Monday, February 22, 2010

African American Genealogy

Gayle Hanson, president of the Texas Historical and Ancestry Researchers, spoke at the Northeast Branch Library in honor of Black History Month on the topic of African American Genealogy. Although many of the tips Hanson shared are the same for people searching for their ancestors of any ethnicity, at a certain point in the search, African Americans must take a different path.

For instance, most African Americans were not included in the Federal Census until 1870, after emancipation and the end of the Civil War (except for freed men). But even if your ancestors were in the Census, they might not be listed by the name you know. Even though it is an “official” document, there is no guarantee that people didn’t use their nicknames when asked by the Census taker. Furthermore, names could be misspelled. Brainstorm any and all variations of surnames.

Hanson also suggests browsing the Census listings before and after a relative. Many times it is possible to find other ancestors who lived in close proximity to one another.

Another great resource for Texans is the Works Progress Administration’s collection of slave narratives. The Federal Writers’ Project conducted thousands of interviews with former slaves living in 17 states, mostly in the South, during the 1930s. You can search over 2,000 narratives on the Library of Congress website at Keep in mind that the narratives are organized by the state in which they were gathered, not necessarily the state where the person was born or grew up.

Arlington Public Library has tried to make your search a little easier by compiling many useful databases and ancestry websites in one place. Go to to get started.

And on a somewhat related note: the 2010 Census will be sent to your house in March. It is a 10-question form for you to fill out and send back. Perhaps 72 years from now, your descendants will be trying to find you using the records you create today. Not only that, the statistics generated by the Census determines how much representation you have in Congress, and are used to advocate for more services and infrastructure in your community. For more information on the Census, go to

Friday, February 19, 2010

Best Actress Oscars

Well it's that time of year and we are looking forward to the Oscars. The Best Actress awards have always been a great race to see. In 1967, Katharine Hepburn won the best actress Oscar for a film that broke racial barriers, and we will be showing that film on Sunday, February 28, at 3 p.m. at the Southeast Branch. Call 817-459-6395 for more information.

Katherine Hepburn won the most best actess Oscars with four. She has set the bar high for the actresses who are following her. She won for Morning Glory in 1933, Guess Who's Coming To Dinner in 1967, The Lion In Winter in 1968, and On Golden Pond in 1981. She had a total of 12 nominations, winning four. In our day the actress some would compare her to is Meryl Streep who has won two Oscars with a total of 13 nominations for Best Actress.

For your viewing pleasure please check out the following Best Actress Oscar winning movies.

Marion Cotillard
La Vie En Rose

Helen Mirren
The Queen

Reese Witherspoon
Walk the Line

Hilary Swank
Million Dollar Baby

Charlize Theron

Nicole Kidman
The Hours
DVD Book Audio

Halle Berry
Monsters Ball

Julia Roberts
Erin Brockovich
DVD Book

Gwyneth Paltrow
Shakespeare in Love

Helen Hunt
As Good as it Gets

Frances McDormand

Susan Sarandon
Dead Man Walking
Book Audio

Holly Hunter
The Piano

Emma Thompson
Howard's End
DVD Book Audio Downloadable Audio

Jodie Foster
Silence of the Lambs
DVD Book

Kathy Bates
DVD Book En EspaƱol

Jessica Tandy
Driving Miss Daisy
DVD Book

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Resource Spotlight: Reference USA revisited

We talked about how great Reference USA is last December and now there are three more reasons to get to know this resource:

U.S. New Movers

Updated weekly, this database is a great way to reach out to new members of your community. Search by housing type, geography, move type, moving distance, and more. This is a valuable resource for service providers looking to drum up new business. It is also helpful for organizations looking for new members.

U.S. New Businesses

This databse contains over 4 million new business with approximately 50,000 new businesses added each week. Use this resource, and be the first to offer your goods and services to these new startups. Search by business type/filing type, contact information, and more.

U.S. Lifestyle

Save money by targeting consumers who might actually have an interest in your goods or services! Find potential customers by searching by lifestyles, hobbies and interests. Many categories (broken into sub-categories) are available. NOTE: Sorting search results will occasionally cause an error. We've notified RefUSA and they are working on a solution to the issue.

You can find Reference USA on our database page in the "Business and Legal" category.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Angela's Romance Novel Five Step Program: admitting that, yes, you are are romance reader

Hi! My name is Angela, and I am a Romance reader! This admission feels liberating. For years I have been made to feel frivolous, trivial, and unintellectual because of my choice of reading material. I have suffered the smirking glances of my coworkers at the library as I load and unload my book bag. I have been taunted, teased and called the girl who reads “trash”. I have been exposed to ridicule because of the book jackets of my favorite reads and staff picks. But, no more will I blush. No more will I turn my book around in order to hide the cover.

