Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year. Happy Reading.

***Book club plug***

I would like to invite you to attend one of the Austin Public Library’s book clubs this spring. The Austin Public Library hosts a variety of book clubs throughout the city. From classics to sci-fi to notable contemporary titles, we have a book club for you. For a list of dates and titles, click here.

Below is a rundown of the book clubs run by the Faulk Central Library.

Graphic Novels Book Club
January 21: Blankets by Craig Thompson
February 18: Exit Wounds by Rutu Modan
March 25 (4th Wed., not 3rd to avoid SXSW): Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
April 15: Watchmen by Alan Moore
May 20: Y: The Last Man (vol. 1) by Brian Vaughan and Pia Guerra
Meets at: Halcyon (218 W. 4th St)

Contemporary Fiction Book Club
February 2: Netherland by Joseph O’Neill
March 2: Telex from Cuba by Rachel Kushner
April 1: The End by Salvatore Scibona
May 4: Goldengrove by Francine Prose
Meets at: Little City (916 Congress)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Still Life

To me, Mickey Rourke’s life is a movie unto itself. As a younger man, his was poised to take his place amongst the great actors of the Twentieth Century. Critics heralded and lauded his acting abilities and likened him to giants such as Marlon Brando, James Dean, and Robert De Niro. Sadly, his success went straight to his head and after making a series of critically acclaimed films his career imploded. A series of very poor films followed and a talent burning bright with promise slowly began to dim.

Fast forward ten years later, Mickey Rourke is back staring in a new film, the Wrestler, that once again has critics rumbling about a potential Oscar win. The Austin Public Library has collected several of his films that are representative of the greatness he once exhibited and that has resurfaced these many years later. Check them out and see for yourself.

Rumble fish

Angel heart


9 1/2 weeks


Friday, December 26, 2008


The Library has a new book about Hadrian, the Roman Emperor. Lavishly illustrated with key works of art and objects, sculptures, bronzes, coins and medals, drawings, and watercolors from museums around the globe, Hadrian: Empire and Conflict
conveys a vivid sense of the world Hadrian inhabited. The author shows the emperor from many angles—as a complex individual, as a military leader and strategist, as the amateur architect who created magnificent buildings such as his villa at Tivoli (an empire in miniature), as the lover who deified his male lover Antinous after his mysterious death, and, finally, as the traveler who tirelessly roamed his empire and its boundaries.

A much older book, The Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar, recounts Hadrian's boyhood, his triumphs and reversals, his deep love affair with Antinous, and his gradual reordering of a war-torn world in an imagined letter to his successor and adopted grandson, Marcus Aurelius. The book captures the inner thoughts and feelings of a wise old man nearing death and offering his wisdom to his young heir. The greatness of the book is due to Yourcenar's extensive research and brilliant writing, and its universal wisdom.
It's many readers favorite book.

See more historical fiction in the Library's Good Reads list.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Job Hunting Means Networking

When you're trying to find a job, you really need to use the power of your network. Face-to face networking tends to be the best way to find a new job. So says an article in the New York Times. But use social networking sites to find potential contacts. Join a network of people to share job ideas and leads, and keep up morale.

The Library's Job Searching Guide has a section on social networking, with links to the most popular websites. Select "Social Networking" from the top index.

Come to the Library after the holidays to use the public computers to create and print a resume, sign up for an MS Excel class, or find companies in your field.

Monday, December 22, 2008


36 years ago on this day the survivors of the Uruguayan Air Force crash were rescued in the Andes. Their story is a familiar one. You may have read the book, you may have seen the movie, or you may know the story firsthand. Those who survived, did so through horrific weather conditions and made difficult decisions, one of which was turning to cannibalism. These young men survived the mountains for ten weeks before being rescued by helicopter. And even then, the rescue took two days, leaving six survivors in the mountains before being able to return.

The survivors have put together a very nice website detailing the crash and everything after. Visit today and help celebrate their rescue. While you're in the Library check out the books and movie on their story.

The Story of the Andes Survivors: Alive

Miracle in the Andes

Alive (movie)

If this topic interests you, you should check out more:
Left for dead : surviving the deadliest storm in modern sailing history

35 miles from shore : the ditching and rescue of ALM flight 980

Survive: stories of castaways and cannibals

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Follow/Friend/Fan APL

Have you found the Austin Public Library on the social networking sites yet? We have pages on MySpace and Facebook, so become our friend and/or fan. We update the sites with our blog posts, news about the library, program announcements, and photos from our events.

No time to surf the web? Then, follow us on Twitter! Short text announcements (140 characters or less) can be delivered directly to your phone and to your Twitter account online. You'll be the first to find out about our programs, new databases, important library updates, and much more. Also be sure to check out our online events calendar for youth and adults. Subscribe to the RSS feed to keep up with all of the fun and informative programs we have scheduled for 2009!

