Spot the Empire Librarian's blog

Welcome to a librarian's online musings on libraries, literature and information media.

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Making travel plans?

travel booksDid you know that the Lagrange Association Library has a travel section?  A newly updated travel section? Well,  we do. It’s extremely popular, in fact, people come in to browse all the time! Starting in the 910 section of the library, we have shelves and shelves of Fodor’s, Rick Steve’s, Moon, DK eyewitness, Lonely Planet and much more. Looking to plan a trip to Disney World or Italy? We have that. Do you want to backpack across Europe, check here first! Cruise the Mediterranean?  Volunteer tourism Latin America?   Travel to the Holy Land? Ecotourism in Antarctica? Safari in Africa? Would you like to swim with the dolphins in Hawaii, try looking here! Whatever you need, we have it!

In preparation for your trip,  apply for a US Passport here at the Lagrange Library.  Library staff are certified by the US Department of State to offer Passport acceptance services.  We strongly encourage patrons to book appointments online.  Consult our website for information regarding necessary forms, id requirements and payments.

Also, Lagrange Association Library offers  Mango Languages,  a  language learning database accessible via….all free with your library card.

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2017 Oscars Reading List

Pop your popcorn.  It is Oscar time again.

Hollywood movie directors and producers have long found inspiration in literature and this year’s list of Academy Award nominees is no exception. In 2017, 18 of the nominated films were adapted from books, including four in the Best Picture category.  Below is a list of some of those literary based nominated Oscar movie titles.

Who will be awarded Hollywood’s biggest prize? Which actor will give the most tearful acceptance speech? Or, the most political one? And, more importantly, which of the adapted books should I read first? Here now is your annual book-to-film reading/viewing list. All of the books are available within the Mid-Hudson Library System and some of the films are already in too.

As a sidebar,  I  will be cheering for a movie which does not have roots in published literature,  but in fact, has roots within my family and my hometown of Cornwall, Ontario.  Fingers crossed for our Ryan Gosling and  La La Land.  Our Mickey Mouse Club cousin has done well in his career. Bravo.  Let’s bring home an Oscar!

And the nominees are…drum roll, please……


FILM SYNOPSIS: When 12 mysterious spacecraft appear around the world, linguistics professor Louise Banks is tasked with interpreting the language of the apparent alien visitors.

NOMINATED FOR: Best Picture, Cinematography, Directing, Film Editing, Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Writing (Adapted Screenplay).

ADAPTED FROM: The award-winning short story “Story of Your Life” from Stories of Your Life and Others by American science fiction writer, Ted Chiang.

Stories of Your Life book cover


FILM SYNOPSIS: A former neurosurgeon embarks on a journey of healing only to be drawn into the world of the mystic arts.

NOMINATED FOR: Visual Effects.

ADAPTED FROM: Doctor Strange, the Marvel comic book character created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, the two American comic book legends who also created Spiderman. If you haven’t read these comics before, start with Doctor Strange Vol. 1, The Way of the Weird, a recent re-boot by Jason Aaron.

Dr Strange book cover


FILM SYNOPSIS: The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York’s secret community of witches and wizards 70 years before Harry Potter reads his book in school.

NOMINATED FOR: Costume Design, Production Design.

ADAPTED FROM: The children’s fantasy novel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by British national treasure J. K. Rowling, best known for her Harry Potter series.

Fantastic Beasts book cover


FILM SYNOPSIS: A working-class African-American father tries to raise his family in the 1950s, while coming to terms with the events of his life.

NOMINATED FOR: Actor in a Leading Role, Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Picture, Writing (Adapted Screenplay).

ADAPTED FROM: The play Fences by Pulitzer Award-winning playwright August Wilson.

Fences book cover



FILM SYNOPSIS: The story of a team of African-American female mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the US space program.

NOMINATED FOR: Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Picture, Writing (Adapted Screenplay).

ADAPTED FROM: The inspiring true story told in Hidden Figures, the first book by American entrepreneur Margot Lee Shetterly.

Hidden Figures book cover


FILM SYNOPSIS: After a threat from the tiger Shere Khan forces him to flee the jungle, a man-cub named Mowgli embarks on a journey of self discovery with the help of panther, Bagheera, and free-spirited bear, Baloo.

