Monday, April 30, 2007

How to Find a Nonfiction Book at the Library

Non-fiction books at the Austin Public Library are shelved according to the Dewey Decimal System. Books are shelved numerically, that is, in number order, and are put into one of ten broad categories:

000 Computers, information & general reference
100 Philosophy & psychology
200 Religion
300 Social sciences
400 Language
500 Science
600 Technology
700 Arts & recreation
800 Literature
900 History & geography

The ten major areas are then broken down further into sub-categories. If looking for a book about the Sun, you would look under the 500s, the science category. Going deeper into the 500s, the 520s deal with astronomy, and getting more specific, the 523s deal with celestial bodies. Finally the 523.7s are books about the Sun.

After searching the library's catalog and finding the book you want, be sure to write down all of the call number. Examples of call numbers are 823.73 Ab or 791.43 R484e. Also note which library location owns the book. STACKS means that the book is not checked out, and should be in the library. To find that book about the Sun, follow the 500 shelves, past the 501s, 502s, 510s, until you get to the 523s. Now we move on to the number after the decimal.

Decimal numbers? I don't do math! Don't worry because it's all in numerical order. After the 523s begin the 523.1s followed by 523.2 then 523.3, and so on, until you reach 523.7. Once you reach the 523.7 area, look at the rest of the call number. For our example we'll say the author of the book is Wilson, so the last part of the call number will be Wi as in 523.7 Wi. Once you reach this point in the call number the books are shelved in alphabetical order by the author. A book by Standish (St) will come before the book by Wilson (Wi). View this slide show tutorial to find more about the Dewey Decimal System.

Friday, April 27, 2007

This Month's Featured Library Database!

Have you visited this month’s featured database, History Study Center? Maybe it’s time you should! History Study Center offers historical reference material from ancient times through today's current events. It houses over 40,000 documents that showcase historical events and provide students, historians, and researchers alike with quick and easy access to information.

History Study Center consists of five integrated resources that can be easily cross-searched through a single interface:
· Study Units: more than 500 Study Units containing 30-80 items
· Historical Documents: hundreds of primary source texts from historical sourcebooks
· Reference Works: articles from atlases, biographical collections, encyclopedias, and research guides. Updated monthly
· Multimedia: more than 3,000 captioned historical photos, political cartoons, and woodcuts; hundreds of historical video clips, captioned for context and easy searching; and annotated links to thousands of reliable websites
· Journals: cover-to-cover full text of 60 journals for runs that often go up to the most recent issue

A nice feature of this database is that you can create your own personalized area of History Study Center. Here you can store your saved searches and items selected between sessions. Do this by clicking on “My Archive” and create a profile.

You can use this database at the library or from home with your library card number. While you’re there, explore our other databases!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Job Ideas

A new book at the Library titled 100 Bull**** Jobs...And How to Get Them is cataloged in the 331s, which is the subject area for careers and job searching. Nevertheless, the book is hard to take seriously, but that perception may be because I am not a skillful bull**** artist. According to the author Stanley Bing, the jobs included in the book are pleasant, well paid, and highly respected. Mr. Bing has been reporting on corporate life since the early 1980s, so he may know what he is talking about. Below is list of some of the jobs he profiles.

Aquarium Cleaner for the Rich
Backup Dancer
Business Book Author (Bing's job)
Closet Organizer
Cold Caller
Investment Banker
Life Coach
Media Trainer
Motivational Speaker
Personal Publicist
Personal Trainer
Poker Teacher
Raw Chef

And let me add my own - Corporate Blogger. For more serious job searching, please see the Library's research guide, Job Searching.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Today is World Book and Copyright Day!

23 April is a symbolic date for world literature for on this date in 1616, Cervantes, Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega all died. It is also the date of birth or death of other prominent world authors such as Maurice Druon, Haldor K.Laxness, Vladimir Nabokov, Josep Pla and Manuel Mejía Vallejo.
The General Conference of UNESCO decided that such as important day in world literature should be celebrated, and ten years ago established the International Day of the Book and Copyrights. The day is honored more in countries other than the United Sates.

This tradition started in 1929 in Catalonia, Spain. On April 23rd, men give flowers to women who will then give them a book in exchange. According to Wikipedia: “half of the yearly sales of books in Catalonia are sold at this time - over 400,000 sold and exchanged for over 4 million roses.”

Today libraries and schools around the world celebrate books, and promote reading through different activities and programs. In Spain for example, there are two-day read-a-thons of Don Quixote. Some publishers choose this day to release a new title, such as Artemis Fowl. Just remember, there is always a good reason to start reading, so today might be the day you want to come to the library and pick up a book from one of these authors:

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Explore Alternative Histories

According to A Handbook to Literature, alternative history is “a species of fiction—also called allohistory—in which much depends on some major reversal of known geography or history.” I am currently reading Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America, which explores what might have happened if Charles Lindbergh had won the 1940 presidential election against Franklin Roosevelt. Since this is the first alternative history book I’ve read, I wondered what other authors had written about in this genre. The majority of the titles I located delved into different outcomes of World War II or the Civil War. There are, however, quite a few that explore a variety of other topics including the Black Death, the Red Baron, and a 1986 Mars landing. While some alternative history fiction takes a realistic approach to the subject matter, most of these "what if..." stories are classified as a subgenre within science fiction. However, many also cross over into fantasy, horror, and mystery, so there’s something for everyone. Check out our Good Reads section for a list of alternative history fiction or other lists that might pique your interest. For more information about the alternative history genre and a much more extensive list of titles and references, visit Uchronia: The Alternate History List.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Jazz: America's Art Form

Love to listen to jazz? How about listening to Dr. James Polk, Grammy-nominated musician, discuss jazz? Come on down to the Howson and Carver Branches to see jazz films and learn about various jazz topics for free.

