Monday, November 21, 2011

Jewish Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Conference and Me (Lucky 13)

The Conference
      I am a Jew this quote has been said many times over the years. Yesterday I spent a whole day in a book conference in Temple Emanu-El on east 65th street. It is a much smaller conference then SCBWI but it is very specific to the topic of Jewish books. The market is starting to rise now. This conference had many great speakers including agents, Editors, authors, publishers, the Sydney Taylor awards, Jewish Book  Council and PJ library All the speakers I listed above made wonderful speeches. They focused on the usual stuff. Everyone is looking for a fresh voice, great characters, wonderful dialog and Jewish themed books. What are Jewish themed books you ask. "Look at them as a table with five legs" one publisher said. Family, holidays, Community, Hebrew language and the leg of Israel. All these topics were covered and discussed closely.

What does it mean to be a Jew?
     I was born in Russia and was a Jewish refugee when Ronald Reagan made a deal with the USSR, he exchanged pipes for 20.000 Jews to come to USA. The deal was made in 1980's. I was among that group.

To me being Jewish means a connection to community, helping others in need, Studying the old Testament, making a convent with one God and becoming a man through a Bar Mitvah. Everything works together as one. Exodus says "we were strangers in a strange land."   That is what I was in Russia, you see under communism life was not easy for anyone. We could not practice our religion freely, we could not speak out in public, we had very little food and hard lives.  I would like to end this post with five Jewish Quotes.

1) "Good Deeds are better then wise Sayings." -Talmud: Pirke Avot
2) "The Wisdom of the wise and the experience of the ages are perpetuated by quotations."  Benjamin Disraeli
3) "Experience is what we call the accumulation of our mistakes." -Yiddish folk saying
4) "If you want the present to be different from the past, study the past."  -Baruch Spinoza
5) "Life is God's novel so let him write it." -Isaac Bashevis Singer

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Public libraries and Celebrating Halloween ( A look at Public library life)

We just finished celebrating Halloween. Your children dressed in wonderful costumes, you walked from house to house getting candy, your schools had parties and ton of candy was given away. This holiday was celebrated all over the country and probably in other countries as well. Last post I shared with you where Halloween came from and the folklore behind it but today I will take a larger step. I will look at how public libraries celebrated this holiday.

A few days ago I did a massive survey on a list called pub lib and asked a very simple question How does your library celebrate Halloween. I got a massive response to this question and have decided to give a list of 10 most unique stories that came from this list. This post will not have any book reviews and lets say I will catalog this under Cool Stuff. Please enjoy my list of 10.

1)  The year we had the ground breaking for our building the same day as the Halloween parade so that as soon as that parade was over we had our parade from the old building to the new site. Thus the community band that played for our parade and ground breaking ceremony did it dressed in Halloween costumes. The last two years of the Optimists Halloween parade we entered a book truck drill team. The first year we each dressed as a story book character and put pictures on our book trucks to fit our character. The second year we all wore black with bright colored boas and decorated the carts for Halloween.

Meg Van Patten
Head of Reference and Adult Services
Baldwinsville Public Library    

2) This year, the teen party was on Saturday, 10/29. We started with a Haunted Library; the kids turned our entire building into a haunted maze, then played spook after dark. You know the sort of thing -- shelves blocked by spiderwebs and fabric panels spray-painted to look like blood, things hanging from the ceiling, black lights (which made this year's chair monster look super-freaky -- all eyes and teeth!) two different scary soundtracks playing in different areas, mechanical monsters and then people jumping out at you in the dark. Oh, and one of the librarians rocking like a mad woman in the story time chair and staring as she pressed the old-fashioned people-counting clicker.
Oh, and last thing (this is actually going in reverse chronology... oops)... we also hosted a "Nightmare on Dunn Street" this year for the first time. One Friday night earlier in the month, we lit a fire bowl, roasted marshmallows and hot dogs, and told ghost stories after dark. We had 25 people come, which is huge for us for a first-time teen event. I discovered that my teens are willing to tell stories, but have no idea how to do it, and I think we will most likely do it again in the summer. I am going to theme it around "A Midsummer Night's Dream," and we will all tell sidhe stories instead of ghost stories.

