Wednesday, February 28, 2007


The following is a listing of Used Book Sales that I am aware of that are being held in March in the Badger State:

  • 3/1 Ripon

  • 3/2 - 3/4 Elm Grove

  • 3/3 Madison (Sequoya)

  • 3/10 West Allis

  • 3/15 - 3/17 Fond du Lac

  • 3/17 Kewaunee

  • 3/17 Madison (Lakeview)

  • 3/21 - 3/24 Madison (Main Library)

  • 3/22 - 3/24 Lake Mills

  • 3/27 Oshkosh

I will post details if anyone cares to furnish them to me. Otherwise go to the library's website to see what you can find.



Telescopes on the earth have difficulties getting clear images because they have to peer through our thick atmosphere. That's why most major installations are located at high altitudes, where the air is clear and cold. The National Science Foundation reports that a new telescope is now in place in Antarctica. (The air doesn't get any colder or clearer anywhere than down there). It was put into use on February 16th, capturing images of Jupiter.

When it is fully up and running the SPT will help astronomers understand dark energy's influence on the expansion of the Universe and precisely measure the cosmic microwave background radiation. It will do this because it make images at the submillimetre spectrum. This is a region in between radio waves and infared radiation. Using submillimetre observations, the astronomers will be able to detect molecular clouds, map galaxy clusters, and chart that pesky cosmic microwave background radiation.

The telescope is 75 feet tall and weighs 280 tons. The parts were flown from New Zealand with the telescope being put together on site during the relatively warm Antarctic summer.

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Yesterday morning I was watching a "BIZ" report on CCTV9, the Chinese English language television station available on DirectTV. ("TV from outer space!") The commentator had an analyst on her show to help viewers understand what had just happened in the Shanghai stock market. The Chinese analyst was talking about Price to Earning Ratios, Market Corrections, etc. She sounded like someone from Piper Jaffray.

Tuesday morning (here) they were talking about events that took place there on Monday in China . I thought the program interesting, but as the day went on I became aware of the ripple effect of China's "correction" which affected stock markets around the world. Our own Dow Jones Average encountered its biggest drop since 9/11. Obviously, the growing Chinese economy has a tremendous effect on the global economy.

Ironically, the Christian Science Monitor ran an article in Monday's paper called "Watch Your Flanks, America!" The article talks about the American budget surplus turning into a budget deficit after the year 2000, primarily because of the Iraq war and tax cuts. The deficit is financed by issuance of bonds. The largest purchaser of these bonds currently is China. They will soon pass Japan as America's largest creditor. It is now estimated that two-thirds of China's massive foreign currency reserves are in US bonds.

The article points out that if China began calling in their "markers" it would cause economic disaster around the world. Some say that China would never do this, because it would hurt their people as well. But some analysts are now saying that Beijing's view is that the Chinese people are tougher and better able to withstand economic hardship (they're used to it), in comparison to Americans who have grown soft "living the good life". So if the growing calls for "protectionism" in the US are implemented to save certain US industries, the Chinese hold the trump cards that could bring ALL our industries to their knees.

You can read the full article at......

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007


My wife and I had our first Spanish class last evening at UW-Marathon County. It seems like it will be a lot of fun (and a lot of work). There are 19 people in the class, many of them retired folk, and many of them teachers or ex-teachers. The prime reason for most of the group taking the class is to be more comfortable during travel to Spanish-speaking countries. There will be two sessions per week for four weeks.

The instructors are two ladies, originally from Quito, Ecuador who are married to Americans and live in the Wausau area. They have taught this course for several years and are very organized in their approach to teaching us "Gringos" their native language. There is HOMEWORK between each class. Next Monday we will be required to stand and tell what we did over the weekend IN SPANISH !! Obviously, my wife and I will be practicing at home. (We fell asleep last night with a Spanish language station on the TV, hoping to learn something subliminally!)
We were informed that learning Spanish is very easy. In Ecuador even the little children can speak it !!
Each of us drew a Spanish name out of a hat which we will use during the class.

Hasta Luego! ............... Carlos

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Monday, February 26, 2007


One of the functions of WLTA is to aid in the education of Library Boards and Friends Boards. The DPI has an excellent manual for this called TRUSTEE ESSENTIALS which can be found on their site. The Director of Wisconsin Valley Library Service provided a short summary of Essential No. 1 for the last WLTA meeting. I am posting it here. You should review it, discuss it at your meetings, and go to the DPI site for the complete version for the use of your group.


" A library trustee is an individual who has been chosen to participate in the administration of one of the oldest and most significant civilizing influences in the history of the human race. There is but little doubt that back of all libraries, both ancient and modern, there have been trustees, governors, committees, or patrons, who administered their affairs, protected their staffs, and fostered their growth. The library trustee of today is part of a glorious on-going procession which started in the dim early history of civilization and will doubtless continue as long as civilization endures." -- Author unknown --


Participate as a member of a team (the library or system board) to protect and advance the interests of the broader community be effectively governing the operations and promoting the development of the local public library or library system.


  • Prepare for and attend regular board meetings

  • Work with relevant municipal governing bodies to obtain funding, develop budgets, monitor monthly expenditures, and develop long-range plans

  • Develop library and system policies and review them regularly

  • Determine and advocate for reasonable staff salaries and benefits

  • Hire, supervise and evaluate the library or system director

  • Address the needs and interest of the community being served

  • Act as an advocate of the library or system through contacts with civic groups and public officials

  • Learn about and defend intellectual freedom and the important roles libraries and systems play in maintaining a democratic society

  • Include WLA/WLTA membership fees for trustees in library/system budget and attend WLA conferences, system workshops, etc. to expand knowledge of effective leadership and ever-changing library-related concerns. If you have a computer, take the time to review your library and system web pages and subscribe to relevant local/regional listservs and to wispublib, the listserv that keeps the Wisconsin library community informed.

