Fun at Foster's blog

Paws for Reading at E.P. Foster Library


For the past seven years we have had help from furry, four legged friends with reading.  Yes, you read right, furry, four legged friends. 

On just about every Saturday, you can find certified therapy dogs sitting in the library listening to the most interesting stories.  School age children come in and can read in a calm, non-pressure environment.  Dogs don’t criticize or correct their pronunciation. Doggie “Moms” sit with the dogs and children to give a hand with complex words and encourage timid kids.  Paws for Reading is not a tutoring program but a program that encourages children to improve their reading skills and helps to build their self esteem.

As part of their mission statement, Paws for Reading aims to improve the literacy skills of children through the assistance of registered Service teams as literacy advocates. Literacy specialists acknowledge that children reading below their peers in reading skills are often intimidated by reading aloud in a group, frequently have lower self esteem and typically view reading as a chore.

A study at UC Davis (Feb 2010) showed that kids in reading dog programs increase their reading skills by 12% to 20% over kids not in a reading dog program. Because our volunteers are certified as therapy dog teams, they can also visit hospitals, nursing homes and other locations.

Learning to read is often less about intellectual limitation than about overcoming fears. Animals are ideal reading companions because they:
• Help increase relaxation and lower blood pressure
• Listen attentively
• Do not judge, laugh, or criticize
• Allow children to proceed at their own pace
• Are less intimidating than peers

When a dog is listening, the environment is transformed, a child’s dread is replaced by eager anticipation, and learning occurs.  The handler is a skilled facilitator, too – shifting performance pressure off the child and providing support, while the child gets the reading practice necessary to build vocabulary, increase understanding of the material, and gain fluency as a reader.  Can dogs help kids learn to read better?  It seems they can and help turn reading from a chore to fun.

The E.P. Foster Paws for Reading program has also been the beneficiary of a generous grant from Sage Publications that has provided not only dog treats for the hard work the dogs do but also enables us to give a free book to each child participating in our program.

If you are interested in signing up to read to one of our Paws for Reading dogs, call Star Soto at 648-2716.

CSUCI Lecture Series at Foster Library

It's back! Foster library is proud to present the new lineup for our CSUCI lecture series. All lectures are free and open to the public. Call 648-2716 for more information.



The Human Prehistory of the Channel Islands and Coastal California: A 10,000 Year Retrospective

Saturday, Sept. 14, from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

Drawing from 20 years of research experience, Anthropology Professors Jennifer Perry and Colleen Delaney will present an overview of the prehistory of coastal Ventura County and the Channel Islands from an archaeological perspective.  Learn why this region is so unique and the importance of the islands to people today. 

The Era of the Celebrity CEO is Over

Saturday, Oct. 12, from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

Recent data indicates that consistently “great” companies were not led by charismatic or transformational leaders but rather by leaders who possessed a blend of humility and strong personal will.  Join Dr. Andrew Morris, Professor in CI’s Martin V. Smith School of Business and Economics, as he examines our fascination with leaders, possible predictors of humility, and ways in which we can develop greater humility and enhance our leadership abilities.   

Stories Behind the Stories: CSUCI English Faculty Reading and Discussion

Saturday, Nov. 9, at 5 p.m.

Published authors and CI English Professors Brad Monsma, Bob Mayberry, Mary Adler, Sean Carswell and Sofia Samatar will read excerpts of their fiction, nonfiction or poetry and discuss the stories behind them, including experiences with multiple drafts, writing groups, writing stamina, and revisions.  Community members are invited to add their perspectives during a brief Q&A session that follows. 



As human beings living in an urban world we often look for bits of nature to calm ourselves and restore our souls.  As citizens of Ventura, we are blessed to have the natural world basically in our back yard.  You don’t have to travel very far to feel like you’ve left the hustle and bustle of modern life behind.  A short drive up Highway 33 to Santa Ana Road will make you feel like you’ve left the modern world well behind.  In the spring, there are fields of yellow mustard and in late summer, there are golden grasses that can hide deer and wild turkeys.  You don’t even have to leave your car to enjoy these peaceful scenes.  If you do venture off the roadside, you may find giant spider webs or native grasses adorned with water droplets that glisten like jewels.  If you are not sure where to go, Foster Library has guides to help you find your way.

Resident Photographer – Aleta Rodriguez


One of my favorite movies growing up was Superman. This was before the Avengers, Iron Man, and even the X-men made their way to the big screen. When you saw Christopher Reeve flying around in that red cape, you really believed he was Superman. This happy memory is what brought me to one of my most recent reads, Superman: Last Son of Krypton.

