Skill Stacking 101

A recent post by productivity guru Darius Foroux explained that successful people don’t just excel in one area…they are a product of “skill stacking”.  It’s a term I wasn’t familiar with, and yet, it makes perfect sense. And the more you look at your life in terms of skill stacking, the more you’ll see your contributions as valuable.

Skill stacking is about knowing a little bit in a variety of areas.  For example, you might have a degree in history, take a painting course, volunteer as a coach for minor league hockey, and love to BBQ.  While your history degree might allow you to find a job in the area of teaching, you might not feel like your knowledge of painting is worth much because you’re not at the level where you could sell your work. But those skills learned from painting—design, colour knowledge, patience, creativity–are all valuable skills that could be applied elsewhere.

Now add in your coaching abilities. Sure, you probably won’t be paid millions of dollars to coach a major hockey team, but you’ve certainly developed lots of skills to get you to your current coaching level. You understand management, team building, perseverance, personal development, kindness, and strategy. All of these are useful skills in many environments. And that BBQ passion? While it might not be quite as useful, it takes patience, learning how to problem solve, and might even involve learning how to light a fire from scratch.

So, how does skill stacking make a difference? When you are thinking about a career change, or career development, take a hard look at the skills you have, and “soft” skills that you might be able to use or develop even more. Think outside the box, consider everything you do in your life and see how it might apply to the job you want. Someone isn’t going to hire you to be a reporter for a major newspaper with a note on your resume about “having good handwriting”, but that skill can be broadened, made into something worthwhile. You might take that idea about the handwriting, and focus on the fact that it means you are conscientious, that you are detail oriented, and that you enjoy the art of words. Now, expand on that. Take a writing class, or work on your memory skills through study, and “earn” some of those soft skills until you’ve got a better stack.

You can read more about Foroux’s Skill Stacking in his article here. It’s fascinating!

What skills are you stacking right now?


Choose Your Own Adventure

I never knew just how complicated Choose Your Own Adventure books could be. If you read these as a youngster, you’ll know they make the reader flip back and forth through the book as they make decisions, eventually winding up at one of the endings. It was just as much fun to start the book again and make different choices to see where the story would go. But I had no idea how these were put together…or the lengths readers would go to in order to plot out the books. Apparently, people have been designing their own visual representations of the books for years. Click on this link to see a history.

The original series came out in 1998, but since 2004, one of the series’ original authors–R.A. Montgomery–has been republishing the classic novels, including a map of the storylines! The maps are creative, and use a straightforward key”: each arrow represents a page, each circle represents a choice, and each square is an ending. You can see these wonderful maps and read more about the structures here.

While the books were often short and easy to read, the ideas presented in the mapping of the books show just how complex they are. Sometimes, the endings change from satisfying to shocking, to utter disappointment, all from making simple choices. Whether you choose to read more, or keep the story as you read it first, is totally up to the reader. The books could be many things to many people, in those instances.

These could also be useful tools for writers learning the craft. As each storyline is broken down into a specific outcome, each decision can be seen, each plot line, and each ending hold a mathematical equation which can be switched around for different effect. A careful study could help a beginning writer to see how storylines are broken down, and also how making a different choice for the plot could result in a brand new idea.


Soup Swap

I’m going to blow your mind with this idea…..a soup swap. Recently, at Caroline’s Cookbook Book Club, everyone exchanged ideas for easy soup, stew, and slow cooker recipes. As usual, it made the library smell wonderful, and made everybody else hungry.

So, here it is again…the idea of a soup swap. Let’s face it. We make a big pot of homemade soup, eat it at a meal or two, and then end up forcing ourselves to eat the last of it later in the week. But when it’s a “leftover”, it doesn’t carry the same warm feelings we had about it on day one. Remember the crusty bread that went along with it? Remember sitting down with those steaming bowls and inhaling the delicious aroma? On day four, we’re more likely to heat it in the microwave and down it standing at the kitchen counter.

If we made a plan to have a soup swap with someone early in the week, we could eat something new and tasty as the week draws on. Isn’t that brilliant? All you need is a friend willing to exchange, and two recipes that yield about the same number of servings. It’s a bit experiment, but it could be a lot of fun!

If you’re looking for some great new soup recipes, we have fantastic books at the library like:

Pick up a new cookbook, and get a friend on board. It’s the perfect time for a soup swap!

Rewriting Harry Potter

Ask any Harry Potter fan if they would change anything about the books, and the answer would probably be no. Except for the injustice dealing with Hedwig and a spell gone awry. Even author J.K. Rowling said it made her feel terrible.

Recently, a fan posted a “re-write” of the scene on Twitter, and it’s taken over the internet. Steve Spielman said that many of his friends mentioned they change the story at that point when reading it to their children, so he wondered what would happen if that little section was changed outright.

You can see his post and the changes in this great Buzzfeed post. Trust me, it’s wonderful.

Develop Better Reading Habits

I don’t like to read.

To be honest, we don’t hear this very much in the library. It might come from a reluctant youngster who has been dragged to the library to find a book, but mostly, people come here because they love to read.

But what if you want to enjoy reading, but just can’t seem to get into it?  There are a few things you can do to make reading more enjoyable, and less of a chore.

  1. Find a time to read that doesn’t interfere with anything else. What about reading in the car when you’re waiting for a child at hockey or ballet? Or keep a book in your bag and bring it with you when you’re standing in line at the license bureau or grocery store. Use these little bits of wasted time to read something you enjoy.
  2. Listen to books. Yes, audiobooks count as reading. Listen in the car on the way to work, during a workout, or on long trips. Make it a family thing by listening to a book you can all enjoy. Or why not listen to a book while you’re grocery shopping? It’ll make the whole experience go by much faster!
  3. Ask friends to recommend a book they think you’d like. Our friends know us best. Trust them, especially if it’s something you think sounds interesting. (If they are waxing poetic about the latest fantasy novel they just finished, and you can’t stand anything to do with magic or mythical creatures, be honest and let them know it’s probably not for you.)
  4. Watch the movie, read the book. Sometimes, we can really get into a book if we loved the movie, and usually, the books are better.
  5. Join a book club that involves food. Okay, let’s be honest….most of us will do almost anything if there is food involved. If the thought of joining a book club sounds like torture, make sure it includes people with similar interests, and those of your own age. Then, suggest a snack or a fun food option that meshes with the book. Reading and chatting about a book is more fun if it seems casual enough to add food.

These are just a few ways to get started reading more. If you have any other suggestions for those who feel it is a chore, leave the ideas in the comments. We’d love to hear them!


Beginning in January of 2019, there will be some changes coming to the Carleton Place Public Library’s membership policy. We’ve been lucky enough to be able to provide all users with library services without registration fees, due to some longstanding agreements between many of our surrounding townships. But soon, membership fees are going to be applied to those who reside outside of Carleton Place, Beckwith, or Mississippi Mills. We’ll also be making a few important changes to how you get or renew a library card if you are already a member, or reside within these three areas.

Who will be required to pay a user fee now?

If you live outside of Carleton Place, Beckwith, or Mississippi Mills, starting January 1st, 2019, you’ll be required to pay a membership fee. A single membership will cost $30, and will last for the duration of one year. A family membership (two adults, and up to four children in the immediate family) will cost $55.

Why do I have to pay a membership now?

We recognize this is going to be a BIG change for a number of people who have used our library regularly for years. In the past, other municipalities have shared in a cost agreement with us, which allowed us to provide memberships to their community members without an extra fee. But many places are feeling the crunch, and some of those agreements have been terminated. This means it is now necessary for us to charge user fees in order to be able to continue to provide the services you’ve come to expect from us. We don’t want you to feel like you’re being “locked out” of our library services, but hope that you understand the necessity to begin charging fees overall.

How can I get a library card now?

If you’d like to become a member, we have several easy ways for you to apply:

  • Children ages 13 and under must have a parent or guardian present when applying for a library card.  Children ages 14 and above do not require parental consent.
  • Adults -ages 14 and over- must show one piece of photo ID and proof of residency.
  • A valid Ontario Driver’s License is acceptable as a single document. In the case of no driver’s license, acceptable identification and proof of current address is required.

Acceptable Identification

Acceptable Proof of Address

  1. Health card with photo
  2. Citizenship card
  3. Passport
  4. Student ID card
  5. OAS (senior’s card)
  6. Employer-issued photo ID card
  7. Ontario Identity Card
  • Any Benefit Statement issued by the Government of Canada
  • Bank account statement
  • Utility bill (telephone, hydro, water, gas, cable TV)
  • Motor Vehicle Permit
  • Mortgage, rental or lease agreement
  • Property tax assessment or bill
  • Insurance policy (property, auto, life)
  • Employer record (pay stub or letter from employer on company letterhead)
  • School, college or university report card or transcript
  • Youths ages 14-17:  Parental proof of address accepted

This should be fairly easy for most people applying for a card. All you have to do then is drop by the library and your acceptable ID, and we’ll help with the rest. If you have any questions about applying, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Do I have to pay my membership fee right away?

All new members living outside of our membership area, and those who will now require a membership fee, will be asked to pay for their membership the first time they visit the library after January 1st. We realize this will be a bit of an inconvenience early on, but we hope to get the word out over the next few months so that no one is surprised, and no one gets turned away. Please make sure to bring CASH or a CHEQUE to pay your fees. We do not accept debit or credit cards at this time.

What if I can’t pay my membership fee until later, but I have items to pick up or renew?

Unfortunately, we won’t be able to renew your membership, or any items, until the membership fee is paid. You can consult our library circulation policy for more information on all of our fees.

If you have any questions or concerns about this new membership structure, please feel free to drop in and discuss it with us. You’re important to us, and we want to hear what you think!

Forest of Reading®

We’re getting ready for another season of Forest of Reading®, and this year, we’re expanding! Our young readers are moving up, and this means we’ll be offering the program from Kindergarten right through Grade 12! It’s going to be exciting.

Beginning in December, we’ll start registrations for each category. Readers will select from 10 nominated books in each reading category, and depending on the level, they’ll be asked to read anywhere from eight to ten books over the course of the next five months. At the end of April, participants will vote on their favourite book in their category. All of our tabulations will be sent to Toronto and collected with other libraries and schools, and the winning authors and illustrators will be given the coveted awards for their books. This is the only award given to Canadian authors and illustrators that is completely chosen by children. Isn’t that great?

Stay tuned for a complete list of nominated books!