The First Book I’ve Bought in YEARS!

The older I become, the more I believe in and practice minimalism.  You can read more about this decision in this post!  I am constantly tidying, decluttering, and getting rid of things around our house.  My annual garage sale has become one of my favorite events!  Whenever anyone asks for gift ideas for anyone in our family (especially for our children) I always respond with EXPERIENCES OVER PHYSICAL THINGS.  My children will gain so much more from an enriching experience than any toy could ever provide.  I proudly keep my house clean, organized, and as clutter free as possible (If you are interested, I can do an entire post on this…just let me know in the comments). One area that I’ve come to realize gets out of hand quickly when I allow it to is BOOKS.  As you know, I’m a huge book lover (obvi) and reading books truly brings me happiness (hence the name of my blog).  It took me many years to realize that my joy of READING does not in fact mean that I find joy in OWNING books.  Libraries have become my happy place as they allow me the opportunity to read any book I want without having the physical book in my possession when I’m done.

As a book blogger, I’m extraordinarily blessed that authors are constantly mailing me copies of their books on a regular basis for me to read and review on my blog.  These books are in a whole separate category of things that I own.  They are so much more than just books to me…these are actual reminders of my hard work and dedication to this blog as well as the actual reminders of authors and publishers who believe in my value as well as my opinion.  Minimalism dictates not keeping anything which doesn’t hold a special meaning to the owner…these special books are some of my prized possessions!

It’s the books that I seek out on my OWN to read…the books where buying them will eventually mean one more thing on my bookshelf to keep tidy…it’s THOSE books where I love reading (and returning) a library copy.

I have been wanting to read this particular book for MONTHS.

I went to the library yesterday…no copies in stock.  I checked out 2 books that I wasn’t even that excited to read for the simple fact that they weren’t this particular book.

When I got back to my car, I called our other local library (the one where I had placed a hold on this particular book) from the parking lot of the first library.

I’ve been on this library’s wait list FOR. EV.  ER.  The library recently started a new system where they won’t tell you what number you are in line! They are now part of a consortium that receives books from all other surrounding libraries so there really is no way to track when your book will be in. It’s both wonderful and FRUSTRATING. It’s wonderful because you theoretically could receive your book much quicker as it could be coming from a multitude of libraries and not just from one. I called our library yesterday to see if they could give me ANY indication…am I #2 or #200??? They wouldn’t tell me. I hung up and drove my annoyed self straight to Barnes and Noble.  I couldn’t wait even another day to start reading this book.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

I’ve been holding on to this beautiful gift card from one of my best friends for months waiting until there was a book I’ve reaaaaally been wanting to read. The time has come!

How cute are these tote bags???  Barnes and Noble for the WIN!

I’ve seen this before and I think it’s a fun idea. You get a book without knowing which book you are receiving! There are descriptions written on the covers and you make your decision based upon those descriptions without ever seeing the actual cover. Love it!

HOWEVER…

I love it for a library where you aren’t paying actual money to blindly make a purchase. $16.00 to buy a book I very well might not want to own? That’s the exact OPPOSITE of minimalism (and smart purchasing in general). Hell no!

Besides, I was there on a MISSION.  No time for cute tote bags or mystery purchases. I hobbled (stupid broken toe) straight to the fiction section, found my book waiting for me on the shelf, quickly scooped it up, paid with my beautiful gift card, and happily drove home.

I started reading this afternoon! It’s making my broken toe feel better already…

Polygamy is absolutely fascinating to me…I could NEVER share my husband/life with another woman.  EVER.  Sister Wives on TLC is one of my very favorite shows.  Do you watch Sister Wives?  Which wife is your favorite?  #teamchristine

I’m currently on chapter 2 of my new book and from what I’ve read so far…this was a smart purchase.  A very smart purchase indeed.

Sometimes, minimalist or not…a girl just wants to read what a girl wants to read.  NOW.  And this girl is doing just that 🙂

Did you read this book?  What did you think?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Xo,

Jenny

Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo

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My Best 8 Tips on How to Get the Most Out of Your Local Library

Libraries are among my very favorite places on Earth to visit.  I may or may not have been known to visit more than 1 location in a day 🙂  I have 8 helpful tips on how to get the most out of your local library experience but first I’d like to highlight some of the many benefits that libraries have to offer.