The handbook is available at

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This week's couple who get caught reading are "Maya & Miguel". They are cartoon characters featured in a half-hour children's television series produced by Scholastic Studios. The show appears on PBS. Maya & Miguel are pre-teen Hispanic twins who find that culture and language learning are fun.

I hope they are right because my wife and I start a beginning Spanish course at UWMC this evening. This course, taught by two people from Equador, is aimed at giving some rudimentary language skills to people who will be traveling to Spanish speaking countries during Spring Break. So La Senora and myself will be caught reading our Spanish textbooks. You should be caught reading, too!

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Sunday, February 25, 2007


A couple months ago I switched from cable to satellite television. I had been having some technical problems with the cable service and decided to go back to a dish, as I had been using at my previous home.

As with any move of this type there are some good things and some bad things in any transition. But one of the BEST things has been being able to watch the Chinese Television channel that broadcasts in English. This is channel 455 in the DirectTV lineup and the station is called CC TV9. The station broadcasts are seen throughout China, and now are available in the United States and Europe via satellite.

I am finding the programming to be fascinating. It is very interesting to watch their news broadcasts. (I have not seen one single reference to Britney Spears or Anna Nicole ...... YET). There is much news from countries other than China that you don't see in the USA. You can also see some of this type of stuff on BBC-America as well. Other countries seem to regard themselves as citizens of the world, while Americans seem to be much more introspective and fascinated with themselves. I also enjoy the "Up Close" program very much.

Many political scientists are forecasting the 21st Century will evolve into the "Chinese Century", just as the 20th Century was regarded as the "American Century". If this is true, we had best get to understand the Chinese a bit better. Even if it isn't, we should attempt to understand other countries as something other than travel destinations or another place to be bombed.

If you don't have satellite TV you can actually watch live programing from CC TV9 on your computer. TRY IT at Be sure to click on your connection speed. You can then either watch archival footage or can click on the "live coverage" button, to see what they are broadcasting right now.
The Library Director at the Marathon Country Public Library took a trip to China this past year. She spent considerable time with librarians there and noted the speed at which they were attempting to digitize their records. Chairman Mao, for some unknown reason, essentially left libraries alone during the Cultural Revolution, so Chinese libraries have much in the way of old records of their culture. As the Chinese of the 21st century are regarding this stuff with increasing reverance, libraries are beginning to play an ever increasing role in their society.

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Friday, February 23, 2007


I received some bad news from my Travel Agent. While in the Tortuguero area of Costa Rica I will not have Internet access. I will be cut off from the rest of the world for three whole days! However, I think that my wife and I will have enough to do that we won't miss being "connected".
I'm posting some pictures from the web-site of the lodge that we'll be staying at and the type of environment they show that we'll be in. I'm going to investigate getting a Flickr account where I can upload pictures when we get back to a more "civilized" part of the country.
Does anyone have any suggestions as to a photo processing site that they think works better than Flickr ??

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One of my duties with the Friends of the Marathon County Public Library is to act as an "Ambassador". Each month I am to make a trip to one of the MCPL branches (or to another library), talk to the staff, view the facility, and report back to the Friends group.

This month I visited the Stratford Branch Library and talked with Janice Pankratz, the Branch Coordinator. Stratford is located on the Western side of Marathon County. The library is located in a very smart new building, right across the street from a park, on the North side of town.

Stratford established it's first library in 1930. The present library building was erected in 1995. Stratford is very proud of its library as 50% of the cost was paid for by MCPL and the other 50% was paid for by the community. There is a display on the wall of their nice meeting room which highlights all people who contributed at least $250 towards the building project. The Stratford branch has approximately 17,000 items in its collection, but has access to over 1 million items through MCPL & Wisconsin Valley Library Service's V-CAT system.

Ms Pankratz keeps her library neat, clean, and well organized. While there I saw a couple people going over newspapers and magazines in the reading area. A mom came in with a little girl who immediately rushed over to the play area in the children's section. I'd guess the children's area, which is very well stocked with books, covers 30% of the library's square footage. I saw some of the toys which the MCPL Friends had purchased. The library has 2 Internet terminals and 2 Catalog terminals. Janice indicated that joining V-CAT this past summer has been a big boon to "Home Schoolers" in her area. While there I saw a lady walk out with a huge stack of books which had just come in by courier.

The Stratford branch has a book discussion group, children's programs, and hosts various meetings in their facility. They will be doing their part in the MCPL 100 year celebration in November. Right now they are preparing for a Used Book Sale which will be held on March 7-8-9. Some of their inventory for the sale comes from local donations and some comes from the inventory of the MCPL Friends.

The Stratford Branch Library would be a nice place for you to visit. Janice is a very pleasant lady to talk to, and she'd be happy to show you around her facility.

400 N. Fourth Avenue
Stratford, WI 54484

Phone: (715) 687-4420

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007


As part of the recognition of Black History Month, today's Christian Science Monitor contains another article on SLAVERY . This one touches on slavery in 2007. The United Nations reports that there are approximately 27 MILLION people around the world in unpaid servitude. And 200,000 are in the United States of America!

The photo is a picture of a statue of William Wilberforce, the 19th Century British politician who led the fight for elimination of the slave trade.

Check out the article at .......

