Meet Kelly

by Kelly

Family history and genealogy research has been a passion of mine for many years. I am thrilled that my new role here at Alvah N. Belding Memorial Library allows me to bring this passion to the public during monthly meetings of the newly formed “Silk City Genealogy Interest Group (GIG)”.

As a “teacher” of genealogy for the past four years, I repeatedly preach to those willing to listen to me, the importance of seeking out records and information from places where your ancestor lived. Small places such as libraries, historical societies, and museums, whose collections do not always make it to the internet, but likely contain gold nuggets of information that cannot be found elsewhere.

Taking my own advice, and desperately wanting to register my husband as a Son of the American Revolution, I immediately poured through the holdings of the library’s local history collection on my first day of work. Knowing that my husband’s family settled in Ionia county for a length of time, I was hoping to make a connection beyond his third-great-grandfather that would tie his family into Abial Worden, a Private from Connecticut who fought in the Revolutionary War.

Using online resources, I could not make the connection I needed to advance the male Worden line and prove the parentage of Pardon Worden, Sr. (my husband’s fifth-great-grandfather) as Abial Worden, though that is where my assumption leads me. However, genealogy is based on proof, not assumptions, so I needed something more.

To my delight, I came across a rather large collection of local family histories on the shelves of the Belding library. Family histories are a great resource! Researched and compiled by family members with personal knowledge of that family and its history, I struck gold. On the shelf were two volumes of the genealogy of Pardon Worden, Sr. and Pardon Worden, Jr., compiled by different authors, but containing the same information.

These books were researched and compiled thirty years prior, and have been safely kept in the library, just waiting for someone like myself to come along. Both volumes are full of careful research, loaded with names and dates and places that I can use to further my research, including one important name listed in generation seven: Abial Worden, a direct ancestor of my husband.  I am still jumping for joy!

I still have much research to do, but my suspicions have been confirmed, and I now have dates and place names to help me on my way. As an added bonus, these books also contained many family photographs, including that of Pardon Worden, Jr., whom I have never seen.

Do you have ancestors from Ionia County? If you do, the library just might have the hidden gem you need to move your research forward.

I would love to help you research your family tree and teach you the finer points of genealogy the first Friday of each month at 10 a.m. at the new GIG. The first meeting is October 6. All meetings are open to the public and for all levels of researchers. I can’t wait to help you catch the genealogy bug.

Scallywags, Scoundrels, and… Librarians?

by Britney

I think in another life, I must have been a pirate.  It’s the only (acceptable) explanation I can think of for my love of books about scallywags and scoundrels.  Give me a morally ambiguous character with a dark agenda and a shady crew, and you’ve got my attention.

Methinks it has to do with the fact that those types of characters are so much more interesting than other, more honorable and straight-laced lads (and ladies).  There are always motives other than are initially apparent, hidden perils, and higher stakes.  And muskets, and knives, and all manners of explosives!

I’ve read a couple of books lately that absolutely sing to my black heart, so I thought I’d tell you a little bit about one, just in case there are readers out there who share my love of questionable characters and their equally dodgy exploits.  It’s a proper pirate-y book, caravel and all.

416OtR9YEzL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The Girl From Anywhere by Heidi Heilig

“It is not difficult to tell the future of a woman who only has a past.”

This book is extremely unique in that it’s a time travel book, but not really.  I mean, yes, it has time travel, but it’s not wholly about time travel.

The plot is very intricate and complicated (but not overly hard to follow), but here’s the gist of it: there’s a crew of time-traveling pirates who navigate from place to place and time to time using maps of all sorts as a means of transportation.  Maps can only be used once (a navigation is a one-way trip), and any map can be sailed into – even ones of mythical places (hello – Atlantis, anyone?).  Here’s what you really need to know: it’s (mostly) set in 19th century Hawaii, there’s a lost love, a heist, oodles at stake, and a pocket-sized dragon.

One of the things that immediately drew me to this book was its use of maps.  I am obsessed with maps.  One of the first things my dad taught me as a kid was how to read maps.  He believed that as long as I knew how to read a map, I could never get lost.  (I can’t tell you how many times this skill has been useful.  GPS? Who needs it? Not this girl.) When my grandmother died, one of the things I kept of hers was her collection of National Geographic maps, saved from the magazines she had collected since the 50s.  Anyway, I super duper smooch maps of all kinds.  And this book played right into that love.  Cartography, authenticity, accuracy, dates, places – these are all elements which advance the plot of this book.  And the introduction of maps from all different places/times lend a broad scope to the narrative, and makes history, mythology, and the future all immediately relevant.  (So, just, cool and clever, and #writergoals.)

This book also has a fantastic cast of characters.  The diversity  in the crew of the Temptation is authentic to the situation and the setting.  It’s nonsensical to think that a pirate crew would be composed all of one shade of the rainbow.  (Insert eye-roll emoji here.)  Nix, the main character, is of caucasian/Chinese descent; Kashmir (<3) is Persian; Bee is African and a lesbian; and Slate, the captain of the ship, wrestles with drug addiction.  I felt like the characters ring as authentic without being overtly token, and without their status being pushy.  Nothing feels forced; nothing feels patronizing.  There is no political aim here; it’s just a very real example of an author being brave enough to write reality.

