As published in the Red Rock News
These days, books and information come in many forms. There are bound books, audiobooks, eBooks, and even Human Books. There are also movies, television, radio, podcasts, websites, and more. Here are a few thoughts and ideas that have become stuck in my mind about books, and libraries, too.
Books as a Threat: You may recall Ray Bradbury’s dystopian novel “Fahrenheit 451” in which the protagonist, Guy Montag, was a firefighter whose job was to burn books to keep society illiterate rather than to put out fires. As the story progresses, Montag learns of people who replace the books he has burned by memorizing them or “becoming” books themselves.
The fact that people considered books so important that they became books, at their own peril, speaks to the place books and information can hold for us. (I particularly enjoyed the image of sitting among a circle of friends listening to that person “read” his or her book.) For some of us, books have an almost sacred presence. And even if you don’t go that far, I would be willing to suggest that most of us have a favorite book or books that we return to over and over, that gives us a particular pleasure unequalled by anything else.
Libraries as Sacred, Liminal Spaces: Even the most basic library has its fervent adherents. To simply walk through the doors of a library, whether large or small, well-appointed, or rough, can move some of us into a different state of mind. The whole world is there at our fingertips; all we need to do is look. Running one’s hand down the spines of a shelf of books offers a special moment that few other experiences can match. Taking a book off the shelf and opening it to the fly to dip one’s heart and mind into the knowledge therein can transport one to anywhere in the universe. The word “liminal,” from the Latin root “limen,” means “threshold.” To stand at that threshold and look over the edge into the vastness that unlimited knowledge offers can be, for many of us, a sacred moment.
Humans as Libraries: Whether Bradbury’s “book people”, or even the current day “Human Library” project in which people offer themselves as “books” to recount their life experiences, I believe we are all, in fact, books. Every one of us is a complex and fascinating combination of fiction and nonfiction. Just walk around the places you commonly visit—stores, places of worship, casual gatherings, a simple stroll through your neighborhood – and turn your mind towards seeing everyone as their own unique book—it can change the most casual encounter into something remarkable. It is similar to standing in the rows of shelves in a physical library. When an elder dies in Senegal they say, “A library has burned down.” How would our own lives be enriched if we held that image of everyone we meet as a fascinating book? What does your “novel life” offer others?
Your Library Card: First Lady Laura Bush, a librarian, said, “I have found the most valuable thing in my wallet is my library card.” I would hazard to guess that if you were to open your wallet, the most used piece of plastic stored in the very front slots would be your credit cards—maybe not one, but several them! Sure, they can purchase all manner of things, but what would it say about you if the most readily accessible card therein was your library card? Front and center, quickest to come to hand, the card that offers you the entire world and an immeasurable store of knowledge—and it doesn’t cost a thing! Imagine a culture that places libraries and knowledge at that level of priority.
Funding for Libraries: A few years ago, I heard a conversation on NPR in which the guest said something like, “If libraries didn’t exist, and you suggested creating a place where anyone could get books and access to all the information in the world for free, do you honestly think we would spend the money to create them?” It was a shocking point to make, but sadly I think it may be true. I am grateful for those remarkable visionaries who saw the value of such places and made them a reality. We are all the better for it. I offer a deep bow to each and every one of them.
Let me also offer up some of my favorite quotes about libraries:
"Libraries are full of ideas – perhaps the most dangerous and powerful of all weapons." - Sarah J. Maas
"Cutting libraries during a recession is like cutting hospitals during a plague." - Eleanor Crumblehulme
“Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation.” - Walter Cronkite
"You want weapons? We’re in a library. Books are the best weapon in the world. This room’s the greatest arsenal we could have. Arm yourself!" - Russell T. Davies
"The only thing you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library." - Albert Einstein
My suggestion to you: Come to Sedona Public Library; stand at the threshold and take a moment to reflect on what lies within. Walk through the doors to find the whole world and access to immeasurable knowledge. And remember, knowledge is power! Know that for as long as we allow it, the library is free to all. How remarkable!
Please support your public library at sedonalibrary.org/donate!
Sedona Public Library
Column for July 30, 2021
Written by David Keeber, President of The Friends of the Sedona Library
Local kids enjoying library's STEAM kits
As published in the Red Rock News
Why just check out a science book from Sedona Public Library when you can check out an entire laboratory, and books, too! Our “Connecting Community with Science” program is a huge success, with twelve interactive STEAM kits available for you to check out, enjoy, and learn. Stop in and explore your options!
