Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sherlock Holmes Revisited

Even if you’ve never read any of the stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, chances are you recognize the name Sherlock Holmes. In fact, the name probably conjures images of deerstalker hats, magnifying glasses, curved pipes, and maybe a choice phrase, like “Elementary my dear Watson.”

But the new Sherlock Holmes movie to be released on Christmas Day holds little in common with that cocaine-addicted brainiac of old. Robert Downey Jr. is an action-hero Holmes, complete with mad fighting skills, love scenes and explosions never imagined by the character’s creator.

But the filmmakers insist that their movie is closer to original stories than it appears. The original Holmes had experience in baritsu, swordplay and gunfighting. Furthermore, the long-suffering sidekick, Dr. Watson, was not the bumbling, clueless assistant as popularly believed. (Jude Law as Watson fights alongside the new movie Holmes.)

Members of The Diogenes Club of Dallas, a local Sherlockian society, told me they are looking forward to the movie if for no other reason than it will reignite interest in the original Sherlock Holmes stories and the pastiches that followed, both in print and in film. (Members of the society will be discussing the movie and all other things Holmesian at the Northeast Branch Library on January 9.)

As a librarian, I love movies that are based on books, especially if the film encourages reading. In fact, here’s a list of recommended titles that can be found at Arlington Public Library. (This is in no way a complete list!)

The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes
by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice
by Laurie King

The Empress of India: A Professor Moriarty novel
by Michael Kurland

The Return of Sherlock Holmes
DVD Collection
Jeremy Brett as Holmes

So what’s next in the Sherlock Holmes lexicon? A comedy film starring Sacha Baron Cohen as Holmes and Will Ferrell as Watson is in the works, and the makers of this year’s Holmes are looking to make a sequel.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Creativity Corner at Woodland West Branch

The first meeting is:
Monday, January 11th
6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Woodland West Branch Library

If you remember from my post Not Your Mama's Crafts, I came into my own as a crafter a few years ago after a childhood spent cursing my owned failed attempts at perfecting the crochet techniques my mother passed down. I now spend a lot of my free time frantically crocheting gifts and trying to create my own patterns for everything from casual scarves to funky fingerless gloves. And now I can finally show off my projects to someone other than my family and skeptical co-workers (they're beginning to think that I crochet even in my sleep).

The Woodland West Branch will begin hosting a monthly craft night called Creativity Corner. This will be a place to relax and work on your own craft projects among other crafters, a place to bring your projects to show off or get advice, and, in general, just a place to be crafty. Every crafter is welcome, female or male, teen or senior, crocheter or knitter, seamster or quilter, scrap-booker or jewelry-maker. This group is also open to those wanting to learn a particular craft, so don't be shy!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

New Ancestry Images

Ancestry now has enhanced census records. In a blog post on their main website, Ancestry announced that they went through over 200 million records and enhanced records, removing tape residue from the images and adding clarity. As you can see from their example, this is amazing and has put something on my to-do list: go back over old census records and see if I can read the names now!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Getting to Know Us: Lee Shqeir

Lee Shqeir
Administrative Services Coordinator, Central Administration

I can’t ever remember a time when reading wasn’t part of my life. I always had access to books at home, school, and the base library. I grew an Airforce “brat” and we lived in many places including Suitland, Maryland, Okinawa, Japan, Naples, Italy, San Antonio, Texas, and Montgomery, Alabama. One library or another has always been part of my memories. I remember as an elementary age child I would have to go to my mother’s work after school, the base pre-school, to wait for her to get off work. I spent every afternoon just reading through the books on the shelf. As I got older, my mother let me go to the base library after school, it was only two blocks from my house and I went there often, just to browse and read whatever caught my eye that day. Sometimes the distant draw of the base pool, playground, or the afternoon matinee at the base theater won over my attention for the day, especially during the summer, but I was a regular fixture at the library. The pool and the theater require some of my allowance; however, the library and the playground were always free.

I was also an avid comic book reader, which I spent my weekly allowance on as fast as I got my hot little hands on it. I would dash down to the PX and buy whichever one suited my fancy that day. – All the Marvel super heroes, Archie, Richie Rich, Wendy and Casper, and even the horror comics. I always dreaded it when it was time for my dad to receive new orders. Not because I didn’t like to move, I knew my mother was going to make me take my treasured box of comic down to the base thrift store to get rid of them before the movers showed up to box up our belongings. I would have gold mine if I still had all those comics today – I usually had a box about the size of a paper case by the time it was time to move again.