The best part about these social networking sites is that it's easy to let us know your thoughts. Send us comments, write on our wall, text us @replies. No matter how you do it, we want to hear from you!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!!

Austin Public Library customers can now enjoy online access to more than 800 full-content newspapers and magazines through our newest database - PressDisplay.
Visually stunning, PressDisplay presents the periodicals in their traditional format and layout, including color images, editorial content, classifieds, and advertisements.
Once inside a newspaper, readers can turn the pages as if holding the actual paper, zooming into individual images and articles. But you should see for yourself - you will be impressed.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Have you ever felt like you were the last person to find out about something important or artistically great? That was the feeling that overcame me as I confidently brought up the subject of Chilean born writer Roberto Bolano to a couple of my highly literate friends. One of my friends was gracious in his response while the other, who lived in Chile for 20 years, simply rolled his eyes and pitied me. Luckily for me, and the rest of Austin, my well informed colleagues at the Austin Public Library have already acquired many of his books including a title that appears in the New York Times as one of the best books for 2008, 2666. However, be forewarned. If you’re expecting fantastical tales involving magical realism you will be sorely disappointed. Bolano’s fiction is bracing and dark and in keeping with a man who has not lived an easy life.

English Translations:


The savage detectives

Nazi literature in the Americas

Last evenings on Earth


Distant star

By night in Chile

Original Spanish:

Nocturno de Chile


Los detectives salvajes

El secreto del mal

Putas asesinas

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Crooning Christmas

I don’t know about you, but when the holidays come ‘round, I enjoy listening to Frank Sinatra. For some reason Mr. Sinatra exudes something special at this time of year. I am not one who enjoys going to the mall or shopping centers to do any kind of Christmas spending, but if Frank is crooning over the loudspeakers, it makes everything a little better. I recently read that he put forth the extra effort at this time of year. He loved the holidays. Perhaps it is because his mother was born on Christmas day, or perhaps it is because today is his birthday, but whatever the reason, we’re happy he did. If you’re in the mood for some Sinatra check out the following titles. You can find more by doing a simple search for “Frank Sinatra” in our catalog. Enjoy the holidays.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas sound recording

Christmas songs by Sinatra

Christmas is...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Alfred Nobel invented dynamite, amassed unimaginable wealth, and earned the merchant of death epithet that hounded him throughout his latter years. Wanting to leave a more positive legacy, Nobel arranged for the creation of the Nobel Prizes—to be awarded after his death—through a substantial endowment.

The annual prizes award “achievements in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and for peace.” In some fields, notably literature, the prize is typically perceived as a lifetime achievement award, whereas the peace prize is often awarded to an individual or group for a unique peace brokerage. No matter the criteria, receiving a Nobel Prize exalts the recipient to rarefied air. The first Nobel Prizes were awarded 107 years ago on December 10, 1901.

For a comprehensive list of all Nobel laureates, including brief biographical information and acceptance speeches, click here.

The Austin Public Library owns hundreds of books by Nobel Prize winners. An author search by the writer that interests you will reveal what titles the Austin Public Library owns. Using your library card and PIN, you can then place holds on your preferred titles and designate to which location you would like them sent.

The below titles provide history and insight into the Nobel Prize and its winners:

Alfred Nobel: a Biography

Champions of Peace: the Story of Alfred Nobel, the Peace Prize and the Laureates

The Moral Architecture of World Peace: Nobel Laureates Discuss Our Global Future

The Politics of Excellence: Behind the Nobel Prize in Science

Genius Talk: Conversations with Nobel Scientists and Other Luminaries

Monday, December 08, 2008

It's the Thought (Book) That Counts

Publishers that are advertising in the major book reviewing publications are using the hook "It's the thought that counts", hoping that this holiday season we will thoughtfully choose the perfect book for someone we know. Below are some "best of 2008" book lists to help you with your book shopping.

New York Times Best 100 books

Austin Public Library's Good Reads - Fiction

Austin Public Library's Good Reads - Nonfiction

Economists's Best Books of the Year

Library Journal's Best Books of 2008

Amazon's Best of 2008

NPR's Best Books of 2008

Publisher's Weekly Best of 2008

International Herald Tribune's 10 Best

Washington Post's Best Books of 2008

Friday, December 05, 2008

Traveling Librarian: Travis County Law Library

The Traveling Librarian only had to walk a few blocks for an informative tour of the Travis County Law Library today. The library is small, but houses a multitude of resources for both lawyers and the public. Texas Statutes and Case books are available for checkout to attorneys with a current Texas Bar card. The library also has thousands of reproducible forms as well as a variety of books on all topics of federal and state law. Four public computers provide access to legal web sites, forms, Lexis-Nexis, and Westlaw. Reference librarians can help you locate the resources you need, and a reference attorney is available to assist with paperwork for some family law cases. Here are just a few of the online resources highlighted in the training:

Texas Law Help – free forms, legal information, and Legal Aid Directory. Browse by topic or search by keyword. Also available for other states, in Spanish, and in Vietnamese.

