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    by Allison S | Dec 23, 2016

    Editor's Note:  Have you checked out The Genealogy Center's monthly E-Zine, Genealogy Gems?  You should!  The content for this post, written by Genealogy Librarian Allison, appeared in the November 30 issue of this year and is the third in a series of articles focusing on holiday customs. 

    Christmas brings visions of family gathered around the crackling fire with steaming mugs of hot chocolate, snow falling softly while children glide swiftly over the glistening white land with a new sled, carolers huddled around the garlanded front door, singing timeless Christmas melodies that our ancestors sang, and gifts given out on a brisk December morning while coffee is savored in the background. Do any of these narratives sound like your family home on Christmas? What about your ancestors in America? How did they celebrate Christmas?

    To answer these questions, one needs to look at the time period in which one’s ancestors moved to the United States and where they lived. The Puritans in the northeastern colonies did not celebrate Christmas. They considered the day to have morphed into a secular celebration, and it fell against their religious beliefs. In the southern colonies, Christmas was celebrated with a feast and a few trinkets for the young. The traditions we currently ascribe to the holiday were not yet American traditions. There were no Christmas trees, holiday cards, or stories of Santa Claus coming down the chimney. It was a simple holiday for friends and family to spend time together. 

    Washington Irving attempted to interest Americans in Christmas with a series of tales in his book, The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., published in installments between 1819 and 1820. While the book included such famous sketches as “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” less well known were his “Christmas Eve,” “Christmas Day,” “Christmas Dinner,” and “The Stage-Coach,” all of which captured the public’s imagination for Yule celebrations. Since his book was both a commercial and critical success in America and England, his stories helped to bring the observance of Christmas into more homes. 

    Another author we need to thank for bringing us more Christmas cheer is Clement Clarke Moore and his poem, " A Visit from St. Nicholas". Originally written by Moore for his children, a friend sent it to the Troy Sentinel to be published anonymously in 1823. Moore claimed ownership of the poem in 1844 by including it in a published book of poetry under his name, though he had already received attribution from the original publisher of the poem and many others. Decades later, the family of the deceased Henry Livingston, Jr, claimed that he was the actual author of the poem. While the style is complementary to Livingston’s, the poem is generally still attributed to Moore.

    It was not until the Victorian Era that Christmas truly became the holiday we know and love today.  The image of Queen Victoria with her family gathered around an opulent Christmas tree inspired the rest of the world to emulate that scene. It is important to note that the first time Queen Victoria sat for a drawing with her Christmas tree was in 1848, a time that corresponds with Americans purchasing Christmas trees. The year 1843 saw the advent of the Christmas card with Henry Cole commissioning the first one. Soon, families across England and then the world were sending and receiving both purchased and homemade Christmas cards. 

    Santa Claus became the jolly man in red in 1863 when cartoonist Thomas Nast drew “Old Saint Nick” for Harper’s Weekly. Not until 1870, however, was Christmas even declared a federal holiday in the United States. Previously, decorating the home at Christmas was minimal at best. During the Victorian Era, it grew into an art form, with evergreens, holly, and ribbons. Publications offered directions so that the lady of the house did not make a mistake in her Christmas décor. The centerpiece of the table became turkey during the Victorian Era. Previously it would be any type of meat available, but wealthier families began to use turkeys. Eventually this tradition drifted down to the middle classes and beyond, when turkeys became easier to obtain. 

    Caroling had been a part of gatherings for decades as a source of entertainment. Not until the Victorian Era did the words of the songs begin to reflect the holiday, and a collection of carols were published. Charles Dickens played an integral part in solidifying Christmas as an important holiday with his book, A Christmas Carol, first published in 1843. Tiny Tim and Scrooge reminded readers to be good, giving people, and that Christmas was a holiday to celebrate with friends and family. While the book was slow to be accepted in the United States, Americans could not hold out for long from loving this Christmas tradition. A Christmas Carol has never been out of print. We have had 173 years to enjoy this story, and it will continue to be for generations to come.

    While we have only touched upon a few of the age-old traditions that take a place in our Christmas-time hearts, it might inspire us to learn more about how our ancestors celebrated (or did not celebrate) the holiday. Perhaps this is a fun holiday project to do with your children, grandchildren, nieces, or nephews. Gather your loved ones around and take a look at how grandparents, great-grandparents, and other family members would have celebrated the day in their respective eras. You might be surprised and find a new tradition to add to your family experience. Above all, "Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"

    Shared with permission.  Each issue of Genealogy Gems examines a variety of topics related to family history.  To view previous editions or to subscribe, click here.
    by Evan | Dec 21, 2016
    Winter Solstice 1
    Timothy Steele's poems.        Rosamunde Pilcher's novel.    Josh Sternfeld's film.

    My favorite day of the calendar is winter solstice. Not for any mystical reason; I just like light more than darkness, and that's the day light stops declining in the northern hemisphere.

