Author Archives: Ana Calabresi

Tales of Displacement

When I’m craving a good read, the graphic novel is my go-to genre. When done right, the unique illustration and storytelling style of an author can pull you into a narrative before you know it. Here are some noteworthy recent (and in one case, upcoming) titles that may draw you in, too (pun intended).

Hostage is from French-Canadian illustrator Guy Delisle, an adept and efficient storyteller who previously recounted his experiences in lands such as Burma and North Korea. In Hostage, Delisle tells the tale of Christophe André, who was kidnapped while working for Doctors Without Borders near Chechnya in 1997. Delisle’s panels, primarily done in tones of grey, offer a look into the psyche of a man held against his will for 111 days.

In Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches From Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, cartoonist Sarah Glidden tells the stories of individuals she meets in the Middle East while bearing witness to the ethical questions the journalist friends she is traveling with face. How far do you go to get the answers you want? At what point does someone else’s story become yours?

Poppies of Iraq, by Brigitte Findakly and Lewis Trondheim, offers a series of memories about childhood and family in Iraq. Born to a French mother and Iraqi father in the 1950s, Findakly grew up in an environment of political upheaval that began in 1958 when the monarchy was overthrown in a coup. With Iraq in tumult throughout the 1960s, Findakly’s family moved to France in the 1970s. The vignettes in Poppies intersperse sweet and sometimes humorous childhood memories with a look into how life was never the same under Saddam Hussein’s regime.

* Publication date September 5, 2017; ARC obtained from Drawn & Quarterly

The beautiful debut graphic novel by Thi Bui, The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir, is a moving and highly personal tale of the immigrant experience. The birth of Bui’s child in a California hospital is the catalyst for her look back not only at her refugee journey from Vietnam, via Malaysia, to the United States, but also how her family reached that point of desperation with the rise of communism in the mid-1970s. Painted with washes of red, Bui reminds us that our history follows us wherever we go.

Acclaimed Canadian cartoonist Jeff Lemire is back following Secret Path with Roughneck. This gritty, fictional story centers on former professional hockey player Derek Ouelette, down and out in his hometown after instigating a violent incident on the ice. Ouelette’s life is once again upended when he is reunited with his sister, who is seeking escape from her abusive boyfriend. Together, the siblings face their shared past and try to find a better way.

Liz Tham is a librarian at the Port Moody Public Library.

20 year-round library display ideas

One of the most fun parts of my job is coming up with display ideas. I find that patrons really enjoy the book recommendations from displays, I see that those shelves get empty pretty fast sometimes.

I dig the world wide web for ideas (why not, right? I LOOOOVE that our community is so generous to share what they do so others can be inspired by them!) and compile those I like in a personal document.

Besides the regular time-sensitive events throughout the year (major holidays, celebratory months for many different causes, etc), I usually try to find timeless themes that can work at any point, specially if it will make parts of the collection that are not so popular move.

So, here’s a list of 20 timeless display themes for you:

1. Kleenex-worthy books

Grab a tissue before you read those!


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2. From the bottom shelf

I bet patrons rarely kneel to see what’s on those bottom shelves.

3. Dear Diary

Memoirs, diaries, personal stories.


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4. I’ve got my eyes on you

This one is more time-consuming, but so fun! Grab those books with eyes on the cover.

(I did the sign above using Canva – it’s free!)

5. Shhh! It’s a secret!

Any books about secrets or with “secret” on the title.

6. Armchair travel

Travel books, travelogues, memoirs about going places, books that take place in other countries.

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7. Pawsitively Pawsome Books

Pet-owners (and pet-owner wannabes) will all swoon!


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8. Out of this world

Sci-fi, outer space, aliens, and so on.

9. Just kidding

Humour, jokes, funny memoirs, anything to make readers laugh out loud.


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10. What’s your name?

Names in the title.

11. If you liked (insert title/author), you will like (readalikes)

12. Small books

In dimensions, not number of pages.

13. Misfit memoirs

14. Once upon a crime


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15. Predicting the future

Distopias, classics like 1984, Brave New World, etc.

16. Way back when

Historical fiction

17. Build something

18. New (or local) authors

19. Award-winning books

20. Literary bad boys

Inspired by NYPL

One of my favourite places to find ideas is Pinterest. There are TONS of boards on library displays.

