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Oh The Places Our AmeriCorps Vistas Go!

AmeriCorps Vista Sarah

Sarah S. has served with the AmeriCorps Vista program this past year and will now venture off to Korea to teach English as a Second Language! Here's what Sarah had to write about how her time with Arlington Public Library has led her to her next adventure in life! We will miss you, Sarah, and good luck!

I love traveling. Some of my earliest memories as a child are the road trips through west Texas we used to take as a family to visit my grandparents in Lubbock. I did my undergraduate degree in Indiana, my graduate degree in Arizona, I’ve spent summers working in Michigan and Virginia, and I’ve driven all over the United States. Give me an opportunity to travel in the English-speaking world and I will take it in a minute. Despite that, I don’t know that I’ve ever been a particularly adventurous individual – my friends make fun of me because I’m the kind of person that finds one thing on the menu that I like and never orders anything else. Even my study abroad in undergrad, which could have been a grand adventure, ended up being a semester spent in England with half of my major class.  
 
I spent this year with AmeriCorps working out of the Literacy House, where the Arlington Public Library offers GED and ESL classes and I assisted in teaching English Conversation Circles, and helping the Reading Corps program, which pairs volunteers with students in Pre-K through 2nd grade who are struggling to read. Before this year, I would not have imagined myself in front of a classroom of children, and I would have never even considered the possibility that I would be doing just that in a country whose language I didn’t share.
 
My time with the Arlington Public Library has opened me up to doing exactly that. Working with the Reading Corps students has allowed me to see how challenging, and rewarding, helping children can be. Talking with all of the English Language Learners who visit the Literacy House has given me a lot of insight into different cultures as well as the challenges that are faced by visitors to our country. I may not be entirely prepared for my time in Korea, but I can at least feel that I’m starting off in that direction knowing some of the challenges I’ll face."Are you interested in volunteering with GED, ESL, or Reading Corps programs? Visit http://www.arlingtonlibrary.org/volunteer to learn about volunteer opportunities at the Library.
8/20/2015 by Julie W. Add a Comment Share this:
Topics: Arlington, Literacy

Literacy Road Dog

 

 

Education isn’t just for kids, it’s for adults too, and Arlington Public Library takes adult education very seriously. A better educated population increases employment, income and overall happiness of Arlington’s citizens. While college is still a goal that some adults have and can achieve, employability is now the ultimate focus of adult education in the state of Texas. Last year, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) took over adult education initiatives from the Texas Education Agency (TEA). This is in conjunction with the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA) which was enacted in January of last year (more information can be found at http://www.doleta.gov/WIOA/). What all of this shift in focus means is that Texas, and the nation, wants to get people out into the workforce.

You may be asking, “How does adult education in Arlington stack up with the rest of the state?” The answer is, “not great.” A study of 77 U.S. cities with populations of 250,000 or more shows that Arlington ranks 63rd. Austin (21.5), Dallas (37), Plano (43), Ft. Worth (49), and Houston (56.5) all have higher literacy rates than us, while San Antonio (73), El Paso (74) and Corpus Christi (76) have lower adult literacy levels (nationwide results can be found at http://web.ccsu.edu/americasmostliteratecities/2013/overallranking.asp). Other statistics are equally shocking, such as a National Assessment of Adult Literacy Survey that shows 1 in 5 adults in Tarrant County cannot read at the 4th grade level, or that the U.S. Department of Education ranks Texas 47th for English literacy (other statistics are available from our friends at the Tarrant Literacy Coalition at http://www.tarrantliteracycoalition.org/literacy/facts.html).

Arlington Public Library realizes there is a great local need for assistance, and the programs we offer hope to turn the tide on these sobering numbers. Not unlike children’s education, there is a great deal of study materials, curricula, and methods of instruction to match the wide array of student styles of learning, backgrounds, needs and goals-all of which Arlington Public Library provides to student learners registered in our programs. Adult literacy is constantly evolving too, and it is important to stay abreast of trends and best practices to help Arlington succeed.

Hitting the road…

A “Road Dog” is a person who is always on the road, travelling here and there, and that is what I have been this year, travelling to different conferences to better guide our classes and teachers in adult literacy instruction. From Ft. Worth to Dallas, to Austin, San Marcos and Houston, I have been fortunate enough to learn from those in the field – the best and brightest teachers and administrators from all over the state. I have also been fortunate enough to present at some of these conferences about what successes Arlington Public Library has had, the details of which I’ll provide in a future post. I have learned of innovative ways to teach content – long gone are the days of stale vocabulary tests and reading that is of little interest to adults. Welcome are interactive lessons where students participate and help each other reach their goals. Technology is incorporated and encouraged, in class and from home. Consortiums are being formed, grouping like-minded individuals to better serve people in need and providing resources that were formerly unavailable to all.

Strides are being made in all programs, whether it is learning English for non-native speakers, getting a high school equivalency diploma to move on to college or get a better job, or as simple as learning to read to be able to fill out a form or read a prescription label, it has never been a better time to be an adult learner in Arlington!

If you have any questions about the literacy programs Arlington Public Library offers, please contact the Literacy House at (817) 460-2727 or visit http://www.arlingtonlibrary.org/arlington-reads

8/20/2015 by Wes Young Add a Comment Share this:
Topics: Arlington, Literacy

ESL Overview

Some of the readers in the community may already be aware that Arlington Public Library has English as a Second Language (ESL) program for adults but how these programs work may still be a bit of a mystery. Did you know that Arlington is home to over 90 distinct cultures? Our residents have a need to learn English to succeed in the culture they now find themselves in.Public libraries can act as the universities of life, and Arlington Public makes every effort to meet the educational needs of its residents as well as those of neighboring cities so they can accomplish their language goals. So just how do we aid our English language learners?

When are the classes?

We offer our ESL classes on a semester basis. This means we have classes in the fall, spring and summer. We have a registration prior to the start of each semester where we test new students to determine their current English language ability. This way, we are able to create classes for them where the other students in their class have the same level of knowledge going in, allowing for bonding and partnership. We try to offer classes that are convenient for the students. We only work with adults so we have to accommodate for a variety of schedules because of work schedules and family obligations. Our most popular classes tend to be first thing in the morning or any time after 5:30 p.m., but we can hold classes any time the Literacy House is open which includes afternoons or even Saturdays. It just depends on the availability of our teachers. Classes are held at the Literacy House, for the most part, but can take place at any library branch as space allows. The semester typically lasts 11-15 weeks, depending on the semester and students often attend class once or twice a week.  

What do the classes cost?

$25 covers the cost of three semesters, equaling an entire year of classes for that fee! There is a cost because students are able to keep their classroom workbooks. 

Where are the classes?

Arlington Public Library operates out of a facility known as the Literacy House, an actual house that has been converted into classroom space in downtown Arlington. There are seven classroom spaces, as well as an office, sitting area and computer lab where students are welcome to work on anything from homework and tests to computer skills and resumes. The biggest benefit of all is the casual, non-institutionalized feel. It truly feels like a home. 

What are Conversation Circles?

English Conversation Circles is a time where anyone of any experience level may practice speaking English in a relaxed, social environment. These Circles are held at three different library locations (East and Southeast Branches and the Literacy House). No registration or fee is required! 

Who teaches the classes?

 Who teaches these classes and Conversation Circles, you might be asking? Well, people like you do! All of the classes available through Arlington Reads are taught by volunteers. Our volunteers come to us with myriad backgrounds, whether former teachers, students wanting classroom experience and practicum hours, members of faith-based or community organizations-all expressing a clear desire to help. These teachers volunteer anywhere from 1-4 hours a week, based on their availability and what time they are willing to donate. These teachers have classes of 1-8 students but average around 5 students any given semester. Our volunteers are oriented to Arlington Reads culture as well as how to best utilize our set curriculum, so even those that have never tutored or taught before will feel at ease and can be effective teachers. The volunteers, as well as the students, are supported every step of the way! 

Get Involved

Between new registrations and students re-enrolling from the previous semester, Arlington Reads serves between 70-85 English language learning students each semester! We are always looking for more students wanting to learn and eager volunteers wishing to teach them! I hope that this has made you more aware of Arlington Public Library’s role in supporting quality education and contributing to a thriving community. Perhaps you are inspired to join or teach a class yourself? Our door is always open. To volunteer as an ESL Instructor or to lead a Conversation Circle, please visit http://www.arlingtonlibrary.org/volunteer If you are wanting to sign up for an ESL class, please go to http://www.arlingtonlibrary.org/arlington-reads 

8/17/2015 by Wes Young Add a Comment Share this:
Topics: Arlington, Literacy

Patron Review: The Goldfinch

This story is the remarkable adolescent journey of a young 13 year-old boy, Theo Decker, the survivor of an unexpected bombing of an art museum in New York City, his beloved mother killed in the explosion.  There are mysterious circumstances that change Theo’s life in unique ways prior to escaping the museum: the introduction of an old man, an unusual ring, and a young beautiful girl.  As he leaves the museum, he picks up a 17th Century Dutch painting, one that his mother treasured.

Unable to make contact with his runaway father and not wanted by his grandparents, he is taken in by a dysfunctional Park Avenue family.  While living there, he meets Hobie, an antique furniture restorer, a man he comes to respect, somebody he can talk to, the give and take of the relationship adding stability to his life.

