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“Green” Building – Portsmouth NH Public Library

Have you visited the new library yet? If you haven’t you are certainly missing out on a great library and if you have you already have you know just what a wonderful addition to Portsmouth the library is. I visited for the first time in April 2007 and quickly became a “heavy user” of the extensive collections from books to DVDs to CDs.

The original library was at 8 Islington Street and opened in 1896. One hundred and ten years later, the new library opened at 175 Parrott Avenue in December 2006. The new library is over 38,000 sq. ft. of state of the art space. A bright, light and airy space with lots of comfortable stuffed chairs to enjoy a magazine or newspaper and work areas to focus on your projects. Wireless internet is available throughout.

It was designed as a “green” building. The design optimized energy performance above 32.5%; there are views in 90% of the spaces; reduced light pollution, daylight in 75% of the spaces, reduced water use and water efficient landscaping. Local and regional materials were used in 20% of the building. Low emitting materials were used throughout including paint, carpet and composite wood. One interesting fact is the first floor is only 10.5 feet above sea level.

When you enter the library it is hard to miss the Liberty Pole Eagle c.1824 hanging in the main staircase over the time capsule. It was originally carved to top the Liberty Pole. This pole was the successor to the original pole that was erected in 1766 at the time of the Stamp Act. In 1977 it was decided that the eagle had become too fragile to stay outside and was moved indoors to the library. The current Liberty Pole has its own eagle and still stands on Marcy Street across from Strawbery Banke. The eagle is carved of wood and covered in gold leaf. It is believed that the eagle was carved by Laban Beecher (1805-1876) A Boston wood carver that had come to Portsmouth to do carving on the sloop-of-war Concord by the Navy. Mr. Beecher would have been 19 years old when he carved the eagle. It is only assumed that he carved the eagle since he was the only known carver in the area at the time.

Visit the Special Collections room to research historic Portsmouth. The Reference Department is always happy to be of assistance. Located on the second floor. In the Main Lobby there is a large portrait of Celia Laighton Thaxter (1835-1894) believed to have been painted by Emil Otto Grundmann (German, 1844-1890) he was the first head of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Celia Laighton Thaxter was a local author, poet, painter and gardener. She spent most of her life living out on the Isles of Shoals. She ran the Appledore Hotel and hosted summer salons that attracted many 19th century luminaries, artistic and literary figures including Hawthorne, Emerson, and Twain. Her son, Karl Thaxter, donated the portrait to the library in 1896.

The Youth Wing offers a Teen Room, Sun Room, Storytime Room and Activity Room. There are several computer stations dedicated to youth use. A nice collection of child friendly videos and DVDs are housed here.

You can browse the catalog from your home computer by going to Through the internet you can search the catalog, see what you have checked out, renew books, audio and VHS tapes, reserve a book and download a wide variety of audio books.

What Can You Borrow at the Library: It’s more than just books!

Music CDs – The collection is constantly growing and you can borrow up to 5 CDs for two weeks

VHS Tapes – An extensive array is awaits you and now you can borrow as many VHS tapes as you like, keep them for two weeks and even renew them! My favorite area is the group of non-fiction tapes that give you a tour of the area.

DVDs – Borrow 5 for a week. These cannot be renewed but there is a large group of movies, documentaries and TV programs.

Books on Tape and CD – I am really enjoying working through the books on CD at the library. A great way to use your commuting time for other personal and educational pursuits. Car rides and work days just seem to fly by when hearing a good story.

There is more to the Portsmouth Public Library. It is definitely a community meeting place. Several activities and groups meet there regularly. On Saturday morning from 10-12 there is an open Mah Jong game going on in the café. Every other Tuesday from 7-8:45pm a World War II discussion group meets in the MacLeod Board Room. Mondays at 7pm and Tuesdays at 1pm is the time for Adult Book Discussions. You can find the schedule of books to be discussed at the front desk.

Film Series are an active part of the library scene. Thursday evenings at 7pm movies are shown in the Levenson Meeting Room on the first floor. Coming up they are featuring “Breach” (2007) starring Chris Cooper and Laura Linney and “Waitress” (2007) starring Keri Russell and Andy Griffith. The Film Noir series meets Wednesdays at 1pm. Recent movies included “The Asphalt Jungle” (1950) directed by John Huston and starring Sterling Hayden and “In a Lonely Place” (1950) directed by Nicholas Ray and starring Humphrey Bogart.

Over 12,000 residents of Portsmouth borrow books and more from the library. And if you are from out of town you can join too. Currently the one year annual membership fee is only $75 or join for six months for $40.

Hours are 9-9 Monday through Thursday 9-5:30 on Friday and 9-5 on Saturday

Portsmouth Public Library

Alternatives to Doing a Book Signing in a Bookstore

The key to many author’s success is to get out there and actually put their books into the hands of the people. For most, this means doing book signings, and that means getting themselves into the bookstores. While this is a good idea, an author that only sticks to doing signings in a store, will miss valuable opportunities to sell books.

