Parham Library debuts MakerSpace with gift tags and snowflake


Have yourself a merry little moment. Stop by Parham Library’s new MakerSpace table to create a few customized gift tags or snip a snowflake. The crafty tag above is KC Frankenburger’s art. Maudisa Blanken (left) and Meada Anderson get creative in the pictures below.

A Program about The Children Act? Why?

“Just to be clear, Adam. You do realize that it’s for me alone to decide what’s in your best interests. If I were to rule that tchildren-acthe hospital may legally transfuse you against your wishes, what will you think?”

He was sitting up, breathing hard, and seemed to sag a little at the question, but he smiled. ‘I’d think My Lady was an interfering busybody.” (Ian McEwan, The Children Act, 117-118).

Around the World through Books’ upcoming program on Thursday, November 10, will be framed by the events of The Children’s Act by Ian McEwan. Paralegal Studies program head Susan Brewer will lead the discussion, a challenging task because:

  1. Not everyone will have read the book, and that’s okay.(But all three Reynolds Libraries have copies to lend.)
  2. Though this program is sponsored by the Multicultural Enrichment Council, it is not particularly multicultural—at least not in the sense of ethnic diversity. It is set in London, England, and the main characters are white middle-class folk of decent background and intelligence, with nobody particularly harassing them.

    Susan Brewer (not Fiona Maye)
  3. This is a book without much action or plot, and almost everybody in it wants what’s best for the others. Almost everybody. Yet it has a sense of urgency and is literally about life and death decisions.

This is a book about searching for truth, and it’s a book about judging. Fiona Maye is a high court judge who must decide whether a young man with leukemia, Adam Henry, a Jehovah’s Witness, must have the blood transfusion which he wants to refuse, but without which his treatment will surely fail. Adam is seventeen and three-quarters, still technically a minor, but well over the sixteen years at which a child’s wishes are usually considered in legal matters. His parents support his choice. The hospital has brought it to court—the doctors want to save this charming, intelligent young man. The Henrys believe that Biblical injunctions to abstain from eating blood also preclude accepting blood products into the body. Adam is prepared to die rather than disobey God.

What’s multicultural about all that? What does this book have to do with diversity and inclusion? Here are three answers; perhaps you can supply more. Or perhaps the program will give us a chance to develop other ideas—come to LTC 220 from 7-8:30 on Thursday, Nov. 10 and see.

  1. Religious convictions (or anti-convictions) are part of each person’s cultural identity. They help define our understanding of right and wrong and how things ought to be, which in turn affects how we treat each other.
  2. Even reasoned, critical thinking based on law (The Children Act is the British child protective services law, to oversimplify it), logic, and the best of intentions is affected by the context of cultural conventions, parental and social influences, and, perhaps, life’s momentous distractions. Fiona is childless and her husband is behaving badly.
  3. Fiona’s husband is behaving badly. It is accurate to say he’s being really stupid and selfish, but that sounds so judgmental. Society today has a “Don’t judge!” mantra. “Judge not, that ye be not judged (Matthew 7:1),” is quoted frequently. But what does that really mean? How can we be inclusive, kind, and respectful, and still be true to our own convictions about right and wrong?children-act-poster

A Bull by the Tail

A wise old professor used to tell this story during college orientation, only in his version there were as many bulls as there are weeks in a semester.

Sydney on bull
Library specialist Sydney Gordon, ready for anything.

Student Life’s Welcome Back event at Parham Campus this week featured a mechanical bull.

Lisa on bull
Lisa Bishop, also a library specialist, gets set.

A couple of library staff members tried their cowgirl skills!

But look at the bull in these photos – and remember our tale. Don’t let a chance to grab the bull (or the semester) pass you by!

Sydney Gordon takes a soft landing.
Sydney Gordon takes a soft landing.

Last two days to win a free book!

Only two days are left to register to win a copy of The Yellow Birds. The deadline is October 3. Find the form at this link.

Kevin Powers color_Marjorie Cotera_HiresThe Yellow Birds is a war novel by Kevin Powers. Powers is a Richmond native who attended James River High School. Enlisting in the army at age seventeen, he later served a year in Iraq as a machine gunner. He was stationed in Mosul and Tal Afar in 2004 and 2005. After his honorable discharge he came home and studied at Virginia Commonwealth University. He then went off to the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a Michener fellow in poetry. He’s won a bunch of awards and now works in New York.

The Yellow Birds

He published his first novel in 2012. The Yellow Birds is a study in contradiction. It tells of the dreariness and horror of an urban war, but the narrative is poetic and beautiful. It is the story of young Private Bartle and his younger buddy Private Murphy. They just want to survive. When they’re on watch, they are desperate to stay awake. They’re soldiers; they talk like solders; they curse like soldiers.

Kevin Powers is coming to Reynolds on Thursday, November 6, to read from The Yellow Birds and his new book of poetry,  Letters Composed During a Lull in the Fighting (A few winners of the drawing will receive the poetry instead of the novel). After the reading, he will answer questions from the audience and stay to sign copies of his books. The event will begin at 7 p.m. in Lipman Auditorium. All are welcome; please come.

