Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Little Library Humor

Here is a football/library joke in preparation for Super Bowl Sunday (This is from the Reader's Digest website and their 15 Funny Football Jokes):

"The college football player knew his way around the locker room better than he did the library. So when my husband's co-worker saw the gridiron star roaming the stacks looking confused, she asked how she could help.

"I have to read a play by Shakespeare," he said.

"Which one?" she asked.

He scanned the shelves and answered, "William.""

-- Sandra J. Yarbrough

Friday, January 30, 2009

Read It Before They Screen It

The following films based on books are slated to open in February 2009:

Coraline is adapted from the award-winning 2002 fantasy novel by British author Neil Gaiman. Directed by Henry Selick, this animated family film features the voices of Dakota Fanning, Ian McShane, Teri Hatcher, and Keith David.

He's Just Not That Into You is based on the New York Times bestselling 2005 self-help book by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo. Directed by Ken Kwapis, the film stars Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Connelly, Scarlett Johannson, Drew Barrymore, and Ben Affleck.

Confessions of a Shopaholic is based on Sophie Kinsella's bestselling 2000 novel about a financial advice columnist with debt issues. Directed by P.J. Hogan, the film stars Isla Fisher, Hugh Dancy, and Joan Cusack.

Youth in Revolt is adapted from C.D. Payne's 1993 first novel in a series following the escapades of precocious teen Nick Twisp. Directed by Miguel Arteta, the film stars Michael Cera, Justin Long, Steve Buscemi, and Ray Liotta.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


"This is the Biblioburro, that is Donkey Library. It is composed of two donkeys called very properly Alfa and Beto, of a librarian, the elementary school teacher Luis Soriano, and of four thousand eight hundred books begged together from various sources. Obviously only a small part of them moves around at every weekend on the mountain paths around the Columbian village of La Gloria." Click here to read the full blog post.

In Memoriam

Notable authors that passed away during January 2009:

Mystery author Donald E. Westlake dies at 75
Westlake was a prolific mystery writer who won three Edgar Awards and an Academy Award nomination for screenplay and had a career spanning five decades. The author of more than 90 books -- most of them written on a typewriter -- Westlake wrote under a variety of pseudonyms including Richard Star, Tucker Coe, Samuel Holt and Edwin West -- in part because people didn't believe he could write so much, so fast.

His best known character is John Dortmunder, who showed up in a series of books, comic in tone, but was about Dortmunder's efforts at organized crime.

Donald Edwin Westlake was born July 12, 1933, in Brooklyn, N.Y. He was raised in Yonkers and in Albany and attended several colleges in New York state but did not graduate. He served in the Air Force in the 1950s.

Christopher Hibbert, 84, Lively Historian, Dies
Mr. Hibbert won a wide readership with his popular approach to historical subjects and his gift for narrative, on display in more than 60 books. He told the Sunday Times of London in 1990: "The main aim is to entertain and tell a good accurate story without attempting to make historical discoveries or change historical opinion in any way. You've got to make the reader want to know what's going to happen next, even if you're writing about something the outcome of which is well known."

Arthur Raymond Hibbert was born in Enderby, Leicestershire. He left Oriel College, Oxford, to join the Army where his sergeant major called him Christopher Robin. The "Christopher" stuck. After his military service, he return to Oxford, where he earned a history degree.

British writer John Mortimer dead at 85
John Mortimer, barrister, author, playwright and creator of Horace Rumpole, the cunning defender of the British criminal classes, died at his home in Oxfordshire, England.

He published his first novel in 1947. His most popular creation was Rumpole, the barrister who would take on any case, and usually triumphed. Played on television in "Rumpole of the Bailey" by Leo McKern, Rumpole had a passion for the underdog, a love of poetry and a wife he referred to as "she who must be obeyed." Rumpole, who appeared in a TV series and a string of novels and stories, began as a BBC teleplay in 1975 and the television series was produced in Britain beginning in 1978.

John Clifford Mortimer was born on April 21, 1923, in London. He attended Brasenose College, Oxford and worked as a barrister in the British courts.

