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We See You, Taylor Swift: A Staff Review of Her Latest Album Midnights

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Dear Reader,

Many of you may have stayed up at midnight that night eagerly awaiting. You know the night we’re referring to. The night that, after two years of radio silence, Taylor Swift took her fans on a trip of pure nostalgia and surprise disclosures with new recordings, honing in more closely on her career and personal life. 

Songs from Taylor Swift’s highly anticipated 10th album, Midnights, flooded the Billboard Hot 100 chart, making Swift the first artist to fully occupy the Top 10 spots. If that doesn’t tell you how great of an album it is, we don’t know what will!

The country-made-pop singer released Midnights on Oct. 21, 2022 after two years of no new releases. Fans anticipated the new music and followed along as Swift released track titles leading up to the album. The marketing gimmicks and social media posts left people putting puzzle pieces together. 

Have you been on the fence with whether or not to give this new album a shot? Well, welcome to our first review, where several of our staff give their (professional) opinions on her most recent work. 

Check out what staff member Andy had to say after listening to the album for the first time:

“I’ll admit that at first listen I didn’t think the album lived up to all the hype it got pre and post release. I definitely expected a different sound rather than what she gave us, which felt like songs meant for radio (iykyk). The more I listened, the more I changed my mind and grew fond of the work. Even so, with 13 songs and 44 minutes of listening time, I found several songs to fixate on for the following months. “Midnight Rain” stood out to me from the start. It sounded different than any other song on the album and I’m all for unique music. Other favorites include “Maroon,” “Anti-Hero,” and “Karma.” Swift has a way of coming up with catchy and sassy lyrics which I love. I won’t go in depth with the “Midnights (3am Edition)” but I will say that “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve” and “Bigger Than The Whole Sky" stayed on repeat. 

In “Bigger Than The Whole Sky,” it seems as though Swift is referencing miscarriages and child loss. A heavy topic, I think Swift did a beautiful job portraying the emotion behind such a tragedy. In the song she asks, 'Did some force take you because I didn't pray? Every single thing to come has turned into ashes.' The singer/songwriter describes the questions and guilt that pairs with grief, and many fans related to the lyrics, making them go viral on Tiktok. This just goes to show how powerful music is to many. I also use this song as a reminder that Taylor Swift doesn’t only write songs about her love life and boyfriends. She pulls from other life experiences of her own and others. Truly, she does the dang thing! 

The one song on the album I skip every time is “Snow On The Beach” featuring Lana Del Rey. Like many fans, I was so excited to hear Swift mix her sound with that of another artist. Listening to the final product, I think it sounds bland and boring, like it’s putting me to sleep. I also don’t think the feature added much to the song and wish we’d heard more of Rey. 

Coming from someone who absolutely adored the vibes of “Evermore” and “Folklore,” this album wasn’t my favorite by Swift. I remember thinking, ‘hmm, this isn’t what I expected.’ That said, I still applaud Swift for making new hits. From a Swiftie that sadly did not get Taylor Swift tickets, I will continue streaming Midnights and waiting for the re-releases of her older albums.”

Here’s what another staff member had to say about Midnights

“I did not think that ‘becoming a Taylor Swift fan at age 36’ would be on my bingo card set, but here we are. I’ve had the song “Karma” stuck in my head since listening to the album. She goes from a synth pop sound to lofi beats and soft production, and you can tell by the instrumental transition that this is a more serious album. It’s a testament to her ups and downs, and also a celebration of overcoming them. She’s leveled up in this one.” - A.
Also previously skeptical of Taylor Swift’s popularity, A has grown to appreciate the singer’s fresh lens on love. 

“She’s become a stronger and wiser version of herself,” says staff member K in agreement. “Her songs in Midnights are more reflective and come from a place of emotional maturity. I remember when critics of hers would say things like ‘Taylor Swift needs to recognize that maybe she’s the problem in her relationships’, which to me can come off as one-sided, but then in "Anti-Hero" you hear her sing ‘it’s me, hi, I’m the problem’ and I was just like ‘whoa! This is completely different.’ She focuses inward, and with this album she’s all about setting an atmosphere of inviting her listeners to see her vulnerabilities and flaws, rather than setting trends or giving subtle name-drops in her lyrics. 

