AUT in the Coffman Library

By Joanne Kendall

Originally published in the January 2019 issue of the 1666 Coffman Newsletter

What’s the deal with the headline above? Should it read “OUGHT”? Or even “AUGHT”? Actually, neither works in this context. In 2017, 1666 Coffman Newsletter contributor Fred Gaiser ended one of his writings, about being a library user, with the comment that he occasionally found “altogether unexpected treasures” (AUT) on the 1666 library shelves.

As a longtime member of the library committee, I had the privilege, assigned on a weekly basis, of shelving books returned to the library’s blue box by borrowers. Thanks to that volunteer task, my first reaction to Fred’s words was strong objection to his use of the word “occasionally.” When I did that weekly shelving, I seldom left the library without signing out a book I found intriguing. And almost every one proved to be an altogether unexpected treasure!

Promised a writing assignment for this issue by Katie Weiblen, library committee cochair, I was questioned about the propriety of writing as a past resident. The question was settled by giving me the title “foreign correspondent.” For me, that had the ring of extraordinary freedom to write at length and ramble around the library collecting some of those AUT titles that had provided me with so much good reading for so many years, all twenty-one of them!

So in the next few months when lack of sunshine (a given this winter), extreme cold and/or the return of ice and snow give Minnesotans expendable time, Coffman residents can prepare ahead with a list of reading suggestions gleaned as you wander with me from top to bottom floors of the Coffman library collection, while I point out a few of the AUTs that may have been buried treasure to you until now.

On the building’s third level, top floor of the library, Sections I – XIV, notice Alone Together, by Sherry Turkle (sociology); The Measure of My Days by Florida Scott-Maxwell (aging); In the Spirit of Crazy Horse by Peter Matthiessen (Native American writing), and two books by Reynolds Price (essays). As you turn the corner, try to bypass the several sections of mystery, spy, adventure books, or you may be hooked and go no further. Old favorite writers and a host of new ones abound!

Books in the travel writings and travel guides sections are guaranteed to take you away from winter. You will find Minnesotan Bill Holm’s Coming Home Crazy addictive in its hilarious descriptions of that red-headed/red-bearded “giant” and his experiences as a teacher in China.

If you’re feeling rebellious at having anyone tell you what to read, the visual beauty of almost any book in art and architecture sections allows you simply to enjoy looking at the illustrations. An altogether unexpected treasure in the writing section is Brisbanes’s A Gentle Madness, a book I “bought” off the book sale cart and, after reading it, recommended that it be returned to the library collection. It’s that fascinating!

Cabin fever victims should not ignore the library sections on mythology, sacred texts and writings on sacred texts; cookbooks, golf, and games; and should certainly include browsing among the books by 1666 authors. If you don’t already know M. D. Lake’s mysteries, now is the time to discover the reading excitement waiting in their pages for any would-be sleuth. Then, be sure to ask a longtime resident about the mystery surrounding the writer’s name!

Move with me now down the circular stairway to the library’s first floor. (I’ve taken a more cautious approach for several years via the elevator). Fiction books occupy sections II through VII and attract the most borrowers.

In addition to single books, two series here have provided me with countless hours of fascinating reading in recent years: The Century Trilogy of Ken Follett and Patrick O’Brian’s seven-volume (of twenty published) fictional accounts of the history of sea warfare beginning with Master and Commander.

Sections I and II hold books on drama, theater, books for teens and children (to re-read any Winnie the Pooh book by A.A. Milne is an AUT whenever I pick it up!). From Section VII on, any listing of additional AUT titles will most certainly be chopped off by the newsletter editor’s computer clicks. I’ll only say that history fans and readers of biography who browse in those sections are sure to discover altogether unexpected treasures waiting for them.

We can all hope against a prolonged period of cabin fever as 2019 begins. Should that happen, however, the library provides additional hope. Collectors of minutiae and 1666 wordsmiths may still discover AUTs in dictionary, reference, and encyclopedia sections of north-facing shelves on both levels of the library.

At this endpoint, newsletter readers should have noticed that not all the library’s labeled sections (nor specific books in each) have been noted here. It is this writer’s hope that others may want a piece of this action, writing about the “Altogether Unexpected Treasures” they, too, would like to reveal to library users and to those who have so far been doubtful guests to the library. Who will be next to join in hunting for and writing about AUT in the Coffman library?

*As I finished taking notes for this article, I was lured once more by the book sale cart and bought for $1 The Angel on the Roof: Stories by Russell Banks. I can’t leave his writing alone…another AUT providing hours of reading delight!

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Slender Books for Airplane Reading

By Carol Van Why

A couple of months ago when I was looking for a book that wouldn’t take up much space in a carry-on bag I got an email from Coffman resident, Bob Tapp.  In it he shared a piece titled “18 Short Classics You Can Read in One Sitting.” 

Like me, you’ve probably read all or many of them before. There may even be a title or two in your personal collection. At 200 pages or fewer one of these titles might make a good traveling companion.

