Old Favorites: Jack London

We’re focusing on newer books, movies, and television shows for 2018, but that doesn’t mean we’re entirely ignoring old favorites! After all, what’s that saying–what’s old may just become new again (or something like that)?

This past week marked the 121st anniversary of a young man by the name of Jack London going north to Alaska to the Klondike Gold Rush. It was in Alaska that London first wrote his stories that would become famous. Since the heat and humidity here in Arkansas has been brutal this summer, you might want to follow Jack’s lead in spirit and seek some solace in his Alaskan adventures. 🙂

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In Defense of Local Libraries

Drawing program
Drawing program for kids at the Berryville Public Library

This past weekend, Forbes published an op-ed that advocated for libraries being shut down and replaced by Amazon bookstores, all in the name of saving people tax money. Due to widespread public outrage, the piece has apparently been pulled, though it is still preserved on the Wayback Machine. I wrote this response while the article was still on Forbes’s website, and we are still posting it because we want to educate people about the role of public libraries and their very real value to their communities.  

As someone who has spent the last 10 years working for the Berryville Public Library and is currently a member of our Friends of the Library board, I was horrified by the measures the Forbes editorial recommended. But I was also disturbed by the number of misconceptions that Panos Mourdoukoutas, the author of the piece, seems to have about what libraries actually do and the services they provide their communities.

He notes that in the past libraries provided resources like books, magazines, and journals, as well as quiet research places, comfortable places to enjoy books, space for community events, video rentals, and free internet access. However, according to his reasoning, these things can all be sought elsewhere, including Starbucks and Amazon bookstores.

I have been hearing these doom-and-gloom pronouncements about how outdated libraries are and how they are shortly on their way toward the fate of dinosaurs and dodos since I was first hired by a library. Inevitably, I have always found that they are perpetuated by people who have outdated ideas of what libraries do.

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Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1943)

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

At the Berryville Library this summer, we’re all busy reading the books on the Great American Read list and pondering which ones we’ll vote for in the Great Berryville Read. When I mentioned the Great American Read to my friend and one of my former English professors Elise Bishop, she mentioned really enjoying A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Well, that was one I hadn’t read, so I was determined to make it one of my selections. I’m glad I did because I really enjoyed it! (Thanks again for the great suggestion, Mrs. B!)

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Book Buzz: Library Bonding, Sea Rescuing, and Nomadic Living

Every month, we’re profiling new-ish releases that are getting critical and commercial buzz. For July, we’re looking at a sweet novel about friendships forged in a library, an intense real-life story of survival at sea, and a tale about life on the other side of the world.

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Great Berryville Read: Catalog Card Reviews

The 4th of July is upon us, and it’s a great chance to take some time to read one of the books on the Great American Read list and write a card catalog review for the library’s summer program and the Great Berryville Read Facebook page. 🙂

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