Do you know what heraldry is? As I ask the question I am assuming that, as with most things, some readers will know exactly what it is, some will have a vague idea, and some will have no clue–perhaps have never heard the word. That’s okay. It’s been many centuries since heraldry was very relevant in our lives.

But when I first began working in libraries in the last few decades of the twentieth century, heraldry was still a fairly popular subject of study for a number of hobbyists and history buffs. Libraries had books on the subject and librarians knew where to find information about it. At the History and Genealogy Department of St. Louis Public Library’s Central Library there was one older librarian who was probably the region’s leading expert on heraldry.

These past few weeks I have been weeding our non-fiction collection. I have worked my way into the 900s, which is history in the Dewey Decimal System, and one of our largest collections. What I do when I want to weed out old and unused books from the collection is run what librarians somewhat playfully call a ‘dusty books list.’ It is actually a list of all the books in a specified collection that have not been checked out in a specified time period. I am using five years. I go out and collect all of these books, check to make sure we have other books on the subjects they cover, or that they are not classic works by important authors, and withdraw the ones that do not make a strong case for themselves.

Today I learned that Webster Groves Public Library has six books on heraldry. All six were on the dusty books list. Of course I am not going to withdraw everything in our collection on heraldry, even if it is apparent that nobody reads about heraldry any more. I chose to keep the newer ones and withdraw the older ones.

I am a lover of history. I read many books on a variety of subjects in history every year. It displeases me when I find that books on the Mycenaeans or Louis XIV are not being read. It is a hard decision to get rid of them–but I can’t make people read books they don’t want to read, can I? We have to make room for all the new books that are constantly flooding our shelves, with the ever-present optimism that someone will read them. But when it comes to some subjects, like heraldry, I find myself unable to get rid of them altogether, regardless of how uninterested people may be in them.

I realize that some readers are waiting for me to provide a description or definition of what heraldry is, but I am not going to. For that, you’ll just have to check out one of our remaining books on the subject, and learn for yourselves.

We Need Your Help!

OverDrive App  During the month of June, if Webster Groves and the rest of the Hometown Library Network increase OverDrive* circulation by 25%, improvements will be awarded to your collection!  Help us out by heading over to our OverDrive site and downloading any available eBook or Audiobook (or 10)!  With your help we’ll be able to hit our goal of 5,935 total checkouts!

*OverDrive is your free eBook and Audiobook service.  Visit overdrive.mlcstl.org to browse the collection of eBooks and Audiobooks for adults, teens and children!  If you are looking to get started with OverDrive, check out our guides to using OverDrive here.

2048px-EBook_between_paper_booksKeep Calm and eRead On

Join us for an open discussion of your favorite eBook and Audiobooks (or just some of your favorite books!).   We’ll also go over a couple quick tips and tricks to make sure you’re getting the most out of your OverDrive account.  Need help with OverDrive?  Stick around after the program for one-on-one help from staff members.  Attend this program for your chance to win a new book or advanced reading copies!  We welcome all ages and levels of experience.  Light refreshments will be served.

OverDrive Big Read

From June 3-18, check out award-winning author Laurien Berenson’s A Pedigree to Die For.  During these dates you’ll be able to enjoy Berenson’s kennel-themed murder mystery with no holds and no wait lists!  Check it out here!  Berenson is best known for her Melanie Travis series, which features a school teacher who shows Poodles.  A Pedigree to Die For is the first in the series. A Pedigree to Die For

Have any questions about the OverDrive service, upcoming events or the OverDrive Challenge?  Give us a call at 314-961-3784, e-mail us at reference@wgpl.org, or stop by the library!


Hometown Library Scavenger Hunt–Day One

We had a good first day for our Scavenger Hunt. Twenty-nine families and individuals came to play. We were surprised by how many had already visited and completed the challenges at four or five libraries. Some of our questions were challenging, but everybody eventually answered them all. There are still 6 days to go, so be sure to stop in and get your passport today! For complete rules, check the Municipal Library Consortium Website.ImageImageImageImageImage




Stolen Signs

In her 1975 book Webster Groves, Clarissa Start tells the story of one-time Webster Groves Police Chief Andy McDonnell, and his crusade to get local boys to stop stealing signs. Seems it had become something of a hobby for the lads, so he visited the schools and lectured them, telling them that stealing a man’s sign was the same as taking money out of his pocket. He asked the boys to return all the signs they had stolen, and sure enough, come Saturday morning, there were hundreds of signs stacked up in front of Police Headquarters. It’s a great story. The only problem was that Start’s book did not include a photo.

