Ames Free Library

"Where the Community Connects"


Our service hours are Monday - Saturday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Email us at or call 508-238-2000

Our phones are very busy! If you are having trouble reaching us via phone, send us an email or use the chat box on the left.


Appointment-based window pickups of reserved material and external book drop

Reservation-based, 45-minute computer, printer, and scanner use

Online programs, plus eBooks, audiobooks, and databases for all ages

Returns: Book drop (located near handicapped parking spaces) is now open for all returns - returned items will be quarantined for several days prior to check-in. Fines for materials due 3/1/2020 - 7/31/2020 are waived.

TED Talks Thursdays

"Ideas worth spreading" is the motto of TED Talks, an ongoing series of brief but riveting videos from experts around the globe.
Given that the spread of worthy ideas is so much more to be desired than the viral spread we are currently facing, take some time off your worries to think about our situation in a different way.
All of these ideas are curated and brought to you by Uma Hiremath!
TED Talks Thursdays, August 6, 2020

"If you look to others for fulfillment, you will never truly be fulfilled" says the Tao. In this light but thoughtful 13-minute TED talk, Joseph Gordon-Levitt meditates on how big business has structured social media so that we are addicted to looking to others for fulfillment. The bittersweet charms of "being liked" or getting a thumbs up emoji on social media are here to stay; usage has rocketed from just about 5% in 2005 to 72% in the most recent 2019 Pew survey.
Gordon-Levitt should know; this 39-year old actor, filmmaker and founder of an online community  has been getting our attention since he began his acting career at the age of 4. In his musings on social media as an addiction for more and more attention, he gently slips in the idea that paying attention could lead to a more creative life than getting attention.

TED Talks Thursdays, July 30, 2020

Over two years ago, Harvard psychologist and author, Susan David, delivered a popular TED talk on "the gift and power of emotional courage." Her book, Emotional Agility,  went on to be a bestseller. 

In these ongoing COVID times, when the Jekyll of staying positive is in continuous battle with the Hyde of rising sickness and death, her talk is timely! 

The goal of avoiding the "tyranny of positivity" and having constant "secret silent correspondence" with oneself to accept that "discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life" is unabashedly motivational. For me though, the unexpected attraction was in the lyrical ways she merged personal storytelling with professional analyses.

TED Talks Thursdays, July 23, 2020

One of the pleasures of TED talks is their ability to tickle your brain into investing in unexpected recesses of the larger world around you. You might, for example, have zero interest in the subject of city flags. Or that there exists a tongue-rolling word like vexillology, the study of flags. And yet....!
And yet within the space of 18 minutes, radio producer Roman Mars charmingly tempts you into perhaps checking out Easton's flag and then moving farther into the principles of effective design and their subterranean value in our everyday lives. 
Be prepared for some gentle seduction in "Why city flags may be the worst designed thing you never noticed"!

TED Talks Thursdays, July 16, 2020

"The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete."

In her typically clear-eyed, wry, and hard-hitting style, novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie talks of "The Danger of the Single Story."

Using personal anecdotes to illustrate larger truths, this 18-minute talk is a bracingly restorative reminder to consciously look for the many stories that make each of us human.

TED Talks Thursdays, July 9, 2020

With most of the world trying to work in not-quite-normal situations, Shawn Achor's popular 12-minute pep talk on '"The Happy Secret to Better Work" might just hit the spot.
He prods one to revisit the chicken-or-egg question on whether productivity sparks happiness or the other way around. And he is rapid-fire funny!

TED Talks Thursdays, July 2, 2020

This 17 minute talk is not for the faint of heart and great for those who trust in unvarnished truths! When 22-year old aspiring war correspondent Suleika Jaouad graduated from Princeton to take on the world, her life path changed abruptly with a crippling diagnosis of leukemia.
In this tightly constructed rumination on "what almost dying taught me about living,Suleika unsparingly excavates the truth of finding ways to move forward in that "in-between place." As she reminds us, health is not binary and all of us will travel back and forth between the porous walls of being sick and well. Ouch.
TED Talks Thursdays, June 25, 2020

Cave drawings testify to art as one of the earliest forms of communication and the recording of human history. With the evolution of language scripts, most of us have forgotten our innate fluency in "the language of pictures."

In less than 13 minutes, artist, author and animator Christoph Neumann reminds us of our skill in making "radical leaps with images". For those who have enjoyed Christoph's New Yorker magazine covers, his mastery in unearthing our shared experiences with whimsy, wit and empathic minimalism are in full display!

TED Talks Thursdays, June 18, 2020

 In 2008, I was forever hooked on TED Talks after listening to this old-but-gold classic. Watch neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor study her own brain as it suffers a massive stroke and shuts her body functions one by one. 
In just 18 minutes, "My Stroke of Insight" provides that rare example of intellect and experience merging in perfect articulation.

TED Talks Thursdays, June 11, 2020
Call me biased; but when you hear books being called a "magic portal," the lure to share is quite irresistible!
In this 6-minute love letter to the art of reading, Dr. Lisa Bu charmingly describes "How Books Can Open Your Mind."
Her novel approach to comparative reading makes one want to discover "books in pairs" that uniquely connect past and present, East and West, highbrow and lowbrow.

