Archive | March, 2012

Superstar Volunteer: Marilee Lazar

Marilee LazarThe Library uses many volunteers and we are grateful to all!  We have teens helping first and second graders read (in our WE READ program), teens helping third through eighth graders in our Homework Help program, volunteers staffing our tech desk, picking  books for homebound seniors (SOS program), searching for Link+ and lost books, sorting carts, and more.

There is one particular volunteer who we wanted to recognize because she does SO much!  When we needed a volunteer to coordinate the Homework Help program, she agreed to do it, helped interview potential volunteers and has shown up to staff the program twice a week for two years.   When we needed help tagging each item in the library with an RFID sticker, she signed up. When the tech desk needed staffing, there she was.  The list goes on….  So, when we saw that the Junior League of San Jose was looking for nominations for their annual Crystal Bowl Volunteer Recognition Awards, our staff nominated Marilee Lazar.  Obviously, the Junior League agreed with our assessment of her extraordinary effort  and awarded her one of their Crystal Bowl awards. Marilee will be honored on Friday at a luncheon at the Santa Clara Convention Center.  Way to go Marilee, and lucky Sunnyvale Library  because  we have her around!

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I Need It Yesterday!

It’s 5:00 p.m. on Sunday evening.  Your child suddenly remembers that he needs a book on the Transcontinental Railroad for school.  Tomorrow morning.  You rush to the library, only to discover that every other 4th grader in Sunnyvale also needs the same book.  The train has left the station, and the Transcontinental Railroad shelves look like Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard.  Don’t panic.  While we might not be able to put that book in your child’s hand tonight, we can offer other solutions.

Library Databases

Teachers often warn students about the reliability of online sources.  Just last week, during a class visit to the Library, nearly every 4th grade hand went up when I asked the question, “What’s the downside of Wikipedia?”  It’s great that kids know enough to question their sources.  It’s also great that the Library offers online resources that should pass muster with even the most cautious teacher.  Through the Library’s Web site, students can access articles – and even full books – in digital format by tapping into our online databases.  An extra bonus in some databases is the “listen” feature, which allows kids to hear the article read aloud with their choice of accent and reading speed!

Other Libraries

Is there another library you visit?  If so, let us search their catalog and see if the desired item is available.  I usually advise parents to call and confirm that the item is there before making the drive.  Many libraries will pull the item from the shelf and put it aside if they know you’re on your way.  We do!

Can You Wait a Bit?

The Sunnyvale Library is a member of Link+, an interlibrary loan program comprised of over 50 participating libraries in California and Nevada.  While all of Sunnyvale might be studying the Transcontinental Railroad, it’s possible that all of California and Nevada are not.  Your child can request a book through Link+ at no charge and have it available for pick-up at the Sunnyvale Library within a week or so.  Link+ is also a terrific resource for obscure titles, as several University Libraries participate in the program.  Important to note is that Link+ overdue and loss fees are high, so it’s important to keep careful track of Link+ items.

We also offer free holds on our Library items.  Popular titles like The Hunger Games or Diary of a Wimpy Kid usually don’t last long on the shelves.  You can place items on hold from home or we can do it for you at the desk.  We buy many copies of high-demand books, so the wait list can move along more quickly than you might expect.

Get Out of Jail Free

We librarians are funny about getting materials into the hands of patrons.  We’ll turn over every rock to avoid sending a student home empty handed.  If your child still has to leave the library with fewer items than desired, ask us for a teacher form.  While not technically a Monopoly styled Get Out of Jail Free card, this librarian-signed-and-dated form shows the teacher that your child came to the library but found the needed items unavailable.  When paired with a database article, this form often satisfies the book requirement until other materials are in hand.

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Mango Languages

Mango LanguagesWe are pleased to announce that we have upgraded Mango Languages to include all 39 language courses and 16 ESL courses. You can now begin learning Arabic, Tagalog, Urdu, Tamil, Korean and Russian and many more languages in an easy and effective way. And, just for fun, if you are a Star Trek fan, you will soon be able to learn Klingon, and if you like pirates, you can talk like a pirate! (Talk like a Pirate Day is September 19 – be ready!)

You will also be able to take advantage of the ESL courses which include learning English for both Cantonese and Mandarin speakers as well as Russian, Spanish, Vietnamese, Turkish and more. My favorite is the English for Children course featuring Little Pim. You must watch some of it!

Mango Languages is available from our website under “Quick Links” on the right side of the page. Choose the “Learn a Language link” and you’ll be taken to the Mango Languages page. From home, you’ll be asked to sign in with your library card number. You can browse the courses anonymously, or create a user name and password to track your progress.

Need help getting started? Feel free to ask a Librarian!

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A Little Lemon Verbena


It’s time to spice up your life and garden with a little cilantro, mint, rosemary, chile, basil, bergamot, myrtle…this list can go on and on.  With herbs, I just cannot get enough of them and with gardening and cooking books, I just cannot get enough of them either. Here are some wonderful titles the library has on growing and cooking with herbs!

essential guide to cooking with herbs

The Herb Society of America’s essential guide to growing and cooking with herbs

cooks herb garden
The cook’s herb garden

homegrown herbs

Homegrown herbs : a complete guide to growing, using, and enjoying more than 100 herbs



And if you need a little herb growing mood starter, come on by and check out The Essential Simon and Garfunkel to hear Scarborough Affair…”Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme.” Happy gardening!

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Fish crackers swimming upstream

                     During a recent Family Place workshop we were fortunate to host two Pediatric Nutritionists from the Palo Alto Medical Foundation.  Jeremy Loader and Alison Sato each spoke to the assembled group of parents for about 10 minutes then hung out with us and answered parents’ questions while the kids played.  Jeremy Loader said he tells his clients to make a habit of family dinnertime at the table.  Not Mom and Dad at the table and the kids watching a DVD, but everyone at the table sharing the meal.  The other thing he said that I’m sure had moms feeling equal parts relief and dread:  Moms are not short order cooks.  No, special buttered noodles or other specially prepared little meals for the picky eater in the family.  He told us that at his house, his small son knows that there are mealtimes and snack times.   If he doesn’t eat enough at mealtime, he needs to wait for snacktime.  How long should it take to get a child used to this schedule?  About 3 to 4 days was his answer.  And he advises this BECAUSE… if children have their little baggies of cheerios or fish crackers always at the ready they won’t necessarily eat what is served at mealtime. 

As I listened to the discussion, I remembered a book I’d read called “Hungry Monkey” by Matthew Amster-Burton.  Amster-Burton is a Seattle restaurant critic and stay-at-home-dad.  The book follows his food adventures with his daughter Iris…from her very first bite of solid food, a large crumb of chocolate donut at 3 months old to her insistence on a special gourmet bacon with her pancakes at the age of four.  He also includes some wonderful recipes for parents and kids.  By the way, being a restaurant critic, Amster-Burton knows some good spots.  After reading this you’ll probably want to go to Seattle and try some of them…with or without a child strapped to your chest.

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