Going Zero Waste!

In her blog post about a recent program at Davenport Public Library called “Going Zero Waste”, Josie Mumm describes how initially surprised she was that the library, of all places, would host a program that focused on zero-waste living. Upon reflection, however, it is evident that libraries are perfectly positioned not only to discuss matters of zero waste living, but to be leaders in developing innovative programs and services in general because libraries are community sources for the public good at their core.

As one may conclude, Mumm explains that libraries themselves are already beacons for zero-waste lifestyles in that they are essentially sharing economies that value providing centralized access to information, services, and community resources without the push to incur expense.  Rather than buying new print or digital books, audiobooks, magazines, music,  technologies, or community experiences, libraries provide free, unfettered access to these things so that you may try them out before committing to the cost and space allocation that these purchases would require.

In short, libraries embody and advocate zero-waste lifestyles and minimalism at their core.

On Saturday, October 20th, Courtney Walters, local educator, led a program at the Main St. location called “Zero Waste For Beginners” that offered practical tips for getting started on a zero-waste lifestyle.  In a brief promotional video, Courtney discussed her program and described some basic tenants of zero-waste living. Perhaps one of the most important takeaways is that although it may be virtually impossible not to create any waste, we can start small, reduce our carbon footprints, simplify our lives, and ultimately free up time so that we can focus more on what matters and less on the frivolity of managing our consumer goods and possessions. Perfect is the enemy of good, in this case.  For example, if you are a daily coffee drinker and find yourself purchasing specialty coffee drinks, you can bring a re-usable mug to your favorite coffee shop for a discount that quickly adds up, not to mention you will reduce your waste substantially. After you establish that new habit, you might then branch out into other avenues of reducing your waste output by bringing your own produce bag to the grocery store or buying in bulk as much as possible.

Check out the full Marked As Done blog-post to read an interview with Courtney Walters and learn more about zero-waste living and other ways to reduce your own consumption!

Editor’s Note: Intrigued? Then don’t miss “That’s a Wrap: Eco-Friendly Wrapping” at Fairmount on Tuesday, November 27 beginning at 5:30pm. Erin will show you how to create beautiful gift wrap using cloth, a great way to cut holiday waste. Check the Library Events calendar for more information.

 

 

Keep track of those books! Try Goodreads

The holiday season is here and you are probably going to be interacting with friends and family at gatherings. A popular topic of conversation is books. Well, books always becomes the topic after I mention that I am a librarian. “Oh, it must be nice to sit around and read all day”. Sadly, we don’t get to sit and read all day either. But I do like talking about books! However, I cannot always remember the author or title of a book that I read that I want to recommend to someone.

So what do I do?

Thankfully, there is an app for that. I like to use Goodreads. And if you don’t like squinting at your phone, check out their website. Goodreads is my favorite app/website. It helps me keep track of what I have read. If I find a new author I like, I can search Goodreads for all of their works. Best of all, while I am searching new titles, I can see what other Goodreads users ranked and reviewed a book. So if I see that a book has a low rating, I might put it in my “To-Read” list on the site instead. While you are comparing books at that holiday gathering, you can add those interesting sounding titles to your “To-Read” list on your phone so you don’t forget them later.

Goodreads is not just a site of lists of books and authors. It is social site that allows you to interact with other people. You can see what your friends have read or want to read. You can compare your lists with their lists, see how your rankings compare and read their reviews. There is a news feed that shows you what your friends just added to their list or what book they just finished. Goodreads now offers a personal reading challenge that keeps track of how many books you have read during the year. Also, Goodreads users vote on their favorite books at the end of the year.

Hopefully I have given you a reason to join Goodreads. It is a fun way to keep track of what you have read and interact with your friends. It is great tool for helping you find new books and authors to read as well. When you are at those family gatherings, it will be much easier to add that recommended book on your Goodreads app then to try to remember the book title (and forget it later).

 

 

Learn to Talk Like a Pirate by Sept 19 With the Help of Mango Languages

September 19 is International Talk Like a Pirate Day.  According to Chase’s Calendar of Events, it is “a day when people everywhere can swash their buckles and add a touch of larceny to their dialogue by talking like pirates: for example, ‘Arr, matey, it be a fine day.’  While it’s inherently a guy thing, women have been known to enjoy the day because they have to be addressed as ‘me beauty.’ Celebrated by millions on all seven continents.”