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Monday, February 19, 2007


Yesterday the annual Daytona 500 was held. This is the long awaited start to the stock-car racing season. I am more of an open-wheel racing fan but confess to sneaking a few peeks at yesterday's race. At the end, I was identifying with the old dude, Mark Martin, who ended up getting passed at the finish line and losing by .02 seconds.

This week's photo is of Jeff Gordon, one of the best drivers on the circuit, who probably would have been better off yesterday if he had stayed in his garage and read a book! When your own life gets hectic, when the traffic in the commute home reminds you of the Daytona 500, when you feel like you're going around in circles, you should probably find a quiet place, like Jeff Gordon, and get caught reading.

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Sunday, February 18, 2007


The first 2007 board meeting for WLTA was held in Portage on 2/17/07. The following are highlights of that meeting:

  • The new Chairperson welcomed this year's mix of old and new board members.
  • The President of the Friends of the Portage Library greeted the group and gave a history of their great library.
  • Minutes of the November meeting were reviewed.
  • Status of WLTA finances was provided by the Executive Director of WLA.
  • Absorption of FOWL into WLTA was discussed. It was decided not to change the organization's name at this time. Rather, an aggressive program of inclusion of Friends activities into WLTA & WLA functions and publications was agreed to.
  • WLA DIRECTOR'S REPORT - WLA will be the only group to have By-Laws. All subsidiary units will change theirs to a Policies & Procedures format. Copies of our existing By-Laws were distributed for discussion regarding modification at the next meeting. The Director suggested WLTA consider re-doing their brochure to reflect the new makeup of their constituency.
  • COLAND REPORT - WLTA has two representitives on this committee. A report will be issued clarifying the purposes and programs of this group for our new board members.
  • LD&L REPORT - None submitted at this meeting.
  • ADVOCACY REPORT - Letter from Co-Chair of Library Legislative Day was distributed. Key issues for WLTA were that only 30 non-professional people were in the 160 who attended the session. We will work toward getting more Trustees and Friends to the 2008 session. Program was also outlined to identify the legislative representatives for each of the State's libraries. We will work toward getting board members from all support and monitoring groups to attend so no legislator will be "lonely". We will also work toward providing a "Tool-Kit" for libraries to hold their own LLD events, inviting their representatives to visit them on the library's home turf. Writing letters to the Governor's office were encouraged, to thank him for his budget proposals relating to libraries.
  • TRUSTEE EDUCATION REPORT - A one page summary of the first section of the DPI's Trustee Manual was distributed. This report covers the "Job Description" of a Trustee or Board member. The summary was prepared by the Director of Wisconsin Valley Library Service. It will be included in the WLTA newsletter and this blog. We will encourage going to the DPI website and reading/downloading the complete section for review.
  • FRIENDS OF LIBRARIES REPORT - A report on running effective meetings will be distributed. A report on comparison of duties/responsibilities of Library Directors, Trustees, & Friends will also be distributed. Information on obtaining free DVDs and brochures from the Gates Foundation regarding Friends groups advocating in their own communities will be published in newsletters and on blogs. Information on buying books with CDs from FOLUSA (Friends of Libraries - USA) regarding advocating activities for Friends Groups will also be published in newsletters and on blogs. WLTA will investigate holding Friends Conferences annually in a different quadrant of the State. These would be similar to the the Northwoods Conference held recently in the Northern part of the State.
  • CONVENTIONS REPORT - WLTA will present a session at the Wisconsin Association of Public Library (WAPL) convention in Eau Claire in May, regarding "Top Ten Things" learned at the recent Friends conference. The group voted to co-sponser a session on Intellectual Freedom at the WLA convention in Green Bay in October. They also voted to present a session regarding Statistical Process Control in libraries.
  • WLA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR'S REPORT - An extensive reporting of activities at the WLA headquarters was given. A report on current status of all legislative issues pertaining to libaries was distributed. Segments of the report, available at the WLA web-site will also be published on this blog. The Director agreed that WLTA should consider re-doing their brochure.
  • DPI REPORT - A written report was distributed which highlighted activites in the Trustee Education area and the ten "Greener Pastures: Rural Library Sustainability" workshops which will be conducted in 2007 around the state. The Gates Foundation recently announced a second round of hardware grants for computers to areas with 10% poverty rates. Local matches will likely be required this time. DPI will also be incuded in a 2008 program to distribute resources, training, and information to assist in service to Spanish speaking communities.
  • NEW BUSINESS - A proposal was made by the Chairperson to consider changes to our Policies and Procedures at the next meeting, including a specified level of attendance performance to remain a board member. The Chairperson also suggested that no one be sent to the National version of Library Legislative Day this year, and that we should use the monies for programs such as new brochures and other activities related to our re-organization. The WLA director suggested the possibility of adding Friends leaders to a list-serv currently distributing information to Trustees, Board Members and other library leaders. The Vice-Chair will investigate establishment of a "wiki" allowing Board Members to discuss key issues between the scheduled meetings.
  • CONCERNS AND COMMENTS FROM BOARD MEMBERS: Information on the Eau Claire multi-million dollar library addition program was distributed. Several board members reported on new library directors in their areas, and continued searches for directors for libraries who currently have voids. Activities at the Janesville library were presented. A seasoned representative from the Portage Library Board talked of activities at that library and his thoughts on acceptance of new programs. Discussion was held regarding "All Politics Is Local" in relation to Friends groups. The Vice-Chair told several lame jokes.
  • Next meeting, Saturday May 19th, 2007, Portage Public Library, 10:00 AM.

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While driving to the WLTA meeting yesterday I heard a very interesting interview on Wisconsin Public Radio. The interview was with a gentleman who had just published a book commemorating the 200th anniversary of the British government outlawing the slave trade.

