Musings From A Bookmammal


Musing Monday–Habits Of A Library Lover

Click here to play along!

click here to play along!

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by A Daily Rhythm that asks you to muse about one of several “bookish” questions… or you can just ramble on about anything you like that pertains to books! You can join in by clicking the graphic above. Go ahead–it’s fun!

Here’s my musing for this week about using my local library:

25c41eed283bd7af84d8229e3ac38e03I love to read, but I’m not independently wealthy—so I depend on borrowing library books pretty regularly to keep up with everything I want to read. Don’t get me wrong—I buy A LOT of books—but there’s just no way that I’d be able to get my hands on all the new releases out there without the help of my local library. I check out eBooks and audiobooks fairly regularly and once in awhile I’ll borrow a DVD—but the main draw for me is the books!

I’m very lucky to live in a town with a great library system. My local branch isn’t too close to where I live—it’s kind of out of the way to make a special trip—but I tend to stop by on my way home from work most Thursday or Friday nights. I find it helps me keep track of when books are due if I try to check things out on the same day of the week—believe me, this is a lifesaver when you’ve got stacks of library books all over the house! My library really doesn’t have a firm limit on the number of books that you can have checked out at one times (I’ve asked!) and I think there’ve been times when I’ve had at least a dozen library books in hand. The loan period is three weeks and you can renew if no one else is on the hold list. Right now I’ve got nine books checked out:

Picture1(So far I’ve finished Small Mercies, which was a good family saga taking place on Staten Island, and I just started Early Warning, which is the second book in what will be a trilogy.Have you read any of these?)

Once in awhile I’ll stop at the library on a Saturday morning and I tend to get there right when the family story time session is ending. I absolutely LOVE seeing the little kids pour out of the events room clutching whatever craft they’ve made that day and racing towards the kids’ section!

One thing that’s changed about my library habits over the past few years is that I rarely go into the library to just browse anymore. I used to plan on staying a good hour whenever I’d go—I’d usually have a list of specific books I wanted to find, and then I’d wander the shelves and pick out books that just looked interesting. Nowadays I do it all online—I’ll put the books I want on hold, or get on the waiting list for titles that aren’t available, and then I’ll stop by for only as long as it takes to pick them up. And with automated self-check out machines, I rarely interact with any of the librarians. It’s definitely efficient, but sometimes I do miss just wandering the stacks and finding unexpected new books or old favorites.

2312973323371462Something I love about my library is their willingness to order just about any book that they don’t currently carry—not just get it through interlibrary loan, but actually order it and add it to their collection. The requestor is then automatically added as #1 on the hold list for the title when it comes in. Plus, if you’re a total book geek like me, you get the thrill of knowing that other people will now have the chance to borrow a book that you recommended! Last week I made these two purchase requests and both were approved, so I’m anxiously waiting for the emails that will let me know that they’ve arrived!

I’ve also gotten into the habit of putting myself on a ton of waiting lists. When I hear that a new book is coming out, I automatically check to see it my library has it on order–if they do, I get on that list! My waiting list is usually made up of dozens of titles, but right now there are only ten books on it. The one that I’m most excited about is Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman which will be released on July 14–I’m #38 on the list of nearly 200 (so far!).

How about you? What’s the library situation like in your area? Do you use your library regularly? Why or why not? Please share!


Musing Monday–Banned Books Week 2014

Click here to play along!

Click here to play along!

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB that asks you to muse about one of several “bookish” questions… or, you can just ramble on about anything you like that pertains to books! You can join in by clicking the graphic above. Go ahead–it’s fun!

Here’s my musing for this week–

2014 banned books posterBanned Books Week is Sept. 21-27 this year, and banning/challenging books is a hot-button issue for many people. Here’s a brief description of the purpose of Banned Books Week from the ALA website:

“Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular. By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship. While books have been and continue to be banned, part of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that, in a majority of cases, these books have remained available. This happens only thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, students, and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read.”