    If I had the money, I might buy a second home in New Zealand so I could live in seasons of light and warmth all year long. My bet is that if everyone had such money, the weight of the planet would shift semi-annually -- billions of people moving north at spring equinox and moving south in the fall. 

    Lacking such money, here I am in northern Indiana where it's cold and dark, but as of December 21 this year, the darkness will recede for another six months, and I'll greet the sun accordingly. It won't be warm for months yet, but the light is the key.

    We have 16 items at the library with the phrase "winter solstice" in the title, and many more items about the annual transition from darkness to lightness. Astronomy, poetry, film, music -- the formats vary, but the "darkest day of the year" deserves its universal recognition. For that matter, some scholars think the big kahuna on the modern calendar -- Christmas -- was originally a Christian alternative to pagan solstice celebrations. 

    The transition isn't as important in practical terms today as it was before electric lights were invented -- not to mention before humans first controlled fire. But the need for light and the fear of dark remain ingrained in us. And various warnings -- scientific, novelistic or spirtual -- that civilization could soon collapse remind us how vulnerable we will be if those artificial lights do go out. 

    So, even if it's very cold, step outside for a moment Wednesday and celebrate the fact Earth has revolved around the primal light back to the winter solstice point. That's not so promising for the folks in Auckland -- but then their summer is just starting, so I'm not feeling sorry for them. 

    EvanEvan - Married, three children, two grandchildren, formerly a newspaper journalist, now a public librarian, at all times a board game nut.
    by Megan B | Dec 19, 2016
    Editor's Note:  As You Like It began publishing content in 2011.  This is one of my favorite posts from the past five years.  Originally published December 1, 2014

    grandpa-hainesgrandma-hainesI was privileged enough to grow up with my mom’s maternal grandparents. They were in their 70s by the time I came to be and lived on a farm in the Ohio countryside. They lived in an old farm house with a wood-burning stove, curtain doorways, creaky floors, and an outhouse. They had a pot-bellied pig, peacocks, horses, and a dog named Dopey; they drew water from a spring out back. My great grandpa was a retired coal miner who picked ginseng to sell for extra money. Great Grandma made homemade noodles for funny money and crocheted better than anyone I knew or have known. Even after going blind due to macular degeneration in her 80s, she continued turning out colorfully patterned washcloths and pot holders.

    When I was 8 years old they struck oil on their land and bought a brand new mobile home with an indoor bathroom (which my grandpa refused to use until he became very ill). They got an air conditioner for the window and used a furnace. It was the only luxury they purchased with the oil money; they banked the rest. You see, they were not people of means.  They never had been. For them entertainment was attending auctions in Amish country. After they moved across the road to the new place, they entertained themselves with Wheel of Fortune, westerns, and the news. They were simple people living a simple life and they were happy.

    haines-propertyI have been thinking of them as the holidays approach. I remember going to their house and sitting on grandma’s lap eating candied orange slices, smelling noodles cooking on the stove, and enjoying their company while we celebrated Christmas. As they were simple people, the gifts they gave reflected that. Often they were homemade, or practical. If we got money it was a $5 bill, which we cherished.

    If I could pass one thing along to my children it is the importance of living life the way my great grandparents did . . . simply. It took me a long time to learn that lesson. I am still learning it, but I have my grandparents to thank for planting the seed in me. I feel like this world can be full of senseless stuff, immediate gratification, and “me!” perspectives.  It is important to me to help my children unplug from the holiday season our culture has created. One day I hope my kids choose experiences rather than gifts. I hope they see the beauty of discovering a new place, a new person: I hope they opt to leave the surplus of things behind. I hope they choose to visit a nursing home, or help serve the needy a meal, or sing carols to shut-ins. More than anything I want them to give something back; to realize it is about more than a stack of gifts.

    My great grandpa passed away when I was 17 and my great grandma died when I was 23. I think of them and their little slice of heaven often. I think of them tending the garden, feeding the chickens, and mowing the lawn. I see my grandpa smiling without his teeth (he often bragged he never visited the dentist; that might be a little too simple), hear my grandma’s raspy voice, and feel her soft cheek beneath my lips. I miss them and I miss their presence. And that's a much better present than anything wrapped up with a bow.

    A few titles from our collection that offer tips on a simple lifestyle:

    Shift Your Habit

    Shift Your Habit: Easy Ways to Save Your Money, Simplify Your Life, and Save the Planet by Elizabeth Rogers

     Heart of Simple Living

    The Heart of Simple Living: 7 Paths to a Better Life by Wanda Urbanska

     You Can Buy Happiness

    You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap): How One Woman Radically Simplified Her Life and How You Can Too by Tammy Strobel

     Less Is More

    Less Is More: Embracing Simplicity for a Healthy Planet, a Caring Economy and Lasting Happiness by Cecile Andrews

     Lists to Live By

    Lists to Live by for Simple Living by Alice Gray

    by Craig B | Dec 16, 2016
    House Made of DawnBook Review:  House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday

    N. Scott Momaday delivers his story of Abel with such fragmentation in time and narration, it’s not always clear what’s going on.  In retrospect, I think that’s kind of the point.