Now it’s your turn to share other timeless display ideas in the comment section! 😉

Ana Calabresi is a librarian at Port Moody and Burnaby Public Libraries.

Book List: Retro Reads

60th-logo-teal_smallBurnaby Public Library celebrated its 60th anniversary this year. We held special events throughout the year, including a Readers Advisory presentation called Retro Reads. Our staff selected books that were either written from the 50s until the 2000s or contemporary titles where the stories took place in that time period.

If you want to join our time travel adventure, here are some of the titles our librarians recommended (descriptions from publishers):

tuesday-nights-80 A debut novel that follows a critic, an artist, and a desirous, determined young woman as they find their way in the ever-evolving New York City art scene of the 1980s. (2016)

versions-usEva and Jim are nineteen and students at Cambridge when their paths first cross in 1958. And then there is David, Eva’s then-lover, an ambitious actor who loves Eva deeply. The Versions of Us follows the three different courses their lives could take following this first meeting. (2015)

cover-happyfamilyTrenton, New Jersey, 1962: A pregnant girl staggers into a health clinic, gives birth, and flees. A foster family takes the baby in, and an unlikely couple, their lives unspooling from a recent tragedy, hastily adopts her. (2016)the-prisoner-of-heaven-uk

Carlos Ruiz Zafón creates a rich, labyrinthine tale of love, literature, passion, and revenge, set in a dark, gothic Barcelona, in 1957. It is Christmas, and Daniel Sempere and his wife Bea have much to celebrate. They have a beautiful new baby son named Julian, and their close friend Fermín Romero de Torres is about to be wed. But their joy is eclipsed when a mysterious stranger visits the Sempere bookshop and threatens to divulge a terrible secret that has been buried for two decades in the city’s dark past. The third book in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series. (2012)
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In the summer of 1977, eleven-year-old Mira is an aspiring ballerina in the romantic, highly competitive world of New York City ballet. Enduring the mess of her parent’s divorce, she finds escape in dance—the rigorous hours of practice, the exquisite beauty, the precision of movement, the obsessive perfectionism. Ballet offers her control, power, and the promise of glory. It also introduces her to forty-seven-year-old Maurice DuPont, a reclusive, charismatic balletomane who becomes her mentor. (2016)

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Flitting from war-haunted Oxford to the bright new shallows of the 1960s, Freya plots the unpredictable course of a woman’s life and loves against a backdrop of Soho pornographers, theatrical peacocks, willowy models, priapic painters, homophobic blackmailers, political careerists. (2016)

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England, 1976. Mrs. Creasy is missing and The Avenue is alive with whispers. As the summer shimmers endlessly on, ten-year-olds Grace and Tilly decide to take matters into their own hands. And as the cul-de-sac starts giving up its secrets, the amateur detectives will find much more than they imagined. (2015)

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In the tradition of A Fine Balance and The Namesake, The Two Krishna is a sensual and searing look at infidelity and the nature of desire and faith. At the center of the novel is Pooja Kapoor, a betrayed wife and mother who is forced to question her faith and marriage when she discovers that her banker husband Rahul has fallen in love with a young Muslim illegal immigrant man who happens to be their son’s age. Faced with the potential of losing faith in Rahul, divine intervention and family, she is forced to confront painful truths about the past and the duality in God and husband. (2010)

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A bittersweet coming-of-age debut novel set in the Korean community in Toronto in the 1980s. (2016)do-not-say-we-have-nothing

Thien takes us inside an extended family in China, showing us the lives of two successive generations–those who lived through Mao’s Cultural Revolution in the mid-twentieth century; and the children of the survivors, who became the students protesting in Tiananmen Square in 1989, in one of the most important political moments of the past century. Winner of the 2016 Governor General Literary Award, also shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Man Booker Prize. (2016)  three-martini-lunch

In 1958, Greenwich Village buzzes with beatniks, jazz clubs, and new ideas—the ideal spot for three ambitious young people to meet. Cliff Nelson, the son of a successful book editor, is convinced he’s the next Kerouac, if only his father would notice. Eden Katz dreams of being an editor but is shocked when she encounters roadblocks to that ambition. And Miles Tillman, a talented black writer from Harlem, seeks to learn the truth about his father’s past, finding love in the process. Though different from one another, all three share a common goal: to succeed in the competitive and uncompromising world of book publishing.  (2016) attachments

