Library Memories

When I was a little girl, I lived in Lubbock.  I went to the Mahon Library every Saturday with my father.  Some of my favorite memories with him are at this library.  I remember the way the books smelled and how kids would crowd around the shelves to find their favorite books.  My favorite was Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst.  I would get the record and the book and listen to it on the library record player.  We went to storytime in this large dark room with a big tree inside of it.  Puppets would come out of the trunk of the tree.  I thought it was magic.  I remember sitting there and listening to books and the librarian would sit on a tree stump and read.  After, my father and I would go to the fiction section and he would pick out some books of his own.  I remember the day I got my own library card and how I thought it was so wonderful.  My father kept it for me so I wouldn’t lose it.   Then I would take the books home and make my father read them to me over and over again.  Recently, I found a copy of the Alexander book and gave it to him for Christmas.  When he opened it he groaned and asked if I was going to make him read it again.    This is when I first fell in love with libraries.  I loved the smell, the books, the quiet nature of the place mixed in with the controlled chaos of the storytime.  I loved the way the librarian helped me and how the circulation staff smiled at us.  We were important to them.  They knew us.  They liked us.  They wanted us to come back and check out more books.

When I was a teen, I lived in a small town called Willis.  The library at the time was in a house.  When I entered high school, the house was torn down and we had a new building.  It was wonderful.  They had three computers, video cassettes, and music to check out.  The librarian would let us volunteer and we would help in the summers and on breaks.  When I was a senior, they hung a portrait I painted in the library.  It wasn’t very good, but I remember being really proud and telling everyone my artwork was on display.

I hear people talk about the Emily Fowler Central Library the way I talk about the Mahon Library and the Willis Library.  People loved the treehouse, the atrium, and most of all they love the memories those things created.  We have so many opportunities to make people fall in love with our libraries.   I hope you love whichever library you choose to go to as much I love the one from my memory and the one I work at now.  Here are some photos from the Emily Fowler Central Library.  I hope they bring back some fond memories for you.


Atrium at the Emily Fowler Central Library







Storytime with Ms. Martha





Children’s Area

WyLaina Polk is the manager of the Emily Fowler Central Library and was always meant to be a librarian.

July 29, 2014 at 8:07 pm Leave a comment

LEGO Challenge

I love LEGO®s but I am terrible at following the instructions that come with the LEGO® kit.  Then I saw this really interesting blog with LEGO® building challenges.  Some of the challenges looked really fun.  So, I used one of challenges in my Teen LEGO® program to see if the kids would find them as much fun as I did. (They most certainly did.)

07-19-2014 LegoMania for Teens YS EF (8) - Copy


Flip Flop


07-19-2014 LegoMania for Teens YS EF (23)


Glasses and a Mustache

07-19-2014 LegoMania for Teens YS EF (24)


Now, it’s your turn.  Take the LEGO® Challenge, build something on the theme and post it to the library’s website.  Let’s see what you can do with LEGO®s!


LEGO Challenge 1:  Wearable LEGO®s – build something you can wear made entirely out of LEGO® bricks.

(This challenge idea was borrowed from Legoquest.)  Share your photos with us in the comments!


Stacey Irish-Keffer is a Youth Services Librarian at the Emily Fowler Central Library

July 26, 2014 at 5:47 pm Leave a comment

Why I Love Joss Whedon

I love Joss Whedon.  Some of you are asking who he is.  That’s understandable.  For the simple answer, here is a link to his Internet Movie Database page.  In my mind, he is the man, no, genius who brought me Buffy, Angel, Firefly, and made The Avengers possible.

It all started fjacketor me with the Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  There is a movie and it’s amazing!  It’s supposed to be a funny gory teen comedy / drama, but the critics hated it.  The TV show is much darker.  It still has it’s moments of hilarity and it is filled with teen angst and drama, but it’s really different from that first movie.  Buffy is a girl who was moved to Sunnydale because she burned down her school gym in the town they lived in before.  It turns out, Buffy is the chosen one and is the one and only vampire slayer on the planet.  She has two loyal friends, Willow and Xander, and  some enemies, mainly Cordelia and the vampires, and she relies heavily on the school librarian, Giles, who is also her Watcher.  It is an amazing series and when it was cancelled, viewers were very sad.  Joss decided to make a graphic novel series chronicling what happens next.  This is one reason why I love him.  He doesn’t let the story end just because some higher-up told him it was over.  It is over when Joss is finished telling the story.




