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Library Notes

  • The ARTHRITIS SELF-MANAGEMENT COURSE received so much interest at the Raton Health Fair on April 24th that a second course, to be held on the same dates from 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. has been scheduled. As mentioned below, if you are interested in taking this course, call the library at 445-9711, leave us your name, mailing address and phone number and we will pass this information on to the instructor, Kathy Smith.
  • HARVEY GIRLS DOCUMENTARY - SPECIAL SCREENING AT THE LIBRARY. The "Harvey Girls : Opportunity Bound" screening and discussion will be held at the library on Thursday, May 15th, at 7:00 p.m. in the library meeting room. This documentary presentation is sponsored by the New Mexico Humanities Council. Discussion following the film will be with Producer/Director Katrina Parks and Curator Meredith Davidson of the New Mexico History Museum. The film premiered at the National Archives in June 2013 and will be broadcast over a dozen PBS stations nationally.This screening in Raton is part of limited screenings in New Mexico, and we are privileged to be able to present it to you. The Harvey House and the Harvey House Girls are a part of the history of Raton, as there was a Harvey House at the train station in the early days of our community. Ms. Parks has won the SASA Award from the United Nations for her short film "Wrappings". She works as a telvision producer in Los Angeles and she has produced and written programs for Fox, A&E, Discovery Channel, History, and Lifetime. For a synopsis of the documentary, "Harvey Girls : Opportunity Bound", come to the library.
  • BOOK SALE. The Friends of the Library will be holding a book sale on Saturday, May 10th, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on the second floor of the library. Fiction and non-fiction for adults and many books for children will be available. Come stock up for the summer, add to your personal library and buy the kids some good books!
  • ARTHRITIS SELF-MANAGEMENT COURSE. The library is hosting a six week course conducted by the Arthritis Fund. The class will meet every Friday, beginning May 23, 2014, through June 27, from 10:00 a.m. through 12:00 noon. The class size is limited to twelve people This course is designed to help arthritis sufferers learn to manage and minimize the symptoms of their arthritis. Kathy Smith of the Arthritis Fund will be at the Raton Health Fair on Thursday, April 24, to sign up interested individuals. Should you wish to sign up early, please contact the library at 445-9711 and give us your name, address and phone number. We will contact Ms. Smith with your information.
  • FORECLOSURE WORKSHOP. New Mexico Legal Aid will conduct a workshop of forclosure on Thursday, May 29th, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in the meeting room at the library. This work shop is to aid those facing forclosure.
  • Preschool Story Hour is conducted every Wednesday morning at 10:00 a.m. We read books to the children and there is a project every week. It's never too soon to introduce your children to the library!
  • Schedule a meeting at the library. Call 445-9711 to get on the calendar in advance. The library stays open until 6:00 P.M., Monday - Saturday, except for Thursday, when it stays open until 9:00 P.M.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thank you, Colfax County!

On November 6, during the general election, Colfax County voted 'yes' on GO Bond B for Libraries.  In fact, every county in the state except five voted for this bond issue. 

For years now libraries across the state have depended on the various library bond issues that have been passed.  They have helped keep the level of library service up in public, school and higher education libraries.  In our county, this means that public libraries and school libraries have received extra money to be spent on their collections and computer needs, both of which are crucial to public service and student needs.  As public and educational funds have been harder to come by, GO Bond funds have help fill the gaps.

I am naturally very pleased that the Arthur Johnson Memorial Library will be able to count on these funds once the 2010 GO Bond fund are spent.  Believe me, it's takes a weight off my mind and enables me to plan for the future of this public library with that much more confidence. 

But I am just as pleased for the school libraries in the county.  I know that school libraries in Raton often have ONLY these funds to spend on their collections.  Despite the rumors that books are dead (so libraries must be, too), school libraries and librarians still meet a crucial need in the educational process, and any money that helps them do so is money well spent.

The report I received this morning on a county by county count of the vote on this issue shows that there were 2,581 'yes' votes and 2,313 'no' votes in Colfax County. That was a difference of 268 votes.  It may seem that this is not necessarily impressive - but it is.  In all the years I have worked in this library, Colfax County has never voted 'yes' for a library bond issue.  This is a first, and it tells me and other librarians in this county that the importance of functional libraries is recognized in a way that it never has been before.

Just as interesting is the fact that Colfax County cast 4,894 votes.  The 2011 New Mexico census shows 13,640 as the population.  About 26% of that are juveniles, who cannot vote.  That leaves 10,094 adults of voting age.  If you consider that some of these adults were unable to vote for various reasons, including not being registered to vote, it is quite possible that Colfax County had a 50% turnout of registered voters during this election.  The ideal, of course, is that everyone votes; but the reality is that Colfax County has had much lower voter turnouts than 50% in the past.  This shows public interest in more than just the GO Bond issues, but a real desire on the part of many citizens to particpate in the governing of this county, this state and this country by making decisions with their ability to vote.

So I just want to say, congratulations, Colfax County, on this turnout, and thank you very much for helping keep your libraries in the county funded!

Friday, September 28, 2012

And this year's Centennial Celebrations are:

The State of New Mexico

The Girl Scouts of America

Oreo Cookies

Fenway Park

Chevrolet

THE ARTHUR JOHNSON MEMORIAL LIBRARY, RATON, NEW MEXICO

We're in good company!

