Spot the Empire Librarian's blog

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

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Potwins on the mooooove.

Washington_Crossing_the_Delaware_by_Emanuel_Leutze,_MMA-NYC,_1851Yes , the Potwins are crossing the Hudson River,  though in a much less dramatic fashion than that of Washington’s  crossing of the Delaware on December 25, 1776.  Again,  echoing the Summer of 2013 migration to  rolling hills area of the Hudson Valley in New York ,  the Potwins are mooooving farther  North during Summer of 2017.

Good bye to my LaGrange colleagues, talented staff members,  fellow Mid-Hudson Library System librarians,  Friends of the Library and patrons of the LaGrange Association Library.   Goodbye to  Dutchess County and life in the Hudson Valley.

Everything we own is in a box or container of some sort,  traveling  North West by 6 hours.  And there are no mysterious rattles in our boxes (as of yet).  Wheef!  Hello, Niagara Falls!  I welcome the challenges you present as your new Executive Director.  In the spacious light filled main branch and quaint neighborhood Lasalle Branch.

Look at you!

So striking in architectural style yet an anchor to your community and downtown vibe.

So light filled.

So culturally vibrant.

So culturally rich is your local history collection.

So well-loved by your community.

So rich in potential community partnerships.  The possibilities are ripe and waiting for implementation!

It is an area we can subscribe to its virtuous beauty,  its natural wonders,  its friendly people and its way of life.  We Potwins are looking forward to acclimatizing to Eoin’s new school,  celebrating apple Fall festivals,  touring historic sites, cooler seasonal weather, winter skiing and skating,  summer fishing on the many freshwater streams and Lake Ontario,  taking in cultural festivals and museums, to absorb the nature of Niagara area.

I am looking forward to working my magic and fostering a warm literary aspect to the community.     I have met many genuine and welcoming people in this urban community of 50 000. The staff at both the Niagara Falls Main Branch as well as the Lasalle Branch libraries can be described as friendly, knowledgeable, helpful, talented and inviting among their many qualities. The local history collection is world renowned and draws researchers from many countries. Please feel free to stop in to visit, express your concerns and voice your suggestions.  Niagara’s city history is highlighted by the generous support of the community. It is my vow to continue this goodwill and creative offering of services which emanate from this historic building.

I look forward to meeting many citizens, either in person, electronically on the Niagara Public Library Facebook page, by email at  . My office door is open!  Interested in programming or specific issues?  The new fundraising ideas? Volunteering? Pick up the telly and call me at  716-286-4894.

With appreciation,    Mummy will still be relatively close by….a 5-hour drive as well as a 4-hour train ride away.  Thankfully, my son will still be able to enjoy his Grandmother, as we initially anticipated from our migration from Florida in 2013. No doubt you will see him in and around the library, often with a selection from the Artemis Fowl series or an Alex Rider novel in one of the children’s room lounge chairs.

 Potwins:  onwards and upwards. Bass fish in Lake Erie and Lake Ontario:  beware.  Tom Brady,  we’ll see you soon during your Buffalo Bills games.


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An auspicious year —150th celebration of confederation.

Each time I come home for a visit,  I feel that my roots are re-energized.  And my sentences are liberally sprinkled with ‘eh’s?   Thank Mike Myers for our recent (albeit, late) centennial project.  Just in time to celebrate our sesquicentennial.


Mike Myers is a world-renowned actor, director and writer, and the man behind some of the most memorable comic characters of our time. But as he says: “no description of me is truly complete without saying I’m a Canadian.” He has often winked and nodded to Canada in his outrageously accomplished body of work, but now he turns the spotlight full-beam on his homeland.
His hilarious and heartfelt new book is part memoir, part history and pure entertainment. It is Mike Myers’ funny and thoughtful analysis of what makes Canada Canada, Canadians Canadians and what being Canadian has always meant to him. His relationship with his home and native land continues to deepen and grow, he says. In fact, American friends have actually accused him of enjoying being Canadian–and he’s happy to plead guilty as charged.
A true patriot who happens to be an expatriate, Myers is in a unique position to explore Canada from within and without. With this, his first book, Mike brings his love for Canada to the fore at a time when the country is once again looking ahead with hope and national pride. Canada is a wholly subjective account of Mike’s Canadian experience. Mike writes, “Some might say, ‘Why didn’t you include this or that?’ I say there are 35 million stories waiting to be told in this country, and my book is only one of them.”
This beautifully designed book is illustrated in colour (and not color) throughout, and its visual treasures include personal photographs and Canadiana from the author’s own collection. Published in the lead-up to the 2017 sesquicentennial, this is Mike Myers’ birthday gift to his fellow Canadians. Or as he puts it: “In 1967, Canada turned one hundred. Canadians all across the country made Centennial projects. This book is my Centennial Project. I’m handing it in a little late. . . . Sorry.”

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We need a Carla Hayden action figure doll….support diversity!

So this happened today….I was flipping through my recently received Library Journal  ( March 15, 2017, issue) and noticed my letter to the editor had been published.  Thank you Library Journal for including my letter. I am utterly tickled.

So, my letter is a call to action for my fellow librarians across the country to show their support for diversity and the changing face of librarianship.  While it is safe to say that  Nancy Pearl is a loved and greatly admired contributor to reader’s advisory, literacy and the profession as a whole,   her action figure doll persona needs a companion.

Library professionals focus many of their efforts on diversity,  why not petition Archie McPhee, the manufacturer of the Librarian Action figure doll to offer a new librarian action figure dolls based on the likeness of Carla Hayden, our new Librarian of Congress?  Ms. Hayden is the first African American woman to hold this position,  much less the first library trained professional to be confirmed for this position of Librarian of Congress.   Current trends in librarianship are to offer a more inclusive community access point for all.  Why not start within our profession by celebrating our new Librarian of Congress?

Lib Journal letter to editor vol 142, no5 march 15,2017, p. 10Please join with me to lobby Archie McPhee toys to produce a Carla Hayden librarian action figure doll.  Either write  to  Archie McPheee and Co, 10915-47th Ae West, Mukilteo, WA 98275 or email:


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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.