Prize-winning writer Hortense Calisher dies at 97
Calisher, the author of more than 20 books, was a three-time nominee for the National Book Award and a four-time winner of the O. Henry Prize for the short story. Her admirers included Anne Tyler, Cynthia Ozick and Joyce Carol Oates. But few outside the literary world knew much about her. Once a familiar name in The New Yorker and elsewhere, the author saw most of her books go out of print. She was a "writer's writer" whom even admirers considered a challenge to read.

She was born on Dec. 20, 1911 in Manhattan, which became the setting for much of her fiction. She graduated from Barnard College in 1929 and then worked as a sales clerk, a model and social worker. In 1935 she married Heaton Bennet Heffelfinger and moved to Nyack, N.Y., where for years she wrote poetry. While enrolled in a writing course in Nyack, she turned out a series of semi-autobiographical stories about a family she called Elkin. The New Yorker published five of them, and her career was begun.

John Updike, Author, Dies at 76
He was a literary writer who frequently appeared on best-seller lists. Updike wrote novels, short stories, poems, criticism, the memoir Self-Consciousness and even a famous essay about baseball great Ted Williams. He was prolific, even compulsive, releasing more than 50 books in a career that started in the 1950s. He won virtually every literary prize, including two Pulitzers, for Rabbit is Rich and Rabbit at Rest and two National Book Awards.

Born in Reading, Pa., in 1932, Updike was the only child of a mother who dreamed of being a writer and a father who taught high school and struggled with an inferiority complex. He attended Harvard University on a scholarship and briefly worked at The New Yorker before moving to the suburbs north of Boston.

Updike’s best known works were the four “Rabbit” books, which, over a period of 30 years, told the story of the loves and losses of one-time high school basketball star Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mad Magazine News

Mad Magazine mascot Alfred E. Neuman

Starting with issue no. 500, to be released in April, the monthly magazine will become a quarterly, though it will expand to 56 pages from 48. The changes were announced by DC Comics, which publishes Mad Magazine and is owned by Warner Brother Entertainment.

The publisher said: "The feedback we've gotten from readers is that only every third issue of Mad is funny, so we decided to just publish those." On the bright side, anyone with a subscription to Mad will find that it now lasts longer.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

2009 Newbery Medal and Caldecott Medal Winners

The 2009 Newbery Medal winner is The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Dave McKean, and published by HarperCollins Children's Books.

A delicious mix of murder, fantasy, humor and human longing, the tale of Nobody Owens is told in magical, haunting prose. A child marked for death by an ancient league of assassins escapes into an abandoned graveyard, where he is reared and protected by its spirit denizens.

"A child named Nobody, an assassin, a graveyard and the dead are the perfect combination in this deliciously creepy tale, which is sometimes humorous, sometimes haunting and sometimes surprising," said Newbery Committee Chair Rose V. TreviƱo.

The Newbery Medal was named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.

The 2009 Caldecott Medal winner is The House in the Night, illustrated by Beth Krommes, written by Susan Marie Swanson (Houghton Mifflin Company)

Richly detailed black-and-white scratchboard illustrations expand this timeless bedtime verse, offering reassurance to young children that there is always light in the darkness. Krommes' elegant line, illuminated with touches of golden watercolor, evoke the warmth and comfort of home and family, as well as the joys of exploring the wider world.

The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.

The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) is the world's largest organization dedicated to the support and enhancement of library service to children.

How to Become a Successful Poet

Do you want to become a successful poet? All you have to do is read your poem at the most popular, most watched presidential inauguration of all time. That's the lesson Elizabeth Alexander learned.

Her publisher, Graywolf Press, will be printing 100,000 copies of Alexander's inaugural poem which is by far the biggest print run in their 35 year history. After Maya Angelou read her poem, On the Pulse of Morning, at the 1993 inaugural of President Bill Clinton it sold a million copies.

Alexander's poem, titled Praise Song for the Day: A Poem for Barack Obama's Presidential Inauguration, consists of 14 unrhymed three-line stanzas, and a one-line coda: "praise song for walking forward in that light." It will be released as an $8 paperback, 32 pages, on Feb. 6.

Here is the poem -- courtesy of the New York Times.

