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New Ulm Public Library




17 N. Broadway, New Ulm, MN 56073
PH: 507-359-8331

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(in reverse chronological order)


ARCHIVE OF 2008 ARTICLES           


Dec 28, 2009 - Sophie Hannah by Betty J Roiger

Dec 21, 2009 - De-stress Not Distress by JoAnne Griebel

Dec 14, 2009 - 1-2-3 READ & Win! by Diane Zellmann

Dec 08, 2009 - Library Programming Gets a Boost With State Funds by Kris Wiley
Nov 30, 2009 - Shop at the Library This Week
by Betty Roiger & Kris Wiley
Nov 23, 2009 - Who Needs It?
by Betty Roiger
Nov 09, 2009 - A Call for Library Volunteers
by Kris Wiley

Nov 02, 2009 - Keeping Afloat by Betty Roiger
Oct 26, 2009 - Unusual Minds
by Betty Roiger
Oct 12, 2009 - Domestic Violence Awareness
by Linda Lindquist
Oct 05, 2009 - Teens: Check Out Your Public Library
by Kris Wiley
Sep 28, 2009 - Celebrate the 'Wizard of Oz'
by Betty Roiger
Sep 21, 2009 - Listen to This!
by Betty Roiger
Sep 14, 2009 - It's Time for Stories!
by Diane Zellmann
Sep 07, 2009 - Because There's a Lot of Living Left to Do...
by JoAnne  Griebel
Aug 31, 2009 - Reaping What We Plant by Betty Roiger
Aug 24, 2009 - To Be 6 Again...
by Larry Hlavsa
Aug 17, 2009 - Every Journey Begins with a Single Step
by Betty Roiger
Aug 10, 2009 - Summer Results by Diane Zellmann
Aug 03, 2009 - Are We Almost There?
by Linda Lindquist
Jul 27, 2009 - TTYL by Betty Roiger
Jul 20, 2009 - Something for Nothing by Larry Hlavsa
Jul 13, 2009 - What's Your Perspective?
by Betty Roiger
Jul 06, 2009 - Creative Kids
by Diane Zellmann
Jun 29, 2009 - Be Creative @ Your Library!
by JoAnne Griebel
Jun 22, 2009 - Latest All City Read
by Betty Roiger
Jun 15, 2009 - Fiction or Nonfiction? by Larry Hlavsa
Jun 08, 2009 - Woo Woo by Betty Roiger
Jun 01, 2009 - Freedom
by Linda Lindquist
May 25, 2009 -
Summer Reading Program Begins June 1st by Diane Zellmann
May 18, 2009 - Post Secret by Betty Roiger
May 11, 2009 - The Diogenes Club?
by Larry Hlavsa
May 4, 2009 - Why Weed Now?
by Betty Roiger
Apr 27, 2009 - Only Connect!
by Lori Roholt
Apr 20, 2009 - Spring Cheer
by Diane Zellmann
Apr 13, 2009 - 8 Men and a Duck
by JoAnne Griebel
Apr  07, 2009 - Are We Doomed?
by Larry Hlavsa
Mar 30, 2009 - Truth and April Fools
by Betty Roiger
Mar 23, 2009 - Dr. Seuss on Display
by Diane Zellmann

Mar 16, 2009 - Lost Your Job and Don’t Know Where to Turn? by Linda Lindquist
Mar 09, 2009 - A Valuable Community Resource
by Lori Roholt

Mar 02, 2009 - Librarian on the Red Carpet by Betty Roiger
Feb 23, 2009 - Michael Crichton by Betty Roiger
Feb 16, 2009 - Books Are Winners Too! by Diane Zellmann
Feb 09, 2009 - Happy Birthday!
by JoAnne Griebel
Feb 02, 2009 - Informational Films at the Library
by Lori Roholt
Jan 26, 2009 - Using MnLINK to Find Books by Larry Hlavsa
Jan 19, 2009 -
A Dash of This and a Pinch of That by JoAnne Griebel
Jan 12, 2009 - Books Set in Minnesota by Diane Zellmann
Jan 05, 2009 - Two Tales by Betty Roiger

December 28, 2009


Sophie Hannah
by Betty J Roiger, Acquisitions

We try to keep on top of trends here at the library. Often when the courier bins arrive and we begin sorting books, it becomes apparent that certain books seem to be going back and forth quite frequently. If it is a Grisham or Patterson book, we tend to have it already as these authors have predictable bestsellers. It is the unknown author I try to keep my eyes open for.

We have been getting requests for a book I hadn’t previously heard about called “The Wrong Mother” by Sophie Hannah. So I looked up reviews and thought it sounded really fascinating. I put the title on my list of items that were to be ordered. When I looked up Sophie I noticed she had several books, so I decided to investigate further. The reviews were interesting, and I ordered “Little Face” and “Hurting Distance” as well. As intrigued as I was having read the reviews of “The Wrong Mother,” I decided to start on “Little Face.” Well. Wow.

“Little Face” is about new mother Alice who goes on her first outing away from her baby only to return to the front door ajar, her husband, David, sleeping, and her baby gone, with another in its place. Predictably she is frantic and inconsolable and calls the police. The police arrive to listen to her hysterics and all the while David keeps stating calmly that the baby is their baby. Now the police have conflicting reports and different takes on these people and their reactions. As the story unfolds, revelations continue to pile up. This is very British, very gothic, and there are moments of violence. It is also the reader’s introduction to Sergeant Charlie (Charlotte) Zailer and her partner, Detective Constable Simon Waterhouse. The lies, the twists and turns keep the pages turning.

So next I picked up “Hurting Distance.” This book continues to develop the characters of Charlie and Simon and their relationship. Naomi Jenkins goes to the police when her lover doesn’t show up for their usual rendezvous. She is worried that he is missing and perhaps hurt. While the police take her semi-seriously, they halfway believe that her lover, Robert, is just trying to let her down by avoidance. As time passes and with suspicions of his wife growing, Naomi gets more desperate and decides that the only way to really get police aid will be to say that Robert actually raped her. Once she brands him as a rapist, the police must pursue his whereabouts, as he might be a possible criminal. When the police finally locate Robert, they find him near dead with a head wound. As the police investigate the assault on Robert, Naomi’s lies come to light and other truths surface as well. The plot takes on more and deeper implications as Charlie’s life becomes entangled and the lies and truths begin to stack up to build a story. Again, this book has lovely twists and red herrings, and I was caught up in it. Warning: This novel has violence as well, and if you don’t like British vernacular, you might not enjoy reading this.

Watching trends can not only help us spot new authors to put on the shelves, but this time it also gave me a new author to look forward to reading.


December 21, 2009

De-stress Not Distress
by JoAnne Griebel, Library Aide

Long lines, crowded stores, endless “to do” lists. Sound familiar? Christmas is almost here; what’s done is done. The next item on your list is you; take a deep breath, pause and enjoy the special times of Christmas. This is easier said than done. There are cd’s and books at your library that may help you de-stress, not distress.

Erica Braeley’s “Ten Minute Stress Relief” offers techniques to help you relax and feel renewed. There is a chapter on understanding your stress, including a self-assessment quiz. Dr. Richard O’Connor’s “Undoing Perpetual Stress: The Missing Connection Between Depression, Anxiety and 21st Century Illness” explores getting along with others and ourselves. “God Help Me! Finding Balance Through God’s Grace” by Gregory Popcak offers another perspective on stress management. Two chapters are of special interest: Chapter 6 “Find Where You Left Yourself” and Chapter 7 “Practice Joy.” Many of you are familiar with Prevention Magazine. The Editors of Prevention Health Books have compiled “Prevention’s Best Stress Busters” including how to create serenity and information on soothing foods and herbs.

“Dancing for Health” by Judith Lynne Hanna, explains how dancing is a healing art in both Western and non-Western cultures. Yoga is another stress management technique. Your library has books and DVDs about yoga. Another DVD “The Joy of Stress” shows the positive side of stress. Loretta La Roche uses humor, wisdom and patience to break negative thoughts that result in stress. A special feature of the DVD includes “Ten Little Commitments” to reduce stress. Sounds interesting!

“Manage Your Time to Reduce Your Stress” by Rita Emmett is for all of us who feel overworked, overwhelmed and over scheduled. The author says, “True time management means actually spending as much of your time as you can doing those things you want to do.” In her book she explains how to develop self-care and time management skills.

For those of you who have no time to read about stress management, your library has several audio books on cd and cassette. Dr. Wayne Dyer and Dr. Christine Northrup have co-authored “Inside-Out Wellness: The Wisdom of Mind/Body Healing.”
Dr. Edward Hallowell’s “Crazy Busy Overstretched, Overbooked and About to Snap!” is described as “strategies for coping in a world gone ADD.” Another title you may want to check out is by Dr. Richard Carlson, “Easier Than You Think Because Life Doesn’t Have to Be So Hard.” Dr. Carlson is the author of the popular “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.”

Remember this quotation by Ovid, “Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.” Take time for yourself and your family, visit the library together and choose some books, or DVDs to enjoy. Happy Holidays from all of us at your public library!


December 14, 2009


1-2-3 READ & Win!
by Diane Zellmann, Children’s Librarian

If you know a child who loves Elmo and other Sesame Street characters, you might be interested in the special Sesame Street Live program that is coming up soon in January at the Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato. Today I received some free ticket vouchers for this program to give away to kids. Read on for more information.

The special program is called “1-2-3 Imagine! With Elmo & Friends.” There are three performances:

• Tuesday, January 19, 2010, at 7:00 P.M.,
• Wednesday, January 20, 2010, at 10:30 A.M., and
• Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 7:00 P.M.

All kids need to do to become eligible to win these tickets is to read four books between now and January 13, 2010. Pre-readers who listen to someone read four books to them qualify as well. Here are the steps to take:

1. Select 4 books you would like to read or listen to.
2. Come to the New Ulm Public Library and ask for a 1 2 3 READ entry form.
3. Write the titles of the 4 books on the entry form.
4. Each time you read or listen to a book, return the entry form to the library and ask the librarian to initial that you have read it.
5. After reading or listening to all 4 books and having the librarian initial each one, give the completed entry form to the librarian by January 13.
6. Your entry form becomes your chance to win a FREE ticket to “1-2-3 Imagine! With Elmo & Friends” at the Verizon Wireless Center.
7. All winners will be selected randomly and notified by phone.
8. Winners will pick up their voucher at the Library and then redeem the voucher at Verizon Wireless Center box office.

Each ticket voucher is good for one ticket (premium seating not included) to any performance. Additional tickets will be available for purchase. If you have questions, please contact the Children’s desk at the Library (359-8336) or go to their website at

In addition, we have several dot-to-dot activities and coloring sheets featuring Elmo and his Sesame Street friends available at the Library from now until January 19, 2010. All children who come to the Library may choose as many as they like.

Kids who are interested in the free tickets to the Sesame Street Live should start reading (or listening to) books as soon as today. Elmo hopes to see you soon!


December 8, 2009

Library Programming Gets a Boost With State Funds
by Kris Wiley, Assistant Director

Look for many exciting programs at the library in the months to come courtesy of you, the voters of Minnesota.

New Ulm Public Library received approval for nearly $4700 in grant requests for programming from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, which was created to support the arts and preserve our cultural heritage. The fund was created by the passage of the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in November 2008.

The library is a member of Traverse des Sioux Library System, which will receive about $231,000 in Legacy funds in fiscal years 2010 and 2011. Some of that funding will be used for statewide, multiregional and regional efforts. Sixty percent of the total will be awarded as subgrants to TdS member libraries.

Here at New Ulm Library, we’ve been brainstorming for programming ideas, and we reached out to the Wanda Gag House Association for input and support. By the first deadline on Nov. 30, we submitted six subgrant applications, all of which were approved. Now we’re in the process of confirming speaking dates and completing contracts.

Mark your calendars for these upcoming programs, all supported through Legacy funds:

January – Edward Micus, award-winning poet and short story writer
January – Renee Wendinger, orphan trains historian
February – Nicole Helget, memoirist and novelist
March – Dr. Fred Doty, author of A Ministry Remembered
March – Deborah Kogan Ray, author of Wanda Gag: The Girl Who Lived to Draw
April – Grassroots publishing workshop with Melessa Henderson

We are grateful to the Wanda Gag House Association for its partnership with these programs, as well as Martin Luther College for partnering with Ray’s author visit. Stay tuned for further details. And if you have a programming idea, contact me at 507-359-8334 or

Thank yous

A huge thank you to the Optimists Club, which donated $385 for the movie license that allows the library to show many movies for free. The Optimists were generous contributors to the Summer Reading Program, and they have stepped up again.

Another huge thank you to the Simply R.E.A.D. book discussion group, which donated $250 at the Friends of the Library book sale. We’re speechless.


November 30, 2009

Shop at the Library This Week

by Betty Roiger, Acquisitions & Kris Wiley, Assistant Director

We’re slashing our prices! Everything must go! These are rock-bottom prices! Actually, that’s not entirely true. It is time for the annual Friends of the Library book sale, and we wanted to get your attention. However, these prices are really good, and if everything did go, that would be great because all the profits come back to benefit the public.

The pre-book sale is Dec. 3 from 6-8 p.m. The sale continues Dec. 4 from 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; and Dec. 5 from 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at the New Ulm Public Library basement meeting room. Paperbacks are 25 cents each, and hardcovers, videos, CDs and DVDs are 50 cents each. There will be a $2 bag sale Saturday.

For those of you who want the biggest and best selection, here’s a great option: Become a Friend of the Library, and you can shop at the pre-sale Dec. 3. Purchase your membership at the door, and you’re good to go. Members who haven’t paid their 2009 dues can pay at the door, as well. Memberships are $5 for individual youth, $10 for individual adult, $20 for family, $50 and over for corporate, and $100 for individual lifetime. Thursday night is a great time for a sneak peek and the opportunity to get first dibs on all the good deals.

So what is for sale? You want James Patterson—we have James Patterson. How about Dean Koontz? We have Dean Koontz, Patricia Cornwell, Hoag, Macomber, and on and on. There are just about every genre of book, from mysteries to science fiction to fantasy, as well as children’s and young adult titles. There are music CDs, audiobooks, and VHS tapes. There even are a few DVDs. Our Friends are hard at work sorting materials to give you the best shopping experience.