In our research for the upcoming Images of America: Webster Groves, we asked the Police Department if they had any interesting photos. They sure did, and here’s one of them. Thanks so much to Erin Klippi, Administrative Assistant at Webster Groves Police Department for her help. Image

Your Hometown Library


On May 10th we will be launching our new logo with a Consortium-wide scavenger hunt!

The Municipal Library Consortium re-branding is our effort to unify the participating libraries in our Consortium.  Before, we were known as the Municipal Library Consortium of St. Louis County, which caused some confusion in regards to the separate St. Louis County Library system.

Our Consortium is made up of nine librariesBrentwood, Ferguson, Kirkwood, Maplewood, Richmond Heights, Rock Hill, University City, Valley Park and Webster Groves.  A card to any one of these libraries will give you access to all Hometown Libraries!

From May 10th through May 17th, you’ll have the opportunity to win an Apple iPad Mini (1st place winner), or a Kindle (given to the 2nd and 3rd place winners)!

To start the scavenger hunt, go to any one of our nine libraries to receive your scavenger hunt passport.  Each location will give you a scavenger hunt with questions specific to that library.  Once you have completed the scavenger hunt, you will receive a stamp in your passport.  You must visit at least five of the Hometown libraries to be entered in the Grand Prize Drawing.  Each library you visit after the fifth stamp has been received will earn you another entry in the Grand Prize Drawing.  Participants who visit all nine Consortium libraries will receive a total of five Grand Prize entries!

All entries must be turned in to any one of the nine libraries by closing time on Saturday, May 17th. 

All you need to participate is a card to any one of the nine Hometown Libraries!  But remember, you don’t have to be a resident of one of these communities to participate.  We have reciprocal agreements for those who live within St. Louis County Library, St. Louis Public Library and St. Charles City-County Library districts!

Full rules can be found at: www.mlc.lib.mo.us


WGPL’s Booklist for #ReadWomen2014 and Women’s History Month

#ReadWomen2014 and Women’s History month have inspired me to share a book list featuring some of the famous women of Missouri as well as all over the world!  For those of you who aren’t on Twitter,  this movement was started by Joanna Walsh to promote women authors who have been overlooked, underestimated, or misrepresented.  Check out Walsh’s article to understand her inspiration for #ReadWomen2014!  http://tinyurl.com/k3jm8gk

Women of Missouri

Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou

The Awakening by Kate Chopin

SharpSharp Objects Objects by Gillian Flynn

Kansas City born Flynn has been receiving a lot of notice for her three books, two of which will be coming out in theaters this year.  Watch for Dark Places, coming in September and Gone Girl, released in October. 

The Beast by Faye Kellerman

Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farm Journalist: Writings From the Ozarks by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Women of the World 

Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson

The Girl Who Fell From the SkyThe Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi Durrow

Durrow was the winner of the 2008 Bellwether Prize for Fiction, an award that is given biannually to a work that shows themes of social change.  The award and prize was started by notable author Barbara Kingsolver.  See the list of all Bellwether Prize winners here: http://www.pen.org/literature/2012-penbellwether-prize

The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

Great books by women that I’ve read in 2014 include The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka and The Age of Miracles by Karen Walker Thompson.

What’s your favorite book by a woman author?  Leave it in the comments!

EBSCOhost Database

EBSCOhost database is your source for magazines, journals and newspapers.  Use this for general research, writing papers, and finding articles from Consumer Reports!

All you’ll need is Internet access and your library card.

Start at the library’s homepage and click on ‘Reference‘ at the top of the page.
WGPL Homepage

Select ‘Databases with Home Access

Database Access

You will be directed to a list of 12 library databases (all of which support home access).  Click on the link for EBSCOhost.

If you’re signing in from home, just authenticate your session with your library card number.

Next, you’ll be asked to choose which databases you would like to search.  The first choice, MasterFILE Premier is a good start for most searches.  If you’re looking for something very specific (newspaper sources, science, medical information) you may want to browse through the list and choose a specialized database.

EBSCO choose databases


*You may also choose to search all of the databases at once, but this will take a little more time.

When you have chosen which database(s) you would like to search, you will be taken to a page where you can start a basic search.

EBSCO search bar

Once you have entered  a search term, you will be taken to the results page.  (‘Webster Groves’ is used for this example).

Search results

The main part of the screen will show your results, while the left portion of the screen will allow you to refine your results.  You can adjust the year published, source type, subject and publication.  The list will automatically refresh with each change you make.

Consumer Reports

If you would like to find an article on consumer reports, enter the product you are looking for followed by ‘Consumer Reports.’ For example, ‘vacuum cleaners Consumer Reports.’  On the results page, you will probably want to adjust the publication date so that you get the most recent results and check Consumer Reports from the list of publications at the bottom of the side bar.


If you have any problems accessing EBSCOhost, or any of our databases, please give us a call at (314) 961-7277.