This program is an Around the World through Books event, sponsored by the Multicultural Enrichment Council.

All three Reynolds campus libraries have copies of The Yellow Birds to lend for two weeks; Parham Campus Library has it as an audiobook.

Not Your Grandmother’s Library

These are perilous times for libraries–or would be, if libraries were stuck being traditional repositories of print materials. People like libraries, but not just as a place to come fetch books anymore.

Libraries are changing. Here at Reynolds Libraries, we are constantly looking for ways we can be up-to-date and more useful. What we need to know is–what do people want from libraries? What do they value? What should change, and what should be left alone?

That is why we welcome a new report by Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project, called The New Library Patron.  In an October 29, 2013,  Slideshare presentation (see below),  Rainie, along with Kathryn Zickuhr and Kristen Purcell, shows results from people who were asked about the impact of public libraries on their lives. Over 90% say libraries are important to their communities, and 76% say libraries are important to them and their families. This is good news!

Review the presentation below to find what people surveyed find so valuable, and what they wish libraries would do for them. Sure, the study is about public libraries, but many of the findings can be more broadly applied to academic libraries like us.

And then maybe you would like to add a comment to this post about what Reynolds Libraries offer that you find useful, or what you wish we could do that is different.

Straw Garden Follow-Up

Back in April I blogged, for Earth Day, about a straw bale garden I was going to try.  I am sorry to report that I am still a lousy gardener, but have had some success anyway.

I planted three tomato plants, two zucchini plants from seed, two basil plants, thyme, cilantro, a bell pepper, and a jalapeno. I also planted some French green bean and cantaloupe seeds.

Zucchini from seed

Seeds did come up, but they did not flourish. The tomatoes languished until August, though I did get one or two tomatoes before the Fourth of July, as promised, from the Fourth of July variety. The zucchinis flowered but did not bear. I had two beans, each about an inch long. The cilantro merely endured, until one day it was dead. It didn’t even taste good.

In July I decided it was all a bust and stopped getting up early to turn on the soaker hose. Instead of planting anything in the hole of the square formed by the four bales, I started throwing compost in there.  And then it rained.

And everything started to grow. No, not everything, but the basil began to flourish and the tomatoes took off. The bell pepper finally produced an oh-so-small pepper. And now I actually have ripe tomatoes. On Saturday I picked three golfball sized tomatoes from the Fourth of July vine and twenty-two cherry tomatoes from the Sweet Million vine. The Beauty has seven green tomatoes on it. And I’ve picked from the basil and used it in recipes.

That’s my straw bale garden story. As a food source, I cannot recommend it. As a hobby, it has been pretty interesting. Weeds did grow in it, but they were easy to pull out, except down in the hole. I think I should have been more generous with water and fertilizer in the beginning. If you want a real garden you probably have to work much harder.

For a happy ending, here is a picture of my pretty little cherry tomatoes.

Cherry tomatoes growing in straw
Cherry tomatoes

It’s Earth Day!

May/June 2010 issue of Fine Gardening
May/June 2010 issue of Fine Gardening

April 22 is Earth Day, so I thought I would share something I learned in the May/June 2010 issue of Fine Gardening, which you can find in the current  periodicals sections of the Parham and Western Campus libraries. Straw gardening!

My garden attempts in the past, few as they are, have failed due to lack of attention and weeds. But I was inspired by reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle for the April “Around the World through Books” program, so I wanted to try growing something. This straw garden requires no tilling or hoeing, hopefully minimal weeding, and it is raised. While it isn’t exactly sustainable–you have to start over every year or so–it is pretty earth-friendly. As the straw decomposes you get a very nice compost.

The idea is simple. You get some bales of straw, spread compost and fertilizer on the top, and water for ten days before planting. Here is a video featuring the author of the article. I’m at day three of watering, so I don’t have any green to show yet–just soil and straw.Straw with fresh compost and humus

–Lisa Bishop, checker-in of periodicals at the PRC Library

Community College Times goes online only

The Community College Times, a bimonthly newspaper published by the American Association of Community Colleges, is ceasing its print edition and moving to a freely available online-only format ( As a printed product it has been, frankly, ignorable on the library’s shelf, but the web version is dynamic and interesting–if you’re into community colleges. Check out the article “Why two-year colleges are the frontline of the president’s recovery plans” and browse around a little while you’re there. RSS feeds and email alerts are available.

More holiday safety

Holiday shopping is crazy enough without getting caught by traffic accidents. This link:

 shows real-time accident and hazard information for Henrico and Chesterfield counties as well as Richmond itself.

Another tip from the Richmond Police: “The single biggest problem right now is people leaving stuff in their cars.  GPS devices, presents, purses, etc that are visible through a window are likely to create a desire to break the car window and take the stuff.”

Be careful out there!