Thursday, August 30, 2007

Traveling Librarian visited Harold Washington Library Center

My friend and I were wandering down State Street on a recent Saturday morning in Chicago and noticed an imposing building ahead on the right. Chicago has more imposing buildings than just about any city I have ever visited so that in itself was not so unusual, but atop this building were some of the larger gargoyles I had ever seen. I thought maybe we had wandered onto the set of the latest Batman movie currently filming in various locations around the city. But as we drew nearer I realized it was the Harold Washington Library Center, Chicago's central public library. The building has a retro look, completed in 1991, which a library brochure describes as Beaux-arts inspired with Classical and popular styled ornamentation, that must mean huge gargoyles.
Inside are 9 public floors of library quiet, over one million impressively spent dollars of public art, 70 miles of shelving for books and materials, a breakout of high demand items in the Popular Library, a welcoming, brightly lit and colorful Children's Library, and each successive floor arranged by subject matter all accessed through a central escalator. A friendly staff person, one of many, suggested we continue up to the Winter Garden, "a place a lot of visitors like to see." How did she know? The room is spectacular, naturally lit by skylight, high ceilinged, spacious and sparsely furnished, and very quiet on a Saturday morning. It is a beautiful sancutary amidst the rumble of downtown Chicago.
The Harold Washington Library Center reinforces the idea that "great cities have great libraries."

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

College Football Is Upon Us

So there are other sports, and then…there is college football. Since bowl games ended last January, we have waited months for the pigskin’s return. Packed stadiums, marching bands, and mascots all fire up tomorrow night as the 2007 college football season gets under way. Whether you’re a Longhorn, Aggie, Red Raider, or Banana Slug the college football season brings regional and national rivalries. As the season progresses and you find yourself watching game after game, grab one of these fine books and take a gander at some of the history behind the collegiate gridiron.

Michael Hurd’s Black college football, 1892-1992: One hundred years of history, education, and pride

Bob Boyles’ Fifty years of college football: A modern history of America's most colorful sport

Brian Curtis’ Every week a season: A journey inside big-time college football

Ted Mandell’s Heart stoppers and Hail Marys: 100 of the greatest college football finishes

James Kirby’s Fumble: Bear Bryant, Wally Butts, and the great college football scandal

Mark Wangrin’s Horns!: A history: the story of Longhorns football

The 2006 Rose Bowl game: National championship

Mike Shropshire’s Runnin' with the big dogs: The true, unvarnished story of the Texas-Oklahoma football wars

W.K. Stratton’s Backyard brawl: Inside the blood feud between Texas and Texas A & M

Katie Hnida’s Still kicking: My journey as the first woman to play Division I college football

Richard Pennington’s Home field: An illustrated history of 120 college football stadiums

Eddie Robinson’s Never before, never again: The stirring autobiography of Eddie Robinson, the winningest coach in the history of college football

Monday, August 27, 2007

Back to School

Students around Austin are headed back to school today, so it's time once again for all those lovely homework assignments, tests, and science projects! If the school library is closed or doesn't have a resource available, the Austin Public Library can help.

Our Homework Helpers databases have access to newspaper and magazine articles as well as dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other reference books. Most Austin Public Library databases can be accessed from home with a library card or at any library location without a card.

The Wired for Youth web site contains a list of homework and research links, book information, and technology links. You can also Ask a Librarian for help getting started.

We also have several new educations titles for parents and teachers:

Friday, August 24, 2007

The universal writer

"I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library." That is one of the most famous quotes from the prolific and magnificent Argentinian writer José Luis Borges. His birthday is celebrated today around the word with workshops and discussions of his work in universities, libraries and even cafés. This is because Borges work interests everyone who reads it in one way or another. He wrote short stories, poetry, biographies, book reviews, essays, poetry, screenplays, prologues and he was also a translator of English, German and French literature into Spanish. The variety of topics he included in his work is vast: mathematics, theology, mythology, folklore, history and philosophy are some of them. Borges work is not only discussed from the literary point of view; mathematicians, physicist and philosophers often study his works as well.

Several anecdotes also reveal important characteristics of his personality. When Borges was 80 years old he visited Mexico. His schedule was very busy but he managed to have an afternoon free so he asked his editor to take him to pyramids of the Yucatán. His editor told him that it was too far away to go for the afternoon but Borges was not dissuaded. After a long and extenuating trip by plane, jeep and taxi, they finally got to Uxmal. Borges sat down in front of one of the pyramids, stayed there in silence, and after a half an hour stood up and said: "thank you for this afternoon and this unforgettable landscape." Something important to know is that by this time, he was completely blind.

