Friday, August 21, 2015

What We Posted One Year Ago: Movies We Watched in 2014

Movies We Showed at the Library in 2014, a blog post from one year ago.

Did you miss one of our Third Thursday Movie Nights? All of the movies shown in 2014 are part of the library’s circulating collection and can be checked out.
January                       Shun Li and the Poet (Italian, Mandarin)
February                     Austenland (English)
March                         Aliyah (French)
April                            Broken (English)
May                             Clandestine Childhood (Spanish)
June                            Watchtower (Turkish)
July                              Son of the Bride (Spanish)
July                              Philomena (English)
July                              Barbara (German)
July                              The Hunt (Danish)                
August                        Caesar Must Die (Italian)
August                        Wadjda (Arabic)        
September                  The Lunchbox (Hindi, English)
October                      Chef (English)
November                   Words and Pictures (English)
December                   The Hundred Foot Journey (English)

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Selecting Research Databases for the Library

Librarians are raised on selecting books,but database selection is another kettle of fish entirely.    Professional journals contain reviews of new and updated online research resources and comparisons to similar products.  Some databases are necessary because they have replaced commonly used print resources.  Like books, new or recommended databases are brought to our attention by patrons, visits to other libraries, professional development webinars and advertisements. 
Our database subscriptions, other than those provided through the New Jersey State Library, are reviewed annually before it is time to renew.  We consider usage, upgrades, competition, overlap with other resources and price. When we purchase a new database we try our best to promote it through in-house demonstrations, word-of-mouth to patrons, website advertising and an article to the local on-line paper.  Classes are held periodically to introduce the public to our electronic resources.  We normally give a database two years to prove its worth. Depending on the outcome of the review, some databases are eliminated completely or, depending on the content, a similar resource may be considered.
We request a staff demo or trial when a new database is being considered.  Staff will then spend time navigating around, clicking on buttons, uploading or downloading, and following links.  They will consider if the product fills an informational or instructional need and if it provides what is promised.
First impressions are important – is the user welcomed in or overwhelmed. Ease of navigation is equally important so that no one will become frustrated and feel the need to leave a trail of breadcrumbs.  The information housed in a database is only as important as a user’s ability to access it. 
Purchasing a database is more complicated and labor intensive than simply placing an order and waiting for a box to be delivered.  During the implementation period we work closely with the vendor in hopes of a smooth roll-out.  Questions about SIP, patron authentication methods, our ILS provider, and firewalls must be answered.  Are we paying for a defined number of seats or unlimited concurrent users?  Can the database only be used in-house or is remote access available?  Will the database cooperate with our aging LINUX system or should we wait for the installation of a Microsoft based system?  What about the logistics of staff training?  All of these questions must be answered.
A final and very important consideration in subscribing to a new database is the cost.  As our annual budget continues to decrease, adding a new resource normally involves canceling an existing subscription.  As an example, I am currently researching a new resource for language instruction which, if successful, could replace two existing databases and save money.  That would be a win-win for the budget – adding one site to be used by both children and adults.  At this point in the 2015 budget year, that savings will help us plan and possibly increase what we can offer in 2016.

-S. Bakos

To use databases from the Berkeley Heights Public Library from home, have your library card handy and go to these pages on our website to see lists of databases:
Upcoming Databases in September 2015:
Language learning database will be available remotely
Streaming TV, movies, music, books and more

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Summer Reading: a Summer trilogy, Books about Bookstores, turn back the clock a decade or two and more...

Summer Reading So Far

I have been remiss in writing a summer reading post this year.  My intentions were good, as usual, but the last few hot days have served as a reminder that I can’t ignore.  I always start with a summer/beach trilogy and Mary Alice Monroe’s Low Country Summer Trilogy is just right.  When the first book, Summer Girls, ended with a cliff-hanger, I was anxious to see how the second book, Summer Wind, would start.  Well, it started the next day.  No flashbacks or explanations, the action picked up right where it ended.  The last book, Summer’s End, ties up the loose ends and almost everyone lives happily ever after.  
Next, several staff members were excited about Cynthia Swanson’s The Bookseller.  I was a little reluctant after Gabrielle Zevin’s The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry and Sarah Jio’s Goodnight June.  Really, how many good books can you expect about bookstores? The Bookseller surpassed my expectations and returned me to an earlier time in the 1960s. 