You can learn more about how two average guys started this holiday on June 6, 1995 on a racquetball court in a YMCA in Albany, Oregon here. It didn’t gain a lot of attention until humor columnist Dave Barry wrote about it in a 2002 article. The rest, as they say, is hist -arrrr-y.

Mango Languages, one of the language learning databases to which the Davenport Public Library subscribes, will be offering lessons on how to talk pirate through Sept 19. To access Mango languages, click here. Or, you can go to www.davenportlibrary.com, click on Research Tools, then Online Resources and scroll down until you get to Mango Languages. You’ll need to create a profile using your library card number. Once you’re in, find the search box (it has a magnifying glass icon next to it) and type “Pirate.” You’ll be taken to a page with options such as:

  • Call Someone Names
  • Express Surprise
  • Give Sailing Commands
  • Greet a Friend or Superior
  • Pay a Compliment
  • Invert the Simple Sentence Structure
  • Understand the Usage of Be
  • Use the 2nd Person Pronoun Ye
  • Use Me as a Possessive

Alas, have a fine day, mateys!

 

 

100 Things Every Homeowner Must Know

The day I first became a homeowner, I felt like a queen.  Little did I know then I would also soon become its plumber. In addition: painter, arborist and electrician  (I installed a programmable thermostat and you can, too!)

I have much respect for professionals in these vocations, and value their expertise. That being said, there are times -often late at night or on the weekends- when a homeowner must take care of things as best they can in a pinch. These are the times you learn things on-the-go that you never knew you needed to know.

To help toward that end, the Library is offering a program called Adulting: Finding and Keeping a Home or Apartment. It will be at Fairmount at 6pm on Tuesday, Sept 12. Our aim is to help you learn some useful information about finding the right place to live for you, and what you’ll likely need to do to keep and maintain it.

We’ll be bringing in experts Melissa Wegener from RE/MAX, Chad Mansfield from IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union, and Cody Eliff from the Davenport Civil Rights Commission to share some things you’ll need to know about the process of becoming queen or king of your own castle. We’ll also have lots of library materials on hand, like 100 Things Every Homeowner Must Know: How to Save Money, Solve Problems, and Improve Your Home.

This is a helpful book, which includes tips on how to:

  • Save on home insurance
  • understand your plumbing system and prevent burst pipes
  • be ready for blackouts
  • understand your heating system
  • prevent home fires
  • eliminate ants, mice, and other pests
  • and much more!

I now share the top 3 things that I learned the hard way after moving in to my castle.

Check it before you wreck it. Find out if you have a sump pit in the basement. A sump pit is a basin (read: hole in the floor) where excess water can go. It is a good thing to have, as it helps prevent flooding in the basement. The sump pit should be equipped with a sump pump to periodically get the water back out. This is done via a hose that goes outside. When outdoor temperatures go below freezing, ice can block the portion of the hose that is still outside. Water will sometimes still find its way into the pit, activating the pump, which is a persistent little thing because if it can’t get the water out the first time it will keep trying and trying until it wears itself out. My household burned through a nearly-new sump pump one winter because we didn’t think to check the hose for ice and remove it. We removed the hose and a powerful surge of water came out of the side of the house, forming a not-so-nice little trench in the yard. To solve this problem, I installed some patio pavers there and that took care of that. Every year I check them and backfill with paver sand. Now, we keep a close eye on the temperatures, taking care to replace the hose once it warms up, because it isn’t ideal to have the pump just spray the water directly out the side of the house.

Lube it before you lose it. Did you know you should spray the moving parts on your garage door with WD-40 or similar lubricant on a monthly basis? Neither did I – until I found myself having to replace a garage door before its natural life span. It had been making a loud noise for a while, but I had no idea what it was. I assumed it was just part of the aging process. (We all make strange noises as we get older, right?) Had I known to regularly check and lubricate my garage door’s moving parts I could have prevented the chain reaction that led to its early demise and saved myself a thousand dollars. Set up a monthly reminder to lube your garage door’s rollers, hinges, track, and spring. Also, check the spring for cracks or signs anywhere of stress. If it doesn’t sound right, get it checked out.

