Finish the year with a good book!

We’ve collected the ten most popular titles for adults, teens, and children to help you pick out something great in this last week of the year.

Adults

  • Stedman, M. L. The light between oceans
  • Hannah, Kristin. The nightingale
  • Murray, J. J. You give good love
  • Hiaasen, Carl. Razor girl
  • Woods, Stuart. Smooth operator
  • Coulter, Catherine. Insidious
  • Morgan, Sarah. Lost to the desert warrior
  • Steel, Danielle. Rushing waters
  • Moyes, Jojo. Me before you

Teens

  • Kinney, Jeff. Diary of a wimpy kid
  • Kubo, Tite. Bleach
  • Mashima, Hiro. Fairy tail
  • Yancey, Rick. 5th Wave
  • Kawahara, Kazune. High school debut
  • Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the deathly hallows
  • Alexander, Kwame. The crossover
  • Collins, Suzanne. Mockingjay
  • Patterson, James. Maximum Ride
  • Toriyama, Akira. Dragon Ball Z

Children

  • Park, Barbara. Junie B., first grader
  • Dean, James. Pete the cat
  • Brown, Marc Tolon. Arthur’s Halloween
  • Seuss. Hop on Pop
  • Bridwell, Norman. Clifford’s first Halloween
  • Bridwell, Norman. Clifford’s Halloween
  • London, Jonathan. Froggy’s Halloween
  • Bridwell, Norman. Clifford’s day with Dad
  • Carle, Eric. Little cloud
  • Holm, Jennifer L. Babymouse
We love you!

Holiday Movie Breaks

Do you like movies? Do your kids like movies? Let’s be real – are your kids out of school for the next few weeks, and do you want to keep liking them until school starts back up in January? Take the whole family to the library for a nice, relaxing motion picture with the following holiday-themed feature films:

  • TODAY, Main Library, 2:00 PM – Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The good one. The claymation one. The only one that matters. A holiday staple, and no mistake.
  • Now through January 4th, Main Library, 10:30 AM and 2:30 PM – Holiday Movie Break! Come chill out for a little while in front of some of the Christmas greats.
  • Friday, December 23rd, Jones Creek Branch, 1:00 PM – The regular TGIF Movie Matinee gets into the spirit with The Santa Clause. Watching Tim Allen try to safely negotiate a kayak under a Christmas tree never gets old.

If you’d rather stay home where it’s warm and you know where all your snacks are, don’t forget about OverDrive’s streaming movies, InstantFlix, the Criterion Collection, Screening Room, Theatre in Video, and everything else in the “eBooks and Entertainment” section of the Digital Library! Have a great winter break, EBRPL!

Business Person of the Month: Katie Culotta Shoriak of Victoria’s Toy Station

Victoria’s Toy Station

5466 Government St.

Baton Rouge, LA 70806

Victoria’s Toy Station has been a beloved part of Baton Rouge retail for over thirty years. The store fits an incredible amount of merchandise into a relatively small space. Shelves go from the hardwood floors to the ceiling, and each room has at least one additional display in the center or tucked in the space between the end of a shelf and a corner. Each room has a theme, ranging from costumes to art supplies to seasonal displays. “We have a boy’s room, ages 6-12, and then we have a girl’s room, and then we have our doll room, toddler, baby, art, so everything is done by division. Like, the bathtub room, and things like that. It’s fun, and one of the pluses of being in this house is we can do it that way,” says owner Katie Culotta Shoriak.

“My mom opened the store in 1984 and I started running it about ten years ago,” she says. “I was four when she did it. She just saw that there was a niche or need for specialty toys and gifts for kids. She actually opened in Catfish Town, which is downtown, and that’s where the name of Victoria came in, because we were in a train station. So Victoria, from Paddington Bear.”

They were only there for eighteen months before the entire development was closed, but the transition to their current location in the heart of Baton Rouge’s rapidly expanding midcity neighborhoods was an easy one. “We’ve lived in the neighborhood all of our lives, so. My parents bought this house, and we actually own the house behind us too. We love being in the neighborhood, and we’re a destination. People come to us rather than being in a strip center or at the mall or whatever,” Shoriak says.

It’s definitely a family business: “My mom always tested things on me, and I went to market with her. It’s kind of like now become one of my children. I have two, who I do the same things with.”

It hasn’t always been easy to live and work right off one of the city’s major thoroughfares. “We have been here when people were scared to come to this area, and we’ve ridden it out, and we love this area. We would never go anywhere else,” says Shoriak. “We love Government Street, we always have. It’s the corridor to downtown. 55,000 cars pass in front of the store every day. Midcity has always been home to myself, to my family, but we are so fired up about all the new restaurants and new things that are coming this way. Traffic in Baton Rouge is a nightmare, and so if I can stay in my bubble, and everyone else can too, it’s gonna be so much better.”

