Friday, October 31, 2008


Halloween at Main Circulation In case you've forgotten, today is Halloween. Whether you're a trick-or-treater, win the costume contest every year, or just stay home with some scary movies, October 31st has something for everyone.

Halloween is about 2,000 years old, and is derived from the Celtic New Year Samhain (pronounced sow-in). With the spread of Christianity, November 1st became All Saints Day or All-hallows, and the night before was named All-hallows Eve. Later, November 2nd was named All Souls Day. Halloween as it is currently celebrated is an amalgamation of different European and Native American customs, but still distinctly American in flavor. It is also the second largest commercial holiday. Can you guess the first?

El día de los muertosAlso on these days is Los Días de los Muertos, or Days of the Dead, from October 31 to November 2. The origins of this celebration go back about 3,000 years, and its origins in Mexico have a strong Aztec influence. The traditions both honor the dead through altars and mock death in celebration.

It's fascinating that so many different cultures have observed these days for thousands of years, and they've come together on this continent with black cats, jack o' lanterns, skulls and skeletons, and most importantly, candy.

Pumpkin ChicCome in to any Library branch and you'll see haunted house decorations and a costume or two. To get ready, you can carve your own pumpkin, and here's a spooky story that is perfect for this day of ghosts and goblins, witches and vampires.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Storyteller Steven Plá

Storyteller Steven Pla November is Native American Heritage Month, and to celebrate, the Library is having master storyteller Steven Plá entertain and educate on the following days:
Friday, Nov. 14th
Southside: 4-5 pm

Saturday, Nov. 15th
La Farge: 11:00 - noon

Main: 2:00 - 3:00 pm

Plá has been a popular storyteller for his international storytelling and enrichment work, especially with the children of Zuñi Pueblo. His career spans over 30 years in academic, research and school libraries. Plá 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 free and open to all ages and school classes are also welcome. For more information call Main Library at 955-6783, La Farge at 955-4863, or Southside at 955-2828.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


While bats are around and visible all summer, there's something about seeing a bat in fall that seems especially appropriate. In September, a bat became quite friendly with one of the Main Library balconies. Unfortunately, no one wanted to get close enough to say hello or snap a picture.

Despite their reputation in vampire stories, bats are usually quite harmless to people. Well, there's always the threat of rabies, but bats are definitely not the only carriers of that disease. Bats are great consumers of pesky insects, and the majority of New Mexico's 27 bat species are protected.

Bats at the BeachThe islands in the Caribbean also have many bats. Hiking there is always interesting, since the bats love the caves and crannies of the volcanic island I lived on. You have to be careful where you poke your head in!

For my last Halloween there, I had a pumpkin carving party with the only two pumpkins I could find. Afterwards, my friend brought her finished jack o' lantern home to her open-air house facing the Caribbean Sea. When she woke up the next morning, she found that fruit bats had been at the jack o' lantern all night, flying in through the nose, eyes and mouth, eating the fruit of the pumpkin from the inside out. All that was left was a soggy shell of pumpkin skin. No wonder why it was hard to find pumpkins! All that work to carve, and the bats finish it off in hours.

Before Photos of the jack o' lantern:

Carved PumpkinJack o' Lantern

Out of respect for the emaciated post-bat jack o' lantern, no After Photos were taken.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Election Day

One week from today is Election Day. The polls will be open on Tuesday, November 4 from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. All Santa Fe Public Schools will be closed on that day.

For information about your registration, or to view your absentee or provisional ballot, the New Mexico Secretary of State has instituted the Voter View site. If you're a Santa Fe County resident, you can check your polling place and view sample ballots at the County Clerk's website. You can also find out more election information at the Election FAQ.

For more information about the candidates, check out Project Vote Smart. If you're wondering where the candidates' campaign funding comes from, Open Secrets is a non-profit, non-partisan organization. Another non-profit, non-partisan site is FactCheck, useful while watching the news. There is also an official Voting and Elections site from the federal government.

Monday, October 27, 2008

La Llorona, The Wailing Woman

New Mexico History and Cultures
at the
Santa Fe Public Library
Fall 2008

Saturday, November 8
Starting at 2 pm
Southside Library Community Room
6599 Jaguar Dr.

La Llorona, The Wailing Woman
Rosalía de Aragon

This famous ghost from Spanish folklore is known throughout the world for her eerie, spine-chilling cries as she searches for her loved ones. Her story was an ancient one in European mythology, but in New Mexico it is said she lived next door, or an ancestor actually knew her. La Llorona's cries are brought to life with the popular performance and songs of Rosalía de Aragon, a multi-talented native actor.

This is a family event for all ages.

This program is part of the New Mexico Humanities Council Chautauqua Program, which is supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the N.M. Department of Cultural Affairs. Support also comes from the Friends of the Santa Fe Public Library. The program is free and open to the public.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Blogs We Like

Both of these blogs serve the web-going public in vastly different, but equally important ways.

The first is Found Cameras and Orphan Pictures at People post pictures from cameras they've found, as well as the place they found it. It's a great site to check out if you've lost a camera in the Plaza, or if you get a kick out of candid shots of strangers.

PostSecret bookThe next is PostSecret, where people send in artistic postcards with secrets printed on them. Silly, sexy or sad, it's interesting to read these secrets every Sunday and get a peek at the innermost thoughts and motivations of strangers. The blog has even put out a book of some of the best or most artistic secrets.

Let us know about other useful sites and blogs!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

An Apple by Any Other Name

The Amazing Apple BookI happened to grow up in Michigan apple country, where there were orchards of old apple strains. Today, if I ask people to name every kind of apple they know, they may name four or five. Of those, many of the apples are “designer” apples with special names. Cameo and Pink Lady are new to the apple ranks.

But today the mainstays that most people know are Jonathon, Red Delicious, Yellow Delicious, Gala and Granny Smith.

In the US, by 1900 there were 700 named varieties of apples. Many did not make the cut to become a commercial apple because they could not be bred to have marketable characteristics, like long shelf life, non-shrinkage and general public appeal. When red delicious became the number one eating apple in the US, apple growers tore out thousands of less popular apple trees to make way for a cash crop. As Americans stopped cooking with apples, the cooking apples were also torn out of orchards, unless they were huge commercial orchards selling to pie companies or applesauce producing companies.

I have never tasted a Winter Rose, Lilly of Kent, Park Spice or Lady Sweet. They all disappeared long before I was born.

From Seed to AppleI am the exception when it comes to knowing apples. I grew up with Baldwins, Macintosh, Winesap, Pippin, Gravenstein, Wealthy, Wolf River, Early Blush and Sweet Bough apples to name a few. And then there is the best apple in the world, the now elusive Northern Spy. It first appeared in pomological (apple) reports in 1844. There are no clues to how it was named, despite rumors of a Civil War connection. Northern Spy apples are great pie apples, sometimes growing to ¾ of a pound or more and have a tender, sweet taste, making them good for eating.

But even the Farmers’ Market growers have limited kinds of apples. Fresh and delicious, but only the usual suspects. A couple of years ago at the Farmer’s Market, a seller had Northern Spies. But, just a few. His orchard was near Abiquiu. He promised to save some for me in the next few weeks, but he never returned. I think he must have sold them to other apple aficionados. Today I am tempted to walk among the stalls at the Farmers Market holding a sign appealing for Northern Spy apples. Don’t laugh, you have probably never had the pleasure of eating a Northern Spy.

by PCH @ Main

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hispanic New Mexico Women

Rosalia de AragonNew Mexico History and Cultures
at the
Santa Fe Public Library
Fall 2008

Thursday, November 6
7 - 8:30 pm
Main Library Community Room
145 Washington Ave.

