Friday, December 29, 2006

Celebrate the New Year!

It’s almost New Year’s Eve, so get your noisemakers and streamers ready! If you are heading to the First Night Austin celebration, keep an eye out for your friendly neighborhood librarians and a few of your favorite book characters in the parade! The schedule for First Night includes a variety of art, music, dance, film, spoken word, and fireworks.

Then, as the clock strikes midnight, many people will hear the traditional Scottish ballad "Auld Lang Syne" written by the poet Robert Burns. Here are the first two stanzas of the poem according to the Litfinder database:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to min'?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear.
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

Happy New Year! And remember that the library will be closed on Monday for New Years Day.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Leftover Turkey Recipe

The Library will be closed Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. Here is recipe to try Tuesday with your turkey leftvovers. The recipe for Turkey White Bean Soup is from the January 2005 Good Housekeeping. You can find more recipes in cooking magazines using the Libary's Masterfile database.

Prep 15 minutes · Cook about 25 minutes
Makes about 8 cups or 4 main-dish servings2 tablespoons olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, crushed with press
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
Pinch dried rosemary, crumbled
2 cans (15 to 19 ounces each) white beans, rinsed
and drained (use small white beans, cannellini,
chickpeas, navy beans, or any combination)
1 can (28 ounces) plum tomatoes in juice
1 can (14 to 14 1/2 ounces) chicken broth (1 3/4 cups)
1 bag (6 ounces) baby spinach, arugula, and
shredded carrot blend or 1 bag (5 to 6 ounces)
baby spinach
1 1/2 cups (½-inch pieces) leftover roast turkey meat
(8 ounces)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. In 5-quart saucepot, heat oil over medium-low heat. Add garlic, salt, crushed red pepper, and rosemary, and cook until garlic begins to turn golden brown, about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in beans, tomatoes with their juice, and broth; heat to boiling over high heat, breaking up tomatoes with side of spoon. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 20 minutes.

2.Stir in spinach blend and turkey; heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 5 minutes or until spinach wilts and turkey is heated through. Serve in soup bowls and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Some Recent Reads from the Stacks - Part II

The lost years of William S. Burroughs: beats in South Texas by Rob Johnson (2006, Texas A&M University Press). This period of Burroughs' life has not been examined so closely before, and it's a time of particular interest to Burroughs readers in the Lone Star State. Details of WSB and friend Kells Elvin's farming operation and the deaths of his wife (accidental shooting by Burroughs) and friend Gene Terry (mauled by a lion in a border nightclub) are given full treatment. Burroughs, who died in 1997 at his home in Lawrence, Kansas, is the author of Naked Lunch, Junky, Queer, Cities of the Red Night, and other groundbreaking books. Norman Mailer said "Burroughs is the only American novelist living today who may conceivably be possessed by genius." Author Johnson is associate professor at the University of Texas Pan American in Edinburg.

Counting sheep: the science and pleasures of sleep and dreams by Paul Martin (2004, Thomas Dunne Books). This isn't at all a book to put you to sleep. It's more likely one that'll keep you reading up into the wee hours, when you should be catching some zzz's. All sorts of minutiae about sleep and dreams is here -- why your body and mind demand them both, and what can happen if you don't get enough of either. Hypnagogic versus hypnopompic states, REM, NREM, EEOG, PET, and more. They're explored here in all their fascinating glory, along with tons of literary and historical anecdotes. I'm not a big one for popular science books, but this one more than held my interest all the way through. Recommended!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Some Recent Reads from the Stacks

Rogue state: a guide to the world's only superpower by William Blum (2005, Common Courage Press) - A new edition of the book cited by Osama Bin Laden as the one to read to understand international politics. Bin Laden mentioned this title in one of his audio tape releases earlier this year. Other Blum titles at APL include:

Poems of Catullus (2005, University of California Press) - Bawdy versification from the 1st century B.C.E., a favorite of Charles Bukowski and others. "The infamous Latin poet could turn quite the vulgar phrase when insulting his enemies or boasting about his sexual prowess" (Publisher's Weekly). This recent edition presents the poems in both Latin and English. Also by this author look for: Poems of love and hate (2004, Bloodaxe Books).

Monday, December 18, 2006

Party Conversation

After leaving a party, if you worry that conversation with friends and family has not touched on any serious or deep subject, keep in mind what Marcel Proust wrote in a letter shortly before he died. He penned, "Cher ami, We talk too much about serious things. Serious conversation is intended for people who have no intellectual life. People like the three of us, on the contrary, who have an intellectual life need frivolity when they escape from themselves and from hard inner labor. We should, as you say, talk about all the little things and leave philosophy to solitidue". This excerpt is from a new book available at Austin Public Library titled, The Letters of Marcel Proust, 2006.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Friendly books!

You're at the Faulk Central Library downtown, making your way to the check-out desk with your stack of books and CDs. You can be also waiting for your reservation to come up on the express Internet stations on the Library's 1st floor. While in line, don't forget to take a look at the Friends of the Library book sale shelves. You can find more reading material to take home for a small contribution to the Friends of the Austin Public Library, and these books are yours to keep! Your contribution, $1 for each paperback, $2 for hardcover, helps fund various projects in the Austin Public Library system. The books you see on the sale shelves in the Library are only a small sample of what you can find at the Monster Book Store at 1800 South 5th Street.

Occasionally you can happen upon a real gem on the Friends sale shelves in the Library, but for the really good stuff, you'll have to visit the Monster Book Store. They have limited hours of operation (Wednesdays 10 am to 2 pm, Thursdays 7 pm to 9 pm, and Saturdays 9 am to 3 pm) but it's worth working a visit into your schedule if you can. Moreover, every Thursday evening you can buy 2 for 1. Offer applies to $1 and $2 books (which is the lion's share of the stock), media, specially priced boxes of books, encyclopedia sets, and other complete series. The two-for-one offer doesn't apply to select "better" books, to book bags, or to memberships.

You can also visit the Friends of the Austin Public Library website for more information.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Post It!

Do you want to advertise a non-profit event on the Faulk Central Library bulletin boards? Submit a poster or a flyer to the second-floor reference desk, and we’ll post it for you. It’ll stay up three weeks or until your event is over, whichever comes first. Here are some hints for getting your poster noticed:
  • Make it colorful. Stop people in their tracks.
  • Figure out a way people can take your info with them without having to get out a pen and paper; for example:
    -Make tear-off tabs at the bottom of the poster with a date or a phone number or a web page. Cut them so they come off easily. Those tabs disappear fast.
    -Fold up the bottom of the poster, staple the edges to make a pocket, and insert small, easy-to-grab handouts.
  • Bigger is better, but not too big, please. Only one copy of a flyer will be accepted for posting.

We don’t post religious, personal, commercial, or political notices; the boards are just for tax-supported or non-profit educational, cultural, and government activities and events. For more information about posting, read our policy online.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

APL Answers

Google has decided to abandon its 4-year-old service, Google Answers, which hired researchers to answer questions on everything from school homework to business plan ideas. Google's service required its users to pay a researcher anywhere from $2 to $200. The company collected a 50-cent commission on each question, with the remainder going to the researchers who responded to the question. Yahoo started a competing service last year that lets people ask questions and get responses from other Yahoo users for free, and this service has been much more popular. The Austin Public Library also has a free online answer service, and we encourage everyone to use it. Ask A Librarian provides brief answers, research help, Web sources, and information about the Library's collection, databases, services, online catalog, and customers' Library accounts.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Traveling Librarian went to the National Library of Costa Rica!

As you can imagine, I was very lucky to go on a trip to Costa Rica this past November. This is a country of exuberant natural beauty and warm people that everyone should visit. While in San José, the capital of the country, I got to visit the National Library Miguel Obregón Lizano. The library was founded in 1888, and it has had different locations through the years, the final location being a glass and iron building constructed in 1968. The National Library compiles all the materials published in the country in every format: books, periodicals, maps and audiovisuals. This library also has a collection of antique books and periodicals of great historical value. Its collection of Costa Rican books measures 188,355 volumes and 920 titles of periodicals dating back to 1883.

This library is open to all, but it mainly serves academic researchers. Because of the characteristics of its collection, the books can only be used in the library. Its big glass walls make patrons feel like they are working in a very open and clean space with enough light to feel comfortable studying or reading. Art exhibits are often shown in this library, so, if you go to Costa Rica, include this library in your itinerary!

Be Prepared!

Flat tire: two highly irritating words, especially after work on Friday when it’s freezing outside.

