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.