Thursday, June 30, 2011

Celebrating Independence Day

Our Independence Day will be on Monday, July 4th! The library has a great collection of books and resources to help your child learn more about this special holiday and discover fun ways to celebrate it. Here are some recommended titles:


Father's DayIndependence Day: Birthday of the United States by Elaine Landau
This book contains historical facts about Independence Day, information on how it is celebrated and two fun activities that you and your child will enjoy.

Independence Day
Independence Day by Marc Tyler Nobleman
Learn more about the meaning of Independence Day and how it is celebrated. This informative book contains interesting facts about Independence Day.

Fourth of July Mice!
Fourth of July Mice! by Bethany Roberts
An amusing story about four playful mice enjoying a fun Independence Day by observing a parade and participating in other fun festivities.


Star-spangled crafts
Star Spangled Crafts by Kathy Ross
Have a fun Independence Day by creating something special! This book will teach you and your child how to make a variety of Independence Day themed crafts, such as a firecracker lapel pin, a flag mosaic, an American eagle magnet and much more!

Holiday & Everyday Projects
Holiday & Everyday Projects by Joanna Callihan
Learn how to create colorful and intriguing crafts for various holidays, including Independence Day by checking out this book.

More ways to celebrate Independence Day:
  • Attend the Fourth of July All City Picnic! Enjoy live entertainment, face painting, carnival games, public swimming and delicious food served at several food booths! This event will be held from 8am to 5pm at Central Park at 969 Kiely Blvd.
  • Attend one of several fireworks shows that will be happening throughout the Bay Area!
Please see a Youth Services Librarian at your library for more recommendations.
Posted by pn.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My Memory Palace is in Ruins

Memory is a bear.

Well, not really. It is a cognitive process for storing and recalling information. But let's put that aside for a moment and see the bad metaphor out.

For some people, the act of remembering things is simple. They have disciplined themselves in such a way that the wild beast of memory becomes a trained bear riding a bicycle in the circus. In other words, the amount they can remember and recall is both impressive and entertaining, but ultimately unnatural, freakish, and a little depressing when you think about the work that went into learning how to do that. For others, like myself, memory is more like the grizzlies in the film Grizzly Man. Sometimes it plays nice and sometimes it revolts (though it rarely devours you in a tent thankfully).

The high side of that retention spectrum is documented in Joshua Foer's book Moonwalking With Einstein. He was writing about competitive memory (yep, it's a sport), but he decided that in order to understand it better he would try training as a contestant. By doing so, he learned how people can structure their thoughts to remember the exact order of the cards in 25 shuffled decks or the number pi to an absurd amount of decimals. He also became the U.S. Memory Champion. So, you know, apparently it works.

These herculean tasks of memory are achieved through mnemonic devices. Many of us learned a few rudimentary ones in grade school. You may have been taught "Roy G. Biv" to remember the colors of the rainbow or "My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas" to remember the order of the planets (and the root cause of adolescent obesity).

Those are nothing compared to what the competitive memory folks use. They create elaborate "memory palaces" in order to keep track of everything. A memory palace is an imagined structure which bits of information are tucked away into. The idea is that the brain is more visual than factual. So when it comes to recalling that information, the person can just visualize walking through the structure and then they will "see" the information inside of it. Or at least I think that's the gist of it. It seems complicated. And fascinating. And a little pointless.

This isn't really functional memory that they are dealing with. The rote memorization of a list of names is far different from remembering the name of a girl you went to middle school with when she pops into your work one day (sorry... Sarah? It was good seeing you though). Remembering that you left your keys in your other pair of pants before you lock yourself out of the house seems far more valuable than remembering a sequence of random numbers... unless, of course, life or death hangs on knowing that sequence. And I would absolutely love, LOVE, to be able to remember what I just stood up to do. But I can't. So I'm going to sit back down again.

Then again, perhaps the practice of remembering insignificant things leads one to the ability of remembering significant things. I suppose it's worth trying. It can't hurt, right? But, considering my absent minded manner, it might be better to start out building a memory tent instead of a palace. And hopefully the memory bear won't come and thrash it.
posted by jw

Monday, June 27, 2011

E-reader Ownership Doubles in Six Months

Today Pew Internet Research released a study from Pew Internet & American Life on e-reader and tablet ownership. In November 2010, 6% of Americans owned e-readers. It had grown to 12% by May 2011. Hispanic adults, adults younger than age 65, college graduates and those living in households with incomes of at least $75,000 are most likely to own e-book readers. Parents are also more likely than non-parents to own these devices.

Tablet computers have not seen the same level of growth among U.S. adults in recent months. As of May 2011, 8% of adults report owning a tablet computer such as an iPad, Samsung Galaxy or Motorola Xoom. This represents just a 3 percentage-point increase in ownership since November 2010. Overall, the highest rates of tablet ownership are among Hispanic adults and those with household incomes of at least $75,000 annually.

At Santa Clara City Library

We have certainly seen a surge of questions about e-readers and free library e-books and audio books. The study didn't ask about which devices were being purchased. Our questions are often from new NOOK owners. The library's free electronic resources are a selling point for Barnes & Noble apparently. In the future, Kindle e-reader owners will be able to use the free library materials as well. Visit our Digital Books page to see what is available. Call or stop in if you have questions.

posted by mb

Friday, June 24, 2011

On the Path to Good Health: Safety Comes First This Summer!

Swimming. Fireworks. Bike rides. Picnics and cookouts. Long days playing outside under a warm sun. These are all fun things to do over the summer, but make sure that safety doesn't take a vacation! The National Safety Council has proclaimed June as National Safety Month to remind families of precautions they should take while enjoying common summer activities. Stop by the Youth Services Department for a tip sheet on summer safety and to check out our related book display.

