Miss Amanda… From the Library

by Miss Amanda

When Miss Britney asked me why I wanted to work at the library, I told her I just wanted to be “Miss Amanda from the Library”.

I spent several years working in childcare and teaching Preschool. I was already known as Miss Amanda. I had built lifelong relationships with so many kids and families in our community. I knew that working at the library would allow me to reach more of the community, meet new kids, new families, and build new relationships. But would I still be Miss Amanda? Would they be excited to see me outside of work? Would I still get invited to school events and sporting events? Would people still want to share their lives with me?

The worry didn’t last long. It only took about a week for me to start building relationships within the library. Littles run to give me hugs at story time and share their own stories with me. My beloved tweens run in after school to fill me on in on their daily adventures. Kids get excited to see me in their schools and in the grocery store. I’ve been invited to basketball games and school plays. I’ve dried tears, laughed uncontrollably, and celebrated small victories. In my short time at the library, I have already made so many new connections. Every day I am thankful for the opportunity to be where I am. I can now proudly say that I am Miss Amanda from the Alvah N. Belding Memorial Library.

A Teen’s Perspective

by Emily

Being sixteen and working at the library is honestly the best thing that could have ever happened to me. I get to work with an amazing staff who are almost like family and our patrons are by far the best there are.
I am the type of person who likes to be with people who are older than me, and getting to help and communicate with older patrons really brightens my day. Not only does it make me happy, I also learn quite a lot from them. Still being in school means there is still a lot I need to learn. When patrons come in and talk about things they need to do in life or even about a school subject, they are really the ones who help me.
   Working at a library as a teen helps you develop great time management skills and communication skills. You need to figure out how to pace yourself to get all your work done, while also helping patrons. I feel that ever since I started working at the library I have been way better at time management for work and school.  Not only have I learned better time management, but I have also strengthened my communication skills. To be honest, many teens today don’t have very good communication skills. We hide behind our phone screens and never really talk to the people we are around.Working at the library has really taught me the proper way to communicate to each age group as I work with people of all ages.
   I look at everyone who walks through the library doors as someone to learn from, and absolutely love working at the library. Being a teen working at the library was scary at first, but I quickly learned there was nothing to be scared of. I am surrounded by amazing and friendly people and learn many things we teens today lack. But it’s a fun type of learning, that I know will help me in the future.

New, But Not

by Miss Julia

Hello to all!

My name is Julia or Miss Julia to all the kids here. I’m still new around here – as a librarian at the Belding Library, that is. But I’ve been coming to this library as a patron since I was a child myself, and now I work daily in the same magical building. When I was eight years old, I knew I wanted to be a librarian. It’s been a journey of finding my perfect fit, but here I am, the Children’s Librarian Assistant at the Alvah N. Belding Memorial Library and loving every moment of it.

When I am out and about and meet someone new, they usually ask where I work. After I tell them, they seem shocked and usually say, “Isn’t that boring?? Who even uses the library anymore?”. I go ahead in explaining that a library isn’t just books – which, even if it was, that would still be fantastic!  The library is constantly changing to meet the needs of the community, so how could it be boring? Once I talk about the nerf battles, board games, and DVDs you can check out, also including the wide assortment of programs we host, they are way more excited and ask when they can attend a program. I think their initial reactions also have to do with the fact that I am a known extrovert – which, in case you’re wondering, the stereotype of librarians being “old and quiet” is very wrong! I’m quite the talker.

I cannot wait to see you around the library soon. I am still working hard at preparing fun programs for the summer. Summer Reading 2020, here we come! We currently are hosting a poetry contest for youth in 3rd-12th grade as well, which is running until April 25th. To see more information, go to our Facebook Page, or email me. I’d love to chat with you and get to know more about what you’d like to see at the library. You can get in contact with me anytime by emailing belys@llcoop.org. I love ideas of all sorts!

The Gift of Family

by Kelly

‘Tis the season for giving and receiving gifts of all kinds, including some you may not know what to do with. It is my suspicion that this year, more than a few people may find themselves on the receiving end of the increasingly popular home DNA genealogy kit.

As the holiday season reaches its peak and the New Year arrives, I’m sure you will have seen many television and internet ads from big companies like Ancestry.com or 23andMe offering to bring families closer with a simple swab or spit kit that will reveal your genetic genealogy. Results from your home DNA kit can reveal details of your lineage, including your main ethic makeup and possibly your ancestor’s point of origin. When your data results are uploaded to a worldwide database, you can learn about surnames that tie into your genetic family tree, and have long-lost first, second, and third cousins that you didn’t know you have asking to connect with you.