Free Texas Forms – a quick reference listing the most frequently requested forms available on Texas Law Help

Travis County Law Library Research Links – find links to statutes, codes, courts, rules, departments, agencies, associations, and other law libraries

TexasOnline – Texas government portal (recently revamped to be more user friendly!)

The Austin Public Library also has many legal resources including our Legal Research Guides, law databases, and books available for checkout or through our Netlibrary ebook collection. Just ask if you need help locating materials on a specific topic.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Back to the Future?

Havana, Cuba prior to the 1959 Communist Revolution is a place that fascinates me. I have always been a sucker for spectacle. I imagine breath-taking beach scenes and a tropical paradise. I imagine narrow streets teeming with nightlife. I imagine brightly light casinos blasting their illumination onto passers by. I imagine Afro-Cuban rhythms and distant echoes of trumpets lifting people off sidewalks and into nightclubs packed with stylishly dressed people.

It turns out that what I imagine is almost exactly how it was. Of course, what I fail to imagine is the bloody apparatus of political dictatorship coupled with a tight Mafia control that perpetuated this mythical tourist fantasy land. I also fail to imagine the crippling poverty endured by the people living in the countryside and the decades of exploitation they suffered by foreign owned companies focused on the production, sale, and exportation of sugar.

In Havana Nocturne, T.J. English does a superb job of painstakingly, yet very entertainingly, explaining all the forces at work and their varying motivations that culminated in the creation of a gambling paradise for the Mafia as well as a potent political insurgency that left its mark on history and inspired similar uprisings internationally.

Related Titles:

The Mafia in Havana : a Caribbean mob story

Havana before Castro : when Cuba was a tropical playground

The silent don : the criminal underworld of Santo Trafficante, Jr

Gangsters, swindlers, killers, and thieves : the lives and crimes of fifty American villains

Fulgencio Batista

The early Fidel : roots of Castro's communism

Fidel Castro handbook

Che Guevara : a revolutionary life

Compaanero : the life and death of Che Guevara

Monday, December 01, 2008

2008 National Book Award Winners

November means many things to many folks: Day of the Dead, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, football weekends. There is another—albeit less known—cultural event each November. Every mid-November the National Book Foundation gathers in Manhattan for a celebration of the past year’s written word. The zenith of the evening comes with the presentation of the Nation Book Awards. See who the nominees were or place a hold on one of the 2008 winners:

Shadow Country
Peter Matthiessen cut, revamped, and reformed his Watson trilogy

The Hemingses of Monticello: an American Family
Annette Gordon-Reed discusses the close relationship between the Hemingses and Jefferson families

Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems
a selection from Mark Doty’s seven books of poetry.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Find Your Style

Today is Black Friday, the day that the balance sheets of retail stores should start showing a profit. With the economic downturn, two things that still may sell well are clothing and food. Even when you buy these necessities, you want to make sure the items will contribute to a positive and healthy lifestyle. The Library has new fashion books to help you buy clothes that will be your perfect fit. Most fashion books are for women, but men need practical advice just as much, so I reached back a few years to find a book on men’s clothing.

How to Have Style
Isaac Misrahi

How to Be a Budget Fashionista
Kathryn Finney

The Little Black Book of Style
Nina Garcia

The Meaning of Sunglasses: And a Guide to Almost All Things Fashionable
Hadley Freeman

The One Hundred: A Guide to the Pieces Every Stylish Woman Must Own
Nina Garcia

The Science of Sexy
Bradley Bayou

Tim Gunn: a Guide to Qulaity, Taste, and Style
Tim Gunn

Dressing the Man: Mastering the Art of Permanent Fashion
Alan Flusser

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

The Austin Public Library wishes you a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

We will be closed Thursday and Friday, but will be open at 10:00am Saturday.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Have you seen this man?

He jumped out of a moving airplane 4,000 feet above Washington state. Why? This man, known as D.B. Cooper, was hijacking this airplane, Northwest Airlines Flight 305, on November 24, 1971. He jumped into a horrendous thunderstorm in the middle of the night and never was seen again. His demands were $200,000 cash and 2 sets of parachutes. Approximately $5,800 of this money was found nine years later on the banks of the Columbia River by an eight year old boy. The FBI does not think Cooper is still alive, but they do want to know who he was, or is. Read the full details at their website or come into the Library and check out some information about Mr. Cooper and his dastardly crime as well as other interesting criminal stories of the world.

D.B. Cooper: The Real McCoy

D.B. Cooper: What Really Happened

Without a Paddle (videorecording)

D.B.: A Novel

Bloodletters and Badmen: A Narrative Encyclopedia of American Criminals from the Pilgrims to the Present

World Encyclopedia of Organized Crime

Encyclopedia of American Crime

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Appreciating Abe

Everyone seems to have Abraham Lincoln on their minds these days. Much has been made about the similarities between President-elect Barack Obama and Lincoln in the press. Obama also has quoted Lincoln in his speeches, and in the recent 60 Minutes interview, he said "I've been spending a lot of time reading Lincoln. There is a wisdom there and a humility about his approach to government, even before he was president, that I just find very helpful.” In fact, Team of Rivals, Doris Kearns Goodwin's bestseller about Lincoln's cabinet, was one book Obama felt he couldn't do without in the White House.

