Recycling your Reading

There are somewhere between 600,000 and 1,000,000 books published every year in the US alone. Even if I do work in the library, that number can be pretty daunting to even the most seasoned reader. If you’re like me, and you have more books than bookshelf, you know what an expensive hobby reading can be. I have to pull myself away from the draw of big box bookstores like Barnes and Noble, and often find myself shocked at the prices of flashy new hardcover titles, or that fancy art print book I’ve had my eye on. Luckily for you and your wallet, there are plenty of ways to get the books you’re after, save some money in the process, as well as still supporting the authors and creators you love.

1. The Library

Of course I’m going to say the library, but you really can’t beat this system! Libraries are built to support readers and authors alike, its free to join the library, and you can request virtually any book. Through our holds system, you can request an obscure book from your childhood, or the newest thriller. There are 30 libraries in our consortium, meaning that if we don’t have what you’re looking for, we can request the book from the thirty other libraries connected to us. You can take out as many as you’d like, and return them when you’re done, saving you from buying a book you may not love (libraries are also good places to donate books when thinning out your bookshelves – most libraries gladly accept gently used books for their collection or book sales). 359,026 items were checked out at the Cheshire Public Library when library statistics were last taken; we have a collection of over 100,000 items in our library alone, and that’s just in the physical building. Which brings me to my next resource, the digital world of reading…

2. Ebooks

If you have a kindle, Ipad, or smartphone, you have access to a world of books, movies and magazines from the comfort of your own home. Our library alone has access to several apps including OverDrive/Libby and RB Digital, that let you download materials for free with your library card. You can also look into Amazon’s Daily or Monthly deals, each day you receive an email letting you know about kindle books that are on sale, some for as little as 99 cents. Have a look at the free classics that Amazon offers, too. There are hundreds of great books, so if you’re a lover of classics you can build your digital library for free!

  • Looking for children’s books? Try the ICDL Foundation’s library. This program has evolved into the world’s largest digital collection of children’s books. Currently its digital library collection includes 4,619 books in 59 languages. The compete ICDL collection is also available as a free iPad app.
  • There’s also Project Gutenberg. Project Gutenberg is the largest single collection of free electronic books. With more than 40,000 free books in the Project Gutenberg Online Book Collection, there are plenty of options across different genres. The Project Gutenberg site offers download formats suitable for eBook readers, mobile phones, and other devices.

3. Used Books and Thrift Books

My favorite smell in the world is an old book (stereotypical I know) and the best place to find used books can be thrift stores and used book shops. These used bookstores can beat Amazon and other online booksellers on price, offering shoppers both a browsing experience and a money-saving one. Also, profit margins on used books are better than new ones, anscreen-shot-2018-09-19-at-8-09-17-pmd the product they carry is built on the community around it. This creates a unique experience in every bookstore you frequent, you’ll never find the same selection twice. Used bookstores are also the place to go if you’re looking to bulk up your classics collection (I’ve been known to walk out with a stack of mass market Stephen King books for less than five dollars.) Putting your money into these small businesses ensure that a staple in our communities and our culture remains alive. I for one would be sad to live in a world without used book stores. Another place to find books, often a only a few months old, is library book sales. These books can be from the libraries own collection that have been donated or weeded due to lack of circulation (a fancy way of saying they aren’t being checked out as frequently as they were). The Friends of Cheshire Library host two book sales every year, one in the spring and one in the fall, and even includes days where you can fill a shopping bag of books for only five dollars! This is a fantastic way to fill your bookshelves, all while supporting your local library in the process. The funds from these sales go directly to the funding of the library programs and projects.

4. Trade/Swap Books

Have friends who are just as into reading as you are? Start a book swap between friends! This is a fantastic way to read new titles, and share books that you’ve loved with friends. That way, you both get to read them, and talk about your favorite titles and characters. After all, what’s a better gift to give and receive than a new book. I’ve been trading books with friends for years, and I find it’s a fantastic way to read things I normally never would have picked up, and learn more about my friends taste in books. It’s like having an informal book club, without all the pressure of meetings and who’s bringing the snacks.

Luckily there are plenty of ways to find information in our day and age, and plenty of ways to satisfy your book craving. Through clever shopping, or clever borrowing, you can fill you time and your bookshelves with titles you’ve been meaning to read, or meaning to go back to reading. By practicing book “recycling” you can build your collection for a fraction of the price, and feel good about where your collection is coming from. With your support, small town libraries, book stores and independent sellers can continue to thrive and enrich their communities.