All proceeds from the sale go to the Friends of the New Ulm Public Library, who turn around and give back to the library. Talk about a win-win situation! This year alone, the Friends have funded more than $700 for the children’s Summer Reading Program, ice cream sundaes for 252 children who signed up on the first day of Summer Reading, $500 for talking books on CD, $225 for author visits, $750 for the children’s department and $500 toward technology needs for the library’s new computer work stations. As a library staff, we’re grateful for the Friends’ commitment to programming and materials, which is a direct result of the dedication of Friends members and the book sale fundraiser.

But the biggest thanks of all go to you. The sale wouldn’t be possible without a great community effort. We reached out to request donations of books, videos and other materials, and you responded. Thank you, thank you for your generous contributions. Now we have that many more books and videos for you to buy, and we’re asking for your help again. Stop by this week, pick up a classic or a new favorite, and know that you are playing a part in creating the library’s future. See you at the library!


November 23, 2009

Who Needs It?
by Betty J. Roiger, Acquisitions

Large Print. It is a type of reading material that has larger typeface. So what? Who needs it?

That’s an easy one. Everyone. Large type books may have originally been created to enable folks with eye problems or those getting older to keep reading on their own.

It isn’t anymore. Here at the library, we have people of all ages who check out our large print to read. Kids who have a difficult time reading, read it. Seniors read it. Staff reads it. Everybody reads it. We all readily admit, for those of us who like to read before we go to sleep, large print is great. Our eyes are getting tired, and large print is big enough and bold enough to allow us to read “just one more page” before we succumb to sleep.

So that’s large print. Why talk about it now? Well, the Lions Club of New Ulm just gave us a very generous donation to enlarge and add to our collection. Wow! Yeah, that’s what I said, too. This is a tough economy. That is a gift. We thank them. As do our patrons.

I immediately wrote to my two best vendors and said, “guess what!?” We just got a gift and can purchase some large print books. I got responses from both vendors within 10 minutes. Because, you know, not only are we under economic pressure, so are our vendors. They want a sale, sure, but they both were sincerely glad to hear from us. One immediately sent us six complimentary large print books. They promised free shipping on my order. The other company offered a 20 percent discount. So why am I going on about this?

Well, I personally think that goodness and generosity begets more of the same. The openhandedness of the Lions allowed me to order from two companies, who, in turn, offered their own kindness. And you know who also benefits? Everyone in New Ulm, all the patrons in our system, anyone who checks out large print materials from us or asks for large print through interlibrary loan.

Generosity grows. It feels good. And it needs to be recognized. Thank you, Lions. Thank you.

November 9, 2009


A Call for Library Volunteers
by Kris Wiley, Assistant Director

There are many opportunities to volunteer in our community, from service organizations to religious institutions. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, many of you already give of your time and talent: About 61.8 million people in the United States volunteered through or for an organization at least once between September 2007 and September 2008. That’s 26.4 percent of the population.

Here’s another place to consider volunteering: your public library.

New Ulm Public Library has many activities suitable for volunteers based on your skills, abilities and interests. We provide training and a flexible schedule as well as the opportunity to meet new people, share your gifts and serve the community – all in a great environment.

We have ongoing activities you might enjoy, such as basic office tasks, helping maintain our displays or straightening our shelves. We also have an adopt-a-shelf program, which involves selecting a favorite section of the library and keeping it neat and in proper order. This is an excellent group volunteer opportunity, possibly for book clubs. If you’re interested in a one-time volunteer opportunity, we have short-term projects to be completed at the library.

New Ulm Public Library has some requirements for volunteers. You must be at least 16 years old; you also must complete an application form and meet with us for a brief interview. Finally, the City of New Ulm will complete a background check on all volunteers who complete the application and interview processes.

Stop by the library for more information or to pick up a volunteer application form. Or take a look at the volunteer page of our Web site at; select Outreach and Volunteer Services. There is a link to the application form. Also, a list of ongoing activities is provided, although it is by no means exhaustive. If you have a particular skill, let us know. Whether you’re an individual or a group, we have opportunities for you. Hope to see you at the library!


November 2, 2009


Keeping Afloat
by Betty Roiger, Acquisitions

It has been said over and over again. We are living in tough times. But that’s not the kind of keeping afloat I’m talking about.

I’m talking about actually swimming and keeping your head above water. Maybe, if you’ve had lessons and have a high buoyancy level, it’s easy. But that’s not who I’m concerned about right now. I’m talking about the little tadpoles, and tikes whom we want to encourage in swimming and boating, but who might need a little help.

Believe it or not, one of the services the New Ulm Library provides is that we loan out life jackets for infants (less than 30 lbs), children (30-50 lbs) and youth (50-90 lbs.) These personal flotation devices are hanging right across from our circulation desk. Parents can take them down, find the right size, and try them on their children before checking them out. These jackets have a one week check out period, but if a vacation takes a little longer, we can make allowances.

This was originally intended to be only a seasonal service, but we found that patrons check out life jackets all year round. We learned that during winter parents take their kids on long weekends to hotels that have pools. With our life jackets, these children can swim safely indoors in the winter.

We just received a generous donation of one dozen new personal flotation devices for all three groups, infants, children and youth from the Brown County Sheriff’s Department. This came at an opportune time as we were weeding a few of our older jackets. We thank the Brown County Sheriffs Department for helping the New Ulm Public Library to continue providing life jacket loans for children.


October 26, 2009


Unusual Minds
by Betty J. Roiger, Acquisitions

We have a speaker coming November 7th at 10:00 a.m. who has an unusual mind. His name is Tim Kehoe and he is the creator of Zubbles. He is an inventor and an author…but maybe you have not yet heard of Tim Kehoe or Zubbles. Sit back and relax because I’d be delighted to introduce them to you.

This past summer a regular patron came in who had just seen a group of authors speak. One that neither of us had heard of was Tim Kehoe, and she had been captivated by his presentation. You see, his is the stereotypical overnight success story that in reality took years. We are all familiar with blowing bubbles with those little wands and watching them float away. Well, Tim wanted to make bubbles that were in specific, vibrant colors. And so he began his 14-year odyssey of creating colored bubbles. In the process he learned a lot about chemistry and even more about dyes. He turned countertops and clothes and himself blue. Still, he kept on inventing. Then when he discovered how to dye bubbles that didn’t stain, he named his invention Zubbles. [The librarians here have tried Zubbles, and they are really cool.] [Actually, awesome.]

Tim’s story is also fascinating. While on the path of inventing, he was interviewed by a small magazine, and asked an interesting question: if he could do anything he wanted, what would it be? Well, this was something he hadn’t thought about, and, off the top of his head, he said, “I’d write a children’s book.” Actually, he was going to go back to inventing. But then something amazing happened. Someone heard about the children’s book and called Tim to tell him they would be interested in it. [You better sit down for this part.] The folks who called were from Plan B, Brad Pitt’s production company. And they were interested in whatever Tim would write. So Tim sat down to write. He wrote and rewrote. And he found out writing wasn’t as easy as people think. But like his perseverance with coloring bubbles, he continued.

I’m happy to say I just finished reading the culmination of his writing, which is called “The Unusual Mind of Vincent Shadow.” This is a children’s book about a boy who invents things, all sorts of things. Vincent Shadow is in middle school and he has a secret laboratory where he creates things like “Biting Beast Balls,” “FibFinderPenz,” “MoodPaintz,” and “Roc-Kitez.” His life has ups and downs, but even when he is disappointed he just keeps on inventing. One of Vincent’s inspirations is Nikola Tesla, a mechanical and electrical engineer who was born in the 1800s. [Tesla could also be said to have had an unusual and inventive mind.] When some of Tesla’s artifacts and notebooks are discovered, the results impact Vincent’s life. This is a fun read. Moms or Dads reading with their kids would also get a kick out of it.

Come to the library on Saturday, November 7th to meet Tim Kehoe and hear about Zubbles and much, much more. Kids of all ages are welcome!

October 12, 2009


Domestic Violence Awareness
by Linda Lindquist, Adult Services Librarian

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic violence touches the lives of Americans of all ages, leaving a devastating impact on women, men, and children of every background and circumstance. A family’s home becomes a place of fear, hopelessness, and desperation when a woman is battered by her partner, a child witnesses the abuse of a loved one, or a senior is victimized by family members. Men may experience domestic violence as well but tend to be more silent about the abuse.

The New Ulm Public Library will be hosting author Chris Harris on Thursday evening, October 22, 2009, at 7 p.m. in the basement library meeting room. Her book, “What the Hell Was I Thinking?”, discusses her personal history with spousal abuse. Chris grew up in the Lafayette area and graduated from New Ulm Public High School. She will be telling her story and sharing her book. Copies of her book are currently available at the Country Loft and Sven and Ole’s in New Ulm. Crime Victim Services staff persons will be on hand that evening as well to answer questions.

Abuse generally falls into one or more of the following categories: physical battering, sexual assault, and emotional or psychological abuse. The abuse usually escalates over a period of time. Victims may experience control of finances, lying, using children to manipulate a parent’s emotions, fear, cuts, broken bones, forced sexual contact, yelling, silent treatment, biting, kicking, stalking, violence to pets, public humiliating, ridicule, threats to harm family and friends, etc.

Domestic violence reaches all sectors of the population. Older women are very vulnerable to domestic violence. Older women are more likely to be bound by tradition and culture that prevents them from leaving an abusive relationship. They are often financially dependent on an abusive spouse. Women living in rural areas lack resources, are more isolated, have fewer support agencies available, and do not have the transportation or communication systems available to them to get out of an abusive situation.

And as always, check out the books on display in the Reference area of the New Ulm Public Library on domestic and battered women.


October 5, 2009


Teens: Check Out Your Public Library
by Kris Wiley, Assistant Director

New Ulm Public Library has a multitude of resources and activities especially for young adults, from electronic databases to special events to novels. They’re all just a click or stop away.

Teens working on research projects need look no further than ELM, the Electronic Library of Minnesota ( ELM consists of 48 databases, several of which provide access to full-text articles. Try Discovering Collection or MAS Ultra – School Edition for primary source material, maps and multimedia. Britannica Online has seven interfaces with age-appropriate encyclopedia content written by experts. If you need to write a persuasive essay or debate an issue, Points of View Reference Center provides full-text articles that cover multiple sides.

ELM is a free resource for Minnesota residents; however, you need a public library card to access some of the resources. Teens younger than 16 are required to have a parent’s or guardian’s signature on the library card application form. Ask for assistance at our circulation desk.

You can accomplish much of your research without leaving your home, but keep in mind that the library has great study spaces as well as materials available for in-house use and checkout. And take advantage of our reference staff; whether it’s database searching or finding just the right book for your paper, we have a wealth of knowledge, skills and abilities to share.

Then consider taking a break from studying by joining the library’s Teen Advisory Group. Young adults who will turn 13 this school year through age 19 are welcome to join TAG and have your voice heard. Do you want board game nights at the library? How about a book group? Crafts? Wii? What kinds of materials do you want the library to purchase? Here’s your chance to shape the young adult department. Check out the teen page on the library’s Web site ( for more information, and remember to bring a completed TAG registration form to a meeting or activity.

Finally, don’t forget Teen Read Week Oct. 18-24. This year’s theme is Read Beyond Reality @ Your Library, which encourages young adults to read something out of this world for fun. The following series certainly fit the bill:

• The House of Night series by P.C. and Kristin Cast follows Zoey Redbird and her friends at a vampyre finishing school. Tempted, the sixth book in the series, is due out at the end of October.
• The four-book Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld takes place in a futuristic society where being pretty isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
• The Mortal Instruments is an urban fantasy series by Cassandra Clare that focuses on a group of teen Shadowhunters who fight demons.

Check the young adult display for more otherworldly ideas.


September 28, 2009


Celebrate “The Wizard of Oz”
by Betty J Roiger, Acquisitions

It’s been 70 years since the children aged 8 to 108 first sat down to see “The Wizard of Oz.” They were the first ones to hear, “Surrender, Dorothy!” and “Lions and tigers, and bears, oh my,” and “I had an Auntie Em myself once,” and “Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore” lead all of us into the wonderful world of the Wizard of Oz.

I had once heard the story that the author, L. Frank Baum, used to tell these stories of Dorothy and her journey to little children. When he did, they would burst out with “ooohs” and “aaahs” in amazement. So Baum named the Wizard ‘Oz’ after all of the “aaahs” he received. I don’t know if it is true, but it makes a good story.

There are other stories that come from “The Wizard of Oz,” such as, that it represents America. And the strawman was a symbol for agriculture, while the tinman stood for industry, and the lion represented labor.

Maybe so. But I think the magic for me was in the quotes, “there’s no place like home” and “if I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with! Is that right?” all couched in the magic of munchkins, flying monkeys, witches, danger, friendship, and love.

I think that most of us have fears and joys and go looking for things only to find them closer than we originally thought. And granted, maybe we don’t go singing and dancing down a yellow brick road with new, extraordinary friends, but we do find that friends and love sustain us through the scary, uncertain times. We don’t necessarily sing, “You're out of the woods, you're out of the dark, you're out of the night..." but it’s really nice to see someone singing it as they dance safely out of the forest.

And I like the truths that are in “The Wizard of Oz” whether they are obvious or hidden, serious or humorous. The conversation between Dorothy and the Scarecrow is funny, but there is also some truth in it.
(Scarecrow): I haven't got a brain... only straw.
(Dorothy): How can you talk if you haven't got a brain?
(Scarecrow): I don't know... But some people without brains do an awful lot of talking... don't they?
(Dorothy): Yes, I guess you're right.

We have a display up for “The Wizard of Oz” at the library. There are books, graphic novels, and DVDs here to be checked out. On Tuesday the newest special edition DVD with extras is being released for the 70th anniversary, and we have it on order. So if you want to travel down the yellow brick road one more time, come in and check something out.


September 21, 2009

Listen to This!
by Betty Roiger, Acquisitions


It is no secret that there has been an economic crisis in America that includes Minnesota. Budgets have been cut. Many people’s lives have been affected. Even the library, an institution that basically offers free materials and Internet service to the public, has been affected, as we need funding to provide our services.