The nation is also celebrating the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth next year. We'll see four new penny designs, and it was recently announced that the theme for the inauguration will be "A New Birth of Freedom" in honor of Lincoln's birthday.

We're all pretty familiar with the basics of Lincoln's life, but now might be the time to delve further to truly understand the man and his accomplishments. Below are just a few recent titles out of the hundreds available at your library:

The Eloquent President: A Portrait of Lincoln through His Words by Ronald C. White

Did Lincoln Own Slaves?: And Other Frequently Asked Questions About Abraham Lincoln by Gerald Prokopowicz

President Lincoln: The Duty of a Statesman by William Lee Miller

The Age of Lincoln by Orville Vernon Burton

The Lincolns: Portrait of a Marriage by Daniel Mark Epstein

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hop along springbok...maybe

How can an antelope cause so much passionate debate? It’s a simple hoofed creature, spending bucolic days on the veld with one eye on grass meals and the other on lounging lions.

We’re not discussing any old antelope. The hoofed mammal in question is the springbok, which has served as the emblem for South Africa’s national rugby team for 102 years. England has its rose. France has its rooster. South Africa has its springbok. Seems okay right? Like most things, it isn’t so black and white. Throughout the apartheid era, rugby was a white Afrikaners’ game, so the seemingly innocuous springbok became a visual manifestation of the oppressive apartheid regime. The South African national rugby team is now an integrated squad, but retains the springbok emblem, whereas all other South African nation sports teams have adopted the national flower (the king protea) as their emblem, which is seen as a more inclusive and less historically charged emblem.

The debate is confusing. Many white South Africans hope to retain the springbok, but so too do many notable black South Africans including Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu and Bryan Habana (South African rugby player and 2007 world player of the year). On the flip side, some black South Africans understandably would prefer adopting the king protea emblem. So too would some white South Africans, including Luke Watson (current South African rugby player) who recently said he wants to vomit whenever he wears the springbok-emblazoned jersey.

There is no easy answer, especially when the springbok simultaneously represents so much: a century of sporting tradition and decades as an apartheid emblem.

John Carlin’s excellent Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation discusses the inherent issues surrounding the springbok as well as depicting how Nelson Mandela forged a united South Africa through his support of the mid-1990s national rugby team.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

An Inca Princess Dies

I grew up in the land of thrift store paradise. Thrift stores in South Florida are as common as palm trees. I remember devoting many hours digging through dense pilings of tattered and torn vinyl records in search of the one jewel amongst a vast wasteland of audio detritus. Henry Mancini, Mitch Miller, and Lenny Dee recordings were always in plentiful supply. Perhaps the dizzying quantity of recordings for sale by these artists made more unusual or original works really stand out. I felt like I had been punched in the stomach the first time I spotted my first Yma Sumac record. Her exotic, over the top appearance, coupled with her equally exotic singing style have never left me. It is for this reason that I was genuinely saddened upon hearing of her passing. Fortunately, the Austin Public Library shares my interest and curiosity for the exotic and original so that others may also discover her truly unique singing talents.

The ultimate Yma Sumac collection [sound recording]

Mondo exotica [sound recording] : [mysterious melodies & tropical tiki tunes]

Voice of the Xtabay sound recording

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Forever War

Because titles cannot be copyrighted, you often see books with the same title. For example, the title Book of the Dead has been used by several contemporary authors. The Forever War (2008) by Dexter Filikins, a raw and riveting account of the conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, shares its title with a science fiction novel written 23 years ago by Joe Haldeman. Both books are about a seemingly endless war. Upon reading reviews of the two books, I found that both are also considered war literature classics.
Dexter Filkins was a correspondent for the Baghdad bureau of The New York Times from 2003 to 2006. Joe Haldeman is a Vietnam veteran who teaches creative writing at MIT.

The Forever War
Dexter Filkins
956.70443 Fi

“Dexter Filkins’s The Forever War, brutally intimate, compassionate, often poetic accounts of the battle against Islamic fundamentalism, is destined to become a classic.”
-Vanity Fair

“Dexter Filkins is the preeminent war correspondent of my generation, fearless, compassionate, and brutally honest. The Forever War is his astonishing story. It is one of the best books about war that I have ever read. It will stay with me forever.”
-Jeffrey Goldberg, author of Prisoners: A Muslim and a Jew Across the Middle East Divide

The Forever War
Joe Haldeman

"Forever War is brilliant--one of the most influential war novels of our time. That it happens to be set in the future only broadens and enhances its message."
--Greg Bear, author of Moving Mars, Eon, The Forge of God

"To say that The Forever War is the best science fiction war novel ever written is to damn it with faint praise. It is, for all its techno-extrapolative brilliance, as fine and woundingly genuine a war story as any I've read."
--William Gibson, author of Neuromancer, Spook Country

For more recommended titles see Good Reads Nonfiction 2008, and Good Reads Recent Science Fiction.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Chirp, chirp, chirp!!