Obviously the draw to libraries is the vast amount of literature offered.  You can name any topic in the world and the library will have a book (or be able to get a book) about it.  However, libraries offer so much more than just books!

Storytimes

Before I had kids, I dreamed of the day when I would be able to take them to storytime at the library (#booknerd). I’ll never forget when the day finally arrived.  The storytime we attended was specifically for preschool aged kids…and my daughter was 6 weeks old, lol.  Who was the overly excited new mom?!?  I remember walking in with my daughter and couldn’t wait for her to participate in the activities.  Again…she was 6 WEEKS old!  The lady leading storytime was so kind and told me that my daughter and I were more than welcome to be there.  As a new mom who was just excited to be out of the house with my brand new daughter, I was more than excited to stay. So basically I sang songs, listened to stories, and learned new rhymes along with all of the other preschoolers, lol.  My daughter slept through the entire storytime until she made the most gigantic poop in all the land…and of course her newbie mother forgot to bring extra diapers.  Of course!  I was so embarrassed and quickly wrapped her up in a blanket and fled the library without even saying good-bye to all of my brand new preschool friends and their mothers, lol.  Fast forward 7.5 years, another child later…and my kids both love storytime at the library.  AND they are totally age appropriate now which also really helps, lol.

DVDs

Checking out DVDs from the library is always such a treat for my kids! Holiday movies, classic movies, even entire seasons of past television shows (I’m looking at you, Full House and The Cosby Show).  There is such a wide selection of DVDs that the library has to offer.  I love taking advantage of this, especially for my kids.

Quiet Reading Rooms

Both of our local libraries have “Quiet Reading Rooms” where there are fireplaces, comfortable chairs, and…SILENCE.  It’s as dreamy as it sounds and I have spent HOURS in those rooms.  They are glorious.  The first time I discovered this room at one of the libraries, I asked to speak to the director just so I could thank her for the vacation I felt like I was just on in that peaceful room. 🙂

Sick Child?  No Problem!

One of our local libraries has the most amazing service.  You call them, tell them about your sick child’s interests, and within 2 hours they will put together a selection of books and movies that you can pick up at the drive thru to keep your little one entertained!  How awesome is that?!?

Side Note ***for the love of GOD do NOT bring your sick child into the library***

Programs/Events

My children have attended some amazing programs/events at our libraries.  Traveling zoos, jugglers, movie viewing parties, musical performers, and so much more!  One of our local libraries currently has a traveling dinosaur exhibit and I can’t wait to take my son!  Libraries offer amazing opportunities for adults as well!  Book clubs, classes, etc.

Libraries are truly wonderful places full of amazing resources and opportunities.  Some of my very favorite memories of my children were made within the walls of the library 🙂

Play Areas

Don’t even get me started.  UGH.  You can read this post to hear all about my feelings on this one.  Spoiler: I hate them.

Book Coffee Happy Pro Tips:

