The World’s Strongest Librarian – by Josh Hanagarne (2013)

World's Strongest Librarian

Many people think that the job of a librarian is easy and comfortable. After all, they just have to sit in a cushy chair behind a desk, and look up call numbers for people who come up to the desk, right? Or perhaps give book recommendations for that avid reader who is looking for a great fiction book. That mental picture couldn’t be farther from the truth, according to the author.

Josh has had a challenging life. As a young boy, he developed Tourette’s Syndrome, an uncontrollable urge to make repeated sounds, words, or motions for no reason. As he grew older, it became more and more disruptive. He describes the difficulty of trying to get through school, make friends, have a girlfriend, serve as a Mormon missionary, and find a job that he wasn’t miserable at.

There were two things about this book that I loved. First off, I loved Josh’s tenacity in fighting the tics that hindered him. A lot of people would have just given up, but not this man! Secondly, I loved the descriptions of what it was like to work at the Salt Lake City main library. At times, I was laughing so hysterically that tears came to my eyes.

I could tell you of all the unusual people Josh worked with at the library and the weird situations he found himself in, but the story is best told by the author himself. If you’re looking for a good biography that has the perfect mix of seriousness and silliness, this is a great book to read or listen to.



Help! I’m A Prisoner In The Library! – by Eth Clifford (1979)

Help I'm a Prisoner In The Library

Ten-year-old Mary Rose and 7-year-old Jo-Beth are with their dad, being driven to an aunt’s house, when they run out of gasoline. Dad grabs the gas can and starts walking for the nearest gas station, leaving the girls in the car. When the younger sister Jo-Beth desperately needs a bathroom, they leave the car and walk several blocks to a library. The librarian, who is closing up as they come in, never sees them, and inadvertently locks up the place with the girls still there. And that is how their adventure begins!

I loved this fun, uncomplicated story. The library that the girls are trapped in is actually a hundred-year-old house that’s been converted into a children’s library/museum combo. The unusual sights the girls see during the night keep the story interesting. The story will appeal more to girls than to boys, since the main characters are female. The recommended reading level is 2rd-5th grade, although I think it could easily be enjoyed as a family book read aloud.

The book was first published in 1979, which explains the dated locks on the library door. Apparently the old house/library still had the original  skeleton keys on the doors, which meant you literally couldn’t get out the door without the key – a huge safety issue that is no longer allowed with modern building codes. So someone will have to explain to young kids reading this book about the way old locks used to work, which could lead to an interesting discussion about safety. The book has been re-printed many times, and can still be found on Scholastic book-club fliers, in libraries, and on Amazon.

Great Reading Month

Summer Reading
Photo credit:

July was a really, really good reading month for me. I just couldn’t seem to stop reading, and whipped through nine books, doing book reviews on seven of them. Books from my local library, downloadable audio-books that I listened to on my phone, even one book that was fetched from the Melcat state-wide lending program. Yes, it was a very good month!

The only thing wrong with a great reading month like July is when it ends. Tuesday morning I turned over the kitchen calendar page to August. Suddenly we’re starting to focus on the kids going back to school, and doing those projects we’ve been meaning to do this summer. In a few weeks, the easy-going lifestyle of summer will switch to a more rigid routine. Routine’s not a bad thing, and keeps us from inertia. But as I like to say, there’s always time to squeeze in a good book.

Library Wanderings: Hudsonville Public Library (Gary Byker Memorial Library)


Pick a library book, plop down on a chair or couch, and rest your feet on this sturdy turtle! You’ll find this guy in the couch area, crawling around the rug with pictures of books.

2017-03-25 Hudsonville Library couches

I loved the book they had on their coffee-table: Random Acts Of Kindness

2017-03-25 Hudsonville Library random acts of kindness

In the background you can see their music display, which appears to be hand-crafted in the shape of a harp.

2017-03-25 Hudsonville library c music

This lamp was certainly unique:

2017-03-25 Hudsonville Library book lamp

If you love a good jigsaw puzzle, you can check some out!

2017-03-25 Hudsonville Library puzzles

Feeling nostalgic for VHS tapes? There is still a small section of them here. I should add that they have a much larger section of DVD’s.

2017-03-25 Hudsonville Library VHS tapes

In Hudsonville, they are extremely proud of their community history. Check out this display of the 1956 tornado.

2017-03-25 Hudsonille Library 1956 tornado

This dollhouse is beautifully made.

2017-03-25 Hudsonville Library dollhouse

Every library should have a globe and wooden stand like this:

2017-03-25 Hudsonville Library globe

Not all of the library had that old-fashioned feel to it. Their book stacks and children’s area were extremely up to date (no dusty, outdated stuff!).  This little corner, which I dubbed “the peace corner” was very inviting.