My reading style is the same as an adult, I’m not a slave to any particular genre or format, I read any and everything. I also find myself re-reading books that I enjoyed in the past. Why not, it was good the first time. I mostly read fiction–I love a good story from authors such as Stephen King, James Patterson, Anne McCaffrey, Amy Tan, Frank Herbert, Patricia Cornwell, or Larry Niven, to name a few. I even purchased Bulfinch’s Mythology as a young teen at the thrift story and read it cover to cover. If it doesn’t captivate me in the first few chapters, I usually move on–a good story is key for me.

Part of my ritual when I visit home is to browse the bookshelves in my mother’s home and read all her magazines. She always has Reader’s Digest, Reminisce, Birds and Blooms, Popular Science, Time, and Ladies Home Journal. I have my name on a post-it note in the front of several of my favorite books so they can come to my book collection when she passes on. I like science fiction, horror, fantasy, mystery, and novels. Right now, I’m listening to 206 Bones by Kathy Reich, and reading Run for Your Life by James Patterson. I just finished re-reading The Magic Goes Away by Larry Niven and listening to Angels and Demons by Dan Brown. It’s all fair game to me, there’s nothing better than a good read.

Favorite Movies that I have watched more than once:

Color Purple

Favorite TV Series:


Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory

This last month, we all agreed at the morning book club at the Southwest Branch that our December read wasn't as fulfilling as some of our other selections have been (sorrry The Beach House!). The next day I went ahead and hoped that our January selection would be better. And so far it absolutely is. This is my first Philippa Gregory book and it doesn't matter if I know history, because I am hoping in vain for Mary, Queen of Scots, to pull through in the The Other Queen. In fact, I can already tell this is one of those books that makes me look up everything I can about it, starting with Wikipedia and on through what type of embroidery Mary stitched. Come check it out with us at 11 a.m. on January 13 at the Southwest Branch.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Gnooks: tells me what I want to read

I don't know if this is a new website or not, but it sure fascinates me. Gnooks has a literature map, where you type in an author and it gives you a spacial view of where another author is relative to that author. Type in John Grisham and Tom Clancy and Ken Follet are right next to him. Type in Neil Gaiman and you get Terry Pratchett. Anne Rice and Clive Barker are shades away from Stephen King. What makes it fun, if not incredibly useful, is the graphical nature of the words floating around.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Robert Langdon bio

I loved the Da Vinci Code, but when I tried to crack open the most recent novel by Dan Brown, the Lost Symbol, I was, well... lost. I will probably try to read it again after everyone else has read it, but until then I will be content to read these biographical facts about Robert Langdon, including my favorite: "Did you know: Professor Robert Langdon wishes someone would ban the word awesome."

Friday, December 4, 2009

Christmas Fiction to brighten your holiday spirits

I thought I would share a few Christmas fiction titles to help really get you in the spirit and geared up for this holiday season. Just click on a title and you will be directed to that title in our online catalog where you can make a request if a particular book strikes your fancy. Enjoy!

The Christmas Glass: a novel
by Marci Alborghetti

The Christmas List
by Richard Paul Evans

The Perfect Christmas
by Debbie Macomber

Lakeshore Christmas
by Susan Wiggs

A Rumpole Christmas
by John Mortimer

An Amish Christmas
listed under Amish

The Memory Quilt
by T.D. Jakes

Christmas Jars Reunion
by Jason F. Wright

The Christmas Clock
by Kat Martin

A Creed Country Christmas
by Linda Lael Miller

Home in Time for Christmas
by Heather Graham

A Christmas Blizzard
by Garrison Keillor

A Wish for Christmas
by Thomas Kinkade

Christmas on Mill Street
by Joseph Walker

One Imperfect Christmas
by Myra Johnson

Home for Christmas
by Andrew M. Greeley

The Christmas Secret
by Donna VanLiere

A Christmas Promise
by Anne Perry

A Blue and Gray Christmas
by Joan A. Medlicott

The Christmas Lamp
by Lori Copeland

The Christmas Dog
by Melody Carlson

Wishin' and Hopin'
by Wally Lamb

The Unfinished Gift
by Dan Walsh

Knit the Season
by Kate Jacobs

The Gift
by Cecelia Ahern

One Week in December
by Holly Chamberlin

Christmas Cake
by J. Lynne Hinton

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Reference Question of the Month: the Law of Attraction

Where are the books on the law of attraction?

