Monday, December 30, 2013

Library Closures: New Year's Eve and New Year's Day

 
All Library branches will be closed Tuesday, Dec. 31st and Wednesday, Jan. 1st so our staff can observe the New Year's holiday with their families.
 
Please visit us on Thursday, Jan. 2nd when your favorite library branches reopen.


Have a happy New Year! See you in 2014!

 

Novels: A Good Source of Brain Food

A new study by researchers at Emory University has uncovered that reading novels noticeably changes the brain's activity.

The study, outlined in Brain Connectivity, measured brain activity in 19 students over the course of 17 days. 9 of those days involved actively reading parts of Pompeii by Robert Harris.

On the mornings following the reading, researchers observed higher levels of brain activity. Reading novels may also have residual effects, as increases in activity continued days after the reading was completed.

Read more about these interesting findings in the School Library Journal, or read the entire study here.
 
Berns, Gregory S., Blaine, Kristina, Prietula, Michael J., and Pye, Brandon E. "Short- and Long-Term Effects of a Novel on Connectivity in the Brain." Brain Connectivity 3, no. 6 (2013): 590-600. doi:10.1089/brain.2013.0166.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Library Closures: Christmas

CPPL Patrons:

All library branches will be closed on Tuesday, December 24th, Wednesday, December 25th, and Thursday, December 26th, so that our staff can celebrate the Christmas holiday with their families. 
 
Please be sure to take care of your library needs in the days before and after the holiday, when the libraries maintain/resume their regular schedules. 
 
Have a safe and happy holiday!

Just for young readers! Cast your vote!!

 

The Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice Award is a reading enrichment program of the LCFTB. The program was founded in 1999 with the first award given in 2000. Participation in this program has climbed from 5,485 votes the first year to over 29,000 students participating in 2009. The purpose of the program is to foster a love of reading in the children of Louisiana by motivating them to participate in the recognition of outstanding books. Now entering its 14th year, the program continues to encourage Louisiana’s youth to read for pleasure.
Vote for your favorite by Feb. 1st. Grades 3-5 or Grades 6-8


The Louisiana Teen Readers’ Choice Award is a reading enrichment program of the Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana. The purpose of the program is to foster a love of reading in the teenagers of Louisiana by motivating them to participate in the recognition of outstanding books. View more details.....
 
Vote for your favorite by Feb. 1, 2014


We are excited to announce the 2013 Louisiana Readers’ Choice winners! Press Release

3-5th Grade:
Winner: Young Zeus by G. Brian Karas
Honor: The Junkyard Wonders by Patricia Polacco

6-8th Grade:
Winner: Smile by Raina Telgemeier
Honor: The Limit by Kristen Landon

9-12th Grade:
Winner: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Honor: Matched by Ally Condie

Thursday, December 19, 2013

TEEN VIDEO CHALLENGE!

Hey teens!

Interesting in winning $275?

Create a video promoting the Summer Reading Program at your library for 2014 and you could get just that!

Create a short Public Service Announcement (PSA), using the theme Spark a Reaction.

You could be the Louisiana Teen Video Winner in the national Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP) Spark a Reaction Teen Video Challenge 2014.

Teens all across America will see your video. Find out more!!

All submissions must be received by February 26, 2013

A dark secret exposed......


 Daddy’s Gone A Hunting by Mary Higgins Clark (2013)



In her latest novel Mary Higgins Clark, the beloved, bestselling “Queen of Suspense,” exposes a dark secret from a family’s past that threatens the lives of two sisters, Kate and Hannah Connelly, when the family-owned furniture firm in Long Island City, founded by their grandfather and famous for its fine reproductions of antiques, explodes into flames in the middle of the night, leveling the buildings to the ground, including the museum where priceless antiques have been on permanent display for years.

The ashes reveal a startling and grisly discovery, and provoke a host of suspicions and questions. Was the explosion deliberately set? What was Kate—tall, gorgeous, blond, a CPA for one of the biggest accounting firms in the country, and sister of a rising fashion designer—doing in the museum when it burst into flames? Why was Gus, a retired and disgruntled craftsman, with her at that time of night? What if someone isn’t who he claims to be?

Now Gus is dead, and Kate lies in the hospital badly injured and in a coma, so neither can tell what drew them there, or what the tragedy may have to do with the hunt for a young woman missing for many years, nor can they warn that somebody may be covering his tracks, willing to kill to save himself . . .

