Tag Archives: libraries

Bookstore blues

Classic meets contemporary on this bookshelf

I headed to one of the country’s bigger bookstores a while back too see what they might have for kids on a particularly timely topic. It’s easy to research such things online but true book believers like to see, touch and smell the goods.

I brought laptop, camera and cell phone along — every piece of electronics gear I own. Which is pretty much everything but the one they really want me to have. I know this because the kiosk for their bookreader gizmo greets me each time I enter their store.

I headed to the children’s section, where I found craft kits, plush toys and lots of books with commercial tie-ins. But nothing I was really looking for. Not even a real live person who could assist me in my search. And they wonder why we’re all addicted to Amazon.

More books that make us feel all warm and fuzzy

In another section of the store, I overheard a man telling a bookseller that his child had read 300 books in the past year. I wanted to jump for joy, but the woman had a different reaction. “Imagine if they had an e-reader,” she said. So imagine I did.

I imagined a weekend without father-daughter trips to the library, without cradling a book after falling asleep mid-chapter. I imagined my daughter’s bedroom without shelves stacked with Shakespeare plays, without books signed by favorite authors like Jodi Picoult.

Normally I hit my favorite indie bookshop, but some days I feel too grungy to pop in to places where folks might see me in my tired old tee and saggy shorts. I’m gonna have to get over that. It beats the heck out of battling the big bookstore blues.

— Lynn

Note: The “1st Annual Rally for Literacy” takes place Sat, Oct 1 from 9-11am. Five Tucson literacy organizations are merging into a single one dedicated to promoting a culture of literacy and creative expression. Their new name and logo will be revealed at this rally. More info at www.bookmans.com.

Coming up: Arts and culture — festival style


9/11 meets Arizona arts and culture

This work by Sam Irving is one of several you can enjoy at exhibits at two Gilbert libraries this week (Photo courtesy of Gilbert Fire Department)

The town of Gilbert is preparing for Sunday’s dedication of a 9/11 memorial to feature an 8-foot long beam from the World Trade Center.

Recently they invited folks to submit photographs, paintings and drawings with a “Memory of Hope” theme. Selected works are on exhibit through 9/11 at the Southeast Regional and Perry High libraries. www.gilbertaz.gov/911memorial.

One of several works currently on exhibit at the Tucson Jewish Community Center

Contemporary Artists of Southern Arizona has created a mixed media 9/11 memorial called “3,000 Souls” that’s being exhibited at the Tucson Jewish Community Center through Sept 26. ww.tucsonjcc.org/arts.

The ceramics program and fine arts department at Desert Vista High School in Phoenix (part of the Tempe Unified High School District) presents a 9/11 memorial Thurs, Sept 9 from 6-9pm (room 149).

The event features “students from dance and theatre,
choir, speech and band, a special slide and musical tribute, the
signing of victims’ names into a tribute vessel to be delivered to New
York in December, and fundraising for the WTC Health Hospital.” The event is free and open to the public. www.desertvista.schoolfusion.us.

Several 9/11-related items, including a huge “National Unity Flag” designed and created in Arizona, will be exhibited Sept 9-16 in the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts atrium.

A “9/11 Memorial Wall” with 2,996 full-color memorial cards featuring biographical information and photographs of 9/11 victims will be exhibited as well.

Scottsdale begins a “9/11 Day of Remembrance” program in the atrium at 1pm on Sun, Sept 11 with a reading of victims’ names.

Keynote speaker Ray Malone, a former New York police office and firefighter, follows in the Virginia G. Piper Theater at 6pm. The evening also includes performances of patriotic music by school bands and choral groups, as well as a candlelight vigil. www.scottsdaleaz.gov.

ProMusica performs with other Valley groups this weekend

ProMusica Arizona Chorale and Orchestra of Anthem will perform Mozart’s “Requiem” (a work being performed by groups throughout the country on 9/11) at two Valley churches on Sun, Sept 11. www.promusicaaz.org.

Mozart’s “Requiem” is also being performed at a “Remembrance and Renewal” concert at UA’s Centennial Hall in Tucson on Sun, Sept 11 at 3pm. It features the Tucson Symphony Orchestra and Tucson Chamber Artists’ professional choir. www.uapresents.org.