We do have a couple of books that are specifically on the law of attraction, for instance The Soulmate Secret or The Answer.The law of attraction became very popular in 2006 with the movie, The Secret, and the book by the same name that was published the next year. But the idea of the law of attraction goes back thousands of years and is even in the Bible (Mark 11:24; "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.")! Most of the books on the law of attraction don't specifically mention those words in the title, so here is a list of those books you won't be able to find just by doing a search on "the law of attraction."

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
This edition is "updated for the 21st century", but this book has been around since 1937. Hill never explains what his "secret" is, but many believe that he is really talking about the law of attraction.

Life's Missing Instruction Manual by Joe Vitalee
Bestselling author and marketing guru Joe Vitale offers insights and life lessons for achieving success. This title is available through our Overdrive service.

You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay, argues that everyone is responsible for their own experiences, tells how to lead a more creative and fulfilling life, and discusses work, health, success, and personal relationships

Science of Getting Rich by Wallace Wattles. Another "oldie but goodie", Wattles offers a primer on "prosperity consciousness".

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Resource Spotlight: Reference USA

As we all know, the Arlington Public Library subscribes to some excellent online databases that can be accessed at the library, as well as at home. Do you know much about these databases? The library provides descriptions of each database, but these little blurbs can't even come close to describing all the cool things these resources can do for you. Sometimes, it is often best to just dive right in, play around, and see what these resources are all about.

One database that I think truly needs to be explored to be appreciated is Reference USA. It is often described as a "business" database, which it is, but it is useful for so much else that you wouldn't necessarily think were of a "business" nature.

Several times, I have used this database to find contact information. Reference USA is useful to find the contact information of a manager from such and such business. But the other day, I had a gentleman tell me he would like to contact the owners of such and such house so that he could make them an offer to buy their home. We were able to use the residential database to find this information.

Reference USA can really help take the stress out of event planning. A custom business type keyword search for "reception"provided a code for "Halls and Auditoriums" which I limited to the Dallas metro area. In less than 15 seconds I had a list of names , addresses and phone numbers of 109 potential places to throw a party.

Last minute holiday shopping? Your kid wants a Zhu Zhu pet (or whatever) and you can't find it at the last three toy stores you visited. Well, a custom business type keyword search for "toy store" brings a code for "Toys-Retail." Limit it to the however far you are willing to drive for the silly thing, and you've got a list of stores that you can frantically call.

I use this database often. I'll probably use it today. Where do I want to eat for lunch? I am to indecisive to think of a place without help. A custom business type search for "restaurants" with a mile radius from my zip code gives me a list of 30 choices. Fantastic!

I encourage you to play around with Reference USA and see what it can do for you!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Getting to Know Us: Amy Stafford

Amy Stafford

Senior Reference Assistant, Woodland West

I wanted to be a writer / parapsychologist / astronaut / bookstore owner when I was in elementary school. So far, the parapsychologist and astronaut parts haven't worked out (I've never seen a ghost and when the Challenger blew up I decided staying on Earth was fine with me), but I did work for a total of 6 years at a bookstore, and, so far, nearly 4 years in public libraries. Woodland West Branch has been my home since May 2008. I handle both adult and teen services at my branch.

I am a graduate of the University of North Texas (whoo!) where I studied poetry and fiction writing. My first publication was in Pank and I was once brave enough to be a guest poet for a poetry event where, I am happy to say, the sheer terror of standing in front of an audience did not cause me to pass out.

Most of what I read is fiction (science fiction, fantasy, and horror are my favorites), although poetry is a given. I read a lot of teen fiction. I mean a lot. When I read non-fiction, it tends to be on the humorous side (how to become a ninja, how to survive a zombie apocalypse). I like to crochet, visit National Parks, pretend my cats are my children, play embarrassing board games with my family (Quelf, SingStar), and teach my niece and nephews irritating things that will annoy their parents.

If you need help with teen fiction, science fiction, fantasy, horror, or poetry I'm your gal.

Book Favorites:

The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins

Adventures of Cow
by Lori Korchek

The Knife of
 Never Letting Go
by Patrick Ness

DVD Favorites:

Much hilariousness ensues as Sean uses his acute powers of observation to fake being psychic & solve crimes with best pal Gus.

