Humeston Public Library

This blog is written by a librarian in a small town in south central Iowa. Originally, this blog began as a reader's advisory to highlight some of the great reads available to loan to our library patrons. However, the focus of the blog was too narrow so I have changed the address and now include anything involving our local library on this blog site. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Bikrarian on Day 5 of RAGBRAI

I am riding for the 5th consecutive day on the big ride. It is a wonderful vacation. I love visiting with librarians across the state. So many of the towns we have been through have new buildings or additions on the prior facilities.

Today I get to meet up with my kids so this post is especially short. I'll try to post a longer post on all of my thoughts on the ride when I get back home.

On the road again....

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Beautiful Tuesday Morning for Bikrarian

It is the third day of RAGBRAI and it is a beautiful sunny morning. It will be cool and comfortable for another hour or so and then I'll really be feeling the heat.

Yesterday , we rode from Spencer to Humboldt - the highest mileage day all week. It was WINDY. The winds were from the south and we had 30 m iles straight into it early in the day. By the time I got to the nice town of Humboldt, I was ready to fall over from exhaustion. There was a station of sports massage therapists set up near my camp so I splurged on a 20 minute massage. It felt wonderful - it was worth the $20 price tag. My only dissapointment with Humboldt was that the party and entertainment was just 2 blocks from my campground. We heard music and associated partying until midnight. Now I like a little party too but after and exhausting day of bike riding and the promise of waking up at 4:15 the next day to do it all again that was a little much for my taste. Maybe in Hampton we'll get a quiet campground.

I hope to see "Quadzilla" on the ride but haven't as of yet. Quadzilla is a bicycle built for four often ridden by a family with 2 kids on the middle seats. Makes it sort of tough for them to goof off and get away from the parents - if they don't want to walk to the next town, they had better be ready to ride when mom and dad are.

I am totally enjoying my quest to stop at all of the libraries on by big ride. Only a few have been closed and I missed Rock Rapids and Spencer because I was too darn tired to go find them.

Time to get back on the bike.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


I was up at 4:15 Sunday morning the first day of the ride. I didn't intend to get up this early but I needed to use the facilities. By the time I got back from the quarter mile walk to said facilities I was too awake to bother trying to sleep again. I packed up my tent and was on my bike by 5:20. It was sort of dark but there were plenty of bikes ahead of me with lights. It is a beautiful cool morning with a brisk breeze - breeze not wind really.

The first town I arrived in was George. I found the library and was greeted by a very friendly librarian and a volunteer that regularly assists her. I plan to stop at as many libraries as possible this week so I'll end this blog and get back on my bike.

Bikrarian Arrives in Rock Rapids

My bike club from Marshalltown, Iowa arrived in Rock Rapids on Saturday. This seems like it is probably a quiet little town but when 10,000 bike riders and thousands of support people arrived it bacame a bit chaotic.

I didn't get to the library in Rock Rapids. I was busy setting up my tent and getting in the mindset for the big ride. I haven't been on RAGBRAI since 2001 so I worried that some of the things would be tough to adjust to. Putting up my tent was easy, though. I guess once you learn how, it comes back to you - just like riding a bicycle.

I did do the ceremonial tire dip on Saturday as well. Rock Rapids is not on the Missouri, so I settled for a dip in the Rock River. Our bike club also had a social gathering in the evening and I enjoyed recoginzing faces from the last time I rode.

One thing I noticed is that nearly all riders have cell phones. This makes it impossible to call out because the network is always busy. I'll have to try to call Grandma and my kids during the daytime instead of the evening while I ride the ride.

Check back throughout the week to more updates on my vacation

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Bikrarian goes on RAGBRAI

From July 22 to July 28, 2007 I will be a bikrarian. This is not really a word, of course, but it is fitting for a biking librarian. I am riding the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa or RAGBRAI for short. This ride begins in Rock Rapids and ends in Bellvue, Iowa. The trip is nearly 500 miles and includes one day with an optional loop to make the day a 100 mile day. There will be more than 10,000 riders and I am thrilled to be one of them. My plan for the trip is to visit as many libraries as possible and get signatures of as many librarians as I can. It will be fun to meet other like-minded people. Besides, I know I will see plenty of strange people on the ride each day.