Luckily the library has lots of resources to help you learn how to fix a flat, maintain your car, or deal with breakdowns. Here are just a few:

  • Popular mechanics complete car care manual (629.2872 PO)
  • Auto mechanics: an introduction and guide (629.2 LI)
  • Dare to repair your car: a do-it-herself guide to maintenance, safety, minor fix-its, and talking shop (629.2872 SU)

You say you’re way beyond just fixing the basics? Check out our Chilton Repair Manuals or visit the Auto Repair Reference Center online database. You can access the database at any library location or remotely with a library card number.

And, if your poor vehicle is just not salvageable, our collection of Consumer Reports will help you select a new one with ease. Locate a print copy using FindIt or read articles online using the eJournal Locator and our databases. If you need help, just Ask a Librarian!


The Americans and British have a different attitude toward great literature. This past spring the New York Times Book Review's group of judges selected the best American novel in the last 25 years. Beloved by Toni Morrison (1987) was no. 1, and the runners-up were Underworld by Don DeLillo(1997), Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy (1985), Rabbit Angstrom: The Four Novels by John Updike (1995), and American Pastoral by Philip Roth (1997). This past October the British newspaper, The Observer, selected the best novels in the English language, excluding American titles. Disgrace by JM Coetzee (1999) was no. 1, and the runners-up were Money by Martin Amis (1984), Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess (1980), Atonement by Ian McEwan (2001), The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald (1995), The Unconsoled (1995) by
Kazuo Ishiguro, and Midnight's Children (1981) by Salman Rushdie. Although I have not read them all, my personal favorite is the Rabbit Angstrom quartet - Rabbit Run, Rabbit Redux, Rabbit is Rich, and Rabbit at Rest - by John Updike.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Holiday Music

Beginning the day after Thanksgiving, we begin to hear holdiay music on the radio, in stores, and in TV commercials. One of the all-time favorites that has been played to death since it first appeared in 1942 is White Christmas, written by Irving Berlin. The song is the lament of a Northerner stuck in California, who is complaining about spending Christmas under palm trees. When the song appeared in 1942, millions of Americans were fighting overseas. So in time it came to represent the longing for an old-fashioned Christmas in a world at peace. You can find many versions of this song and lots of other holiday music on cd at the Austin Public Library. In the catalog's search box, type "christmas music and cd", "carols and cd", "hanukkah and cd", or "kwanzaa and cd". Many branches have a copy of the Circle of Light: a Mult-Cultural Holiday Celebration, a cd recorded at the fire station in San Marcos in 2000, and which is sung in various languages.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

'Tis the Season

‘Tis the season of giving. In fact, the average consumer spends $700 around the holidays, so here are some tips on how to be a smart shopper. Plan ahead before you buy, avoid impulse purchases, and try not to buy things on sale that you don’t really need. Sales and coupons aren't gifts from the shopping gods, but ruses designed to get you into the store. One recent study found that coupon-clipping supermarket shoppers spent 8% more than the coupon-free. Use a debit card or cash if possible. Of the $400 billion that Americans spend each holiday season, roughly a third goes onto already-overburdened credit cards, according to the National Retail Federation. Websites that can help you plan your purchases are: Pricegrabber, Shopzilla; and Consumer Reports in the Library’s Masterfile database.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Everything Austin Online!

Wouldn’t it be nice if someone gathered all the Austin information into one place? Wish no more! The Austin History Center librarians have compiled a portal to all the facts about Austin you could ever want to know. Add Everything Austin to your Favorites list for easy access to information about education, jobs, government, neighborhoods, real estate, sports, transportation, weather, population statistics, media, history, family, clubs and associations, business, arts, and even other sites that talk about Austin.

Below is just a small sampling of the wealth of information you can find:

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Get the book you want!

Would you like to receive a friendly email notifying you that the book you have been wanting to read is waiting for you at your branch? For example, you could place a hold on a New York Times bestseller such as Stephen King's new romance, Lisey's Story, Charles Frazier's new historical novel, Thirteen Moons, John Grisham's first nonfiction title, The Innocent Man, or, in anticipation of Thanksgiving, Amy Sedaris' I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence.

Log into the catalog in the upper right part of the screen with your Library Card bar code number and your Library PIN.

If you don't have a PIN, you can create one under "My Account."

Find the item in the catalog, then place a hold by following these instructions.
1. Click on the "Details/Place Hold" and/or "Place Hold" buttons.
2. Select the branch where you want to pick it up.
3. Click on the "Place Hold" button.
You will be contacted by email or mail when the item is ready to be picked up. The item will be held 10 days after the date of the email or mail.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Cause for Celebration!