One of the offerings of our library is our collection of audio books on cassettes and CDs. This collection has always been well used. With all of the CD players in vehicles now, more and more people take a book along to listen to while traveling. We have patrons who are truckers, commuters, and both frequent and infrequent travelers who avidly use our audio book collection. They will check out two or three or even seven or eight audio books to make sure that they have enough listening material to last them until they get where they are going. Our collection never seems large enough or current enough to meet the demand that is put on it.

Enter the Friends of the Library (FOL). If you don’t know about the FOL, this is an organization whose sole purpose is to support the library and its programs. Friends groups in America have raised money to provide aid for library programming, and materials, and have even built libraries when there was nowhere else to get funding. Our Friends group is in its early stages. Yet, with each successful endeavor, they have given generously to the New Ulm Public Library.

I mention them now because they recently gave the library a gift of $500 to purchase audio books on CD. Because of the Friends of the Library, you can hear one of the new James Patterson books on CD: “8th Confession.” If you like David Baldacci, we now have “First Family” in a talking book. I am not sure how similar it is to the new movie out now with Meryl Streep, but if you missed seeing that, listen to “Julie and Julia” so you know what all the buzz was about. We have two audio books by Christian fiction writer Karen Kingsbury, called “Take One” and “Take Two.” In the shadow of his untimely death, we also were able to get “Unmasked: The Final Years of Michael Jackson.” Due to space, I am leaving out many more fiction and non-fiction titles. But I can’t omit “Deep Stress Relief: When You Need a Long Vacation, but Only Have a Short Time,” and “Inside-Out Wellness” only because they sound interesting.

I wrote this article was written for several reasons. One was to let the public know that we have new audio books on CD! The other purpose was to introduce the public to the Friends group if you already are not acquainted. If you become a member, all proceeds go to support your library. And after you join whatever time and effort you want to put into the group is your choice. No strings, no slave labor, it’s all good. And while you are mulling over the Friends group, come in and check out the new audio books courtesy of our Friends of the Library.


September 14, 2009


It’s Time for Stories!
by Diane Zellmann, Children’s Librarian

Storytime at New Ulm Public Library begins its fall session next week. I am looking forward to seeing the preschoolers and the adults who bring them. We will have lots of fun and learn something too.

Every Storytime includes books. We read new titles as well as old favorites. We sing songs and sometimes even dance. We perform fingerplays and action rhymes. Puppets and flannelboard characters frequently show up. Children meet other children and have opportunities to interact with them. The adults usually interact as well, sharing ideas and experiences and making new friends.

Every Storytime includes learning. The children learn pre-reading skills, like letter sounds, letter shapes, vocabulary, and rhyming words. They learn to enjoy books and see that others enjoy them too. These pre-reading skills help develop early literacy and help increase the chances that children will find learning to read easier. Early literacy is the foundation for reading.

Each week we have four Storytimes, and each program lasts about 30 minutes. These sessions are free and do not require registration. Our first program begins on September 21. Here is the weekly schedule:

Mondays 7:00 P.M. Family Storytime
Tuesdays 10:00 A.M. Preschool Storytime
Tuesdays 11:00 A.M. Preschool Storytime
Thursdays 10:00 A.M. Toddler Storytime

All children are welcome; each one will receive a nametag upon arrival. The books and activities are geared towards preschoolers and toddlers. Since we often have a range of ages (from babies to 7-year-olds), we have a variety of attention spans. Children listen and interact according to their own level of language skills.

We encourage parents, grandparents, daycare providers, and other childcare individuals to bring children to Storytime. Adults play an important role by monitoring the children they bring. Also, throughout the day they can discuss the stories, sing the songs, or repeat a rhyme or letter sound that the children learned in Storytime. This reinforces the learning.

So if you know a preschooler who would benefit from attending Storytime, please bring that child and try to make it a part of your weekly routine. Together we can develop and nurture that child’s love of books and help establish a foundation for reading. Can you think of a better gift to give a child?


September 7, 2009

Because There’s a Lot of Living Left to Do…
JoAnne Griebel
Library Aide

The year is full of new beginnings. January brings the start of a new year. Spring is a time of new growth, and September the beginning of a new school year, a fresh start.

September is Healthy Aging Month, a time to focus our attention on the positive aspects of getting older. This is the time to make a fresh start on how we prepare for our futures.

Healthy Aging at has sponsored the September observance for fifteen years. They aim to encourage and motivate us to take responsibility for our physical, mental, social and financial health. Your library has materials to help prepare for the years ahead.

“Stay Young with T’ai Chi” offers nontraditional exercise to strengthen flexibility, breathing and mobility as well as reduce stress. “You Staying Young: The Owner’s Manual for Extending Your Warranty,” by Dr. Michael Roizen and Dr. Mehmet Oz may be familiar to many. Gene Cohen has written “The Mature Mind: The Positive Power of the Aging Brain.” We’ve all heard how important it is to continue learning and doing word puzzles to keep our minds active.

“Claiming Your Place at the Fire: Living the Second Half of Your Life on Purpose,” a collection of stories, begs to ask these questions: Who am I? Where do I belong? What do I care about? and What is my purpose?

Dr. Nicholas Perricone has written several books including “Ageless Face, Ageless Mind” in which he explains his three-part plan to reverse physical and mental aging. “The Longevity Bible,” by Dr. Gary Small, describes eight strategies for healthy aging including sharpening your mind, having a positive outlook, and mastering your environment (a nice way to say declutter)! You’ll have to read the book to discover the other strategies.

“Retire Happy,” by Richard Stim, offers advice on what you can do now for a “great retirement” later. The editors of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance share ways to build a nest egg in “Retire Worry-Free.” Topics include IRA’s, life and long term insurance, pensions, and other money smart tactics. Dennis and Martha Sargent’s “Retire,and Start Your Own Business” takes you step-by-step as you begin a new venture.

The slogan for Healthy Aging is “because there’s lots of living left to do…”. So visit your public library and explore the opportunities available as you develop a positive outlook toward all your tomorrows.

August 31, 2009

Reaping What We Plant
by Betty J. Roiger, Acquisitions

Isn’t it wonderful having a garden, being able to plant something and then, later seeing the results of your labor blossom and bloom?

In a manner of speaking we are experiencing a similar phenomenon at the library through the efforts of Lori Roholt, our previous assistant director / programming librarian, who applied for and received a grant prior to her departure to another job. Lori planted the seed by applying for a Picturing America Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for the New Ulm Public Library. We are now enjoying the benefits of her efforts by being able to share this art with everyone who visits our library.

Through the grant we recently received 40 reproductions of American art to display for the public and then keep for the library.

The exhibit is called “Picturing America” and is the newest project of the ‘We the People’ program of the National Endowment for the Humanities. ‘We the People’ strives to promote understanding of America’s history and founding principles, so this program is bringing masterpieces to classrooms and libraries all across America. This initiative will expose thousands of citizens to outstanding American art by giving them an opportunity to view masterpieces that normally would be seen only in art galleries or museums.

Part of the mission of the National Endowment for the Humanities is that “a nation that does not know where it comes from, why it exists, or what it stands for, cannot be expected to long endure—so each generation of Americans must learn about our nation’s founding principles and its rich heritage.” The endowment committee feels that viewing and studying visual arts will help achieve this. As we appreciate American art, it can give us insights into our nation’s character, ideals and aspirations.

Some of these 40 prints are black and white, while some are in color. Some pieces are photographs, pictures of basketry and sculpture, or reproductions of paintings. Artists like Norman Rockwell, Edward Hopper, and N.C. Wyeth are represented. Many you might recognize; others may be new to you.

Since we don’t have the available wall space to show all forty masterpieces at the same time, in September we will be hanging a few in the entry hallway to begin with and build from there. You may even see some hanging from our second floor eventually.

This fall when you come in to the library, we hope that you will enjoy the fruits of this grant and be able to spend a few minutes enjoying the new and different artwork blooming around the building.

August 24, 2009

To Be 6 Again...
by Larry Hlavsa, Library Director

Maybe you caught this recent humorous story circulating on the Internet?

“A man was sitting on the edge of the bed, observing his wife looking at herself in the mirror. Since her birthday was not far off he asked what she'd like to have for her birthday.

'I'd like to be six again', she replied, still looking in the mirror.

On the morning of her birthday, he arose early, made her a nice big bowl of Lucky Charms, and then took her to Six Flags theme park. What a day!
He put her on every ride in the park; the Death Slide, the Wall of Fear, the Screaming Monster Roller Coaster, everything there was. Five hours later they staggered out of the theme park. Her head was reeling and her stomach felt upside down.

He then took her to a McDonald's where he ordered her a Happy Meal with extra fries and a chocolate shake. Then it was off to a movie, popcorn, a soda pop, and her favorite candy, M&M's. What a fabulous adventure!

Finally she wobbled home with her husband and collapsed into bed exhausted. He leaned over his wife with a big smile and lovingly asked, 'Well Dear, what was it like being six again?'

Her eyes slowly opened and her expression suddenly changed. 'I meant my dress size, you idiot!!!!'

The moral of the story:

Even when a man is listening, he is gonna get it wrong.”

While the New Ulm Library has many self-help books, including many on honing listening skills, there’s no guarantee any of them will make you “six again.” Nonetheless, here’s a few titles related to listening to get you started.

Voices in the family : a therapist talks about listening, openness, and healing by Daniel Gottlieb (2007). By a family therapist who talks about listening, openness, and healing. Sharing stories from his private practice, the author relates how to make peace with ourselves, our families, and our partners.

But I didn't mean that! : how to avoid misunderstandings and hurt feelings in everyday life by June Paris (2007). If you continually put your foot in your mouth, six simple questions may help you avoid the problem and instead converse with empathy, confidence, and unimpeachable tact.

Listen up : how to improve relationships, reduce stress, and be more productive by using the power of listening by Larry Lee Barker (2000). This guidebook offers advice on how to improve relationships, reduce stress, and be more productive by using the power of listening.

The power of a positive no : how to say no and still get to yes by William Ury (2007). From the bestselling co-author of "Getting to Yes" this audiobook teaches the essential skill of saying no in a way that produces positive results.

Stop arguing with your kids : how to win the battle of wills by making your children feel heard by Michael P. Nichols (2004). Nichols' promotes a responsive listening approach to raising children that is smart and sound. He convincingly explains the importance of listening to children's feelings and defusing arguments before they start.

August 17, 2009

Every Journey Begins with a Single Step
by Betty J Roiger, Acquisitions

For some reason in our society girls are more often readers than boys. Ironically, studies have shown that children are influenced to read more if they see their dads reading. It becomes a loop that if everyone is reading, reading flourishes, and if reading isn’t encouraged it doesn’t.

I just read two young adult novels that I enjoyed, so much so that I encouraged my husband to read them, and he liked them as well. One is entitled “Shift” by Jennifer Bradbury. The tag line on the book is “Friends fade away…others disappear.” This book is about a cross-country bike trip that two friends decide to make after graduation and before entering college. Chris is the son of caring, blue-collar parents, and Win (Winston) is the son of wealthy, impossible to please parents. Chris has always been the responsible one, and Win has always been the troublemaker.

The book starts with Chris in college, and as it unfolds, you realize that the boys were separated at a point on the trip. Chris returned home and entered school, and no one has any idea what happened to Win. When the FBI approaches Chris, the seriousness of what happened on the bike trip becomes apparent. The book is told by using every other chapter in current time and the others as flashbacks to the trip. While the mystery is what really happened to Win and why and how, it is also a coming-of-age story. The story is one of growing up, leaving home, making your own decisions, and becoming the person you were meant to be. It was entirely worth reading.

The other book I just read was “Reality Check” by Peter Abrahams. I don’t think I have read Abrahams before, but I will again. The main character is Cody, a football jock from a struggling background. His only way out of the small town he lives in is going to be sports scholarships until an angry opponent hits him in the knee. Afraid that he’ll hold her back, the parents of his wealthy girlfriend send her East to a ritzy school to separate them. Suddenly she goes missing. Having had his career dreams shattered, the only thing Cody can think of to do is to travel out East to find her. The book recounts his tenacity and spirit as he goes up against unknown odds to do what he believes is right to help the one person who he always trusted. The book is a mystery and there are plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader interested.

In both books, as you follow each main character, Chris and Cody, you are rooting for them to find what they are looking for, both inside and out. Both books happen to involve actual journeys, and these physical passages mirror the inner journeys the boys take and the decisions they make along the way. It is an added benefit and fun to have the mysteries solved too.

Whether you are male or female, I think anyone would enjoy either or both of these books. Come in and check them out.

August 10, 2009

Summer Results
by Diane Zellmann, Children’s Librarian

Activity in the Children’s Room is less hectic these days. Our Summer Reading Program ended last week, storytime is on break until fall, and the “Be Creative @ Your Library” posters and decorations are coming down. I miss the whirlwind of activities and contests and prizes, but now I have a little time to reflect on all that happened.

First of all, I want to congratulate the 898 kids who registered for our program. (That’s a record-setting number for our library!) These kids read lots of books and earned cool prizes. Some attended camps here and learned new skills. Some attended our special events and enjoyed the entertainers. Others displayed their creative talents by drawing on our wall and/or drawing a creative creature for our art contest. These creative works of art are still on display in the hallway next to the Children’s Room. Come in and take a look!

I congratulate the parents of those 898 kids too. Without their parents’ encouragement and cooperation, many of these kids would not have been able to participate. Parents’ efforts should pay off when kids return to classrooms this fall. Hopefully, their summer reading will produce a positive result in each child’s reading level.

We were fortunate to receive donations this year that funded our program. The Friends of the Library and the Optimists Club of New Ulm gave generous monetary donations. The local businesses of Casey’s, McDonald’s, Subway, and Sven & Ole’s Books contributed prizes, treats, or awards. The Minnesota Twins, Vikings, and Lynx provided an assortment of prizes too. We thank them because we simply could not run our summer program without these contributions.
The New Ulm Community Center hosted four of our special events, and the Friends of the Library provided and served ice cream sundaes for our program’s kick-off. Twelve downtown businesses agreed to let us use a spot in their store windows to display our “missing” famous paintings. In addition, several individuals, including our staff (especially Betty Roiger!), contributed time, money, expertise, or decorations. I thank them because these people helped add fun and excitement to our program.

Publicity for our events is vital to the success of our program. The Journal, KNUJ, NUCAT, Comcast, and the city sign on Broadway did an excellent job of keeping everyone informed about what was going on at the library. We appreciate their assistance and thank them for their extra efforts on our behalf.