I also love that the music sounds more moody and subdued than her past albums, almost like it’s a tone that’s self-aware. She asserts her creative agency, using the album as a conduit to help her own her problems, and then begin the process of changing them. It makes perfect sense that this album is titled "Midnights." When do we tend to have the most intricate, inversive, and often painful thoughts that linger and lead us to question the way we do things? In the late hours. 

It’s a beautifully written album. Even if you’re not a TS fan, you’ll surely admire the flowery vernacular and deep examination.”

Convinced to give it a listen? Stream it on our Hoopla app or download it here.



Celebrate Black History Month With These Monumental Reads

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Here at the library, the preservation of history remains one of the most important tasks to this day. In addition, we strive to make sure that equal representation of all aspects of history are reflected in our collection and that everyone has equal access to the items within. This is why amongst the shelves you’ll find historical books on the lives and experiences of every American, as well as different perspectives of those who bore witness to major events in our nation.

In February, we celebrate Black History Month! During this month, we focus on the accounts of Black Americans, both contemporary and past. Ranging from education to science to the civil rights movement, this is the time where we highlight and pay homage to their accomplishments. According to the American Library Association, Black History Month was founded in 1925 by Carter G. Woodson, a distinguished Black author and historian who wanted to raise awareness of Black Americans’ contributions to civilization. His inclusion efforts helped inspire and pave the way for diversity in America to be commemorated. Now librarians, educators, community leaders, and others annually dedicate the month of February–when it was first celebrated in 1926–as Black History Month, and it is officially recognized by the entire country. 
This year’s laudatory theme for Black History Month is Black Resistance. The purpose of this theme, states the Association for the Study of African American Life, is to take a  “multidisciplinary look at how {Black} people in a variety of careers and capacities resisted oppression in order to make strides forward” and is “a call to everyone, inside and outside the academy, to study the history of Black Americans’ responses to establish safe spaces, where Black life can be sustained, fortified, and respected.”

We love being able to have a well-rounded assembly of stories that share pivotal moments in our history, so we want to share some books from our collection that are great choices for Black History Month, featuring Black authors and notable Black Americans (many of these are Coretta Scott King Book Award recipients!): 

Children’s Literature

Juvenile Fiction & Nonfiction

Young Adult Novels

Adult Fiction & Nonfiction

For more information, be sure to visit, where you can find lesson plans, student activities, research aids, book guides, and more! 


The Best Valentine's Day Gifts for Book Lovers

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If your loved one makes frequent visits to the library, there’s a good chance they may be a book lover. And if they love borrowing books, there’s an equally good chance they like receiving them as gifts. If that sounds like the love language of your partner or spouse, then we have good news for you! Whether you are a fan of Valentine’s Day or prefer to skip the holiday altogether, we can help you think of some sweet gift ideas to give to your book-loving sweetheart for any occasion! 

Let’s not forget about those of us who are single and loving life that way, too. During this holiday season you may want to surprise friends, coworkers, or family members (or even your pets, because they’re family too) with a thoughtful present! And who says you can’t buy flowers and chocolates for yourself? However, with all the couples and newlyweds celebrating this day, Valentine’s Day can be a time where some people understandably feel left out. If you know someone who might need a pick-me-up, here’s a possible solution for that: our lovely list below shows 14 different ways you can treat yourself or another, because no matter their relationship status, everyone deserves something nice–including you! 

Book Bath Caddy
With this caddy, you don’t have to worry about getting a book wet when you want to read in the bath. There’s also space to put food, a glass of wine, candles, or anything else you think pairs well with a relaxing soak.

Paddywax Candles Library Collection 
Yes, book-scented candles are actually a thing, and they smell delightful! Check out these Jane Austen-themed fragrances made with eco-friendly ingredients.

Magnetic Poetry Book Lover Kit
Containing over 200 themed magnetic word tiles, you can rearrange the words to write cute poems or messages!

Lake Champlain Classic Chocolate Bar Library Gift Box
This gift box made in Vermont has six assorted chocolates, comes packaged like a little mobile library, and is tied with a satin ribbon.

“‘What I Love About You’ By Me” Personalized Book
Express how you feel in this unique book with fill-in-the-blank lines. This is a good gift for those who love words of affirmation!

Crystal Bookends 
Beautify your book lover’s bookshelf with these agate bookends, available in six colors! 

Handcrafted Bookmark 
The best bookmarks are accessorized bookmarks! Check out this and other uniquely handcrafted bookmarks on Etsy.

Decorative Book Tote Bag 
Are you a true book lover if you don’t have a tote bag just for your giant haul of books? Plus, its user gets the benefit of owning a reusable bag. 

