Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Recognizing a Literay Art Form: Comics and Graphic Novels

Getting Graphic: Comics and Graphic Novels

When people first hear the word “comics” or “graphic novels” they often think of superheroes and
the comic strips found in newspapers. Superman and company certainly have their place in the history of comics, but there is also a larger universe within this segment of fiction that contains unlikely heroes, emotional storylines, and characters struggling with complex social issues. Graphic novels and comics have “grown up.” It is difficult to trace the exact moment when graphic novels and comics became more adult oriented, and opinions vary depending upon with whom you speak, but Alan Moore’s Watchmen hit the shelves in the mid’ 80s and that is a moment that accelerated a change in the industry.

Timing is everything and for Moore the release of Watchmen in the mid ‘80s was a game changer for the industry. Marvel and DC comics, while popular, had become boring and predictable. With Watchmen the public was introduced to an adult story that was complex and detailed. The story focuses on the concept of “what if” superheroes are real. This alone is a loaded concept because previously people took for granted that superheroes were “real” in comics, but this story takes archetypes we are comfortable with, like a police officer, and gives them superhero “powers.” In addition, Moore places these characters in a turbulent world where the heroes have to go into hiding, thus creating an anti-superhero world that is a result of fear and oppression. The story spans decades and reveals that these characters have been at the center of many major U.S. and world events. If you haven’t read Watchmen, try it—you will not be disappointed.

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Mysterious Journal, a Magnifying Glass and a Librarian

A Mysterious Journal, a Magnifying Glass, and a Librarian

     One of my first assignments as a newly appointed reference librarian was to organize a small room that contains materials of historical and regional significance to our area. While sorting through a shelf one day, I stumbled upon an old diary that contained poetry copied from various newspapers from 1860 through the late 1870s. Intrigued by this book, I decided to figure out to whom the journal belonged and why it was being housed in the overflow of vault materials.
    The journal is old and not in the best condition. In addition, multiple names are handwritten on the inside cover making it difficult to determine ownership. I consulted my colleagues and we came up with a few answers. The person who wrote in this journal was educated and literate. This is indicated by the excellent handwriting and the interest in poetry. Furthermore, we concluded that the owner of the journal was female, again, the penmanship and style of handwriting possessed feminine qualities. After this point, I was about ready to give up on finding the writer of the journal. I had studied the inside and backside covers with a magnifying glass (literally) to uncover the name of the owner, but all leads were met with dead ends. I decided to leaf through the entire journal again, page by page, in hopes of finding a clue. On page 96, hidden amongst the poetry was a letter that I had overlooked! After reading the letter I finally had a name and down the rabbit hole I went…
Below is the transcribed copy of the letter copied verbatim: 

Dear Matilda: - My friend and companion,
How can you e’er pardon your Kate,
For not writing directly she came here,                            
And letting you Know of her fate?Such wonders I saw on my Journey!
I meant to have written them all
But forgetting to Keep up my diary,
I cant my adventures recall.
But when I arrived at Aunt Susan’s
With Bessie unpacking my box,
I heard a loud chorus of voices:
“Oh Kate, now you’ll meet Mr Cox!
We girls are all struck by his beauty!
He’s so rich, and so clever, and young!
And he wears the most matchless of neckties!
You’ll worship the song he has sung!”
When I heard this, my dearest Matilda
I put on my blue grenadine
That you Know is so very becoming -
I cant tell how praised it has been,
And I walked in the drawing-room singing
A few bars of an Opera air
Pretending I thought no one near me,
Yet I Knew Mr Cox would be there
And he was – standing up on the hearth-rug
With a photograph book in his hand,
They were right.  He was tall, And so hamsome;
And his whisker and necktie were grand.
His eyes were like violet blossoms
His teeth were as orient pearls
And I marked a large diamond glitter
As he drew his white hand thro’ his curls
There I heard my Aunt Susan say, gently:
“Mr Cox, my pet niece, little Kate.
Now come, let us hasten to dinner –
Even now I’m afraid we are late.”
Dear Matilda, Poets say “that love cometh
Unsought and remarkably soon,”
They are right – for an hour after dinner
When we went out to look at the moon,
You’d have thought he’d have Known me for ages
As we strolled up and down the long walk,
I am glad that papa was not near us –
He’d have started to hear all his talk.
For I Know how he blamed me for list’ning
To Fred Wrightou’s few flattering Jokes
But Matilda, I never was flattered
‘Till I walked ‘neath the moon at fair Oaks
He sais I’m a Sylph and an elfin –
A fairy and gossamer sprite;
Mamma calls me “awfully dumpty”
After all Charley Cox may be right.
My hair which my sisters call reddish
He tells me “like rich mellow gold –
Only owned by the angels of Eden
Only painted by Artists of old”
As proof of his love and attention
When I sit down to sing or to play
He turns o’er each leaf of my music
And non power can attract him away.
There’s that musical genius Jane Ford –
So dark and so ugly, and tall:
I hear she would die for his smiles,
Yet he never looks at her at all
You Know what a dunce I’m at chess
I can scarce tell a pawn from a queen
Yet he’s always challengeing me to a game
And neglects the fine player – Jane Green
I think it a symptom of love
When he praises all the things that I do
And says I am perfect because –
I feel that his judgments untrue.
He declares that he Knows he’s unworthy
So he humbly has offered, in fear
His heart and his hand his devotion for life
And a sum of ten thousand a year!
H said he should die if I loved not.
So I’m wearing his diamond ring;
Ordered my trousseau from Stewarts
And shall marry him early in spring;
He has left off his billiards, his beer, and Cigars
Sold his horse that he loved more than life
Sent his dog, that once snarled at me, off to a friend
And is building a house for his wife;
So now when you read how employed I’ve been,
My silence, dear Matty forgive;
And pray, as I pray, that my happiness now,
May continue as long as I live;
So write to me dearest as soon as you can –
At Fair Oaks some time I may stay;
And believe that thro life I shall ever remain
Your affectionate friend            Katy May

