September 18, 2007

Things Fall Apart

Come talk about Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart
Tuesday, September 25th, 7:30, Community Center Atrium Room
Everyone is welcome.

Posted by library at 04:49 PM

September 11, 2007

Good Buddhist Read

Saffron Days in LA by Bhante Walpola Piyananda is a great read. It has a lot of buddhist insight and doctrine, and a lot of funny stories for the Bhante's experiences as a genuine Theravada monk from Sri Lanka walking around LA with a pure and open heart. I think the stories while funny capture as much wisdom as the explanations of the Buddha's teachings. He walks as he talks, and when he runs into the particular bit of our culture that LA embodies, he puts it all in a new light. It's well written and a fairly quick read. If you don't like little speeches about what the Buddha taught about subject X, then you may wish to skip that section in each capture.


Posted by at 06:13 PM | Comments (0)

September 06, 2007

Book Awards

Readers working on the "award winner" quest can find lists here. If the entry says "ALA" the American Library Association chooses the winner through a committee of librarians, booksellers and people who teach children's literature classes.

(In a real hurry to grab a book to finish your quest ? Just pick up anything by any of these children's authors who have won prize after prize or by these adult fiction award winners.)

Books for Children

starNewbery Award First children's book award in the world (1922), ALA

starCaldecott Medal Picture books. ALA

starCoretta Scott King Award African-American culture, ALA

starRobert Sibert Informational Book Medal Non-fiction books. ALA

starTheodor Seuss Geisel Award Beginning readers, ALA

starThe Pura Belpre Award Latino culture, ALA

starThe Laura Ingalls Wilder Award Awarded to an author or illustrator, not a specific book. ALA

starCarnegie Medal in Literature For books published in the UK, the winning book is chosen by school librarians.

starBest Books For Babies Beginning With Books, a Pittsburgh literacy organization, selects a committee to choose winners.

starBoston Globe - Hornbook Awards Unlike the ALA competitions, these awards are open to authors and illustrators who are not US citizens. A small panel of judges is appointed by the editor of Hornbook.

starBlack-eyed Susan Separate awards for children's and young adult books. School librarians and others nominate books, Maryland students vote for the winners.

starNutmeg Children's Book Award Children in Connecticut vote for the books.

starBlue Hen Book Awards Nominations made by librarians, winners chosen by the children of Delaware.
Note: some awards, such as the Edgar and the Agatha (see below), also have children't book categories.

Young Adult Books

starMargaret A. Edwards Award Awarded to an author, not a specific book. ALA

starMichael L. Printz Award "Literary excellence in young adult literature", ALA

starTeens Top Ten ALA but ... young adults vote online.

starRosie The Eliot Rosewater award. Librarians nominate, thousands of Indiana highschool students vote.


starNational Book Awards The National Book Foundation gives several prizes including one for a young adult book. Nominations come from publishers, and a panel of judges, in part nominated by past winners, chooses the finalists.

starPulitzer Prizes - separate categories for fiction (previously novel), poetry, drama, etc. American authors, American themes. Administered by a board under the aegis of Columbia University.

starNobel Prize for Literature Awarded to an author, not a specific book. The winner is selected by the 18 members of the Swedish Academy for the Nobel Prize in Literature, nominations come from previous winners and academics.

starMan Booker Prize for Fiction For Commonwealth and Irish authors, selected by a committee of judges.

starWhitbread, now Costa, Book Awards. UK awards in several categories, and for each a small committee of three judges, including authors, chooses the winner in each catagory.
An overall winner is selected by a combination of authors and avid readers.

The many genre-specific awards include the Hugo, Edgar, Ellis Peters Historical Dagger, Agatha, Bancroft ...And many more. Take a look at the Annual Awards wiki.

Edited 10/10/07 to change NBA link from the 2006 to the 2007 list

Posted by library at 03:52 PM

September 03, 2007


ethnographyWho are the Neua? the Manao? the Lohra?
Searching for books about different people is similar to searching for books about far away places. You can look about in the 900s for geography and history or search in the catalog for the name of the group that interests you. For a fiction book go to the catalog and put in a place or group of people followed by - Fiction. For example Java (Indonesia) - Fiction or Inuit - Fiction. Not fun. Not easy. And you are unlikely to find many of the most interesting, often endangered peoples because you don't know their names.

The study of cultures is part of anthropology, specifically ethnography. But there is no Dewey place for anthropology. The archeological part is apt to go into the 900s somewhere. Linguistic anthropology into the 400s. Biological anthropology is scattered about in 573, 576, 599 and 611. And books about living cultures often get hidden in 305.8, buried under all the sociology and social psychology. Never mind that to an anthropologist the various subfields of anthropology are all connected, intertwined, they aren't in Deweyland.

