Friday, January 30, 2009

Financial Aid

Financial aid deadlines for the 2009-2010 school year are drawing near, so be sure to visit the Austin Public Library’s Research Guide for guidance in filling out the online FAFSA application. The guide provides simplified instructions to help you get started and links to worksheets and web sites. For additional resources, check out Ed Pubs, which allows anyone to order free education publications. Some publications are also available for viewing as a PDF file, such as Funding Education Beyond High School: The Guide to Federal Student Aid. Many books on the subject are available for check out or in the reference section of the Faulk Central Library collection:

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

John Updike R.I.P.

John Updike passed away yesterday. He was seventy-six. His career spanned seven decades and provided American letters with an incredible portfolio of novels, short stories, poems, essays, and criticism. The prodigious body of work is schockingly impressive, but even more so for me, is his position as a beacon for a life lived engaged with thoughts and books.

I was fortunate to attend an Updike talk last year. My reflections, as well as a list of notable Updike books, can be found here.

Monday, January 26, 2009

For All the Gold in the World?

As it turns out, it would be about enough to fill two Olympic size swimming pools. This figure takes into account all of the gold ever mined since mankind decided that this intrinsically worthless metal is worth suffering for. The cover story of the current issue of National Geographic (APL also subscribes to National Geographic en Espanol) describes in detail the very high price paid by the individuals extracting gold from the ground as well as the considerable burden on the environment imposed by this remarkably wasteful activity. Consider this, 250 tons of rock were drilled through, pulverized, chemically treated, and finally disposed of just to mine enough gold to cast and polish a single wedding ring.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Staff Picks

We want to keep our book lists and research guides current and fresh, so we are always adding new content. We have just added a new reading list – Faulk Central’s Staff Picks. Last fall I asked staff at Central to send me their favorite book that was published within the last decade. Out of all 60 responses, I only got one duplicate – Kafka on the Shore, and that may be because the main character, Kafka Tamura, lives clandestinely in a quiet, private library in Takamutusu, Japan. I also had to change the time span from 1998-2008 to 1997-2008 because a staff member wanted to include American Pastoral, which was published in 1997; but won the Pulitzer in 1998. For reviews of the books, use Fiction Connection. When you have chosen your next book to read, place a hold, and then pick it up at your convenience.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

We Can Save You Money

If you keep any eye on the news, you have probably seen or read about the upsurge in public library use that has coincided with the economic downturn (for example, listen to this excellent segment from the Diane Rehm show [scroll down to 11:00]). Many people turn to their local public library during times of economic crisis to check out books; save on entertainment costs; use computers to access the internet and type up resumes; take free computer classes on subjects like Microsoft Word or Excel; and/or get free assistance from trained librarians on questions regarding anything from foreclosures to job searches to health issues.

Checking books out from the library may not only save you the cost of a book, but could also save you money on home improvement, food, and/or clothing costs. We have books that will give you home improvement ideas complete with step-by-step instructions, books that will get you started growing your own produce, books to help you learn to sew and make your own patterns, and much more. On top of that, we have tons of DVDs and music CDs to take a bite out of that almost $2500 a year the typical American family spends on entertainment costs (see "Consumer Expenditures in 2006").

If you are one of the many people whom do not own a computer or do not have internet access, come to the library and use our computers or bring your laptop in for wireless internet access. If you’re still new to computers or certain computer programs, check out our free computer classes and contact us to sign up. Additionally, we offer a service for an hour a week in which one of our trained, talented librarians will sit in the computer lab and help answer computer questions ranging from how to copy and paste to where to go online to look for jobs.

However, the computer lab isn’t the only place you can take your questions. Professional librarians are on staff at the Faulk Central Library during our open hours. We can help you find information on virtually any topic you can think of and there are many topics we have already created in-depth guides for that can be found here.