Again, we congratulate all of our program participants, and we thank everyone who contributed in any way to help make our program be creative and fun for kids. I can’t wait to begin planning for summer 2010!

August 3, 2009

Are We Almost There?
Linda Lindquist, Reference Librarian

How many times have you gone on vacation and your children have said, “Are we there yet?” Do you want to get away for a little vacation but you don’t’ have the time or the money to go on a long vacation? How about a day or two-day trip closer to home?

There are many places and things to see and do in all states and many are free. How about checking out your state capitol building? We have a book at the New Ulm Public Library entitled “State Houses: America’s 50 State Capitol Buildings” by Susan W. Thrane and Tom Patterson. Each capitol building is pictured and a short article is written about each one. The Minnesota capitol is free and you can take a tour lasting approximately an hour telling about its history, art and architecture, and if the weather permits, you can walk to the quadriga (golden horses) on the roof of the building.

What about visiting one of the state parks for a weekend excursion? The website will give you a listing of all the state parks in Minnesota and the many activities available in each park. There are several state trails that travel through and to Minnesota state parks. These trail maps can be ordered over the phone, through e-mail, or by writing to the DNR. The DNR website lists all the state trails in Minnesota. I clicked on the Casey Jones State Trail and found that hiking, horseback riding, biking, in-line skating, snowmobiling, and wheelchair access are available on the trails in this park. This trail is situated in an agricultural area with fields of corn and soybeans, Laura Ingalls Wilder in Walnut Grove, wind towers, and pipestone quarries. If you are interested in visiting a state park in Minnesota, check out the DNR website for more information.

Or how about getting in your car and taking a scenic drive? The website will help you find the scenic byways in Minnesota. Minnesota has 22 byways encompassing more than 2800 miles of roadways ranging from the iron range in the north to rolling farmland in the south. The drives range from 9 miles to 575 miles. What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon or plan an entire week’s vacation on the scenic byways of Minnesota. Check out this website as it has a great deal of information on many places to visit throughout Minnesota.

And after looking over all the above possibilities and you still can’t decide on a vacation spot, how about your local library? At your library you can check out books on any subject or any vacation spot to visit now or sometime in the future. We also have movies, magazines, music, and yes, even life jackets, to help you plan for that wonderful last minute vacation yet this summer. Are We Almost There?

July 27, 2009

by Betty Roiger, Acquisitions

How fast are we going, really? I’m not talking about speed limits or gravity and the spinning of the earth. I’m talking about technology and the fact that acronyms are becoming an integral part of people’s writing and speech. Is everything going so fast that we don’t have time for words anymore and just need to type and talk in letters? Want an example? How R U? Gr8. [Translation: How are you? Answer: Great.] Single letters and numbers are now standing in for whole words. And so our language is evolving into a new shorthand.

Back in 1970 Alvin Toffler wrote a book called “Future Shock.” Toffler wrote about the death of permanence and how information was coming to us from all directions. He informed readers about how hard it was to take everything in, since there was so much bombarding us. He wrote about how fast technology was changing, and with those changes, how we were transforming. And now our ways of communication are changing with the advent of iPods, iPhones, and texting and tweeting.

I understand the acceleration and the rapid changes of time. I rode my bike without the aid of a bike helmet. Yes, I ran into a tree and a lamppost, but I’m still here to tell the tale. There were no seatbelts when I grew up. I was a child of the mother’s-arm-across-your-chest-quick-stop since little kids mainly stood up in the front seat to better see out of the front window. And there were no roller blades for us. We had those cheap clamp-on skates that needed a key. And no matter how tight you made them, inevitably one would let loose so then you would have to skate, clump, skate, clump back to whoever had the key, with the leather strap hugging the skate to your ankle and killing you all the way. Change; it happens. I survived all of these new inventions and changes very well, thank you.

I just wasn’t prepared for language to evolve as well. The only shorthand I was acquainted with was that swirly, scribbly stuff my older sister used in her diary. But the shortcuts from texting and tweeting are sneaking into conversations as well as books.

Now when you are talking with someone about something personal and they might say; “TMI.” Your brain has to translate that into “too much information” and let you know you need to stop talking. Someone else might sign off an email with ttyl and before you stare at it too long, it suddenly occurs to you that they mean “talk to you later.” The only one that still boggles my mind is LOL—is it lots of luck, lots of laughs, lots of love? Loads of Llamas? I just don’t know. I only know whatever that last “l” is; there is a lot of it.

I expect, like with helmets, seatbelts and skates, I might be able to persevere. After all, I work in a library and I can look things up. And the best part is I’m a WIP. (That’s “work in progress” for those of you who are trying to keep up.)


July 20, 2009


Something for Nothing?
by Larry Hlavsa, Library Director

Last week on the way home from a trip to the Twin Cities, I stopped at Mystic Lake Casino in Prior Lake. I hadn’t been there in several years and I was curious at what it might look like now. Architecturally it seemed only slightly different. There was a large new parking ramp and skyway. There seemed to be a bit more space. But something else was pretty amazing. The parking lots were still full. The casino was still packed. There was nary a seat to be found at a one-armed bandit. That hadn’t changed at all. And it was good news for me. I don’t like crowds. I left without losing so much as a nickel.

Your library is, of course, a much better deal for you than a casino. We take nothing from you, but we offer you scads of entertainment. Even better than that, we offer you knowledge on the cheap. Borrow our books, magazines, DVDs, videos and books-on-tape. It’s all free! Now, what did you get free from the casino the last time you went? Soda pop, drinks or popcorn? None of those is particularly good for your health and, of course, you paid for those with the money you lost while gaming.

While it’s true you can’t win a million dollars while using the library, you can gain knowledge that will aid you in getting a better job. You can find several different kinds of entertainment. You can research how to make better decisions in life, on the job, or even at the casino. But here’s the best thing of all. You can save yourself big bucks! How is that? Well, by using the library’s materials instead of renting or buying them yourself, here’s what your savings might be:

Rent a movie 1x a week ($3 each) - GET AT LIBRARY - SAVE $156.00
Buy 10 books a year ($25 each) - GET AT LIBRARY - SAVE $250.00
Subscribe to 2 newspapers ($50 each) - GET AT LIBRARY - SAVE $100.00
Subscribe to 2 magazines ($30 each) - GET AT LIBRARY - SAVE $ 60.00
Buy 2 audiobooks a year ($30 each) - GET AT LIBRARY - SAVE $ 60.00
Buy 5 CDs a year ($10 each) - GET AT LIBRARY - SAVE $ 50.00
Attend 2 programs for kids ($5 each) - GET AT LIBRARY - SAVE $ 10.00
Rent a computer (20 hrs @ $10 hour) - GET AT LIBRARY - SAVE $200.00
Broadband Internet connection - GET AT LIBRARY - SAVE $480.00
($40 a month)

If you add those up, the savings amount to $1366.00 a year. Now that’s not chump change, is it? Of course, your results will vary but here’s the really amazing thing. The more you borrow from the library, the more you save! If you’re a heavy library user, your totals might easily double the numbers above. Now where else can you save money so easily?

I work at the library so you’d think my pockets would be flush with cash. Alas, it’s just not so! I can’t quite deny myself those too frequent book purchases, the occasional magazine subscription, and yes, the broadband Internet connection. I’m afraid that I’m a bit of an information junkie. But it’s nice to know that if times got tight, I could cut those things out of my personal budget and rely on the library.

While the library really is a better deal than the casino, I don’t expect the foot traffic at the library to ever exceed that of a casino. Like I said, we can’t offer you the chance to “get rich quick.” But maybe what we offer will help you to get rich slowly? Wouldn’t that be worth the investment of a trip to the library?

July 13, 2009


What’s Your Perspective?
by Betty J Roiger, Acquisitions

At the library we have books on visual perspective. Maybe you are familiar with the picture of the old crone, that, if you look at it a certain way you can also see a beautiful young girl. There is another picture of a white vase that actually is created because of the black silhouettes of two faces looking at each other. These books show visually that what you see is all about how you look at something.

We use perspective in our lives everyday. A high school friend just drove down to visit me. As we walked to her car, she apologized profusely about “the piece of junk she had rented.”…while I was seeing a beautiful new blue car. We got in and she said, “Look at the windows.”
She said, “You have to roll down the windows!”
“By hand!”
I replied, “I know, that’s how my car is.”
“And you have to push down the locks!”
I said, “I know, that’s how my car is. And when it’s dark we roll down our windows & hold a flashlight out to see…not to mention the squeegees when it’s raining…” Ok, I’m being facetious. My point is manual was a drag to her; it is a basic part of my day so I don’t mind it. I clutch, shift, roll down, lock. Not a problem. Perspective.

Lori, who used to work here, was half my age, but never mind that—you only need to know that to get my point. She had watched a movie from the 50s & 60s and told me she thought of it as a period piece. I sputtered & choked…to get out, “Hey, I was alive then—it’s so not a period piece!” But I could see that it was all in the way we each looked at it, what we brought to it: she experienced a world she never knew watching it; me, I recalled memories looking back. Because we could accept each other’s perspectives, we had a good laugh over it.

When my boss moved to town, into his new home, there was a garage incident, which resulted in a broken door. He said he thought about getting upset and then realized he had planned to replace it someday anyway so why waste the energy? Perspective.

We are living in a time of increasing pace, more responsibilities with less time to do them, commitments, and stressors from all sides. We have speeded up with cell phones, instant results, fast food, immediate contact, and the Internet. There is an invisible frenzy in our lives as everyone tries to meet deadlines and go faster. In the midst of all this, we do have choices. We have perspective: the way we can view a situation, a problem, or a person. We can choose peace and calm over panic and anxiety.

A lady my Mom-in-law knows was walking down the street and had a passing thought about the rowdy kids in front of her. It was a judgmental thought. The next thing she knew, she had fallen. The first people to her side were those kids, helping her. Everyone has a bad day, things happen to them, there are reasons why they are in a hurry, or seem rude. Judging a book by its cover maybe isn’t such a big deal when we’re reading, it might be better to go slower when it is about people.

If you can put the breaks on and stop to look at a situation, sometimes it becomes clear that rather than anger or reaction, there is an upside, or positive way to view it. I read once about a guy who was told he had cancer, a cancer that wasn’t curable. He asked, “How many people have lived having this?” The answer that he was given was “None. And the man said, “Then I’ll be the first one to survive.” And he was.

So concluding my ruminations about perspective, I’ll leave you with an old joke. A guy was driving along a road, coming up to a curve. Suddenly a car swerved around it, and the woman driving it screamed out the window at him, “Pig!” and veered on. He couldn’t imagine what he had done to her, was terribly insulted and continued to drive around the corner only to see a very large pig loose in the middle of the road.

What he perceived as an insult wasn’t one. It was a warning. It all comes down to perspective. Maybe something is not clear to you yet, but it will be and choosing the positive perspective might make all the difference. Just pick up a book about Thomas Elva Edison and remember his quote: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. We now know a thousand ways not to build a light bulb.” So come to the library and select something to read, you might just find a new perspective.


July 6, 2009

Creative Kids
by Diane Zellmann, Children's Librarian

The Children’s Room is a very busy place this summer. Over 800 kids have signed up to read and be creative. Our statistics bear this out. Our library normally circulates anywhere between 12 and 16 thousand items a month. In June alone we have circulated nearly 23,000 items. So kids are reading lots of books, and the youngest ones are listening to someone read lots of books to them. They are earning prizes and doing so much more!

Some kids are playing Artopoly (our version of Monopoly) while the younger ones are tossing socks in the Sock Toss game. Others are drawing on our wall (Yes, they have our permission), identifying famous creative thinkers, or guessing the number of lids on our special display. Some are attending camps to learn about art, magic, and/or chess. Still others used trash to create some impressive treasures. We even have quite a few who are acting as detectives and trying to solve the mystery of the missing famous paintings.

Kids have been drawing creative creatures too. We have many creatures on display in the hallway near the entrance to the Children’s Room, and more are coming in each day. These drawings are amazing so I encourage everyone to take a look at them.

Our next special event involves lots of creativity. On Thursday, July 16, from 3:00 to 3:45 P.M., we are presenting the Brodini Comedy Magic Show. This free program will be held at the New Ulm Community Center, located at 600 North German Street. People of all ages who enjoy comedy and magic are invited to attend.

Brodini is an award-winning, professional magician who performs throughout Minnesota and teaches magic to elementary students. Recently, he was voted Minnesota’s favorite magician. Most of his magical tricks involve audience participation. His tricks are easy for children to follow, yet still entertaining enough for adults to enjoy. Scarves, coins, cards, balls, ropes, and other objects will be part of his act.

One special prize available for all Minnesota kids who participate in summer reading is offered through the Get Creative @ Savings for College Sweepstakes program. Kids have a chance to win a $1,000 cash-for-college prize and help their library win $500. Parents who have not completed an application for this scholarship should ask for a form at the desk in the Children’s Room.

Our Summer Reading Program is going strong as we begin July. The kids are having fun being creative. Readers are keeping up their reading levels, and listeners are gaining pre-reading skills. Education disguised as fun is a win-win situation for everyone!

June 29, 2009

Be Creative @ Your Library!
JoAnne Griebel, Library Aide

What is creativity? It’s generating ideas, communicating, and entertaining. Creativity sharpens our minds, solves problems, and most of all is fun and inspiring.

The 2009 Children’s Summer Reading Program revolves around creativity. There are all sorts of activities for the children. Your library has books to inspire ideas for adults and families. Summer is a great time to explore our creativity.

Arts and crafts are part of kids’ camps, vacation Bible schools, rainy day activities and more. Craft time gives us a chance to relax. It offers families a time to talk and share ideas. Craft projects help develop ideas and skills without competition. Your library has books to get you started on some unusual projects. “Stray Sock Sewing; Making One-of-a-kind Creatures from Socks” has colorful pictures of what to do when only one sock is left. You can use your imagination and create your own creatures or puppets. Now that you have some puppets, how about writing a story? You can illustrate the story with photos or drawings.

Do you like to watch the clouds go by? Do the shapes remind you of something? What about the sights and sounds of summer? Journaling, scrapbooking, and poetry are ways to use your creativity to capture and share those memories. Check out Frances Mayes’ “The Discovery of Poetry: A Filed Guide to Reading and Writing Poetry.”