The most amazing fact that was related was that in 1807, when the law was passed 75% of the people on this planet were either slaves, indentured servants, or lived in total serfdom!! That is totally amazing. I had no clue! And slavery existed not only in the Western Hemisphere but throughout the Far East, in the Arab World, everywhere. The American Revolution and the views of our Founding Fathers are even more impressive when you consider the type of world they lived in.

Your library might consider making this 200 year anniversary a project. Young and adult alike would have much to learn. World society has made much progress in the last 200 years. But there is still much to be done in the area of human rights.

To get a feel for the true history of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade go to:

To find out what is still happening relating to slavery in the 21st century, go to this groups home page at

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Friday, February 16, 2007


There will be an excellent program on the PBS series NOVA next Tuesday evening. It addresses the question, "When did humans first arrive in the Americas?" Most of my adult life anthropologists have felt that the "Clovis people" who invented the Clovis point weapon/tool were the first, about 13,500 years ago. Now many researchers are finding evidence they claim shows that man may have been in the Americas thousands of years earlier than this, maybe even tens of thousands of years earlier.

This should be well worth watching ....... certainly better than some lame sit-com or reruns of CSI-Miami!

The web-site for the show is

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The first 2007 meeting of WLTA will occur in Portage tomorrow. It should be a very exciting session. Several new board members will be installed. They are coming from Algoma, Eau Claire, Janesville & LaCrosse. All have extensive experience relating to libraries and some have experience relating to Friends activities. These new people coupled with the existing board members will provide a wealth of knowledge and experience to administer our programs.

We will be placing special focus on the four primary missions of the group:

  1. Trustee Education
  2. Advocacy Programs
  3. Friends of the Library Activities
  4. Participation in Professional Conferences & Conventions

In is our intent to disseminate information discussed and agreed to at our meetings, to our supporting libraries and friends groups. We also will be seeking upward flow of information and opinions regard our missions.

It should be an exciting year!



The most important function of your friends group is to raise money, right?

Wrong! At least according to a survey recently done by WebJunction. Their survey responders indicated a 26% rating for raising money, and a 48% rating for advocacy! Friends need to lobby their own community and community leaders regarding the importance of their library.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has put together some tools that can help your group advocate for your library. They have an eight-minute DVD video to show to your community partners, and a Brochure with "persuasive statistics, library patron stories, and a call to action for community members and leaders."

Details on their program can be found at
Go to the United States Program > U.S. Libraries section, scroll down to "Highlights" and click on "Communicating Your Library's Value".

The materials can be ordered by email from

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Thursday, February 15, 2007


My wife and I are in the final detail planning stage of our Spring Break Vacation. We are heading back to Costa Rica (For the Fourth Time!). We absolutely love this country. Previous trips have netted us glimpses of virtually all the areas that the touristos go to, so this trip will be spent primarily in remote areas. Although she was always a birder, my wife was not as fanatical a birder as she has morphed into the last couple years. Therefore, on this trip we will primarily be birding, looking for shots of Resplendent Quetzals, Bell Birds, Toucans, etc. There are 30 species of hummingbirds in Costa Rica! Because of the time of year we will also be able to see many birds that end up in various spots in North America during the Spring and Summer, as they are on their migration trip North from South America. Because of where we are going and how we are getting there, we will be limited to 30 pounds of luggage each. After cameras, lenses, binoculars, birding manuals, underwear and a toothbrush, we won't be able to pack much more! (I'll sneak in a book or two somehow)

Three days of the trip will be spent in the Tortuguero National Park and the Tortuguero Protected Zone. (You should be able to see it on the map on the North-Eastern part of the country). Much of our time there will be traveling up and down rivers and canals in boats and canoes.

HOWEVER, our good old faithful travel agent is now negotiating on getting us a personalized tour of the National Library in San Jose on our day of arrival. How cool is that !! I intend to find out if they have Friends groups and if we can exchange communications and ideas.

She is also working on places for me to get Internet access on computers with USB ports so I can upload both posts and pictures to this blog as we go along. So, I hope to be able to give you both nature photos and library photos! I can't wait ..... I'm almost packed already.

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My wife and I recently received the February issue of the International Crane Foundation's newsletter, THE ICF BUGLE. It obviously went to press before the tornados tore through Central Florida and killed all but one of the eighteen juvenile Whooping Cranes which the ICF has led down to Florida with Ultra-Lite aircraft. The headline on the front page is titled REASON TO CELEBRATE. The text on the front page reads as follows:

"The Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP) celebrated another success this year when the "First Family" arrived at their winter territory in Florida. Whooping Crane number W1-06 is the first wild-hatched chick in the eastern migratory population and the first to complete the fall migration by following her parents, numbers 11-02 and 17-02. The family began migration from the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin on November 19, and remained at their first migration stop in Vermillion County, Indiana, until they resumed migration on December 7. Two days later they arrived at the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge pensite in Florida where they stayed to roost. On December 10, they left the refuge and flew to the winter territory of numbers 11-02 and 17-02.
This one event is what all of us involved in the reintroduction project have been working towards -- the countless hours, achievements, disappointments and frustrations, along with time away from family and friends have led to this milestone in endangered species recovery."

And then the tornados came barreling through the area.

I became a contributor to ICF as a result of last fall's WLA Convention in Wisconsin Dells. One of the side-benefits of the conference was the opportunity to tour the ICF's international headquarters in Baraboo. I was totally impressed with what this organization is doing. I enjoyed seeing many different crane species, including some whooping cranes. I can't imagine the emotional devastation that the staff felt when almost all of their migrating birds were destroyed in the storm.

