Dear Friends,

I look forward to entering 2023 with music! Charlotte County Community Services is present-ing Behind the Notes and a Win-ter Concert Series this season.

Behind the Notes presents topics about the symphony. Maestro Raffaele Ponti, of the Punta Gorda Symphony, gives an entertaining and informative look into the historical perspective of the music, the composers and presents musical pieces performed by different types of ensembles.

I attended the program in December and was treated to various interpretations of one of Bach’s composi-tions as well as different performances of the Nut-cracker. The program was fun and exciting and I left with a better understanding of the talent behind the arrangements and performances. Other presentations of Behind the Notes will also be held on February 3rd, and March 3rd and 31st.

In the Winter Concert Series, we will be treated to performances utilizing various instruments and vo-cals in various genres and styles. Each performance presents a different type of music, both American and international and a particularly interesting pro-gram of Russian Folk music featuring a balalaika.

The Winter Concert Series will be presented the eve-nings of February 8th, 10th and 22nd and on March 15th. All these concerts and programs are free and open to the public.

We on the board are happy to welcome a new board member, Joann Filkins, who will serve as secretary. Some of you may know Joann from visiting the bookstore and she also helped put together the raffle
baskets for the luncheon last year. We look forward to working with Joann!

I encourage you to take a closer look at all the materials and programs that the library provides and also come in to our Friends’ bookstore and see what is available there.

Friends Always, Minerva

From the Book Store

by Katie Mazzi, Bookstore Manager

I recently read an article by Karen Heller titled, “We’re drowning in old books. But getting rid of them is heartbreaking.”

The writer interviewed bookshop owners from Wonder Books in Maryland and Powell Books in Oregon as well as dealers from around the country. One common theme for everybody who sells used books is that books that are kept too long and are full of dust, dirt, mold, cracked spines, warped pages, and stains will rarely be read again much less purchased. “Age rarely enriches a book.”

As the volunteer manager of the Friends Bookstore, I am often asked to accept large and small donations of various kinds of books that have been collected over the years. Some books are former bestsellers but are no longer sought after, re-quested, or read. Sometimes the books are in poor condition, and I know they won’t be purchased.

The Friends Bookstore has limited space and storage, so I must be judicious in what I accept. We need room for the daily book donations that patrons want to purchase. Our patrons are not vintage book collectors nor students looking for textbooks. They are looking for their next read or favorite author or books about special interests such as art, sports, cookbooks, crafting, gardening, home repair, travel, and more. Patrons want books to be clean and in good condition.

Of all the old books in homes today, booksellers agree that encyclopedias are vir-tually worthless for resale. The print encyclopedia has gone the way of the type-writer, the slide rule, and the rotary dial telephone. Young adult author Michael Grant writes in one of his books in the Gone series: “He found a set of encyclope-dias—like Wikipedia, but paper and very bulky.”

While we don’t accept or sell encyclopedias in the Friends Bookstore, I do have a certain nostalgia for a set of Collier Encyclopedias my parents purchased from a door-to-door salesman in the mid-1950s. I spent many hours using them for school papers or projects. But considering I graduated from high school over a half-century ago this set is out of date and obsolete. Still, I am grateful my parents felt it was important to have them in our home long before the use of computers and internet research.

After my parents passed away and we were clearing out the family home, my old-er sister packed the set and took them home. The encyclopedias have been in her bookcase for over 25 years. She relieved me of the burden of deciding what to do with an old set of en-cyclopedias. Now my older sister has started think-ing about what will happen to this “family heirloom” when she is gone. Our much younger sister has said she would take them. I know she will cherish them, but at some point, her descendants may not feel the same way or have a place for them. Ultimately, this is a decision that will be left to future generations.


By Tony Farina, Friends Director

On February 15th, the Friends of the Punta Gorda Charlotte Library, with the generous support of the Shively Foundation, will be bringing in not just one, but two presenters for the longstanding literacy outreach program at the Punta Gorda Middle school. We’ve been told that last year’s outreach was so successful that the presenter’s books can’t be kept on the shelf and they had to order more copies. We are sure that this year will have the same effect.

