Top Ten Tuesday: Cool Libraries

Top Ten Tuesday

Welcome to another contribution to the wildly popular Top Ten Tuesday hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week she asks us to share lists on the following:

October 16: Bookstores/Libraries I’ve Always Wanted to Visit

Being a librarian I’m going to make this list about libraries.  Not really sure if I have a library visit bucket list so I’m going to head over to Google and simply put in cool libraries and see what the Guru brings me.

Ten libraries I would love to visit.

  1. Related image State of Iowa Law Library:  Why not start fairly close to home.  This is a beautiful library in Des Moines that I could easily stop at if I took the time.  Maybe this October when we are in tow to see Fall Out Boy. Update:  This is one library I am able to check off my list.  We did stop and check out this library on October 5th, after I had written up this post.  It is a beautiful library and if anyone is in Des Moines I highly recommend checking it out.  Free to visit and you can even go up one of the spiral staircases.  It is much smaller than the pictures lead you to believe.  
  2. Image result for winter garden harold washington library Harold Washington Library Chicago:  This is a library that I’ve actually been to.  The picture is of the Winter Garden on the top floor but the building itself is beautiful and a great place to visit while in town.
  3. Image result for ataturk library Ataturk Library Istanbul:  Now I have been to a library in Turkey but I can’t believe I never visited this library in Istanbul.  I have even visited the area of the city it is in.  Regularly!  If I ever get back to Turkey I am going to make an effort to visit more libraries.
  4. Image result for ataturk library Library of Celsus, Ephesus Turkey:  One more cool library I’ve actually been to. This, of course, is not currently a working library but is, in fact, the ruins of the third largest library of the ancient world.  It is a beautiful spot to visit and I hope to go back again someday.
  5. Image result for Trinity College Library Dublin, Ireland Trinity College Library Dublin, Ireland:  I recently learned that I am 12%(update on this too, reanalysis shows I’m only 4 % Irish), Irish so it might be fun to visit this library if I ever get to take a trip to Ireland.
  6. Image result for Bodleian Library Oxford U.K. Bodleian Library Oxford U.K.:  This library makes my list because it is where Diana met Matthew in Discovery of Witches.  I also happen to be 15% English (Update on this as well, I am actually 60% English and NW European) so when I visit Ireland I would like to visit the United Kingdon as well.
  7. Image result for  Joe and Rika Mansueto Library University of Chicago Joe and Rika Mansueto Library University of Chicago:  Again another library I can’t believe I haven’t visited!  I even visited the University of Chicago this summer.  Dammit.  Oh, Well at least I know what buses will take me back for a visit!
  8.  Library of Congress Washington DC:  Being the political buff that I am I would love to visit the Library of Congress.  I might wait until the current administration leaves off though…
  9.  Library at Pontifical Lateran University Rome Italy: This is on the list because I really want to visit Italy sometime in my life and have 0% interest in visiting the Vatican.
  10.  Image result for newberry library chicago Newberry Library Chicago:  I keep meaning to visit this library in Chicago when I’m in town.  Mainly because it was featured in The Time Traveler’s Wife.

What Libraries do you love?  Share in the comments!


Thursday Thoughts: Overdue books.



This Thursday I would like to talk to you a little about overdue books.  I came up with the idea of this topic while working on the current overdue books this week at my library.

First off let me just say this, it happens.  Life gets in the way, we get busy, our schedule changes and we forget to renew or return a book.  No. Big. Deal.  Really.  If a librarian gives you a hard time about not returning a book, you are either a repeat offender or they are having a bad day.  Try not to take it personally.  Unless you are a repeat offender, then try to figure out why you can’t seem to get your books back on time and work on changing that.

Second, the most important advice I can give you is to return the book or item!  Even if you can’t pay the fine, the library just wants to get their items back so it can be made available to other patrons. Also think how frustrating it might be for someone to be anxiously waiting on that book they want to read only to have it be held up by someone who forgets or is afraid to return it to the library.

But I’m afraid of what my fine might be?  Most libraries will work with you on the fine, and usually you have to reach a certain $ amount before you even lose library privileges.  Find an item that has been out for weeks or months?  Worried that you might even owe more than the book is worth?  Well try not to worry, most libraries have a maximum amount in fines an item can reach.  For example my library’s fine are 10 cents a day with the maximum amount any item can rack up in fines is $5.  Now if you have five things overdue that are maxed out it can still rack up, but at least return the book so the fine stops growing!

What if I’ve lost the book, or my new puppy ate it? Go into the library and talk to them.  Again these things happen and you can always pay to have the item replaced.  DON’T go out and buy another one to replace it though.  Libraries often can get the book for cheaper through their distributors, and if your library is like ours they will only charge you what it costs them to buy a new version of the book you need to replace.  We aren’t going to judge you, but we appreciate it when you are being honest with us!  We want you to use the library and most librarians will go to great lengths to make sure any situation is worked out fairly for everyone!

Remember that overdue library books happen to everyone.  Even librarians, and if we can’t get our book back on time when we freaking work there…well, see how we can understand your situation.  However, keep in mind that in many states it is against the law to not return library books.  Seriously. Now it is going to take a lot for a library to resort to turning you into the police, but it can happen.  So just return the book.  Even if you don’t want to face us to do so, drop it in the return box.  At least the library will have their books back and you will have a clean conscience.

So what do you think?  Are you afraid to return overdue library books?  What is your library’s policy on overdues?  Have any creative ways that your library lets you pay off fines?  Share in the comments!

Thursday Thoughts: Money Saved!


As many of you know this is National Library Week!  You also might know that I am co-hosting the #ReadingMyLibrary Challenge with Stefani @ Caught Read Handed.  This Thursday I thought I would share with you all how much money I’ve saved by reading library books this month.  So far I’ve checked out a total of 10 items from my various libraries and saved a grand total of $152.89.

WOW!  I am sold, not that I wasn’t before, but that is some serious money your library can save you.  Which is great because one of those reads was a DNF, just think how much it would have hurt to not finish a title that cost $27.95 retail.   Also I would like to note that total is the full retail hardcover price of those books, not second-hand or reduced Amazon rates.  So the savings could fluctuate if I had found them at cheaper outlets.

I am going to keep track, over at Goodreads, of all the books I borrow from my library this year and see what it adds up to at the end of the year.  If I’ve save $152 in just 16 days imagine how much money that would be in a year.

I know this might frustrate some author followers.  This is your livelihood after all.  You don’t get paid if people don’t buy your books. however, if I love a library book, I will sometimes go out and buy my very own copy, so see libraries help sell books too.  So, after this year’s buying ban expires, I am going to go back to occasionally purchasing, at full retail price,  book releases by my favorite authors.  I read well over 100-150 titles a year!  I just can’t afford to pay for all the books I read, I would be broke and couldn’t afford to feed my critters.

I also need to get over having the physical book, and buy more ebooks, less clutter.  Especially after I move all the books in my personal library to their new room.  I am going to be ruling the day I invested in so many hardcovers then.  It will be worth it though.  They will have a new location in a much nicer room with a cozy reading nook and I will be getting a brand new craft room.  I’ll post pics when done.

So how much money could you save by reading more library books?


Monday Morning Question: A Challenge!



Good Monday Morning everyone!  I hope you all had a great weekend and got in more reading than I managed.  We are working on spring cleaning here at the Softa house and it has seriously cut into my reading time and somehow managed to make my house even more of a mess…  We hope to hold a yard sale and my dining room has become the holding room for everything we wish to sell.

Anyway, I also wanted to wish you all Happy National Library Week.  So this week I am going to issue you a challenge instead of a question.

I challenge you to visit your local library and check out a book (or several)!

If you don’t have a library card this would be a great week to get your very own and put it to some good use.  Libraries also have movies, audio books, magazines and often e-books for their patrons borrowing pleasures so go see what your local branch has to offer.  Then come back and tell me what you checked out in the comments!


You also still have until April 15 to join us for the Reading My Library Challenge.  All you have to do is read one library book in the month of April to participate!  More details and sign-up on the page (linked through the banner), but we are having two giveaways and a scavenger hunt to start April 16.

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So go check out a library book, come back and share what it is and sign up for the challenge.  Not a bad way to spend a Monday.  Happy library reading.

Monday Morning Question: Checkout?



Good Monday morning everyone!  I hope you had a better weekend than I did.  I have been struggling to get into a book that I expected to love and zip through.  This month I am co-hosting the #ReadingMyLibrary Challenge so I thought it fitting to make all the Monday questions about libraries.  So this morning I’m going to ask you:

If you could check out ANYTHING from a library what would you like to borrow?

Libraries are more than just books.  Some offer special collections for their patrons to borrow.  Just here in Iowa I know of libraries that offer cake pans and Halloween costumes.  I’ve read articles and comments in the library list server about borrowing seed for gardens, knitting supplies, fishing poles, toys, musical instruments, and bicycles!  So libraries are offering all sorts of things for their patrons to try.