Going skiing? Keep the pipes from freezing! The winter of 2013/2014 was a record-breaker for low temperatures. There were warnings about leaving your water at a steady drip if you were going away for any extended period of time. The frost had reached so far underground (a very rare occurrence) that it was causing the water in many buried pipes to freeze. We didn’t get that memo until it was too late. We returned from a weekend away to find that we had no water to the house. The blockage was located about 75 feet from the house, somewhere between our house and the water main. This went on for nine and a half weeks. You read that right. I was pretty stinky by the end of that time. Just kidding – after about a week of schlepping buckets of water from the neighbor’s house, we temporarily moved in with local relatives, to whom we are forever grateful. In comparison to others in the community that ended up with burst pipes, we feel fortunate because we were spared the huge expense of getting the pipes replaced. All we had to do was wait it out. Throughout the wait, the number one question I remember being asked during that time was, “What are they doing about it?” I think people often assume there is always someone to blame for every problem, someone who should claim responsibility and fix it. In this case, the only “they” was us. Not the water company. Not the city. Just us. But thankfully, we live in a community of people who brought us fresh water and let us borrow their bathroom whenever we needed.

Other things that homeowners I know have learned the hard way:

Change your furnace filter. This is a disposable pleated object made from paper and polyester that you insert at the place on your furnace where the air comes in. Depending on your model, the cost can vary but you can likely get one for about $5. You should replace it four times a year because it can get very full of dust and, if you have pets, dander. If you never replace it with a fresh one, you could be recirculating all that gunk throughout the house. Putting a reminder on your calendar when the seasons change is a good idea. I write the date I installed each filter on the cardboard edge, so I know exactly how long it has been in use.

Check your dryer vent periodically to be sure it isn’t blocked. You should clean the lint screen with each load, but it still doesn’t catch everything. Lint can build up in the ducts leading to the outdoor vent, making your dryer less efficient and raising the risk of a house fire. There are cleaning tools made especially for this task, or you could use your vacuum. For more, read this article from Consumer Reports.

Trim the tree branches so they don’t hang over your gutters and block the flow with fallen leaves & debris. Clean gutters seasonally. If you can’t safely do so on your own, hire a professional. It is worth it because you may prevent costlier repairs in the long run. Blocked water could freeze in the downspouts, causing a split or water overflowing from the gutter could damage your home’s foundation and landscaping.

I’ll now leave you with my personal favorite homeowner tip: When you leave the house in summertime set the AC so it doesn’t run so often when you are gone. At least eighty degrees is a good place to start. In the winter, set it to turn the heat down (no lower than 55 degrees) when you are not home.  If you don’t already have one, you can install a programmable thermostat to automatically do this for you. But it is pretty simple to walk over to the thermostat and do it yourself, too. You just have to remember to do it. If you are wondering, “Doesn’t that just force the furnace or AC to work harder when it comes time to heat or cool the house back to the optimal temperature?” This article explains more about why it is more energy efficient to turn it down while you are gone, rather than leaving it on all day.

Are there any valuable tips about finding and keeping your own home that you have learned? If so, please share them with us!

 

Recorded Books OneClickdigital & Zinio are now RBdigital!

Do you use Recorded Books OneClickdigital to download audiobooks or Zinio for Libraries to download magazines? We’ve got great news for you, even if you don’t! OneClickdigital and Zinio are merging into one platform – RBdigital!

What does this mean for you? Now, you’ll be able to find, download, and read or listen to audiobooks and magazines in the same app! The Library will update our links to the new website, which will also have a new look, simplified searching, and a more responsive audio player.

Question: When will this happen?

Answer: Beginning in mid August the app will be available.

Q: Will I be notified? 

A: Yes! If you use OneClickdigital, you will receive an email and if you use their app, you will be notified that an update is available. If you use the Zinio app, you will also be notified that a new app is available.

Q: What if I don’t update the app right away?

