Thursday, April 26, 2007


We'll all seen those motivational posters that get hung on the walls of offices to "inspire the troops". Some organizations use so many of them that it makes a person a bit ill.

Now, a guy by the name of Al Lowe has come out with a series of "de-motivational posters" that are a hoot!



The Friends of the Marathon County Public Library are holding another huge book sale this weekend. Well over 30,000 items are available ..... Books, CDs, DVDs, VHS Tapes, Puzzles, Artwork, LP Records, and other items.
The Special Members Only Preview Sale is Thursday evening, 4/26, 5:00 - 8:00 PM. What a great time to join the Friends and get the advantage of first pick!
Friday, 4/27, the sale runs from 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM
Saturday, 4/28, the sale also runs from 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM
Sunday, 4/29, there is a Special Bag Sale...All you can get in a grocery bag for $5.00. Bags will be provided.
And per usual, there will be a tip jar. So, if you have any money left in your jeans after you bought all the bags and boxes of books, you are welcome to empty your pockets in the jar.
Home schoolers and Seniors are encouraged to come. We'll treat you with Tender Loving Care. We have people who will help you get your books to your vehicle. See you this weekend at MCPL

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The Wisconsin Association of Public Libraries is holding it's annual Spring Conference in Eau Claire - May 2nd - May 4th. It's not too late to register. The DPI will be putting on their RURAL LIBRARY SUSTAINABILITY PROJECT - GREENER PASTURES seminar as part of the pre-conference program. The line-up of programs for the conference is impressive.
WLTA will be putting on a "Friends-Of-The-Library" oriented program on Friday. It will highlight the Top Ten Things learned at the 2006 Northwoods Conference of Friends and Library Supporters, during which they discussed best practices ideas related to what to do Before/During/After a Used Book Sale.

WAPL always stages a excellent conference, good for library professionals and volunteers alike. I hope to see you there!



The American Library Association has issued a report this month entitled THE STATE OF AMERICA'S LIBRARIES Similar to the President's "State-Of-The-Union" message, it gives the ALA's opinion as to the overall health of the nation's libraries and library systems, and also points out potential dangers that threaten the health and well-being of our libraries.
It's well worth a read. If you're a bit pressed on time, they have an Executive Summary available. Check it out at ...


Wednesday, April 25, 2007


I've located a very interesting blog for this week's library/librarian related site. It is published by a lady named Mary Ellen Bates, and is called the Librarian of Fortune.
This month's posts include some very cool stuff on search engines. Yes, there is an alternative to GOOGLE !
Ms Bates claims to add "white noise to the blogosphere".
Check it out at ...............



Seth Borenstein of the Associated Press reports this morning that astronomers have announced discovery of a planet outside our solar system that is potentially habitable, with Earth-like temperatures. The planet, located about 120 trillion miles away is about the right size and may have water.
Although much is still unkown about the planet, it is significant that it orbits a "red dwarf" star. These are much dimmer than our sun and put out much less energy. But if the planet is in the right location the dwarf could still provide what is necessary to support life. The find opens up a new area in the search for life in the universe. Not much attention has been paid to dwarf stars to this point. Who wants to buy some real estate on planet 581c? It's only 20.5 light years away!
AP Drawing


Sunday, April 22, 2007


This week's celebrity who has been caught reading is one that virtually everyone will recognize, even if they are not science fiction movie fans. YODA from the Star Wars series!
I confess that I am more of a STAR TREK series fan that a STAR WARS series fan, but the work done on the three movies in the latter group was monumental and culture changing around the world.
I'm also impressed that a character from the future (or was it from a galaxy long ago and far away?) has been caught reading. You should be too!



Yesterday, my wife and I and a couple other members of the Wausau Bird Club spent a couple hours at the Raptor Education Group facility in the Antigo area. I was extremely impressed by their complex, which was much larger than I had ever anticipated. Marge Gibson, the Director, had many birds in outdoors display with handlers. These ranged from tiny Saw-whet Owls to magificent Bald Eagles. In between were many species of hawks and owls, even a Peregrine Falcon. "On display" meant most of them were on tethers, sitting on a leather glove worn by the handlers. These birds were "education birds" who had physical deformaties which prevented them being released back into the wild. REGI uses them for the many programs they put on around the state.
These birds are amazingly beautiful when seen up close (even the Turkey Vultures). The subtle nuances in the coloring of the feathers is fantastic. Also fantastic is what this organization accomplishes in the recovery programs for injured or rejected birds. I found out that the "education birds" also double as foster parents and help raise the young ones.
It is definitely worth the trip to go and see this facility. You can make yourself a map on Mapquest or You should also check out their website for further information about this wonderful organiztion.
Naturally one guy threw in a little bird humor. He asked me if I knew why pelicans raise one leg and stand on the other. I said I didn't. He replied, "Because, if they raise both legs they'll fall on their butts!"



