Relearn the skill of reading

Mon, 03/30/2015 - 10:00am

How many times have you started reading a blog post and ended up scrolling through the text? How many times have you stopped reading a book, just to reply to a tweet or like a Facebook status?

Internet is the blessing of the 21st century, but it also has a dark side. Its main sin is that it makes us distracted. There as too much information and it’s too diversified.

As a result, we spend more time on the web, dealing with shorter chunks of information. Our attention span shrinks.

Reading books becomes a daily dream, often unfulfilled. Even if we find time for reading, we discover it’s hard to focus on the text.

This trend can be reversed. Want to relearn the skill of reading, and move to the next level? Here are selected infographics that can help you read faster, understand more, and keep you focused longer. 

posted by Piotr Kowalczyk

American Girl® Beforever dolls at the Library

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 1:23pm


The Junior League of Lake Charles, Inchas teamed up with the Calcasieu Parish Public Library to add American Girl dolls to the Library collection.

Twenty dolls have been donated to the library to promote literacy and writing, and children who check out the dolls will also learn about the significant role of women during different periods in history.

Each doll comes with her own story book and a journal, so that children who check out a doll can write about the experience they had with it. Did they go on an adventure? See someone special?

Details on the American Girl® doll Lending Program. 

1st middle school grade novel for Alice Hoffman

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 9:22am


Alice Hoffman, the author of such popular books as The Dovekeepers and Practical Magic, just penned her first middle grade novel, Nightbird. As in her previous novels, Hoffman uses magical realism to explore life in a small town where one small girl lives a lonely life due to a centuries-old family curse.

You do not cross a witch. This is a fact that the Fowler family understands better than any other because a long time ago a curse was enacted upon them. Due to the curse, the family withdrew as much as possible from society, away from prying eyes. Twig Fowler is a lover of climbing. She loves nature, acting and her family. More than anything, Twig wants a friend. But life is not easy for the Fowlers, for what would the town’s people do if they found out that what they think of as “the Sidwell monster” is actually Twig’s big brother?

When new neighbors move into the vacant cottage next door, life gets more complicated. Twig struggles with wanting to be friends with Julia and knowing it’s against the rules. Not only is this family a threat to the Fowler’s isolation, but they are ancestors of Agnes Early, the witch who cursed the family so long ago. But what if the curse could be broken? What if there’s more to the story of Agnes Early and Lowell Fowler, the long ago ill-fated sweethearts?

This was a very sweet read. Twig is a wonderful character who has a lot to deal with for one so young. She learned to keep secrets long ago and repress her desire to make friends and be well liked. Any child who has felt isolated by his peers will recognize the yearning Twig feels. I enjoyed that there was no bad guy. It gets difficult to read books where one character is blatantly bad. Instead Nightbird concentrates on misunderstandings. People in the town of Sidwell are well-meaning and the reader gets the sense of small town living.

This is the perfect book for Middle Schoolers and a great companion to spring/summer reading lists! Hopefully Alice Hoffman continues writing for children because her first attempt was a beautiful addition to children’s literature.

reviewed by Kristin Milks is a Collection Analyst with OverDrive

Where's your OverDrive account?

Tue, 03/17/2015 - 1:49pm

Did you know that you can sync your libraries, saved searches, and reading or listening position across multiple devices? Sign up for an OverDrive account and enjoy your favorites on your phone and your tablet.

What is an OverDrive account?

You can sign up for an OverDrive account to take advantage of great features at or in the OverDrive app, where you can find eBooks, audiobooks, and more from a digital library near you. You'll be required to sign into or sign up for an OverDrive account when you install the latest version of OverDrive for AndroidChromebookiOS, or Windows 8.

Features include: 

  • Simplify Adobe ID registration---After you sign up for an OverDrive account, we'll automatically activate new devices for you when you sign in on each one. You can have up to six devices synced and authorized with your account, and you can quickly manage them on
  • Sync your progress and bookmarks--Devices with the latest OverDrive app (for Android 4.0+, Chromebook, iOS 6.0+, or Windows 8/RT) work with your OverDrive account to sync progress and bookmarks for eBooks, audiobooks, and streaming videos that you've downloaded or added to the app. So when you move from your iPad to your Nexus 6, you don't have to spend time scrolling through pages or fast-forwarding to find your current place or favorite passage. 
  • Save libraries--When you save libraries to your OverDrive account, you can access them from any device you've signed in with. For example, when you get a new tablet and install the OverDrive app, just sign in to your account and your saved libraries will appear automatically. When searching at, you can filter results to show only titles available at your libraries.
  • Save searches to your account--Are you a Jim Butcher fan? With an OverDrive account, you can search for "Jim Butcher," save the results, and then return to them each time you're ready to borrow the next book in the series.

What is the difference between an OverDrive account and your library account?

An OverDrive account (required when installing the latest version of the OverDrive app) authorizes the app to read protected eBooks, allows you to save a list of your favorite digital libraries, and syncs your bookmarks and progress in eBooks and audiobooks across devices.

You can sign up for an OverDrive account at, or learn more about them here.

