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Take a Computer Class! July 15, 2016

Posted by CCLD in Technology.
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computerConfounded by computers? Intimidated by technology, but afraid to ask questions?

You are not alone! Many, many adults have had to teach themselves how to use a computer and explore the web. Some have sailed through the process, while others need more help.

To all of us who “don’t get it”, don’t be discouraged! Start by taking a free computer class at the Steele Memorial Library! We have several courses: Beginning Computer class, which explains the parts of the computer, the way it works, how to operate a mouse, etc. Beginning Internet, which explains how to navigate the internet, determine safe sites, protect yourself from hackers, and stay one step ahead of them with strong passwords.

We also have Tablet Talk classes – a class on how to use your device at Steele and at the Horseheads branch! All types of devices are welcome – just bring your device in fully charged, and any passwords you need, and our staff will help you tackle the broad strokes and the fine points!

Check our monthly calendar of events for the next class! You can take as many classes as you like!

You CAN do this!

Out of School Learning Experience April 21, 2014

Posted by patchettd in Community, Programs, West Elmira.
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I ate my first Kumquat the other day. At least, as far as I can remember, I had never eaten a kumquat before. I did not know that it is necessary to roll the kumquat gently in my hands for a few seconds before eating, as that makes the skin sweeter. I would not have known to eat the skin with the fruit (the sweetness of the skin balances the tartness of the fruit). I would not have known that I like kumquats if I had not been at the library.

I heard a phrase the other day: “Out of school learning experience”. The more I have thought about that phrase, the more I see the value of programs at our public libraries. These programs reach across all age groups, genders, and interest areas. The day the kumquats came to the library, a chief from Wegmans (we appreciate our community partners!) came to teach a home school group about some fruits that are a little out of the ordinary. He brought several, including star fruit and pomegranates, and gave each child the opportunity to taste, comment, and ask questions. Many of the parents and caregivers joined in, as did the volunteers who were helping with the program. Other patrons who visited the library that day asked that we hold another session for adults.

We are very fortunate that there are many places families can take children for an out of school learning experience in our community, especially now that the weather is improving. Did you know you can rent snowshoes and kites at Tanglewood? Did you know that Letchworth State Park sends their calendar to our libraries, listing their interpretive programs? Did you know that the theme of this summer’s Summer Reading Club is science based? The Chemung County Library District staff is now busy planning programs and projects for the summer that will engage your child in fun, active learning experiences. Though many of you already know this, there are still some local residents who need to discover what is going on at our libraries. You may find that you too like kumquats!

Dianne Patchett
Branch Manager
West Elmira Library

A Musical Library August 20, 2012

Posted by cclddirector in Community, Director's Comments.
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Pretty soon I’m going to have my fifty-fifth birthday and as I sit here thinking about things I realized that I feel good about myself when I’m learning something new. So my goal is to complete my second Master’s degree in Ancient and Classical History. Although my kids will tell you I’m the one who is ancient- I prefer to call myself a “classic.” I enjoy interacting with my classmates, especially as many of them realize I’ve got kids their age- and shirts that are even older.

For my fiftieth birthday I took some dance lessons with my wife, alongside our youngest daughter and her friend. I understood the basics of the dance steps, but had a little trouble keeping the beat and remembering which foot goes where and when. By contrast, my daughter and her friend picked up each step quickly, and in no time my daughter became the instructor’s “go to” girl for demonstrations to the class.

Something else I tried was keeping my French and Arabic skills up to speed. The only problem was the fact that having no one to talk to on a regular basis has meant my skills have eroded to the point where I can order a coffee and ask where the train station is, and that’s about it.

By contrast I watch my daughter dance around the house years later and she looks like Ginger Rogers. She’s also taken to correcting my French grammar- a few years of high school has a way of making your child feel superior.

My other goal for the next few years is to learn how to play an instrument. I’m trying to learn to play the mandolin as I hope the skinnier neck of the instrument will be affected less by my arthritis then a guitar would be. As everyone knows, there are eight strings on a mandolin and there are certain chords that are used extensively in most popular music. I figure by learning the repetitive patterns of the chords, scales and arpeggios, I just might have it figured out by the time I’m 75.

I’ve noticed that when I watch music videos, or listen to music, I find myself listening for the individual notes, and trying to separate out the individual instruments that join together in each song. I listen over and over again to the same song trying to hear “how” it is played. I find it exciting to look at something that’s been a part of my entire life in an entirely new way. Plus repeating songs has the added benefit of irritating my kids.

Something I’ve realized from all this is that the more senses a learning experience engages, the more interesting it is. Whenever I go to a new place, I find it much more exciting to try the local cuisine, or go for a walk outside the tourist areas, and try to speak the native language.

I’ve also realized that I learn best when there’s also some kind of visual aid. So when I’m trying to learn mandolin, I watch an instructional DVD, or I check out the latest YouTube video. I also sit there and draw diagrams of chords with the individual notes, I’m hoping that these mental tools will help me get better, and learn faster. By constructing a “mind map” I hope to eventually get all the steps down. I’ve found this approach useful for all kinds of things.

By now you’re probably wondering how this applies to the library. You have to look at a library the same way I do- it’s a living organism that is most alive when the people in it have the opportunity to explore, discover, try, and grow. The richer and more varied we make our environment, the more we incorporate a range of bodily, emotional, social, and intellectual tasks and settings, then the more involved, and better balanced our staff will be. Inevitably, that translates to better service.

This being said, we need to thoughtfully develop a mix of tools and visual aids to teach our staff, and to help our patrons find their way around our facilities, collections, and services. We need to address patron concerns in a timely fashion, keeping in mind our goal- an organization that is constantly adapting and growing. In musical terms, a library that rocks.

Ronald W. Shaw

Non-fiction for kids and teens at the library July 16, 2012

Posted by poppendeckc in Youth Services.
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When was the last time you checked out the library’s children’s collection of non-fiction?

Our collection covers a vast array of subjects and current events at reading levels for varying ages – from kindergarteners to high schoolers.  Juvenile non-fiction includes EVERYTHING from biographies, crafts, cultures and folktales, gardening, poetry to recipes, sports, and even world records!

Non-fiction also encompasses the facts on creatures with which we coexist, from domestic to wild and even the prehistoric varieties.  Ever curious about an otter’s life? Or how long tortoises really live (and where) or what colors dinosaurs were? Non-fiction fascinates us with theories of the galaxy, the universe, the forming of the oceans, the world of insects, and infinite possibilities from many realms!

Non-fiction contains history, biographies of heroes and fiends, poetry for all reasons.  It is rich with cultural resources to help us understand our neighbors in the world both past and present. So much knowledge is custom-packaged for kids of all ages in the juvenile section.

The library also has a specialized non-fiction collection for teens and young adults. This collection has a juvenile rating, but covers multiple subjects with a greater sophistication. The subjects featured are more advanced, encompassing subjects such as tattoos, acting/playwriting, eating disorders, fashion through the decades, art, and mythology.

Come explore our world through the rows of non-fiction books available at your local library branch, and begin your virtual tour of so many worlds!

Caroline Poppendeck, Librarian
Head of Youth Services
Steele Memorial Library

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