Monday, January 31, 2011
The mechanism for fixing light has changed but the rules for illuminating a subject haven't, and neither have the rules of composition. Old photography books can still teach you a lot about those things. It's easy to set a digital camera for the ambient light (How cool is it that now you can push a button to change the film speed instead of changing out the film?), and Photoshop can find a few good pixels in almost any shot you take, but the fundamentals: where the sun should be, how the subject should be situated, those haven't changed.
Obviously, I'm no expert. I just skim the surface of the camera's and the software's features, and so can anybody and make some very good pictures. But I warn you: once you have 5.1 megapixels, you'll want more.
Photography books at APL:
Digital Photo Madness
Real World Image Sharpening
Color, Light & Composition; a Photographer's Guide
Digital Photography: Top 100 Simplified Tips and Tricks
Digital Photography for the Over 50s
A couple of rebuses (names of authors):
Friday, January 28, 2011
Texas public libraries stand to be cut quite dramatically this year - in fact, it puts some significant library funds at nearly $0. Rural libraries, in particular, will be hit hard; many rely on the state funds to function and without the libraries entire rural communities could lose their only source of free computer and internet access among many other services. Public libraries provide classes on job searching and resume writing, provide books and many other types of materials for the educational pursuits of their communities, provide a source of free, life-enriching programming such as children's storytime, help acclimate new immigrants and get them on the path to citizenship, and offer assistance to people needing help locating information, just to name a few of the services they offer.
Since the economic recession hit, libraries are being used now more than ever. This is not a justification for library funding unto itself, but I think this fact raises the question of how Americans that were effected by the recession are to get back on their feet in these difficult times without their public libraries being funded appropriately. I think it's easy in a big city like Austin that hasn't been effected by the recession quite as much as other cities around the country to write it off as unimportant or irrelevant. But, as an employee of the downtown library, I can tell you that I'm at a loss as to where people would go for much needed assistance if not for us. I'm aware of the nonprofit resources out there and they're nowhere near as extensive as all of the resources we offer.
What about the guy I helped the other day that got laid off in 2008 and slowly lost his car and house and is now living at ARCH desperately seeking employment? He uses our books on cover letter and resume writing, uses our computers to search and apply for jobs, and comes to our Job Searching Computer Lab to get assistance from a librarian filling out job applications. What about the lady with two jobs and two kids I helped find some test prep materials so she can finally get her GED and, hopefully, a better job? She uses the test prep books, accesses our Learning Express Library database for practice tests, and takes her kids to children's storytime. What about the recently immigrated woman that needed help learning English so she could get established in this country? She uses our New Immigrants Center to listen to language learning CDs and attends Talk Time, a program for people to come together and practice speaking in English with one another. These are only three small examples of people in THIS city (I could list so many more!) that need the services the public library offers - can you imagine the assistance needed by residents of the harder hit rural towns in this state?
Bottom line, to invest in Texas public libraries is to invest in the future of Texas' citizens and residents. If we are to improve the unemployment rate and make our state and country more economically viable, we need public libraries to be funded well enough so people can take up educational pursuits that will help them in such endeavors. If we are to strip rural communities of library services, it will only serve to further devastate these areas.
Let your voice be heard! The Texas Library Association (TLA) has plenty of talking points and scripts you can use to contact your legislators, friends, acquaintances, family, whoever and let them know how important it is that we fund Texas libraries. Check out the links below for more info.
Library Issues & Taking Action
Join the Texas Library Association on Legislative Day February 16 and help get the word out about the importance of libraries. You can participate virtually too.
Save Our Texas Libraries
"We cannot say we believe in a strong Texas – in promoting education, economic development, and a competitive workforce – if we decrease investment in the very institutions, resources, and staff who equalize learning opportunities for everyone in Texas."
Dismantling the Public Sphere: Situating and Sustaining Librarianship in the Age of the New Public Philosophy
Library: An Unquiet History
This Book is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Monday, January 24, 2011
Friday, January 21, 2011
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
A treasure trove of stories and the subject of infinite allusions throughout history and literature
Ralph Waldo Emerson's Essays and Lectures
These writings helped to shape American thought—how a person becomes a fulfilled private individual and public citizen
Thomas Merton's Thoughts in Solitude
A pocket collection of beautifully written short meditations on life, faith, nature, and isolation.
Flannery O'Connor's The Complete Stories
For my money O’Connor wears the crown of short story queen. Tales of broken, hardworking people and the redemption they seek and sometimes find.
The Bhagavad Gita
An epic poem that begins on a battlefield and quickly delves into the crux of humanity: honor, family, war, love, dignity, and duty
Eduardo Galeano's Walking Words
A collection of brief short stories that weave creation myths with modern tragedy and humans’ interconnectivity with it all
Roy Bedichek's Adventures with a Texas Naturalist
A reflection on historical and natural Texas written after a sabbatical in the Hill Country. Written in the 1940s, Bedichek advocates for folks to connect with nature and preserve it.
What are your deserted island books?
Monday, January 17, 2011
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander is one of the recommended books on the Library's APL Recommends 2010 Nonfiction list (formerly Good Reads).
As we celebrate Martin Luther King Day, it's sobering to read in this book that the majority of young black men in major American cities are locked behind bars or have been labeled felons for life. Although Jim Crow laws have been wiped off the books, an astounding percentage of the African American community remains trapped in a subordinate status - much like their grandparents before them. In this incisive critique, former litigator-turned-legal-scholar Michelle Alexander provocatively argues that we have not ended racial caste in America: we have simply redesigned it. Alexander shows that, by targeting black men and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control, even as it formally adheres to the principle of color blindness. The author believes that the The New Jim Crow challenges the civil rights community to place mass incarceration at the forefront of a new movement for racial justice in America.
Friday, January 14, 2011
This post is puzzles only. Bubba guessed the one above a week ago, but I paid $12 for that doll--sorry, action figure--and I want to get some more mileage out of it.
This next puzzle (right) is a tough one, I hope (Bubba). It's the name of a book. Click to enlarge and then control + to make it big enough to read.
And here are three rebuses (rebii?). They are the names of authors (click to enlarge):
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Monday, January 10, 2011
Friday, January 07, 2011
Murrays' favorite authors:
James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, W. B.Yeats, Oscar Wilde
J.D. Salinger, William Gaddis - post-war American novelists
Lorrie Moore - American novelist and short story writer
David Foster Wallace made him want to be a writer when he was in his 20s.
Roland Barthes - French social and literary critic (lots of authors like him)
James Merrill - American poet
Daniel Clowes - American author, screenwriter, and cartoonist
Wednesday, January 05, 2011
APL Graphic Novels Book Club
Wednesday, February 16, 7:00 pm : Akira, Vol. 1 by Katsuhiro Otomo
Monday, January 03, 2011
We've just hung a spectacular new painting at the downtown library. It's called Keep Austin Reading (that's it above). Be sure to come see it in person, this blogger copy doesn't do it justice.
If you'd like to read what the woman in the beautiful gown is reading, Catch-22 is available, and if you identify more closely with the well-dressed man, here's Life of Pi. If the painting puzzles you; if you wonder whether the couple has just come home from a formal event or if they couldn't tear themselves away from their books to go--or maybe they just like to dress up to read?--then some art-appreciation instruction might be in order (if you find out why they have no heads, let us know):
Understanding Art Objects
Learning to Look at Paintings
And speaking of puzzles, here's another one. It's the title of a book. As always, click the photo to enlarge: