Monday, August 17, 2009

Update: Our library will stay open, fewer hours and staff, but open. Yeah.

Nothing sickens me more than the closed door of a library.
- Barbara Tuchman

This past Wednesday someone who had been sitting in budget meetings told me that because of California’s money problems worst case scenario is that two of the five public libraries in my county will close--including the one that is a vital part of my personal eco-system. This inspired me to wage a frantic email assault on my county supervisors and to become maudlin over the following quotations:

Knowledge is free at the library. Just bring your own container.

Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library. The only entrance requirement is interest.
- Lady Bird Johnson

A library is thought in cold storage.
- Herbert Samuel

Your library is your portrait.
- Holbrook Jackson

A circulating library in a town is as an evergreen tree of diabolical knowledge! It blossoms through the year!
- Richard Brainsley Sheridan

They are the books, the arts, the academes,
That show, contain and nourish all the world.
- William Shakespeare, Love's Labour's Lost

With special thanks to from whom I have borrowed liberally in a good cause!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Thoughs on a Summer Morning

Lord, worthy, merciful and true, you pick up pieces,
all my shattered, mismatched pieces and mend my life.
But, Potter whose hands shape high and stately vessels,
why would you come to save these shards of mine
when, Wounded King, mine are the jagged bits
that tore your feet, when you limped up that hill?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Wandering the WWW in Search of Truth!

One witness is not enough . . . . A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. Deut. 19:15 NIV

To begin, offers the excellent article “Evaluating Internet Research Sources.” My early Internet research brought the need for fact- checking even on reputable sites home to me in grim fashion and even though that experience would make amusing reading, I’ll not tell on myself here.

I will say the Internet has opened the world to me. I especially appreciate China related forums such as:

Through these I have met patient, knowledgeable people who have answered untold questions on their forums and I have found email friends from Beijing to Shanghai willing to answer even more questions. I have also met some cranky curmudgeon types who have set me straight on more than one occasion and to whom I am indebted.

The Internet Public Library features a convenient service called Ask an IPL Librarian in which the IPL's dedicated on line volunteer staff answers reference questions for visitors to This staff of volunteers is amazing. Whenever I ask them a question, I learn insider secrets of Internet research as well as receiving a thoughtful answer including all sources. After you have worn out your welcome with your local reference librarians, you can still anonymously bug these fine folks. Not that I would know anything about worn welcomes personally, you understand.

My most delightful Internet discovery (more about that later) came through the venerable search engine pioneer , however offers the choice of an astounding number of search engine possibilities as well as bunches of other useful stuff. It’s great fun to start there and spend the day chasing down research rabbit-trails. It was at the end of just such a research adventure that I met fifth-generation master Chinese puppeteer Yang Feng. Through his son-in-law Dmitri Carter I was able to ask this incredible gentleman questions about Tang dynasty string puppets for my fourth children’s book, The Warlord’s Puppeteers. Although this kind and gifted man died the summer before the book’s publication, he had left instructions that his copy—the only payment he required for his help—be personalized to his grandson. Additional information about Yang Feng’s life may be obtained from

If my world wide web research had only ever netted my email meeting with Yang Feng, it would have still been my greatest tool for getting it right for kids.