Strong Girls, Stronger Women

stb-jaylah-3While previewing the DVD for Star Trek: Into Darkness (as if I didn’t see it in the theater and wasn’t buying it myself 5 days later), I realized that Jaylah, the lead female character, is everything I want my daughters and granddaughter to be: strong, brave, smart, resourceful, a planner, a leader, and even when emotionally wounded, she never, ever gives in. Surely one of the strongest female leads ever, without losing her femininity in the process, like Grace Jones as May Day in A View to a Kill, or Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. It may even be safe to say that Jaylah’s the strongest female lead ever in Star Trek itself – and no, not even Uhura, who, although she could kick butt, was often saddled with lines like, “Captain, I’m frightened.”

And that made me start thinking on who the strongest female leads might be. By strong I don’t mean nastiest or most vicious goal-driven women, no Joan Crawfords or Cersei Lannisters or Erica Kanes. I mean women or girls who started out ordinary, but when faced with impossible odds, had the grit and determination and education and smarts to work their way into survival.

First on almost any list is Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley, from Alien. While you can say it ec93835d9542a13ce50f467297565f63already took guts and grit to be a warrant officer aboard a deep-space ship, finding out your mission was a suicide run to bring back an alien life form and you’re its food can either send you screaming in helpless panic (as Lambert did), or make you hike your bra straps and shoot first. Ripley is a real woman – no makeup, no unrealistic sexy uniforms, and not afraid to be pushy when she needs to be. And almost 40 years later (can it possibly be that long?) Alien still holds up on every level of film making; truly, a masterpiece.

katniss_prim_hugKatniss Everdeen is also a favorite for strongest female: just sixteen at the start of The Hunger Games, Katniss is already a survivor, having raised a sister and cared for a dysfunctionally depressed mother following the death of their father, in a world where people are kept in line through fear and starvation. Sacrificing herself to the Hunger Games to save her sister is just the start; surviving the Hunger Games not once but twice, surviving on luck, wits, and the smarts acquired through a lifetime of survival makes Katniss a formidable – but sympathetic and realistically feminine – heroine.

Sarah Connor of Terminator fame would round out my top three: a simple waitress who thought she was minding her own business until she’s hunted down by a terminator from the future – because when push comes to shove, Sarah will become a serious survivalist to save her son – a son who will grow up to be the leader against the machines that take over the world. Sarah is thrown into an impossible situation but comes out on top through sheer determination and a survival instinct that won’t quit.

Why so many women from science-fiction? That’s a good question. Perhaps it’s because “strong” women in literature or film are often seen as detestable power-hungry ladder-climbers who will use murder or sex to achieve their goals, and it is only in the realm of “fantasy” that women are allowed to be every-day humans, both strong and vulnerable at the same time, without boob jobs and fake nails. Yet the real world is peppered with incredibly strong women – Anne Frank, Malala Yousafzai, Margaret Sanger, Harriet Tubman, and so many more. Not one of them is sexualized by the media, either.

turn_me_loose_it_s_ashleySo, to be fair, there are literary women who also struggled against formidable odds: Scarlett O’Hara’s entire world was ripped from her by the Civil War: her income, her inheritance, her mother, her husband (whether or not she wanted him alive) wind up Gone With the Wind. She takes charge in a time and place when genteel women did not do that, and through guile and determination pulls her life and the lives of her family back together. And as the anti-Scarlett, I would include Mammy, who carried on through war and starvation, caring for former slaves and slave-owners alike, facing the same dangers as Scarlett but with even less means or social approval. In The Color sofiaPurple, yes, Celie has to survive an ugly life, but to me Sofia is far more of a tough cookie, taking her lumps and even prison because she won’t take the abuse anymore. Sofia is limited by society, but she’s every bit as tough as Katniss.

And moving further away, I would also nominate Maria, from West Side Story. She’s sixteen and stands between two warring gangs for love. The Sharks don’t frighten her. The Jets don’t frighten her. The police don’t frighten her. She gets in the face of each and every west-side-story-1961-dvdrip-moviecenter-avi_snapshot_02-16-56_2016-07-21_15-39-34one, standing up for what she believes in. No one is telling Maria what to think or do.

I could add more – Elizabeth Swan, Marion Ravenwood, Molly Weasley, Natasha Romanov – but if you’re looking for role models for girls and teens, real women who aren’t villainous or overly sexualized or vacuuous but incredibly strong and resourceful, there are plenty to choose from.