P.S. – I want your advise as to how I shall dress
Must I wear Meeklin or Honiton veil
I’m afraid if I have white Satin and pearls
It will make me look dreadfully pale.
End of post sct                                    K. M.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Shenandoah Community Library

History of the Shenandoah Community Library

The Shenandoah Community Library, known as the Shenandoah Community Center Library prior to May 26, 1997, was established by the Chairman of the Women’s Club Library Committee, Virginia Melton, who had taught for 30 years at the Shenandoah Elementary School. It was the second branch to be founded in Page County, Virginia. Dorothy Wilson, a friend of Virginia Melton, mailed 70 books to Mrs. Melton from California which was the beginning of a town library in the Shenandoah Community Center. Other book donations followed and a room at the end of the Shenandoah Community Center was dedicated Sept. 10th, 1972 as the library. Facing the front of the Community Center building, the library was on the right end of the building. At its peak operation the room held 5,000 volumes.

The library was staffed by volunteers. Virginia Melton worked at the library for 22 years as the volunteer head librarian. She was the first librarian who cataloged the books for the library. Mrs. Melton was a great believer of the outreach program. She would take books to the shut-ins who could not come to the library, then pick-up and return the books to the library. Before Virginia Melton retired and went to live with her son in Texas, she asked Ruth Reid, an employee of the then Rockingham County Library, to be the caretaker of the Shenandoah Library and keep it established for the Shenandoah Community for future generations.

Virginia Melton passed away three months before the Shenandoah Library in the Town of Shenandoah received a Trust fund of $435,000 from Boston, Massachusetts called the Ann S. Barb Trust fund. This trust fund was established around 1972 and Mrs. Barb’s son Thomas Barb received the interest until his death in 1997. The trust fund money reverted, per his mother’s wish, to the library in the town of Shenandoah. No one is certain who Ann S. Barb was, but research revealed that Ann S. Barb was a cousin of Virginia Melton, the founder of the Shenandoah Library.

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Importance of Horror Fiction

The Importance of Horror Fiction


“I think it's relatively easy for people to accept something like telepathy or precognition or teleplasm because their willingness to believe doesn't cost them anything. It doesn't keep them awake nights. But the idea that the evil that men do lives after them is unsettling.”
Stephen King, 'Salem's Lot   


It is hard not to walk into a library or bookstore today and not be confronted with vampires and werewolves. These creatures of myth and fantasy have been capturing the imagination of readers for centuries. Zombies and vampires have gained popularity over the past decade with the help from a swarm of authors who write books designed to capture the interest of teenagers; however, the horror genre has been around for hundreds of years. People have been telling ghost stories for as long as people were willing to listen. Oral traditions, such as telling fantastical stories around a campfire or to a sleepless child, help captivate the imagination and offer an escape from the normal routine.

Bram Stoker’s 1897 gothic horror story Dracula and Horace Walpole’s 1764 novel The Count of Otranto are considered by many to be the earliest and most influential writings in this genre that reached mass audiences. Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel, Frankenstein; or, the modern Prometheus is another classic horror story that questions man’s ability to play God. The impact of these classics is profound and has been integral in the formation and popularity of many contemporary horror writers. Fast forward to America, circa the 1970s and the origins of contemporary horror fiction begin to surface.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Find Surprises at Your Library Treasure Hunt

In honor of "Find Surprises at Your Library,"our annual spring fundraiser, we are hosting a Library Treasure Hunt. The winner will receive an MRL gift pack (MRL bookstore certificate, notepad, magnet, flashlight, book bag, etc….) All entries must be received by May 26th; winner announced Thursday, May 30th. Entries will be received at the Reference Desk. Do you know where that is?

Download the following form, solve as many riddles as you can, and bring to the Reference Desk. Good luck!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Impact Survey Results

Many of you noticed when logging onto our website a banner asking you to take the Impact Survey. First, we would like to thank everyone who took the time to complete the survey. Surveys like the Impact Survey help libraries and librarians across the country understand more about our user’s information needs. The Impact Survey is the result of research initiative from the University of Washington’s Information School with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The purpose of the survey is to better understand how technology impacts library users. A library’s purpose is to serve its community and libraries are constantly striving to better understand their users so we can become better at what we do.

The Impact Survey collected data in the following fields: general use of library and online resources, education, employment, entrepreneurship, health and wellness, eGovernment, civic engagement, eCommerce, and social inclusion. All responses were anonymous and used to create a profile for our library that reflects the information needs of all our unique users.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Guide to MRL's Genealogy and Local History Resources


            In the Main Branch of the Massanutten Regional Library a special room is set aside for genealogy and local history research. The Room holds primary and secondary resources related to the Rockingham County area since settlement in the 1730’s. Some of the holdings contain information on where settlers migrated from (often Pennsylvania) and where they migrated to (often Ohio and Kentucky). The items in this Room must be used in house. Copies of some of the books are on the circulation shelves and can be checked-out.

The following outlines the topical arrangement of the resources in the book sections for genealogical research. The information below is indicative of the materials found in each section. As you enter the room, to the far left and far right, are enclosed bookcases, some of which are locked. The Research Librarian can help you if a resource from these cases is needed. Each bookcase section is lettered starting with “A” being on the left-hand side.