The Damocles Trio, who met as doctoral students at The Juilliard School in NYC, will perform the “Requiem Trio” by Spanish composer Salvador Brotons (b.1959) at Tempe Center for the Arts at 2:30pm on Sun, Sept 11.

The work was “written especially for the group to commemorate the tragic terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001.” The piece was first performed in Sept 11, 2004 in NYC.

Tempe officials note that “this concert will be linked to the Tempe Beach Park 9/11 Healing Field and other city commemoration events.” The concert also features the music of Dvorak and Villa Lobos. www.damoclestrio.com and www.friendsofTCA.org.

The Tucson Pops Orchestra, with guest conductor George Hanson, performs “Americana: Remember 9/11” Sun, Sept 11 at Reid Park in Tucson at 6:30pm. www.sept11tucson.org.

The National Unity Flag will hang in Scottsdale this weekend

Folks looking for additional 9/11 memorials and related events can check with local interfaith or religious groups, performing arts venues, universities or colleges, museums, local governments and community centers for local offerings.

If your Arizona organization is presenting a music, dance, theater or visual arts event in remembrance of 9/11, please comment below to let our readers know.

— Lynn

Note: Several 9/11 remembrance events will be televised, including a New York Philharmonic concert with Alan Gilbert conducting Mahler’s “Resurrection” (Sept 11 on PBS). Listen to KJZZ 91.5 all week for 9/11 memorial coverage (including 9 hours of live coverage on 9/11). www.kjzz.org. Watch the “9/11: 10 Years Later” concert live Thurs, Sept 8 and share your reflections with others at facebook.com/KennedyCenter by clicking on the 9/11 Livestream tab.

Coming up: Remembering 9/11 with literature and love

Losing it for libraries!

Check out this bumper sticker I spotted on a car in Cedar City, Utah

My daughter Lizabeth thought I was losing it last week when I jumped for joy over spotting a pro-library bumper sticker on a car parked near one of the Utah Shakespeare Festival theaters.

But I had a recent library related e-mail in mind, and knew the photo would mean a lot to its sender. She’s the mom of a friend, and she’s working with others in Wickenburg to keep their library open. Seems it was shut for a time and that it’s now open again amidst some on-going controversy.

The Wickenburg Public Library has faced some tough times of late

Since I’m more stage mom than investigative journalist these days, I can’t run terribly far with the community’s concerns on this one — but I can help to keep libraries in focus for fellow families who love them like we do.

When Lizabeth and I realized we’d have several hours in Las Vegas the other day, she looked up places it might be fun to visit. We’d driven to Las Vegas from Cedar City, but had lots of time to kill before our flight.

She found a children’s museum, which we spent an hour or so exploring. The museum was adjacent to a public library, so I popped in to take a few photos — much to the dismay of two security guards near the entrance (and Lizabeth, who wishes I’d see more of the world without a lens).

I shot this photo of a Las Vegas library while Lizabeth called her dad to share her disbelief

Once we got to the airport and our gate, I searched online for news stories I’d missed while at the Utah Shakespeare Festival — where there is little time or longing for television or other news sources.

I was pleased to see a story about funding recently awarded to libraries in Maricopa County — which will be used to provide free library cards to families in need who would otherwise be unable to check out reading materials. Now if only we could manage food for the one in five children who live in poverty.

Later in the week, another story activated my library radar — news of a study demonstrating that reading aloud to children during early childhood is a key factor in early and ongoing school success. I give that one a big resounding “duh.”

Some give to libraries. Some use libraries. Some lose it for libraries. It’s all good.

— Lynn

Coming up: Photo tours of the Lied Discovery Children’s Museum in Las Vegas and our own Children’s Museum of Phoenix, Valley teen shares tips on choosing a theater camp

Update: Click here for details about an “I Love My Librarian” contest

Musings on International Literacy Day

We take so many things for granted as Americans — ready access to water, vast choices in fresh foods, stable shelters and structures. We’ve got gaggles of electronic gizmos and more books than we ever bother to read.

It’s a shame, really, when you consider how rare things like books and bathrooms are in so many other countries. (And even — as one of my daughters recently reminded me — for American children living in desperate poverty.)

I’ve heard many a news report in recent days on misguided plans to burn one particular book (a book with great cultural and religious significance) — but nothing, literally, about today’s designation as “International Literacy Day.”

Imagine, if you will, a world without books.