A: Both apps will continue to work for a time after the new app is released.

Q: What is the new app?

A: The new app will be called RBdigital and will be available in the Apple Appstore, Google Play and the Amazon App Store. Here’s what the icon will look like (depending on when you install it):

 

 

With the new app, you’ll be able to check out, read magazines, and listen to audiobooks, all in the same app.

Q: I already have titles checked out. Will I need to check them out again?

A: No, all the titles and holds you currently have will be imported into the new app.

Q: I don’t use the app, how will this effect me?

A:  If you only use OneClickdigital and/or Zinio on a computer or laptop, you will be directed to the new website, which will have a new look. Just use the links on the library’s eBooks and More page.

Note: if you use the OneClickdigital Media Manager to download and transfer audiobooks to a portable device, you may be prompted to update the program. Please go ahead and do so.

Q: Do I need to create a new account?

A: Nope! If you already have a OneClick digital and/or a Zinio account, you won’t need to make any changes your account.

Q: I’ve never heard of these services! How do I get started?

A: New users must create an account on the RBdigital website (not in the app). To get there, click here to access the Library’s eBooks and More page.  Once you’re signed up, you can start checking out right away from your computer, or download the app, sign in, and start downloading!

Q: I have more questions!

A: As always, you can contact us at (563) 326-7832, email us here or text DPLKNOWS to 66746. You can find user guides on our eBooks and More LibGuide and you can contact RBdigital directly at 1-877-772-8346 or yoursupport@recordedbooks.com.

Pogue’s Basics by David Pogue

Journalist David Pogue has written a series of books sharing some tips and tricks to make life easier.  I started with the ironically titled Pogue’s Basics. Life : Essential Tips and Shortcuts (That No One Bothers to Tell You) For Simplifying Your Day.   Some critics say they already know this stuff. Good for those geniuses. As for the rest of us, there are some very useful things to pick up in Pogue’s books.

For instance: you can tell whether your upcoming exit from the interstate will be on the left or the right by the placement of the exit number on the sign. If exit is on the left, the little sign displaying the exit number will be on the top left. If exit is on the right – you guessed it- the little exit number sign will be on the right. There is a helpful picture in the book that best explains this. This knowledge helped me navigate with aplomb on a recent trip to Chicago.

Another useful tidbit I took from it was the tip on placing my vehicle’s key fob up against my neck fat when attempting to unlock it from across the parking lot. It will unlock from a greater distance, and can be useful during those times when you forgot exactly where you parked. Pogue says this technique works because the fluids in the head act as a great conductor. I say it’s nice to know my neck fat is good for something.

Pogue’s suggestion for getting a lost dog back: place a toy and/or blanket with the scent of home on it outdoors, near where the pet was last seen. Leave it there for 24 hours. The pet will most likely follow his or her nose back toward it. I hope you never need this particular piece of information.

There are lots more suggestions that you’ll just have to check the book out to learn. If you like this book, you might also like Pogue’s Basics. Tech: Essential Tips and Shortcuts (That No One Bothers to Tell You) For Simplifying the Technology in Your Life. It will tell you, among other things, what to do when your cell phone falls into the toilet. You can thank me for this recommendation later. Preferably not with a handshake.

Let’s hit the streets!

Are you ever curious what people are actually reading? If you’re like me, you see all the books that people are checking out from the library or are buying at bookstores and you wonder if they are really reading those books or not. I know that most of the books that I check out just sit on my shelf until I either return them to put another hold on them or I renew them for another 3 weeks of book shelf sitting. It’s a little frustrating.

While I was poking around on the internet one night before bed, I found CoverSpy. CoverSpy is a Tumblr put together by people roaming around New York looking for people reading. These ‘agents’, as they call themselves, wander into bars, parks, subways, and streets to take note of the cover of the books being read and what the person reading looks like. They also have groups in Vancouver, BC, Omaha, Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Montreal, Barcelona, Boston, Chicago, and Washington, DC that do the same.

