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March 10, 2014

Recently there was a guest column in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette written by an area school librarian, stating “Libraries are not obsolete!”  I could not agree more, but the troubling thing is that there are those out there that think libraries are no longer relevant.  The days of getting books at a library are long gone.  Just take a look at book stores like Borders, which recently went out of business.

But the larger issue in my mind is the perception that libraries are just filled with books.  There is this perception that the libraries of old are the same as the current day libraries.  As most industries and fields have to do, libraries are adjusting to the digital age.

In my current role as a technology librarian, I am constantly educating people on the fantastic resources libraries have to offer.  Did you know you can check out eBooks on your smart phone or tablet?  No cost and free with your library card.

You can also check out DVDs, CDs and audiobooks.  Yes the days of Blockbuster are gone, but libraries are trying to fill this gap by having many current titles available to check out on DVDs as soon as they become available.

Many libraries also offer classes on different technological tools and concepts.  You can learn about Twitter and Facebook.  You can learn how to use your tablet to download eBooks.

This is just beginning to scratch the surface on what libraries offer the public.  So no, libraries are not obsolete.  That could not be further from the truth.  Librarians are changing and adapting to meet the needs of their patrons.

What does your library offer?  Stop in today and check it out!

 

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March 2014

I heard on the radio that Jay Paterno, son of the late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, was running for political office.  After looking up the details, I confirmed that this report is in fact correct.  When I first heard the report, I thought, “oh he’s probably running for a local position like state representative or even a county commissioner.”  Nope.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  Jay Paterno will be running for Pennsylvania’s position of Lieutenant Governor.

He will be challenging the six other candidates for the Democratic nomination in the primary election.  Jay is different from his father who was a conservative, where as Jay is a Democrat and supported President Barack Obama in the 2008 and 2012 election.

The Paterno family found themselves in the middle of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, with Jay being the most outspoken member of the Paterno family.  He made many media appearances defending his father and family name.  Additionally, the Paternos are part of a group that have sued the NCAA over post-scandal sanctions imposed on Penn State.

Regardless of your feelings on how the NCAA investigation, the state of Pennsylvania investigation and the university investigation were handled, Paterno’s candidacy will force him to answer some difficult questions about his response to the sanctions.  It will also test his response to media questions (which in my mind weren’t always handled the best shortly after the investigation was launched.)  How he handles the questions about this scandal could make or break Paterno’s chances to earn the Democratic nomination.

But let’s look beyond Paterno’s feelings on the handling of the Sandusky investigation for a second.  (I know, that is really difficult to do.)  Let’s look at what makes Jay Paterno qualified to run for a prominent position within the state of Pennsylvania.  I couldn’t find anything, can you?  Yes, the only way to gain experience is to give it a shot, but if he really wants to make an impact, he should try to run for a local position before running on a state-wide position.

He spoke at several young voters’ rallies in the past and wrote several guest columns for some newspapers.  Additionally, he runs a nonprofit that fights malaria in Africa.  Does this make him qualified for the position of Lieutenant Governor?  He also has the one thing that experience can’t give you – name recognition.

I know I won’t be voting for Paterno in May, but you can be your own judge when you head out to the polls in May. I did not agree with his public outcry and very public response to the Jerry Sandusky scandal, but more importantly I want a politically experienced Lieutenant Governor.  I want someone who has proven that he or she can actually make a difference at a local level, and therefore has the ability to make a change on a state-wide level.

Blog is back again!

March 2014

My blog is back to being updated on a regular basis! Throughout the history of my blog, it has been a forum for a variety of topics and has been updated at varying regularity.  But I’m going to try and update my blog more regularly again.  It will be a forum for different topics that I feel necessary to write about and get my opinion out there.  Whether you agree or disagree, feel free to comment and share with others!

February 26, 2014

This afternoon the Philadelphia Phillies will play in their first spring training game.  The start of the baseball season is one of my favorite times of year.  Come March 31 when the Phillies play their first regular season game, there is a chance for hope.  While I’m not optimistic about this team, there is still a chance for this team to surprise us.  Even if they don’t make the playoffs, I guarantee you there will be those comeback victories that will have me at the edge of my seat throughout the dog days of summer.

Some people don’t like baseball because it is too boring and long, but that’s only one way to look at it.  I look at it as a way for each team to prove itself throughout the 162 game schedule.  Each year in the sport, there are new teams that make the playoffs and provide us with the underdog stories.

Baseball more than any other sport is a family game.  Kids talk about growing up going to games with their families.  You always see players hanging out with their kids before games.

Yes, I don’t put a lot of stock into spring training games.  There are a lot of minor league players who play in the games and coaches are also trying to work on the lineups.  Some games, I may not know many of the players out on the field.

But despite this, baseball is back today.  And I get to watch the Phillies take the field today.

Top 5 books of 2013

Pam Richter
December 2013

Throughout the year 2013, I read many fantastic books.  There are some that I’ve read before and others that I read for the first time.  Below is my list for the best books that I have read this year.

1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

This could be one of the best books that I have ever read and would easily make my all-time top five book list.  Yes, the premise of the book sounds depressing since it is about two teenagers who meet in a cancer support group as both of them have been battling cancer in their lives.  But the story is so much more than that; evolving into a fantastic commentary about falling in love and really making the best of tough situations.  There were so many times that I found myself laughing throughout the book because Green captured the dialogue of teenagers perfectly.  His writing style is fantastic and I could not put the book down.  I laughed, I cried and believe it or not I was ultimately uplifted.  While reading this book, I felt a full range of emotions from one of the most talented authors I have read. 

2. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

This was the first time that I read any of the Harry Potter books even though many people told me that I should have read them years ago.  I was stubborn, convincing myself that I would not like books about magic.  Ultimately though, one of the reasons that I decided to finally read this book is because of the impact this series has had on getting kids to read.   This book is not just a book about magic and wizardry.  The dynamics between the characters and their developments throughout the seven books is written in such a way that you can’t put the book down.  I haven’t been able to pick my favorite book yet and I think I need to reread them at least a few more times before I can pick a favorite in this legendary series.  I should also say that I haven’t seen any of the movies and will be watching them soon.  For anyone who wants to read these books, I recommend you read them all before watching the movies.

3. Sum It Up by Pat Summitt and Sally Jenkins

I think for most people who know me, they would be shocked to see this book as No. 3 on this list.  A book about my personal hero should be No. 1 on my list right?  But this book was difficult to for me to read. It is the story of Pat Summitt, legendary basketball coach who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and was ultimately forced to resign because of this diagnosis.  She couldn’t coach at the level she was accustomed to anymore.  For someone who idolizes Summitt it was difficult to read about her career coming to an end by a crippling medical diagnosis.  Nevertheless, there were many stories that even the most dedicated fans never knew about.  It was a perfect way to tie up Summitt’s career.

4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The first time I read this book I was a freshman in high school.  I read it once in college and again this year.  I think this third reading really showed me the importance of rereading books.  At various points in our lives, we are going through different things or look at the world in different ways and as a result the way we see books we are reading differently.  I’ve always loved Harper Lee’s classic book, but for some reason the writing was even more powerful this time than ever before.  This reading of it allowed it to become my favorite classic book.

5. Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

This was one of the few books that I truly enjoyed listening to as an audiobook.  The reader was engaging, but most importantly Larson’s storytelling is fantastic.  This book is about the planning and designing of the Chicago’s World Fair.  It describes everything from the lighting to the buildings to the famous people who attended the fair.  In addition, he describes some side stories surrounding the fair.  The amount of detail that Larson describes is a true literary feat.  The next thing I’m going to do is take a look at the printed version of the book and read the citations where he did his research.  This non-fiction book tells the behind the scenes story of a major event in our country’s history.

Honorable mentions:

Looking for Alaska by John Green

In any other reading year, this book would have easily made my top 5 and I am still not sure it is not better than the Devil in the White City.  I may change my mind upon rereading either one of these.  But as with The Fault in Our Stars, this book will take you on an emotional roller coaster ride.  After reading this book, I want to read everything Green has ever written.  Even though these books are classified as young adult books, his writing is so good that adults are even captivated by it.  This book was not as uplifting at times as The Fault in Our Stars, but still a fantastic story.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour book store by Robin Sloan

If I had to describe this book in one word it would be quirky.  It is a unique story about someone who works in a book store that is open 24 hours (as the title implies), but a mystery is uncovered.  At times the plot and mystery can be a little confusing, but it is a book that highlights the different technological tools that are at our disposal.  The author uses Google as the company in the book that has supreme power.  It makes the reader left wondering if Google is that powerful and has that many tools at its disposal.  Once you can keep up with the different technological devices and twists and turns this quirky novel is absolutely worth the read.

September 27, 2013

Tomorrow, September 28, will conclude Banned Books Week 2013.  Libraries, schools and bookstores across the nation participated in this week-long event to “Celebrate the Freedom to Read.”  This week-long celebration began in 1982 in response to an increasingly high number of books that were challenged during this time.

Since 1982, more than 11,300 books were challenged for various reasons including: sexually explicit material, profanity and violence.  Sometimes parents or community members want books banned because they do not feel their children should read certain books or be exposed to certain topics.

But the problem with banning books is that it leads to a slippery slope all involving censorship.  Reading books inspire, engage and challenge all of us in unique ways.  Some times certain books even promote cultural change.  Below are a few of the banned books that “shaped America.”  Click here for the full listing:

– The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (1884)
– Catch 22 by Joseph Heller (1961)
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953)
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)

It is fantastic to see many libraries, schools and bookstores across the nation for having programs to bring awareness to Banned Books Week.  More importantly continuing to share that some of the most challenged books have been among some of the most influential in our nation’s history.  Stand up. Read a banned book – it may change your life. Image

Picture posted on the Newseum’s Facebook page commemorating Banned Books Week.

August 17, 2013

For those who follow my blog, know that I made it a goal of mine to blog once a week this year.  I set up specific guidelines as to what I was going to blog every week.  Well, this has failed since I haven’t blogged since April. Blogging became more like a chore and I no longer felt inspired to write.  So I’m going back to the way I used to do it – write on my blog when I feel inspired.

A lot has gone on in my life the past few months and I’ve been thinking about how I feel bad for abandoning my blog the past few months.  But then I’m reminded by the ending to one of my favorite books: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Steven Chbosky. The main character in the book, Charlie, writes letters to someone throughout the entire book:
“I don’t know if I will have the time to write any more letters, because I might be too busy trying to participate. So if this does end up being the last letter, I just want you to know that I was in a bad place before I started high school and you helped me.”

The past few months I have felt a connection with this passage of the book.  I felt as though I’ve been out there experiencing life, and as the main character in Chbosky’s book describes it as, participating.

I will be back blogging more the rest of the year, and back to my old ways – writing when I feel inspired.  Or if I don’t write for a while, it is because I’m out there experiencing life, to have great stories to write about later!