Navigating the Mystery of Items Coming From Other Libraries

We hear you!  It can be very frustrating when you have requested an item and it is coming from another library and it’s taking forever!  It is a very complicated process that many folks have a hard time understanding.  We hope this explanation will give you a better understanding about why it takes so long for you to receive your item(s).

The main misconception is that someone here at the Cheshire library gets in their car and drives to another library to get the item.  What actually happens is the Connecticut State Library provides a service called deliverIT CT.  This is run by the State and paid for from the State’s budget.  At this time, libraries do not have to pay for this service.  They have 11 drivers/maintainers currently employed.  They go to 167 libraries daily, make 848 stops per week, serve 1,546,895 patrons, and move 15,000 items daily.

As you can imagine, this is a huge undertaking and coordinating it all is quite challenging for the State.  Here at the library, we cannot tell you what day or time of day we will get our delivery.  The delivery schedule is affected by a variety of factors such as vacations, illness, holidays, the weather, and the like.  Cheshire gets at least one delivery a week (although we have gone more than a week without any delivery on occasion).  When there is no delivery, there is no pick-up of materials going out.  The same is true for other libraries.  If they don’t have a delivery, their out-going items sit in bins waiting to go out.  We can have 15-25 bins waiting to be picked up here on a weekly basis.

When you see the term “in transit” on your account, that doesn’t mean the item is physically moving between libraries or that it will be in our next delivery.  It can sit in a bin at a library for many days (or weeks, in some cases).  Once the items leave a library, they need to be sorted before heading out to the various libraries.  What we have been experiencing here in Cheshire is that the average time to receive requested items is 2-4 weeks.  Some come in sooner, some later.   We’ll contact you when your item has arrived.

The Difference Between “Available” and “Ready for Pickup”
To also clarify, when you see the term “Available” on  your account, that means the item you requested is sitting on a shelf at one of the 30 libraries in our consortium.  If you see it is available in Cheshire, your best bet is to come in to get it or call the library to have staff place a hold on Cheshire’s copy.  If you place the hold from home, the computer software does not automatically select Cheshire.  Your account will say “Ready for pickup” when it is here in Cheshire on our Hold Shelf.

If the item you want is owned by Cheshire but currently checked out, it is quicker to wait for the Cheshire item instead of requesting it from another library.  You can call the library or come in person and we will be happy to place a hold specifically on a Cheshire item since this must be done by a staff member.

The State has instituted various guidelines to help reduce the volume of items being transported between libraries.  All libraries have been urged to comply with the established guidelines. (Please note, many libraries do not ship DVDs, CDs, or audiobooks – including Cheshire). The State has done an excellent job considering their resources and the volume.  Please know that they are doing everything they can to provide equal access to library resources for all Connecticut residents.

Another misconception is that staff can tell you what number you are in line for an  item, especially for a book by one of the most popular authors.  Unfortunately, our computer software does not have any way to determine where you are on the list.

I hope this gives you a better understanding of what it takes for your item to come from another library.  If you need an item for a specific date, you will need to plan ahead.  You always have the option of going to a specific library to pick up the item yourself.  Just call the library ahead of time and they will set the item aside for you.

4abc340cf5d893ff4bf6ebc17b29c221Always remember that if you need help locating an item, any of our staff will be happy to assist you.

Collection Spotlight: Lit Kits

When you were growing up was there a subject that you were obsessed with? Perhaps you are a parent or caregiver and a little one in your life has a similar obsession. Maybe you want to teach your little ones about your favorite subject, or you are a teacher and want to introduce a subject or idea. We have a simple answer for all of this, we call them Lit Kits.

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A Lit Kit is a box that includes a DVD, CD, book of related activities, picture books, and board books on a given topic. The collection of materials circulate in a blue storage box  for the standard 28 day period, the same check out time as out regular books, CD’s, and audiobooks. They are the perfect solution for entertaining and teaching our youngsters. We currently have 40 Lit Kits in our collection, with plans for adding more. You can place holds on the kits if the subject you are looking for is checked out. Our Lit Kits are located on the bottom shelf of the book case that houses our Parenting collection. 20161104_103952Our Lit Kits include: Firefighters, Babies, Birds, Apples, Winter, Shoes, Spring, Food, Sleeping, Chickens,FishFish #2, Transportation, Wheels, Rain, Friends, Monsters, Frogs, Summer, Colors, Dinosaurs, Animals, Families, Nursery Rhymes, Circus, Clothing, Pizza, Teeth, Shapes, Monkeys, Cats, Fall/Autumn, Bears, Dogs, Princesses, Bugs, Farms, Sports, Beach, and All About Me.