Think green and be creative. Kate Shoup’s “Rubbish Reuse Your Refuse” has some unusual projects including pop can tabs made into a belt. Recycle that worn out wool sweater to make a felted handbag; a picture frame crafted from maps is perfect for vacation photos. Susan Beal’s “Super Crafty” has ideas for sock monkeys to crafts for your pets. “How to Be Creative If You Never Thought You Could” by Tera Leigh offers several projects plus this word of advice, “Listen to yourself.” Use your imagination and create gifts for family and friends. Interested in woodworking? The library has several books on making wooden toys such as trucks and tractors. There are books on quilting, drawing, and painting.

Home decorating involves some creativity. Mary Engelbreit’s “Crafts to Decorate Your Home” has garden, window and other fun projects to help you get started. Cake decorating is another creative avenue. Debbie Brown’s “50 Easy Party Cakes” has pictures to inspire. Imagine a cake decorated to look like a farm tractor, dolphins, and building blocks, even a bookworm cake.

Using our imaginations to create gifts or items for the home and yard gives us a sense of accomplishment. Someone once said, “Imagination is intelligence having fun.”

So visit your public library and be creative!


June 22, 2009
Latest All City Read

by Betty Roiger, Acquistions

Recently several New Ulm groups (Community Ed., CAST, and several area churches) came together with the library to suggest an all city read using a book many of them had been reading. The library has accommodated all city reads in the past. Previously we have made available copies of Hassler’s “Grand Opening” and Doty’s “A Long Year of Silence” for everyone to read.

The book that was suggested by this group is called “The Impossible Will Take a Little While.” It is a series of short essays, adaptations, and poems edited by Paul Rogat Loeb. The book’s title was inspired by “the same indomitable spirit expressed in the Billie Holiday lyric and World War II Army Corps of Engineers motto: ‘the difficult I’ll do right now. The impossible will take a little while.’” One reviewer has called it a “hymnbook of hope; one’s heart cannot help but sing.”

I have just begun reading this myself. The editor’s introduction talks about the fear and terrorism that holds many, not just Americans, in its grip. And that hope is the only remedy to fear, no matter what the odds. “…nothing buoys the spirit and fosters hope like the knowledge that others faced equal or greater challenges in the past and continued on to bequeath us a better world. Even in a seemingly losing cause, one person may unknowingly inspire another, and that person yet a third, who could go on to change the world, or at least a small corner of it.”

I think that you can see by the quotes I have been using that the folks who have read this book or parts of it have been inspired. And the people in New Ulm, like Patti, Carol, and Dian, were inspired to suggest this as an all city read. They were inspired to raise the funds for the books, some people were inspired to donate the money for this project, and everyone was inspired to share it with New Ulm.

We have ten circulating copies of “The Impossible Will Take a Little While.” There is a display at the circulation desk, and one in Reference with copies to check out. We will have a book bag to circulate soon for any book clubs that are interested in discussing this book. In July we will have an entire display up with copies to circulate.

We hope that the people of and around New Ulm will be motivated to read this book. This book lets you know that what people do can influence others and that chains of events that may, at first, seem insignificant may, in fact, change the world. Pick up this book. Read any part of it. Then later, come share your opinion or just come to listen at the book discussions that we expect will get under way this fall.


June 15, 2009

Fiction or Nonfiction?

by Larry Hlavsa, Library Director

Everyone knows that a novel of any genre is basically a story, that is, a figment of the author’s imagination. While novels may be partly based on fact, having at least some element of truth, everyone accepts that literary license allows the author to do with the story whatever he chooses. After all, fiction is fiction. By definition it’s not true.

On the other hand, an incident at the Library today brought home the issue of nonfiction books and under what circumstances they should be withdrawn from library bookshelves. A library customer claimed that the book The Arming of America: the Origins of a National Gun Culture by Michael Bellesiles should not be on our library’s shelves since it has been discredited. The opinion I heard from the customer was that nonfiction books which are untrue should not be on the library’s bookshelves.

Indeed, the book, which won the 2001 Bancroft Prize--one of the most prestigious awards for American history writing--was later discredited by many. Its Bancroft Prize was later rescinded because of “scholarly misconduct of the author.” The author also lost his job at Emory University and his original publisher dropped his contract. Garry Wills, who originally had enthusiastically reviewed the book later said, "I was took. The book is a fraud." Historian Roger Lane, offered a similar opinion: "It is entirely clear to me that he's made up a lot of these records...It's 100 percent clear that the guy is a liar and a disgrace to my profession."

On the other hand, Mr. Bellesiles does have a few defenders. Some think his book contains no more errors than many others. After the revelations, he apparently won some support from leading scholarly organizations, including the American Historical Association and the Organization of American Historians, which passed resolutions deploring the harassment and abuse directed at him. And the author himself pointed out that roughly three-quarters of the book has not been challenged.

The point of all of this is that people too often believe something just because it is published. It may be published in books, newspapers, the Web, or through some other media, but the mere fact of publication leads some to give the book, newspaper article or Web site credence it may not necessarily deserve.

I hope the following statement doesn’t shock too many, but here it is—“Every work of nonfiction ever published has errors.” Some errors are purposeful, some are accidental, some are errors of quotation and some are errors of emphasis. Some nonfiction works are full of errors, others have very few errors. But really, how are we to know? Personally, I’ve always been a great fan of Judge Judy who has often said—“If it doesn’t make sense, it isn’t true.” Okay, not very scientific, but I’ll bet following this admonition would lead to truth more often than not. But that’s just my opinion.

So should the library withdraw books, magazines or newspapers when something untrue is found in them? Hmmm. At what level of untruth? How many untruths before a work should be judged worthy of withdrawl? Are they untruths, or just different perspectives? And, finally, who decides what truth is? Is it partly cloudy today, or partly sunny? Speaking as a librarian, I think that, in most cases, deciding on when an item should be withdrawn, it is best to let the public decide with their library cards—“If an item circulates, it stays. If it doesn’t circulate, it goes.” Of course, just because it circulates doesn’t make it true. See the conundrum?

So the next time you read a book, magazine, Web site or newspaper from or at the Library remember that everything is subject to degrees of truth. Just because you borrowed it from the Library, doesn’t make it true.

June 8, 2009

Woo Woo
by Betty J Roiger, Acquisitions

I’m not sure when it really started, but the supernatural has been permeating our reading material for some time. The phenomenon did begin before “Twilight”, but the Stephenie Meyer’s series did help it zip along.

If you haven’t heard of the Young Adult novel “Twilight,” you might be living in a cave, so keep your head down…there might be bats. “Twilight” is the story of a young girl who moves to Washington state, meets and falls for the young man of her dreams. He is tall, gorgeous, rich, and, in fact, is a little bit older than she thinks at first. Turns out he’s immortal. And he has fangs.

Fangs are showing up in all kinds of books. Of course the fantasy genre always used to be the place to look for vampires, but now romances have vampires, there are detective books with psychics, and mysteries with ghosts. Where there once were vampires, now there are ghosts, werewolves, faeries, gargoyles, and yes, even zombies.

I just read “The Zombie Queen of Newbury High,” a young adult novel. It was quite humorous. A teenage girl feels that she is losing her boyfriend’s attentions and might be left in the cold for prom. So she finds a wacky herbal shop in the mall and gets a love potion. Except and unfortunately, it really isn’t a love potion. It’s a zombie curse and it affects the entire school.

Suddenly she finds herself Miss Popularity since everyone is bringing her Twinkies and cookies; one and all are making a point to talk to her, even telling her she smells good. Then new boy in school hastens to explain to her this isn’t because everybody suddenly likes her. He tells her the zombie curse will take four days to complete, and she is their zombie queen. She beams: very cool, that’s good. No, he informs her: that’s bad. Because right now they are worshiping her, feeding her to plump her up, and on the 4th day, she’s lunch. The reason they like how she smells is because she smells like chicken. And then the race is on to cure the students and staff, not get eaten, and still get a date for prom.

We recently had a request from a patron to get more normal mysteries and fiction, no paranormal stuff. Well, we still get regular fiction and mysteries and science fiction. But the supernatural creatures and events in books are popular elements right now. People are reading them and the market and authors continue to provide to meet that demand. Vampires and zombies and werewolves might be with us for a while. Just know, not all of these books take themselves too seriously, and some are a hoot to read.


June 1, 2009
by Linda Lindquist, Reference Librarian

The 4th of July will soon be here. When I think about the 4th of July, many images start to roll around in my mind (families and picnics, freedom, our great nation, people becoming citizens of the United States, etc).

The 4th of July is a great time for families to get together to maybe watch a parade, go to a baseball game, go to the zoo, or grill out. We have several books on grilling at the New Ulm Public Library in the 641s. I just went to the shelves and looked at three grilling books. Included in each of the grilling books are tips on getting started, correct utensils to use, and many, many recipes. The most important part of the barbecue—have loads of fun!

The 4th of July brings to mind our freedom that we have in the United States. Many citizens of the United States take this freedom for granted. What about all the immigrants who are not citizens? How do they go about getting their citizenship? About a year and a half ago, public libraries received “Civics and Citizenship Toolkit: A Collection of Educational Resources for Immigrants.” Many educational resources are included in this Toolkit.

While looking through the Toolkit, I found two sets of flash cards that should be very helpful to anyone learning about the history and government of the United States. Those who take the test to become a citizen will be asked questions about the president, the political parties, the flag, the branches of the government, senators and representatives for each state, the Constitution, etc. Other resources in the kit are booklets welcoming persons to the United States, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States, a DVD entitled “A Promise of Freedom” and a CD entitled “Becoming a U.S. Citizen.”

This kit isn’t just for persons studying to become citizens. This could be a valuable resource for history or civics instructors to use in their classrooms when they are reviewing for a test.

This Toolkit is available for anyone to check out. All you need is your library card.

May 25, 2009
Summer Reading Program Begins June 1st
By Diane Zellmann, Children’s Librarian

The Children’s Room has giant paintbrushes, crayons, colored pencils, an art palette, television camera, and other unusual objects hanging from the ceiling. There’s a robot-like guy named Metal Man along with his friend, Waddle the Turtle. Does that mean the Summer Reading Program is about to begin? Yes! This is the summer to Be Creative @ Your Library.

We invite all kids from ages 1 to 13 to sign up for this free reading program and earn prizes for reaching reading goals. Brochures explaining the program are available at the Library, and the information is also included on our website at Registration begins on Monday, June 1. Plus, we are inviting kids who register before 3:00 P.M. that day to create their own delicious ice cream sundae. (Sorry, parents don’t qualify.)

The goal of this program is for kids to read for 30 minutes a day for 25 days between June 1 and August 6. The pre-readers (AKA read-to-me’s) need to just listen to books read to them for about 20 minutes a day for 25 days.
Kids should come to the Library and sign up; they will receive a bookmark that they use to keep track of the days when they read. Kids earn a prize after reading for five different days (or listening for the read-to-me’s), and all who complete the program will be eligible to win 1 of 10 grand prizes.

In addition, we have other activities that encourage kids to be creative and have fun. On Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10:00 A.M., storytimes will entertain kids from ages 3 to 8; people of all ages who enjoy stories are welcome. We have four Creative Camps for kids of ages 6 to 13. Our Trash to Treasure Show invites kids to create a treasure from recycled materials. Kids can solve the Art Mystery by locating 12 stolen famous paintings, they can identify 12 Creative Thinkers by breaking the secret code, and they can create their own art on our wall. We also have crossword puzzles, word finds, and coloring sheets available every day and a special craft activity set up each week.

For those who like to compete we have several contests. Kids can earn points playing the Sock Toss or Artopoly games. They can guess how many recycled lids are hanging from our ceiling. A very unusual object is hanging from our ceiling just waiting to be identified. And, kids can draw a creative creature to enter in our art contest.

We have five special events this summer that should be great fun. Our first event happens on June 9 when Jim Jayes brings his Marionettes and Magic Show here. Mr. Twister’s Balloon Show will be here on June 25. Our Chess Tournament takes place on July 14. Also in July, the Brodini Comedy Magic Show will be in town. On August 6 Dennis Warner brings his guitar for the Kids’ Concert.

This year two new opportunities will extend the rewards of taking part in our program. All participants will be honored at the 2009 Minnesota State Fair on September 2 at “The Great Minnesota Read-Together at Carousel Park.” Also, through a Get Creative @ Savings for College Sweepstakes program, all Minnesota kids who participate will have a chance to win a $1,000 cash-for-college prize and help their library win $500.

As always, the most important reward of our summer reading program is that by providing an incentive for kids to read during the summer, it helps kids maintain or even improve their reading skills. Parents play a major role by making it possible for kids to sign up and by encouraging them to attain their goal. So come to the Library this summer for some good books and creative fun.

[Note: Our Summer Reading Program for Teens starts on June 8.]

May 18, 2009
Post Secret
Betty J Roiger, Acquisitions

I don’t know if you have run across any of the Post Secret books in our non-fiction section. They are quick and provocative reading.

These books were conceived and compiled by Frank Warren. It says in the front of the first book: “The instructions were simple, but the results were extraordinary.” It started when Frank had an idea for a community art project and began leaving blank postcards in public places or handing them out to strangers. They were told to write down a secret they had never told anyone and mail it to him anonymously. The secret could be about anything: betrayal, fear, desire, regret, humiliation, or joy. These postcards could reveal a secret; the only stipulation was that it be true and never shared with anyone before. He asked people to be brief and creative.

Along the way, people started to make their own artwork along with their secret and decorated the postcards they sent in. The results became these books that exhibit postcards that can make you laugh, or cry. They can shock and repulse you. Some can make you feel for the strangers who exposed their feelings in such a raw manner.

The secrets can run the gamut from “My mom thinks she’s fat, I think she’s perfect” to “I handed the most important person in my life the drugs that killed him.” There are confessions like “I have to cheat to beat my deaf 84 year old grandmother” and “Sometimes I miss prison” and “every morning I go to work hoping she’ll say “I Quit”

Other post cards are gifts of joy such as “I wish life was like a VCR, so I could rewind & replay good memories” and “Holding my nephew for the first time made me believe in God.” Several are just funny like “I used to fertilize a ring in our lawn every time I mowed it. It grew. My parents still think it was Aliens.” Some are sad or shocking and tragic. Many are just very relatable like the one that says, “I still can’t believe you died so I pretend you are away on a very long vacation having the best time ever.” And some are just endearing: “The day I turned eleven, I waited all day for the letter written in emerald-green ink telling me I had been accepted to Hogwarts.”