When Theo is 15 years old, he is unexpectedly picked up by his father and stepmom and taken to Las Vegas.  His life there is totally lawless without parental guidance as his best friend, Boris, introduces him to alcohol, drugs, and street pickpocketing, the boys living day to day for survival and life’s necessities.  His father, son relationship is further tarnished when his dad gambles his funds away and attempts to tap Theo’s educational fund, one his mother set up for him.

Circumstances change once again when Theo loses his father and decides to take a bus along with a small hidden dog (hidden because pets are not allowed on the bus) and return to his roots in New York.   Hobie takes him in, his former mentor giving him the love and nurturing that he needs in his life.  In return, Theo learns about refinishing woods, helps Hobie recoup money by running the store, perfecting his marketing technique to sell the beautiful furniture.  The reader is destined for a wonderful tutorial on old woods, the author expounding on the opportunity to educate her audience.

Theo’s adolescence is a roller coaster ride, one dominated by illegal drugs, alcohol, nightmares, grief, guilt, fear, and bullying; the attempt to get off the tract of life is difficult.   The only stable person in Theo’s life is Hobie who gives him respect and a place to eat and sleep.

The author does a beautiful job, truly deserving of a Pulitzer Prize.   She tells the story in 1st person, her style adding a personal touch to draw in the reader and feel Theo’s emotions.   Metaphors are generous as she uses them to define Theo’s personality, his anxiety a constant threat to his peace of mind.   The words she uses, the synonyms, are laced with examples to describe his thoughts, a wonderful blend of descriptions to clearly define the moment.   Theo lives in a dysfunctional world that includes not only his dad but his stepmom, his friends, his Park Avenue family, and the woman he loves.

To me, the goldfinch is symbolic of a “mother’s love,” Theo feeling the powerful influence of his mother when he sees the painting because she was exceptionally fond of this picture.   It also represents a “loss of freedom” as the beautiful bird is chained to a branch, Theo’s own life clearly following the same path.   This picture haunts Theo day and night as he attempts to keep it safe.   He checks it constantly looking at the perfection of the painting, the smells, the meaning clearly touching him deeply.  After all, this picture was illegally stolen from the museum, the consequences serious.

Well worth the read, this book will challenge the reader to question Theo’s ongoing need for drugs and alcohol, wonder about his life choices, see the repercussions of grief, recognize the overwhelming planning considered for attempted suicide, and see firsthand what PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) does to a young boy’s mind.  Does Theo reach the other side of the turbulent tunnel of adolescence?   Read this book and find out because you will feel the need to know!!

Written by Joy B., Lake Arlington patron

Other Items You Might Enjoy

8/14/2015 by Add a Comment Share this:

July 2015 Good Grounds for Books Report

Fellow readers,

                Thanks to all of you that came out in the heat, for our last Good Grounds meeting. Our meeting room at the Woodland West Branch Library was pretty comfortable with the fan going. We had a lot to talk about and with 15 of us there, we went a bit overtime. 15 people times 5 minutes apiece does not equal one hour-ah well, we do our best and if we have to leave a little later we just do. I enjoy this special day every month. Now, on to our summer reading report….


LAUREEN decided to do some light reading after our meeting in June. She bought a paperback romance novel at an estate sale and got hooked. First she read The Summer Wind by Mary Alice Monroe, which is book 2 in the Lowcountry Summer Trilogy. By the end of the book, the characters were almost getting it together but Laureen had to read book 3 to get all the scoop. That book was The Summer’s End. 406 pages later, all was well or on the way to becoming well. Most of what occurred in these 2 books could be summarized in a few pages. Laureen’s not sure she’ll read another romance any time soon. The best read of the month for Laureen was Gettysburg Replies: the world responds to Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. This book came out after the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s famous address and was a result of a challenge from the Lincoln library foundation for essays about Lincoln, the address, or something people were passionate about. Anyone could submit an essay and 100 were chosen to be published. The authors were from all walks of life. The essays had to be handwritten and not go over the 272 words that Lincoln wrote. This was an easy and fascinating read. Laureen also read one of the prepublications that were handed out in a June SRC program for adults. The book is The Mapmaker’s Children by Sarah McCoy but since Elizabeth reported on this book also, all comments about this historical fiction are found under Elizabeth’s entry.