Monday, January 26, 2009

2008 NBCC Finalists Announced

The finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Awards were announced on Saturday, January 24, 2009. Here is the complete list from Critical Mass, the blog of the National Book Critics Circle Board of Directors. Books compete in the areas of fiction, general nonfiction, biography, autobiography, poetry, and criticism.

The National Book Critics Circle, founded in 1974 at the Algonquin, is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization consisting of some 700 active book reviewers who are interested in honoring quality writing and communicating with one another about common concerns. It is managed by a 24-member all-volunteer board of directors.

What Obama Should Read

The Washington Monthly asked some of their favorite writers and thinkers what President Obama should be reading and they came up with 25 books, mostly about policy, that should be on his list.

Here are a few suggestions from the list:
James Fallows, a national correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly, said he should read America's Defense Meltdown, by an all-star array of truly expert authors. It's free for everyone to read at this site:

Jeff Greenfield, a CBS News senior political correspondent, suggested The Coldest Winter by David Halberstam.

Rachel Maddow, host of The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC and Air America Radio, suggested The Edge of Disaster by Stephen Flynn.

George Pelecanos, a novelist and the writer/producer of The Wire, said that the short story collection Lost in the City by Edward P. Jones should be on Obama's list.

Read the complete list on the Washington Monthly website.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Read the Book -- See the Movie

The following films based on books are in theaters now:

The Tale of Despereaux is based on the popular 2003 children's novel by Kate DiCamillo about "a mouse, a princess, some soup and a spool of thread." Directed by Sam Fell and Robert Stevenhagen, this animated film features the voices of Matthew Broderick, Dustin Hoffman, and Emma Watson.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1922 short story -- collected in Tales of the Jazz Age -- about a man born elderly who ages backwards, with bizarre consequences. Directed by David Fincher, the film stars Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, and Julia Ormond.

Marley & Me is based on John Grogan's 2005 New York Times bestselling memoir about a family's adventures with their mischievous dog. Directed by David Frankel, the film stars Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston, and Alan Arkin.

Not Easily Broken is based on New York Times bestselling author and Texas megachurch pastor T.D. Jakes' 2006 novel. Directed by Bill Duke, this religious drama stars Morris Chestnut, Taraji P. Henson, and Maeve Quinlan.

The Reader is based on the award-winning 1995 novel by German judge and author Bernhard Schlink. Directed by Stephen Daldry, this post-WWII-era drama -- revolving around reading, romance, and secrets -- stars Ralph Fiennes, Kate Winslett, and Jeanette Hain.

Defiance, directed by Edward Zwick, is based on Nechama Tec's 1993 non-fiction Defiance: The Bielski Partisans. Chronicling the efforts of three Jewish brothers who fight back against the Nazis, this WWII drama stars Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, and Jamie Bell.

Hotel for Dogs is adapted from YA author Lois Duncan's 1971 novel about kids transforming an abandoned hotel into a shelter for stray dogs. Directed by Thor Freudenthal, the film stars Emma Roberts, Don Cheadle, Lisa Kudrow, Kevin Dillon, and Kyla Pratt.

And coming out this week:

Inkheart is based on Cornelia Funke's 2003 first book in the young adult fantasy trilogy in which book characters are brought to life. Directed by Ian Softley, the film stars Brendan Fraser, Paul Bettany, Helen Mirren, and Eliza Bennett.

Killshot is based on the 1989 thriller by Elmore Leonard about a couple in the Witness Protection Program who are targeted by a hitman. Directed by John Madden, the film -- already postponed several times -- stars Diane Lane, Mickey Rourke, Thomas Jane, Rosario Dawson, and Joseph Gordon-Leavitt.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Improve Your Vocabulary

There are several sites you can use to learn a new word everyday and hopefully improve your vocabulary:

Merriam-Webster Online: Word of the Day -- Besides the definition, they include a sample sentence and a link to hear the pronunciation. You can either subscribe by email or RSS feed. Features the meaning of a single random word, its pronunciation, etymology and examples of word usage. A daily newsletter with A.Word.A.Day for people that delight in the joy of words.

And the ultimate word site -- The Oxford English Dictionary: sign up to have the OED's Word of the Day e-mailed to you or receive their RSS feed.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What is Web 2.0? -- Lesson 1: Blogs

A blog (a contraction of the term "Web log") is a web site, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order.

