Monday, October 31, 2011

Patience Pays Off with Pampered Pets

Meeting authors is always a privilege, but hosting an author like Sparkle Abbey is just plain FUN! Don't miss tomorrow evening's special event featuring a writing team from Des Moines. Come to the Central Library Tuesday, November 1 at 6:30 for the launch of their first book, Desperate Housedogs! Sparkle Abbey is the the psuedonym of two mystery writers (Mary Lee Woods and Anita Carter). Mary Lee and Anita both have written for years. They have traveled to various writing conferences together and have attended dozens of book signings and author events. The pen name is a combination of the names of their rescue pets--Sparkle (Mary Lee's cat) and Abbey (Anita's dog). I first got to know Mary Lee years ago when she was the president of the Iowa Romance Writers Association. She came to all of our AViD author programs, and she worked in the City of Des Moines Action Center! Mary Lee was always really good about suggesting writers and I know that she "talked up" our author series whenever she travelled to writing conventions. When we brought in authors like Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Janet Evanovich, and Diane Mott Davidson, Mary Lee was always in the audience! And here is where the patience pays off! Desperate Housedogs is the first in a series of four books that they are calling their Pampered Pets series--fun, cozy mysteries with a pet therapist main character who solves murders. I spent a good part of the weekend fully immersed in the advance copy. If you love animals and are looking for a light-hearted read, plan to stop by the Central Library tomorrow night. Mary Lee and Anita have invited folks from the Animal Rescue League to stop by, just in case you might be in the market for another pet....and rumor has it that there may even be some dog bone cookies and coffee to share, too!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Michael Buble's "Feelin' Good" As Never Done Before

If you are a baby boomer like me, senior living is quickly taking on a new meaning. But just because we're getting older doesn't mean we can't still have fun. Watch this video to see how a group of seniors at the Clark Retirement Center in Michigan prove they still know how to have FUN!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Consider This

It's easy to take life for granted. Here's a profound five-minute talk from someone who survived the Hudson River plane crash and no longer takes life for granted.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A New Fresh Franklin

Wow! Just had a sneak peek inside the soon-to-be completed remodel of the Franklin Avenue Library and it is quite impressive. There’s an expansive new walkway on the southeast corner of the building. Upon entering the building, my first impression was of how warm and inviting the colors are. Much of the shelving is in place already and some of the furniture has been delivered.

Almost double the size of the old building, it’s challenging to remember where things were before. The Circ Desk is roughly in the same place and there’s an expanded area for additional checkout stations. There’s a small conference room and study rooms! The meeting room is on the southwest corner and it’s beautiful, equipped with new AV and a colorful carpet.

There’s a whole new Teen area with spaces for homework and lots of plug-ins for laptops and Wi-Fi users. Adults are going to love the extra lounge seating and the fireplace near the north wall. The librarians are creating neighborhood collections of popular subjects like politics, green living, cooking for those patrons that love to browse the collection. The cherry wood furniture is sure to complement all the books. And the colorful lighting fixtures sprinkled throughout the building are just delightful. It’s like they have blended retro with futuristic.

But wait till you see the Kids area! Colors have blossomed across the walls, the floors, and along the counters. The circular story room, with its two-story windows, sky light, and bench seating is the perfect spot for parents to sit with youngsters just learning to read. There’s even a “chair and a half” designed for lap-reading. Toddlers can play peek-a-boo through the interior windows of the story room and there are kid-sized counters for craft activities.

The move begins next week. Staff members are excited to re-claim the building and fill it with more than 108,000 books and materials. The wait is almost over. (And I haven’t even mentioned all the green features. More on that in another blog.)

See you at the ribbon-cutting on Sunday, August 21 at 3:00 PM!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Skype's the Limit

The DMPL is offering a free program about how to use Skype™ next Tuesday, July 26 at 6:30 PM at the Central Library. So this past weekend, I decided to get a little head start by downloading a Skype app onto my Galaxy Tablet™. And it was simple to do! I signed up for an account. And that was simple too!

Then I decided to test it out with my Oregonian daughter. I called her Skype number and she immediately answered, which was very cool! We could hear each other, but she couldn’t see me and I couldn’t see her. So I tried pushing buttons, and looking at the settings, and my daughter kept insisting that I should just click on the change settings button next to her picture.