Probably the easiest way to first find fascinating people you never knew existed is to go to the reference room to 305.8. Find these books and browse through them.
Endangered peoples of North America : struggles to survive and thrive
Gale encyclopedia of multicultural America 2 volumes
Las razas humanas 4 volumes, wonderful pictures
Countries and their cultures 4 volumes
The Encyclopedia of the peoples of the world
Encyclopedia of the world's minorities 3 volumes

Try it. Discover the Neua, Manao, and the Lohra. Read about the great warrior princess Nyennega, ancestress of the Mossi. Find out what happens during an Ifugao wedding ceremony. Answer these questions - What do Amahuaca boys learn? girls? Where do they sleep? What do they eat? What do they wear?

Start your own quest for more information on any group that fascinates you.

Another good way to begin? Read almost any issue of National Geographic Magazine. In the J room we even have National Geographic Kids.


  1. "Anthropology is the study of the forms and functions of human diversity in the present and the past." (definition from GW University)
  2. Why can some children and adults drink milk without problems, and others not? Well, among certain people a long-ago cultural change was accompanied by a biological change .... Explore questions like this. Discover anthropology!

Posted by library at 12:45 PM

September 02, 2007

Far-away Places

atlasesTravel to far-away places? The 900s and 910s are geography so this is the best (not so far away) place to look if you want a nonfiction book. Just wander about.
You can also use the catalog, putting in the name of a place as the subject or keyword. This should work for either fiction or non-fiction, and on a quest you can chose either, but you have to know where you want to go.

As a general rule, try to use the name of a country or large city. Using the name of a whole continent is usually (but not always) just too big, people aren't very likely to write a book about a whole continent. This is tricky. You want to be as specific as possible without being too specific. It takes practice.
Looking just at fiction:

subject tracing ... Europe - Fiction 16 books
subject tracing ... Ireland - Fiction 67 books
subject tracing ... Dublin (Ireland) - Fiction 24 books
subject tracing ... Galway (Ireland) - Fiction 4 books
subject tracing ... Asia - Fiction nothing
subject tracing ... China - Fiction 48 books
subject tracing ... Shanghai (China) - Fiction 7 books
Want to make a bar graph of that?

Now let's go to 911. This is where we have beautiful atlases, some of them new, some of enormous size. Most are located in the atlas case in the reference room.


Do you remember how much fun real, printed atlases can be? Heft, gilt, color. You can put them on the floor, page through them slowly, and lose yourself in strange and amazing lands. We have some beautiful new ones as well as beloved old ones - just take a look through our atlas case and on the shelves.

In the atlas case:
Atlas of the world (National Geographic, new edition)
Oxford atlas of the world (new edition)
World atlas of the ocean and The Times atlas and encyclopaedia of the sea
Firefly atlas of North America : United States, Canada & Mexico
Atlas of world art
The Hammond-Harwood House atlas of historical maps of Maryland, 1608-1908
People and places of the past: the National Geographic illustrated atlas of the ancient world
The month-by-month atlas of World War II
Murray's small classical atlas
... and several others

On the shelves
Historical atlas of the Middle East (911.56 FREEMAN)
The atlas of American migration (R 304.8 FLANDER) social groups Dewey
World atlas of the past 4 volumes (J-R 911 HAYWOOD)
The atlas of literature (R 809 ATLAS) literature Dewey
Atlas of the evolving earth (R 551.7 MOODY) science Dewey
Historical atlas of religion in America (R 209.73 G274) religion Dewey
and the Cultural atlas of .... series (China, Japan, Africa, etc.)

Do you know what a gazetteer is? It's a sort of dictionary of place names. The best one is:
The Columbia gazetteer of the world 3 large volumes (910.3 COLUMBI) Each entry has the name of the place, the location, the population, and usually a bit of interesting information. Just turn to any page ....

Online? Look at the Fuzzy Gazetteer
Getty Thesaurus of Geographical names
Falling Rain Gobal Gazetteer (no general search, you have to know the current country name)
The US 1990 Census gazetteer has a note about zip code vs place name. That can create problems in this town. A lot of people think they live in Takoma Park but don't.

Online Map Sites

Just to get from A to B: mapquest | ask | google maps | yahoo maps

To explore:
Perry-Castaņeda Library map collection
Historical maps from the University of Minnesota
Unusual maps from the American Memory collection
Topographic maps for part of the U.S.
Map projections
Odden's bookmarks (search for a map)
David Rumsey collection
and thousands more. Go to the the Librarians Index to the Internet to find selected map sites.

Posted by library at 06:46 PM
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