PLA Bowker PeoplePut just under 10,000 librarians in a convention center and you’ve got yourself some highly classified and neatly-arranged pandemonium. That was the case last week in Minneapolis at the Public Library Association convention.

It’s an opportunity to learn techniques from professionals who fight the good fight in larger operations and different states. We attended meetings such as “Working with Difficult Patrons” and (for our upcoming Eastern Avenue branch) “Libraries as Greenbuildings”.


There are hundreds of vendors (like the party people from Bowker above) vying for the library’s attention, specializing in the items we check out to you folks, as well as the technology we use behind the scenes. One of these vendors brought in renowned mystery novelist C.J. Box to talk in their booth (in the picture on the right).

In addition to learning about the awesome reverse discrimination in men’s restroom lines at a library convention, I learned these folks aren’t too shy with the free snacks and tschotkes.

Next time, some cool Minneapolis Public Library hardware and views of the Twin Cities.



Look Me in the Eye by John RobisonUnable to communicate effectively with other people, John Robison was labeled as a “social deviant” at an early age and struggled to to fit in. With a mentally disturbed mother and alcoholic father, there was no help at home, but by luck he finds a niche working with mechanical gadgets and electronic circuits. Finally, when he was 40, John was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism.

Look Me in the Eye is an uncompromising, sometimes hilarious account of John’s many struggles of trying to cope with a world that he cannot comprehend and which does not understand him. Unable to recognize social cues such as facial expressions and body language, he has difficulty making and keeping friends. Successful inspite of these barriers, John now helps others who are struggling to live with Asperger’s.

Although this is a memoir and not a diagnostic manual, it does provide a unique, unforgettable glimpse into the world of people with Asperger’s.

Knitalong by Larissa BrownMost everyone that knits learned the skill from someone – a grandmother or beloved aunt, a friend or a helpful clerk at the local yarn store. Knitting seems to invite gathering together. Knitalong: celebrating the tradition of knitting together by Larissa Brown shows the many ways that knitters (and crocheters and spinners) connect from meeting at a local coffee shop for an hour to creating lively online communities.

(And by the way, if you’re a knitter (or crocheter or spinner) and you’re not on Ravelry yet, why? Stop whatever you’re doing right now and get your name on the invitation list. It’s an amazing database/community/resource for fiber enthusiasts. If you’re already a member, you understand my enthusiasm)

Some of the wide-ranging examples of community knitting shown in Knitalong include the Knitting Olympics, an online knitting challenge held during the Winter Olympics, knit cafes (cafes that encourage people to bring their knitting), Stitch n’ Pitch, where knitters knit during major league baseball games (the White Sox host knitters on August 6, the Cardinals on May 28), World Wide Knit in Public Day which is just what it sounds like (and is on June 14 this year) and knitting for charities (afghans for Afghans is just one example). Knitalongs also take the form of a group of people knitting the same pattern (called KALs); everyone shares tips and progress reports and cheer you along. The internet has been a boon to this simple craft; besides the phenomenon of Ravelry, there has been an explosion of knitting blogs where people share their craft and develop friendships from around the world.

Interested in joining other knitters for camaraderie and encouragement? Local knitters meet every Tuesday evening at 6:30pm at the Fairmount Street Library, next to the fireplace. Newcomers are always welcome!

On the Wing by Alan TennantPart naturalist exploration, part adventure story, On the Wing follows Alan Tennant in his pursuit of the peregrine falcon. One falcon in particular, to be precise, named Amelia. Teaming up with George, a World War II vet and his beat up Cessna, Alan follows Amelia via radio signal from the Texas barrier islands, north to the Arctic and back south again through Mexico, Belize and the Caribbean. Alan and George run into their fair share of trouble and excitement, both moving and funny in a story that will quickly make you part of the experience.

Peregrine falcons can travel faster than any other animal on earth, reaching speeds of up to 200 mph when making steep dives. They are prodigious migrators (the subject of Alan’s research) sometimes traveling thousands of miles, and can be found on every continent on earth except for Antarctica or in deserts, high mountaintops, polar regions and, interestingly, New Zealand.

The most common prey for falcons is small birds such as pigeons and ducks, caught by disabling their victim in mid-flight (that speedy dive aims for a wing of the bird they’re pursuing). Mating for life, they nest on steep cliffs and, fairly commonly now, on skyscrapers. Peregrine falcons nearly disappeared from North America in the 50s and 60s because of pesticide use, but have made a strong recovery with the help of protections provided by the Endangered Species Act.