She is a pretty typical twenty-something, sarcastically offering the suggestion to get her little sister to fix it for me! I felt like a Luddite—but after several attempts with increasingly exasperated comments from my daughter, I did a little research via Google and discovered—lo and behold--visual communication doesn’t work on the tablet__yet! (Wouldn’t it have been nice if they had mentioned that when I downloaded the app?)

So then I fired up our laptop computer and I wasn’t a Luddite after all! It worked like a charm and we had a delightful face-to-face conversation. It takes a little while to get used to keeping your face aligned with the computer’s camera but it is well worth the effort. I wish I would have tried it sooner. The best line of Sunday’s conversation was when I moved the laptop and my daughter remarked, “Gee Dad, you’ve lost a lot of weight—oh sorry, I guess I am looking at the lamp!”

We also discovered that it can drive your pets crazy to talk to them via Skype, especially when you have dogs on both ends barking and running around looking for the other pet at the other end of the line!

If you have family or friends across the country that you’d enjoy “seeing” while you talk with them, I’d like to encourage you to sign up for a free Skype account. If you’d like to learn more about Skyping, join us at a free workshop called The Skype’s the Limit on Tuesday, July 26 at 6:30 PM in the Central Library Meeting Room. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Brave New World of Mobile Apps

If someone had told me ten years ago, that I would spend much of my day "chatting, skyping, posting, tweeting, and eBooking," I probably would have wondered what language they were speaking! But sure enough, here it is 2011 and indeed, I am spending a good portion of every day doing just that.

With each app that I add to my cell phone or tablet, I take another baby step forward in this brave new world of technology. We recently started adding QR codes to our posters! But then I learn about something called "augmented reality" and am told that "QR codes" may be short lived. I read about web sites that you can create with information to be used after you die! I still haven't quite figured out how to "skype" with my long-distance" kids but it's definitely on my to do list. And although I am not a "gamer," I can see where Fruit Ninja, could be addictive.

I think that one of the best uses of recent technology has to be free eBooks from the DMPL. They are relatively easy to download, don't cost a thing, and are a wonderfully handy way to always have a book at hand whenever you have a spare moment to read! (BTW, I discovered that my tablet equipped with an eBook offers a great way to survive a "middle of the night hot flash!" You don't have to turn on a light. Just open up your tablet, set on nighttime mode, toss off the blanket to cool off, read for a bit, and then close your tablet to snuggle back down once you've returned to a normal temp!)

Wondering what I'm reading? Enjoying tremendously Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys audio book read by an amazing actor named Lenny Henry. Also, 3/4 of the way through an interesting ARC called, The Submission, by Amy Waldman. It's a fascinating fictional account about a propsed 9/11 memorial at Ground Zero that supporters discover was designed by a Muslim. Interesting social dilemna.

However, my real reason for writing this blog was to highlight an upcoming program we will be offering at the Central Library on Tuesday evening at 6:30 PM, called Mobile Apps 4 Anyone. Hopefully, Shayne Huston, the presenter, will inspire me to take a few more "baby-steps" into the ever-expanding world of technology! Hope to see you there!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Don't Let the Rain Keep You Away from Rainbow!

It's raining and there's even a bit of snow in the forecast. How appropriate because we have a Rainbow coming on Monday! I know it's a corny opening for our next AViD author but hey, you have to admit, it fits.

Rainbow Rowell is headed our way next Monday, April 18 and she will be here at the Central Library for a little reception (at 5:00 PM) prior to her free program which begins at 7:00 PM. So far, I haven't been able to discover the story behind her name but hopefully she will share that and many other fun facts about herself and her writing. I do know, from her blogs, that she is a great writer, loves all things related to Glee, and has a quirky sense of humor.

Her book, Attachments, has been described as a "romantic comedy" and is a quick but delightful read with a fresh way of considering the consequences of social media within the work environment. Suffice to say, that this first novel, promises a great start for Rainbow in the world of fiction. I keep thinking that it would be a great movie, sort of a Harry Met Sally type of light-hearted comedy.

I like how Alice Meyer from Beaverdale Books described it in this week's issue of Cityview: "The characters are likeable, and we wish them well. Then there's the subtext of how we tend to email the person in the next cubicle rather than speak with them, and the fact that we give up all privacy when we login at the workplace." She continues, "Attachments will put a spring in your step!"

