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Friday, May 19, 2017

Recently, I attended my first National Library Legislative Day to learn how to advocate for our libraries.  We started the day listening to Hina Shamsi, the Director of the National Security Project for ACLU.  She spoke of her own experience with the Muslim ban. She has lived and worked here legally for over a  decade, however, after the first ban was enacted she was returning to the country after interviewing a person in relation to a case she was working on. She was detained and interrogated at the airport simply because she had a Pakistanie passport.  This story led to the main topic of her speech. To impress upon the importance of libraries in the fight for intelluctual freedom and the importance of real privacy and surveillance law reform. There are several acts that are being reviewed  in the legislature at this time. 
Image result for hina shamsiWith all of the political unrest and threats to the future of libraries I felt the need to become more actively involved. To start, I decided to attend National Library Legislative Day in Washington D.C.
What a great learning experience.
There I was in a room full of more than 500 librarians all with the same goal. To visit with our federal Representatives and ask them to save the funding for libraries. Funding that provides the statewide MeLCat interloan service along with over 4 million in grants to libraries in Michigan. These funds help us provide many of the programs that we offer to the public for free.
The Email Privacy Act: This act fully protects your right to privacy in communictions via emails, text tweets, and cloud-stored files under the fourth admendment act. Currently such forms of communitcation can be accessed without a warrent or probable cause if they are older than six month. It has passed in the house but is still sitting on the senate floor.
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act: This act is in need of being reformed.  Under this Act, the NSA was able to collect all communitcations and store them for later use. This includes but is not limited to  phone messages and conversations, texts and tweets, and social media comments. The reforms would stop or limit the collection of these communications without a warrent or probable cause.
Why is this important for libraries you ask? Well, as a philosohpy of the library we believe in the freedom of privacy for our patrons. The Email Privacy Act helps to protect your freedom and privacy.
While the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act erodes your freedom and privacy.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Book Review: A Man Called Ove

It is always exciting when a book that has been praised by both readers and critics actually lives up to the hype. I probably should not say this as a librarian, but books can sometimes be a lot like movies, and the ones that get rave reviews and win oodles of awards can be exceptionally boring. No, A Man Called Ove is not some action-packed thriller by James Patterson. However, this deceptively simple story will make you laugh, cry, and, most importantly, fill you with hope about the goodness of people.

For those of you have not have heard of A Man Called Ove it hails from Sweden, hence Ove's vehement opinion that  a Saab is the only vehicle anyone should own or drive. Also, I have included this video to answer your biggest question: How do you pronounce Ove? I must confess that I pronounced it "Oh-Vay" the whole time I was reading it.

At first glance Ove is the quintessential crotchety old man: bitter, stingy, gruff, and a wee bit scary. Gradually the reader discovers that Ove is also hardworking, loyal, honest, gentle, and kindhearted (though he would never concur with those last two). With seamlessly incorporated flashbacks Backman reveals the people and circumstances that have shaped Ove into the man that he is. Have the tissue box handy for some of these flashbacks because Ove's life has been fraught with tragedy. In fact, I encouraged my 15 year old daughter to read A Man Called Ove and she came home from school very upset with me. I asked her what I did and she told me: "You made me read that book and I started crying right in class and everyone kept asking me what was wrong!" Personally, I see nothing wrong with crying over fictional characters; I do it all the time.

I promise that the book is not all a downer, though. Ultimately, A Man Called Ove is about love and the remarkable connections a man who has given up on life makes with neighbors, strangers, friends, and even a bedraggled cat. Poignant and remarkably honest, A Man Called Ove is a book that you will be thinking about weeks after you read the last page.

Now is the perfect time to pick up a copy of A Man Called Ove because it is the 2017 selection for  On the Same Page in Ionia County. What that means is that libraries throughout Ionia County will be hosting book clubs and special events revolving around the novel. Portland District Library will be showing the movie, A Man Called Ove, on May 18th at 6pm in our community room and there will be a book discussion May 25th that will include special treats from an Iranian bakery.