01 31, 2017

Lynn Hawkins retires after 13 years of leadership at MPL

By |2017-01-31T06:00:05-05:00January 31, 2017|

Lynn Hawkins

Lynn Hawkins

Lynn Hawkins will retire as Mentor Public Library’s executive director on Jan. 31.

To give a sense of how much Mentor Public Library has grown under her leadership, when she was hired in 2004, the library didn’t even have wireless Internet.

Since then, Mentor Public Library has embraced the digital. For example, patrons can use the library’s online services to stream video or music, borrow digital issues of magazines, and check out eBooks from their computers, tablets, or smartphones.

Hawkins has always cared about the role of technology in libraries. In 2003, she co-authored the book High Tech, High Touch: Improving Customer Service with Technology.

Under Hawkins’ guidance, Mentor Public Library:

  • Won News-Herald’s Best of the Best Lake County Library for five consecutive years (from 2010 to 2014) until the newspaper retired the category
  • Started offering story times at local day cares and preschools
  • Added Little Free Libraries and a Pop-Up Library that distribute free books in parks, schools, businesses, and at events around the community
  • Began offering free computer classes and circulating eReaders for patrons to borrow
  • Acquired the Read House property in 2009. Its backyard is used for everything from concerts to summer-reading parties.
  • Partnered with local organizations like James A. Garfield National Historic Site to offer free programs to patrons
  • Created a seed library in 2015 that provides free fruit, vegetable, flower, and herb seeds to patrons
  • Started offering pool-side story times and delivering free books to Headlands Beach and Mentor Beach Park during the summer
  • Added drive-thru service to its Main Branch
  • Was named Civic Organization of the year in 2010 by Mentor Area Chamber of Commerce

Hawkins worked to keep the library solvent when the state cut nearly 30 percent of its library funding between 2008 and 2009. She also helped steward the library during the recession of 2010 when Mentor Public Library experienced record circulation and program attendance.

Meanwhile, in 2010, Hawkins herself became just the 28th library administrator to receive an accreditation from the American Library Association-Allied Professional Association.

MPL Board President Amy Frank-Hensley said this about Hawkins:

It’s simply amazing what Lynn has been able to accomplish. Not so long ago, many people were predicting libraries would become obsolete along with bookstores. We’ve definitely lost a lot of bookstores in Lake County, but Lynn has made the Mentor Public Library a vital and even more connected part of our community. Her leadership has transformed our library during some very tough times. Lynn and her team were very good at providing new and innovative services while operating within a conservative budget; striving to do more for our tax payers with less. We’re very proud of what she has accomplished and wish her a long and active retirement with lots of good reads in her future.

Hawkins is married to Mentor-on-the-Lake Councilman and retired attorney John Hawkins. In her retirement, she plans to practice yoga and her unsupported headstands.

01 27, 2017

5 wondrous facts about Wonderland

By |2017-01-27T06:00:33-05:00January 27, 2017|

Celebrate Lewis Carroll's birthday and your own un-birthday with these Wonderland facts.

Celebrate Lewis Carroll’s birthday and your own un-birthday with these Wonderland facts.

Today is Charles Lutwidge Dodgson’s birthday, which is the opposite of an un-birthday.

Never heard of Dodgson?

You might know him better as Lewis Carroll, the writer of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There.

To celebrate Carroll’s birthday, here are five wonderful facts about Wonderland and its author.

1. There was a real Alice.

Carroll first composed his nonsense Wonderland tales while taking the children of the Liddell family on a rowing trip. He was especially close to the youngest daughter, Alice.

In fact, it was Alice who encouraged him to write his story. In return, Carroll named his heroine after her. He even spelled Alice Liddell’s in an acrostic poem at the close of Through the Looking-Glass.

2. Carroll is best known for his literary works but his day job was as a mathematical lecturer at Christ Church.

He wrote a dozen mathematical treatises under his real name. However—while Alice has remained popular—it’s more difficult to find a copy of  A Syllabus of Plane Algebraic Geometry or An Elementary Treatise on Determinants, With Their Application to Simultaneous Linear Equations and Algebraic Equations.

3. Many classic Carroll characters and poems that we associate with Wonderland—for example, The Jabberwocky and Tweedledum and Tweedledee—come, instead, from Through the Looking-Glass.

The confusion most likely stems from movies and stage plays that use both books for inspiration.

4. Walt Disney adored Carroll’s work from the very beginning of his career.

Before Mickey Mouse, even before Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Disney created a series of shorts where a live-action girl interacted with animated characters. The girl’s name? Alice, of course.

And, in 1936, Mickey Mouse starred in a short called “Thru the Mirror” that was influenced by both Wonderland and Looking-Glass.