If you'd like a chance to spend some time with Rainbow at a reception prior to her talk, give a call to the DMPL Foundation at 248-6402. The $35 reception includes food, drink, a copy of Attachments, and a lovely AViD tote bag. I hope to see you there!

Friday, April 8, 2011

AViDly Enjoying April—my favorite time of year!

The sun is shining, the daffodils are in bloom, and AViD starts next week—with two delightful author events! Patrick Carr on April 11 (Central Library) and Anne Lamott on April 13 (Hoyt Sherman Place Theater).

Patrick Carr teaches sociology at Rutgers University and is an Associate Member of the MacArthur Foundation’s Research Network on Transitions to Adulthood. He and Maria Kefalas came to Iowa a while back to study the exodus of youth from rural communities. Their research led to their book titled, Hollowing Out the Middle: The Rural Brain Drain and What it Means for America. Patrick is also the author of Clean Streets: Controlling Crime, Maintaining Order and Building Community Activism. He is co-editor along with Mary C. Waters, Jennifer Holdaway and Maria J. Kefalas of the forthcoming book Coming of Age in America, based on a comparative in-depth study of young adults funded by the Network on Transitions to Adulthood. His research has been featured in numerous media outlets, including on NPR.

Patrick will be joined by moderator Dr. Paul Lasley. He is a professor of sociology at Iowa State University whose work focuses on farm and rural issues at the state and national levels. Paul is widely known across Iowa and the author of over 100 professional journal articles. His research focuses on the changing structure of agriculture, rural development, and community, so it promises to be a wonderful evening filled with thoughtful discussion of issues facing local communities.

Wednesday night’s program featuring Anne Lamott promises to be great fun. In preparation for Anne’s visit, I’ve been reading lots of reviews of her work and I must say, she sounds like someone I would love to have as a girlfriend. She tackles really tough subjects, like teen drug abuse and alcoholism, but has this wonderful sense of humor that emanates throughout her writing. I just can’t wait to meet her!

Here’s more information about Anne directly from her publicist: “Ann writes about what most of us don’t like to think about. She wrote her first novel for her father, the writer Kenneth Lamott, when he was diagnosed with brain cancer. She has said that the book was ‘a present to someone I loved who was going to die.’ In all her novels, Anne Lamott writes about loss – loss of loved ones and loss of personal control. She doesn’t try to sugar-coat the sadness, frustration and disappointment, but tells her stories with honesty, compassion and a pureness of voice. She says, ‘I have a lot of hope and a lot of faith and I struggle to communicate that.’ Anne Lamott does communicate her faith; in her books and in person, she lifts, comforts, and inspires, all the while keeping us laughing.”

Anne Lamott is the author of six novels including, Hard Laughter, Rosie, Joe Jones, All New People, and Crooked Little Heart (the sequel to Rosie), as well as four bestselling books of nonfiction, Operating Instructions, an account of life as a single mother during her son’s first year and Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, a guide to writing and the challenges of a writer’s life, Traveling Mercies, a collection of autobiographical essays on faith, and Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith.

We asked Dr. Christopher Rossi from Humanities Iowa to be the moderator for Anne, and I must say he seemed thrilled to be asked. Humanities Iowa has been a fantastic supporter of our AViD Author Series and we are pleased to have Chris be a part of this year’s event. In addition to being the executive director of Humanities Iowa, Chris teaches courses in public international law at the University of Iowa.

Next week, I will share information about our event on April 18 with writer Rainbow Rowell. Visit our web site for all the details. I hope to see you at several AViD events this year!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Social Media Guru Coming to the Library!

Meet Jay Baer, Author of The Now Revolution on Monday, March 21

People often tell me that I have one of the best jobs in the world and I have to admit, I think so, too. I love marketing the library and I love authors! So next week, we have a social media guru/author stopping by the Central Library. Is that perfect, or what?

Strategic America is bringing Jay Baer, globally recognized social media strategist and co-author of the newly released book, The Now Revolution, to Des Moines. They are partnering with the DMPL and The Book Store, along with five professional marketing organizations: the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA), American Advertising Federation of Des Moines (AAF of Des Moines), American Marketing Association (AMA) and the Social Media Club of Des Moines (SMCDSM).

