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Annual Meeting 2017: President’s Report

 

By Harry Kavros, President, Friends of the Orange County Public Library Board of Directors

When I was six years old my family moved to the edge of civilization. Our house was the last house on the street before the forest. Even in that small town we had a library; it was a one-room basement in the police station. That room was my refuge as a child, where my imagination was engaged, and where I challenged myself to read more and more complicated books. By the time the library moved to its own building, I had moved from the Hardy Boys to what was then difficult reading for me, Jim Kjelgaard’s books about dogs and wolves. Kjelgaard wrote more than forty novels for young readers, and I read several before I moved on.

I’ve moved a dozen times since then, and I’ve never been much farther than walking distance from a library. It might be going a bit far to say that libraries saved my life, but they did save me from boredom, and they invited me to become self-reliant and widely read. I think I share this with you, and it’s one of the reasons why my colleagues and friends on the board have spent some of our time supporting the library in our town.

This year we’ve been able to improve the organization in a few ways: we joined the Chamber of Commerce, we launched ourselves into the twentieth century with the introduction of credit-card purchases at the book sales, we’ve started online book sales, we held a series of author events, we documented a dozen processes and procedures to help future boards, we started member discounts at local businesses, and we added to the membership rolls.

The Friends exist for the sole purpose of supporting library projects. This year we’ve given five grants:

  • help repair flood damage
  • support the library’s strategic planning process
  • give New Hope elementary school students ten books each for summer reading
  • fund the library’s summer learning program
  • purchase adult book club kits

As for our finances, grants totaled $10,100. We raised money with the usual suspects: book sales and membership. We started the year with $43,520 and ended with $45,183.

Finally, we’re always on the lookout for volunteers and board members. If you have a likely candidate, please let us know. If you know someone young enough to keep us updated on social-media venues, drop us a line. If you know a cutting-edge fundraiser, we’ll give you some free books.

This year’s winner of the Janet Flowers Award is Jane Gaede. It is impossible to go to a book sale and not see Jane volunteering. And she’s there even when you don’t see her, when we’re setting up the room and preparing for the sales. Thanks very much, Jane.

Board members for 2018 are: Harry Kavros, Shannon Turlington, Susan Vreeland, Stacey Gamble, James Maxey, and Samantha Bryant. I’d like to thank each of last year’s board members for their energy and spirit. A happy winter solstice and holiday season to all our members.

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Little Free Library Opens in Gold Park

On your next visit to Gold Park, check out the books in the “free little library” recently installed along the walking loop. The Orange County Public Library donated books to get the library started, taken from books donated to the library by the community, including members of the Friends. Anyone can take a book to read or leave a book to share at the little library.

For more on Hillsborough’s newest library, read the press release. Or learn more about the Little Free Library project.

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What are you reading? Book Club

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Cup Tower Building in the Minute to Win It competition in July

On the first Thursday of each month from 6:00-7:00, fourth through sixth grade students are invited to the What Are You Reading? Book Club.

Unlike other books clubs, this one doesn’t require reading any particular book. Kids are asked to bring a book they’ve read recently that they would like to recommend to others. It’s an opportunity to socialize with other readers, eat pizza, and get some ideas about what to read next. The club has attracted a regular following, but more readers are always welcome!

The conversation is lively, the activities are fun, and the kids have a great time. If you have a fourth through sixth grader and would like to participate, all you have to do is sign up (so they know how much pizza to buy) at the children’s desk or by calling 919-245-2532. The next meeting is August 4.

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Fish the Magish and upcoming Summer Events

Crowd favorite Fish the Magish returned to the main library this afternoon to perform for a packed house of children and families.

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Part comedian, part teacher, and part magician, Fish has been a perennial favorite the the Summer Learning program.

Looking for more indoor fun during hot summer vacation days? Check out these events (unless otherwise noted, all events are at the main branch on Margaret in Hillsborough). More events and full details can be found on the library website.

Tomorrow: July 13th: 4:00. Explore the world of Ozobot Robots in this fun hands-on program.  Rising 4th-6thgraders.  (Call to register: 919-245-2532)

online-shoppingSaturday, July 15th: Computer Class: Online Shopping: at the Cybrary: 10:00-11:30: This class covers important security and privacy issues that you should be aware of when making purchases online. It includes helpful tips for evaluating website security and keeping your identity safe. In this class, you will also learn the basics of Internet shopping, including online stores, auctions, and classifieds. *If you do not have prior experience using the Internet, it is suggested that you attend the Internet Basics class first.

Saturday, July 15th: Storytime at the Carrboro Branch: 10:30: Children and their caregivers are invited to participate in a 30-minute interactive program with books, songs, and movement to nurture pre-reading skills. Afterward, stick around for a 30-minute stay-and-play with toys and games.

