Saturday, March 28, 2009

Earth Hour Today at 8:30 pm

People around the globe will be marking the second annual Earth Hour Saturday, March 28 by conserving energy in their communities for 60 minutes. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is encouraging people to shut off the lights, or at the very least dim them, from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. local time.
The conservation organization's offices in Sydney, Australia, introduced Earth Hour to raise awareness of climate change. This year, nearly 4,000 municipalities in 88 countries are expected to take part. "Turning off our lights for an hour isn't going to solve climate change, but what it does do is show individuals that they can make a difference in the fight against global warming and sends a really strong message to world leaders that action is needed now," said Tara Wood of WWF Canada.
Read more about this event at


Friday, March 27, 2009

What Happens in Storytime, Stays in Storytime

Sometimes storytime can be a bit of a zoo!

Storytime is a time-honored tradition in libraries, and most children's librarians will tell you it's among their favorite parts of the job. It's so rewarding to share the perfect story with a receptive audience, and watch their delight. When storytime is good, it's the best feeling ever for the librarian. But when it takes an unexpected turn or veers completely off course, well - it makes for a good story all on its own.

I'm the first to admit that storytime isn't rocket science or brain surgery, but there is a certain skill and experience level involved in selecting appropriate stories and delivering them in a way that engages the audience. Guest storytellers have sometimes learned this the hard way. At a library that shall remain nameless in another city that shall remain nameless, a famous ex-player for a storied sports team that shall remain nameless appeared at storytime as a guest reader. This player was charming, funny and intelligent, but his choice in story selection was a little questionable. The book he chose to read to an audience with an average age of four years? A Farewell to Arms. (just a passage, thankfully.) I was a bundle of nerves in the corner of the room, fervently keeping my fingers crossed that the squirmy little ones could keep it together for the presentation. And miracle of miracles, they did. If they were a bit unimpressed with the reading, all was quickly forgiven when hats featuring the logo of the team were distributed to all. But I was secretly pleased when a kid, proudly wearing his new team hat, approached me after the program and asked "so when does storytime start?"

Not every book is designed to be read aloud to a group. Take Dr. Seuss - a beloved author with numerous classic titles. But for me, The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham work much better read one-on-one versus to a large group. Tastes and reactions vary, too - some books I adore and excitedly share with an audience have bombed big time. Frank Was A Monster Who Wanted to Dance is about a lovable little monster that boogies so hard that his body parts start falling off. It's really cute and funny, I swear! Except it wasn't so cute and funny to a certain group of first graders, who looked at me in shock and horror as I cheerfully read about Frank's brain flopping out on the floor. Oops. Lesson learned.

I'm not proud of this, but I have made a child cry in storytime. The trigger of the tears? Brightly colored shaker eggs used during music time. The little girl didn't get the color of egg she wanted, and bravely tried to hold back her sobs during the song. It may seem cruel, but trust me - had I stopped to give her the desired egg, every other kid would want another color and pandemonium would ensue. In storytime, time and crowd constraints sometimes require us to enforce the mantra learned in Pinkalicious - "you get what you get, and you don't get upset."

Storytime is a live performance, and children are unpredictable. With that combination, anything and everything can happen. Every librarian has stories. A former colleague chose "sickness" as a storytime theme, and read books about your typical sniffles and sneezes. Children, as they are known to do, share (and overshare.) One young participant was inspired to tell the group about an affliction he developed on a body part in which no one should be ashamed, but usually isn't discussed in polite company.

Santa Clara City Library offers storytimes for babies, one-year-olds, toddlers, preschoolers and families. Click here for our schedule, or ask at the youth services desk. Our storytimes require no registration, so just drop in! You never know what might happen.

posted by spb

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Morningstar Training

Would you like to learn to use the Morningstar Investment Research Center database to research mutual funds and stocks? A Morningstar product manager will be offering a training over the Internet.

The training will be on Wednesday, April 29th, from 1 - 2 p.m.

You will need a home computer with Internet access and a telephone to hear the presentation.

To register send an e-mail to Mention that you use Santa Clara City Library. Morningstar staff will reply with instructions on attending the training.

For more information ask at the Reference Desk or call 408-615-2900.

If you would like to explore the Morningstar Investment Research Center database, it is accessible via our Research Databases webpage.

