Great, Now Cover Your Left Eye

eyesight cured march 22 1911

If you can read all of the print in this ad from the (March 22, 1911) Chatham Record you have no need of the product. In fact, if you take out the giant “MILAM” six lines down, the diminishing type looks like nothing so much as the eye chart on an optometrist’s wall.

“All right, sir, let’s get started. Read me the first line on the chart.”

“Um, ‘Eye-sight’.”

“Very good. Now the next line?”


“Excellent. Now the eleventh line?”


“Just kidding, no one can read that. See you next year!”

Free eBook Friday: The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood:

The Handmaid’s Tale is a novel of such power that the reader will be unable to forget its images and its forecast. Set in the near future, it describes life in what was once the United States, now called the Republic of Gilead, a monotheocracy that has reacted to social unrest and a sharply declining birthrate by reverting to, and going beyond, the repressive intolerance of the original Puritans. The regime takes the Book of Genesis absolutely at its word, with bizarre consequences for the women and men of its population.

The story is told through the eyes of Offred, one of the unfortunate Handmaids under the new social order. In condensed but eloquent prose, by turns cool-eyed, tender, despairing, passionate, and wry, she reveals to us the dark corners behind the establishment’s calm facade, as certain tendencies now in existence are carried to their logical conclusions. The Handmaid’s Tale is funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing. It is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and tour de force. It is Margaret Atwood at her best.


Every Friday, we highlight an eBook from our collection at
.  Let us know what you think of these selections, and tell us about eBooks you’ve enjoyed – we may feature them here!

Free eBook Friday: Art Lab for Kids

Art Lab for Kids, by Susan Schwake:

A refreshing source of ideas for creating fine art with children, Art Lab for Kids encourages the artist’s own voice, marks, and style. This fun and creative book features 52 fine art projects set into weekly lessons, beginning with drawing, moving through painting and printmaking, and then building to paper collage and mixed media. Each lesson features and relates to the work and style of a contemporary artist. Lisa Congdon, Megan Bogonovich, and Amy Rice are just a few of the artists included. The labs can be used as singular projects or to build up to a year of hands-on fine art experiences.

The lessons in this book are open-ended to be explored over and over–with different results each time! Colorful photos illustrate how different people using the same lesson will yield different results, exemplifying the way the lesson brings out each artist’s personal style. Art Lab for Kids is the perfect book for creative families, friends, and community groups and works as lesson plans for both experienced and new art teachers. Children of all ages and experience levels can be guided by adults and will enjoy these engaging exercises.


Every Friday, we highlight an eBook from our collection at
.  Let us know what you think of these selections, and tell us about eBooks you’ve enjoyed – we may feature them here!

Free eBook Friday: A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time (audiobook), by Madeleine L’Engle:

It was a dark and stormy night. Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.

“Wild nights are my glory,” the unearthly stranger told them. “I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me sit down for a moment, and then I’ll be on my way. Speaking of ways, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract.”

A tesseract (in case the reader doesn’t know) is a wrinkle in time. To tell more would rob the reader of the enjoyment of Miss L’Engle’s unusual book. A Wrinkle in Time, winner of the Newbery Medal in 1963, is the story of the adventures in space and time of Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O’Keefe (athlete, student, and one of the most popular boys in high school). They are in search of Meg’s father, a scientist who disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government on the tesseract problem.


Every Friday, we highlight an eBook from our collection at
.  Let us know what you think of these selections, and tell us about eBooks you’ve enjoyed – we may feature them here!

Do Not Set This Item On Fire

firecracker fan june 28 1906

From the June 28, 1906 edition of The Chatham Record (emphasis mine):

Firecracker Fan

   One of the clever novelties designed to delight youngsters upon the Fourth of July, as well as before and after, is the firecracker fan.

   At first glance it looks like a nice red giant firecracker, but you make the mistake of your life if you touch lighted punk or any sort of fire to the realistic string which dangles from the end.

