39 Second Street
Presque Isle, Maine 04769
(207) 764-2571

E-mail: turnermemoriallibrary@gmail.com

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

An Author You Can't Refuse

“Inmates are free to roam the prison [at Otisville], but aren’t allowed to enter other housing units. Otherwise, a con can slip into a unit, pipe someone over the head, and split.

When Christmas came around, the Italians needed a hack to look the other way while we all snuck into one unit to get together for dinner. Everyone knew I g
ot along with Officer Hardy.

‘See if he’ll let us do Christmas dinner by you,’ said Gussy.

By now, I did my own thing, kept some distance from the Mob. But these were good guys who looked after me when I arrived.

I talked to Hardy.

‘Okay, Ferrante, but not too many guys, I don’t need a problem.’

On Christmas Day, we took over the rec room in my unit. We pushed together the Ping-Pong tables and threw sheets over them for tablecloths.

Earlier in the week, Patty Paresi stole two buckets from the paint shop. With a homemade heating rod called a ‘stinger,’ we boiled five pounds of macaroni in one bucket, a fish sauce in the other. Ralphy the Bandit made garlic bread and caponata. We even had a plate of finocchio and olive oil.

I gave Hardy A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. His nose was an inch off the page as a dozen Italians from other units trickled in during the 6:00 p.m. move.”

Unlocked: A Journey from Prison to Proust is the autobiography of Louis Ferrante, a former loanshark and soldier in the Gambino crime family, at
that time under the leadership of the late John Gotti. Lou’s story is remarkable for many reasons, from the hair-raising stories of life on the street - told with a mix of gritty detail and warm humor - to the evolution of his writing and diction itself throughout the book. But like a Godfather version of Pilgrim’s Progress, Lou encounters as diverse and colorful an array of friends and acquaintances who would all play some part in setting his life course from the City of Destruction through the Valley of of the Shadow of Death and on into the Celestial City, to redemption and a life that motivates, encourages and saves through the most valuable commodity he had ever touched.
  • Sonny, the Colombo family geisha house owner who ran a fraudulent credit scam from under his wig ( a federal crime);
  • The prison guards who tossed him in the hole after an apple throwing incident and gave him time to think about his life and develop the urge to read;
  • Fat George, who “had half the Bible tattooed on his body” and access to some books;
  • “The broad at the bookstore”;
  • Fred, the “small balding man with a fast walk, like a white George Jefferson” who headed the Education Department at Lewisburg [federal prison];
  • Jimmy, former head of the notorious Westies Irish mob out of Hell’s Kitchen, once described as a “sadistic thug” renowned for dismembering his hits post-mortem who thought Lou was being wasted working in the kitchen at Lewisburg and “pulled some strings”: “I got you a job at Education,” he said. “Now you can read all you want”; and
  • Richard Messina, corporate attorney and convict whom Lou first encountered in the yard reading A. Scott Berg’s Lindbergh
These are just some of the unlikely people who pulled Lou out of the swamp of street crime to the socially esteemed roles of educator, writer and academic. And it started not with stolen electronics, cash, drugs, leather coats or cars - it started with books. These are the first three books Lou was handed in prison:

- Vincent Cronin

Mein Kampf

Caesar's Gallic Wars

"Get them books yet?" [Fat George] asked.

"Yeah, who picked 'em

"The broad at the store."

"Whaddyu tell 'er?"

"That you were short and bossy."

Louis Ferrante went on to tutor fellow inmates in Shakespeare, world history and literature. He served an eight-years sentence, and has since left both prison and the Mafia life. He is now an author, motivational speaker, and has appeared on The Daily Show. Lou has also published Mob Rules: What the Mafia Can Teach the Legitimate Businessman.
Louis sends along these personal recommendations for our library readers:

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

The Count of Monte-Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

Anna Karenin
a by Leo Tolstoy

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

The Story of My Life by Helen Keller

Nelson Mandela: The Struggle is
My Life

A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings of Martin Luther King

The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini

Author Louis Ferrante (image used with permission)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Reading Recommendations from Melanie

Melanie’s Recommended Books

Tremendous thanks to library volunteer Melanie for her book recommendations. One of the many great things about our library volunteers is that they each bring a unique set of experiences, tastes and interests that patrons and staff alike can draw on for an expert opinion. Melanie's husband is a tattoo artist and she herself is an amazing work of art. If you're looking for something interesting to read this summer, take a look at Melanie's outstanding suggestions below.

