• boy reading ala

    Every January, our children's librarians look forward to the most exciting announcements of the whole year: the winners of the Newbery and Caldecott awards. These two awards honor the best in children's literature and illustration, respectively. 

    Last Monday, the American Library Association announced their selections, with Sophie Blackall's illustrations for FINDING WINNIE taking the Caldecott Award, and Matt de la Peña's LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET winning the Newbery.

    FINDING WINNIE is a terrific, beautiful book about a very famous bear, and it comes highly recommended by this librarian. But more than just being a great book, LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET is a groundbreaking choice by the Newbery committee. This story about a boy and his grandma taking a ride on their city bus has redefined what and who can stand as the very best in children's literature.

    Here are three ways that LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET has shaken up the Newbery tradition, and has people very, very excited:


    1. Matt de la Peña is the first Hispanic author to win the Newbery Medal in the 94 years it has been awarded. Another Hispanic author, Pam Muñoz Ryan, was given a Newbery Honor this year for ECHO

    2. The Provo City Library keeps all its Newbery winners in a special section, and in every year past, we have moved the winner from its home in our fiction section to the special shelf. But this year, we'll be moving LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET from a different home -- the picture books section! This book is the very first true picture book to win the medal (an illustrated collection of poetry won in 1982). 

    3. Not only is LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET a picture book, but its illustrations are highly acclaimed in their own right. On the same day as the book was awarded the Newbery Medal, it was also awarded a Caldecott Honor. There's hardly room for all the medals on the cover!

    The Provo City Library has received many new copies of LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET to celebrate its big victory, so be sure to place a hold and get your chance to experience this very special book.

  • TheBerenstainBearsYou may think this post’s title sounds crazy, but read a little closer. Does anything seem strange? Just the slightest bit not-right, grammatically speaking? If so, fear not -- you’re far from alone.

    The Berenstein Bears are one of the great institutions in children’s literature. They’re practically foundational texts for most Americans under 50, with hundreds of stories written in the series about a family of bears named Berenstein.

    Except that isn’t their name at all. While many people (this writer included) distinctly remember the name spelled Berenstein (pronounced  “-steen”), the actual name of both the bears and their authors is Berenstain (pronounced, as it would be, “-stain”).

    This controversy has created online factions, with one side assuring the other that it has always been spelled Berenstain, and that this is just a widespread misunderstanding. But some who believe in BerenstEin argue that this controversy is something more – a conspiracy.

    The theory has been floating around the blogosphere since at least 2011, but gained significant steam late last year when Stranger Dimensions reported on the issue. To paraphrase some fairly serious quantum physics, the theory posits that sometime between 1986 and 2011, our universe, in which the bears were named BerenstEin, merged with a near-identical parallel universe in which the family is called BerenstAin – which altered our history and left many people perplexed by the change. Further theorists argue that this mess could even have been created by an errant time traveler.

    Convinced? Many true believers refuse to accept any evidence of these parallel universes, including the son of Stan and Jan BerenstAin.

    While we more than likely didn’t collide with an alternate dimension at some point in the 1990s, this discrepancy in names may be evidence of a real psychological enigma: the Mandela Effect.

    The Mandela Effect is based on large groups of people collectively remembering Nelson Mandela dying in a South African jail in the 1990s, which, of course, didn’t happen. But this sort of phenomenon happens more often than one would expect, and this Berenstain conspiracy certainly fits the narrative.  

    Whether you believe it’s always been spelled Berenstain or think there’s something more cosmically sinister at play, you can check out the many books featuring the family at the Provo City Library.

    Which universe do you live in?
    The real one. It's always been Berenstain!
    I swear it's Berenstein. Years of memories can't be wrong!
    Quiz Maker
  • 1000pages

    With summer ever nearing (and our own Summer Reading Program imminent), it’s time to start considering the books that will occupy your next three months. While many folks will plan a grand stack of books to consume, others would rather take on one or two behemoths of literature. We raise a toast to those brave souls undeterred by doorstop-sized books, so in that spirit, here are 5 classics of world literature that weigh in at over 1000 pages.  

    warandpeaceWAR AND PEACE
    by Leo Tolstoy    

    Perhaps too obviously, this list must start with the book that has practically become cultural shorthand for “a gigantic book.” Tolstoy’s titanic novel of the years before, during and after the Napoleonic Wars is a surefire way to get some serious literary bragging rights. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed midway through, you can decompress by watching the recent (and terrific) BBC adaptation of the novel.   


    LesmiserablesLES MISERABLES
    by Victor Hugo

    You may already know this story very well, but Hugo’s novel is a landmark achievement that stands above all its many adaptations. This story of the French Revolution may seem daunting at the outset, but at least there’s a convenient soundtrack for your reading journey.  



    donquixoteDON QUIXOTE
    by Miguel Cervantes

    Cervantes’ epic journey of a romantic idealist lost in the contemporary world is a perfect choice for any daydreamer looking for a challenge. Recent translations have worked diligently to maintain this story’s unique voice and grasp of language – but bonus points if you conquer it in its original Spanish



    gonewiththewindGONE WITH THE WIND
    by Margaret Mitchell

    Despite its gargantuan size, GONE WITH THE WIND was one of the most popular novels of its time, which is often credited to Mitchell’s unfussy, simple style. The Depression-era equivalent of a beach read, this book may be huge, but you may be able to get through it faster than it would take to watch the movie!



    infinitejestINFINITE JEST
    by David Foster Wallace  

    After four historical epics from around the world, here’s a novel of colossal length that confronts what it means to exist in our modern world. Wallace was a singular writer who, despite his verbose work, never wrote condescendingly or ostentatiously. INFINITE JEST is a major literary challenge, but its fans promise a rich, profound experience (and it’s this librarian’s own summer challenge).  


    To all summer readers, with books big and small: good luck!

  • standalone 01

    Our children’s section is filled with books beloved by both children and their parents, but exploring our collection can be a daunting prospect. Most of our highest-circulating titles are parts in larger series, some of which extend to seven, ten, or even more books! This is simply a reality of the current literary landscape – it’s far easier to maintain readership with long-running series. 

    But while many of our patrons love reading series, they often seek out a standalone title to read between installments their other favorites. A common misconception is that those standalone titles are only “classics,” or that publishers aren’t releasing great single stories anymore. This couldn’t be further from the truth! If you’re eager to check out a children’s book but don’t want a series-length commitment, we have many, many options.

    A great place to start are our Parent/Child Book Clubs, held on the fourth Tuesday and Wednesday of every month. We often showcase great standalone books in these clubs, like HONEY, EL DEAFO, and CIRCUS MIRANDUS – all of which are recently published. Registration for our final book clubs before summer reading begins on April 1 at

    hoodooEven you can’t make it to one of our book clubs, fear not: the Library has a huge supply of standalone stories. One of this librarian’s favorites from 2015 is HOODOO by Ronald Smith. HOODOO is set in the Deep South during the Great Depression, and features a young boy who belongs to a long tradition of practicing magic, but struggles with spells himself. He and his family face down a strange, evil visitor who threatens their town and entire way of life. This is a truly spooky story that is rich in period detail. And while it, like many great standalone titles, hints at a potential sequel, it more than holds its own as an independent piece. 


    Series are a huge part of our Library, and a big reason our patrons love to keep visiting, but there’s a big world of single-volume stories waiting for readers. Come visit one of our children’s librarians for even more recommendations!

  • Have you spent time noticing the intricate details of our historic Academy Wing? We have! 

    Learn more about the Academy's history. 

  • library school 01


    Next in our series of behind-the-scenes information about our library, we'll talk to Jackson H, one of our Children's Librarians, about his experience attending Library School. 

    When did you know you wanted to work as a librarian?

    I made the final decision about a month before getting accepted into the Master’s program and about a year before I got the job as a part-time librarian.

    You had different plans in college. What caused you to pivot?

    My degree was in teaching. I got to teach in a variety of situations and loved much of it but decided I wanted to shift to something that would be different but have many of the same elements.

    How long is your grad program? What's library school like?

    I will finish my program this December which will be 2 years and 4 months from my first day of classes, going year-round. Library school can be very different for each person depending on the path they choose. Some common threads between many students and professors that I have encountered are love of books, desire to serve a community, and conviction of the importance of universal access to books and information.

    Give a taste of what kind of classes you take for your Master's Degree.

    I have taken classes on reference work, history and genres of youth literature, web design, participatory learning including makerspaces, Web 2.0, library management, survey research, and information retrieval systems among others.

    What's the most difficult concept you've had to grasp while studying librarianship?

    There are about as many schools of thought about what role libraries and librarians should play as there are people. The most difficult and complex part of studying librarianship has been determining my own personal philosophy and then living by it. Some other less theoretical yet difficult concepts have been metadata and cybersecurity, privacy and copyright, and some of the technical aspects of information retrieval.  

    Has working at our Library helped you with school?

    Yes, it has. I am able to not only discuss real experiences I’ve had as a librarian with my peers and in assignments, but I am able to marry the practical with the theoretical in my mind.