A blog resembles an online journal or diary because each entry (referred to as a "post") includes the date and time. Blogs are used to share information and they can also foster interaction and community because they allow for comments.

Here is a page from the PBS Teachers website that answers the question: "What exactly is a blog, anyway?" For even more information, here is a general article from the online encyclopedia called Wikipedia on blogs. And here is a short YouTube video on blogs from Commoncraft.

How do you find blogs to read? You can used specialized search tools such as Technorati's Blog Finder or the Google Blog Search. You can also find blogs on some of your favorite pages that you regularly visit, e.g. The Los Angeles Times has a blog called "Jacket Copy" on the book page of their website; a website like CNN has several blogs; and this is a blog you are reading from the Buena Park Library District. There are blogs on practically every subject of interest you can imagine. When you find blogs you like, check if they have blog rolls - a list of their favorite blogs - in the sidebar. Like this blog on knitting: Mason-Dixon Knitting.

So, now for your first assignment:
  • Add a comment (a remark, a suggestion, a question, an observation...) to this blog.
  • Scroll down to the bottom of this entry and click on the "comment" link.
  • You'll then see text that says "Leave a Reply" as well as a large box where you can type text.
  • Enter your comment.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

2008 Was a Very Good Year.....for Fiction

USA Today recently published an article on the success of fiction publishing in 2008.

The charge was lead by Stephenie Meyer, who sold more books in 2008 than any other author (22 million). Just in case you didn't know, Meyer wrote the Twilight series about a romance between a girl and a vampire.

Other highlights in publishing for 2008:

Monday, January 19, 2009

Edgar Allan Poe's 200th Birthday Anniversary

Today is the 200th anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe's birth(January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) He was an American poet, short story writer, editor and literary critic. He was born in Boston, Massachusetts and some say led a fairly miserable life. Find more information on his life at the website for the Edgar Allan Poe Musuem.

Here are 2 new books about Poe:
Stephen King, Sue Grafton, Lisa Scottoline and other leading members of the Mystery Writers of America have written essays for In the Shadow of the Master.
Also out this week is Poe: A Life Cut Short by Peter Ackroyd.

Now Renting: College Textbooks

The costs of college textbooks has been soaring for quite some time now. In August 2008 the University of Arkansas predicted that US college students would spend $2.5 million on textbooks in that month alone.

Someday students might be reading everything online, but until that day arrives there are at least 2 websites that offer an alternative: you can rent your textbooks.

  • claims they are the first and best online book rental service
  • Chegg says that they are the leading online textbook rental service

Friday, January 16, 2009

Is Obama the New Oprah?

The NPR radio show "Morning Edition" played a piece Wednesday morning January 14, 2009 by Lynn Neary called Obama: A New Force in Publishing. They say the publishing world is excited because according to playwright Eric Begosian at this year's National Book Awards, "....our new president is, in the broadest sense of the word, a reader."

The article pointed out that reading has not been absent in the White House -- First Lady and former librarian Laura Bush is a voracious reader and President Bush finished 40 books last year. But Harold Augenbraum, the executive director of the National Book Foundation, sees something different in Obama because he's the author of two best-sellers: "You actually have both a writer and a reader in the White House who is articulate and eloquent in his own right."

Jeff Seroy, a publicist at Farrar, Straus and Giroux, hopes that Obama will have the kind of influence on book sales that his supporter Oprah Winfrey has had.

Here are the titles they list from Obama's reading list:
The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope, by Jonathan Alter
FDR, by Jean Edward Smith
Lincoln: the Biography of a Writer, by Fred Kaplan
Selected Poems, by Derek Walcott
Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution, By Thomas L. Friedman
Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson

Thursday, January 15, 2009

You Never Know What You'll Find in a Book

Henry Alford wrote an essay in The New York Times called You Never Know What You'll Find in a Book asking "what prompts people to leave unusual objects inside books." He started pondering this idea after finding out that the novelist Reynolds Price once found a slice of fried bacon within the pages of a book in the Duke University library.