Posted by mlg

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Though Named Barney, He Has Yet to Incorporate Purple Dinosaurs into his Work

After recently seeing a piece of performance art, I have to admit I am a performance art hater. I find it to be pretentious, self-indulgent non-sense. I know I am suppose to be contemplating the profound reason for why the artist is carrying the dead fish back and forth across a courtyard while strobe lights flash and someone bangs away at a drum kit like Animal from the Muppets for the better part of an hour. Instead I find I can only think that he is wasting a perfectly good fish. And yet for some reason, entirely despite myself, I am fascinated by the artist Matthew Barney… the most pretentious, self-indulgent non-sense performance artist/sculptor/film maker out there.

As with most of the art I like, I don’t entirely understand why I like it. When I was 16, I fell madly in love with the work of Marcel Duchamp, in particularly his Large Glass. Why? Because it was nutty and made no logical sense. I take that back. It made no rational sense, but it did have its own version of a weird convoluted logic that makes it “work.” Same thing with Barney.

For instance, here is a highly truncated description of the Cremaster Cycle, his 10+ hour opus. See if you can guess what it’s about: Busby Berkeley style formation dancing is happening below a blimp in which a woman dressed in silver is playing with grapes. Meanwhile, Gary Gilmore is riding a bull in an arena constructed entirely of salt as two people do a Texas two-step around an upside down saddle/disco ball. This, naturally, leads to five vintage cars playing demolition derby in the lobby of the Chrysler Building which, while under construction, is being used to perform shady Masonic rituals. Then the fighting of two giants in Ireland creates an island which is home to a side car race and a sharply dressed Loughton Ram who is frantically tap dancing through the floor. This ultimately results in a magician throwing himself Houdini like from a bridge in Budapest while Ursula Andress lip syncs (poorly, I might add) to opera. In case that summary didn’t make it glaringly obvious, this is all about gender differentiation. Duh.

Totally bonkers, right? But there I am, researching Freemasons, Mormonism, bees, Shinto rituals, whaling, and Bjorke to try to make sense of it all. Have I figured it out? I don’t even know if he’s figured it out. But I’ve learned a lot in the process. Mainly that I still think performance art is obnoxious, even when I like it.
posted by jw

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Bay Area Consumers' Checkbook Online

Are you looking for a plumber, automobile repair shop, or other service? Try our new resource Bay Area Consumers' Checkbook Online. It contains ratings of local service companies. You can search Consumers' Checkbook Online via computer at our Central Park or Mission Library. It is accessible via our Research Databases page. Remote access from home or office is not available.

If you prefer to read the reviews in print, go to the Consumer Table on the second floor of the Central Park Library. At the Consumer Table you will find current and back issues of the Bay Area Consumers' Checkbook magazine. You will also find Consumer Reports magazine, books reviewing new and used automobiles, and other consumer guides.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is another resource for evaluating businesses. Check their website for a company's rating and to see if the company is a BBB member.

ConsumerSearch, ConsumerGuide, and are additional sites for researching products. ConsumerSearch and ConsumerGuide contain reviews of products. At you will find individuals' opinions about products. To locate additional consumer websites, search Librarians' Internet Index under the topic Consumer Research & Advocacy.

Posted by mlg

Monday, March 23, 2009

More Resources for Quilters

Thirteen quilters came together for a computer class in the Technology Center and tips and techniques for quilters in the Sycamore Room Thursday at Central Park Library. Here are some more internet sites of interest to quilters for local quilt guilds, art quilters, and exhibits.

Santa Clara Valley Quilt Association Our most local quilt group which has monthly meetings with speakers, a block of the month including free pattern on the web site, quilt retreats, and classes. Every two years they sponsor a quilt show at the Santa Clara Convention Center. Come and see on April 4 & 5, 2009.

Peninsula Quilters Guild For those of you closer to San Mateo join this quilters group.

San Jose Quilt Museum A wonderful local specialty, with rotating exhibits, a store and events, located in downtown San Jose.

Pacific International Quilt Festival XVIII An annual local quilt exhibition with hundreds of quilts, classes, vendors, and quilts for sale at the Santa Clara Convention Center.

Try local quilt stores, but if you can't find what you want locally here are some sites. Connecting Threads, Hancock's of Paducah, and ReproDepot.

