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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Mike's Picks #4

(No review this week.  I will return with a review of the new Iggy Pop album soon.  Until then, more pressing matters.)

There have been a lot of untimely deaths in the music world over the last few months.  For me personally, when Scott Weilend and Lemmy Kilmister died, it stung.  When David Bowie died, it was painful.  But the unexpected death of Prince has left me numb.

I'll try not to be long winded.  Prince is my favorite musician.  I'm not saying that as a reaction, I've been saying that for years.  If you know me long enough, you will hear me talk about Prince, it just happens.  To me, he IS American music in the last half century, all of it.  Rock, jazz, pop, hip-hop, soul, blues, disco, punk, electronic, funk, prog (maybe not country, unless there's some b-side I haven't heard) he mastered it all.  He accomplished everything an artist could ever wish to achieve, took risks, and stayed true to himself, even if it meant changing his name to an unpronounceable symbol to get out of a record contract, or releasing challenging music that his fan base couldn't stomach.  He never stopped being Prince.

Alright, I'm starting to get long winded.  Just listen to Forever In My Life, the last song off the first disc of Sign O' The Times.  It's the greatest love song of all time.  Listen to it on repeat.  I set up a shelf of Prince items in the music section of the library.


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Monday, April 11, 2016

Spring into April!

When you think April, you might think April Fools, better weather, blooming flowers, and fresh air.

But you should also think National Library Week, the seven-day nationwide celebration of library services, from public to academic to school libraries. Started in 1958, National Library Week occurs the second full week of April; this year's runs Sunday, April 10 through Saturday, April 16.

Yesterday (Sunday) marked the return of Food for Late Fees, an ever-popular program in which we forgive your late fees in exchange for non-perishable food items and household products. Each donated item will clear 50 cents in late fees. Donations will not be accepted in place of money for lost or damaged materials. Please, no glass or liquid-filled containers. Food for Late Fees runs now through Saturday, April 16.

Tuesday, April 12 is National Library Workers Day, a day for staff and patrons to recognize the individual contributions of all library workers.

To celebrate, the Reference and Adult Services Department is hosting a Book Lovers Luncheon, where patrons can enjoy a light luncheon followed by a round table discussion of books they've liked this year. Reference staff and patrons will introduce their favorites from the last 12 months. This program is currently full.

On Saturday, April 23, we're once again partnering with the Roselle Park District Garden Club to hold our very own Garden Day!

DuPage County Master Gardeners from the University of Illinois Extension will be on hand in the library atrium to answer your toughest questions and make your thumb a little greener. Drop in any time 11A-1P! No registration required.

Once your life-sized garden is in better shape, learn about a miniature form of gardening: the Fairy Garden! At 1P, Jan Hanson of the DuPage County Master Gardeners will inspire you to create your own micro garden (inside and out) where gnomes, fairies, elves, and more can frolic. Registration is currently open.

Immediately following the presentation, make your own fairy garden at our (appropriately named) Create a Fairy Garden! program at 2P. Registration is currently full.

Maybe instead of a better garden, you're trying to create a better financial picture for yourself. Retirement could be on the horizon, or perhaps you're just starting your career and want to know the best early paths to take towards financial security later in life.

On Tuesday, April 26 at 7P, Joseph R. Book, a Certified Financial Planner from Itasca Bank & Trust Co., will present Retirement Planning 101—Money Smart Week®. Learn how to save for a better tomorrow, no matter your age or income. Registration is currently open.

You can register for these programs—and many others—by visiting our website, calling the Circulation Desk at 630.529.1641 ext. *222, or stopping in at 40 S. Park St., Roselle.

Spring into April with the Roselle Public Library District!

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Thursday, April 7, 2016

#RPLDiscover: "The Road to Little Dribbling" by Bill Bryson

I found my first Bill Bryson book totally by chance. It was at the Printers Row Lit Fest downtown a few years ago, on a display outside the tent of a bookstore I had never heard of before. That book was The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, Bryson's autobiographical memoir about his childhood and adolescence in Des Moines, Iowa.

It was such a cohesive book—nearly perfect in its balance of humor, examination of American culture in the fifties, and the history of Des Moines—I knew I had discovered a special author.

My name is Brett Peto, and I'm one of the Public Services Assistants at the Roselle Public Library. You'll find me weekdays nights and weekends at the Library Cards desk (between Circulation and Reference).

I've been a lifelong reader and writer, and I'd like to share with you what I've discovered. It's gonna be mostly books, but a movie or audiobook may find its way in occasionally.

