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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June 2nd, 2011

Something for Everyone!

CBR001043Whether you’re searching for the latest bestseller or the most recent Academy Award winning DVD, the library really does offer something for everyone.  From board books for our youngest patrons to an assortment of CDs for the music aficionado, we make it our goal to connect each patron with materials that are just right for them.

With that in mind, we’re unveiling a newly created collection geared towards a very special audience…the middle schooler.  Middle schoolers are an independent group with specific needs, behaviors, and reading preferences. They want to read books about middle schoolers like themselves, titles like Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney or The Dork Diaries by Rene Russell. They also want books in which the characters are dealing with first crushes and middle school drama as in The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger.  And just like the rest of us, they want the freedom to choose from different genres appropriate for their age group. Whether looking for their first horror read like The Last Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney, a more complex mystery like The Warriors by Erin Hunter, or a slightly darker fantasy like Ranger’s Apprentice by John Flanagan, middle schoolers are hungry to take that next step as readers without it being TOO scary, or TOO graphic, or TOO… well, you know what I mean.

To offer this group great materials that are right for them and to give parents a place where their middle schooler can browse without worry, the Cecil County Public Library is now offering a Youth section (labeled “Y” in the catalog). This new section will be in or nearby the Children’s area in each of our branches. While we created this section with middle schoolers in mind, all are welcome to check out the intriguing titles this collection has to offer — titles perfect for those ready to move past the Juvenile section, but not quite ready for Young Adult books.

And what better time to explore this new collection than right now as we turn our calendar to summer reading?  Stop by, register for summer reading, and take a look around our new Y section.  And don’t hesitate to ask our staff for help in finding that perfect selection for you or your child!

Percy Jackson, Ranger’s Apprentice, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid are just a few of the latest and greatest in books written for middle schoolers.  What were some of your middle school reading favorites?

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