A patron recently asked me about books that the library discards - why we do it and what we do with them.  This is what our Collection Development policy has to say about it:

“Weeding (de-selection) is a continual process and necessary component of collection development. It is a subjective activity, and cannot be dictated by a mechanical formula or based solely on circulation statistics. Weeding may include replacing materials, updating editions or discarding items. Criteria for weeding an item include:”

  • Physical condition
  • Accuracy
  • Timeliness
  • Relevance
  • Literary merit
  • Publication date
  • Additional copies
  • Other materials on the same topic in the collection
  • Space
  • Integrity of a series or completeness of works by an author
  • Inclusion in professional bibliographies
  • Author
  • Local interest/local historical significance
  • Inconsistency with current selection criteria
  • Circulation statistics

I wish we never had to get rid of a book from our collection, but the laws of physics say that if we want to keep buying new books, then we have to get rid of the old books to make room. Deciding which books to pull is not always an easy choice even though we have guidelines. It’s easiest when a book is in poor condition, but then you have to decide if you want to replace it, which we will do if it is part of a series or a classic.  It gets harder when you consider novels that haven’t checked out in a while.  You have to ask yourself  things like: Is the author still producing books? If so, they may write the next bestseller and all of their older books will suddenly be in demand.  Another question you may need to ask: Is the work timeless? Many books are obviously dated, using the slang of the day or featuring current events or themes that are no longer relevant.  For example, during the Cold War era the threat of global nuclear war was a very real fear for many people and novels with post-apocalyptic themes were popular.  A few of them have survived to become classics, but many more fail to connect with modern readers.

The decision to discard non-fiction books can sometimes be easier because information can change so rapidly and it is important that we provide the public with current, relevant facts.  You wouldn’t want to rely on information from a ten year old book about treating cancer, or get decorating ideas from a book printed in the eighties.  We recently discarded one book on canning and preserving that gave instructions for methods that are no longer considered safe or sanitary, so that was an easy choice.  Decisions are a little more difficult with things like history books.  Sure, the facts aren’t going to change, but sometimes the perspective does, or new information is uncovered.  Sometimes a new book is published that is more complete and then it comes back down to an issue of shelf space.

Once we decide to de-accession a book, we have to figure out what to do with it.  If it’s in poor condition, we send it to recycling.  If it’s in good condition, we may give it to the Friends of the Library for their book sale. However, if it’s a book that is out of style that hasn’t checked out of the library for years, it’s not likely that someone will want to pay for it either.  Some books go straight to recycling, some go to the book sale for a while and then to recycling.  It has been suggested that rather than recycling, we give those books to other charitable organizations, but again, if no one wants to borrow it from the library for free, they are not likely to want to read it just because we gave it to them.  However, if there are any non-profit organizations out there who would like to receive our discarded books, I hope they will contact me at the library to make arrangements.  We would be much happier seeing books in the hands of people who will appreciate them than sending them to recycling.

2 commentsJuly 22nd, 2009

More About Summer Reading

More fond memories
It seems I’m not the only one with fond memories of summer reading.  One of our Library Board members recalled coming to this library as a child during World War II.  Rationing was in full swing and luxuries were scarce.  Erma Cox was the librarian and she knew just the thing to entice Martinsville children out of the freedom of summer into the cool confines of the library -   ice cream.  Ice cream promised at the end of the program was the sole reason this particular person spent the summer reading and they still remember it over a half of a century later.  Erma Cox was a very clever librarian.

Adult Summer Reading Mini-Reviews
I’ll take a break from reviewing books and let some of our patrons do it.  These are mini-reviews that were submitted as part of our Adult Summer Reading Program “Master the Art of Reading”.  Readers are asked to write a 2-3 sentence review and rate the book with one to four stars:  1 star = Boo!;  2 Stars = Just OK;  3 Stars = Liked It;  4 stars = A Masterpiece!

Sisterchicks Down Under! by Robin Jones Gunn. 4 stars: This is one of those books that a person can read for hours! Kathy & Jill’s almost instant friendship and the many sights, sounds, tears and joy they had together made me wish I was truly there! I love the fact that there is an underlying Christian theme, too.  Submitted by Mary.  