There will be two events. The first is a lunch seminar from 11:00 AM to 1:30 PM, where you can receive a copy of The Now Revolution, a catered lunch and an opportunity to have Baer sign their copy of the book. The cost for that is $35; which includes the lunch and the book. Register at:

The second event is a free evening program at 6:30 PM. You can meet Jay and he plans to “discuss the book’s principles on how every employee in an organization must contribute to capitalize on today’s real-time business.” Both events will be at the Central Library.

Just in case you don’t know, Jay Baer is a world-renowned social media strategist and the founder of five companies including, Convince & Convert, a “hype-free” social media consulting firm that works with companies to harness the power of the web. According to his bio, Jay has “worked with numerous corporations including Nike, Sony, and Head
& Shoulders, to harness the power of the web and to productively utilize social media.“

I’m planning to be there, ready to take all the notes that I can. Perhaps you’d care to join me?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What Do Tomatoes, Vampires, Pixies, and Princesses Have in Common?

If you are a fan of urban fantasy writer Kim Harrison, you surely know the answer. If you haven’t yet discovered Harrison’s writing, you might want to head to the East Side Library on Tuesday, March 1 at 6:30 PM to find out.

Author of The New York Times bestseller Black Magic Sanction, Harrison will stop by on tour for her newest book, Pale Demon. It’s the story of what happens when an elf, a pixie, a living vampire and a witch who dabbles in black magic are forced to travel 2300 miles cross-country (in three days or less), jammed into an ‘89 blue Buick. Harrison is one of the leading voices in urban fantasy with more than 2.5 million copies currently in print.

Fantasy readers may be more familiar with Harrison’s writings under the pen name of Dawn Cook, where she is known for her Decoy Princess and Truth series, published in the first few years of the 21st century. As Kim Harrison, she is best known for her Rachel Morgan urban fantasy series set in an alternate history where a worldwide pandemic caused by genetically modified tomatoes led to the death of a large portion of the world's human population. In 2008, Harrison was described by HarperCollins Voyager Publishing Director Jane Johnson as the best example of the urban fantasy sub-genre which she described as, "the supernatural erupting into the everyday—sexy, tongue-in-cheek, postmodern.”

The bio on her web site says, “Kim Harrison was born and raised in the upper Midwest. After gaining a Bachelor degree in the sciences, she moved to South Carolina, where she remained until recently moving back to Michigan because she missed the snow. She's currently developing a young adult series between working on the Hollows books and a Hollows-based graphic novel. Harrison and is a member of both the Romance Writers of America and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. When not at her desk, she's most likely to be found landscaping her new/old Victorian home, or scouring antique shops to fill it.”

According to Kim's blog, she was “the only girl in a large family of boys and invented the first Brigadier General Barbie in self-defense.” She notes that she “shoots a very bad game of pool and rolls a very good game of dice. When not at her keyboard, she enjoys lounging on the couch with a bowl of popcorn watching action movies with The-Guy-In-The-Leather-Jacket. She plays her Ashiko drum when no one is listening, and is hard to find when the moon is new.”

I can’t wait to meet her!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Over the Top -- Reading a Book!

Julian Smith may not be the ideal library customer, but you do have to love his passion for reading! Saw this on another "reader's" blog and just had to share it with readers here in Des Moines, in celebration of Love Your Library Month. Enjoy this musical video!

P.S. There's still time to enter our Pen, Post, or Tweet contest. Ask for a cool "i love dmpl!" sticker to display on your car window, too!

Conquering Poverty by Climbing Mountains -- Program Tomorrow

Head to the Central Library tomorrow evening at 6:30 PM for a fascinating program called Peak 4 Poverty. The project was featured recently in the Drake University Alumni Magazine.

"As Nabeel Meghji watched the sunrise from the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro, he felt the pride of conquering one of the top seven summits in the world and what had been a constant, looming presence during his childhood in Tanzania. He was also remembering the AIDS orphans in his home country; kids who now would have a better chance at life thanks to his efforts.

Nabeel Meghji, a strategist at CDS Global in Des Moines, had always hoped to scale a major summit. Then, when he was struggling to find a way to help bring healing to his home country, he and Iowa native Shayne Huston formed an idea that would allow him to do both simultaneously.