    The novel and 1969 Pulitzer Prize winner, House Made of Dawn, never strives too hard to explain everything that’s happening.  It is a bit obtuse in this way, but I think we also get a feel for how the main character, Abel, feels when he’s sent to fight in World War II, put in prison, and displaced to L.A.  The book might be easier for us to read if it filled in the gaps more, but I wonder if Momaday is seeking to avoid excessive explanation of the Native American experience in the U.S. in order to encourage the reader to come to grips with the difficulties of U.S. history and the foolhardy notion that there can really be an easily quantifiable reason for everything.  That, and the book started out as a set of poems.

    Momaday wrote House Made of Dawn from many of his own experiences living for several years from the age of 12 in Jemez Pueblo, New Mexico.  His was, and is, a powerful voice that helped found the Native American Renaissance that began in the second half of the 20th century in the U.S. (something that only became apparent 15 years after the book’s original publication).  Momaday’s poems, plays, folklore, essays, and novels all strive to recollect a narrative tradition often inundated and misunderstood by a majority culture.  I’m glad that the Pulitzer Board, amid somewhat uncertain critical reaction at the time of the novel’s publication, saw fit to recognize Momaday’s achievement immediately, but I’m especially glad that Momaday, one poetic tree at a time, can now be seen to have achieved even more.

    by Becky C | Dec 12, 2016

    Holiday music, movies, and books are flying off of the shelves!  If the title you're looking for is checked out, don't despair -- check Hoopla .  ACPL resident library cardholders can borrow up to 10 items each month via this service -- we've already paid the subscription fee, so there's no charge for you! 

    Audiobooks, eBooks, and comics check out for 3 weeks.  Music checks out for 7 days.  Streaming video checks out for 3 days (patrons under the age of 18 may borrow movies rated G through PG-13). 

    You can search for a specific title or scroll through the various categories like Just added to Hoopla, Christmas 2016: Holiday Party Playlist, and Holiday Classics.  See a title you're interested in checking out later but not right now?  Add it to your Favorites list!

    To use Hoopla, you will need to sign up or register for an account using your email address, a password you create for Hoopla, and your library card number.  Once you have created your Hoopla account, you will Sign In with your email address and the password you created.  If you need any assistance with Hoopla, please call us at 260-421-1210. 

    In addition to Hoopla, ACPL also offers resident library cardholders Flipster Magazine, Freegal Music, and Overdrive ebooks/audiobooks.  Have you tried them?  If so, what do you think?

    Becky CBecky likes to read … A LOT. When she’s not reading, she likes to pretend that she can garden. Her thumb has no hint of green whatsoever but luckily her plants are forgiving. Her favorite books are The Shannara series by Terry Brooks.
    by Craig B | Dec 09, 2016

    cover of Bruce Springsteen's album, Chapter and VerseThe Boss’ newest release, Chapter and Verse, an interesting compilation album that spans his ENTIRE career (from The Castiles to Steel Mill to Bruce Springsteen) is just that: interesting.  It’s not really that good.  It does not hang together that well, those tinny recordings of the highly derivative (I just used that phrase to sound like I know what I’m talking about) Castiles songs might be better off forgotten by everyone but scholars, and other than the few timeless hits there was only one really pleasant discovery, “The Ghost of Tom Joad.”  (I figure I’ve indirectly committed sacrilege here by confessing I had never heard that song before.)  For me, I’m still happy to put my money on Born in the U.S.A. as the “To-Listen” Boss album.  Not that I’m trying to tell you what to do.  That’s his job.

    Suggested Use: This album has just got to be your next family get-together soundtrack, at least out in the attached garage where the kids are being noisy and the tables have yet to be sullied with the upcoming feast.  Little brings people together like the Boss (witness the power of “Pink Cadillac”, not on this album alas!) and that’s just what you need at your chaotic celebration, an album so scattershot in its composition (like many families I know) it sounds like one glorious mixtape.

    by Kay S | Dec 07, 2016
    Yes, my little Petunias the time is fast approaching when those new releases will be hitting the book shelves! Here are just a few which I'm hearing good things about.
    Historical Romance
    KJ Charles
    Wanted, A Gentleman
    January 9
    Julie Quinn
    Elizabeth Boyle
    Stefanie Sloane
    Laura Lee Guhrke
    Four Weddings and a Sixpence
    December 27
    Rodale Maya Rodale
    Lady Claire is All That
    Keeping Up with the Cavendishes series
    December 27
    Contemporary Romance/Mainstream Fiction

