In the Stacks: a review of Andrew Smith’s Grasshopper Jungle

Jacket

Wow… first blog of the year, this is very exciting! Well dear readers, I would like to start this new blog of the New Year by letting you all know about a fascinating book I just finished before enjoying my holiday break. BOY! What a book it was. Not something I would recommend before huddling close with your family by a fire enjoying some hot cocoa and watching the “A Christmas Story” marathon on cable… but enough about me.

Here’s the setup of this book: take a boy with proud Polish origins and a penchant for telling the most random histories of people, places, and things.  Add in some special pizza, a bunch of sexually frustrated/confused teenagers, and somehow,  an exposed plague that breeds human-sized praying mantises and there you have (drum roll please)Grasshopper Jungle: A History” by Andrew Smith. Now I’m still not 100% up to date on my YA fiction, but I can say it’d be a stretch to argue that this is quite possibly one of THE MOST controversial Young Adult fiction books you can presently read. Continue reading

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In The Stacks – LONG LIVE ROCK & ROLL!

Hello again, dear readers. It is no big surprise that I am a huge fan of music. Not just one particular genre either, I try to be open to all types of music from various times in history. I figure in any one genre of music, there is some song, style, artist, etc. that was good and you would enjoy. So why hate? Embrace your eclectic side!

I have constantly been amazed by the CD selection available through the library. And honestly folks, our collection gets more eclectic over time. That’s not even just factoring in our general CD collection, either. I know I have written a couple of different blogs about Freegal. Freegal is our online database where you can download up to 6 songs every week per library card, and can now download music videos as well! Also, we have once again uploaded the database so you may now also stream hours of music from your computer. Let me tell you guys, I have seen some music featured on Freegal that literally blows my mind as to how we ever thought to order such songs and artists. Continue reading

In the Stacks – ALRIGHT… WHAT’S WITH ALL THE HOOPLA???

hoopla

Hey there all you library fans!  I thought I would just take a moment to shed some light on a new feature that you can find straight off our library website.  In case any of you are wondering what that feature is, I am referring to LVCCLD’s new favorite program called “Hoopla”.  Now I have my own reasons for absolutely loving this program. However, since most of you guys I’m sure are not Kids in the Hall fans, it’s going to have to stay an inside joke to myself.  Moving along!  Hoopla is a fantastic, wonderful new program the library district is providing all of you out there so you may stream movies and TV shows without ever entering a physical library.  YES!!!

All that you fine ladies and gentlemen have to do is log into the LVCCLD.ORG website.  Then, select “HOOPLA” from our Quick Links set of tabs. From there, it will give you detailed instructions on setting up a Hoopla account, and in case you were concerned and wouldn’t already guess it, folks… yes, it is free!  Now, the fun facts regarding Hoopla use:

Continue reading

In the Stacks–Back to School Help for Kids & Adults

back_to_school_4
from http://www.teacherfiles.com

Well, a new school semester is upon us all.  Perhaps many of you school-age folk are antsy to get back into the classroom… or perhaps not.  Hopefully, you are excited to start new clubs and sports, or at least see your old friends after a long summer break.

However, I’m sure just about EVERYONE is not ready for homework, projects, extra credit; you know, the usual misery that goes hand in hand with school.  Well, if you do have your doubts about academic achievement, and if you’re downright dreading the upcoming assignments headed your way, just rest assured, LVCCLD has got your back, guys.

The library district has tons and tons of resources right at your fingertips ready to use to help aid you past the nightmare that is schoolwork.  Just come on by to any local branch and ask one of our fabulous librarians for assistance, and they will take good care of you.  If you need help finding books for reading lists, or reference information for a research project, we have what you need.   If you’re the kind of student who enjoys finding it yourself, just go online. Continue reading

In the Stacks – Art, Events, and Galleries…Oh My!

In the Stacks: A Blog Straight from the Mind of Steve

Hello dear readers! I bring to you today, a wonderful bunch of info in regards to something you probably didn’t know the libraries in Las Vegas even had… Events and Galleries!!! That’s right everybody, in practically every Las Vegas-Clark County Library District branch, there is an art gallery, a conference room, concert hall, theatre, etc.

Why does this matter? Because it is yet another service the district provides each and every one of you in order to expand your understanding of art and culture and more often than not, it’s just as free as when you check out items with your library card.

