Posted in eBooks & eAudio, Fiction, Kids 5-12, Uncategorized

Down Time Storytime

With busy days of working and doing schoolwork at home, you may be looking for ways to break up the day a bit. Have you considered having a storytime at home? How about a family storytime that caregivers can sit back and enjoy? You can even set it up for the kids and take advantage of having a bit of free time for yourself while the kids are occupied by their story. Mead Library cardholders have access to Hoopla. Hoopla offers a variety of media for both children and adults to check out – up to 10 items per month. Included in this media selection are thousands of children’s audiobooks. There are short stories for younger listeners, as well as chapter books for older listeners. You can search for specific books, or simply browse the children’s selection. I have some recommendations for chapter books that will appeal to school-age children. Try pairing a story up with another relaxing activity, such as coloring or doing a puzzle. Listen to a couple of chapters, and enjoy a screen-free break in your day! 

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A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold

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Posted in Adult, Film, Staff Picks

Credit-free Viewing on Kanopy

By now, many of us have been (should have been) sheltering in place for a few weeks. If you are anything like me, it has been a crash course in staying sane and staying entertained. My favorite form of escapism has always been film so I was thrilled when Mead acquired access to Kanopy last year. To the uninitiated, Kanopy is a video streaming service available to anyone with an active Mead library card and internet access. Here’s where you can find it: https://www.meadpl.org/streaming. Similar to Hoopla, users receive 10 viewing credits each month. I burned through my credits in March watching a very soothing film documentary series called The Story of Film: An Odyssey. It’s narrated by this smartypants film scholar with an Irish accent and man, was that ever a balm on my soul. If you like film history I highly recommend it. But what does one do when all the credits get used up? Not to fear, Kanopy has compiled a list of credit-free movies to help get us through this weird moment in history. Right now, the list is up to 54 titles. Here are my favorites, so far:

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946; starring Barbara Stanwyck and Kirk Douglas)

Melodrama! Cruel aunts! Femmes Fatale! Murder! Obsessive love! This movie has it all. Stanwyck is at her sharp-as-nails best while Kirk Douglas plays against type as her alcoholic weakling husband. They seem an ill-suited match, so why are they a couple at all? The dark secret that binds them together is unraveled in satisfying film noir style over the course of this two hour movie. If you love films like Double Indemnity, Laura, and Rebecca, you will likely enjoy The Strange Love of Martha Ivers

The King of Masks (1996; directed by Wu Tianming)

Aging street performer Wang is a master of bian lian, a form of opera that involves lightening-fast mask changing. He longs for a son to teach his trade to, which leads him to purchase a young boy from an illegal child market. When Wang’s new “son” admits that she is actually a girl, a story is set in motion that demands Wang re-examine what he values most in life. Simple and solemn performances coupled with crisp, beautiful cinematography made The King of Masks a joy to watch. This gorgeous character-driven film won the Golden Rooster, or Chinese Oscar equivalent, in 1996.  If you enjoyed the dynamics present in Paper Moon (1973), Mask (1985), or even The Bad News Bears (1976), you will probably enjoy The King of Masks.

Blame (2017; Written, directed, and starring Quinn Shephard)

This is NOT your typical teen comedy romp! While it shares some thematic similarities to mainstream hits like Easy A, do not expect light-heartedness or a pat ending. Protagonist Abigail returns to her high school after a 6 month stay in a psych ward. Why was she there and why does she dress like a 1950s holdover? Abigail soon develops a rivalry with an edgy girl for the attentions of their attractive English teacher. Told with increasing paranoia and dreamy creepiness, Blame parallels the elements of stage plays like The Crucible, to great effect. The unease is palpable and I found myself getting more and more tense as the movie wore on. Although Blame has an MPAA rating of PG-13, one might want to wait until the little ones are in bed before giving it a spin.

Zoo (2017)

Not to be confused with the 2018 zombie movie of the same name, this picture is the complete escapist package, even though the story is grounded in true events surrounding Luftwaffe attacks on Belfast. A group of children take it upon themselves to rescue a baby elephant from execution when soldiers are ordered to shoot dangerous zoo animals lest they escape their enclosures due to bombing. This movie made me laugh and cry so many times I lost count. It is joyous and tense and heartbreaking and unlike Blame, this big-hearted movie is great for the whole family. 

The above four films only begin to describe the depth and breadth of films made available for credit-free viewing on Kanopy. I frequently found myself outside my comfort zone, and getting rewarded for it in the end. There are so many more great films on the list that I am looking forward to exploring. What are your favorite credit-free movies so far? I would love to know. Write me at publicservices@meadpl.org with your picks. Use this email if you have any questions or difficulties accessing Kanopy, as well. Happy watching! -Molly

Posted in Adult, Genealogy, History

Exploring Your Family History

Now that you have watched all the cat videos ever created you may have some spare time on your hands. Consider spending some of that time searching for information about your family. Here are some resources to help you get started.

Ancestry Library Edition– This is a great place to get started on your search. You can type in names and locations and Ancestry will search birth, marriage and death records, census records, and military records. Normally you would only be able to access this inside of the library, but Ancestry is temporarily allowing you to use this in your home. You will need to sign in with your Mead Library Card.

