Library staff picks favorite books

Thoughts about public libraries:

"Public libraries in America continue as strong anchors for their communities, valued by the people they serve and striving to meet the changing needs of their service populations," said IMLS (Institute of Museum and Library Services) Director Susan Hildreth.

"Trends to watch include public libraries increasing the number of non-print materials in their collections; offering more access to computers and computer resources; providing more public programs; and diversifying collections, including increasing numbers of e-books."

"Public libraries continue to be an essential service for the nation's children. The study finds that attendance at children's programs reached 60.50 million and circulation of children's materials increased 28.3 percent over the last ten years."

Around the Library: Some fantastic new adult books - Staff Picks:

"The Midwife of Hope River" by Patricia Harman: Midwife Patience Murphy has a gift: a talent for escorting mothers through the challenges of bringing children into the world. Working in the hardscrabble conditions of Appalachia during the Depression, Patience takes the jobs that no one else wants, helping those most in need - and least likely to pay. She knows a successful midwifery practice must be built on a foundation of openness and trust, but the secrets Patience is keeping are far too intimate and fragile for her to ever let anyone in. Honest, moving, and beautifully detailed, Patricia Harman's "The Midwife of Hope River" rings with authenticity as Patience faces nearly insurmountable difficulties. From the dangerous mines of West Virginia to the terrifying attentions of the Ku Klux Klan, Patience must strive to bring new light and life into an otherwise hard world.

"A Century of Widsom: Lessons from the Life of Alice Herz-Sommer - the world's oldest living Holocaust Survivor" by Caroline Stoessinger.

At 108 years old, the pianist Alice Herz-Sommer is an eyewitness to the entire last century and the first decade of this one. She has seen it all, surviving the Theresienstadt concentration camp, attending the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem, and along the way coming into contact with some of the most fascinating historical figures of our time. As a child in Prague, she spent weekends and holidays in the company of Franz Kafka (whom she knew as "Uncle Franz"), and Gustav Mahler, Sigmund Freud, and Rainer Maria Rilke were friendly with her mother. When Alice moved to Israel after the war, Golda Meir attended her house concerts, as did Arthur Rubinstein, Leonard Bernstein, and Isaac Stern. Today Alice lives in London, where she still practices piano for hours every day.