The Dangerous Husband by Jane Shapiro. 2 stars: This book started out slow which is hard for me to stick with. I did however and it did become a little entertaining. I found the plot very unique.  Submitted by Nikki.

Considering Kate by Nora Roberts. 3 stars:  In Considering Kate, Kate goes back to her home town to open up a ballet school. While building her school she still does some dancing and falls in love. In the end it shows that if you try hard enough anything is possible.  Submitted by Jacquie.

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. 4 stars: A well-written work of fantasy. Bradley fleshes out and gives heart to the Arthurian legend.  She pulls you in with the familiar legend and keeps you reading with her own twists. Loved it!  Submitted by Holly.

1 commentJune 16th, 2009

Summer Reading for the Whole Family

I know that summer doesn’t officially start until June 21st but in the library world, summer begins whenever Summer Reading starts, which was June 1st this year.

1976 Summer Reading CardSummer Reading always brings back memories and I remember one summer in particular.  During the summer of 1976, I was eleven years old lived on a U.S. Air Force base in Croughton, England.  I was a shy, introverted child and my family moved around a lot when I was growing up.  I had friends among the other children in the family housing where we lived, but most days I preferred to ride my bike to the base library and read.  The librarian was kind to me  (I wish I could remember her name!) and signed me up for the summer reading program.  Since it was the bicentennial year, the program theme was “Modern American Explorer” and I had to read books that were loosely about America.  There were classic children’s novels  like My Friend Flicka and Little Women,  and  biographies of famous Americans like Annie Oakley, Robert Frost and George Westinghouse. I particularly remember a non-fiction series about how things were made during colonial times like hats, wigs and shoes.    For the reading program, I received a large cardboard map of the United States, and for every book I read and told the librarian about, I received a sticker with a different state that I could paste on my map.  It took a while to fill in all those tiny East coast states, but the map really filled in quickly once I made it west of the Mississippi.  I filled in my entire map and then started a new one and this time I started from the West coast.   I ended up reading 82 books that summer.  I don’t recall receiving any prizes for reading along the way, but I do recall an end-of-summer party where they gave out prizes.  I did it just to read and get that darn map filled in.   I guess it’s no surprise that I turned out to be a librarian.

Be Creative @ Your LibrarySummer Reading at the Morgan County Public Library has quite a bit more to it than stickers on a card to encourage readers. The children’s program “Be Creative @ Your Library” rewards children with small prizes for every 2 hours that they read or are read to and there’s no set list of books that they have to choose from.  There are free, fun programs every week that they can attend. You can go to our web page to see what’s going on.   Registration may be required for the programs, so check with your local branch.

Express Yourself @ Your LibraryThe Teen program is “Express Yourself @ Your Library.”  Teens get prizes like wrist bands, buttons, pens and t-shirts for reading a certain number of pages, plus they can earn entries for an end-of-summer raffle. Last year’s raffle grand prize was an I-Pod. There are some great teen programs too, like henna tattoos (parental permission required!), bleached t-shirts, Guitar Hero, Dance Dance Revolution, movies and parties.

Master the Art of ReadingAdults are encouraged to “Master the Art of Reading.”  Adults read books and submit mini-reviews on them. After four books, they receive a beautiful pewter lapel pin in the shape of an open book.  Each mini-review is also an entry to an end of summer raffle for tote bags loaded with books and goodies.

As always, all of our programs are free, so if the economy has forced you into a ’staycation’ this year, at least you can still get out to the library and do something together as a family.  We hope to see you soon!

1 commentJune 5th, 2009

Thank you, domo arigato, thank you & thank you!

As I may have mentioned before, the Library’s budget is always tight so we frequently seek grants to help ease the burden.  Grants are usually for a specific purpose or program, and not intended as supplements for day-to-day operating expenses.  Sometimes they are monetary and sometimes they are materials, they can come from local groups, state level or even national organizations.  So far this year, we have been awarded four grants and we are so grateful for the wonderful organizations who make these grants possible.