Disclaimer time: these posts are my opinion and don't necessarily represent the opinions of the Roselle Public Library District. The library is all about ensuring everyone has access to valuable information they can use in their daily lives, but sometimes the amount of information becomes overwhelming.

I want to help you discover new things you may not have considered, seen, or heard of before. I want to help you #RPLDiscover. I'll highlight only the stuff I like the most; I'm looking to recommend great items, not tear down ones I might personally dislike.

If any of this seems rambling, it may be because I'm momentarily channeling Bryson. He rambles in the most endearing, interesting ways, like a house guest who's already made breakfast by the time you're up.

Bryson knows his history. He's lived in Great Britain for twenty-plus years, and his affection for his adopted home is clear. No matter how much he may pick at the loose ends of British culture ("I have never assumed that anything is fun just because it looks like the English are enjoying themselves doing it," he says), it's always in a friendly, just-joking manner, where you can see him saying it with a wink, a nudge, and a sip of tea.

The premise—though it's not really followed, and the book is honestly better for it—is to travel something called the Bryson Line. He made it up himself: the longest straight line one can travel across Britain, from Bognor Regis in the south (known for George V's dismissal of Bugger Bognor to Cape Wrath in the north (where the ferry stops for the winter).

Bryson, of course, never follows his own line. It's more of a general direction than a strict instruction. He spends most of his time in the south of England, and I do wish he had written more on the north of Britain and on Scotland, both of which have long experienced tensions with the south over economic and cultural differences.

It's probably the book's biggest weakness.

But what's there is, to me, gold. He's picked up the British habit of self-deprecating humor. He's constantly entertaining, even when he's discussing Derwent Dam (something, he contends, would be on license plates and postcards if it were in Iowa, but in Britain it's just easily ignored) or holiday camps in East Anglia, and you get the sense Bryson genuinely cares for the future of Great Britain.

In Notes from a Small Island, Bryson's first jaunt through the country, he wasn't quite so concerned with political issues, but in Little Dribbling, the gloves come off. Americans may not have much of an opinion one way or the other, but he makes his cases well.

He sees Britain as one of the smallest places in the world packed with the most history, calculating that even if you visited one culturally important locale every week the rest of your life, you wouldn't come close to seeing a tenth of all the landscape has to offer. There's just too much to see, too much to do, and the British need to somehow preserve it all.

Of course they won't. They can't. There aren't enough resources on the island to save hundreds of thousands of artifacts, many of which are threatened by industrial and residential development.

But Bryson believes they should at least try.

"It's the world's largest park," he says of Great Britain. "It's the most perfect accidental garden."

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Mike's Picks #3

Savages - Adore Life
The ten songs on Savages' sophomore album Adore Life tackle the concept of love and all of it's soaring highs, crushing lows, and everything in between.  Love is not represented by a peace sign or a smiling face.  Love, as shown on the album cover, is a clenched fist; tense, aggressive and ready to strike at a moments notice.  On the opener, the scorching "The Answer," they come out swinging.  "If you don't love me/Don't love anybody" sings Jehnny Beth, over an avalanche of sound.  It sets the mood perfectly for what is to come.  "Love is the answer," according to Beth.  Later, on "T.I.W.Y.G." she sings "This is what you get when you mess with love" over squealing feedback and dance drums.  This is not your typical boy meets girl swooning love album.  Love here is equal parts filthy, lustful, and cynical, yet also powerful, passionate, and sensual.

All the aspects that made their debut, 2013's Silence Yourself, such an intriguing listen are still in tact.  They effortlessly combine the swagger of early Siouxsie and the Banshees and PJ Harvey, the angular, stabbing rhythms of Wire and Gang of Four, and the washed out, distorted guitars of Sonic Youth and Swans.  Despite having a style that takes plenty from the past, it all feels fresh.  It's the sound of a young band truly getting a foothold on their style, working out the kinks on a grand stage.

On the album's centerpiece, the brooding and gorgeous "Adore," Beth begs the question, "Is is human to adore life?"  The song ends with the repetition of "I adore life/Do you adore life?"  Despite all of love and life's trappings, the ups and downs, she sides with love, all the while questioning this decision and demanding an answer from the listener.

This is an album full of contradictions.  Equal parts disco and punk, masculine aggression and feminine sophistication, LOVE tattooed on the left hand and HATE on the right.  Savages have found comfort in the space between.  I highly suggest you give this album a shot.  Who knows, you may fall in love with it.