What is STEAM? It is an important approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics as focus areas to guide student discovery, discussion, and critical thinking. And, at the Library, it is guaranteed fun! With support from both the Library Services Technology Act* and the Arizona Community Foundation, and in partnership with the Science Vortex of the Verde Valley, we have made STEAM learning interesting, accessible, and available to all.
Each of our robust kits are perfect for any parent, guardian, grandparent, or teacher looking for novel, enjoyable, educational activities for children. They are great for learning pods, classrooms, after-school programs, homeschoolers, or anyone who is interested in learning. In fact, Shara Coughlin, Director of the Sedona Village Learning Center, has checked out some of our kits and loves to use them with her students.
“As an educator, these STEAM kits are an amazing resource. They provided a complete and cohesive way to expand the weekly lesson and integrate science into the theme in a hands-on way. You'll never have bored kids again!” Her class loved the Color & Light kit and had fun learning about light and prism. Shara appreciates the kit’s easy-to-follow structure. “It was a seamless addition to our lesson plan. We can't wait to start the next one!”
What’s in a kit you ask? Great question! All our kits include both non-fiction and fiction books related to the topic, as well as the tools, devices, games, and other materials needed to experiment, play, build, discover, and learn. For instance, The Color & Light Kit includes crystal prisms, an LED UV Flashlight, geometric solids, color paddles, and of course, books.
Another well-loved kit is the Human Body Kit. It includes the game “Operation,” a human skeleton model, an oximeter, and a stethoscope. We used this kit for our monthly “Connecting the Community with Science” program, and we created several learning stations for the kids to visit. The participants had a blast learning about and exploring the human body and some of the human body systems. The Human Body Kit is perfect for stations in classrooms or after-school programs.
Our kits are best suited for elementary school aged children and older, but children of all ages, and even adults, will love them! Other kits include Astronomy, Geology, Bubble Fun, Bird Watching, Physics, Verde River Watershed, Chemistry, and Music. They can all be checked out by an adult for up to three weeks.
A young patron from a local home-school family, Atreo, says the Geology Kit is his favorite because he loves learning about rocks. The Geology Kit includes magnifying glasses, rock collections, and the game “Rock On!” Atreo also checked out the Music Kit and after using the mini keyboard that is included, he decided to purchase his own keyboard. His mother knew it was a wise investment when she saw how much he loved the keyboard from the kit.
What else is popular? The Bubble Fun Kit, which includes everything you need to learn about bubbles, including a bubble machine, bubble wands, glycerin, and the supplies and instructions to make a giant bubble around your child.
Finally, we also have two Chromebook/Hot Spot Kits available for check out; they are so handy when you need to get connected! These are designed for families to use when they don’t have reliable internet and/or an available computer. One family checked out a Chromebook/Hot spot Kit while they were moving and wouldn’t have internet turned on for a while. They were especially grateful for this resource.
“Connecting Community with Science” has been a fun and exciting program for us, and we are proud to have this wonderful resource for local and visiting families. Please stop by and see for yourself, we’d love to share this delightful addition to our collection in Youth Services. To learn more about our kits and other STEAM programming, please visit sedonalibrary.org or call Youth Services at (928) 282-7714 x119.
*Thanks so much to our funders: the Arizona State Library, Archives & Public Records, a division of the Secretary of State, with federal funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services as well as Arizona Community Foundation.
Sedona Public Library
Column for July 23, 2021
Written by Viviane Kraus, Youth Services Librarian
As published in the Red Rock News
Are you looking for something fun and interesting to do that won’t bust your budget this year? Why not come by the Library and pick up a Culture Pass for free admission to one of Arizona’s museums or attractions? To take advantage of our Culture Pass program all you need is a valid library card, which is easy get and free of charge!
The Culture Pass program provides access to the arts for all, including those who would not otherwise have the financial ability to visit Arizona’s arts and cultural attractions. Sedona Public Library is proud to offer this exciting program to our cardholders.
When you check out a Culture Pass you will receive admission for two people, for one visit, to a participating institution during the following seven days. Here in Northern Arizona, cardholders can visit Arcosanti, The Museum of Northern Arizona, and the Sedona Heritage Museum. Culture Passes are available on a first come, first-serve basis, with a limit of one pass per cardholder at a time.