One of the things I did after returning from my trip to Costa Rica was to sign up for a Yahoo group that consisted of people who were interested in all things Costa Rican. I got a message today informing me of a turtle race currently underway. Some of the leatherback turtles that spend the majority of the time in the Galapogos Islands off of Equador actually come back to the Pacific coast of Costa Rica to lay their eggs. This year some scientists have tagged 11 of them in order to track them as they return to the Galapogos.
The turtles are returning at a brisk pace of 1.7 miles per hour. So far its a close race, even though the rivals don't realize they are competing. You can track the progress of these reptiles by signing on to
The race is actually a fund raising event. The money raised will go to the Leatherback Trust to buy land on the Playa Grande beach, which is the last viable nesting ground for leatherback sea turles in the eastern Pacific. I've been there on a previous trip to Costa Rica. If you've never seen one of these endangered creatures, be aware that they can weigh up to 2,000 pounds.
Enjoy the race .... Make a contribution ..... Place your bets!!


Saturday, April 21, 2007


I realize that this is the end of National Library Week instead of the beginning, but I couldn't let the week pass away completely without passing on the Proclamation that State Superintendent Elizabeth Burmaster gave in support of this national observance.
In our interconnected, digital world, libraries are serving an ever more critical role in preserving and disseminating information.
Wisconsin citizens conducted 18.8 million searches using BadgerLink the state's on-line library during 2006. BadgerLink provides access to articles from thousands of newspapers and periodicals, image files, and other reference materials and websites, including children's and adult literature, business, medical and education sources, and many other specialized resources not available through regular internet search engines.
While BadgerLink opens many new doors to information, the computer systems that support interlibrary loans make Wisconsin libraries national leaders in cooperative resource sharing. Interlibrary loan maximizes citizens' opportunities to borrow items from libraries anywhere in the state and avoids unnecessary duplicate purchases. Wisconsin residents borrowed 6.3 million items in 2006 through interlibrary loan, an increase of about 1 million items from 2005.
A relatively new project that further explores the power of technology is the digitization of library materials. A joint agency project in 2001, created the Great Lakes Maritime History site, which is now part of the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections. With that success and federal funding coordinated through the Department of Public Instructiion, a number of public libraries have created electronic resources from local history materials, including early city directories and maps, photographs, and local history books. Digitization allows libraries to preserve the original materials, which are often fragile and only available locally, while making the information available to a much wider audience.
Taking digital dissemination even further, Wisconsin libraries recently formed a consortium to encourage more libraries to digitize collections. Wisconsin Heritage Online, provides a web-based gateway to digital collections of Wisconsin's history, heritage, culture, and people. Teachers, students, genealogists, history buffs, and others who value our state and its cultural heritage will find an expanding resource through the Wisconsin Heritage Online project.
Every public library provides public Internet connections for those who do not otherwise have access. In our school libraries, children learn to evaluate and used digital resources properly. So, whether it is bricks and mortar or online, each library visit opens doors to information that supports Wisconsin citizens in their everyday lives. From improving literacy or recreational reading to starting a new business or planning for retirement, Wisconsin libraries contribute to the economic vitality of their local communities.
During Natiional Library Week, let's celebrate the important contributions libraries make to our democratic society and quality of life. Please visit your local library to take advantage of the wonderful resources available and thank your librarian and library workers for making information and education accessible to all."
I'm sorry that I was out enjoying the much anticipated final arrival of Spring in Wisconsin and didn't get this to you earlier in the week. But Ms Burmaster's message is pertinent and timely no matter when you read it.



In the previous post relating to the Wisconsin Rural Library Sustainability Project, I mentioned that the project was coordinated through WebJunction (a division of OCLC). If you haven't visited their website recently (or at all) you owe it to yourself to take a look. They have a tremendous amount of resources for libraries, librarians, and even Friends groups. There is a section on the Rural Library Sustainability Project; there are courses available for you to expand your knowledge that are either free or available for a very reasonable fee.
Don't waste any more time reading this blog posting ..... take a look at



Thursday, April 19th, I participated in the Wausau area session of the DPI's Greener Pastures seminar, coordinated by Wisconsin Valley Library Service. This is "The Wisconsin Rural Library Sustainability Project."

The project is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The program is coordinated through WebJunction. The session was conducted by John DeBacher and Bob Bocher of DPI.

This program was one of the series of identical programs that John and Bob have been doing all around the state of Wisconsin. It was very well done. Library Directors I talked to were very pleased with the content of the session. The format gave them a plan to work on areas needing improvement in their libraries and a means to communicate their progress as well as view the progress of others in the program.

Smaller libraries in rural areas frequently do not have the resources that larger systems have to draw upon. They need to know every trick in the book to accomplish their mission. This session defintely helps in that regard.

In case you missed it ....... the last session in the series will be given as part of the pre-conference agenda at WAPL. So go early. If you hadn't planned on attending WAPL, this should tip the scales to make you decide to go for the entire show.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007


NPR has been running an interview with Neil Sedaka who is celebrating his 50th anniversary in the music business, on their Fresh Air program. The photo in this post is from the Hulton Archive and shows Sedaka in a recording studio in 1955. That year I was "16 going on 17" and starting my senior year in high school. (Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen was one of his hits) How time flies!

The interview is a good one and surprising at that. It turns out that Sedaka comes from a classical music background having studied piano at the Julliard school in New York. A critical juncture was reached and he had to make a decision whether to continue his classical career or jump to rock and roll. He chose the latter. Who knew? Many of his songs have survived the decades. I think I liked "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do" the best. His career (and CD sales) got a boost when Clay Aiken from American Idol recorded Sedaka's "Solitaire". That was in 2004. Neil has now released a new CD called "The Definitive Collection" which is a career-spanning greatest-hits compendium.

You can hear the interview which includes clips of some of his songs at ......


Monday, April 16, 2007


Today, at the monthly Marathon County Library Board meeting, Director Mary Bethke reported that the official count of attendees at yesterday's 100 Year Birthday Celebration was 2,800 people! She had staffers taking attendance and this was verified in part by the amount of food dispensed.
So in 2 1/2 hours, MCPL greeted, pampered, informed, entertained, and fed nearly three thousand library supporters! Congratulations again, MCPL, for a job well done!



I had promised several months ago to pass on the address of a library related blog every week. I apparently lied!
However, to rectify this error of omission, I am going to take up the cause again and give you some good links. There are over 1,000 blogs out there that are maintained religiously by librarians. As with any group this large, the quality follows a traditional "bell curve". I'll try to find some of the better ones for you.
Let's start by checking out



The subject of GLOBAL WARMING appears in virtually every magazine or newspaper you pick up these days. The country and the world has finally begun to wake up to the seriousness of the situation. However, merely wringing your hands and rolling your eyes, lamenting the condition is not going to get anything done. Individuals need to take personal responsibility for the crisis.
A new site named helps you determine how much carbon YOU are contributing to the atmosphere each year. The site also gives you ideas as to how YOU can reduce your personal Carbon Footprint.
Check it out. Your planet is depending upon you!

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The celebrity who has been caught reading this week is Renee Fleming. Renee is a fascinating individual, with a simply amazing voice. In addition to her work with the Metropolitan Opera Company, she maintains an amazing schedule - singing all over the world. She has also appeared in many television specials in recent years, particularly ones around the holidays. Ms Fleming is a single mother who says her primary mission in life is that of raising her daughter. Renee got her impetus to launch a career in music from her mother, who also had an excellent voice.
If you are not familiar with her work, you owe it to yourself to give it a listen. You are bound to be impressed. You can find out more about Ms. Fleming by checking out her website:
Also like Renee, you owe it to yourself to get caught reading!


Sunday, April 15, 2007


"Schedule a party, and they will come"

That's what happened at the 100th Birthday Celebration for the Marathon County Public Library! Director Mary Bethke and her staff planned an excellent event. Staffers and members of the three boards of the library (including the Friends) performed various functions including acting as greeters. A band played; the barbershoppers sang; a radio station broadcast live from the main floor; a TV station crew wandered all over filming the patrons; drawings were held; stories were told to children; a Trolley carried people around the downtown area; and cake, cookies and punch were consumed. People even searched the stacks and checked out books!