Saturday, July 15th: Saturday Storytime: 10:30 – 11:00 a.m. Children, walkers to age 5 and their caregivers, are invited to participate in a 30-minute interactive program with books, songs, and movement to nurture pre-reading skills. (30-minute Stay and Play follows this storytime.)

Saturday, July 15th: Saturday Storytime: 1:00. Every third Saturday of the month, come D&D_Transparentand join the Dungeons & Dragons group for some awesome fantasy storytelling and action-packed game play! Anyone aged 16 and up is welcome to join the game or watch and learn about D&D.

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Sunday: July 16th: 2:00: Be our guest on Sunday, July 16th at 2pm for a showing of the newest Beauty and the Beast film! Popcorn will be provided.

Monday: July 17th: 11:00 – 11:20 a.m.: Baby Lapsit Storytime: Babies and their caregivers are invited to participate in a 20-minute lapsit program that incorporates age-appropriate books, rhymes, music and movement. Main Library.

Piratey,_vector_version.svgMonday: July 17th: 4:00: Set sail with us on a thrilling action-packed adventure about a crew of quirky pirates marooned on a desert island. Throughout the story, volunteers from the audience will help us explore the incredible science behind clouds, combustion, air pressure, scientific variables and more! Do not miss this refreshing nautical tale with a twist!  All ages welcome.

Tuesday: July 18th: 10:00: Children from walkers to age 3 and their caregivers are invited to participate in a 25-minute interactive program that incorporates age-appropriate books, rhymes, music, and movement.  (30-minute Stay and Play follows this storytime.) 

Tuesday: July 18th: 4:00: In this weekly program, we combine books that will spark your imagination along with a variety of STEAM-based activities to foster creativity, critical thinking and problem solving skills.  If you like to learn new things, make new friends, and have a fun time at the library, this is the program for you! Grades K-3

Wednesday: July 19th: Preschool Storytime: 10:00 – 10:30 a.m.: Children ages 3-5 and their caregivers are invited to participate in a 30-minute interactive program with books, songs, and movement to nurture pre-reading skills. (30-minute Stay and Play follows this storytime.) 

Wednesday: July 19th: 6:00: Documentary Film Screening: The Oscar-nominated 13thdocumentary “13th” by filmmaker Ava DuVernay explores the relationship of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution to mass incarceration in the US with respect to racial inequality. Run time:100 minutes. Light refreshment will be provided. This film may not be suitable for children under 13 years old.

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Thursday: July 20th: 4:00: Scratch Club: Familiar  with Scratch? Working on a project? Need some new ideas? Come to our Scratch Club to learn more about Scratch while working on your own project. Rising Grades 4-6 Call 919-245-2532 to register.

Free, fun, and fabulous. Come see what our libraries have to offer you!

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Read Books, Win Prizes

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Did you know you can win prizes for your reading this summer? Summer Learning isn’t just for kids. Adults, too, can track their reading and community involvement at the Main Branch in Hillsborough, and maybe get an extra reward beyond the joy of service and enrichment.

The display and tickets can be found on the second floor, just across from the Teen section. Come down and let us know what you’ve been up to this summer.

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FOCPL Contributes to Books on Break to Promote Summer Reading

IMG_2918Book Harvest recently gave thousands of books to a thrilled cohort of elementary-school students at a Books on Break event. The Friends of the Orange County Public Library was pleased to contribute to this annual event. Each student at New Hope Elementary School was invited to select ten books, which will help preserve the learning they accomplished during the school year. Teachers organized a book-distribution area that had the feel of a bookstore, with sections featuring Dr. Seuss, princess, and superhero books. “The students loved the variety of books available and were really eager to get started reading,” said Coby Austin, director of programs and policy at Family Success Alliance, an initiative of the Orange County Health Department.

Book Harvest is a Durham nonprofit organization that “provides books to children who need them and engages families and communities to promote children’s lifelong literacy and academic success.” Book Harvest has given away over 600,000 books, mostly in Durham County. The donated books help students avoid what is known as the “summer slide,” or the loss of valuable education during vacation. Studies have shown that students tend to lose reading skills during the summer months when they do not have access to resources like books.

One year ago, the Friends sponsored a smaller Books on Break distribution at New Hope Elementary as a pilot of this program in Orange County. Family Success Alliance teamed up with Book Harvest in selecting the school and organizing the event. The Friends provided a grant for books to be given to two grades, and students and their families raised additional funds.

IMG_3859This year, two members of the Friends Board of Directors, Harry Kavros and Steve Smith, volunteered to raise enough money to fund a book distribution for students in kindergarten through second grade. They met with town leaders and received valuable guidance from Hillsborough mayor Tom Stevens and Orange County School Board president Steven Halkiotis. Thanks to the generosity of local citizens, businesses, and nonprofits, over $8,000 was raised, comfortably surpassing the original goal of $6,000. The Friends of the Orange County Public Library again provided a significant grant. Students and their families raised funds so that third- through fifth-grade students would also receive ten books.