Jazz is an art form invented in early 20th century America. It has evolved into an enduring expression of creativity and innovation. The history of jazz is much more than the history of an extraordinary musical genre — it is also the story of central social, political and cultural issues of the 20th century that continue to play a part in our fledgling 21st.

The next installment of the series will be Monday, April 16th at Carver on the topic of the Swing Era. After you attend a lecture or see a jazz film, come back here and tell us how it went.

For more information and media clips on the Looking at: Jazz Project visit their website, This project is presented in collaboration of The National Video Resources, American Library Association, and Jazz at Lincoln Center, and funding comes from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Thanks to our partner, the Texas Music Museum.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Farewell to Kurt Vonnegut

They say Kurt Vonnegut died Wednesday, April 11, but maybe he just became unstuck in time. Maybe it’s we who live linearly who have passed through the moment of his death and come out the other side. He could be looping back around to his childhood.

Cool kids in the 70s walked around with Vonnegut paperbacks sticking out the butt pockets of their jeans. I wasn’t a big Vonnegut fan; I’ve read only four of his books. His early science fiction books are too science-fictiony; his later books are too hip.

Thankfully I didn’t start with those. The first one I picked up was Vonnegut’s life-changing Slaughterhouse-Five, one of the great works of anti-war art in any medium. Its protagonist, Billy Pilgrim, travels time, popping into and out of his life, some of it lived on another planet, some of it lived in Dresden on the day in 1945 when the Allies firebombed the city.

Slaughterhouse-Five is a memoir of World War II and a commentary on Vietnam. The book’s message has, unfortunately, been nearly continuously relevant since it was written in 1969. The library owns copies of it and of other Vonnegut books, as well as these classic anti-war volumes:

Monday, April 09, 2007

Three Poems to Celebrate National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month. The Faulk Central Library is celebrating with a 1st floor poetry book display announced by a large computerized image of Walt Whitman, who said in Leaves of Grass:

Thou reader throbbest life and pride and love the same as I,
Therefore for thee the following chants.

I chose three 2006 collections of poetry from Central’s new book shelves, and found three short poems or “chants” to share with you. Please see the catalog to place a hold on the titles.

The Talking Horse and the Sad Girl and the Village Under the Sea by Mark Haddon 2006 Vintage


You rarely hear the prologue-
Where ants are marching from the window
to the crib, each one carrying
a grain of wheat to feed the infant king.

the meaning of the story still unwrapped,
the picture fresh as water in a clay jug
or a hot loaf not yet frozen solid
by the king’s greed.

The Republic of Poetry by Martin Espada 2006 W.W. Norton

Advice to a Young Poet

Never pretend
to be a unicorn
by sticking a plunger on your head

The Wanton Sublime by Anna Rabinowitz 2006 Tupelo Press


Love me loudly or in whispers,
Love me so long, deep night
Is aware of me
And breaks
Into day with a seamless song…

Please visit APL’s Online Database page to find your favorite poem full-text in Litfinder.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Miniature books: tiny works of art

How many times have you stopped by a Miniature Books booth in a city fair? Or have seen them by the check out counter of a bookstore? The first thing I think when I see a miniature book is: “How cute!!!” But it wasn’t until “serendipity” put in my hands a little article about the history of these books that make me see them in a different way.

Miniature books were inspired in the very old miniature Japanese wood blocks and Ethiopian scrolls made more than 4000 years ago. During Medieval times, monks would spend months and sometimes years writing and drawing miniature books, which were preferred for portability issues. Right after the invention of the moveable type in 1468 Peter Schoffer printed the first pocket-sized book titled "Diurnale Moguntinum”.

Over the years, miniature books have had an important role in the history of humankind. They had not only been companions of travelers but had also have a significant part in revolutions when people used them as an important tool of their propaganda campaigns.

In the United States a miniature book is not bigger than 3 inches but in the rest of the world, books of up to four inches high are also considered miniature books. So, are you ready to start collecting them?

More info about this topic:

Monday, April 02, 2007

The End of the Road

I hope your thoughts do not normally dwell on how we will survive if there is ever a huge disaster that wipes out the majority of the world’s population, but the well-written, post-apocalyptic novels below will keep your attention. Unlike most post-apocalyptic stories, these novels were not written by science fiction authors.

Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier 2006
The City is inhabited by those who have departed Earth but are still remembered by the living. They will reside in this afterlife until they are completely forgotten. But the City is shrinking, and the residents are leaving because of a deadly virus that has struck the inhabitants of Earth.

Children’s Hospital by Chris Adrian 2006
After the earth is flooded below seven miles of water, only a hospital is preserved which is presided over by four angels.

Into the Forest by Jean Hagland 1996
Two sisters, alone in the Northern California forest, face the challenges of survival after a war has brought about the collapse of industrialized America.

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood 2003
An evocative, intriguing tale on the bleak future of the human race that takes the reader back and forth between a post-apocalyptic world and the earlier events that led to the disaster.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy 2006
A father and son try to survive starvation, the elements, and cannibals in a postapocalyptic America

Specimen Days by Michael Cunningham 2005
Brilliantly conceived, empathetic book includes three novellas separated in time: the1890s, the present, and finally 150 years in the future .