    Have your classes helped you with your job here?

    Yes they have. In my job at the library I am able to use some very specific skills that I have acquired from school. I also am able to use some assignments in school as jumping off points for work assignments such as proposals.

    What do you think the library of the future will look like?

    That’s a loaded question. Libraries in different areas and in different situations will take different forms of evolution. However, in general I think that libraries will continue to increase technological offerings and digital access.  Programs and classes will become more and more important as libraries seek to provide services the community wants and needs. Physical books will also still be an important part of libraries for many years to come.

  • joella super


    Next in our series of behind-the-scenes peeks into the inner workings of the library, we'll talk with Joella Peterson, our Children's Services Manager. 

    You're the Children's Services Manager here at the Library. I know your job involves many kinds of work, but explain it as best you can.

    I make sure the Children’s Department– employees, programs, projects– happens. That means I am in charge of training librarians and storytellers to know what their jobs are and how they can best serve the library patrons. I need to make sure that people are here to answer questions at the reference desk or to make the programs happen. I basically am juggling a whole bunch of schedules and ideas and making sure everything happens to make the Children’s Department great.

    What kind of library jobs have you had in the past?

    I started off my library career here at the Provo Library as a page. That meant that I was tasked with putting books away. I have also worked in the mending and processing departments of another library. I was a graduate assistant at the Center for Children’s Books.  I have been a Youth Services Librarian for seven years.

    At what point did you know you wanted to be a librarian?

    When I was graduating from college with my Bachelor’s degree I decided to write a list of the 5 things I was looking for in a job—because when you are about ready to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in English you start to wonder just what to do with that degree. Here are the five things I wanted in an ideal job: 1. To work with kids. 2. To have what I did change from day to day. 3. To somehow work with books. 4. To do something fun. And 5. To potentially dress up. It turns out that being a children’s librarian fits all five of those criteria. So after talking to an actual librarian, I started pursuing a library career.

    You were on the Odyssey committee in 2015, which judges the best audiobooks of the year. How did that impact your life?

    Oh, that was a crazy year. Basically I became a hermit for a year. I would go to work and then listen to audio books. I would listen to audio books on my commute to and from work, at lunch, and after work. I listened for anywhere from only 3 hours after work (on a slow day) to sometimes 10 to 12 hours on a weekend when I didn’t have to work. When reading a physical copy of a book you can skim or speed read and still get the gist of the book. With the Odyssey we were charged to find the best audio book. Which meant we couldn’t skip bits. We had to listen to the pace of the narrator, the pronunciation, if the breathing or pauses were too noticeable. Everything was determined based on the audio performance and editing. And that isn’t something you can just listen to a half an hour of and declare a winner. So it was hard. I turned down a lot of “extra” things that I normally would do. I had Thanksgiving dinner with my family, then went back to listening to audio books (I only took out my ear buds to eat the food with them). But at the same time it was an amazing experience. I feel like I have a greater understanding of what makes a high quality audio book and I think we picked a great winner (THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE) and honor (ECHO).

    How has this job changed the way you see the Library's role in the community?

    Before being the Children’s Services Manager I was a Youth Services Librarian for seven years. I knew the impact of my programs and of the library in general. But now I can see the impact of libraries to the whole. I moved from worrying about making sure that I had early literacy elements in my story times to figuring out how I could get those story times out of the libraries (Stories in the Park!) so that the kiddos who need the early literacy elements but can’t always get to the library can still benefit from what the library has to offer. Now my role is to think about the bigger picture and how to best serve the community with the resources and programs that we have.

    Where do you see the Library in 20 years?

    I believe the library will become more and more of a community center. The library isn’t just about books like they were 50 years ago. Now libraries are about information—both in print and digital. Now libraries are about technology and where people can go to have group meetings. The Children’s Library is about experiences and memories they can create—like story time, the Fairy Tea Party, or Make and Take Crafts. I think that will only build in the coming years.

    What about 50? Sorry if this is tough.

    Ha. I will have to find Hermione Granger’s time turner necklace to figure that out!

    Finally, what are you reading right now?

    I just started THE BEST MAN by Richard Peck. 

  • tori


    There’s a lot more to the Library than checking out books—and that means there’s a lot more to working here, too! Over the next few weeks, we'll be posting interviews with some of our Children’s staff to learn more about what it’s like to work here.

    Up first is Tori Pence, one of our storytellers:

    So you're a storyteller at the Library. What does that actually mean?

    Well, I get to sing songs and dance around and be a goof. But for real, it means providing an opportunity for children to come to love books and reading! It means staring at a computer screen pulling your hair out, spending hours trying to prep a 20 minute show. It means small hugs around your legs and being told you're loved. It means party times fun times with books! 