Lincoln O’Neill can’t believe this is his job now- reading other people’s e-mail. When he applied to be “internet security officer,” he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke. When Lincoln comes across Beth’s and Jennifer’s messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can’t help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories. By the time Lincoln realizes he’s falling for Beth, it’s way too late to introduce himself. (2011)

sons-daughters-ease-plenty

An imaginative novel about a wealthy New England family in the 1960s and ’70s that suddenly loses its fortune—and its bearings. (2016)

Our Shared Shelf – Emma Watson’s Feminist Book Club

I’m pretty sure you and I relate to Emma Watson’s most remarkable fiction character.

Hermione Granger, the bookworm witch turned into feminist activist.

The bookworm witch turned into feminist activist.

The 26-year-old actress was appointed as the United Nations Women Goodwill Ambassador in 2014, when she helped launch the campaign HeForShe, advocating for gender equality.

At the beginning of 2016, Watson launched a worldwide book club on GoodReads called Our Shared Shelf. The group has over 140 thousand members across the globe! With the help of a handful of volunteer coordinators, the group engages in frequent and lively discussions about feminism, human rights, cultural differences, etc.

Watson picks a book every month (though she created a poll for members to choose the book for the summer – July and August). She managed to interview a few of the authors, soliciting questions from the members. Some of the interviews are available in videos. Volunteers have started to translate the transcripts of interviews so members that don’t read English can read the interviews.

Here’s what the group has read so far:

Januarylife-road

February color-purple
“I am trying to choose works that cover as much ground as possible and are diverse… I’ve heard amazing things about this book from a person that I trust… The musical is currently on Broadway (starring Cynthia Erivo, Jennifer Hudson and Danielle Brooks) and a film was made of the book in 1985 by Steven Spielberg. It was Oprah Winfrey’s film debut and introduced Whoopi Goldberg (I love both of these women). I’m excited to read it and maybe do some watching too.”

March

alll-about-love

“This month’s book choice is in honor of bell hooks who interviewed me for Paper magazine this month. Maya Angelou said of bell’s work, “Each offering from bell hooks is a major event, she has so much to give us’. I love hearing from bell, I am pretty excited to start “All About Love: New Visions”. It’s been on my list for a while.”

Aprilhow-to-be-a-woman

“I read it on a plane from London to New York and I laughed out loud and cried so much I think the whole of my cabin, airline staff included, thought I was losing my mind.”

Mayargonauts

“The story is about the author’s relationship with artist Harry Dodge, who is fluidly gendered. It’s about their romance, the birth of their son, the death of Harry’s mother and their changing bodies, as Maggie becomes pregnant and Harry undergoes surgery, but it’s also about inclusion and the powers and shortfalls of language.”

Junepersepolis

“As Iran enters another important period of change, with relations re-opening with much of the world, I think this is a particularly good time to pick up Persepolis. Satrapi’s deceptively simple, almost whimsical drawings belie the seriousness and rich complexity of her story–but it’s also very funny too.”

July/August hunger-modern-girl

September/Octoberhalf-sky

“Half the Sky depicts, in eye-opening detail, the various cultures and customs that suppress women and gives a voice to those individuals who need to be heard the most. Traversing through Africa and Asia, Kristof and WuDunn introduce us to some incredibly strong women and describe their stories of suffering and survival.”

BPL’s Summer Reads

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Every year, since 2007, Burnaby Public Library compiles a list of 100 titles to suggest to patrons during the summer. We call it Summer Reads. The person behind one of our most popular RA initiatives is Diane Sura, our Readers’ Advisory extraordinaire from the Bob Prittie Metrotown branch.

During the year, Diane jots down notes about the books she reads to make her task easier when Spring comes and it’s time to start working on the summer recommendations. Besides her own titles, she also asks staff for suggestions and searches the mainstream media book lists. She usually selects books that were published in the past couple of years.