You can see these incredible birds right here in the Quad Cities; a nesting pair – Scorpio and P/D – are occupying a specially built nesting box located on the Mid American building in downtown Davenport (our own version of a skyscraper) If you’re not lucky enough to spot them in flight, check out WQAD-TV’s Falcon Cam for some live, up-close shots of the happy couple as well as links to more information about peregrine falcons and this pair in particular.

umbrellaWell, of course, they bring May flowers, or we hope they will anyway! But April is also a popular month for other kinds of showers — particularly wedding and baby showers. Since June is still a favorite time for many North American weddings, April is the perfect choice — not too close to the wedding date, and yet not too early. As for baby showers, they can be anytime, but springtime seems an especially appropriate time to celebrate new life.

If you’re thinking about hosting a shower, you might want to check out some of our library books on the subject. One title I found especially appealing was Simple Stunning Wedding Showers by Karen Bussen. Beautifully photographed, the book not only has many theme ideas, but easy, elegant recipes and thoughtful planning and organizational suggestions. And as all of you Martha Stewart wannabees already know, early preparation and planning is key to any successful party.

Speaking of Martha Stewart, Baby Showers: Ideas & Recipes for the Perfect Party was written by two former editors for Martha Stewart Living, Gia Russo and Michele Adams. They obviously learned well under her tutelage (though they don’t mention if they worked for her before or after her prison stint) as this book also has inviting photographs and clever decorating ideas. I recently gave a baby shower and used some of their ideas from the “Daisy Brunch” chapter. They recommended cutting the stems off and setting the daisy tops all around the buffet table. I adapted this idea by simply putting daisies (plus a few other small flowers) in small votive candle jars all around the house. This served a dual-purpose –they made for relatively inexpensive decorations, but they also served as favors for the guests to take home at the end of the party.

Games are something else you might want to consider for your shower. In the past, some games got a bad rap for being too cutesy or boring, but they can serve an important function by involving your guests and making them feel important. One game that works for both kinds of showers is bingo. Simply print out blank cards available online for free. Have guests fill in the empty blanks with the names of gifts they think the bride or mother-to-be will receive. As she opens her presents, they can cross off any applicable items. This helps everyone pay attention, plus they just might get a chance to open a gift of their own!

Besides the bingo website, is another one I found that had a wealth of ideas for baby showers. Giving a shower can be fun, but it’s also a great way to show someone special that you care.

BananaThe banana is the perfect food! A snack with it’s own handle that comes in a biodegradable wrapper, it’s the ultimate convenience food. This unassuming, soft, sweet fruit has a fascinating and treacherous history. In Banana: the fate of the fruit that changed the world, Koeppel sets out to explore the scientific, economic, political, and historical aspects of the lowly banana. For good measure he even throws in a dose of banana humor.

While the history of how the banana spanned the globe makes for good reading, the real drama begins when the fruit was domesticated by shrewd American businessmen in the late 1800s. They realized the economic potential of the tropical fruit and set out to make it available to the masses. Through marketing and advertising, U.S. banana importers were able to make a product grown thousands of miles away cheap enough that it became a daily snack for many Americans. This was not without cost though to the fruit itself and those directly involved with production and harvest.

It’s not exaggeration to say that the banana has shaped and toppled nations. In Central and South America, workers who attempted to unionize were squelched by the influential banana industry which was backed by the U.S. government. Thousands of workers died in these insurrections.

The human toll in the banana industry parallels the destruction of the fruit itself. Only one variety of banana was commercially cultivated because it was transportable and long-lasting. This proved to be fatal when in the 1950s it was wiped out by a soil fungus. A replacement species was introduced, but it too is susceptible to the same fungus. Every banana we buy is a genetic duplicate of the next, and this lack of biodiversity is threatening to totally eradicate the fruit.

While the book can be very somber, it also provides many fun facts that you can use at your next party. Did you know:

  • some scholars believe the “forbidden fruit” in Genesis was a banana, not an apple?
  • the banana split MAY have been invented in Davenport, Iowa? (see page 65)?
  • the song “Yes, We Have No Bananas” originated in 1950 when Panama Disease wiped out an earlier variety of banana?
  • the first bananas sold in the U.S. came peeled, sliced, and wrapped in foil to prevent the fruit’s suggestive shape from offending Victorian sensibilities?

Davenport Main LibraryToday it was announced that the Davenport Public Library will expand by adding two floors to the top of the existing Main Library building at 321 Main Street. These additional stories will allow for expansion of the library’s book collection as well as room for a full-service restaurant with banquet facilities, a therapeutic massage center (free massages for Davenport card holders) and a dog training facility. “We are excited to be able to offer expanded services to the citizens of Davenport” exclaimed LaWanda Roudebush, director of the Davenport Public Library. “Our goal is to make the library the best it can be and I believe we are doing just that.”

Construction is slated to begin in early 2009 with completion projected for late 2010.

April Fool! There are no plans to add floors to the Main Library building. However, the good news is, the Davenport Library is expanding with planning of the Eastern Avenue branch library in the final stages and groundbreaking expected sometime in 2009.