    J.M. Bronston
    A Cowboy’s Love
    December 20
    Mainstream Fiction
    cleeton Chanel Cleeton
    On Broken Wings
    Wild Aces
    Contemporary Romance
    January 3
    Holliday Lucy Holliday
    Lucy Holliday author
    A Night In With Grace Kelly
    Libby Lomax series
    Mainstream Fiction
    January 12
    Palmer Diana Palmer
    Wyoming Brave
    Wyoming Men series
    Contemporary Romance
    December 27
    Mystery/Thriller/Suspense/Romantic Suspense
    Banner A.J. Banner
    The Twilight Wife

    December 27
    Dimon HelenKay Dimon
    The Fixer
    Games People Play series
    Romantic Suspense
    December 27
    Ferencik Erica Ferencik
    The River at Night
    January 10
    Grebe Camilla Grebe
    The Ice Beneath Her
    December 27
    Ivy Alexandra Ivy
    Kill Without Shame
    ARES Security series
    Romantic Suspense
    December 27
    White Karen White
    The Guests on South Battery
    Tradd Street series
    January 10
    Paranormal/Science Fiction/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy
    Bouchet Amanda Bouchet
    Breath of Fire
    Kingmaker Chronicles series
    January 3
    Thea Harrison
    Moonshadow series
    December 13
    p_kennedy Jeffe Kennedy
    The Edge of the Blade
    The Uncharted Realms/The Twelve Kingdoms series'
    December 27
    p_mcguire Seanan McGuire
    Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day
    January 10
    p_older Daniel Jose Older
    Battle Hill Bolero
    Bone Street Rumba series
    Urban Fantasy
    January 3
    Young Adult/Teens
    ya_bracken Alexandra Bracken
    Passenger series
    January 3
    ya_hocking Amanda Hocking
    January 3
    ag howard
    A.G. Howard
    January 10
    Inspiration Romance
    clark Dorothy Clark
    His Substitute Wife
    Stand-in Brides series
    January 3
    by Becky C | Dec 05, 2016
    Book Review: Iscariot by Tosca Lee

    Why did Judas betray Jesus?  I’ve always wondered and apparently Lee has as well.  In her notes, Lee states that writing this novel was an intellectual and spiritual quest to discover the life of Judas based on the belief iscariotthat we all err in ways that make sense to us.

    The historical context Lee created for this story is fascinating:  the Roman occupation, the failed rebellions of others naming themselves Messiah, the different factions within the Temple.  While rich in historical ambiance, this is very much an introspective work.  Major events from the gospels are included but the focus of the story is on Judas’ personal journey and his perceptions of what’s happening around him. 

    In the life Lee imagines for Judas, much of his time with Jesus is spent struggling to reconcile his faith in this radical young leader with his deep faith in Jewish law.  In addition, the Judas Lee imagines wants Jesus to liberate his people from Rome, not realizing until too late that Christ’s mission was much different.  Lee provides a convincing account of a man struggling to overcome a painful past, a man who cares deeply about the laws of his people, a man who desperately wants to do the right thing.

    Even knowing how Judas’ story would end, I was so immersed in Lee’s telling of it that I could not put this book down.  Looking forward to reading Havah: The Story of Eve and Demon.

    Becky CBecky likes to read … A LOT. When she’s not reading, she likes to pretend that she can garden. Her thumb has no hint of green whatsoever but luckily her plants are forgiving. Her favorite books are The Shannara series by Terry Brooks.
    by Evan | Dec 01, 2016
    Animal Wise
    Morality crises keep arising in modern life partly because science keeps creating new ways to change the world and new ways of understanding the damage we are doing when we change it. Debates about how to respond to global warming are the most prominent example these days, but I think there's one coming on that challenges more fundamental moral and spiritual beliefs. It is the growing scientific understanding of animal minds.

    As far back as we know, humans paid a degree of respect to the idea that animals have minds or even spirits. Equally far back, however, humans used animals for food and tools, and civilized humans have exploited them en masse. It's as though our minds are divided -- respecting or even loving individual animals but treating the bulk of them like so many rocks or vegetables. The division has been reinforced, at least in the West, by dominant beliefs that humans have souls but animals do not. 

    Science is making such a division harder to sustain. It may not directly address the question of divine souls, but it demonstrates that animals have sophisticated minds that operate in the world's diverse environments in ways we can barely comprehend. Science regularly finds animals that possess traits we once thought defined us as humans. Some use tools, some are self aware, some plan for future events, some mourn their relatives' deaths, and many suffer emotionally when they are in pain. 

    If you'd like to learn about such animals, a good place to start is Virginia Morell's Animal Wise: The Thoughts and Emotions of Our Fellow Creatures. In researching her book, she traveled the world to interview scientists working with creatures as small as ants and as large as elephants. Her bottom line is that the mushrooming evidence of animals' intelligence and -- my term -- soulfulness creates a great moral challenge for us human animals as we continue to use and often abuse billions of creatures while also destroying wildlife habitats. 

    If morality is based on theologies that grant humans a spiritual dimension not granted to animals, then maybe some people can still have comfort zones about treating animals in ways that would be called monstrous if applied to other humans. If instead we try to live morally by granting animals as much spiritual recognition as ourselves, where do we go from here?

