Saturday, January 24, 2015

New board member, progress on the catalog, and plans for the summer

We have several events coming up in February through May (more on that soon), and we now have one alternate board member, Jasmine Stokes, to help when the regular board members are out of town or unable to make it. She is working with Varpu Lotvonen on organizing our collections. Jasmine has long been associated with Angry Young & Poor and various theatre efforts in town, and has strong organizational skills (she's also an excellent costumer!). She attended her first meeting in January, but assisted the library with the LiBerry Music Festival as stage manager.

The JTEL catalog is now up to 3,479 titles in our collections, and more being added rapidly. The advantage of LibraryThing, although it doesn't do much that a full-scale library might need, is that it is very very simple, and adequate for our current needs. Board member Phil Rulon is looking into open-source software that might serve as full-function library software, such as Evergreen ILS. However, this software, and any such full-service open-source software, may be beyond us at for several years, as described in this article in Library Journal.

Our upcoming construction plans include 1) making the interior of the Clausen Cabin useable; 2) adding a ramp and arctic entries; and 3) fixing the front railing of the cabin.

We also will be doing sitework on the library site; if we get sufficient funds from the legislature and other sources, we can tackle the foundation and shell as well as the construction survey and groundwork—but we need your help. How? Simple! write to your legislator in support of the JTEL's capital request to construct a passive house community library and cc us a copy of your letter. More information is available here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

New board, new charge

The annual meeting was a bit disorganized and began with a near-death experience for one board member, who is violently allergic to nuts (walnut caramel raspberry ice cream, even home-made, was NOT good for her health, and resulted in the absence of two board members and, as you can imagine, some consternation at the beginning of the meeting).

After things got going, sans agenda and the two willing but otherwise occupied members (one ill, one helping), we got down to the business of reviewing the year and presenting the annual report. The Annual Report was simplified somewhat from last year, offering:

  • the President's Report
  • Friends of the John Trigg Ester Library
  • Financial Report (to be corrected)
  • Fundraising & Grants Report
  • Program Overview for FY 2014
  • Acknowledgement & Thanks

The membership enthusiastically approved the proposed Friends. The board was charged with seeking professional assistance with bookkeeping. The new board of directors includes:

  • Deirdre Helfferich, president
  • Connie Huffman, treasurer
  • Varpu Lotvonen
  • Hans Mölders
  • James Rogan, vice president
  • Phil Rulon
  • Eric Zentner, secretary
The membership entrusted the board to find the needed two alternate board members.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Annual Membership Meeting October 19

It's that time of year again!

Your Board of Directors invites you to come to the annual membership meeting for some excellent food, fun door prizes, and for the business of the library. It's your library, so please join us—we promise it'll be short.

Location: Hartung Hall, Main Street & Ester Loop & Wellhouse Road, in Ester
Time: 5 pm
Day: Sunday, October 19

There's parking at the library (3629 Main Street) a block away, or, if you are inclined to beverages, at the Golden Eagle.

The board has no votes to bring to the membership, other than elections, but we do seek your feedback on the Friends of the Ester Library, and, of course, this is the ideal time for any member to bring forward any issue or idea.

We have a nine-member board, three of whom are continuing onward, two who are retiring with this election, leaving four members running for six spaces. We will need two library members to fill those remaining two board spaces.

Hope to see you there!

October lectures

The winter library lecture series has begun! October's lectures kicked off with Merritt Helfferich on Wednesday, October 8, speaking on the Berlin Blockade of 1948–1949, and the "Raisin Bombers" who dropped small parachutes of candy and dried fruit to the children at the end of the runway in Berlin during the Blockade. This was the first time an event like this was held at the Clausen Cabin, and the eleven guests were comfortable, but we were lucky more didn't come! Helfferich gave a slide show and illuminating talk.

Berliners in the ruins at the end of the runway watching the planes.

Our next lecture is scheduled for Tuesday evening at 7 pm, Hartung Hall, and will be given by Paolo Greer. "A Revised History of Machu Picchu" is about Greer's personal research on Machu Picchu, the most famous archaeological site in the Western Hemisphere, and what he discovered about the history of its looting. He will describe the purposes the most important building in Machu Picchu serve, something about which the ‘experts’ are very vague. Also, Greer will tell where the lost statue of the God-Inca (Pachacútec) stood in the city, where it might be now, where Pachacútec’s mummy may be now, and a little about ‘Plateriayoc,’ the sister city of Machu Picchu.

Left: Greer on the cover of South American Explorer, issue 25, in 1984.
Right: Geer in 2013, guiding a group of guides to Machu Picchu (in the background).

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Save seeds from your favorite tomato!

The Growing Ester's Biodiversity program is pleased to present for the second year a free workshop on saving seeds from tomatoes and other pulpy fruits. Many such fruits require a period of fermentation to remove the projective coating that prevents germination, while others, such as tomatillos, do not.