He mentioned that some of the items found in books in secondhand bookstores have included some bizarre objects -- scissors, a bullet, a used Q-tip, a baby's tooth, drugs, and 40 $1,000 bills.

Several authors/artists responded to his query about what they leave in the books they read (not library books):
  • Anne Rice has "filled books with flowers I've received, to save the flowers in dried form and to remember the happy moment of receiving them."
  • Diana Abu-Jaber recalled putting a favorite photograph of a friend's greyhound inside a book and then promptly left the book on a plane.
  • Musician Dan Zanes once used a book to store a prized possession given him by his mother -- a rare photograph of J.D. Salinger.

The Paper Cuts Blog of the New York Times followed up on that essay in their post Librarian, There's Some Bacon in My Book saying that "there seems to be a lot of skepticism about the bacon bookmark urban legend." One of the readers of the blog responded in a comment to try and clear up this matter once and for all:

"I'm the cartoonist of Unshelved (the library comic strip). We speak at library conferences about a dozen times a year, and each time we always ask the attendees if they've ever personally experienced bacon as a bookmark. Every time between two and five people raise their hands. The only time they didn't was in Alaska, where several people had personally experienced salmon as a bookmark" -- Bill Barnes.

So, I was wondering when our library books get checked in what kind of things are found in them? Here are some of the items our clerks have found:
  • Leaves (used as bookmarks)
  • Letters
  • Pictures
  • An unused cigarette
  • An unused tissue
  • Money
  • Bugs (small spiders, etc.)
  • Lottery ticket (no, it wasn't a winner)
  • Library cards
  • Toothpicks
  • Lollipop sticks
  • Pay stubs
  • Calling cards
  • Airline boarding passes
  • Credit cards
  • A slice of pizza*
  • A slice of unwrapped processed cheese*
*And yes, the patron was charged for the damage to the book from these items. But, we've never had any bacon!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Access to Library Databases

If you are looking for information for your homework or general research, please remember that our online databases offer many resources (from literary criticisms to car repair). Here is a list of the databases we offer:
  • General OneFile: News and periodical articles on a wide range of topics
  • Gale Virtual Reference Library: a selection of eReference books
  • Learning Express Library: practice tests and tutorials on many academic or licensing tests
  • NewsBank: a newspaper database
  • Reference USA: information on more than 12 million U.S. businesses
  • Chilton Library: provides repair procedures for automobiles and light trucks
  • Literature Resource Center: literary criticisms and biographical information on authors
  • Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center: information on current social issues
  • What Do I Read Next?: a resource to help you discover new titles and authors
  • Student Resource Center Gold: designed for use by high-school students for homework and in-depth research assignments
  • Student Resource Center Junior: designed for use by middle school students for homework assignments
  • Kids InfoBits: for beginning researchers, grades K-5
  • Social Study Fact Cards: information on topics included in the social studies curriculum in California for grades 4-8
If you wish to use the databases from your home computer or lap-top you will need your library card number to access them. If you don't have a card already, you can apply online and a card number will be e-mailed to you.

If you are looking for even more resources you might want to try the databases at the San Francisco Public Library. All California residents can now sign up for a San Francisco Public Library eCard via their online application (also available in Spanish and Chinese). The eCards allow immediate access to all of SFPL's databases, eBooks, and other virtual content.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A New Winnie the Pooh Book for 2009

The London Times just reported that the estate of Winnie the Pooh author, A. A. Milne, has agreed that a sequel be written. A. A. Milne wrote only two books about his son, Christopher Robin, and his favorite teddy bear: Winnie-the-Pooh (1926) and The House at Pooh Corner (1928). The third in the series is to be called Return to the Hundred Acre Wood and will be released in October 2009.

Pooh trustee Michael Brown believes that author David Benedictus and artist Mark Burgess have "captured the spirit and quality of those original books." He also stated that: "We hope that the many millions of Pooh enthusiasts and readers around the world will embrace and cherish these new stories as if they had just emerged from the pen of A. A. Milne himself."

A.P. Dutton Children's Books, an imprint of Penguin Books will be the publisher and offer an initial print run of over 100,000 books. Its expected publication date in early October will probably make it a Christmas bestseller. Don Weisberg, president of Penguin Young Readers Group said that he expects the title to be a "huge seller for a long, long time."