  1. If there is a book that you want to check out but your library doesn’t have it and can’t get it from another library, they might be able to order it…and you will be the very first person to read that new copy!  I have done this a few times. I loved that I was able to add some wonderful books to our library for others to enjoy…and I loved being the very first person to check them out!
  2. Place a hold on multiple books that you want to read at one time.  They won’t all be ready for pickup at the same time so you will have plenty to keep you busy while you are waiting or the others.  When you’re done reading one, anther will be ready for you!
  3. If you get the call that your book is ready for pickup but you know that you won’t be able to start reading right away, wait a few days before you pick it up.  Your checkout date begins from the day the book is actually checked out, not the day it’s ready for pickup. At our library, holds expire after 7 days so I plan on when I pick up accordingly, especially if it’s a popular book that I know I won’t be able to renew if I don’t finish reading in the allotted time frame.  **Be mindful of others waiting for these books and don’t do this often**
  4. Older books have a much higher chance of being available than new releases.  Always keep a list of older books that you would like to read in case none of the new releases are currently available.
  5. If you know there is a book coming out that you want to read, you can place a hold on it months ahead of time!  Get your name higher on that list before the book is even released!
  6. Many libraries have remote locations where items can be returned.  In my community,  there is a location at our grocery store and also at the community building where my kids take classes.  Easy!  Be sure to check and see where your library has remote locations.  I rarely return books to the actual library…but I’m always at these remote locations.
  7. You can return your library books to other local libraries, it doesn’t have to be to the library from where you took out the book.  Just be sure to allow travel time for the book to make it back to your library so you won’t incur late fees.  When you return your item to a different location, there is no way for that location to track when it was returned.  Only when it is actually returned to it’s home library and checked back in can that date be tracked.  Sometimes it’s just easier to return items other places depending on where I am on that day.  **Again, be mindful when doing this!  I would imagine that libraries don’t love when people do this often**
  8. Busier libraries will have a less likely chance of newer books being on the shelves (although these libraries DO tend to own more copies of these titles).  When there is a particular book I’m looking for, I know exactly which of our local libraries will have a better chance of having it on the shelf and which libraries I shouldn’t even bother trying.

Do you visit your local library?  What are some things that it offers?  Any tips you have for helping others to get the most out of their library experience?

Xo,

Jenny

This blog is my favorite hobby and I would so love your support!  Here are ways you can help my blog to GROW:

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*Subscribe with your email address to my blog (scroll all the way to the bottom of this page on mobile devices OR check the top right of this screen to enter your email address)*

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Let’s Chat: Do You Treat Library Books Better or Worse Than Your Own Books?

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Last week, a friend of mine emailed me with an idea for a blog post…bringing library books on vacation!  I immediately loved her idea and knew it would make for a great post.  She was packing for an upcoming trip and was unsure if she wanted to risk damaging library books by bringing them on her vacation.  She was nervous about the ocean water, sunscreen, tropical drinks, etc. getting on her borrowed library books.  She asked my opinion and I didn’t hesitate when I immediately wrote her back…

Bring them!

I LOVE LIBRARY BOOKS.  Like…a lot.  And while I’m definitely careful and respectful of borrowed library books, I do tend to not treat them as well than if they were my own.  I find myself resting my coffee mugs directly on the covers, tossing them into my car, etc.

If I spend money on a book, I treat it with much more care.  I would NEVER rest my coffee on it!  Coasters all the way.  I would NEVER throw it into my car!  It would be carefully placed on the passenger seat next to me.

Not to mention, library books DO have that nice protective coating over them sooooo….there’s that.

Having this attitude towards library books means I ALWAYS bring them on my vacations!  They get shoved into my seat pocket on the airplane, thrown into my beach bag, and packed away to return home buried under the souvenirs in my suitcase.  I never worry about damaging them!  In fact, just the opposite…I don’t worry about them at all, lol.

I’ve been very lucky that I’ve never damaged a library book.  I’m quite certain that my opinion and how I tend to treat them would very much change if I ever did…

Until then?  I’ll just keep my fingers crossed that the protective coating over the cover does it’s job. 🙂

Speaking of library books, here’s the one I am currently reading!  I started it last night and am absolutely LOVING it so far. Have you read this one?

I have an awesome book giveaway scheduled for Wednesday…make sure you check the blog! I can’t wait to share this wonderful book with you!

So tell me…Do you treat library books better or worse then your own books?

I’m traveling next month and would love to hear your book recommendations!  What should I pack to read during my trip???  I asked this question on Facebook yesterday and got some fantastic responses!  (If you missed my 2019 Spring Break Book Recommendations, you can read them here).

Do you have any suggestions for future blog posts?  I’d love to hear them and possibly use them!  Please let me know!

It would really help me if you could follow/subscribe to my blog.  Also, please “like” my Facebook page ,  follow me on Twitter, and follow me on Instagram!