It’s a world without education, civil discourse, political stability.

Books are the very fiber of our being — taking us on journeys to places we’ve never been before, introducing us to new worlds and wonders, posing thoughtful questions about the nature of humanity — helping us feel more, think more, do more. Even be more.

Think back on some of the books that have touched your life — maybe a family heirloom handed down from generation to generation, maybe books your parents read with you as a child, maybe books you enjoy reading with your own children.

Pause today to honor those books that have touched — even changed — your life. Made you a better parent. Helped you succeed in school or business. Taught you to appreciate other people and places.

If books have slipped from the pages of your busy life, bring them back today. Visit a library. Read with your child. Volunteer to tutor students in reading. Sign up to help at an adult literacy center. Read the books of local and international authors. Maybe even write your own book.

Whether books — and the people who depend on them — survive and thrive, is really up to you.


Note: Watch for a future post on the interplay of literacy and the arts — and ways the arts can help make reading more enjoyable for the whole family

Thanks to Christopher Trimble for the graphic  a la Photoshop crafted with a collection of book covers, buttons and magnets

Isn’t parenting our greatest masterpiece?

I’ll never own an expensive piece of art—aside from the priceless pieces my children have created through the years. I’ll never have the money for private painting or cello lessons. I’ll never live next door to one of the world’s great art museums. I’ll never be remembered for a sketch or poem I leave behind.

But that’s okay. My ‘legacy’ will include children who create and appreciate art. I didn’t set out to instill the arts in their hearts. In many ways, I think, we’re a family of accidental artists. Yet as I look back on my twenty plus years of parenting, I think many of the activities and moments we’ve shared as a family fueled the artist in each of us.

I suspect there are entire books written on this subject, but what I’m reflecting on today is how the home we created for our children early on equipped and empowered them to pursue the arts in a whole host of ways, from photography and writing to theater and music.

We were never big on toys with bells and whistles. Our home was full of toys that children could use in any number of ways. They weren’t battery-powered. They were imagination-powered. Wooden blocks became towers, kitchens, roadways, animals and more. Balls got bounced and rolled on, over and through. Stuffed animals became doctors, teachers and friends it felt safe to disagree with.

We spent a lot of time outside—inspired, I think, by the nature of their elementary school. It was situated in a lovely desert setting, where children would read under trees and sketch surrounding plants and wildlife. It never occurred to me to consider the role of nature when I began looking at potential schools, but it’s a happy coincidence that it worked out this way.

Some of our most relaxing and reflective times together involved long walks through the neighborhood collecting found objects like prickly pine cones and pristine pebbles or hitting destinations like the Desert Botanical Gardens with a sketch pad and pouch of bold-colored pastels. It wasn’t just nature, but the time and space we made to enjoy it. It was taking time to see, to hear, to smell, to taste, to touch.

It was taking time to muse, making spaces to meander.

My son (now a budding wildlife biologist) has created more than a masterpiece or two using his computer, but I’m not sure that’d be the case had he not first learned the fine arts of observation, listening and reflecting. I don’t want technology to define him, only give him another tool to express who he is and who he is becoming. For us, the art-friendly house was gaming free until well into the teen years (and by then, frankly, the kids had all discovered things they found infinitely more interesting).

Jennifer (now a college freshman majoring in cultural anthropology) used to dream of being a food artist. I mention this because I suspect it’s the many materials my children manipulated during early childhood that fueled their impetus to create and their connection to the art created by others—whether by manipulating musical notes, words, body parts or clay. (Or kiwi slices.)

My children manipulated food when they helped me grate carrots or peel apples. They manipulated sand and water when they hit the back yard or park with their pail and shovel.  They manipulated soil when they helped me grow lettuce and tomatoes. Every time they had an opportunity to use one or more of their senses in a new way, they grew in their ability to find and foster art in just about everything.

What are the arts if not exploration and expression? Everything they explored gave them the heart and mind of an artist—whether museums and animal parks or libraries and playgrounds. They were especially fond of places like the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall (a city complex rather than a shopping center). As we strolled along the pathways, we encountered sculptures and flower beds, museums and outdoor cafes. It was all art. Art was like air—constantly moving in, through, out and around us.

Museums and messes. Parks and play dough. Libraries and ladybugs. This is the stuff great artists are made of…

Coming soon: Tips for making your home art-friendly