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Book Notes

December 26, 2013

Libraries benefit everyone and are worth funding

Libraries are wonderful institutions that offer something for everyone. Whether it’s finding good books or movies, accessing the Internet, attending one of our many adult or children’s programs, doing research, or just hanging out to read or socialize, the Village Library of Cooperstown has it all. We’re open seven days a week and offer both a community center to the public and an outlet to the information world.

Our ability to continue in such a format is currently in peril because the Village of Cooperstown, which up to now has been our major source of funding, would like the budget to be more equitable and spread among the areas that we currently serve. The Village contributes 76% of the budget while maintaining only 34% of the card holders.

Besides the obvious inequities in our funding the budget has never been secure. One way to provide a steady funding stream is to go to the voters. That is why we are providing a proposition that will appear on the school district ballot on May 20, 2014 that will propose funding for our library and the Hartwick library as well (since it is also in the Cooperstown School District). It should be emphasized that our budget proposition is completely separate from the school budget. We are just using the school district as a conduit for our proposal.

I could talk about all the great things that the library provides but once you mention the word “tax” people tend to recoil. People hate that word more than any other in the English language. The patrons that regularly use the library appreciate all its benefits but what about those people who never use the library? Many of them will see no reason to vote for a proposal that provides no obvious benefit to them.

The truth is that a vibrant public library does provide a direct benefit to them, whether they use the library or not. Studies have shown that a public library improves the overall quality of a community and increases property values. Cities and towns with a strong real estate market are ones that historically have had strong school systems and strong infrastructures. Public libraries are part of that infrastructure.

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Book Notes
  • 'Moneyball' author tackles Wall Street with 'Flash Boys' Have you ever read a book that feels like it's in a foreign language? It covers a subject you know is important and figure at some point it will all make sense. What do you do when that doesn't happen? Obviously, the easiest solution is to toss the book aside. But what if the underlying message is something you "get" and don't want to give up on? I faced that dilemma recently.

    July 17, 2014

  • MacNeil reading highlights novels Several weeks ago I had the good fortune to attend a talk by Robert MacNeil at the Guilderland Public Library. MacNeil is best known as the former co-host of the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour on PBS. He retired in 1995 but has continued to write both fiction and non-fiction. His talk at Guilderland focused on two of his novels, "Burden of Desire" written in 1992, and its sequel, "Portrait of Julia," which was published last year.

    July 10, 2014

  • 'The Monuments Men' shows important history World War II continues to hold a special place in the hearts of readers and movie goers. The reasons are many but much of it can be traced to the endless number of storylines from that conflict. There is literally a treasure trove of material that keeps emerging. The latest example is the movie, “The Monuments Men.â€�

    July 3, 2014

  • Authors not afraid to think like freaks Conventional wisdom is something we automatically take for granted. It can be something as simple as assuming there is no cure for the common cold or political polls being a good indicator of who will win an election. Common assumptions of course can be wrong but we usually just accept them as fact. However, in many cases it would be much better to think "outside the box" and consider an alternative way of looking at the world.

    June 26, 2014

  • Book goes further into Armstrong's lies There hasn't been a shortage of elite athletes that have fallen from grace in recent years. Most of them have been baseball players who have been caught using performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) and then lying about it. Golfer Tiger Woods fell from his pedestal because of extra-marital affairs. He has yet to regain his previous aura and perhaps never will. But the loudest crash of all came from cyclist Lance Armstrong who was not only a liar and a cheat but ruined other people's lives in the process.

    June 19, 2014

  • Documentary proves Butch, Sundance still enchant "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" is one of the most popular films of all-time. The 1969 Western is based on the real life exploits of two infamous outlaws whose specialty was robbing trains. They became folk heroes because they supposedly never shot anyone.

    June 12, 2014

  • Pohl's call-up reminds me of Feinstein book We recently learned that Cooperstown native and professional baseball player Phillip Pohl was promoted to the AAA farm team of the Oakland Athletics where he played for nearly a month. For those that don't know, AAA is the highest minor league before reaching the major leagues.

    June 5, 2014

  • Movie gives clues into real Disney Everyone has heard of Walt Disney. How can you not when Disneyland and Disney World are the most popular family vacation spots around. Add in his historic cartoons and animated features and you have a Hollywood legend. But how many people know what the man himself was like?

    May 29, 2014

  • Wooden bio by Davis feels definitive Any long-time observer of college basketball knows that one school and one coach stand out above all others. In the 1960s and 1970s the John Wooden-led UCLA Bruins won ten championships in twelve seasons. Their level of achievement is so remarkable that it will probably never be equaled. Forty years after his last championship the ghost of John Wooden still reverberates at the university.

    May 22, 2014

  • Finding gems in e-book selection For those of us hooked on e-books it's not easy to get a best seller through the Download Zone. Those titles are hot commodities. But just because we have to wait doesn't mean that good books aren't available. I've had plenty of luck finding a "diamond in the rough" when I'm going on vacation and don't want to lug a heavy book around.

    May 15, 2014