—by Kolleen Taylor

We are definitely having one of those winters that we will talk about for a few years, with this cold weather arriving early in the fall, and it looks like we will not have much of a break before spring is officially here. With the continuation of cold weather, it has made indoor activities the norm, and our DVD collection, books and puzzles have seen a lot of activity. Puppets, audio books, read-along books have also been popular, as families are seeking diverse activities for a warm environment.

Some years we get spooked with the bad weather, and avoid having programs in the evening. This year we are attempting this again, and hope that the cold doesn’t keep too many away from the program this Thursday evening, as we have invited Miyoko Hikiji, who wrote the book "All I Could Be: My story as a Woman Warrior in Iraq". She is an Iowa native, originally living in Cedar Rapids, but now lives in the Des Moines area. Her program begins at 6:30 on Thursday here at the library in the south meeting room . There is no charge to attend.

With the cold, we need to remind everyone some basics about care of library materials. DVDs and CDs become very brittle when they are cold, so if they are left in a vehicle overnight, they can easily be cracked or broken. When removing these from the cases, they should be allowed to warm up to room temperature, then carefully release the disc by pushing the button in the center, and carefully remove it holding onto the edge of the disk. Fingerprints and oils that get on the disc will cause it to skip and jump, ruining the image or the audio track. Using a clean soft cloth and water and wiping from the center of the disk to the edges usually will remove the surface oils.

Books also need to be kept dry and away from dogs and small children….especially those who are teething. Please understand that when books are returned with water damage, this is still the responsibility of the person who checks them out. We try to have a supply of plastic bags in the library for patrons to use to carry these items to their cars. The majority of the books which are damaged come from moisture, and it is surprising how quickly a book can absorb moisture, causing the pages to expand and wrinkle, and moving into the binding. When that happens, we can only assume it will eventually develop mold or mildew, and that will spread in a library environment. Unfortunately, I’ve found books on the shelf at times with mildew that starts in the spine, working through the book covers. It’s why we are quick to remove books from our collection with moisture issues.

The library collection IS your collection. We are working hard to keep it fresh, clean and enticing. As many have noticed, we do clean the exterior of our books and DVDs, using a mild detergent that will kill any germs. We have to be careful not to use too much moisture for all the reasons above, but after the Ames Public Library was forced to close for 2 days last week due to illness amongst staff, we feel this process is an important one for everyone’s health, and our staff feels strongly that this step keeps them all healthier.

If you ever have a book checked out from us that you cannot locate, please be sure to tell us, and if in doubt, ask us to double check our shelves to make sure it wasn’t returned. Sometimes individuals pick up books to check out, and lay them back down on a table and forget to take them home, and they get re-shelved by a well-meaning individual or a staff person. Books also often fall in cars and end up under the seats, and at home, many items are located under beds and couches. We know this happens, but just keep us informed and we will try to work with you while you are locating the items.