We would like to thank the citizens of Austin for voting “YES” on Proposition 6. We will get our new downtown Central Library! This bond will pay for the construction and outfitting of a new Central Library facility and acquiring the land for it.

Among other things this new library will provide improved technology; program and exhibit space for the community and cultural events; dedicated program space for teens and kids; increased parking (!); and greater research and circulating collections augmenting branch collections.

We appreciate your steadfastness in supporting our efforts of getting a new Central Library and can’t wait to open the doors in 2012! See you there!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Reflections on the Texas Book Festival 2006

On Saturday, my husband and I attended the panel discussion on Hurricane Katrina in the House Chamber and got to sit in the big soft chairs on floor of the House. Douglas Brinkley talked about his book The Great Deluge (get the book, read the book, be the book). He sat on a panel with other Katrina authors including Ivor van Heerden (The Storm: What Went Wrong during Hurricane Katrina), a Louisiana scientist who minced no words. (Question from the audience: "I went back to my house and everything smells like an oil spill. Are there abatement programs or studies being done?" Van Heerden: "No.")

That afternoon we saw Lawrence Wright (The Looming Tower) talking about what led up to 9/11. He spoke mostly about his sources: he was able to get excellent information from very violent people who horrified him.

Sunday’s seminar was the most fun: Lou Dubose and Jake Bernstein talked about their new book, Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency. I leave it to you to imagine the tone of the discussion. Suffice to say that Laura Bush might have thought twice about founding this book festival eleven years ago if she'd known where the publishing industry was heading.

The picture of the dancers was taken in front of the capitol building in the late morning.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Mini-Monster Book Sale!

This weekend, November 4 & 5, the Friends of the Austin Public Library are hosting a Mini-Monster Book Sale at the Monster Book Store! Come find that long, lost, childhood book you treasured as a child or the missing encyclopedia volume from your collection. There will be books, CDs, records, software, DVDs, and videos galore. Most of the items will sell for $1 - $2 and will benefit the Library!

While you’re there, consider joining the Friends of the Austin Public Library. The friends group is a non-profit that provides volunteers and financial support to the Library throughout the year. They are also steadfast in promoting reading and literacy in the community.

We look forward to seeing you this weekend at the Mini-Monster Book Sale!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Library Lingo: Volume 4

The last installment of the the Library Lingo glossary!

Pharos – an automated, self-service computer reservation and printing system, which ensures fair access to all users.

PIN - password consisting of a 4-10 digit number created by users allowing access to library account information such as books checked out, fines, and due dates, and the ability to renew or hold an item.

Reference book – book designed to be consulted for specific information rather than to be read completely. Reference books usually cannot be checked out (circulated). You can tell a reference book by its call number, which will start with "R".

Reference desk - service area or information desk in the library where customers can get help from library staff in using the library, locating library materials, searching library databases and answering general questions.

Reference librarian - specialist in the field of information retrieval, and often in other subject areas as well. Reference librarians have a Master's degree in Library Science or Information Studies, and help users find materials needed for research, show them how to use and evaluate various resources, and teach workshops and classes about the research process.

Stacks – area of the library where most of the books are shelved. Materials are arranged by call numbers.

Subject heading - term or phrase which describes the subject content of a work. Searching by a subject heading is more precise than a keyword search.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Halloween Hype

There’s yet another version of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre in the theaters just in time for Halloween. But, do you know the real story? There wasn’t really a Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but the Daily Variety (October 25, 1974) reports that the horrifying deeds of Wisconsin farmer and serial killer Ed Gein may have helped "inspire" the film.

"Texas Chainsaw Massacre never happened," says Austin Robert Burns, who was art director for the movie. "Parts of it were vaguely suggested by a fellow named Ed Gein. In 1957, Ed Gein, who lived in a small town in Wisconsin, murdered and decapitated two women and wrapped their heads in wax paper and put them on a shelf. He also robbed 10 or 12 graves. He was a weird guy. He's in a home for the criminally insane right now. But there was no such event as the Texas Chainsaw massacre."

For more about the movie, check out:
You can also find other fictional horror stories to keep you up all night on the Library's Good Reads page.

Sniff, sniff… Smells like a book burning!