The dynamic duo this year are a writer/artist team whose middle-reader graphic novel Goblin, tells a coming-of-age story of a young goblin, called Rikt, who goes on a hero’s journey to seemingly seek revenge against the human invaders. It flips the script on who readers normally think of as the hero. It addresses what it means to be “othered”. They ask us to look beyond appearance and consider the person, goblin, or other creative on a deeper level.

Writer, Eric Grissom says on his website, “I’ve lived almost my entire life in the same New Jersey town. It’s not terribly exciting, which is proba-bly why I spend as much time as I can inside my own head.” The first comic he ever bought was Detective Comics # 526. It was then he understood that the Batman uni-verse existed outside of the Adam West TV series. He started writing stories shortly thereafter and has never stopped.

Artist, Will Perkins grew up in Upstate NY. He graduated from SUNY Geneseo and lives in Rochester, NY. His first comic was John Byrne’s Man of Steel #1 which his father bought him to get him to read more. He has that first comic framed next to his desk in his studio. He doesn’t really remember a time when he wasn’t drawing or do-ing sketches. In college, he realized it was more than a hobby.

Will and Eric met while they were each doing their own pro-jects from 215 Press. Will and his brother Mike were working on a science fiction an-thology series called Beware and Eric was writing his mystery/thriller series, Deadhorse with artist Phil Sloan. Goblin is the third project that they’ve done together and the first for middle readers.

Middle schoolers and teachers alike are sure to love this book. Will and Eric have made a free Goblin game available on their Realm of Goblin website. Additionally, the book has been aligned with Common Core standards so teachers can use it in the classroom with ease. It should be an amazing day at Punta Gorda Middle school that will resonate for years to come.

2022 Year In Review

By Jonathan Westbrook, Librarian Supervisor

Just when we thought we were getting in sync with our post-COVID new normal, the year decided to pivot for Punta Gorda Charlotte Library and all of Charlotte County Libraries and History. We had an exciting year all around though.

The increased use of the library has been a comfortable growth. We have seen 2804 new patrons joining the library. We had over 202,599 items checked out in 2022. Our curbside was utilized 3455 times. Our meeting rooms were used 432 times by us, the County, and the public. We delivered 3524 items to the St Vincent de Paul food bank through our Food for Fines program.

These sterile facts do nothing to show the dedication and love of the staff for serving the public though. Our Youth Librarian, Elizabeth Lee, has welcomed an abundance of new families with kids of all ages to our com-munity. Our Summer Reading program was extremely well participated in. Her welcoming nature and exciting presence with help from the staff has created a welcoming Storytime, teen crafting time, and smiling face to all who come in.

During the troubles in September, known as Hurricane Ian, all full-time and one part-time member of the PGCL staff worked the shelters in the area and spent three harrowing days and nights making sure citizens, human and animal, of Port Charlotte, had a safe place to go. Through flooding of buildings, structural damage, and all other kinds of distress our staff of all departments of the County were here to be of service to all who needed us.

As soon as the storm had passed and we accessed our personal lives, our staff begin to wonder ‘how and when can we get the libraries open to the public’. Punta Gorda Charlotte Library is proud to say we were the first open and hit the ground running. With stable internet and electricity, we were serving over 700 people a day. People were lined outside the building almost 24 hours a day on their own tables and devices. The Youth Librarians from all the libraries ran the Hurricane Camp for the employees of the County who were essential to get the County back on its feet. Staff from all the libraries came to help out here or were assigned to other locations through the County to provide Wi-Fi through our hotspots. Once all libraries able to open were opened, we went to 7 days a week until the need was met.

The Punta Gorda Charlotte Library has shifted its hours back to 10-6 six days a week but will soon move to 10-8 on Mondays and Tuesdays to attempt to reach the need of the patrons who are not able to utilize the later hours Mid-County offered. The other two branches will offer other days with later hours too.

We have seen this community and the library growing and fully expect this trend to continue as new people find the many great services we offer and great staff to serve their needs.

All Around The Library

Janeites By Tony Farina, Friends Director

On December 16th, 1775, in Hampshire, England, George and Cassandra Austen wel-comed their 7th child into the world. That girl would grow up to be one of the premier English novelists the world has ever seen. Her works have been in publication for over 200 years, having never gone out of print, and have been translated into 35 languages and adapted into movies, plays, musicals, audio dramas, TV series, comic books, as well as many modern-day re-imaginings in book form. Today, people who admire Austen’s works, call themselves Janeites, a term coined by Rudyard Kipling in a short story about soldiers who loved her novels.