This is a brave step for me! I am so use to being beat down that it has taken me YEARS to come to terms with my romance preferences. I know many of you are not yet at the point that you can be open and proud about your romance reading. Perhaps some are only part-time romance readers—using romance as “fillers” between your more weighty reading. Whatever the reason you pick up a romance book, do so with pride. I have devised a few steps to help you come to terms with the romance genre in hopes that you will read openly and honestly.
1. Admit that you do indeed love and read romance literature. Take an inventory of the books you have read or are currently reading. Are there ANY that fall in the romance genre? If so, you are indeed a romance reader.

2. Recognize that you are not alone. According to the Romance Writers of America, over 78 million people read at least one romance novel in 2008 with 29 million being hard-core romance readers. Go ahead, take a sneak peek around you. Chances are the person right next to you shares your love of romances. They may not be as evolved and open about it.

3. Forgive the teachers, professors, librarians, fellow travelers on airplanes who have looked down their noses at your reading choices. Just as you want others to respect your reading choices, you must accept theirs (however misguided they may be).

4. Do not be afraid to suggest your favorite romance titles to your friends and acquaintances. You may inadvertently find that you will provide the impetus for them to realize and accept their inner romance reading tendencies. Then take it a step further and welcome them into the fold with open arms. Continue to feed their growing need for romances.

5. Try new and unfamiliar romance authors. Romance readers in general are a loyal bunch. We stick to our beloved authors like glue. But with over 7,000 new romance books published in 2008 alone, there is a lot of new material to choose from. Embrace and encourage new authors. Your find may become the number one romance writer of the future.
So how do you know if what you’re reading is Romance? Here are some characteristics of the genre according to The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction by Joyce G. Saricks to help make the distinction .

The plot follows the formula of boy meets girl, boy loses girl (or some conflict occurs), boy gets girl back. A happy-ending is required.
The characters are stereotypical. Tall, dark (or blonde, or even red headed) and handsome is the preferred male character. The women are usually independent, smart, and of course, beautiful (or at least interesting and unconventional).
Romances are “fast” reads. You can stop reading and pick it back up easily. They are perfect for the chauffeur parent who is always waiting for their kids to finish extracurricular activities (that would be me).
Romances use very descriptive language to set the mood, define the characters, and convey the action in the story.

Whether you are a current romance reader or new to the genre, hold your head high! Here are some of my favorite authors (feel free to post some of your own!):
Contemporary Romance
Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Linda Lael Miller
Carly Phillips
Romantic Suspense
Suzanne Brockmann
Linda Howard
Elizabeth Lowell
Alternative Reality Romance
(aka Paranormal Romance)
Jayne Ann Krentz
Charlaine Harris
Katie MacAlister
Historical Romance
Diana Gabaldon
Stephanie Laurens
Gaelen Foley
Judith McNaught

Written by Angela J.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Kage Baker 1952-2010

Kage Baker, science fiction writer and author of the excellent Company novels, died January 31 from cancer. I know that there are other authors more famous than her that have died in the past couple of weeks or so (namely J.D. Salinger and Howard Zinn, both brilliant authors), but Kage Baker's books profoundly moved me, made me laugh, made me think, and most of all entertained me. I didn't enjoy every one of her books--in fact, I wanted to throw The Machine's Child across the room when Baker couldn't manage to stay in one orderly timeline (which to be fair, must be hard when you are writing a novel about immortal time travelers). In spite of that I was hooked and am profoundly glad that she was able to round out the series with Not Less Than Gods, a look at Victorian assassin Edward Anton Bell-Fairfax.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Mystery and sci fi combined

I was running out of books to read this past week so I raced over to the new book section to see if I could find a good book to read. The Domino Pattern by Timothy Zahn stuck out to me because the cover was pretty, I liked the font, and I knew I recognized the author's name, although I was pretty sure I'd never read any of his books. Star Wars fans will recognize his name because of his many books about Admiral Thrawn and Han Solo. Domino Pattern features Frank Compton, a loner detective, on a train, solving a murder. Sounds pretty Agatha Christie (re: the train) or Dashell Hammet (re: loner detective), right? Well you would be right, except the people murdered are aliens, and the train is a sort of supergalactic highway across space run by a species of spiders. I really enjoyed the melding of the traditional "must solve the mystery before the end of the train ride" and the mixing of alien cultures, including an alien/human hybrid "Girl Friday" for Compton. Compton was once a cop for Westali, which would be the European Union for us, but was blacklisted due to irritating his superiors by uncovering a plot funneling money to another world. Unfortunately for him, his superiors were the ones doing the money laundering and the cover up.

About halfway through the book I realized that yes, once again I had picked up a book that was the fourth in the series of books that started out back in 2005 with Night Train to Rigel. I went ahead and went back and read the first three including The Third Lynx and Odd Girl Out (I'm in the middle of it right now). Even though the whole series has a futuristic bent, my favorite part by far is the humanity of the characters amidst the strange backdrop. In fact one of his publishers, Random House, has a blurb for him that sums this up, that he is "known for pitting realistic human characters against a well-researched background of future science and technology." Each of the books has a murder at the center of it, while intergalactic politics and intrigue are scattered throughout, making these some of the most enjoyable books I've read in awhile.