Friday, June 29, 2007

Canada Day!

This Sunday, July 1st is Canada Day. This national holiday, proclaimed in 1867, celebrates the “union of the British North American provinces in a federation under the name of Canada”. It is a holiday celebrated in very similar fashion to our 4th of July here in America. Canada Day is where the populace of Canada comes together to celebrate achievements, heritage, discoveries, and successes of Canada and Canadians. There will be a huge celebration at the nation’s capital in Ottawa. You can view the celebrations via webcam here. Canada Day ends in traditional fashion with fireworks.

Learn more about Canada and Canadians at the Library:


Canadian Fiction: a guide to reading interests

Neil Young Nation: a quest, an obsession, and a true story

SCTV. Best of the Early Years

The Kids in the Hall. Complete season 1, 1989-1990

Toys!: amazing stories behind some great inventions (Trivial Pursuit invented by Canadians, Chris Haney & Scott Abbott)

Shake hands with the Devil: the failure of humanity in Rwanda (Canadian Hero: Romeo Dellaire)

Anchors: Brokaw, Jennings, Rather and the evening news (Canadian, Peter Jennings)

Let go (Music Album by Canadian, Avril Lavigne)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Anne Frank: a diary for posterity

Sunday, 14 June 1942

On Friday, June 12th, I woke up at six o’clock and no wonder; it was my birthday. But of course I was not allowed to get up at that hour, so I had to control my curiosity until a quarter to seven. Then I could bear it no longer, and went to the dinning room, where I received a warm welcome from Moortje (the cat).

Does the above paragraph sound familiar to you? To me it sounds like something any teenager might write in a diary, a place where your thoughts and secrets are safe. However, this paragraph and the rest of the diary have gone far beyond what its young author might have imagined. Today it is recognized as one of the most important works of literature in the history of humanity and has been translated into 70 languages. Of course, we are talking about The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. Last Monday, June 25, 2007, was the sixtieth anniversary of its publication.

At first, Anne Frank’s diary was seen mainly as a window to life and its horrors for Jews under the Nazi regime, but increasingly it has also been recognized for its literary quality. Through Anne Frank’s writing we see ourselves as teenagers -- dealing with our siblings, worried about our looks, and dreaming about our future. The universality of her hopes, fears, and dreams has made this a book widely read by teenagers and adults around the world.

If you haven’t read this book yet, it’s not too late! You can find copies in our library, as well as biographies about its talented author:

Anne Frank: the diary of a young girl

Readings on the Diary of a young girl

Monday, June 25, 2007

Graphic Novels for Adults

In 2006, librarians spent up to 30 million dollars on graphic novels for their customers. As kids we all used to read comics and so it's been a long time since we considered them anything else. But today's graphic novels are very different. The graphic novel, Fun Home, even made the New York Times best-of-2006 list. The film adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novel 300 garnered a whopping $70 million in ticket sales its opening weekend. Library customers should check out Pride of Baghdad or Mom's Cancer and find themselves drawn into an amazing storytelling format. Other top 2006 graphic novels are:

Absolute Sandman by Neil Gaiman
American Born Chinese by Gene Yang
Cancer Vixen by Marisa Marchetta
The Fate of the Artist by Eddie Campbell
Kings in Disguise by James Vance
Making Comics by Scott McCloud
La Perdida by Jessica Abel

Friday, June 22, 2007

The magic of web statistics

Do you know how to find out how many people visit your website every day? What hour of the day does your website get the most views? What terms are people using to find your website in this mass of information that is the Web? You can find to all these questions and more!

Currently there are many companies that provide free tools to track your website’s activity. One of them is StatCounter. You just insert an html code provided by the company in your webpage or blog and you will be able to track the activity of it. You can view this information daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly. Google Analytics is another company you can use to view the statistics of your website. With Google Analytics, you can easily track from which part of the world people are viewing your site, plus other useful information.

Different companies have been providing these services, however, in the past viewing the results and interpreting those results was complicated. Nowadays, web statistics are much easier to view and interpret since the companies providing the information use pie and bar charts and graphics. This information can be used to learn more about your audience and to help market your product or service in a more efficient way.

Do you know any other free web tracking services? Share them with us!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

What are you afraid of?

I have to fly on Friday, which is not my favorite thing to do. Flying was no big deal as a kid, but gradually I started to fear taking off, landing, and even the slightest bit of turbulence. According to The Encyclopedia of Phobias, Fears, and Anxiety, one out of every six adults have a fear of flying (aerophobia) sometimes to the point that they will not fly at all. My case is not that severe, but I am grateful that my trip is just to Washington DC because I also have a touch of thalassophobia: the fear of the sea. Flying overseas is a challenge I have yet to conquer.

