Check It Out, a Normal Public Library Podcast

Check It Out is the Normal Public Library’s podcast, hosted by Jared Johnson, and features book, audio, and movie recommendations, timely info about the library’s programs and services, and fun discussions with talented people. Listen to individual episodes below, or subscribe in iTunes to download the latest episode automatically!

Episode 28
Released: June 14, 2017

In this episode, Silvia Schuh talks summer arts, crafts, and events (11:29); Laura Rocco recommends a cookbook in an as-yet-unnamed recurring segment (9:12); and Kristi Cates recommends some books she loves that are great for Teen Summer Reading (19:03).

Sign up for Summer Reading!

Check out the library’s activity calendar!

Laura recommends:

Will It Waffle? by Daniel ShumskiWill it waffle? by Daniel Shumski

Kristi recommends:

You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner

Exo by Fonda Lee

The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer

A Face Like Glass by Francis Harding

Have an idea for a great name for our recurring cookbook segment? Tell us via email (ask@normalpl.org) or Twitter (@NPLTweets). Thanks!

Download Episode 28

Episode 27
Released: May 25, 2017

In this episode, Laura Rocco recommends a classic narrative that blends fiction and nonfiction (9:52); Kristi Cates gives us the rundown of the library’s summer programs for teens (15:06); and Mari McKeeth talks about some 2016 books that won Major Awards (15:30).

Laura recommends:

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

Some of Kristi’s Summer Programs For Teens™:

Teen Summer Reading (and all the Summer Reading)

Teen Maker Wednesdays

Mari recommends:

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Evicted by Matthew Desmond

Lab Girl by Hope Jahron

A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny

Email us, please! ask@normapl.org

Tweet at us, pretty please! @NPLTweets

Download Episode 27

Episode 26
Released: April 29, 2017

In this episode, Silvia Schuh talks May arts and crafts (7:41); Julia Cozad-Callighan explains the library’s Lunchtime Yoga program (2:49); and Kristi Cates recommends some YA novels full of murder and mayhem (18:14).

Please fill out our survey! It’s anonymous and it will only take a couple minutes. Promise.

Kristi recommends:

Fake ID by Lamar Giles

White Cat by Holly Black

The Caged Graves by Dianne K. Salerni

Tell us what you think! Complete our short survey, email us at ask@normalpl.org or tweet us @NPLTweets!

Download Episode 26

Episode 26 Podcast Extra:

In this Check It Out podcast extra, Kristi Cates recommends a murder-and-mayhem themed nonfiction book about forensic science for teens.

Kristi recommends:

Blood, Bullets, and Bones by Bridget Heos

Episode 25
Released: April 7, 2017

kids at play

In this special episode, Bloomington-Normal artist Rashod Taylor talks about his work as a photographer specializing in the wet plate collodion process. Taylor’s work is on display at the Normal Public Library through July 2017. An artist reception will be held on April 7th, 2017 from 4:30 to 6:30 in the gallery.

Be sure to check out the bonus extended discussion of Taylor’s technique, released as a podcast extra in your feed or available on our website at normalpl.org/podcast.

You can find Rashod’s work here: rashodtaylor.com

Email us and tell us what you think!

Bonus:

In this podcast extra, Rashod Taylor talks in more detail about the wet plate collodion technique. If you haven’t already, be sure to listen to Episode 25, found in your podcast feed or available on our website at normalpl.org/podcast.

You can find Rashod’s work here: rashodtaylor.com

Email us and tell us what you think!

Download Episode 25

Episode 24
Released: March 27, 2017

Please take our survey! It’ll take less than five minutes! Check It Out Listener Survey

In this episode, Julia Cozad-Callaghan gives us an update on her Read Harder 2017 reading challenge (12:26); Silvia Schuh updates us on March and April crafts, and puts out a call for some charitable knitting (9:07); and Mari McKeeth talks 2017 Oscar Nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay (22:05). Plus, we ask for your feedback!