The library has a wealth of resources to help keep your family safe and healthy throughout the year. For example, the new parenting collection (located next to the Family Place early learning area on the first floor) has books and DVDs to teach parents life-saving skills such as infant CPR and first aid. If you want a dose of humor with your safety lessons, look no further than the Caldecott-winning picture book Officer Buckle and Gloria. Librarians can help you find the perfect book to start a conversation with your child about wearing a bicycle helmet, water safety, and fire prevention.

“On the Path to Good Health” is supported by Kaiser Permanente and the Santa Clara City Library Foundation and Friends. Here's wishing you a fun, safe summer!

posted by SPB

Monday, June 20, 2011

More Free Electronic Books

Did you know that the Library offers free electronic books? On a previous post some of the subscription electronic books were listed.

The Library also participates in the Northern California Digital Library's collection of electronic books. This collection allows you to download electronic books to a computer as well as audio books to MP3 players and many other devices, including smart phones. To find out which devices will work follow this link. To learn how to borrow items, try the Guided Tour videos or just follow the prompts on MyHelp!

There are also free electronic books on other websites. Try these:
Google's eBookstore
Go to the bottom of the page and visit Best of the Free
Internet Archives
Follow the link for Texts and you will enter the Ebook and Texts Archive of 2,852,884 items
Open Library
Try the Lending Library Sampler or Return Cart
Online Books from the University of Pennsylvania
Look at Prize Winning Books or Banned Books

posted by mb

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Kids: Celebrate Father's Day!

Father’s Day is on Sunday, June 19th! The library has a great collection of books and resources for your child to make Father's Day special and memorable! Here are a few recommended titles:


Father's Day Father's Day by Anne Rockwell
For Fathers' Day, the students in Mrs. Madoff's class write and illustrate books about their dads with their families.

Because I am Your Daddy
Because I am your Daddy by Sherry North
In illustrations and verse, this book lists some of the many ways a father, whether a pilot or a baseball player, could show his love for his child.

Papa and Me
Papa and Me by Arthur Dorros
This is a beautifully illustrated story about a Latino boy and his father spending a memorable day together eating and sightseeing as they travel to Abuela and Abuelo's house.

Father's Day
Father's Day by Ann Heinrichs
This is an informative book about Father's Day and discusses why and how Father's Day is celebrated.


Father's Day Crafts
Father's Day Crafts by Fay Robinson
Create something thoughtful and memorable for dad! This book contains intriguing craft projects for kids to create for dad on Father's Day.

All new crafts for Mother's Day and Father's Day
All New Crafts for Mother's Day and Father's Day by Kathy Ross
Learn how to create crafts for both Mother's and Father's Day. This book contains simple step by step instructions to create each craft project, designed to give to mom or dad.

Here are other ways to celebrate Father’s Day:
  • Create a personalized Father’s Day greeting card.
  • Work on a Father’s Day craft project.
  • Write a thoughtful poem for dad.
  • Play dad’s favorite game or sport with him such as chess, cards, basketball or baseball.
For more recommendations, please visit the Youth Services desk at your library.
Posted by pn.

Friday, June 10, 2011

See your Summer Reading Kickoff Photos on Flickr!

We had a great time at our Summer Reading Kickoff Party last Saturday, June 4. We had over 640 Summer Reading sign-ups, arts & crafts, Zippy the Clown, and an unscheduled fire alarm! Thank goodness it stopped raining while we all waited outside for the Santa Clara Fire Department to make sure the building was totally safe. Thanks, SCFD!

If you came out for the party, we may have taken a picture of you doing something silly (with your permission, of course)! Did you pose as a totem pole, a pirate, or a child from around the world? Would you like to see how fun you looked?

Click here to see your picture, but do it soon, as we will take the pictures down on Monday, June 20.

We hope you had a great time with us. If you missed the Kickoff Party, you can still sign up for Summer Reading ONLINE (at home or at the library) until July 16. You can also see which programs are coming up by checking out our online calendar. We hope your summer has gotten off to a great start! Come see us soon and often!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Novel Destinations: Summer Reading for Adults

Take a trip with us this summer and find your reading destination. Sign up for Adult Summer Reading now through July 16. Read or listen to five books and turn in your reading log between July 25 and August 21 to receive a prize and a chance to win an Nook E-Reader from Barnes & Noble!

Looking for something to read? Try these travel books:

Atlas of the Human Heart by Ariel Gore 910.4 G66

Join us for these exciting events:

World Travel 101 with Hostelling International June 27 from 6:30-7:30 in the Cedar Room

Sierra Club's Volunteer Vacations July 12 from 6:30-7:30 in the Cedar Room.

posted by mb

Friday, June 3, 2011

One World, Many Stories!

The forecast may call for rain on Saturday, but we're not letting that stop our fun - we'll bring the party inside! Join us at Central Park Library for our big "One World, Many Stories" Summer Reading Kickoff Party on Saturday, June 4 from 1 to 4 pm. We'll have several activities in our Redwood and Cedar Rooms, with Zippy's Almost Famous Balloon Circus performing at 2 pm. We anticipate a large crowd and limited parking, so please arrive early! Doors to the program rooms will close when capacity is reached.

Saturday is the first day for summer reading club registration, and you can sign up from any computer in the world with an internet connection. Go to our summer reading page, and select either the children, teen, or adult program. (Note: the registration link will not be live until Saturday 6/4.) Fill out a short registration form, print out a reading log, and you're all set! You'll also find information about all of our free summer programs such as concerts, puppet shows, storytimes, and movie screenings.

Get ready for a summer full of reading and fun!

posted by SPB