The Inspector
Lynley Mysteries

Based on the
Elizabeth George books.
Try if you enjoy Prime Suspect.

The Secret of NIMH
One of my favorite childhood movies. Try the book
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien.

Music Favorites:

10,000 Days
Desribed as
alternative rock with heavy metal sounds. Called "the thinking person's metal band."

Kimya Dawson
Hilarious music for children and families. I don't have kids and still love listening to this.

6 and 12 String Guitar
Leo Kottke
Kottke is just plain brilliant. If you're a guitarist, Kottke is someone you should get to know.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Good Grounds For Books - November Meeting

Yet another fabulous meeting. We did really well this time around; We actually finished a few minutes before noon instead of going over by 20 or 30 minutes! Laureen brought in some wonderful coffee mugs that she found in a catalog and some of the members (including myself) just had to own. We also threw in a little info about our upcoming Holiday Tips and Tricks program. But you're here for the books, so here they are!

Notes From the Dog
by Gary Paulsen (Juvenile Fiction)

King Dork
by Frank Portman (Young Adult Fiction)
While I Was Gone
by Sue Miller (Adult Fiction)

Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba: the biography of a cause
by Tom Gjelten (Non-Fiction)

In Fed We Trust: Ben Bernanke’s war on the great panic
by David Wessel (Non-Fiction)

Santa in a Stetson
by Janet Dailey (Romance)
Murder is Binding
by Lorna Barrett (Mystery)
A Season of Gifts
by Richard Peck (Juvenile Fiction)
Dick Francis books (Robyn re-visited some previous reads) (Mystery)

The Romanov Prophecy
by Steve Berry (Fiction)
The Alexandria Link
by Steve Berry (Fiction)
True Compass
by Edward Kennedy (Non-Fiction)
Book of the Dead
by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (Fiction)

Eye of the Needle
by Ken Follett (Fiction)
The Graveyard Book
by Neil Gaiman (Juvenile Fiction)

Where Men Win Glory
by Jon Krakauer (Non-Fiction)
Under the Banner of Heaven
by Jon Krakauer (Non-Fiction)

Links to our catalog

During our update to our catalog software, you may experience some broken links from the blogs or the website to the catalog. This is a problem we expected to encounter. We are working to update the links.

Thanks for your understanding.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Catalog Maintenance

The Library's online catalog service will be unavailable on Tuesday, Nov. 17 while we upgrade the software. Patrons and staff will not be able to access account information or lookup or reserve books. We anticipate the service will be available again on Wednesday.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Teen Books: Not just for, well, teens anymore

If you've been living under a rock, than you may not know that teen/young adult fiction is the fastest growing market in the publishing industry. Some people will say that this only happened in the past 5 to 10 years, but it started long before that.

My family shopped at Taylor's bookstore (my middle school years) when they were still around. Taylor's had a Young Adult area and, despite being a fan of more adult authors like Tolkien and Stephen King around age 10 and 11 (my dad should have hidden the Stephen King books better because I frequently scared myself reading parts of Misery and Pet Sematary), I latched on to books in the Young Adult section like crazy. It started with R.L. Stine's Fear Street series, progressed to Christopher Pike, Richie Tankerseley Cusick, and L.J. Smith (back when she first wrote the Vampire Diaries books!).

I witnessed the rise in popularity of young adult fiction firsthand and I get so excited every time I see an adult reading a young adult book. My mom reads every young adult book I give her and often passes them on to co-workers. And I see plenty of adults perusing our young adult section at the Woodland West Branch.

Here are some suggestions for some great young adult reads that adults will also enjoy:

The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins

Little Brother
by Cory Doctorow

by Neal Shusterman

The Knife of Never
Letting Go

by Patrick Ness

The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs
by Jack Gantos

A Great and Terrible Beauty
by Libba Bray

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Not Your Mama's Crafts

It wasn't until about 3 years ago that I discovered I am a crafter. Sure, my mom taught me how to crochet when I was in elementary school, but I wasn't any good at it (mostly because I was very, very impatient; okay, I still am). Sewing was out of the question. I would most likely stitch a piece of fabric onto my hand. Sharp objects are best kept as far away from yours truly as possible. I stuck to books, writing, music, and sports. It's okay to get beat up and bruised when you play basketball, but not so much when you're trying to make an afghan.