 

 

 

 

Earth Day and the Environment

Today’s post is by Bill, Head of Adult Services.

The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970, with the intention of bringing awareness to environmental issues.  The first Earth Day events drew millions of participants across the U.S. and around the world.  This was the scene in New York City. Since 1970, celebrations have grown, with Earth Day becoming a global event in 1990.

2019 marks the 10th year that Cheshire Public Library has commemorated Earth Day by offering programs on the environment, outdoor activities, gardening, wildlife and more.  This year we offer six programs in April, among them, speakers who are highly esteemed in their fields – from butterflies to birds to “gardening as if the world depends on us.”

The library is a vital place for citizens to become educated and informed about environmental issues, from fracking, to plastic bags and straws, to carbon emissions, so that that they may approach their elected representatives with their concerns.  The environmental impact of plastic straws is a topic that has been in the news a lot recently: The Last Plastic Straw websiteShoreline Town to Consider Banning Plastic Bags, Straws, State of Connecticut Research Report ‘Banning Plastic Straws.

Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, published in 1962 and available in multiple formats at Cheshire Library,  expressed her passionate concern with the future of the planet and all life on Earth, and inspired the modern environmental movement.  In addition, CPL also offers many other materials for those interested in learning more about taking care of our environment:

 

We’ll end this post with an audio link to Before the Deluge by Jackson Browne.  The song was released 45 years ago and remains relevant today.

 

March is Women’s History Month

Today’s post comes to us from Bill, Head of Adult Services.
100 years ago, in 1919, women DID NOT have the Constitutional right to vote.  That’s right – your grandmothers or great-grandmothers were second class citizens!  The 19th Amendment to the Constitution – which granted women the right to vote, would not be passed until the following year – 1920.  Yet today there are 102 women serving in the House of Representatives, 25 serving in the Senate, and 3 seated on the Supreme Court.
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Read – listen – watch and learn the stories of the women of today – and yesterday – whose strong, influential, and groundbreaking actions impacted our country.  The lives of the famous and not so famous paint a picture of women’s experiences in America and how they helped build our nation.
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Explore more about the role of women in shaping our history with these books from our shelves:
And these titles available to Cheshire Library cardholders in multiple formats:
Learn more about women in history: https://www.biography.com/tag/womens-history
Learn more about Women’s History Month: https://womenshistorymonth.gov/about/

Myth-ing Persons : Heroes of Myth and Legend

January began as one of the last months of year, not the first.  The start of the Roman calendar (and the astrological one) was March. Back then there were only ten months to the year, totaling 304 days. Between was a miasmic 66 monthless days of “winter.” According to legend, Numa Pompilius, the second King of Rome (after Romulus himself), added January and February to codify that winter term (along with a catch-up month every other year of 22 days).

Was Numa a real figure? History leans toward yes, born around 753 BC. Both Plutarch and Livy (major Roman writers) wrote about him. He codified Roman laws and religion, so we know he actually lived, but like many legends, there are stories about him that are most likely fable.

Every culture has their grandiose heroes of myth and legend. Some we know are fantasy (Beowulf), while others we know are fact (Jesse James). Let’s look at some famous heroes that history can’t make up its mind about.

Mulan

Disney’s Mulan is based on a Chinese poem called The Ballad of Mulan. She is believed to have lived somewhere between 386 CE and 620 CE (if you’re not up on your history, Common Era has replaced the Anno Domini). She takes her aging father’s place in the army, and serves for twelve years without her fellow soldiers realizing she’s a woman. Depending on the source, her name might be Hua Mulan, Zhu Mulan, or Wei Mulan. Although she’s first mentioned by the 500’s, historians can’t decide if she’s real or just an interesting story.

 

 

 

 

John Henry

The steel-driving African American of song fame who managed to hammer more rock than the new-fangled steam drill before collapsing and dying was likely a real man. In the 1920’s, sociologist Guy Johnson tracked down not only people who claimed to have worked with John Henry, but one man who claimed to have seen the showdown. The front runner for the actual location is during the cutting of the Big Bend Tunnel in Talcott, West Virginia, around 1870, but no one has definitive proof.