I thank WLA for giving me the opportunity to see firsthand what the Crane Foundation is doing, enabling me to help fund their activities, in a miniscule way. This is a great Wisconsin-based operation. Go to their website and see what they do. This is a group worthy of your support. When faced with an almost impossible situation, they didn't wring their hands but found a unique way to reverse the pending species extermination that man's activities had caused, and were leading the Whoopers back from the brink. Help them!


Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Today many people will be receiving luscious boxes of candy from their Valentines. This is the one day of the year that you can eat candy with no recriminations. It even outranks chocolate eggs on Easter or trick-or-treat candy on Halloween. On Valentine's Day none of the calories count!

However, on the day AFTER Valentine's Day, you have to revert to your diet. Remember that diet you committed to as a New Year's resolution about six weeks ago? Yes, that one! In that regard, I was sent a story that I just HAVE to pass on.....

In the beginning, God created the Heaven and the Earth and populated the Earth with broccoli, cauliflower and spinach, green and yellow and red vegetables of all kinds, so Man and Woman would live long and healthy lives.

Then using God's great gifts, Satan created Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream and Krispy Creme Donuts. And Satan said, "You want chocolate with that?' And Man said, "Yes! and Woman said, "and as long as you're at it, add some sprinkles." And they gained 10 pounds. And Satan smiled.

And God created the healthful yogurt that Woman might keep the figure that Man found so fair. And Satan brought forth white flour from the wheat, and sugar from the cane and combined them. And Woman went from size 6 to size 14.

So God said, "Try my fresh green salad". And Satan presented Thousand Island Dressing, buttery croutons and garlic toast on the side. And Man and Woman unfastened their belts following the repast.

God then said, "I have sent you heart healthy vegetables and olive oil in which to cook them" And Satan brought forth deep fried fish and chicken-fried steak so big it needed its own platter. And Man gained more weight and his cholesterol went through the roof.

God then created a light, fluffy white cake, named it "Angel Food Cake," and said, "It is good." Satan then created chocolate cake and named it "Devil's Food".

God then brought forth running shoes so that His children might lose those extra pounds. And Satan gave cable TV with a remote control so Man would not have to toil changing the channels. And Man and Woman laughed and cried before the flickering blue light and gained pounds.

Then God brought forth the potato, naturally low in fat and brimming with nutrition. And Satan peeled off the healthful skin and sliced the starchy center into chips and deep-fried them. And Man gained pounds.

God then gave lean beef so that Man might consume fewer calories and still satisfy his appetite. And Satan created McDonald's and its 99-cent double cheeseburger,. then said, "You want fries with that?" And Man replied, "Yes!. And supersize them!" And Satan said, "It is good." And Man went into cardiac arrest.

God sighed and created quadruple bypass surgery.

Then Satan created HMOs.

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We all love our libraries. And since this is Library Lover's Month we should love our Librarians as well. (I'm not suggesting that you have an affair with a librarian, but a little platonic affection goes a long way!) So, Valentine's Day would be a good day to express your appreciation for all they do. Take a librarian to lunch TODAY !

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I was at the Minocqua Public Library yesterday to attend a Friends meeting and got a chance to check out their "Extreme Makeover". Although not everything is completely done, things in general look great! Some new shelving is in place, the new circulation desk has been installed, new carpeting graces the floors, and extensive painting with new color schemes decorate the walls. The new lighting being installed on a daily basis is so good that if it gets any better you'll have to wear "shades"! The Friends of MPL will be footing part of the bill for this renovation and are excited that they have a chance to do their part for their library.

I'm including a couple photos I took. The top one is of the new circulation desk. Mary the Library Director is on the right, with Cindy at work on the left. The lower photo is of the new shelving.

Stop in and visit them. You'll be impressed! And bring your laptop as the Minocqua Public Library now has WI-FI capability.

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Monday, February 12, 2007


I've traveled to Toronto a few times on business and a few times for pleasure as well. My first trip there was when I was 14 years old. My last trip there was about 5 years ago to see an exhibit of Egyptian art from The Old Kingdom at the ROM. The Royal Ontario Museum is a fascinating place, and usually has world-class exhibits. The Egyptian art exhibit I viewed was shown only at the Metropolitan Museum in NYC, the Louvre in Paris, and at the ROM. One of the features of the exhibit were several pieces which showed a man standing next to a woman with his arm around her shoulders or the woman with her arm around the man's waist. Nowhere else in ancient sculpture do you find public displays of affection like you do repeatedly in Egyptian art.

Toronto is a very dynamic city. It's miles long lake-shore park is wonderful. I keep in touch by receiving the weekly electronic version of "The Star", Toronto's leading newspaper. The Star has extensive coverage of books and what Canadians are currently reading. Check it out at:

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Sunday, February 11, 2007


I received an e:mail on the wlvsmax listserv from Kris Adams Wendt regarding the upcoming Twentieth Anniversary Children's Book Fest. This is scheduled for March 6th and 7th, 2007 in Rhinelander.

Kris writes: "Attention Wisconsin, Minnesota and Upper Michigan librarians, teachers, parents, reading specialists and members of the general public who are interested in learning about the best books for young people! You are invited to attend Children's Book Fest 2007, a children's literature conference held at the Rhinelander Holiday Inn (Rhinelander, Wisconsin) on March 6th and 7th.

Kathleen T. Horning and Megan Schliesman from the Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) in Madison, Wisconsin will discuss books for children and young adults at an evening presentation on Tuesday, March 6th, as well as at a day presentation on Wednesday, March 7th. Both sessions will include a CCBC exhibit of the best 2006 books for young readers.