Julia recommends:

The Surrender Tree by Margarita Engle

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

The Red Umbrella by Christina Gonzalez

Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O’Neill

Princeless: Raven the Pirate Princess by Jeremy Whitley

Mari recommends:

Arrival: screenplay by Eric Heisserer, based on “Story of Your Life” in Stories of Your Life by Ted Chiang

Fences: screenplay by August Wilson, based on his play Fences

Hidden Figures: screenplay by Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi, based on Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

Lion: screenplay by Luke Davies, based on A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierly

Moonlight: screenplay by Barry Jenkins, based on the play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin McCraney

Tell us what you think! Complete our short survey, email us at ask@normalpl.org, or tweet us @NPLTweets!

Download Episode 24

Episode 23
Released: March 4, 2017

In this very special episode, we present a two part interview with local author and educator Scott William Foley. First, Scott recommends a novel that blurs the line between fiction and nonfiction (11:41); and then he talks about the rewards and pitfalls of balancing the roles of working writer, high school English teacher, and family man (23.03).

Some books Scott talks about:

Moonglow by Michael Chabon

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

Andropia by Scott William Foley

Scott’s website is scottwilliamfoley.com.

Email us! ask@normalpl.org

Tweet us! @NPLTweets

Thanks for listening!

 

 

Download Episode 23

Episode 22
Released: February 7, 2017

In this episode, Tori Lieggi recommends a memoir that comes to terms with family and mental illness with sharp wit and a lot of heart (8:02); Silvia Schuh gives us the lowdown on February (and some March) arts and crafts (6:43); and Kristi Cates recommends a handful of books for teens and adults that serve as funny diversions during the doldrums of February (14:55). Plus, we invite young writers to the Teen Writer’s Workshop.

Tori recommends:

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

Silvia recommends:

Brainfuse Help Now

Brainfuse Job Now

Kristi recommends:

No More Dead Dogs by Gordon Korman

Going Bovine by Libba Bray

Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

As always, we’d love to hear from you!

Email us: ask@normalpl.org

Twit us: @NPLTweets

Download Episode 22

Episode 21
Released: January 21, 2017

In this first episode of 2017, Julia Cozad-Callaghan recommends a unique reading challenge to start off the new year (9:55); Randi Sutter talks up the Children’s Department’s new S.T.E.A.M. Club (6:14); and Mari McKeeth recommends a couple of 2016 books that stood out from the rest (14:55).

Julia mentioned:

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

Swygert by Jeffrey Harold Utterback

Find the details of the challenge here at BookRiot.com.

Mari recommended:

Becoming Wise by Krista Tippett

The Trespasser by Tana French

Email us! ask@normalpl.org

Tweet us! @NPLTweets

Download Episode 21

Episode 20
Released: December 30, 2016

In this final episode of 2016, Laura Rocco recommends an unusual fantasy perfect for reading at night (12:18); Silvia Schuh explains why January is Scarf Month at NPL (4:53); and Kristi Cates recommends an assorted trio of adventure books and explains the library’s local schools “book talk” programs (17:00).

Laura recommends:

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Kristi recommends:

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Surrounded By Sharks by Michael Northrop

Walk On Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

Tell us what you think!

Email: ask@normalpl.org

Twitter: @NPLTweets

Download Episode 20

Episode 19
Released: December 6, 2016

In this episode, we hear a selection of poems from the RHINO 40th Anniversary Poetry Reading at the library, organized by Kathleen Kirk; Silvia Schuh talks December arts and crafts; and Alec Gramm recommends some books that open up the worlds of Dungeons & Dragons.

Our RHINO poets were:

Stephen Frech

Jannett Highfill

Tim Hunt

Matthew Murrey

Valerie Wallace

Find more great poetry in the library’s collection of RHINO and at the RHINO website.

Alec recommends:

Of Dice and Men by David M. Ewalt

Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook

Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master’s Guide

Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual

We know you have opinions about the podcast, and we’d love to hear them!

Email us: ask@normalpl.org

Tweet us: @NPLTweets

Download Episode 19

Bonus Episode
Released: November 28, 2016

In this bonus segment of Check It Out, Marketing Assistant Nakia Worrell talks about the library’s past and present Giving Tuesday campaigns.