A library account (represented by your library card) lets you borrow titles from your library's digital collection. Even if you create an OverDrive account to use the app, you'll still need your library card to get titles from your digital library.

Big Library Read is live!

Tue, 03/17/2015 - 10:26am

Your global book club, Big Library Read is now live. Big Library Read offers you and millions of users around the globe the opportunity to join the largest global book club in the world. For the next two weeks Shakespeare Saved my Life by Laura Bates will be available to borrow without any wait lists or holds.

From March 17th through the 31st, feel free to read Dr. Bate’s story of teaching Shakespeare in a supermax solitary confinement prison and how she formed a lasting friendship with a convicted murderer that saved more than one life.

Dr. Bates has been featured on MSNBC-TV and just recently sold the rights to her book to be turned into a movie! You can learn more about her and Shakespeare Saved my Life at and be sure to join the conversation on Twitter by following the hashtag #BigLibraryRead. On Friday, March 27th at 1 pm (CST) we’ll have a live twitter chat where we will ask Dr. Bates questions from readers so be sure to tweet @OverDriveLibs your questions for the author!

Also, if your school or book club would like to use this title for group discussions you can use this discussion guide for questions and topics.

Food for Fines Program at the Library (Mar. 15-Apr.5)

Mon, 03/16/2015 - 8:09am

Food for Fines Program Benefits Local Food Pantry

The Calcasieu Parish Public Library is partnering with the Faith and Friends Food Pantry to gather much needed items in exchange for removing library fines.

Patrons can bring in any non-perishable food item starting Sunday, March 15th through Sunday, April 5 to receive a coupon that is good for five dollars off of any library fine. 

The coupon is not valid for copies or prints and cannot be used for lost items.  There is no cash value to the coupon and no remaining balance on the coupon will be accepted.  The coupon is only good for a one time use, and once a coupon is used, it cannot be reused again, regardless of fine amount.

One voucher per account will be handed out and a maximum of 1 voucher will be given regardless of size of donation.  The coupon will expire at the end of the year on December 31, 2015.

The Faith and Friends Food Pantry was established in 2000 and is the only organization of its type that serves the entire Calcasieu Parish area.  It is located at 4009 J. Bennett Johnston Avenue in Lake Charles (on the corner of J. Bennett Johnston Avenue and Main St.) and those interested in learning more about them can call (337) 439-9494, Monday through Thursday from 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

For more information on the Food for Fines program, contact your local library.

A dystopian thriller and comedic steampunk adventure

Thu, 03/12/2015 - 2:08pm
Reviewing The Fire Sermon, a dystopian thriller 
It seems like in the past few years, simply put, “It’s the new Hunger Games!” in a book description, and it will sell.  While there is no denying that dystopian fiction is all kinds of hot right now, I find that slapping the Hunger Games comparison on all of them really simplifies the genre.  I like to read dystopian literature for the grit and the ingenuity of the main characters, and to imagine what I would do if I was placed in their worlds (and sincerely hope that my answer would not be run away/get in lock-step with the ruling class).
The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig is a perfect example of mold-breaking dystopia, with one of the most relatable, even as she is so very different, characters that I have read in this type of stories in years.
In The Fire Sermon, we are introduced to a post-nuclear war world, where the radiation has caused mutations in the human race. Every child born is a twin; one is physically perfect (the Alpha), and one has some level of physical deformity (the Omega). Alphas are the heads of society, getting all of the prime government positions and lifestyles, while their Omega twins are sent to live as second or third class citizens after the twins are separated at a young age. However, there is a twist, as the twins are still connected enough that when one twin dies, the other does as well (and the same goes for extreme pain, both twins can feel torture).  While this mutation has ensured semi-decent treatment of Omegas in the past, the new ruling class of Alphas is striving to make changes to the system and treat their Omega twins as little more than cattle.
Our heroine is Cass, a woman whose mutation is not physical.  She is a Seer, who gets snippets of the future and of hidden places. Cass was able to hide her gift for the first 13 years of her life, meaning that she was able to stay with her parents and her twin, Zach for much longer than normal. The lack of separation, while heaven for Cass, is hell for her twin, who feels that his rightful place in normal society is being hindered by his twin’s inability to “move on” with her life and to let him ascend to his rightful place in the hierarchy. After Zach successfully outs his sister as Omega, he begins the power plays he has always dreamed of, making Cass an unwitting pawn in his games. Cass is subjected to years of isolation and interrogation, before breaking free of her captors, taking along with her a one-armed, amnesiac man she breaks out of the Alpha’s new (and super-secret) isolation tubes. Together, they journey to try to find a safe haven for themselves, and maybe to save the world.
Haig began her writing career as a poet, and that is a gift for readers, as she provides the most beautiful and heartbreaking descriptions of the world she has created.  Every page is a journey, and I found myself reflecting on many different things while reading. Rarely does my brain go to South African apartheid and The Matrix in one sitting. The connection between twins is what makes this book unique and thought provoking, and it is Cass’s heart that makes this story worth reading. Haig has said this will be a trilogy, and I cannot wait for the next two installments of this bleak, yet hopeful read.
Gail Carriger’s Prudence, a comedic steampunk adventure 
Gail Carriger’s newest novel, Prudence, is the first in a new series that is one part steampunk, one part fantasy, and eight parts comedy. It’s easy to see why Carriger cites P.G. Wodehouse as a major influence, as she flawlessly captures his style of charm, cheer, and whimsical irreverence, and adds her own twist with paranormal fantasy, wordplay, and tea adoration. She also includes a nod to Dickens with memorable supporting character names such as Brigadier Featherstonehaugh and Lieutenant Broadwattle.
Prudence takes place in the same universe as her two previous series- an alternate, steampunk version of Victorian England where “supernaturals” (werewolves, vampires, and ghosts) are accepted members of high society.
The four main characters of the story, Lady Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama, Honourable Miss Primrose Tunstell, Professor Percival Tunstell, and Mister Quesnel Lefoux, are the next generation of adventurers, the offspring of the characters featured in Carriger’s The Parasol Protectorate series.
The story centers around the Rue (Prudence) captaining an airship (or dirigible, for those who enjoy steampunk lingo) and heading to India on a mission to obtain some extremely important tea plants. But of course the plot thickens with stolen parasols, political intrigue, and other chicanery.
Rest assured, readers new to this universe will easily enjoy this novel as a standalone read. However, those who find themselves struggling with the occasional unanswered question should look to her previous series for answers. But true satisfaction lies with those of us who have already read the earlier novels and are longing for updates on some of our favorite characters, who pop up with gratifying frequency throughout the novel in minor roles.
This novel is perfect for anyone who enjoys adventure, wit, and humor served with a side of light-hearted silliness. This novel will thoroughly appeal to adults and teens alike.
Meghan Volchko is a Collection Development Analyst at OverDrive, and she comes from a family full of twins.

Get ready for Big Library Read

Tue, 03/10/2015 - 1:51pm


We’re excited to announce the return of the Big Library Read, our global digital book club where millions of people from around the world have the ability to read the same eBook at the same time. This time around, OverDrive users will be able to read Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard, by Laura Bates, without any wait lists or holds.

At the Calcasieu Parish Public Library, the title will be available from March 17 through April 1 simultaneously for users who would like to join.

During the week of March 23, we will also be doing a Twitter chat with Bates, where readers will be able to ask her questions about her book and her personal and professional life.

Shakespeare Saved my Life is Bates’ autobiography about working with inmates in solitary confinement, teaching them the works of William Shakespeare. Her fascinating life’s story is sure to captivate you as she shares the unlikely friendship she formed with Larry Newton, a convicted murder with multiple escape attempts to his name.

This edition of Big Library Read has been made possible by Sourcebooks, Inc., who have enabled us to make Shakespeare Saved my Life available to more than 30,000 libraries and schools worldwide. Join us in reading this enthralling tale starting March 17 and discover how eBooks can change lives!

Adam Sockel is a Social Media Specialist at OverDrive. He believes that all the world’s a stage…

News for Zinio eMagazine users!

Mon, 03/09/2015 - 6:50pm


You asked for it and they listened. Here’s a list of improvements coming March 10th.


One Account – Users only need to create a SINGLE account to checkout and read their magazines (they no longer need to create a separate account)


HTML5 Viewer for PC/Mac – Allows users to read their magazines from a web browser (NO need to download the Zinio Reader software or app)

compatible with PC – IE10+, Chrome and Firefox & compatible with Mac – Safari, Chrome and Firefox


NEW Zinio for Libraries READ ONLY Apps – Log in with your existing library credentials, download and read magazines off-line

currently available for iPad and Android devices & coming soon for iPhone and Kindle Fire HD/HDX devices


Users may continue to use the app to manage their collection – If users have magazines they purchased, they may still access them along with magazines they have checked out from your library by using the app. apps will continue to be available for iPhone, Kindle Fire HD/HDX, Win8, PC, MAC


Users can manage their magazine collection from your Zinio for Libraries collection page – They will no longer be required to leave the site and go to to manage their collection.


Expanded Browse and Manage Display – users may set their search preference to view 16, 40, 100 magazines at a time, by magazine cover or list view.


Help (?) icon – will be more visible.

House of Cards Trilogy

Thu, 03/05/2015 - 12:59pm


(click on each image above to download)

"The Netflix series "House of Cards" has won four Emmy Awards and was nominated for twenty-two. writes that " Even if it never wins another award, 'House of Cards' already ranks among the most influential shows in television history." As an entire season of the program is released on a single day, it is becoming increasingly popular to binge-watch it over short periods of time. If fans have already seen the most recent series that was released this past Friday and are looking for more, or if someone is curious about the program but is not sure they want to subscribe to Netflix just yet, we have a suggestion. The three books that inspired the sought-after American and BBC television shows of the same name are on your library website through Freading. The books never have to be put on hold since they are digital, and they can be downloaded even when the library is closed." 

  • "Francis Urquhart is one of the great characters of modern fiction."  -York Evening Press  
  • House of Cards is a work of genius." --Sunday Post

What are you waiting for? Download the trilogy today! 

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