The first grant is from the Community Foundation of Morgan County and it was technically awarded last year, but it is for our upcoming summer reading program that will kick off in another month and so I tend to think of it as this year’s grant.   The summer reading theme is “Be Creative @ Your Library” and this grant of $1,100 will help pay for a special quilting program for children.  Kids will actually get to make a quilt block and they will also receive a free copy of the book, The Quilt Story by Tony Johnston and Tomie dePaola. This program will be presented at each of the six branches in early June, so contact your local branch to sign your child up for it if you are interested.

The second grant comes from the American Library Association and Toyota Motor Corporation.  It is a collection of notable Japanese books that have been translated into English and is valued at over $900. These translated works of award winning authors (through Vertical Publishing) provide a great sampling of popular works from Japan in many genres and will add diversity to our library and introduce readers to new authors.

These are the books we received. If you click on the headings, you can see reviews and plot summaries:

Winter SleepCrime and Mystery
Ashes, Kitakata Kenzo
Winter Sleep, Kitakata Kenzo
The Cage, Kitakata Kenzo
The Poison Ape, Osawa Arimasa
Promenade of the Gods, Suzuki Koji

Twinkle Twinkle, Ekuni Kaori
May in the Valley of the Rainbow, Funado Yoichi
A Rabbit’s Eyes, Haitani Kenjiro
Naoko, Higashino, Keigo
Boy, Kitano Takeshi
The Guin Saga (Book 1, 2), Kurimoto Kaoru
The Blade of the Courtesans, Ryu Keiichiro
Outlet, Taguchi Randy
Sayonara, Gangsters, Takahashi Genichiro

Zero Over Berlin, Sasaki Joh
The Battle of Lepanto, Shiono Nanami (2 copies)
The Fall of Constantinople, Shiono Nanami (2 copies)
The Siege of Rhodes, Shiono Nanami (2 copies)

The Crimson Labyrinth, Kishi Yusuke
Now You’re One of Us, Nonami Asa
Parasite Eve, Sena Hideaki
Birthday, Suzuki Koji
Dark Water, Suzuki Koji
Ring, Suzuki Koji

Love & Lust
Paradise, Suzuki Koji
Translucent Tree, Takagi Nobuko

To Terra… (Volume 1, 2, 3), Takemiya Keiko
Andromeda Stories (Volume 1, 2, 3), Takemiya Keiko
Black Jack (Volume 1, 2, 3), Tezuka Osamu
Guin Saga Manga (Volume 1, 2, 3), Kurimoto Kaoru, Illustrated by Yanagisawa Kazuaki

Saying Yes to Japan, Clark Tim
J-Horror, Kalat David
A Slow Death, NHK TV Crew
The Toyota Leaders, Sato Masaaki (2 copies)
North Korea Kidnapped My Daughter, Yokota Sakie

Loop, Suzuki Koji
Spiral, Suzuki Koji

The third grant is a Library Services Technology Act (LSTA) grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services that is administered through the Indiana State Library.  This $6,500 grant will allow us to purchase a new digital microfilm reader-printer for our genealogy department.  If you’ve visited our genealogy department recently, you’ll know that our two old Minolta reader-printers are on their last legs and a new one is desperately needed.  The addition of a new one will give us two up-to-date working machines for genealogists and local historians.

The fourth grant we’ve received is the We the People - Picturing America Bookshelf from the National Endowment for the Humanities in cooperation with the American Library Association. This collection of twenty-two books for young readers aims to encourage and strengthen the teaching, study, and understanding of American history and culture through reading. Click here to see a list of the books and descriptions.

Once again, I’d like to thank the organizations that made these grants possible.  Libraries open windows to new worlds for people who might not otherwise be able to afford it and these wonderful organizations provide funds that allow for new programs, new ideas and new opportunities.  Even the smallest gift can make a difference and if you would like to give to the library, be assured that we will put your gift to good use.