It’s made up of two stories, one of which is co-written by Richard Donner. Now, if you don’t know who he is, you need to watch that original Superman movie because he was the director. The first story of this graphic novel is the Last Son in the title. Written in part by said director, it involves a young boy crash landing to Earth (and no, it’s not who you think it is). This boy has powers similar to Superman’s, who suddenly finds himself in a new role as a would-be father. However, this boy (who is named Christopher, in a nod to Christopher Reeve) is not the only one with superpowers to crash land on Earth. What follows is a story that could very well have played as a sequel to the original film, if that gives you any hint as to who appears. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Richard Donner is involved. If you know any of the back story on Superman and its first sequel, you’ll know it was a contentious shoot. Disagreements were aplenty between the director and the producers. This graphic novel, I think, is the Richard Donner version, and it plays nicely and convincingly.

The second story is called “Brainiac.” This one, too, pays a nod to that original Superman film, for if you look closely, you’ll see this Superman looks very familiar. In it, Superman must fight Brainiac to save Earth. He will discover he’s not the only survivor of Krypton, but it’s not in the way he expected. His attempt to save those from his old home will come at a terrible cost to someone in his new one.

 What I liked about both stories is the idea that we are not alone in the world. Superman has always felt like an odd man out in many ways because he believed he was the last survivor of his home world and because his powers make him stand out from others. But in this graphic novel, he learns he isn’t alone, not just because he discovers other survivors of Krypton, but because of the family and friends he has gained on Earth. While he may be a man of two worlds, he has chosen to make Earth his home.

Heather, the Graphic Novel Goddess

If you can't stand the heat...

Beth's Basic Bread Book, by Beth Hensperger is exactly what the title states, a basic bread baking book, which is fine with me. Bread baking can be an intimidating kitchen activity, but this book clearly breaks down the process into a relatively easy and rewarding task. I plead guilty to being absent from the kitchen for awhile, the lure of summer and wine tasting had led me astray. But, I made it back to the kitchen to work some wonders once again. Even though it is still summer, hot in other words, I was itching to bake some bread, we all know the old adage if you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen. Well, the "Dish" can deal with the heat if delicious bread is the outcome!

The Cinnamon Swirl bread recipe is bread I chose to bake in this episode of “David’s Dish”. It’s a straightforward bread recipe with the bubbling yeast and the kneading of dough, lots of fun! After carefully following the recipe the result was one of the best bread baking experiences I have ever had, delicious bread and that Zen-like feeling  that comes with bread baking.  Bread baking is a beautiful thing, everyone, I mean everyone needs to do it.

 *****  “David’s Dish”

Check out the book at Foster Library, or put a hold on it - we will send it to you!


Where did the summer go?

Can you believe the summer is almost over and school starts in about two weeks?  Whether you are celebrating this day or dreading it, Ventura County Library has many resources for school help.

Go to our webpage at and under Special Interests, you will find the Teens or Kids’ pages that list Quick Start Homework help. On this page you can link onto such subjects as Mythology, Countries, Science Projects and more.

For more help check out our elibrary databases where there is a link to our k-12 databases. Information and links to biographies, encyclopedias, magazine and journal articles, and reading suggestions can be found.  Under Test Preparation you will find LearningExpress Library which is an interactive instructional and test preparation database.  The learning center in this database covers elementary school through college.

In addition to all these electronic links, we also offer books and staff to help you and your child locate the resources you need to make this school year the best ever.

Channel Islands

The Channel Islands are home to the most well-preserved archeological sites on the Pacific coast, with more than 10,000 years of continuous human occupation recorded.   They contain the oldest dated  human remains in North America—Arlington Springs Man (13,000 BP). 

While the islands themselves are accessible only by boat or aircraft, the Channel Islands National Park Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitors Center is right in the Ventura Harbor.  Located at 1901 Spinnaker Drive in Ventura, it features a display of marine aquatic life as well as exhibits reflecting the unique character of each island.  There is a 3-dimensional map of the islands outside the bookstore that gives an idea of the shapes of the islands.  If you go up to the 3rd floor, you get a beautiful panoramic view of Ventura and the harbor.

San Nicolas Island, part of the Channel Islands, is the setting for Scott O’Dell’s novel, Island of the Blue Dolphins”.  Foster Library has many copies of the novel along with other items to help you plan your journey to the Channel Islands.

Storytime in your own living room!

Did you miss storytime?  The Library Fairy and storytellers can now be seen reading and signing on CAPS-TV and at
Hear Pete The Cat by Eric Litwin, Neville by Norton Jester, The Napping House by Audrey Wood and more read by your favorite storyteller. Also join the Story Fairy with fingerplays and songs.
We love seeing you at storytimes on Tuesday mornings at 10:30, but if you can't make it, don't miss out on the fun.  Check the listings at CAPS-TV for show times and log onto anytime.
Please help us Stuff the Bus. We are helping to collect back to school items for homeless children returning to school.  Drop off pencils, pens, notebooks, crayons and other school supplies within the next two weeks so there is time to distribute them in time for school.  You can find a bus on both floors of the E.P. Foster Library.