    EvanEvan - Married, three children, two grandchildren, formerly a newspaper journalist, now a public librarian, at all times a board game nut.
    by Heather | Nov 29, 2016
    Happy Giving Tuesday!

    Are you a fan of the ACPL? Do you know about the Friends of the Library? The Friends of the Allen County Public Library, a non-profit, membership organization, has a common concern for the library's expansion and participation in community life. Since 1981, the Friends of the Allen County Public Library has made significant contributions to the steady growth of the library and its services to the community.  

    The Friends rely on membership contributions to sustain programs and support the library. By being a member, each individual contributes to the tradition of excellence in library service that we all enjoy and appreciate. Gift memberships are available.

    Join today!
     Friends Membership
    by Becky C | Nov 25, 2016
    Ever wonder what library staff like to read?  Wonder no more!  Here's a quick look at some books we've enjoyed this month.  Click on a book cover to check availability — it’s as easy as that!

    Whispers in the Mist
     Ugly and Wonderful
     Girls in the Garden
     Queen's Accomplice
     Nine Women One Dress
     Area X

    Becky CBecky likes to read … A LOT. When she’s not reading, she likes to pretend that she can garden. Her thumb has no hint of green whatsoever but luckily her plants are forgiving. Her favorite books are The Shannara series by Terry Brooks.
    by Becky C | Nov 23, 2016
    Thanksgiving postcard circa 1900

    You’re probably aware that the Allen County Public Library is home to The Genealogy Center, the second largest genealogical library in the United States.  Maybe you’ve visited it; maybe you’re planning to.  If you’re interested in retracing your family’s history and gaining a glimpse into what their daily lives were like, Genealogy's variety of resources, both online and inside the department only, are well worth exploring.

    Working with genealogists on a regular basis has given me a new appreciation for the traditions we keep alive, generation after generation.  I never gave family customs a thought when I was a child.  I was simply excited that Thanksgiving was one of the two holidays that I would see all of my cousins.  My mom’s family and my dad’s family lived within an hour of each other, so it was relatively easy for us to begin the day with one group and end the day with the other.  And between the abundance of cousin-time and food, my parents could look forward to a quiet drive home while my brothers and I dozed in the backseat.

    I’m a forty-something now.  My parents are gone, and my brothers and I live in different corners of the state.  My youngest brother will have to work Thanksgiving evening.  He's a cop; he often works holidays.  Our traditions have changed.  For years now, my brothers and I have picked a random day that works with everyone’s schedules to gather together and enjoy an afternoon of sharing stories from our childhoods and sharing stories of what our kiddos have been up to lately.  And as we’ve each added to our extended families, there’s often a few other stories to tell as well.  And new foods to try.

    Whether I’m hosting or visiting, I always make a dessert from our childhood, toffee bars.  It’s a recipe my mom’s mom used to make and there’s no toffee in it at all, so I don’t know how it came by that name.  I wish I had asked when I had the chance.  Was it a recipe she had been given?  How long had it been in the family?  Was there an older recipe card, in someone else’s handwriting, still tucked away somewhere?

    My husband is a creative guy in the kitchen.  He likes to create his own recipes and he certainly has a knack for it.  I can easily see our kids using his recipes and passing them down to their kids.  While I love our cookbook collection at ACPL, I envy a friend's recipe card collection, passed down and added to over the generations.  There are a variety of individuals represented in that collection.  A variety of handwriting styles.  A variety of notes.  What a powerful connection to family.  What an incredible gift.

    I'd originally thought to write a post about the history of Thanksgiving in the United States.  As you can see, I decided to go another way.  While I love reading and sharing tidbits about history, that information is relatively easy to find, especially when we are fortunate enough in Allen County to have access to such a vast collection of resources through our library system.  What isn't as easy to find are our personal stories and traditions.  It only takes a generation or two for those to be lost.  So, instead I'd like to encourage you to reflect on your own Thanksgivings past.  What made the holiday special to you?  What family traditions do you hope continue as the years go by?

    by Emily M | Nov 21, 2016
    Looking for a good book recommendation? Look no further!  Here are a few good books I’ve enjoyed recently:

    AnotherBrooklynAnother Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

    Award-winning children’s and young adult author Jacqueline Woodson delivers with this gorgeous foray into adult fiction.  Another Brooklyn is a lyrical, almost dream-like, coming of age story of four African-American girls living in Brooklyn in the 1970s.  August, who has returned to Brooklyn for her father’s funeral after years spent living all over the world, reflects on her teenage years spent with her three best friends.  The girls’ youthful dreams of fame, success, and love are sidetracked by family dysfunction, sexual assault, and the betrayal of friends.  Woodson writes beautifully about what it means to be black and female, but also about young love, faith, and family. 


