The Alchemist Book Review

Cover art courtesy of

The Alchemist
Paulo Coelho
Fic C6725a

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is a fanciful tale of a young boy from Spain who leaves his life as a shepherd to follow his dream. The book is a quick read at only 160 pages, and especially at first I couldn’t put it down. Later it took on a more provocative and mystical aspect, which slowed down what I thought would be an easy and fast read.

While tending his flocks, the boy has a recurring dream that tells him he will find his treasure at the Pyramids in Egypt. After selling his sheep to pursue his dream, the boy finds himself in Egypt on an adventure where he is robbed of all his earthly possessions, works in a crystal shop, meets a king  who tells him to pursue his Personal Legend, and finally joins a caravan across the desert where he meets an Englishman in search of the Alchemist. The Alchemist is a spiritual tribal leader who knows the secret of long life and turning things into gold. The boy, who has an instinctive and observant nature, eventually finds himself in the company of the Alchemist, and along the way discovers love and learns to listen to his heart as he listens to the sounds of the universe – at first this was his sheep and later the desert, the wind, and the soul of mankind.

This book is rated by members as a 3.74 out of 5 stars and I would concur with the rating. What drew me to it initially was that it was a shorter book and on two GoodReads lists: “Best Books Ever” and “Books That Everyone Should Read At Least Once.”  Check out the GoodReads website and books you shouldn’t miss, which may include this one.

Reviewed by Jana Porter, Reference Librarian

‘Tis the season…for weeding!

Photo courtesy of rebecca f at CC

Photo courtesy via Creative Commons: rebecca f

Just like we weed our gardens this time of year (especially with all this rain!), we also have to “weed” our library collection.

Weeding (aka culling or deselection) is an intellectual process whereby the librarians evaluate sections of the library’s collection for the following criteria:

1. Physical condition of the work (missing page, ripped cover, coffee stains, etc.)
2. Outdated information (particularly important in science, technology, and legal fields)
3. Whether the work still fits the scope of the collection and the parameters of the courses and college/library missions.
4. When the work was last used/checked out.

Weeding does not mean only pulling the items from the shelves.  It also means that the librarians need to find updated works to replace the items that are no longer useful.  We use several library and publishing magazines to find well-reviewed items, taking into account our student population and the needs of our faculty and staff. This is an ongoing process that keeps our collection up to date and relevant.

For more about weeding, see this recent article in the Kane County Chronicle, or the American Library Association FactSheet on weeding.

For more information about ECC’s weeding and collection development, please contact Ellie Swanson at 847-214-7321 or email


The Giver Book Review

Cover art courtesy of

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Book: Fic L9215gi 
Book on CD: Fic L9215gi 

On August 15, the film The Giver will open in theaters  starring, among others, Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, and Taylor Swift. If you haven’t read The Giver, this is the perfect time to do so, especially if you prefer to read the book before you see the movie. The Giver is a dystopian novel, the first in the genre to be written for children. Yet the appeal of the book is much broader and it has been adopted by young adults and adults. Now book one in the Giver Quartet, The Giver was originally written as a standalone. The other books in the quartet are Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son. The Giver focuses on a world in which there is no conflict, pain or suffering but also no experiences, emotions or art. People in the Community are not able to see colors or feel deeply. Their lives are predictable, repetitious, and dull. Since they don’t know what they are missing, the citizens accept their lives and like sheep follow the orders that the Elders have outlined in a rule book with frequent reminders given over an intercom system. The Community doesn’t have to fear the unknown or be upset by complications. It is “safe”. To maintain the status quo, there is an Elder known as The Receiver. This person is charged with receiving and keeping the collective memory of the people. Memories cannot be destroyed, so having one person contain them frees the rest of the people. Enter Jonas, a young boy about to turn twelve, the age at which children in the Community are assigned their life’s occupation. Jonas, a perceptive boy with the ability to “see beyond”, is chosen to succeed the current Receiver.  As instructed, Jonas begins to meet with the Receiver who asks him to call him the Giver, since his main task now is to pass on the memories to Jonas. As the process proceeds, Jonas and the Giver begin to realize the flaws in the system and to look for a way to change the Community back to a society in which everyone shares the memories and the feelings. Jonas is also watching over a one year old child, Gabriel, who is spending the nights with his family. Gabriel is disruptive and not able to sleep through the night at the child care center where Jonas’s father works as a Nurturer. Jonas realizes that, like the Giver and himself, Gabriel has special abilities that set him apart. Events culminate in a climatic ending that can be interpreted many different ways, depending on the reader. It will be interesting to see how the movie ends! If you like the book, I recommend that you read the other three books in the quartet.

