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!