All of this happened because an estimated 1,000 people came to join in on the birthday party! The Mayor was there, senior citizens were there, little children were there, teachers were there, students were there, people of many races and colors were there.

Many thanks to all of you who came to help MCPL celebrate. Those of you who couldn't make it missed one heck of a good party!


Saturday, April 14, 2007


The 100 Year Birthday Celebration for the Marathon County Public Library is being held tomorrow, April 15th at MCPL. The party runs from 1:30 - 4:00 PM.

What's happening??

Andy Z and the Spankin' Monkeys Band
The Golden Glow Barbershop Quartet
Free Trolley rides through downtown Wausau
Storybook characters, stories & activities for kids
Treats and birthday cake
Basket Silent Auction
100th birthday items to buy
Historical displays
WIFC 95.5 live remote


Note: Please do not come in your birthday suit!


Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Changing times in libraries.

An article in the April 11th issue of the LA Times purports that "Shhhh" is one thing that you won't hear in a library anymore. I have to admit that I come from an era where, if you spoke at all in the library, it was always in hushed tones. But our culture is changing. Read the article at ....



I thought I'd throw in another shot of Dosty. This is one my wife took from a boat as we and a guide went out in the early evening looking for wildlife. An obviously well-fed Dosty was resting on the bank of the canal. My wife thinks he's cute!
As I said previously, he is about 5 feet long. Notice the eyes positioned on the top of his head which identifies him as a Caiman.



One of the things that my wife and I found most suprising during our trip to Costa Rica was people establishing relationships with reptiles. We just never thought this possible.

The top picture on this post is one which appeared on the front page of the March 30th edition of THE TICO TIMES, Costa Rica's English language newspaper. The photo shows Gilberto Sheedan and his one-eyed crocodile friend, Poncho. Gilberto had found Poncho near death, lying on a riverbank after having been shot in the eye by an unknown person. Sheedan took the croc back to his ranch and nursed it back to health and a special bond was created. Both man and croc are about 50 years old. Now, every Sunday afternoon, about 4PM, Gilberto jumps into a 100 square meter artificial lake he constructed for Poncho, and calls quietly for his companion. When Poncho appears he is given some simple commands in Spanish slang and the crocodile performs. He does many tricks, and when Sheedan feels that Poncho is in a very good mood he even puts his head into the reptiles mouth. The tourists love it!

The lower picture is one my wife shot. One day we were walking around the grounds of the resort we were staying at in Tortuguero, looking for birds, when we saw a woman standing near a boat landing, looking out on the water and calling out, "Dosty, Dosty!" We asked if a child or dog was missing. She informed us that she was calling her pet caiman. She said that the resort frequently serves chicken. When all the guests are fed and chicken is set aside for the staff, anything left over is fed to their caiman. He has begun to associate hearing the name he was given with getting a good meal, and he comes to eat. After the lady called "Dosty, Dosty!" a few more times, sure enough, around the bend in the canal he came, and my wife shot the picture. Dosty is about 5 feet long. Poncho is obviously much larger.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007


The Spanish language is becoming of ever increasing importance in American life. A very large percentage of new immigrants to this country, both legal and illegal, are coming from Spanish speaking countries. As a result, Hispanics are an ever increasing portion of our population, even here in Central & Northern Wisconsin.

Libraries play an important role in assimilating these people into our society. Libraries are a source of information to people in ESL programs as well as information in general. Some Friends groups are getting involved in helping their libraries respond. I know that in Abbotsford the Friends helped finance Spanish language keyboards for the library's computers. Hispanic people are beoming an important part of that community.

Webjunction has just outlined a "Spanish Language Outreach" program which outlines steps you can take in your Friends group and library to better respond to the changing makeup of the population in your area. Check it out at in the "Groups" section at:


Monday, April 09, 2007


This week's celebrity who has been caught reading is Marlo Thomas. Marlo, the daughter of Danny Thomas, had a great hit on TV with THAT GIRL. She is seen most often these days in connection with charity work she is doing, particularly for St. Jude's Hospital for children. It is therefore very appropriate that she has been caught reading with some children. You should read to/with children as well.