Years and years ago some very wonderful people who worked with the Library District decided they wanted to make spaces available for our patrons that could allow for further social entertainment. They wanted art galleries so artists could display their works for our local patrons. They wanted conference rooms so various community businesses could hold meetings and seminars. They wanted theatres and concert halls so that artists could perform their music or dance/stage performances in front of an audience.

And so they worked and worked, and when the dust settled, the Las Vegas-Clark County District walked away with quite literally some of the best performing arts spaces in the city. And for years now, the District has helped put on display some of the best art and performance pieces Las Vegas has ever had! Continue reading

In the Stacks – Steve’s Hub Reading Challenge Experience

In the Stacks: A Blog Straight from the Mind of Steve

It is that time yet again dear readers. I have just run out of time finishing the YALSA Hub Reading Challenge for this year. And once again… I must wave the white flag of defeat and inform you that I did not finish the 25 book goal. I started out in February with high hopes thinking that I could finish those 25 in no time at all. Well… the spirit died out fast I’m afraid. However! I am still quite happy with myself that I was able to read some of the most fascinating and entertaining stories that I have EVER READ!

Now of course, I did start out this challenge with the same strategy as last year, which was to read as many graphic novels on the list as possible. Dogs of War, War Brothers, and Boxers and Saints were absolutely the top picks in that regard.

steveDogs of War is split into three main stories about the service dogs in World War I, World War II, and Vietnam. Each story becomes more intense with the type of exposure each animal had while assisting Allied troops overseas. Now I don’t want to spoil too much here… but each story does seem to find its way into a hopeful and happy ending.

War Brothers is a fictional account of teenage boys in Africa that become enslaved and forced into a life of guerilla warfare by a tyrannical warlord. A close group of friends are faced with the constant reminder that if they do not fit into this savage new way of life, they are surely expected to lose their own.

And last but not least was Boxers and Saints. There are two intertwining stories revolving around the Boxer Rebellion in China around the turn of the twentieth century. The images are quite captivating, and the stories very easy to become hooked on. Yet the most interesting thing about both of them was that though they reflect a serious subject matter, they still show moments of true teenage innocence. Each story is told through the eyes of a young boy and young woman who through their different life paths, become engrossed in the bitter struggle of Chinese citizens who sought a way to rid their homeland of foreign oppression. Can you guys tell I am drawn to graphic novels involving combat??? Continue reading

In the Stacks: Summer Reading and YOU!

In the Stacks: A Blog Straight from the Mind of Steve

This week’s subject: Summer Reading and YOU!

Well I know by the time this hits the Facebook page, the Summer Reading Program will have already started in full swing. I am standing at the Circulation desk right now, and I see vacant spaces all along our pathway to YPL. It is 10:30 am on Sunday June 1st, but I can just feel the energy that is awaiting us as the day progresses. I know that kids and parents alike are going to literally be swarming this whole library with a buzz of excitement at getting registered for the program.

For all of you fellas out of the loop, the Summer Reading Program begins today, June 1st, and will continue all the way until August 2nd. Here are some of the fantastic details:

            You sign up at the Young People’s Department.

            You automatically are entered into a drawing for a $50 Target gift card.

            You automatically get a beautiful purple wallet to hold your library card.

            All you have to do to finish the program is read 20 books. JUST 20 BOOKS!!!

steve Continue reading

In the Stacks: National Poetry Month!

In the Stacks: A Blog Straight from the Mind of Steve

I know, I know, it has been quite a while since my last blog dear readers. I must say, over the last couple months it has seemed like I might actually have been hit hard by the dreadful “writer’s block”. (Queue eerie, spooky music) However fate has got me smiling high today. Why you ask? Well, because it is April readers, and April is non-other than National Poetry Month. Perfect, I know! It is actually more and more exciting the more I think about it. I am SO relieved for this month because here in the Library District we get to make extra celebratory events and highlights for all the amazing people who have ever dared pick up a pen or pencil and write from their heart and soul. Or perhaps they just typed and typed away on a computer keyboard or typewriter. (For information on what a typewriter is folks, please consult your local librarian).

poetryI’ve always kept a soft side for poetry. I have even attempted on a few occasions (when I wasn’t forced for an English assignment) to actually make up a few special ones from my heart to the woman who now owns it…. She knows who she is. And though she is a die-hard thespian by nature, I don’t think she faked her way through the smiles and tears that she showed after reading them. I don’t say that to gloat readers, honestly. I am simply explaining that with the effort and emotion behind it, poetry is a lovely form of communication and a personally viewed disclosure of life and the people, places, and things therein.