Most folks choose to attend one session or the other, but you certainly won't be turned away if you decide to stay overnight and come to both. In addition to the Holiday Inn Express itself, a Super 8 and Americinn are also close by.

PLEASE NOTE that separate registration (sent to two separate places) is require for the evening and day sessions.
Registration information information for Children's Book Fest is available at the Rhinelander District Library website.

All registrations must be received no later than March 2. Payment of $6.00 per person must accompany each registration blank. No purchase orders, please.

Telephone inquiries regarding the Wednesday presentation may be made to Kris at the Rhinelander District Library phone and email below. More information about the Tuesday presentation is available from Headwaters Reading Council member Joan Belongia (715) 362-5111 (day) or (715) 362-3844 (evening)."

Kris Adams Wendt
Rhinelander District Library (WLA 2005 Library of the Year)
106 N. Stevens St.
Rhinelander, WI 54501

Everyone that I have talked to that has attended this annual event has nothing but high praise for the program. WLVS staff members make a special presentation at WLVS board meetings regarding what they have learned each year. - JDB


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This week's person who has been caught reading is an individual whose birthday is celebrated every February. Lincoln has been an icon in American History from the point when he took office as our President. Obviously, the source of much contraversy while in office, he soon became a figure representing all that is good in our society. Early on there were many melodramatic images of Lincoln: him reading books by the light of the fireplace, walking miles through the snow to return a book, etc. etc. As later historians have viewed his deeds in less emotional terms, his life and actions have grown in importance and respect. Donald Duncan's biography of Lincoln and Jean Baker's biography of Mary Todd have given us new insight into this great man and his family. Increasingly historians have viewed his life and presidency in terms of "what did he know and when did he know it?" and have come away with increasing respect. The latest biography which highlights the fact that he built a cabinet made up primarily of rivals and enemies, rather than building a cabinet of yes-men as many presidents have done, again shows that this man was huge, and not just in stature.

Even returning to our early images of him, it would do us well to copy his actions and get caught reading a book as we sit in our living rooms with the fireplace blazing.

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Saturday, February 10, 2007


Last evening my wife and I joined a packed house to watch the opening performance of The Central Wisconsin Educational Theatre Alliance's production of CATS. The troupe, consisting of freshman thru seniors of five local high schools gave an outstanding performance way beyond their years.

Is CATS my all-time favorite musical? ... of course not. Is this production of CATS the best high school/college musical that I have ever seen done in this town? ... Absolutely!

In addition to the talented young students, much credit goes to the Project Coordinator, the Directors and the Choreographers. The latter were the lady who runs the Childrens Theatre program in this area and a gentleman from UWSP who is involved in theatre at that instituion. Their efforts were augmented by a former Wausau East graduate, who choreographed the huge Jellicle Cat number. She now lives in NYC and pursues theater and dancing in the Big Apple, has a strong background on Broadway and theatre in several other major cities, as well as having traveled the world performing with Tokyo Disney, Holland America, and Norwegian Cruise Lines. Many of the students are also attendees of area dance studios and academies. The choreography of this show will blow you away! Many of these young people have also studied voice for years. The audience simply roared after several of the numbers! The costuming and sets were also very well done. The orchestra was good (and loud). There simply was not anything I didn't like about this show.

I feel that Rum Tum Tugger gave the performance of his young theatrical career. And there were many others that did the same. Rumpletezer and her partner gave a delightful, athletic performance. Jellylorum & Gus reminded me of the time and "the mystery when I made history". I've observed Munkustrap's voice improve constantly over the last five years to the fine instrument it is today. Grizabella held the audience spellbound as she related "memories in the moonlight". And Jennyanydots was cute, exciting, and fun. What a smile!

Many others gave simply outstanding performances. Was I influenced by the fact that my nephew was Rum Tum Tugger? I don't think so. I talked after the show with a former English teacher at East who is a New York City affectionado. He attends countless theatrical productions in New York, has seen CATS performed on Broadway twice, and has seen it done once in Chicago. He was truly excited by the quality of last night's performance, and eagerly shook the hands of many of the young actors. He too expressed amazement at the excellence of the choreography at this level.

So CATS, you did it! You blew them away! You excited and delighted your audience! Bravo ....... I hope I can scrounge up another ticket!

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Friday, February 09, 2007


The latest LAMPLIGHTER newsletter from Wisconsin Valley Library Service reminds us that February is "Library Lovers' Month"

It informs us that "Library Lovers' Month is a month-long celebration of school, public, and private libraries of all types. This is a time for everyone, especially library support groups, to recognize the value of libraries and work to assure that the Nation's libraries will continue to serve."

Information as to how your library or your Friends group can celebrate this month-long event is contained at

How about sending a Valentine to the legislators from your area to show appreciation for how much they love their library???

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This evening my wife and I are going to see a production of CATS. The musical is being staged by the Central Wisconsin Educational Theatre Alliance, which is a consortium that includes student performers from Wausau East, Wausau West, D.C. Everest, Newman Catholic and Northland Lutheran high schools. Keith Uhlig of the Wausau Daily Herald reports "When area high school students perform 'Cats' at Wausau West High School, the production will feature big songs, big sets and big talent."

Combining the talents of young people from all over the Wausau area results in a level of performance that would be unattainable at one individual school. And this is true not only for the on-stage performers but support personnel as well. Previously the group had staged an excellent presentation of LES MISERABLES.

In addition to tonight's show, there are two performances tomorrow, as well as performances on 2/15, 2/16 and 2/17. An advance performance given to high school students showed their rendition of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical to be a fabulous production. Be sure to see it if you're in the Wausau area the next couple weekends. And if you're not .... come on over!