Helpful links:

More information about the 2016 Normal Public Library Giving Tuesday campaign

We’re thankful to have so many enthusiastic community patrons to serve! Please contact us if you have questions or feedback of any kind. Our email is ask@normalpl.org, and you can reach us on Twitter at NPLTweets.

Download Bonus Episode

 

Episode 18
Released: November 14, 2016

In this episode, Laura Rocco recommends a chilly gothic novel for long cold nights (8:30); Kathleen Kirk previews the RHINO Magazine 40th Anniversary poetry reading (10:53); and Mari McKeeth recommends a range of holiday-themed genre fiction (15:17).

Laura recommends:

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Kathleen recommends:

Where We Live Illinois

RHINO Magazine

Mari recommends:

The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by David Rosenfelt

Smoke and Mirrors by Elly Griffiths

Santa Cruise by Mary Higgins and Carol Higgins Clark

Tell us what you think!

Email: ask@normalpl.org

Twitter: @NPLTweets

Download Episode 18

Episode 17
Released: October 25, 2016

In this Halloween Pumpkin-spice-infused episode, Silvia Schuh previews upcoming arts and crafts programs (7:24); Julia Cozad-Callaghan and Kristi Cates introduce NPLay, a new recurring library event for cosplay enthusiasts (4:28); and Kristi recommends a few delightfully creepy novels for young (and old) adults (14:50).

Kristi recommends:

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake

Tell the Story to Its End by Simon P. Clark

Tell us what you think! We read every email and every tweet. Email us at ask@normalpl.org, or talk to us on Twitter at @NPLTweets.

Download Episode 17

 

Episode 16
Released: September 29, 2016

In this episode, Laura Rocco recommends a serial graphic novel with a childlike premise but an adult sensibility (9:30); Kristi Cates talks with Teen Advisory Council member Isabel about a couple of young adult novels (5:17); and Mari McKeeth and Jared recommend a classic dystopian novel in honor of Banned Books Week (15:56).

As always, we’d love to hear from you! Email us at ask@normalpl.org, or find us on Twitter @NPLTweets.

Laura recommends:

Locke & Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

Isabel recommends:

Ingo by Helen Dunmore

Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

Mari and Jared recommend:

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Download Episode 16

It’s Novel (To Me)
Released: September 16, 2016

In each episode of this new spinoff podcast, Normal Public Library staff discuss a novel they’ve never read before, but should have. In this inaugural episode, Alec Gramm, Jared Johnson, Holli Kober, Ben Mills, Laura Rocco, and Pam Schuett discuss Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s 1864 novel, Crime and Punishment.

We’d love to hear from you! Email us at ask@normalpl.org, or find us on Twitter at @NPLTweets.

Download It’s Novel (To Me)

Episode 15
Released: September 6, 2016

In this episode, Pam Schuett and I geek out over the films of Hiyao Miyazaki (14:04); Kristi Cates recommends some books for middle school kids who are starting to outgrow middle school books (15:32); and we preview the library’s latest podcast, It’s Novel (To Me).

Pam recommends:

Films written and/or directed by Hayao Miyazaki

Kristi recommends:

The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson

I Kill the Mockingbird by Paul Acampora

Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge

Contact us about absolutely anything by emailing us at ask@normalpl.org, or find us on Twitter @NPLTweets.

Download Episode 15

Episode 14
Released: August 1, 2016

In this episode, Kristi Cates talks about the library’s Anime Clubs for Teens and for Adults (7:12); Silvia Schuh is back to talk about August arts and crafts programs (3:41); and Mari McKeeth highlights a few of the many magazines the library carries, and explains how patrons can use Zinio to download magazines to read on a digital device (12:47). Plus, I invite listeners to join us for a rousing discussion of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, which will be featured in the first episode of our spinoff podcast, It’s Novel (To Me).

As always, we love to hear from you! Email us at ask@normalpl.org, or contact us on Twitter @NPLTweets. And thanks for listening!