   Instead it is etiquette to pull the string. Just pull it steadily and out comes a full-fledged fan, the round, pleated sort, a near relative of the old-fashioned pistol fan. The fan part is of the daintiest blue patterned around the edge with tiny pink posies. This, together with the gorgeous red of the firecracker handle, goes to make a fan of the gayest attractiveness. It is not stretching matters to say it looks altogether Celestial, meaning that it smacks of the Celestial Kingdom.

The mistake of your life? Wow.

“Oh sure, I regret embezzling that money, going to prison and ruining my family. But if I could relive one day, I’d go back and save that novelty fan I ruined.”

A Most Vexing Cobbler

3 dollar shoe

The gentleman in this W.L. Douglas advertisement from the April 22, 1897 issue of The Chatham Record looks confused and a bit nonplussed. What’s he thinking?

“I could have sworn the sign said ‘Tobacconist’.”

“How am I going to explain these shoes to Delores?”

“Wait. Don’t I get two shoes?”


Resource of the Month: Points of View Reference Center

logoPOV_ICLgSifting through the sheer volume of data offered up by cable, broadcast, radio, internet, and print media can feel like drinking from a fire hose.

It can also be difficult to find unbiased sources on controversial topics. Many of us want understand both sides of an argument, and to know the definitions of terms and acronyms taken as understood in other articles. Where can the uninitiated go to get an overview of divisive topics like gun control, religion, censorship, or abortion?

EBSCO’s Points of View Reference Center is a fine place to start. The resource identifies itself as “an interface intended for public, academic, and high school libraries… designed to assist researchers in understanding the full scope of controversial subjects.”

The site is designed for easy searching and browsing by subject. The bulk of the Points of View Reference Center home page presents main topics alphabetically, with more than 250 subtopics visibly listed under the appropriate main topics. Click on any topic and you will be whisked to a page featuring:

  • an overview of the topic,
  • two argumentative essays (one for each point of view),
  • and critical thinking suggestions to promote informed opinions going forward (and since the site is maintained by EBSCO, you will find a wealth of information at your fingertips).

The Points of View Reference Center home page also highlights the day’s most newsworthy topics in a ticker called “In the News”. They also offer two sidebars: one called “In the Spotlight”, and another aimed at high-school debaters.

To access the Points of View Reference Center, point your browser to Scroll down and look for the “Current Issues” link. Follow the link and look for another link called “Points of View” (you will be prompted to provide your library card number and PIN).

Free eBook Friday: Travel North Carolina

Travel North Carolina, by Carolyn Sakowski:

This is the fourth edition of this comprehensive guide to the entire Tar Heel State. In this volume, you will find information about historic places, gardens, tours, museums, science centers, cultural offerings, special shopping, recreation, and seasonal events.

The guide also includes annotated entries about unique places to eat and stay. Since the authors accepted no advertising fees when selecting what to include in the book, you can be assured their suggestions are solid recommendations from longtime residents.


Every Friday, we highlight an eBook from our collection at
.  Let us know what you think of these selections, and tell us about eBooks you’ve enjoyed – we may feature them here!

Free eBook Friday: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain:

“All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn,” Ernest Hemingway wrote. “It’s the best book we’ve had.” A complex masterpiece that spawned controversy right from the start (it was banished from the Concord library shelves in 1885), it is at heart a compelling adventure story. Huck, in flight from his murderous father, and Jim, in flight from slavery, pilot their raft through treacherous waters, surviving a crash with a steamboat and betrayal by rogues. As Norman Mailer has said, “The mark of how good Huckleberry Finn has to be is that one can compare it to a number of our best modern American novels and it stands up page for page.”


Every Friday, we highlight an eBook from our collection at
.  Let us know what you think of these selections, and tell us about eBooks you’ve enjoyed – we may feature them here!

aaaaand that’s what you’re looking for, right?

baby fat as a pig

This advertisement, published  June 22, 1899 in the The Chatham Record, promises to aid digestion, regulate the bowels and make teething easy for children. All admirable goals.

I’m guessing “Healthy as a Horse” was already taken?