Art quilters often have their own web sites. Check these out: David Walker, Art Fabrik, Mary Mashuta

posted mb

Friday, March 20, 2009

Books Fall Open, You Fall In

Librarians are multi-talented people, and the staff of the Santa Clara City Library is no exception! This beautiful quilt, designed and handcrafted by staff members Ellin Klor, Mary Boyle and Angie Vincenti, was unveiled recently in the library's picture book area. Named "Books Fall Open, You Fall In," this labor of love features covers of many classic children's favorites such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Olivia and Goodnight Moon. The setting of each book cover block is called "Twist and Turn," because the triangles sewn around the book covers make them turn in different directions and give the quilt a sense of movement.

Ask your children if they recognize the covers of each of the books represented. The youth services staff can help you locate all of these beloved titles.

posted by spb

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Seasonal Reflective Disorder

Spring is just two days away! Break out the maypole and mead. The equinox has come, the tyranny of winter is over, and we can get back to … well, the same thing we were doing in winter, summer, and autumn.

Having grown up in the Bay Area, I was robbed of truly experiencing the seasons. Yes, it gets a little cold here. Occasionally it will even rain for two days. In a row no less! For an example of our seasonal deprivation, my umbrella broke from age and neglect this winter, whereas I went through two pairs of sunglasses. Go figure.

Would I like to catch frostbite in a Nor’easter or feel the lung crushing bear hug that is intense humidity? Not particularly. The other geographic locations can keep all that. But the explosive beauty of spring is lost on us out here when the entire year is spent in shorts and a t-shirt. Flowers bloom, the hills turn from dull brown to a deep green, and we complain about the pollen count or how our eyes are scratchy.

When I was younger, I use to pick blackberries in the summer. It was not just an activity, it was an event (one not entirely pleasant thanks to the more than wicked disposition of thorns and the less than durable nature of skin). But now I can buy them year round at the grocery store. No waiting necessary. Sure, there is less need for band-aids and bactine this way, but it lacks the joy of eating the first berry of the season. In truth though, I don’t even know when things are “in season” anymore.

Of course, this is all easy to say before I start sneezing or get stung by a bee. Then I’ll be longing for the days of… umm, the springish season that we call “winter”.
posted by jw

Monday, March 16, 2009

Finding Classes, Books and Events for Quilters

Quilting Resources is returning Thursday, March 19 from 9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. in the Technology Center. This is a hands-on computer class for quilters interested in learning more about resources for them on the computer, including local classes, stores and events. Following this one-hour computer session, students are invited to move to the Sycamore Room for a session on Quilting Tips & Techniques. Here are some highlights from the class.

Look for Quilting books on the 2nd floor of the Central Park Library in the 746.46 section. You'll find books for beginners, books on specific skills, and books for more advanced quilters with specialities like Hawaiian and Japanese quilting methods. Try these: Start Quilting with Alex Anderson : six projects for first-time quilters by Alex Anderson,Rotary magic : easy techniques to instantly improve every quilt you make by Nancy Johnson-Srebro, Hawaiian quilting : instructions and full-size patterns for 20 blocks by Elizabeth Root, or Japanese Country Quilting: Sashiko patterns and projects for beginners by Karen Matsunaga.

Look for Quilting classes at local Adult Education programs in Santa Clara, Sunnyvale-Cupertino and Mountain View-Los Altos, where on-going, low-cost classes are taught. Local quilt stores like The Granary or Eddie's Quilting Bee in Sunnyvale, Prairie Queens Quilt Shop in San Jose or Natural Expressions in Los Gatos teach many classes. Nationally recognized quilting experts teach quilting classes annually at Asilomar in Pacific Grove at the Empty Spools Seminars.

Quilt Shows are great places for shopping, attending classes and getting design ideas. Visit the annual
Pacific International Quilt Festival or the biannual Santa Clara Valley Quilters Association's show both held at the Santa Clara Convention Center in 2009.

posted by mb

Friday, March 13, 2009

Holi, the Festival of Colors

The Hindu spring festival Holi began on March 11. Traditionally observed for two days, Holi celebrates the arrival of spring with festive fanfare. Celebrants playfully throw water and colored powders known as gulal on one another. Bonfires are lit in honor of Prahlada's miraculous survival of a fire in which Hiranyakashipu ordered him to sit.

