Tessa’s DVD Recommendation: Belle (2013; Rated PG)

Feature Films with Food at Carnegie watched a sleeper this week! And I mean that in the nicest possible way, the film industry’s meaning of “something that succeeds when no one thought it would.” Belle is based on the true story of an 18th century woman named Dido Elizabeth Belle. Belle was the daughter of a British naval officer, John Lindsay, and an African woman, Maria Belle, who might have been a slave, but the details are not certain. Her father brought her back to England and left her to be raised by family, specifically an uncle who was the first Earl of Mansfield and became the Lord Chief Justice. A childless couple, the earl and his wife were already raising another niece, and Belle became like a sister to her. There is a famous portrait of the two young women, available for viewing in Scotland, which inspired the film.Belle-cover-image
Not only will Jane Austen fans adore this; history aficionados will appreciate it as well. The movie does a good job of portraying the privileged life as well as the tensions for Belle and her family in 18th century upper crust England, where slaving as a business still thrived. Although they take a few liberties, the film is faithful to the facts as we know them. The family raised Belle lovingly, providing education and a generous allowance. Once the earl and his wife passed away, Belle soon married and bore three children herself before passing away in her 40s. The film places the earl into his historical milieu, showing the pressures and temptations of his position and how his rulings influenced England and the world towards the abolition of the slave trade. He is considered the founder of contemporary commercial law. This admirable man and the unusual life that Belle lived is a worthy topic for a film. Since it is also a well done film, it will, I’m sure, only increase in repute and viewings for years to come. Highly recommended.    December 2014


Tessa’s Nobel Prize Winner Rejection: Missing Person by Patrick Modiano

Patrick Modiano won the Nobel Prize for Literature this month, mainly for work he did “on the human identity” in the book, Rue des Boutiques Obscures, which translated is, Missing Person in English. I just don’t see the reasoning behind this award.The story is an endless dull grind of Guy Roland looking, searching, for his “real” identity, lost with his total amnesia more than eight years previous. While not as dull and depressing as some French writing, this “detective story” still left me cold. I didn’t find the writing particularly lovely or expressive.Modiano

The individuals Roland encounters along the way are eccentric and vaguely ominous. I began to wonder at all the people who had committed suicide in the book, suspecting a horrible disclosure. No such climactic reveal, I should have known. Even Georges Simenon, the Belgian detective story master, manages to make crime boring, so how much more a French literary philosopher?

It is probably a pretty accurate and atmospheric trip through Paris and its quartiers, with glimpses of wartime streets, but, hm, hasn’t that been done a bit elsewhere? The ending really bugged me, too. Sheesh. All that work to get to a conclusion like that? No spoilers here, just my gut reaction. I definitely feel they should have given the award to someone else. ~ Tessa Eger           November 2014


Tessa’s Famous Author Recommendation: Langston Hughes

Short stories and poetry are both pretty alien to me, outside of my college years, since it is rare for me to like them. Knowing that there are exceptions to any generality, I occasionally take a quick look at something passing across my desk. Last month I withdrew a worn-out collection of Langston Hughes’ short stories, but I kept the book back to peruse. When we studied poetry in class, I remember his were ones that I actually understood and enjoyed–same with his stories.

Some of his stories are only a page or two, just a quick glimpse of someone’s life or a quick joke at a poor jealous creature’s expense. Others are longer and much more painful. But each one is warm with the love, the spite, the foolishness, and the liveliness which is the human experience.Langston Hughes (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

We have several different editions and collections of Hughes’ works, but here are a few stories I recommend you try, to get you started. Heaven to Hell is a super-short comment on the agony buried in stormy relationships. Who’s passing for Who is a hilarious commentary on race and skin color, timeless, though set during the Harlem Renaissance. Mysterious Madame Shanghai is for the dreamers among us—Mrs. Dyer, the landlady, is a recurring character in several stories, this one included. Her inquisitive, gossipy nature reminds me of so many people I’ve known (even myself sometimes, I confess). Hughes’ portrayal of her unpredictable flashes of kindness is spot on.

Hughes’ insight into human nature and the awful problems of our society (during his years as well as now) is phenomenal. He is able not only to see clearly, but to describe them so that we understand and empathize. I loved almost every story and I wholeheartedly recommend his stories.

Our 2015 – 2020 Strategic Plan Draft

Jackson District Library will be a state of the art library system that provides the highest quality collections, services and technology to all Jackson County residents. JDL will strongly support Jackson County’s Strategic Plan to transform our community into one of the nation’s most desirable places to live, work and play for people of all ages, backgrounds and cultures.

  1. Promote lifelong learning and literacy

  2. a. Children from birth to age five will have programs and services designed to ensure that they will enter school ready to learn to read, write, and listen.

    b. Students will have the resources they need to succeed in school.

    c. Adults and teens will have the support they need to improve their literacy skills in order to meet their personal goals and succeed in life.