NOMINATED FOR: Visual Effects.

ADAPTED FROM: The Jungle Book, a classic collection of children’s fables by English writer and renowned British Imperialist Rudyard Kipling.

The Jungle Book book cover



FILM SYNOPSIS: A five-year-old Indian boy gets lost on the streets of Calcutta, thousands of kilometres from home. He survives many challenges before being adopted by a couple in Australia; 25 years later, he sets out to find his lost family.

NOMINATED FOR: Actor in a Supporting Role, Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Picture, Cinematography, Music (Original Score), Writing (Adapted Screenplay).

ADAPTED FROM: The incredible memoir A Long Way Home by Indian-born Australian businessman Saroo Brierley.

A Long Way Home book cover



FILM SYNOPSIS: Ove, an ill-tempered, isolated retiree who spends his days enforcing block association rules and visiting his wife’s grave, has finally given up on life just as an unlikely friendship develops with his boisterous new neighbors.

NOMINATED FOR:  Foreign Language Film, Makeup and Hairstyling.

ADAPTED FROM: Popular Swedish writer Fredrik Backman‘s novel A Man Called Ove.




FILM SYNOPSIS: A wealthy art gallery owner is haunted by her ex-husband’s novel, a violent thriller she interprets as a symbolic revenge tale.

NOMINATED FOR: Actor in a Supporting Role.

ADAPTED FROM: American writer and professor Austin Wright‘s novel Tony and Susan(also published as Nocturnal Animals).



FILM SYNOPSIS: A secret government agency recruits some of the most dangerous incarcerated super-villains to form a defensive task force. Their first mission: save the world from the apocalypse.

NOMINATED FOR: Makeup and Hairstyling.

ADAPTED FROM: A group of DC comic book villains, Suicide Squad, who first appeared in 1959.

Suicide Squad novelization book cover

Book | eBook || DVD


FILM SYNOPSIS: The story of Chesley Sullenberger, an American pilot who became a hero after landing his damaged plane on the Hudson River in order to save the flight’s passengers and crew.

NOMINATED FOR: Sound Editing.

ADAPTED FROM: Chesley Sullenberger‘s memoir Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters (also published as Sully: My Search for What Really Matters).

Highest Duty book cover


FILM SYNOPSIS: During an attack on a US compound in Libya, a security team struggles to make sense out of the chaos.

NOMINATED FOR: Sound Mixing.

ADAPTED FROM: 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi by American journalism professor Mitchell Zuckoff.

13 Hours book cover

All film synopses are from Internet Movie Database.


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Annual Report To State : DONE

img_4088-2As much work as it is to compile the necessary statistics required in the New York State Library’s annual report,  it is really not as much work as some might complain it to be.  As an exercise in preplanning and communication, I am proud of my staff working together as a team to progressively record our Lagrange Library’s usage data throughout the year.  Thus,  when the reporting of the annual report comes around…..we are ready!     For more information about library services in  Lagrange as reported to New York State, click herenysannualrteport-2016-v-2.


Since the Summer of 2014,  Lagrange Library has been offering a  community annual report, available electronically on , hard copies  are available at the library counter and are mailed to benefactors who donate over $100 to the annual campaign. Our most recent community annual report came out in late Summer  2016, reporting on July 1, 2015- June 30, 2016.   Click here to view our good works as documented in the most current community annual-report-2015-2016-6.     In the hopes of creating simplification,  Lagrange Library will be shifting their fundraising year   (currently July-June) to echo their financial year ( Jan -Dec).  Thus,  in the Spring of 2017,  we will be releasing a six-month mini annual report for our progress occurring on July 1, 2016- Dec 31, 2016.  After that,   our next annual report of Jan 1, 2017- Dec 1, 2017, will be released in the Spring of 2018.  The result will be a much clearer formated community annual report with one cohesive reporting year.  Big changes are ahead.

The past 365 days can be described as busy (almost hectic) in our Lagrange Library.  Our drive to offer new and in demand services push our library staff to be their most creative selves.  We have a great team at the library dedicated to serving our citizens fully.   Check out our current library newsletter to see what we are up to.