For more information on RAGBRAI, click here.

Oh yeah, Lance Armstrong is riding this year, too. I think that is great, but he is not the reason that I am riding. I have been planning on this for almost 2 years. This is my vacation for the year. I am looking forward to a great week and expect to come back completely rested and refreshed.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Minimum Wage Increase

The new state of Iowa minimum wage law has been passed and signed. There was very little opposition to the bill. This law will affect many small towns with libraries - Humeston being one of them.

Generally speaking, librarians are intelligent, highly qualified and highly trained individuals. For some reason though, across the state (especially in small towns,) the job is considered to be of less importance or one that could be done by a monkey. The perception is that the librarian is there just to guard the books and when there are no visitors the librarian just sits and reads. Yeah, right! I'll expound in the future on all of the things that librarians do to serve their communities.

Anyway, I have been working as the librarian here in Humeston for just over three years now. I have been getting paid slightly above the required minimum wage and received a small increase each of the last 2 years. While those increases were small, I did appreciate them because it was merit-based. Essentially I was rewarded for doing a good job. Now when next January rolls around I'll be getting a big wage hike but it is not in recognition for how my work has benefited the community, it will be for the reason that the minimum wage has increased and cities need to pay librarians at least minimum wage. So I should be happy that I'll be bringing home a bigger paycheck next year but I find the thought not fully satisfying. For the record, I am the only city employee that is affected by this new minimum wage law. Everyone else working for the city is already making more or much more than $7.25 per hour.

So I guess what I am saying is that I have mixed emotions about this whole thing. I know my time and skills are worth a great deal more than $7.25 but I also know how libraries struggle to maintain technology and a good selection of materials for education and entertainment. Using more budget on wages means that less money will be used somewhere else. That is just how it works. I hope the library services available to the fine people of Humeston don't suffer in the wake of this new minimum wage law.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

More Warm and Fuzzy books

If you are in the mood for easy to read books that will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy then I have another series of books to recommend. I stated on an earlier post that one of my hobbies is quilting. So, once again, I was thrilled to find a nice fiction book that had quilts, quilting and quilters as part of the main plot. I have really enjoyed the Elm Creek Quilts series by Jennifer Chiaverini. I have read all 9 books in this series and eagerly await the next one if there is another one. Without giving away the entire storyline, I will say that that the setting is a mansion in Pennsylvania and the plot generally follow one themes. Some of the books explore the history of the family that built the mansion and the ancestors of the current owner and the others tells about the present-day activities at the quilt camp that the mansion is now used for. Chiaverini does a great job with character development. Her descriptions are colorful and vivid. While you need not be a quilter to enjoy the stories, the references to quilting seem accurate. The author is a very inclusive when it comes to the different styles of quilting. Quilters have different preferences and styles and they are all welcome at Elm Creek Manor. Just reading one of these great books makes me want to slip away for a week at quilt camp. But, since I am always busy at the library, I'll have to settle for going to quilt camp in my dreams while I am tucked in under one of my favorite home made quilts.


I have begun a new outreach project for the Humeston Public Library. Twice a month I lead activity time at the local preschool and 2 area daycare centers. I have so much fun working with kids age 2 to 5. Today I was at the preschool and I read the story Baghead by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. This cute book tells about how a young boy spends an entire day with a brown bag on his head. He manages to do all of his normal activities throughout the day. Finally his sister asks why he is wearing the bag and he reveals that he cut his own hair and the result was not very good. This book has great illustrations and it a story that kids can really connect with. I just hope none of the kids I read to today go home and cut their hair.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Is It Really About Elephants?

I want to write briefly about a new book in our collection. The Des Moines Register has shown Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen at the top of the best seller list for several weeks. I admit that our library doesn't often have very many of the books on the Register's best seller list, but we usually have two or three in our collection. I read a short review on this book and thought it was worth adding to our collection. I have not yet had the opportunity to read this book but initial response is very positive and those who have read it said it was enjoyable and that they would recommended it to others. Maybe some day I will get to read it and will find out just how much of the story is really about elephants.