In Memoriam: The Incandescent Light Bulb

By , February 28, 2014

2014 will bring many changes – one of these changes, if lawmakers and manufacturers get their way, will be the final phase-out of the traditional incandescent light bulb.  I don’t intend to argue the merits of the old-fashioned incandescent bulb over the new-fangled options.

Ad for GE lighting, Good Housekeeping, August 1924.

In fact, the incandescent light bulb has been in an almost constant state of improvement since it was invented, from changes in the material used for the filament to the type of gas placed in the bulb after removing the air.

This does seem like an appropriate time, however, to acknowledge and celebrate the amazing achievement that was the incandescent light bulb.  One could argue it was one of the most revolutionary inventions of the modern world.  It’s pretty much synonymous in our minds with a good idea – doesn’t the image of a light bulb appear when any cartoon character has one?  Don’t we say “the light bulb came on” when a person grasps a new concept?

This invention entered homes, lit up streets, and changed the way people lived. Details we take for granted today were labored over as people incorporated artificial light into their homes.  In the October 1924 issue of Good Housekeeping, an article titled “ABC of Electricity for the Housekeeper: The Incandescent Lamp” explained to women the history, technology, and manufacture of the light bulb, noting that in modern light bulb factories, the assembly was done almost exclusively by machines, except for the placing of the filament, which was “done by skilful [sic] women operators.”

The article goes on to instruct housewives in choosing the correct type of bulb for the intended use, emphasizing the need to shade or diffuse the light and to recognize the difference in the perception of colors between the artificial light of an incandescent bulb and natural light.

The availability of the light bulb in the home even led to the consideration of how to use electric light for decorative purposes in addition to its functional use.  The July 1906 issue of Craftsman magazine discusses the creation of fixtures that would  simultaneously address the utilitarian function of the light produced as well as the “character of the the light.” The design of these “shower light” fixtures (pictured) treats the light “so simply and freely that its true decorative value may be felt in the arrangement of the room.”

As these historic articles and advertisements (all of which can be found in the periodicals collection on the 3rd floor at the Main library)  demonstrate, the light bulb’s invention greatly influenced Americans’ daily lives – habits, home design and decoration, and even safety.  If you’re interested in reading more about  the history of the light bulb and electric lighting, check out these titles from our collection:


Book review:The Light Between Oceans

By , February 27, 2014

The Light Between Oceans

By M. L. Stedman


Author, M. L. Stedman has written a captivating first novel that immediately draws the reader in and doesn’t let them go. The Light Between Oceans is the story of Tom, a man haunted by his service during WWI and his young wife Isabel.

Tom and Isabel were happy living at the remote lighthouse off the coast of eastern Australia. But as years passed and Isabel suffered from a series of miscarriages, her sadness turned into quiet desperation, as her thoughts became consumed with having a child of her own.

One evening, a boat washed up on shore with two people onboard, one passenger who had died, and the other…..a baby girl who had survived. Tom wanted to immediately report what had happened to the authorities but Isabel stopped him and convinced him to wait.

As the “new family” began to settle into their lives, Tom found himself racked with guilt, while Isabel was blissfully happy, until the outside world came to their island home and everything began to crumble.


Since its publication last year, The Light Between Oceans has become an international bestseller and is slated to be made into a film.








Book review: Welcome to Paradise…

By , February 25, 2014

Welcome to Paradise…
By Chas Smith

Surfing is cool. If you don’t believe me, just read what I wrote about Ghost Wave or The Wave. See, I told you. Cool. You know who else thinks he’s cool – that’s right, Chas Smith, author of this fine piece of surfing nonfiction. I’m pretty sure he’s the only one who thinks he’s cool, but if he gets too far out of line, I have faith that the guys on the North Shore will choke him out for the rest of us.

Having been a fan of surfing for a few years now, I am well aware of Hawaii’s epic and heavily-storied waves – especially The Bonzai Pipeline. Situated on Oahu’s infamous North Shore, Pipeline is one wave that if you haven’t surfed it, you haven’t surfed (btw – for those of you keeping score at home, I fall into the later contingent, like most sane people).

Smith’s book focuses on the North Shore. I always knew that surfing was an insular community – and nowhere is this more prevalent than in the Aloha state on it’s Seven Mile Miracle full of dangerous, thrilling waves. At no small risk to himself, Smith takes us inside this always-changing microcosm and gives us a front row seat to the insanity.

Sometimes you find books you “should” read and sometimes you look up and you’ve already read half of the one in front of you. Thankfully, this is one of the latter – if you can get past the pomposity of the writer. It’s been a while since I read a good surfing book, and I’m glad this one jumped off the shelf at me.