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Most Award-Winning Books Per Shelf in the Collection

By Carol Van Why

Two excellent books donated by Coffman residents made me pause and think about how good our SCI/TECH/MATH and ENVIRONMENT NATURE collections are.   One of the new books is Roger H. Stuewer’s Age of Innocence: Nuclear Physics Between the First and Second World Wars.  You’ll remember that Dr. Stuewer gave a well-received talk at Coffman in October.  The other title, My Life with Cranes:  A Collection of Stories is by George Archibald.  Archibald is one of the founders of the world-renown International Crane Foundation, located in nearby Baraboo, Wisconsin.

For the next two months when these books are not checked out you’ll find them on the library’s RECENT ARRIVALS shelves.  Thereafter they will be in their permanent locations on the library’s upper level.  There they’ll join an award-winning collection of titles from a who’s who of writers.  Be sure to browse those shelves sometime this winter. Readers recommend the ones with the neon green stickers as particularly readable.

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Cozy Up to the Library This Winter

By Carol Van Why
Originally published in the November 2018 issue of the 1666 Coffman Newsletter

Winter is on the way. A sure cure for cabin fever is to enjoy those frigid sunny days from the comfort of the Coffman library. New to Coffman? Get familiar with the library now and begin to consider it your second living room.

Our website is your road map to using the library. Paste the following URL into your
browser: Once there, click on “1666 Coffman Library.” Next, slide your cursor across the menu bar. Topics of most interest to newcomers will be the book donation policy, a self-guided tour, and instructions on how to subscribe to our website.

The Library Committee receives a small budget from the condo association. However,
resident book donations are the lifeblood of the collection. Regrettably, it’s a small library and we can’t use all donations. The Library Committee takes pride in both collection content and the visual appeal of the library itself. For that reason, we cannot accept damaged, worn, or musty books.

Orient yourself in the library by taking the self-guided tour that you will find on the
website. You’ll learn how books are arranged, how to sign them out, and where to return them. Soon after you’ve settled in at Coffman, the Library Committee will offer you a tour and orientation. Contact Katie Weiblen to set up a date/time.

Want to keep up with what’s new in the library? Be sure to subscribe to our blog. You’ll get
an email each time there’s something new on the site. We feature a new book and its review each week.

So plan to beat the winter blues. The Library Committee purchased nearly forty new books
during the summer and fall. Over a dozen new mystery/suspense titles were purchased by virtue of a generous financial donation from a resident. Pick up your copy of our new books list from the library table or find it on the website, and read your way through the winter days.

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Armchair Travel in the Coffman Library

By Carol Van Why

In preparing to spend two weeks in fourNew England states during October, I first cruised the 1666 Coffman library shelves.  A book in the TRAVEL WRITINGS section, The Last Empty Places by Peter Stark, offered up tidbits about Emerson, Hawthorne and Thoreau. Because my travel was going to feature Revolutionary War sites, I signed out and enjoyed David McCullough’s 1776 from the U.S. HISTORY section.

The trip would also take me to western Massachusetts with a special visit to Edith Wharton’s home in Lenox, MA.  The Library’s FICTION section did not disappoint, containing Wharton’s House of Mirth, Ethan Frome and Age of Innocence.

The final third of the trip would be a meander down the Maine Coast.  Linda Greenlaw’s Lobster Chronicles, found on the BIOGRAPHY shelves was required reading for this segment of the trip.

Where have your 2018 travels taken you?  Did you browse our library to find related reading before or after your trip?

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Library Committee

By Katie Weiblen
Originally published in the October 2018 issue of the 1666 Coffman Newsletter

New picture books have been added to the children’s area on the second floor of the  library. Residents are encouraged to view and use these wonderful additions and share them with grandchildren, nieces, and nephews.

This Is the Nest that Robin Built by Denise Fleming.
A robin’s friends help build her nest in this collage picture book. It received Caldecott Honor Award.

Love by Matt de la Peña
The importance of love in a child’s life is eloquent and moving.

Out of Wonder: Poets Celebrating Poets by Kwame Alexander
Out of gratitude for the poet’s art form, Newbery Award-winning author and poet Kwame Alexander pays homage to twenty famed poets.

Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackwell
Watch the days and the seasons pass as the wind blows, the fog rolls in, and the icebergs pass by. Outside there is water all around. Inside the daily life of a lighthouse keeper and his family.

Ducks Away by Mem Fox
Count along with mother duck as her ducklings try to waddle across the bridge. What happens when ducks fall one by one into the river teaches young readers basic math principles of addition and subtraction.

Old Hat by Emily Gravett
This fresh and funny picture book is about the futility of fads and the joy of learning to be yourself.

There is a Crocodile Under My Bed by Ingrid and Dieter Schubert
This colorful picture book helps children overcome bedtime fears of the dark.

Grace for Gus by Harry Bliss
Grace is the quiet girl in the class and Gus the class guinea pig. Grace knows Gus is lonely so she sets out to help her furry friend.

