Dog lovers – we are a unique breed. Since getting our yellow lab 2 years ago, many things have changed in what I do and how I do it. I vacuum non-stop, I always wear slippers so my socks don’t soak up water bowl splashes on the kitchen floor and I met my new neighbors by trying to get my overly friendly dog to come back into his own yard. On the flip side, I get enthusiastically welcomed home every day and I have a walking buddy who is always ready to go.
When I saw the book Wallace, I was intrigued because this book is about a pit bull and the subtitle read, “The underdog who conquered a sport, saved a marriage and championed pit bulls – one flying disc at a time.”
My daughter works for the Humane Society and she is always showing me pictures of all the great dogs available for adoption. I know if she had a bigger place she would bring home more of her work on a permanent basis. She recently took part in a fund-raising campaign for their shelter ambassador, Kira who is also a pit bull. Kira even got a spot on the morning news and gave the weather man a big kiss before leaving.
The story of Wallace starts with him living in a shelter and because of his behavior; they are considering having to put him down. A couple who volunteers at the shelter fights for Wallace and adopts him. They have to work on his behavior around their other dogs and find ways to productively use all of his energy. They discover that Wallace has a gift for chasing and catching Frisbees. This is the part of the book that I could visualize since my lab, Chase, has the same gift with tennis balls. I could see Wallace, just as I see Chase happily running, catching and returning only to sit with anticipation for the next throw.
With lots of time, patience and commitment, Wallace becomes a champion disk dog and more importantly a happy, well-adjusted part of a family. Just like the old saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” thankfully Wallace got a chance not to be judged by his breed. The author says it well when he says, “Wallace hadn’t succeeded because or in spite of his breed, he had succeeded and struggled because of his individual personality.”
If you are a dog lover or not, I suggest you check out Wallace by Jim Gorant if you are looking for a good book.
The library recently added a new collection that I think is very exciting. Thanks to a donation from the Friends of the Library we now have audiobooks on Playaway. If you’re not sure what a Playaway is, let me fill you in. Each one contains an entire recorded book that you can listen to by attaching a set of earbuds or speakers. The device is about the same size as a MP3 player and comes with directions on how to operate so it is really easy to use. I love to listen to them when I walk, work in the yard and even when I clean the house. They are great because you never have to stop to change the CD. Also when you turn the device off it holds your place. The next time you turn the Playaway on it continues where you left off. If you are interested in trying this new format, just ask about them when you are at the library. There are titles available for kids, young adults and adults. If you like to listen to audiobooks in your car, also ask about how you can listen to Playaways through your car stereo.
Fun electronic devices have become a favorite gift of givers everywhere. With Christmas coming I would like to offer a few suggestions if you are thinking of buying an e-book reader or tablet as a gift for someone.
Classic e-book readers like the basic Kindle or Kindle Paperwhite and the Nook Simple Touch are devices that are primarily designed for reading e-books. They have a matte finish to the screen to cut down on glare and use technology that duplicates a white page with black print. This provides the clearest text display. They use technologies such as E Ink that rely on reflected ambient light to illuminate their screen which extends the life of the battery. However, it means they are difficult to read in the dark. With the Kindle, you select content and turn pages using buttons or bars built into the reader. The Nook has a touch screen display.
These devices require the least amount of comfort with technology. Reading a book simply requires selecting the title from a list and using the page turn buttons to go from page to page. Users can increase the font size and the Amazon Kindle can read the book to you, although it uses a mechanical voice. These types of e-book readers may also be easier for someone with limited hand mobility or fine motor skills to use.
Tablets such as the Kindle Fire, the Nook HD, Apple iPad and MANY others are really just small computers. They require a certain level of computer competency to operate including familiarity with connecting to wireless networks, setting preferences and the terminology that goes along with computer use. These devices can be e-book readers but do much more. You can use a variety of apps on them, just like you can on a smartphone like an iPhone or Android phone. Depending on the model, tablets can record video (sometimes in HD) and take high-quality photos. With a tablet, you can play music, watch movies, browse the entire internet including your social media websites, play games, print wirelessly, email, use Google maps, play games, manage your calendar and contacts, and more.