Happy reading, brah…

:) Amanda

Legends of Film: Randy Jurgensen

By , February 24, 2014

During this episode we talk to retired New York City police officer Randy Jurgensen, technical advisor on the film set of this month’s Movies @ Main feature Report to the Commissioner. Jurgensen explains his role as technical advisor and talks about his on-screen part as the shooter of Sonny Corleone in The Godfather and his work on the movie The French Connection (including the case that inspired the film.)

Book review: The Death class and Knocking on heaven’s door

By , February 21, 2014

Death rate holds steady at 100%” – The Onion

If the subject of considering your own mortality is a bit unsettling, here are two titles that provide fresh looks at an old subject.

The Death class: a true story about life
by Erika Hayasaki looks at how a college course focusing on the end of life provides its students a guide to living.  Former L.A. Times journalist Hayasaki follows Norma Bowe, a psychiatric nurse and teacher whose “Death in Perspective” class has a three year waiting list. The author enrolled in the class where students are asked to prepare for their own demise by writing their own eulogy, tour crematories and make final plans. It turns out that taking a look at the end of life enriches the living.

Knocking on heaven’s door : the path to a better way of death  by Katy Butler provides a different vantage point, showing the reader how the best laid plans often go awry. The author shares two very different experiences as she navigated the death of each of her parents. Options in health care choices prove difficult and easily domino over and into the next crisis. The emotional, spiritual, medical, financial, social, historical and even political decisions can be overwhelming.  Luckily, the author allows us to watch as she makes her way through the maze of modern medical advances.

Advance directive? Durable power of attorney? Hospice care? Cremation? For many folks, discussing these final wishes is uncomfortable. Many prefer to put the discussion off “till later”. But, as these two authors highlight, later could be too late. Here is a source to help you start the process: offers a free kit, The Wise Conversations Starter Kit, which includes the American Bar Association’s Advance Directive, a written statement of your wishes regarding medical treatment that is honored in 45 states.


“I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure” – Clarence Darrow


Comics review: Sweet Tooth by Jeff Lemire

By , February 20, 2014

With a little help, a nervous Jesse giggles through his first video book review. Here are the items he mentions:

Sweet Tooth 6: Wild Game by Jeff Lemire

The Nobody by Jeff Lemire

The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Y: The Last Man, Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughn

Tales from the Farm (Essex County Trilogy, Volume 1) by Jeff Lemire

Ghost Stories (Essex County Trilogy, Volume 2) by Jeff Lemire

The Country Nurse (Essex County Trilogy, Volume 3) by Jeff Lemire

get the whole Essex County Trilogy as an ebook

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Palomar by Gilbert Hernandez

Give us feedback about our new catalog!

music by Black Dice CD | Freegal | Hoopla | Free Music Archive


Book review: The Impossible Knife of Memory

By , February 18, 2014

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

The Impossible Knife of Memory
by Laurie Halse Anderson

Hayley and her father have returned, not unchanged, to the home of Hayley’s childhood. Hayley is now a senior in high school, with a five year gap since her last days in a classroom. Those were five years spent on the road with her father, Andy, a decorated veteran struggling with PSTD. Her unorthodox background has ill prepared her for the academic and social challenges of a traditional high school, where she languidly wastes her potential. How can she focus on math when her entire family consists of an unpredictable, suicidal father?

The answer comes in the form of Finn, a charming super-nerd who matches Hayley’s snarky wit with easy-going amusement. He specializes in math jokes, e.g., “I’m not being obtuse…but you’re acute girl.” The plan is that Finn will give Hayley tutoring sessions in calculus if she writes an article for the largely ignored school paper. In fact, however, Finn becomes the rare person that Hayley learns to trust. It’s not a gentle romance, but it becomes increasingly honest and essential as the book progresses.

Central to the story is the effect of Andy’s PSTD on his relationships, and how that has damaged Hayley’s life. The reader is informed of Andy’s war experience in segments that are interspersed with Hayley’s first person narration. Hayley tries to understand, to help her father, but Andy is unreachable. Frustrated at the life she if forced to live, Hayley explodes, “You’re a mess, Daddy. No job. No friends. No life. Half the time you can’t even take the dog for a walk without freaking out.” Andy responds by grabbing her shirt, ready to punch Hayley in the face.

Although Hayley’s mother died when she was just a baby, there was another woman, Andy’s live-in girlfriend named Trish, who served as a surrogate mother to Hayley. As far as Hayley knows, Trish left them abruptly, leaving Hayley to fend for herself and care for her unstable

Laurie Halse Anderson

Laurie Halse Anderson

father. The truth is more complicated. But like many kids who end up as caretakers for incapacitated parents, Hayley is both fiercely protective and furious over her circumstances. When Trish returns to them, all of Hayley’s rage finds a target.