Angel came next.  This TV series started in the middle of Buffy and it is a spin-off.  Angel, Buffy’s true love, moves to Los Angeles.  It is a very long story, but it turns out Buffy and Angel just can’t be together.  Angel becomes a private detective.  He brings along Wesley, another Watcher, and somehow Cordelia is in the show as well.  It is a decent spin-off with a satisfying ending.  It also has a series of graphic novels that go with it.

During this time, Jjacketoss tried to make a western show about pirates that was set in space.  Firefly is a fantastic show about a space captain who takes on a crew of misfits and they go around helping people and trying to make money.  We destroyed Earth and humans had to terraform other planets so we can live.   There is a war as not all the planets want to be ruled by one government.  Mal, the Captain, fought for the Independents, who lost.  He tries to stay away from the government as much as possible as he does not agree with anything they do.  This show was canceled in the middle of the first season.  Fans were livid.  Because of the fans and Joss, they made the movie Serenity,     which is the story of what happens next to the crew.  It is my all time favorite show, right next to Doctor Who.  The storytelling is wonderful and he really brings this world to life.  He also has graphic novels that continue the story, for those interested.

Next was Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog staring Neil Patrick Harris.  NPH is amazing in this.  It’s a vlog about a man who loves a girl and just wants to be a supervillain.  He just can’t seem to get past Captain Hammer, the superhero.  What’s a poor supervillain to do?  It is funny, smart, and really entertainingjacket

Joss also did a series called Dollhouse.  People sign an agreement and lose all memories, judgement, and any part of their own will.  That makes it easy for them to implanted with different personalities.  Want to go into the jungle with an expert?  Hire one of them.  Need someone to be a hostage negotiator, but don’t want to go to the police?  Here is an expert.  For a huge amount of money, you can have any personality you want to accompany you anywhere and do pretty much anything you need.  This show was cancelled after two seasons.  It was thought provoking and there is a mystery which is never really solved.  I enjoyed it, but it’s not one of his best.

jacketIn 2012, Joss Whedon did something amazing.  He did a movie called Cabin in the Woods.  At first, I was apprehensive about this film.  I don’t generally like scarey films and this one looked like the typical teen slasher film.  Then I found out it was Joss Whedon.  I immediately put it on hold from the library.  It is old school Joss.  Funny, smart, dark, and weird.  I love d it.  This movie was another reason I love him.  He knows who his fans are and how to tell and story they will love.

Then there was The Avengers.  I’m sure you have all seen it.  When I heard they were going to do The Avengers I was very excited and then I remembered all the other horrible movies people have made about superheros and I was sad.  I just knew they were going to ruin this one.  Joss is the reason the movie felt as amazing as it did.  He knows comedy, he knows production, he knows his audience, and he knows how to make people love what he does.  He has a vision and he knows how to make it into reality.  jacket

Joss Whedon has also done Much Ado About Nothing, which he filmed at his house.  It is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays, although the premise is a bit ridiculous.  But it works.

Anything Joss comes out with, I will watch.  Anything he publishes, I will read.  I am a Joss Whedon superfan and I’m not afraid to let my geekiness shine through.  All of these things are at the library, except for the Buffy movie, which I will ask to have ordered soon.

WyLaina Polk is the Manager of the Emily Fowler Central Library and is a loyal Browncoat.

July 25, 2014 at 2:55 pm 2 comments

Movies to Enjoy?

I just got back from vacation.  Despite my longing to go to Brazil for the World Cup, my husband and I stayed at home and did things around the DFW area.  We also watched movies.  Even though going to the movies is great, there is something about being at home with a big bowl of popcorn and a soda.  Plus, you don’t have to step over anyone to go to the restroom.  Here are my reviews of the movies we watched on vacation.  They are all available at the library, of course.