Two weeks ago, a thousand books from the local public library were burned in a town called Maria Grande in Argentina. The books were apparently discarded and the order to burn them was issued by the local government. The neighbors, however, claimed that the books had historic and cultural value and they rescued 400 of the books. This unfortunate episode brings to mind similar incidents through history where books were burned around the world under different circumstances.

Books have been set afire mainly because of moral, political, and religious reasons. Usually, the books that get burned are considered heretical, blasphemous, subversive, obscene and/or immoral by different social groups. The book burnings serve as a tool to impose censorship and to limit freedom of expression.

An example of a notable book burning in history is the one in Germany in 1933 when about 20,000 “un-German” books were thrown in to a big fire set by the Nazis with the purpose of cleaning the German culture. A more recent event happened in 2000 at the University of California Berkeley, where protesters burned books by Dan Flynn to manifest their opposition to the author’s ideas. Book burnings can be found since the beginning of history around the world; if you want to find out more information about this topic check out the following resources:

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Library Lingo: Volume 3

The third volume of the library glossary...

Interlibrary Loan (ILL) - service which allows patrons to request books and articles from other libraries outside the Austin Public Library system if the material is not available at their home Library. More information can be read here.

Keyword – word that best describes what you’re searching for. For example, “poodle” could be a keyword; however, the word “dog” will give you a wider search result. A keyword search will retrieve items or articles that have the keyword in the title, subject, author, or content notes.

Microform - printed material that has been photographed and reduced to a film format to help preserve the material and decrease the space needed for storage. Special equipment is needed to read stored information. Typical formats include microfilm and microfiche.

Non-circulating - any library material that cannot be checked out. Such materials are often labeled "Library Use Only.” Reference books are non-circulating.

Online catalog - searchable, computerized database of materials owned by a library and displaying the call number and location of the material.

Oversize books – books too large to fit on regular shelving. Most Library locations shelve the OS books separately. The “OS” is part of the call number.

Friday, October 20, 2006

I'll take Entertainment for $500, Alex

Get ready for your next trivia night by checking out our Fugitive Facts. Our reference staff researches answers to all kinds of questions. Check out what we’ve found on local information, entertainment, national information, culture and sciences. Here’s just a sample of what you’ll find:

What is the theme music for the Alfred Hitchcock T.V. series called?
"Funeral March of a Marionette" by Charles Gounod.

Where did the three symbolic monkeys--see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil--come from?
The original three wise monkeys are found over a door in Nikko, Japan. Collectively they are referred to as Koshin-sama or Koshin-zuka. Their individual names are Mi-saru (No see), Kika-saru (No hear), and Iwa-saru (No talk). Paradoxically, in Japan the monkey is otherwise normally considered a symbol of mischief, imitativeness, and malice.

What is the motto of the U.S. Post Office?
The unofficial motto of the USPS—and the official slogan of letter carriers—is: "Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."

We’re always looking for more great questions! Just Ask a Librarian!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Library Lingo: Volume 2

Our second installment of library-speak...

library databases allow you to find articles in magazines and newspapers, and information from encyclopedias, dictionaries, directories, manuals, and books in electronic format. See the Library’s database page.

Dewey decimal classification - classification system in which books and other materials are subject categories, with further decimal division for narrower subject categories, using a notation of numbers. More information on the Dewey Decimal system can be found

Electronic book – an electronic version of a printed book. EBooks can be viewed online from any computer connected to the Internet. See
NetLibrary on the Library’s database page.

Full text – complete text of an item, such as an article from a magazine, book, or encyclopedia, available in electronic format. Full text is usually in PDF or HTML format. See
eJournal finder to see what full-text magazines and newspapers are available through APL.

Full-text database – database that allows for viewing, emailing, printing, or saving of an entire article directly from a computer. A full-text database may not have every listed article available in full-text format.

Hold - service provided by the Library when an item is secured for a customer and held at the checkout desk. Items can be transferred between Library locations for customer pick up.

Holdings - books, periodicals, and other materials owned by a Library location.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


If you have been in a chat room, an instant messaging conversation, or have done text messaging with your cell phone, you probably know what the title of this blog means. Internet lingo is what those acronyms you see on chats and text messaging are called. This type of communication was developed to increase speed while “talking” using an electronic media in real time and also add some emotion or texture to the conversation.

