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'Charlotte Helgeson'

Jul 30

Do I Have to Finish It? by Charlotte Helgeson

Posted to Campbell Unclassified on July 30, 2020 at 2:47 PM by Genesis Gaule

close up of a person in a pink t-shirt reading an open book

I’ve started thousands and thousands of books. I’ve finished the majority of them. What?!?

It’s true. I haven’t finished every book I started. They didn’t all hit the spot and there are so many fantastic books I want to read.

This is where the library offers one more advantage. If I check out 2 books at the library and find that the first one isn’t entertaining me or informing me the way I had hoped then I put it aside and read my other choice. Super great idea, checking out a variety to make sure I picked the just right title.

How to pick a book that will take me where I want to go:

  • Here’s my first secret. Read the first 13 lines. Right, a good author can easily catch a reader’s attention in just a few sentences. Often, the first line grabs me and I’m off into a great read!
  • My second secret, if those lines almost caught me then I open to a random page and read only a few lines. Dialogue is good if it is fiction. The end of a subsection if it is nonfiction. If it sounds real then the book will get more of my attention. Even nonfiction books don’t always sound real.
  • I know patrons who read the end first. I’ve never done that and have no intention of trying that approach. Endings can be magnificent, especially when I’m surprised!
  • If still uncertain, my third go-to is to look for other author’s comments on the book jacket. Do I recognize the author and if so, do I like that author’s work? That can sway me.

These guidelines help me choose books for my own reading. Selection of materials for the library’s collection involves quite a bit more work and isn’t nearly as fun.

So back to where I started. How do I decide if the book is going to get better or even amazing when the beginning is ordinary? Excellent question and one our staff discusses often. Some of us have the obligatory, “I started it; I’ll finish it,” mindset. Others go with the first chapter and hope there is a catch at the end that jumps the reader into Chapter 2. Then there is the 100 page trial--way too long for me. I go back to that jump start. If I’m not caught early on there is no chance I’ll push through to the end. My list of must-reads continues to grow at a rate that will outlast my longevity.

To have a public library to try different genres, authors, or formats is a wonderful advantage. Sampling a new book can be like test driving a car or trying on new clothes. Don’t settle for ordinary when there is extraordinary on another shelf!

I’d love to hear how you choose your books. Of course, our friends are a great source of recommendations for what to read next.

In the words of a 3-year-old patron, “I picked this one because it was pink.”

Jun 26

My First Visit to a Public Library by Charlotte Helgeson

Posted to Campbell Unclassified on June 26, 2020 at 1:57 PM by Genesis Gaule

I was 16 years old before I entered a public library.

jane eyre by bronte book-cover

My driving started early on the farm, but it didn’t translate into driving my own vehicle regularly until I left for college. Driving to town usually meant running an errand for my parents, like groceries or going to pick up an equipment part. Those errands never included the public library. In fact, I’m certain I never considered it until I couldn’t get a copy of Jane Eyre at the high school library.  

I didn’t regularly read classics as a teenager, but I was intrigued when a title was not included in our school library and my teachers and librarian would not help me get a copy. What was it all about? Why didn’t they want me to read it?

Curiosity is powerful. 

I walked up the front steps to our brick public library. Straight in from the front door, the circulation desk held court. Nervous, even though I spent a lot of time in our school library, I stood directly in front of the desk and waited for the librarian to address me--in a whisper.  

“May I have a copy of Jane Eyre?”  I asked.

“Do you have a library card?” She knew me as well as she knew everyone in our small town. I’d be willing to bet that she also knew the name on every single Library Card.

“No.” I was prepared to turn around and leave. I had no idea what I was supposed to do to gain the privilege only she could bestow on me.  

“Age.” That was meant as a question though it sounded like a condemnation.

“Sixteen.” She pulled out an application card and continued with the questions until she had filled it with her beautiful script. Without another word, she walked through the doors behind her and I listened intently to make sure she hadn’t abandoned me. On her return, she set the library’s copy of Jane Eyre on the counter, removed the card in its back pocket, wrote my name on it with a due date two weeks in the future and stamped the same date on the slip inside the back cover.  

She looked up at me and said, “As you can see this book has been well used. Be kind to it and I expect it back as you have received it.”  

I was afraid to pick it up. A rubberband held it together. Honestly, I had no intention of taking a deep breath while holding it certain that if it didn’t smell like a Great Uncle then my eyes deceived me. Decrepit, abused or much loved? I didn’t know the difference. I had a public library book. I had a library card!  

I read that book, gently turning each page, breathing shallowly and then returning it--early.

Jun 12

Take the Time on Memorial Day Weekend by Charlotte Helgeson

Posted to Campbell Unclassified on June 12, 2020 at 11:26 AM by Genesis Gaule

We often miss the mark over Memorial Day Weekend by not remembering why we celebrate and hold special services during this weekend.  A day for honoring Americans who lost their lives while protecting our country started just after the Civil War.  A time when our country needed great healing.  

Gathering together has often given us the strength and hope needed to continue forward and thrive.  For now, our big celebrations are put on hold.  Staying home more may give us the time to read or watch a movie about some of these soldiers.  We can take the time to think about the effort put forward to keep our lives and families safe.

The East Grand Forks Campbell Library has a wonderful Military History Section named after a dedicated civil servant and vet, Henry Tweten.  He is one of the many who can relate to stories told about World War II and share his with others.  With fewer places to gather, we can still hear or read some of these great stories in the safety of our own homes.

Some of my suggestions from our great Military History Section are:

Hymns of the Republic:  the story of the final year of the American Civil War by S.C. Gwynne

The American Expeditionary Forces in the Great War by Maartin Otte

Or perhaps, this is the time to watch a DVD from our Military History Section.  Such as, Great Battles of World War II or The History Channel Ultimate Collections.

We also have many Junior reads about our military history.  I particularly enjoyed, I Survived the Battle of D-Day, 1944 and I Survived the American Revolution, 1776 both by Lauren Tarshis.   

These materials can inspire questions for grandparents or help a family remember a story that has never been shared before.  

Take a little time this Memorial Day to think about the many brave and hardworking Americans that have kept us safe in our past and keep us safe today.