The Original Series featured one of television’s first multiracial casts, which was inclusive to almost absurd lengths but at the purpose of demonstrating how irrelevant race would be in the future.

Star Trek has always been a series full of unbridled hope. This is symbolized even in the visual tone of the original show and new movies, which are characterized by full colors, bright lights, and crisp clean textures. The show’s original run coincided with the peak of the Apollo Program in the United States and whilethe countries’ imagination for space, technology, and the future was at an all time high. Star Trek encapsulated these hopes, fears, and desires and represented them in a fun pulpy science fiction adventure show.

In a bit of beautiful creative irony it has since been well documented just how influential the show has actually been on the development of real world technology. Cell phones, tablets, lasers, robotics, space travel, and even the internet all have roots in Star Trek. As much as I love films such as The Terminator or Alien, their bleak, doomsday prophecies of the future and the effect of technology have been largely unrealized while some of the wonders and marvels of Star Trek have already come to fruition. Based on the show’s track record, I believe it is more likely that in the future we will be boldly blasting off into space at warp speed than fighting a war against turncoat murderous cyborgs.

Star Trek Into Darkness releases in theaters nationwide this Friday, May 17th.

Posted by Terry Pierson, Library Page/Clerk

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Library Sleevefacing - May 11, 2013

The country singer and songwriter seen here is displaying his love for rabbits near our puppet collection. Don’t let the manly facial hair and serious stare fool you, Eddie Rabbitt is a softie at heart. You can check out the melodious sounds of Eddie Rabbitt in our very own record collection. The Library's extensive puppet collection, including the cute bunny photographed here, is available for checkout in the Ruth Eckart Programming Resource Center (PRC) and in the Children’s Library. Be sure to mark your calendars for July 23rd, which will be your next chance to purchase records like these and much more at the  Friends of the Library Book Sale. Can you tell which of our librarians is portraying the softer side of Eddie Rabbitt?

Posted by Courtney Locandro, Library Clerk

Friday, May 03, 2013

Library Sleevefacing - May 3, 2013

This American singer and musician seems to be relaxed and enjoying his time in our computer lab. This librarian chose the jazzy, big band legend Nat King Cole. You too can enjoy the convenience of our computer lab with a valid picture ID. Also available for you to enjoy, are the soulful sounds of Nat King Cole and many more musicians in the library's vinyl record collection. Records like this and more are also available for purchase at our Basement Book Sale or Rummage Sale this weekend, May 3rd and 4th from 9am to 5pm. Ten records for just $1.00! Can you guess what staff member is portraying this unforgettable talent?

Posted by Courtney Locandro, Library Clerk