Friday, April 06, 2007


The Christian Science Monitor announced today the creation of a website to monitor activities, actions, and news related to Global Warming. They felt a "one-stop shopping center" was needed so people had easy access to the latest information. This site is

Also today, they issued a report on whom will be hit the hardest the Global Warming phenomenon. And it isn't people! Check it out at


Wednesday, April 04, 2007


April is going to be a very active month for Used Book Sales in the State of Wisconsin. Following is a list of the ones I am aware of:
  • April 5 Ripon
  • April 7 Madison (Sequoya)
  • April 13-14 Eau Claire
  • April 14-15 Racine
  • April 14 West Allis
  • April 15-21 Deerfield
  • April 19-21 Medford
  • April 21-22 Hales Corners
  • April 21 Kewaunee
  • April 21 Madison (Lakeview)
  • April 21-23 Milton
  • April 26-28 Madison (Main Library)
  • April 26-29 Wausau (MCPL)

Help support these Friends groups and their libraries. Go hunting for treasures!



Having "Friends" is a very important part of life (as well as the name of a popular TV show). My trip to Costa Rica confirmed that I have many. As I have discovered on previous trips, wherever I go there are millions of insects that are happy to see me. My doctor says it is not just because they like "foreign food". I am among many humans who issue pheremones that attract insects. Some just come by to say "Hello!". But others insist on an intimate, blood relationship.

My doctor also has said that there is hope for people like me beyond slathering on buckets of Deet. Extensive research is now being done regarding people who attract insects, namely mosquitos. Researchers feel if they can prevent bites in this group they can protect virtually everyone from the bites that transmit malaria. 3 million people in the world die each year from malaria according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

There are nine different species of mosquitos in the State of Wisconsin, and I'm sure I've been bitten by all nine. I have no idea how many additional mosquito species I've established an intimate relationship with in other areas of this country as well as in other countries. So, as I pop another chloroquine pill that I have to take for 8 weeks after my return to stave off a case of malaria, I offer all encouragement possible to those researchers working on the man/mosquito relationship.

The 1920's newspaper columnist, Don Marquis, was told by his friend, Archie the cockroach, "Man may regard himself as something special .... but to a mosquito....he's just something to eat!"


Tuesday, April 03, 2007


This week's photo of celebrities caught reading is of Mary Kate & Ashley. These two teenage multi-millionaires have been fascinating us since they were little kids. For our offspring now in high school Mary Kate & Ashley have been around "forever". It's great to see them setting a good example for the kids by getting caught reading!



Somebody said they were going to make daily postings on a blog, complete with photographs, while they were traveling. Hey .... that was me! I hadn't realized that when you travel to a Third World country things do not necessarily function the way they do in the good old USA. When I did encounter places that had Internet access it was of the dial-up variety with the computers running Windows 95. That combination did not allow me to post anything on Blogger.

But the trip was great. We definitely lived the "PURA VIDA". When we re-entered the US we had 1,066 photos on our three cameras. And that was after deleting at least 200 shots that were blurry, or the subject flew..ran..dove...whatever, just as we were clicking the shutter. We saw an incredible amount of exotic wildlife and got great shots of some of it. My wife is in the process of organizing all the pictures on her computer and we will be making a site on Flickr for anyone who wants to view the photos. (I make sneak a few into this blog as well).

The place we stayed at in Tortuguero was like the United Nations. There were people there from England, France, Germany, Spain, Canada, Japan, and two Chicago Bear fans from Northern Illinois. And that doesn't even consider guests from Costa Rica and Nicaragua! Bird Nerds come in many different nationalities.
Our day-hike at the La Selva Biological Station was tremendous. They are doing some very important rain forest research-work there. Our personal guide was extremely knowledgeable and found many things for us.

Our stay at the Selva Verde Lodge was very enjoyable. They've made many upgrades in their facilities and we felt pampered. The trip they arranged for us up the Sarapiqui River produced many species we never dreamed we'd see. We met a fascinating woman there as well. She was German born, married to a Cuban born gentleman, and currently lives just outside Washington DC. They had worked in the US Diplomatic Service and had been stationed at many exotic posts such as Cusco, Peru and Bangkok, Thailand. Her husband no longer likes to travel so she goes on her own to her favorite places such as South Africa, India, and Costa Rica. She is a very good birder.

Costa Rica was very kind to us, and we can't wait to go back.