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I remember a book I loved when I was a kid…

One of the fun parts of working on the Children’s Information Desk is helping people find books. And fairly often, someone will come to the desk and begin their question with, “There was this book I loved when I was a kid…” and then they’ll say something about how the Library probably doesn’t have it or the librarian has never heard of it. And then we magically know the book they want and get them a copy, and they are so happy to see their old friend again!

But it’s not magic. Because if there’s a book that you have read that’s so good that you remember it for ten or thirty or fifty years, and loved it enough to want to find it again, chances are that others did too. And if enough other people read and loved and remember that book…that’s what makes a classic.

Just for fun, I emailed everyone who works at the Sunnyvale Library asking what their favorite childhood book was. I limited everyone to one book (and that’s a hard choice to make) but didn’t specify any particular age group they had to have read it in…and here are the results, in no particular order..

And because most of these are classics, you’ll probably recognize many of them. And maybe you’ll come to the Sunnyvale Library, find them, reread them, and share them with another generation.

Oh, and as I was typing this blog post, someone walked up to me and said, “There was this book I read when I was a kid…”


homer sidewalk garden

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
Behold Your Queen! by Gladys Malvern
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
The Marvelous Land of Oz by L. Frank Baum (two people listed this)
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
The Toothpaste Millionaire by Jean Merrill
Homer Price by Robert McCloskey
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell




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What do Library Workers Read?

I’ll confess it: I’m a reader.

I’ve been working at the Sunnyvale Library for a very long time, and I’ve noticed thatread
during some years, I would be up in the staff lunchroom with a book, and everyone else would have one too. Other years, I would be the only one reading and at one point, in fact, was KNOWN as ‘the one who reads all the time.’ I’m glad to say that the compass has swung back, and a whole lot of the folks who work here now are readers.

Which brings me to another interesting thing: not everyone who works here is a librarian. If you go to the Reference Desk or the Children’s Information desk, there will be a librarian behind that desk. Once in a while, the librarian will actually be a supervisor or manager, but they are librarians too. But there are many other people who work in the library, and without whom we could not stay open or deliver the high quality services we offer: clerks, pages, technical support, friends of the library, volunteers, secretaries, you name it. At any given time, my estimate is that 4/5 of the people you see doing any kind of actual work in the library are NOT librarians.

And what does this have to do with reading? Be patient, please, I’m getting there.

So being ‘the librarian who reads’, which is an epithet I like better than the only other name I’ve been known by in the last 27 years, ‘The Librarian the Snake Pooped On’ (this is true), I started wondering exactly how many books I read in a year. I read mostly nonfiction, graphic novels and science fiction and fantasy. I also do children’s storytimes and keep up with as much teen and children’s literature as I can…and with all this together, I seem to read a lot of books.

So on January 1, I started a blog listing everything I read for a year. Here it is, and it’s called Otter Be Reading because Otter is the name I go by on the Web.

Then I thought, if I’m talking about reading, and also about how it’s not just librarians working here, wouldn’t it be fun to do a snapshot of what everyone who works here is reading RIGHT NOW.

So I sent an email to all the Sunnyvale Library Staff. And here’s what everyone- librarians or not- was reading when they got my email. I linked the titles we own to our catalog, in case you’d like to read one or two of these. Notice that people are also listening to audiobooks, and reading ebooks. Enjoy!


The Light Between Oceans by Stedman
The Diviners by Bray
The Passage by Cronin
The Children of the Company by Baker
1st to Die  by Patterson
Atlas Shrugged by Rand
One Year in Coal Harbor by Horvath
White Tiger by Adiga
St. Zita Society by Rendell
Learning to Swim by Henry
The Hobbit by Tolkien
A Moveable Feast by Hemingway
The Paris Wife by McLain
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Bender
Water for Elephants by Gruen
The Stranger by Camus
The Twelve by Cronin
Cry the Beloved Country by Paton
Robinson Crusoe by Defoe
Reflected in You by Day
Ready Player One by Cline
La sombra del viento by Ruiz Zafon
New York: The Novel by Rutherfurd

