Thursday, February 28, 2008

Mayor's Book Club Announcement

The Austin Public Library invites you to join us for the 2008 Mayor’s Book Club. Mayor Wynn’s 2008 selection is A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah. A Long Way Gone is the harrowing account of Beah’s days as a child soldier during Sierra Leone’s brutal civil war. While Beah masterfully captures his unimaginable plight and that of his fellow child soldiers, not all is despair. There is hope. There is survival. Beah lived and has used this tragedy to advocate for peaceful conflict resolution and the cessation of child exploitation and soldiering throughout the world.

The Austin Public Library has dozens of copies available. Please join us for a variety of exciting programs throughout April and be sure to be at City Hall Friday, April 25th to hear Ishmael Beah discuss his life and work.

Event Schedule:

Monday, February 25, 2008

El Viaje Eterno

Acclaimed Chicano poet and activist Raul Salinas recently passed away at age 73. Despite, or because of, turbulent beginnings, Raul was able to focus and channel the anger and frustration he felt as a Mexican American youth growing up in a segregated United States into a distinctive and influential poetic voice. The Austin Public Library has several readily available resources to aid in the discovery, enjoyment, and appreciation of one of this country’s important literary artists.

Literary Works:

Raúlrsalinas and the jail machine : my weapon is my pen : selected writings

Beyond the beaten path [sound recording]

Los many mundos of Raúlrsalinas [sound recording] : un poetic jazz viaje con friends

Un trip through the mind jail y otras excursions : poems

Seeds of struggle, songs of hope : poetry of emerging youth y sus maestros del movimiento

East of the freeway : reflections de mi pueblo : poems

Biographical Information:

Friday, February 22, 2008

Dexter - Mystery and TV Series Hit

There is a new hit TV program called “Dexter” on Showtime that is based on a popular mystery series. Jeffrey Lindsay has written three dark and devious novels about Dexter Morgan, a blood-spatter expert in Miami, who is also happens to be serial killer. He slices and dices the bad guys during his time off. Dexter is really a unique protagonist. As a first-person narrator, Dexter constantly describes his own darkness and inhumanity... yet somehow, he manages to charm the people around him, most of whom are utterly oblivious that there's something different about him. The Library has all three books, including two audio versions, and season 1 of the TV series.

Darkly Dreaming Dexter - book

Darkly Dreaming Dexter – cd

Dearly Devoted Dexter – book

Dearly Devoted Dexter – cd

Dexter in the Dark - book

Dexter: the first season

To search for other television series in the catalog, try these search strategies. Sometimes you have to be very creative when looking for a title.

Quick Search
dvd 791.45 and dexter
season and dexter
television program and dexter
Enter dexter, select title, and then select Videorecording on DVD under material format.

Advanced Search
Search by subject for television, enter series under search everything, then enter the program's title.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Two hundred years and counting...

This year, librarians from all over the world celebrate 200 years of the publication of “Versuch eines vollständigen lerbuchs der bibliotheswissenschaft oder Anleitung vollkomenen Geschäftfurung eines Bibliothekars in wissenschaftlicher Form abgesfaast” (Complete works on Library Science or a management guide for librarians written scientifically,) by Martin. W. Schrettinger (1772-1851). This is one of the most important books in the library world and it revolutionized the field.

Scherettinger states here that the purpose of libraries should be to provide the easiest and fastest way to access information and said that librarians should focus on three principles: technique, usefulness and system implementation. This approach has been used in libraries ever since. Before this book, libraries were not accessible to the public and were not designed for serving as a tool to easily access information. Each librarian organized the books the way he wanted to and only he knew where to find them.

Thanks to Scherettinger’s innovative ideas, libraries still have an important role in modern societies. They evolve and improve over time in order to best meet communities’ needs.

Rumble in the ATX: Obama v. Clinton

Ali v. Frazier

Tyson v. Holyfield.

Mayweather v. de la Hoya.

Obama v. Clinton.

With only 100 available public tickets and over 43,000 applications for them, Obama v. Clinton has to be one of the toughest tickets to score in a long time. The Super Bowl? The World Series? Sure, they're tough tickets, but at least the majority are available to the public. Obama v. Clinton? Not so. Unless you’re a financial or political titan, you’ll most likely be watching on the couch. That’s not a bad thing though. I’ll be perched on the couch with my dog, a pizza, a critical ear, and the freedom to yell or cheer as I see fit.

Whether the debate is electrifying, unbearable or you’re inspired to learn more, the Austin Public Library has you covered:

Hillary Clinton’s Living History

Barack Obama’s The Audacity of Hope

Monday, February 18, 2008

Presidents' Day and Their EI

The Library is closed for President's Day. As the presidential election draws closer, you may want to start reading about past presidents and current candidates to help you decide which candidate to vote for. You can search the catalog or the online databases for information.