Here are some other lesser-known phobias:

Acerophobia: fear of sourness
Arachibutyrophobia: fear that peanut butter will stick to the roof of one’s mouth.
Dendrophobia: fear of trees
Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia or sesquipedalophobia: fear of long words
Linonophobia: fear of string
Pagophobia: fear of frost
Paraskavedekatriaphobia: fear of Friday the 13th
Porphyrophobia: fear of the color purple
Rhytiphobia: fear of getting wrinkles
Scriptophobia: fear of writing in public
Soceraphobia: fear of parents-in-law
Serophobia: fear of dryness

For help in dealing with phobias and other anxieties, check out these titles:
Wish I Could be There
Phobias: Fighting the Fear
The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook
Journey from Anxiety to Freedom: Moving Beyond Panic and Phobias and Learning to Trust Yourself
Brief Strategic Solution-Oriented Therapy of Phobic and Obsessive Disorders
The Sky is Falling: Understanding and Coping with Phobias, Panic, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders
How to Conquer Your Fears, Phobias and Anxieties

Monday, June 18, 2007

Juneteenth, a Texas Jubilee

For months, enslaved Blacks in Texas had heard rumors that their freedom was eminent. But it was not until June 19, 1865, two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, that the official word of their freedom was proclaimed at Galveston with the reading of General Order #3. The following year Emancipation Day celebrations were organized in communities across the state. Eastwoods, Emancipation, and Rosewood Parks are just a few of the popular locations for the celebration during the 19th and 20th centuries here in Austin. In 1909, local folks began to refer to the holiday as “Juneteenth.”

In 1900, Grace Murray Stephenson, a young white woman who lived just a couple of blocks from the celebration grounds, took the oldest known photographs of Juneteenth in the nation. She shot the image below and several others while attending the Juneteenth celebration out at Wheeler’s Grove (today Eastwoods Park) on the campus of The University of Texas at Austin.

[PICA 05476 Austin History Center, Austin Public Library]

For more information, check out these books from the Library:

The Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 and the Emancipation Proclamation, Texas Style (June 19, 1865): a Historical Perspective

Juneteenth, Unique Heritage: an Historical Analysis of the Origin and Evolution of the 19th of June Celebration in Texas

Island of Color: Where Juneteenth Started

Thursday, June 14, 2007

June 16, 1904

Does this date mean anything to you? Need some hints? Stephen Dedalus, a walk through Dublin, “ineluctable modality of the visible,” Leopold Bloom, “potato I have,” Molly Bloom’s soliloquy. Yes, that’s right, June 16 is Bloomsday, the day people all over the world observe Leopold Bloom’s celebrated walk through Dublin as recorded in James Joyce’s Ulysses. In case you can’t recite any passages from memory but would like to do your part and participate in this year’s observance, the library has several different editions of Ulysses that you can check out.

Don’t think you’ll have time to read Ulysses? What about listening to it?
Can’t get to the library? Read this e-book online!
Want to share Bloomsday with friends and family? Choose one of these DVDs:
Want to know more?
Really want to know more? Explore what UT’s HRC has to offer:
It may be too late to join in the celebrations in Dublin this year, but you can see what is happening and plan for next year at You can also read about walks in Dublin at any time of year: 914.1835 WA - Walking Dublin: 24 Original Walks In and Around Dublin

Closer to home is UT’s 2007 North American James Joyce Conference

If this June 16 caught you unprepared, start now and be ready for next year’s celebration of Bloomsday. For more information about James Joyce and about Bloomsday check our online catalog and our subscription databases.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Make the Library Work for You

Here's what you can do to make the Library work better for you.

1. Fill out the Suggestion Form (catalog homepage) for books that you want to read but the Library doesn’t have.
There's no way that we will know every last title that should be on the shelves, especially the non-fiction titles that have no marketing budgets to speak of. Let the acquisitions staff know what you want. You may also suggest audiobooks and dvds. (Very recent titles may be on order, but they do not show up in the catalog. )

2. Borrow by Interlibrary Loan the books that the Library doesn't have.
Our Interlibrary Loan system can borrow books from all over the area or all over the country and then check them out to you if we don’t have the book Assume, by default, that if there's a book that you want to read, your library can get it for you. You may also request audiobooks and dvds.

3. Browse the Library catalog with your kids.
Sit down with the online catalog with your kids and browse from topic to topic and subject to subject and see what else the Library has that they might be interested in.

4. Connect our catalog to LibraryThing.
LibraryThing is an amazing social catalog which lets you keep collections of books (either yours or your favorites from the library), write and read reviews, rate books and link to other people with similar interests.

6. If you find a book on Amazon, check to see if we have it first.
Make it a routine habit to look and see if the Austin Public Library already has the book that you're about to buy - you can save money, get better service, and reduce clutter on your shelves all at once.

7. Put a library reference desk in your cell phone speed dial.
Away from a computer and still need to have a question answered? Just call us at 974-7400 Monday – Friday between 10 and 5.

8. If you don't have time to browse the stacks, place a hold online.
We have a great online reserve system, which lets you place holds on items and pick them up at any location.

9. Read the Library’s blog and make comments.

10. Try a Library resource that you’ve never used.
Databases, book clubs, kids and teens programs, online holds, Good Reads, Catalog FAQs, Telephone Reference, Research Guides, or Chat with a Librarian.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Traveling Librarian went to Jaume Fuster Library in Barcelona

In May 2007 I spent a couple of days in Barcelona. On the way back down from Güell Park designed by the famed architect Antoni Gaudí, I happened to come across this library going to the Metro. It was around midday and already pretty hot, a good excuse to investigate this modern library.