There are five categories in the list: Canadian, Fun, Thought-Provoking, Get Away (travel, sci-fi, historical) and Just Good. “What fits into each category is pretty fluid, it’s more a way to manage the displays and lists,” says Diane.

The books must be available in trade paperback and they have to be titles we have in our catalogued collection (a great part of our paperbacks are uncatalogued). We buy extra copies for the program, put a Summer Reads sticker on the cover, and display them during the summer. Diane says we try to get a broad mix of genres, with 10-20% non-fiction. “While we do not pick ‘beach books’, we do try to pick books that are very ‘readable’ and gripping,” she adds.

We promote the list on our website under Staff Picks as an interactive PDF document. Some of our patrons like it so much they start asking about the Summer Reads before we start promoting it at the beginning of July. Diane reports “many people use the list as recommended reading for the entire year.”

Here are five books from this year’s list:

all-puny-sorrows

All My Puny Sorrows, by Miriam Toews
Yoli is desperate to prevent the suicide of her sister Elf, a celebrated and happily married pianist. Blending sadness and humour, this is a heartfelt account of Toews’ own tragedies.

ancillary-justice

Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie
Debut novel that has won every major sci-fi award. All that is left of the colossal starship Justice of Toren is Bereq and she is out for revenge.

delicious

Delicious!, by Ruth Reichl
When the iconic New York food magazine Delicious is shut down, newly hired Billie Breslin stays behind to man the complaints and recipe hotline, rather than return home.

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Brilliant Blunders, by Mario Livio
Drawing on the lives of five great scientists who have changed our understanding of life and the universe, Livio shows how the scientific method advances through error.

why-i-read

Why I read, by Wendy Lesser
Magazine editor Lesser draws on a lifetime of pleasure reading to describe her passion for literature. “Iconoclastic, conversational and full of insight.”

Share in the comments the RA programs/initiatives that you have in your library during the summer.

Image: Michael Coghlan

Ana Calabresi is an Auxiliary Librarian at Burnaby Public Library, she is crazy about reading lists.

Readers’ Advisory for E-books (display ideas)

someecards-ebooksfrom Pinterest

It’s a fact: E-books are becoming more and more popular these days. Many of us dread the idea that one day our traditional physical books might become extinct (I particularly think this will not happen any time soon, not in our lifetime anyway, and most likely not in the couple next generations, hopefully). However, it is clear that e-readers are increasingly making their way into the hands of readers. I am a huge enthusiast of digital reading, I love how practical it is, especially when you want to read big, heavy books. Turning a page is as easy as a quick tap on the screen.

What does this mean for us librarians?

I’ve seen people talking about “readers’ advisory for e-books”. While researching for this article, I came across this post in Library Journal. The author and commenters raise good questions that we need to address when we think about e-books in libraries. I actually agree with the commenter who said RA is not about the medium, but rather the content itself. That means, it doesn’t really matter if the books is in print, audio or digital format, what we recommend to readers is the content, the work. It’s really up to the readers to decide what format is more appropriate for them.

Books are the brand of libraries. All formats of books. All. Formats. With the need of an intermediary technology on which to read the story, e-books present a fascinating area of advisory for librarians. We need to be able to be advisors of technology in addition to content.

Katie Dunneback, in E-Books and Readers’ Advisory (Reference & User Services Quarterly, 50-4, pp 325-329).

I’ve had many patrons come to me at the information desk asking about Library To Go (Overdrive) and our e-books in general. They usually ask me to help them set up the app on their devices and demonstrate how the digital borrowing works. Most of them are older patrons who have been recently introduced to e-readers and tablets. Come to think of it, it makes total sense that we get approached mostly by patrons who are not tech-savvy, as younger people are more used to technology and can figure out their devices on their own. These interactions have never been about book recommendations though, they are focused on “technology advisory” if we can give it such a name. When it comes to e-books, we’re using our instruction hats rather than recommending books.

So, I believe the main issue here is promoting our digital collection to patrons. How can we do it more effectively? I think many people don’t yet realize we have these resources available. Many libraries already promote events where they demonstrate how Overdrive works. That’s great! But I think there’s more we could do to make our digital collections more visible to patrons who are not yet used to technology.

Below are some ideas for e-book displays I found on Pinterest.

