Staff Picks: Books
Staff-recommended reading from the
May 18, 1980 Mount St. Helens erupted in Washington State. Although the volcano had been quiet for a period of time, scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey report that Mount St. Helens is the most active volcano in the Cascade Mountain Range. The cataclysmic eruption began with a 5.1 magnitude earthquake at 8:32 a.m. on the 18th, and within 15-20 seconds the largest landslide on earth in recorded history took place as the volcano’s summit and bulge slid away from its top. The eruption blasted ash and gas more than 15 miles up into the atmosphere. 520 million tons of ash were blown eastward across the U. S. by the prevailing winds and the Spokane area experienced complete darkness.
May 19, 1885 Jan Matzeliger began the first mass production of shoes in the U. S. in Lynn, MA. A shoemaker by trade, Matzeliger emigrated from Dutch Guiana (now Suriname) when he was 18 where his father was a white engineer and his mother a black slave. He found a job in a shoe factory in Philadelphia and worked hard to revolutionize the shoe making process. Shoes were tediously hand-made before this, and Matzeliger developed a shoe lasting machine which would attach the sole to the shoe in 1 minute! He had obtained a patent for this machine in 1883. Sadly, Matzeliger died in 1889 at the young age of 37 from tuberculosis but his invention made shoes available for the first time to ordinary people at a reasonable price and provided more jobs for workers.
May 20, 1990 the Hubble Space Telescope sent its first photograph from space. It was an image of a double star 1,260 light years away. The Hubble was named after American astronomer Edwin P. Hubble and is a large space-based observatory which has revolutionized the area of astronomy and has provided unprecedented clear deep views of the universe for scientists. The Space Telescope is about the size of a large tractor-trailer truck. It has circled the Earth more than 97,000 times and provided more than 4,000 astronomers access to the stars not possible from here on Earth. Coincidentally, the final mission to the Hubble to make much needed repairs and upgrades is currently in the home stretch. The crew will return to Earth Friday May 22 from its successful mission and the Hubble is expected to remain another 5 or more years in space. Check out the NASA website for updates on the mission.
The Universe in a Mirror:The Saga of the Hubble Telescope and the Visionaries Who Built It
If you are interested in ideas about how to lift children out of poverty through education, you need to read Paul Tough's book, Whatever it Takes, about Geoffrey Canada's radical approach to this issue. While working for and leading several nonprofit organizations that work with low income families, Canada grew frustrated with the fact that kids who were succeeding in the programs would often fall back behind once they were out of the programs. He also grew disenchanted with the small number of successes the programs were having, wanting to improve the lives of thousands of children at a time. He decided that he had to weave together a large network of programs that would help the child succeed from birth up to entering college. Anyone who is working on building a Pathway to the Promise here in Kalamazoo would benefit from reading Tough's book; for its brief history of government policy concerning poverty and education, its fascinating story about Canada's quest to close the achievement gap for every child in a 97 block area of Harlem, and Canada's infectious ambition to really make a large scale difference in the lives of children trapped in poverty everywhere.
Whatever it Takes
As the local and national economy struggles and job markets shrink, many have decided to pursue their aspiration of owning and running a small business. Such an enterprise is not an easy endeavor nor is it for everyone. But one of the best things a person interested in actualizing their entrepreneurial dream can do, is to empower themselves with fundamental knowledge of practices and procedures involved in the formation and growth of a small business. Accessing information is vital for successful business owners, both for those looking to start a business and for those already up and running. If you’re a small business owner or investigating whether or not you want to invest your time and money into becoming one, stop by the library and browse our Small Business Collection, located on the second floor. You’ll find books (legal structures, accounting, business planning, financing, marketing strategies, demographic data, tax guides, e.g.) reference materials, magazines, databases, and information about community and library programs that support local entrepreneurs with skills and knowledge training.
The small business start-up kit
Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play, and Meaning. According to Daniel Pink these are the six “senses” that one will need to cultivate in order to succeed in the “Conceptual Age” that we are entering. In A Whole New Mind, Pink’s well researched, readable, and often profound book, he presents his ideas on the need for right brained over left brained thinking in an age of what he terms “Abundance, Asia, and automation” and offers the reader tips on how to increase their sensitivity in all of these six senses. What Pink’s Free Agent Nation did to describe the changing workforce in American, A Whole New Mind does to describe the brains of that new workforce.
A Whole New Mind
How has Kalamazoo responded to its economic challenges? Author Ron Kitchens has written an informative book which answers this question and more. Community Capitalism: Lessons from Kalamazoo and Beyond, written with Daniel Gross and Heather Smith, begins with a brief history of Kalamazoo's economy and then proceeds to discuss how the community has responded. He defines what community capitalism is and identifies its five key areas.
Individual chapters are devoted to each key area and include compelling case histories, statistics, and examples. The authors provide a critical perspective of a forward-thinking community searching for unique innovative solutions. Read this book and find out about the Southwest Michigan First Life Science Fund, "the largest sum of private capital ever to be raised and managed by an economic development organization". It is impressive and this community is the only place in the country to have it. I was fascinated with all the community information this book contains and it is a fast read. I learned so much!
Ron Kitchens and Heather Smith will be speaking about their book here at the Library Thursday November 6 at 7:00 p.m. in the VanDeusen Room. It will be an exciting program with informative discussion. Come and join us!
Community Capitalism: Lessons from Kalamazoo and Beyond
How do you make someone suffering from breast cancer laugh? That is the assignment a floundering ad agency in Chicago is given in Joshua Ferris' first novel Then We Came to the End. Making us laugh at bad situations is a trick Ferris pulls off over and over again. There are definitely situations when you are thinking that there is nothing funny about this and then you will find yourself laughing. If you need some comic relief in these bad economic times, try this novel which the New York Times Book Review rated one of the ten best books of 2007. It is definitely in my top ten for 2008.
Then We Came to the End
Here’s a plug for the topic guides on the new KPL website. During my first post-launch visit to the site, I found that the highlighted topic guide was “Parenting.” I took a look and realized that the guide will be useful for a local committee I’m serving on.
Today I distributed copies of the Parenting guide to the group. They were impressed to see such a variety of resources gathered together… …KPL catalog headings and website topics, books recommended by staff, databases, newspapers and magazines, community resources and websites.
The committee includes some early childhood development experts and educators, and they offered some suggestions for additional resources we could add. I’m glad the new website will be interactive so users of the topic guides can help us make them even better!
mother reading while child jumps on bed
I picked this book up on a recommendation by someone I met while on a business trip a few months ago. Our conversation at the time was centered around collaboration and other various and sundry business topics when the subject of "trust" came up. My fellow traveler was in the process of reading The Speed of Trust and he suggested I give it a go - and I'm glad I did.
In this, his first outing, Stephen M.R. Covey, son of the other Stephen Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People), singles out trust as the basis of all relationships (business and otherwise). Covey first explores self trust by defining credibility with what he terms The 4 Cores - Integrity, Intent, Capabilities, and Results. He then builds on these core principles through thirteen specific behaviors that he identifies as guides toward solid and lasting relationships with others.
Covey's writing is smooth if not predictable, but he does make some very compelling points. Further, by identifying specific behaviors, he provides tangible foundations that nearly anyone can identify with and build upon. As Covey puts it, "Especially in our 'flat world' economy, the ability to establish, grow, extend and restore trust is the key professional and personal competency of out time." In my opinion, a worthwhile read.
The Speed of Trust