Banned Books Week 2012

The yearly Banned Books display is up at the Arthur Johnson Memorial Library.  Books bearing yellow "Caution: Banned Book" labels are set out so that our patrons can see for themselves what has been banned and challenged in other locations, not only in the United States, but throughout the world.

 Before reading was such a universal skill, those who could read and write had the power to control what was copied and for what purpose.  But the invention of the printing press and the increasing ability of the common person to read broke the control of a few over the many.   Education became a reality for people who, in previous times, would have had no opportunity to learn to read.  With this ability came the spreading of many opinions, many beliefs, many facts, many debates.

Unfortunately, this opening up of knowledge, opinion, fiction and fact to humanity did not change human nature.  People really do believe in the power of the written word, and while most of us are willing to allow others their right to choose their own reading material, some are not.  Books are challenged and banned in this country every year.  These challenges and bannings happen mostly to school libraries, although public libraries also face their share of challenges.  Often a person can understand why a parent may not want a child to read certain material. It is harder to understand why a parent would want to keep that material from all other children within their area.  Challenging the propriety of a book in a library anywhere on the basis that it is unsuitable for all children or teens usurps the parental authority of other engaged parents over their own children.  Challenging the propriety of a book for anyone of any age displays an attitude, however well meant, that says, "You are not able to judge for yourself."

People are often surprised that book challenges, bannings and even burnings still happen in the United States.  Regrettable though that is, even more extreme reactions happen across the world.  "The Satanic Verses" by Salman Rushdie (1988) resulted in world wide bannings, rioting and death.  This extreme reaction was based on religious belief.  Of course, religious belief in the United States has resulted in the burning of Harry Potter books by a church in our own state and a church in Greenville, Michigan, as well as Halloween burnings, by invitation only, of what a church in Canton, North Carolina called "Satan's bibles" - those that were not the King James version.  These book burnings in our own country all happened in the new millennium. 

Most often, book challenges and bannings occur from a desire to maintain certain standards, protect the innocent, even help create a (hopefully) Utopian society.  Anxiety and fear about the exposure of everyone from individuals to societies to 'unacceptable' material can manifest themselves through these attempts at censorship. 

Libraries everywhere stand in opposition to moving backward in time to when the few determined what the many were allowed to know. What we choose to read ourselves should be under our own control. 

This community has always displayed a respect for the rights of others to choose their own reading and viewing material.  Perhaps that is, in part, because this library makes no attempt to force anything on anyone. We do not take prisoners. We hold no one hostage.  Our goal, like the goals of public libraries across this nation, is to meet the varied needs and desires of each individual - even if they have been banned somewhere else.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Thanks to Zoo To You

Zoo To You was ready for everyone when the library opened the doors this morning.  As usual, it was set up in the children's section of the library and it was three steps from the vestibule to the animals, artifacts and poster displays.  This year Zoo To You brought a three banded armadillo from Brazil; a galah, or rose breasted cockatoo in Australia;  a tiger salamander; a western box turtle; a corn snake; and an alligator.  The artifacts, which are often confiscated items, included pelts, skins, a mounted skeleton of a viper, a stuffed sea turtle, feathers, eggs affected by environmental poisons and other items.

It's safe to say that the armadillo was the star of the show.  Much smaller than the armadillos found in Texas, this little fellow zipped around his large cage, going in and out of his house, exiting by pushing it up from the inside and crawling out, attempting an unsuccessful jail break or two, eating with his specialized tongue and entertaining all the adults and children.  An armadillo's shell is formed from keratin, which is what human fingernails and mammalian hooves are made of.  This particular species of armadillo is the only one that can roll itself entirely into a ball.

 The rose breasted cockatoo was a beautifully plumaged bird.  Shades of pink on the head and breast contrasted with shades of gray elsewhere.  In Australia these birds are common and can be found on lawns just like sparrows are found here. In fact, large flocks are nuisances to farmers, as they will descend on young wheat fields and decimate them.  Still, this  bird was like nothing I've ever seen and he seemed to know it, preening for everyone.

Corn snakes are found in New Mexico and are usually referred to as gray rat snakes.  They subdue their prey by constriction, just like a boa constrictor (although not that large), and are not poisonous.  The western box turtle and tiger salamander are also native to our country.
 
The alligator was about 18 inches long.  Every now and then he made little  "Ar! Ar!" noises, which the docents say alligators make as both territorial and danger signals in the wild. The Albuquerque Biological Park has three alligators now, all released illegally into the community in Albuquerque by former owners who no longer wanted them.  Alligators grow about a foot a year and can reach 300 pounds in ten years.  This small alligator is fed once a week.  In their natural habitat, alligators can go as long as two months without feeding, provided their last meal was a hearty one.
 
Well over 100 people attended this program and filed through, listening to docents Mary Ramsey and Sandy Ligon, who handled the animals to show off their various points and were a fund of information and encouragement when it came to examining all the creatures.  All the docents who travel with the Albuquerque Biological Park Zoo To You exhibits are volunteers.  Sponsors provide the funding for the program, which makes this one of the few traveling zoo exhibits that visits the public for free.

 Everyone who came seemed to find something of interest - but even if that had not been the case, the program would still have been a success simply because one little girl took her mother back home to bring library books to return so she could check out two books on display on armadillos and alligators.  She came back with a camera and took so many pictures of both of those animals, as well asthe  salamander. . .and the cockatoo. . .and the empty armadillo shell. . .and the docents, that her mother said they were going to be redecorating the walls of her room.

Someone is going to be dreaming about Zoo To You.