Personally I would love it if I belonged to a library that offered the garden seeds.  That one works by you borrowing some seeds, grow the plant and then donate back some of the seeds that you grew or from a different plant. I think obscure cooking tools might be need too.  How often do you bake an angel food cake for instance,  but it needs a special pan.  It would be nice to be about to go and borrow one to bake a cake for the special occasion and then return it when done.   How about a pet carrier for trips to the vet? Or hair clippers so you can give your husband a hair cut.

So how about you?

What interesting items would you like to be able to check out from your library?

Monday Morning Question: Book Challenges?



Good Monday morning everyone!  I hope you all had a productive weekend of reading and are ready for a brand new week.  We had lovely weather here in Eastern Iowa and I spend much of my time trying to convince a horny peacock not to beat the crap out of a Honda Civic….  Ah, spring is in the air and my peacock Manny is bound and determine to chase off that strange new bird here to take his hens.  Bleeping birds.  While dealing with bird drama I did manage to get some reading in.  Finished two books and a good chunk of another that I am reading for the Book Blogger’s Club.  We are reading The Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons.  I wasn’t sure what I thought at first, but I managed to read half of it in an afternoon, so I must not hate it that much.

Anyway, I’ve been working on another project with Stafani @ Caught Read Handed, #Reading My Library Challenge.  You are more than welcome to join us it should be a lot of fun and pretty laid back challenge, but still be a lot of fun! I’m super excited to be co-hosting the challenge, my first time, and hope we have a good turn-out of bloggers.  I am looking forward to seeing what everyone reads.   This brings my total number of challenges up to four this year, which I think is plenty for my first year participating, especially since I’m co-running one of them.  How about you?  do you enjoy partaking in reading challenges?  What sort do you like to sign up for?  Do you want a reward or is the sense of accomplishment enough?  What turns you off of a reading challenge?  I’d love to hear your thoughts, and I’d love it even more if you signed up for #ReadingMyLibrary challenge in April and help us bring awareness to others of how great public libraries really are!

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Thursday Thoughts: Amazon Unlimited


Amazon Unlimited has been in the news for a while now, in fact it isn’t even ‘breaking’ news anymore having fallen off the radar as society moved onto the next new topic to catch our ever-shortening attention spans.  I just haven’t talked about it on the blog and was searching for a topic for this week’s post, so voila lets discuss Amazon Unlimited.

Many of my readers and friends know how I feel about Amazon (not a fan) from posts here or over on Facebook.  I don’t care for their business practices (monopolies are not good things people) and know that I refuse to review books that are only available through them.   I have broken up with authors that suddenly limit their books to Amazon and will only buy anything through them if it is a last resort and I have extinguished all other options.  I do post reviews there for authors I review, but will NOT buy a book though Amazon.  I want brick and mortar book stores to continue to exist and Amazon is doing its damnedest to wipe them from the planet to be the only show in town.  Now, it appears, that they have set their sights on libraries as well.

So rather than just rail against this new service they are offering, I read some articles and even went to Amazon and checked it out.  I’m not impresses (did you think I would be…).  So they are charging $9.99 + tax to borrow as many books each month from their some 600,000 titles available in the program plus some audio book selections.  I did browse through the titles they have to offer and again, not impressed.  Sure they have some big names (Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Lord of the Rings, etc.), but I did not see big name new releases from popular authors.  The new releases that they do offer seem to be the ones that they have control of the rights to, or from publishing houses too afraid to tell them no.

Did I see books there I would read?  Sure, but I could easily get most of them for free through my local library.  Now my library isn’t a very big one, but we do have the option of requesting books from other libraries if we don’t have it on-hand.  But don’t you have to wait then?  What about instant gratification?  Then I check to see if another library I belong to offers it in e-format and download it there.  If I am so desperate to read a book then it is probably one of the few authors I collect and I’m going to buy it anyways, and not from Amazon…

This program will probably work for some people, good for them.  Personally I don’t see the point in paying for a service, that is essentially a library,  when my tax dollars already grant me access to all the ‘free’ books I could want to read.  I’m sure Amazon Unlimited will be wildly popular in the beginning, but if they can’t get the big time publishing houses to offer books through the service they are going to end up with frustrated readers that will cancel their accounts when they can’t get what they want.

Do I think this will hurt libraries? No.  Libraries, like amazon (in a way), offer more to our patrons then just books.  Libraries are here to stay.  So my embargo against Amazon continues.  I hope that people wake up and see the company and what it hopes to accomplish for what it really is, before it’s too late. They probably wont though, after all Wal-Mart is still around… Only when there is no other option left will I begin buying books there, I hope that day never comes.