It’s books like this one that make me appreciate YA literature.  It represents all the best things fiction has to offer: action, adventure, a moral conundrum, strong female characters, strong male characters, diversity, education… I could go on for a while.  I’d recommend it as an excellent read to anyone interested in time travel, pirates, pre-Union Hawaii, maps, ships, or pocket-dragons.  I’d give it a PG rating (it’s clean, with very few mild expletives), and would have no problem handing it to any of my tween/teen patrons.  Additionally, it’s part of a duology (yay!), so there’s more Nix, Kash, and Slate after you’ve finished this one!  (The sequel is called The Ship Beyond Time.)

And if you like books like this, here are a couple good choices for read-alikes.  (And strangely, all three of these books are parts of duologies):

20983362Passenger by Alexandra Bracken                                                    This book features Etta, a new time traveler who must search through time and space (oh, be still my Doctor Who-loving heart) for answers to her past, and for an object of treasure to help unravel secrets of her family and their strange gifts.  Though I didn’t enjoy this title quite as much, it’s still a really fun read, based on an interesting take on time-navigation.  This book is followed by Wayfarer.


blackhearts-9781481432696_hrBlackhearts by Nicole Castroman                                                Ahoy, fans of Blackbeard!  Though there be no time travel in this book, there are pirates aplenty!  As well as scoundrels and scalawags, and all manner of roguish rakes.  Here be the story of Blackbeard in his early years, and of the girl who loves him, then breaks his heart, setting him on a path of plunder and destruction.  And oh, what a story it is.  This book is followed by Blacksouls.



One of my very favorite parts of my job as a librarian is getting to recommend great books like these to people who come into my library.  And though I love to read, and would do it anyway, I am grateful that I get to work in a place that allows me to combine many of my loves (reading, writing, programming, people) in such exciting ways.

Until next time!



Meet Stefanie

by Stefanie

As Britney mentioned in a previous post (here), there are several new faces at the Alvah N. Belding Library these days. I’m one of them. My name is Stefanie Reed, and I am the new Youth and Teen Librarian. So those of you who have kids or teens, or ARE kids or teens — you are likely to see me around a lot. I’ll be in the children’s area, giving story times and playing with Legos. And I’ll be in the teen section, coming up with crafts, brainstorming ideas for our new MakerSpace kits, or trying to resist the urge to check out every single new Young Adult novel that sounds awesome (which is most of them). Either way, I’m going to look really excited to be here.

I took the scenic route to becoming a librarian.

For a long time, I kept coming up with ideas that coincided with things I love but still didn’t quite fit. I wanted to be a teacher, but the classroom didn’t quite suit me. I majored in history, but only because I loved reading up on it. I wanted to write fiction (and still do), so I got my MFA in fiction writing, though it took me a while to find my voice. It was only after I finished that master’s degree, after I had a job writing training materials for software, that I had my “oh my gosh, why didn’t I think of this before?” moment. I then immediately enrolled in ANOTHER master’s program, this time in Library Science.

That’s when all the pieces clicked into place. I plugged away at the degree online, studying around my full time work schedule. I took courses on services and books for children and teens and thought, “Yes, this right here is my favorite thing.” Then at the end of my coursework, I spent a few months working in the teen department at my local library.

It was the coolest thing I had ever gotten to be a part of. I just knew I had made the right choice.

I am so excited to be the new librarian here, and about finding new ways to reach out to the infant through young adult patrons here, as well create new patrons out of as many Belding kids as possible. I’m looking forward to sharing my love of reading children’s, middle grade and YA books with the kids (and adults) of our community, as well as all the
other fun things we can enjoy together. This could include making whatever we can think of, from artwork to knitted scarves to robots. Or playing games, from Trivial Pursuit to Apples to Apples to Dungeons and Dragons. This could include any number of things that neither of us has thought of yet, but once we do… it’s going to be awesome, creative and fun for everyone. I’m excited to meet and get to know all of you. Please feel free to track me down with your program, club, or book ideas. I want to make this a children’s and teen space that belongs to all of us.

And in case you were wondering, here is a list of a few of my favorite children’s, middle grade and YA:

519by0nhlml-_sx331_bo1204203200_Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
418xpelsrrl-_sx332_bo1204203200_Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
61dbwxuoknl-_sx331_bo1204203200_Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
51rkaehccyl-_sx331_bo1204203200_This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
51fzgmsrnrl-_sx375_bo1204203200_The Arrival by Shaun Tan
61quopxsoul-_sx409_bo1204203200_Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty
51qkj6eijfl-_sx452_bo1204203200_Robot Zombie Frankenstein! By Annette Simon
615eizrnrel-_sy498_bo1204203200_Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henke
51fxrxgd5bl-_sx310_bo1204203200_The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson
51fwqbmjbvl-_sx334_bo1204203200_The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
51h0sd99b8l-_sx330_bo1204203200_Rules for Ghosting by A.J. Paquette
51gkt9arrll-_sx328_bo1204203200_Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
51maszxex8l-_sx317_bo1204203200_Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
512grttuoll-_sx342_bo1204203200_The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
61yixfnlvxl-_sx319_bo1204203200_Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar
515ot2b3tanl-_sx338_bo1204203200_There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom by Louis Sachar
Pretty much anything by Louis Sachar

Library Remnants, New Life, & Poetry

This week, ANBL Library Life is pleased to highlight a guest post from an avid library supporter.   This post originally appeared on her blog

Guest Post by H.S. Deurloo

So I’m a bit of a book hoarder and when I see a pile of free books it’s hard to resist rummaging through each worn title. Sometimes I find a subject I’m genuinely curious about and want to read- great. But what about the two dozen that don’t have a happy home?