Key lyric:
If only I didn't care so much
For the feel of your cold, cold touch
In every bed I leave behind
Is it human to adore life?
I understand the urgency of life
In the distance there is truth which cuts like a knife
Maybe I will die maybe tomorrow so I need to say
I adore life
Do you adore life?

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Friday, March 25, 2016

Mike's Picks #2

Joanna Newsom - Divers
On her first album since 2010's Have One On Me, Joanna Newsom finds herself simultaneously returning to her roots while still taking risks and artistic leaps.  Since Have One On Me was a two hour, triple album, and it's predecessor Ys packed five songs into 55 minutes, the more traditional structure of Divers is a breath of fresh air (although I wouldn't complain too much if it were a three hour, quadruple album, B-side albums exist for a reason.)

Newsom blends her distinct style of Appalachian folk with a dynamic, almost Kate Bush-like sense of space.  Synthesizers, tape loops, piano and orchestral flourishes are all over this record, but the main stars are still her withered, scratchy vocals and, what sets her apart from practically everyone else in today's popular music scene, her skills as a harpist.  On the album's opener, "Anecdotes", a simple call and response riff between piano and harp gives way to the more grand, multi-instrumental style she has used over her more recent work, acting as a link between her past and present sound.

While many long time fans may find her new fame hard to swallow (in the time between albums, she had a role in the Paul Thomas Anderson film Inherent Vice and married SNL alum Andy Samberg) the music speaks for itself.  It may not be as raw as The Milk-Eyed Mender, as challenging as Ys, or as theatrical as Have One On Me, but all of those elements are here.  If I were to suggest a starting point for new listeners, it would be this album.

Key Lyric:
But inasmuch as that light is loaned,
insofar as we’ve borrowed bones,
must every debt now be repaid
in star-spotted, sickle-winged night raids,
while we sing to the garden, and we sing to the stars,
and we sing in the meantime,
wherever you are...

(Although this album is still on the new music shelf here at the library, it was released in October, so I don't expect it will be there for much longer.  Still, come to the library and give it a shot.  It's well worth your time.)

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Friday, March 18, 2016

Mike's Picks #1

Hello, Mike from circulation here.  I am happy to announce that I have been put in charge of writing music reviews for the Books, Music and More blog.

A little bit about me, before I start throwing out opinions on art. I'm a musician.  I play many instruments, none particularly well (Kim Deal says you shouldn't learn to play too well, you don't want to lose your edge.)  I started at Columbia College Chicago as a music journalist, but switched to music management.  Needless to say, I have a lot of opinions, so this blog should do well for me.

I will be using this blog to write reviews of new albums available here at the Roselle Public Library. I'll shoot for a new review every week. My opinions are mine, and do not necessarily represent those of the Roselle Public Library. So don't be upset if I write something nasty about the new Coldplay record or something.

Also, Mike's Picks will probably just be a temporary name.  If you have any suggestions, comment below, or just tell me when you see me at the desk.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Spring Programs to Sample!

Celebrate the spring weather by visiting the library!  Here's a sampler of early spring programs for adults and the whole family to enjoy at Roselle Public Library!

Grandparents Got Springtime Game! Grandparents and Grand-friends get into the Spring spirit with your grandchildren at this drop-in program on Tuesday, March 29 from 1:30 - 3:00 pm.  This special session features springtime activities, snacks, and board games to play.

The Great Magazine Giveaway returns to the Library from March 31 through April 3. For each item you check out from the Library you may take away two magazines.  Here's your chance to sample new magazines for free! 


Attorney John Pankau will discuss ways to protect your assets in today's economy with a focus on new laws in the free seminar, Basics of Wills & Trusts on Monday, April 4 at 7:00 pm.

De-stress and get your Creativity on 
with the Library's Coloring Night, Wednesday, April 6, at 6:30 pm. Adults and teens are invited to a relaxing evening at the Library -- coloring!  We'll provide coloring pages and pencils.  Feel free to bring your own art supplies. Light refreshments provided.

We'll begin our celebration of National Library Week by honoring all the volunteers who contributed to the Roselle Public Library this past year at the Volunteer Appreciation Musical Sunday on April 10 at 1:30 pm. The afternoon concert will feature, Counterpoint Acapella, a co-ed competitive acapella group from Loyola University Chicago. 

Watch for special activities and events throughout the week
including Food for Late Fees!

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