This year is the 45th anniversary of the movie “The Birds” by Alfred Hitchcock which has been considered one of the horror classics of all times.

The movie, based on a work with the same title by Daphne du Maurier, influenced and inspired other movies with similar plots or topics like apocalypses and nature’s revenge on humans. Some of these movies are: Marnie (1964), The Dark Half (1993), and The Birds: land’s end (1994) among others.

Lots of books have been written based on this film as well, an example is “The Birds” by Camille Paglia. In this book Ms. Paglia analyzes the perception about women that Hitchcock wanted to portray in the film. She also points out the different roles that women play in this movie which are very similar to the roles they learn from society. In other words, this movie is not only about birds, but, I am going to let you find that out for yourself.

Here some books and other materials related to this movie that might interest you:

The birds. Camille Paglia

The birds (DVD)

After Hitchcock : influence, imitation, and intertextuality. David Boyd

Hitchcock's music. Jack Sullivan

It's only a movie : Alfred Hitchcock, a personal biography Charlotte Chandler

Pregame Songs

If your team needs some playoff motivation, these songs should get everyone’s adrenaline going. Both the music and the lyrics are perfect for the warm-up period before the game. Find your favorite place to download the songs, or view them on Youtube.

The Distance - Cake
Live to Win - Motorhead
Bodies - Drowning Pool
Jump - Van Halen
We’re Not Gonna Take It - Twisted Sister
Love Train - Wolf Mother
Carry on Wayward Son - Kansas
Eye of the Tiger - Survivor
The Warrior's Code - Dropkick Murphys
Boom - P.O.D.
Give It All - Rise Against
Immortals Battle - Tyler Bates
Thunderstruck - AC/DC

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Rhizome Collective

For the first time last week I stopped into Monkey Wrench Books on North Loop to browse. As soon as I walked in I found a book, Toolbox for Sustainable City Living, on prominent display. I was intrigued, so I made my purchase and have now become absolutely fascinated with the Rhizome Collective, a non-profit organization dedicated to urban sustainability here in Austin, whose founders wrote the book. The Rhizome Collective (rhizome referring to an underground root system that’s difficult to uproot) is based out of a warehouse in East Austin and is dedicated to the education of anyone interested in learning more about ecological technologies that simply, efficiently, cheaply, and environmentally-soundly sustain lands and people. In addition to their education center and teachers, they also offer a center for community groups to meet. Currently, their facilities are the meeting place for the Inside Books Project, KPWR, Bikes across Borders, Food Not Bombs, and a few others.

One of the most notable efforts by the Collective was the large scale clean up of just less than 10 acres of brownfield (land that may contain harmful environmental pollutants) in the Montopolis area of Austin. The brownfield had been a landfill and an illegal dump for years and the Collective obtained a competitive grant from the EPA to assist in the cost of the clean up. Between 2005 and 2006 the Collective “removed 680 tires, 10.1 tons and 36.5 cubic yards of trash, and 31.6 tons of recyclable metal from the site.” The effort received much local attention and the Collective was invited to speak at the EPA Regional 6 Annual Conference about their work.

It is refreshing and awe-inducing to read about groups so committed to the pursuit of urban renewal and sustainable living; particularly one that is dedicated to the education of others interested in the pursuit. Here at Austin Public Library we have a sizable collection of books on sustainable living, self-reliant living, urban ecology, and the like to tide you over until you can make it to one of the Collective’s workshops.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Information overload

While I consider myself pretty decent at multitasking, I found it difficult to focus during the onslaught of results, discussions, and statistics on election night. The amount of information packed onto our television screens was astonishing. After all, there is a limit to what the human brain can process at once. In fact, recent research shows that our ability to multitask grows steadily during our early years, peaks around our thirties, and then begins to decline. Woe to those who weren't at their multitasking peak that night!

With the deluge of available information, we must force ourselves to be selective with information and our time. Using our online databases for your next research project allows you to do both. The databases provide articles from dependable sources, so you can avoid all of the commercial fluff that runs rampant on the Internet. This will inevitably save you time and help you obtain more accurate and reliable information. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to Ask a Librarian for help! And, if you want to multitask, then pick up one of these related titles to read during lunch or at the gym:

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Last night in Chicago, Barack Obama asked us to help move the country forward through community service. A current exhibit at the City of Austin’s Carver Museum shows a great example of fulfilling this request. The exhibit narrates the 100 year history of the America’s first black sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha. Both UT and Huston-Tillotson have very active chapters, but the members’ service commitment continues beyond graduation. As I was wandering through the exhibit room, a young man pointed to a photograph, and proudly exclaimed, “That’s my sister!” The photographs are framed in the sorority’s colors, pink and green, making it a lovely exhibit.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Model Magic

When I was younger, I liked to build models. As I got older I left this impulse behind. Now that I’m older still, I find myself returning to a fascination with model building. To my great delight I have found some exquisite resources available through the Austin Public Library to both aid and inspire me in creating these miniature visual illusions.

