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Author Archive for Mary Estle-Smith



Self-check user?

by Mary Estle-Smith on May 25th, 2016

If you are a self-check user you are in the majority of people who use the library to check out materials.  This year, Jan.-May 72% of items checked out have gone through the self-check machines.  This is an increase of about 1% from last year and 35% from the first year of use. We are on our 3rd or 4th generation of self-check equipment and each time it  becomes more intuitive and user friendly.  The newest one in the Children’s’ room even talks to you!

There are 4 stations on the 1st floor by the entrance/exit, 2 in the Children’s room, and 1 on the 2nd floor by the Info desk. The addition of these machines has made the experience of checking out materials so streamlined we have almost eliminated the sometimes very long lines that those of us who have been around here forever remember not so fondly.

Currently you can renew materials, see and pay fines as well as check out items.  If you are interested in learning to use them, staff at any of the service desks would be happy to provide assistance.

Try them out sometime,  they are pretty slick!

Ready to ride after a long winter on the couch?

by Mary Estle-Smith on March 15th, 2016

If you  pretty much take the winter off from riding to assume the position of your horse(s) personal slave once daylight time ends, Goodnight’s Principles of Riding  DVD series may be just what you want to sharpen you up for the new year.

Julie Goodnight is a well known clinician who travels the country giving clinics and assisting people in overcoming issues with their horses as well as honing their skills.  She also has a weekly program on RFD-TV.   Her teaching manner is positive,  clear and concise for anyone from beginner to advanced riders wanting to raise their knowledge and refinement level.

I have been riding most of my life and still find many helpful lessons in this series.  One of the great things about working with horses is that it is an ongoing education.  I would recommend you start with volume 1, Balance and Rhythm and move on from there.  She also gives you some exercises to build strength and balance that can be done as you watch.   The information in these DVDs can be used in any discipline to assist is problem solving and build the skills and confidence of both horse and rider.  Take a look then go forth and prosper in your horse life!

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Calm down this year

by Mary Estle-Smith on January 5th, 2016
Calm down this year Cover Image

In today’s stress filled world many people are looking for a quick and easy method of winding down when they need to.  One method  that has been around for a very long time is meditation.

Meditation has waxed and waned in popularity over the years and seems to currently be experiencing a resurgence of interest.  It has been scientifically and medically proven that meditation can help people to relieve anxiety, quit smoking, lose weight, and achieve other life and behavior modifications that new year’s resolutions are all about,  so what better time to check it out?

Here are a few example of titles in our collection that may inspire you to get you started:

      Jacket.aspxHJacket.aspx3This last one so my horse and I (and perhaps you and yours) will become one zen-like entity in the new year.

Can’t hurt to give it a try!

Is it going to snow tomorrow?

by Mary Estle-Smith on October 29th, 2015

Living in the Midwest, we all experience the ever changing weather and lament the sometimes frustrating inaccuracy of  forecasting that we experience, especially when trying to plan an event around upcoming weather. The Information Desk gets several questions per week about current and future weather.  We use sources like the National Weather Service as well as local media sites.

There are also many items in our collection that can help you to become a more informed observer of what is happening and  have a better understanding of meteorology as a science. These are just a few of the items you will find by searching “weather forecasting” in our catalog.  There are materials for readers of all levels on everything from weather folklore to experiments you can play with at home.  Check it out!! Here are a few examples:

Thunder and lightningIn Thunder & Lightning: Weather Past, Present, Future, Lauren Redniss tells the story of weather and humankind through the ages.  The author explores the headquarters of the National Weather Service and looks at the global and economic impact of natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina.  In addition to extensive research into her subject matter, the author also designed and produced the text, artwork and cover.

 

 forecastingFor the DIY weather people, Guide to Weather Forecasting  may be the book for you.  The aptly named author, Storm Dunlop includes  detailed information on causes of weather,  how to recognize clouds and interpret sky appearance, and explanations of weather systems and how they  change.  The book includes charts, photographs and diagrams amateur forecasters will find useful.  Give it a try, see if you can beat the “pros”!

