Library Archives

Saturday afternoon at the library: the May 30 haul

One of the biggest perks of living in Monona the past 16 years has been Saturday afternoon visits to the library. Such visits always lift the spirits, especially when there is a book (or three) on hold waiting for me.

Today’s haul:



An author in a recent New York Times Open Book column said this was the funniest book that he has read recently, so I figured I’d give it a try and end the spring on a light-hearted note.

And this:

I normally don’t read popular novels like these, but I want to try the book club at work and this is the one they are discussing next. I was going to take a pass on it, but then I noticed the author is a professor at UW-Whitewater and the book is set in southern in Wisconsin, so why not.



Library find of the week: Downtown Chic

A few weeks ago I discovered the TV show 9 by Design and checked out their book Downtown Chic from the library.

I love this book.

This book does more than just show you cool photos of interior and exterior design. It tells the story behind each project as well.

It also doesn’t hurt that they are one of the coolest families around. Robert and Cortney Novogratz live in New York City and buy run down properties nobody else would consider and renovate them and decorate them.

Oh, and they also have 7 kids.

The main theme of their show and book is that you can bring charm to any four walls and it doesn’t take money to do this – just some creativity.

They give tips for visiting flea markets and many of their finds were purchased at bargain prices.

Even though they live in these fancy houses until they sell them, they struggle with the economy just like the rest of us and get mightily stressed over money. That plus their down to earth demeanor makes it possible to watch the show without dying of jealousy.

They like doing unexpected things and this photo below shows one of my favorites… a glass garage door off the kitchen that opens up into a small courtyard:

Other unique ideas: not using concrete or tile near a pool. Just let grass surround the pool. They also installed an in-ground trampoline at the country house. Much safer and not an eyesore the way regular backyard trampolines are.

For someone like me, who lives in Monona – not exactly New York City – in a 1950s house that, while it may have its charms, would never be described as chic – their book is the encouragement I have needed.

Click here to check out the library page  for the book.

Click here to see a post by bloggers Tom and Lorenzo about 9 by Design. It was this post that made me check out the show.

When describing the perks of Monona to a friend you probably mention the pool, the library, the Dream Park, the ice cream shop, Aldo Leopold Nature Center, the lake, etc.

In this series of posts we’ll discuss our favorite little-known perks of Monona.

First I should mention the Secret Park. I can’t kick off a series like this without mentioning that.

Today I will talk about the free stashes of magazines in the Monona Library break room near the main entrance.

The library puts old back issues there but people from the community donate magazines as well. I’ve scored many current issues of interesting magazines. Several weeks ago I spent a rainy Saturday afternoon paging through a few magazines I picked up there and it was very pleasant.

If you subscribe to magazines, please consider dropping off your back issues there.

And thank you to those who have already shared back issues of your cool magazines with us.

Hours of free entertainment in Monona

Something has been keeping me up at night. Although it’s my own doing I blame the Monona Public Library. They are too good at lending out books.

A little more than a year ago I began to devour any fiction and non-fiction I could get my hands on. It began as a means of determining what is out there andgetting to know the publishing market.

Since then it has grown to a mania finding a tower of books at my bedside. Like most people I have a limited amount of time to devote to reading. So I have been staying up at night, often.

The Monona Public Library has been compliant with this new mania of mine. Through their Linkcat Site they have been glad to provide me with hour after hour of midnight entertainment–and a fair amount of sleep loss.

Through the library I have read countless titles this past year. None of them were purchased. Last August while vacationing on Cape Cod I found myself in a bookstore having to purchase a book. The owner of the store asked if I was a ‘critic for the Times’ because I had read so many titles. I told him no–just a patron of the Monona Public Library.

Recently I came upon an article about a family who have become book critics. Their story is exciting to read.

And here’s a fun article with ideas on how to create reading nooks in your home.

If you are looking for hours of free entertainment visit the Monona Public Library and Linkcat. Enjoy and happy National Library Week!

Nestled in the Children’s Department of the Monona Library is a Joke Area that turns one year old this month.  It is dedicated to a member of our community we lost two years ago this next summer.

He came into my life the spring I was nursing a bad back.  Even in pain I could not refrain the smile forced upon me by the bundle of energy packaged in a boy who had been on the planet little more than a decade named Dan.

My children became instant friends with Dan Robinson and his younger sister, Megan.

They ran across the lawn together while I was mowing it that spring and summer. In the library Dan, a fixture there it seemed, greeted us each day out of breath with a joke or a story.

During the autumn he and our younger two spread the piles of leaves I worked into a small mountain back on the lawn as if it was a picnic blanket.