“Growing up in Tanzania, the fourth poorest country in the world, I’ve seen a lot of poverty,” says Meghji. “After seeing all of the children orphaned by AIDS and living in poverty, I always felt obliged to give back in some way or another. After much soul searching I decided to climb Kilimanjaro and use the event as an opportunity to raise funds for orphans in Tanzania.”

According to the World Health Organization, more than 15.6 million children under the age of 10 in sub-Sahara Africa have lost at least one parent to AIDS. These orphans are more prone to sickness, malnutrition, illiteracy, unemployment, homelessness and crime, and are also more likely to repeat the cycle and become infected with AIDS themselves.

Meghji and Huston created a Web site and blog, christened this initiative Peaks 4 Poverty and harnessed the power of social media to draw awareness — and solicit donations — to benefit orphans in Tanzania."

Their presentation is free and open to the public. Read the entire article.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Here Comes AViD 2011!

It’s finally time, patient fans of AViD, to announce our lineup of authors--and once again, it’s a stellar group! Their books are also a diverse mix, with fascinating subjects ranging from local issues such as Iowa’s brain drain, to the global challenges of human trafficking in the mountainous regions of Nepal and how a family deals with the aftermath of the tsunami in Thailand.

I'm convinced that there is a sort of serendipity that happens around AViD every year and this year is no exception. We strive to make every year as unique as possible, including the logo design. This year, we considered several designs before deciding to use Iowa’s wild rose for inspiration. Lo and behold, upon reading Anne Lamott’s definitive book on writing, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, I discovered that Anne compared her writing to a poem by Wendell Berry, titled, The Wild Rose. A fitting tribute to our state flower, to writing, and maybe even to AViD, don’t you agree?

Sometimes hidden from me
in daily custom and in trust,
so that I live by you unaware
as by the beating of my heart.
Suddenly you flare in my sight,
a wild rose blooming at the edge
of thicket, grace and light
where yesterday was only shade,
and once again I am blessed, choosing again what I chose before.

Now, here’s our list of the AViD writers that will be "blooming" in Des Moines this year:

Patrick J. Carr, Monday, April 11
7:00 PM, Central Library
Hollowing Out the Middle: the Rural Brain Drain and What It Means for America

In 2001, with funding from the MacArthur Foundation, sociologists Patrick J. Carr and Maria J. Kefalas moved to Iowa to understand the rural brain drain and the exodus of young people from America’s countryside. They met and followed working-class “stayers”; ambitious and college-bound “achievers”; “seekers,” who head off to war to see what the world beyond offers; and “returners,” who eventually circle back to their hometowns. What surprised them most was that adults in the community were playing a pivotal part in a town’s decline by pushing the best and brightest young people to leave.

Anne Lamott, Wednesday, April 13
7:00 PM, Hoyt Sherman Place Theater
Imperfect Birds

Anne Lamott is the author of six novels including, Hard Laughter, Rosie, Joe Jones, All New People, and Crooked Little Heart (the sequel to Rosie), as well as four bestselling books of nonfiction, Operating Instructions, an account of life as a single mother during her son’s first year, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Traveling Mercies, a collection of autobiographical essays on faith, and Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith. Anne Lamott has been honored with a Guggenheim Fellowship, and has taught at UC Davis, as well as at writing conferences across the country.

Rainbow Rowell, Monday, April 18
7:00 PM, Central Library

Rainbow Rowell is a columnist for the Omaha World-Herald and a feature writer for the Living section and Her columns and stories focus on all types of popular culture, including movies, books, music, television, and trends, as well as family and lifestyle issues, all filtered through Rainbow’s unique way of looking at the world. Her first novel, Attachments is a romantic comedy set at a Midwest newspaper.

Robert V. Morris, Monday, April 25
7:00 PM, Central Library
Black Faces of War: A Legacy of Honor from the American Revolution to Today.

Robert V. Morris is an Iowa native, the grandson and son of two decorated army officers. He founded the Fort Des Moines Memorial Park and the WWII Iowa Tuskegee Airmen Memorial at the Des Moines International Airport. His documentary Tradition and Valor was broadcast on Iowa Public Television. He is a graduate of the University of Iowa, has taught journalism at Iowa State University and is a past-president of the NAACP Iowa-Nebraska Conference. His new book, Black Faces of War, honors the men and women of color who have served in the American army

Debbie Macomber, Tuesday, May 10
7:00 PM, Hoyt Sherman Place Theater
A Turn in the Road

With more than 130 million copies of her books in print, Debbie Macomber is one of the world’s most popular authors. A number 1 New York Times bestselling author, she is best known for her ability to create compelling characters and bring their stories to life in her books. Drawing on her own experiences and observations, Debbie writes heartwarming tales about small-town life, home and family, enduring friendships and women who knit and every book features her delightful sense of humor.