71bwcGmvTcL__SX342_And finally, something better to watch on a screen than outside your window: Deadliest Tornadoes. This documentary examines the extremely deadly 2011 season to try to better predict tornadoes in the future.

 

 

 

An Iowa Tale

by Mary Estle-Smith on July 1st, 2015

I have long been a fan of Jane Smiley’s work. While I haven’t read everything she has written, as I am sometimes not too interested in the  subject matter, she does tell a good story.

I am particularly fond of her titles with a horse theme including a recent series targeted to older children, and her Iowa based titles.

Her newest books are parts one and two of a trilogy.  I think of them as multi-generational family sagas.  The first book,  Some Luck,  begins in 1920 on a small family farm in Denby Iowa.  The story follows a couple, Walter and Roseanna Langdon, their children and extended family through World War II and into the early 1950’s.

some luck               early warning

 

The second of the series, Early Warning,  picks up in the early 1950’s and goes on through 1986 with a third generation of the Langdon family coming into adulthood.

Smiley draws characters who are multifaceted and just like real people,  sometimes you really like them and sometimes you don’t.  These stories can be read as a “light” history of the economy and evolution of  life on a family farm as well as the social and political climate of the times.

I feel like this family could have lived down the road from me growing up.  I can’t wait to see how they all end up in the next volume!

Want a better horse this year?

by Mary Estle-Smith on March 27th, 2015

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This series of DVDs could be your ticket to a really nice horse.   Regardless of what your equine discipline/interest may be, you will find information and techniques that you can use.

7 Clinics is extensive footage from the filming of  the award-winning documentary “Buck”.  While “Buck” was designed for a wide audience, this series is geared more to the equine aficionado looking for self-education and a better relationship with their (or any) horse.   It has been thoughtfully and professionally edited to move seamlessly from clinic to clinic covering the materials presented at each in a cohesive fashion.

I have attended several Buck clinics over the years as both a participant and an observer. Either way, one is exposed to a wealth of excellent information and not a small amount of entertainment.  Other than not being physically present, almost every aspect of a clinic comes through on this set.

Watching  participants progress throughout the clinic is always interesting. Those who are focused and came to learn will invariably have the “aha” moment when things click with them and their horse and the techniques start to fall into place.  That moment is a wonderful thing!  Even more can be learned from those having problems as Buck walks them through the process of coming out better.

There is way more happening than can be assimilated  in one viewing. Buck’s philosophy/methods work for anyone who considers riding and building horsemanship skills as an endless journey of improvement and education.  I don’t think I can overstate the value especially of the emphasis on groundwork.  I only wish I had been exposed to this caliber of  horsemanship years earlier.  I certainly would have saved both myself and my horses a lot of frustration and mishaps not to mention some unscheduled dismounts!

If you ever have the opportunity to attend a Brannaman clinic I highly recommend it. In the mean time, this set of DVDs is the next best thing!

The trip from the return bin back to the shelves exposed!.

by Mary Estle-Smith on February 9th, 2015

Ever wonder what happens when you drop your returned book or other item into the mysterious slots?  If so, prepare to be enlightened!

When the items leave your hand they fall gently into a nicely padded bin.  From there, our crew of check in people (both paid and volunteer–at least 2 and frequently 4 on duty at any given time) will come and take the items from the bins onto book carts.  As we have both an indoor and outdoor drop as well as the daily remote book drops, the emptying of bins is a constant process.

From the carts, items are inspected for completeness (AV ) and condition to be recirculated.  Once inspected, cases locked, etc., each item is checked in  on 2 different scanners to be assured that nothing is missed and that security tabs are re-set.  Things on hold will be “trapped” and set aside at this phase of the process.

