Thursday, March 28, 2013

Theo's Ideal Bookshelf

It's Theo's turn to share his Ideal Bookshelf. A huge sports fan, here's what he had to say about his book choices:

I love reading sports encyclopedias. So that's why I like to keep books like baseball, football, hockey and basketball encyclopedias for my ideal bookshelf. I also like to keep the ESPN Sports Almanac there. That way, I can find out facts like who won the World Series every year, the Super Bowl, Stanley Cup, the NBA Finals, etc. There are two sports novels I like and both of them are new -- John Grisham's Calico Joe and Gabby Douglas' new book, Grace, Gold and Glory. Outside of sports, I also like reading the Rand McNally Road Atlas. I have the Road Atlas at home, so I like reading it to explore new cities and towns. I'm also a TV and music fanatic, so I like to have the Complete Directory To Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows and Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits on my bookshelf.

--Alison Donnelly, Children's Librarian

Monday, March 25, 2013

Ready Or Not, Polaris Is Here!

Although patrons may not be able to see most of them, the Mississippi Valley Library District (which includes both the Collinsville Memorial Public Library and Fairmont City Library Center) is currently in the middle of some huge changes regarding its Automated Circulation System.

The MVLD, along with over 400 other libraries throughout the southern half of Illinois, are a member of SHARE (Sharing Heartland’s Available Resources Equally), the largest library automation consortium in the country. In order to better provide for their patrons, the libraries that make up SHARE are changing to Polaris, a new automation system. This change will increase the number of items available to patrons from approximately 2 million to over 10 million! It will also increase the number of patrons that have access to items at the MVLD from approximately 250,000 to nearly 1.6 million.

There will also be a new online patron access catalog, where patrons can search for items that they’re interested in, place holds, pay fines, and so on. The new online PAC will be available beginning April 9, which is the first live day of circulation with Polaris.

"Your current Library Card will gain you access to all of those collections through the new online card catalog as well as your ability to walk into any of our Illinois libraries and borrow onsite," said Barbara Rhodes, Director of the Mississippi Valley Library District.

From April 1-8, libraries will be using an offline version of Polaris. During that time, libraries will be unable to issue new Library Cards and will only circulate their own materials to their own patrons. The MVLD encourages you to hold on to any items from other libraries during the week of April 1-8. In an effort to make things as smooth as possible, no new Overdue Fines will be charged from April 1-15.

The biggest hiccup of the transition has been that patrons’ Hold Lists and Reading Histories were not able to be transferred from Millennium (the old circulation software) to Polaris. As a result of this, patrons will have to reenter their requests starting on April 9.

"The Library Staff will do everything in its arsenal of expertise to make this an easy transformation for you. We will appreciate your patience while we learn and perfect our control of the new software," Rhodes added.
Posted by Jed Robbins, Library Assistant

Thursday, March 21, 2013

International Fiction Book Club Meeting (March 20, 2013) - "Reservation Blues" by Sherman Alexie

         The International Fiction Book Club met the evening of March 20th to discuss the novel, Reservation Blues by the Native American author, Sherman Alexie.  We skipped around a lot on this one as the seemingly self-deprecating and cutting humor laced throughout the book spurred numerous positive reactions from members.  We agreed that the use of humor along with the dialogue oriented narrative stimulated the reader and allowed for the general acceptance of the use of a sort of Indian “Magical Realism”.  I should make mention that Alexie’s common use of the term “Indian” instead of “Native American” is evidence of the author’s own assimilation into pop-culture from an early age.

         Alexie grew up on the Spokane Reservation, located in Western Idaho, sixty miles from Spokane, Washington.  This is the home base for the three main characters in the novel, Thomas Builds the Fire, Victor Joseph and Junior Polatkin.  Myth blends with reality early on as the Mississippi Delta bluesman from the 1930s , Robert Johnson, is met at the crossroads of the only town on the Reservation in 1992 by Thomas Builds the Fire.  Thomas was the only Indian brave enough to offer a ride to the black man stranger who is on a quest to regain his soul.  Legend has it that Robert Johnson became an accomplished guitar player when agreeing to sell his soul at the infamous crossroads made famous by Johnson’s song “Crossroad Blues”.  As Johnson re-discovers his lost soul with the help of Big Mom (who is herself a timeless bearer of Indian tradition) the trio of Thomas, Victor and Junior are mysteriously taken over by Johnson’s guitar and coerced into forming  the band, Coyote Springs. 