Book art.

Have you been online to see some of the gorgeous creations you can make out of these old tomes? It’s astounding.

Have you finished ogling other’s creativity? Good, because it’s now time to do your own. A dear friend challenged me to try poetry. “I’m not into it,” I said feeling the ghost of poetry past too close to bear. “This is different,” she said handing me a piece of paper containing a page from Gone With the Wind.

“This is black-out poetry,” tossing me a thick permanent marker. I feel like I’m a vandal sneaking into someone’s home, except it’s a book.

I felt bad at first, crossing off all the words on the single page that didn’t speak to me, but as I continued it felt freeing. These are someone else’s words but crossing them off based on my mood, my environment, or my feelings make the words mine.

hannah blog 1

I’m not forcing it, it’s just fluid and organic.

So pick up a remnant title (come on they’re free!) and make your own black-out journal. One page or a two page spread a day and by the end of the book you will have a spectrum of journaling like you’ve never had before.

When you finish the last page close the book and cross out the author’s name with your marker and write in your own because this is your book now.

Happy Questing!

Nature’s First Green is Gold

by Britney

Autumn has always been my favorite time of year.  I love the turn from hot to cool (and with it, tuck away my shorts and tank tops and pull out my jeans and sweaters), feel an intense desire to be outside, and happily spend yet another season a devoted subject of the Pumpkin King. (I don’t even mind raking leaves.)  Autumn is more than just a season to me; it is a feeling deep in my soul.

tyler fallOne of my favorite memories of the time I spent living in New York was being there during Halloween, and taking my son on an adventure to Sleepy Hollow (yes, it’s a real place) to poke around the town, its historic sites, and, at the end of the day, experience Horseman’s Hollow, a haunted house experience terrifying in a way only Halloween in Sleepy Hollow can be.  It was low 60s and overcast with a little bit of a breeze; the type of day you can wear your boots, a sweater, and a scarf without looking ridiculous, and can drink mulled cider with a cinnamon stick and not look pretentious.  The village was quaint and oozed nostalgia, and it seemed like every step we took brought us one step closer to meeting Katrina VanTassel, Ichabod Crane, and the Headless Horseman.  That day is one of those crystalline moments in time that shines in a way that makes most other days look dull.

It’s long been said that autumn is a season of change.  Here, at the Library, we’re experiencing that firsthand.  We’re looking at several “changes” here.  Some of them are exciting, some of them are bittersweet, but all of them are opportunities for the Library to expand and grow.

If you’re a regular at the Library, you’ve no doubt noticed quite a few new faces.  Sadly, we’ve had to say goodbye to some staff members, as they left us to take embark on fantastic new adventures.  We will miss them, their contributions to the Library, and the strengths they brought to our team here, but we wish them all the best and know they’ll be outstanding in their new positions.  The individuals who have recently joined Team Library are enthusiastic, energetic, and have their own strengths and areas of expertise that we know will be great assets to the Library.  Additionally, one of our Library Cornerstones has retired, and we will miss her dearly with our collective Library heart.

One of the characteristics of change is the necessity of looking forward.  So, in light of greeting the future with positivity and excitement, here are some of the things we’re looking forward to this fall:

  • New Services – We are rolling out several new things this fall.  These include things for all ages.  Some of our new offerings are services-related, some are programming-related, and some are collection-related.  Here’s just a small sampling:
    • For Adults: Passport Packs – These kits are subject-based, and contain several types of materials (books, music CDs, DVDs).  Kindles – We will be adding three more Kindles (Inspirational, Romance, and Christmas).  Services – We will be offering notary services.  Programming – We will be offering regular adult programming year-round.  Board Games – We will be circulating an entire collection of board games.  Additionally, we will be offering specialty Programming for Seniors the second Tuesday of each month.
    • For Teens: MakerSpace Kits – These boxes will include electronics kits, levers and magnetics kits, and Busy Boxes. These boxes will be in the Teen area, and will be available for Teens to use while in the Library.  ProgrammingWe will be offering regular and specialty Teen programming, and hope that our Teens think of the Library as “their” place.  Board Games – We will be circulating an entire collection of board games.
    • For Kids: LaunchPads – These pre-loaded tablets are age-appropriate, and are full of fun learning games!  Discovery Packs – We have fifteen brand new packs on a variety of subjects and with a variety of materials.

So, as we go forward into a new season and a new chapter at the Library, we look backward with appreciation at what we’ve accomplished and those who helped us do so, and we look forward with anticipation at where our Library adventures will take us.