Aurora Siberian tomatoes grown in Ester, 2014. Photo and garden by Deirdre Helfferich, GEB director.

This year, as in our first year of conducting the workshop, we have the good fortune to have local grower and seedsman Kurt Wold of Pingo Farm / Zone 1 Grown in attendance; Wold has been finding tomato and pepper varieties that do well in our climate and offering them in his catalog. He is the only seed grower for vegetable seeds in the state. He is also a certified potato grower. Wold is the organizer of the Great Alaska Turnip Breeding Project, in which local gardeners grow turnips and harvest the seed or report on the results, with an eye to developing a tasty, tender, large, root-maggot-resistant turnip for the Interior. Wold will talk about the project and bring bouquets of lettuce and carrot flowers.

The workshop details:

  • location: John Trigg Ester Library Clausen Cabin, 3629 Main Street
  • time/date: 4 pm, Saturday, September 27, 2014
  • bring: heirloom/open-pollinated tomatoes, cucumbers, or tomatillos, a sharp knife, a jar and lid for each variety you'd like to save, towels, and a cutting board or plate
We'll provide labels, pens, informational handouts, and some extra jars if people run out. We will also have samples from our seed library. Bring extra tomatoes and we'll have a tomato tasting!

Horror at the JTEL and Readers on the Run

It's fall—and you know what that means! Well, yes, harvest and yard cleanup and preparation for the white stuff, of course, but also—Readers on the Run! (Or see our Facebook event page.) This year we are celebrating horror and the zombie phenomenon for Alaska Book Week. Runners will face a pack of hungry zombies somewhere along the route. Prizes will be given for best runner costume, best zombie costume, best poem, and, of course, best times. Download and post the poster!

Horror fiction is a well-represented genre in the John Trigg Ester Library's collections, both in the film and literature collections. Horror has its roots in folklore, myth, and religion, and often reflects, through metaphor, the larger fears of society.

So what can we make of the ever-increasing popularity of zombie-themed fiction? What metaphors does it play on? What does it mean that zombies have been gradually increasing their lurch speed? Hmmm. Come find out—at the library!

Authors of horror fiction represented at the JTEL include:
  • Ian Banks
  • Clive Barker (Weaveworld, Imajica, etc.)
  • Ambrose Bierce
  • Algernon Blackwood
  • Ray Bradbury
  • Ramsey Campbell
  • Roald Dahl
  • Ted Dekker
  • August Derleth
  • Charles Dickens (A Christmas Carol, Tale of Two Cities, The Pickwick Papers, etc.)
  • Dennis Etchison
  • William Faulkner
  • Neil Gaiman
  • Nikolai Gogol
  • Laurell K. Hamilton
  • David G. Hartwell
  • Shirley Jackson
  • Henry James
  • Stephen King (Desolation, the Gunslinger series, Christine, etc.)
  • Dean Koonz (Midnight, Fear Nothing, etc.)
  • Tanith Lee
  • Fritz Leiber
  • H.P. Lovecraft
  • Brian Lumley
  • George R.R. Martin
  • Chuck Palahniuk
  • James Patterson
  • Edgar Allen Poe (collected works)
  • Anne Rice (Interview with a Vampire, Queen of the Damned, etc.)
  • Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (Frankenstein)
  • Dan Simmons
  • S.P. Somtow
  • R.L. Stine
  • Bram Stoker
  • Peter Straum
  • Whitley Strieber
  • F. Paul Wilson
  • Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
And more! Aside from gothic horror, modern horror is often cross-genre, and includes science fiction, fantasy, and other genres.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Winners from the 2014 Pie Throwdown

We had a tie this year! The Best Sweet Pie was tied between Barb O'Donnell's All-Berry Pie (featuring raspberries, blackberries, and cherries), and Julia Mickley's Blue Comet (with lime zest and whipped cream!).

The four judges had a very difficult time choosing among the 34 entries. Becky Anderson, who brought tiaras and boas for all the other judges, said that every single one was delicious—except the one that they didn't have the nerve to try, which was Kristen Sullivan's pie crust for canines and humans (human-grade ingredients, including barley and carrots) and featured a stylized pawprint in the center. The judges gave it an award for Best 4-Legged Entry, and it went in the auction for $60. According to Maggie Billington, the winner of the auction, it was VERY popular with the dogs. (Sullivan operates a business, Ruby Snacks, that specializes in doggy treats.)

The Best Savory Pie was Carla Helfferich's Tomato Pie for Grownups (Helfferich had previously submitted a gooey pie called Easy Tomato Pie, made with Bisquick and especially formulated to appeal to youngsters—this one is for the adults in the family).

Most Unusual Pie was made by Sarah Furman, and was a Raspberry Jalapeño Pie decorated with nasturtiums.

The pie auction raised $310, and the judgeship auction raised $150 (helped along because Nick Gassmann's left hand started bidding against his right hand). Along with the generous donations of pie bakers and eaters, musicians and people donating at the door, we earned $4,600! Thank you, everyone!