Nearly a quarter of a millennium after her birth, her work endures while other writers have faded into oblivion. Some may argue it is the romance. Others may argue it is the wonderful depiction of female friendship. Those are excellent points, and I couldn’t argue with them at all. It is my contention that we still read Jane today because of three simple things. The writing is exquisite, the characters and the situations they find themselves in are real, and the books are bril-liant works of social commentary and satire.

If you are already a Janeite, take some time to revisit her work. If you are not, treat yourself to a movie, TV series, or book, be it digital, physical, or audio. Jane has inspired so many great things as she continues to inspire us all.

A Word From Library Staff By Mason Croy

Back in October, author Jason Pargin (formerly David Wong) released the fourth book in his comedic horror series, John Dies at the End. I have followed this series over the last few years, as I have found it to be a wholly unique foray into the horror genre. The newest book in this series is titled If This Book Exists, You’re in the Wrong Universe, which follows the author’s tradition of naming each part of the series in increasingly ludicrous ways.

This series follows Dave and John, who gain the ability to see the horrors that lurk in our world, horrors that most people are completely blind to. They end up using this ability to become notorious supernatural “experts,” taking on cases that are seemingly hopeless. The only problem, they’re terrible at their job. Pargin has a knack for creating characters that feel very real and very intentionally flawed.

As the series progresses, these characters find themselves stumbling into situations that are equal parts ridiculous and terrifying, while also seeming to become completely mundane. This series manages to approach a modern Lovecraftian story with a great deal of humor and realism, without taking away from the horror elements and without taking itself too seriously. If the idea of comedic horror appeals to you, then I highly recommend trying out this series.

And if Sci-fi is a genre that appeals to you, Pargin also has a series that has his same brand of humor in a not-too-distant-future Sci-fi setting. This series’ first book is Futuristic Violence, and Fancy Suits. This series has two entries, with a third coming in October 2023.

Introducing William Kent Krueger

By Berna Goldberg, Friends Director

We are so very fortunate to have William Kent Krueger, as our Speaker, at the next Friends of the Punta Gorda Charlotte Library Literary Luncheon. Winner of the Edgar Award, The Anthony Award, The Barry Award, Dilys Award, Goodreads Choice Award, and over a dozen more awards for his outstanding Cork O’Connor Series.

From the very first novel of his that I read, Ordinary Grace, winner of the prestigious Edgar Award, I was captured by his luscious use of words. Krueger painted a portrait of the landscape so vivid it unfolded before me like my own backyard. His characters are so rich, so full, it was as if I had grown up knowing them. I felt their pain and their triumphs. I imagined that our futures unfolded together, I was drawn in. Ordinary Grace left a mark on my heart.

I quickly scooped up his next standalone book, This Tender Land. It begins in the summer of 1932 on the banks of Minnesota’s Gilead River but ends way downstream, geographically and emotion-ally. Four orphans, two white brothers, a mute best friend of Sioux heritage, and a 4-year-old girl, run, hide, float and navigate their way along the river to St. Louis and beyond. Every chapter is an adventure through some of the toughest years in American history. This book will make you cry, turn the page and you will find yourself laughing. My friends, this is a story of survival and a great read!

There are more standalone novels but Mr. Krueger is also well known for his Cork O’Connor series. Beginning with Iron Lake this mystery series revolves around Cork O’Connor. He is the son of an Irish law enforcement officer and a mother of Ojibwe her-itage. He lives in a community of old versus new, tradition versus change, and spirits versus reality. What could possibly go wrong? On top of all of that, there are the bodies. Not just laying in the open, but unearthed by animals, Ojibwe spirits, and unfortunate children. You will come to love his characters, so rich in their traditions and filled with purpose. I urge you to pick up one of these mysteries and make some new friends.

Hopefully you were able to secure a ticket for our sold-out luncheon. If not, please pick up a copy of one William Kent Krueger’s books at the Library. You won’t regret it. Rumor has it there may be one or two in the Friends Bookstore.