Barcelona, like many great European cities and towns, is known for its open air cafés. I know of the trend in American libraries to offer coffee shops (to compete with bookstores) but never realized the trend went overseas. This peaked my interest to take a photograph and obviously to go in.

To the right of the doors when entering was the café bar and to the left a nice sized circulation desk.

A little further in from the entrance along a wall were many pamphlets. I helped myself to several of them. The majority of the documents were not in Spanish, but in Catalan. The Catalan word for library is “biblioteque.” Catalan is a Romance language and reflects its proximity to both French and Spanish speaking regions. Most who live in Barcelona are bilingual (Catalan and Spanish).

Right after the professional, colorful pamphlets, I decided to head up the stairs (there were three floors that I explored). I could see a bank of Internet computers, all in use. There was also a substantial, square reference desk area. I decided not to bother the librarian (she seemed engrossed in her work).

When I got back home I did some further research on the Internet. This branch library of the City of Barcelona is over 5,000 square meters or over 54,000 square feet. The architect who designed the building won the FAD award in 2006 for the best new building on the Iberian Peninsula. This impromptu stop on vacation left a lasting impression.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Readers Beware!

They enter our email inboxes everyday: those helpful messages about the latest safety alerts, missing children, urgent health warnings, amazing photos, and so on. They look innocent and helpful enough, so you hit the forward button to protect your friends and family from the latest threat. We’ve all done it.

Unfortunately, the majority of those forwarded messages are untrue or at least misleading. However, there are several resources available to help you sort through these urban legends and online hoaxes. My favorite is because the authors provide quite a bit of information to back up why the information is true, false, or somewhere in between. Hoaxbusters and Hoaxkill are a few more good sites, and the library has several books available that are informative as well as just plain entertaining:

So, be wary of all that misinformation and check these resources before you forward that next message!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Da Vinci Code Copycats

Below is a list of new historical mysteries for fans of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. If, after reading the list of books, you feel like there’s nothing like the real thing, then you will be glad to hear that Dan Brown is writing a sequel. The Solomon Key is the working title of the unreleased novel that will star Da Vinci Code hero Robert Langdon, and will be based on the Masons.

The Book of Air and Shadows by Michael Gruber
The Book of Fate by Brad Meltzer
Brotherhood of the Holy Shroud by Julia Navarro
The Echelon Vendetta by David Stone
The Fifth Vial by Michael Palmer
The Grave Tattoo by Val McDermid
Labyrinth by Kate Mosse
The Last Templar by Raymond Khoury
The Machiavelli Covenant by Allan Folsom
Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin
The Mosaic Crimes by Giulio Leoni
Napolean's Pyramids by William Dietrich
The Secret Supper by Javier Sierra
Templar Legacy by Steve Berry

Monday, June 04, 2007

What are YOU reading this summer?

If you’re like me, you get frustrated deciding what to read from the hundreds and thousands of wonderful books out there. Well, we’ve got something that will help. Turn to our Books & Reader’s Advisory databases! There are several wonderful databases that you can search through for help in deciding what to choose.

Click on Fiction Connection where you can do a specific search by title, author, topics or ISBN. OR you can explore topics, genres, settings, characters, locations and timeframes. When you click any of the exploration areas, you’ll get a huge list. Click on any item within the lists and you’ll get a great, long variety of book titles that fit your specifications. So, if you’re wanting to read that trashy romance novel this summer, click on Genre, then Romance and voila! A long list of romance novels that will meet your, ahem, desires.

You can also click on Good Reads, a collection of lists created by Austin Public Library Librarians. You know they’re good if a Librarian picks them out. There are lists of Notable Books, Lists put together personally by our Librarians, great links to Reader’s Tools and, if you want to read with others, links to local, online and teen book clubs!

This summer can’t be beat if you use our Books & Reader’s Advisory databases in choosing YOUR perfect book. Enjoy!

Friday, June 01, 2007

How about a blog about blogs?

Are you a fanatic of blogs? How many do you read: five, ten, eighteen blogs a day? Well, if you do, you might be very busy going from one blog to another and getting messages on your cell phone telling you that your favorite blogs have updated info!
In case you didn't know, there aretools that are going to make your blog reading experience even more enjoyable.

One of them is Bloglines, my personal favorite. Here you can subscribe to the feeds to all the blogs you like and see them all in one place. You will just need to create an account and voilá! If you read a posting you really like, you can save it into the “Clippings” tab of Bloglines, and you can also create your own blog. Finally, you can track your favorite podcasts and weather channels with Bloglines, plus, you can choose the language interface among 8 different languages. What else can we ask for?

Yahoo! also offers this feature for its subscribers through MyYahoo! Page. The information provided in the Yahoo! feeds comes with images, video, and sound.

Newsgator is also a RSS feeder, like Bloglines but it provides users with a plug in that can be installed in your computer to get the information about the new postings in your favorite blogs through Outlook. If you didn’t know about these tools we invite you to take advantage of them and if you did already, pass this info along to your friends and suggest us other RSS feeds in the comment section of our blog.