Internet lingo not only uses acronyms like “GMTA”, but also emoticons (little faces smiling, crying or looking very mad). People add emoticons to give the person on the other side of the screen a better idea of how he or she is feeling J. So, if you haven’t been in a chat room, had instant message conversations or if you want to start doing texting with your friends on your cell phone you might speed up your conversation and save yourself some keystrokes by checking some of the following websites on Internet lingo; and if you already knew about this, you might find new ones to use with your friends:

Internet Slang-Wikipedia


Chat, E-Mail, Web, and chat room slang and acronyms

Bet you're wondering what GMTA means; why don't you look it up and get back to us?!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Library Lingo: Volume I

Do librarians often confuse you with words such as "stacks" or "circulation desk"? Following is the first in a four part volume of library-speak...

APL – Austin Public Library

Boolean operators - words such as AND, OR, and NOT that are used to combine search terms to broaden or narrow a search of an electronic database, index, or catalog; examples are “dogs and training” or “titanic and DVD”; for help in using Boolean operators in our online catalog, visit the
Findit Help page

call number – unique combination of letters and numbers on the spine of each item in a library, used to group materials by similar subjects and enable the material to be found on the shelves; our call numbers are in Dewey Decimal format

catalog - list of library materials contained in a collection; most library catalogs are online

catalog record – all information on any given library item, including a description of the item, author, title, subject headings, notes, and the call number

cataloging - process of creating records for a catalog; usually includes describing the item, giving it subject headings, assigning a call number, and preparing the item for the shelf

checkout desk - counter where library materials are checked out and returned, fines are paid, and new and replacement library cards issued; also known as the circulation desk

circulation - refers to the checking out and return of library materials

circulation desk - counter where library materials are checked out and returned, fines are paid, and new and replacement library cards issued; also known as the checkout desk

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

How do I...?

The library now has a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the catalog and the library in general. You can find the link on the FindIt catalog under “Library Info.”

Want more information? Click the “About the Library” button on the library homepage. You can find facts about the library including locations, hours, phone numbers, parking options, and our holiday schedule. Also find information about how to get a library card, a list of library services, as well as library contact information.

Also, don’t forget you can always Ask a Librarian! by phone, chat, or email!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Suggested Reading: 9/11 and Terrorism

The Faulk Central Library has a photographic exhibit of images taken in New York City September 11 and 13 after the towers fell. To better understand the events that lead up to the attack, what happened next, and why there is so much hostility between the US and the Middle East, the following books are suggested: Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright, End of Iraq by Peter Galbraith, Fiasco: the American Military Adventure in Iraq by Thomas Ricks, One Percent Doctrine by Ron Suskind, The Great War for Civilisation: the Conquest of the Middle East by Robert Fisk, Imperial Hubris : Why the West is Losing the War on Terror by Michael Scheuer, and A Peace to End all Peace: the Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East by David Fromkin. Please check the catalog for availability or to place a hold.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Banned Books Week

Celebrating the Freedom to Read is this week, September 23-30. Observed since 1982, the annual event reminds Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted. This year we can also celebrate the fact that Lucy Collins Nazro and Kathryn Runnells of St. Andrew's Episcopal School were named the recipients of the Immroth Award for Intellectual Freedom, presented by the American Library Association. The award honors intellectual freedom fighters in and outside the library profession who have demonstrated remarkable personal courage in resisting censorship.

The ACLU of Texas Banned Book Project releases an annual report, "Free People Speak Freely," during Banned Books Week. You can pick up a copy of this year's report at the Faulk Central Library until supplies run out. The ACLU of Texas Banned Books Project exists to raise awareness about the level of book challenges and bans in Texas public school libraries, to encourage school officials to use professional librarian standards when confronted with a challenge, and to encourage other ACLU affiliates, library associations, and similar freedom of expression interest groups to conduct similar surveys in their own states.

See ALA's list of the most challenged books in 2005

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Book Clubs

The Library's Book Clubs web page has a list of local book clubs, online book clubs, and web sites with lists of recommended titles for reading clubs. If you are not part of a book club now, you should consider joining one or starting your own with friends and co-workers. Why join a book club? One reason is social interaction, it's a great way to spend time with friends and meet new people. A book club can inspire you to read more, or read books that you never would have read otherwise. Book clubs are a way to stimulate ourselves to think and discuss what is going on around us, or to escape into an alternate reality created by a talented author. With so many books to choose from, a book club allows us to help each other find books that are worth reading. Some of the more successful book club titles have been Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, and Life of Pi by Yann Martel. Please check out the line up of the great titles that the Library's book clubs will be reading this fall.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Book Towns: Paradise for Book Lovers

Next time you are planning a trip, you might consider visiting a book town. The first book-town was founded in 1961 by Richard Booth in the little English village called Hay-o-Wye. Booth transformed abandon houses to bookstores of rare, out-of-print and secondhand books. Against all odds, Booth transformed Hay-o-Wye into the most famous book town and inspired other cities around the world to start their own book town too.