RON finally finished all there is to read in the Clifton Chronicles series by Jeffrey Archer. The fifth is Mightier than the Sword and Ron enjoyed it, like the 4 previous books, but it left him hanging. That’s the way series books are but that fact can be hard to take after investing all that time in Archer’s work. Still, it sounds like Ron will be on the lookout for #6. As of our meeting, Ron was reading Memory Man by David Baldacci. This author’s work is as popular as ever. As of 7/31/15, only 3 of Arlington’s 28 copies of this book were on the shelves. This Baldacci work is a murder mystery but there is so much more to this story, no wonder Baldacci has so many fans.

LINDA started the month with well-known writer Joyce Carol Oates. She read Missing Mom: a novel that Oates wrote in 2005. This plot is narrated by the “black sheep” in the family. The mother of the family is murdered and the two very different daughters have to deal with that fact. Linda said Oates if a good writer and this particular work was admirable. Linda went off in an unfamiliar direction to read and enjoy a Young Adult novel, Belzar: a novel by Meg Wolitzer. The main plot of this book centers on a teenage girl who recently lost a boyfriend. She is sent to a therapeutic boarding school where she’ll train to cope with her losses. One class, in particular, centers on journal writing. Linda thinks the premise behind the book was solid and there are no wasted scenes and the author is not long-winded. One reviewer of this novel said Belzar “celebrates the sacred, transcendant power of reading and writing.”

SANDY reads something from the juvenile side of the library every so often. She recently found a kit, which includes a book and a CD of 12 previously unpublished lullabies by Margaret Wise Brown. This new publication is Goodnight Songs. Most people think of Margaret Wise Brown when they buy one of their first books for their children, Goodnight Moon. As one of the reviews of Goodnight Songs noted, Goodnight Moon has sold 24 million copies and many of her books have never gone out of print. Brown died in 1952. The editor of Brown’s work found a treasure trove of material in Brown’s sister’s attic, 20 years ago, and this new work is part of that stash. Despite all the hype, however, Sandy just thought this new publication OK-not in the great category. For her 2nd reported read, Sandy talked about the novel Foreign Gods, Inc. by Okey Ndibe, Ph.D. The author is Nigerian but now teaches in the U.S.  The novel follows a Nigerian immigrant who comes to the U. S. and becomes a cab driver but this man wants to go back to Nigeria to steal a god and sell it in America. Superstition and culture get in the way of this character’s plan. A reviewer said Ndibe’s novel is a meditation on the dreams, promises and frustrations of the immigrant life in America.

BETTY took home and reported on one of the giveaway titles from a library-sponsored Summer Reading Club program. She read At the Water’s Edge: a novel by Sara Gruen. Betty thought it “pretty interesting” but she had a hard time with the fascination with the Loch Ness Monster lore and the idle, obnoxious rich in the story. The cover is attractive but the story doesn’t deliver, according to this reader. Betty resorted to reading some enjoyable “mindless mysteries”—among them, Anthea Fraser’s Justice Postponed (a Rona Parish mystery) and The Wounded Thorn  (a Suzie Fewings Genealogical mystery) by Fay Sampson. Both plots take place in Great Britain. As of our meeting, Betty was trying to plod through 937 pages of James Michener’s Hawaii.

HELEN tried us out for size this month and we all enjoyed hearing her add to our conversation. Welcome, Helen, and thanks for coming. Helen was already 4 or 5 chapters into the e-version of Harper Lee’s latest publication Go Set a Watchman. Although some reviewers have been wary of the new book, Helen seemed to be enjoying it. She thought it portrayed modern day attitudes about women in society and she said the humor was still there to enjoy. Helen also mentioned reading two Lisa Jackson books, Hot Blooded and Cold Blooded. Author Jackson specializes in romantic suspense fiction.

RONNIE talked about the Neil deGrasse Tyson book that both Pete and David have discussed in the past—The Pluto Files: the rise and fall of America’s favorite planet. Ronnie thought it an “earthy” wonderful read. She admires Tyson, whom she thinks does a good job of promoting science, especially to young people. This 2009 book would be good background reading considering the recent New Horizons fly-by of the dwarf planet. Ronnie also read Judy Blume’s new adult novel, In the Unlikely Event but considers it a beach read with some light nostalgia from the 1950s. As of our meeting, Ronnie was reading Butterfly People: an American encounter with the beauty of the world by William R. Leach. It is a history of the science of butterflies, beginning in 19th century America and discusses how naturalists and hobbyists unveiled butterflies’ mysteries.

TONY brought a Louise Penny book to the Good Grounds meeting. Our group has talked about this author in the past and Tony discovered her this last month. He read Penny’s The Beautiful Mystery: a Chief Inspector Gamache novel. It is number 8 in the series but these books don’t have to be read in any order. Tony liked this one because it took place in a monastery and the choir director is killed so Inspector Gamache has to be called in to investigate the crime. Tony said several mysteries were going on at once and he thought the premise interesting. Penny’s stories take place in Quebec, Canada. Just for enjoyment, Tony also read a Joan Rivers book, I Hate Everybody--Starting with Me. One reviewer said Rivers’ book is a “humorous tirade on nearly everything and everyone.” A good summer read, no doubt.