 The Wolf of Wall Streetjacket

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill

Directed by: Martin Scorsese

Overall, I found the characters despicable and disgusting.  They had no morals, no sense of decency, and some of them ended up in jail.  That being said, I can tell why it was up for an Academy Award.  The grandeur and the audacity shown on film was brilliant.  DiCaprio really takes it to the next level.  He’s manic one minute and sensible the next.  He has a child-like joy about him when he is talking to his employees and he is ruthless when selling stocks.  The only people I liked in this movie was Jordan Belfort’s ex-wife and Steve Madden, the shoe designer.  I really do miss my chunky heels of the 90s.  I wish those would come back in style.  Anyway, Scorsese is always controversial and has an excellent way of making the audience hate his characters.  Casino is an excellent example of this.  I don’t think I would ever elect to watch this movie again, although I thought some of it was amusing, in it’s own way.  If you want a great Scorsese movie, try The Color of Money with Paul Newman and Tom Cruise or Gangs of New York with Leonardo DiCaprio.  Be forewarned, Gangs of New York is pretty violent and gory, but visually, it’s an amazing movie.

jacketWhen Harry Met Sally

Starring: Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal

This is my go-to, feel-good movie.  I have seen this film thousands of times.  I can quote lines, tell you background history on the filming, and so much more.  I still have my VHS copy, it’s that good.  It’s a girl meets boy, girl hates boy, girl and boy become friends, boy ruins it, and they fall in love.  The movie starts directly after college graduation when Harry and Sally share a car ride to New York.  They don’t know each other and the have very different views on relationships.  One of the most memorable lines is Harry stating that men and women can never be friends.  That car ride sets the tone for the whole movie.  It’s a really wonderful film about how men and women are different and how they can change and grow.  Just for full disclosure, my husband didn’t watch this one with me.  He elected to mow the lawn instead.  It is a pretty girly movie, I suppose.  In my defense, I am a girl.



jacketThe Wolverine

Starring: Hugh Jackman

When we first started this movie, I thought it was the awful X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie.  It wasn’t, although they both start off in a POW camp, which I thought was weird.  I’m not sure why Marvel keeps making movies about this one particular X-Men character.  Yes, he’s cool, he’s a bad-boy, and Hugh Jackman is handsome, but there are other X-Men who deserve to have a movie about them and there are other plot lines to explore.  It was interesting.  There were lots of Japanese references, as some of the movie is in Japan.  I liked it better than Origins, but it’s not a good as the other X-Men movies.  Although, the movie X-Men: The Last Stand was not great either.  If you really want to watch an X-Men movie and have seen the others, this one is okay.   If you want a really interesting Hugh Jackman movie, try The Prestige.  It’s a great movie that is completely underrated.



jacketIndiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Starring: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, and John Hurt

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

I think I am the only person in the United States who enjoyed this movie.  Everyone I know thought the alien aspect was hard to swallow and I somewhat agree.  However, when you think about all the other stuff he found in the other movies, this one isn’t so bad.  For example, in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, he found 3 magic rocks from a magic stream that could made a village prosper.  And someone had their heart ripped out with just a hand and didn’t die immediately.  I don’t think that’s possible to do, but I let it go because it’s a movie.  I thought it was a very interesting take on the theory that aliens helped build the Mayan pyramids.  They even reference Egypt in the film to make the connection to both continents.  I liked that the characters came full circle from the first film with Karen Allen.  She was always my favorite and I’m glad to see what happened to her.  I really enjoy all the Indiana Jones films and Steven Spielberg is an amazing storyteller.  I also really enjoy any music John Williams composes.


jacket The Bletchley Circle

Starring: Anna Maxwell Martin

This isn’t really a movie, it’s a British mini-series, but I watched it on vacation, so it still counts.  It is about a group of women who worked at Bletchley during World War II cracking enemy codes and finding patterns in things the Germans were doing.  After the war, they all went separate ways and couldn’t talk about the things they did during the war.  One of them starts to notice a pattern in seemingly random murders.  She enlists the help of her former co-workers to solve the mystery.  These women are strong and smart and no one around them sees who they really are and what they can really do.  If you like mysteries, this is a great one.  I would also recommend Endeavor, which is the early years of Inspector Morse.  It’s great stuff.  I might also like PBS a little too much.




jacketJack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Starring: Chris Pine and Keira Knightley

This is a GREAT movie.  I loved every minute of it!  It was fast, smart, and exciting.  Chris Pine is a great action star and really shows a wide range of emotions in this movie.  It starts on 9/11 at Oxford University when Jack Ryan decides to join the Marines.  He is in a helicopter crash and that’s how he meets his future girlfriend, Keira Knightley, as she is a physical therapist.  The CIA recruits him to be a spy at a bank, looking at transactions for suspicious money that could lead to terrorism.  He finds some and the race is on to stop the terrorists before they can get us!  Chris Pine also stars in the new Star Trek movies, which are also great.  Keira Knightley is in one of my favorite versions of Pride and Prejudice.  The costumes in that version are my favorite.