To turn the clock back one more decade,  Judy Blume’s In the Unlikely Event  takes us back to the early 1950s in Elizabeth, New Jersey.  Three plane crashes and many deaths brought the city to a standstill.  You couldn’t live in Elizabeth without knowing someone who had suffered a loss or been somehow impacted by the tragic accidents.  Newark Airport was closed during the investigations.  In the Unlikely Event offers a precisely cut slice of life in 1950s Elizabeth in the same way that Blume’s Wifey offered a slice of Plainfield in the 1970s. 
Many people know that TheGuernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society is one of my favorite books.  I  found  it so charming that I couldn’t decide if I had high expectations or no expectations for The Truth According to Usby Annie Barrows, co-author of TGL&PPS.  Once again I was speeding back in American history and, this time, I landed in the late 1930s.  The characters are as quirky as the small town is pretentious. The federal government is busy employing people through the WPA (Works Progress Administration) to move the economy forward at the same time a local factory is squashing any attempts to unionize.  I enjoyed the fictionalized history lesson; I enjoyed the main characters; I laughed when appropriate; I pondered the mysterious fire at the factory; I enjoyed the parts of the story told by letters to people we never met; and, I sympathized with any and all affairs of the heart.  However, I was more confused than charmed by the story as a whole.  Although my praise is so faint it may disappear from  the screen, I am glad I finished the book.  
Although I never want summer to end, I am looking forward to The Girl in the Spider Web (David Lagercrantz continuing for Stieg Larsson) and The Secret Chord (Geraldine Brooks).  Fall always brings books to remind us that lazy reading is over and it’s time to get serious again.
- S. Bakos

Friday, July 17, 2015

If You Like PBS Mysteries, Read the Books

'In a Dry Season

If you like the PBS television show 'DCI Banks,' read the series it is based on by Peter Robinson. 'In a Dry Season' is the tenth in the series and the first I've read. Alan Banks has been relegated to boring desk jobs for insubordination and is assigned to a cold case when a skeleton is found in an abandoned village which is revealed when the summer drought dries up the reservoir that had covered the town for fifty years. The book alternates between the story of the village during WWII and the current investigation into what appears to have been an unreported murder there. This book is a great depiction of the deprivations and tragedies of WWII in the U.K., interwoven with a believable present-day police procedural. The suspense lasts until the last chapter.
Recommended for fans of Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie series and Elizabeth George's Inspector Lynley series.' This was first posted February 19, 2014

BHPL owns the following titles in the DCI Banks series, shelved in Mysteries under the author's name, MYS Robinson:
Abatoir Blues
Bad Boy 
Children of the Revolution
Close to Home
Friend of the Devil
Piece of my Heart
Playing with Fire
Watching the Dark

BHPL owns seasons 1 and 2 of the TV series based on the the Peter Robinson books: DCI BANKS, shelved with the DVD's under 'DCI'

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Top 5 Reasons to Listen to Audiobooks

Audiobook advantages: The 5 top reasons to 'read' audiobooks

Audiobook Advantage #1: Your house will be very clean!
I recently started “reading” books on my daily commute and discovered a few advantages to listening to a book compared to reading words on a page.  I was a little reluctant to listen to someone else do the reading (I rather like the voices in my head,) but two people convinced me to give it a try; plus I was curious as to how a narrator manages the voices of more than one character. The first person told me that she downloads audiobooks to her smartphone and listens while she cleans her house. As a result, her house is very clean because she does not want to stop listening to the book she just downloaded.   

Audiobook Advantage #2: Shorter holds lists.You will probably have more chances to get your hands on the title you want to read if you are willing to listen to it. The second audiobook fan who got me started down the audio road recommended a book she had just read and the only copy available at the time was on CD. 

Audiobook Advantage #3: Follow the Reader. Right now I’m listening to the recently released In the Unlikely Event, an adult novel by Elizabeth, New Jersey native, Judy Blume. The story begins in Elizabeth, NJ in the early 1950s when airline travel was new. Judy Blume was a young girl living in Elizabeth when a series of airline accidents resulted in the shutdown of Newark Airport. She uses these actual events to tell the fictional stories of three generations of people who were brought together by the tragedies. The reader, Kathleen McInerney, convincingly uses different voices for each character and reads at just the right pace and with the right sense of drama. This brings me to Audiobook Advantage #3: If you like a particular book and want a similar experience, you can either look for more titles by that author or you can see what else the reader has narrated.  Simply search for the reader’s name the same way you would search for an author’s name. I found two more adult novels by Judy Blume to add to my reading list and two more books narrated by Kathleen McInerney that I’m adding to my reading list.

Then there is Audiobook Advantage #4: You can read 2 books at once. I listen to one book during my daily commute and read another at home on the sofa.

Audiobook Advantage # 5: the Voices in Your Head versus the Voices on the Audio.
The people who listened to the Harry Potter books, instead of reading the words on printed pages, raved about the man who read the books. Jim Dale, the reader/performer created 134 different character voices for the Harry Potter series. That was a record until Roy Dotrice started narrating the Game of Thrones series using 224 different voices. 

If you want to read In the Unlikely Event, you can place a hold on the book or the audiobook. As of 1:00 p.m. June 15, if you place a request for the book, you will be number 12 on the waiting list. Applying Audiobook Advantage #2, if you place a request for the audiobook you will be number 4 in  line.
As for me, I’m still trying to decide if I want to apply Audiobook Advantage #1. Do I have to clean while listening at home or can I just listen on the sofa? Audiobook Guilt #1: You don't have to jog or clean while you listen, but you can and it makes the job much more fun.

Take a look at our 'All Things E' page to find sources for borrowing ebooks and e-audiobooks for free.

-Melanie Edwards