TED Talks Thursdays, June 4, 2020

O tempora, o mores! 8 minutes and 46 seconds is the time it took for the killing of George Floyd. It has been followed by long days of anger, fear, frustration and desperation around the country.
In a prescient 12 minute TED talk given over a year ago, Phillip Atiba Goff provides a cogent argument for defining racism as behaviors rather than feelings. Behaviors can be measured; maybe controlled? Therein lies the appeal of this widely circulated talk.

TED Talks Thursdays, May 28, 2020

In these pandemic times where our routines and beliefs have been dramatically upended, we are more attuned to see threat and opportunity in all aspects of life. It seems timely, then, to hear Dr. Ruairi Robertson's 2015 talk on gut biomes as an opportunity to boost personal immunity.

"Food  for Thought: How your Belly Controls your Brain" is an engaging account of how our "incidental war on gut bacteria has encouraged global diseases" and how we should be "restoring the relationship between microbes and man." Fascinating!

TED Talks Thursdays, May 21, 2020
Sir Ken Robinson's 2006 viral talk "Do Schools Kill Creativity" has been viewed over 60 million times, more than any other in TED talk history!
He returns in 2010 for yet another thoughtful deliberation, "Bring On the Learning Revolution," delivered in his inimitable and endearingly witty style. 
You may or may not agree with him; but you cannot help fall headlong into his charm and depth of thinking on life as an organic process unsuited to linear learning.   

TED Talks Thursdays, May 14, 2020

You are stuck in the house. You have a smart phone. You make a movie in the course of one night that is watched by over 10 million people! Welcome to the next generation.

In this 15-minute talk, online sensation Zach King tells us how "The Storyteller in All of Us" can, and should, be instantly gratified.
The 6-second "magic" video that he demonstrates in the talk can be seen on his YouTube channel.

TED Talks Thursdays, May 7, 2020

"We live in a vulnerable world," said Professor Brené Brown back in the BC era (before corona).
It seems timely, then, to once again view this intimate, wise and droll 20-minute talk on "The Power of Vulnerability" from someone who does not believe that "cussing and praying are mutually exclusive."

TED Talks Thursdays, April 30, 2020

Poetry matters. Or does it? You be the judge.

With infectious vitality and heartwarming sincerity, spoken-word poet Sarah Kay recites two of her poems in a 2011 TED talk that has since gone viral.
It seems only fitting to conclude National Poetry Month during a pandemic, with this 18 minute presentation by a poet who believes that "people find poetry when they need to."

TED Talks Thursdays, April 23, 2020

Us. How did we become us? How do people see us? How do all those thoughts churning in our heads and those emotions surging in our bodies get communicated to people?
Speech and body language, say this week's TED speakers.
In less than 10 minutes, author and expert Julian Treasure lists the seven deadly sins of speaking and provides tools to "Speak so that people want to listen."
At 21 minutes, in a much-debated talk, social psychologist Amy Cuddy provides a different set of tools on how "Your body language may shape who you are."
Most seductive of all, their talks suggest that each one of us has the ability to communicate more effectively. Now that's an idea worth checking out!

TED Talks Thursdays, April 16, 2020

Procrastination is one of those internal human dramas that create emotional whirlpools ranging from anxiety and self-flagellation to creative bursts of sudden productivity. We have all procrastinated at some point in our lives or, worse, had to deal with congenital procrastinators.
In less than 14 irreverent and insightful minutes, popular blogger Tim Urban introduces us to the Instant Gratification Monkey who helps us understand "what goes on in the head of a procrastinator". 
You could watch it now. Or maybe later?

TED Talks Thursdays, April 9, 2020

Happiness. Philosophers from Aristotle to the Dalai Lama have tried to define it. Million dollar industries have sprung up to deliver it. Poems, songs and fables have been devoted to it. The mountain kingdom of Bhutan has codified an entire index of Gross Domestic Happiness to measure it. 
As with the concepts of "Fear" and "Hope" that we saw in the last two TED choices, "Happiness" is another central tenet of the human condition.We know it when we feel it. We want to know it better. We continue on an unending quest to figure it.
Here to help us is Harvard psychologist, Dan Gilbert. In this 21 minute video from 2004, Gilbert argues "The Surprising Science of Happiness" in a presentation that is equal parts scientific, funny and thought-provoking.
TED Talks Thursdays, April 2, 2020
It was Maya Angelou who said "Hope and fear cannot occupy the same space. Invite one to stay." We gave space to "Fear" at last Thursday's TED presentation. This week we shall invite "Hope" to stay.
In this 15 minute video from 2018, check out MIT Professor Hugh Herr. He lost both his legs in a mountain climbing accident in 1982 but strongly held on to the hope that "a human can never be broken."
As you can see, far from being broken, Professor Herr extends human potential to unimaginable limits!

TED Talks Thursdays, March 26, 2020
In the first 8 1/2 minute video from 2015, Bill Gates proposes the need to establish a global health system that can simulate "germ games" instead of "war games," while cautioning that "time is not on our side." Truer words were never spoken!
In the second 11 1/2 minute video from 2012, author Karen Thompson Walker argues how fear, (yes, the stuff we are all feeling right now!) can be seen as "unintentional storytelling" and a way to make decisions.
Both videos can be viewed within 30 minutes and make for hours of thoughtful discussions - so go ahead and give it a try. 
See you next Thursday with a new set of mind-revving ideas worth spreading.
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