SHEILA told us that she followed up on an earlier read called The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry: a novel by Rachel Joyce. That first book is an unusual tale of a man’s quest for peace and acceptance. Now a follow-up novel has come out called The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy: a novel. Sheila read this one, as well, which is written from the perspective of character Queenie, in the hospital and Sheila enjoyed it as much as the first novel, but she did wind up in tears by the end. Next Sheila reported reading American Sniper: the Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. History by Chris Kyle. She read this to try to get a handle on this famous man. A movie was made about him Kyle’s four tours in Iraq. Sheila admitted having a hard time understanding this man’s motivations. Two more books were on Sheila’s reading list in July—The Idea of Love by Patti Callahan Henry (a new novel with the theme, Don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story) and One Season of Hope by Jim Stovall. This last book Sheila felt weak. It is easy to read but not overly interesting. To keep up with her teenage daughter, Sheila is now reading To Kill a Mockingbird, before going on to the new Lee novel.

KATY brought a series mystery to the table this past month. She read Alex Kava’s Stranded. It is a Maggie O’Dell novel and this FBI agent has a partner named Tully. They are both investigating deaths along interstates. It turns out that the serial killer tells his victims that he is stranded on the road. He targets truckers and travelers. Katy thought this a cautionary tale. As of our meeting, Katy was reading a book on the National Parks-no title given.

PETE read a book that Elizabeth brought to the table last month. She bought it in a bookstore near Fort Davis and read it and reported on it. She offered it to our group and Pete took her up on it. What got his attention is that the tiny book, Foxbarr by H. L. Smith was published in Wilmot, South Dakota. Pete enjoyed it as a good story which takes place on an Indian Reservation in Montana. He called it a conversational tale. Pete emailed Birchbark Books (Minneapolis,) which is owned by writer Louise Erdrich, to see if he could get more information on the book or author but that business couldn’t find the book’s trail. They thought it might have been self-published. Pete also reported on The Fold by Peter Clines. The APL catalog classifies this book as teleportation fiction, so it is definitely Science Fiction. It is a thriller as well. Clines has previously worked in the film industry. Pete read a book that David previously bought, reported on and gave to Pete, to see if we should add it to the Genealogy collection at the Northeast Branch Library. This book is Reunited: an Investigative Genealogist unlocks some of life’s greatest family mysteries by Pamela Slayton. Pete felt the book focused on the emotional side of Genealogy done for adoptees, rather than technique, but he does want to add it to APL’s Genealogy collection. As of the meeting, Pete was reading Natural Born Heroes: How a Daring Band of Misfits Mastered the Lost Secrets of Strength and Endurance by Christopher McDougall.

DAVID read a book that Betty brought to the table last month, Night Train to Memphis by Elizabeth Peters. It is a mystery and the main character is Vicky Bliss, a museum curator. A piece of art is stolen and Vicky Bliss has to find it. David said the art theft part of the story is pretty mindless but he enjoyed the references to Country Music songs, descriptions of Egyptian artifacts and the settings in tombs. Memphis in this case is in Egypt, not Tennessee. It doesn’t take David long to get back to his favorite genre, Science Fiction, though, so David’s next discussion was about Rolling Thunder by John Varley (2008.) It is the 3rd book of 4 in the Thunder and Lightning series. Varley has his characters build a space colony on Mars and then succeeding generations have to take it from there. The four books in the series, in order, are Red Thunder, Red Lightning, Rolling Thunder and Dark Lightning. Although many of the protagonists are teens, this book is probably not a good choice for children to read.

PAUL started off the month reading a biography of Abraham Lincoln’s wife—Mary Todd Lincoln by Jean H. Baker. He really didn’t enjoy this book since Baker depicted Lincoln as a depressed narcissist. Non-fiction seemed to be Paul’s “bag” this summer. Laureen had to do some detective work on the next entry and she’s not sure she has the right book but Paul mentioned he had read a book called A Species by an Israeli with the name Isaac. This book is supposed to be similar to the book Guns, Germs, and Steel: the Fates of Human Societies by Jared M. Diamond. The main theme of that book is social revolution so Laureen looked up social revolution and Isaac in Amazon and got a hit on a 64 page book called Darwin to Double Helix, a 64 page book by Leonard Isaacs, from 1977. That book is in the Science in the Social Context series. The next book Paul mentioned was Eat Right for Your Type by Peter D’Adamo. There is a long subtitle to this book. It was written in 1996 and has an interesting discussion about the history of blood types. Diet and weight are also discussed.