So that’s the background. You can find lists of frequently challenged books here–as well as the reasons for the challenges.

Here’s my take:

I believe that parents ABSOLUTELY have the right–and the responsibility–to monitor and guide their children’s reading. This means different things to different people.

mom daughter readingSome parents raise their kids to be “free range readers”—kids who are encouraged to read anything and everything they can get their hands on. Other parents set limits on the materials and subject matter that their kids are allowed to read—because of their child’s age/maturity, for philosophical, educational, religious, or moral reasons, or other factors.  And lots and lots of parents fall somewhere in between.

Part of parenting is knowing what your kids are doing–and to me, that includes being aware of the books they’re reading and putting limits and consequences in place that make sense for your family. And along with that, in my opinion, is helping your kids become responsible citizens by helping them learn to make smart reading choices. That’s about teaching kids to acknowledge new ideas that they encounter in books. It’s about helping kids evaluate what they read and understand that they may not always agree with it or believe that it’s true. And it’s about helping children learn to accept the existence of differing opinions and choices they read about without necessarily taking them on as their own.

Easy? Not by a long shot. But part of the responsibility of every parent is taking charge of raising their children in the manner that they see fit–whether or not they agree with or incorporate ideas such as the ones I’ve listed above.

The key words here are THEIR CHILDREN.

When parents try to control the books that can–and can’t–be found in public community libraries, public school libraries, and in public book stores, they’re trying to control the reading behaviors of ALL CHILDREN. By removing a book from public bookshelves, they’re taking away choices for all.  They are essentially trying to parent other parents’ children. And that, to me, is not OK.

To parents who have different ideas than my own about what THEIR KIDS can and can’t read, I say more power to you. Your house, your children—your rules.  I may not agree with you, but I will tirelessly defend your right to parent your kids in the way that’s right for you and your family. However–we should all expect that same respect in return. To the parents who want to enforce their own limits on the reading habits of children who are not members of their own family, I say hands off. End of story.

How about you? What are your thoughts? I’m interested in your feelings about this issue. Have you or your kids had any experiences with banned or challenged books? Please share!


Musing Mondays–Library Memories

Click here to play along!

Click here to play along!

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to muse about one of several “bookish” questions… or, you can just ramble on about anything you like that pertains to books! You can join in by clicking the graphic above. Go ahead–it’s fun!
Here’s my Musing Mondays ramble for this week:

ChomskyI was lucky to grow up in a town with a good library. My parents started taking me there regularly when I was 3 or 4, and that started a habit that I’ve had ever since. Back then the town library was a stone building between a church and the YMCA. I thought it was huge back then, but it was really probably the size of an average two-story house. Adult books upstairs, kids books downstairs. I still remember being really intrigued by those long poles that held the newspapers–do libraries even still have those?

When I got older—starting in about the 5th grade–I can vividly remember riding my bike downtown to the library on weekends with one of my good friends who was also a reader. This was back in the days when our parents didn’t even blink at the thought of two pre-teen girls (without helmets!) riding their bikes alone across busy streets to the middle of town—they just said they’d see us when we got back.

We’d go to the library first and check out as many books as we could fit into our bike baskets. Then we’d stop by this great little candy store where you could buy candy by the piece. I think I usually bought chocolate licorice and maybe some other little chocolate candies of some sort. We’d then ride our bikes back to my house and either sit out in the backyard or in my bedroom and eat the candy and read our books. We wouldn’t talk too much—we’d just read. When it was time for her to go home we’d talk about what we’d read and maybe make plans to trade books in a few days. We did this more times than I can count.

That library eventually expanded, and then finally moved to a brand new building—probably at least 25 years ago. There are also two other separate branches that have since opened. The main branch is large and gorgeous and it’s truly a big part of the community. It has huge windows that look out over the river and big comfy chairs that just beg you to sit in them and get lost in a book. The kids section is colorful and the librarians are kind. I go there sometimes when I’m visiting my parents. I’m not sure if any kids ride their bikes there anymore, and it’s not near a candy store—but I still remember how it felt to come home with books, candy, and a friend and have the whole afternoon stretched out in front of us—with nothing to do but read.

