Saturday, December 13, 2014

Reel Justice: I Want to Live!

New Milford Public Library will continue its new film series, “Reel Justice: Great Courtroom Dramas,” on Wednesday, December 17 at 6:00 p.m. in Memorial Hall with a free showing of Robert Wise’s 1958 film, I Want to Live! Susan Hayward, in her Best Actress Oscar-winning performance, stars as Barbara Graham, a California party girl, sometime prostitute, burglar and convicted perjurer who constantly hung out with the wrong types of people.  Even when she attempted to go straight, got married and had a son, her choice of a husband was awful: Henry Graham (Wesley Lau) was an abusive heroin addict.  In 1953 Graham was accused of brutally murdering an elderly woman with two male co-horts (Philip Coolidge and Lou Krugman).   After a long and tedious trial and sensationalized attention from the press (her trial was the O. J. Simpson case of its day), Graham and the two men were convicted and sentenced to death.  Only a psychiatrist (Theodore Bikel) and eventually reporter Ed Montgomery (Simon Oakland) tried to save her. Here's a complete list of movies in the Reel Justice series.
Mark P. Hasskarl
Library Director

Monday, December 8, 2014

New York Christmas windows

If you've ever visited Manhattan during the Christmas season, you know that one of the free, fun things to do is see the window displays of the big stores on Fifth Avenue. If you can't get there this year, or if you want to be reminded of window displays that you may have seen in the past, you should take a look at Through the Shopping Glass: A Century of New York Christmas Windows, by Sheryll Bellman. With a chapter for each decade of the 20th century, the book is filled with black-and-white and color photos of displays both simple and elaborate, but almost always beautiful. You'll learn that American department store arcade window displays in the 1920s gained a new prominence, and Christmastime saw the most elaborate displays; movement and animation in the displays became dominant in the 1970s. And here's something that I never knew: the graceful wire-and-light angels that now grace the Rockefeller Center Concourse were originally part of the exterior display at Saks in the early 1950s and were later bought by Rockefeller Center, where they've appeared every year since.
Mark P. Hasskarl
Library Director



Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Great book quotations, part 1

Many people, from the very famous to the not-so-famous, have written and spoken about the importance of books for the past two millennia. From among the thousands of quotations about books and reading, I've chosen several that range from serious to amusing. They're listed in chronological order below. Enjoy.

A room without books is like a body without a soul. 
Attributed to Cicero (106 BC - 43 BC)

Sir Richard Steele

Sir Richard Steele (1672 – 1729)
Mark Twain
The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.
Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)
Groucho Marx


Groucho Marx (1890 - 1977)
P. J. O'Rourke (1947 - )
J. W. Eagan (Absolutely nothing is known about this person.)

Mark P. Hasskarl
Library Director

Monday, November 24, 2014

Have we got a genre for you!

Did you realize that the New Milford Public Library has over 4,320 movies on DVD and Blu-ray?

Of that total, 672 titles are nonfiction, located with the appropriate non-fiction books on the same subject. For examples, DVDs about artists, travel to foreign countries, and do-it-yourself projects are located among the books on those subjects.

Of that grand total, 1,091 are foreign films, which were recently relocated to new shelves under the ramp to the adult nonfiction mezzanine (and they will soon be sorted by language).

The remaining 3,655 feature films on DVD and Blu-ray have recently been sorted by genres, as the signs that you'll find above the DVD shelves (and above) indicate. We've chosen 12 different movie genres: adventure (and action), comedy, documentary, drama, fantasy, holiday, horror, mystery, musicals, science fiction, war and Western. Each title in our feature film collection now has one of the genre stickers on its spine and is shelved with all of the other titles in that genre in A to Z order.

We hope that you find browsing for a comedy, mystery or whatever type of movie you're looking for much easier as a result of this project. That was certainly our goal: to make browsing for a particular type of movie much easier; and we think you'll agree that our "genrefication" project has indeed reached that goal.
Mark P. Hasskarl
Library Director

Monday, November 17, 2014

Reel Justice: Witness for the Prosecution

The third movie in our new, free series of great courtroom dramas is Billy Wilder's 1957 film, Witness for the Prosecution. It will be shown at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 19 in Memorial Hall. 

Witness began its life as an Agatha Christie short story, Traitor Hands, which was originally published in 1925. Dame Agatha later turned her story into a play in 1953, and its multiple trick endings made it a very popular production in both London and on Broadway, where it ran for nearly two years.

Co-screenwriters Wilder and Harry Kurnitz decided to add some humor to what was originally played as straight drama on the stage. Most of the humor results from the interaction of Charles Laughton's Sir Wilfrid, the be-wigged barrister who's just returned to work after a heart attack, and a new character, his nurse Miss Plimsoll, played by Laughton's wife, Elsa Lanchester. Sir Wilfrid is constantly attempting to outfox his nurse, whom he calls his "jailer," and her restrictions, including no cigars, no brandy and, most importantly, no participation in murder trials.