    TheChildrenThe Children by Ann Leary

    The Children is the story of four grown step-siblings.  The patriarch of the family is a few years deceased, and his grand lakeside home is owned by his biological sons, but lived in by his widow and her daughters.  Family discord and buried secrets come to a head one summer when the youngest son and “pet” of the family brings home his new fiancé. 

    What makes this story interesting is how truly unlikeable the characters are, including our narrator, younger sister Charlotte.  The characters are intelligent and quirky, but also petty, deceptive, and self-absorbed.  As the story unfolds and more of the past is revealed, I developed an empathy for several of these characters, while maintaining a steady dislike for them.  I found the ending unsatisfying, but necessary.  In this situation, there was never going to be a happy ending tied up neatly with a bow.  Despite all this, excellent storytelling by Leary makes this an absorbing and enjoyable read.


    FarmFarm: The Vernacular Tradition of Working Buildings by David Larkin

    With large color photographs on every page, Farm: The Vernacular Tradition of Working Buildings appears to be a coffee table book at first glance.  While the photography is excellent and can easily be enjoyed in coffee-table-book-style (flipping through the pages and enjoying the pretty pictures without reading the text), with just a paragraph or two of text per page Larkin provides a wealth of fascinating information about historic farm buildings.  Going back several centuries, Larkin explores the construction style and uses of various farm buildings, most notably farmhouses and barns, but also lesser known structures such as springhouses, icehouses, and corn cribs.  Larkin delves into architectural styles and how they intersect with practical use.  Most interesting to me was the explanations of how immigrants to the U.S. brought architectural styles with them from their home countries, and then adapted them to life in America based on factors such as a different climate or alternative raw materials available with which to build.  Toward the end of the book, Larkin explores the process of restoration of old farm buildings.  This is a great choice for anyone interested in historic architecture and farm life. 

    What about you?  What good books have you read recently that our readers might enjoy?

    EmilyLong before becoming a librarian, Emily was an avid library patron. She enjoys reading fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, biographies, and classic children’s literature. Her favorite book is Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery.


    by Kay S | Nov 18, 2016
    Yes, my little Petunias, it's time for upcoming releases - 'cause we just cannot have enough books! Here are a few upcoming releases coming to someplace near you soon. The dates for release are November 15 to December 14, 2016.

    Historical Romance
    Lorraine Heath Lorraine Heath
    The Viscount and the Vixen
    The Hellions of Havisham series
    November 29
    Contemporary Romance/Mainstream
    Davis Barbara Davis
    Love, Alice
    December 6
    Julia Long Julie Anne Long
    Wild at Whiskey Creek
    Hellcat Canyon series
    Contemporary Romance
    November 29
    Sarah Morgan Sarah Morgan
    Miracle on 5th Avenue
    From Manhattan with Love Trilogy series
    Contemporary Romance
    November 29
    Mystery/Thriller/Suspense/Romantic Suspense
    David Baldacci David Baldacci
    No Man's Land
    John Puller series
    November 15
    Sidney Bristol Sidney Bristol
    Hot Rides series
    Romantic Suspense
    November 29
    Jayne Ann Krenz Jayne Ann Krentz
    When All The Girls Have Gone
    Romantic Suspense
    November 29
    Paranormal Romance/Science Fiction/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy
    Jenniger Estep Jennifer Estep
    Nice Guys Bite
    Elemental Assassin series
    Urban Fantasy
    December 12
    Gina Koch Gini Koch
    Alien Nation
    Katherine "Kitty" Katt series
    Science Fiction
    December 6
    Young Adults/Teens
    Rebekkah Crane Rebekah Crane
    The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland
    December 1
    Victoria Laurie Victoria Laurie
    Forever, Again
    December 13
    Morgan Rhodes Morgan Rhodes
    Crystal Storm
    Falling Kingdoms series
    December 13
    Inspirational Romance/Fiction
    Piper Huguley Piper Huguley
    A Champion’s Heart
    Born to Win Series
    December 6
    Ronie Kendig Ronie Kendig
    Conspiracy of Silence
    Tox Files series
    December 1
    Nancy Moser Nancy Moser
    The Pattern Artist
    December 1

    kayKay is an avid reader of historical romance books, maybe with a little trip into paranormal land and an occasional journey into mystery world.
    by Craig B | Nov 16, 2016
    Cover for William Styron's novel, The Confessions of Nat TurnerBook Review:  The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron

    I had never read a William Styron book before and mostly only knew his name because of his very long novel, Sophie's Choice.  (Okay, it’s only something over 500 pages, but still…)  Styron’s Pulitzer Prize-winner of 1968, The Confessions of Nat Turner, isn't quite that long (it’s only nearly 500 pages) but it is still a difficult book in many ways. 

    Based on a 20 page primary document published after the 1831 slave revolt in Virginia led by Nat Turner, there is much in Styron’s novel that he was forced to fabricate.  This challenge doesn’t seem to have phased Styron too much.  In fact it seems it may have invigorated him, giving Styron what he may have seen as an opportunity to creatively explore an understanding of a very difficult occurrence in American history. 