The display on a tablet is also different. They use an LCD screen with a glossy finish. This means that they reflect images and glare in sunlight but also that they can be backlit for seeing in the dark. They all use touch screen technology with on screen keyboards. These devices can be frustrating for someone with limited hand dexterity.
All of these devices come with a variety of screen sizes and storage space. Simply reading e-books does not require much storage. If you plan to load photos or download videos onto your device, you will need more storage.
Below are some helpful websites that explain this information in more detail. Some of them also have customer reviews of the devices. In addition, the December 2012 issue of Consumer Reports contains reviews and recommendations for both e-book readers and tablets. This issue is always available at the reference desk in the library.
Tablet vs. Ereader from Squidoo
E-book Reader Buying Guide from Consumer Reports
E-book Readers from PC Magazine
OverDrive App Comes to Nook
Borrowing eBooks and audiobooks from the library just got a whole lot easier for users of the NOOK HD, NOOK HD+, NOOK Tablet™ and NOOK Color™. Last week, Barnes & Noble added the OverDrive Media Console app to the NOOK Apps™ storefront. This NOOK app enables users to wirelessly borrow eBooks and MP3 audiobooks from the library.
All NOOK devices, including NOOK 1st Edition, NOOK Simple Touch and NOOK Simple Touch with GlowLight, have always enabled users to read eBooks borrowed from libraries and schools, but the process required sideloading the files from a computer using Adobe Digital Editions and a USB cable. Now users of NOOK HD, NOOK HD+, NOOK Tablet and NOOK Color can borrow eBooks and audiobooks wirelessly using the OverDrive app.
Users can visit the NOOK Apps storefront to install the free OverDrive Media Console (OMC) app. The app enables users to locate a library or school nearby, browse or search their eBook and MP3 audiobook collection and, after entering a valid library card or school ID, check out and download the title for a lending period of one to three weeks (depending on the library or school’s policies). At the end of the lending period, the title simply expires.
The version of OMC available in the NOOK Apps storefront is OMC for Android v2.5, so any instructions found on library Help pages related to OMC for Android will apply to the NOOK app. While the app is free, users will need a valid NOOK account in order to download the app.
I just completed my last year as a member of the Wisconsin Library Association’s Literary Awards Committee. It has been a fun, though at times overwhelming, assignment. The group reviews anywhere between 200 and 250 titles each year to select the recipient of the WLA Literary Award, ten Outstanding Achievement Awards, up to 5 Outstanding Achievement in Poetry awards and a few Notable Wisconsin Authors. These books are published by individuals considered to be Wisconsin authors.
This year’s Literary Award winner is The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. In his debut novel Chad Harbach examines the lives of 5 people and the ways in which their paths intersect at the fictional Westish College in Wisconsin. Henry Skrimshander is recruited to play baseball by sophomore Mike Schwartz. Through Schwartz’s intervention, Henry is admitted late and finds housing with Owen, another star on the team. Schwartz and Owen take Henry under their wing to help him adjust to the world of academia.
Guert Affenlight, the college president, finds himself falling helplessly in love after what seems a lifetime alone as a single parent to his daughter Pella. Pella, meanwhile, shows up at Westish to try to figure out her own future. When Henry commits an unlikely error during a game, it seems the lives of all of these characters begin to spin out of control. Not really about baseball, this story is more about perfection and failure, heartbreak and doubt, and how we find meaning in our lives. These characters will stay with the reader long after the last page.
The 2012 Outstanding Achievement awards for 2011 publications include the following 10 titles by Wisconsin authors.
- Dean Bakopoulos (Madison) My American Unhappiness
- Benjamin Buchholz (Waupun) One Hundred and One Nights
- Kathy Giorgio (Waukesha) The Home for Wayward Clocks
- Valerie Laken (Milwaukee) Separate Kingdoms
- Paula McLain (Madison) The Paris Wife
- Rae Meadows (Madison) Mothers and Daughters
- Rebecca Rasmussen (Spring Green) The Bird Sisters
- Nina Revoyr (Marshfield/Madison) Wingshooters
- Sam Savage (Madison) Glass: a novel
- Emma Straub (Madison) Other People We Married
The 2012 Outstanding Achievement in Poetry awards for 2011 titles include the following four titles by Wisconsin authors.