Monday, January 19, 2009


The Library is closed Monday, January 19, to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Dr. King’s dream of social equality, justice, and peace continues to be an inspiration to millions across America and the world. Dr. King was in Menphis to support striking black garbage workers in the spring of 1968 before he was assassinated in by a sniper on April 4. Two websites about the life and legacy of this great American hero are: The King Center and the King Institute.

The definitive book about King and his era is America in the King Years, a three-volume history that will endure as a masterpiece of storytelling on American race, violence, and democracy, which the Library owns.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Taste of Sweet

At my house, we are still trying to recover from holiday sugar coma. We overindulged in the delectable pies, cakes, and cookies that tempted us at every holiday party and family gathering. Now that it’s over, we feel guilty and wonder where it all went so wrong. So, when I ran across the book The Taste of Sweet: Our Complicated Love Affair with Our Favorite Treats, I had to check it out.

In the book, author Joanne Chen examines the science, history, and mythology of our sense of sweet. For instance, do you remember being taught that we taste sweet at the front of the tongue, bitter at the back, and so on? Not so. We can taste all flavors all over the tongue, according to psychologist Linda Bartoshuk (p. 22). Chapters are based on questions the author came up with while pondering her own love of sweets. It’s a fun read, especially if you enjoy it with a latte and a few cookies.

The library has books on the other senses as well:

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

John Dos Passos

John Dos Passos was born today…in 1896. He is well-regarded, but not to the level that his work and influence merit. He was a pioneer of the nonlinear novel, polished the stream of consciousness form, and chronicled America’s international ascent and domestic rumblings.

Jean-Paul Sartre considered Dos Passos “the greatest writer of our time.” E.L. Doctorow wrote: “It is a nice irony that not the era’s big literary personalities, but this quiet inhibited young man, would produce the most vaultingly ambitious novel of all—a twelve-hundred-page chronicle of the historic and spiritual life of an entire country in the first three decades of the twentieth century.”

No one was better at revealing the ways in which America and Americans engaged with an increasingly complex world. His disparate characters grabbed at opportunity with élan and shivered with trepidation over war, relationships, and money. Dos Passos portrays a world in which individuals awkwardly strive for better lives. We all wrestle with that.

The U.S.A. Trilogy is Dos Passos’ masterpiece, combining artistic innovation, political criticism, and cultural engagement.

The Austin Public Library owns the separated trilogy:
The 42nd Parallel
The Big Money

We also have the collected trilogy:
The U.S.A. Trilogy

Monday, January 12, 2009

Cuba: All Sides at Once

As of late, I am fascinated by all things Cuban. I am one of many who are watching for signs of political and economic change on the island with eager anticipation. The New York Times Magazine recently featured an article describing daily life in Cuba entitled, “The End of the End of the Revolution.” Everytime recently arrived Cuban immigrants come into the library I question them about contemporary Cuban society and politics and what the Revolution currently means to them.

As luck would have it, I stumbled upon a recent acquisition made by my astute colleagues at the Austin Public Library. The book is entitled, Cuba : Art and History, From 1868 to Today and it enables the reader to develop a deeper, visually rich, understanding of Cuba’s history and its people ranging from way before the Batista dictatorship and the ensuing revolution it helped to bring about, to the revolution’s aftermath and contemporary Cuban society.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Deep in the Art of Texas

The Blanton Museum is currently showing Alternate Worlds: The Visionary Artist in Texas, an exhibition of paintings, objects and works on paper from the Blanton's collection by Swearingen and fellow Texas artists Eddie Arning, John Banks, Hector Alonzo Benevides, Carl Dixon, Peter Drgac, Mark Cole Greene and Ike Morgan. These Texas artists offer unique interpretations of our everyday lives.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Health Information on the Internet

There is a glut of health information to be found on the internet and it is sometimes difficult to gauge which of these websites contain the most accurate information. On our website, you can now find a comprehensive guide to the best health related websites on the internet. The types of websites range from doctor locators to social networks to blog directories. More and more people are turning to the internet to research their health conditions, find licensed and highly rated doctors, and interact with people all over the country dealing with similar health issues. Though approaching health research can be overwhelming, armed with APL’s new guide and the below listed pieces of advice, you should be off to a good start.