1 commentMay 4th, 2009

Book Review - The Pilate Plot

The Pilate Plot by Terry BaileyIndiana has historically produced some of the most popular authors in the country such the early 20th century’s Gene Stratton-Porter, Booth Tarkington and Charles Major to modern day favorites like Kurt Vonnegut, Ralph McInerny and Meg Cabot.  I am very pleased to report that there is a new author on the scene who is not only from Indiana, but also one of our neighbors. Terry Bailey was born in Morgan County, the son of Dale and Ella Bailey who currently reside in Paragon. He graduated Eminence High School in 1975 and though education and vocation have led him to other locales, he returns to Morgan County as often as possible. He currently resides in East Canton, Ohio where he serves as the Senior Minister for Indian Run Christian Church. The Pilate Plot is his first book.

About the Book:
David Urbane is a college professor who blames Jesus Christ for the death of his wife.  Robert Cooper is the sociopathic President of the United States who is working on world domination but finds that Christianity stands in his way.  Nathaniel Stone is the genius computer hacker who discovers that time travel really is possible.  Cooper’s plan is to send Urbane back in time to prevent Jesus’ crucifixion and thereby stopping the birth of Christianity. Who will win in this contest of good versus evil?

My Thoughts:
I find that many self-published first novels still require a lot of polish and editing, and so I was very pleasantly surprised when I read Terry’s book.  The Pilate Plot is an intelligent, fast paced thriller that combines science fiction, history, religion and conspiracy.  It is well written with a complex story line that twists and turns.  Its short, cliffhanger-ending chapters are reminiscent of Dan Brown’s DaVinci Code and make you want to keep reading long after you know that you should stop and go to bed.  After all, why stop now when the next chapter is only three pages long?  The suspenseful, Christian-themed plot line combined with the speculative aspect of time travel will appeal to fans of Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti, or any of the major suspense writers.  In summary, I highly recommend this book and I hope that Terry finds a major publisher for his work soon.  The Pilate Plot leaves the ending open, so I’m looking forward to the sequel, too.

If you’d like more information about Terry or The Pilate Plot you can visit Books By Terry Bailey.

Add commentApril 27th, 2009

The Rest of the Story

I’ve noticed an interesting trend that is hardly new, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it formally defined in library literature. I’m going to call it Classics With a Twist.  It’s a genre of fiction that starts with a classic work of fiction then the author does one of three things to it:

1.  Re-writes the story from a different character’s point of view.
2.  Writes a sequel.
3. Re-writes the story in a modern setting with modern characters.

Rhett Butler's People by Donald McCaigQuite by accident, I recently read three books that were Classics With a Twist.  The first was Rhett Butler’s People, Donald McCaig’s authorized companion to Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind.   I have to make a disclaimer - I’m an unabashed GWTW fan, even though Scarlett is as unlikeable as a heroine can get and it paints the unrealistic picture of happy slaves ruled by kindly masters.  In Rhett Butler’s People we finally get to hear Rhett’s side of the story and we learn of the forces that molded him as a young man.  Most of the book is a retelling of the classic through Rhett’s eyes, though it does take it a step further into the years after the war.  Overall, it is an enjoyable tale, especially if you’re dying to know what happens next to Scarlett and Rhett, but McCaig brought a lot of modern sensibilities to the story and sometimes goes too far in making things politically correct.  McCaig also made Scarlett somewhat sweeter than she is in the original which I didn’t mind because we are seeing her through Rhett’s eyes and his love for her overlooks her flaws.  He also made Melanie Wilkes far more coarse, which I did mind.  For example, Melanie reveals details of her intimate relationships with Ashley in a letter to a friend which felt completely out of character. In another scene, Melanie instructs Belle Watling how to be a lady, which is something Melanie never had to think about - being a lady was as natural as breathing. Scarlett, on the other hand, could have easily had that conversation because she was all about calculated appearances.     If you simply can’t get enough of GWTW, you might also try The Wind Done Gone by Alice Randall who tells the story through the eyes of Cynara, a slave.  Try also Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley, a rather far-fetched sequel which has Scarlett  going to Ireland after the war and meeting her father’s relatives.

