Monday, March 18, 2013

Overheard in the library.

I was originally going to put this up on the Marshall Lane Facebook page, but I decided that it needed to be more than a blurb.

At lunch recess today, a mom came in looking for her son, a third grader.  He was sitting at a table with a friend and they were looking at a book together.  She spotted him at the table and then looked at me and asked, incredulously "Are they here by their own choice?" I said "Yup." She went over to the boys and asked them "Are you here by your own choice?"  They nodded and said "Yes."  She looked at me again and said "Wow, that's really great!"

 I'm not sure why she was so surprised that children would come in to the library of their own volition during recess.  Maybe it was surprising behavior on her son's part.  I don't know but the library is full of children every day at recess and many of them are reading books.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Old Robert and His Darling Cats

I have a new favorite picture book, which I've been reading to the kids this week.  It's called Old Robert and the Sea-Silly Cats, by Barbara Joosse, illustrated by Jan Jutte.  It's a sweet, quiet book and the more I read it out loud, the more I love it.

Old Robert is "a shipshape man who had everything he needed - nothing more, nothing less," the story begins, before the title page.  He is a sailor who lives on his boat and lives a simple routine life, counting all the 'regular things in their regular place' each night before he goes to sleep, never sailing at night.  Then some silly cats come by and change his life.

What I really love about this book is how the author uses words to paint a picture.  For instance, she describes the first cat as 'light as a whisper, soft as a secret.' Each night a cat comes by and the moon becomes a little fuller and golden until, finally, the night is right for sailing.  The author's lyrical writing style pairs beautifully with the whimsical pen and water color illustrations to create something magical.  Do yourself a favor and read this book out loud to someone special.

Barbara Joosse writes songs as well.  Go here to hear Old Robert's Jig.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Knitting News

I haven't posted anything about knitting here in a while because I've been working on some original designs.  I've added test knitting to the process so it's taking a bit longer.  My first test knit project is finally through testing and ready to be posted for sale.  I'm very excited about it!  Here is a couple of pictures:

The pattern is called Diamonte, because of the diamond motif on the hand part of the mitts.  The cuffs are short and done in seed stitch.  These knit up pretty quickly and I've used one of my favorite yarns, Stonehedge Fiber Mill's Shepherds Wool.  They are very cozy.  If you'd like to download the pattern, you can purchase it from my Ravelry store.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Cicada Princess

A few weeks ago, in a post titled Connections, I talked about a project that I had backed on Kickstarter.  I've actually backed several projects on Kickstarter, mostly films.  One of the films I backed is called Cicada Princess.  It's a very short animated film and it's currently making the rounds on the festival circuit, including Cinequest which is going on now in San Jose.  This means I had the opportunity to see this film on the big screen, along with some other short animated works.

So, of course, I went Friday night to see it and brought Mrs. Medalen with me.  We enjoyed seeing all the films but I was very excited to see 'my' film.  Plus, the filmmakers were there with one of the puppets from the movie so I was able to say hello and have my picture taken with the Cicada Princess herself!

And here's me with the writer/director Mauricio Baiocchi:

The film tells the story of the cicadas, who spend most of their lives underground, until one day they emerge for one dazzling night of courtship, and then they die.  It's sweet and sad and beautifully done.  Mr. Baiocchi described how making the film helped him get through a very dark time in his life.  

Besides getting a copy of the film as one of my Kickstarter rewards, I also received this cicada doll that was used in the film.  It's one of the cicadas crossing the bridge to the castle to attend the ball. So cool!

If you ever get the chance to see this film, I highly recommend it. The scene at the ball is stunning!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Keeping it fresh.

I decided it was time to change the cover photo on the Marshall Lane Library Facebook page.  It used to be this:

This is the fiction wall showing mainly the shelves containing FIC C through FIC H.  This picture was taken in February of 2005.  Books were in circulation but even at the end of the year, the shelves were not completely full.  There are lots of old books on these shelves. Most notably the top shelf on the right  side of the picture are the Betsy books by Carolyn Haywood. These titles are from the 1940's and '50's. I'm sure these were reprints, but probably from the 1960's.  

Here is a picture I took today.  I tried to take it from the exact same angle.

This is the same section of the fiction wall.  Books are in circulation but the shelves are so impacted that I have to keep books on display on top of the shelf because they don't fit.  Poor Carolyn Haywood is nowhere to be seen.  She got weeded.  Anthony Horowitz now sits in her place.  Quite a number of other dusty old shelf sitters have been replaced by new titles that kids want to read. 

When I stand back and look at the fiction shelves, I feel very proud of what I've been able to accomplish, especially considering how much my budget has shrunk since 2001.  Non-fiction, not so much.  However, with the Common Core Standards coming, non-fiction is going to need some serious attention.

 Here are some fun facts about the collection:

In 2003, the average publication date of the general fiction collection was 1980.  Today it is 1997.  Still not ideal, but better.

The total number of books in the library in 2003 was 11,535 (21.36 books per student).  Today it is 14,525 (25.32 books per student).