    How long have you been doing this?

    I've worked at Provo Library for two years as a storyteller, but I've been performing elsewhere for the better part of forever. I've volunteered at libraries since I was a kid.

    What experiences helped you prepare for this job?

    Being the Easter Bunny, true story. I was the Easter Bunny for my city for ten years until I turned 21 and came to Utah. Day in and out for one month a year I had kids put on my lap screaming and crying and had to figure out how to communicate with them through a fiberglass head without speaking. I was also peed on. Twice.  

    You're also a Famous Local Comedian. Has your background in sketch and improv helped with storytelling?

    Sketch has helped me immensely! Prepping a story time is pretty much like writing a sketch, especially the puppet show portion. It helps to know the basics of comedy, about what makes a show fun when you're writing a show. You want to teach, but no one is going to listen if it's not fun...Improv is super important as well, especially in the summer story time with older kids who want to chat. Kids are gonna say some weird stuff—which can throw off your groove— so it helps to be able to think on your toes, take what they say, and integrate it into your story time. Also, your kids are not bringing themselves to story time, their parents are. You have to amuse them too so they'll pay attention and engage with their kids, and knowing how to write for an older audience was super helpful for that.

    Reversal: has storytelling helped with your comedy?

    I have to write a story time show a week in the regular year and two a week during the summer. Having such a short amount of time forces you to streamline your process and be constantly thinking of ideas; it keeps my mind fresh and constantly creating. . .I actually have a sketch that was inspired by a real life story time, and it's one of my favs.

    What's the instance in which you've committed the most to your storytelling act (costumes, props, puppets, embarrassing voices, etc)?

    One time I jogged in with gym shorts and sweat bands carrying a fake Olympic torch and ran around the room until I stumbled to the floor onto my face and "passed out.”

    Your last day here is coming up soon. Any advice for your replacement?

    Have a party! It is all about the chilluns, and if you aren't having fun then chances are that they aren't having fun either. Story time is so important— you’re creating some of these kids' most positive experiences with books, so make them awesome!


  • The recent, rapid ascent of young adult fiction has created a totally new paradigm in reading – a type of book marketed to both adults and young folks. This new category has not only ushered in a new wave of post-apocalyptic fantasies, but has also pulled attention from genre works in children’s fiction. With so many choices in both adult and YA fantasy, there seems little reason to look into juvenile literature. But readers would be mistaken, as there is a tremendous history of children’s fantasy that, while sometimes simple in structure and prose, can also be thematically rich and emotionally complex. Here are three choices from the past century that forgo any dystopian tropes for some classical optimism:

    First, try L. Frank Baum’s 1900 classic THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ. 

    OZFar too often overshadowed by its 1939 film adaptation, Baum’s novel is at once more sincere, funny, and scary than the movie – which is saying something, considering how remarkable the film is. This is a children’s fantasy that directly confronts the fears and anxieties of the real world, and deals with our insecurities in a way that resonates today. It is not only a fiery piece of political allegory (reflecting on the inequality of turn-of-the-century America), but also empathetic and kind, and adult readers will find multitudes within.


     If Oz is a little too antiquated for your taste, try THE BOOK OF THREE by Lloyd Alexander.

    The first in his Chronicles of Prydain series, Three combines the dense world and mythology of Tolkien with the practical, seemingly everyday mysticism of Lewis. Based on real Welsh mythology, the series is a true coming-of-age story in that its protagonist, Taran, is constantly in a state of becoming, never fully turning into a hero but rather better understanding what it means to be heroic. This meditative tone is immensely satisfying, more than the gratifying wish-fulfilment of many modern fantasy stories, so that when victories do come, they truly mean something.

     These books were rather unique in their own time, but are even more special today, when fantasy novels are inextricably tied to our own world and often involve “epic” stories, the planet’s fate often at stake. But there is an heir to Baum and Alexander’s more gentle fantasy in Colin Meloy’s WILDWOOD. The first of a trilogy, this story begins with a baby boy kidnapped by a murder of crows and taken into the deep woods bordering Portland, Oregon. The ensuing adventure involves ghosts, witches and woodland creatures, but it remains intimately about its protagonists and their hometown. The story is thoughtful and humane, magical and frightening, perhaps the platonic ideal of what a children’s fantasy ought to be.

  • pokemon


    If you've been to the Library the past week, or even driven by, you've surely seen an assemblage of folks in front of our building. They are united in their common stance—looking at their cell phones— and their common goal — to catch Pokémon.