         Coyote Springs plays their first job at a tavern on the Flathead Reservation, located in Western Montana as depicted on a map brought in by a member of the group.  The Flathead sisters, Chess and Checkers Warm Water, become backup singers and keyboard players as the group enjoys limited success.  Coyote Springs are considered representatives of the Spokane Reservation by the Tribal Council but each member of the group has private demons that Alexie depicts gradually through character interaction and dreams that make it obvious that they only represent themselves in all their naivete and pratfalls.

         An example of one of Alexie’s themes plays out when Thomas’ Dad is passed out drunk on the kitchen table and Thomas leaves Chess and Checkers to go outside and cry.  He was not afraid to cry  in front of women but “he wanted his tears to be individual, not tribal”.  Spontaneous interaction in the Pike Place Market in Seattle where the group travels to contend in a “battle of the bands” leads Victor to accompany an old Indian singer whose hands are too worn out to play guitar.  Playing the old man’s cardboard guitar, Victor helps him amass several hundred dollars.  Success for Victor breeds excess as his alcoholism plays an integral part throughout the book.  Coyote Springs wins the thousand dollar prize but Victor drinks up his share of the winnings.  Coyote Springs appears to be gaining a bit of fame, however,  it is short lived as they are rejected by the Tribal Council for having white women singing backup and for beings drunks.  These “New Age” women attached themselves to Victor and Junior and seem to reveal the out of tune side to rock n roll.

        Coyote Springs are flown to New York by music producers George Wright and Phil Sheridan.  Their boss is a Mr. Armstrong.  Earlier, we have a flashback in the memory of Big Mom and with a little research the connection is made.  Generals Wright and Sheridan were instrumental in 1858 in defeating the Indians in what was to become Washington state and later the confinement of Indians to reservations.  Armstrong refers to General Armstrong Custer.

         Needless to sat, Coyote Springs falls apart in the big apple but not before revealing much about the difficulty of leaving the Reservation and existing in the white man’s world.   won’t give away the ending but suffice it to say that the final scene is as breathtaking and ties together the wretched history of a colonized people.

         We next discuss, Mister Pip, by the New Zealand author Lloyd Jones.  We meet at the Blum House on Wednesday evening at 6:30 on April 17th.  You are welcome to join us.

Posted by Jim Krapf, Library Clerk

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Celebrate National Library Week With Book Jacket Bingo!

National Library Week is April 14-20, and the Mississippi Valley Library District is ready to celebrate with its patrons!

This year, patrons are invited to play Book Jacket Bingo over the course of the week. The concept is simple: starting on Wednesday, April 10, patrons can begin registering at the Main Desks of the Collinsville Memorial Public Library or the Fairmont City Library Center and choose a Bingo Card.

Starting on Monday, April 14th and continuing throughout the week, the Collinsville and Fairmont City libraries will post clues (on their respective Facebook Pages as well as at the Main Desks of each center) that correlate with the books on the Bingo Cards. Once patrons figure out which book the clue relates to, they can highlight the book jacket on their Bingo Card. The first two patrons to bring back a correct Bingo (across, up-and-down, diagonally, or four corners) will receive a Gift Card and the third patron to bring back a correct Bingo will have all of his or her regular Overdue Fines waived.

Patrons can double their odds by registering at both the Collinsville Memorial Public Library and the Fairmont City Library Center, but are limited to one card per center.

Posted by Jed Robbins, Library Assistant

Library Sleevefacing - March 20, 2013

Who knew opera singers liked to hang out in our Childrens Library? For our second Library Sleeveface this librarian has chosen the operatic sounds of Maria Callas. Can you guess which staff member it is? You can check out this classic opera album from the Collinsville Library’s very own record collection located in the Media Center. Peace Out! 

Posted by Courtney Locandro, Library Clerk

Cecilia's Ideal Bookshelf

Cecilia has excellent taste in books! Check out her ideal bookshelf and read about her favorite books below:

As you can see, most of my favorite books stem from my childhood. They are the books that mean the most to me because they started me on my love of reading.

Alice In Wonderland/Through The Looking Glass so enthralled me as a child that I never returned the book to the school library. (my parents probably had to pay for it, and I still own it). It is the only book that I have read over and over. My second grade teacher read Charlotte's Web to us in class and I can still remember how excited I was to go to school the next day just to hear the next chapter.