Northern Arizona has so many wonderful places to see and experience. Pick up a Culture Pass and get free access for two to Arcosanti, just 52 miles south of Sedona. Arcosanti is the brainchild of famed architect Paolo Soleri. The town has been under construction since 1970 and incorporates principles of ecological urban design. Or take a drive to Flagstaff and spend the day at The Museum of Northern Arizona—a true gem just “up the switchbacks.”
In addition to the Northern Arizona Culture Passes, Sedona Public Library offers Culture Passes to venues in the Phoenix area as well, including Cave Creek Museum (open October through May), Cosanti, Desert Botanical Garden, The Heard Museum, Phoenix Art Museum (closed temporarily), and Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (beginning August 2) and University of Arizona Museum of Art (closed until October 26). Yes, it may be even hotter in Phoenix, but the air conditioning is cool in the museums, and the desert landscapes are thriving at the Desert Botanical Garden. Go ahead, make a day of it!
In Tucson, you can easily spend the whole day at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. A combination of experiences, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum includes a zoo, botanical garden, art gallery & classes, natural history museum, and aquarium.
For an enjoyable afternoon right here in Sedona, be sure to pick up a pass to visit the Sedona Heritage Museum. This gem of local history was once a homestead for the Jordan family and is focused on the lifestyles and works of the people who pioneered this community from 1876 to the present, including Sedona Schnebly, the town’s namesake. You’ll also learn about the former orchard industry and movies made in Sedona.
Please visit our Sedona Library website, www.sedonalibrary.org, for complete details and restrictions on the Culture Pass program. To find out which passes are currently available, call us at 928-282-7714.
Sedona Public Library is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. To make a tax-deductible donation, please visit our website or send to Sedona Public Library, 3250 White Bear Road, Sedona, Arizona 86336.
Sedona Public Library
Column for July 16, 2021
Written by Teri Ruiz, Program and Marketing Coordinator
Library Grateful for Support
As published in the Red Rock News
Summer is upon us, and many of us feel hesitantly hopeful. We are growing more comfortable visiting with family and friends and going to places where we have not been in so many months. It’s great to see smiling faces and to hug our loved ones!
On the other hand, the heat waves, the drought, and the resulting fires are taking their toll. Celebrating the great outdoors is not as simple as it used to be, even in beautiful Sedona. But I’m leaning into the hopeful, and being part of Sedona Public Library makes that an easy thing to do.
It’s a new fiscal year for the Library, so in addition to thinking about what I’ll read this summer, where I’ll hike, and when I can get to my favorite swimming hole, I’m also thinking about philanthropy. As the Library’s development director, it’s what I’m here to do, after all, and I’m particularly pleased to say that the Library had a successful year. We are grateful to all of our supporters—thank you!
When I shared my fundraising plan with the Library’s Board of Trustees at this time last year, it was, well, dismal, as so much was a year ago. The philanthropy periodicals and experts I follow shared little in the way of positive projections, or at least in consistent projections. Things across the globe were changing every day, and philanthropy was no different.
But I am proud to say that Sedonans, and Americans, have again shown themselves to be very generous and conscious about how they support the services provided by the nonprofit organizations they love. As a nation, we simply take care of each other, and our community helps take care of this library. That makes me very hopeful.
When you think of philanthropy, the names MacKenzie Scott, Melinda Gates, and Sheryl Sandberg, or other headline-making personalities and foundations might come to mind. But did you know that, in large part, it is people just like you and me who bolster our national reputation of generosity? According to Giving USA, in its recently published annual report, 69 percent of gifts made across the country in 2020—to the tune of a total of $324 billion—came from individuals.
During a year that we know was extremely economically challenging for so many, to say the least, it is very hopeful to know that many families and individuals undergoing those challenges made up a large portion of the philanthropy our nation experienced. I am feeling more hopeful with every paragraph I write!
We are proud to note that not only is it people like you who make gifts, but it is institutions like libraries where you are highly likely to direct your gifts. In fact, libraries received repeat gifts at a rate higher than any other sector in 2020, and libraries receive gifts of the highest average size, according to Bloomerang, a research group that tracks nonprofits. We’d like to think that when you make a gift to your library, you know it’s a gift that keeps giving!
