Friends of the Libraries: Lessons from the Panama Canal

For some time after my husband read the book "The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914", by David McCullough, and recommended it to me as a "very readable" book, I have had it in my pile of reading material. But the very size of it, and the fact that it was nonfiction, kept me away. Finally, having overdosed on mysteries, I decided to tackle it. And I had a hard time putting it down. If you are interested in history, or public health, or technology, or even politics, it is a great read.

But what amazed me most was how big a job it was to complete the canal. It certainly is comparable to the space race today. Our country needs to be able to take on high-tech projects like this. Our public libraries can play an important part in preparing our residents — beginning with our young children, but not forgetting the rest of the population as well. If we are to progress, and not backslide, we can't leave it to chance.

Selcuk Guceri, dean of engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, wrote in a recent letter to supporters, "During the last half century, we have seen rapid growth in the world population, shifting demographics and Internet-based communication. These developments come with increasing challenges in areas such as energy, water and food supply, depletion of valuable resources and healthcare.

"We are moving into a new phase where leadership depends on an innovation-based economy. Institutions of higher education support this economy by producing professional talent and research leading to new discoveries."

Public libraries are a first, and a continuing source, of learning for all of us. We need to support them.

At the Costa Mesa Donald Dungan Library

Children can improve their reading skills and boost their self-confidence by reading to a licensed therapy dog at 1 p.m. Saturday. Please contact the library at (949) 646-8845 for additional details.

Toddler Storytime will meet at 11 a.m. Monday and March 18. The children's librarian reads stories, sings songs and provides a craft and coloring sheets. Toy time takes place after the 20-minute storytime. Children and their families are welcome.

Every Thursday at 2 p.m., a bilingual storytime, geared toward preschoolers and elementary-aged children, is conducted in English and Spanish. Songs, stories and crafts are followed by time to play with toys. Children and their caregivers are encouraged to attend.

Check out any book with a green cover or any book about gardening, nature, outdoor sports, March holidays or Ireland and enter a raffle to win a Barnes & Noble gift card. The winner will be announced March 24.

The Romance Book Club will be held at 2 p.m. March 20. "Saving Grace", by Julie Garwood, will be discussed. Call Samantha at (949) 646-8845 for more information.

At the Mesa Verde Library

If you have an eReader, eBook or other tablet book reader and are not sure how to go about using it, take advantage of the classes being offered at 9:15 a.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays (or 2:15 p.m. by appointment only). You will learn how to download free e-books from the OC Public Libraries website and receive basic instruction on using iPads, Kindles and other e-reader or tablet devices.

Be advised that iPad users will need to know their iTunes username and password to download apps. Other tablet users will need to know their device's App Store username and passwords as well. Kindle users will need to know their Amazon account username and password.

Pajama Storytime with Miss Mary Pat will meet from 7 to 7:30 p.m. March 13.

On March 19 at 7 p.m., you are invited to meet the author Sonia Marsh, who will be discussing her book "Freeways to Flip-Flops" — all about family adventure in Belize.

On March 20, the After School Library Club for ages 8 to 12 will meet from 3:30 to 4:40 p.m. Activities, crafts and projects will help encourage creativity and foster familiarity with using the library's resources. Call (714) 546-5274 to sign up (required).

The Friends of the Costa Mesa Libraries Book Club will meet in the Bookstore at 7 p.m. March 18. "State of Wonder", by Ann Patchett, will be discussed.

MARY ELLEN GODDARD produced this column on behalf of the Friends of Costa Mesa Libraries, the Costa Mesa Library Foundation and the three Costa Mesa branches of the Orange County Public Libraries.

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