Building better scale model cars and trucks : detailing tips and techniques

Building and detailing scale model muscle cars

Building and flying model aircraft

Building and painting scale figures

Building plastic models

The Encyclopedia of military modelling

The encyclopedia of modelmaking techniques

The model-building handbook : techniques professionals use

The modelmaker's handbook

Painting and finishing scale models

Scale model detailing

Small-scale modelling

FineScale modeler

Model building for beginners [videorecording]

Kit Retailers:

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Where Do You Get Your Inspiration?

Elizabeth Peyton, forty-two, is having her first big survey exhibition at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York. She sells her paintings for up to three hundred thousand dollars today, but back in 1990 her inspiration began very modestly – reading books.

"I'd graduated from the School of Visual Arts a few years earlier," she continued, "and I was living with my ex-boyfriend in a tiny apartment on the Lower East Side. Earlier that summer, I'd lost my job, as an assistant to Ronald Jones, a teacher at S.V.A. I didn't have any money, and I was so ashamed of myself for not having a job. All I did was read. I read a book on Napoleon, by Vincent Cronin, and a book by Stefan Zweig on Marie Antoinette. I read Stendahl's 'The Charterhouse of Parma' and 'The Red and the Black.' Even though I was miserable, I was eating up every word in those books. And somehow I came out of this knowing what I wanted to do."

She began painting real and fictional characters from her readings, such as portraits of Napolean. Elizabeth II, and Ludwing II of Bavaria. She believed that people contain “their time” in their faces. She then began painting pop cultural icons, including Kurt Cobain, Leoanrd diCaprio, and Eminem. Since 9/11 her focus has changed again, and paints the people and places that are important to her. The painting above is a self-portrait.

The quotation is from an article in the New Yorker, October 6, 2008 by Calvin Tomkins.
You can read the entire article about Ms Peyton using the Library's Masterfile database.

Click the yellow Database rectangle under "Highlights" on the Library's homepage. Select "Articles and News" under Subject Guide on the right-hand side. Select Masterfile Premiere and enter your Library card number.

1. Type Elizabeth Peyton in the search box.
2. Type New Yorker in the publication box.
3. Click on Search.

More information on Ms Peyton:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What was that noise?!?!?!?!?

“I had a daughter” “My daughter… Raymunda… I never heard the word “mommy”.” These are some of the phrases recorded by a team of parapsychologists at one of the most famous haunted houses in the world: the Linares Palace, right in the heart of Madrid. Some say that the recordings are false but others still think that they are true. The first owners of this palace, which was built around 1900, had a tragic story: José de Murga married his own sister, Raymunda Osorio, without knowing. Raymunda was the product of an affair that Jose’s father had in the past. José and Raymunda had a miserable life: stigmatized by society, secluded in their palace, they carried a feeling of guilt and embarrassment that accompanied them until their grave. All the following owners of this palace since then have been murdered or have suffered through very rough health or financial problems.

In the United States a renowned haunted house is the Winchester Mystery House, in San José, California. The house was built after Sarah Winchester was advised by a medium to provide a home for the spirits of all those killed by Winchester guns.

In some cases, there is not only one haunted house in a community, but an entire neighborhood could be haunted, like in the case of Old Louisville, Kentucky. Old Louisville is considered the most haunted neighborhood in the country.

Haunted houses exist around the world and they also play an important role in literature. If you want to get in the mood for Halloween, here are some ideas of books you might want to check out:

The shining by Stephen King

House by Frank Peretti

From the dust returned: a family remembrance by Ray Bradbury

In a dark season by Vicki Lane

Deadly night by Heather Graham

If you would like to visit some of these houses, we also have some materials that can help you with your ghostly adventure:

Haunted Houses (DVD)

Haunted America

Historic Haunted America

A ghost in my suitcase: a guide to haunted travel in America

Finally, if you want to go ghost hunting yourself, here is a book that tells you how:

Picture yourself ghost hunting: step-by-step instruction for exploring haunts and finding spirits, spooks, and specters

Good luck with that and happy Halloween!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Simon LeBon is 50 today…

Who? Simon LeBon is the singer of Duran Duran. And Duran Duran is quite possibly my most favorite band of all time. I know, I know…I don’t sound cool to a lot of you, but I also listen to what the “kids listen to”, The Mars Volta, MGMT, and other stuff. But, my longtime fave is Duran Duran. They may not top the charts with every album they put out, but they seem like they are always having fun and genuinely enjoy what they’re doing and I like that. Their latest album, Red Carpet Massacre, came out about a year ago and they’re still touring, the next show in Texas is December 1st in San Antonio. My personal favorite of all their albums is their first, self-titled, Duran Duran, Friends of Mine being my favorite song. Are you a Duranie as well? Check out the ‘did you know’ list and find out.