    FullSizeRender 5Little does he know that Nidoran has it out for him...

    The mobile game Pokémon Go has consumed batteries and attention spans everywhere, and the Library has become a major hotspot for players, so much that they've been staying on our front lawn until the wee hours of the morning. But we've got some photo evidence which reveals that these creatures aren't just outside, but have invaded the Academy building!

    FullSizeRender 6Ponyta always knows the best places to pose for pictures. 

    FullSizeRender 7Mankey was dismayed to find out all our copies of the
    newest DIARY OF A WIMPY KID were checked out.
    Don't worry, Mankey, our hold queues aren't that long.

    IMG 0017Pidgey's favorite move after "tackle" is "browse" (review journals, that is). 

    Come check out the Library and see if you can catch any elusive Pokémon, and while you're at it, check out a book or two! Stay tuned in the next few weeks for some more Poké-related activities in our Children's department.

  • relearning

    We librarians have a fair share of stereotypes leveled at us, some more-accurate, some totally-nonsensical. But the most prevalent assumption about our job is obvious – people think we read a lot.

    And it’s true!  


    I’ve been working as a librarian for a year now, and what I’m writing is something I wouldn’t have dared mentioned in my job interview. Before I started work as a librarian, I wasn’t reading much at all. Of course, I loved reading as a kid, and I’d recently graduated from college, where I’d trudged through piles of textbooks. But the idea of reading for leisure had escaped me at some point.  

    I knew when I started my job here that I had to shape up my act. People were going to depend on me for recommendations, and I wasn’t about to blow it. The rules I set up for myself were pretty simple:  

    1. I’d read 20 minutes every night before bed.
    2. I’d finish at least one book a week.  

    It wasn’t long before I started breaking my own rules, but what I found in those early days was that I liked reading again! I was reading book reviews in my spare time, researching exciting new authors, and I was eager to share my knowledge with folks at the Library. Even if I didn’t finish a book every week, and even if I missed a night of reading, I was still looking forward to sitting down with a book.  

    If you’re like I was, and have a hard time working up the motivation to read more, here are a couple of tips:  

    • Don’t’ discriminate. Read anything. Your diet doesn’t have to be entirely made up of hefty classics. Read a manga! Try some nonfiction! Learn about something you never knew you were interested in.  
    • Talk about what you’re reading. My book enjoyment shot through the roof once I was telling my friends about what I’d read. Oftentimes, the only thing stopping someone from reading is the lack of a recommendation!
    • Go to the Library. I’d be lying in saying my job didn’t positively affect my book intake. Being surrounded by books is a major inspiration, so a weekly trip to the Library will surely help you as much as it’s helped me.  

    There’s no shame in falling into a reading rut. I’m a librarian, and I’ve had some embarrassing droughts. But the only thing between you and your next great literary love is getting a book in your hands.

  • minecraft kids 01

    It’s no secret that our kids and teens are wildly fluent in computers and video games. In fact, those may be their primary languages, and the lenses through which they see the world. At the library, we have many patrons who are excited by the possibilities of their children learning more about the technology in their lives, but there are still some who harbor some skepticism about their kids’ relationship to computers – and in particular video games.

    There seems to be an eternal struggle between parents and children when video games are involved. Parents wish for games to be less time-consuming and to have more educational content, and children want their favorite games to stay, above all else, fun. While there may be further questions about the ethics and qualities of games in general, this debate the proper ratio between distraction and information will likely never disappear. One game, though, has transcended these generational divides over the past few years and proven itself both as a tool for entertainment and education. That game, of course, is Minecraft.

    For the uninitiated, Minecraft is a resource-management game that involves the player mining and farming their resources in order to build structures and create the rudiments of civilization. Over the past five years, it has sustained its place as the most popular computer game for children. Kids love being able to build their own world, manage their own supplies, and explore their terrain. The game teaches basic principles of architecture and geometry, not to mention its subtle instruction in practical mathematics. All of this is done transparently – Minecraft never stops to teach the player, but rather lets them develop their skills organically.

    We at the Library adore Minecraft, and it has become an important part of our programming. Teens can come to our weekly club, which meets every Friday night from 6-8. More information can be found here. But for our younger patrons, each Wednesday at 4, the Library hosts Minecraft groups for children aged 8-12. We alternate each week between creative mode (where players build freely with unlimited resources) and survival mode (which features management and enemy monsters). Signups begin each Monday on our website.

    As STEM education becomes more and more vital in our schools, video games can play a valuable role in teaching children the skills they need. A game like Minecraft proves how important they are now, and indicates how much more important they will become.