Reviewed by Barbara Evans, Reference Librarian

Enhanced support for COL 101 classes

Graphic courtesy of the U of M Student Life Spectrum Center

Are you a faculty or student in a COL 101 class?  This summer, we are premiering a few new features to help support you in your quest for information for your chapbook project and beyond.

COL 101 Research Guide
Our improved guide is providing more videos, books, links, and tips to get you started on your project.

COL 101 Video Tour
This video takes you through the Research guide so you can optimize your research experience.

COL 101 FAQ page
Got a question?  It’s likely others have had the same question. Search this COL 101 specific FAQ for your answer.  If you don’t find what you’re looking for, call 847-214-7354 or email with your question.

Embedded Librarians and Research Appointments via Doodle
If you have D2L for your class, a librarian will be embedded into your Discussion list.  Librarians will post introductions, links, and other tips throughout the class.  One of the new features is the ability to make a Research Appointment through Doodle, linking you directly with your personal embedded librarian.  However, Research Appointments are also available at any time by contacting the librarians at 847-214-7354 or by email.

Pop-up chat
When you are on the COL 101 Research Guide and haven’t had activity for awhile, you will now get a pop-up box asking if you would like to chat.  This feature eliminates the need to go to the separate chat box to begin a question.

We look forward to helping you with your COL 101 projects!


Awesome database upgrades! CINAHL and Academic Search via EBSCO

ehost_logoThrough our consortium membership, both the CINAHL and Academic Search databases through EBSCO have been upgraded to include even more resources, effective July 1.


…the definitive research tool for nursing and allied health professionals. With CINAHL Complete users get fast and easy access to top nursing and allied health journals, evidence-based care sheets and quick lessons.–EBSCO

CINAHL Complete highlights:

  • About 700 more full text journals are now available
  • About 2,000 more indexed journals
  • Click here for more about CINAHL Complete

Academic Search Complete is:

Designed for academic institutions, this database provides complete coverage of multidisciplinary academic journals.–EBSCO

Academic Search Complete highlights:

  • About 4,400 more full text journals are now available
  • Over 7,900 peer-reviewed journals are now available in full text
  • Click here for more about Academic Search Complete.

To use these resources:

Please note that this upgrade will only be available through June 2015.

Staff Spotlight: 5 Questions with….Stacey Shah

StaceyFinish this sentence: In my spare time, I love to….
Laugh with my daughter, run, swim, hike, bike, garden, read, travel, go camping, and play piano.

My favorite things about Elgin….
Beautiful parks and recreation centers; excellent libraries and museums; wonderful bike/nature trails, the Fox River, cafes/restaurants, festivals and events, etc. It’s a great place to work and live.

If I could have any super power (or be any super hero), I would have/be…and why…
I heard an episode of the podcast This American Life that said most people would either choose flying or invisibility as their superpower and that what they choose says something about their personality, but I can’t remember what. I hate commuting, so flying sounds great to me. I’d love to zip around to all my favorite places and avoid snow driving all winter. If I could fly invisibly, that would be even better!

I am currently reading…
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander and Dear Life (a collection of short stories by Alice Munro).

What is your favorite technology/app and why?
I love the Field Trip App. As you are out and about, it will pop up with information about historical sites you pass by. So, for example, you may drive past a building that has rich history to it and never realize it. The Field Trip app would notify you that you are near something interesting and give you a little blurb to read about it.

Stacy Shah is the ECC Library’s Distance Learning Librarian.

NoodleTools App is here!


NoodleTools Companion is the latest addition to the NoodleTools mobile platform. The iOS and Android apps are FREE for all NoodleTools subscribers. Click below to download from your app of choice.
You can capture BOOK information easily by scanning a book’s ISBN to generate a perfectly-formatted citation once it is routed to your NoodleTools project. After adding an annotation (or notes), the citation can then be routed directly into the student’s NoodleTools project of choice.

This app is optimized for phone screens, but can be used on an iPad or other tablet.

To access NoodleTools, go to this site.  You will need to register (it’s free!) if you don’t already have an account.

For additional information and a tutorial on NoodleTools, see our NoodleTools Research Guide.