Category Archives: Reading

Teens and the library


Got teens?  Read this!

We’re in the middle of Teen Tech Week, a national celebration which goes from March 8-16.  Any teen between the ages of 13 to 19 can participate by creating a book trailer:  a commercial (three minutes or less) that tempts its audience to read your favorite book.  There are fabulous prizes: a Sony Bloggie video camera; a $25 Amazon gift card; and $15 in Fandango Bucks.

To participate, teens can pick up an entry blank, which also has rules and resources on it.  The deadline for submission is up to our 5:00 closing on Saturday, March 16.

Teen Tech Week is sponsored by YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association). On their website they describe it thusly:

“Teens’ use of technology increased dramatically in recent years, yet more teens are doing this from home instead of the library. The Pew Internet & American Life project found that 93 percent of teens go online, with many using social networking sites, finding news and information, sharing content they create, and looking for information on health.

Teens need to know that the library is a trusted resource for accessing information and that librarians are the experts who can help them develop the skills they need to use electronic resources effectively and efficiently. Teen Tech Week is a national initiative sponsored by the Young Adult Library Services Association and is aimed at teens, their parents, educators and other concerned adults. The purpose of the initiative is to ensure that teens are competent and ethical users of technologies, especially those that are offered through libraries such as DVDs, databases, audiobooks, and videogames.”


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Filed under Books, Celebrations & holidays, Internet, Reading, Teen programs

Read an eBook Week

March 3-9 is “Read an eBook Week.”  According to the website, the celebration started in 2004, and “educates and informs the public about the pleasures and advantages of reading electronically.”  Like many of these recognitions, it was begun by publishers and authors as a way to bring publicity to this fast-growing market.  So why highlight it here?

1.  There are contests!  You can win free eBooks and eBook readers.
2.  It gives us another great opportunity to remind you that YOU CAN CHECK OUT EBOOKS AT YOUR LIBRARY!  Go to this webpage to learn what’s available, and/or ask us.  If you bring in your e-reader or tablet, we’ll help you get started.

Remember, you can read eBooks on a computer, tablet, e-reader or smartphone.  It’s easy to try them out for free if you’re curious.

EBooks are great for people with vision difficulties, because you can change the size of the font and the contrast of print on the page.  They’re also nice to travel with: you can carry many, many books in a small device.  And I assure you, you can dip into e-reading without betraying your love for printed books.

So if you’ve been meaning to see what all the fuss is about, join the celebration this week!  We can help.
–Mary Beth


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Filed under Books, E-books, Reading


Here’s a neat resource for all you e-book lovers.  Jellybooks calls itself a “discovery service” — they don’t sell e-books, but they help readers discover e-books they’d like to read.


Not only can you discover new books you’re interested in, but you can also download 10% of the book to determine if you really like it; Jellybeans saves all your samples for you and multiple downloads are allowed.  If you want a book, Jellybooks gives you links to purchase the books at your choice of stores.

There are some other neat features, too – a creative way to get books at a 50% discount (see this page), and ways to share your discoveries with friends.

And don’t forget: you can download e-books and audiobooks from the library for free!  Just ask us how, or visit

Happy reading,
Mary Beth


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Filed under Books, E-books, Internet, Reading

Dreaming of Books

It’s February.  About this time of year, I lose the ability to be positive about the weather.  No more finding beauty in the rain.  I’m running out of cheer.  I’m sick of grey, grey, grey.  I watch hungrily for those brief flirts of sunshine, and tend to run outside and turn up my face, trying to catch a little Vitamin D.  I’m sure you can empathize.

Many people get the heck out of dodge, this time of year.  Hawaii, Mexico, Costa Rica… they come home less pale, with a renewed ability to say  obnoxiously positive things about the weather.

So for all of you dreaming of sun and books, here is a great resource for your trip: book-themed hotels.  Who knew?  There’s the Sylvia hotel, just down the coast in Oregon; but the nice folks at Flavorwire found nine other establishments that are way fun to look at.

My favorite is the Library Hotel in New York City.  “Each of the sixty exquisitely appointed rooms have been individually adorned with a collection of art and books relevant to one distinctive topic within the Dewey Decimal category of the floor it belongs to.”

Give us a report on your trip…
—Mary Beth


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New Materials 4 U

We have a great web service called New Book Alerts for you to use when you’re curious about what’s new here at BPL.
But I hope you know you can always ask us for suggestions, too.  It’s like the difference between e-mail and snail mail: it’s good to know the personal touch is still alive in the world.

Here are just a few things we’ve acquired recently–not the big bestsellers you’ve already heard about, but more under-the-radar books you might miss–that might pique your curiosity.

If you enjoyed The Help, take a look at The Barbarian Nurseries, by Hector Tobar.  It’s the story of a well-to-do couple who rely on their Mexican maid to keep things running.  When they have a fight, a misunderstanding leaves their children in her care.  Her efforts to unite the kids with their grandfather in central L.A. becomes a big misadventure.

Whitney Otto found fame with her book How to Make an American Quilt.  She’s just put out an intriguing new novel: Eight Girls Taking Pictures.  It begins in 1917 and tells the stories of eight famous female photographers of that century: their art, their children, their loves.  Captivating historical fiction.

The Queen of Katwe, by Tim Crothers, is a true-life story of one girl from the slums of Uganda.  She’s hungry every day; she lives in a shack; she’s just learning to read and write at nine years old.  A coincidence leads to her learning chess, and by the time she’s fifteen, she’s the national champion of Uganda.  An incredible story.

Looking for a heartwarming DVD without vampires or car chases?  Try My Afternoons with Margueritte, a French film starring Gerard Depardieu.  He plays a simple, socially awkward French man who meets an older woman on a park bench.  They begin a friendship, and she reads books out loud to him.  To his surprise, he begins to like books!  When Margueritte’s life changes, he realizes how much she has changed his life.

Settle down this rainy weekend with something good to read.
–Mary Beth




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What is a book app?

So you got an e-reader or a tablet or a smart phone for the holidays? Or you gave one to your child? Having made the big choice, now dozens of new questions arise, and you see a lengthy learning curve spreading out before you. Some people really enjoy that; others, not so much.

(We’ve a workshop coming up to help you, coming February 16.  More info soon.)

So here is one picky question we can take care of for you: the book app.

Now, there are apps (applications: little software programs) to read e-books, and you want them to read e-books on your tablet or computer: the two big ones are from Amazon (Kindle) and Barnes and Nobles.  Those we can call reading apps.

Then there are the e-books themselves, that you can buy, or download for free, or check out from your library!

And then there are book apps. Book apps are very fancy e-books which have interactive features. They read the story to you; you can touch on objects on the screen and unexpected things happen; you can “color” in the illustrations; there might be animation, music, and other special effects. Many are for children– both for entertainment and for education– but not all. Book apps are device-specific, so you need to look and see that the one you’re interested in is made for the device you have.

Kirkus put together a list of the “best of 2012” book apps – browse through these to get a sense of what they can do.

And here’s a list of book apps for teens and adults.

happy apping!


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Filed under Books, E-books, Early literacy, Internet, Reading

Request the books you want

Are you aware that you can request books?
No library has them all… so when we don’t have a book you want, ask for it!  We’ll do our best to get it for you.

Big news is that you can now do that for e-books, too!  Overdrive (aka Washington Anytime Library) has a new feature called Recommend to Library.   If you search for a title Overdrive doesn’t yet own, there will be a button that says “Recommend.”  This tells Overdrive you’d like to be able to check out that e-book, and, budget allowing, they’ll buy it and let you know it’s available.

You can recommend up to five books titles a week.

Happy asking!


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Filed under Books, E-books, New Books, Reading

Hot Reads

Did you love Downton Abbey?  Here’s the book the new PBS series is based on:

Call the Midwife: a memoir of birth, joy, and hard times, by Jennifer Worth

“An unforgettable story of the joy of motherhood, the bravery of a community, and the hope of one extraordinary woman At the age of twenty-two, Jennifer Worth leaves her comfortable home to move into a convent and become a midwife in post war London’s East End slums. The colorful characters she meets while delivering babies all over London-from the plucky, warm-hearted nuns with whom she lives to the woman with twenty-four children who can’t speak English to the prostitutes and dockers of the city’s seedier side-illuminate a fascinating time in history.”

And at the opposite end of the scale, for our true-crime lovers:

The Negotiator: My Life at the Heart of the HostageTrade, by Ben Lopez

“In the high-stakes world of hostage negotiations, every call is a matter of life and death. Ben Lopez spends his life traveling the world, bartering with people who value money over life. Working for governments, law enforcement agencies, multinational corporations and private clients, Ben is an expert K&R (Kidnap and Ransom) consultant, supplying professional kidnap-negotiation services. He can be called out to anywhere in the world within twenty-four-hour notice to set up and command the negotiator’s cell, bargaining with religious fanatics, hardened criminals, and other desperate people in order to save the lives of their captives. Alongside a shadowy team of former spies and special operatives, his arsenal of psychological techniques is just as powerful as brute force.”




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First library cards

There’s a writer named Richard Alley who writes a blog called “Urf!”   It’s fun – I like the one about how all parents eventually tell their kids that no, there’s no ice cream left, because they’re saving it for themselves later – and frequently thoughtful.   For instance, this entry, in which he gets his daughters their first library card, and he finds that using the library teaches him about his children.

And because it’s irresistible, here’s a look at some of our recent first-card recipients.  Doesn’t that just make you smile?


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Filed under BPL services, Libraries, Reading

Book Group Event this Saturday

Saturday, November 3, starting at 9:30, is our annual “Care and Feeding of Book Groups” event.  This free gathering is open to anyone interested in joining, starting, or nurturing a book club.



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Filed under Adult programs, Books, Library events, Reading