Whatever you might think of whichever postcard you are reading, one thing will be true: they are thought-provoking. Post Secret is an intimate view into people’s secret selves. They can provoke controversy, initiate discussion, and still be valued for whatever truth they tell.


May 11, 2009
The Diogenes Club?
Larry Hlavsa, Library Director

In the nineteenth century libraries were held to be quiet places for contemplation, study and reflection. They were not so much places for socialization, and certainly not for fun. Some public libraries might even occasionally have been described as a place like The Diogenes Club.

By the time we entered the twenty-first century libraries had evolved into sometimes noisy, sometimes boisterous and sometimes downright crowded places. This evolution has not left everyone happy. While many enjoy the programming and events that now make libraries more a place of socialization and fun, many still long for the “good old days.” They want the library to be the old, quiet place it once was.

Some of the reasons for the change in libraries has been societal. Today attitudes towards young people are different than they were in the nineteenth century. In earlier times, children were expected “to be seen and not heard.” That tradition has long since been gone by the wayside. Also, in the early days, children were often not to be seen in the library at all. The early public library was originally designed more as a haven for adults, not young people. As such, libraries were naturally quieter, more contemplative places.

These days adults must share the library with teenagers and children on a more or less equal footing. Egalitarianism has won out; rightfully so. Nor can libraries do as golf courses do having “men’s day” when at least for one day, the kids are kept out. No, kids, teenagers and adults all have to live, study, learn and congregate in their public library in peace and harmony. And this, for the most part, they do.

Librarians all over the country continue to hear from the occasional adult lamenting the passing of the “good old days” when libraries were quiet, when libraries were calm, when libraries were places of meditation. We try to tell them about the changes that have occurred, and then we try and find them a quiet, out-of-the-way location in the library.

Today, we librarians all accept the occasional loudly unhappy child in the library. We try to keep our programs respectful of others in the library. And we like to believe we foster peaceful and harmonious relations among our customers. Rest assured, in the twenty-first century, your public library is not The Diogenes Club!

NOTE: The Diogenes Club was a fictional gentleman's club created by the noted author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and it was featured in several Sherlock Holmes stories. Its members were misanthropic and unsociable with “ No member permitted to take the least notice of any other one.” The number one rule of the club was that there was to be no talking, to the point where club members could be excluded for coughing.


May 4, 2009

Why Weed Now?

Betty Roiger, Acquistions

I know what you’re asking yourself. Why in the world are those librarians weeding (pulling books off of the shelves) in a time of economic crisis? Isn’t that wasteful? I’m glad you asked. Please let me try to explain about libraries and the importance of weeding.

The word “weeding” itself is a nice figure of speech, which brings to mind gardening. Anyone who is familiar with gardening knows about stooping (ouch, aching back) or kneeling to pull out tiny, trailing weeds…or in my case because I leave it too long, digging in my heels and tugging at the huge weeds. What does weeding your garden accomplish? Well, it reveals the flowers to their best advantage and allows those flowers to flourish. It removes the weeds, which compete for sunshine and water and nutrients in the ground.

This is very similar to what happens when you weed books out of the entire library collection. Books are sitting on the shelves, not circulating, unread, damaged, old, and unused. Removing these materials showcases the books we do have and allows them to have more life, to circulate more. If by some unlucky chance a book has mildew, removing it in time stops the spread of mildew to other books. Weeding books takes the unread, unused materials away from the collection and allows the books we have to stand out and bloom as it were.

Weeding is also an opportunity to look at our collection and replace authors and classics that are tattered or in poor shape to give them new life. It is an occasion to get rid of damaged materials that many patrons will not look twice at. Thus the library gets rid of unread materials.

These unread materials go into our perpetual book sale, which is next to the circulation desk so we can sell these not quite perfect books to get funds for our library. This puts books into the circle of life in that it is a good rotation of recycling and replacement and reusing. What's more, they may find a good home in someone else’s library.

Weeding is something that takes place on a regular basis in all libraries. It really is a way to revitalize a collection and show it to the best of its ability. Often after weeding, circulation statistics go up as well, since patrons can readily find or discover things they might not have seen before.

This is one of the ways we rejuvenate our collection so that we can bloom while we grow.

Apr 27, 2009
Only Connect!
Lori Roholt, Programming Librarian

Earlier this month, we recognized National Library Week, whose theme this year was “Worlds Connect @ Your Library.”  More than a catchy marketing phrase, I think the theme really captures an important part of how we use the library:  we read the news and develop a connection another place, be it down the street, across the state, or half a world away.  We use the Internet to connect with a childhood friend who has moved away.  We read books that connect us to places we’ve never visited, but can clearly see in our mind’s eye.  And sometimes, depictions of the places we know well allow us to make a different kind of connection:  we see how the life we live plays out on the page, and how we might connect to those around us.

I recently borrowed a book called “State by State:  A Panoramic Portrait of America,” published by Ecco in 2008.  The book features essays about each of the American states written by a native writer.  I skipped around, reading about the states with which I was familiar, starting with Wisconsin, my home state.  Right away, I was disappointed that Daphne Beal, the author of the essay, was no longer living in Wisconsin, but had left in young adulthood.  It turned out she had grown up in the opposite corner of the state, and her impressions often varied greatly from my own:  her generalizations often did not apply to what I had known of the state, and her perspective struck me as distanced.  I felt the same disappointment with the essay about Minnesota, then New Mexico.  Was each essay written by someone who could not help but infuse their writing with the reasons they left their home state?  How valuable is a portrait of a place when it contains little to which another resident can relate?

I am much more inclined to enjoy books about places I know that both reflect and deepen my current understanding of the place.  I, too, have experienced awe and contentment in Minnesota’s Northwoods, just as Justine Kerfoot describes it in “Woman of the Boundary Waters”.  I have reveled in the changing seasons in Western Wisconsin, just as Michael Perry does in “Truck: A Love Story”.  It is truly delightful to read a book and feel an automatic connection with a place, a sense that the author is telling your story, but in words you would be hard pressed to turn out so eloquently.

But what about those portrayals of places we know, but do not recognize in writing?  I came to understand the value of “State by State” as reinforcement that, though we may inhabit the same place, we frequently experience it differently.  And while such writing does not give us the familiar pleasure of recognition, we might yet be able to connect with those whose experience differs, and populate our place in the world with a fuller understanding of our fellow inhabitants.

In “Howard’s End,” E.M. Forster writes, "Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer. Only connect, and the beast and the monk, robbed of the isolation that is life to either, will die."  Let the library help you connect—“only connect!”

Apr 20, 2009

Spring Cheer
Diane Zellmann, Children’s Librarian

Spring is in the air – finally! It feels so good and seems to put everyone in a cheerful mood. Our library has some special displays right now that add even more cheerfulness.

Puzzles and puzzle pieces are on display on the Library windows facing Broadway. The Brown County Day Care Providers have put up the puzzles made by the children in their care. These puzzles are colorful, complex, creative, and, yes, cheerful. Their theme is “Quality Childcare – Putting the Pieces Together.”

On April 16 the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) held its annual poster contest called “Roadsides Are for the Birds.” The DNR holds this contest each spring to help educate students and the public about the growing importance of roadside habitat for many species of grassland songbirds, game birds, and other farmland wildlife. As wildlife habitat continues to disappear, roadsides play a critical role as a nesting habitat.

Students in grades 7 and 8 from throughout Minnesota participate in this contest by sending in their entries. Winning students earn prizes for themselves and their schools. From April 17 through April 27, we are displaying the top 40 winning posters in our library’s entrance hallway near the Children’s Room.

The kids’ creativity combined with an important message about wildlife habitat makes an impressive display. You will enjoy the artwork, learn something, and certainly be cheered up just thinking about the effort these students have put forth.

All 40 winning entries will be on display at the Minnesota Deer Classic and Sports Show in St. Paul in March 2010. The top three grand prize winners will have their posters framed and on display at the Minnesota State Fair in the DNR building in August 2009.

Since April is Poetry Month, we have a display of Junior poetry books in the Children’s Room. You will find poems about animals, nature, people, and places. You will find poems by well-known poets like Shel Silverstein, Jack Prelutsky, Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, and even Mother Goose. Poems about weather are in demand this time of year, so here is one written by an anonymous poet and entitled “Weather” that always makes me smile:

Whether the weather be fine,
Or whether the weather be not,
Whether the weather be cold,
Or whether the weather be hot,
We’ll weather the weather
Whatever the weather,
Whether we like it or not!

These special displays are here for only a short time, but they are well worth a trip to the library. Come and enjoy.

April 13, 2009

8 Men and a Duck
JoAnne Griebel, Library Aide

Americans were spending more money and time on radio, television, and music. The American Library Association and the American Book Publishers felt these interests lead to less time spent reading. They formed the National Book Committee in 1954 whose goals were “encouraging people to read in their increasing leisure time” and “improving incomes and health and developing strong and happy family life.” In 1958 the result was the first National Library Week. All types of libraries are celebrated. This year we celebrate April 12-18 with the theme “Worlds Connect @ Your Library.”

In keeping with the theme, the New Ulm Public Library is highlighting true travel stories and guides. Paul Theroux’s “The Pillars of Hercules: Grand Tour of the Mediterranean” begins in Gibraltar journeying the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. He traveled by foot, bus, train, and ship exploring the past and present stories along his way.

Have you ever thought of selling your home, business and possessions, and taking your family to travel the world? David Cohen, former editor of the “Day in the Life” series did just that. He realized “that life is short and you have to live your dreams while you can.” Cohen relates his family’s adventures and growing together in “One Year Off.”

For those of us who can’t just pack up for a year and travel the world, there are armchairs, those comfy easy chairs where we can imagine ourselves backpacking across Europe, floating down a canal in Venice, going on safari in Africa. Rebecca King wrote “Armchair Travels,” a photographic travelogue from Amsterdam to Vienna.

“8 Men and a Duck” by Nick Thorpe is the story of a 2500 mile voyage from northern Chile to Easter Island in a reed boat. Imagine sailing that distance in a reed boat with a crew that included a tree surgeon, jewelry salesman and two ducks.

Barbara Hodgson’s “No Place for a Lady” documents women travelers throughout history. In 1847, Harriet Martinwau traveled across the Sinai on foot and riding camels. In 1848, accompanied by three friends, Harriet cruised the Nile River. The book is a collection of fascinating travel adventures. Interested in road trips? “Lewis and Clark
Road Trips: Exploring the Trail Across America” by Kris Gale provides a detailed guide highlighting the journey of these explorers. Gale includes maps, historic sites, photos, and just about everything you need to plan your trip. Not sure where you would like to travel? Check out “Frommer’s 500 Places to See Before They Disappear” from Minnesota to Australia.

Your public library subscribes to several travel magazines including “Travel and Leisure,” “National Geographic,” and “National Geographic Traveler.” Travel guides are also available. Enjoy your travels by plane, boat, train, car or armchair.

April 07, 2009

Are We Doomed?
Larry Hlavsa, Library Director


Have you heard about 2012? It’s all the buzz among staff at the New Ulm Library. The Mayan calendar ends on December 21, 2012 which—we are told-- may signal the end of times. Of course, no one really seems to know what “end-of-times” means, but it certainly doesn’t sound promising. Then there are the other possible sources of gloom and doom for the year 2012 (or somewhere thereabouts); Edgar Cayce, the Bible Code, the Orion Prophecy, St. Malachy, and Nostradamus. There is even supposedly an end-times prophecy relating to the Great Pyramid of Giza. Gosh, you’d think the economic collapse of 2008 would be enough!

Well, naturally we at the library like to be in the know and we like our customers to be informed as well. So naturally we have a few of the plethora of books coming out about 2012. They each provide a good read, but only if you’re an optimist at heart Pessimists should probably stick to agonizing about the future of Wall Street.

The Mystery of 2012: Predictions, Prophecies & Possibilities is a compilation of fairly deep essays by a variety of authors including scientist Gregg Braden, researcher Ervin Laszlo, physicians Karl Mare and Christine Page, and visionary Jean Houston. The Mayan Calendar is the starting point for these contemplative essays but many other topics are discussed as well. This is a serious look at the topic, not the sort of drivel you see in the National Enquirer.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to 2012 by Synthia Andrews. If you believe in 2012 as a potential milestone in human history, this book doesn’t matter. You already know all of this stuff. But if the only thing you know about 2012 is that it’s a leap year, then this will give you a nice, erudite, simple and uncomplicated introduction to the topic.

2012: The War for Souls by Whitley Strieber is a science fiction work related to the 2012 phenomenon. Here’s the publisher’s summary: “A mysterious alien presence unexpectedly bursts out of sacred sites all over the world and begins to rip human souls from their bodies, plunging the world into chaos it has never before known.” Wow! Kind of a throwback to what happened in 2008 with real estate? Of interest to anyone interested in science fiction and the 2012 phenom.

2013: The End of Days or a New Beginning by Marie Jones. Another book covering the end –of–days, but this one has a twist; i.e. “what we perceive to be doomsday might be the equivalent of the caterpillar turning into the butterfly - a positive end, and a fantastic new beginning.” Hmmm. I like that. We may yet make it through to 2013. Worthwhile if you’d like a more positive angle to 2012.

And finally, a book we don’t own but that I’m ordering. 2022 Anunnaki Code: End of the World or Their Return to Earth? by Maximillien De Lafayette. The subtitle kind of tells it all: Ulema Book of Parallel Dimension, Extraterrestials and Akashic Records. Yikes. In a nutshell, the premise is that extraterrestrials called the Anunnaki were responsible for the genetic creation of mankind some 100,000 years ago and they’re coming back in 2022! I don’t know if this will classify in fiction or nonfiction, but it will certainly classify as bizarre. Watch for it on the new books shelves in the near future.

Now, aren’t you glad I brought up the topic of 2012?


March 30, 2009

Truth and April Fools
Betty J. Roiger, Acquisitions

Questions, questions, we get questions. Finally, the answers to those frequently asked questions that we get at the library.