But which test do you take? From which company do you purchase from? And then what?

There are three types of DNA tests kits available. Y-DNA is a “male-specific” test that will trace the paternal line only, an Autosomal test that can be taken by a male or female and covers both sides of your parents’ ancestry, and the Mitochodrial DNA test can be taken by both males and females, but only reveals your maternal ancestry.

Tests can be purchased from companies like 23andMe, AncestryDNA, Family Finder, and MyHeritage, to name a few. If you received a test as a gift, take the time to learn which type of test it is and from which company. You will want and need to know this information, as it will help you understand how to interpret your results when they arrive.

DNA testing is genetic science, and the results read like science. It is confusing and hard to understand, so do your best to read up on it beforehand! Check our shelves for “The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy: How to Harness the Power of DNA to Advance Your Family Tree Research,” by Blaine T. Bettinger for starters, or visit the website of genetic genealogy leader Richard Hill at dna-testing-adviser.com to learn more.

Lastly, join one of our genealogy group sessions in the library to talk with a few of our resident genealogy DNA enthusiasts to learn more about uploading and reading your results. Our Silk City Genealogy Interest Group (GIG) meets the first Friday of each month at 10 am, and starting in January, we will offer a three-session Beginning Genealogy class, with the first session taking place Thursday, January 30 at 10 am.

Summer “Sure Bet” Staff Picks

by Kelly

As library staff members, we get to see what you read every day. Don’t worry, we don’t judge. We love seeing the variety of books that walk out our doors with our patrons! From helping you find books on our shelves, checking them out for you, and sending you on your way, we are part of your reading process.  But what do we read, you may wonder? With summer in full swing, we’re sharing a bit of our reading world with you. These are “sure bet” titles for you to take with you on vacation, read in a hammock, or simply curl up to in the air conditioning.

Summer reads

Britney recommends:

Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. This book is total #squadgoals! Set in space, this team of misfits find themselves targeted by powerful governments when they stumble onto a secret that can change the fate of the galaxy.

Murder in the Reading Room by Ellery Adams. This cozy mystery, partially set at the Biltmore House, has everything you need—rare books, secret societies, adventure, and murder!


Betty recommends:

What We Keep: 150 People Share One Object that Bring Them Joy, Magic, and Meaning, by Bill Shapiro.

Country Living Tiny Homes: Living Big in Small Spaces edited by Caroline McKenzie.

Both of these titles are great books for lazy-day browsing, filled with wonderful photos.


Zach recommends:

Malazan Book of the Fallen series, by Steven Erikson. A sprawling nine-book fantasy series that reaches across four continents. Full of magic, humor, and compassion, you’ll feel sad to finish the final pages of this beautiful series.


Janelle recommends:

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Steward. If you like quirky characters, plot twists, and writing that celebrates inventive thinking, then this is a great summer selection for you. This book proves that when we harness the power of our differences to work together, amazing things can happen.

On Writing by Stephen King. This nonfiction narrative/informative blend is a unique book and fantastic read. Although it’s not an autobiography, King shares many memories (in a way that only he can) that reveal how his childhood and life shaped his work as a writer.



Olivia recommends:

Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan. A vibrant graphic novel with action that would please any 80’s summer blockbuster fan. The perfect read for a lazy summer night.


Kelly recommends:

Kill the Farm Boy by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne. This quirky, fun, fantasy adventure will have you hooked from chapter one. This book is great for fans of The Princess Bride and Monty Python-esque comedy. Rollicking fun.

While you are at it, read No Country for Old Gnomes, a just-released follow-up adventure by the same authors.

We hope you enjoy your summer, and all the reading you can fit into it!

Millay Into May

by Kelly

April is national poetry month, and with the month of May sneaking up around the corner, I would be remiss to miss the chance to talk about a few of my favorite poems and poets.

Poetry has been a long-standing favorite form of writing for me. From learning funny limericks in my younger years and trying my hand at Haiku, poetry wound its way into my heart at an early age. My high school and college years brought me close to the works of some of the greatest poets of all time.

Shakespeare’s timeless sonnets, Edgar Allan Poe’s eerie and haunting poems “Annabel Lee” and “The Raven”, and John Milton’s masterpiece “Paradise Lost”, which was written upon his sudden blindness, are favorites of mine. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “Paul Revere’s Ride”, as well as Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” are classics that should be read by all.

However, the one poet who stands out to me above the rest is Edna St. Vincent Millay, America’s third woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Named after St. Vincent’s Hospital where her uncle’s life was saved just before she was born in 1892, Vincent, as she was called, lived a life in carefree poverty, spoke her mind, and was raised by her single mother to be fiercely independent as well as an activist for women’s rights.