1. Analyze the make up of a web address and be wary of addresses that end in a .com. .Com usually denotes a commercial organization’s website. .Org, .gov, and .edu represent non-profit organizations, government offices and departments, and educational institutions, respectively. Knowing more about the type of organization that has created a website will help you decide how credible the information being provided is. Also, looking for an About Us or similar section on the website will reveal more about the creators of that website.

2. By joining a health related social network you can discuss treatments, doctor advice, and more with others experiencing similar health issues. By locating a blog pertaining to your health condition you can find advice, read about new developments, and interact with the medical professionals or patients who write it.

3. If you’ve decided to look into the medical literature (articles written about various subjects pertaining to the medical profession), only worry about reading the Introduction and the Discussion/Conclusions sections of each article. This will help you get to the gist of the article without having to stumble over the more technical aspects. Also, search for review articles that synthesize the literature for you and make your research a little easier.

4. Use "Deciphering Medspeak", a publication by the Medical Library Association, to help you understand any medical jargon you might come across.

5. Finally, when using our new guide be sure to look for the top 10 most useful health websites, denoted by an *, as selected by the Medical Library Association.

And, as always, the librarians here at APL are available every day of the week to answer any questions you might have about health information on the internet.

Monday, January 05, 2009

You, too, can be Crafty!

I know I posted about New Year’s resolutions a couple years ago, but today’s post has a slightly different slant. This year, my resolution is to be craftier. Austin has got to be one of the craftiest towns I’ve ever had the honor of living in and I am so happy for it. I must say, I’m handy with a sewing machine, needle and thread, but have no clue how to knit or crochet. I’m a pretty good embroiderer, but I have no idea how to start a mosaics project. I like to think I know how to scrapbook, but no way am I anywhere near a sculptor! There are a lot of things I’d like to learn and this is the year I’m going to do it. If you feel the same way, check out the links below for help in fulfilling that craft dream. Good luck and let me know what crafty endeavors you’re up to!

Craft books can be found anywhere in the 740s…best thing to do if you’re open to anything is to scan those shelves in any of our Libraries. Otherwise, check these specific titles out for some help:

Subversive Cross Stitch one of my favorites! Not something your Grandma would ever have imagined.

Ultimate A to Z companion to 1,001 needlecraft terms for when you have no idea what aida cloth is or how to understitch, this is the book for you.

Amigurumi! : super happy crochet cute I must learn how to crochet and this is my goal to learn, how to make super cute creatures!

Here are just a few of the hundreds of cool Austin craft websites, take a look at them for hands on help and help in getting started with materials:

Future Craft Collective: a site dedicated to bringing kids into the crafty world and getting them excited about it! Lists classes, events and workshops.

Average Jane Crafter: a blog that lays it out there for you, even you – an everyday average person – can craft! Lots of great links, free patterns and other fun blogs.

Austin Craft-o-Rama: a brick and mortar store right here in Central Austin. Yards and yards of fabulous fabric and classes for everyone. A must visit for any crafter.

Finally, check out this research guide I wrote, it’s a primer for anyone looking to get started in fabric crafts or just needs a fresh idea! (Feel free to let us know if you have an organization or association that meets, we’ll add you to the guide.)

Friday, January 02, 2009

Another new database!

The wait is over. JSTOR is now available at the Austin Public Library! Thousands of academic journals covering the humanities, social sciences, and sciences are keyword searchable and appear in PDF format. Search results also include a tab for relevant images. Access is unlimited within the Austin Public Libraries while remote access with a library card number is limited to three concurrent users.

JSTOR also provides tutorials for searching, using the Article Locator, as well as creating a MyJSTOR account. Account holders can save citation lists to print, export, or email later. If the tutorials aren't enough help, you can always Ask a Librarian.