However, it took decades before Disney figured a way to transform Carroll’s extraordinarily erudite tales into a visual story.

5. Carroll befriended many young girls during his life. He commemorated one, Gertrude Chataway, with an acrostic poem in The Hunting of the Snark.

In addition to composing them silly stories and poems, he often photographed or drew them—sometimes in the nude, which has rendered him retroactively controversial.

One final fact: You can borrow both Alice books from us. Actually, both Wonderland and Looking-Glass are in the public domain, so you can read them online right now.

For more like this:


01 24, 2017

25 Best Hip-Hop Albums on Freegal

By |2017-01-24T06:00:01-05:00January 24, 2017|


Want to listen to some of the best hip-hop music ever recorded without spending money on iTunes, Spotify, Tidal or—you know—CDs?

Try Freegal. It lets you download DRM-free mp3s of your favorite songs. Moreover, once you download a song, you can keep the mp3 forever. Put it on your phone, your computer, your iPod–wherever you want. It’s yours. You can download up to five songs a week.

You also get unlimited streaming, if you prefer that.

And it’s free with your library card.

Here are 25 of our favorite hip-hop albums you can start downloading right now from Freegal:

  1. Nas, Illmatic:

Nas has crafted a lot of brilliant music, but he’s forever chasing his debut. Illmatic has a Mount Rushmore of hip-hop producers—Pete Rock, DJ Premier, Large Professor, Q-Tip, and L.E.S.—serving their best beats to an apex MC. In return, Nas wrote a debut album that plays like a greatest hits.

For more Queensbridge classics, check out AZ’s The Format.

  1. Outkast, Aquemini

Listen, you can argue that pretty much any Outkast album is their best (except for Idlewild, and even that one has its moments.) Maybe you prefer the stoned grooves of ATLiens, the laid-back funk of SouthernPlayalistic, the bombast and exploration of Stankonia, or the big hits of Speakerboxxx/Love Below. But Aquemini has that perfect seasoning: just enough soul, just enough funk, just enough mind-blowing bars, and slinky grooves. It earned every one of its 5 mics.

For more Dungeon Family, listen to Goodie Mobb’s classic debut or the entire family’s Even In DarknessIf you really feel like digging in the crates, Freegal also has Society of Soul’s Brainchild.

  1. A Tribe Called Quest, Low End Theory

There’s no such thing as an inconsequential Tribe album. (Even The Love Movement had “Find a Way.”) Start with Low End Theory or Midnight Marauders, but don’t forget their newest joint. We Got It From Here is probably Tribe’s third or fourth best album; and, when your discography is this good, that’s high praise.

For more Native Tongues, check out Jungle Brothers’ Straight out the Jungle.

  1. Fugees, The Score

The Fugees knew no boundaries. They mixed Roberta Flack, Bob Marley, and Delfonics with the type of Jersey bars that would make Redman proud. Freegal also has most of Wyclef JeanLauryn Hill, and Pras’ solo work for streaming and download. (Don’t laugh at poor Pras. “Ghetto Supastar”—the song, at least—is a classic.)

  1. E-40, The Hall of Game

E-40’s discography can intimidate because of his prolificness. Where do you start when the guy drops a double album every six months? Start with The Hall of Game. Not only does it have the big hit—”Player’s Ball” with Too $hort—it has one of 2Pac’s best guest verses ever on “Million Dollar Spot.”

For more Yay Area, listen to The Best of Celly Cel or E-40’s work with The Click.

  1. Boogie Down Productions, Criminal Minded

KRS-One is a Top 5 MC, dead or alive, and he has been since Criminal Minded. He single-handedly whooped The Juice Crew (or, at least Marley Marl and MC Shan) with the still lethal battle raps/history lessons “Bridge Is Over” and “South Bronx.”

The rest of BDP’s discography is vital too and don’t sleep on KRS’s solo material. Personal favorite: the DJ Premier-laced “MCs Act Like They Don’t Know” from his self-titled album.

  1. UGK, UGK (Underground Kingz)

While the self-titled album isn’t UGK’s best record—that’s Ridin’ Dirty, hands down—it is their crowning achievement. After more than a decade of toiling as regional champions, Pimp C and Bun B were finally feted with a double album that celebrated their supremacy.

  1. Wu-Tang Clan, Enter the Wu-Tang

It’s difficult to stress just how much Wu-Tang Clan changed hip-hop, not just the music but the culture. Those sped-up soul samples you love? RZA did it first on “Tearz.” Everyone having their own clique/record label/clothing company? Wu-Tang did it first.

For more Shaolin goodness, check out RZA’s The Man with Iron Fists soundtrack or Inspectah Deck’s newest group, Czarface.