ELIZABETH went through a move last month so she couldn’t read as much as usual. She did, however, finish one of the pre-pub titles that she picked up from the Summer Reading Club program at the Lake Arlington Branch Library. It is The Mapmaker’s Children: a Novel by Sarah McCoy. Both Elizabeth and Laureen read this historical fiction book, featuring the John Brown family from the anti-slavery movement. It is a book of duel stories—pre-Civil War and a modern story set in a home used by the Brown family in the 1800s. Neither Good Grounds reader felt it well-written and disjointed was another comment. Laureen thought the title was poorly chosen, since Sarah Brown eventually adopted some bi-racial children but that was a relatively small part of the plot. The historical Afterword was interesting but, overall, Elizabeth and Laureen felt it wasn’t successful.

JOYCE read a new romantic saga by Colleen McCullough called Bittersweet. That turns out to be something of an ironic title since McCullough passed away last January. This story takes place in 1920s New South Wales, Australia as 4 sisters (2 sets of twins) come of age and look for challenging professions. They take nurse’s training and meet many people along the way. Maturity and independence eventually come but the results are sometimes bittersweet. Next up, on Joyce’s reading list, was Old Man’s War a 2005 Science Fiction book by John Scalzi. Two of the subject categories in this book are “life on other planets” and “space colonies.” Those are normal subjects in this genre but the difference is that Scalzi’s characters go to those place after they are 75 years old! They also fight in a war at their age. Very interesting! Joyce’s favorite read, however, was Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship by Robert Kurson. She “loved” this non-fiction book that has to do with finding a pirate ship. The treasure hunters had to get into the mind of the pirate to try to narrow the search for the vessel. Joyce said how they looked was the most interesting part of the book.

That’s a wrap for this month. Good Grounds for Books meets next on August 19 in the Woodland West Community Room. I’ll just leave you with an interesting question brought up by our newest member—how did you become a reader? Was it one book that excited you? Was it a research project or a high school or college assignment? Was it your mother reading to you, as a child or teen? We don’t have topics to our meetings but this initial question certainly made me think…See you soon, I hope. 

—Laureen the (retired) Librarian, Good Grounds for Books Leader

 

The Library’s Genealogy Collection

These books are housed at the Northeast Branch Library and used at that facility. In the Arlington Public Library catalog, enter each title and click on Full Display and Expand to get detailed descriptions. The cataloging system used here is not Dewey Decimal but it is easy to follow—the majority of items are shelved by state.

The first item on this list is a beauty, put out by The University of Oklahoma Press in 2010, but it is a Texas book through and through. It is Texas: a historical atlas by A. Ray Stevens. [Catalog # GEN REF TX.912S] Since this is an atlas, it contains 175 maps but has a wealth of historical material and the appendix has transcribed historical documents. The APL record contains a full annotation and a table of contents, so you can preview this book in the catalog to see if it has the information you need. It also has a good index, for those hard-to-find items in your research.                                            

Speaking of Texas, one of the most used items in the large Texas part of the Genealogy collection is Little Towns of Texas by Kathleen E. St. Clair and Clifton R. St. Clair. [Catalog # GEN REF TX.9L] There are 961 pages of details here and it was published in 1982 in Jacksonville, Texas. Each town has about a one page write up that includes zip code, county, about where it is and the population in 1982, plus interesting details about each town. The authors signed this book. There is no index. Entries are alphabetical by town name.

      

Not researching Texas? How about something on colonial America? The Genealogy collection features Virginia Immigrants and Adventurers 1607-1635: a biographical dictionary by Jamestown historian Martha W. McCartney. [Catalog # GEN REF VA.29M]  There are 833 pages of this book to enjoy and this author astutely includes name variations and a glossary of terms to understand colonial-era vocabulary. The catalog entry includes several reviews of this book so you can read them to learn about the book’s strengths and weaknesses.

This next book is an updated edition of a book originally written in 1879 by Thomas Corbett. Modern authors Laurel Michele Wickersham and Rawlene Le Baron add to our knowledge of frontier life with Mine Owners and Mines of the Colorado Gold Rush [Catalog # GEN REF CO.9W] When looking through this book, you may be able to find an ancestor who went West, but did not make it all the way to California. The APL catalog has a nice annotation of this book and a Table of Contents. Wickersham and Le Baron added a useful name Index of mine officers, owners and key employees to their work.