As with any independent company, the biggest competition is big box stores. The only way to compete is with unique products and excellent customer service – two areas in which Victoria’s Toy Station excels. “I’m constantly reading toy magazines and looking to see what the newest latest and greatest is. We go to Toy Fair in February, which is when all the toys are debuted. We also go to gift shows, because that’s what sets us apart. You can come here and get something for a newborn baby, or a nineteen year old girl, or moms get stuff for themselves too,” Shoriak says. (This interview was, incidentally, a great excuse to do a little Christmas shopping.)

“I think that the big box stores definitely cause issues with us with pricing, we’re very aware of that, we try to stay on top of those things, but something that WalMart buys 15000 of and I only buy twelve of, you know, of course they’re going to get a better price. I try to stay away from those things, but those are things that people want, and people may come here to stay out of the big box stores and may pay a little more to get that experience. And you get the free wrapping, and you get customer service, I mean, I have girls walking around all day long asking if you need help. When have you ever been in WalMart and that happened?”

Living in the age of Amazon, of course, is another difficulty. “We had a website for about a month, and we could not keep up with the inventory demand. We would sell out of it in the store, and people would want it on the website, and it was just too much. So we do stuff on Facebook and Instagram, and we ship all over the country, especially at Easter time. Easter time we have Easter baskets that are fabulous, and we ship them all over. It’s insane. It’s fun,” Shoriak says. Orders can be made over the phone, and the store is certainly proactive at reaching out to customers on their social media accounts.

Christmas and Easter are peak seasons in the toy industry, especially because the store offers free gift wrapping, a service that has gotten so popular it was part of a 1200-square-foot expansion about four years ago. “It’s pretty magical, especially right now. Children come in and their eyes light up, and for parents, to find that toy that excites them and is going to be the wow of Christmas morning is pretty amazing. It’s crazy, but it’s fun.”

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One of several Christmas displays up now.

Full disclosure – the library does buy some of its decorations from Victoria’s Toy Station, because the merchandise is just so cool, but Shoriak and her family use our resources as well. “My little girl, we go there a lot for story time, my little boy, we go to the Music Together classes, and I actually chaired the Mercy auction there, and we’re excited to use it again,” says Shoriak. She’ll also keep an eye out at toy fairs for items she thinks the library might be able to use.

So what’s the best way to be a part of the community and to help encourage Baton Rouge towards positive change? “I think people just need to remember to shop local,” Shoriak says. “It would be a tragedy to ride around town and there’s no local stores, no Mom and Pop business. I know it’s easy to shop on the internet and stuff, but shopping local is very important to our economy and it’s very important to the workforce, so people need to remember that shopping local is essential.”

And we agree. So for those of you who might be running up against that Christmas deadline, think of Victoria’s Toy Station – for your kids, or just for fun.

DIY Gifts at the Library

The holidays are a wonderful time of year to let the people in your life know what you mean to them. If you’re broke as a joke, or at least as broke as a witty comment, come to one of the library’s truly excellent craft programs and leave with something handmade for that special someone. Here is a convenient list of what’s coming up before the end of the year!

Bluebonnet

  • Morse Code Jewelry, December 20th, 3-4 PM – Teens, come to Bluebonnet to make an awesome bracelet or necklace using morse code to spell out a special message! Keychains can also be made. All materials will be provided.

Carver Branch

  • Crafty Christmas, December 19th-December 23rd, 4-5 PM – Teens can come any day or every day to make a new Christmas craft from ornaments to wrapping paper. Materials will be provided.
  • Rocky and Rita Reindeer, December 27th, 10 AM-1 PM – Children can make their own Rocky or Rita Reindeer to use for holiday decorating. Materials will be provided while supplies last.

Central Branch

  • Silly Santa Make and Take, December 19th-December 22nd, all day (while supplies last) – Children can celebrate the upcoming holidays by making crafts where silly Santa Clauses are popping out of chimneys feet first! Ages 3 and up.

Delmont Gardens Branch

  • Burlap Rudolph Ornament Storycraft, December 20th, 4-5 PM – Children ages 8-11 will read “The Animals’ Santa” by Jan Brett and make burlap Rudolph ornaments. Limited to 12 children. Preregistration required; please call (225) 354-7060 to register.
  • 20somethings Holiday Felties, December 21st, 5-7 PM – 20somethings will make weirdly adorable Christmas tree felties.
  • Charlie Brown-themed Christmas Wreath Storycraft, December 22nd, 10-11 AM – Children read “A Charlie Brown Christmas” by Charles Schulz and then make a Charlie Brown-themed Christmas wreath.  Limited to 12 children, ages 5-9.  Preregistration required; please call (225) 354-7060.
  • New Year’s Eve Noisemaker Storycraft, December 30th, 10-11 AM – Children will read “Frog and Friends Celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve” by Eve Bunting and make a New Year’s Eve noisemaker. Preregistration required; please call (225) 354-7060.  Limited to 10 children, ages 8-11.

