Building Excitement

The time is getting near for the newly renovated East Lansing Public Library (ELPL) to open.  I hope everyone can join us on October 1, 2016 at 12:00 p.m. (noon) for our Grand Re-opening and Ribbon-cutting.  There will be short presentations, family-fun activities, a giant pie from Grand Traverse Pie Company, balloon animals, face painting, library tours and more.  I would love to see the entire community come out to help us celebrate their new library space.

A huge thank you to our patrons and to the East Lansing community for enduring 11 months of construction at the library.  We did our best to keep service interruptions to a minimum, but things were just not the same, and about half the collection was not available during the project.  The ELPL staff and patrons were fantastic and hung in there throughout the hammering and dust.  The staff and I are excited to show you your library.  Thank you to our anonymous donor who made starting this project possible.  There is more to do, but we will take a couple of months to enjoy the “new” East Lansing Public Library.  See you on October 1 at 12:00 p.m. (noon) for the re-opening celebration.

Back to School Reads

It’s hard to believe that summer is over and another school year is starting! Get back into the swing of things (or ready for your very first day) at elementary school by checking out our list of back-to-school picture books and early readers!

And remember that while we’re closed to complete the library renovation, you can still order books and pick them up from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, and our digital collections are always available at!

Hoopla Has a New Look!

Hoopla's web interface, or what you see when you login to Hoopla with a browser, not the app, recently received a very nice facelift.  When you log in you are still taken right to your checked out titles, but it is now much easier to find your list of favorite titles.  Just click My Hoopla and Favorites is right there!  The Browse screens, separated by format, are very clean and easy to use and the Settings page is also much cleaner.  Filtering options are now much more robust which is very helpful when browsing through Hoopla's enormous library of digital content.  

Check it out the next time you log into Hoopla, and if you haven't tried this amazing digital collection yet, visit:

to register and get started.

Connect the Stars by Marisa de los Santos and David Teague

I’m always intrigued when an author whose books I enjoy as an adult reader ventures into the world of children’s fiction.  I like the book Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos, so I was anxious to read her second foray into children’s literature, Connect the Stars, which she co-authored with her husband, David Teague.  The cover art drew me to the book while I was putting some titles out on display!  The story is about two teens, Audrey and Aaron, who meet at Wilderness camp.  They are both struggling with life in general, due to parts of their personalities that don’t quite mesh with other middle schoolers.  Trying to find their way through the adventures of camp and working together to handle the calamities forms the basis for their friendship, even though Audrey has given up on friends and people in general.  I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good story, and also to someone who might need to know that things usually work out OK in the end.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

Is there anything more exciting and more terrifying than when one of your favorite books (dare I even say, favorite book, full stop?) gets made into a movie? It’s either going to be amazing and wonderful and everything you’ve ever dreamed of, or a deplorable affront to something you love. I’m in the throes of that emotional roller coaster right now, with the news that Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle is currently being adapted into a movie -- although I am buoyed by the fact that it happens to be starring one of my current actor-obsessions, Sebastian Stan (or, the guy who plays The Winter Soldier in the Captain America movies). As you can imagine, I’m both incredibly excited and highly nervous to see the end product, but in the meantime, it’s a great excuse for me to reread the book for the (redacted)th time.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle is the story of 18 year old Mary Katherine (or Merricat) Blackwood and her older sister, Constance. They’ve lived in seclusion in their enormous family estate with their elderly uncle Julian for the last 6 years, ever since the rest of their family was poisoned with arsenic at dinner. Constance was arrested but acquitted for the murders, and ever since, their family has been ostracized from the nearby village. Merricat is the only one in the household who ventures into society for groceries and library books, and whenever she does she’s met with taunts and vitriol. Despite the animosity Merricat feels for their neighbors (she spends a lot of time wishing they would all die), she's very content in her life with her sister, uncle, and cat Jonas. She uses wards and homemade magic to protect them from intruders, but when one ward fails, she knows that change is coming -- which it does, in the form of their estranged cousin Charles Blackwood. Charles is determined to establish himself as the head of the family and draw the sisters back out into society, but Merricat is suspicious of his intentions, and as exposure and calamity inch closer and closer to her carefully safeguarded life, it seems like her suspicions will prove correct.

It’s technically a novella, so it’s a short read, but I swear, every time I read it I discover some new layer to it that I’ve never considered. Shirley Jackson is, in my opinion, one of the greatest writers ever (seriously, even if you didn’t love reading The Lottery in high school, check out The Haunting of Hill House, where she basically invents the genre of the haunted house ghost story). She does American Gothic fiction like no others, and for a book with absolutely nothing supernatural, it’s still deeply, eerily unsettling. Jackson puts forth the idea that the creepiest things in the world are both right in your own backyard while still being nothing you would ever suspect so gloriously and with the best turns of phrase that I’m now banned from reading any out loud to my husband for too many interruptions that start with “Okay but listen to this amazing sentence!” I could gush for many more paragraphs (the English major in me is showing), but I’ll just end by saying that you can find Shirley Jackson’s works, including Hoopla and Overdrive eAudiobook versions of We Have Always Lived in the Castle, here at ELPL.

Hamilton: The Revolution

This book is an outstanding companion to the Hamilton cast recording (available on disc or via hoopla). It's the liner notes, deleted scenes, extra features that everybody always wants with their entertainment, presented in a beautiful package. If you have not heard the Hamilton cast recording, listen to it now, then read this. It will amaze and astonish.  You won't want to miss the beauty of the physical text, but, ELPL also owns this as a book on CD.