Some of the titles by Borges you can check out from the Austin Public Library are:

A website with useful information about this writer and how to read his work is:


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Craft series: Knitting

It seems like everywhere you look, everyone is knitting, or talking about crocheting, or buying something embroidered…what’s the deal? What’s all the hubbub? It seems like everyone is crazy about knitting, crocheting, embroidery, or any of those wonderful DIY crafty type things.

This week, I’ll chat about knitting. I want to start with knitting because we (the downtown central Library) have just started a knitting circle. You can bring your new or continuing projects every Friday to the 2nd floor from 11-12 and sit around and knit.

Beginnings: Wikipedia states that “[o]ne of the earliest known examples of knitting was finely decorated cotton socks found in Egypt in the beginning of the first millennium AD”.

Books: Do a simple subject keyword search for knitting in our Library catalog. You will find hundreds of books on patterns, how-to, and history, including 2007’s Men who knit & the dogs who love them : 30 great-looking designs for man & his best friend. You can also scan the bookshelves in any of our Libraries in the call number area 746s.

Who’s doing it: If you’re in Austin, you’re in good company when it comes to knitting! The Internet has had a hand in bringing crafts such as knitting, crocheting and embroidery back in a big way. There are tons of blogs, websites, guilds, and other fun stuff online. Here are a couple for the locals:
Austin Knitter’s and Crocheter’s Guild
Austin Knitting and Crocheting Meetup Group

Monday, August 20, 2007

How to Log In into My Account

We recently posted a survey with questions for users that would help us improve the Library Web Site. Many of the suggestions and comments concerned the catalog. In response to these comments we will be adding new features, such as easy format searching, to the catalog in the near future. One complaint that we saw over and over - having to log in repeatedly when using the My Account features - can be addressed now. If you log in in the top right-hand corner of the FindIt page, you will not have to log in again during your session. Or, from the Library's homepage, click My Acccount, and then log in in the top right had corner before you click on Review or Renew. For more help with the catalog, please see the Catlaog FAQs on the Findit homepage.

Login in the upper right hand corner of FindIt and place holds on some new DVDs.

Blood Diamond
Children of Men
Freedom Writers
Miami Vice
Night at the Museum
The Pursuit of Happyness
The Queen

Friday, August 17, 2007

Unusual libraries, unusual places

When you think about a library, you probably imagine a building located in the middle of a city, right? Well, sometimes libraries defeat our imagination and we can find them in the most unusual places.

This is the case of the Bibliometro, a project that the Department of Libraries, Archives and Museums of Chile put in practice more than 10 years ago. It consists of small libraries located in eight different metro stations around the city of Santiago, where people can check out books to read while they commute every day. Bibliotrenes (Book Trains) is another program implemented by this department. For this project they remodeled two old train wagons and transformed them into two libraries located in two of the busiest parks in the city.

The local government in Barcelona has also been trying to implement something new like libraries at the beach, pools, rivers, public parks and plazas. The idea is to bring libraries to places where people usually read and make the books more accessible to patrons. In Alicante, Spain, one can also find a library located in the city market.

Do you know of any library located in an unusual place? Share it with us!!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Literary Austin

Essays, fiction, and poetry reveal the variety of literary responses to Austin through the decades in the new collection titled Literary Austin. As the author states, the book will be something of a nostalgia trip, or for newcomers, a revelation.

Part One - The Seat of Future Empire
Part Two - City of the Violent Crown 1900s - 1940s
Part Three - This True Paradise on Earth: 1950s
Part Four - An Oasis for Mind and Body: 1960s
Part Five - Austin is the Heart of Texas:1970s
Part Six: Austin is a Happy Place, Sort of: 1980s
Part Seven: Our Scruffy Eden: 1990s - 2006

For more Austin memories, please see the Recommended Reading list for the 2005 Mayor's Book club choice Writing Austin Lives.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The World Without Us