Winter was sled time for Dan and his gang.  The seasons were an adventure to Dan, it seemed.  As I recall he had a strong interest in weather.

The summer Dan was ill I missed him.  Crossing the lawn of Maywood School on our way to the pool I asked my youngest two if they had seen Dan.  We did not realize he was ill.

The library was too quiet that summer.

On a hot day in late August, after Dan lost his battle, we gathered in a church to celebrate Dan.

As we left our house the sight of neighbors wearing formal clothing climbing into their cars on their way to celebrate Dan’s life, in the very center of a summer day, spoke volumes.

Rather than a traditional sit down meal his family said Dan would not have apporved of, or sat in his seat for, a gathering he would enjoy was offered–snacks…snacks…and more snacks.

The following April a group of us gathered for the dedication of the Joke Corner to the Children’s Section of the Monona Public Library.

For the first time in months things seemed right again.  As families sat and enjoyed a laugh over a joke the library was a little less quiet.

First I want to say: happy National Library Week!

Because this is National Library Week we will have a few library posts this week.

This post also begins what we hope will be a regular Front Porch Times feature of posts about our favorite library book of the week.

I discovered the Garfield Minus Garfield blog last week and enjoyed it so much that I placed the book on hold.

Now, I could talk about other books I checked out, such as Escape from Cubicle Nation or Einstein’s God: Conversations About Science and the Human Spirit.

But why do such a minds-on thing like that when there’s Garfield Minus Garfield to talk about?

The artist removes Garfield from existing Garfield strips “in order to reveal the existential angst of a certain young Mr. Jon Arbuckle.”

Here are some examples:

Granted, you have to have a certain dry (warped?) sense of humor to appreciate Garfield Minus Garfield. But when I brought the book home from the library some of us in the family laughed so hard while paging through it I thought I might have to call 911.

Click here for the linkcat page if you’d like to place a hold on it.

10 reasons why I love the Monona library

My youngest daughter and I have spent inordinate amounts of time at the Monona Library the past couple of months.

I’m surprised they haven’t started charging us rent.

Which brings me to the first reason I love the Monona library:

It makes cabin fever so much more bearable.

I work from home as a writer so I would take my netbook to the library, sit in my usual spot on the bench by the aquarium, and type away while my daughter would ask the children’s librarian for assistance in finding books.

Here are 9 other reasons why I love the Monona Library:

The library bears something of a resemblance to the Starship Enterprise. I like Star Trek (especially Star Trek Voyager), so this is a good thing.

This makes my walk to the bench by the aquarium feel like a walk to the Bridge (the command center) on the Enterprise. :-)

The library is my living room away from home. This is a lot cheaper than building an addition onto our house.

The library has a lot of computers. There have been a few times my computer was temporarily out of commission so the ability to go to the library and use the computer to check email and take care of business was a godsend. So this makes it an office away from home too.

Plus, because I use laptops at home all the time, I enjoy using the library’s desktop keyboards because they are noisier than a laptop keyboard and make me feel nostalgic.

My daughter loves using the children’s computers. It’s also great how the library even has laptops available for people to use in the library.

Library fines are cheaper than Netflix, cable, and ordering books from Amazon. It seems I can’t go a month without paying a fine of some sort but I always pay cheerfully because, thanks to my library card, I don’t have to buy many books.

Also, paying the fines is like paying them the rent I feel I owe them. :-)

There’s a fireplace! It’s always a treat to walk into the magazine room, grab several magazines, and sit in front of the fireplace and read them.

This room is enclosed and is always quiet.

The fireplace really is a nice perk. How many other libraries have that?

Picking up holds feels like Christmas. When a book on reserve is waiting for me on the hold shelf, it’s always a little thrill.

I also like that the hold shelf is now self-serve and no longer behind the counter.

There are TWO self checkout machines. Many libraries don’t have any self checkouts but Monona library has two.

The only thing that would make the self checkout machines more slick is if you could use your debit card at the machine to pay fines.

But paying fines gives me the opportunity to interact with the friendly library staff behind the counter, so that’s OK.

There’s a snack room. I don’t care so much about the snacks but my children do, especially when we walk home from the pool in the summer. It’s nice to be able to sit in air conditioning for a little while and eat a treat.

I’ve sometimes used the snack room as a place to talk on the phone in peace with a client. So it has served as a conference room away from home too.

There’s a teen area. Actually, it’s not so much the teen area itself that I think is cool… it’s that my teen daughter doesn’t get embarrassed when I sit in one of the chairs next to her in the teen section.

Now that I’ve written this I’m starting to wonder why I ever bother to visit other area libraries. 😀