How about you? Do you have any childhood library memories? Please share!


Musing Mondays–Little Free Libraries: “Take A Book, Return A Book!”

Click here to play along!

Click here to play along!

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to muse about one of several “bookish” questions… or, you can just ramble on about anything you like that pertains to books! You can join in by clicking the graphic above. Go ahead–it’s fun!
Here’s my Musing Mondays ramble for this week:


I first became aware of the Little Free Library project about a year ago when I came across an article about it online. My interest was sparked immediately, and I’ve been so pleased to see that this movement is continuing to grow!

From the official Little Free Library website:

Little Free Library is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization whose mission is to promote a sense of community, reading for children, literacy for adults and libraries around the world . . . In its most basic form, a Little Free Library is a box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book (or two) and bring back another book to share . . . Little Free Libraries themselves are hand-crafted structures that contain constantly changing collections of books donated and shared by people of all ages and backgrounds. Most Little Free Libraries are placed in front yards, parks, gardens and easily accessible locations . . . Some Libraries are located in coffee shops, in or near restaurants and community centers. . . It’s a ‘take a book, return a book’ gathering place where neighbors share their favorite literature and stories . . .”

The project was started in Wisconsin in 2009 with one Little Free Library and has grown to include over 4,000 officially registered Little Free Libraries world-wide! The website includes a map where you can search for Little Free Libraries in your area–most are in the US, but they can be found in other countries as well. You can find a gallery of photos of Little Free Libraries here. Some are very basic–and some are truly works of art!

LFL 1LFL 2I’ve never discovered any Little Free Libraries “in the wild”–although a few of my friends have–and, according to the site map, there aren’t any near my home. However, the map did show that there was one only about 10 minutes from my office. So last week I decided to investigate on my lunch break . . . and I found it! It’s located in the courtyard of a church, and inside are several dozen books for children and adults–a few books of Bible stories for kids, as well as a lot of books by well-known authors such as Laura Ingalls Wilder and John Grisham. The Little Free Library itself looked well cared for–and although no one was near it when I visited, I’m hoping that it’s used often!

As someone who is passionate about literacy and making sure that books are available to all, I simply LOVE the Little Free Library concept, and I’m planning to take some more “field trips” to locate others.

What about you? Take a look at the map–are there any Little Free Libraries in your area? Have you ever come across one? Do you think this idea could work where you live or work? I’d love to know your thoughts–please share!

(Disclaimer–I have no affiliation with the Little Free Library organization.)


Musing Mondays–No Kid Should Leave the Library Empty Handed!

Click here to play along!

Click here to play along!

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to muse about one of several “bookish” questions… or, you can just ramble on about anything you like that pertains to books! You can join in by clicking the graphic above. Go ahead–it’s fun!

This is my first Musing Monday–and here’s a mini-ramble prompted by this quote:


When I was in grade school, our librarian, Mrs. H, was one of those who seemed nervous to have any of the books leave the shelves, and it was really important to her that the shelves look neat and tidy at all times. If she thought a book was too hard, then that kid wasn’t checking it out. A little boy who was nearly jumping up and down because he’d just found the PERFECT book about trucks—no matter–if Mrs. H didn’t think he should check out that book, it just wasn’t happening.

Luckily for me, my parents took me to the public library regularly, and I had books of my own at home. I was also a good enough reader that Mrs. H didn’t spend a lot of time trying to steer me towards “more appropriate” books. But I can still remember the kids who didn’t get to take home the book they really wanted. I wonder if those kids—now grown–are readers today.

It’s a slippery slope. Librarians and teachers want kids to have success when they read. No one wants to see a kid quit a book in frustration. We need to help guide our kids to help them make wise reading choices. But sometimes motivation and engagement should be the deciding factor. If a kid shows up at the checkout desk beaming—then that kid should leave the library with that book. Simple as that.