    The rightness or wrongness of Styron’s actions I will leave to the individual reader.  The controversy over his book has a long history dating from immediately after its publication when James Baldwin is credited as saying, “Bill’s going to catch it from both sides.”  And Styron did; “catch it,” that is.  It didn’t seem to slow him down too much, though.  He went on to write Sophie’s Choice.  Have I mentioned how long that book is?

    by Evan | Nov 14, 2016
    crowded-bookBooks can be bullies. Just look at this photo if you don't believe me. See that little purple book stuck between the two bigger books? Those two big bullies are pushing The Prime Numbers and Their Distribution back and back, out of your line of sight. If we let that continue, you'd could browse all day and never find it.

    One of our jobs at the library is to police the books and make sure they play nice. We look for those little lost volumes and bring them forward on a line with the rest of the books so they have some chance of catching your eye. I realize you may not ponder prime numbers in your spare time, but if your brain craves any kind of non-fiction input, there are probably small books in our collection that you could read in one sitting and feel very glad you found.

    Actually, books can bully librarians, too. Really. Look at this shelf. It is six feet above leaning-booksthe ground and full of big, floppy paperback books that slide on the shelf in packs and require librarians, some of whom are pretty small, to get up there and shove them back into place so they stand up straight. This can be tricky, because sometimes you have to hold books with one hand while pushing books with another. And there's nothing miscreant car repair books enjoy more than crashing to the floor with their buddies.

    Most likely, however, like human bullies, book bullies are just craving attention. So I hope you won't let the fact a book is pretty big intimidate you from borrowing it. Remember, going to the library isn't going to school. You don't have to read the whole book and you don't have to write a report on it. Pick out a non-fiction book on any subject you like, spend time reading what you want from it and appreciate how it adds its own heft to your life.  And if you do read the whole thing, then bully for you, too.

    EvanEvan - Married, three children, two grandchildren, formerly a newspaper journalist, now a public librarian, at all times a board game nut.
    by Megan B | Nov 11, 2016
    Image via Ron Cogswell Flickr page

    Cubs fan around the world woke up to joy, tiredness, and no fingernails Nov. 3 because “the curse” was broken. 108 years after their last World Series win the team once more reigned supreme. What a well-deserved victory it was! They battled back from a three game deficit to the Cleveland Indians, took Game 7 into ten innings, due to Cleveland tying it up in the ninth, and rallied in the tenth to win the title. During the entire game every single Cubs fan felt the same way as Cubs 1st baseman Anthony Rizzo (and all around good guy), who said to fellow teammate David Ross during the game, “I’m a glass case of emotions right now.” My husband was present in body at our home, but his heart and mind were in Cleveland, Ohio. My hair could have been on fire and he wouldn’t have noticed. I, myself, who am not a huge baseball fan, was engrossed as well, for a few different reasons. I grew up in Ohio and my sister, Bobbie, was a huge Cleveland Indians fan. We watched a lot of their games, and even went to a few as kids. Years passed and I stopped watching the game. Then I met my husband, a man who has loved sports, and more importantly the Cubbies, his entire life. We’ve gone to games, bought the gear, and suffered the disappointments of short seasons, like every fan for years before us.  So there was something very surreal about the Cubs being there, there was something magical, something wonderful. In our world full of heavy news, and crazy elections, we all needed a bright spot. We needed some goodness, some grace, some hard work that paid off, and we got it. Fans on either side should not be disappointed by the way their teams rallied, fought, and pushed themselves to the pinnacle. But ultimately only one team could win. For a while I was torn, because the baseball of my youth and the baseball of my adulthood were colliding in a huge way.

    Who would I root for? Would I be excited either way? I didn’t realize until the Cubs were really in it that I wanted them to win.

    I imagine there were others out there like me, or those who had forgotten they were fans, or were only fans for a night. The game beckoned to us like a light on the shore. We had to be there to see history being made, to honor those Cubs fans in our lives who had passed, and because it would make Harry Carey proud.

     It’s like James Earl Jones character, Terence Mann, says to Kevin Costner’s character in Field of Dreams,

    Ray, people will come, Ray. They'll come to Iowa for reasons they can't even fathom. They'll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they're doing it. They'll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won't mind if you look around, you'll say. It's only $20 per person. They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they'll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They'll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they'll watch the game and it'll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come, Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh... people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.”

    People came that night and whether you’re a die-hard Cubs fan, young or old, rich or poor, we were all dipped in magic waters. History was made in the swing of a bat, the catch of a ball, the stealing of a base and hope was handed out in the winning of a game.  The Cubs have made us believe in hard work, dedication to a game, and even miracles, just a little. Wouldn’t you agree? 

    by Heather | Nov 09, 2016
    Helen Frost holding SaltThis installment of Allen County Reads features one of our favorite local authors for teens and kids, Helen Frost. Her book set in Fort Wayne during 1812, Salt, was the center of our recent series of programs celebrating Indiana's Bicentennial. She will be one of our guests at this year's Author Fair, held at Main Library THIS Saturday! Get all the details here and read on to learn more about Helen.