One short book that is recommended for studying the modern presidency is the The Presidential Difference: Leadership Style from FDR to George W. Bush. Princeton professor Greenstein seeks to explain why presidents succeed or fail in this account of the 12 most recent presidents. He measures the presidents on six scales: public communication, organizational capacity, political skill, vision, cognitive style and emotional intelligence. What is necessary, Greenstein says, is a proper mix of these skills. George H. W. Bush did not have "the vision thing." Political skills could not save Lyndon Johnson. Organizational skills did not do much for Jimmy Carter. Nixon's cognitive skills could not save him either. The author contends that the highest ranked skill for what the successful president needs is emotional intelligence or what could also be called "psychological wellness". Greenstein describes emotional intelligence as "the president's ability to manage his emotions and turn them to constructive purposes, rather than being dominated by them, and allowing them to diminish his leadership.”

Friday, February 15, 2008

"It's the beat to keep."

The Harry Ransom Center at UT recently opened its exhibition of "On the Road with the Beats," which celebrates the influential work of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs. The varied meanings of the term beat are evident in Kerouac's "San Francisco Scene," which appears on the spoken word CD The Beat Generation and in Kerouac: A Biography (pg. 272):

He's wailing beer caps of bottles and jamming at the cash register, and everything is going to the beat. It's the beat generation. It's beat. It's the beat to keep. It's the beat of the heart. It's being beat and down in the world, and like old time lowdown, and like in ancient civilizations, the slave boatmen rowing galleys to a beat and servants spinning pottery to the beat.

So, are you a Beatnik? Check out a few of our many books about the Beat Generation and then take the Beatnik Questionnaire! Here are just a few to get you started:

The Beats: From Kerouac to Kesey: An Illustrated Journey through the Beat Generation

Encyclopedia of Beat Literature

Naked Angels: Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs

Girls Who Wore Black: Women Writing the Beat Generation

Beat Down to Your Soul: What Was the Beat Generation?

Paradise Outlaws: Remembering the Beats

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Real Love Story for Valentine's Day

Perhaps the best love stories are the true ones, such as the story of the Danish author Isak Denison and the English game pilot Denys Fich-Hatton. Isak Denisen, who had moved to Kenya with her husband to run a coffee plantation, met and fell madly in love with the dashing Fich-Hatton. They were soul mates, and their love affair became a legend in Africa. However, the free-spirited Denys was an elusive lover, incapable of making any kind of commitment for fear of being tied down.

Isak Dinesen's last decade in Africa alternated between moments of great happiness with Denys, and long weeks, even months, of illness and despair. Finally, in 1931, after the financial collapse of her farm, she was making plans to return to Denmark when she received the worst news of her difficult life--Denys Finch Hatton had crashed his plane and was dead.

Denisen’s book Out of Africa is a memoir of her life in Africa, but in the book Denys is only a friend. The movie of the same title brings out the more intimate details of their relationship.

In the movie, Out of Africa, Dinesen (played by Meryl Streep) says:

‘Now take back the soul of Denys George Finch Hatton, whom You have shared with us. He brought us joy...we loved him well.
He was not ours.
He was not mine."

Out of Africa – the book

Out of Africa – the movie

Out of Africa – the soundtrack

Too Close to the Sun: the Audacious Life and Times of Denys Finch Hatton

Monday, February 11, 2008

Grit, Glamour, and Greatness

February is Black History Month. To show my appreciation for all the magnificent contributions black Americans have made in adding to the richness and uniqueness of our popular culture, I’ve listed a few of my favorite individuals along with items that the Austin Public Library owns so that you may also discover their grit, glamour, and greatness.

Paul Robeson
The undiscovered Paul Robeson : an artist's journey, 1898-1939
The great Paul Robeson [sound recording]
The Emperor Jones [videorecording] ; Paul Robeson, tribute to an artist

Josephine Baker
Jazz Cleopatra : Josephine Baker in her time
Siren of the tropics [videorecording]
Zou Zou [videorecording]

Dorothy Dandridge
Dorothy Dandridge : an intimate biography
Dorothy Dandridge [videorecording] : little girl lost
Carmen Jones [videorecording]

Sydney Poitier
Guess who's coming to dinner [videorecording]
To Sir, with love [videorecording]
They call me Mister Tibbs! [videorecording]

Mos Def
Something the Lord made [videorecording]
The hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy [videorecording]
The new danger [sound recording]

Don Cheadle
Not on our watch : the mission to end genocide in Darfur and beyond
Hotel Rwanda [videorecording]
Traffic [videorecording]
Boogie nights [videorecording]

Hustle & flow [videorecording]

Terrence Howard
Crash [videorecording]

Halle Berry
Monster's ball [videorecording]

Denzel Washington
Denzel Washington : his films and career
Malcolm X [videorecording]
Mississippi masala [videorecording]

Friday, February 08, 2008

Coming Soon to a Library Near You!

The phrase Coming Soon in a Findit record indicates an upcoming title that Library selectors anticipate will be a bestseller. Coming Soon titles are visible in Findit as soon as they are cataloged, so you can see what popular titles are, well, coming soon. You may also see locations with added copies on order. But the best part? You can place holds on these titles before copies are in the system! Most Coming Soon books are ordered pre-publication and arrive 7-10 days after Ingram, our book vendor, has them in stock.