Step by step, in a novel of dazzling suspense and excitement, Mary Higgins Clark once again demonstrates the mastery of her craft that has made her books international bestsellers for years. She presents the reader with a perplexing mystery, a puzzling question of identity, and a fascinating cast of characters—one of whom may just be a ruthless killer . . . (from jacket cover)

Praise for Mary Higgins Clark:
  • “Mary Higgins Clark has penned yet another mystery that will keep her at the top of the suspense writers list for a very long time….Daddy’s Gone A Hunting will chill readers….This one is not to be missed.” (Bookreporter.com)
Other titles by Mary Higgins Clark
  • The Lost Years (2012) Available formats: Standard and Large print books, and Audio book on CD.
  • I’ll Walk Alone (2011) Available formats: Standard and Large print books, and Audio book on CD.
  • The Shadow of Your Smile (2010) Available formats: Standard and Large print books, and Audio book on CD.
Post written by C. Ford, staff member in the Collection Services Division of the Calcasieu Parish Public Library System.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Calling all Artistic Anime/Manga Fans!



Are you an artistically-minded anime or manga fan?

Show off your creativity in an Animanga Club-sponsored art contest.

First and second place will be awarded in the following categories: Middle School, High School, Adult, or Collaborative.

All entries will be displayed at the Animanga Convention on Saturday, January 25th at the Central Library.

Submit your individual entry form to any CPPL Branch by January 13th, 2014.

Good luck! 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

New Changes Coming to freegal Music!

Starting now, all CPPL patrons will have access to free songs with FREEGAL MUSIC!

· Enjoy three hours of streaming music a day!
· Create playlists with your favorite artists!
· Download three songs a week to keep!
· Increased access to over 6 million songs from 85 different countries!
· 15,000 popular music videos for download in the MP4 format!

Get yours here.


Little Free Libraries: A Beginning

Earlier this year the Calcasieu Parish Public Library System and Sulphur Parks and Recreation teamed up to bring the Little Free Library phenomenon to the Lake Area.

But where did the idea for the worldwide movement come from? Check out the video below for a TEDx Talk from the mind behind Little Free Libraries.




For more information about local Little Free Libraries, click here.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The truth behind one of the most notorious dynasties in history

The Borgias by G. J. Meyer (2013)
THE BORGIAS
Library Copies

The startling truth behind one of the most notorious dynasties in history is revealed in a remarkable new account by the acclaimed author of The Tudors and A World Undone. Sweeping aside the gossip, slander, and distortion that have shrouded the Borgias for centuries, G. J. Meyer offers an unprecedented portrait of the infamous Renaissance family and their storied milieu.
 They burst out of obscurity in Spain not only to capture the great prize of the papacy, but to do so twice. Throughout a tumultuous half-century—as popes, statesmen, warriors, lovers, and breathtakingly ambitious political adventurers—they held center stage in the glorious and blood-drenched pageant known to us as the Italian Renaissance, standing at the epicenter of the power games in which Europe’s kings and Italy’s warlords gambled for life-and-death stakes.
 Five centuries after their fall—a fall even more sudden than their rise to the heights of power—they remain immutable symbols of the depths to which humanity can descend: Rodrigo Borgia, who bought the papal crown and prostituted the Roman Church; Cesare Borgia, who became first a teenage cardinal and then the most treacherous cutthroat of a violent time; Lucrezia Borgia, who was as shockingly immoral as she was beautiful. These have long been stock figures in the dark chronicle of European villainy, their name synonymous with unspeakable evil.
 But did these Borgias of legend actually exist? Grounding his narrative in exhaustive research and drawing from rarely examined key sources, Meyer brings fascinating new insight to the real people within the age-encrusted myth. Equally illuminating is the light he shines on the brilliant circles in which the Borgias moved and the thrilling era they helped to shape, a time of wars and political convulsions that reverberate to the present day, when Western civilization simultaneously wallowed in appalling brutality and soared to extraordinary heights.
 Stunning in scope, rich in telling detail, G. J. Meyer’s The Borgias is an indelible work sure to become the new standard on a family and a world that continue to enthrall. -- Amazon
Praise for Borgias and G. J. Meyers:
  •  “The Borgias is a fascinating look into the lives of the notorious Italian Renaissance family and its reputation for womanizing, murder and corruption. Meyer turns centuries of accepted wisdom about the Borgias on its head, probing deep into contemporary documents and neglected histories to reveal some surprising truths. . . . The Borgias: The Hidden History is a gripping history of a tempestuous time and an infamous family.”—Shelf Awareness
  •  “The mention of the Borgia family often conjures up images of a ruthless drive for power via assassination, serpentine plots, and sexual debauchery. This is partially owing to propaganda spread by contemporary rivals of the Borgias, nineteenth-century Renaissance historians, and even films and television shows. . . . [Meyer] convincingly looks past the mythology to present a more nuanced portrait of some members and their achievements. . . . [The] Borgias are treated with . . . evenhandedness in this well-researched and surprising study.”—Booklist
 