Have thoughts on any of these movies?  Leave it in the comments!


WyLaina Polk is the manager of the Emily Fowler Central Library and loves most movies.



July 8, 2014 at 8:14 pm Leave a comment

Finding early Denton County birth & death records

First of all, it’s very confusing and there are multiple ways to search for them, many of which are not online.

The State of Texas began mandatory recording of births and deaths in 1903.  If you lived in a large city, the State allowed that that city could record the births & deaths and send them to the Texas Department of Public Health. The City of Denton did not establish the formal office of City Health Officer until October of 1909, but they did begin recording Births in 1900. The first births & deaths for the City of Denton were recorded in a ledger book, in a line-by-line format from 1900-1925.  An actual certificate form was not established  until 1926.  There are close to 1,000 births that were registered during this time period: from 1900-1917.

Denton County was in charge of recording births that took place outside of the city limits and did file these records with the State.

Diana White, former president of the Denton County Genealogical Society and someone who helped transcribe the early City of Denton Birth & Death Records  related that vital statistics were not properly recorded until post-World War II.  Also, many times a physician did not file their certificates with the State for months at a time, and when they did, filed what they had. There were also errors that occurred with the records kept by the health officer who attended the birth or death of an individual who was from outside the City, but recorded it as someone from the City. State Law for recording death records did not go into effect until February 1, 1910 and doctors and health officers were then required by law to register. According to the DCGS’s records, there were very few 1908 dates and no 1909 dates. It wasn’t until 1917-1918 that birth rates were kept more accurately in the County. They DCGS had to fill in a lot of information using announcements that appeared in the Denton Record-Chronicle. Another source for early birth records are the Delayed Births records.  These records filed by individuals who were born before 1900 and needed a birth certificate later in life; some of the births go back to the 1870s.

Delayed birth records can be found at the Denton County Clerk’s office and the Special Collections Department of the Emily Fowler Central Library . It is important to note that the records include births of people who were from out of State; they did not have to be from Denton County in order to register. The records were abstracted by Vinita Davis of the DCGS and have recently been given to the Special Collections Department.  I have been checking some of the names that were abstracted against those on the Denton County website and have found people that are not listed on Denton County’s website.  The abstracts include: child’s full names, date-of-birth, full name of father, the mother’s maiden names, volume and page number. And when you can’t find a birth or death certificate, the other place to look is the local newspapers.  This can be a bit hit-and-miss because the newspaper office of the Denton Record-Chronicle burned around 1908 and their historical newspapers burned with them.  Some existing copies of the Denton County News (mid 1892-1900) were microfilmed by the County and are available at the Emily Fowler Central Library.  The University of North Texas is in the process of digitizing them and these records will be on the Portal to Texas History in the near future.  It will be a wonderful resource.

So, for a good start at finding these records remember to look in these places:

  • FamilySearch has digitized Texas Death Certificates from 1900-1976; this is free for anyone to access, although you must create a username and password in order to download the record.  They are also working on digitizing the death certificates from 1977-1986 and Texas Birth Certificates from 1900-1976.  Remember that the State did not order this until 1903, so death certificates were not filed with the State until that year.
  • Denton County has birth certificates for people who filed a birth certificate in Denton County, which includes a list of delayed birth certificates (birth certificates filed by people who were before 1900 and needed to have a birth certificate).  You can access these records but you will have to pay to obtain a copy.  This website will also has the following records:deeds, assumed names, cattle brands, marriage certificates, and more.
  • The Denton Public Library’s Emily Fowler Central Library has a listing of early birth and death certificates that were recorded by the City’s health officer from 1900-1949 for births & 1900-1957 for deaths. The Library was also recently gifted the abstracts from the Delayed/Probate Births filed in Denton County by the Denton County Genealogical Society and are in the process of transcribing them for our website.
  • Early birth and death announcements that appeared in the Denton County News, or Dallas Morning News for people from Denton County can also be found in our indexes to early births & deaths on our website; the microfilm of the early surviving Denton newspapers resides there and can be accessed using our Scan Pro 2000 microfilm digital scanner, which you can make copies from, or scan to a USB drive.
  • The Portal to Texas History’s digital newspapers collection may also offer further places to explore.  Our volunteers are currently using it to index the Dallas Express for articles and vital statistics pertaining to African Americans in Denton County.

