Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ridgefield Authors Wiki Launched

In honor of the town’s 300th anniversary, the Ridgefield Library is pleased to present “Ridgefield Writes: A Celebration of Ridgefield Writers – Past, Present and Just Passing Through.” We‘ve planned a year-long line-up of author talks, book discussions, workshops, lectures, exhibits and more, highlighted by a four-day author festival in April (see our website for details).

As one part of this initiative, we are launching a project that blends 300 years of Ridgefield history with the latest 21st century technology – the Ridgefield Authors Wiki. A “wiki” is an online collaborative resource, such as Wikipedia. The Library has created a web-based directory of some 200 novelists, journalists, poets, songwriters, cartoonists, playwrights, historians and other writers who all have some connection to Ridgefield. You can access the wiki at our website at (click on the link at the top of the page). Scroll through our list and discover highlights of our literary heritage. We have started with basic biographical information, a list of selected works, and links to additional resources (thanks to Jack Sanders for permission to include material from his Notable Ridgefielders site).

Now it’s up to you to share what you know. Perhaps you know of a published author we haven’t yet listed (maybe even yourself!). Maybe you have personal memories of when a famous writer lived next door. Know of a great website devoted to the life and works of one of our celebrities? If you have new material or a new name to contribute, we ask that you create a wikispaces membership (it’s free and easy), then join our space and add your comments. Or you can send us an e-mail or give us a call, and we will add your information. We hope that many Ridgefielders will take part in creating a community resource that will prove valuable long past this year’s festivities.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

ALA Awards Announced

Here's a report by Teen Services Librarian Geri Dioro, from the American Library Association mind-winter meeting in mid-January in Philadelphia.

While much of the world was fixated on the Golden Globe Awards ceremony (or lack thereof), I was fortunate enough a few weeks ago to be present in Philadelphia when the American Library Association announced its own annual awards. As an intern on the ALA Awards Committee, I mostly take notes during the meetings, but I was able also to take part in discussions and vote on matters pertaining to the awards. This gave me a unique behind-the-scenes look at a process that helps to discover “classics” for new generations of young readers.

ALA gives out numerous literary honors, but the most well-known are for children’s literature in several categories. The Newbery Medal goes to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children published in the previous year. This year the winner was Laura Amy Schlitz for her book “Good Masters Sweet Ladies: Voices from a Medieval Village,” an unusual choice because it is a book of linked poems rather than a standard narrative.

The Caldecott Medal is awarded to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children published in the previous year. Brian Selznick won this year for “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” - not your usual slim picture book, but a 530-page tome in which the story is mainly told through Selznick’s gorgeous black and white drawings.

Of special interest to me as a Teen Services Librarian is the Printz Award, given to a book that exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature. This year’s winner, “The White Darkness” by Geraldine McCaughrean, is a beautifully written, edge-of-your-seat thriller about a girl who is abducted to Antarctica by her mad (or is he mad?) uncle.

Stop by the Ridgefield Library and check out these award winners!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Ridgefield Artist a Winner in Cat Calendar Contest

Congratulations to Ridgefield 6th grader Sandra Carpenter, one of the winners of the Baker & Taylor 2008 Calendar Art Contest. Baker & Taylor is a major U.S. distributor of books and other materials for libraries, schools and bookstores, including the Ridgefield Library. Baker & Taylor is also known for its endearing mascots, a pair of Scottish fold cats named Baker and Taylor. Each year, the company holds a contest for children to draw or paint the cats, and twelve winners are chosen to illustrate a calendar distributed to thousands of libraries and schools all over the country.

Last fall, 11-year-old Sandra entered the contest, and her painting was chosen to be the April page of the 2008 calendar! Sandra has been creating and studying art since 2nd grade. She especially likes to paint with acrylics and draw with charcoal and pastels, but for this piece she chose watercolor so she could evoke the lightness and happiness of spring. Sandra is not a cat person, but she turned to photographs and the Internet for research, then added the distinctive faces of Baker and Taylor to her cavorting cat figures. As the finishing touch, she added a stack of books – fitting for a young artist who hopes to pursue a career as an author/illustrator.

In addition to her own prizes of a DVD of a popular movie and a dozen copies of the calendar, Sandra has also earned for her library $500 credit at Baker & Taylor with which to buy materials! Sandra prefers reading and books over other media, so at her recommendation, we will spend this on fantasy and series books for pre-teens. Look for bookplates recognizing her achievement in new titles arriving at the Ridgefield Library this winter. Thanks, Sandra!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Vote Now for Nutmeg Award Favorite!

Here's a reminder from Mary O'Neill, Children's Librarian at the Ridgefield Library.

It is a new year, and that means resolutions, fresh calendar pages and Nutmeg Book Award voting! During the month of January, students in grades four to eight are welcome to come to Children’s Services at the Ridgefield Library and vote for their favorite Nutmeg book. Sponsored by the Connecticut Library Association (CLA) and the Connecticut Educational Media Association (CEMA), and awarded annually, the Nutmeg Book Award encourages all Connecticut students to read ten nominated titles over the course of a year and to vote for their favorite. The titles are selected by committees of Connecticut public librarians, school library media specialists, classroom teachers and student readers. The books, which must be newly published works of fiction of exceptional quality, are nominated for the award in two categories: intermediate for grades 4, 5 and 6 and teen for grades 7 and 8. Students need not read all ten titles in their category in order to vote, but can only vote once, either at school or at the Library.

Did your child participate in the Nutmeg Nibblers book discussions we held last summer and fall? The Nibblers read all ten nominated titles, so children who took part will be all set to choose whichever title they feel should get the award! We hope you drop by before the 31st to cast your ballot for your favorite Nutmeg book of the year. Then, check our website in early February to find out who the winners were, as well as the highly anticipated NEW 2009 Nutmeg titles in both categories!


School is closed on Monday, January 21st for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, but the Library is open and will be offering a special program in honor of the occasion. Children ages 5 and up are invited to “Woven Tales” with storyteller Gwendolyn Quezaire Presutti, at 11:30 AM in the Dayton Program Room.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Role of Libraries in the Technological Age

I recently attended a presentation by Irving Wladawsky-Berger, Chairman Emeritus of the IBM Academy of Technology and Visiting Professor of Engineering Systems at MIT. Throughout his long and distinguished career, he has focused on how information technology is helping transform the institutions of society. At this session, Mr. Wladawsky-Berger shared his reflections on the roles of libraries in this era of rapid and far-reaching technological change.

In his view, libraries have always helped people to organize and make sense of huge amounts of information, and technology has simply given us new tools to do so. As a matter of fact, Google and its ilk have only made it more important that people have libraries and librarians to turn to for assistance in sorting through the huge overload of possibilities available in cyberspace. Our job has been and continues to be to help our patrons spend their time effectively and satisfactorily.

Librarians remain trusted authorities, able to assess the reliability of the many data sources now available. Instead of surfing the web indiscriminately, save time and be more productive by trying one of the subscription databases the Library offers or a topical website tested and recommended by our staff.

Librarians know the tastes and interests of their communities and, through a thoughtful acquisitions process enhanced by the use of technology, select and share the very best of the many thousands of new books published every year.

Librarians guide individual readers through the mass of choices, using displays, booklists, personal interaction and online resources such as Novelist and BookLetters to match each reader to those books most likely to please him or her.

Other library technologies make it possible to place holds and renew items online, access the catalog and databases 24/7 and perform many other tasks quickly and efficiently – leaving you more time to read that special book your librarian found just for you!