Read Books. Win Prizes.

Library Summer ReadingWhat are you reading this summer?

Let us know by joining the Library Summer Reading Program. From June 2 to August 15 you are invited to share your opinions about books you loved, hated or can’t stop talking about. Whether you are reading this year’s big beach book, revisiting the classics, cracking open a literary masterpiece or finally reading that fantasy or YA novel everyone is watching; we want to know if we should read it. We will even give you prizes if you tell us. Not sure what to read? We have recommendations and Kindles full of books for students, faculty and staff on campus.

The Summer Reading program is open to all members of the SMCM library community including students, staff, faculty, alumni and residents of the Tri-County area (St. Mary’s, Calvert and Charles counties.) You may read anything you want as long as a copy is available at the SMCM Library or via USMAI or the Southern Maryland public library (COSMOS). You don’t need to check the book out of the library. To get points you must post a review on the blog.

For more information visit the Library Reading Circle.


TOB X: March Madness for books

TOB XLast Friday the Morning News Tournament of Books declared The Good Lord Bird by James McBride the winner of TOB X. I added this to my to-read pile along with one other TOB competitor, Long Division by first time author Kiese Laymon whose writing judge Héctor Tobar described as, “a tour de force of colloquialisms and street slang put to intellectual good use,” before eliminating it from the competition in the first round. It lost to Donna Tartt’s Goldfinch a novel I am committed to never reading.

Two is not an impressive number of newly discovered reads and I didn’t go into the tournament having read a lot of the books. Just three and a half, At Night We Walk in Circles by Daniel Alarcón, Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri and about half of A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki.

This actually reflects my sense of my 2013 reading year. I don’t have the stats but it wasn’t a year full of books I loved. Few of the books I liked made the TOB, only the Alarcón and Atkinson. And The Lowland is by far Lahiri’s weakest work. So I took a look at the TOB long list to see how that stacked up and found a lot of books I read or that were on my to-read list that didn’t make the cut. There were a lot. Read Pamela’s recommendations from the TOB long list.

The Staff Book Club joins the digital age!!!

Posted on behalf of Cheryl Colson.

Coma The Staff Book Club joins the digital age!!!

At one time or another we have all found ourselves reading a review on Facebook, Amazon or Twitter. So to keep up with the trend the staff book club will be posting reviews via a social media network better known as blogging.

Want to blog about your favorite book?
Want to submit a movie review?
Want to read the book of the month?

How about sharing your comments on a book or movie review?
Check out the review for October’s book selection, Notes on a Coma by Mike McCormack.

We want to hear from you, so visit us at the Staff Recommends blog.

Happy posting!

Reading this Summer?

Reading on the Beach

Reading on the Beach by Courtney McGough on Flickr

Last weekend I broke down. I bought a Kindle (a Kindle Paperwhite to be exact). Despite my ambivalence towards e-reading, it’s getting harder for me to deny the conveniences of an e-reader. I’m a reader. Although chasing a toddler around the house has but a kink in my reading style, I still try to get in as much eyeball-to-text time as I possibly can. When I go on a trip, I take as much care and effort packing my reading materials as I do packing my clothes. This little 5 x 7 inch device is making upcoming travel so much more convenient and amazingly less stressful. Instead of trying to squeeze in 3-4 different volumes I can just pop that Kindle in my purse and call it a day. It’s fantastic.

Will I stop buying and checking out print books from the library? No way. In fact, as I type, I have two books on my nightstand from the St. Mary’s County Library. The Kindle is just a new addition to my reading lifestyle and a great way to kick off the summer reading season. If you’re interested in getting your summer reading off right, the SMCM Library can help.


We have 6 different Kindles for SMCM students, faculty, and staff to borrow loaded with all kinds of fantastic fiction. Want to find out what all the Game of Thrones fuss is about? Read it on our Kindle Fire. Curious about Gone Girl or Kate Atkinson’s latest, Life after Life? Read one on a Kindle Touch. For more about our Kindles and the books on them, check out our online Kindle Guide.