Local friends, I run a storytime every Tuesday and Friday at Whimsy Cafe in Buffalo Grove, Illinois from 10:00-10:30! Bring your kids (6 months-5 years) for stories, songs, and lots of fun. Price is included in your child’s admission, no need to sign up. If you are a blog reader, please be sure to introduce yourself!  I can’t wait to meet you and your little ones. 🙂

 

October Reflections

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October was a great month!  I have now had my blog for a little less than 2 months and have been having such fun with it.  There is so much to learn about having a blog and I’m having the best time expanding my knowledge through such a creative outlet.  Thank you all so much for your support!

Let’s reflect on October…

My favorite (and most controversial) post: Let’s Chat: When Did This Happen? More Importantly…WHY Did This Happen?

Man, do you all have opinions on this topic!  I also posted this in a few Facebook groups that I belong to and people had all sorts of things to say.  Some agreed with me, some did NOT, but everyone was respectful.  I absolutely love the discussions that this post started.  So many different views, so many different perspectives.  Without a doubt, this is also my favorite post that I wrote this month (actually that I’ve ever written on this blog)!  I loved writing this because I truly spoke from my heart about a topic which was so close to me and had tears in my eyes as I wrote.  Writing those words brought back so many special and cherished memories.

Best Book I Reviewed This Month: This one is a tie between Book Review: Wonder {R.J. Palacio} and The Hate U Give {Angie Thomas}

These books changed my outlook on so many things.  Both YA.  Both beautifully written.  Highly, highly recommend.

Worst Book I Reviewed This Month: Book Review: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine {Gail Honeyman}

I hated this book.  So much.

Giveaways I hosted: ****GIVEAWAY**** Maddie’s Miracles {Scott Kramer} and ***GIVEAWAY*** I’m Going to Gramma’s In My Pajamas! {Barbara Berg Mies}

I had such fun hosting 2 giveaways on the blog this month plus more giveaways exclusively on my Facebook/Twitter pages. If you aren’t yet following me on those platforms, I would be so thankful if you did (www.fb.com/bookcoffeehappy, @bookcoffeehappy) as I’m regularly posting content (and exclusive giveaways!) on those platforms.  I loved working with these kind and generous authors and sharing their lovely books. Both books were fantastic in their own ways and it was my honor to be able to share them with all of you.  Spoiler Alert: I have some AWESOME blog giveaways already scheduled for November…

Favorite Blogging Experience: As many of you saw on Facebook/Twitter, this happened last week:

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This was such an amazing opportunity and experience for me. I met some very interesting people and learned a great deal. Just being surrounded by so many passionate authors was so wonderfully inspirational. I loved being included in their thought provoking discussion.

Favorite Personal Experience: My Life: Our Perfect Getaway

Take me baaaaaack.

Total Combined Number of Book Coffee Happy Facebook, Twitter, and Blog Subscribers/Followers: 720

Not bad for less than 2 months of blogging!  I’m so thankful for every single subscribe, follow, like, share, and comment.  I am overwhelmed at the kindness and generosity of the book blogging community and how many people have helped my blog to GROW!  To the many of you that I do not know in real life, I’m so looking forward to getting to know you though my blog.  I love sharing pieces of my life and thoughts with all of you and I have some upcoming blog posts which I am really passionate about.

One thing that would really help me would be to please subscribe/follow on my actual blog. There is a place to do this right at the top of this page where you can enter your email address (scroll all the way to the bottom of this page if you are on an a mobile device). If you have already done this, THANK YOU so much!

I would also love if you would follow me on Facebook and Twitter (www.fb.com/bookcoffeehappy, @bookcoffeehappy).

I have discovered some AWESOME blogs over the past few weeks…and I love that so many new people have discovered mine.  If you are new here…welcome!  I’m so happy that you’re here 🙂

Happy Halloween!  I am dressing up today as the Evil Queen and my daughter will be Evie (Descendants).  My husband will be Willy Wonka and my son will be an Oompa Loompa (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory).  Fingers crossed for no rain!

How was your month? I would love to hear some highlights in the comments! Bloggers, feel free to link your most memorable October posts for others to check out in the comments as well 🙂

Xo,

Jenny

Book Coffee Happy Random Thoughts

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New reading material from Thursday night.  As for my review of the play…is it really fair to review ANY play that you see 5 days after you see Hamiltion???