Did you know
…that MTV just announced their video for Rio as best music video of all time, beating out Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit?
…they got their name from the villain from the movie Barbarella, Dr. Durand Durand?
A view to a kill is the only James Bond theme song to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and recently listed as the top James Bond theme song?
…August 10th is Duran Duran Appreciation Day?
…In 1985, People magazine labeled the “prettiest boys in rock”?
…Princess Diana regarded them as her favorite band?
…They’ve received a “Lifetime Achievement Award” from MTV Video Music Awards, Q Magazine and the BRIT Awards?
…they’re the first band to play live at the Lourve Museum in Paris?

Want to know more about my beloved band? Check out the news on Duran Duran in our databases (Factiva has a lot of articles and Biography Resource Center has excellent bios) and their homepage.

Check out some music and other stuff from Duran Duran:

Wild Boy: My Life in Duran Duran by Andy Taylor

The Essential Collection


Duran Duran


Maximum Duran Duran (interview biography disc)

Happy Birthday Simon!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

The movie Kiss Kiss Bang Bang made its way onto my DVD player recently, and I was really impressed! It's a quirky, film noir homage with snarky performances by Robert Downey, Jr. and Val Kilmer. Everyone's constantly cracking wise and the whole ride is just a hoot. The title sequence is worth seeing on its own (think Saul Bass).

As I watched, the movie's convoluted plot reminded me of The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler. Turns out that Chandler's book titles were used as the chapter headings in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Even if you're not familiar with Raymond Chandler's name, you probably know his stuff. His work continues to influence crime fiction, movies, and television and has been parodied often. In fact, Kafka's Soup: A Complete History of World Literature in 14 Recipes, begins with a recipe for "Lamb with Dill Sauce à la Raymond Chandler":

"I sipped my whiskey sour, ground out my cigarette on the chopping board, and watched a bug trying to crawl out of the basin. I needed a table at Maxim's, a hundred bucks, and a gorgeous blonde; what I had was a leg of lamb and no clues."

Whether you want a silly action movie, a classic detective film, or even a literary cookbook, we've got them all here at the library.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My Favorite Billionaire

There are certain things that can only be done when one has gobs of money. Solid gold bathroom fixtures, Picasso collecting, and diamond-encrusting everything are a few. While those are fine and dandy for run-of-the-mill billionaires, I prefer Richard Branson’s style. The guy has billions and doesn’t settle for art, wine, and cars. In 1986 he broke the Transatlantic record for speedboats, after sinking his vessel less than two-hundred miles from the British coast the previous year.

As of 2 o’clock this morning, he and his crew are attempting to shatter the Transatlantic sailing record. They left from New York City and are hoping to break the record which currently stands at 6 days 17 hours 39 minutes and 52 seconds. The attempt has been in the works for two years, waiting for optimum sailing conditions. In this case, optimum sailing conditions are ridiculous winds (including forty foot waves) and some of the most treacherous storms ever sailed. Why? Without these storms, the wind needed to break the record would not be strong enough. The crew’s main concern is to not break the boat. I would have some other concerns, notably sea sickness and sheer terror.

Richard Branson’s autobiography:
Losing my Virginity: How I've Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business my Way

Great Sailing Books:
The America's Cup: 1851 to the Present Day

Making Waves: the Inside Story of Managing and Motivating the First Women's Team to Compete for the America's Cup

The America's Cup: the History of Sailing's Greatest Competition in the Twentieth Century

The Race: an Inside Account of What it's Like to Compete in the Observer Singlehanded Transatlantic Race from Plymouth, England, to Newport, Rhode Island

If the voyage is successful the crew should reach landfall in southwestern Great Britain the evening of October 28th.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Hand Tools

I like to make things out of wood. Typically, this is a very labor intensive process even with the use of power tools. The times that I am required to use hand tools makes me marvel at the dedication, artistry, and patience evidenced by wood workers of the past as well as by those individuals who prefer to use them exclusively today. Photographs of these types of tools readily illustrate just how physically taxing and mentally fatiguing the use of these tools can be. I’ve listed some titles below for your appreciation.

