The Best Books of 2014

Posted on: January 21st, 2015 by Dan Weiss No Comments

Wow…. 2015!

Now that you’ve had a chance to settle into the new year here’s a great resource from NPR to explore some of the best books of 2014 — Plenty of nice filters to help you narrow your browsing. Catch up with ones you’ve missed before the new years’ offerings start piling up on your nightstand. And once you’ve finished up with 2014 you can delve even further back.

NPR’s Book Concierge

Did you find some of your favorites here?
If not, what did you like best?

And if this isn’t enough, here’s another great list of resources to help you figure out what to read next and what was great in 2014

Happy Reading!

Libraries on the Edge….

Posted on: December 11th, 2014 by Dan Weiss

If you really want to ponder the value of libraries these days – to communities, to citizens and to society in general, consider the Ferguson (MO) Public Library. Their response during recent events there speaks volumes for libraries and civilizations, and provides lessons for all of us on so many levels.

We’ve all been following the events happening in Ferguson since August, when a police officer shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed African American teen.

When the beginning of the school year was put on hold there because of obvious safety concerns, Ferguson Public Library Director Scott Bonner worked with teachers and a host of volunteers to offer math, science, and arts activities for school aged children at the library.

The effort, which helped hundreds of kids, was expanded to other libraries and locations and was aided by local organizations who offered everything from free lunches to additional cultural programming. Library Journal provided some good coverage.

The library, located on the edge of where protests were occurring, was able to safely stay open every day. Not only was it a place for students to go, but anyone in the community seeking respite from the turmoil outside. Signs were posted around the building that read, “During difficult times, the library is a quiet oasis where we can catch our breath, learn, and think about what to do next.”

What a powerful message for us to all to remember.

The events in Ferguson have sparked heated debates on a national level, and St. Louis has a lot of healing and work to do, but one thing we can all agree on is that when a community is in crisis, libraries on the edge have the opportunity, and perhaps even a duty, to respond appropriately and to be a sanctuary — a “quiet oasis” — for all.

There’s been lots of coverage of the Ferguson Public Library — far more than most libraries ever get, especially ones of this size.

In Salon
Library Director Scott Bonner’s AMA (Ask Me Anything) postings on reddit (well worth a look) and so is one author’s response to all of this.

and donations to the library have topped $300k in a week!

In so many ways, even though the Ferguson Public Library’s actions have been exemplary, what they’ve done and continue to do is very much what most libraries do all the time, every day, for the communities they serve — in times of crisis and in ordinary times too — just without as much fanfare.

Thanks to Megan McCarthy, editor of the New Jersey Library Assoc. Newsletter for some of the above.

Are you listening to Serial?

Posted on: November 24th, 2014 by Nancy Kipping

The hot new podcast from the people at This American Life?

It’s Baltimore, 1999. Hae Min Lee, a popular high-school senior, disappears after school one day. Six weeks later detectives arrest her classmate and ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, for her murder. He says he’s innocent – though he can’t exactly remember what he was doing on that January afternoon. But someone can. A classmate at Woodlawn High School says she knows where Adnan was. The trouble is, she’s nowhere to be found.

Told in weekly installments, the episodes analyze Adnan Syed’s murder conviction. Did he do it or is he innocent? That is what we are trying to discover in each episode. New information is coming in about what maybe didn’t happen on January 13, 1999. And while Adnand’s memory of that day is foggy at best, he does remember what happened next: being questioned, being arrested and, a little more than a year later, being sentenced to life in prison. Serial is a podcast designed to be listened to in order. If you’re just discovering the series, be sure to start with Episode 1.

There have been articles about this podcast all over the place. Entertainment Weekly has it on their must list. The New York Times says it is a ‘break-out hit”!

And even the Atlantic has weighed in.

I am definitely hooked as are other members of the library staff. We wondered what books would be like The Serial and here is what we found:

Iphigenia in Forest Hills: Anatomy of a murder trial by Janet Malcolm. Also check out her 1990 book, The Journalist and the Murderer about the 1970 Jeffrey McDonald case (which declares it “unsolvable”, which was also explored in two other nonfiction books: Joe McGinniss’ Fatal Vision that declared MacDonald “a narcissistic sociopath,” and Errol Morris’ A Wilderness of Error that argues MacDonald was innocent.

In cold blood: A true account of a multiple murder and its consequences by Capote, Truman

Alias Grace (1996) by Atwood, Margaret

and to listen and subscribe to the podcast you can go to: