Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Cold Winter Nights and DVDs

At Southside Branch, our patrons have been checking out DVDs at a phenomenal clip. When you see most of the shelves nearly half empty and starting to tilt at funny angles, you know patrons are spending a lot of winter nights watching DVDs.

This is good, because it means they enjoy our DVDs so we are making a lot of patrons happy, and we like to see our patrons happy. The drawback is that nearly a quarter of the collection might be checked out at any one time. We recommend that patrons put the titles they want to see on hold as there is such a turnover. But as time goes by, people do get to see the ones they want, and one can hardly quibble with the price which is free.

I myself have had a love of film ever since my English major days at UT Austin. These were the days before DVDs or VHS, so in those days, different auditoriums on campus would show all sorts of foreign and independent films, so you quickly began to pick up on what cinema you liked, and how different it was from what was shown on the TV of the time. Back then there were only 3 networks and PBS.

The films they used to show on Saturday Night at the Movies were epic types, like all the De Mille movies, 55 Days in Peking, and El Cid -- which by the way, has a new deluxe restored DVD version released to stores on Jan. 25th. They tended to leave an impression on a young 11 year old, and I remember running off to the library to discover yes, there was a short novel by Nikoli Gogol entitled Taras Bulba, and yes, there was a Boxer Rebellion in China in 1900, and yes, there really was an historical figure called El Cid. Perhaps fellow baby-boomers remember the impact these Saturday night films had.

Now in the 21st century, old films are finally being put on DVD at a quicker pace. It is getting easier to find some film or TV show of yesteryear that you haven't seen in years. And you can find it even if you don't get IFC or Sundance Channel.

So how do librarians keep pace with what new titles are being released on DVD? How do we determine what is good, what is chaff and what might make a good selection that will be a good addition to a collection?

Well of course Amazon.com is good, and the Internet Movie Database is packed with information, but I find myself still using two other web sites just to find out what is coming out soon, and what is available. Remember you can stop at the reference desk at any of the branches and fill out a purchase request for titles that the library does not own. We will notify you when it arrives.

One is FACETS MULTI-MEDIA, which has being renting tapes by mail since the 1980s, and now also sells DVDs. It has an amazing online catalog where you can find out, for example, if some obscure title by a notable Russian director from the 1920s has actually been transferred to DVD.

The other site is DVD Verdict. Different reviewers render judgment on new DVDs on a daily basis. The reviews can be quite extensive and they are looked at not just from a standpoint of how they merit as a film, but also reviewed technically for how well the footage was transferred to DVD. If it is an older film, one can read about the quality of the restoration. They have an archive of reviews going back to 1998. Plus they have a calendar of upcoming DVD street release dates which goes out to 238 days from today’s date. One can note for example, on March 25, 2008, 188 titles are scheduled for release, including a wide screen version of David Lynch's Lost Highway, Battlestar Galactica: Season Three, and Taras Bulba.

So the synergy between films, and books and libraries was something I stumbled into at an early age; some of the cinema I've encountered has been sublime, and some of it fairly cheesy. But it has added all sorts of insights, and extra texture, and depth to life. It has been said that film was the major new art form of the 20th century, and it was also said that VHS would mean the end of movie theaters. But now I read that Santa Fe will be getting even more big screens soon, so it looks like the cinematic experience, whether in theaters, or on VHS, or DVD is here to stay. The one constant is that information on films, info on the making of a film, or the original source for the film are all things you can still find at your local library.

By JP at Southside

Monday, January 28, 2008

Teen Advisory Board Social

You are invited to the

Teen Advisory Board’s Social

Thursday, Jan 31

Southside Library


Come & hear about our

Book Club, Teen Advisory Board &

Teen Mentoring Program – Power Readers

Hope to see you here!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Dog or Cat?

Are you a cat person or a dog person? I believe this is one of the questions asked to plumb the souls of others (usually at bars). Others include, “What is your favorite color?” and the old ace in the hole, “What is your sign?” Personally, I have had better success asking the question, “Are you a god person or a tac person(dog and cat spelled backwards)?” It engenders more thought, and certainly more conversation.

The trouble with the dog person-cat person question is that it encourages stereotypes, which are convenient, but never edifying. Say dog person–what springs to mind? He (for the stereotype says he is often of the male persuasion) is hearty, loyal, and likes to have someone bring him his slippers, preferably carried in their mouth. A dog person is sort of like the description of those born in the year of the dog, found on Chinese restaurant placemats. Say cat person, and you see Maureen Dowd, stroking her Abyssinian, or maybe Dr. Evil and his wicked-eyed Persian in “Austin Powers–The Spy Who Shagged Me.” Stereotypes all, and as such, they diminish the complexity of us and our animal friends.

I live with both a dog and a cat–perhaps I should ask myself which one I love most. Is it Barney the ex-alley cat, who could be based upon Rotten Ralph, Jack Gantos’ self-indulgent feline? Is it Oona, the black Standard poodle, whose noble heart descends from the lineage of Steinbeck’s Charley, but whose perspicacity, through intervening generations of inbreeding, has diminished somewhat?

Unfortunate stories came to us from New Orleans, of people forced to leave their beloved pets behind in the wake of Katrina. Perhaps I should ask myself, if the Apocalyptic Express was chugging toward Santa Fe, and I had to leave one animal behind, which would it be? I would have to take Oona and leave Barney, but that is not a comment upon my love for him; rather it speaks to my faith in his well-honed survival skills. As the refugees pulled out, Barney would eye me accusingly with that look I get when I refuse him another helping of crunchy cat food. Then he would spring away, looking for a garbage can to ransack, with one last disdainful switch of his tail. On the other hand, Oona the love dog would stand there wondering where Momma was going, bewildered until disaster overtook her.

But apart from disastrous situations, I like to think I am non-discriminating when it comes to pets. Each animal has a unique personality that cannot be completely defined by its species, much like the quality of a book cannot be determined by its cover. While it is in our human nature to categorize and pigeon-hole, remember that there are always exceptions to our organizational systems, things that defy boundaries and exist in a liminal space between opposing poles. We must give all pets, books, and even people the benefit of a doubt as we embrace the complexities of taste and appreciation.


Friday, January 25, 2008

Master Storyteller Steven Plá Presents Stories of the Chinese Year of the Rat

The Santa Fe Public Library Children’s Department will present master storyteller Steven Plá presenting stories of the Chinese Year of the Rat on Friday, Feb. 8, from 2 to 3 p.m. at Main and from 4 to 5 p.m. at the Southside Branch, and Saturday, Feb. 9, from 11 to 12 p.m. at La Farge Branch. Come early (to Main at 1:30 and Southside at 3:30) to make a dragon puppet in honor of The Chinese New Year.

A career librarian in academic, research and school libraries for over 30 years, Steven has been welcomed at libraries for his international storytelling and enrichment work, especially with the children of Zuni Pueblo. Steven has over 25 years of telling stories from around the world and believes that storytelling is “a bridge to understanding between cultures.”

Please join us in learning about other cultures through the voice of Steven Plá.

This program is open to all ages and school classes are also welcome. Register at LaFarge Library by calling 955-4863, Main Library 955-6783, or Southside 955-2828.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Date an Elephant! (just in time for Valentine’s Day)

Concerned about spending Valentine’s Day without a main squeeze? There’s good news for you!

The back story: the Indian elephant is in danger of dying out in the wild within fifty years, and we are its only threat, according to a charitable organization in the United Kingdom dedicated to saving the wild elephant.

What’s this got to do with Valentine’s Day, you ask, and more importantly, what does it have to do with me? Here’s the scoop: in a new twist on the “adopt an animal / child / highway” concept, www.elephantfamily.org has come up with an idea called “Date an elephant”. This inventive plan involves donating money to help one particular elephant, who will then send you love letters, a “bedside” photograph, and a Valentine’s Day card. The site provides photos and profiles for each elephant, so you can choose your best match.

If you’re a commitmentphobe, you can still help out by visiting the Elephant Shop at http://www.elephantfamily.org/iopen24/defaultarticle.php?cArticlePath=145, where you can score an elephant pin, a bottle of Pink Elephant wine (one of the site’s sponsors), or a pair of truly fabulous shoes.

I’d always heard that elephants were smart; finding out they can write love letters only proves the point beyond my wildest dreams. And how can one resist a 2700 kg beauty with a “wonderful salsa wiggle”?

posted by AA@Main

Thursday, January 17, 2008

ALA Awards

The long awaited news from the ALA (American Library Association) has finally arrived. No, I'm not talking about changing the Dewey Decimal system, but the Award winners of 2007. Every year committees of librarians decide which books are the best and whether you agree or not with their choices, they are worth the read.

The Caldecott is the award for the best illustrated children’s book; the Newbery is for the most outstanding contribution to children's literature.
Michael L. Printz Award is given for excellence in literature written for young adults. Also announced were the Coretta Scott King award book recognizing an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults and the The Pura Belpré Award honoring Latino authors and illustrators whose work best portrays, affirms and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in children's books.

The Caldicott medal went to The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick and the Newbery Medal went to Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices From a Medieval Village,” by Laura Amy Schlitz.

Caldecott Honor Books

Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story From the Underground Railroad
,” illustrated by Kadir Nelson, written by Ellen Levine
First the Egg, by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain, by Peter Sis
Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity, by Mo Willems

Newbery Honor Books

Elijah of Buxton, by Christopher Paul Curtis
The Wednesday Wars,by Gary D. Schmidt
Feathers, by Jacqueline Woodson

The Winner of the Michael J. Printz Award is The White Darkness, by Geraldine McCaughrean.

Printz Honor Books

Dreamquake: Book Two of the Dreamhunter Duet
, by Elizabeth Knox
One Whole and Perfect Day, by Judith Clarke
Repossessed, by A. M. Jenkins
Your Own, Sylvia: A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath, by Stephanie Hemphill

Pura Belpré Award Winners

The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano written by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Sean Qualls

Los Gatos Black on Halloween, illustrated by Yuyi Morales, written by Marisa Montes

Coretta Scott King Book Awards

Elijah of Buxton
by Paul Curtis

Other award winners can be found on line at ALA Book/Media Awards web page.

Please check the library catalog for availability.
What a great way to start the new year—by reading the best in literature and illustrations for youth.
By BA and BS at Main
cover of book cover of book cover of book

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Get in the Know: New Mexico Democratic Presidential Caucuses

Lately the news has been saturated with updates on the Presidential primaries and caucuses around the nation. On February 5th, New Mexicans who registered as Democrats by Jan. 4th , will be able to vote for their candidate for presidential nominee. This will be a different election than the June 3rd primary, in which Republican voters will get to vote for their candidate. June 3rd will also be the date for Senate and Congressional primaries for all parties.

The New Mexico Democrats have a useful website,which has a FAQ about the primary and the current presidential candidates. They also have a link for Feb. 5th Caucus voting sites, which will be different from your usual voting location. The New Mexico League of Women Voters has a Voters Key and more election information.

If you need to register to vote, the Santa Fe Public Library has voter registration forms in English and Spanish at all locations. The DMV also provides access to a printable national form.

If you want more information about the candidates, Project Vote Smart,has ongoing information about current elected officials and candidates for all levels of public office, including Issue Positions and Voting Records. Some of our libraries have public forum candidate groups meeting in their community rooms—call to check for dates. And staff can always help you find books and articles written by or about various candidates.

By AM at Southside

Best reference question yet – Las Posadas

I haven’t worked here very long, but I got the best reference question thus far last week! A gentleman called first thing when we opened, and said he had some visitors from out of town who were interested in the history and background of Las Posadas, the play that is performed on the Plaza here in Santa Fe every year. Where did this originate, the patron asked, and when? If it didn’t start here, then where? And he added the bit every librarian loves to hear: “… and anything else you think might be of interest.”

I immediately jumped into the vertical file, with which I have been slowly getting familiar. This is an incredible resource of clippings from local papers about local topics of interest, going back to what seems like the dawn of time. My colleague was interested and looked for books and internet information, but all those roads led to nil. The vertical file, on the other hand, told me more than I could ever have imagined. Some of the information was conflicting, but I finally read through enough to have put together a pretty good idea of the history behind Las Posadas.

Based on the morality plays of the middle ages, Las Posadas came to us from Mexico. It is a recreation of Mary and Joseph’s journey into Bethlehem seeking shelter; they are turned away from every door by the devil until the very end, where they are accepted at the Inn (which is what las posadas means – the inns). In smaller villages, this goes on for several nights, and the couple playing Mary and Joseph go from house to house. Here in Santa Fe, they go to the stores on the Plaza, though this was not always the case. Originally, according to The Reporter, Las Posadas began in the 1960s as a celebration of community solidarity in the San Antonio neighborhood by several residents who were brought together by fighting and winning against the construction of an apartment building in their neighborhood. The original Las Posadas plays continued in this neighborhood for many years and involved a real donkey, but things got out of hand when the donkey ran away and hid in the hills for two days; eventually the play was taken over by businesses (Bank of Santa Fe and Sociedad Folklorico were both mentioned in different articles) and brought to the Plaza, sans donkey.

I have somehow managed to miss this play for seventeen years, but after learning all of this background (and making the patron exceedingly happy!), I am certain to be there this coming year, holding a candle & wishing for a donkey!

posted by AA@ Main

Monday, January 14, 2008

Mark your Calendars for Saturday, January 26 and Sunday, January 27 --

The Southside Branch is holding its first book sale and hundreds of buyers are expected.

What is the draw? Just look at what is available:

· Hundreds of donated books, VHS tapes, audio cassettes and CDs will be available at bargain prices.

· Children’s books are only twenty five cents each!

· Hardbacks are $1; paperbacks $.50 and CDs, DVDs and VHS tapes are $1.

Saturday, the sale starts at 10:00 a.m. and goes until 1:00 p.m. for Friends of the Library members. This is a special thank you to Friends Members.

Memberships in the Friends are available at the door and start at $10.00. Membership gives early buying status for members at most of the sales.

The regular sale is set for 1:00-4:00 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.

See you there!

Posted by PCH at Main

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Einstein’s Lost Snow Day Time Warp Theorem

Lately getting up early in Santa Fe, checking the weather and waiting for a call that the City is on a two hour delay or is closed, I remember the same hope and anticipation that I had as a child.

My sister and I would stay in bed, huddled under quilts listening to the weather sounds and hoping not to hear a snowplow. We’d peer out over the quilts every so often to assess the last night’s snow fall. Then with fingers crossed, we would wait for our mother to call up the stairs, “You’d better get up, there’s school today!” or the most glorious words ever, “Stay in bed, it’s a snow day.” Hearing the latter we would bound out of bed, get dressed and dance in the snow in the yard and make plans for the snow holiday. It was a free day, a day to do what we wanted, no studying or homework for us! We would gather a stack of books to read and huddle by the furnace register while sipping hot chocolate. As the morning went on, we would do our chores and plan what to bake for our afternoon snack.

Favorites were Swedish tea cakes, plain chocolate chip cookies and gingerbread cookies. We had all the time in the world to make them, shape them, cut them out and then decorate them. I am sure Einstein would agree that there is an unexplored theorem of time that manifests itself as the snow day time warp that brings everything to a halt or at least slows it down on a snow holiday. I have a feeling this week we may enter the snow time warp due to the weather that is predicted.
Now, where are the cookie recipes?

Posted by PCH at Main