I took another stab at crafts a few years ago when my best friend, whom I believe is wise in all things artistic (i.e., she doesn't accidentally stab herself with craft supplies on a regular basis) learned to knit and then started teaching knitting classes for TCU's Extended Education program (where she herself first learned). And, holy cow, I wasn't half bad. I have since started sewing MP3 and cell phone holders with felt and even sewing a skirt or two when I feel brave enough (and when I am wearing proper safety gear).

The Do-It-Yourself (or DIY) movement has really thrived in the last few years and there are now tons of great websites, blogs, classes, and books to help even the most clumsy crafter (re: me) figure out how to make something decent. The Arlington Public Library has a great selection of crafting books.

Pretty Little Patchwork by Valerie Shrader

Subversive Seamster
by Melissa Alvarado

Amy Butler's Little Stitches For Little Ones by Amy Butler

Cute Stuff
by Aranzi Aronzo

Big Girl Knits
by Jill Moreno

The Big-Ass Book of Crafts by Mark Montano

We even have books for guys!

Son of Stitch 'n Bitch: 45 Projects to Knit and Crochet for Men
by Debbie Stoller

The Crochet Dude's Designs for Guys
by Drew Emborsky

Crafty Blogs & Websites
Get Crafty

If you want more craft book suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment here on the blog. =)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Resource Spotlight: Overdrive downloadable audiobooks

Recently, an unexpected eye ailment caused me to miss a day of work. Generally, if I am not feeling well, I might spend the day on the couch catching up on my favorite television shows on DVD. However, previously mentioned eye ailment did not allow this type of activity to help pass the time until my afternoon eye appointment (p.s. it is very hard to get an eye appointment on a fall day when kids are out of school). Reading my much anticipated celebrity biography was also pretty much out of the question. I was certain I was doomed to a day of complete boredom. Luckily, I realized Arlington Public Library offers downloadable audiobooks! First, I downloaded the Overdrive media console to my computer. That was pretty easy. The hardest part was selecting which book I wanted. I ended up with Middlesex, a book that I have been meaning to read because I have seen it on so many of my friends' bookshelves (it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction!). I easily added it to my cart and checked it out with my library barcode number. I had a little bit of trouble downloading my title to the console. It turns out that I needed an update to my Windows media player, but Overdrive gave me directions on how to get that update directly from the console (if you have problems downloading titles, check out the guided tour). After that, I was able to download the entire book at once and play it right from my console. I think this weekend I am going to transfer the title to an MP3 player so I can listen to it while I run errands. Few selected titles (signified with a CD and a flame) allow you to burn the book to a CD. This is great for me, because I mostly listen to audiobooks in my car. With this option, I don't have to worry about skipping and such from overuse (unfortunately, many of my favorite titles also the favorites of others...those disks can get warn out fast). Another great thing about downloadable audiobooks is that you don't physically check in an item- your loan will just expire. This means you can't forget to turn in a material, so you can't get a fine! So a potentially lame day was rescued by this awesome resource provided by my library. Now I'm hooked on downloadable audiobooks!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Getting to Know Us: Melissa J.

Melissa Jeffrey
Adult Services Librarian, Southwest

I started reading fairly early and devoured everything I could find. My family used the library because there was no way we could afford the amount that I read. In fact, when I was 14 years old, my mother made me give away 500 of my own books (I still had about 2000 left). Nowadays my personal collection is much smaller, in part because I only keep books that are important to me, and also in part because I know how heavy 40 boxes of books are to move from place to place! In spite of that I still manage to have more books than shelf space. Which is just one of the reasons the library is so important to me.

I probably read about 50% non-fiction, 50% fiction. I enjoy cooking, history, and all of the craft books. I have also been known to read offbeat non-fiction books on esoteric subjects. When I'm at home, you can catch me baking bread, reading to my kids, or playing video games. I'm firmly stuck in the generation that grew up with Atari and Nintendo and have graduated to the Xbox 360. My kids say I'm a clean freak, but only by a boy's definition of clean. At work, I am acknowledged as knowing a bit about science fiction, genealogy, and romance novels. Above you can see me in one of two gardens at the Southwest Branch.

Book Favorites
by Jude Deveraux
Brief Lives

by Neil Gaiman

by Charlotte Bronte
Salt: A
World History

by Mark Kurlansky

Movie Favorites

Music Favorites
Foo Fighters