We are planning on building more kits, so if you have a suggestion for a subject please share it here.

The World of Castle Waiting

jacket-aspxCastle Waiting by Linda Medley is a graphic novel in two volumes that depicts a world where horses walk upright and wield swords. A world of ghosts and amulets and curses. And yet, a world of  everyday life that deals with such things as the logistics of cooking for a crowd, doing the laundry, and whether it’s more important for underwear to be functional or interesting.

And through it all, one plucky heroine named Jain travels in search of the legendary Castle Waiting, a sanctuary for anyone who needs it. The characters are wonderful and no one bats an eye at any being, no matter how different: talking storks, annoying sprites, bearded ladies, the mentally unstable, the warriors are all taken in stride and regarded with compassion and a touch of humor.

A small demon  patrols the neighborhood around Castle Waiting looking for souls to corrupt. Sprites infest the castle walls. A lion with wings watches silently and mysteriously, sometimes from the roof and sometimes from the nearby woods. And Jain, who has spent months on the road, arrives just in time for the birth of her baby, whose father is as much of a mystery as everything else in the castle.

castleMeticulously drawn and by turns touching, hilarious, and heartbreaking, this story sucked me right in. With a deft hand,  Medley strews literary references throughout the story and skewers old fairy tales. One reading simply is not sufficient. Only through multiple readings will you be able to catch all the allusions and details. Each panel not only features the major characters but a wealth of of background action. (Watch for the sprites stealing things while no one notices.) The architectural detail of the castle made my wanna-be architect heart beat faster.

This is not a utopian story. People die. There are thieves, baby-nappers, and violence. Jain starts her journey by escaping from an abusive husband. Yet, in a way, Castle Waiting is a utopia. Bickering happens and personalities clash, but underneath it all there is an unquestioning acceptance of everyone.

It seems like a wonderful place to be. It is just quirky enough for my taste and there are enough adventures to keep boredom at bay. The characters bowl in the castle halls. They eat Turkish Delight. They dye their hair red and hold impromptu tea parties.  And each one has a story that is slowly revealed though the (so far) two volumes.

Jain Solander from the graphic novel Castle Waiting. Artist: Linda Medley.

From Castle Waiting, Vol. 1. Copyright Linda Medley.

Did I mention that Castle Waiting has a library complete with a ghost? I want to go live there.

Take a look at other Graphic Novels available at the Cheshire Library.

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What’s Happening at Cheshire Library in March

Two concerts this month, plus fun and informative programs on everything from Aromatherapy to  Starting a Business! Here are the highlights from our March Events Calendar:

rrpcwmScents and Sensibility

Thursday Mar 2, 2017, 6:30  –  8:00 PM

Learn about the medicinal benefits of various herbs and essential oils and create your own 8-ounce herbal reed diffuser. This 90 minute hands-on workshop includes all materials. Seating is limited and registration is required.

holaCuentos y Cantos

Friday Mar 3, 2017, 10:00  –  10:45 AM

¡Hola y bienvenidos a Cuentos y Cantos! Join Miss Lauren for a bilingual storytime in English and Spanish. We’ll read books, sing songs, learn new words, and have fun in two languages! For children ages 0-5 with a parent/caregiver. No registration required.

Atwater-Donnelly Trio

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Sunday Mar 5, 2017, 2:00 PM

Award-winning, internationally acclaimed performers, Aubrey Atwater and Elwood Donnelly  blend gorgeous harmonies and play an astonishing array of instruments, showcasing traditional American and Celtic folk songs and percussive dance featuring Irish step dancer Kevin Doyle. This concert is free to the public, no registration required.

small-businessStarting and Running a Small Business

Tuesdays,  Mar 7, 14, 21, 28 2017, 6:00  –  8:00 PM

The basics of starting and running a small business will be presented in a series of four programs to be hosted by SCORE, a network of business mentors, at the Cheshire Public Library, in the month of March.  The sessions will take place on Tuesday evenings – March 7, 14, 21, and 28, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.  Space is limited, please register early!