People often ask how we select the books we purchase for the library. (Not really, no one asks.) Well, we all have scientific methods for purchasing. Before even revealing this information, I should be swearing you all to secrecy, but, well, today, you all look trustworthy. Just don’t let it get out, okay? We have library journals with book reviews. I use a dowsing rod to locate the best books on the page. When it starts to shimmy, I look to where it is pointing and that’s my pick. Linda just flips the magazine open at random, closes her eyes, points, and then orders that book. Lori uses a tuning fork, taps the page, and whatever sounds good, well that’s it. Diane swings her necklace over the top, and if it dangles in a circle rather than side to side, that’s a good one. We used to read all the reviews, make note of bestsellers in book stores, see things advertised on TV, and get suggestions from patrons, but our scientific methods seem to work better for all of us.

Someone rang the bells the other night at closing, and I heard a little tiny girl’s voice ask her father, “why them play music?” Why indeed. The fact is we all were deprived piano lessons as young children, and this is our only chance to practice. Then again maybe the bells were an idea of our previous director, Dan Reilly, who had seen them at another library. He thought that ringing the bells at closing instead of yelling: “Go home now!” was a pleasant way of closing up shop for the day.

People wonder, “Why do some of the books have numbers on their spines?” We don’t really know. Sometimes we scratch our heads and go, “What is up with all of these numbers? If only two hundred years ago someone, say, with the name of Melvil Dewey, would have devised a system to divide all subjects into ten main classes with ten divisions, which would then further, be divided into ten sections. Then these categories with subcategories would have created a complex yet organized way to arrange all subjects, and he could have called it the Dewey Decimal system.” Well, that is some dream, right?

People often place holds on materials they would like that don’t happen to currently be on the shelf. Some people ask: “What is my password and why don’t I know it? The computer asks for it when I try to place a hold, and I didn’t even know I had a password.” Well, we used to require a secret handshake and a decoder ring, but that got kind of unwieldy. Your password is your last name. It is loaded into the computer when you get a library card. When you go into the catalog and your account, you have the choice to create a new one.

Well, some of the above is just “April fools.” And some of it is truth. Staff does read journals and do not rely on gimmicks to do selection. We play the bells to announce closing. And Melvil Dewey was the creator of our organizational methods in nonfiction. Your password is your last name unless you change it. You can always ask a staff person to verify what it is for you. And that’s the truth, although sometimes it might be fun to have a secret handshake and a decoder ring too.

March 23, 2009


Dr. Seuss on Display
Diane Zellmann, Children’s Librarian

Raise your hand if you have never read or listened to a book written by Dr. Seuss. I’m willing to bet that not too many hands went up. As most of you well know, Dr. Seuss is the world-famous author who wrote more than 60 children’s books. He published his first book in 1937 and his last one in 1990. This explains his popularity with people of almost all ages today. Dr. Seuss, whose real name was Theodor Seuss Geisel, was born on March 2, 1904, and died on September 24, 1991. If he were still living, he would have turned 105 this year.

To celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday, several members of our staff created a Seussapalooza retrospective of Dr. Seuss’s books and famous sayings. It’s located in the hallway of the north entrance to our library. Here you can see a tower of turtles temporarily topped with Yertle; you will see the Cat in the Hat, some green eggs and ham, Cindy-Lou Who, a fox in socks, a red fish, a blue fish, and more!

You will also get to read a few favorite lines written by Dr. Seuss, like “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” and “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

Dr. Seuss created so many imaginative characters. Yertle the Turtle, the Sneetches, the Oobleck, the Sneedle, Thing 1 and Thing 2, the Yooks and the Zooks, and Horton the Elephant are just a few. The fanciful illustrations of these characters provide further evidence of the creative genius of this man.  Writing stories that were entertaining for children was important to Dr. Seuss. Whether he mesmerized children with the magic of the 500 hats belonging to Bartholomew Cubbins or wrote fun-to-read rhymes for beginning readers, Dr. Seuss’ books were a treat.

Although Dr. Seuss wrote picture books, he occasionally wrote about some very serious topics as well. His “The Butter Battle Book” warns of the arms buildup and the threat of nuclear war. “The Lorax” shows concern for the environment and encourages manufacturers, businesses, and individuals to take responsibility for their actions. Even “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” provides a gentle message about materialism.

For anyone who wants to read more about the life of this remarkable author/artist, we have two interesting books. “The Boy on Fairfield Street: How Ted Geisel Grew up to Become Dr. Seuss” by Kathleen Krull is in our Junior nonfiction collection. “The Seuss, the Whole Seuss, and Nothing but the Seuss: A Visual Biography of Theodor Seuss Geisel” by Charles Cohan is in the Young Adult nonfiction collection.

If you are one of the many fans of Dr. Seuss, stop in to see our display and check out a few of your favorite Dr. Seuss books. After all, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” If you bring a child along, both of you will have fun. As a children’s librarian, I can’t end without giving my favorite Seuss line: “A person’s a person no matter how small.”

March 16, 2009

Lost Your Job and Don’t Know Where to Turn?
Linda Lindquist, Reference Librarian

Have you, or someone you know, recently lost your job due to the tough economic times our country is going through? Are you looking for a new career? How about finding a website to search for a new position? The New Ulm Public Library may be of help to you.

If you are looking for a new career, the following books may be useful. They include “Best Jobs for the 21st Century” by Michael Farr and Laurence Shatkin; “150 Best Recession-Proof Jobs” by the editors @JIST and Laurence Shatkin; “The Fastest-Growing Careers for the 21st Century” by the Ferguson Company; and “100 Fastest-Growing Careers” by Michael Farr. These books compare careers and talk about earnings, needed education, necessary skills needed for different positions, and advancement possibilities.

Are you looking to change your career or updating your skills for your present job? The following books may be useful. “Master the Police Officer Exam” printed by the Peterson Company, Norman Hall’s “Postal Exam Preparation Book”, and Kaplan’s “Civil Service Exam” are just three of the books on our shelves to help brush up your skills.

Not all of us are college graduates. Two new books on our shelves for those of us who have a high school diploma are entitled “Great Careers with a High School Diploma: Personal Care Services, Fitness, and Education” written by Amy Hackney Blackwell and “Great Careers with a High School Diploma: Hospitality, Human Services, and Tourism” written by Rowan Riley. Information covered in these books include telling you about the career, who you will work for, how much money you can expect to make, what your day could consist of, training you will need, and someone working in that field at the present time is interviewed.

Or are you looking to retire? How about reading “Retiring as a Career: Making the Most of Your Retirement” by Betsy Kyte Newman? All of us look forward to retiring. We plan our finances for retirement, but do we plan emotionally and socially as well? We can all learn from the experiences of others who have gone before us and can benefit from their wisdom.

We promised websites for those looking for new positions. Some that we found are:

Minnesota Works.Net
Minnesota Workforce Center System State of Minnesota Employment
Minnesota Conservation Corps
Hire Vets First
Career One Stop
USA Jobs (federal government jobs)
Job Bank USA
Career Builder

Keep checking the shelves at the New Ulm Public Library for new books on these topics.

March 09, 2009


A Valuable Community Resource

Lori Roholt, Programming


While there is little good news to be had on the economic front lately, your public library remains a great resource, especially in tough economic times.  Unless otherwise noted, library resources are available at no charge because city and county residents' tax dollars support its operation.


Of course, the library has books:  fiction, non-fiction, new, not-so-new, large print, audiobooks, and reference for adults, young adults, and children.  Other print resources include magazines (the library has about 60 subscriptions and a free magazine swap) and local, regional, and national newspapers.


Among the library's most popular offerings are informational and feature films on DVD and VHS, available for checkout by cardholders.  The library also has music on CDs.


Public Internet access is also available at the library.  Residents and non-residents alike may use the computers for 30 minutes when others are waiting, or longer if no others are waiting.  Computers are currently available on a first-come, first-served basis, though you may call ahead to reserve computer time.  You can print from the library's computers at a cost of 20¢ per page.  Wireless Internet access is available throughout the building for those using mobile devices.


Some of the library's less obvious services include test proctoring, meeting room rental at $20 for up to 4 hours and $40 for up to 8 hours, and presentation equipment rental, including an LCD projector and screen.  Ask at the main desk for more information about these services.  The library also carries both state and federal tax forms available at no charge, and has a photocopier and fax machine for public use.  Photocopies cost 20¢ per page, and faxes are $1 per page.


Unfortunately, the library is not immune to tough economic times.  There are many ways, big and small, that you can help the library remain a strong community resource.  You can return books and other materials on time and in good condition, and you can donate your used books or other materials that the library might add to its collection or sell in a book sale.  You can provide suggestions for improving services, and become a Friends of the Library member for an annual membership fee.  If you appreciate library services, you can tell your local, county, or state representatives that you'd like to see continued support for public libraries.

Mar 02, 2009

Librarian on the Red Carpet
Betty J Roiger, Acquisitions

Maybe you were one of the millions of people that tuned into the Oscars a couple of weeks ago. For awhile there were a ton of awards shows to watch: the Golden Globes, the SAG awards, and finally, the Oscars. The world got to see many celebrities dressed up and walking the red carpet.

Now there are even shows dedicated to evaluating the red carpet event and what everyone was wearing. Did the celebrity wear something garish or were they the best dressed? And were those jewels decorating their wrists and necklines or cheap knockoffs? Reporters stand on the sidelines and yell, “Who are you wearing?” “Oh my gosh, who made your shoes?” And later when they make their report, they say, “What were they thinking?!”

It got me to thinking what would happen if a librarian walked the red carpet.

“Excuse me, Madam Librarian, over here?”

The librarian turns to the speaker, smiles.

“Who are you reading right now?”

“Well, I just finished reading the third book by Anna Godbersen called “Envy.” The series started with “Luxe” continued with “Rumors” and will go on after “Envy.”

“I’ve never heard of them, what are they about?”

“The world of Luxe takes place in old New York, it is the world of the very wealthy and the very poor. These books involve social climbing, lies, betrayals, and heartbreaking misunderstanding. And yes, there is even true love buried somewhere beneath it all. Manners rule people’s lives but gossip and rumors fuel all the fires of everyone’s deepest longings and secrets. It’s a very intriguing place to visit.”

“Anybody else you could recommend to the people out there?”

“As always I would propose Louise Penny to anyone who likes a good mystery. I just read “A Rule Against Murder” and it was great to get back to her Inspector Gamache and follow a mystery set in a Canadian bed and breakfast. And Sophie Kinsella’s humor might gain a new audience now that there is a ‘Shopaholic’ movie out there. Christopher Moore’s newest is called “Fool” and plays havoc with the King Lear story from the bawdy jester’s point of view. Recently I’ve been introduced to Joe Hill through a short story. Not everyone knows he is the son of Stephen King and a talented writer in his own right."

“Can I use that as a scoop?”

“You may.”

“Oh, and Ms Librarian, one last question…”


“Who are you wearing?”

And she walks away thinking that her shoes pinch, her dress is a trifle itchy, and she would rather be home, with her feet up, reading a good book.

February 23, 2009

Michael Crichton
Betty J. Roiger, Acquistions

One of my favorite authors, Michael Crichton, just recently died. He was very prolific and varied in his work. I have read his books for over thirty years.

A long time ago, when I was in high school, “The Andromeda Strain” came out and was very popular. I went to a small school and our library had only one copy of the book. All the boys in the group I hung around with were reading it. It was all the buzz. And I was way down on the reserve list.

Since they were often raving about this book, I would ask, “What’s happening?” and they would laugh and refuse to tell me. Almost daily snippets of these conversations would occur, vaguely referring to fantastic and frightening scientific goings on. I was sincerely frustrated and anxious for my turn. The. Day. I. Got. The. Book, these boys told me the twist plot ending. Really. It was as if they answered all my “What’s happening?” questions at one time. Yeah, they were jerks. It didn’t stop me from reading it though and discovering Crichton. It was his first best seller. It explains why I never stopped reading Michael Crichton’s work. And it also explains why I don’t hang around those guys anymore.

Probably my favorite of the books that he wrote was “Jurassic Park.” If you’ve seen the movie, it really doesn’t compare to the book. I still remember the part in the book where the scientists are explaining that the computer tallies the animals they have created every fifteen minutes to make certain that no animals are inadvertently escaping. The numbers always match. A few pages later, when the paleontology expert suggests maybe they are looking at it wrong, they shouldn’t be looking for dinosaurs getting away, they should be looking for a total. They tally again and realize the numbers are rising, dinosaurs are breeding, that there are far more dinosaurs on the island than anyone expects. There is no way of knowing how many there are now, and no one knows if they have been getting away or for how long. I remember the hair rising on the back of my neck. And my brain went into “Oh-oh, here comes trouble” mode.

Michael Crichton formulated possible thrillers from his love of medicine and science. He wrote about viruses in “The Andromeda Strain” to signing gorillas in “Congo.” “Jurassic Park” took the foibles of cloning to a gigantic level, and “Rising Sun” explores the lengths in economic competition that the Japanese seemed to be willing to go to in the United Sates. He even wrote a documentary- style emergency movie that eventually became the TV show “ER.”

For me he made science accessible, understandable, and fun to read about. He introduced me to different ideas and possibilities and bound them all together with exciting stories and intriguing mysteries. Crichton was a good writer who will be missed.

February 16, 2009

Books Are Winners Too!
By Diane Zellmann, Children’s Librarian

The Children’s Room has some new award-winning books ready for checkout. Each year it is fun to find out which books win these awards. It is also interesting to learn something about the winners.

The Caldecott Medal is awarded each year (since 1938) by the American Library Association (ALA) to the illustrator of the most distinguished American picture book for children. In 2009 the award goes to “The House in the Night,” illustrated by Beth Krommes and written by Susan Marie Swanson.

“The House in the Night” is a bedtime book for young children. The author’s spare text, only three to seven words per page, mentions nighttime things that interest preschoolers, like a key, a light, a bed, a book, a bird, and the moon.

The illustrations match the text perfectly and add interesting details. They are done in black and white with touches of yellow for the sun, moon, stars, and other special items. A couple of local readers mentioned that these illustrations are somewhat similar to those of Wanda Gag. I agree. Even the kittens that appear on several pages could have been inspired by those in “Millions of Cats.” You will find this new book in our Caldecott Corner next to our nonfiction picture books.

