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'Charlotte Helgeson'

Dec 18

Is It a Memoir or an Autobiography? Good question! by Charlotte Helgeson

Posted to Campbell Unclassified on December 18, 2020 at 1:04 PM by Genesis Gaule

Well, is there a difference?  Most certainly.  

An autobiography will have facts that are provable. All the dates and details will have matching paperwork like birth certificates, graduations, and arrest records--not mine. Of course, there could be a mistake made by a human or machine on any of these records so at least a second source would be included as part of good research. In a reputable life story, there will be a bibliography at the end of the book that cites all the sources used.  Many times, there are pages and pages that make up a bibliography for a well-known person, maybe only a few sources for a less known person.  

The majority of biographies, including autobiographies at the library are found in 921 with the subject's name, such as 


Yes, if anyone wrote about me or I wrote my own provable story, it would be found there. 

Sometimes, we put a biography in the subject area that made that person popular. You might find an athlete's biography mixed in with materials about her sport. We do this if that is the focus of their fame and it will be the place where their readers will most likely find them.

I enjoy reading a good biography, but more often than not, I prefer a memoir. Learning why someone does something is fascinating to me. I'm not talking about logistics and recordable details. I'm talking about their stories. The way they remember it even if others don't remember it the same way. One of my teachers said that a memoir is an autobiography told through an emotional filter.  

The emotional filter simply means that if you were having a good day, the memory would be good. If your brother was having a bad day, that same event might be a bad memory for him.

Have you ever disagreed with a sibling about an event in your life? Your memory versus your sister's memory is what makes up a memoir. 

A person's memories are hard to rewrite. Even with a fact on paper, our memory tries to supersede it. Memoirs give us the happy and the sad all mixed up just like they happen in everyday life.

Memoirs I've enjoyed:

Travel Light, Move Fast by Alexandria Fuller



To Hair and Back by Rhonda Eason


We Were Rich and We Didn't Know It by Tom Phelan

A Memoir of My Irish Boyhood
823.914 LP PHELAN

Oct 30

Reading in a Circle by Charlotte Helgeson

Posted to Campbell Unclassified on October 30, 2020 at 4:08 PM by Genesis Gaule

I’ve taught at the middle school and high school levels. There were many things for me to learn while I taught that I have taken into the Library world. One of my favorites is learning how to read in a circle.  

During a parent-teacher conference, a mother shared how her daughter had learned to read in a circle. I was far too curious to let that comment go without investigation. “How did she do that?” I asked.

“When my daughter realized she could read a few words, she didn’t want to put a book down.  She started by sitting on the couch with a book in hand.  Soon one leg and then the other was over the arm of the couch. As she read, she lay down full length on the couch. Her legs would make their way to the back of the couch and her head would hang down off the seat cushion. Yes, upside down. As the words rolled on, the legs would come down to the seat and her head was on the arm and round and round she’d go. She’d work very hard to read each new word. The book was never far from her eyes.”  

I loved hearing the story as much as she enjoyed sharing it.  

Do you remember learning to read? For many it is exciting to realize those marks on a page add up to words, thoughts and stories. For many, it was a struggle and never got any easier.  Then there is everyone in between.  

When I taught high school, a young man struggled as a Junior to read. He was certain that he didn’t need to read to be a mechanic. We ordered mechanics magazines for him and he read part of them every week for his assignments. He wrote paragraphs to explain what he’d read.  He found the value in reading. This young man will probably never read a novel, but I wouldn’t hesitate to take my car to him.       

In the home where I grew up, we had magazines and newspapers, no children’s books. There were cereal boxes, recipes and game instructions. I used them all to start reading before kindergarten. I’d read the city and directional signs when our family took road trips.    

I remember the day that I cleaned the dust from our tractor and rewrote the words I found there--John Deere. Words were everywhere! I still want to put that e on the end of deer even if I’m referring to one with four legs.  

I don’t remember ever reading in a circle and no matter how many car magazines I read, I’ll never be able to fix my car. What I do know is that words are everywhere and being able to read them is a real advantage!

Sep 11

Personal Library vs Public Library by Charlotte Helgeson

Posted to Campbell Unclassified on September 11, 2020 at 1:25 PM by Genesis Gaule

It doesn’t have to be an either/or question. For me, it is most certainly both. My personal library overflows throughout my home. Oftentimes, piles of materials from the public library sit alongside my personal collection.

Why have both? There are a number of reasons. 

First, is personal preference. Listening or reading a title once is my usual practice for fiction. I’m glad that the library has the material available for me to take home, but most of the time it isn’t something that will gain a place on my shelf.

Nonfiction on the other hand is a mix of public and personal. I enjoy memoirs, but few make it onto my bookshelf. Reading other people’s stories is like a good conversation. I do not want to have a repeat of the same conversation so to with rereading a memoir. Some of my favorite nonfiction are the stories of the untold pieces of history. Fascinating, but again, not something I’ll read twice. Definitely picked up at the library rather than purchase.

I have never purchased an audiobook, but I do listen to them. They all come from the library, either books on CDs or eAudio. Stories I listen to are not the same stories that I read. A whole other assortment of stories best heard rather than my reading them. Even as a grandmother, I like to have a story read to me.

Secondly, access is important. The books I do purchase to keep forever are those I will refer to on a regular basis. I won’t be reading them from cover to cover again, but some pages or chapters will be reviewed over and over. I like these books at my fingertips. These books can range from cookbooks to anatomy books. I also collect fairy tales and fables from around the world. I consider them to be references for my own enjoyment and they can be beautiful!

Third, cost plays a big role. Ooh-la-la, books and audio can be so expensive. A past Library Board member was shocked when she found out the price of a brand new hardcover bestseller. She’d never purchased one--an avid library user. When I purchase a book, the plan is for it to be a part of my life. To remain under my care and within my reach. It is truly an active investment, not just a decoration.

The fourth reason is how it will be used. If I’m studying a book, I’ll write in it. Yes, I do that if I own it. Cookbooks have my variations. Anatomy and yoga books have my teachers’ words to help me remember the information. The exception are my beautiful fable books. Though they may have numerous books.

If we use the public library, we can enjoy a book, maybe learn something, return it, not have to find space for it and not have to pay for it. What a great deal!

The library benefits from those of us who read outside of it too. If we read the first in a series and found it to be fantastic, it will be a good recommendation for the library to purchase the full series. Libraries have great resources to order books before they’re published, so your recommendation can be in your hand the day it is released to the public and the next in the series will be here as soon as it is available. 

The library also benefits when a book is purchased by a patron for a one-time read and then is donated to our collection. Second copies of popular titles are often added to the library in this way. 

Some of the donations are put into The Friends of the Campbell Library Book Sales or Book Store. We will have them again when we can gather safely. Then we can find another treasure for our personal libraries. The Friends profit turns around and financially supports programs and materials purchased for the library.

The Library provides for the community. The community provides for the Library and all residents benefit. 

This week, I took 2 stacks of books home from the library and ordered one book to stay in my home. The best of both worlds!