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The Library premieres on COBB Radio May 22nd

May 8, 2013
cobb radio

Cobb Radio station

Is it possbile to visit the library on the radio?  It will be later this month via LibRadio.

The library has been putting together a weekly streaming radio show for local online radio station the COBB Radio.  It will “air” on Wednesdays at 9:00am and will be available to listen to or download as a podcast shortly thereafter.

The show premieres Wednesday, May 22nd at 9:00am.

LibRadio will make you laugh, it will make you cry, and it will make you shake your head in disbelief.

Discover new music, movies, books and more, be amazed by John Hunziker’s reflections on Rochester history, plug your ears for Shouty Librarian’s phone-in show and be astounded by what we come up with next.

Your library is awesome and we aren’t afraid to broadcast it!


Muggy weather in the Library

April 29, 2013


While we know quite a few things here at the library (or, possibly more accurately, now to FIND quite a few things here), the whereabouts of Spring this year certainly remain a mystery to us as well.

Prince wrote a song called “Sometimes it Snows in April”, but we are verging on “It’s Probably Going to Snow in May” territory here. And the prospect of June (rather than May) flowers is not setting afire the hearts and minds of Minnesota Gardeners, either.

As we make the transition from snow-enhanced weather into the blazing prairie inferno that is summertime in Minnesota, the library will go through a temperature transition inside as well. The temperature regulation of the library this time of year is a lot like a child growing through the awkward teen years into adulthood.  Think of the mix of hot/cold in the library for the next few weeks as that adolescent phase of middle school before the full attainment of adulthood (where any residual awkwardness is no longer the fault of teen hormones and acne).

Hopefully summer like (or even spring-like, or even late-winter-like) weather will finally embrace us and will see the comfortable transition for the library’s heating/cooling system sooner rather than later.

For the time being, you have permission to wear shorts in the library (with the other appropriate clothing items).

National Library Week – Supersized?

April 17, 2013

A week just isn’t long enough.

We’re well into National Library Week (April 14-20 if your calendar/daytimer/device doesn’t already have it marked), and while we have a lot going on this week – a Master Gardener program, 20% off all items in the Friends Bookstore, a Rochester Issues Forum on Taxes, Hooray for Saturday! (why isn’t there a Hooray for Saturday for adults – just saying), the real question is why do Libraries have to settle for just a week?

A month would be good, but how can you pick one month?  (Probably not February just because it has the fewest days).

Maybe May – we’ve got so much going on like Rochester Reads is about to start up with a Big Bang,  Author Mary Roach’s “Packing for Mars” is just one highlight of all the outer and inner space activities packed in May.

But there are so many things that you can’t limit to one month.  

Visit the recently re-done Chlidren’s area with cool new play areas and just try not to smile (or try not to play – although if you’re a parent here with your children, feel free to play),

We will be debuting a new digital magazine downloading service later this month (called Zinio), where you can see full versions of some of your favorite magazines (pictures and all) and download copies to compatible computers/tables/phones to read when you’re not on the internet.  Most of the magazines are monthly (except for magazines like Newsweek that continue to flaunt their timeliness right in the title).

And a year, well, that just makes you sorry for the other years.

Decade is confusing, especially if you don’t start it right at the beginning of a 2000 or 2010. 

And century, that sounds presumptuous (but good).

In the end we might have to go with every day is library day (and if we do that seven days in a row, I guess we’re back to National Library week).

Enjoy the week.


Whither Paper Tax Forms at the Library?

April 5, 2013

Recently in Rochester, the local cable television company announced that one of the regional PBS channels would no longer be available to subscribers who didn’t opt for the “taxesdigital package” rather than the basic cable subscription.  Dial up internet access is somewhat of a dinosaur now, although it is still available if you don’t mind watching YouTube videos at the pace of a really boring slideshow.  You can almost, but not quite, add paper tax forms to those near-casualties of “progress”.

Eventually, “progress” seems to catch up with everyone.  At first, you’re eager for the latest thing/technology/craze while the people who have always lived with the traditional way of doing things are skeptical (“Sure, hearing a voice over this ‘telephone’ is all very clever, but look at my brand new telegraph machine – this baby’s going to last me at least 20 years!”).  I’m not seeing that anyone today would be lining up for the Apple iTelegraph no matter how nostalgic they may feel for dots and dashes.

That brings us to paper.  People have predicted that libraries will at some point be paperless, but the IRS is working to beat us at that game.  They would like you to file electronically.  But not everyone is there yet.

We don’t like tax forms any more than you do.  We start getting calls at the end of December about whether the tax forms have arrived yet or not (hint: if it’s still 2012, the 2012 tax forms have probably not arrived yet).  They are heavy, a hassle to restock, and we are quite limited in what we get (we don’t get to choose).  But there is demand for them, so we get what we can.