Now here at Whitney Library we are going full swing into this wonderful month by having a new local poet, Lee Mallory in our space to perform some of his most recent poems. Lee is known in the literary world as “The Love Poet”; sooth and sultry I know. Mr. Mallory will be performing in our Conference Room on the 22nd of the month, and personally, I cannot wait! It should be the perfect close to this month. Also, in our very own department, we have the amazingly talented Selina to hype up our branch’s appearance during this month to show just how much we love our fellow poets. When you’re in the Whitney Library next, you simply must check out the new display behind the Circulation Desk. (You kinda can’t miss it ;).

Now I can go on and on and ON about different poets and special quotes and passages from many a selected work to add in or reference here, but I will end with just one. Once I started thinking about this new blog and the fact it is National Poetry Month, one specific work came to mind. Over a year ago, a coworker recommended that I read this acclaimed poet named Charles Bukowski. Bukowski was straight out of the “Beat Generation,” and through his numerous writings and his personal life, he had quite possibly the main portion of controversy attached to his name. Now with Kerouac, Burroughs, and Ginsberg in the mix, that is truly saying something. Anyway, I did pick up and read through one of his more recent collections a short time after, and from the very first poem that I read, I was hooked. I’d like to finish up this blog by copying down just a small portion of that poem to add to this phenomenal theme. I hope you all have a lovely April, and great rest of the year.  Until next time dear readers, stay classy… stay reading.

“If it doesn’t come bursting out of you in spite of everything, don’t do it…if you’re trying to write like somebody else, forget about it… Don’t be like so many writers, don’t be like so many thousands of people who call themselves writers, don’t be dull and boring and pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-love, the libraries of the world have yawned themselves to sleep over your kind… when it is truly time… it will do it by itself… there is no other way, and there never was.”

In the Stacks: Tips on Responsible Borrowing

lateOh my goodness dear readers, I have got such ground breaking news to share with you today! Allow me to start off by saying how important it is to constantly check your library accounts, and to make sure you have what it says is checked out to you. Also, you must keep up with your late fees ladies and gents! For every late adult item it’s 25 cents a day. If an item you have is from North Last Vegas, or one of our outlying branches (Boulder City, Laughlin, etc.), then you might even be charged for juvenile items as well. Also, if your fines reach $10.00 or more, than you are blocked from using your library card until those fines are paid down. In addition, if you are a North Las Vegas resident, your fine limit is $2.00. Therefore I say again, WATCH WHAT IS ON YOUR CARDS!!! Keep an eye on it, because when all is said and done you are responsible for what is borrowed on your card. If you doubt how official that rule is, just turn your library card around and look what you signed your name under… call it a contract.

Now to get down to the real reason I decided to write this blog. A fellow co-worker of mine recently informed me of a news article which I tracked down to being an article from Texas. It seems that the lone star state is trying to set some pretty interesting records. First, they have successfully opened the first ever electronic library. What I mean by that is that they have a library with literally NO books on the shelves. The library (craftily named BiblioTech) currently residing in Bexar County features 600 e-readers, 200 pre-loaded enhanced e-readers for children, 48 computer stations, 10 laptops and 40 tablets that residents can use or check out to fulfill their library needs. I suppose I can elaborate more on that, but that gets away from my main point. The second thing Texas has managed to make possible is a new law in Copperas Cove which CLEARLY makes them just a bit more strict in terms of library fees than we are. I will cut myself off now and share the link to this article for any of you interested parties out there.

http://www.storyleak.com/texas-man-arrested-jailed-overdue-library-book/

If it hasn’t sunk into your minds by now, I will paraphrase the content of this article. A man was arrested and put in jail for having a 2010 GED test book out for over three years without returning it! I guess now, when people make those joking comments about library police and such, they aren’t necessarily kidding. The really interesting thing I learned through this article is that this is not the first time this sort of thing has happened! I truly loved hearing the part about the lady in Albuquerque, New Mexico with the Twilight book. I won’t spoil it for you guys. I suggest you read the article and enjoy this news for yourselves. Also, when you think about it, Texas and New Mexico are in the same region as us little chickens in Nevada.