Little towns and villages with panoramic views and historic value are the ones that usually evolve into book towns. To give an idea about the density of bookstores in a book town, visitors might find about 30 bookstores in a town of 2000 habitants. Book-Towns are like a paradise for book hunters: first editions, rare books, and literature festivals are some of the things one can find when visiting these small charming cities.

For more information on book towns here are some links:

Traveling Librarian: Seattle Public Library

While traveling on the West Coast, I stopped in to check out the Seattle Public Library's dramatic glass and steel gem. This building, designed by Rem Koolhaas, is a bit confusing to maneuver (see this Seattle Post-Intelligencer article). As you can see the library is quite large (over 360,000 square feet!) and spirals up eleven floors. As I wandered around, I stumbled upon the "Mixing Chamber". This fifth "floor" houses over 145 public computers and reference librarians who help with the most miniscule question to in-depth research. Above the librarian's desk, there is a huge six-screen electronic installation; this piece of art "uses checkout data to visually display what the community is reading". It is rather interesting, as it resembles a stock market exchange board, but upon closer inspection titles of books dash across its' screens. The non-fiction books are housed above this "floor". The self-guided tour handout describes this section as: "A series of flat tiers connected by gentle ramps allowing [sic] the nonfiction collection to be laid out in a continuous run. Dewey Decimal System numbers on floor mats provide guidance."

This building made me smile when I saw it and when I meandered around inside. It's huge, it's beautiful, it's forward-thinking, and it is a place worth visiting. - your traveling librarian

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Libraries and Websites for Teens

Social networking sites, which allow users to tap into "friends of friends", continue to grow in popularity. Xanga, a collection of journals, and MySpace, a music-flavored social network, are used by millions of teenagers daily. However, there are indications that the teenagers who made MySpace cool may be moving on to other things. and Facebook, sites aimed at high school and college students, are growing faster.

Now there is legislation in congress that would effectively require most schools and libraries to render these sites inaccessible to minors. The American Library Association has maintained 5 key points regarding the legislation which can be read on the group's Washington Office web page:

Friday, September 01, 2006

Traveling Librarian: La Paz Public Library

The Traveling Librarian Visits Bolivia!!

The Traveling Librarian recently visited La Paz, Bolivia, which is one of the two capital cities of this South American country.

La Paz is the highest capital city in the world with an approximate altitude of 10,000 to 14,000 feet depending where you are located within the city. It is so high because it is located in the cordillera of the Andes Mountains.

The mountain in the background above is Mt. Illimani. At over 21,000 ft. it is higher than any peak in North America. The haze in the photo is actually smoke from fires that were burning in the Amazon basin to the north.

This is a gratuitous shot of the cordillera just east of the city.

This is a gratuitous shot of the gorgeous Lake Titicaca. It is the highest navigable lake in the world. Despite it's funny name, it is revered by locals.

Of course, the Traveling Librarian also visited the La Paz Public Library (Biblioteca Municipal). In a system with little economic means, this library manages to do quite well, which is a credit to their staff.

This semi-crooked photo shows the newly refurbished facade of La Paz Public Library.

Because the library has limited funds it does not allow people to actually leave the building with the books. In fact, they usually have to provide some type of collateral, such as an ID, to get their hands on the books, which are in closed stacks that are not directly accessible by the public. Nonetheless, the attractive reading rooms were all full.

They have limited electronic resources and they guard them zealously.

Visiting the library in La Paz library made me feel lucky for what is available to us here in the States. However, I was very impressed by their ability to make do with limited resources.

The Traveling Librarian is currently visiting the Pacific NW and will have more to report soon!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Traveling Librarian: Speer Memorial Library

Hello! I've just returned from the Rio Grande Valley where I visited the Speer Memorial Library in Mission, Texas. This wonderful library building has just been through a major renovation. I am told it is now the largest physical public library building in South Texas.