The antique tool collector's guide to value

300 years of farm implements and machinery, 1630-1930

Encyclopedia of antique tools & machinery

Antique tools ... our American heritage

Collecting antique tools

Friday, October 17, 2008

New Look for Your Old Deck

The hot summer sun has was hard on Austin decks. The New York Times, in a June article in the Sunday Home section, had tips on how to improve our neglected decks. Danny Lipford, host of the TV show, Today's Homeowner, said that every deck should be cleaned once a year. Below are instructions from the article:

-Apply a deck detergent with a garden-style sprayer, saturating the deck completely
-Let the detergent set for 10-15 minutes to loosen the dirt
-Apply a brightener
-Use a stiff brush or pressure washer (very carefully) to clean off all the dirt
-Allow the deck to dry for 2-3 days
-Apply stain or sealant. If you use a stain first, allow it ot dry before applying the sealer.
-Apply two coats of sealer on consecutive days

Consumer Reports, which you can access through the Library's Masterfile database, rated deck stains and sealers in the July 2008 issue. To find this article and other articles in Consumer Reports:

Click the yellow Database rectangle under "Highlights" on the Library's homepage. Select "Articles and News" under Subject Guide on the right-hand side. Select Masterfile Premiere and enter your Library card number.

1. Type stains in the search box.
2. Type Consumer Reports in the publication box.
3. Limit to full text search by clicking on the box.
4. Click on Search.

The Library also has two dvds on desk restoration produced by Today's Homeowner.

Deck Renewal
Deck Rehab

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

And the prize goes to....

As we know, the Nobel Price for Literature went to Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio. He is one of the most translated French authors or our time, whose work is hard to categorize. His revolutionary writing style and the freedom to pick the topics for his works gave him the title of one of the most important avant-garde writers.

The topics of his books are varied: ecology, philosophy, the clash of cultures, insanity, immigration, traveling, memory, and exile among others. His work consists of more than 40 books published in French, a dozen in English, as well as some publications in Swedish and German. The Nobel Prize Academy considers him, “an author of new departures, poetic adventure and sensual ecstasy,” and his work as, "the best and most imaginative prose work of the year."

When looking as his biography, it is easy to understand the richness of his work. Le Clezio was born in France but spent his childhood in Nigeria. As a young adult he studied in England and France. He moved to the United States where he worked as a teacher but was then sent to Thailand and Mexico for his military service. Later he lived with the Embera-Wounaan Indians in Panamá. He has taught at numerous universities in countries around the world: México, South Korea, Bangkok, Boston, Austin, and Albuquerque.

If you haven’t read any books by this author, here are some of the titles available at our libraries:

The prospector


The round & other cold hard facts

In case you want to read his works in French here are some ideas:
Ourania : roman.

Peuple du ciel ; suivi de Les bergers

Hasard ; suivi de, Angoli Mala

Monday, October 13, 2008

Go to Harvard for Free

I love to learn. This may be obvious if one considers that I chose Librarian as a profession. I also love the internet. I think lolcats are hilarious, I use a feed reader to read more blogs than reasonable, and my delicious links are precious to me. When learning and the internet are combined, I, and librarians the world over, salivate and take note. Lately, I’ve been salivating over and exploring the many free college courses, offered by some of the best universities in the country, anyone can take via the internet. You do not have to be enrolled or affiliated in any way with the university. In fact, none of these websites even require you to sign up for some sort of free account. Merely click the link to the course and let the learning commence. Right now I’m taking an introductory computer science course at Harvard and next semester I’m considering taking “Ingmar Bergman, Cinematic Philosopher” at MIT, and all I had to do was point and click.

100 Free Podcasts from the Best Colleges in the World

Austin Public Library’s Education and Training Research Guide
Scroll down to Online Education and Training: Free Classes and Tutorials to see a more comprehensive list of free classes on the internet.

Big Think
These are not necessarily courses, but it is a large collection of lectures and videos by "intellectuals".

Carnegie Mellon’s Open Learning Initiative

* You have to utilize Google to find Harvard classes – they are not all in one place. Often instructors establish their own course websites. For example, I googled “harvard computer science courses”, browsed the results, and then found a class I was interested in.

Internet Archive’s Open Educational Resources
Links to many free university-level lectures and courses.

Lecturefox: Free University Lectures

MIT OpenCourseWare

Open Yale Courses

Tufts OpenCourseWare

Friday, October 10, 2008

Scopes Trial Photos

Boing Boing reports that the Smithsonian Institution Archives recently added 39 photographs from the State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes trial to Flickr. According to the Archives, the negatives were discovered eighty years after the trial and then restored in 2005.

In 1925, a Tennessee law passed prohibiting the teaching of evolution in public schools. John Scopes accepted the ACLU's offer to defend him if he challenged the law. Scopes was arrested, and the "Monkey Trial" quickly became a media circus. William Jennings Bryan prosecuted and Clarence Darrow defended Scopes. The fierce exchanges became legendary and inspired the play Inherit the Wind, which later became a movie starring Spencer Tracy. Scopes was convicted and fined $100, however the fine was overturned by a higher court. The law was repealed in 1967.

For more information, check out one of the many books on the subject or find more primary sources using the library's research databases:
Also visit PBS's American Experience Online to see the film Monkey Trial, hear monkey themed music, and much more!