Not to be left out of all the social media fun to be had on the Internet these days, we now have our own app! You can get it free at Google Play and the Apple App Store. Be sure the app you download shows our classy logo. (Some people have asked: "What the heck is that?" It's the top of a book, with a bookmark sticking out of it and our initials--PLMVKC, for Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County--underneath.) The app downloads quickly onto your cell phone or other mobile device and gives you one-tap access to our website, along with some other neat features. There's a "Call Us" icon at the bottom of the screen, to the right of the "Home" icon, that brings up your dialer with our phone number already punched in. To the right of the "Call Us" icon there are icons for our Facebook and Twitter pages. The "List" icon at the upper left corner of the screen (which is part of our mobile website) gives you quick access to all the other pages on our website. And don't forget that quick access to all the other pages on our website also means quick access to dozens of incredible, free services and resources like Hoopla (downloadable audiobooks, music, movies and TV shows--free!), Select Reads, New Book Alert, Author Check, Zinio (the worlds's largest online newsstand--free!), and lots more. You're just going to love this.
Last fall the Library took on the responsibility of sponsoring the first county-wide Battle of the Books, a quiz-style competition for avid young readers in the fifth grade. In so doing, we were reviving (and attempting to amplify) a program that had existed only in the Mount Vernon City Schools from 1993 to 2012. Peggy Mavis, who was Elementary Library Coordinator for the Mount Vernon City School District at the time, initiated the program and developed it into a robust annual event that drew large crowds of parents, teachers and children. Each of the city schools, plus St. Vincent School, had one team of seven kids, but the program's influence and impact went well beyond just that small group. It spurred an interest in reading and literature for their own sake and drew hundreds of kids--including third and fourth graders--into the excitement. After Mrs. Mavis's retirement, the program was continued a few more years but was then abandoned.
When we started working on the new county-wide Battle of the Books last fall, there was a lot of initial interest, but not every school was able to field a team. Even so, there will be seven teams competing in our first program this Tuesday evening, March 22, at Memorial Theater, starting at 6 p.m. Two schools--Columbia and St. Vincent--will each have two teams in the competition, while Centerburg, Columbia and Danville each have one team. Admission is, of course, free. The kids and their coaches have been working hard to get themselves ready, and we expect this to be a lively, fun and entertaining event. It's our hope that in succeeding years more and more schools will be able to join us, and like its Mount Vernon-only predecessor, the new Knox County Battle of the Books will become bigger and better and more enthusiastically received each year. Please join us for the program. We're all looking forward to it with great anticipation.
It's not just any small to medium sized public library in the U.S. that can claim to have been the cover story on a national magazine. We're not just any library. And our name isn't actually on the cover of the February issue of School Library Journal (except for the mailing label on the copy that came to us). But we are most definitely the subject of the cover story, specifically our MakerSpace. Karen Jensen's article, "Small Tech, Big Impact: Designing My Maker Space," has put us in the national spotlight. Karen is our teen services librarian and the creator of the Teen Librarian Toolbox, a blog which is also nationally known and within recent memory was elevated to prominence as one of School Library Journal's regular online features. One of Karen's specialties is Big Ideas, one of which was the conversion of our young adult area into our MakerSpace, a place where teens and adults and sometimes even pre-teens with the right supervision can dabble in all kinds of things, such as digital photo editing, stop-motion animation, button-making, cutting out letters and shapes on paper or vinyl with our Silhouette Cameo machine, Lego creations and making robotic and electronic gizmos with Raspberry Pi and Makey Makey. Yes, I don't really know that much about any of these things, but that's the point: You come to the library to learn about them, and our talented, dedicated staff will guide you along the way. So, check out Karen's article (click the title above--it's a hyperlink) and her Teen Librarian Toolbox (ditto), and come on in to the library to check out our MakerSpace. We're not the first to have done it, nor the biggest and probably not even the best-equipped (yet), but we are definitely the only library MakerSpace in the world to have been conceived and established by the creator of Teen Librarian Toolbox. In my book, that's something worth a moment of national notoriety.
The diminutive but useful green screen in our MakerSpace makes stop-motion animation come to life.
Appraiser Andy Richmond begins his evaluation of "Silence."
One of the Library's most prized possessions is a marble statue titled "Silence," sculpted by former Mount Vernon resident Joseph Mozier in Rome in 1859. Fifty years after it was created it was donated to the Library by Mrs. Maria Butler of New York, who had also grown up in Mount Vernon. We were recently asked to consider the possibility of lending the statue to the Ohio History Connection for display at the Ohio State House. One of the first steps in that negotiation is to have the artwork appraised, so we called on a former Library employee, Andy Richmond, who now owns his own appraisal business, Wipiak Consulting & Appraisals. Andy came and spent several hours examining "Silence" and three other objects of artistic, historical and cultural interest that belong to the Library. Most prominent among them is an impressive bronze casting of a piece by Hermon Atkins MacNeil entitled "A Chief of the Multnomah Tribe." The last two objects are less prominent but equally interesting: a hand-drawn watercolor map of the original plat of Mount Vernon from the early 19th century and a ticket to the hanging of Will Bergin on December 7, 1877, the only execution that ever took place in Knox County. Care to guess what any of these items is worth? Stay tuned. We'll be sharing more facts and trivia about each of them in future blog posts. Each one has its own unique and fascinating story, and they all have connections with times, places and people far removed from the present-day Mount Vernon/Knox County community. We'll explore some of these stories in more detail as we continue to probe the histories of the artifacts in our collections.