Dr. Seuss and Roald Dahl took me to the best places to meet such great characters, and Ordinary Amos, Tiger In The Basement, and The Great Bunny Caper were my childrens' favorite books read over and over (almost to the point of nausea) but I treasure them now. And what would the world be without a dictionary to define all those wonderful words for me. So my bookshelf might look immature to the untrained eye but they are HUGE in my heart.

--Alison Donnelly, Children's Librarian

Jim R.'s Ideal Bookshelf

It's Jim R.'s turn to share his most treasured books.  A former pastor and lifetime student, Jim is an excellent staff member to talk to if you are interested in Christianity and its vast array of literature.  Here's what Jim had to say about his book choices.

The study and pastoral application of Scripture has been the focus of my studies and life.  Any of Luther's works could have been listed, but his understanding of sin and grace as expressed in the Bondage of the Will is especially enlightening.  Walther is one of our church body's founders and most profound theologian and pastor, his work on the practical aspect of being a pastor and his understanding of law and gospel rank with Luther.  Both C.S. Lewis and Max Lucado are gifted writers and have inspired me to choose words carefully and craft sentences with meaning to clearly and effectively communicate the saving message of Jesus Christ.
--Alison Donnelly, Children's Librarian

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Five Formal Elements of Film: How to Critically Evaluate Movies

Everyone has strong opinions about the media they consume. Movies especially are often the target of adoration or scathing sentiment in word of mouth reviews around the water cooler. But how do we academically assess a film?

When critically evaluating a movie, it is important to consider more than just if you “liked” or “hated” it – that is, whether it was to your taste or not. Instead, there are technical, universal elements of film that every movie can be judged by. These are known in the Film Studies world as the Five Formal Elements of Film.

The five elements are narrative, cinematography, sound, mise-en-scene, and editing. These elements compose every scene in a movie and together constitute the essence of film. We will cover each element only very briefly, but in reality, entire fields of study are dedicated to each.

Narrative is simply the ancient art form of storytelling. What a movie is about – its story, characters, and world – forms its narrative. The narrative is present as soon as a script is finished and before the production of the movie even begins. For example, literature is pure, unfiltered narrative.

For most casual moviegoers a film succeeds or fails by its narrative. Whether someone likes the story and can connect with the characters is the basis for their appreciation of the film. This isn’t really fair, as judgment of narrative is more often than not purely subjective. While there are standards of narrative and a certain professional expectation, a lot of the time assessments of narrative amounts simply to individual opinion.

Cinematography is defined as “writing in movement” and depends largely on photography. The art of cinematography is concerned just as much with how something is being filmed as it is with what is being filmed. Cinematography is not a rudimentary and arbitrary process of filming the actors. The cinematographer, or director of photography, adds to and enhances the narrative through control of the camera.

The way in which a shot is framed, lit, toned, and colored is a story of its own just as it is in photography. Moreover, in cinema there is a pictorial consideration that does not exist in still photography: movement. Unlike in photography or painting, in cinematography the framing of an image can move. Where as in photography there is only one frame of a single second frozen in time, in cinematography there are twenty-four frames for every second on screen. A scene will often stretch on for minutes, which allows the camera to shape our perspective of what we are seeing through pans, tilts, and angles. Sometimes just the movement itself, or tracking of an image, can tell a story.

Mise-en-scene is everything that appears in a frame. Sets, locations, actors, props, costumes, light, and shadow are all part of mise-en-scene. Mise-en-scene can be realistic or abstract, purely background or an interpretive active element. Mise-en-scene is contributed to by a variety of talents on the film crew – production designers, make up artists, set builders, cinematographers, actors – everything on screen in a film has been deliberately included at an artist’s direction and for a purpose.

Editing has been called “the key to cinema” as it is the only formal element that is unique to the medium. An editor uses time and continuity as tools in presenting the narrative. It is the editor’s job to piece the whole movie together from all of the scenes and different cameras. The editor connects one scene to the next, and sometimes several shots in the same scene, with a few different editing techniques. The most common of these is the cut, in which one shot simply transitions abruptly into the next. Other editing techniques such as the fade out, dissolve, and wipe are so stylistic that they are rarely used. The art of the cut, that is the contrast of one shot to the next in photographic terms, is the practice of continuity in editing.

The duration of shots in juxtaposition to each other also shapes how we perceive the on screen material. When the camera is still or slow for a long period of time it is often to create a contemplative and somber effect. In contrast, rapid cuts simulates energy and action. A dramatic scene will often be one long take, with cuts used sparingly if at all. In an action scene there will be dozens of cuts, sometimes of inconsequential jumbled images, as it evokes a frenzied, hectic feeling.