Justice in Chains: From the Galleys to Devil’s Island by Michel Bourdet-Pléville
The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate by Kaplan
It Starts with Food by Hartwig
The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2013
Fodors Walt Disney World 2013
Wheat Belly by Davis
Iron Curtain by Applebaum
The Eagle Unbowed by Cochanski
We Go Pogo:  Walt Kelly, Politics, and American Satire by Soper
American Dreamers:  How the Left Changed a Nation” by Kazin
America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t by Colbert
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Ehrenreich
Laugh your way to Grace by Sparks
Eating Free by Villacorta

Walking Dead by Kirkman
Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland by Pekar

Wild by Strayed
Aleutian Sparrow by Hesse
The Art Forger by Shapiro
Who I Am by Townshend
Some Assembly Required:  a Journal of My Son’s First Son by LaMott
The Lightning Thief by Riordan

A Clash of Kings by Martin

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Upcoming Teen College Entrance Programs


2013 is almost here, and many teens are starting to plan for a future after high school. Not just the teens who are seniors, but also sophomores and juniors should be finding out all the information they can about how to apply to colleges, how to do their best on placement tests, and how to afford college in an economy where prices just go up and up.

Sunnyvale Library can help! This winter and spring we will be having many programs aimed at helping teens do their best during this difficult time. Below are the dates and times of the programs we’re offering from February through May; some of them require a sign-up, so be sure to check the dates for that as well.

And for a reminder email, subscribe to our teen newsletter that comes out the first of every month!

  • SAT practice test: Sunday Feb 17 from 1-5 pm, sign up starting February 1.
  • ACT practice test: Saturday March 2 from 1-5 pm, sign up starting February 18
  • Teen College Finance Program: Tuesday, March 5 at 6:30 pm
  • SAT Essay workshop: Tuesday April 2 at 6:30 pm
  • Choosing a College: Tuesday, April 30 at 7 pm
  • Combined SAT/ACT practice test: Saturday May 11 from 1-5 pm, sign up starting April 15.

The newsletter, as well as the teen program flyers available each month in the Children’s Room, will have more information about each of these programs. Happy New Year and best wishes for college planning!

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What’s new?

Maybe you feel like reading a teen book. If you’re a teen, that’s pretty likely…although more and more adults are discovering the true awesomeness of Young Adult Literature.

Anyway…you want something to read. But you don’t want the same old stuff, no matter how good. You want something new. Fresh. Exciting.

How do you find it?

Well, if you go to the Sunnyvale Library Teen Area (look for the purple globes), there is a small bookcase you’ll like. All the books on display on the shelves are new teen books that we have received since January 1 of this year. It looks like this:

The books change constantly, since people check them out and we refill the shelves several times a day.

But there is one more way to find these new teen books. If you don’t see something you like on the Teen New Book Display shelves, walk over to the Teen Area. There is a bookcase and a wall full of hardcover books. And the new books stand out because they have yellow tape that says (you’ve probably already noticed this) NEW BOOK.

photo of teen books


Here’s what it looks like:


And those are the books we pull to put on the display shelves when they run low, so by going over to the actual shelves you’ll get to them first.

The teen new books are exactly like the rest of the teen books- they check out for three weeks, you can reserve them, you can renew them. They’re just the newest arrivals, marked to be easy to find. Starting January 1, the tape will change from yellow to another color, and in March, we’ll start pulling the yellow tape off last year’s books and they’ll mix in with the rest of the collection.

So the next time you don’t know what you want to read, but you know you don’t want the same old thing…try a New Teen Book!

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After School in the Library

Have you been to the Children’s Room on Mondays and Wednesdays after school, between 4 and 6 p.m.? if not, you’ve missed one a wonderful resource for students!


We make tables available
for students to do their
homework…and have to bring
in extra tables to fit all
the students who attend!







Our high school volunteers are there to help the younger students with their homework…





And they will also spend time reading with first and second graders.






The After School Center is open on Mondays and Wednesdays from 4-6 pm in the Children’s Room of the Sunnyvale Library. Any students from 6 years old to 8th grade is welcome to drop in, do their homework, and read with, or get help from, a high school volunteer.

If you’re 13 or older and would like to volunteer in the After School Center, you can email JoAnn Rees ( for more information.

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