Good News About Reading

The National Endowment for the Arts released a new study called Reading on the Rise: A New Chapter in American Literacy on Monday, January 12, 2009 that said for the first time in over a quarter-century their survey shows that literary reading has risen among adult Americans.

The NEA first began surveying American reading habits in 1982 and the number of literary readers is now the highest in the surveys history. In 2008, approximately 113 million Americans did some kind of literary reading (novels, short stories, poems, or plays--in print or online). That means that there were 16.6 million new adult readers of literature since the previous study in 2002.

The exact reasons for the rise are unknown, but Dana Gioia, the chairman of the NEA, speculates that community-based book clubs, Oprah Winfrey, and series like Twilight and Harry Potter all played a role.

Jim Rettig, president of the American Library Association said that the 2008 data would not reflect a recent uptick in circulation at libraries. As the economy has soured, Mr. Rettig said, "people are discovering that you don't have to spend anything to read a book if you have a library card."

Monday, January 12, 2009

Afternoon Book Discussion Group for Adults Announces Book Titles for 2009

The Afternoon Book Discussion Group meets on the fourth Thursday (except Sept, Nov & Dec) of the month from 1:00-2:30 pm in the Small Meeting Room downstairs in the Library.
New members are always welcome.

Here are the books they have chosen to discuss in 2009:

January 22, 2009: The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards

February 26, 2009: Death on Parade and/or Kona Heat by Gregory and Patricia Kishel.
The author, Patricia Kishel, will be attending this meeting to discuss her books and talk about the writing process.
[Note: on this day they will combine with the evening group and meet from 6:30-7:45 pm in the 2nd floor Boardroom]

March 26, 2009: The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen

April 23, 2009: Beloved by Toni Morrison

May 28, 2009: The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

June 25, 2009: The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

July 23, 2009: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

August 27, 2009: Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes

September 17, 2009 (3rd Thursday): Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

October 22, 2009: The Bone Collector by Jeffrey Deaver

November 19, 2009 (3rd Thursday): The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman

December 17, 2009 (3rd Thursday): The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

For more information on any of these titles, go to For further information, please call Phyllis at the Reference Desk at 714-826-4100, ext. 125.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Spider-Man Comics and Obama

It has been reported this week that Marvel Comics is releasing a special issue of Amazing Spider-Man #583 on January 14, 2009 with Barack Obama on the cover. Marvel editor in chief Joe Quesada learned that Obama is a Spider-Man fan and said: "Fantastic! We have a comic book geek in the White House." The USA Today article points out that US presidents have appeared in comics since the days of FDR.

It's already predicted that the issue, which will have a face value of $3.99, will be worth as much as $20 the first day it goes on sale at comic-book specialty shops.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Statement on Public Libraries from President-elect Obama

According to the Library Hotline, a weekly newsletter from Library Journal and School Library Journal, "It may be too soon to know how high libraries will fare on President-elect Barack Obama's agenda, but it's safe to say that the profession has a special place in the heart of the next President of the United States. Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the American Library Association's Washington Office, said she's confident that Obama will recognize the importance of what we do because he has a track record of supporting them in the past."

Take, for instance, his address at the American Libraries Association conference in June 2005 in which Obama said "The library has always been a window to a larger world---a place where we've always come to discover big ideas and profound concepts that help move the American story forward."

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What's a Wovel?

Recently an article at reported that we are changing the way we read: "Time once spent curled up with a good book is now often devoted to catching up on blogs, and browsing Web sites." So, one publishing company is trying to take advantage of this and offering wovels online.

What's a wovel? A wovel is a Web novel. The Underland Press website offers an installment every Monday. They say that "at the end of every installment, there's a binary plot branch point with a vote button at the end." So, this allows the reader to decide on how the plot progresses. Voting is open from Monday to Thursday and the author writes the chapter from Thursday to Sunday.

Underland Press describes the wovel format as "reminiscent of the old Choose Your Own Adventure books, but with a high tech twist."

Monday, January 5, 2009

What the Library Staff is Reading

I just went around and asked some of the BPLD staff to tell me what they are reading right now and why they happened to pick up that particular book.