But of course a murder trial is at the heart of Witness, and it involves Leonard Vole (Tyrone Power), a sincere young man accused of killing his friend and benefactor, the elderly Mrs. French. Also involved is Vole's wife, Christine, played by the wonderful Marlene Dietrich.

Even though Witness was one of Wilder's lighter films at that point in his career, it still includes several of Wilder's usual touches: verbal wit, hints of corruption, and masquerade.

Join us for this delightful, twist-filled classic courtroom drama, and see if you can figure out how it will end (and enjoy the refreshments and discussion that come with it).

Mark P. Hasskarl
Library Director

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Who’s Who in the Library: Meet Amy Berkun

Amy Berkun, Public Services,
Reference/Information Services &
Children's Services Associate
Amy Berkun is likely to be a familiar face to library patrons. Versatile and cooperative, Amy serves as an associate in the library's reference, circulation and children’s departments.

Amy has a lot of curiosity. The blog series "Who's Who in the Library" was her brainchild. She wanted to share the backstories of the interesting people who work here.

Amy was born in Syracuse, NY, and she and her two older brothers lived in three northeastern states during her first five years. Her family eventually settled in Liverpool, NY, where Amy attended school from kindergarten through ninth grade. She fondly recalls her friends and her enjoyment of bicycling, especially to the local Friendly's restaurant.

After ninth grade, Amy's father earned a promotion that led the family to relocate to the Jacksonville, FL area. Her brothers, who were attending college in New York, stayed behind. Initially, the Florida move was a culture shock, although Amy adjusted nicely in time. A sad event occurred while Amy was in her junior year of high school: her father died from melanoma.

Amy headed north for college, attending Stony Brook University on Long Island, NY. She enjoyed her college years, appreciating the diversity that she found at her school. Her major was English, with her favorite literary figures being Walt Whitman, Henry James and Virginia Woolf. The resident assistant in her dorm was a young man named Todd Berkun.

After graduation, Amy moved into a suburban Long Island apartment with her brother and another roommate. She commuted into New York City for her job as an Indexing Assistant with a law publisher. To her surprise, she discovered an office plaque bearing a familiar name: Todd Berkun! Over the years Amy held various positions in publishing, including copy editor. At one point, she returned to Florida to work for Disney.

As a happy result of their unexpected reunion, Amy and Todd became reacquainted, and they married in 2000. In late 2001, they welcomed their first child, Jessica. Nearly simultaneously with their daughter’s birth, they purchased their home in New Milford. The birth of their son Josh followed in 2004.

An attentive mom, Amy enjoys her children’s activities, which include playing soccer and musical instruments. She has been active in the PTO in their schools, and she assists with the band program. Todd, who runs the family business, is a similarly involved parent. He coaches the soccer teams of both Jessica and Josh.

Amy began working at the New Milford Public Library in 2010. As previously mentioned, she wears numerous hats. She especially enjoys assisting the young adult librarian with her teen projects.

One of Amy's interests is photography. She has maintained an extensive collection of photo albums since age 15, updated in recent years with digital photo albums. Currently, she takes many photos of her children's sports activities. Amy often relaxes by creating beautiful images using the zentangle method. Amy enjoys reading, especially realistic fiction. Her literary picks are Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, and Landline by Rainbow Rowell.
In addition, she proudly recommends the memoir The Ghost of My Father, recently published by her brother-in-law (and a best-selling author), Scott Berkun.

Amy, having witnessed the untimely death of her father, has developed the personal philosophy of Living Every Day. She strives to live each day to its fullest. Since yesterday is gone and the future is uncertain, we have only now. Make the most of it!
                                                                        Joan McManus
                                                                        Library Bookkeeper

Monday, November 10, 2014

Sesame Street, brought to you by the number 45

On November 10, 1969, what was to become one of the most beloved and influential children's TV shows ever aired its first episode: Sesame Street. Unlike any children's TV show before it, Sesame Street aimed not only to entertain, but also to teach young preschool children. For 40 years, Sesame Street has succeeded through a combination of live actors, animation, short films, humor, cultural references and, of course, Jim Henson's Muppets. By its 40th anniversary in 2009, it was being shown in more than 140 countries. A 1996 survey showed that 95% of all American preschoolers had watched the show by the time they were three; and in 2008, it was estimated that 77 million children had watched the series.

Much of the appeal of the series is the result of the Muppets, of course. Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Cookie Monster, and especially Elmo, are part of American popular culture. And it's the Muppets who are featured in most of the library's Sesame Street items, including 39 children's books, 65 DVDs and 5 CDs. There are even two adult books, one on the history of the show and the other about the late, great Henson.
You and your children or grandchildren can visit Sesame Street any time you'd like with the items in our collection. And because of this, one possible answer to the tuneful question, "Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?" can be: yes, with your New Milford Public Library Card. Happy 45th anniversary, Sesame Street!
Mark P. Hasskarl
Library Director