Hispanic New Mexico Women: 1528-Present
Rosalía de Aragon

As a tribute to the many Hispanic women of New Mexico and their contributions to the state, Rosalía de Aragon will relate stories that haven't been told in history books. She'll begin by portraying Doña Eufemia, who was among 47 other women from the Juan de Oñate expedition in 1598. She'll introduce a mystery guest, one of the most famous Hispanas in Santa Fe, who was born in 1800 in Sonora and who moved to Santa Fe in 1823. And she will transform into Aurora Lucero-White Lea, a writer, suffragist and cultural preserver who was born in Las Vegas, NM in 1894. The program will end with audience members sharing stories of women from their families and their contributions.

This program is part of the New Mexico Humanities Council Chautauqua Program, which is supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the N.M. Department of Cultural Affairs. Support also comes from the Friends of the Santa Fe Public Library. The program is free and open to the public.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Surprising Science Fiction

The MargaretsIt’s always a treat when a book recommendation introduces you to a new favorite author. Several months ago, a colleague found out that I like to read science fiction, and recommended The Gate to Women’s Country by Sheri Tepper. This recommendation floated around for a while in the form of a post-it note, but recently I had a gap in my reading stack and decided to give it a try.

Parable of the SowerI read the book, no, I devoured the book, anxiously awaiting breaks and time after dinner to delve back into the narrative. When I finished it, I went right back to the beginning and got as far as page 60, before a (male) friend grabbed it from my hands and found it equally difficult to put down.

BellwetherWhen an author grabs you like that, it’s natural to want to know a little bit more about her. The biography in the ’89 paperback says that
Ms. Tepper lives in Colorado, just like another favorite science fiction writer, Connie Willis. However, my newly-Tepperist friend did a little more research, and it seems that Ms. Tepper is living right here in Santa Fe! I won’t go as far as looking her up in the phone book, but if we ever cross paths, I hope she has some time for coffee.

UbikI’ve been a science fiction reader for over 25 years, since my dad introduced me to the
Foundation series by Isaac Asimov. Seen by many as a genre by and for men, or, in the eyes of less charitable people, for adolescent boys, being a science fiction fan and a woman can be lonely. Believable and three-dimensional women characters aren’t always easy to find in science fiction. For example, my favorite SF author, the late Philip K. Dick, quite obviously worked out his feelings at his five failed marriages through his female characters. I often have to wince through his women to get at his ideas. But thankfully, women writers of science fiction have become more common, more respected, and easier to find.

HerlandIt’s strange that science fiction has been so often thought of as a guy thing, since one of the
classics of early SF was written by a young woman. Louisa May Alcott, Charlotte Brontë and Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote science fiction. If you’ve been missing out on some of the wonderful science fiction by women, here are some titles to give you a start:

Bellwether, by Connie Willis
The Dispossessed, by Ursula Le Guin
Woman on the Edge of TimeParable of the Sower, by Octavia Butler
Woman on the Edge of Time, by Marge Piercy
Her Smoke Rose Up Forever, by James Tiptree, Jr. (aka Alice Sheldon)
Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood
(you thought I was going to say The Handmaid’s Tale, didn't you?)

The Conqueror's ChildThere are many more to add to
the list by writers such as Madeleine L'Engle, Kate Wilhelm, Nobel Laureate Doris Lessing and fellow New Mexican Suzy McKee Charnas. I’m always looking for a good book or a new author, so let me know whom I’ve missed!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Overdue Books

White OleanderIn what seems to be an almost commonplace occurence, a 20-year-old woman was arrested in Wisconsin for failing to return overdue library books.

No word on whether the books, White Oleander by Janet Fitch, and Angels and Demons by Dan Brown, were worth the huge fines and mug shots.

Angels and DemonsThe Santa Fe Public Library is proud that we don't arrest people for having overdue items, and we don't charge fines, but we still ask that you return your books, DVDs, CDs, and audiobooks in a timely manner. You can also renew your items by calling 955-6987, or by logging in to your library record.