Many ELPL staff members (and spouses of staff) have been suffering from acute Hamilton addiction.  Jessica Lee-Cullin, ELPL's Teen Librarian, first reviewed the original cast recording in March of this year.

Freakboy by Kristin Clark

So I would have never picked up this book without the encouragement of our teen librarian (shout out to Jessica), so for that I’m thankful!  I have always loved reading poetry, but I have never read a ‘novel in verse’, which is a fancy term for a book written entirely in poems. Freakboy is Kristin Elizabeth Clark’s first young adult novel, and boy did she start off strong. The book is told from the perspective of three different teens - Brendan, Vanessa, and Angel. 

Brendan is a 16 year old high school boy who is struggling with things that might feel familiar to the average high schooler - his parents’ divorce and his mom’s subsequent remarriage (including the addition of a new baby sister), troubles with his high school wrestling coach, and oh yeah, the fact that Brendan has been dealing with the constant nagging thought in the back of his mind that he would much rather be his girlfriend Vanessa, than be with her. Brendan learns the word ‘transsexual’ on the internet after some basic ‘dreams about being a girl ‘ Google searches and it all gets crazy from there. 

Vanessa is Brendan’s girlfriend of about a year, who’s dealing with losing her friends because of her boyfriend, and one of the female stars of a formerly all boy wrestling team. 

Angel is a transgender female who works for the local LGBTQ teen center. She has five roommates in a two bedroom apartment, and sees all the intense and painful struggles that being an LGBT teen comes with and has experienced them all herself. 

I really, really love the author’s writing style. The poems don’t feel too simple but they also aren’t hard to follow along with either. They have some cute shapes like a Christmas tree in the Christmas poem, but it doesn’t feel tacky and it’s definitely not overdone. The poems add a lot to the story, and I think i would not enjoy it as much if it were not told in this format. Don’t be intimidated by the novels 400-some pages - remember, it’s all poems!  The author’s writing style is pretty informal too, so it doesn’t feel like you’re constantly attempting to digest a huge metaphor - it’s all nice and straightforward. 

Overall, this was a fantastic book and I would highly recommend it for high schoolers looking for a book that’s a bit out of the ordinary.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens by Becky Albertalli

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens is a hilarious LGBT love story. Simon Spier is a not-so-openly gay sixteen-year-old at Shady Creek High School in Georgia. The book opens up with one of Simon’s classmates, Martin, discovering a chain of emails sent between Simon’s online alibi and an anonymous boy. Martin decides this would be excellent information for blackmail, and tries to get Simon to convince his friend Abby to hang out with him. The story centers around Simon’s coming out story but it also tells the story of his friends Leah, Nick, and Abby and their various relationship struggles. The book is told mostly from Simon’s point of view, but also through emails exchanged through Simon's pseudonym Jacques, and his new online love, who goes by the name of Blue. Throughout the book, the emails give clues about who Blue is and who Simon thinks he is (spoiler alert: they aren’t the same person). The book is full of high school love triangles, horrible and cruel posts about Simon on their high school’s Tumblr, family Bachelorette nights, sisters growing up and moving on, and so much more. This book is really, really funny and both Simon, his friends, and Blue all have a great sense of humor. The story is easy to follow along and its similarity to John Green books would make it a popular read among high schoolers. It would be good for either girls or boys, and the LGBT issues brought up in the story would be interesting to other teens also struggling with their sexuality (or even those who aren't!) 

This book is worth reading, and the ending is perfectly sappy and adorable and just simply makes you feel good. 


Gentle. Quirky. Amusing. 

Lance and Andy have an unusual hobby - they are detectorists combing the local farmers' fields searching for elusive Saxon gold. You know people like these two, yet they are rarely portrayed on television. From its folk music theme song to the beautiful images of rural England, this low-key British comedy/drama will capture your heart. Thanks to patron James N. for recommending it.

NEW! GoodReads YA Book Group

We are very excited to introduce East Lansing Public Library's very first online discussion group for readers of all ages who enjoy young adult/teen fiction! Though the Library may on occasion host tie-in events, such as movie nights for cinematic adaptations of the books we've read, the "meetings" themselves, led by ELPL librarians, will be conducted 100% online via You'll have to create an account (it's free!) and join the group here:

Welcome Back!

As the school year begins anew, so too does the Libra--

No, sorry, bit of a mislead there: ALAS, the ELPL remains CLOSED for the month of September, all the better to ASTONISH and AMAZE you at the Grand Reopening on October 1, upon which glorious occasion you will be able to enjoy vending machines, additional study rooms, and an expanded teen room with its very own TV and gaming station! 

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles by Michelle Cuevas

Thank you to Kelsey at ELPL for showing me The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles by Michelle Cuevas! This picture book tells the sweet story of a man who uncorks bottled messages set adrift in the ocean and delivers them to their destination, all while secretly hoping to one day find a message that’s meant for him. When he comes across an invitation to a party happening the next day with no name attached to it, he sets out to find the recipient – and finds friendship of his own in the process. It’s a sweet book with beautiful artwork, and although it’s definitely one of those picture books that was probably written with the intention to appeal foremost to adults, little ones will nonetheless enjoy this comforting, whimsical book and its gorgeous illustrations. Find it here at ELPL!