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How do we know it is true?

fakenewsPeople have been talking a lot about fake news in the past few months. It’s everywhere, but how do we know what’s true and what isn’t?

If you use the Chrome browser you can download the extension, This is Fake, created by, which will help you find out if a report has been debunked.

And you can always go to the ever-reliable, pop in a few keywords related to the story you’re suspicious about, and find out if it’s true, false or a little of both.

And be sure to check out the Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact as well.

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US Postal Office Honoring Children’s Literature.

Something to look forward to this year! The US Postal Service will release Forever stamps based on Ezra Jack Keats’ THE SNOWY DAY.


The Snowy Day,” will be showcased in this set of four stamps. Written and illustrated by the children’s author, Ezra Jack Keats, it was one of the first prominent 20th-century picture books centered on an African-American child. Each of the four new stamps in this booklet features a different illustration of main character Peter exploring and playing in his neighborhood while wearing his red snowsuit. The images picture Peter forming a snowball, sliding down a mountain of snow, making a snow angel and leaving footprints in the snow.

One of my favorite books from my childhood, my son Eoin and I have enjoyed The Snowy Day’s readings over and over.  So much so, that he himself once had a red snowsuit.eoinsnowsuit

How cool is this? What other children’s picture books would make great US Postal stamps?

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Merry Christmas!

Sitting on the floor of our living room beside our Christmas tree in a nest of torn paper and fluffy clouds of tissue paper, I am surveying happiness. Happiness that  my family members are finding joy in giving to others, finding joy in thoughtful gifts given to them.

This is a morning of happiness and family memories.  Of celebrating a welcomed baby’s birth. Of celebrating the coming togetherness of family. It is a time which we remember who is missing and wishing they were here to share in this joy. It is a time to be thankful for what joys we have in our lives and of hard work and reflection of a year passed since we gathered last around the same Christmas tree.

Merry Christmas, dear reader. Happy wishes of joy to you. img_3826

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Reading Round Up, 2016

As another year rolls to a close I find myself making lists :  lists of accomplishments, goals I came close to reaching and what milestones I need to focus on in the coming year.   It is a time of celebration,  a time to honor achievements and successes in the many forms  that they present themselves. One of my benchmarks this year was pushing myself to begin chipping away at my bucket list:  to read one biography of each American President before my eyesight fails me.  Ironically, I did not start in order with George Washington, nor with Franklin Delano Roosevelt ( his presidential Library is up the road in Hyde Park, NY),  but with Calvin Coolidge, a fellow Vermonter,  outdoorsman and enthusiastic fisherman.  I continued to read children’s novels sporadically. My third benchmark was to read a minimum of 60 books during 2016.

Thus, I give you my list of 2016 read materials. Looking back, it was a busy year, a year of trials,  some emotional challenges.  I can proudly say that I have come out of it stronger.  Mainly because I had strong and caring people around me,  but also a solace  afforded to me by the many books which enlightening me, diverted my focus and showed  another perspective to  generate clarity.