 

difference-between-noodles-and-pastaCookbook Club: Pasta and Noodles

Wednesday Mar 8, 2017, 6:30  –  8:00 PM

March is Noodle Month!  Bring your favorite pasta/noodle cookbooks (from the library or home) to discuss, and a pasta/noodle dish to share with the group. Must be at least 18 years of age or older to participate.  By attending the program, participants acknowledge that they may choose to consume food that has not been prepared in a commercial kitchen. Registration is required.

11140269_574342509385891_2126848489443040348_n-e1446648369259Adult Knitting Night

Wednesdays Mar 8 and 22,  2017, 6:30 PM

Come socialize, learn, and share your techniques with other knitters.  Experience the relaxing and calming effect of knitting. Advanced adult knitters welcome, no supplies or instruction will be given. We will meet the 2nd and 4th Wednesday every month, no registration required.

logo-cwhf300 Years of Connecticut’s Remarkable Women

Thursday Mar 9, 2017, 6:00 PM

Please join us as we celebrate Women’s History Month with a tribute to 300 Years of Connecticut’s Remarkable Women presented by The Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame. This multi-media program will discuss well-known figures like Ella Grasso, Katharine Hepburn and Marian Anderson and lesser known heroines like Maria Sanchez, Barbara McClintock and Hannah Watson. Registration is required.

caldecottCelebrate the Caldecott!

Saturday Mar 11, 2017, 11:00 AM  –  12:00 PM

Join us as we celebrate some of our favorite Caldecott Medal books! The Caldecott Medal is awarded annually to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children published that year. This hands-on family friendly program will include art activities and games featuring some of the past award winners. For all ages, registration is required.

imagesFood Your Kids Will Eat!

Monday Mar 13, 2017, 6:30  –  7:30 PM

Do you have a favorite recipe that your family loves?  Do you have a recipe that freezes well that you can heat up after a long day at work?  Well this program is for you.  Bring a sample of your favorite dish, and the recipe to share with the group. We’ll share ways of getting kids to eat the food you prepare! Must be at least 18 years of age or older to participate.  By attending the program, participants acknowledge that they may choose to consume food that has not been prepared in a commercial kitchen. Registration is required.

Microsoft PowerPoint

3-part class, Wednesdays Mar 15, 22, 29, 1:30-2:30 PM

This class will provide introduction to Microsoft PowerPoint and is divided into three powerpoint-2013-logo-iconsessions.
You will learn how to:
– Create a new presentation.
– Modify presentation themes.
– Add and edit text.
– Add new slides to a presentation.
– Insert clipart images and shapes to slides.
– Add sound and video to a slide presentation.
– Insert and edit animations and slide transitions and much more.   Registration is required.

img_0623READ Photo Week

Monday Mar 20 – Saturday Mar 26, 2017

Kids, show off your love of reading! Stop by the Children’s Room any time from Monday, March 20th to Saturday, March 26th to get your photo taken with a favorite book. Take a book from our shelves or bring a book from home, select a snazzy background, then smile and say “read”! During National Library Week from April 10-16, come pick up your photo and enjoy our brand-new display featuring all the readers at Cheshire Library.

screen-shot-2017-02-15-at-4-07-09-pmSAT/ACT Preparation

Thursday Mar 23, 2017, 6:30  –  7:30 PM

Want to learn about free resources such as practice SAT/ACT tests and eBooks available to you free 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?  Attend this free session and learn about Learning Express a digital service that will help you master the SAT/ACT.  Registration is required.

baerman-squaredNoah Baerman Trio

Sunday Mar 26, 2017, 2:00 PM

Noah Baerman is an acclaimed jazz pianist/composer, educator, author, and Artistic Director of the non-profit Resonant Motion. For this program, Noah and his trio will demonstrate some of the nuts and bolts of instrumental jazz in lay terms, but without watering down the music itself.  This concert is free to the public, no registration required.

26832947885_23920e0bc2_bAuthor Talk : The Brass Valley by Emery Roth

Monday Mar 27, 2017, 6:00  –  8:00 PM

They called the steep valley of Connecticut’s Naugatuck River, “Brass Valley,” because from the time the world began running on steam and bearings, trolleys and soot, the Naugatuck Valley came to be where most of the world’s brass manufacturing happened.  Author and photographer, Emery Roth will talk about his new book, Brass Valley: The fall of an American Industry,  a book of pictures and stories about how it all happened.

 

 

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