Conor Grennan, Tuesday, June 7
7:00 PM, Hoyt Sherman Place Theater
Little Princes

Conor Grennan, author of the memoir Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal, founded Next Generation Nepal, an organization dedicated to reconnecting trafficked children with their families and combating the root causes of child trafficking in rural villages in Nepal. He was based in the capital of Kathmandu, where he was the Executive Director of Next Generation Nepal, until September 2007. Conor now serves on the Board of Next Generation Nepal, together with his wife, Liz.

Dr. Benjamin Beck, Dr. Robert Shumaker, & Dr. Kristina R. Walkup, Wednesday, June 14
7:00 PM, Central Library
Animal Tool Behavior: The Use and Manufacture of Tools by Animals

When published in 1980, Dr. Benjamin B. Beck's, Animal Tool Behavior, was the first volume to capture and analyze the use of tools by animals. Beck showed that animals - from insects to primates - employed different types of tools to solve numerous problems. In a revised and updated edition of the landmark publication, Robert Shumaker and Kristina Walkup join Beck to reveal the current state of knowledge regarding animal tool behavior.

Dr. Beck is the director of conservation at Great Ape Trust. Dr. Shumaker is the vice president of life sciences at the Indianapolis Zoo, the author of Orangutans, and coauthor, with Dr. Beck, of Primates in Question. Dr. Walkup is an adjunct assistant professor at Drake University.

John Shors, Monday, September 12
7:00 PM, Hoyt Sherman Place Theater
Cross Currents (coming in September)

Native Iowan John Shors returns with his fifth novel about a trio of Americans and a local family on an island in Thailand whose personal dramas play out against the tsunami of 2004. John’s first four novels, Beneath a Marble Sky, Beside a Burning Sea, Dragon House, and The Wishing Trees, have won multiple awards, and have been translated into twenty-five languages. He has spent much of his life abroad, traveling in Asia, the South Pacific, Europe, Africa, and North America.

The AViD Author Series is made possible with funding from the Des Moines Public Library Foundation with generous support from Humanities Iowa, Douglas and Deborah West, Iowa History Center at Simpson College, Iowa Council for International Understanding, Jim and Roxanne Conlin, Drake University, John and Patsy Shors, Hoyt Sherman Place Theater, Forest Avenue Library Brick Fund, Meredith Corporation, and the Friends of the East Side Library.

For updates and information about all of the AViD 2011 events, visit the library’s web site.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Where Would You Like to Be Stationed as a U.S. Ambassador?

If you have wondered what it's like to be a United States Ambassador, you might want to head to the Central Library this Wednesday (January 19) evening at 6:30 PM for a program by Ambassador Mary E. Kramer (Ret.) as she discusses her newly launched book, More Than a Walk on the Beach: Confessions of an Unlikely Diplomat.

Ambassador Kramer is a familiar face here in Des Moines and, in fact, throughout the state of Iowa. She served in the Iowa Senate and was elected the President of the Senate in 1997. But I first knew her as the head of the Human Relations Department, when we both worked at Younkers, oh so many years ago! Before that, Mary had worked as a pianist, teacher, and school administrator. From Younkers, Mary went on to work at Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, serving as Vice President of Human Resources and Vice President of Community Investments.

She has always stayed busy, serving on numerous boards. She's a lifetime member of the Society for Human Resource Management and in 2009 she was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame.

During her talk at the library, she will share how, in 2003, she was nominated by President George W. Bush to serve as U. S. Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Carribbean. Come and hear all about her experiences there. We will have books available for sale and signing, too.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Congratulations to AViD Author Peter Bognanni

We already know that we feature some very special writers in our AViD (Authors Visiting in Des Moines) series. It's such fun to see our AViD audiences make a real connection with the writers we feature, so it's especially fun to follow the authors' careers after meeting them at our events.