Some people have filed on paper for so long, they just don’t even want to think of doing it any other way.  Not filing online is an act of defiance or a yearly ritual that is not meant to be tampered with.  The trees, however, seem to have increased the power of their lobbying group in Washington, D.C.

Even for taxpayers who might like to file online, there can still be the “access to computers and/or internet” issue.  At the library we have public computers and we respect privacy more so than pretty much any institution that you can think of, but there is something kind of, and maybe this is the wrong word, but ‘intimate’ about your taxes.  Talking about your income is usually a conversational taboo and the thought of having to go into a public building to file your taxes is a little ‘unintimate’ (not really a word).

If you don’t use computers on a regular basis, this is a pretty intimidating task.  And not everyone can afford to have an accountant file their taxes for them.  But we are marching towards paperless nonetheless.

What would be the biggest loss in a paperless tax world?

Every year on the night of April 15th you see that same story on the television news showing a long line of people pulling up to the post office in their cars to drop off their brown envelopes full of tax forms, checks and love (okay, not love).  The local news stations will be losing this dramatic visual if we lose paper tax forms.  (Irony alert: the people who didn’t buy an HD signal converter for their analog TVs can’t see this story now.)

At the library we’re always happy to help you find the form you need from the internet and print it out for you if you need it (although keep in mind, we are librarians not CPAs, so we can’t give tax advice – we can only suggest resources in town who know better than we do.) There is a list of some local tax resources on our tax information web page if you’re looking for some help with your taxes.

And we can print out extension forms if you need them, too, at least for now.

Eating Your Words – 1st Annual Edible Book Contest

April 2, 2013

imageWhy edible books?  Why not? When you get together books, puns, sweets and library users, you’re likely to get quite a few works of both culinary and literary merit. 

This year we had our inaugural Edible Book Festival and the results were delicious.  From “Harry Potter and the Deathly (Marsh)Mallows” to “War and Peeps” (best use for peeps ever – they still don’t taste good despite being 174% sugar), the artisans produced some of the most delectable dishes since Julia Child (and if anyone next year wants to bring in every dish from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” ala “Julie & Julia”, they would win for sheer audacity).

All of the entries are on display at our Flickr page.

Bon Apetit!

Quick Flicks aren’t just for Kids

February 27, 2013

We know that you love movies in Rochester – we have well over 7000 DVDs in our collection.  And if you’ve ever looked at a new release DVD in the catalog, you know that you’re probably not the only one that’s interested in it (most popular new release DVDs have looooong waiting lists).  However, we have a possible remedy in the form of “Quick Flicks DVDs


Quick Flicks DVDs display in section “K” on first floor

What is a Quick Flicks DVD?  It’s a new DVD that only checks out for 2-days and that cannot be placed on hold.  Now while the time limits and not being able to put them on hold sounds bad, it’s actually good.  It means that we always have some new DVDs available for you to check out every time you visit the library.

Everyone is limited to two Quick Flick DVDs per library card at a time (and the overdue fees are $1.00/day), but it sure beats waiting for several weeks (okay, months) for new releases.

Stop over in the Fiction area and look for the DVDs in section “K” with the “Flaming” logo on the spine to see which Quick Flicks are avaiable for you to check out today.


In Through the App Door

February 15, 2013

blank_ipadWhile the ancient libraries full of immaculately transcribed hand-written scrolls probably did not have access to a very interesting assortment of apps for their primitive wooden smart phones (okay, “sundial” was about the only one, and it didn’t work well at night), in the year 2013 we do have quite a few ways to access digital library materials while sitting outside in your getting sand in your sandals.

BookMyne (we don’t name them, we just provide them), allows you to access your library account online, search tImagehe catalog and place holds from your smartphone.  It even give you some book recommendations.  It makes it easy to see if the library owns that book you just heard about on the radio or read about in the newspaper without having to turn on your computer.

If you’re traveling overseas and Imagewant to learn a language on the plane (or let’s be honest, learn some words once you’ve arrived having put off getting a language guide before you go on the plane), we’ve got you covered with the Mango Language app (again, we don’t name these things).  Mango allows you to learn over 24 different languages through its app.

ImageAnd let’s talk about eBooks.  The Overdive (again, not the namers) app allows you to download both eBooks (to read) and eAudioBooks (to listen to) directly onto your device.  While reading a book on your phone may not be your first choice, it’s really handy to have something good to read when your 10 minute wait for the doctor turns into a 60 minute wait-fest.  And if you didn’t plan ahead you can check it out right there among the out-of-date semi-non-interesting magazines splayed out all over the place.

More apps are on the way as libraries are converting many of their existing scroll collections to digital formats.

Check out our apps page for a sampling of the apps we have available for smart phones, eReaders and tablets*

*Most library apps will not be compatible with ancient stone tablets except eBooks you are willing to etch yourself (without violating copyright – Good luck!)