Support for the students does not end with giving them books. Family Success Alliance navigators will team up with dozens of families from New Hope Elementary over the summer. “They’ll be partnering with the parents to reinforce support for reading and other ways to prevent the summer slide,” explains Coby Austin.

Rachel Stine, education partnerships manager at Book Harvest, said that Books on Break at New Hope Elementary was a superb example of collaboration, adding, “We are grateful to community members, Family Success Alliance, and the Friends of the Orange County Public Library for partnering with New Hope Elementary and Book Harvest to make Books on Break 2017 a great success!”

 

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First Monday Classics: Rebecca by Daphne De Maurier

On June 5, our First Monday Classic at the Orange County Public Library is Rebecca by Daphne De Maurier. Its credentials as a classic are pretty impressive. Published in 1938, the book has never been out of print, and remains popular with tens of millions of readers.

I don’t love every book we read for First Monday Classics. Some I respect, and understand why they deserve to be counted as a classic, but the passage of time and changing cultural values have made a once great book less enjoyable. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a classic, but the barely comprehensible dialect, the stereotypes it relies on for humor, and Twain’s inability to edit himself when it comes to shoe-horning Tom Sawyer into the book has turned the book into something of a slog for modern readers.

I don’t think anyone would describe Rebecca as a slog. De Maurier knows how to set up a hook, ending each chapter with just the right bit of information that will make you want to read a little further. Her writing style is sensual, full of colors, scents, and textures, vivid details that make her settings come alive. The book engages you on a physical level. At the same time, we are also taken into the imagination of the unnamed narrator. Many chapters are filled not with things that are happening, but with the narrator imagining things that will happen, both her hopes and her worries. While this robs the book of some immediacy, I appreciated the reflection that people really do spend so much time worrying about things that haven’t happened. Her daydreaming makes the character seem real.

That said, wow, I hated this book. This is the point of this essay I should probably label “Spoilers Ahead,” but, seriously, we’re talking about a book almost 80 years old. A book that endures that long doesn’t have to rely on hidden plot twists to stay relevant. My objections to the book are many.

First, the characters are thin to the point of parody. As the male protagonist, Maxim has zero traits that identify him other than the fact he’s rich, handsome, and brooding. The narrator marries him apparently without asking one single question about his past. We’re told he’s smart and kind, but I have difficulty pinning down a single moment where these traits are on display. The narrator, his new wife, is such a blank slate she’s not even given a name. We’re in her head constantly but we’re never shown any reason at all that Maxim might have fallen in love with her. She’s so young and naïve that his attraction for her seems to be that she’s young and naïve, which is creepy on his part and foolish on her part.

Second, the morality of this book is loathsome. The big plot twist is that Maxim killed his first wife, Rebecca, then sank her boat with her body inside in the bay. When the boat is eventually found, the narrator’s reaction to learning her husband is a murderer isn’t to fear for her own safety or to think about how to report him to the police, but to instantly and whole-heartedly conspire to make sure he goes unpunished for the crime. His motives for the murder? Rebecca was cheating on him, told him she was pregnant with another man’s child, and reminded him of how much gossip he’d have to endure if they divorced. Seriously, his choices were an ugly divorce or to murder a pregnant woman, and for some reason we’re asked to empathize that he went with murder.

Third, the utter passivity of these characters is frustrating. Maxim doesn’t get away with murder because he’s clever. He escapes mostly by luck. He shoots Rebecca, but luckily the bullet misses any bones, so when her body is discovered there’s no evidence of a bullet wound. There is a witness to him dragging Rebecca’s body onto the boat, but luckily it’s a deranged old man who is unable to explain what he saw. There’s a man with proof that Rebecca didn’t commit suicide, but luckily he’s intent on blackmail, which means he doesn’t use his information at the inquest where it actually could have mattered. At the end, it’s discovered well after the fact that Rebecca had cancer and likely manipulated Maxim into murdering her as a form of suicide, which seems to remove the last trace of his moral culpability. He didn’t really kill her by shooting her and hiding the body. It was suicide after all! The terrible moral logic is cringe inducing.

Finally, the most disturbing truth of all: Maxim gets away with the murder mostly because he’s rich and powerful. Law enforcement is deferential to him at every step. He escapes suspicion of murder as the evidence accumulates primarily because his high status makes him immune from any important person really thinking him capable of the murder. And if Maxim escapes justice by doing absolutely nothing, the book’s unnamed narrator does even less. Maybe it’s slipping my memory, but I don’t think the police even question her.

As I head to book club next week, I’m actually pretty excited by the possibility that other people will have loved this book. A lot of the best discussions come from books that illicit mixed reactions. Also, I’m always eager to hear from champions of a book that I’ve disliked, wanting to get their take on why so many readers might love a book I regard as deeply flawed. If you’ve read this book and have an opinion pro or con, feel free to join us next Monday at 6:30. It should be a fun discussion.

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