The World Without Us, a new book by Alan Weisman, offers an utterly original approach to questions of humanity’s impact on the planet: he asks us to envision our Earth, without us. In this far-reaching narrative, Weisman explains how our massive infrastructure would collapse and finally vanish without human presence; which everyday items may become immortalized as fossils; how copper pipes and wiring would be crushed into mere seams of reddish rock; why some of our earliest buildings might be the last architecture left; and how plastic, bronze sculpture, radio waves, and some man-made molecules may be our most lasting gifts to the universe.(book description)

Another way to try to understand our impact on the planet, is to read fiction about global warming or biotechnological catastrophe. Please check out these eco-thrillers listed below:

Forty Signs of Rain by Kim Stanley Robinson
Fifty Degrees Below Kim Stanley Robinson
Sixty Days and Counting Kim Stanley Robinson

Black Leopard by Steven Voien
Bones of Coral by James Hall
Dead Game by Kirk Russell
Desert Burial by Brian Littlefair
The Green Trap by Ben Bova
Greenhouse Summer by Norman Spinrad
The Ice by Louis Charbonneau
Ill Wind by Kevin Anderson
Minutes to Burn by Gregg Hurwitz
Shell Games by Kirk Russell
The Swarm by Frank Schatzing
Zodiac: the Eco-thriller by Neal Stephenson

Friday, August 10, 2007

Classics rewritten

Classic novels are deemed so for their timelessness, impressive writing style, and memorable characters, plots, and themes. In the following pairings, authors have taken a character or plot from a classic title to create their own original works:

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
The Hours by Michael Cunningham

The Decameron by Giovania Boccaccio
Ten Days in the Hills by Jane Smiley

The Iliad by Homer
Ilium by Dan Simmons

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Jack Maggs by Peter Carey

Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Finn by John Clinch

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Here on Earth by Alice Hoffman

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Catalysts for reform

The novel is often used as a means of social protest. Authors use fictional characters to inform and inspire the public to fight injustices, gain sympathy for their causes, or just to initiate a debate. Many of these novels become classics, such as Animal Farm, Beloved, Catch-22, and The Jungle. An excellent reference for more information on the subject is Social Protest Literature: An Encyclopedia of Works, Characters, Authors, and Themes available at the Faulk Central Library. Below are a few titles highlighted in this book:

Monday, August 06, 2007

Maupassant short stories to cool the summer

On August 5, 157 years ago, Guy de Maupassant was born. He is considered one of the most notable French writers of the 19th century. Because of his particular way of writing, he has been considered one of the fathers of modern short story. During his youth, while living in Paris, he found a mentor in the writer Gustave Flaubert. Maupassant also had the opportunity to meet other great writers like Émile Zola and Ivan Turgenev. He wrote novels and poems, but his short stories are the ones considered masterpieces.

Short stories in general are refreshing and entertaining. Sometimes, short stories have the capacity to impact you so quickly that you will feel your head spinning, but believe me, it is worth it! So, if you are looking for something stimulating and new to read this summer, how about some short stories?

If you would like to read something by Guy the Maupassant, here we have some recommendations for you:

Friday, August 03, 2007

Wikiwiki, what's a wiki?

We’ve all seen, heard about and even used Wikipedia and other Wikis, but what does Wiki mean? Well, wikiwiki means “quick” in Hawaiian. A wiki is a place online where anyone can access and edit it. Thus, Wikipedia is an encyclopedia online that anyone can edit and write to. You may have written something in a particular section of Wikipedia or you may have noticed glaring mistakes in Wikipedia. Don’t be afraid, go in there and correct the mistakes! That’s the whole nature of Wikipedia. It’s an encyclopedia for all of us.

There are also other wiki’s online, try Wikitravel, a “project to create a free, complete, up-to-date, and reliable world-wide travel guide.” A favorite of mine is LyricWiki, a free site to get reliable song lyrics. Then, of course, there’s Wiktionary, a collaborative, multilingual dictionary. Oh! Check out TV IV! It’s a “compendium of television knowledge”! You can see a list of some of the largest wikis out there by going here:

How about creating your OWN wiki? You can do that too. There are several places you can do that, PeanutButterWiki, Socialtext, Wetpaint, and Wikia. Try one out!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A novel in letters

Epistolary novels tell stories through letters written by one or more characters. Samuel Richardson's Pamela (1740) is considered to be the first of this genre. While this literary technique is not as popular as it once was, it is definitely still around today. In an effort to stay current, authors are now incorporating email, IM, and chat to convey their characters' innermost thoughts and to present different characters’ point of view. Here are just a few of the epistolary novels available at the Austin Public Library: