Local Authors Take Note: The Evanston Literary Festival Book Fair Needs You

March 13, 2019

Great news for writers in town. For the second year in a row the Evanston Literary Festival (or ELF) will feature a book fair where local authors can present their titles. The 2019 ELF Book Fair will take place at the Evanston Public Library on Saturday, May 11, 2019 from 2-5 pm and is intended to showcase Evanston authors, presses, and literary organizations. Tables are provided free of charge.

To apply for a table at the 2019 ELF Book Fair, please complete the form found at https://goo.gl/forms/6VigHvYZOtjyRj4D3. Note that space is limited and submitting an application does not guarantee a spot at the fair. All types of books (including books for all ages) will be considered and authors, presses and literary organizations who apply will be selected to participate based on the following criteria:

1) The significance of their connection to the Evanston community. For example, authors who live or work in Evanston, presses and organizations that are based in Evanston and books about an Evanston topic will be given preference.

2) The ready availability of their books or services. Authors and presses offering print books and organizations currently serving the Evanston community will be given preference.

3) The publication date of their books. Preference will be given to books published after January 2018.

The deadline for applying is April 1, 2019. Applicants will be notified by April 15, 2019 if they’ve been selected for a spot at the fair. If selected, exhibitors are encouraged to sell their books at the event but will be responsible for handling all sales. They must also attend all 3 hours of the fair.

Know a local author? Let them know about our fair! Consider this a great way to buy local, meet writers, and connect to the Evanston literary scene.


What Evanston Readers Love to Read the Most (Nonfiction Edition!)

October 26, 2017

I have many fun tools to play with at the library. Tools that tell me when items haven’t circulated in years and years. Tools that inform me how well I’m keeping up with popular materials. Tools that tell me when an item on the shelf is “grubby”.  That last tool is an interesting one. Basically, it informs me as to which materials have circulated the most. From this list I’m able to reorder those books and switch out the gross with the shiny.

In theory.

In practice a lot of the books with the most circulations are out-of-print or the devil to find online.

Today we’re going to look at the true and factual books on our shelves with the highest circulations. What do Evanstonians like to read the most? Here’s a top ten list that may well surprise you:

  1. The Fall of Berlin, 1945 by Antony Beever

Description: The Red Army had much to avenge when it finally reached the frontiers of the Third Reich in January 1945. Frenzied by their terrible experiences with Wehrmacht and SS brutality, they wreaked havoc—tanks crushing refugee columns, mass rape, pillage, and unimaginable destruction. Hundreds of thousands of women are children froze to death or were massacred; more than seven million fled westward from the fury of the Red Army. It was the most terrifying example of fire and sword ever known. Antony Beevor has reconstructed the experiences of those millions caught up in the nightmare of the Third Reich’s final collapse. The Fall of Berlin is a terrible story of pride, stupidity, fanaticism, revenge, and savagery, yet it is also one of astonishing endurance, self-sacrifice, and survival against all odds.

2. Evanstoniana: An Informal History of Evanston and Its Architecture by Margery Perkins

Description: This book concentrates on Evanston’s rich legacy of houses, and also covers other kinds of architecture, including many past and present buildings of Northwestern University. Architects represented range all the way from Thomas Eddy Tallmadge to Walter Netsch. Architect Lawrence B. Perkins, husband of the late author, did several sketches for the book. For lagniappe, we even get a lacing of anecdotes such as the one about how Evanston gave the ice cream sundae its name.

3. Evanston by Barbara J. Buchbinder-Green

Description: A pictorial history of the city.

4. Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang

Description: The story of three generations in twentieth-century China that blends the intimacy of memoir and the panoramic sweep of eyewitness history—a bestselling classic in thirty languages with more than ten million copies sold around the world, now with a new introduction from the author. An engrossing record of Mao’s impact on China, an unusual window on the female experience in the modern world, and an inspiring tale of courage and love, Jung Chang describes the extraordinary lives and experiences of her family members: her grandmother, a warlord’s concubine; her mother’s struggles as a young idealistic Communist; and her parents’ experience as members of the Communist elite and their ordeal during the Cultural Revolution. Chang was a Red Guard briefly at the age of fourteen, then worked as a peasant, a “barefoot doctor,” a steelworker, and an electrician. As the story of each generation unfolds, Chang captures in gripping, moving—and ultimately uplifting—detail the cycles of violent drama visited on her own family and millions of others caught in the whirlwind of history.

5. West Side Story: A New Musical Based On a Conception of Jerome Robbins by Leonard Bernstein

Description: The score of the famous musical. An indication of the age of this item is the fact that the show is described as “new” in it subtitle.

6. The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön

Description: We always have a choice, Pema Chödrön teaches: We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us and make us increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder. Here Pema provides the tools to deal with the problems and difficulties that life throws our way. This wisdom is always available to us, she teaches, but we usually block it with habitual patterns rooted in fear. Beyond that fear lies a state of openheartedness and tenderness. This book teaches us how to awaken our basic goodness and connect with others, to accept ourselves and others complete with faults and imperfections, and to stay in the present moment by seeing through the strategies of ego that cause us to resist life as it is.

7. Barrel Fever: Stories and Essays by David Sedaris

Description: In David Sedaris’s world, no one is safe and no cow is sacred. Sedaris’s collection of essays and stories is a rollicking tour through the national Zeitgeist: a do-it-yourself suburban dad saves money by performing home surgery; a man who is loved too much flees the heavyweight champion of the world; a teenage suicide tries to incite a lynch mob at her funeral; a bitter Santa abuses the elves. With a perfect eye and a voice infused with as much empathy as wit, Sedaris writes stories and essays that target the soulful ridiculousness of our behavior. Barrel Fever is like a blind date with modern life, and anything can happen.

8. Evanston; Its Land and Its People by Viola Crouch Reeling

Description: As the book describes itself it is, “not a history in the accepted sense of the word, but is intended to be a narrative with historic value, citing great events and small happenings, and, except in a few instances, is carried only to the  year of 1900.”

9. The Not So Big House: A Blueprint for the Way We Really Live by Sarah Susanka

Description: The Not So Big House proposes clear guidelines for creating homes that serve spiritual needs as well as material requirements. Topics include designing for specific lifestyles, budgeting, building a home from scratch, and using energy-efficient construction.

10. All Sondheim by Stephen Sondheim

Description: A collection of the composer’s earliest works.


What I’ve Learned: The Particular Peculiarities of Evanston’s Readers

September 20, 2017

It’s been two years since I started as Evanston Public Library’s Collection Development Manager and I think I’m finally beginning to get a handle on what makes Evanston different from other communities around the country.  Sometimes the things you learn about your new hometown are instantly obvious. Sometimes the quirks come up at the most unlikely of moments.  Here then is a quick rundown of some of the most interesting things I’ve learned about the people who walk through our doors every day.

And the #1 Most Popular Book Display Is . . . . Grammar?

Since starting at this library I took the book displays under my wing. I like doing them. I like tending to them, like a little indoor garden. I like it particularly when they empty out. Book displays are incredibly useful when you have “dead” materials that haven’t circulated in years and need a new lease on life. Now I have done displays on midwifery, cancer, DIY projects, comics, funny books, cookbooks, you name it.  But the #1 most popular display I have ever done was on grammar / language / the roots of English.  No fooling.  I had just inspected the 400 section of the nonfiction books and to my chagrin a bunch of neat looking grammar books just weren’t circulating. Out of pity I made a display of them. Now this display wasn’t next to the elevators on the first floor or anything. No, it was on the back side of the second floor display. Not exact placed in the middle of foot traffic or anything. You wouldn’t know it by the way those books flew off the shelf, though. For the next two weeks I was repeatedly startled by the number of books that circulated. I couldn’t fill those shelves fast enough! So you heard it here first, folks.  When it comes to popularity, nothing appeals to Evanstonians more than the correct usage of the word “whom”.

By the way, if you count yourself among those grammar lovers, allow me to direct your attention to the recent Atlas Obscura article 30 Lost English Words That May Deserve a Comeback.

The MPEG File Has Nothing on the Old-Fashioned CD

You all know that when it comes to e-audiobooks, we’ve got you covered. You can get them instantly without waiting through our nifty Hoopla app or, if you’re willing to wait, you can put your favorite audiobook on hold through Overdrive’s new Libby app. But if you think the rise of e-audio means the demise of physical audiobooks, you have another thing coming. If anything, audiobooks are doing better these days than ever before. We recently had a vendor in that was trying to convince us that audiobooks are on their way out. They brought up some of our statistics and were flummoxed by the fact that here in Evanston our audiobooks show strong, healthy circulations. I’m even getting new suggestions for gaps. For example, a patron pointed out that audiobooks by African-American women need to be increased. Heard you loud and clear. Expect a significant increase from now on.

The Old Gray Lady Has Some Serious Pull

Every Monday I pluck the Book Review section of the New York Times from the 3rd floor and set about checking all the reviews, just to make sure we’re not missing anything. Having done this for a while, I’ve noticed that Evanstonians read the Times pretty faithfully, and take its books suggestions pretty seriously. If the Times likes something then I had better hope I bought lots of copies because that book is going to get some serious holds. Evanston readers read carefully too.  If a book in the Times gets a bad review, not a person in the world picks up the book they panned.

African-American Titles Do Well, and Large Print African-American Titles Do REALLY Well!

Don’t let anyone tell you that diverse books don’t circulate at Evanston Public Library. Titles by black authors may sometimes be difficult to find on our shelves because I failed to buy enough copies. This is something I’ve had to learn over time. Also, I only recently realized that while our fiction and nonfiction do well, it’s the Large Print titles that go out the most sometimes. FYI.

This Town Forced Me to Download a New App (There Are Worse Fates)

Here’s a familiar situation. I’m sitting at the information desk on the second floor of the library (which I do sometimes – stop by and say hi!) and a patron will call me up. “There was a book on NPR when I was driving yesterday that sounded really interesting. Do you have it?” This is a pretty common question and for a while I’d flounder about the NPR website trying to track the books there down. Now I’ve an easier tool at my disposal. The NPR app will allow you track and highlight only the book-related content they’ve produced. And, if I’m being particularly on the ball, this also allows me to buy books that people request as they request them.


Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood? Local Evanston Authors On Our Shelves

January 20, 2017

book coverWhen I tell you that Evanston is full of local authors, that information should hardly shock you.  Being as literary a community as we are, writers are liable to spring up whenever possible.  And, whenever possible, we do try to add their books to our library.  Of course, there are authors like Laurence Gonzales and Joseph Epstein, but you tend to already know about them.  Let’s highlight some of the books and authors you may not be quite as aware of.

Here is a very small sampling of books by your friends and neighbors that you can certainly check out and read whenever you care to:

The Experimental Society by Marshall S. Shapo

book cover

This book examines society’s responses to many kinds of experimentation, focusing on both creation of and assessment of risks. As people seek new ways to make their lives safer and happier, the widespread process of experimentation claims victims. Some of these are people who directly and willingly accept the risks of experiments. By comparison, some are effectively experimental subjects in the hands of others who often may not even think of themselves as experimenting with the lives of consumers.

Intricacies: Poems of the Heart by Joanna Kurowska

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“Joanna Kurowska’s latest collection of poems, Intricacies, burrows inside the heart and mind with spare, elegant writing, compact narratives of life, and lovely, lyrical language. In her quiet, soulful writing, Kurowska shines a light on the intricacies of life, faith, and our flawed humanity. The philosopher, poet, and academic, she composes vignettes of life that allow for nuance, while being rich in detail and wisdom. Kurowska has you questioning life, celebrating it, too. Boldly introspective, her poems linger with that rare combination of vision and intelligence.”

-Terry Loncaric
Author of Crashing in Velvet, Finishing Line Press

Brown Sky by David Covin

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David Covin was raised in Evanston and is a graduate of ETHS.  In this book Negro Sgt. Wilderness Jones introduces Negro 2nd Lt. Stephen Wenders to the reality of the U.S. Army, circa World War II, thus opening the b ook on the exploits of one of the most unique military outfits in American fiction- the Third Platoon of Company C of the 4748th Quarter -master Truck Battalion, headquartered at Camp Robinson, Arkansas . Unlike most Negro soldiers of World War II – whether of the real of fictional variety – men of the Third Platoon do not accept the illogic and idiocy of the Brown Sky philosophy . Instead, under the leadership of Stephen and Wilderness, the Third Platoon subverts segregation, disrupts army maneuvers, and faces down southern lawmen and hostile civilians.

 

Getaway with God by Letitia Suk

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What if there was a way to plug in and recharge your soul, not just your smartphone? What if a simple day away could transform your life? Getaway with God invites readers to step away from the incessant pressure of deadlines and demands to spend time with God. More to the point, it walks women through each step of designing their own retreat—whatever kind is needed. Content includes:

  • Step-by-step guidance and the necessary tools to enable any woman to plan an extended time away on any budget.
  • Detailed steps for preparation for a retreat.
  • Descriptions of three different kinds of retreats.
  • Templates for how to use each hour.
  • Guidance for how to design a five-day life-review retreat, including guided questions and ways to bring the retreat home.
  • Links for how to locate retreat centers nationwide.
  • Checklist for what to bring.

 

This title is currently in processing and is not in the library system quite yet.

Parables from the Outskirts of Polite Society by J.R. Summers

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Self Help, Life lessons, and Parables about relationships, money and wealth, forgiveness, and ultimately freedom. It’s like a reference manual for your life.

 


Libraries in Crisis? Librarian Says “Act Like Lady Gaga”

December 28, 2011

The Huffington Post has started a series on the status of libraries in the US. As I read this article, I noticed a quote from an Evanston resident regarding the closure of South Branch! At the heart of the discussion is the acknowledgment that the economy is weak and cities must cut back on expenses, but which jobs and what services should be cut?

Here in the Chicago area City Hall noted public outrage over projected cuts to the city library system. Given back: $ 3.3 million out of a proposed  $ 7 million decrease. Another article which details the statewide cuts shows that education and social services took the biggest hits this year in Illinois. On the optimistic side, here’s a blog post on why librarians should adopt an in-your-face attitude like that of Lady Gaga!

Shira S.


Beloved Bookman’s Alley Closing

November 11, 2011

Neil Steinberg’s column in the November 4 Chicago Sun-Times caught my attention when I saw the headline “Bad news out of Evanston”. Bookman’s Alley, which opened in 1980 has been a treasure trove of books, some rare, and art, and an Evanston haven for many book devotees.  According to the article, the store is closing in January 2012.  Go there now for their 30 percent off sale.

Laura


Two lakefront communities–one big, one small: comparing Chicago and Evanston

November 3, 2011

         On last Wednesday’s edition of WBEZ’s Eight Forty-Eight, host Alison Cuddy shared the mike with two guests, TribLocal reporter Jonathan Burlington and WBEZ’s Director of Corporate Sponsorship and Business Development, Paul Friedman. Cuddy posed intriguing questions about the current state of budget negotiations in both communities and invited comparisons. There were a number of comments about the question of library funding, and how the two communities might differ in reacting to drastic cuts in hours and service. Listen to the broadcast here.

Barbara L.


Local Library Auction Action

May 7, 2010

In case you haven’t heard, Evanston’s libraries are in a tight spot. Due to lack of funding, the Evanston Public Library is set to close its North and South branch locations at the end of the summer. But we’re not going without a fight! The Evanston Public Library Friends have been valiantly hitting the streets, raising money, spreading the word, and talking to people about saving our local libraries. Starting May 15th, you too can get in on the very worthwhile action of saving your libraries and bolstering your community strength and spirit, all without leaving the comfort of your home. Continue reading “Local Library Auction Action”


A Mighty Wind Part II

Following up on Monday’s post about Cape Wind, this just in from this week’s Chicago Reader: a strange confluence of wind-powered happenings right here in Evanston. The Evanston City Council has begun looking into erecting a 40 turbine wind farm in Lake Michigan. In mid-April the Council issued a request for information on the project in order to research the feasibility and possible benefits of such a farm for the Evanston community. Will the Evanston wind farm stir up the same kind of controversy as Cape Wind? Time will tell. And in other wind related news, Windfall, a new documentary film about the downside of wind power will be screening in Evanston tonight, 05/07/10, at the Hinman Theater in the Hotel Orrington as part of the Talking Pictures Festival. Check out the Reader article for the full story.