Monday Morning Question: Do you listen to audio books?


Good Monday Morning to you all.  After my little adventure into trying audio books this weekend I thought I would make it my question for this week’s meme.  So I ask: Do you listen to audio books?

I have some patrons at the library that work from their vehicles (mail carriers, semi-drivers, paper deliverers) and of course it feels fairly logical that they would enjoy listening to audio books while they spend their hours working on the road.  I also have people who stop in before their road trips and pick up something to listen to, and there are some people that work around their homes that I know listen to a good book.  All different types of people for many different reasons enjoy, and even some just prefer listening to a good book rather than read it.

Then there are the many different ways to get an audio book.  I highly suggest the library,  audio books are not cheap,  the library is a great way to get them without breaking the bank!  Our library only offers them on CD, but another library in the count, that I also belong to, offers them through NEIBORS, North Eastern Iowa Bridge to Online Resource Sharing, which is affiliated with Overdrive.  This is what I used this weekend to finally download a book that would play on my phone.  There is also an app/site, Audiable, which is owned by a company I am not very fond of at the moment.  I’m sure there are other options out there too, but since I don’t listen that often I am going to stick to the ones I can get for free from the library, especially now that I know how to play them.

So what do I think of audio books?  They are alright.  I don’t think I am going to be listening to them while I work on chores.  I kinda like to sing while I work and missed doing that this weekend while listening to the book.  I also think more needs to be taken into consideration when picking an audio book.  The first book I tried I could not get into, mainly because I did not care for the reader’s voice.  It just felt off for the story and he would change his voice for the different characters, which I found really annoying.  The second book I tried was better.  The books was interesting and the reader’s voice really enhanced the story, it was a much better fit.  I got two chapters into that story by the time I was done planting and decided to stop for now.  I think my husband will really enjoy the story, The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker ,  so I am going to save it for our long car ride this August.   I  did find it more difficult to picture the story in my head while listening to it.  I was easily distracted by what was around me and the tasks I was working on.   We also read faster in our head than can be done aloud, so that may have added to some of my difficulty staying focused.  

On the whole I think I will just stick with reading, rather then listening, to a book.  There will be times though, like our vacation this summer, where I will definitely pick out an audio book to take along.  I know how several of you stand on audio books, but feel free to share any thought on the topic in the comments.  I look forward to reading them.

Monday Morning Question:  Do you like to keep your books organized? 



Good Monday morning everyone!  Alright I was feeling fairly uninspired this morning so I did a search for book related questions for this edition of my blog meme Monday Morning Question.  I came across some good ones that I have saved for future uninspired Mondays, but this morning I decided to go with; Do you like to keep your books organized?


I didn’t worry about organization too much before I was a librarian and when I had less books, but now I do have some rhyme and reason to our home library.  I’ve always kept authors together as well as series in reading order with the # marked on the first page.  For a while my brother was living with us and took over our library/guest room and our books were all moved into storage, about a year after he moved out (and still had crap left at our house…)  I reclaimed our shelves.  By this time bookcases had spontaneously sprouted up all over the house, to date we have 9 spread all over the house and all but a couple of shelves full.  My husband and I have vastly different reading tastes, he reads mainly non-fiction books, so when I reorganized all the books we divided up the cases, 4 each and one small case that, like Switzerland, remains neutral and is of shared interests.  I was in charge of shelving my books and hubby was responsible for his…  which he preceded to place on the shelf all willy nilly and I quickly relieved him of the task.  After all when he can’t find a book it will then be my fault and my responsibility to then locate, so I should at least know how they are shelved.  So my books are shelved as follows; to-read case authors grouped together with the books I am most interested in reading soon on the top,  favorite author’s case that houses my favorite series,  and the remaining two cases housing the other books and authors I have enjoyed grouped by series and/or author, one shelf is dedicated to my very small non-fiction collection.  Hubby’s books are grouped by shelves dedicated to different interests, his favorite books kept in the office, and a small case dedicated to fiction.  He also has a currently reading case in the bedroom where he keeps the many books he is working on.  He also has a tendency to read several books at once, another reading habit I don’t normally do. How did I ended up married to this man?

Alright so there you have it, I told you I was fairly uninspired this morning.  How about you,  are you like me, need to have some sort of order even if it isn’t alphabetical? Or are you like my husband see a book, see a shelf, place book on shelf? OR are you one of those people that organizes their books by COLOR?!  With no regard for series, author or anything but making a rainbow.  Sorry it looks nice, but would absolutely drive me nuts…