About that Super Bowl Library Ad

February 6, 2013

Contrary to what television ads may have you believe, there are rarely any library patrons arguing about Oreo cookies (in harsh, but “shhhhh-ed” tones) at the Rochester Public Library.

The ad accurately reflects just how much libraries are considered the home of serious debate and argument, being a non-partisan establishment that welcomes all flavors of opinion. Even Hydrox are welcome.

If you haven’t seen the ad in question, take a quick gander at this video via our friends at YouTube (the library is, of course, not necessarily endorsing the delicious cookie product being advertised).

While we don’t often take up serious gastronomic arguments in our Rochester Issues Forum, this could be a serious chance to decide the issue once and for all. 

Except for the fact that is so obvious that it is a combination of the white “stuff” and the chocolate cookie that make it work – to take one away from the other is to obliterate what made the [insert unendorsed brand of cookie name here] special in the first place.

There may be some room for debate there as long as the noise level is kept at an acceptable level.


eBook Help Still Available at the Library

January 28, 2013

ImageDuring the three weeks after the Holidays, we had almost a dozen eBook Reader “drop-in” sessions at the library where we saw almost 250 people (247 people if you must know the exact number) with their various eBook devices.

At times it was sheer chaos (as the number of patrons occassionally outnumbered available library staff), but between everyone’s patience and accumulated experience of library staff (often assisted by knowing patrons), we were able to get eBooks on pretty much any device people brought in.

This year there was the largest amount of variety of devices (several brands of tablet computers like the iPad, Galaxy, Kindle Fire, Nook HD), although there were plenty of the “e-ink” (i.e. black and white reader-only) Kindles and Nooks.

So, now that the drop-in classes are over, what is a person who needs help with an eReader to do now?  Glad you asked.

Every Thursday afternoon from 1:00pm – 2:30pm we have a general drop-in Computer Basics Workshop class (no sign-up needed).  Bring your eReader, the cord that came with it (and if you have any of the black and white Nook readers, your laptop computer if you have one).

We also have several device-specific classes scheduled in February and March (sign up is recommeded on our Events Calendar):

Feb 19  12:00pm –  1:00pm  iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch
Feb 22    1:00pm –  2:00pm Kindle
Feb 25  11:30am – 12:30pm Android phone/tablet
Feb 25    1:00pm –  2:00pm  Nook

Mar 4    4:00pm – 5:00pm iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch
Mar 6    5:30pm – 6:30pm Nook
Mar 14  4:00pm – 5:00pm Android phone/tablet
Mar 27  5:30pm – 6:30pm Kindle

If none of these options work, you may schedule an individual appointment by calling either the Readers’ Services desk at (507) 328-2305 or the Reference Desk at (507) 328-2309.

Happy eReading!

Wit Wisdom (and no) Wine

January 18, 2013

The truth is that I don’t like wine, but I went anyway.

I had just moved to Rochester from the Twin Cities and had only been working part time at the Rochester Public Library when we had the first Annual Wit Wisdom and Wine (WWW) event in 2002 and I had volunteered to help set it up. 

As this was the first time, we didn’t quite know what we were doing (which is totally not the case now – rest assured!)  We pulled out internet cables and moved computers wherever we needed to in order to make room for the speakers, food, and, oh, the wine.  Only after the event was over did we realize/discover how much difficulty there would be putting everything back.  The “it is so way past midnight and we have to get this back the way it was before we open tomorrow“ kind of difficulty.  And a call to the Computer Center might still have been made the next day soon after we opened.

But it was a crazy, fun event.  Not often do I go to an event and don’t get a chance to talk to everyone I want to for as long as I want to, but I never seem to have enough time at WWW (which may be why I keep coming back).  A cavalcade of people showed up, ate delicious food provided by Daube’s and had a great time drinking and talking loudly in the library with a temporary “no shushing” guarantee.  And the library raised some money – which seemed beside the point, but actually was the point of the whole thing.  And it continues.

Over the years, I have been able to attend most of the WWW events – some highlights include Tim Penny (who seems like he’s probably too smart to run for political office again – which is our loss, but WWW’s gain), Steve Lange’s “Secrets of the City”, Chad Isrealson’s history of Rock and Roll, and pretty much anything having to deal with making food (you had me at “Chef”).  I might still a little sore that I was outbid on the basket of gangster movie DVDs, but I’m not holding any grudges that my offer was, in fact, refused.

Now I’m a full-time reference librarian in Rochester and I’m going to be a co-presenter at this year’s Wit Wisdom and Wine (coming full circle alert!)

Although I still don’t like wine, I’m going to start and continue, but probably not finish those conversations.

Hope you can join us at this year’s event. 

Free free to post your favorite WWW memories below

Brian Lind

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