The Independence of Miss Mary BennetThe next Classic With a Twist is The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet by Colleen McCullough. This sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice takes place seventeen years after that novel ends where we find the bookish, priggish younger sister Mary still a spinster after caring for the Bennet girls’ mother for all these years.  Mary idolizes Argus, which is the pseudonym of an exposé writing newspaper columnist who loves to heckle Parliament.  In honor of him, she takes her small inheritance and decides to write a book about the way industry exploits the poor.  Many misadventures befall  her and several men fall in love with her.  If you are a thoroughly addicted Janeite, I can nearly guarantee that you will hate this book - Darcy is a power-hungry control freak, Elizabeth a shrew and Lydia a prostitute and a drunk.  Mary is charmingly naive and still has a proclivity for worthy causes. However, if you’re looking for a rollicking romance novel with all sorts of improbable situations (including a subterranean cult), you’ll love this book.  Jane Austen’s works are very popular starting points for Classics With a Twist.  If you want sequels or alternate viewpoints, try Duty and Desire by Pamela Aidan, Mansfield Revisited or Jane Fairfax by Joan Aiken.  If you want modern retellings, try First Impressions by Debra White Smith or Bridget Jones Diary by Helen Fielding.  For a really complete listing of all Jane Austen companion works visit www.pemberley.com/janeinfo/austseql.html.

The Story of Edgar SawtelleThe third Classic With a Twist is The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski, a modern retelling of Hamlet set in Wisconsin rather than Elsinore and featuring a doggy Ophelia in the guise of Almondine.   If you’re familiar with Hamlet, you’ll find this to be a pretty direct retelling, complete with the ghost of Edgar’s father, a romance between his uncle and mother and the disasterous outcome of trying to prove his uncle is a murderer.  The prose in this book is lovely, but I’ve found that people either really love it or absolutely hate it - there’s no middle ground.  If you are generally a fan of Oprah’s book club picks, then it’s a pretty safe bet you’ll love this one, too.

Shakespeare is probably the most frequently used author in the Classics With a Twist category.  For retellings from different characters try: Caliban’s Hour by Tad Williams; Ophelia by Lisa M. Klein; or Gertrude and Claudius by John Updike. For modern takes try Julie and Romeo by Jeanne Ray; Serenissima by Erica Jong; Enter Three Witches by Caroline B. Cooney or Much Ado About Murder edited by Anne Perry.

There are hundreds more of these types of books.  If you have a favorite classic, come in the Library and we’ll try to find some related stories.  Alternately, check this discussion on literary retellings:  www.romantictimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=9607.

2 commentsApril 21st, 2009

Celebrate National Library Week, April 13th - 19th

This week, schools, campuses and communities across the country celebrate National Library Week, a time to remind the public about the contribution libraries, librarians and library workers make to their communities everyday.

In today’s economy, libraries offer free resources to help people find jobs and learn new skills.Worlds connect @ your library, with people of all ages and backgrounds finding entertainment, self-help or their place in the community.With free resources like books, magazines, DVDs and computer and wifi access, people can do better in school, tackle projects and learn new ways to improve their health.

What makes the library unique is access to trained professionals – librarians – to help people find and interpret the information they need to make a difference in their lives. Our libraries also help keep us connected, providing a space for people of all ages, classes and races to come together, while keeping us connected to events and people around the world. It’s where people can keep up with world events or research where to volunteer locally.

Here are some of the things you can do this week at your library:


4:30 p.m., Main Library -   Curious About…. A reading program for children ages 5-8


4 p.m., Brooklyn Branch -  Brooklyn Kids “Picturing America in Watercolor” Stories and crafts for elementary age children

4-7 p.m., Main Library- Meet local author Terry Bailey and get a signed copy of his book, “The Pilate Plot”

7 p.m. Monrovia Branch - Bedtime stories for all ages. Pajamas optional.


10:30 a.m., Northeast Branch Preschool Storytime Express featuring stories, pre-reading activities and crafts.

10 a.m. & 2 p.m. Monrovia Branch - Preschool storytime featuring stories, pre-reading activities and crafts.

4 p.m. Monrovia Branch - Tell Me A Story - an after school reading program for elementary aged kids.

7 p.m. Main Library - Picturing America in the Civil  War - a program for all ages.

7 p.m. Monrovia Branch - Bedtime stories for all ages. Pajamas optional.