The largest Holi celebration in the Bay Area takes place annually on Stanford's campus. This year's event is slated for Saturday, March 28. Click here for more information about purchasing tickets.
To learn more about Holi, check out these children's books:

posted by spb

Monday, March 9, 2009

March is Women's History Month

This year's month-long celebration seeks to honor women who have taken on leadership roles in the environmental movement on a local, state, or national level.

Come in and see the book display on the first floor of Central Park Library.

Visit the National Women's History Project website for more information and suggestions on how to celebrate.

posted by mb

Saving Money on Groceries

Bay Area Consumers' Checkbook for March has arrived at the library. Bay Area supermarkets and warehouse stores are reviewed and rated. Stores with the best produce and most helpful staffs are listed. Learn how to save when grocery shopping even if your store isn't the least expensive. This issue also reports on bicycle shops, carpet stores/installers, garden nurseries, kennels, and housecleaning help.

The Bay Area Consumers' Checkbook and other consumer publications can be found on the Consumer Table at the top of the stairs on the 2nd floor of Central Park Library.

posted by mb

Thursday, March 5, 2009

You are the Music in Me.

You mean you didn't spend your high school years spontaneously bursting into song?

I have a shameful secret. A guilty pleasure. An embarrassing habit.
Do I have your attention yet?

I love High School Musical, and I am several decades north of Disney’s targeted demographic.

I own the trilogy on DVD. I have the soundtracks on my iPod. I even saw the third movie on opening night in the theaters with other adult HSM, I mean fans. My movie companions were fellow librarians, and we were nervous that we would stick out in a sea of tweens and possibly be recognized by one of our young library patrons. We shouldn't have worried – the audience was much more occupied with squealing at ear-piercing decibels over Zac Efron. Although in my opinion, the real star of the three movies is Lucas Grabeel. This kid has talent that will outlast his High School Musical shelf life, and already flexed his acting chops in the decidedly non-Disney, Oscar-winning film Milk.

The High School Musical phenomenon has spawned a lucrative franchise and numerous copy cats. It’s also had a significant effect on the children’s publishing industry. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that in the last two years we’ve seen a slew of juvenile and young adult books set in the intriguing world of high school drama clubs. One of the better selections in this burgeoning genre is Dramarama, a teen novel set at a competitive performing arts boarding school.

This year’s Summer Reading Club, Be Creative @ Your Library, focuses on the creative arts. So I shamelessly begged my new colleagues to allow me to throw a High School Musical extravaganza as a school age program this summer. Details about this program are still tentative, but be assured there will be singing - lots of it. Stay tuned for more information. And if you see and hear a red head with delusions of vocal talent butchering “Fabulous”? Be kind.

posted by spb

Monday, March 2, 2009

March Computer Classes

Join us in March for computer training. Tomorrow's Job Hunting Help! class is full but feel free to ask for assistance with your job hunt at the 2nd floor Reference Desk or for computer assistance in the Technology Center. Two more Job Hunting Help! classes have been scheduled for Tuesday, April 7, and Thursday, May 14, from 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. Call (408) 615-2900 to sign up or stop by the library.

Try these helpful websites for your job hunt:

LinkedIn, a business-oriented social network site mainly used for professional networking,

CareerOneStop, the U.S. Labor Dept.'s job tools website with a feature for workers who have lost their jobs, and

JobHuntersBible, What Color is Your Parachute author, Dick Bolles' job hunters website.

Kaiser Medical Librarian Doris Hayashikawa will come and teach Medical Research Using Medline Plus on Thursday, March 12 from 9:30-10:30.This excellent, consumer-oriented website is from the National Library of Medicine, a source you can trust for medical information.

Quilting Resources is returning Thursday, March 19 from 9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. in the Technology Center. This is a hands-on computer class for quilters interested in learning more about resources for them on the computer, including local classes, stores and events. Following this one-hour computer session, students are invited to move to the Sycamore Room for a session on Quilting Tips & Techniques.

As usual we will offer these two monthly classes: Internet Basics/Catalog, Tuesday, March 10 and Internet Search Strategies, Thursday, March 26 from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

posted by mb