Blog Entries

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Staff Member

It Comes Down to Empathy

by Ellen Wanamaker

Two times recently I’ve had that bittersweet experience of reading a book I couldn’t bear to finish. Of course I finished both, and have been raving about them ever since.

A few years ago I read Anthony Doerr’s “All the Light You Cannot See.” That story, set in Nazi-occupied France, gave us two characters so real I felt like I’d been personally introduced. The story featured blind teenager Marie-Laure, whose father carved a replica of their walled city so she could learn the layout by feel, and Werner, forced into the Nazi army as a teen.

I eag... Read Full Blog

A Reading Habit

by Jillian Ocken

“To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.” - W. Somerset Maugham

January is a time for starting fresh, setting goals, and building good habits. While many of us focus on starting a healthier lifestyle for our bodies, there’s a lot to be said for exercising your mind regularly!

As a child I was always reading. As an adult, not so much. Until now. Enter the Winter Reading Challenge. Okay, so it started a few weeks ago, but there’s over a month left! Just enough time to complete the ... Read Full Blog

Award-Winning Reads

by Danielle Ziegler

It’s almost one of the most exciting times of the year for a youth services librarian! That’s right, the ALA Youth Media Awards are coming up. What does that long title even mean? These awards are a chance to, according to the American Library Association, “honor books, videos, and other outstanding materials for children and teens.”

You might be familiar with some of the awards. The Caldecott medal, for example, is given to the illustrator with the best art in a picture book for children aged up to and including fourteen.  Some of my favorite possible ... Read Full Blog

Tough Topics: Death and Dying

Anessa Olson

Let’s talk about death.  It’s not a very comfortable subject; no one really likes to think about themselves or a family member passing away.  But whether or not we like to think about it, the reality is that death is inevitable for us all.  Another reality is that death and dying are complicated.  There are a lot of legal and financial issues that arise when someone is dead or dying, and these issues are often the responsibility of their family.  There are steps that you can take to make things easier for your family, and ensure that your wishes are ... Read Full Blog


by Tracy Briseño

It is becoming colder and darker. I am not excited about winter. I don’t like being cold, and I thrive in the sunshine. This is a time that my introvert self likes to hibernate at home. If you are like me, here are some suggestions for how the library can help you enjoy this season of chilliness.

Checkout the library’s online options for reading, listening to music, or watching movies, films, and TV shows. The library’s Winter Reading Challenge is for all ages and runs from December 15th - Feb 14th. You can sign up online or through the Beanstack app. Thro... Read Full Blog

Musical Memories

by Jill Philby

Coming back to Iowa from Thanksgiving this year, the car was packed tightly. My parents were passing on some items they no longer used, so my daughter was the lucky recipient of my dad’s old stereo system--the kind with a turntable that you could stack with records.  While I remember my dad occasionally listening to classical music, what really comes back to me is my own little red portable record player. I played all sorts of records–anything we had in the house. Captain Kangaroo, Cowboy Bob and Janie, and, yes, even back then, Disney records.

Eve... Read Full Blog

Hot Reads for Cold Days: Local Romance Author Denise Williams

by Cathy Cooney

Denise Williams always loved stories with quirky humor and plenty of heart. Now, in addition to reading those books, she writes them too. Her novels, “How to Fail at Flirting” and “The Fastest Way to Fall” both featured prominently on a variety of lists including LibraryReads, Oprah Magazine, The Washington Post, Indie Next List, and Good Morning America.

Ames Public Library (APL) is thrilled to host Denise Williams on Monday, December 6 at 7 pm for a facilitated conversation about the romance genre, her novels, and how life is different now that she’s a pu... Read Full Blog

Wrapped Up in Christmas

by Anastasia Tuckness

Holiday picture books are a delightful part of the Christmas season, their illustrations inviting readers to imagine Christmases past and present. Our library has a great section of them, shelved all together in one place for easy browsing. But maybe this year you’d like to get truly wrapped up into a Christmas story you can read over several nights, a story that can transport you back in time or off to some other place. You need a juvenile fiction Christmas story! Read on to hear about several I’ve discovered this year as I wandered the stacks looking f... Read Full Blog

How Comics Changed My Life

Tyler Campbell

The library has always been a staple of my life. As a child I remember every summer I would take home my summer reading program and a different book every week. At first I would make my way through the reading program by devouring the local library’s Hardy Boys collection. Then I slowly transitioned into Choose Your Own Adventure novels before setting in on the popular Alex Rider series. I loved reading these series as I could envision kids my own age going on adventures and solving mysteries or completing “James Bond-esque” missions, and I couldn’t get enough.

H... Read Full Blog

Medium Spooky

by Seth Warburton

Well, here we are in October when recommendations for scary books are thicker on the ground than the leaves falling from the trees.  I’m loathe to lean in on horror, however.  Being terrified, even when it’s seasonally appropriate, isn’t my idea of a good time.  Reading scary books or watching scary movies is sometimes compared with riding a roller coaster: you get the experience of a frightening situation while actually remaining perfectly safe.  It must be some mental block, but I generally choose to take a pass on as much terror as I can, be it re... Read Full Blog

Understanding Social (In)Justice Through the Power of Place

by Cathy Cooney

According to Oxford Languages, social justice is “justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society.” By extension, social injustice describes the opposite – a lack of justice regarding the way those privileges and resources are distributed. A solid understanding of both of these principles contributes to improved equity, diversity, and inclusion. But if you’re like me, just reading the definition isn’t enough. I always benefit from more specific examples and more in-depth conversation around complex social topics like thi... Read Full Blog

Learning to Play

by Jill Philby

Quite a few years ago, my husband and I brought home our first child.  He went back to work after a few days.  I stayed home with our daughter.  I held her, fed her, bathed her, rocked her, and repeated all of that until I couldn’t stand it anymore. 

My husband and I had planned for me to stay at home. I wanted to be home with her.  It wasn’t that I didn’t love her, and I certainly wanted the best for her.  I just didn’t know what to DO with her.  I had never been around babies, and though I had been assured that it would c... Read Full Blog

Saving the Best of Summer

by Ashley Wilson

I love all the seasons, but none is more bountiful to me than late summer. The colorful, soft, fruits and vegetables that begin to appear in quantities larger than anyone could eat beckon my canner and crocks. I begin dreaming of popping open a jar that holds a little bit of warmth and sunshine on the darkest January nights, munching on crunchy ferments in between meals, and bottling honey mead that I can share with those closest to me on special occasions. Many winters of my youth were lightened with beets swimming in their dark ruby brine, frozen kernels of field-... Read Full Blog

Strong and Sane and Ready to Fight

by Ellen Wanamaker

I set out to write this column about silliness and fun, about nudging adults to give into their inner child and embrace play and creativity. But then I paused. So many serious and dangerous things are happening: Afghanistan in crisis; the Haiti earthquake; more dire news about climate change; the surging coronavirus delta variant; ongoing issues of poverty and inequity. It’s impossible to ignore these things, and we shouldn’t ignore them. So how do we balance ourselves in the face of all the stresses in the world? How do we keep strong and sane and ready to fight ... Read Full Blog

Back to School

by Danielle Ziegler

It’s almost fall!  Soon the world will become crisp in the mornings, the leaves will change color, and I will start to look longingly at my sweaters and cardigans.  And, of course, kids and adults start to head back to school.  Whether it’s a book or a DVD preparing you for the start of the school year, we can help you out at Ames Public Library.

Starting school can be a big change for young children, whether it’s preschool, kindergarten, or even a new daycare.  We have board books that can help introduce little ones to what is happe... Read Full Blog