 

 

 

 

William Tell

A folk hero of Switzerland, Tell was an expert bowman. When Switzerland fell under control of the Habsburgs, a magistrate put his hat on a pole and demanded all citizens bow before it, or be imprisoned. While in town with his son, Tell refused to bow, was arrested and sentenced to death – though, since he was such a marksman, the Magistrate would let him go if he could shoot an apple off his son’s head. Tell did so, was arrested anyway, escaped, and the people rose up in rebellion, in an act considered the founding of the Swiss Confederacy, around 1307. Some historians believe Tell is merely a new twist on an old Danish fable.

Robin Hood

     The story of Robin Hood, Maid Marian, Prince John, King Richard, and the Band of Merrymen has been told for almost a thousand years. We know King Richard and Prince John are real (Richard took the throne in 1189), but there is debate about Robin Hood. Most likely a yeoman, not a noble, the name Robin was about as common as fleas, and the word Hood (sometimes Wood; the Old English were creative spellers) simply meant a man who made or wore hoods – more common then than hats. History’s been singing about him since the 1300’s, but his true identity isn’t known. If you can, check out the BBC series Robin of Sherwood.

 

 

 

 

 

King Arthur

Oh, Arthur! How we want to believe! Of all legends, yours is perhaps the most influential of any! Your mage Merlin/Myrrdin is the direct ancestor of Gandalf, Dungeons and Dragons, Dumbledore, and more.  “Arthur” (depending on spelling) is believed to have actually been a military leader who fought battles against the Saxons around the end of the 5th century. The earliest possible references to him date to the 600’s, though some discuss a Battle of Badon but give no mention of a king named Arthur.  Geoffrey of Monmouth was the first to give a romanticized version in the 1100’s, then Thomas Malory came along in the 1400’s and standardized the legend. T.H. White called him the Once and Future King, and Lerner and Loewe put it all to music so we could remember it easier. Arthur was probably real, but not quite as mystical as we’ve been made to believe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January’s a harsh month, but 31 days is sure better than 66, so curl up with a legendary figure, real or possibly not, and decide for yourself.

 

5 Legit Ways to Download Free eBooks & Audiobooks

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a reader in possession of a good book, must be in want of another good book. And books are expensive to buy, especially if you burn through them quickly like many of us do. So how can you (legally) keep yourself in reading material without spending a crazy amount of money?

Well, since this is a Library Blog, the #1 answer is obvious: use your public library card! But there are even more ways to get your hands (eyes) on free reading material. In this blog post I’m going to focus on downloadables (ebooks and audiobooks), and ways to legitimately get your electronic reading devices chock full of free stuff.  So many freebies, it’s easy to make “read more” one of your New Year’s resolutions. Thrifty readers rejoice!

1. Use Your Library’s Digital Collection. Free stuff is what libraries all about, and most have at least one e-book borrowing platform that their cardholders can access. At CPL, we have several (because we’re awesome like that), including OverDrive, and RBdigital. Each platform has slightly different borrowing rules, and a different collection of ebooks & audiobooks to choose from.  All you need is a library card and you can start downloading tons of free titles tonight!

2. Check out Open Library and Librivox.  Open Library features hundreds of thousands of scanned books, courtesy of the Internet Archive, offering classic literature, out-of-copyright, public domain works, and many modern titles.  eBooks can either be read page-by-page in a browser (requiring an internet connection), or downloaded to your device and read via the Overdrive Media Console app or a PDF reader. Librivox audiobooks are public domain works read by volunteers from all over the world. They are free for anyone to listen to on a computer, mobile device, or even to burn onto CDs.

3. Become a Reviewer with NetGalley and Edelweiss. Netgalley and Edelweiss  make digital ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) of upcoming books available in exchange for honest reviews. In order to gain access to their catalogs of available ebooks, you may be expected to publish regular reviews of what you read, but hey, that’s a small price to pay for free advance copies of books!

4. Promotional Offers & Sales from Major Retailers. Retail sites like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Google Play all offer free ebooks,  some are permanent freebies and some are for a limited time.  There’s lots of fiction and non-fiction titles, everything from new authors looking to get a sales boost, to established authors promoting their backlists. Check these sites regularly to grab some great deals.

5. And Speaking of Amazon…  Did you know Amazon Prime members have access to a bunch of free ebooks and audiobooks? If you’ve got Prime membership, you can take advantage of a lot of freebies through their Prime Reading program. Most are Kindle ebooks, but there are some audiobooks available through Audible.com, too,  including lots of podcasts from Audible Channels.