And in a bit of nepotism, the Wausau Daily Herald photo I've included features my nephew. He's the guy standing at the left of the photo, attracting all the attention of the female felines!

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Thursday, February 08, 2007


The Minocqua Public Library re-opened on February 7th, right on schedule. They had been closed since 1/29 as a result of their "Extreme Makeover". Not everything is completed yet, but they are functioning and the project should be completed within a week or so. Congratulations to the Library Director -- Mary Taylor, the MPL Board, the Friends of MPL and all others involved in this super project.

Next time you're in the area, stop in. Mary and her staff would be happy to show you around and show off the improvements!

I'll be there next Tuesday and promise to come back with pictures.

Any renovation projects recently completed at YOUR library? Send me the details and some photos and I'll post them on this blog!

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There has been much publicity given to the recent UN report on global warming which stated that there is a 90% chance that the climate change we are beginning to experience has been caused by human activity, not normal earth environmental cycles. This morning's Christian Science Monitor contains a very interesting article featuring clips of statements made around the world regarding the UN report. It includes comments by governmental officials, environmental activists, even oil company executives. (Some are beginning to cut ties with organizations who have been refuting human responsibility for climate change) It's worth a read at

The photo on this post illustrates the growing plight of polar bears in the arctic region. They are running out of a place to call home. My wife and I are planning a trip in conjunction with a few friends to visit Churchill in Canada this October to view polar bears while they are still there to view. This is a very rapidly declining species.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Last October the Classics Book Club of the Marathon County Public Library read Bram Stoker's DRACULA as the month's selection. Our meeting was scheduled to be held within a couple days of Halloween and it seemed appropriate. I've never been a big Vampire fan but I confess to having enjoyed Stoker's book.

However, I realize that there are a lot of Vampire fans out there as evidenced by the success of Anne Rice's books as well as those of several other writers. I have a couple of alerts for such fans. Sunday evening on PBS there is going to be a newly filmed version of Stoker's DRACULA. It will star David Suchet who has been the star of countless POIROT mysteries.

Also, BookLetters Daily is featuring TODAY as a "notable title" a book called FANGLAND by John Marks. Marks is an acclaimed novelist and is a former producer for CBS's "60 Minutes". He reinvents the DRACULA epic in the halls of a television newsmagazine. The book is written in the form of diary entries, e-mails, therapy journals, and other artifacts of early 21st-century American professional-class life. "This vampire novel is a biting commentary on the way we live and work now."

The review written by Tasha Alexander of this, John Marks' third novel is entitled, "A Novel To Sink Your Teeth Into"

So OK, I'll give up the tooth commentary. Both the PBS broadcast and the book sound interesting. Tune in and check out the book on Amazon or whatever.

The picture at the top of this post troubles me. He looks like one of my wife's relatives!

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The following is a list of book sales that I am aware of in Wisconsin for the remainder of the month of February:

Green Lake : 2/10-2/11
Greendale: 2/10
Madison (Main Library): 2/15-2/17
Prarie du Sac: 2/9-2/10
Racine: 2/2-2/17
West Allis: 2-10
Williams Bay: 2/9/2/11

Happy Treasure Hunting !!


Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Valentine's Day is only a week away and you haven't done anything yet? Your girlfriend and/or your wife will be expecting something special and you haven't done anything yet?

Not to worry! Do I have a site for you! It's called It's designed specifically for people who need to purchase some gifts or mementos at the last minute. How about taking your honey on a romantic getaway? The site arranges for trips for people scheduling at the last minute. She'll think you planned it for months! In fact, you can't even book a trip longer than two weeks before your departure date!

So if the clock is ticking and you don't want to take a licking, check this site out!



An article in today's Christian Science Monitor is alarming. It quotes an organization called Educational Testing Service (ETS) which states "A larger share of workers will have minimal reading skills in 2030 than today". The reason is that most baby boomers will be retiring and a large wave of less-educated immigrants will be moving into the workforce.

Some are warning that a further segregation of society based on literacy will increase the size of the groups at both ends of society and decrease the so-called Middle Class. This would put our social organization in a structure similar to developing countries. The situation "could change the American Dream into the American Tragedy".

It's a serious situation. But, like most situations, not inevitable. We as teachers, librarians, and supporters of schools and libraries can lead the fight to reverse the trend. Many counties have "Literacy Councils", which frequently function through their libraries. If your county doesn't have one you should be working toward establishing one. Work to make sure your new or existing Council is meeting the needs of your community. Support ESL initiatives in your schools. Your library Friends group could and should be a dynamic force in this effort, aiding, assisting, even helping finance such an effort. As a nation we need to address this growing problem at all levels. Your Friends group should use it's Advocacy skills to make sure that your legislators and congressmen are painfully aware of the problem, the potential serious consequences, and recommended solutions.

A democracy whose citizens can't read is in serious trouble.

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Monday, February 05, 2007


I participated in the SirsiDynix Webinar this evening that was broadcast live from Australia. It was a very interesting program which covered how the Yarra Plenty Regional Library got their staff to be totally computer and internet literate, in order to do their jobs more efficiently and better help the library's customers. The program was tailored after one developed by the Charlotte/Mecklenberg County Library in North Carolina.

They set up a "23 Thing" program that introduced their staff to everything from wikis and RSS feeds to flickr and youTube, and everything in between. Each staff member had to set up their own blog to record their progress and their comments regarding each "Thing" that they learned. At the conclusion of their assignments they had to report on how they would use each of these tools in their own jobs.