 

This book doesn’t have an exciting cover but its contents could be very useful to you, as a Genealogy searcher. Our collection owns 10 volumes of this title. Some Georgia County Records, was compiled by the Reverend Silas Emmet Lucas, Jr. in 1977. [Catalog # GEN REF GA.6S] When you get this title up in the APL catalog, there is a Contents Section listing which gives the specific county names in each volume. Armed with that information, when you find the book on the shelf, you can go to the exact volume you need.

Native American genealogy work can be difficult but there are records scattered throughout the Metroplex and the National Archives at Fort Worth to get you started. Our own collection in Arlington contains the book, Tracing Ancestors Among the Five Civilized Tribes: Southeastern Indians Prior to Removal. [Catalog # GEN REF AA.1L] This work is by Rachal Mills Lennon, a certified genealogical records specialist. It was published in 2002 and contains a few nice maps. The 5 Civilized Tribes are: Chickasaw, Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole, so if you are researching people in one of those tribes, this book could help steer you in the right direction. The authors said the Index covers all personal names, place names, topics and tribes mentioned in the book. The Early Federal Records part of the book mentions manuscripts, books and films, as well.  The library catalog contains 2 reviews of this book and it has a scanned copy of the table of contents. The Mansfield Library has a copy of this book to check out, under the Dewey number 970.004 LENNON. You can easily reserve this book with your library card and have it sent to your nearest library branch.

Another republished book that came out in 1900 and was reprinted in 1998 (always a plus for Genealogists) is Ohio Valley Genealogies: relating chiefly to families in Harrison, Belmont and Jefferson Counties, Ohio, and Washington, Westmoreland and Fayette Counties, Pennsylvania [Catalog # GEN REF WZ.2H] This book was not placed in the Ohio section of the Genealogy collection because the Ohio Valley spills over into Pennsylvania and three more counties are included. There is no table of contents in this book but family names come in alphabetical order by county. One of the best aspects of this book is the long Introduction which discusses different waves of settlers from elsewhere (Scotch-Irish, Germans, Quakers and Virginians.) This information gives the reader a good background for research.

If you are doing Ohio research, our Genealogy section has another set of books that may help you. We have 3 volumes of early Ohio settler books that list land purchasers. The one highlighted here is Early Ohio Settlers: Purchasers of land in East and East Central Ohio, 1800-1840, compiled by Ellen Thomas Berry and David A. Berry in 1989. [Catalog # GEN REF OF.6B] This particular book has 12 counties worth of material from the Steubenville and Zanesville areas of Ohio. The other two volumes concentrate on SW and SE Ohio. The Berry’s book has a list of purchasers in columnar form-not exciting but maybe worthwhile!

The female side of the world is often hard to research in old records. Luckily for people looking into the first settlers in America, Patty Barthell Myers made a female Index from an early Genealogical dictionary. The Female Index to Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England by James Savage [Catalog # GEN REF WZ.2M] contains an alphabetical list of women’s names from Savage’s 4 volume dictionary. There are variations of the surnames, plus the ladies are listed under maiden names and married names. The APL record for this has an annotation and Myers’ Genealogical background is given. James Savage’s original tome is also in our collection and probably gets the prize for the longest title of the day—A Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England, showing three generations who came before May, 1692, on the basis of Farmer’s Register.

The last book in this list includes research information for all of the Americas-North and South, plus the Caribbean. The family history section of the Arlington Public Library owns Genealogical Encyclopedia of the Colonial Americas: a complete digest of the records of all the countries of the Western Hemisphere by Christina K. Schaefer. [Catalog #AA.13S] The cataloging entry contains reviews of this book and a nice table of contents. The book itself contains a general Index. The timeline/chronology of this work may be helpful to put history in context, plus researchers for Canada and South America have areas to concentrate on.

Laureen J., AGS member

 

 

8/11/2015 by Add a Comment Share this:

GED Student Success Story

GED students and their teacherCriselda B. and Carmen C. met in September 2014 in their Arlington Reads GED Study Program at the Literacy House. The two became fast friends and would often spend breaks together having lunch in the kitchen between classes, often sharing food and good cheer with other students. 
 
When Criselda passed the Social Studies section of the test in March, she knew her friend Carmen could pass too. Carmen debated whether she was ready for the test. Her friend Criselda kept encouraging her. 
 
Carmen said, “My husband and Cris kept telling me I could do it, so I finally signed up and I passed!” Carmen passed the social studies portion of the GED in April 2015. Both women still attend classes at the Literacy House working towards the other sections of the test. Criselda and Carmen have since passed Language Arts, Science and are preparing for the Math portion of the test. 
 
To learn more about the GED Study Program at the library, please visit www.arlingtonlibrary.org or call the Literacy House at (817) 460-2727.
 