There are many other locations where an author can sign a book and not always at a table at the front – or rear – among shelves and shelves of other author’s books. Many author’s don’t think of going to places like these to sell their books, so there usually won’t be too much competition for attention.

Classroom Visits –
Any author of a children’s book through young adult should consider coming up with an activity to teach a class, and to do school visits. These are a goldmine for selling books (Disclaimer: Check with schools before agreeing to appear, some will not allow you to sell anything to their students). You can send out flyers, letting schools know that you can do appearances, and what you could provide for the students, or you can sign up through a group (I signed up through SCBWI – The Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) to do school visits, and they will help you in the process of setting everything up.

Craft Fairs –
On first glance, people might wonder why an author would set up a table at a craft fair. When you think about it though, isn’t a craft nothing more than something someone made with their hands? And didn’t you create your book (the words anyway) using your hands? And don’t they sell those Sham-Wow and Oxy-Clean products at craft fairs? Think of a craft fair as just another venue for a book signing. You will probably be the only author there, and you are offering a quality product to the people. Yes, a table will cost you a small fee, but it is worth it if it gets your book out to some potential fans. Many will be surprised to see an author there, but they will still come to your table to check you out, and the more people checking you out, means the more sales you’re likely to have.

Your Local Library –
Another place little thought of when it comes to book signings. However, what a more perfect place than a library? It’s like a bookstore, except people borrow books instead of buying them (except your book of course). Check out the libraries in your community. Ask if they would be willing to allow you to set up a table some Saturday afternoon and sell copies of your book. Everyone that comes in and out will see you, and you might be able to sell some copies. If the librarian is a little reluctant, offer to donate some books to the library (including a copy of the book you’ll be using for your signing). This is going to give you exposure to a good deal of people, and will lead to at least a few book sales under your belt.

Teach a Class –
Admittedly, this is not for everyone. And, it isn’t technically a book signing. But it is an opportunity to get your book into the hands of the public. I am not suggesting going down to your local college and teaching a writing class. Instead, what I suggest is inquiring at any local community centers about doing an evening or weekend workshop in which you will teach the craft of writing. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy thing either, it can be every Wednesday evening for a month, or it can simply be a single Sunday afternoon. Either way, bring copies of your book, and plug it to your “class”, maybe even offer a discount to anyone who takes the class. Don’t think it’s shameless. It is simply another platform for your book and if you teach a quality lesson or technique during your workshop, it will pretty much guarantee some sales.

Niche Markets –
There are other opportunities for authors to do some book signings and get their books into other’s hands. However, there are more niche markets suitably tailored for specific types of writing. For instance: if you have a book on medieval history (fact or fiction), consider doing a signing at your local Renaissance Festival, or if you’ve got a graphic novel, check out one of the many comic conventions circulating around the country. Every type of book should have a niche that it can fit into, and unique places suitable to sell that particular book. It is simply up to the author to find them.

Are Old Books Bad For Your Health? Comment on Mold Spores and Dust Mice in the Lungs

The other day, I was in a used bookstore which was going out of business in our local area. The whole thought of that completely bothered me, nevertheless, everything was on sale so I wanted to see if there was anything that I needed. They had a section with some very old books in one of the corners. I pulled out a book I wished to buy, but the pages had turned brownish, and the acid paper was decaying. I opened up the book and I sneezed. Apparently it had dust mice.

I thought to myself “that’s unfortunate, and I don’t need dust mice in my own home or my own personal library,” and that portion of the used bookstore did smell musty, perhaps there were mold spores in the walls. Nevertheless, that got me thinking about how so many wealthy individuals in past periods have had emphysema, and other lung problems who had also had large libraries in their own mansions or homes. Could it be that all these old books over time as they decay caused dust particles and mold spores to get into people’s lungs?

If that’s the case then old libraries not kept at the proper temperatures could be dangerous for your health. Maybe we don’t have to worry about this, because the age of electronic books is now upon us. I often feel as if my home library is becoming more like a museum of artifacts. I’ve always thought that owning a personal library was of supreme value to one’s quest for a lifetime of learning, constantly improving one’s intellect and understanding of the life experience of the world we live in, however perhaps it is unsafe, health wise.

There are tiny organisms that feed off of wood, and therefore probably paper as well, that’s what books are made at of, and just as some hotels have bedbugs, it may not take long for one book in one’s library filled with tiny organisms to multiply, and advance to similar ecosystems along that bookshelf. You see my point? That’s a scary thought isn’t it?

There is not a lot of information on this as a look through the Internet, but there is a good chance that having too many old books might actually be bad for your health. And if you die early from some type of lung problem, you do realize you can’t take that knowledge with you. That’s all I’m saying here, but then again it may not matter because in the near future there won’t be any physical books.

Everything our next generation has to read will be an e-book, and you won’t have hundreds or thousands of titles in your personal library, you could easily have hundreds of thousands, and be connected to the Internet and trillions of pages of information all the same time. Please consider all this and think on it.