  3. Engage extensively with community to enhance library services

  4. a. JDL will continually seek out partnerships and collaborations with all sectors of the Jackson community to enhance existing services and identify new services.
    b. JDL will use the 150th anniversary of public library service in Jackson in 2015 to generate interest and excitement about the library in the community and pursue a leadership role in collecting, digitizing and preserving unique local content.

  5. Support economic and workforce development efforts in Jackson County

  6. JDL will serve as a stable and powerful resource for businesses, entrepreneurs, educational institutions, municipalities and other individuals and organizations seeking to build a strong and resilient economy in Jackson County.

  7. Deliver Exceptional Customer Service Experience

  8. JDL staff will be an engaged, collaborative and well trained team, supported by committed, effective leadership to serve the public in the most effective manner. Areas of focus identified by staff: Collections, Communications, Customer Service, Facilities, Policies and Procedures, Programs, Services, Statistics, Technology and Training.


JDL’s strategic plan should ultimately reflect community priorities while also addressing critical organizational enhancements needed in order to be successful. Thanks to the efforts of initiatives such as Jackson 2020, an enormous amount of work has already been done in Jackson County to identify community priorities. In our online survey, we asked residents to identify areas where JDL can make the most impact. Respondents selected Education, Arts, Recreation, and Cultural Opportunities, Community and Social Supports, and Economic Development as their top four choices.

JDL is a founding member of the Cradle2 Career (C2C) collaborative in Jackson County. C2C is the network of education and community leaders working together to achieve common goals in education. C2C believes that all Jackson County students will grow, learn and succeed through the support of the entire community. Working together, C2C is connecting quality, lifelong education to successful employment. Therefore, we identified this area as Strategic Priority # 1.

While residents also saw a big role for us in providing Arts, Recreation, and Cultural Opportunities, we did not identify this as a distinct strategic priority because we felt that it was so deeply ingrained into everything we do at JDL and well represented in the other priorities. JDL staff has repeatedly emphasized the need to engage more extensively with the Jackson community to reach underserved and unserved audiences. Public libraries nationwide are recognizing that this new focus on community engagement is absolutely critical to their long term relevance and success. Survey respondents also identified Community and Social Supports as a key area of focus for JDL. Consequently, we identified this area as Strategic Priority # 2.

We continually hear that public libraries nationwide have distinguished themselves in their communities by taking a leadership role in collecting, digitizing and curating unique, local historical documents and other content. In view of the upcoming 150th anniversary of public library service in Jackson, we thought that this would be a perfect time to generate community interest and excitement around this area. This is reflected as item c under Strategic Priority # 2.

It is very important that JDL is seen as a strong and valuable contributor to long term economic and workforce development efforts in Jackson County. JDL is represented in Jackson County’s Economic and Workforce Development Coordinating Council. Public libraries are expanding services to new and existing small businesses, delivering fundamental workforce development services, and providing ongoing professional and personal technology training. Everyone benefits from a strong and vibrant local economy. Survey respondents identified Economic Development as an important area for JDL, so we added this as Strategic Priority # 3.

JDL staff provided extremely valuable feedback at its August 26 Planning Session and identified 12 important areas of focus. We determined that these areas were fundamentally about providing the best possible service to all residents in Jackson County. JDL leadership is committed to fostering a rich and vibrant organizational culture where every staff member’s opinion and contribution is valued. Therefore, we add Strategic Priority # 4 that includes 10 areas identified by staff. The two remaining areas – Community Outreach and Jackson 2020 – are folded into Priorities 1 thru 3.

Young Poets

Enter The 2015 Young Poets Contest

Young Poets Contest The Jackson District Library is pleased to announce the eleventh annual, “Poets Among Us: Young Poets Contest 2015.” With almost 8,500 student entries during the first ten years, this event has proven to be very successful with students, teachers and parents.

The contest is open to all students in grades K-12 and all home-schooled students in Jackson County. With your help, we are hoping to solicit more than 1000 entries! The contest packet contains the necessary materials and forms to allow teachers to incorporate the contest into the instruction schedule and includes the Student Rules and Registration Form to be completed by each student. This packet also includes a list of websites for teachers and descriptions of various types of poetry. One form must accompany each poem submitted. Please note that entries must be submitted online or postmarked by January 23, 2015.

A panel of poetry judges will review all the entries submitted. We will publish the award-winning poems in a small booklet and on our website. In addition, the top poets in each grade level will be given the opportunity to read their poems at the Young Poets Awards program to be held in April 2015. These readings will be recorded and made available on our website.

Tessa’s Recommendation: Easy Reading Off-Planet Romances for the SciFi fan!

Feel like you need some easy reading time? Then join me on the fascinating future planet of Harmony, discovered through and between Jayne Ann Krentz different series and pen names! This famous and best-selling author has been writing since 1979, usually with a paranormal twist to her romances. Around the turn of the millennium she began a new series in a new setting—the distant planet, Harmony. Although she has used up to 7 different pen names, currently she only uses three. The Harmony novels are written under her maiden name, Jayne Castle. Recently, however, she has begun tying her other two series in with the Harmony series, which has made for lots of fun figuring out which book goes where.

Personally, I mostly dislike romances. Especially the sickly sweet ones. But a Harmony novel grabbed me one day a half-dozen years ago when I was looking for something else. I snuck one home, secretly, not wanting to get caught reading any “romance tripe.” Surprisingly, it was kinda fun.

The planet Harmony has been cut off from Earth for about 200 years, and its human society has developed its own mores and laws. It has also developed new paranormal skills associated with the crystals found everywhere: even whole ruined cities are built of green crystal. There were intelligent beings living on Harmony before humanity discovered it, but they left long ago, leaving behind many artifacts and mysteries. New skills and new crystals are discovered all the time, so each book focused on a new type of crystal for a while. There are about ten novels in the two basic Harmony series (Ghost hunters and Rainshadow), with a few others linked to other series. The Ghost hunters series came first, and it was in book four, Silver Master, that she introduced the delightful creatures dust bunnies. These cat-sized intelligent animals adopt someone and move in, showing themselves greedy but pleasant companions and truly scary guards. Their cute blue eyes are suddenly joined by a pair of amber ones, and the four-eyed bunny goes ballistic, to the terror and pain of those targeted. If you are pet lover, they will add more enjoyment to the books.

Be warned that the first book was pretty lame, but they get better. Each book contains the requisite two or three sex scenes, but there is plenty of warning so you can skip it if you want. None of the plots are complicated, and all of them have a formula, but the mystery and suspense along with the gradual reveal of the planet’s secrets, make them a great choice for a scifi fan’s evening relaxation. Nowadays I carry Jayne Castle novels proudly.

  ~ Tessa

5 Healthy Towns Recipes — Return of the Salsa King

It was 5 Healthy Towns time again in Grass Lake! Brad West gave us a variety of fiery and sweet salsas to sample. Next month’s program is ‘Fall Fungi’ showing attendees how to harvest and prepare some fantastic fall ‘shrooms. Reservations are required; please call the Grass Lake Branch at (517)522-8211 or email to reserve your spot.


Grilled Pineapple & Pepper Salsa

  • 3 c. grilled pineapple, diced
  • 1 ½ c. grilled red & green peppers, diced
  • 1 c. grilled red onions, diced
  • ½ c. grilled green onions, diced
  • 2-4 Tbsp. grilled or roasted garlic, minced
  • 2-4 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 2-4 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, minced
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients, taste and adjust seasonings.


Grilled Vegetable Salsa

  • 1 c. grilled zucchini, diced
  • 1 c. grilled yellow squash, diced
  • 1 c. grilled sweet onions, diced
  • 1 c. grilled green onions, diced
  • 1 c. grilled red & green pepper, diced
  • 2 c. grilled tomatoes, diced
  • 1 c. grilled corn
  • ½ c. grilled hot peppers, minced
  • 3-6 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 3-6 Tbsp. roast or grilled garlic, minced
  • ½ – 1 tsp. ground cumin (optional)
  • ¼ – ½ c. cilantro, minced
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients, taste, and adjust seasonings.


Watermelon and Feta Salsa

  • 4 c. watermelon, diced
  • 1 ½ c. crumbled feta
  • ¾ c. sweet onions, in ½“ julienne
  • 2-4 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 2-4 Tbsp. honey
  • 1-3 tsp. fresh mint, minced
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients, taste, and adjust seasonings.


Dead of Winter Salsa

  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (can be Mexican style or fire roasted)
  • 1 ½ c. diced sweet onion
  • 1-3 Tbsp. garlic, minced
  • 2-4 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1-3 pickled jalapenos, diced
  • ½ – 1 tsp. ground cumin (optional)
  • 3-6 Tbsp. cilantro OR 1 Tbsp. fresh oregano
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Combine ingredients, pulse in blender, taste & adjust seasonings.


Mean Green Salsa

  • 2 c. tomatillos
  • 1 avocado
  • ½ – 1 c. pickled jalapenos
  • 1 c. sweet or red onion
  • 2-4 Tbsp. garlic, minced
  • 3-6 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 2-4 Tbsp. cilantro
  • ½ – 1 tsp. cumin (optional)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Pulse or puree in blender or food processor. Taste and adjust seasonings.

September/October 2014 Newsletter

The newsletter is in!

Hope you all had a wonderful summer. September is library card sign-up month and it’s going to be a great month to become a regular at your library. In this edition of Chapters you discover how to meet and learn from a northern Michigan ‘bootstrapper’ that knows a thing or two about getting things done.


Michigan Author Mardi Jo Link will visit Carnegie Library this month, and will lead a writing workshop. To find out more click on the cover image to download this edition of Chapters.

Find Everything

Our New Catalog Search Is Here

Did you notice anything new today? Our brand-new library search tool launched this morning, and we’re really excited to share with you all that it can do. There are now several ways to access the new catalog and everything the library has to offer. There’s also a form to submit your thoughts.
Find Everything
We have created a short introductory tutorial to help you find your way around. You can also find your way in by doing a search in the search box at the top of our website. The “My Account” and “What’s New” links also lead you there.


After you try the new catalog out look for the Tell Us What You Think button on the new catalog homepage