8/11/2015 by Lisa S Add a Comment Share this:
Topics: Arlington, Literacy

GED Study Program Overview

For adults who don’t have a high school diploma, a GED can be the key to a future job, financial success and a better life. However, according to the American Council on Education, less than 5% of adults in Tarrant County who lack a high school diploma or GED take the exam each year. Arlington Reads coordinates the adult literacy programs of Arlington Public Library. Staff members are Arlington Public Library librarians and Americorps Vistas. Arlington Reads works with the community to encourage more citizens to pursue their education. One of the focuses at Arlington Reads is GED Study Preparation. The GED Study Program offers classes for a nominal charge to students preparing for the high school equivalency test. Classes for all four sections of the test are offered at the Literacy House, located in downtown Arlington and include math, language arts, social studies and science. Classes follow the traditional academic calendar with fall, spring, and summer schedules. Classes are scheduled throughout the week at various times, including evenings and weekends, making classes accessible to students with different program needs.
 
Classes are led by volunteers from the community. Volunteers commit to teach weekly and are required to either have college degrees or pursuing a degree.  Volunteers have access to GED study materials from various publishers, but are free to modify their class based on students’ needs. During enrollment, students are given a placement test in math and language arts that are used to place students in the appropriate classes.Tutoring is also available, as well as a self-guided online study program that can be used to reinforce lessons learned in class. 

Link to Learning Express

Check our website, http://www.arlingtonlibrary.org/arlington-reads.To start studying on your own, check out study materials from the library nearest you, or study onlinea by logging on to Learning Express http://morelibrary.org/resource/high-school-equivalency-center-learningexpress using your library card and pin number!

 

8/10/2015 by Lisa S Add a Comment Share this:

Book to Movie: Sherlock Holmes

Another Sherlock Holmes film adaptation has come out! Mr. Holmes, starring Ian McKellan and Laura Linney, is actually a movie version of a Holmes story written by Mitch Cullin. The original stories were written by Arthur Conan Doyle, but a long line of other authors have taken a crack at the classic detective. Here is the newest version to enjoy, with summary by the publisher. You can check it out and see which you prefer, the book or the movie!

A Slight Trick of the Mind, by Mitch Cullin

You'll like this if you want to see Mr. Holmes, in theaters since July 17

It is 1947, and the long-retired Holmes, now 93, lives in a remote Sussex farmhouse, where his memories and intellect begin to go adrift. He lives with a housekeeper and her young son, Roger, whose patient, respectful demeanor stirs paternal affection in Holmes. Holmes has settled into the routine of tending his apiary, writing in journals, and grappling with the diminishing powers of his razor-sharp mind, when Roger comes upon a case hitherto unknown. It is that of a Mrs. Keller, the long-ago object of Holmes’s deep—and never acknowledged—infatuation.

As Mitch Cullin weaves together Holmes’s hidden past, his poignant struggle to retain mental acuity, and his unlikely relationship with Roger, Holmes is transformed from the machine-like, mythic figure into an ordinary man, confronting and acquiescing to emotions he has resisted his entire life. This subtle and wise work is more than just a reimagining of a classic character. It is a profound meditation on faultiness of memory and how, as we grow older, the way we see the world is inevitably altered.

- (Random House, Inc.)

7/29/2015 by Allison Denny Add a Comment Share this:

Book It for Literacy Staff Profile: Marco

Book It for Literacy Runner Marco

Are you still debating signing up for the Book It for Literacy 5K/Fun Run? We know it will be hot, it is August in Texas after all, but we also bet it will be a lot of fun! The individuals and teams that sign up for this 5K have a variety of fitness levels, ranging from friends just wanting to walk and chat to support a good cause to serious runners trying to beat their personal record. 
 
Meet Marco! Marco is a Customer Service Assistant at East Branch Library and is gearing up to run in the Book It for Literacy 5K for the fifth year in a row! Marco has run in the 5K as an individual the past four years but this year will be running with a five-person team, including coworkers and friends. “I like that it’s smaller and not as crowded as some races, and I like the course at River Legacy.” 
 
Marco is an avid runner and has run in a variety of 5Ks in the past and has completed six half marathons! He will attempt his first full marathon of 26.2 miles at the Dallas Marathon in December. “I just run for fun and races keep me motivated to run.” The course at River Legacy is flat, so his three fastest 5K’s have been in the last three Book It races. 
 
When you’re done with the race, we encourage you to mingle, maybe even find some new fitness partners. Or, if you’re like Marco, who bicycles eight miles there and back, go straight home and recover!
 
We’d love to hear your stories of participating in the Book It for Literacy 5K/Fun Run and see your pictures!
 
7/28/2015 by Julie W. Add a Comment Share this:
Topics: Arlington, Literacy