If you have any questions, or would like to send us a research request, please contact us by email, or call (940) 349-8752.

(Later) So, here I am working on the Delayed Birth index and I run across the name of a girl born on March 27, 1884, by the name of Snow Flake.  She is born to the parents of Green Flake and Manda Emmaline Pickel Flake.

I bet Manda was glad she married a Flake.



June 28, 2014 at 12:02 pm Leave a comment

Books for Babies

The American Academy of Pediatrics just came out with a study that says you should read to infants at least once a day.  As a librarian, I knew that.  They teach us that when we get our degree in Library Science.  Yes, all librarians have a degree in Library Science.  It’s a real thing, I promise.  The study states reading to infants increases vocabulary, nurturing relationships between parents and children, and increase a child’s development of cognitive, language, and social skills.  The link above also has tips for reading aloud to babies.  I am a new mother, my child is only 6 months old, and I can tell you reading aloud to your baby can be a hard thing to do, but it’s worth it.  The important thing to remember is to let them play and chew on the books, and to not force reading.  If they are not interested in reading at this exact moment, it’s not time to read.  Try again in a hour or so.  Here is a list of board books that babies really love.


Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

This is a great book for bedtimes and times when you want to wind things down.  The phrasing in the book forces the reader to take it nice a slow and I prefer to read it in an almost whisper.  The artwork is simple and as the child gets older, you can start to point out things in the pictures that correlate with the words.







Jacket  Baby Faces by Margaret Miller

Babies love to look at faces.  Mine is obsessed.  She will turn the pages over and look at the babies looking back at her.










If You’re Happy and You Know It! by Jane Cabrera

This is a book you sing.  Babies do not care if you think you can’t sing.  Trust me.  My child loves to hear this one and I can’t sing at all!  Really any sing-song book will do.  Find one that you like and feel comfortable singing.






I Kissed the Baby by Mary Murphy

This is one of my absolute favorites.  Everytime the duck says, “I kissed the baby!”  I kiss my baby and she loves it!  The black and white illustrations are very striking and infants and toddlers really respond to that.








Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? by Dr. Seuss

This is a great book to explore sounds, tones, and volumes for your voice.  My daughter is at the point where she is trying to imitate sounds and she really loves it when I make the cow make a crazy moo.






These are just some of the books you can find at the library.  Reading to your child should be a fun and intamate time for you to get to know each other.  Don’t be afraid to be silly and make sure it’s a time you both enjoy.  Learning can be so much fun!


WyLaina Polk is the Manager of the Emily Fowler Central Library and an avid reader of silly books.


June 26, 2014 at 8:52 pm Leave a comment

Summer Reading Club – Not Just for Kids

Every year we have a marvelous program where you can get prizes for reading.  It’s called the Summer Reading Club!  You might think this club is just for kids.  You would be mistaken.  This club is for anyone who likes to read.  Actually, it’s for anyone even if you don’t like to read.  All we require is for you to read 20 minutes a day for 10 days.  After that, you come in and get a prize.  That’s it!  We don’t even care what you read as long as you are reading.  Read a blog, read a website, read a novel, read a short story.  We won’t even make you do a book report, unless you want to.


Here’s the breakdown.  There are 3 logs total.  You receive a prize at the end of completing each log.


When you turn in the first log, you get a book.  It’s a book you pick, so of course, you will love it.

SC-LS-Kimberly Wells-01-30-2013



When you turn in the second log, there are a variety of prizes, all age appropriate:

-Ages birth-3:  a Sippy cup

-Ages 4-10: a Glow-in-the-dark Frisbee

-Ages 11-17: Awesome ear buds in a case

-Ages 18+: a 16 oz. drinking glass


When you turn in the third log, the kids and teens get an invitation to our super exclusive water park party at the end of the summer.  The adults get an entry into a drawing for an iPad mini.





I know what you are thinking, “You mean, I can get awesome stuff for reading this summer?”  Yes, yes you can.


We also have an amazing photo booth set up at each of the libraries.  There are hats, props, and all sorts of fun things to play with.  Take a photo and tag it #dentonpubliclibrary or #fizzboomread.  Send it to our Instagram account, our Facebook page, or our Twitter feed.  We love photos!



June 11, 2014 at 5:43 pm Leave a comment

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