CoverSpy caught my interest because instead of posting pictures of the people reading, which vaguely creeps me out because it makes me super self-conscious when I read in public, CoverSpy just posts the cover and a little description of the person reading. And it’s not just books adults are reading! It’s coloring books, kid’s books, cookbooks, how-to manuals, etc. Anything that looks like a book or that could be counted as reading material (BESIDES e-readers and magazines) count!

Each post is set up like the one above. I love scrolling through the list because the description of the person reading can get pretty funny.

This website veers away from traditional book recommendation sites that pull their source information from librarians or book reviewers. Instead CoverSpy pulls anonymously from people who are actually out reading in public. If you don’t find your next read on these site, no big deal. At least you were entertained and maybe laughed a bit.

Let Food Be Your Medicine by Don Colbert

Let Food Be Your Medicine: Dietary Changes Proven to Prevent or Reverse Disease

Physician-turned-journalist Don Colbert, MD offers intriguing and practical advice for optimum nutrition and wellness in Let Food Be Your Medicine: Dietary Changes Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease. Early on, Colbert shares the deceptively simple insight that we catch colds but we develop chronic diseases like Type II Diabetes or Cardiovascular disease. That is not a coincidence, either. In Latin, “Dis” refers to being “apart”, disjointed, or having a negative or “reversing force.” Ease refers “freedom from pain” or being in a tranquil or peaceful state. In essence, disease signifies a breaking away from a peaceful or tranquil state. The process of developing and solidifying disease, however,  is complex and involves lifestyle & environmental factors, as well as the interplay of all systems of mind, body, and spirit.

I tend to gobble up books about food, nutrition, and wellness and am naturally obsessed with how the gut or the “microbiome”, i.e. the ecosystem living in the core of your body, is more powerful and influential over our general health & well-being than we once imagined. A discussion about the microbiome is another conversation entirely and is far beyond my scope of knowledge; but Colbert does not overlook discussing current research about the delicate ecosystem living between our brain and bowel. How curious that we may even begin to view our food cravings as tiny demands from the bacteria in our guts who have lives of their own? In essence, we are feeding them. You better believe they don’t always have your best interests in mind, either. The little “voices in your head” (or, gut, in this case) take on a whole new meaning. Read this book to dig in a little deeper as to how and why our microbiome is so influential and critical to our overall health.

Colbert mixes testimonial with current medical evidence to present a compelling argument for being mindful and deliberative when it comes to what we put into our bodies. Learn about his struggle with autoimmune disorders and how his quest to heal himself resulted in weeding nightshade foods (peppers, eggplants, tomatoes) out of his diet. Not all food is equal in its ability to nourish, heal, or harm, either, as you may know. We often take for granted that we do not innately know what foods are harmful or helpful. Many of us grew up in homes in which our parent(s) worked and perhaps did not have the time to prepare and cook whole, nourishing meals all week long. In short, eating “healthy” is not common sense. Failure to meet your daily nutrient requirements or to altogether make harmful dietary choices is not therefore some testament to your lack of willpower. Quite simply, many of us have to learn how to make better food choices, and that starts with education. If you have any curiosity whatsoever in how you can better yourself simply by changing what you put into your body, read this book.

This book is not a fix-all for all that ails you, nor does it substitute for the relationship you have with your primary care physicians or doctors. Part of what is working about healthcare is that we acknowledge that wellness involves the alignment of mind, body, and spirit or the non-physical part of a human being. Grey’s Anatomy sums up the dilemma well in one episode in which Dr. Preston Burke, esteemed neurosurgeon, argues with Dr. Cristina Yang that nurturing a  patient’s spiritual state is equally as important as the medical intervention being performed, for the reason that human beings are not merely physical bodies. The non-physical parts of us require care and respect, too. Though Colbert’s book does not discuss the role of spirituality in health in great depth, he no-doubt weaves his own faith into the book (but it is not oft-putting for non-Christians). I can most certainly recall a time in my lifespan of thirty-six years when the words “soul”, “spirituality” and “Ayurveda” would have never made an appearance in a discussion about disease, illness, or health & wellbeing. But today? We are becoming more interdisciplinary & holistic in how we not only view but “treat” illness — and how we care for whole human beings (not just symptoms).