Printing book covers and adding QR codes for direct links in the catalogue. How simple and cleaver!

WHS-ebook-displayWHS Library

Helena College Library

centralia-ebook-display

Centralia Public Library

Another great idea I found in the Overdrive marketing resources is adding stickers in physical books indicating those are also available in digital format. Or creating shelf talkers, slips of paper with the information for the e-book.

rsz_medallion600 rsz_shelfcard600Sacramento Public Library

rsz_2e77bacf793561c7d991e4c237d43286Marketing resources from Overdrive

Claire Moore, from Darien Library in Connecticut, has more ideas for promoting digital collections to patrons, especially young ones.

What’s your opinion? What do you think readers’ advisory for e-books means? And how can we do it?

Ana Calabresi is an Auxiliary Librarian at Burnaby Public Library and loves her Kindle!

Beyond the Hunger Games: A booklist for teens and adults

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If you saw my reading log, you wouldn’t think I’m well into my thirties. The fact is that I read a lot of children’s and teens’ books. I know books are written – and marketed – for specific target groups, but I believe any book has the potential to reach other audiences than the writers or publishers intended for. That’s especially true between young and older adults. There are many YA books that are also interesting to adults (hey, I LOVED The Hunger Games!) as well as lots of adult books that can spark teens’ attention too. For example, Kidsbooks bookstore in Vancouver label their adult section “teen plus”.

Lise Kreps (Adult services) teamed up with Rachel Yaroshuk (Teen services) to host a readers’ advisory event last month at the Burnaby Public Library’s McGill branch, where they recommended a list of books that could be enjoyed by either teens or adults. “A lot of teen fiction won’t interest adults, for example if it’s strictly about school & boyfriends, and not particularly well written. Likewise, adult books about middle-aged identity crises, no matter how well written, don’t interest most teens,” says Lise. “But there are now a lot of good writers creating really excellent books that just happen to be marketed to teens, and anyone can enjoy them.”

Sixteen people came on a Thursday evening: seven were teens. Lise was impressed by how well read the teens were, “they knew a lot of my books already!” They were also very eager to share their own suggestions. For future book talks, Lise says she would like to focus more on new books or really old ones, that the teens may not know yet.

The audience clearly enjoyed the session, as they reported on the feedback forms, and would like to attend similar events in the future. One person suggested that we also include e-books available among the recommendations.

Here’s a list of some of Lise’s and Rachel’s recommendations:

The Woefield Poultry Collective, by Susan Juby
(adult, contemporary, humour)

woefield-poultry-collectiveWelcome to Woefield Farm, a sprawling thirty acres of rock and scrub somewhere on Vancouver Island, complete with dilapidated buildings and a half-sheared sheep. When Prudence Burns, an energetic twenty-something New Yorker and failed YA author, inherits the farm, she arrives full of optimism and back-to-the-land idealism, but without a scrap of experience or skills. She also seems to have inherited Earl, a cranky old farmhand and banjo-player who’s hiding a family secret. They’re soon joined by Seth, the 20-year-old alcoholic, celebrity-blogging boy-next-door who hasn’t left the house since a scandal with his high school drama teacher; and Sara Spratt, a very focused eleven-year-old looking for a home for her prize-winning chickens, including one particularly randy fellow called Alec Baldwin. When Prudence discovers that the bank is about to foreclose on the property, she has to turn things around, fast – and a few wilting organic radishes won’t cut it. The four of them must pull together to become an unlikely family and find surprising ways to save Woefield. Sequel Republic of Dirt just published this spring.

What I Saw and How I Lied, by Judy Blundell
(teen, historic)

what i saw and how i liedNoir-ish mystery set in 1947, filled with plot twists. Fifteen-year-old Evie’s step-father Joe is back from World War II with a surprising amount of money, and starts a business. But he’s acting strange and drinking too much. Out of the blue he suddenly takes her and her mother for an extended visit to Florida. There, he is none too pleased to bump into his old army buddy, the charming and handsome Peter. Evie finds herself falling in love for the first time with Peter, whom she feels treats her like an adult. But very slowly she realizes she is being drawn into a complicated web of lies between the adults. After a boating accident results in a suspicious death, Evie has to testify at the inquest. She must rethink not only her romance with Peter but her relationships with her parents, as everything she thought she knew about all three of them is turned upside down. What I Saw and How I Lied won National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.