Back in October our Office Manager, Lisa Blaisdell, embarked on a new adventure in library services and programming: "Sewing with Lisa." The second Monday of every month (which means the next one is February 8!) at either 4 p.m. or 6 p.m. (attendees' choice), people can come in, bring a yard or two of fabric with them, and get expert instruction on how to create wonderful things. This month, naturally, it's a heart pillow. We provide supplies and sewing machines. Lisa provides the expertise and a winning way with people. The program is oriented toward adults, but we've had some youthful attendees, and they've had a great time. So (or should that be "sew"?), if you've ever wanted to learn sewing or master the intricacies of the modern techno-marvel known as the sewing machine, Lisa's your person and the second Monday of every month is your time slot.
There's always something new happening at the Library. As far back as I can remember, the Friends of the Library have never done a holiday-themed silent auction, but this year they decided to give it a try. You can see what they came up with in the display case (and just to the right of it) on our main floor. Eleven of our local benefactors dug into their bags of goodies and came up with some really cool stuff for this project. Thanks to our good friends at The Alcove, Athens Greek Restaurant, Black Walnut Holler, DQ Grill & Chill, Down Home Leather, Farley & Moore Antiques, Kudos, Susan's Boutique, Walmart and Roy Glaser and Timothy Zahn, we have 11 stuffed stockings and three hand-crafted items that will go to the highest bidders as of the end of the day on Wednesday, December 16. The stockings include a wide variety of choice items such as gift certificates, books, jewelry, music CDs, ornaments, matchbox cars and lots of other great stuff. The handcrafted items include a cutting board, lazy susan and a framed wooden angel. Come on in and take a look, then enter your bid!
Full disclosure: I love all things Harry Potter. My wife and I read the books to each other as they came out. We couldn't wait for each new volume, and when the movies came out, we would read the books again. So I was especially excited when Peggy and Dick Mavis donated their authentic model of the Hogwart's Express to our Youth Services department. It's on display in the juvenile area of the second floor, and yes, the transformer is hooked up and it actually runs! Our deep gratitude to the Mavises for their generosity. You really have to come and see this train. It's the neatest thing since Butterbeer.
Our latest supplemental page in this blog is an archival feature, From Main to Mulberry, where we're showcasing content from our 2013 quasquicentennial tab supplement to the Mount Vernon News. We were celebrating our 125th anniversary (which is what "quasquicentennial" means, in case you didn't know), and we wanted to do something really special to commemorate the occasion. The tab section was a labor of love. We wrote lots of articles, mostly historical in nature, but some meditative or explanatory, and gathered the best images we could find. When we were done, we found we had more content than would fit in the tab section, so we saved it and plan to include it on this special page. Click on the link in our header. It's pretty rudimentary right now, just an image of the front cover and some pictures of the demolition of the original Main Street structure, but we'll be adding content as we go along.
In the good way, that is. We've been getting into the "Maker Space" idea for a while now, and today was my day to give up bystander status and plunge into it. On our children's floor we have a section of books we call the "maker collection"--kind of a "how-to" collection with ideas and instructions for making all kinds of neat things. To that we added a selection of make-and-take kits that people can borrow for four weeks to enjoy at home. They're mainly for kids, so I checked one out for my grandson Joey (who will be six in October). They come in a nifty transparent backpack with straps adjustable enough that I could (with help) slip it onto my back and strut around like some kind of maker-hiker. (That's our teen services librarian Karen Jensen in the background of the first picture.) It was so comfy I didn't want to take it off right away, so circulation clerk Annette Sells scanned it right from my back to check it out to me. In the last picture I'm proudly displaying my circulation receipt.
I don't know how Joey will like the kit I picked out for him--I'll find that out tonight--but I think it's pretty cool. It's called Tecno, and it consists of a plastic box, the lid of which is perforated like a peg board with holes into which you can screw the accompanying plastic screws and bolts. There are assorted other plastic pieces--nuts, washers, angle brackets and flat pieces--that you use to create flat or 3-D items. My favorite is a cute little helicopter. There are plastic tools to use on the plastic pieces, along with an instruction booklet (actually, more of a suggestion booklet) and two other books: Build Your Own Car, Rocket, and Other Things That Go, by Tammy Enz, and Auto Mechanics, by Cecilia Minden and Mary Minden-Zins.
We're working on plans for a much more ambitious maker space in what is now our teen hang-out space on the main floor. The new environs will include an array of gadgets and devices for public use, among them several desktop computers (loaded with programs like Minecraft, Microsoft Publisher, PowerPoint, Garage Band, etc.), a 3-D pen, a Raspberry Pi, an AccuCut die cutter, an iPad station with Osmos--just lots of neat stuff. Stay tuned. It should be awesome.
September is National Library Card Sign-Up Month! This observance, sponsored by the American Library Association (who else?), runs all month.It was launched in 1987 to meet the challenge of then Secretary of Education William J. Bennett, who said, “Let’s have a national campaign….every child should obtain a library card—and use it.”Since then, thousands of public and school libraries have joined together each September in an effort to make that happen. So if you know someone who doesn't have a library card, why not do the neighborly thing and suggest they drop by their nearest library branch to get one? We're in Mount Vernon, Fredericktown, Danville and Gambier, so you don't have to go very far to find us. Unless, of course, you're websurfing from a location in Outer Mongolia or somewhere else that's substantially outside of Knox County, Ohio. In that case, wait until your next trip to Knox County, then come and find us. It'll be much easier that way. But seriously, a library card is one of the most valuable things you can have in your possession. It gives you access to an entire universe of information, education and entertainment in both tangible and electronic forms, and it's free. So here's my new slogan: Friends don't let friends go without library cards. Have a wonderful Labor Day Weekend. --JC