Heritage Quest-“Powered by” (but not owned by) Ancestry.com. This partnership has dramatically expanded its half-dozen collections to a sort of “Ancestry.com lite,” including the complete US census, military and immigration records, and city directories. Click Search and scroll all the way to the bottom to unlock more US records as well as selected foreign databases.

Newspaper Archive– From here you can look at Sheboygan Press articles from 1909-1976. Type a name into the search field and then narrow your search to a location. I found out my great-uncle won a marble contest at Mapledale School. You can find more than just the Sheboygan Press. They have papers from all over the United States and the rest of the world. You will need to sign in with your Mead Library Card.

List of Wisconsin Newspapers in Badgerlink– Great place to look for obituaries outside of Sheboygan. You can access more newspapers by going to Mead’s Genealogy page.

UW Digital Collections Features a large section of digitized books from Sheboygan County, including military records, city histories, and city and county directories from 1875-1920. Go to “Browse Sheboygan County Historical Documents” from this link to see the list of items.

FamilySearch– More than 2,200 online collections (and growing) make this the internet’s largest home to free genealogy data, with recent updates spotlighting Italy, South America and US vital records. You can share and record your finds in family trees and a “Memories Gallery,” and get research help from the wiki.

Perhaps you are saying that you already know about all these resources. Did you know that with your library card you can read Family Tree Magazine online through RBDigital?

Posted in Adult, eBooks & eAudio, Fiction, Mystery, Uncategorized

“Lucky Day” eBooks

You may already know that Mead has a “lucky day” collection of books and movies – new items that are first-come, first-served but have no waitlist. But now, you also have access to Lucky Day ebooks and audiobooks through WPLC/Overdrive/Libby! “No waiting required – these popular titles are available now! 7 day loan period for ebooks and 14 day loan period for audiobooks.”

Looking for something to read right away? Like with the physical Lucky Day items, the selection may change, but here are three that I’ve read and enjoyed that were available as of Monday morning. You can also browse everything in the Lucky Day collection that’s currently available with this link: https://wplc.overdrive.com/wplc-89-116/content/collection/1046004

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Blind Justice by Anne Perry

Anne Perry has multiple mystery series, but the William Monk series is my favorite – he is a London detective and later commander of the Thames River Police in Victorian England. If you can bear to wait, I would start with the first book in the series – The Face of a Stranger – but there’s enough background given that you’ll have no trouble jumping in here, either.

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Posted in Adult, DIY & How To, Teen & Young Adult

School is Out Never!

Welcome back to Mead’s blog! This week I figured I would talk about Gale courses. Gale courses are online classes that can either give you accreditation for your career or give you new skills for your personal growth. I wanted to share with everyone some of the courses I’m considering enrolling in.

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Drawing for the Absolute Beginner

Way back, in the long-ago of my childhood, I wanted to be a comic book artist. I stopped practicing, though, and eventually, that dream was left behind. Recently, I’ve decided I want to work on improving my rusty drawing skills, but I don’t expect DC will be hiring me. The next session start date is April 15th.

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Posted in Adult, Fantasy, Fiction, Mystery, Teen & Young Adult

Social Distancing with a Book Club

“Social Distancing” is an ubiquitous term these days with the spread of COVID-19, coronavirus, because it affects all of us. In simple terms, it means that we should avoid physical contact and close proximity to each other.

Book clubs are gatherings of readers sharing in discussion, and in the case of the Book to Art Club, sharing art supplies. Due to the spread of coronavirus many of us are cancelling in-person meetings for the foreseeable future. This is disappointing to do, but it helps protect you and your club members from getting sick, and that is extremely important. However, cancelling isn’t your only option. Clubs can meet virtually via video chat, like Skype, Zoom, Facebook Messenger, or Microsoft Teams, just to name a few, or through a conference telephone call.

The Mead Library Romance on the Rocks book club met this week over Skype, and it worked well. It was new for many of us, so we struggled slightly with connecting to the group, versus everyone connecting individually with me because they connected through my Skype invitation, but that was easy to fix.

What you need to make this work is to create a group in Skype for your book club. Next, invite your members by email through the group to join. You can also add members to the group manually after they’ve created a Skype account. Then, all you and your participants need to do is click on the camera or phone icon at your designated meeting time. Skype allows participants to connect by video or phone, and covering your camera is always an option, for those who want to join the discussion but not be on camera.

The Moonlight & Murder book club will meet on Skype in April to discuss Alexander McCall Smith’s The Department of Sensitive Crimes, and the Book to Art Club will meet on Skype in April and May. These discussions are open to teens and adults.

The Book to Art Club discusses books while making hands-on projects, so to keep the making element, I have asked participants to work on a project at home during the discussion, and I hope to share pictures of the projects in our group Facebook album. April’s Book to Art Club read will be Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger, which will inspire steampunk projects related to a girls’ dirigible finishing and assassin school, and May’s discussion will be Nevermoor: the Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend, a Harry Potter-like fantasy featuring a curse, a talent competition, umbrella traveling, a giant cat and magical rooms. I’ve included links on the book titles to make it easy to join these discussions, and I hope you will. Digital book copies may be available through digital sources such as Overdrive/Libby and RB Digital.