This great library has over 250 Internet computers (!); a bank of meeting and study rooms; a patron lounge stocked with snack machines looking out onto a small garden; a HUGE children's area with plenty of space to lounge around and read a book; and across from the adult reference desk, there are three exhibit displays. Currently, some of the displays featured are: photographs and materials from Cleo Dawson, the author of She Came to the Valley; photographs and materials from the William Jennings Bryan archives; and a memorial to soldiers from the valley serving overseas.

If you're ever in the Rio Grande Valley and want to check out a beautiful public library, Speer Memorial is the place to stop. - Your Traveling Librarian

Friday, August 18, 2006

Back to School...

The summer is over and it’s time to head back to school. Soon, it will be time to write papers and study for exams. Come to the library for help with all your homework woes.

The Wired for Youth page has a “Homework Helpers” link; on this page you can find help for all of the following categories: homework, internet indexes, internet search engines, databases, reference, research papers, biographies, current events, geography, history, government, mythology, people & culture, (full text) books online, math, science project sites, science, TAKS practice tests & readiness guides, and typing!

The Library Database page also has links to databases that can help with all grade levels of homework. There’s even a link for help in writing reports.

It’s all here…just come on in and look around. Don’t forget, call, email, or chat with a librarian if you need help!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

How do you say “Hi” in Tamil?

When we speak to others using our native language, we don’t stop every second to think about how we conjugate verbs, we just speak and they understand. Communication in our own language seems so easy! But in reality, to learn a language is a complicated task, something we figure out when we are trying to learn a foreign language ourselves.

You will have to memorize new words, letters, sounds, pronunciation, spelling and sometimes characters. Plus expressions, idioms, jargon and slang; to learn a new language seem like something impossible to do! But all of this is worth it, learning other languages is also learning about other cultures, other ways to approach life and a wonderful way to make friends!

Austin Public library has language learning resources for approximately 65 different languages! Contact us for more information.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

How much do you know about traveling libraries?

Did you know that the first mobile library known in history belonged to Abdul Kassem Ismail, a Persian vizier who traveled with 400 camels that carried 117.000 volumes through the desert with him? What a personal library!!!

The first mobile library in the United States was a horse-drawn cart and was started by Mary Lemist Titcomb in Maryland in 1905.

Mobile libraries in the world have transported books not only by horse but by donkeys, llamas and camels (like the vizier did!). Cars, trains, boats and lately buses have also transported books to communities with accessibility problems or with limited resources to maintain a library. Very interesting, don’t you think?

More information on traveling libraries:

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Invest wisely...

OK, your mother wants you to invest some of her money in a Spanish company that you have never heard of. You would like to find some reliable information on how risky the investment would be. You can research what investment experts are saying about the company in Factiva, an online database that has news and business publications from 152 countries in 22 languages, plus company reports and current and historical market data. After searching Factiva, you find that Standard and Poor's has given the company a B++ rating, which is a fair rating, but not secure enough for your mother's investment.

For answers to your database questions and help in how to use them, go to the Austin Public Library's Database Help page.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Traveling Librarian: Library of Congress

Greetings! I've just returned from the impressive Library of Congress in Washington, D.C! There are three buildings comprising the Library of Congress. I visited the main Thomas Jefferson Building, which is incredibly ornate. The marble walls are decorated with rich murals and mosaics and inscribed with quotations and names of authors and names important to all aspects of history, arts, sciences, and law. Cherubs representing occupations rest along the two main staircases in the Great Hall. There is not room to explain here all of the wonderful artwork and its symbolism; however, you can visit the LOC's website and read the online version of On These Walls: Inscriptions and Quotations in the buildings of the Library of Congress by John Y. Cole. The Faulk Central Library also has a copy of this book available in the 2nd floor reference area. - Your Traveling Librarian

Reading Lists!

Looking for a good book to read this summer? Check out our "Good Reads" page. You can find the best fiction of the year by clicking here. There are also nonfiction, audio, and teen reading lists. Click on the "Notable Books" link to find award winners, classics, and other acclaimed fiction and nonfiction books. And by clicking on the "Reader's Tools" link, you'll find reviews, recommendations, and author interviews.

Enjoy your reading!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Welcome to the Austin Public Library Blog

We're excited to debut our new blog. You'll find everything ranging from things we're reading, watching and listening to; topics related to today's events and news; field trips to other libraries; Texas authors and artists; to library tips, curiosities and controversies. We'll post library related links and promote the Austin Public Library as well.

Feel free to comment on a post, ask a quick question or tell us your library ideas! We look forward to blogging with you!