Anderson has tackled gritty subjects in earlier books, imbuing her narrators with a witty, honest voice that resonates with many teen readers. For example, her award-winning debut novel, Speakis about a fourteen year-old girl, Melinda, who is unable to tell anyone that she had been raped. Despite the gravity of the topic, Melinda relates her story with sassy humor: “Rachelle blows a candy cigarette smoke ring at my face. Blows me off. I have been dropped like a hot Pop Tart on a cold kitchen floor.”

Anderson is the 2009 recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award, given to an author and their body of work for “…for significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature.”






Book Review: The Ministry of Guidance Invites You Not to Stay

By , February 15, 2014

The Ministry of Guidance Invites You Not to Stay
By Hooman Majd

Like most folks, I would say that I am a pretty open person. I’m fairly informed about world events and international politics. But when it comes to the Middle East, I am also aware that I have been completely Americanized by the media. When we have been told, repeatedly, that Iran is evil and might nuke us out of existence if we let them, it’s hard to have warm, fuzzy feelings for the country.

So when I read this book jacket, I was immediately curious and fascinated. An Iranian-born, Western-raised journalist took his American wife and less-than-one year old son to live in Iran for a year. My first thought: What?!?!?! Why would any sane person want to do that? My second thought: You know he got arrested. Hello – he’s a journalist. (I didn’t think through it far enough to realize that if he had been arrested and never released that I wouldn’t be reading this book.)

Majd is a good storyteller, and this book grabbed my attention from the beginning. It really showed me a personal side to Iran that the American media conveniently skips over. Granted, Majd has some pretty high connections within the government, and none of his friends or family members would be considered anything other than upper middle class. But they still have parties, drink alcohol (when they can get it) and go on vacations.

The government did hassle Majd once or twice. He was monitored the whole time he was there and in order to be allowed entrance, he had to promise not to write about Iran. His wife, Karri, was harrassed a few times by the morality police because she wasn’t dressed according to Muslim standards – even though she made every effort to fit in while not a practicing Muslim. Upon returning home, Majd learned that he had been on Iran’s watchlist as a US spy, so it was good his family left when it did or in all likelihood he would have been arrested.

I wish, however, that he would have covered more about his life once he got home. The Iranian government can’t be happy about this book – even if Majd wasn’t superly critical of them in it. He didn’t say if he’s been back to Iran since it’s publication. Maybe that’s what he’ll write about in his next book.

Did this book make me want to visit Iran? Not in the least bit. However, it did make me a little curious about the country and it’s people, which is something I can say I never was before. Definitely worth the time with this one. Plus…how can you not read a book with such a friendly title?

Happy reading…

:) Amanda

Celebrate Valentine’s Day Like a Librarian…

By , February 14, 2014

Do you know how I can contact Sherlock Holmes?

Because I need to solve the mystery of  how to win

your heart…

It’s Valentine’s Day…   But let’s keep that Valentine’s vibe going all year long – treat your special sweeties (and all your fellow human beings) with respect and love every day!   Ever wondered how librarians celebrate Valentine’s Day?  Check out the popular materials department staff picks for favorite romantic movies and songs.


Amanda’s Picks:
romantic movie:  Something’s Gotta Give
love songs:   I Choose You by Sara Bareilles (download
on freegal), You’ve Made Me So Very Happy by Blood  Sweat and Tears (freegal) 

Bryan’s Picks:
romantic movie:  Silver Linings Playbook
love song:  Dirty Old Town by The Pogues

Cheryl’s Picks:
romantic movie:  Jane Austen’s Persuasion
love song:  At Last as sung by Etta James,What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong 

Karen’s Picks:
romantic movie:  The Time Traveler’s Wife, Pride and Prejudice
love songs:  Love is the Drug by the Bryan Ferry Orchestra, I Will Always Love You by Dolly Parton
And finally, as for me, Crystal:
romantic movie:  Something New
love songs:  Unravel by Bjork, Bed of Nails by Wild Beasts


Book Review: Art Made From Books: Altered, Sculpted, Carved, Transformed

By , February 13, 2014

Art Made From Books: Altered, Sculpted, Carved, Transformed

Compiled by Laura Heyenga


Art Made From Books: Altered, Sculpted, Carved, Transformed, this book is so much fun, I loved everything about it!

Author Laura Heyenga, has pulled together a fascinating group of 27 artists who use books as their medium to create. This book will introduce you to Mike Stilkey, an American installation artist who uses stacks of books as his canvas to paint whimsical characters upon, British artist, Su Blackwell brings fairy tales to life with her intricate designs and Cara Barer who uses discarded books to create sculptures that are manipulated by water, strings and clamps, transforming the book into something new and beautifully unique.

Art Made From Books: Altered, Sculpted, Carved, Transformed is filled with 176 pages of beautiful and inspiring artwork.  Don’t miss it!


Books aren’t simply for reading anymore!



- Karen






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