And here are the results:

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
by Stieg Larsson.
Read great reviews on this title from Amazon, etc. It's the first book in a 3 part series called the Millennium Series (other titles are The Girl Who Played With Fire and Castles in the Sky). It's a murder mystery/family saga/love story--and one of those books you can't put down. They are extremely popular in Sweden--but we'll have to wait a bit for the translations of the last 2 titles. He started writing them in 2001 and enjoyed it so much that he didn’t make contact with a publisher until he had two finished novels and had a third one under way. He died in 2004, shortly after delivering the manuscripts for the 3 novels.

Exit Ghost by Philip Roth.
Why: So many of his titles have appeared on many of the bestseller lists over the years so this reader wanted to start to explore his body of work and just happened to pick up this title. Roth has won many book awards: the National Book Award (twice), the National Book Critic's Circle Award, the Pen Faulkner Award (3 times), and the Pulitzer Prize in 1997.

Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
Why: Needed to reread this title because they are doing it in the afternoon library book discussion group here at the Library.

Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Why: Picked this title to read and review for a possible new Teen Book Discussion Group that the Library might be starting.

The Schwa Was Here by Neal Shusterman
Why: Heard the author speak and thought that the concept of a person not really being there was interesting. It would be good for a junior high boy.

You Didn't Hear It From Us: Two Bartenders Serve Women the Truth About Men, Making an Impression, and Getting What You Want by Dushan Zaric and Jason Kosmas.
Why: Recommended as very interesting by another staff person -- it gives honest tips for dating by two bartenders that have seen it all.

Day Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko
Why: Because it is the sequel to Night Watch (they made a terrible movie from this book -- but the book is quite good). Will continue reading the other books in this series: Twilight Watch and The Last Watch. They are about vampires, witches and magic.

All Quiet on The Western Front by by Erich Maria Remarque
Why: It is a school assignment -- but really likes the book.

Downtown Owl by Chuck Klosterman
Why: Got it as a Christmas present -- and he is one of this readers favorite authors.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The literary life of George W. Bush

According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal by Karl Rove* our current president, George W. Bush, is a book lover. Rove and Bush have had a reading contest going since early 2006 in which they tried to top each other in the number of books read each year.

In 2006 the score was Rove (100 books) to Bush (96 books). Mr. Bush's reading list included 58 nonfiction books and here are a few of the titles listed: Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick, Manhunt by James L. Swanson, and biographies of Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Carnegie, Mark Twain, Babe Ruth, King Leopold, William Jennings Bryan and Huey Long. Also on the list were eight Travis McGee novels by John D. MacDonald.

The contest continued in 2007 and the score was Rove (76 books) to Bush (51 books). The list for this year included The Shia Revival by Seyyed Nasr and one book meant for young adults, his daughter Jenna's Ana's Story.

According to Rove, Mr. Bush insisted on another rematch in 2008. And as of December 26, 2008 the score was Rove (64 books) to Bush (40 books). His reading this year included several history titles, such as: David Halberstam's The Coldest Winter, Rick Atkinson's Day of Battle and David King's Vienna 1814. Each year, the president also read the Bible from cover to cover, along with a daily devotional.

Rove said: "In the 35 years I've known George W. Bush, he's always had a book nearby. He reads instead of watching TV. He reads on Air Force One and to relax and because he's curious. He reads about the tasks at hand, often picking volumes because of the relevance to his challenges."

*Mr. Rove is the former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush.

What is Web 2.0?

Web 2.0 is the term given to describe a second generation of the World Wide Web that is focused on giving people the ability to collaborate and share information online. There are many different Web 2.0 tools that contribute to this sense of community, collaboration, and creativity. We will be highlighting a Web 2.0 topic every month or so to help inform you about Web 2.0 tools and resources.

In order to get you started, here is a 5 minute video that captures the essence and spirit of all things Web 2.0.

Have you heard about "social networking", MySpace, and FaceBook? Do you watch videos on YouTube? Do you read blogs and subscribe to RSS feeds? Have you added photos to Flickr? These are some of the things we will be exploring in the upcoming months.

So, be sure to check back and watch for the first "lesson" to help you learn all about Web 2.0 tools.