How the Sun Got to Coco’s House by Bob Graham
Follow the journey of the sun across the world from a whale’s eye to a little girl’s window.

Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell
A girl is lost in the snow. A wolf pup is lost too. How will they find their way home? This book won the Caldecott Medal.

For Older Children

Roller Skates by Ruth Sawyer
A young girl’s experience living in New York city in the 1990’s. It is a delightful story of old New York about a tomboy who could not help being a lady at the same time. It won the Newbery Award for the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.

The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian’s Art Changed Science by Joyce Sidman
Maria Merian became an artist and a scientist in the seventeenth century. Her fieldwork and careful observation helped uncover the truth about metamorphosis and changed the course of science. Joyce Sidman is a Minnesota author and is known as a foremost science writer for children.

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A Minnesota Tradition

If you follow the Minnesota literary scene you may be aware that the Minnesota Book Awards have been awarded since 1988.  Between now and November 16, 2018, submissions are being accepted for the awards that will be announced on April 6, 2019.

Coffman Library’s collection contains many of the books that have been award winners, finalists or nominees during the history of the awards.  Copy the following link into your browser to see the complete list of past award winners and finalists.

To be eligible a book must have a 2018 copyright date and only authors, publishers and agents are eligible to make submissions.  If you could make a submission, what Minnesota book would you recognize for the upcoming awards?

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Some of 2018’s Best Books and More

By Carol Van Why
Originally published in the September 2018 issue of the 1666 Coffman Newsletter

In June, the Library Committee asked you to tell us what new books you’d like to see in the library. Those titles are among the dozens that will begin to appear on the library’s Recent Arrivals shelves (just inside the second floor door to the right) this week. You can also find them under the “We Suggest” menu item New Books – 2018.

Our statistics tell us that Coffman’s reading interests, in order of popularity, are fiction, mystery, biography, and history. With the help of a financial donation from a resident, the Library Committee has been able to purchase 17 new books in the mystery/thriller genre. Look for new books by favorite authors like Baldacci, Krueger, Penny, Sandford, and Winspear.

You’ll be happy to hear that several of our new fiction purchases are based on such historical figures as Eliza Schuyler Hamilton and Alma Mahler. A new work by a favorite Minnesota author, Julie Schumacher, and popular fiction by contemporary Asian American authors should also be popular with Coffman readers.

Many of our nonfiction purchases are award winners and will grace library shelves for years. Biography highlights include recent works on Grant and Eisenhower. At least two of our history selections are actually true crime tales set in previous centuries. If you liked The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson these may appeal to you.

Though not as popular with Coffman readers, our science and environment collections contain more award-winning titles per shelf than any other library category. We’re pleased to have added important new books on both the Gulf of Mexico and the Great Lakes. And most readers will not be able to resist Simon Winchester’s latest. Now there’s an author who has proven to be able to turn any subject into a riveting read.

I hope you’re inspired to browse what’s new in the library. To help, we’ve put together a list of all the new titles, arranged by genre or subject. Pick up your own copy from the library’s table today.

For the next couple of months when the new books are not signed out to others,
you’ll find them on the library’s Recent Arrivals shelves. Thereafter, you’ll find them shelved in their permanent locations.

Don’t forget to sign books out and return them promptly for your fellow residents to enjoy.

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Most Definitely A Community of Readers!

By Carol Van Why

We asked and you told us what you’ve been reading this summer. All of your recommendations are combined in a list that you can find on the Library’s website at the Resident Reading List – Summer 2018. Titles appear in a genre/broad subject arrangement. Most but not all of the books on the list are in the Coffman collection. If you can’t find something contact one of the Library Committee members for help. Enjoy!

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Lounge, Connect, Browse, Borrow

By Carol Van Why and Victoria Tirrel
Originally published in the August 2018 issue of the 1666 Coffman Newsletter

So good to see so many people enjoying the library these days, either for reading or taking advantage of Coffman’s wifi. By now we hope that even those of you who are new to Coffman know that the library has its own website. Connect with us at Once at 1666 Coffman’s site click on “1666 Coffman Library” on the far left.

When the site opens, slide your cursor over the menu bar at the top to discover topics ranging from using the library, donating materials, making memorial donations, to book cart sales and reading ideas. Click on any of the menu items to locate the information you need.

You’ll find our most recent blog post on the site’s opening page. We try to have new content there twice a month. If you’ve subscribed to the blog, you’ll receive an email whenever there’s something new on the site. You have to click on the link to take you directly to the new content. If you’ve been doing this, you already know that we highlight a new book each week for you to look for on the Recent Arrivals shelves.

That reminds me that last year Coffman residents borrowed 913 items from the library, up 26% from 2016. We couldn’t do it without your support. Your generous book donations are the lifeblood of the collection. A modest annual appropriation from the association helps us add some of the year’s best books to the collection. Watch for a blog post later in the summer to link you to a list of what’s new to borrow.

Want to know more about the library? Cochair Katie Weiblen is available to give you a personal tour of the library and answer your questions.

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