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When I receive children’s books from authors to review, I let my favorite helpers open the packages and the books are read immediately 🙂

(Spoiler: both books I received were ADORABLE!  Reviews (and giveaways!) coming soon…)

10 days ago, you might have seen that I posted this on Facebook:

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Switched On was excellent!  Easy to read and a fascinating topic which I probably would never have discovered on my own.  I loved how each “chapter” was broken down into short categories, this made it a very quick read. I learned so much and all of it was very  interesting.  I now find myself looking at everyone around me in public places in an entirely different way than I did before and reminding myself to “switch on”.  This was a great book and I really enjoyed it! My husband can’t wait to read this one this next 🙂  Visit http://www.switchedonagent.com to learn more and to order your own copy.  Thanks again, Eric J. Caron!  You wrote such an interesting book! 

Earlier in the week, my daughter and I walked past this and my heart broke:

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We stood there and she listened as I told her how important it is to support businesses that you love or they will not be able to succeed.  She patiently let me reflect on so many memories of this particular bookstore and the beauty that it brought to our community.  I told her that seeing this sight truly was breaking my heart and how it’s our responsibility to support our local businesses. She just stood there quietly as I went on and on about what a sad sight this was and how we cannot allow this to keep occurring. Aaaaaand then a man walked over to us and this happened:

“Excuse me.  I have been listening to your beautiful speech and I just thought you should know that they closed this location only so they could rebuild a much larger and more beautiful location across the street.”

So basically I had the opportunity to teach various meaningful life lessons to my daughter AND we get a new gorgeous bookstore?!?  #Winning

Check out this beautiful display at the front entrance to one of our local libraries:

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Facebook/Twitter Maddie’s Miracles Giveaway ends tonight at midnight!  I’ll announce the winner tomorrow morning…Good luck!  (Search book coffee happy on Facebook and @bookcoffeehappy on Twitter)

I hope you are having a wonderful weekend and that you are reading something amazing!  I finished an AWESOME book yesterday…my review will be on the blog tomorrow morning 🙂

Xo,

Jenny

 

 

Let’s Chat: When Did This Happen? More Importantly…WHY Did This Happen?

 

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Before my daughter started going to school for the full day, her and I would spend hours upon hours at our local library.  It had a tiny children’s play area with a very old play kitchen, a puppet stage with some very well loved puppets,  a few ancient puzzles, and little jars of crayons that you could check out at the desk to color a picture. There was a giant rug with huge pictures and their corresponding letters.  My daughter and I would pay a game where I would give her clues about the letters or pictures on the rug and she had to hop to the one I was describing. If a child helped to clean up after themselves, they could tell the librarian at the desk and would receive a sticker for their efforts.  There were stacks and stacks of children’s books.  My daughter and I would find a hidden spot in them and sit and read stories aloud, usually about upcoming holidays or events.  We would do all of this for hours and then go into the front room when we started to get hungry.  In the front room, there were a few random blue chairs where her and I would eat our packed lunches and then return to the children’s section for hours more.  At the front door to the building, there was a beautiful hand carved bench which was crafted to look like a bookshelf containing classic stories.  Next to it was an ancient payphone.  My daughter would sit on that bench each time we entered the building and would “call” her grandma each time we excited the building and pretend to tell her all about our day’s adventures at the library.  All in all, spending time at our favorite library was a perfect way to spend our days.   So many of my absolute favorite memories with my daughter occurred in that building.

And then…

Our beloved library received a multi million dollar renovation.

For over a year while they completed the renovation, the temporary location was our place to go.  It was much smaller than our library, but just as wonderful.  It had a few older toys, puzzles, a huge table with blocks, and art project kits that you could check out at the desk.  We loved the temporary location but were counting down until we could return to our favorite main branch and see all of the beautiful improvements.  When the day came where we could finally check it out, we were so excited!

They ruined it.

Not ruined exactly, just…changed it.  Completely.

A gigantic light wall!  Balls that you can shoot up through the ceiling and watch go across the whole room through huge mazes on the wall!  A humongous screen with interactive technolicgical games!  An entire table of ipads!  Big sticky shapes that are meant to be placed on the Velcro wall but you can throw them and they stick!