So in conclusion everybody, please keep an eye on your library accounts. Don’t be too trustworthy with having other people have access to your cards and the items checked out on them. And PLEASE be responsible with what you borrow from us. Things get lost quite easily, let me tell you. I could go on and on with stories all about missing items and the claims as to why those situations have occurred… but I will keep those to myself for now, thank you very much. Just know that next time you feel that we are strict with our fee policy… it could always be MUCH worse! In parting dear readers, stay classy… stay responsible.

In the Stacks: Spotlight on Stephen King

Stephen KingBy the time this blog comes out, Halloween will have already passed. However, the subject for my blog today is something that everyone can enjoy throughout the year. What is this subject you ask? I am referring of course to the master of horror himself, and the man who Peter Griffin called “the greatest author of the last thousand years”. He is the inspiration to countless books and movies that we all have enjoyed over the years. That man as I’m sure you all have gathered by now, is Mr. Stephen King.

Stephen King was born in Portland, Maine on September 21, 1947. He married the love of life Tabitha in 1971. Before his first major novel Carrie was published in 1974, Mr. King took up whatever jobs he could find such as a laundromat attendant, a pumper at a gas station, and as a teacher.  Yet ever since Carrie, Stephen King has been delighting readers everywhere with his countless novels, short stories, and novellas. The majority of those remarkable tales have been adapted into movies, TV shows, graphic novels, etc. The best part of all, is that here in the District we have just about every story Stephen King has ever written, as well as every movie or show based off of his works. I mean the guy has written so much he had to make up a pseudonym to write more. I am referring of course to Richard Bachman. On a side note fellow readers, yes I do know that that is not why he created that name. You could probably have debates that last hours deciding on what his best book is, or what the best movie adaptation was.

I had recently thought to myself why was it that Stephen King has never specifically written anything for more of a YA audience. Now I am not one to judge what books belong to what genre, however I can say, that anyone who has enjoyed books such as The Hunger Games Trilogy; you absolutely must read The Long Walk which was a novella from The Bachman Books. It is set in a not too distant future, where there is a type of military dictatorship running America. Every once a year, one hundred teenage boys are brought together to participate in an event called The Long Walk. The goal of the event, is be the last one walking. If you walk under a certain rate of speed, walk off of the designated path of the walk, or if you attack any fellow walker or military guard constantly monitoring you, then you get a warning. If you get a certain number of warnings in a certain amount of time… you are shot dead. Why in the world would you participate in this event? Because if you win, you are awarded any possible amount of fame, money, power, or possession you could ever want for the rest of your life. Maybe they assumed only a teenage boy would go for that deal.

However, movies and books aside, I feel that some of the most fascinating things about Stephen King are the trivia listed about him personally. I am not one to pry, but you do have to admit, wouldn’t you want to know just a little bit behind the mind that brought us such mind-blowing stories?  There are countless amounts of trivia about Stephen King, but of course there is also so much controversy that many could speculate whether any of it is true or not. So for the sake of this blog, I will advise all of you to err on the side of caution when reading the following trivia facts surrounding Stephen King. First off, Stephen King is an avid Red Sox fan. Not much of a shock being that he is a New England resident and has been for just about his entire life. That was the warm up. Next up, Stephen King is a recovering alcoholic and was drunk just for the majority of time that he wrote the book Cujo. To this day he only vaguely remembers writing that novel.  Stephen King (despite what most people would think) is NOT a fan of Halloween. Stephen King also belongs to an all writers rock band called “Rock Bottom Remainders”. This is pretty fascinating stuff right? To conclude, his son Joseph Hillstrom King is also a writer, and he too has a pseudonym; Joe Hill. Perhaps you’ve heard of him?

Now I could go on for a while with more trivia, but then that would take the fun out of coming up with more facts about Stephen King yourselves dear readers. So I will just go ahead and end the trivia here in the hopes that if you like what you just read, than you will head to your nearest library (or probably just click to Google on your computers) and read up some more about Stephen King. I also have to strenuously suggest that if you are any fan of scary, abnormally freaky fiction stories, that you start reading the works of this amazing writer. I guarantee that you are not going to be disappointed. So until next time readers, stay classy, and stay reading.

-Steve