Dora Byrd Rowe
Library Director
James L. Hamner Public Library

3) We had a Boo Bash  -- we had pumpkin decorating (magic markers, sequins, felt and foam pieces and googly eyes), Halloween bingo, "Madame Roselita" telling your fortune (with a moving broom activated by noise and a fog machine), 5 or 6 games, scary (but not too scary) storytelling, a costume judging contest and treat bags for all the kids.
Library staff could dress up or not, as they pleased -- we had a nurse, farmer, cowboy, nymph, witch, cat, vampire, dog, fortune teller, genie, dancer and the bearded lady.

Lynn Pauley
Reference Associate / Adult Programming Associate
Dr. Samuel L. Bossard Memorial Library

4) One year I teamed up with my local 4H and we did a teen run haunted library. The 4H had more money than we did so they contributed a lot towards the cost.  This year, I wanted to have the teens to have zombie horror movie makeup done on them. I called a local arts high school and they recommended a teacher. He came, brought 3 of his students to help and supplies and did it all for free! They looked amazing. We also have Halloween candy out and we dressed up.

Ardith Ohka
Indian River Library

5) We do a Senior tree at the Library. We have partnered with the local nursing homes in our town and with the help of the public we help provide gifts for those that are in long term care centers or rehab facilities. This idea grew out of the budget cuts that not only were experienced by Government agencies but also care facilities. Recently they did not have enough funding to provide a holiday meal and gifts for their residents so we partnered with them. It has been a very successful program/partnership and the public seem to enjoy participating. We put tags on a decorated Christmas tree that is called the Senior Reading Tree which is decorated with lights and bulbs and the tags with names and the requested gift(s) provided by the facilities. This is our fourth year and we will probably do approximately 100 - 125 packages/gifts.

Robert E. Perone, MSLIS
Director of Library Services
Bradford County Public Library

6)  We actually go all out for Halloween for our community. Let me preface this by saying though we are a small rural public library and we receive a donation from the community to put on a party. This year was the best year yet because our Friends of the Library group put together a haunted house in the basement community community room, so this year we had a party and a haunted house. It was all very cool.

Rebecca Buchmann, Director
Black Creek Village Library

7) We're a small public library in a town with a strong Main Street organization. On the Saturday before Halloween, Main Street Wilmington sponsors a Trick or Treat Trail with downtown businesses handing out candy. During that time, we also do a craft time featuring simple crafts the kids can make fairly quickly. This past Saturday, we had about 80 kids go through during the two hours. We also give out candy during the "regular" trick or treat time (which is tonight).

Nancy P. Ehas
Wilmington Public Library

8)  We pick a theme (often book related) and many staff dress up. We’ve been Wizard of Oz characters, Alice in Wonderland characters, Harry Potter….This year we’re comic book or cartoon characters. So far we have Cruella de Vil, Dalmatian puppies, Biblioman, Ms. Literate, Conan the librarian……and more. Most patrons love it. Some just shake their heads. – Bette Ammon

Bette Ammon
Library Director
Coeur d'Alene Public Library

9)  We have a mitten tree at our library. We collect mittens, hats and scarves and adorn the tree with them. They are then donated to local families in need. This is as nondenominational as we can get. We also put up a menorah and have books about Kwanzaa displayed. We try our best and welcome suggestions from the community to make everyone feel important, included and welcome at the library.

Laurenne Teachout
Library Director
Stephentown Memorial Library

10)  My staff loves Halloween!  The Library has been decorated for about a month.  It's mostly purple lights, bats and spiders -- nothing too scary.  Some of the staff dress up and we always have candy for the public.  Also, children are invited to dress in costume for storytimes during the week before Halloween. They have a little parade through the library.   The Children's Librarian dresses up as Mother Goose.  Today we have a glamorous witch (not scary), a steampunk heroine, Cher and the victim of a vampire.  Staff members that don't dress in costume usually wear Halloween-style shirts.  We have fun and the public has come to expect it!

Jane Carle
Kirtland Public Library

This concludes my special update, I really would love to get you commends on here. Hope you enjoy this. Thank you everyone who shared there stories with me I am sorry I was not able to use everyones, but there will be other chances.