10:30 a.m. & 2:30 p.m.  Main Library - Preschool Story time featuring stories, pre-reading activities and crafts.

7 p.m. Brooklyn Branch - The Brooklyn Cro-knit club meets to share tips and help each other out.

What can you discover?National Library Week is the perfect time to find out. Worlds connect @ your library.

Add commentApril 9th, 2009


Hey Billy! Thanks for changing my graphic!

Add commentApril 2nd, 2009

John Updike

Suspect each moment, for it is a thief, tiptoeing away with more than it brings. (A Month of Sundays)

 John Updike passed away today and his death has left me feeling low.  I didn’t like everything that he wrote, but some of his works I loved (Rabbit, Run or Gertrude and Claudius).  Even when it left me confused (Brazil), I felt that he was a true master of his art.

Updike’s characters often felt trapped in their lives and his strength lay in the portrayals of their every day relationships.  These relationships weren’t anything extreme  - there were no axe murderers or husbands living double lives as secret agents, but rather everyday interactions that rang so true you felt  like Updike had bugged your living room.  Sometimes he exposed the beauty in a glance between a husband and a wife. More often than not, his characters were petty and cruel to each other. They knew which words would sting like a paper cut  or slice deep like a razor.  Sometimes I hated his characters, but he always managed to make me feel sympathy for them.

Regardless of the subject of his books,  I always admired the precision and beauty of his prose.  It seems he chose his words very carefully, selected the one that had the exact meaning he intended and never used ten words if five would do. It’s something I strive for in my ramblings, but fear I’ll never accomplish.

We have many of Mr. Updike’s books.  My favorites are the Rabbit series, beginning with Rabbit, Run, that he wrote over a thirty year period.  It follows the life of Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom in his up and down marriage, infidelities, failings and triumphs.  I’m also fond of Gertrude and Claudius which is a re-telling of Hamlet through the eyes of his mother and uncle.

1 commentJanuary 27th, 2009

What are your neighbors reading? Part two, Non-fiction.

Quiet Strength by Tony DungyAs promised, here is the list of the Most Checked-Out Non-Fiction of 2008.  I’ve included the top 14 because there was a seven-way tie for 8th place.

We have a few repeat entries from last year’s list: the warm-hearted and wet-nosed dog story Marley & Me; the perennially popular Guinness World Records and  Dave Pelzer’s true story of overcoming child abuse in A Man Named Dave.  Cookbooks are once again popular, and once again with a split between eating healthy and comfort foods (last year’s entries included The South Beach Diet, Classic 30 Minute Meals and  Cook Once, Eat Twice).  Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this list is the local focus. We have Colts’ coach Tony Dungy topping the list followed closely by local historian Joanne Stuttgen and only a little farther down the Historic Homes book.

  1. A Man Named DaveQuiet Strength: The Principles, Practices & Priorities of a Winning Life by Tony Dungy with Nathan Whitaker
  2. Morgan County by Joanne Raetz Stuttgen and Curtis Tomak
  3. Best of Hometown Cooking edited by Jessica Saari
  4. Guinness World Records by the Guinness Publishing Company
  5. A Man Named Dave: A Story of Triumph and Forgiveness by Dave Pelzer
  6. Vintage Cottages by Molly Hyde EnglishVintage Cottages by Molly Hyde English; photographs by Tom Lamb
  7. Plain Secrets : An Outsider Among the Amish by Joe Mackall
  8. 99 Historic Homes of Indiana : A Look Inside photographs by Marsh Davis; text by Bill Shaw with a foreword by J. Reid Williamson, Jr.
  9. Dinnertime Easy: Slow Cooker Recipes by the editors of Better Homes and Gardens
  10. Marley and Me: Love, Life, and Drywall Repair With the World’s Worst Dog by John Grogan
  11. Escape by Carolyn JessopA New Earth: Awakening To Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
  12. Weight Watchers All-Time Favorites : Over 200 Best-Ever Recipes From the Weight Watchers Test Kitchens
  13. What Can I Bring?: Cookbook by Anne Byrn
  14. Escape by Carolyn Jessop with Laura Palmer


1 commentDecember 22nd, 2008

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