- Fabu (Madison) – Journey to Wisconsin: African American Life in Haiku
- Mark Kraushaar (Lake Mills) – The Uncertainty Principle
- Paul Terranova (Madison) – This Small Breathing Coincidence
- Jeanie Tomasko (Middleton) – Tricks of Light
Also recognized this year are two authors being honored as the 2012 Notable Wisconsin Authors. Ellen Hunnicutt was a graduate of UW-Milwaukee and a long-time resident of Big Bend, Wisconsin. She won the Banta Award from the Wisconsin Library Association in 1988 for her novel Suite for Calliope. In addition, she wrote the short stories In the Music Library, Carrot Man and The Clearing.
Anne Powers was a writer of historical fiction. Her list of novels includes The Delaware River Man, Eleanor: The Passionate Queen, No King But Caesar, Ride East, Ride West and The Thousand Fires. Ms. Powers lived in Milwaukee.
As a librarian, I think reading is great anytime. But I still remember the excitement I felt at the beginning of summer when I was a kid, just imagining the hours of reading that lay ahead of me. I’m hoping you can find some time in the next few months to flop into your lawn chair with a cool drink by your side and a great book in your hands. And don’t forget during those long vacation drives that an audiobook can make the trip more enjoyable. Below are some places where you can find reading suggestions. We’re sure you will find something to your liking!
There’s an app for that. Indeed. The real question is do you actually want to use it?
Why would you want yet another app for your mobile device? If you are like me, you’ve downloaded many an app only to decide to remove it because it doesn’t work well, has limited functionality, or crashes the phone. How many “force closes” do you have to see before you dump it? Sometimes apps are so full of glitches I’m amazed that anyone would use them!
I’m happy to report to you that the library has a new app and it’s one well-worth downloading. More about that in a minute. First, let me give you some background.
The library has been working with a software company that specializes in mobile apps (with libraries as one of their main markets). Their name is Boopsie; for what reason, I’ve never learned. If they were looking for an unforgettable name, I believe they succeeded. Though my own memory is sketchy at times, I haven’t yet *ever* forgotten their company name.
Back to the app. It works on all platforms: Apple/iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Palm, Windows Mobile, etc. It even works on the Kindle Fire. You can see a live demo of what the app looks like at http://fort.boopsie.com. Go to the same site on your mobile device to be redirected to the appropriate download for your device. Apple and Android users can also simply look in the Apple App Store or Android Marketplace. If you are searching in the market, type in “fort atkinson” to find the app.
It’s free to download. After you download the app, you can move it to your SD card if you need to preserve your device’s internal memory for other programs.
What can this app do? With the app you can quickly search the SHARE catalog, place holds, and renew your items. The app also makes it easy to download e-books and digital media directly to your device through OverDrive, check library hours and upcoming events, follow our blogs and Tweets, contact staff (without even having to enter our phone number!) and more. You can use the camera (if your device has one) to utilize BookLook which scans the UPC code/ISBN and automatically checks it against our catalog in case you are wondering if the library owns an item.
The catalog search is very smart and designed to reduce the need for typing, something very helpful when using a mobile device. Simply type in the first few letters of your search and see results display as you are typing. For example, type in “Lor Ni” to fetch results for author Lorine Niedecker. Or for the title A Supposedly fun thing I’ll never do again: essays and arguments all you have to type is “sup fun th” and there it is! As a librarian, I have considerable admiration for the way the search engine is structured. As a user, I just care that it delivers. And that it does!
This app is very deliberately designed to make connecting with our library resources as seamless and easy as possible. We’ve been working with the developer for awhile now and do still have more changes to make and access to add. However we felt it was ready enough to be released and it has now been approved for both the Android and Apple markets.
Try it and let me know what you think!