After being checked in, returns are then sorted roughly by location, media type, and genre onto carts that will make their way to Recently Returned areas.  Print items are available in the public Recently Returned areas within 3-4  hours of being returned.    AV collections are an exception to the recently returned step,  they are back to their “homes” less than 4 hours after they walk through the door. That’s pretty speedy.  New books also fall into the super quick re-shelving category as they are returned to their shelves up to 4 times per day.

Other print materials are taken from the Recently Returned areas on book carts, sorted and re-shelved. Of course, once they are in the Recently Return area everyone has access to them.

Our goal turn-around for return slot to home shelf is 48 hours. Most of the time we are well  ahead of that goal,  exception being  after  a day we have been closed when returns can be exceptionally heavy.

So now you know about the multi-step process designed for accuracy and efficiency to get all those fine materials out to your hands.

 

 

Learn to Learn

by Mary Estle-Smith on January 28th, 2015

Ways to effectively learn have always been interesting to me.  In my quest for information/validation for the way I personally choose to gain new knowledge and skills I came across some pretty interesting material.

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Make it Stick by Peter C Brown.

As I started reading  finals week at the U of I was just beginning. Every day students were in the library pouring over materials  from the semester.   I was learning that cramming was a pretty ineffective method to really learn. Making errors was  cited as a particularly lasting learning tool IF timely corrections are made.The author points out that the more effort that is put forth during the acquisition of new material, the better the retention and ability to apply the knowledge will be in the  future. If this is valid, I will have a better retention of this book because I retrieved the information from my head for this blog post.

One example given is that of a professor who changed his class structure to several periodic quizzes rather than a final exam at the end of a course.  He (and researchers) discovered that by retrieving information throughout the semester that students were better able to retain what was covered during the course and as a byproduct, increased their grades by a significant amount.

He also discusses and pretty much debunks the whole theory of learning styles (visual, auditory, kin-esthetic) from the angle that one style suits an individual for all types of learning.  Research indicates that successful teaching/learning methods depend much more on the material/skills being taught than on what an individual perceives to be “their” learning method.  I know that this is certainly true for me.

This title in ICPL’s collection  is available in both print and audio.

 

 

Biggest Book in the World

by Mary Estle-Smith on November 3rd, 2014

oedRecently I was  asked what is the biggest book in the world, and and do we have it.  The biggest book we own, if  you consider it one book, is the Oxford English  Dictionary with 20 volumes and approximately 21,730 pages.

 According to my research the real Biggest Book in the World is literally  carved in stone.  It resides  at the foot of wbbMandalay Hill  in Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma) on  of grounds of the Kuthodaw pagoda (kuthodaw, “royal merit”). It has 730 leaves and 1460 pages; each page stands upright and is 3.51 ft wide,   5.02 ft tall and 5.1 in thick.Each stone tablet has its own roof and precious gem on top in a small cave-like structures which  are arranged around a central golden pagoda.220px-Mandalay_kuthodawIf you are interested in reading the longest and probably most tedious book, it would most likely be the U.S. tax code with some 74,000 pages.

 

Want to See Whats Coming?

by Mary Estle-Smith on September 9th, 2014

on order searchOne of my favorite things is to keep up with the new materials that are coming in.  You would think that we would see everything since we’re here all the time but the reality is far from it.  So, because I like new stuff,  I do a search of ON ORDER materials periodically.

If you want to do this too, here is the process.From the main catalog page above chose the Call Number  tab and type in the words “on order.”  If you want to see everything just click “search”  and you are done.  If you are searching the new items regularly (like me) you can specify the sort of “newest first” or one of the other choices from the pull down sort menu.

You can also limit by type, say fiction books, or format using the Limit option shown below.

sort 2

If an item catches your interest you can place a hold. Also if you know of something  coming out that we have not yet ordered you can request that we purchase it through the link in the blue box on the right side of the screen.

A good deal all around.  Give it a try.

 




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