Today we learned that Peter Bognanni's book, House of Tomorrow, is among ten titles selected this year for an American Library Association Alex Award. Peter Bognanni, son of our Franklin Avenue Library Manager Kathy Bognanni, was also honored at this year's Iowa Author Awards sponsored by the Des Moines Public Library Foundation. Needless to say, we are all proud of Peter! Congratulations from everyone at the DMPL!

Alex Award titles are chosen by the YALSA Adult Books for Young Adults Task Force. The task force selects ten titles annually, believing that selecting more than one book provides a greater variety of titles and a more balanced list, including fiction and nonfiction, as well as various genres. The task force also makes diversity a priority in its lists.

The Alex Awards are part of the ALA's Adult Books for Young Adults Project, which explored the role of adult books in the reading lives of teenagers and was funded by the Margaret Alexander Edwards Trust. Edwards was a young adult specialist for many years at the Enoch Pratt Library in Baltimore. Her work is described in her book, Fair Garden and the Swarm of Beasts, and over the years she has served as an inspiration to librarians who serve young adults. With the approval of the Trust, the task force appointed to develop and implement the project named the awards the Alex Awards after Edwards, who was called “Alex” by her friends.

The major sponsor of the Alex Awards continues to be the Margaret Alexander Edwards Trust. Booklist is also a sponsor.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Our New Boss Starts Work Next Week

The New Year is always a great time to set new goals and this year we will have a new boss! He starts next week and we are all looking forward to his arrival. Don't get me wrong--our acting director has done a fantastic job.

Our new director, Greg Heid, is leaving the sunny state of Georgia to return to the slushy, sleety, and snowy Midwest--in January, no less! At least he is a Minnesota native, so he surely knows about winter--and coffee!

In typical Scandinavian fashion, we are planning a little coffee, cookies, and conversation to welcome Greg on Friday, January 14 from 3:00 to 5:00 PM at the Central Library. We are hoping that folks will enjoy stopping in to meet Greg and to wish him well as we all begin 2011 at the DMPL!

We have already begun a list of goals to share with him! If you are in the downtown area next Friday, plan to stop by and share a cup of coffee with us! Everyone is VELKOMMEN!

Monday, January 3, 2011

AViD Author Marion Blumenthal Lazan Continues to Inspire

For the first time ever, a school in Germany has been named for a living Jewish woman Holocaust survivor. If you regularly attend the library's AViD Author Series, you may remember Marion's inspirational presentation at Hoyt Sherman Place Theater in April 2009.

Last week, Marion sent me a note saying that she would "love the world to know how one small German town, together with its citizens, has not look away from its past wrongs, but on the contrary, has worked to make the world a better place in which to live, through courage, love, tolerance and respect towards one another." Here is the You Tube link to a video about the naming of the Marion Blumenthal Hauptschule in Hoya.

If you are not familiar with Marion’s story, she has provided a brief synopsis, so that you will understand the importance of this honor.

Following Hitler`s rise to power, the Blumenthal family -- father, mother, Marion, and her brother, Albert -- were trapped in Nazi Germany. They managed eventually to get to Holland, but soon thereafter it was occupied by the Nazis. For the next six and a half years the Blumenthals were forced to live in refugee, transit, and prison camps that included Westerbork in Holland and the notorious Bergen-Belsen in Germany. All survived the camps, but Marion’s father succumbed to typhus just after liberation. It took three more years of struggle and waiting before Marion, Albert, and their mother at last obtained the necessary papers and boarded ship for the United States. Their story is one of horror and hardship, but it is also a story of courage, hope, and the will to survive Marion Blumenthal Lazan has for the past 20 years made it her mission to share the story of her family’s travail during the Holocaust. Upwards of one million students from over 1,000 school, and adults, have heard Marion share her story, and her important messages of love, respect, and tolerance towards one another, regardless of religious belief, color of the skin, or national origin. Now, 65 years after her incarceration in the Nazi Concentration Camp Bergen-Belsen, in recognition of the positive impact in teaching respect and tolerance to young adults, the new high school in her former “home” town of Hoya in Germany, the Marion Blumenthal Hauptschule, has been named in her honor.

Four Perfect Pebbles, Marion’s memoir, co-authored by Lila Perl and published by Greenwillow, tells the full story of Marion’s life during the Holocaust and can be found in our collection.