You told us as much last year, and we appreciated the feedback. You felt safe when you visited the Library to use our services, and if you weren’t ready to visit us, you were grateful that you could receive our services through our website or with our curbside pickup program. Your appreciation is continually motivating.
Giving USA also noted that giving grew 5.1 percent across the nation. Between the stock market turnaround at the end of 2020, and the remarkably generous giving across the nation, “2020 is the highest year of charitable giving on record,” according to the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.
Everything we do at Sedona Public Library—our services, programs, facilities, collection, etc.—is to help you in some way. We help you research carefully, we help you connect easily, care broadly, understand clearly, speak confidently, relate genuinely, laugh wholeheartedly, and think deeply. Considering all that we have all been through with the pandemic, we think that our work has added a bit to your feeling hopeful.
Thus, "what comes around goes around" seems pretty red rock solid. The Library works to engage and enrich the community, the community is grateful and supports us, which makes patrons feel good, and makes us feel good, which makes us work harder to engage and enrich the community . . . you get the picture. That’s philanthropy. It just keeps telling a hopeful story. Thanks for being part of ours.
Please visit sedonalibrary.org to learn about all that we do to make you feel good, and hopeful, and how you can give online, so you can feel even better. Thanks, and have a great summer!
Sedona Public Library
Column for July 9, 2021
Written by Anne Marie Mackler, Development Director
Allow Me to Re-introduce Myself
As published in the Red Rock News
Greetings from Sedona Public Library! This is Andrea Lhotka, your Reference Librarian, here to share with you a little about myself and a lot about the role(s) I play at Sedona Public Library. As we mentioned in a previous column, we want to re-introduce ourselves to the community to revitalize our relationship with our neighbors. This is the second article in a series introducing you to our dedicated library team. We are answering a series of fun and enlightening questions to give you an opportunity get to know those of us who serve our fellow Sedonans every day.
Here are my answers which will give you some idea of who I am both at the Library and in my life outside the stacks. First, where was I born? I am the 4th generation of my family to be born in Arizona. What was my first job? In my first job, at age 16, I was a hostess for a neighborhood restaurant. Do I prefer dogs or cats? I am Team Cat, but dogs are cute, too. Have I ever seen a ghost or UFO? I have never seen a ghost, but once in downtown Portland, I may have heard one. That is a long story, however. What book was most influential on my early life? “Jane Eyre,” by Charlotte Bronte, was pivotal in the development of my ethical framework.
As the Library’s most long-term staff member, I have worn a multitude of hats in my tenure. Initially working in Technical Services, my first job was to prepare children’s books and Playaways (pre-loaded audiobook that gives patrons the portability and freedom to listen to audiobooks anytime, anywhere) for patrons to check out and enjoy. When I oversaw Interlibrary Loans, I helped obtain books and movies for patrons with distinctive reading tastes from faraway libraries.
While at the Reference Desk, I help the public (with or without library cards!) find books and movies, download digital titles, access library and government resources, use library technology, and much more. My job consistently fluctuates based on patrons’ needs. One day I may be wrangling Chromebooks and Hotspots, the next day I might be elbow deep in producing social media posts or graphic designs for our numerous programs. A Reference Librarian is the person that helps you hunt down that missing disc from Season 2 of “Lost,” or I might help you look up City Council minutes from December of 2014. You never know at which desk I will be found or what library service I will be providing. Who knows? When the new coffee machine is set up next month, I may be slinging K-cups with cream and sugar!
These days I cohost a book club with my colleague Kay Bork, another Reference Librarian. We enjoy creating opportunities for rich discussion and learning, and our group selects themes that explore the edges of our own life experience. This is not your great-grandmother's book club—but all adults are welcome to join the fun! So, hello Sedona, it’s nice to re-meet you!
I love my job, and I love to use my skills to be of help. The next time you find yourself in the neighborhood, I hope you will stop by and say hello, and give me a chance to put my reference skill set to work for you.
Please remember that Sedona Public Library is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. We gratefully welcome your support and gifts. Please visit our website, sedonalibrary.org/donate. From there you can easily make an online gift. You are invited to come by the Library to make your donation, or just drop your check in the mail to SPL, 3250 White Bear Road, Sedona, AZ 86336. Your giving is our living, and we want to thank our donors for their ongoing and generous support.
Sedona Public Library
Column for July 2, 2021
Written by Andrea Lhotka, Reference Librarian
Library News appears each Friday in the Red Rock News.