Eden Park Branch

  • Mindful Crafts and Meditation, December 20th and 27th, 5:30-6:30 PM –Adults are welcome to join us for a craft that increases awareness, inner peace and mindfulness. Examples include creating mandalas, prayer flags, or aromatherapy.
  • Holiday Ornaments, December 21st, 5:30-6:30 PM – Adults and 20somethings will make some beautifully unique holiday ornaments using yarn and plastic canvas.
  • Holiday Cake Balls, December 22nd, 3:30-4:30 PM – Teens will make some yummy, no-bake cake balls.

Fairwood Branch

  • Christmas Stocking Storycraft, December 17th, 11 AM-12 PM – Children will listen to the classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss. Then the children will decorate a stocking made out of felt. They can hang up their unique stocking just in time for Christmas. For ages 4-11. Please register by calling (225) 924-9386.

Jones Creek Branch

  • DIY Sugar Scrubs, December 22nd, 3-4 PM – Teens, learn how to make your own luxurious sugar scrubs to use as a gift or to keep for yourself!
  • Countdown to New Year’s Make and Take, December 28th, 1-4 PM – Children can stop by anytime between 1:00 and 4:00 PM to make an adorable New Year’s paper plate clock, which will be wearing a festive party hat!  All ages.

Main Library

  • Ugly Holiday Sweaters for 20somethings, December 17th, 1-3 PM – 20somethings should bring their poor, un-decorated sweatshirts to cover them with various tacky objects. Also, snacks! The snacks are for eating, not for putting on the sweaters.
  • Santa and Snowman Make and Take, December 19th, 10 AM-4 PM – Children will be able to choose whether they would like to make a Santa or a Snowman. For children ages 3 to 11. All children under the age of 9 must be accompanied by an adult. Sorry, no groups.
  • Holiday Ornaments, December 22nd, 2:30-3:15 PM – Children will sing Christmas carols and make holiday ornaments to take home. All children under the age of 9 must be accompanied by an adult.  For children ages 5 to 7.  Registration is required (call (225) 231-2740) and limited to 10 children.  Sorry, no groups.

Pride-Chaneyville Branch

  • Corn Husk Angels, December 14th (today!), 4-5 PM – Teens can come to Pride-Chaneyville Branch Library and make the perfect addition to your holiday tree or to dress-up that special gift for Mom.  We’ll be making angels out of real corn husks, yarn, and felt.

River Center Branch

  • Christmas Ornaments Make-and-Take, December 14th-17th, 10 AM-4 PM (while supplies last) – Children can make their own Christmas Tree ornaments at River Center Branch Library using pipe cleaners and beads.  Bring your imagination to craft candy canes, wreaths, and more!   Children 6 and up.  Groups must register.  For more information and to register, call 389-4959.

Zachary Branch

  • Trim-a-Tree Make and Take, December 19th-23rd, 10 AM-4 PM (while supplies last) – Children can design their own Christmas Tree with construction paper, pom-poms and stickers. Ages 3-11. No registration required.
  • Pretty Paper Ornaments, December 22nd, 4-5:30 PM – Teens, come by the Zachary Branch Library and make a variety of pretty paper Christmas ornaments, like woven paper snowflakes, origami orbs and more!  All supplies will be provided.
It’ll be beautiful, no matter what!

Gale Interactive: Science

2016-12-08-12_52_03-galeinteractive_onesheet_jan2016-pdf-adobe-acrobat
We’re going to do science to things.

Gale Interactive: Science is an awesome internet place to hang out for anyone who’s interested in biology, chemistry, earth science, or 3D models of skeletons. (They have a lot of those, and it’s great.)

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NEAT.

It’s a great resource for middle and high schoolers, with tons of review material like guided interactive lessons and self-initiated quizzes, and for educators who maybe don’t want to clean up frog guts for the rest of the semester (the curriculum corresponds to state and national education standards), but it’s also just really, really cool. Each lesson comes with a 3D model that you can move around to examine from different angles, and on which you can zoom in to see different parts (including muscles beneath the skin, and bones beneath those) more closely. (Except in chemistry, where it’s much more, you know, electrons and whatnot.)

Probably the coolest part, in our sort-of-expert opinion, is the 3D models that you could totally print out with the library’s 3D printers. Have you ever wanted a dinosaur skull just, you know, around? They make great Christmas tree ornaments!

Gale Interactive: Science – a great way to put the fun back in science fundamentals! (We are required to use a certain number of puns per year.)

Lynda in the Winter

Get ready for the new year by teaching yourself something new with Lynda! Here are our most popular courses:

  1. Foundations of Programming: Fundamentals
  2. Communication Tips
  3. WordPress Essential Training
  4. C++ Essential Training
  5. Introduction to Graphic Design
  6. TypeScript Essential Training
  7. Excel 2016 Essential Training
  8. Photography 101
  9. Becoming a Web Developer: Full Stack vs Front End
  10. JavaScript for Web Designers

If you are really dreading the next few cold, dark months, try another popular class: Mindfulness! Learning mindfulness can positively affect every part of your life, including job performance, self-confidence, and relationships.