Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Free Materials for the Blind and Physically Impaired

Here's some information provided by Adult Services Librarian Dorothy Pawlowski, who recently attended a workshop on this topic hosted by the Connecticut State Library.

The Ridgefield Library aims to provide all our patrons with access to a wealth of reading material and information. For those unable to use standard hardcover or paperback book formats, we offer a large print collection of over 2,400 titles, audiobooks on cassette and CD, and downloadable audiobooks.

However, many Connecticut residents may also meet the criteria to receive materials through the Library for the Blind and Physically Impaired, part of the Connecticut State Library system. This federally supported program provides free Braille and recorded materials for those unable to read or use standard printed materials as a result of temporary or permanent visual or physical limitations.

The offerings of recorded material include over 60,000 titles and over 40 magazines. The user can request specific titles or designate categories of interest and receive books matching their reading preferences. Playback equipment, which is specially designed for ease of use for the blind or visually impaired, is provided at no charge for as long as the service is required. Adaptive features are available to make the player functional for those who have other physical challenges.

Recorded or Braille materials are mailed directly to the user’s home for a loan period of 60 days and can be returned postage free in the packaging provided. For recorded magazines, a non-returnable cassette is mailed for each issue.

A simple form is required to establish eligibility and to certify the applicant is unable to read or use standard printed material. Copies of this form are available at the Ridgefield Library, or it can be downloaded from the website of the Library for the Blind and Physically Impaired at

For more information about the full range of Braille and recorded materials available, visit the above website or speak to Ridgefield Library’s Adult Services Librarian Dorothy Pawlowski.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Holiday Gift Ideas from the Library

Looking for great gift ideas? Visit the Friends of the Ridgefield Library’s Holiday Book Boutique, to be held in the festively decorated Sculpture Room at the Library on Friday, November 30 from 10 AM to 5 PM, Saturday, December 1 from 9 AM to 5 PM, and Sunday, December 2 from 1 to 5 PM. Among the offerings will be “almost new” current bestsellers, adults and children’s books for all ages, and never-used videos, CDs and audiobooks, most still in their plastic wrappings. Great quality, a wide selection and low prices make the Holiday Book Boutique a perfect shopping opportunity for youngsters shopping for their parents or any one wanting to stretch their giving budget.

Too busy with other holiday activities or perhaps stuck at home by the weather? You can still shop with the Friends by visiting their online stores. Internet book sales have become an important additional source of revenue for the Friends, and all proceeds add to the support the Friends give to the Library each year for programs, collections and special equipment. You can shop any time of day or night from the comfort of your home or office at: or on e-Bay at Seller ID ridgefieldfriends.

Once you have bought all those books, what better way to package them than in one of our new Ridgefield Library tote bags? Originally made available as a special gift to families participating in this year’s Summer Reading Program, these roomy green and black bags feature long handles, a zipper top and a handy pocket on the outside for your library card. At only $10 each, you can buy one for everyone on your holiday list – and show your support for the Library at the same time. Stop at the Circulation Desk and purchase yours today – while supplies last!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Lifelong Learning through Audio Courses

“Lifelong learning” is one of the hottest buzzwords in the library world today. Basically, this means that libraries such as ours play a pivotal role in the pursuit by individuals and groups of new knowledge and fresh learning experiences past the time of traditional schooling. Among the most popular lifelong learning tools available at the Ridgefield Library are audio recordings of lecture courses by respected and popular professors from top colleges and universities. Recognizing this popularity, we are working to make these unique materials more accessible for Ridgefield adults (and even teens pursuing topics of interest for school courses).

The Library’s collection includes offerings from two series: “The Modern Scholar: Great Professors Teaching You!” from Recorded Books and “The Great Courses: Teaching that Engages the Mind” from The Teaching Company. Each “course” consists of multiple lectures on topics ranging from classical mythology to 20th century astronomy. Accompanying course guides help the listener tackle the material as one might in a traditional classroom, with lecture notes, suggested reading and websites and additional material. Delve into “The Symphonies of Beethoven” with Robert Greenberg of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music or “Behold the Mighty Dinosaur” presented by Wheaton College’s John Kricher or explore one of scores of other subjects.

To keep up with voracious learners, we now receive new Modern Scholar titles on CD each month, thanks to the Friends of the Library. To accommodate this growing collection and make browsing easier, we have set up a separate shelving area for all the CD and cassette versions. Here you can also find the latest information on the dozens of Modern Scholar titles available for download to a computer or mp3 player. Stop by the Fiction Room to pick up a brochure listing available titles or to find out more about using our downloadable audiobook service to pursue your lifelong learning interests.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Ridgefield Library Days at Books on the Common

The Ridgefield Library will be closed on Thursday, November 22nd and Friday the 23rd in celebration of Thanksgiving. But we will be back for the rest of the holiday weekend, with open hours from 9 AM to 5 PM on Saturday and 1 to 5 PM on Sunday.

Thanksgiving weekend also marks the third annual “Ridgefield Library Days” at Books on the Common. Get your holiday shopping done, support a local business that is such an asset to our community, and benefit the Library - all at the same time. Show your library card at the cash register, and Books on the Common will donate 15% of the price of most of your purchases to the Library. This offer applies to all books (including hardcovers and paperbacks) and audiobooks. In business since 1984, the independent bookseller is located at 109 Danbury Road, in Copps Hill Common, and will be open for “Ridgefield Library Days” on Friday the 23rd and Saturday the 24th from 9 AM to 6:30 PM and Sunday the 25th from 10 AM to 4 PM. The friendly and knowledgeable staff are happy to share their recommendations and to help you find the perfect gift for everyone on your list.

Don’t have a library card, or can’t find yours? Stop by the Circulation Desk to register for one today, or use our handy online application at The only requirement is proof of Ridgefield residence, such as a driver’s license or a recent utility bill or similar correspondence received at a Ridgefield street address. Those 17 and under also need the signature of a parent or guardian. The replacement fee for lost cards still in the system is just $1.00 – a small price to pay so you can help Books on the Common support the Ridgefield Library!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

What's in a Name?

Who uses libraries? Here in Ridgefield, we know that it is males and females, children and seniors, the techno-savvy and the traditionalist – in fact, every kind of person living in our community. But what should they be called? This is a matter of ongoing discussion in the profession, as libraries’ roles and relationships are redefined in a changing universe.

In Ridgefield, as in many locations, we have traditionally used the term “patron” for someone who partakes of library services. This has a gracious, almost old-fashioned sound – but it also creates some confusion, as it is in widespread use in other areas with other connotations, such as “patron of the arts.”

In an effort to be more modern, some libraries have opted for the word “user.” But for others this conjures up off-putting images of “love ‘em and leave ‘em” manipulators or even denizens of the drug underworld. “Customer” is another new trend, but others reject this term because of its implication of a commercial relationship.

“Friend” has a nice cordial feel to it. But in Ridgefield, as in many other towns, a “Friend” is specifically a member of a volunteer group organized in support of the library.

The word “member” brings a feeling of belonging, but it can give people the false impression that they have to pay to join and have access to what are actually free services.

“Borrower” and “cardholder” are other favorites. But these terms don’t recognize the fact that more and more people come to the library to do things other than check out books. “Visitor” seems to leave out the many individuals who access library resources online without coming into the building. How about “guest,” as Walt Disney hoped to call those who came to his new theme parks?

Whatever we call you, we are pleased to have so many take advantage of what we have to offer, each and every day.