Rock talk at the library

My kids love rocks. They carry them in from the yard, collect them as souvenirs on hikes and vacations, even trade their friends for different rocks. It is not unusual for me to find a handful in my younger son's pockets when I'm doing laundry, which is a happy change from what I would find in his pockets when he was obsessed with worms.

The boys are eagerly anticipating an upcoming presentation by John Jackson about rocks, minerals, and fossils at the Ashland Library next Wednesday, Nov. 10, from 4 to 5 p.m. The talk, sponsored by the Friends of the Ashland Public Library, is an after-school event, but all ages are welcome.

Jackson is full of nifty information about rocks and minerals and how we use the earth's resources. Jackson is not a geologist, but admits to being a rock hound, and loves nothing more than sharing his love of rocks with people.

"I like that while I originally aimed the talk at grade school kids, a lot of retirees come and enjoy it, too." he said. "We talk about oil, plastic, and lots of stuff you don't think about but that come out of the ground."

Through his organization, Bugs R Us, Jackson is also shares his knowledge of insects with local children.

"I'm used to talking with kids. I go to a lot of schools and just share my interests in things," he said.

Ashland Library's children's librarian Margie Cicerrella helped organize the event.

"We are so glad John Jackson is doing this event. I think it is going to be really exciting for everyone," she said.

Visitors can see some items used in everyday life that are made from rocks. For example, talc. It's not just that white powdery stuff that smells like a fresh baby bottom, it's a hydrated mineral composed of magnesium silicate.

My son Mason's interest in rocks began with a book he found at the library, "Rocks and Minerals" which is part of the Eyewitness Books series. It is full of huge, bright pictures and easy to understand descriptions of various rocks, where they came from, and even a little trivia. For example, sedimentary rocks are best for skimming stones across lakes because they split easily into disk shapes.

Cicerrella said a number of other Eyewitness books at the library are also good for amateur rock hounds, including "Crystals and Gems," and "Science Earth." The Eyewitness books are easy for almost all reading levels. They offer over a hundred titles on a range of subjects including geology, music, the solar system, and ancient Egypt.

"There are lots of great photographs, too," Cicerrella said.

Jackson also recommended another series, the Golden Guides, a series similar to the Eyewitness books. They are sort of mini-encyclopedias on a variety of topics.

"They are written for school kids, but I use them even now," he said.

Both series can be found in the children's section of the library.

Anyone with a kid who likes rocks, or simply anyone who is interested in the fascinating world of geology, should come to the library and share in Jackson's enthusiasm and knowledge. Jackson points out that while the talk is scientific, it is also a lot of fun.

"Kids love it. I have some really great rocks and fossils, a lot of stuff from around here. I even have fossilized dinosaur poop," he said. Fossilized poop. Well, if he didn't have the full commitment of my 5- and 7-year-old boys before, he does now.

The Ashland Library is located at 410 Siskiyou Blvd. For more information call (541) 774-6995.

Angela Howe-Decker is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach her at

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