Other books by G. J. Meyers:
  • The Tudors : The Complete Story of England's Most Notorious Dynasty (2011) Available format: Standard print book.
  • A World Undone : The Story of the Great War, 1914-1918 (2006) Available format: Standard print book.
Be sure to watch the HBO series starring Jeremy Irons, Fran├žois Arnaud, Holliday Grainger, Joanne Whalley, Lotte Verbeek, David Oakes, Sean Harris, Colm Feore. Better yet, check out the DVDs from your Library.
 
  • The Borgias: Season One (2011) Created by Neil Jordan.
  • The Borgias: Season Two (2012) Created by Neil Jordan.
  • The Borgias: Season Three (2013)

Post written by C. Ford, staff member in the Collection Services Division of the Calcasieu Parish Public Library System.

Friday, December 13, 2013

CosPlay Prom at Central

The Central Teens' Animanga Club hosted a CosPlay Prom this week.
 
The teens enjoyed a costume contest, a "Dating Game," and some trivia.
 
Check out their fun and creativity in the pics below.
 

 

Not-so-geeky holiday device buying guide

Anders’ not-so-geeky holiday device buying guide

Last week OverDrive tech writer and blogger Quinton Lawman detailed his top picks of this year’s crop of new devices in Quinton’s geeky holiday device buying guide (Part 1) (Part 2).

Now it’s my turn.

Conspicuously missing from the list were two iconic devices, the iPad Air, and the iPad Mini with retina display. The iPad Air boasts the most powerful tech specs in any iOS device to date, yet comes in the most elegant package ever. That’s up to 128 GB of storage in a one pound device that fits in the palm of your hand! (For some fun perspective, that much storage back in 1980 would’ve set you back a cool $25 million dollars, and forget about the weight of it!)

While the iPad Air ranges from $499-$799, its smaller cousin, the iPad Mini with retina display, packs all of that goodness into a smaller and more affordable package. Each respective storage capacity, 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, is a hundred dollars less than the iPad Air.

Both models feature the best camera we’ve seen on any iPad. With 5 megapixel photos, Autofocus, face detection and a five element lens, it’s perfect to capture those precious holiday moments with friends and family.

But these devices are about more than just great hardware. With the release of iOS 7, the iPad’s newest operating system, Apple did something quietly amazing: they made their entire suite of productivity apps free. Keynote, Pages, and Numbers, collectively known as iWork, are the Apple equivalents of PowerPoint, Word and Excel and create files compatible with their Microsoft Office counterparts. What’s more is that iCloud.com, utilizing the same HTML 5 technology that powers OverDrive Read, offers a web-based version of each app that is accessible from virtually any computer with an internet connection, which will sync with the projects you have on your device. (But let’s face it, even if people don’t want to work on their iPad, at least now they can.) Of course, despite all of those useful free apps, I will probably still spend most of the time on my iPad this winter listening to audiobooks on the OverDrive Media Console.

Anders Brooks is a Training Specialist on the Knowledge Services Team at OverDrive, the provider of the library's digital collection.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Our Winning Streak Continues!

Winners Announced for Lake Charles Christmas Street Parade

On Saturday, December 7, a panel of judges scored parade entries on presentation, performance, decorations, originality, and safety during the Light up the Lake Christmas Celebration. Awards were presented to the top-scoring entries.

In the Christmas Street Parade, trophies were awarded to: 
  • Best Decorated Vehicle, Studio 57
  • Best Specialty Group, Calcasieu Parish Library
  • 1st Place Float, Community Christian Church
  • 2nd Place Float, The Twelfth Night Revelers
  • 3rd Place Float, Faith Bible Church
  • 1st Place Marching Band, Sam Houston High Pride & Spirit Band
  • 2nd Place Marching Band, LaGrange High Band & Gatorettes.

Lake Charles Toyota/Scion has been the official sponsor of the Lake Charles Christmas Parade since 2001. For more information, please call 491-9149 or www.cityoflakecharles.com.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Battery-free E-readers? They may be closer than you think

Love E-Readers but hate that they have to constantly be recharged?

Well researchers at Disney are working on fixing that, in their quest to creat the first battery-free e-reader. By harnessing the power of paper generators and human interaction, the researchers are one step closer to bringing your favorite stories to life electronically sans battery.