Download Episode 14

Episode 13
Released: July 15, 2016

After a bit of a hiatus, Check It Out is back! In this episode, Mari McKeeth explains how the library chooses items to add to its adult print collection (10:59); Laura Rocco recommends a funny book about a Depressing topic (8:59); and Kristi C. talks up two YA sports novels with universal themes (12:05). Plus, we invite you to read along with us in preparation for our upcoming spinoff podcast.

Laura recommends:

Tobacco Road by Erskine Caldwell

Kristi recommends:

Losers Take All by David Klass

Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill

The library’s new podcast stars will discuss:

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

As always, we’d love to hear from you! Our email is ask@normalpl.org, and we can be found on Twitter @NPLTweets.

Download Episode 13

Episode 12
Released: May 12, 2016

In this episode, Kristen Bauder and host Jared Johnson talk about what a “library assistant” does, Silvia Schuh gives the rundown of May arts and crafts and previews the plans for summer, and Mari McKeeth recommends two very different books that both have a Muslim protagonist.

Mari recommends:

The Unquiet Dead, by Ausma Zehanat Khan

The Badass Librarians of Timbuktu, by Joshua Hammer

As always, please contact us with praise, criticism, or random musings. Our email is ask@normalpl.org, and you can tweet us on Twitter @NPLTweets.

Download Episode 12

Episode 11
Released: April 21, 2016

In this episode, Rachel Weishar talks about Poetry Is Normal, a new semi-regular poetry reading event held in the library’s cafe (6:34); Amy Kubica explains the Staff Picks and Patron Picks programs (5:06); and Kristi Cates recommends three recent prize-winning young adult novels (12:05). Plus, we inaugurate a new segment in which we talk to a kid about the library. (This week, it’s Montana’s turn. Thanks, Montana!)

Amy recommends:

Before We Go (2015)

Montana recommends:

The Princess and the Pig, by Jonathan Emmett and Poly Bernatene

Kristi recommends:

Please tell us what you think! Our email is ask@normalpl.org, and you can find us on Twitter @NPLTweets.

Download Episode 11

Episode 10
Released: April 4, 2016

In this episode, Kristi Cates explains how the Teen Advisory Council contributes to the library’s mission (4:33), Silvia Schuh talks up April’s arts and crafts programs and fills us in on National Library Week activities (6:19), and Mari McKeeth makes some recommendations to fill the Downton-Abbey-shaped gap in patrons’ lives (13:46). Plus, there’s a new classic first line challenge!

Take a look at the Teen Advisory Council schedule and sign up for April arts and crafts using our Activity Calendar.

Check out Mari McKeeth’s Downton-Abbey-style recommendations:

 

As always, please contact us about anything and everything using our email, ask@normalpl.org, or check out our Twitter account, @NPLTweets!

Download Episode 10

Episode 9
Released: March 9, 2016

In this episode, Rebecca Gopinath invites us to attend a screening of the hit Bollywood film Bajrangi Bhaijaan (5:38); Jennifer Williams gives the rundown of kids’ spring break activities that we’re calling Spy Training (6:01); and Kristi Cates recommends two great but often overlooked young adult novels (8:30).

Check out our activity calendar to register for Spring Break programs.

Check out Kristi’s recommendations:

The Year of Secret Assignments* (print) by Jaclyn Moriarty

The Year of Secret Assignments* (audiobook)

The President’s Daughter by Ellen Emerson White

As always, please tell us what you think! Our email is ask@normalpl.org, and we’re on Twitter @NPLTweets.

Download Episode 9

Episode 8
Released: March 3, 2016

Jennifer Williams talks about Mo Willems’ new chapter book, The Story of Diva and Flea (5:45); Silvia Schuh gives us the lowdown on March arts and crafts programs (3:50); and Mari McKeeth recommends Val McDermid’s latest mystery, Splinter the Silence (12:33). Plus, Mari talks about two services for finding great books: Novelist and eSequels.

Please tell us what you think by emailing us at ask@normalpl.org, or tweeting us @NPLTweets!

Download Episode 8

Episode 7
Released: February 11, 2016

In this episode, Perry Kaufman explains the difference between “hard” and “soft” science fiction and makes a couple recommendations (13:21), and Kristi Cates talks about books that readers of The Martian might also like (13:39). Plus, there’s a new prize challenge.