Research by AA @ Main

Monday, October 20, 2008

Here It Is!

Jackrabbit, ArizonaThere have been several car clubs coming through Santa Fe lately, and some are here just to tour Route 66, the old "Mother Road" that stretches from Chicago to Los Angeles. It's hard to name a street that's had more influence on pop culture and the American imagination, or that attracts so many visitors from far-flung locales.

From 1926-1937, Route 66 went right through the City Different. According to this website, state-level politics caused the hasty re-routing that would leave Santa Fe out of future Route 66 songs, movies and memorabilia, not to mention the neon aesthetic. I wonder how different the city would be today if it had stayed on. El Camino Real meets The Mother Road? Now that's a crossroads that bluesmen could sing about.

American Route 66In 1999, I was fortunate to be part of the festivities for Route 66's 75th Anniversary. Since then, I've got the Mother Road fever. I haven't traveled the entire stretch of Route 66, pre or post 1937, but I make a point to go along on the old roadbeds or routes whenever possible. I've photographed the start and end points in both Chicago and LA. I've seen the wild donkeys in Oatman, Arizona, and abandoned service stations at sunrise in Amboy, California. I followed the signs to Jackrabbit, Arizona to gas up after a Vegas wedding. I stand on a corner of Winslow, Arizona every time I'm on my way to Flagstaff. Looking at a map of Route 66 today, I realize I picked up the road in St. Louis when I drove out West a decade ago, following in the tire-tracks of 70 years of travelers and adventurers.

US Route 66Thankfully, you don't have to travel that far to see the original "Main Street of America". Albuquerque's Historic Postcards Collection grew from the 75th Anniversary celebration, with fantastic postcards from Route 66's heyday. Hundreds of miles of the original route, including over a hundred miles of the original roadbeds, criss-cross the center of New Mexico, from Glenrio to Manuelito, and Los Lunas to Santa Fe.

So if the roads you usually travel have become familiar or boring, do as the man says, and get your kicks!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Bonds for Libraries

I've been hearing all this talk about an upcoming election. It seems like it's a pretty big deal this year, so I thought I'd do some good librarian research to find out what the issues are and who is running.

In addition to some heated historic campaigns and big speeches, I discovered that the political action committee Bonds for Libraries has some issues that are worth educating myself about. I found out that on the 2008 ballot, there is Statewide GO Bond Issue “B”. The bond is for Library Materials Acquisition for a total amount of $11 million. Wow, $11 million. That could buy a lot of books and DVDs and audiobooks!

I also learned that the total for various Santa Fe County libraries would be $510,800, and that Santa Fe Public Library alone would receive $169,000 if this bond passed. All of New Mexico's 33 counties are included in this bond.

So if you already know which candidate you're going to vote for, or even if you're still undecided, take some time to read up on Bond Issue "B". Because you'll most likely never stay in the White House, but you'll definitely use the library.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Artistic Frenzies

Now that winter is making an early bid at taking over autumn, it's a good time to sit at your desk or kitchen table, coffee at hand, and indulge in a flurry of creative expression.

For those with an artistic bent, 24 Hour Comics Day is a free international celebration of comics creation. On Saturday, Oct. 18th, cartoonists around the world will take on the challenge of trying to create a complete 24 page comic story in 24 straight hours. New Mexico will have two locations for this free event: at Warehouse 21, 1614 Paseo de Peralta in Santa Fe and at the Harwood Art Center, 1114 7th Street NW in Albuquerque.

If you're strictly of the literary persuasion, National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo to its participants, strikes on Nov. 1st. Fueled by Halloween chocolate, you can write a 50,000-word novel until midnight, Nov. 30th. And as the site says, it's all about quantity, not quality.

So indulge in your creative side this weekend or next month. Once the snow and icicles appear in earnest, you'll be glad you got the creative juices flowing.

Wireless at La Farge

The La Farge Library now has free wireless access! That's right, bring in your laptop, and you'll be able to surf the web throughout the library! Make sure to check out our wireless policy before heading over to make sure your laptop has everything it needs.