    What do you love about libraries?
    I have so many memories of libraries, from all the places I have lived. My first library card was a first-day-of-first-grade rite of passage. My mother told me I could get a library card when I started school. We lived in a small town, Brookings, South Dakota, and walked to school. Walking home from school on that first day, I skipped to the library to get my card. I loved that it was free, and I could take out as many books as I wanted, and I loved the librarian, Miss Jarman, who helped children find exactly the right books. I loved the cards in the pockets in each book where you could see who had read the book before you: a kind of 1950’s version of Goodreads
    When I was doing research for Crossing Stones, I thought about Miss Jarman and her brother “Crazy Jim” who suffered from “shell shock” from World War 1. I wondered if I could find out more about them, and an internet search brought up this image in the Brookings High School yearbook.  Ruby Jarman was just the age of my characters, and the yearbook helped me visualize them. 
    What do you love about ACPL in particular?
    We are so lucky to have the great library system we have in Allen County, with each branch offering programs and materials for different parts of our community. The Genealogy Center, the art and music section, fiction and nonfiction, great reference section, the audiobooks and e-books. Everything. I especially love the children’s book section -- the children’s librarians keep up with all the reviews and conversation, and purchase exactly the books I would buy if my budget and bookshelf space were unlimited. 
    What makes a good read when you are reading for pleasure?
    I love books that take me back to the feeling I had as a child when I could lose myself in a book for hours at a time.

    When you are researching for a book what resources do you use?
    ACPL has an amazing rare books collection—I found old photographs and historical documents. We have an entire set of the Curtis Collection photographs, an amazing treasure. 
    What is a favorite book from childhood? And favorite authors?
    I loved The Yearling, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. I had a “horse book” phase, where I devoured all the Black Stallion books, and I read my share of Nancy Drew mysteries. The first book I remember owning was a biography of Marian Anderson, from a school book fair. I remember loving the word “Stradivarius,” describing a violin Marian wished for.
    Who are your favorite authors?
    I’ve read almost all of Louise Erdrich’s books -- fiction and poetry, for adults and children. I’m waiting for the year she wins the National Book Award in all four categories. Marilyn Nelson, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Ron Koertge are other authors whose work I admire in both adult and children’s books. But I hesitate to start naming my favorite poets or children’s authors because there are so many who are my friends, and I would miss some. 
    What is something you'd like to see happen at ACPL?
    It would be great to have a reading series, like the Omnibus Lecture Series, with some authors who write for children and teens, and others who write for adults.

    Applesauce Weather, Helen Frost's latest publication for children, is a novel written in verse. Watch for two titles in the spring of 2017: a photographic picture book collaboration with Rick Lieder, Wake Up, and a middle grade novel-in-poems called When My Sister Started Kissing. Find her first collaboration with Rick Lieder, Step Gently Out, as part of Shawnee Branch Library's first interactive book installation, ReadyWalk (see photo below).

    by Becky C | Nov 07, 2016
    If you weren't able to attend Wanda Brunstetter's recent visit to the Allen County Public Library, no worries!  Access Fort Wayne recorded the visit and it's now available via the ACPL YouTube Channel.  And while I encourage you to check out the wealth of videos available on that channel, you can view this particular video below.  In it, Wanda and her daughter-in-law share writing tips and stories.  Enjoy! 

    P.S. Don't forget -- our annual Author Fair is at the Main Library on November 12, 2016.  1:00 to 4:00 pm. 

    Becky CBecky likes to read … A LOT. When she’s not reading, she likes to pretend that she can garden. Her thumb has no hint of green whatsoever but luckily her plants are forgiving. Her favorite books are The Shannara series by Terry Brooks.
    by Craig B | Nov 04, 2016
    Cover of Beyonce's album LemonadeWell, duh.  It’s Beyonce.  Of course she’s “suggested.”  Ted Danzen says she’s 104% perfect or something like that.  Personal perfection aside, this album was ok. Lemonade, that is.  Ambitiously eclectic, with a couple of real humdingers (I’m thinking mostly of “Freedom” and “Daddy Lessons” here), Beyonce shows us just what she’s made of.  Not lemonade it turns out.  But I hear the real experience of this album comes through the included Visual disc I did not pop in.  Audio/Video, man.  The original dynamic duo.

    Suggested Use:
    Seems like a good album to wash your car to.  All the huggin’ and kissin’ and declarations of love on the album can find some metaphoric resonance in the chrome-edged fenders of your automobile or even the reflection of yourself in a side mirror.  And who isn’t okay with Beyonce?  The neighborhood can’t get too upset if you’re blasting it with the doors open while you Armor-All your seats.  Of course in this weather… maybe you should just stay inside and watch that Visual disc.