At the age of nineteen, Millay wrote what I consider to be the best poem of the twentieth century, a 200-plus line lyric poem titled “Renascence”. Written in the first person, this piece broadly encompasses the relationship of an individual to humanity and nature. Millay expresses through this work the feeling of empathy and taking on the pain and suffering of the world, to be ‘reborn’ with a new understanding and appreciation for life. Also known for her sonnets and short poems, Millay was a favorite of Jacqueline Kennedy whose daughter Caroline read “Memory of Cape Cod” at the former first lady’s funeral.

Millay died in 1950 at the age of 58. Her works of poetry are printed in several volumes, and the biography “Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay”, by Nancy Milford is a great read for anyone who wants to learn more about the fascinating life of this great American poet.


Book Review: Lethal White by Robert Galbraith

by Britney

I didn’t grow up a “Harry Potter kid.” In fact, I was already in college when the Harry Potter books came out. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t fall completely and utterly in love with J.K. Rowling’s fantastic wizarding world. Even now, having read the series multiple times, they still hold a sort of intangible magic for me.

That’s a lot to live up to.

So when I heard that J.K. Rowling was penning a new series – one for (gasp!) adults – I was skeptical. And also intrigued. What would she write about? Would it have any of the elements of Potter? Of magic? I waited in anticipation. I certainly did not expect the hero to be a surly, ex-military amputee detective with an addiction to cigarettes and beer. But man, oh, man, am I glad he is. Because I ❤ Cormoran Strike. He’s the kind of hero I can relate to – flawed, hates mornings, and is suspicious of everyone. My kind of guy. And his sidekick, Robin, is #girlgoals.

I devoured the first three books in the series, The Cuckoo’s Calling, The Silkworm, and Career of Evil. I loved them. And when British TV produced a 3-miniseries production for each of the existing books, I spent three sleepless nights watching them. (They are wonderful, by the way, and the cast is brilliant.) So when Lethal White was released, I breathed a sigh of relief. Finally, finally, I’d have some answers about things left up in the air at the end of Career of Evil. So, I read all 650 pages as fast as I possibly could. And this is what I discovered:

I am normally not a crime fiction reader. It’s not my go-to, as I don’t have the stomach AT ALL for blood and gore, or for children in peril. That said, if this series ran to 37 entries, I’d read every single one, and that’s a testament to Rowling’s skill as a writer. Her ability to meticulously plan a super complex plot without dropping a single thread is nothing short of amazing. Not only that, but her characters are unique and developed, not just caricatures, and I genuinely care about them and what happens to them. She makes me feel every raw rub of Strike’s prosthesis, so that I flinch when he takes a step; she makes me feel Robin’s bone-deep trauma when she has a panic attack; she makes me want to throttle Matthew for being such a selfish wanker. I become invested in these books, immersed in Strike and Robin’s adventures, in their danger, in their success, in their very survival.

I’m not going to lie – this book was a beast. And I may even go so far as to say that parts of it were a *bit* repetitive. But not to the point where I was annoyed, or ever lost interest. In fact, I think the repetition may have been done purposefully, to really drive home some of the themes.

I liked the further character development that took place in this book. Strike is in a semi-normal relationship, but he refuses to commit to any more than “casual.” He is focused on his business, and experiences something that makes him want to become closer with his family. He borderline acknowledges his feelings for Robin, and summarily refuses to act on them (even though I keep screaming inside for him to just kiss her, already). He makes some almost hilarious – but also heartbreaking – mistakes about Robin that show what a blind spot he has where she is concerned. And he is also a brilliant, brilliant investigator, as always. Robin is one of my favorite fictional characters. I love her grit and her bravery in the face of danger, and I also empathize with her in her impossible situation at home. I am constantly frustrated with her because she capitulates to Matthew and lets him treat her like she’s inadequate, yet simultaneously understand that she suffers from PTSD, and that Matthew is, in a way, her constant. It’s maddening. There are times in this book where she’s so far out of her element she has every right to mess up or refuse, but she doesn’t. And, in fact, she succeeds admirably. And when she *finally* has her say, it’s a beautiful thing.

The mystery in this book is very complex with a lot of moving parts that don’t seem to make any sense at all. But once those pieces start falling into place, and the threads start getting pulled tighter, the revelations are astounding. I must say I did guess the culprit, but not because it was obvious, or predictable; rather I just didn’t like the character, because I don’t like that type of person, and was predisposed against them and wanted them to be guilty. 🙂

Overall, a wonderful addition to the Strike saga. If you like mysteries with a low level of yuck but a high level of intrigue, give this series a try.