If you are even the slightest bit curious about how food can harm or heal, read this book. If you would be amazed by the prospect of eating a diet that custom made to fight diabetes, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, cancer, auto-immune disorders — read this book. Believe it or not, one of the most powerful statements that Colbert makes in this book is this: cancer, depending upon the type and staging, can and  very well does constitute a chronic disease that can actually be managed like other chronic diseases not unlike COPD, heart disease, and diabetes. I don’t know about you, but aside from a cure that’s the very best next thing!  Bear in mind, Colbert is not claiming to have a cure for cancer; but he lays out, in one case, a diet plan that is tailored not only to the cancer patient but to the specific stage of cancer in order to increase the chances of putting the cancer into remission…and we can do this with vegetables, micronutrients, plants–with the plentitude of healing, delicious foods that are available to us should we be inclined.

Author Name Pronunciation Guide

Let me introduce you to my FAVORITE library resource: TeachingBooks.net, particularly the section entitled Author Name Pronunciation Guide. This section has saved me multiple times! Have you ever wondered how to say an author’s name? Maybe you’ve been saying it one way, you hear a friend say it another way, and then you start second-guessing yourself? I do this all. the. time. So confusing. This problem is just like when you say a word out-loud that you have only ever read before just to have someone correct you and say that you’re pronouncing it wrong. Super annoying, right? Well, lucky for all of us the Author Name Pronunciation Guide at TeachingBooks.net exists. We’ll all become expert author name pronunciators and can spread our knowledge to others! Sounds perfect.

Now let’s find out where the Author Name Pronunciation Guide is! Go to TeachingBooks.net. On the home page in the banner bar at the top of the page, click Author & Book Resources.

That will bring you to a page that looks like the one below! Click on Audio Name Pronunciations.

Viola! Now you’re at the Author Name Pronunciation Guide which hopefully will start off with the following paragraph.

As you’re scrolling through that page, you’ll notice thousands of author names. My favorite one to have people play around with is Jon Scieszka because 1) I NEVER say his name right, even though I know about this guide and 2) kids ask for his books all the time and therefore are already familiar with this author. Anyway, scroll through the list and find his name (it’s alphabetical by last name). Once you click on it, a page with all his info will pop up! (Sorry for the tiny print.)

If you click on the orange play button, you’ll hear Jon Scieszka pronounce his name and talk some more. It’s awesome. It also connects you to author’s personal websites and their own page on TeachingBooks.net. Now play around and find out how to pronounce some author names! It’s definitely one of my favorite not-well-known librarian resources.

I also encourage you to click around the regular TeachingBooks.net site because there are a ton of other really good resources there. Who knows, maybe I’ll blog about them in the future!

Bring Back Snail Mail!

 

April is National Letter Writing Month!

In this age of email and texting and snapchat – one more transitory than the next – the idea of sitting down and writing a letter – with a pen! and paper! – seems quaint and a waste of time. But think about how you feel when you receive a handwritten note, something physical that you can hold in your hand, evidence that someone cared enough to take a few moments and let you know they were thinking about you. There’s a need for the quick and ephemeral, but that doesn’t mean that we have to abandon something more permanent. And who doesn’t like to get something special in the mail, even if it’s just a “hello, how are you?”

Write_On, which began in 2014, is a campaign created “to promote joy, creativity, expression, and connection through hand-written correspondence”  and challenges you “to write 30 letters in 30 days during April…” Sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it?

You don’t have to write long, angsty letters – just a quick hello is fine. And you don’t need special stationary or cards. Write_On offers a starter “kit” but it’s completely optional.  Also, postcards are completely ok. And you don’t have to mail a card, you can always hand deliver!

Interested in trying but not sure where to start? Write_On has lots of encouragement and resources.

Don’t know who to write too? Chronicle Books has a great article about the importance of letter writing and a nice long list of people you might write to (Hint: notice “a librarian” is on the list and I love to get mail. You can write to me at Davenport Public Library, 321 Main St, Davenport, Iowa 52801)

I’m not going to commit myself to the full 30 days this year, but I am going to try to write a few more quick notes this month. It feels great to get letters, but it’s also pretty awesome to send them too!