The Newbery Medal is awarded each year (since 1922) by ALA to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. In 2009 Neil Gaiman won for his “The Graveyard Book.” It’s the tragic story of a sleeping family, a murderer, and a toddler who escapes to a safe place: a graveyard. Graveyard spirits name the toddler Nobody and agree to protect him. Kids who like books with danger, fantasy, and humor will like this story. Since this title will appeal to a range of ages, we will have copies in both the Junior and Young Adult fiction sections.

The Theodor Seuss Geisel Award is a fairly new award, first presented in 2006, and is given annually for the most distinguished American book for beginning readers published in English in the U.S. during the preceding year. For 2009 this award goes to “Are You Ready to Play Outside?” by Mo Willems. This is the fourth book in his series about Piggie and Gerald.

Perhaps some of you recognize Willems as the author of the picture books about Knuffle Bunny and the pigeon who wanted to drive a bus and eat a hotdog. Willems succeeds writing beginning readers by combining easy-to-read words, clever ideas, and expressive illustrations. This combination results in books that make kids laugh and enjoy their new reading experience. Dr. Seuss surely would have loved to see that Willems won the award. This book is shelved with other beginning readers at the end of our Junior fiction collection.

Stop in at the Library to see these and other award-winning books. Also, look for our Caldecott and Newbery posters that list the honor books that were this year’s runners-up for these awards.

February 9, 2009

Happy Birthday!
JoAnne Griebel, Library Aide

February is a month of celebrations beginning with Groundhog Day and Valentine’s Day. President’s Day commemorates the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. “President Lincoln the Duty of a Statesman” by William Lee Miller reveals Lincoln the president. Richard Brookhiser’s “Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington” goes beyond the story of the cherry tree and discovers an intelligent and “audacious individual.” Those birthdays made me wonder who else celebrated a birthday in February.

Bess Truman was born on February 13. Her daughter, Margaret Truman, has written a wonderful biography of her mother, “Bess W. Truman,” sharing Bess’s early life in Missouri and her life as First Lady. “Quiet Strength” celebrates the courage of Rosa Parks, who on December 1, 1955, refused to move to the back of a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Rosa was born on February 4.

Closer to home we observe Laura Ingalls Wilder born February 7, 1867. Donald Zochert has written a delightful biography, “Laura: The Life of Laura Ingalls Wilder.” If you are interested in the times of Laura Ingalls, be sure to check out “Laura Ingalls Wilder Country” and explore the places Laura lived and described in her books.

“Jules Verne: The Definitive Biography” by William Butcher tells about one of the most translated and best selling authors. After you read this biography, try reading or re-reading “Around the World in Eighty Days” or another of Verne’s works for a new perspective.

Several entertainers celebrate February birthdays including Audrey Meadows who starred with Jackie Gleason in “The Honeymooners.” Who can forget Jack Benny? Jack Benny and his daughter Joan wrote “Sunday Nights at Seven.” Benny tells the story of his 1934 radio debut. He greeted the audience with, “Jell-O, folks, this is Jack Benny.” Jell-O sales hit record numbers. You’ll enjoy this story of Benny, a generous and talented man.

Speaking of talent, Johnny Cash and Erma Bombeck are two more February birthdays. Steve Turner’s biography, “The Man Called Cash,” is one you won’t want to miss. For light reading, try “Erma Bombeck: Life in Humor” by Susan Edwards. The author remembers Bombeck’s humor and ability to make us laugh at ourselves.

Visit the library for these and more fascinating biographies.

February 2, 2009

Informational Films at the Library
Lori Roholt, Programming Librarian

Everyone knows that the library has books to check out, but the savvy library user knows there's much more you can borrow using your yellow library card: audiobooks, music CDs, magazines, newspapers, and movies. Our movie selection, both on DVD and VHS, includes feature films, kids' movies, and informational films. I consider our informational films a treasure trove: you can find fascinating stories, educate yourself on a variety of topics, and keep the films for three weeks.

Some gems include "Jimmy Carter: Man from Plains," a documentary that follows former president Jimmy Carter on a book publicity tour. The "Scenic Walks of the World" series can provide travel ideas, or a little escape from the Minnesota winter. "King Corn: You Are What You Eat," follows two East Coast college kids who grow an acre of corn on an Iowa farm and trace its path to the food supply. The five-disc "Planet Earth" series from David Attenborough explores wildlife throughout the world. "Gitmo" is a 2007 film that gives an inside look at the American detention center at Guantanamo Bay. The "Mythbusters" series chronicles attempts to debunk urban legends with scientific recreations and experiments. In "Air Guitar Nation," participants from all over the world compete for rock star status, sans guitars. "Wordplay" showcases a different kind of competition: the American Crossword Tournament, and features New York Times puzzle editor Will Shortz.

In addition to these titles, you will also find informational movies on travel, exercise, biography, history, crafting, recreation, and much more.

To view a list of our informational movie titles, use iBistro, the library's online catalog and select "Advanced Search" from the bottom of the basic search box. If you'd like to see only movies that are owned by the New Ulm Public Library, choose us in the 'Library' field. To see all informational movies available in our library system, choose 'All.' Movies owned by other libraries in our system can be requested and sent to a more convenient pick-up location when you "Place Hold". Then select 'Informational DVD' or 'Informational VHS' in the 'Type' field, leaving the other fields as they are. This will give you a lengthy list of informational films listing our most recent additions first. Don't hesitate to ask our staff for help in navigating the library catalog or collection!

Jan 26, 2009

Using MnLINK to Find Books
Larry Hlavsa, Library Dircector

Did you ever consider becoming a journalist? By journalist, I don’t mean a newspaper reporter, I mean someone who writes for themselves, a writer of journals. My career as a journalist began in earnest during the early 1980s although I have bits and pieces of journals from the 1960s and 1970s as well. And while I don’t know exactly, I estimate my page production now at about 3,000 pages. I’ve been journaling a long, long time.

Despite all of this journal-writing, I’ve never read a book on the topic. This morning I checked our catalog at the New Ulm Public Library looking for a book on journal-writing, but sadly I didn’t find much about “diaries” or “journals.” No library can have everything! But not to worry. I’m also a librarian and I know my library card is a very valuable commodity. I know about MnLINK.

What is MnLINK? MnLINK is a statewide virtual library that electronically links major Minnesota libraries. MnLINK is made up of two major components: the MnLINK Gateway and the Integrated Library System (ILS).
Okay, you say, that’s Library-speak. What’s it mean to me? Well, what it means is that you can search for, then borrow books from all over Minnesota, right from your home computer. Here’s an example. I used my Internet browser to go to the New Ulm Public Library Web page (, clicked on the “Catalog” button and then on the “MnLINK” button. I was now on the MnLINK site. I entered my search term “diaries” and came up with hundreds of books owned by libraries in the state. I quickly scanned the titles and came up with four that sounded perfect for me. By clicking on a button for each, and having my library card bar code number handy, I quickly had requested on interlibrary loan four books on journal-writing. My books will be coming to the New Ulm Public Library for me to check out just as if the books were owned by this library. They’ll be coming from Duluth Public Library, Hennepin County Library and the Arrowhead Library System. How long will it take? Most books arrive in a few weeks. That’s plenty quick enough for me. I’ll be busy writing in my journal in the meantime.

So try MnLINK! And remember, if you need help with MnLINK, your New Ulm Public Library staff is here to serve you!

Jan 19, 2009

A Dash of This and a Pinch of That
JoAnne Griebel, Library Aide

Seems we just finished with baking cookies for Christmas, making many of the same recipes every year.  Baking together is a fun way to learn math and science: understanding fractions, how various ingredients combine to make cookies moist or crunchy, and how yeast and baking soda work in recipes.  The Home Baking Association

has designated February as “Bake for Family Fun Month.”  The library has many cookbooks, but for those of you just starting out with baking, or even if you are an experienced baker, here are some books of special interest.

Pies are not just for dessert.  This is the idea behind “Retro Pies” by Linda Everett.  She shares recipes for homemade potpies, such as veggie pie, garden delight, and colonial chicken pie.  Enjoy healthy eating by making your own pizza.  There are lots of ideas in the “Pizza Cookbook” by Myra Street.  “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day” by Jeff Hertzberg is popular at our house.  We made light whole wheat bread and it was delicious.

There are books for special diets too.  “Great Gluten-free Baking” has over 80 recipes for tasty cakes, breads, muffins and cookies.  Jean Wade has compiled a cookbook “How Sweet It Is…Without the Sugar.”  Recipes use granulated fructose and juice concentrates in place of sugar. 

Like to bake, but shouldn’t eat the cakes and cookies? Then check out “Sweet Gratitude: Bake a Thank You.”  The book has fun illustrations and step-by-step instructions.  It describes baking a gift as a “thank you from the heart.”  “Baked From the Heart, Gifts of Love for Special Occasions” has ideas for those special days.  How about making a batch of meringue and chocolate kisses for your special someone this Valentine’s Day? 

Do you have cranberries in your freezer left from Thanksgiving?  Try marbled cranberry cake or one of the other cranberry recipes in the “New Good Cake Book.”  There are more than 125 recipes that can be prepared in less than thirty minutes.  Visit the library and see these and other books on display in the reference area.

Baking together not only builds math and science skills, but builds family time.  Baking and sharing the baked goods with family, friends and neighbors builds togetherness. Baking with family makes memories.  Years from now, you’ll remember the fun and food and the meringue that just didn’t turn out.

Jan 12, 2009

Books Set in Minnesota
Diane Zellmann, Children's Librarian

How important is the setting of a story? Sometimes the setting does not affect a story much at all. In some cases, it’s vital. And other times, it enhances the story and piques the reader’s interest. Since I have lived in Minnesota all my life, I usually take special notice when Minnesota is the setting. Several new books from our Junior fiction collection are set in Minnesota.

Louise Erdrich has recently written “Porcupine Year.” It tells the story of one year in the life of an Ojibwe girl. Omakayas is twelve years old when she and her family set off on an exciting journey from the shores of Lake Superior along the rivers of northern Minnesota. Danger and hardships create a struggle to survive. “Porcupine Year” is the sequel to Erdrich’s award-winning series that began with “The Birchbark House” and continued with “The Game of Silence.” Although these two titles are also good books, it’s not necessary to read them in order to understand “Porcupine Year.”

“Home of the Brave,” by Katherine Applegate, is another book that takes place in Minnesota. Kek, an orphan, comes to Minnesota from Africa. Kek’s story is one of immigration and acceptance of others. It is also about weathering a tough Minnesota winter and making friends with a cow. Applegate writes the story in verse. Here’s a sample:

  Winter is wet and heavy work. …
  After such a winter,
  summer comes like a present with a bow.
  Summer is ice cream and skateboards
  and sweet grass under your
  free toes.

Rusty Nail is the fictitious name of a small town in Minnesota in Lesley Blume’s book “The Rising Star of Rusty Nail.” The story takes place in the early 1950’s during the Joe McCarthy era. Ten-year-old Franny, a piano prodigy, begins taking piano lessons from Olga, a mysterious Russian musician who is new to Rusty Nail. Is Olga a Communist spy? Some Rusty Nail residents get caught up in the hysteria of the time. Franny and her best friend spy on Olga to discover the truth. Blume combines history, music, and humor to create a delightful and entertaining story.

These three Junior books would be great reads for ages 9 to 12. Another “Minnesota” book of special interest to New Ulm residents of all ages is a new biography of Wanda Gag. It is a picture book entitled “Wanda Gag, The Girl Who Lived to Draw,” written and illustrated by Deborah K. Ray. Ray includes quotes from Wanda Gag’s diary such as “I grew up in an atmosphere of Old World customs and legends, of Bavarian and Bohemian folk songs, of German Marchen.” This is a beautiful book that celebrates Wanda’s talent and determination to pursue her dream.

If books about Minnesota interest you, stop in at the library to check out a couple. Use our catalog to do a subject search for Minnesota and limit it to your specific interest, or simply ask a staff person at the Reference desk or Children’s desk for help. You may find something to enjoy.

Jan 05, 2009

Two Tales
Betty J Roiger, Acquisitions

I just read two very different books and had two very different, yet enjoyable, reading experiences.

One took place late summer in Paris, the final day of August. Samuel Carver is called ‘the accident man’ because he makes accidents happen and problems disappear. When governments have a situation they need taken care of that might break the law, it’s him they call. Carver isn’t completely heartless; he takes out terrorists, not civilians. And although his last job went without a hitch, he is feeling some qualms that a pilot died as well as his target. Suddenly he is called to do a quick hit. He doesn’t want to do it, it’s unexpected; but his unknown bosses insist, stating his choices: do the job, or disappear permanently.

His target is a terrorist. He gets a brief rundown, the materials he requests, a motorcycle. He moves into place near a tunnel and watches as a white Fiat drives in front of a black Mercedes that is moving too fast as it flees a motorcycle buzzing it with camera flashes. He flashes his lights, dazzling the driver, and makes the accident happen. And then he starts to make his escape, never realizing that he has unintentionally caused the death of a princess.

That’s the set up of “The Accident Man” by Tom Cain. This is a conspiracy theory / chase book. The death of Diana is the set up that leads into Carver’s rush to find out who’s behind it and why, while striving to stay alive. If you liked “The Bourne Identity,” you might like this as well.

A totally different read, “The Shadow Year,” takes the reader back to the 60s, where a tinkling bell precedes the ice cream truck, and winter blizzards find families crowded into their kitchens around the stove for warmth. It is a time when kids make their own entertainment. It is also a time when some people start to go missing around their block. And that’s when Jim and his brother decide to solve the mysteries.

This isn’t a soft and cuddly, pleasant look back into the past. Even though the author, Jeffrey Ford, evokes strong memories of a time long ago, there are also dangers here. Issues like alcoholism, child abduction, and death all make appearances. There are moments of the unexplainable like the tiny town that Jim is constructing in their concrete basement, under the pull string light. Here he makes a cardboard reproduction of their neighborhood and calls it ‘Botch Town.’ Eerily enough, the clay figures move around or vanish entirely when someone in the neighborhood disappears.

This dysfunctional family draws you in, the children seem believable, the time period evokes memories for the reader, and even the supernatural events seem plausible. It was an interesting place to spend some time in, even though it wasn’t always a settling experience. Reading either one of these books will take you on interesting journeys to different places.

Last updated: Monday, December 31, 2012

Last updated: December 31, 2012