August 3rd, 2011

eBook Envy

My sister is gloating. Last week, she won the big prize at her company’s annual picnic—an IPad. I tried to be appropriately jealous, but “device delirium” is not in my combination of our DNA. Growing up in a time when cutting-edge technology was Atari Pong and the Swatch watch, my appreciation for laptops and Skype knows no bounds, but it seems to stop there. Just ask my non-texting, camera-lacking phone.

Not so my sister, who giggles every time she pulls out her new toy.   So when our discussion came around to “beside Angry Birds, what can I do with this thing,” I mentioned the new IPad app for downloading eBooks through the library.  Having offered eBooks through a state consortium for years, the library has now joined a program where extra copies are available strictly for local users.  Simply visit the Maryland Digital eLibrary Consortium website and login using your Cecil County library card number.  Logging in before you search means you won’t miss out on titles only we have available.  Look for the orange Advantage logo on these recently added titles:

Smokin’ Seventeen by Janet Evanovich
Against All Enemies by Tom Clancy
A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin
Dreams of Joy by Lisa See
Heat Wave by Nancy Thayer
Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
Portrait of a Spy by Daniel Silva
Silent Girl by Tess Gerritsen

My summer reading is still stacked on theNikkiBookStack kitchen counter six books deep—a perfect eye level perch for reading a recipe on my laptop.  My technological ambivalence means I’ll continue to make space for books in my suitcase and purse, but it’s reassuring to know I can get eBooks for free from the library just in case my sister gets the urge to share that iPad…

Are you downloading eBooks?


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June 14th, 2011

No Tape Deck Required: Making the Perfect Mix

tapes“Now the making of a good compilation tape is a very subtle art, there are many do’s and don’ts. First of all, you’re using someone else’s poetry to express how you feel. This is a delicate thing… To me, making a tape is like writing a letter – there’s a lot of erasing and rethinking and starting again… A good compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do.” from Nick Hornsby’s “High Fidelity”

For as long as I can remember, I’ve categorized things according to music, and have always believed that my life should be accompanied by a soundtrack. Events throughout my day, significant or mundane, often trigger a series of songs to accompany my mood.  An afternoon of cleaning requires either the soulful sounds of Stevie Wonder or perhaps The Black KeysArcade Fire or Florence and the Machine are the best remedy for the stuck-in-traffic blues.  The White Stripes go along perfectly with my morning routine and Beck’s “The Information” is a requirement for any road trip.

Naturally, along with the constant soundtrack in my head, I developed a mini-obsession with creating music mixes. I love the challenge of discovering a song that would seamlessly connect The Strokes “Gratisfaction” with The Flaming Lips “The W.A.N.D.” all while still fitting the mix’s theme. I find endless ways to challenge myself. Is it possible to get Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” on the same mix with Owl City “Cave In?” You bet it is. Just throw in some Stevie Wonder and perhaps a Ryan Adams track to ease the transition and you have a flawlessly constructed compilation. I’ve done playlists to see how many different genres I can mix together. I’ve done playlists made from songs all released in the same year. I’ve even heard of playlists made so the song titles rhyme. That seems like a headache to me, but I admire the creativity!

Some may feel that the delicate art of making mixes is reserved for middle schoolers or the hopeless romantics of decades past, but they are missing out on a highly underutilized means of self-expression. Like writing in a journal, creating mixes allows you to express yourself in a unique way, to take what’s in your head and permanently encase it within a CD. I can listen to mixes I made years ago and still remember exactly what I was feeling when I made it.

Cecil County Public Library’s CD collection has been one of the best places for me to get inspired. To construct the perfect mix, I check out CDs from the library, find the right songs, and then buy them online or cue them up with a free site like Grooveshark.  No more buying a whole album just to find that I only like one track. The library’s collection saves me money and gives me the freedom to explore the artists or genres that I’ve been curious about – greats such as Blind Old Dogs and Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. And who knew that the “World Music” section had so many treasures? So don’t let the fine art of creating music mixes die with the dust covered tapes in your attic — put a smile on someone’s face and make them a mix! Stop by the library and check out some inspiration.

Want to hear the great songs in this post? Search our collection or you can listen to a special mix for free online.  Now, with the library’s collection at your fingertips, what’s going on your playlist?


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