Perry’s recommendations:

Blindsight by Peter Watts
Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds

Kristi’s recommendations:

The Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson (Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars)
Packing For Mars by Mary Roach
Alone In Antarctica by Felicity Aston
Adrift: Seventy-Six Days Lost at Sea by Steven Callahan

Please let us know what you think! You can email us at ask@normalpl.org, or tweet us @NPLTweets.

Download Episode 7

Episode 6
Released: January 27, 2016

In this episode, Meghan Rogers explains the Adult Winter Reading Program, and Mari McKeeth talks about all the great books that were turned into movie scripts and nominated for this year’s Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar:

  • Brooklyn, by Colm Tóibín (screenplay by Nick Hornby)
  • The Martian, by Andy Weir (screenplay by Drew Goddard)
  • The Price of Salt, by Patricia Highsmith (adapted as Carol, screenplay by Phyllis Nagy)
  • The Big Short, by Michael Lewis (screenplay by Adam McKay and Charles Randolph)
  • Room, by Emma Donoghue (screenplay by Emma Donoghue herself)

And as always, you can register for library programs on our website. Please write us at ask@normalpl.org and tell us what you think!

Download Episode 6

Episode 5
Released: January 13, 2016

In our first episode of 2016, Silvia Schuh recommends the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness, starting with the first novel in the series, A Discovery of Witches. Holli Kober recommends Suicide Squad, a series of comics that patrons can access through Hoopla. Plus, we talk February arts and crafts (register here), and we bring our first literary interpretation challenge to a close.

The translation of Dante’s Inferno by Mark Musa referenced in this episode is excellent, by the way.

Comments, questions, suggestions, and random thoughts are welcome at ask@normalpl.org!

Download Episode 5

Episode 4
Released: December 30, 2015
In the final episode of 2015, Amy Kubica recommends the Black Jewels trilogy by Anne Bishop, Laura Rocco recommends The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Noble (which is based on a popular Youtube series), and I have some thoughts about libraries as we bring 2015 to a close. Plus, we check in on last episode’s literary challenge.

The book I refer to in my editorial is Among Others by Jo Walton. You can see pictures of the remarkable JT and EJ Crumbaugh Memorial Library here.

To respond to the literary challenge or to give us feedback, please contact us at ask@normalpl.org.

Download Episode 4

Episode 3
Released: December 16, 2015
In this week’s episode, we explore the wonders of the library’s 3D printer, eLearning programs you can access through our website, and January’s arts and crafts programs (register now!). Also, we talk about some books that Star Wars fans might have a good feeling about. Plus, a new and better way to win the episode’s weekly prize.

Books we recommend in this episode:

Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope by Ian Doescher

The Pluto Files by Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Young Miles by Lois McMaster Bujold

A Beautiful Friendship by David Weber

Expiration Day by William Campbell Powell

This episode features the “Sunrise” opening to Also Sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss, performed by the University of Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Barbara Schubert, available at the Internet Archive. For over one hundred different performances of Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra, why not check out Naxos Music Library? It’s free, and all that’s required is a Normal Public Library card (which is also free). Plus, Naxos Music Library offers streaming access to more than 109,960 CDs with more than 1,609,000 tracks of many musical genres including classical, jazz, world and pop/rock.

Download Episode 3

Episode 2
Released: Nov 30, 2015
In this episode, we talk about The Black House by Peter May, the first in a trilogy of mysteries set on a remote Scottish island. Also, we talk about the library’s arts and crafts programs coming up in December, how to download audio and video content using the internet and your trusty Normal Public Library card, and our Giving Tuesday fundraiser, which aims to raise enough money to fund a mobile maker space for our teen patrons. Plus, another chance for our loyal podcast listeners to snag a prize!

Download Episode 2

Episode 1
Released: Nov 18, 2015
In this inaugural episode, we talk about the young adult novel The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, the library’s collection of James Bond films, November’s arts and crafts programs, and how to download ebooks using your Normal Public Library card. Plus, our brilliant listeners get their first chance to win a prize.

Download Episode 1