2017-03-25 Hudsonville Library peace corner

This Hudsonville Library is both classy and modern. I loved my visit to this small library!

Personalized Book Suggestions

photo credit: Huffington Post

Believe it or not, I often have a terrible time finding a book to read. Sounds crazy, right? There’s so much to choose from now, and maybe that’s part of the problem. We live in a time when tens of thousands of books are available – at multiple public libraries, at the download section of the library’s website, school/college libraries, amazon’s kindle store,, and regular bookstores. In this glut of books, I have noticed two things:
1, there are a lot of books using the same tired story-line, and 2, a lot of books are just plain trash with authors competing for the raunchiest details.

I often start three or four books before finding one that I actually like. I’ve looked at book recommendations online, but there’s so many of them that it’s overwhelming. Also, what one person calls a must-read book might be a total bore for someone else. So a week ago I signed up for Personalized Picks at my local library. After completing a detailed survey, they e-mailed a suggestion list of ten books. It looks promising, and I grabbed a few books from the library.

So if you’re having the same problem I am, consider getting a personalized list from your local librarian!

Libraries And Winter Reading Programs

Stillwater PL Oklahoma

(Stillwater Public Library in Oklahoma)


Okay, I confess – I have the winter doldrums, and even my interest for reading is hit and miss these days. With the daylight hours short, and very little sunshine, my mind feels dull. By eight o’clock in the evening, my body says it’s time to crawl into bed. In the morning, I long to stay under the covers and vegetate away my day. Life seems to shrink down in the winter. What’s a person to do?

Chicago Ridge in IL

(Chicago Ridge Library in Illinois)


Well, sometimes you just have to make yourself do things. So I get up, get kids off to daycare and school, fix meals, do housework, run errands, and go to work. I also keep my eye out for the next great book to read. One thing that has pushed me to keep reading this winter is my local library’s winter reading program. Libraries all over the country offer an incentive to keep their patrons reading. Generally, you sign up to read a certain number of books, and when you’ve met the goal, you collect a bookbag or a mug or some other nifty reward.

Here are some sample pictures from libraries’ winter reading programs:

Dover PL in DE

(Dover Public Library in Delaware)



Warren-Newport PL in IL

(Warren-Newport Public Library in Illinois)



Norwalk PL in Ohio

(Norwalk Public Library in Ohio)



Berkeley Co Lib SC

(Berkeley County Library in South Carolina)


But my favorite picture has got to be this one:
Marion PL in IA

(Marion Public Library in Iowa)


We’re at the end of January, but most libraries continue their winter reading programs through February. It’s not too late to be part of the experience. Stop in your local public library and get back to reading!

A Budget You Can Live With – Television, part 3

Tv Icons by digitalart

(Photo courtesy of digitalart at

How much you’re willing to spend on television depends on how important it is to you. If you love watching it and can easily afford it, no problem. But if your household budget is really stressed, consider these ideas:


HD indoor antenna


Buy an antenna for your TV, and watch the over-the-air broadcast channels.
You don’t even have to get up on the roof. Just stop at Walmart and pick up an indoor multi-directional antenna for $50.00 – $80.00. Screw the cord into the antenna plug on the back of your tv, then tape the flat square panel at the other end of the cord onto your window. You may want to try different windows in your house to see which gives you the best reception and the most local channels, or at least the channels that you want most. I have an indoor antenna, and can get about 20 channels. A few of them are high-definition, and they look so good it’s almost unbelievable. If the weather’s very overcast though, sometimes it blocks the signal. But hey, now that I’ve got the antenna, it doesn’t cost me a penny!

Check out DVDs from your local library.
Most libraries now carry at least some movies and tv shows on DVD, with no rental fee. Just make sure you return them on time, though, to avoid costly fines.

Re-watch your own personal DVDs.
Most people have some movies at home, sitting forgotten on a shelf or in a cabinet. Dust them off and pick one to watch. If it’s a good movie and you enjoyed it once, chances are you’ll enjoy it again.

Swap DVDs with a relative or friend.
Just remember to return them quickly, and in good condition.

Find other things to do at home besides watching TV.
Reading, playing scrabble, listening to the radio, card games, writing someone a letter, running or taking a walk are all things that don’t cost any money.

The hundreds (or thousands) of dollars you spend on TV every year could be put into a savings account, or spent on paying off bills. It’s never easy to give up something enjoyable. But cutting your television expenses will leave you in better financial shape, which leads to peace of mind. Who knows – maybe after a while you’ll find that you don’t even miss it.