The La Farge Library is located at 1730 Llano Street, between St. Michaels Dr. and Siringo Rd. Their hours are:
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Thursday, Friday, Saturday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Closed Sundays.
You can call them at 955-4860 for more information.

The Southside Library has wireless access and ethernet jacks.
They are located at 6599 Jaguar Dr., and can be reached at 955-2820.
The Main Library wireless access is coming soon.

Stay tuned for wireless updates for the rest of the Santa Fe Public Library!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


cover of bookI recently came across a lovely word:

ABSQUATULATE/æbˈskwɒtjuːleɪt/: To make off, decamp, or abscond.

While the word takes longer to say than the action it represents, it's still intriguing enough that I may try to inject it into casual conversation.

Words are a hobby that I dip into from time to time, although it sometimes borders on epeolatry. I've recently renewed my e-mail subscription to A.Word.A.Day newsletter, and I'm delighted when the day's word serendipitously describes a concept or object that my vocabulary was having trouble labelling. My colleague subscribes to the Oxford English Dictionary's free word-a-day e-mail service. I wonder if we'll starting trading the day's words like marbles or baseball cards.

Atlas of LanguagesWorld Wide Words is similar to A.Word.A.Day, except the words and phrases are from a British viewpoint. However, like absquatulate above, even distinctly American inventions are covered. For words that are closer to home, there's the Urban Dictionary, a slang dictionary written by users.

We have basic dictionaries on our Internet Starting Points, and while the Merriam-Webster Online is my favorite for basic look-ups, the Online Etymology Dictionary is the best for indulging my word hobby. They even have absquatulate!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

We get mail . . .

A large part of library service is making sure our books, magazines, and other library materials are shelved or placed where they are supposed to be, so that you can find them easily. So, finding something in the wrong place, it’s in the nature of the library staff to try to make it right.

The Main Library recently received a letter in the mail addressed to someone in an East Coast state; the return address was in that same state. And no, it wasn't New York, New Jersey or New Hampshire. How this missive ended up in Santa Fe, New Mexico, will be forever a mystery, but we know it came to the Main Library because the street name and number of the intended recipient is the same as ours – 145 Washington. We just put it in another envelope, addressed it again to its intended destination, and dropped it in the mail, hoping for the best. Just part of our service.

by RG@Main

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Russians' Visit

Visitors and staff in the Children's RoomSometimes we just take things for granted. Sometimes our customers do also. We don’t mean to, but after awhile even the most special building or services are routine, just what we do.

So it was particularly refreshing to see the Southside Library and our services through new eyes, the eyes of the visiting Russian librarians. I wrote in an earlier blog that the Russian librarians who would visit are a part of a Sister City exchange from Sarov with Los Alamos. When the librarians walked into the Lobby of the Southside Branch I greeted them with good afternoon in Russian. They were pleased and laughed and hugged me. (Okay, okay I only know about 4 words plus “da” for yes.)

They missed nothing, peering into media shelving, the computers, children’s cubbies and all lining up to have me print a receipt for a checked out book at the self check machine to take with them. When we presented each of them with the new Library card which features Jimmy Romero’s tinwork, they were delighted, particularly with the small card that could go on their keychain.

Visitors with ArtAt the end of the tour the translator was asked if the librarians had any questions. She turned and exchanged several sentences with them and when she turned back she said, “No, they say they are too emotional with everything they have seen.” What do you say to that? Our thanks to the Los Alamos Public Library for inviting us to join the tour. And special thanks to Oksana, Yelena, Lyubox, Alina and Olga for sharing their love of libraries with us and helping us see anew what we provide to our community.

The visitors are:
Oksana Paramonova
Yelena Yutkina
Lyubox Belyakova
Olga Hugustson (Los Alamos translator)
Alina Levina (translator)

Posted by PCH and SAS.
Photos by TT at Southside.