Stiff by Mary Roach

Down East Detective by Karen Lemke

by Harold Schechter

Delores Claiborne, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon,

and The Long Walk by Stephen King

Intensity and Fear Nothing by Dean Koontz

Rumble Fish and The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and Superfudge by Judy Blume

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews

Go Ask Alice by Anonymous

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

Lost on a Mountain in Maine by Joseph B. Egan

New York City Tattoo: The Oral History of an Urban Art

by Michael McCabe

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Overdrive Update for Library Books on Kindle

Overdrive has notified libraries of the following information regarding the imminent availability of Kindle-compatible e-books through libraries, and we are in turn passing this information on to you:

"Many of you will receive inquiries about this new program, so here is a brief introduction to what can be expected when this launches:
  • The Kindle Library Lending program will integrate into your existing OverDrive-powered 'Virtual Branch' website.
  • Your existing collection of downloadable eBooks will be available to Kindle customers. As you add new eBooks to your collection, those titles will also be available for lending to Kindle and Kindle reading apps. Your library will NOT need to purchase any additional units or formats to have Kindle compatibility. This will work for your existing eBook titles.
  • A user will be able to browse for titles on any desktop or mobile operating system, check out a title with a library card, and then select Kindle as the delivery destination. The borrowed title can then be enjoyed using any Kindle device and all of Amazon's free Kindle reading apps.
  • The Kindle eBook titles borrowed from a library will carry the same rules and policies as all our other eBooks.
  • The Kindle Library Lending program will support publishers' existing lending models.
  • Your users' confidential information will be protected.
  • The Kindle Library Lending program is only available for libraries, schools, and colleges in the United States."
Thank you to Overdrive, Amazon, and everyone who has made this possible - most particularly YOU the library patron.

For any questions about library e-books and e-readers, please feel free to contact staff at Mark & Emily Turner Memorial Library in Presque Isle, Maine. Our full ist of contact information is here:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Book by Any Other Format ...

“You can’t judge a book by its proprietary format.” “I can read you like an enhanced font ePub download.” Since these phrases haven’t quite made it into daily vernacular - yet (but you read them here first if they do!), we can safely assume that for the time being, books in the bound-paper manifestation so many of us love have not yet been blown into extinction like dinosaurs after an asteroid by digital books and e-readers. Libraries still enjoy enormous requests for and circulation of traditional books.

In fact, according to a recent article in “Scientific American” by David Pogue, digital preservation is still far too new to be proven as a reliable method of archiving over the long term. But while archiving of material is of high import to libraries, so much more is access to material. Digital books are less about denying readers the “smell and feel” of a book and more about providing the opportunity for reader to have book in hand in the shortest amount of time possible, and many times at a lower cost. Project Gutenberg, for example, provides digital access to numerous classics and public domain works, saving readers the additional cost of needing to purchase the item and libraries the cost of acquiring multiple copies of a work that is already freely available.

What can be very intimidating for a reader is the tangled undergrowth of e-reader brands and proprietary file formats for electronic books. One thing of which we can be certain: Things will keep changing. Readers who bought and fell in love with their Amazon Kindles, for example, were dismayed to then learn that the Kindle was not compatible with the ePub format that library e-books offered by distributors such as Overdrive were using. “You mean I bought this electronic reader and now I can’t check library books out on it?” Happily, however, that is also changing, and soon library patrons will be able to check out e-books on their Kindles.

As we cut our way together through the rapidly growing and evolving flora of the publishing world, it might be helpful for patrons to have some familiarity with the developments and challenges. Patrons now have more books than ever from which to choose, but the acquisition of those books might involve more now than consulting the card catalogue and pulling the volume off the shelf. Here are just a few of the myriad ways librarians can help patrons get book in hand:

1. The library purchases the book. Librarians love to hear requests from patrons and also endeavor to follow popular authors and titles to ensure to the best of their respective budgetary abilities that patrons have access to those books.

2. The library requests use of the book from another library. Not every library has every book, but libraries are generally very good about sharing materials back and forth for the greater good of all information seekers. This is called an Inter-Library Loan (or ILL), and is a request you would generally place with your local librarian. Often a small fee or donation is requested to help cover the cost of mailing or courier services.

3. The book is available as a digital download through your library (or another free service such as Project Gutenberg), as an e-book or audio book, and can be downloaded with your patron identification number to your computer, e-reader, or other handheld device. This is where devices and formatting can get tricky, and one of the best people I have found to help organize it is “The Digital Goddess” Kim Komando. Kim discusses e-books and e-readers frequently in her column, and she has a comprehensive chart of readers and their supported formats here. Some devices such as the Kindle, Nook and iPad download books wirelessly, and there is usually an open wireless connection at your local library. Some devices must be hardwired to a computer with an accompanying account, such as Sony. It’s our business as librarians to know how to help you with this process.

4. The book is Print on Demand (also known as POD or publish on demand). This is admittedly new territory for libraries, as it indicates a book that has been written and uploaded to a publisher/distributor [such as Amazon via CreateSpace] in a digital format but is not actually available in print until it is purchased. A book in this format is unlikely to be available to acquire via an Inter-Library Loan, and might not have been formatted for all e-readers nor purchased by Overdrive. It is not completely uncharted territory for libraries, however. California libraries are working together to provide POD services to their patrons with an Espresso Book Machine. Maine is working on the same thing. Expect to see further developments in this area as more emerging authors take advantage of self-publishing services.

Whatever your reading desire or question, one thing that has not changed is your librarian’s desire to help you. Access is what we do. In fact, we wrote the book on it - in all formats.

Lisa Neal Shaw is the Reference Librarian at Mark & Emily Turner Memorial Library in Presque Isle, Maine. For questions about any of the above or any of our other services, please feel free to call (207) 764-2571 or e-mail lisanealshaw@presqueislelibrary.org.