Popular Reading Collection

If you’re more of a print-on-paper kind of reader. We have you covered. Our popular reading collection has a great selection of fiction and non-fiction bestsellers to help you take a break from heavy academic reading. Take a walk up to the 2nd floor and hang a left. In the reading area you’ll find a beautiful water-front view and our awesome Popular Reading Collection.

St. Mary’s County Public Libraries

I wouldn’t be doing my due-diligence as a librarian if I didn’t do a little cross-promotion. We are fortunate to have an amazing public library system in our county. If you haven’t visited one of the branches in Lexington Park, Leonardtown, or Charlotte Hall, please do it. Their book, movie, and music selection is amazing! A few weekends ago I picked up Tom Perotta’s The Leftovers, a copy of the Alabama Shakes album, and Dinosaur vs. The Potty, a board book for my son. They have fun summer programming for kids too!

Summer Book Club

Since you’re doing all this reading anyway, you might as well win a prize or two for your efforts. The SMCM Library’s Summer Reading Program continues this year and gives all SMCM students, faculty, staff, and alumni a chance to contribute book reviews to the Summer Reading Blog and win prizes.

Happy Reading,


Weeding: It’s Not Just for Gardens

All of you gardeners out there know that keeping your garden healthy means regular weeding.  Weeding takes time and care.  It can mean pulling out and discarding flowers that look pretty but which still crowd out the plants you really want to grow.  Weeding gardens is a lot of work but novice gardeners can use guides to help them distinguish between the weeds and the plants you want to keep.


Dandelion Field by Petr Kratochvil

All of us also occasionally “weed” our belongings.  Haven’t worn that shirt in how many years?  Donate it.  Bought that DVD and decided you didn’t want to watch it more than once?  Give it to a friend.  Remember when you thought it would be fun to try fishing as a hobby?  Know anyone who might take a slightly used fishing rod?

Library collections need weeding, too.  Why would we need, or want, to discard any of our books?  Isn’t everything important and useful?  How would we decide what to keep and what to withdraw?  Well, turns out there are lots of articles and guidelines that help librarians decide what criteria to use when weeding.   BUT . . . “throwing out” books is still a risky business.  Just last week a public library director in Illinois got into trouble for deciding to withdraw a lot (!) of books just because they were published before 2003.

At the SMCM library we do a lot of weeding in the summer.  That’s not because we don’t want anyone to see what we are doing.  There are two main reasons.  First, most of the books are here in the library so we can see how crowded the shelves are.   Second, the librarians have fewer meetings and classes so we have more time to spend because weeding is time-consuming.

Why do we weed?  Yes, we actually do want to get rid of books that may be getting in the way.  In some areas we can’t fit any new books on the shelves.  Since we’d like you to be able to see those nice, shiny new books we need to decide which are no longer useful. Sometimes books are outdated.  Sometimes they are perfectly good books, but not ones which fit our curriculum anymore.

Here are some of the factors that go into our decision-making:

  •  How long has it been since the book was last checked out?  We can get reports of books that have not been borrowed in at least 10 years.  BUT – we probably wouldn’t discard a version of the Bible or a Shakespeare play just because no one has borrowed them.
  • How many other libraries own the book?  If we own a book along with only 10 other libraries in the US, we will probably keep it.
  • Is it outdated?  A book on using MS Excel 2007 might not be that old, but it might not be very useful either.
  • Is it still important to our curriculum?  Is it in poor condition (and if so, should we replace it)?  Do we need the 1st and 2nd editions of that book?

See – there are lots of questions and making decisions is not always as easy as when you weed your garden.  Some decisions are really judgment calls and some can be based on data. 

But all libraries need to be weeded regularly in order to keep them health.  And that’s especially true for small college libraries.  We want you to see the brand new books we are getting.  And we want you to be able to pull a book off the shelf without breaking the spine or because the books are so packed together. 

So if you see the librarians up in the book stacks this summer with carts, you will know it’s just us weeding, except without the gloves or the bug spray.  And if you want to know why and how we are making our weeding decisions, please ask!