  • The Happiness Track: How to Apply the Science of Happiness to Accelerate Your Success by Emma Seppälä
  • Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly 
  • Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent by Sydney Finkelstein 
  • Summerlost by Ally Condie 
  • Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo
  • The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald 
  • Glory over Everything: Beyond The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom 
  • Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg 
  • Rightful Heritage: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Land of America by Douglas G. Brinkley
  • Journey to Munich (Maisie Dobbs, #12) by Jacqueline Winspear 
  • At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier 
  • The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson 
  • Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes 
  • America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray 
  • Miller’s Valley by Anna Quindlen
  • Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks
  • Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman
  • Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
  • Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam M. Grant
  • Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire 
  •  Coolidge by Amity Shlaes 
  • Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads by Paul Theroux
  • I Am Madame X by Gioia Diliberto
  • Lydia Cassatt Reading the Morning Paper by Harriet Scott Chessman 
  • The Ikea Edge: Building Global Growth and Social Good at the World’s Most Iconic Home Store by Anders Dahlvig
  • The Book of Home Design Using Ikea Home Furnishings by Anoop Parikh
  • Behind the Canvas by Alexander Vance 
  • Boss Life: Surviving My Own Small Business by Paul Downs
  • Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach 
  • The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain by Bill Bryson
  • Simply Green Giving: Create Beautiful and Organic Wrappings, Tags, and Gifts from Everyday Materials by Danny Seo
  • The Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson 
  • The Expatriates by Janice Y.K. Lee
  • Modern Lovers by Emma Straub 
  • Common Ground by Justin Trudeau
  • The Ramblers: A Novel by Aidan Donnelley Rowley 
  • The Vegetarian by Han Kang
  • Winter by Christopher Nicholson 
  • ’Tis the Season to Be Felt-y: Over 40 Handmade Holiday Decorations by Kathy Sheldon
  • Georgia: A Novel of Georgia O’Keeffe by Dawn Tripp 
  • The Theoretical Foot by M.F.K. Fisher
  • The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande
  • Sweet Pea & Friends: The SheepOver by John Churchman
  • Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy 
  • The Mistletoe Inn by Richard Paul Evans
  • Beautiful day by Elin Hilderbrand
  • A Dangerous Age by Kelly Killoren
  • Mother-Daughter Book Camp (The Mother-Daughter Book Club, #7) by Heather Vogel Frederick
  • Game of Crowns: Elizabeth, Camilla, Kate, and the Throne by Christopher Andersen
  • Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand
  • Here’s to Us by Elin Hilderbrand
  • Sex in the Sea: Our Intimate Connection with Sex-Changing Fish, Romantic Lobsters, Kinky Squid, and Other Salty Erotica of the Deep by Marah Hardt
  • The Last Painting of Sara de Vo
  • The Food of a Younger Land: The WPA’s Portrait of Food in Pre-World War II America by Mark Kurlansky
  • The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith
  • Lab Girl by Hope Jahren 
  • In the Spirit of the Hamptons by Kelly Killoren-Bensimon
  • Siracusa by Delia Ephron 
  • If I Forget You by Thomas Christopher Greene 
  • Your Idea Starts Here: 77 Mind-Expanding Ways to Unleash Your Creativity by Carolyn Eckert
  • Oh, Florida!: How America’s Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Countrby Craig Pittman
  • Grit: Passion, Perseverance, and the Science of Succesby Angela Duckworth 
  • The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks by Terry Tempest Williams
  • Robin Williams: A Singular Portrait, 1986-2002 by Arthur Grace
  • Belgravia by Julian Fellowes
  • Fascinators: 25 Stylish Accessories to Top Off Your Look by Hannah Scheidig
  • Rich and Pretty by Rumaan Alam
  • Dark Matter by Blake Crouch 
  • Dear Mr. M by Herman Koch
  • Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies by Ross King
  • The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
  • Pasadena by Sherri L. Smith
  • Peacock & vine : on William Morris and Mariano Fortuny  by A.S. Byatt.
  • Glazed, Filled, Sugared & Dipped: Easy Doughnut Recipes to Fry or Bake at Home by Stephen Collucci
  • The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life by Anu Partanen
  • Cookie Advent Cookbook: With 24 festive recipes by Chronicle Books
  • Good Housekeeping The Great Christmas Cookie Swap Cookbook: 60 Large-Batch Recipes to Bake and Share by Good Housekeeping
  • Christmas Cookie Swap!: More Than 100 Treats to Share this Holiday Season by Oxmoor House
  • A Very Merry Paper Christmas: 25 Creative Ornaments & Decorations by Lark Crafts
  • Ugly Christmas Sweater Party: Christmas Crafts, Recipes, Activities by Matt Shay
  • Designing Life’s Celebrations by Dejuan Stroud
  • Winter Storms (Winter #3) by Elin Hilderbrand
  • The Christmas Town by Donna VanLiere
  • Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen
  • Perfume River by Robert Olen Butler
  • A Lowcountry Christmas (Lowcountry Summer #5) by Mary Alice Monroe 
  • The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan
  • Twelve Days of Christmas by Debbie Macomber 
  • The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller 
  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  • Thank You for Being Late: Finding a Job, Running a Country, and Keeping Your Head in an Age of Accelerations by Thomas L. Friedman