The photos are of Christine Mackenzie (CEO of the Library), Denise McLarty (Resource Discovery Officer) & Lynette Lewis (Co-ordinator Online Services). These are the ladies who ran the program at the library and conducted the Webinar as well.

Their motto is " DON'T DREAM IT ----- DO IT !!"

The program will be in the SirsiDynix Archive in about a week.


The Administration submitted a new budget today proposing 2.90 Trillion in spending. Military spending takes a big hike with proportional cuts in social programs. The news services are reporting that the majority of Defense Department increases will be paid at the expense of Low-Income Americans and Seniors, with the tax-cuts for the wealthiest of Americans to be made permanent. I have not heard anything yet about support for libraries.

However, I would think that if there was ever a time for Advocacy activities by Friends of Libraries and other library supporters, this is it! Plans to "Super-Size" the Iraq invasion force or build an Iran invasion force must not derail much needed social programs in our society.

The WLA and WLTA will keep you informed on key issues regarding libraries that you should be in contact with your legislators and congressmen about. Stay tuned!


This morning's Christian Science Monitor includes an article called " World literature: Found in translation". It points out that we keep ourselves in intelluctual isolation. Only 3% of materials printed in other languages are ever translated into English. We really don't know what the rest of the world is saying or thinking.

There is an organization called WORDS WITHOUT BORDERS . This organization was "originally conceived as a resource for publishing become exposed to international authors, and has since evolved to serve a larger purpose connecting the public directly to the hearts and minds of people beyond American shores."

The founding editor, Alane Saliemo Mason said "It was clear that Americans did need and want to know more about the realities of the rest of the world, not just the abstractions that are flung around in political discourse."

The nonprofit site, now in its fourth year, offers contemporary writing from places such as Argentina, China, Italy, and Pakistan, often for the first time in English. Last fall, the organization published its first print anthology of works from Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.

Check it out at


The 41st Super Bowl is history with the Colts knocking the pins out from under the Chicago Bears. It was a bowl-over (Not a bow-lover).

The game was billed as a contest between Indy's Irresistable Offense against Chicago's Immovable Defense. The Bear's defense moved! Now the Bear fans can lament over the fact that they don't have a quarterback, while Packer fans can rejoice over the fact that they DO have a quarterback!
Also, we will probably ignore the Pro-Bowl which is usually as exciting as watching paint dry, and fanticize about the NFL draft (what new Super-Stars will Ted Thompson add to the team) and like most pro-football fans around the country begin dreaming about the next season and a magical Super Bowl victory for their own team.

Chicago Tribune Photo

Sunday, February 04, 2007


I ran across an interesting article in HISTORY MAGAZINE which concerns the history of libraries. It is very thorough, tracing writing back to the cunieform clay tablets of Mesopotamia, the legendary Library of Alexandria, the great architectural masterpieces, to today's focus on collections. I think you'll like it.

Check out the article at

The visual I posted here is a library in Ireland.


This week's person who has been caught reading is DIANE SAWYER. Sawyer is virtually a National Institution as she has entered our homes for so many years on early morning TV, 60 Minutes, and other news programs. The soft-spoken broadcaster has added a touch of class to everything she has appeared on. She is married to Mike Nichols, famed director.

And now, Diane has continued to demonstrate that touch of class by being "caught reading". A good example to follow!


One of the side benefits of attending the WLA Convention last fall in Wisconsin Dells was an opportunity to take a trip to the International Crane Foundation's, National Headquarters in Baraboo. They put on an excellent program, outlining all the activities they are involved in to preserve crane populations throughout the world. Cranes of every species in existance were on display for us to admire.

A highlight in the tour was the staff talking about the work they do with ultra-lites helping young Whooping Cranes make their first fall migration to Florida. The Whooping Cranes are an endangered species, and ICF's work is helping them away from the brink of extinction.

All 18 of the Whooping Cranes led down to Florida this year were killed in the tornados that swept through Central Florida!

Friday, February 02, 2007


I just got the word that Brett is returning for at least one more year! There is a posting on the Packer website. I turned on the NFL Network channel and Steve Mariucci, who was once his quarterback coach was talking to Brett on his cell-phone, confirming the story.

Now that the issue is no longer in doubt the Packers can go to work on improving the quality of players surrounding him, so the team can return to a highly competitive level. The offensive line is young, but improved during the year, and was providing pretty good protection late in the season. There is much need for development and strength improvement but it's a good start. The Packers are the youngest team in pro football. If McCarthy can get the group in a continuous improvement mode, things could be looking up.

What Favre now needs is someone to throw to besides Donald Driver. The Pack really needs help at tight end. Bubba can no longer do the job. His backups have hands of stone. During his most successful years Brett had outstanding tight ends to throw to. It's part of the West Coast offensive scheme. I've even heard the rumor that Brett asked Ted Thompson to go after Randy Moss in order to have another good wide receiver to throw to. Moss is at the end of his contract with the Oakland Raiders.

Although polls have shown that about 25% of the fans would like to see Favre retire to his farm, I'm not one of them. I'm excited! Let's get this Super Bowl nonsense out of the way and begin thinking about Packer mini-camps starting in May!

Postscript: I just heard some conversation from the NFL network. One commentator asked, "Are there REALLY fans who wanted Favre to retire?" Mariucci replied, "Yes ..... most of them live in Chicago!"


A recent article in the e-magazine put out by the Australian Broadcasting Company contains a very interesting article. It discusses the development of the brain. The brain consists of several layers, with each developing separately and performing different functions. The outer layer, the neo-cortex is where we developed consciousness, reasoning power, etc. But the earlier brains still function below the conscious level and influence our actions. Can we survive the conflict between the two? Read the article which contains opinions from outstanding scientists.