Sound is perhaps the most powerfully visceral and subtly influential aspect of film. There are three components of sound in film: dialogue, sound effects, and music. Music is the most evident and striking of the components. Sometimes a film’s soundtrack can become just as renown and remembered as the movie itself. Jaws, Star Wars, and James Bond all feature musical themes that are arguably more ingrained into popular culture than the actual films. More than any other element music has the power to shape the viewer’s feelings and perceptions of a scene. Dialogue and sound effects, while more subdued in effect than music, are essential in bringing us into the world of the film and suspending our belief.

Few films fail at all of the formal elements. While one should be critical when evaluating a film, they should not fault a movie beyond its weaknesses and should instead assess the good with the bad. The next time you’re watching a movie and not getting into the story or characters, instead of writing it off and shutting it down try to instead consider the other elements at play – cinematography, sound, editing. Conversely, even fewer films succeed with all the formal elements. When watching a movie you enjoy and hold in high regard, it’s okay to be critical and hold each element of a film to its own standard. Maybe you have always loved a film for its costumes and stage designs but have overlooked a lackluster soundtrack or poor writing.

Being critical isn’t meant to be a sour experience. It should be fun and help enhance our understanding and appreciation of movies. When we know how to assess a film we can better comprehend how and why something is happening on screen. In most cases a film is the work of hundreds of talented artists so it is fair to judge it accordingly. Every movie has its strengths and weaknesses and recognizing them doesn’t mean that you have to like or not like it. Your subjective opinion is only stronger when it is surrounded by an objective analysis.

Posted by Terry Pierson, Library Page

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Teen Lock-In!

Get ready for the Teen Library Lock-In! Teens ages 13-17 are invited to spend a fun-filled evening at the Collinsville Memorial Library Center on Saturday, April 27th from 8pm to 8am. Join us for a crazy night full of competitions, laughs, food and fun! Registration is required and is limited to 25. Teens can buy a ticket to attend for 40 Teen Initiative points or $20. Registration will open April 1st and must be approved by Adult Services Librarian, Jessica. 

Posted by Jessica Lawrence, Librarian

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Herbal Remedy Making Workshops

Learn basic herbal preparations for common ailments. These hands-on workshops are free and are taught by Traditional Community Herbalist, Kristine Brown. Join us the 4th Wednesday of the month from 6:30-7:30pm at the historic Blum House (located next to the Library). For more information or to register and view the supply list for each class please visit

April 24- Weeds & Herbal Medicine as Food
May 22- Making Herbal Vinegars
June 26- Making Herbal Tinctures
August 28- Making Herbal Oils
September 25- Making Herbal Salves
October 23 - Making Herbal Teas and Infusions
November 27- Making Herbal Honeys

Posted by Jessica Lawrence, Librarian

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Library Sleevefacing - March 10, 2013

Sleevefacing is becoming a fast growing internet phenomenon where one or more persons substitute body parts - mainly faces - with vinyl record sleeves, causing an illusion. Some of the librarians here at the Collinsville Library have decided to take part in this trend. Luckily we have plenty to choose from in our record collection and records for sale at our monthly Book Sale. Your next opportunity to purchase some of these classic and unique records for your own personal collection is on March 26 from 9am-8pm. Along with the many records we have for checkout, we have even more CDs in our music section. Come check out it out for yourself in you are looking for some great music! See if you can figure out which of our librarians has become an honorary Ray Conniff Singer in this library sleeveface.

Posted by Courtney Locandro, Library Clerk

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Shamrock Sindig

Celebrate St. Patrick's Day with the library at our annual Shamrock Shindig celebration on Sunday, March 17th from 2:00-3:00pm. The Shindig will feature entertainment by the local 'Oak Hill' band. Refreshments and crafts for the kids will be offered. Don't forget to wear your green!

Posted by Jessica Lawrence, Librarian

Monday, March 04, 2013

Teen Art Contest

Teen Tech Week is coming up (March 10-16) and the Library will be offering an art contest for teens! Teens can create an original work of art showcasing the library and the winning submission will get a Sylvania DV1100 digital video camera and memory card. With their special Teen Initiative library card they can check out a Drawing Tablet to help create and edit their of art.

Posted by Jessica Lawrence, Librarian