Two Coming Soon titles that you may place a hold on from today’s catalog:

His Illegal Self by Peter Carey
His Illegal Self is the story of Che—raised in isolated privilege by his New York grandmother, he is the precocious son of radical student activists at Harvard in the late sixties. Che begins a journey that leads him to a hippie commune in the jungle of tropical Queensland. Here he slowly, bravely confronts his life, learning that nothing is what it seems. Who is his real mother? Was that his real father? If all he suspects is true, what should he do?

L.A. Outlaws by T. Jefferson Parker
Los Angeles is gripped by the exploding celebrity of Allison Murietta, her real identity unknown, a modern-day Jesse James with the compulsion to steal beautiful things, the vanity to invite the media along, and the conscience to donate much of her bounty to charity. Nobody ever gets hurt—until a job ends with ten gangsters lying dead and a half- million dollars worth of glittering diamonds missing.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The traveling librarian in New York

I’ve lived in Texas all my life. I own a couple of suits and a canvas jacket. That’s it. No wool coat or parka to keep me warm in Gotham. Fortunately, the traveling librarian has a friend from Ohio who graciously loaned a wool coat. Armed with said coat, a camera, and a discreet map I headed to New York. Some highlights: soul food at Sylvia’s (Bill O’Reilly and Al Sharpton enjoyed a dinner there in September), a stroll around the new Yankee Stadium, a wonderful rainy walk through Central Park, and sneaker shopping in Manhattan and Brooklyn with a good friend.

Despite being outfitted in my average librarian get-up, I was “accepted” into the eponymous sneaker boutique Alife Rivington Club. The store has no sign and the door is locked. To enter, you ring a buzzer and wait, hoping that a sneakerhead working inside deems you worthy of entry into this well-cultivated world of sneaker exclusivity. I got in, but $200 for some purple shoes is too rich for my blood. Brooklyn and its $40 sneakers is more to my liking.

All this meandering served as an appetizer for the meat of the trip. Publishers, writers, and editors abounded at the AWP Conference. Stumbling like some giddy literary fanboy from panel to panel, I heard a veritable feast of contemporary American writers: Lydia Davis, Francine Prose, Jennifer Egan, Alice McDermott, Karen Russell, Charles Baxter, and Percival Everett to name a few. Pick up a novel or story collection by one of these incredible writers. There is no buzzer to ring. Just grab a book and you’re in the club.

Lydia Davis
Varieties of Disturbances
Samuel Johnson is Indignant

Francine Prose
Blue Angel
A Changed Man

Jennifer Egan
The Keep
Look at Me

Alice McDermott
After This
Charming Billy

Karen Russell
St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves

Charles Baxter
Saul and Patsy

The Feast of Love

Percival Everett
The Water Cure
Damned If I Do

Monday, February 04, 2008

Speculative Fiction by Black Writers

February is Black History Month, and most of us don’t think of science fiction when we commemorate all the great African American literature that we have to enjoy. Last year's release of Acacia , the first of a planned fantasy trilogy by black historical-fiction writer David Anthony Durham, brought attention to the small number of black writers writing speculative fiction.

In a July 2007 Boston Globe interview, Durham said that Acacia had been in the back of his mind since the late 1990s. What spurred him to write the trilogy was "The Lord of the Rings" films. Durham watched the three movies many times, and was frustrated by the almost mono-racial cast of characters, where "the only people of color who didn't have speaking lines were the minions imported for the dark lords."

To find out more about speculative fiction by black authors, visit the Carl Brandon Society and Afrofuturism.

And listen to an NPR piece at

Recommended titles at the Austin Public Library

The Coyote Kings of the Space Age Bachelor Pad by Minister Faust
Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora
Dark Matter: Reading the Bones edited by Sheree Thomas
Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany
Futureland by Walter Mosley
Iron Shadows by Steven Barnes
Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
My Soul to Keep by Tananarive Due
So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction & Fantasy
edited by Nalo Hopkinson and Uppinder Mehan

Friday, February 01, 2008

Are you registered?

Monday, February 4th is the last day to register to vote for the Texas Primary Election (March 4th). If you aren't sure if you are registered, visit the Voter Information Search page. Request a registration card online or pick one up at the Voter Registrar's office, the Secretary of State's Office, libraries, post offices, or high schools. Postage has already been paid so just drop it in the mail. An informal application is also available for download, but you will need to affix a stamp before mailing.

The Texas Secretary of State Voter Information page provides information about the voting process and the ballot. Visit the presidential candidates' campaign sites to see how they stand on the issues (listed alphabetically):

Hillary Clinton for President (D)
Hugh Cort for President (R)
Mike Huckabee for President (R)
Alan Keyes for President (R)
John McCain 2008 (R)
Barack Obama for America (D)
Ron Paul 2008 (R)
Mitt Romney for President (R)

Also, check the library catalog for books by or about the candidates.