Check out the video below or visit the project website.



Monday, December 9, 2013

We are creating an "Innovation Studio"

Winning Innovation Studio Design by Erik Jessen
The Calcasieu Parish Central Library just received a $24,000 grant to build an innovation studio -- a maker's space that will provide the public with a chance to learn about emerging technologies and a chance to ‘make' new things.

"It's a part of a ‘maker movement'", said Clare Coleman, the Central library branch manager. "That's what people are calling it. You provide the space and equipment, it's usually pretty advanced equipment, and the difference is that a maker's space is designed to bring people together and not just learn as individuals."

Coleman says some of that advanced equipment is already in. The soon-to-be Innovation Studio already has a 70" touch screen monitor that will be used for learning workshops as well as a two 27'' touch screen computers. But there is one piece of equipment that's already causing a stir.

"Well the biggest feature that everybody's excited about is the 3D printer," said Coleman. "We've been having fun learning how to use it."

A 3D printer that can print anything from a comb to a ring, all made out of plastic. System technician at the Calcasieu Parish Central Library Lee Grogan said they also have a 3D scanner, which allows you to place any object and print a small replica of the object in minutes.

The library system has also allowed the public to suggest and vote for programs they think should be available through the Calcasieu Parish Public Library Innovation Studio App.

"It's similar to the "like" feature of Facebook," said Coleman. "You can 'like' a program or creative project that someone else suggests so we can offer the things people really want."

Coleman says she's excited about the library's future.

"I would love to say a year from now, "Wow. I can't believe that was possible," said Coleman.

The library also worked with the Southwest Louisiana Arts and Humanities Council on locating an artist to design and decorate the new studio. Lake Charles native Erik Jessen, Graphic Arts Instructor at Sowela Technical College, was chosen to transform the room.

The grant application was written by Coleman and Fiona Griswold, a former reference librarian at the Central library.

By Monica Grimaldo CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) Copyright 2013 KPLC. All rights reserved.

We know our bread...

Gingerbread that is!

The Annual Gingerbread House Contest, sponsored by the Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau, was held on Dec. 7th in conjunction with the Lake Charles Annual Christmas Lighting Festival.

Guess who won in their division? Yep…the Library!

Southwest Louisiana's very own mascot, Gumbeaux Gator, helped present the awards. The Gingerbread Houses will remain on display at the bureau throughout the month of December, and all visitors will be able to vote on the People's Choice Award to be announced Tuesday, Dec. 31, at the bureau.


Cajun Library

Friday, December 6, 2013

Geeky holiday device buying guide Parts 1 & 2

Looking for a great gift for the techie in your life? Check out these great suggestions by Quinton Lawman, a Technical Writer on the Knowledge Services team at OverDrive, vendor for the Library's digital collection.
 
Last year I wrote a post where I recommended some solid devices for the holidays, so I figured I’d chime in again this year. It’s an exciting time to be a geek like me, as technology continues to move along at a breakneck speed. Did you know you can now read eBooks and listen to audiobooks on your refrigerator or washing machine? I mean, why not?

I’m going to focus on slightly more practical devices that are perfect for everyday use—specifically tablets. They all work great with the Library's digital collection from OverDrive, and are pretty versatile to boot. In the not too distant future, my esteemed colleague, Anders Brooks, will write another post that will cover a little more, including E Ink readers. Let’s get started with Part 1, shall we? By the way, part 2 is coming shortly.



Nexus 7 (2013 edition)

You may remember (if you read my post last year) that I was a huge fan of the original Nexus 7. This year Google outdid itself. Simply put, the new Nexus 7 is a best buy at $229.
The iPad mini with retina display (which Anders will talk more about in his post) starts at $399, and has a 326 ppi screen. That’s a great screen, but the 3 ppi difference between that and the new Nexus 7 (323 ppi) is imperceptible to the human eye. Though the iPad mini is a bit faster than the Nexus 7, it’s $160 more expensive, and the speed difference in everyday tasks is negligible.

My wife just got one of these tablets, and she loves it because it’s easy to use, fast, and great for reading. In fact, the screen is fantastic for reading. The sharper the image, the less your eyes have to work to focus on it, and with such a high ppi, the Nexus 7 is practically built for eBooks.
Because the Nexus 7 is also slim and light, it’s also very portable. For me, that means it’s great for audiobooks too. It’s no big deal to take the Nexus 7 on a trip, plug it into the stereo, and use it for navigation while listening to a good book.

It’s this value for money attribute that makes the Nexus 7 my top pick in tablets for the holidays.



Nvidia Tegra Note

The Tegra Note is an interesting specimen. It’s cheaper than the Nexus 7 at $199, which is a major selling point, and it’s also awfully fast with Nvidia’s newest Tegra 4 System on a Chip (SoC). It’s marketed to gamers, but with a $199 price tag, I don’t see why it couldn’t appeal to everyone.
The screen isn’t as good as the Nexus 7 (7” at 1280 x 800 for 216 ppi), but it’s not horrible. It might not be the best out there for reading, but the Note does beat the first and second generation Kindle Fire (202 ppi) and ties the 2nd generation 7” Kindle Fire HD, so it’s just not as big a deal as some reviewers are claiming.
 
The Tegra Note shows an awful lot of promise in testing (which you can read all about on Tom’s Hardware). Features like the stylus (supposedly very good) and the device’s raw performance make it a real contender. Heck it’s even supposed to have pretty good speakers.
 
The Note is made out of plastic–Nvidia had to cut corners somewhere along the line to get the price down to $199. Does that mean the Tegra Note is built horribly? I don’t know, because I haven’t been able to get my hands on one yet, but I can almost guarantee that it’s not built as well as an iPad or Nexus 7. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a piece of junk. Reviewers seem to think it feels a little cheap, but nobody likes plastic anymore. My advice is to check one out for yourself—they should be in stores soon.



The new Nexus 10?

There’s a question mark on this one because Google hasn’t yet announced the new Nexus 10. Will it be great? I have no idea. The Nexus brand has done a lot to reshape the way we think about the price of quality tech. You can go out and get a fantastic high-end phone (Nexus 5) for $350 off-contract. Most top-o-the-line phones cost more like $650 or $700. You can go out and buy a killer tablet for $229 too (see above). Each generation of Nexus device has been a significant step up from the previous generation.

The original Nexus 10 is great–even if it’s not the most popular. In fact, it was even higher-end than last year’s Nexus 7. So, I’m dying to know, what will the new Nexus 10 be like? Rumors have pointed to a November launch, so it could be announced any day now. If you prefer the 10” form-factor like I do, my advice is to wait to make your buying decision for a week or two to see what Google might announce.
 



Microsoft Surface 2

The Surface 2 is a lot like the original Surface RT, but with better everything. The screen is better, it’s lighter, the speakers are better, it’s more responsive, and recent updates to Windows RT really do a lot to increase overall usability.

Here’s the kicker: the original Surface RT is actually a decent tablet, with solid specs and build quality. So the Surface 2 is a nice improvement over a product that was already pretty good.
There are two reasons that the Surface isn’t higher up on my list:

  • It’s a little unwieldy. This has mostly to do with the aspect ratio (16:9 versus the typical 16:10). It’s a little wider and shorter in landscape than your average Android tablet (16:10), and Apple uses 4:3 which is more square-ish. It’s also a little heavier than average (though lighter than the RT).
  • The current Windows RT app selection is a little limited (though growing fast). Microsoft has also locked 3rd party web browsers out of Windows RT, which I do not like at all.
That being said, if you’re fine using Internet Explorer all the time, and you want a tablet that grants you a whole lot of excellent productivity options (the best out there, really), the Surface 2 is where it’s at. The price is not cheap, but reasonable at $450. If the tech geek on your list has a serious need for heavy word processing and other officey type things, then you can’t really beat the Surface as a tablet option.



Honorable mention: Sony Xperia Tablet Z

The Sony Xperia Tablet Z gets an honorable mention because it’s a great tablet that also happens to be water resistant. Yup, that’s right; you can have this out in the rain and not really worry about it. It’s a much more useful feature than you might think, and it means that the Tablet Z is pretty resilient.

In fact, if it weren’t for the price (starting at $449 on sale), I’d have probably picked this as my second or third recommendation. It has a good screen (1920 x 1200 for around 224 ppi), and a decent processor (Snapdragon S4 Pro), but neither make it top of the line. That’s my gripe—the Tablet Z is priced as a top of the line machine (the 32 GB model is $550). If they were charging $400 and $450 for the 16 GB and 32 GB model respectively, this tablet would be a great buy.



What, no iPad?

Anders will talk more about the iPad in his post next week. Both the mini with retina display and the Air are solid devices, but I personally prefer the tablets above. If you’re buying for a big Apple fan, or that special someone on your list already has a lot invested in Apple products, then stay tuned. Anders is the man you are waiting to hear from.

Quinton Lawman is a Technical Writer on the Knowledge Services team at OverDrive, vendor for the Library's digital collection.