  1. Clipse, Hell Hath No Fury

Clipse would still be the most terrifying tandem in hip-hop since EPMD if they didn’t have their pick of Neptunes beats. And “Wamp Wamp” and “Mr. Me Too” are as fresh and funny as they are fierce.

For more Re-Up Gang, check out Pusha T’s Fear of God II.

  1. Earl Sweatshirt, Doris

The lyrical wunderkind of Odd Future Gang returned from exile in Samoa and kept rapping like he never disappeared. Vince Stapes, Mac Miller, RZA, Frank Ocean, and other Odd Future cohorts contribute, but this is Earl’s coronation. Also listen to his I Don’t Go Outside.

  1. Common, Resurrection

Before he was a Soulquarian or down with Kanye (but after that weird debut where he aped Das EFX), Common Sense was resurrected. “I Used to Love H.E.R.” is a revelation that launched a career but the entire album shares Common’s brilliance and insight.

For more Capital-L Lyrics, listen to Dead Prez’s Let’s Get Free.

  1. XZIBIT, 40 Dayz & 40 Nightz

XZIBIT’s album budgets got bigger on Restless and Man V. Machine, but he never sounded better than on 40 Dayz‘ “What U C Is What U Get.” And what you get is hard-body bars over spine-cracking production.

For more Likwit Crew, check out The Alhaholiks.

  1. Big Punisher, Capital Punishment

Like so many other “big” rappers—Big L and Notorious B.I.G.—Big Pun only got two records to craft his legacy before dying. But Pun’s place in hip-hop was cemented after his debut album. Wyclef, Wu-Tang, Mobb Deep, and more lined up to rap alongside the hottest thing out of the Bronx since KRS-One. (Don’t sleep on Yeah Baby either, if only for “100%.”)

For more BX PR hip-hop, enjoy Fat Joe’s Jealous One’s Envy.

  1. Big L, Lifestyles ov da Poor & Dangerous

You need proof that life is capricious? Big L’s bandmates in The Children of the Corn, Mase and Cam’ron, are both multiplatinum superstars. But L, the most dexterous rapper in the clique, is murdered while working on his second album. At least he left us with this gem. (You can also hear a pre-fame Jay-Z on the posse cut “Da Graveyard.”)

For more Harlem, check out Harlem’s Greatest, a concise collection of Cam’ron’s best work before signing with Roc-a-Fella Records.

  1. MF DOOM, Operation Doomsday

Witness perhaps the greatest resurrection in hip-hop history. MF Doom went from that one guy in KMD (if you even heard of KMD) to a genre-expanding super villain. Doom produces like the love-less child of Prince Paul and Tom Waits, and he raps like he’s stringing together inside jokes. You either love it or you don’t get it. Either way, Doom doesn’t apologize.

For more production wizardry, listen to J Dilla’s The Diary and Pete Rock’s Soul Survivor.

  1. Scarface, The Diary

If Scarface never dubbed himself the king of the south, it’s because some people are too big for a throne. Scarface rapped about depression, mental illness, and the pains of poverty with the insight of a poet laureate. Start with The Diary, but his entire discography is hypnotic.

For more of H-Town’s finest, enjoy Devin the Dude.

  1. A$AP Rocky, Live.A$AP

A$AP Rocky is what happens a Harlem rapper grows to revere Rakim and Pimp C equally. He’s got bars for the purists—whatever that still means—but he also cultivates an aura of cool. He also put together the posse cut of a generation with “1 Train,” which features Kendrick Lamar, Big KRIT, Danny Brown, Yelawolf, Joey Bada$$ and Action Bronson.

For more new New York, listen to Joey Bada$$ and A$AP Ferg.

  1. Lecrae, All Things Work Together

Lecrae is the best gospel rapper working. He’s the genre’s Al Green. He has all the skill and technique of his secular peers but uses his faith to craft his message. His autobiography, Unashamed, is also excellent.

  1. DJ Quik, Rhythm-Al-Ism

DJ Quik is more melodic than Dr. Dre, funkier than Madlib, and a better rapper than either of them. He goes through phases like a hip-hop David Bowie, and each phase is worth enjoying.

  1. Busta Rhymes, Genesis

Busta Rhymes sounds equally marvelous over The Neptunes and Dr. Dre, both of whom provide music for Genesis. (As a bonus, Freegal also has “Case of the PTA,” one of the best songs from Busta’s original group, Leaders of the New School.)

For more tongue-twisters, listen to Tech N9NE’s Anghellic.

  1. DJ Khaled, Major Key

You’re laughing, right? How does Khaled make the list when his only skill seems to be knowing famous people? Well, it turns out that having a fabulous rolodex is an enviable skill. Khaled collects contributions from Jay-Z, Drake, Nas, Kendrick Lamar, Future, Busta Rhymes and… huh… Meghan Trainor. Didn’t see that coming.

