Your Friendly Neighborhood Librarians: March 2019

Think Library Presents: Your Friendly Neighborhood Librarians, a monthly podcast from Monroe County Public Library featuring our chattiest Librarians, Erica Brown and Matt Neer! In this month’s podcast, Matt and Erica explore forgotten and unknown women in history, learn how Library music and movies are selected, and face off in a mini Quiz Bowl moderated by VITAL's coordinator. Know what a literary canon is? Learn about and remake it! Have a question for next month’s podcast or want to appear on the show? Post it to our Facebook page or community [at] (subject: Your%20Friendly%20Neighborhood%20Librarians) (email us)!

Pioneer Grant to Reduce Library Barriers for Domestic Violence Survivors

Shannon Bowman-Sarkisian

After years of working in west coast bookstores and developing a specialty in rare books, Shannon
Bowman-Sarkisian is now studying to be a librarian at Indiana University and working as an Information
Assistant at the Library. Searching for meaningful opportunities to work on behalf of our community,
Shannon applied for and received the 2019 Pioneer Grant.

The Pioneer Grant invites Library employees to submit their enterprising ideas and lead the way to a
knowledgeable, inclusive, and engaged community empowered by the Library. Projects must be
innovative and beneficial to the community. The Friends of the Library provide funds to make the grant
project possible.

Shannon recently engaged with a patron who couldn’t provide proof of permanent residence in Monroe
County, one of the few requirements to be a Library cardholder. Shannon learned that the patron was
displaced from her residence as a result of domestic violence. However, the patron needed to access
Library services. Shannon wondered if this was a common problem in our community.

Shannon reached out to Middle Way House to learn more. Sure enough, she was told that displaced
survivors often encounter difficulties accessing services due to the lack of a permanent address.
Shannon began forming her grant project––Creating Access for Violence Survivors (CAVS).

"The grant application came out about the same time I had the interaction with this patron and I wanted
to know what could be done to help," Shannon said. "There’s a gap in the accessibility of our services, so
how do we reduce that?"

Shannon’s project has five goals:

  1. To create Library protocol for Monroe County residents who are in hiding or in transitional housing due to escaping domestic violence.
  2. To train Library service staff on domestic violence and related issues.
  3. To reduce Library access barriers for domestic violence survivors.
  4. To enable Middle Way House residents to access eLibrary and digital learning tools by providing curated iPads and LeapPad tablets.
  5. To provide outreach and information about Library services to residents at The Rise and others who use Middle Way House services.

"Applying for the project grant was very intimidating for me because I'm an information assistant and am relatively new to the library," Shannon said. "Getting this grant and studying to be a Librarian feels like I'm on the right path. It's really important to me, and I think, to my community."

In keeping with the Library’s mission of equitable access and inclusion, Shannon’s project has identified and aims to answer a real need in our community.

"Survivors will benefit greatly from Shannon’s presence and compassion," said Marilyn Wood, Library
Director. "We appreciate her thoughtfulness and extensive research in developing this project."

Staff Picks: Blended by Sharon M. Draper

Reviewed by Christina J. 

Sharon Draper does it again - this time offering a heartfelt and moving story about a young bi-racial girl struggling to find her place within her complicated family and in the larger community. Draper’s characters are so complex and sympathetic that they seem like old friends by the end of the book. Fans of Draper’s other work, namely Out of My Mind and Stella by Starlight, will not be disappointed!

Isabella lives life by halves, splitting her time between the homes of her divorced Black father and white mother. While her parents argue bitterly, they shower Isabella with real love. Life at school is not much easier when her best friend, a Black girl from a politically engaged family, is shaken by a hateful object left in her locker. The incident sends a shockwave through the school and community, and forces Isabella to ask important questions about her identity. Throughout her trials, Isabella finds peace and inspiration in her piano playing. Isabella’s journey is filled with love and heartache, hate and hope, division and unity and lots and lots of surprises.


Staff Picks: Step Right Up by Donna Janell Bowman

Reviewed by Christina J. 

You have to read it to believe it. Then you have to see the photos in the historical note at the back of the book to really believe the incredible story of William ‘Doc’ Key and his intelligent horse Beautiful Jim Key. Even people who witnessed it firsthand, including scholars from Harvard University, couldn’t understand how Doc Key managed to teach his horse how to read, spell, cipher, and more on command. This is a stunning and inspiring story of how kindness and love has the potential to unleash the intelligence and capacity in animals, during a time when most people believed animals had no feelings.

William ‘Doc’ Key lived an extraordinary life in rural Tennessee during the time of the Civil War. Born into slavery, Key learned healing arts from his mother and became known in the area as a highly talented animal doctor, earning him the nickname, ‘Doc.’ After an eventful tour in the Civil War, Doc built a thriving business as a newly free man. That’s when he nursed a sickly colt to life and made him a household name. Doc Key used his fame and influence to shine a light on racial inequity by refusing to have segregated seating at his shows and performing in traditionally white venues. Along with his stance on social justice, Doc also crusaded for the humane treatment of animals. Truly, Doc Key’s story is an inspiration to us all.

