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Budget Blues

December may seem far away, but here at the library we have been working hard on our budget for 2012. This is the budget that we will put forth to the voters in December and what will go into effect July 1, 2012. It raises the question of what do you, our customers, want. In holding the line last year we made significant savings in our operational expenses. Insurance was rebid saving $6,000. Energy expenses were cut by tens of thousands. At the same time we attempted to maintain our materials and programming budgets to provide you with the best and latest. In the current year we have no money for furniture, minimal money for building repairs and only $1,000 for computers and software. If a computer monitor breaks…there goes 20% of the computer budget. Do you want us to patch our infrastructure or replace carpets and such when they begin to fall apart? At what point to do we make major reductions in new books and DVDs purchase? What is an acceptable percentage increase that the voters will approve? Let us start a dialogue by clicking on the comment button below.

HIGHLAND GAMES

Do you dream of the misty Highlands of Scotland?  Is tartan a turn-on?  Do you long for a hero who's earthy, untamed, and perhaps a wee bit stubborn?  Have you ever wondered if it's true what Scots don't wear beneath their kilts?*  If your answer to any of these questions is "yes," it's time to prep your armchair for a literary visit to Scotland!

Why Scotland in August?  The Cowal Highland Gathering, known worldwide as the largest, grandest Highland Games in the world, kicks off today.  I suppose you could cook yourself a nice haggis or try your hand at caber tossing to commemorate the event (though for your own safety, don't try either of these at home), but for me, this is the perfect opportunity to talk about Scottish romances.

The World Will Be Saved by Steam! (Steampunk, That Is)

Symphony in mahogany, brass and polished steelLast month I surveyed predictive fiction from the past.  This month, we're turning that concept upside-down with a look at contemporary SF set in a past that never quite was: the genre-bending category known as "steampunk."  Steampunk (the word is modelled after "cyberpunk") got its start in the 1980s, but its roots lie firmly in the Victorian era, harkening back to the scientific fiction and world-spanning adventure novels of the likes of Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and H. Rider Haggard (of Allan Quatermain fame). 

What's Cooking?: The Versatile Dumpling

One of my favorite things to eat all year round is dumplings.  Not the cooked balls of dough made from flour, potato, or matzo meal (I love those too) but the ones that are filled with luscious bits of meat, shrimp, vegetables, and cheese.  There are so many kinds of dumplings made from various regions of the world.  It is a global fare that includes the samosa and karchori from India, Korean mandu, Japanese fried gyoza, Chinese wonton and potsticker, the Russian piroshki, Ukrainian vareniki, Poland’s pierogi, Turkish manti, and kreplach from the Eastern European Jews.  Let’s not forget our favorite, ravioli !

THE SMALLEST BOOKSTORE

Did you miss it?  Our 'for sale' books have new digs.  The 'Smallest Bookstore' is located in the entrance vestibule where the telephone used to be.  Pocketbooks (25 cents) are always convenient when vacationing especially if you fly.  Adult hardcover books are $1.00, children's just 50 cents. Staff restocks the shelves daily, so stop by, peruse the titles and see if you find something to add to your collection.  The Circulation staff will help with any questions.

WEDDING JITTERS

I know what you're thinking: June is the classic month for weddings.  Why am I writing about them in July?

Well, marriages don't always go quite as scheduled.  The bride turns out to have been married before... and never quite got around to the divorce.  The groom gets cold feet and breaks it off at the last moment (by text message.  At the altar.).  A well-meaning mobster sends a far-too-sexy hit man to keep a protective eye on the bride.  The fiance fakes his own death to get out of marrying a bridezilla.  One's betrothed pretends to elope with a completely fictional lover the day after the engagement.  

Alright, perhaps these aren't the usual  reasons a wedding doesn't come off as planned, but they make for some very entertaining beach reads.  Be warned: for the would-be brides (and grooms) in these romances, there may not be a happily-ever-after in the offing... at least, not with the mates they expected!

Mystery Monday

One of the best things about reading mysteries is learning about new and exotic locations.  Although I personally haven't read a mystery that takes places in outer space, or under the sea, there is no reason to think someone hasn't written one.  In the long hot days of summer, you might refresh yourself by visiting the Arctic Circle, or a beach resort, or anyplace you care to go.  Escaping into a mystery is a mini-vacation in itself.  If you are not able to get away, let a mystery take you to nearby or faraway lands.  So, sit back, relax, and get traveling!

Lochdubh, Scotland-- M.C. Beaton
Constable Hamish MacBeth has the good fortune to patrol the sleepy highland town of Lochdubh with its breathtaking views and eccentric villagers.  You can almost see the heather and taste the scotch.

Dublin, Ireland--Declan Hughes
We travel down the mean streets of Dublin with tough P.I. Ed Loy.  Get ready to explore some of Ireland's seediest pubs with this expert guide.

FUTURE PERFECT: A LOOK AT PREDICTIVE FICTION FROM THE PAST

Paris in the Twentieth Century sounds like an historical travelogue, doesn't it?  But consider when it was written: Jules Verne wrote his "scientific fiction" novel in 1863, setting it a hundred years into his future.  At the time, his publisher considered Verne's descriptions of complex underground railway systems, rampant commercialism, and electronic calculators too implausible.  The manuscript lived in a safe until his great-grandson had it published in 1996.  As a story, it's not one of Verne's better works, but it holds its own as a marvel of prophetic fiction.  The book also serves as a brilliant example of what science fiction is : unlike fantasy, which is the stuff of dreams, science fiction is all about possibilities

What's Cooking?: Tips from the Kitchen

Books from the cooking collection provide more than recipes.   They give you a tour around the world, evoke memories during holiday seasons, how-tos for building gingerbread houses or brewing beer in a bathtub.  What I appreciate most are the tips, shortcuts, substitutions, and repairs in the kitchen that are generously shared by experienced cooks.

REMEMBER WHEN

The other day a colleague and I, with a combined total of 40 years at the New City Library, most of it in the Circulation Department, were being questioned by an eager “newhi” (new hire). She was curious about some of the changes we experienced over the years. Do you remember the IBM cards that we used in the eighties? We still get returns with those cards. Just to let you know, we probably don’t want those books back. Computers were introduced in the library in 1991, and we began hand-stamping due dates on index cards. I wonder who thought this was an improvement! We had four different colors to signify the different loan periods in use at the time. Yes, I know some of you still miss them. And the lines! Sometimes, especially after school and on weekends, they would stretch into what is now the comfortable seating area; there were only two terminals at the desk. Our newly renovated Circulation desk has five checkouts, two of which are express self-checks. In the early '90s, all the patron reserves were on a desktop carousel. We’d have about 30-40 reserves at a time.

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