For more too-big-too-fail music, enjoy Jermaine Dupri’s Life in 1472, which features Snoop Dogg, Slick Rick, Usher, Jay-Z, Nas, and Ma$e before he retired the first time.

  1. Mobb Deep, The Infamous

“Shook Ones Pt. II” is the anthem, but Havoc and Prodigy have a discography as deep as their Mobb.

For more New York rider music, check out M.O.P.’s discography or a Kay Slay mixtape.

  1. Cole, 2014 Forest Hills Drive

Cole went double platinum without any features—no guest verses, no borrowed hooks. Not even his label boss, Jay-Z, accomplished that. And you can get it for free.

  1. Ghostface Killah, Supreme Clientele

We mentioned Wu-Tang Clan 16 entries earlier, but Ghostface’s masterpiece of abstraction deserves its own spot. We still have no idea what he’s talking about on “Apollo Kids.” (This rap is like ziti?) It doesn’t matter. Perfection requires no explanation.

If you like that, check out Ghostface’s collaboration with Adrian Younge, Twelve Reasons to Die.

  1. Too $hort, Life Is… Too $hort

Much like life and the legendary Oakland MC, this list is too short.

Other Freegal playlists:

01 21, 2017

Thanking an extraordinary man

By |2017-01-21T06:00:08-05:00January 21, 2017|

Terry Kilbourne speaks during the dedication of Kilbourne Commons.

Terry Kilbourne speaks during the dedication of Kilbourne Commons.

On Friday, we dedicated our new Kilbourne Commons.

It’s named in honor of Terry Kilbourne who served on our Board of Trustees from 1999 to 2013.

Kilbourne served as board president, vice president, secretary and on every possible committee at some time during his two terms. He’s helped the library with levies, labor negotiations, building renovations, and anything else we’ve ever asked for.

He deserves to have his name commemorated in the library he helped steward.

Thanks for everything, Terry!


01 18, 2017

5 fun facts about Winnie-the-Pooh

By |2017-01-18T06:00:48-05:00January 18, 2017|

Here are some fun facts to celebrate the birthday of A. A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh's creator.

Here are some fun facts to celebrate the birthday of A. A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh’s creator.

Today would be A. A. Milne’s 135th birthday. And, if you’re unfamiliar with Milne’s name, you certainly know his stories.

He is the creator of Winnie-the-Pooh, Tigger, Rabbit, and the other denizens of Hundred Acre Wood (except for Gopher—Disney animators sketched him into existence.)

So in celebration of Milne’s birthday and his timeless tales, here are five fun facts about Winnie-the-Pooh.

1. Most young readers are familiar with with Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh and House on Pooh Corner, but neither book features Pooh’s first appearance.

You can find that in When We Were Very Young, a collection of Milne’s poetry for children. However, he was named Mr. Edward Bear, not Winnie, at the time.

The stuffed bear would acquire the Winnie moniker later, borrowed from a black bear at the London Zoo.

2. Almost all of Pooh’s neighbors are based upon toys owned by Milne’s son, whose name is—you guessed it—Christopher Robin.

Tigger, Eeyore, Kanga, Piglet, and Pooh are still around today. In fact, kids can visit Pooh at the Main Branch of New York Public Library. Meanwhile, Roo was lost in Ashdown Forest, the real-life inspiration for the Hundred-Acre Wood, a long time ago.

Milne created Rabbit and Owl wholesale without a stuffed muse.

3. We’re all accustomed to Disney’s The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh as a single film, but that’s not how it was originally made.

Walt Disney was concerned that American audiences weren’t familiar enough with Pooh and friends; so, instead of making a feature-length film, the studio made three shorts—Winnie the Pooh and the Honey TreeWinnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, and Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too.

The three shorts (along with some interstitial animation) were cobbled together later to make the film we all know and love.

4. It’s difficult to imagine someone disliking Winnie-the-Pooh, but the books were not universally beloved on publication.

Dorothy Parker—under her nom de plume, Constant Reader—found the books overly cute and saccharine, though she didn’t phrase it so politely. Instead, she said The House at Pooh Corner made her want to “[fwow] up.”

5. Speaking of critics, Christopher Robin—the real one, Milne’s sons—didn’t care for the Pooh books either.

His classmates would tease him by quoting a poem from When We Were Very Young.

They’d mock him with “Hush! Hush! Whisper who dares! Christopher Robin is saying his prayers,” until he came to resent the books.

Here’s hoping Christopher Robin will forgive us if we disagree with him. We can’t get enough of the silly old bear, and you can always come to us if you want to borrow one of Winnie-the-Pooh’s books or films.


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