*This book was an honoree for the Carter G. Woodson Book Awards for the most distinguished books appropriate for young readers that depict ethnicity in the United States. Adjudicated by members of the National Council for the Social Studies (a professional teaching organization) this award is intended to “encourage the writing, publishing, and dissemination of outstanding social studies books for young readers that treat topics related to ethnic minorities and race relations sensitively and accurately.”

Staff Picks: The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

Reviewed by Lizzie F. 

Callum Hunt has spent his entire life avoiding magic, but his attempts to flunk the entrance exam for the Magisterium are unsuccessful, and he finds himself an apprentice at the underground magic school where young mages are trained. Despite his initial reluctance, he begins to enjoy learning to use magic, but nothing can prepare him for what he is about to learn about himself and his past.

This book is great for fans of Harry Potter and the twist ending will leave you excited for the Magisterium series' second installment.

How to Love Your Library

Friends of the Library

Do you love your Library? There are many ways to show it! Here are just a few...

  1. Consider donating. The Friends of the Library make all Library programming, including summer reading, possible! Gifts to The Friends contribute to a thriving, dynamic Monroe County. Your generosity will help the Library improve literacy, continue to innovate, spread the joy and power of reading, and reach people throughout the community.
  2. Shop at or donate materials to the Friends of the Library Bookstore. They always need books––old or new, unread or well-loved. Cassette tapes, artwork, VHS movies, DVDs, music CDs, and vinyl records are also gladly accepted.
  3. Get involved! Long-term and short-term volunteer opportunities are available to those who want to contribute their time or talent. There are opportunities to become a literacy tutor, help out The Friends, and more! Getting involved isn't just volunteering though. Try attending one of the Library's unique programs or participating in summer reading.
  4. Follow MCPL on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, BuzzFeed, SoundCloud, and YouTube. Did you know that liking and sharing posts helps increase engagement? That means that more people will be able to share your Library love! 
  5. Participate in the VITAL Quiz Bowl. This fun, fast-paced trivia competition is your chance to show off your smarts while raising money and awareness for the Library's adult literacy program, Volunteers in Tutoring Adult Learners (VITAL).
  6. Do you work for an area organization? Consider partnering with the Library on an event or hosting copies of our seasonal program guide.
  7. If you're a writer or have contacts with the media, suggest a story about the many ways libraries serve their communities. You can also write a letter to the editor of your newspaper in support of the Library.
  8. Tell a friend! Never underestimate the power of word of mouth. Sign up for our monthly newsletter to learn about Library happenings (and share them with a friend).
  9. Celebrate what makes your Library unique. Is it the zine collection? Level Up's musical instruments? Community Access Television Services? How about the everyday patron?
  10. Embrace the digital age. Did you know you can access the Library from the comfort of your own digital device anywhere in the world? MCPL's eLibrary includes eBooksmusicaudiobooks, popular and classic movies and TVmagazines and newspaperslearning opportunitiesDIYcurated academic and research materialslocal and family historycommunity resources, and more.

Staff Picks: The Honest Truth

Reviewed by Ginny H. 

Mark has been sick for a long time and after receiving bad news from the doctors, he's had enough. He's angry, scared, and just wants to disappear. So he does.

Mark sets out with his dog, Beau, to climb Mount Rainier. He encounters all kinds of people and obstacles along the way, all the while documenting his travels with his camera and writing haikus. While he misses his mom and dad and his best friend, Jess, he keeps going, even when he starts getting sicker.

This book was a really intense adventure novel. I found myself relating to the character in huge ways. The bond between Mark and his dog, Beau, was so relatable and real. When they got into some of the more dramatic parts, I was literally holding my breath!

If you like adventure and action, you'll love this book by Dan Gemeinhart.

Staff Picks: Dactyl Hill Squad

Reviewed by Ellen A. 

Welcome to 1863 New York City, where dinosaurs roam the streets! Magdalys Roca and her fellow orphan friends are enjoying a field trip in the city when riots break out and a few of their group are kidnapped. It's up to Magdalys and the Dactyl Hill Squad to rescue their missing friends and defeat the evil magistrate, Riker. 

This alternate history involving the U.S. Civil War, a diverse bunch of heroic orphans, and dinosaurs is quite a thrilling ride. The exciting adventure, written by Daniel José Older, also touches on deeper issues such as extreme racial injustice and fighting for what is right.

I'm looking forward to the second book in the series, Freedom Fire, to be released in May 2019.

Staff Picks: Waiting for Winter

Reviewed by Aubrey D. 

What is wet, white, cold, and soft? Snow of course! For squirrel and his friends snow is a new adventure that they can't wait to experience. Meschenmoser's sketchy illustrations are charming and his characters are endearing, a great book for sharing one on one!

Find it in the Children's Picture Book Collection!

Staff Picks: The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge

Reviewed by Dana D.

Brangwain Spurge, the historian of the elves, is sent into rival goblin territory to deliver a peace offering in hopes of easing tensions between the two worlds. Werfel, the goblin historian is thrilled to meet Brangwain and has been put in charge of planning the perfect visit. But, things go wrong before Brangwain even steps foot on goblin territory, and get worse after that.

Fans of the Hobbit and The Invention of Hugo Cabret will love this tale told half in pictures and half in words.