Gone are the stacks and stacks of books, they are now displayed by theme facing outward.

Gone is the librarians’ desk right in the middle of the room, it’s now on the other side of the library…so also gone is any monitoring of behavior (although this really is the parents’ job but that could be another whole separate post).

Gone are both the beautiful hand crafted bench and payphone at the front entrance.

What was once our quiet, quaint literacy based weekday activity has turned into kids literally RUNNING and SCREAMING through the children’s area.  And not just a few kids…LOTS of kids.  Due to the exciting and newsworthy major renovation, children from all surrounding areas now come to our once quiet library.  Throwing balls, throwing the sticky shapes, climbing on the puppet stage (what used to actually be a tiny doll stage is now a massive custom built area perfect for children to climb).  Everything is brand new, gorgeous, modern, and stunning.

My daughter’s reaction?  She hated it.  Absolutely hated it.  Refused to go back for months.  And I agreed.

There is another local library not far from our town that has a massive slide in the center of the room.  A SLIDE.

When did all of this happen?  When did libraries become indoor play places?

I have always taught (and always will teach) my children that libraries are meant to be quiet places.  I want them to respect the building and the people inside of it who are working, reading, researching, or just trying to enjoy some peace from the loud outside world.  I want them to marvel at the selection of books.  I want them to know that there are endless possibilities awaiting them in those books.  I want them to love those books.  Playtime at the library should absolutely be a part of the experience…but leaving with carefully selected books should be the most exciting part.

When we go to our library now, it’s with the intention that we are going there to play.  Yes, we still check out books…but….what child wants to sit and quietly read while loud kids and balls are zooming all around them?

There is a brand new massive playground outside. It’s huge and amazing and awesome!  But…a part of me misses the old one with the one rickety table and the old tire swing.  I’ll never forget my daughter playing in the dirt under the old tree searching for sticks.  No reason to do that now…the new playground is so huge that no child would ever think of searching at the base of some old tree.

Make no mistake, our new library is GORGEOUS.  Everything about the facility is new and beautiful.  I am beyond fortunate to be able to raise my children in a community where we have this amazing resource. Even the bathrooms are stunning.  But I miss the old bathroom with only the 2 stalls and the broken sink where my daughter learned to read the words “out of order”.

I completely understand that ANY library that actually encourages children to want to come and spend time there is wonderful.  I get it.  I just wish that children would want to come and spend time there for different reasons than they now do.  As an avid reader, instilling a love for books in my children is a top priority.  If I want to take them to a play place, I will take them to a play place.  If I want to take them to a library, I will take them to a library.  The 2 experiences should be different but now they seem to have tangled together…and the result is such a shame.  I also understand that the world is changing and children need to be exposed to the advancements in technology.  I just want to make sure that good old fashioned books and the libraries that house them don’t get lost in that.

As a stay at home mom, my job is to find creative and meaningful experiences for my children to fill our days with a bonus if I can do that for free.

I yearn for the old experiences that our beloved library used to provide.  Our new library absolutely provides experiences, just of a completely different type.  Our new library is so loud and chaotic in the children’s area, not a place you would want to spend an entire day.  We packed our lunches on that very first day we were allowed to finally come back after the year hiatus.  We ate in the gorgeous cafe area…and haven’t packed our lunches since.  Man, I miss those random blue chairs.

I’ve learned as a parent that the best memories and experiences you can give your child sometimes are the simplest ones.  I will never forget sitting with her quietly working on those old puzzles or worrying about when the last time those gross puppets were washed as she performed countless puppet shows for me.

In the end, it doesn’t matter how much money was spent on the renovation…some of the most perfect and special things in life just can’t be bought.

So…what are your thoughts?  Do you agree with me that libraries have gotten completely out of hand with their children’s areas or completely disagree?  I already know that my opinion probably won’t be the most popular one and that’s absolutely fine with me.  Feel free to speak your mind!  One request…Please refrain from mentioning specific library names or any specific locations in the comments!

Xo,

Jenny

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