We have a winner!



We really enjoyed putting on our Summer Reading for Adults program. We had so many entries, and so many winners! The grand prize winner was Christina, from Ventura.

Thank you to everyone who participated! We love our readers and we are already making plans for next year. We had many local businesses contribute prizes, and as always, we thank our Friends of the Library for sponsoring our events and contests. Happy reading!


THE POLITICS OF WAR: Absurdity and Economy

THE POLITICS OF WAR: Absurdity and Economy continued.

CATCH 22 by Joseph Heller

      “It was love at first sight”. This is one of those famous opening lines of a novel, if only because it is written about Yossarian, An Army Airforce B-25  bombadier, recovering from a battle wound while based at an island west of Italy in the Medetaranian. It is in reference to his surgeon, a man Yossarian has high respect for.

   There are many avant gaard comments and scenes within the book like this one, designed to both amuse and confuse. In fact, the novel is rife with paradox. For this is the way the U.S. Military is run, you see. The phrase, Catch 22 , is a military rule, the self-contradictory circular reasoning that, for example, prevents one from avoiding combat missions. And it is a general critique of beaurocratic operation and reasoning.

   Here then is basically the catch in Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. The character, Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he were sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and thus didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to.

     Catch-22 says, as one of the other characters would state, “that they have a right to do anything we can’t stop them from doing”. And it becomes illicitly used to maintain a profiteering enterprise by a grass roots elite, who can keep the Base in check with lots of recruits utilizing this Rule while fighting the Germans, especially when missions were added on to a Airman’s schedule, forcing him to stay at the Base longer than his rotation was meant to . The whole point of this was to profit from his pay by giving him shares in the syndicate run by Milo Minderbinder, the squadron’s mess officer. The war thus kind of loses sight to the grander sceme of those who would profit from it.

     Yossarian comes to realize that Catch-22 does not actually exist, but because the powers that be claim it does, and the world believes it does, it nevertheless has potent effects. Indeed, because it does not exist, there is no way for it to be repealed, undone, overthrown or denounced.

   Meanwhile, the syndicate, which is run like a communist/capitalist enterprise, feeds off its shareholders with product they are able to buy on the open market at a higher price but sell at a lower price to the airmen and still make a profit, because they are collecting money from the airmen’s pay for each share of stock they receive. Its kind of like a reverse Ponzi Scheme.

     Milo is one of the most complex figures in the novel, and the syndicate that he heads is one of its most elusive symbols. On the one hand, the syndicate gives Heller an opportunity to parody the economic activity of large-market capitalism. The extraordinary rationalization by which Milo is able to buy eggs for seven cents apiece and sell them for five cents apiece while still turning a profit is one of the most tortuously sublime moments in the novel. On the other hand, it can only be done through this Socialistic Collective.

     Yossarian comes to fear his commanding officers more than he fears the Germans attempting to shoot him down and he feels that "they" are "out to get him." Key among the reasons Yossarian fears his commanders more than the enemy is that as he flies more missions, Colonel Cathcart increases the number of required combat missions before a soldier may return home. He reaches the magic number only to have it retroactively raised. His paranoia is considered irrational by the Base psychiatrist. As he states, “The enemy is anybody who's going to get you killed, no matter which side he's on, and that includes Colonel Cathcart. And don't you forget that, because the longer you remember it, the longer you might live.”

   The lines become blurred as to who the enemy really is when Milo employs German airmen to bomb the encampment at  Pianosa because it will be profitable for the syndicate to do so. This predicament indicates a tension between traditional motives for violence and the modern economic machine, which seems to generate violence simply as another means to profit, quite independent of geographical or ideological constraints. Heller emphasizes the danger of profit seeking by portraying Milo without “evil intent." Milo’s actions are portrayed as the result of greed, not malice.

     This is one of the most hilarious novels to read because it is full of paradoxical pranks. Yossarian soon discovers that he is one of two men who are truly sane at his base. The other is a man named Orr he will not fly with, even though invited to on several occations, because the pilot has a tendency to crash land in the Mediterranean. They share a tent and both are considered to be crazy.

     Orr's motivation throughout, however, is to escape the squadron and the war. He plans to crash land in the sea and make his way to a neutral country where he can wait out the war (which he eventually does). He practices this goal by getting shot down every mission he flies, and so becomes an expert in crash landings, without losing a single crewman. But he is considered crazier than Yossarian because of it. Thus, Orr is the only character in the book who understood how to defeat the law of Catch 22.

     Yossarian, upon hearing that news, grabs an inflatable raft and paddles out into the Medeterranean to finally make his escape. One is left with a sense that there is more to the absurdity of war than just the violence and the killing. It includes a rationale of isolation, greed, sex, opportunism, victimization, abject fear and a growing inability to differentiate between good and evil, madness and sanity.

-Resident Philosopher Doug Taylor

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