Traitor’s Blade, by Sebastien DeCastell
(adult, fantasy)

traitorsbladeThe King is dead and the Greatcoats are disbanded, leaving Falcio Val Mond and his two companions reduced to working as bodyguards for a nobleman who refuses to pay them. Things could be worse, of course. Their employer could be lying dead on the floor while they are forced to watch the killer use magic to plant evidence framing them for the murder. Oh wait, that’s exactly what’s happening. With swashbuckling action and rapier wit reminiscent of a combination of the Three Musketeers, Game of Thrones, and Terry Pratchett, Traitor’s Blade is the first book in Sebastien de Castell’s dynamic new fantasy series, continuing in Knight’s Shadow coming out this summer.

Here Lies Arthur, by Philip Reeve
(teen, historic)

hereliesarthurA riveting reimagining of the Arthurian legend, told through the eyes of Merlin’s apprentice Gwyna, a scrawny orphan servant girl he finds hiding in a river to escape invading Saxons who destroyed her village. She seeks protection from the bard Myrddin, who uses Gwyna in his plan to spin tales transforming young Arthur from a local thug into the heroic King Arthur. Here Lies Arthur won the UK’s Carnegie award, and deserves to be known better.

Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi
(adult, memoir)

Persepolis-book-coverSatrapi’s autobiography is a timely and timeless story of a young girl’s life under the Islamic Revolution. Descended from the last Emperor of Iran, Satrapi is nine when fundamentalist rebels overthrow the Shah. While Satrapi’s radical parents and their community initially welcome the ouster, they soon learn a new brand of totalitarianism is taking over. Outspoken and intelligent, Marjane chafes at Iran’s increasingly conservative interpretation of Islamic law, especially as she grows into a bright and independent young woman.

Laughing at My Nightmare, by Shane Burcaw
(teen, memoir)

laughingnightmareWith acerbic wit and a hilarious voice, Shane Burcaw describes the challenges he faces as a twenty-one-year-old with spinal muscular atrophy. From awkward handshakes to having a girlfriend and everything in between, Shane handles his situation with humor and a “you-only-live-once” perspective on life. While he does talk about everyday issues that are relatable to teens, he also offers an eye-opening perspective on what it is like to have a life threatening disease.

The King Must Die, by Mary Renault
(adult, historic)

kingmustdieTheseus is the grandson of the King of Troizen, but his paternity is shrouded in mystery – can he really be the son of the god Poseidon? When he discovers his father’s sword beneath a rock, his mother must reveal his true identity: Theseus is the son of Aegeus, King of Athens, and is his only heir. So begins Theseus’s perilous journey to his father’s palace to claim his birthright, escaping bandits and ritual king sacrifice in Eleusis, to slaying the Minotaur in Crete. When Crete makes Athens send seven boys and seven girls as tributes to compete to the death in the Bull Ring, Theseus volunteers to go. (Sound familiar? This story inspired Suzanne Collins to write The Hunger Games.) Renault reimagines the Theseus myth, creating an original, exciting story from Theseus’s own perspective as an ambitious, brave, and lusty young adventurer.

Art of Getting Stared At, by Laura Langston
(teen, contemporary)

art-getting-stared-atSixteen-year-old Sloane Kendrick is determined to produce a video in less than two weeks to get a film school scholarship. Unfortunately, she must work with Isaac Alexander, an irresponsible charmer with whom she shares an uneasy history. On the heels of this opportunity comes a horrifying discovery: a bald spot on her head. Horror gives way to devastation when Sloane is diagnosed with alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease has no cause, no cure, and no definitive outcome. Determined to produce her video, hide her condition, and resist Isaac’s easy charm, Sloane finds herself turning into the kind of person she has always mocked: someone obsessed with her looks. And just when she thinks things can’t get any worse, Sloane is forced to make the most difficult decision of her life.

What other books would you add to this list?

Photo by Dan Foy, on Flickr, under Creative Commons license.

Ana Calabresi is an Auxiliary Librarian at Burnaby Public Library.