Booktok Journal
Log your reading history with this trendy journal featuring book recommendations from TikTok’s #booktok subcommunity. 

Custom Book Print Wall Art
Surprise your book lover with a customized print of their top-shelf favorites! This is also a special way to showcase beautiful artwork that isn't store-bought.  

Gift Card to Your Local Bookstore
If you know your partner loves to visit Books-A-Million or Barnes & Noble, a gift card might be just the thing for them! Better yet, look for an indie bookstore in your area and support them by getting a gift card from there. Conway’s Book Traders Bookstore and WordsWorth Books of Little Rock are great picks!

Book Flower Bouquet
Short on funds, or want to give your loved one a bouquet of flowers with a twist? You can create your own DIY flower bouquet made out of book pages!

Tequila Mockingbird Literary Cocktail Book
For our 21 and ups only! This cocktail book provides 65 of the finest recipes based on literary classics. 


Fall In Love With Reading Again During National Library Lovers Month

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You might not have known this, but here’s a fun fact: February is National Library Lovers Month! This month is dedicated for all the bibliophiles of the world (for our avid vocabulary learners, “bibliophile” is a fancy term for “book lover”) and the people who love and depend on local libraries for building literacy skills, accessing information, and bringing the community together. Libraries are not only a treasure trove of ideas, but a way for people to share those ideas within a safe and inclusive space. That’s just one of the many reasons why we love them so much! 

You’ll have to excuse us for the cheesy title, but since Valentine’s Day is coming up, we wanted to share some ways that you can fall in love with reading books again or transform into a first-time library lover. Not everyone is into literature, and that’s totally okay. Maybe books just aren’t your thing, or because of a busy schedule, you’ve found it difficult to fit reading into any free time you have. Maybe you’re a graduate student and now that you have a hefty required reading list, you’ve become burnt out on books–even the fun fiction ones you used to check out in bulk. 

Whatever your struggle may be, here are some effective ways to get started with or get back into the habit of reading for leisure: 

1. Start small: read graphic novels. Yes, that includes comics. These books are for all ages to enjoy. They are also a good alternative for people who may need help with constructive imaginative thinking or who experience social imagination difficulties that can come with autism. Many chapter books have graphic novel adaptations nowadays too, so you can read familiar favorites in a quicker format when you’re under time constraints! And, of course, don’t sleep on audiobooks!!

2. Try books that reflect your life and daily experiences: being able to make connections to topics that mirror who you are (or who you want to be) when you read is a great way to stay engaged. If you love regular visits to the coffee shop or art museum, look for a book with those things in the plot. If there’s a passion project you’ve been wanting to do, see what books are available on the subject–they often come with tips on how to stay motivated in the midst of a hectic lifestyle! A book we highly recommend to reclaim your creativity is Find Your Unicorn Space by Eve Rodsky. 

On the contrary, we often read to escape reality. If that’s the case for you, ask your librarians for fantasy recommendations! Another great source is, where you can search for books by genre, popularity, and other categories.

3. Change your setting: just like it can be hard to finish a school or work assignment in a place with many distractions, it can also be hard to get into the reading zone when there’s other things commanding your attention. Try switching to somewhere quiet with minimal disruptions, like a study room at the library or a spacious park; you’d be surprised how much this can make a difference in your level of concentration!

4. Get to know your own reading style: aside from selecting books that cater to your interests, it’s good to know what your reading preferences and limits are. Do you like a lot of detail and description? Go for an author like J.R.R. Tolkien. Are you wanting a fast-paced comfort read that isn’t 400 pages long? Try someone like Emily Henry or Sally Rooney. As action-packed as the movies you watch? Clive Cussler could be the one. If you want contemporary English with relatable, modern subject matter, maybe not Shakespeare, but instead a significantly younger writer like Rainbow Rowell. 

5. Develop a routine: we know, that’s easier said than done. But if you can dedicate even 10 minutes to reading per day, whether in the morning before work or at night when the kids are asleep, it still counts! Just getting a few pages in daily can help you build up regular reading skills over time. Setting a notification on your phone or jotting it down on your calendar can be a good reminder! Set a timer while you’re reading. After that, you’ll become a more efficient reader. 

We hope these suggestions work well for you! If you’ve settled on a book you think you might like, don’t forget to check our catalog at and place a hold on it so a copy can get to you more efficiently too!