Last summer, our adult readers had a lot of fun with our “Goodies for Grown Ups” adult summer reading tickets. After joining the program and reading books, they were given special scratch-off tickets to win prizes that were donated by several local businesses. It was a big hit!

scratchoffmap2So, when I came across this Scratch-Off World Map, it reminded me of our program. The “I Was Here” map is a unique item designed by the Art. Lebedev Studio Shop to help travelers keep track of places they’ve been. It begins as a large, grey world map, but once you visit a place, you scratch off the country and the colour is revealed underneath. How is that for incentive to get visiting the world?

This gives me ideas for our upcoming summer program…..

What Was There?

For our Frivolous Friday post, we’re visiting a fun site called “What Was There?”  It allows readers to upload their own photos of specific buildings that used to be in places that might now be built up, or changed in some way.  It’s fun, even if you don’t know any of the places.  The old photos layered over a Google map image is fascinating!

thereIf you have a few minutes this weekend, spend time either uploading your own photos, or looking through some of the ones that are already posted. It will help you see your world with new eyes! (Hint: try some of the countries other than the US.!)

Endangered Language

Distribution of language families and isolates...

Distribution of language families and isolates north of Mexico at first contact. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Most of us probably never think about the language we speak, unless we’re visiting another country and find it difficult to communicate.  But what if you spoke a language that had slowly died out with all of the people who ever knew it, until you were the only person who could still speak it?


Even worse…what if there was someone else who also knew the language, but refused to speak to you?


This isn’t such an improbable scenario.  In Mexico, for example,  there are many indigenous languages that are slowly fading away as the population ages.  One such language is called Ayapaneco—spoken in the town of Apaya, Mexico for generations. Unfortunately, the language is about to disappear as only two men still speak it…and they refuse to talk to each other.  Linguists have stepped in and are trying to convince the men to converse with each other so that the vocabulary, diction and accent may be recorded and studied, in hopes of preserving it. But the men just don’t seem to get along.


It’s not clear why the men refuse to talk to each other…maybe a feud or maybe they just don’t have a lot in common…but if no one is able to get them chatting, Ayapaneco is just one of many languages that will probably disappear in this generation. There are probably similar languages in the area, as is common with indigenous peoples, and linguists might be able to piece together some aspects in order to preserve parts of it. But it would be much easier if they had a little help, of course.


One might argue that the English language has evolved and changed so much through generations (and is still changing), that it might be hardly recognizable to someone who spoke it 500 years ago, let’s say. The advent of computers and the use of spell check and short forms and the like has certainly changed the written form. Could massive changes to the spoken word be far behind? Could it be that someday, someone will be lamenting over the loss of English?  It seems unlikely, I know, but it makes you stop and think about communication and language in a new way when you hear stories like this.  You can read more on the story of the Mexican village and the men who are willing to let their language die out, right here.


Would YOU refuse to talk to someone if you were the only two people who knew a language?


Perfect? Not so much…

It’s Tuesday, and I’m writing this blog post on Monday. Right now, much of the Eastern seaboard in the United States is under the very real threat of the most terrifying storm system(s) we’ve seen in a long time.  And it’s not even winter!  Hurricane Sandy is doing her best to come ashore and several states are in Emergency mode, with highways closed, shelters open and people just hoping for the best.

Several years ago, Sebastian Junger wrote the harrowing tale of the Andrea Gail, a swordfishing boat that was lost at sea during another “perfect storm” which occurred almost during this exact date. It seemed too crazy to be real: a fishing boat goes out in relatively calm seas but encounters several mammoth storm systems that merge together at one point, exactly where the Andrea Gail ends up. The captain and crew members were lost and the Andrea Gail was never recovered.

Later, it was made into a movie, imagining what happened to the captain and crew while they were out at sea. We happen to have both the movie and the book at the library, if you’re interested in reading about/watching this other perfect storm. 

Today, I’m afraid many people are feeling the same things as those family members in the movie, awaiting word from their loved ones and wishing for their safety. Thanks to the internet reports, Facebook posts and Twitter feeds, it’s a bit easier to keep tabs on everyone.  If you want a good view of what’s going on, I suggest checking out the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website. We certainly live in an instant culture and if the power remains on, then the information will get through. Good luck to everyone facing this storm!

Renewable energy

After watching the adorable short film The Windmill Farmer by Joaquin Baldwin, I could see why people are inspired to try renewable energy resources.  Although it takes quite a bit of money and know-how to get something like this going (not to mention the approval of all your neighbours to house a windfarm), the idea of an alternate source of energy is very appealing.

We have plenty of books at the library on alternative energy resources, going green and even wind power, so if you’re interested in exploring other options, stop in and see if we have something on your topic.  If we don’t, we can always try to order in a book from another library, so don’t leave without asking.  Here are just a few of the interesting books we have to offer:

If you’re interested, I also came across this fascinating map of windfarms in Canada.  You can find out more about the map and the idea at the Canadian Wind Energy Association website here.

How will you save the planet today?

Are you switching off for Earth Hour?

voteearthOn Saturday, March 28th at 8:30pm (your own local time), the Earth will be switching off.  It is a global mission to save our planet called Earth Hour and so far, 83 countries have committed to participating in Earth Hour and hopefully, many more will join.

What is Earth Hour?  It all began in Sydney, Australia in 2007 when 2.2 million homes and businesses switched off their lights for one hour.  Last year, it became a global mission and this year, it is a way to cast your vote.  Turn your lights off…and you are voting for Earth.  Leave your lights on….and you’re voting for global warming.

It will be easy for homes to shut off their lights for an hour, but even businesses should think about participating.  Why not turn off the lights in your office or better yet, on your whole office floor before leaving on Friday afternoon?  You’ll be saving your company some money as well as saving the earth. I know we’ll be shutting everything off at the library that evening.  If we all did this on a weekly basis, think about how much better off the planet would be.

For more information on this great endeavor, you can visit Earth Hour here.

So go ahead, turn off those lights and cast your vote for Planet Earth!