Austin Public Library Blog

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Every time you search for an item in the Austin Public Library catalog (a.k.a. the BiblioCommons) there are a dozen ways to narrow down your search. There are also a dozen ways to veer off down a crazy path that eventually leads you to an amazing item you never knew existed. Subject headings can accomplish both.

Every item in our library has at least one subject heading. When you’re in the catalog, if you click on a subject heading located on the right hand side of an item record, you’ll be led to items on the same subject. 

Subject headings are different from tags because they are governed by official standards created by the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., and used by libraries across the nation. For example, a Nora Roberts book might be given informal, user-generated tags such as romance, romantic, or love story, but one of the book’s official subject headings is simply Love Stories.

The collection of subject headings associated with a book often summarizes it perfectly. Find the book The Great Gatsby in Bibliocommons, for instance, and the subject headings to the right of the item tell us the book includes:

If you love The Great Gatsby, this is a wonderful way to find books with related themes. And who wouldn’t want to know which other fiction works prominently feature first loves, revenge, or traffic accidents? 

Subject headings are like tagging in that they are a human intellectual endeavor, and therefore not perfect. Every once in a while I run into a subject heading so silly and unexpected that I can’t resist further exploration. See if you can resist clicking on these subject headings to see what items they could possible relate to!

Friday, September 19, 2014

The 2014 National Book Award Longlists were released this week. The fiction longlist includes ten titles. Two of the authors appeared this year at the Austin Public Library’s New Fiction Confab: Molly Antopol and Elizabeth McCracken. Antopol’s nominated short story collection, The UnAmericans, weaves together stories in America, Israel, and the Soviet Union dealing with the anxieties and cultural/political changes of the twentieth century. McCracken’s nominated short story collection, Thunderstruck, contains nine stories that vacillate between sadness and joy. Plus, her stories have great titles (e.g. The Lost & Found Department of Greater Boston).

This year’s longlist has career diversity: some early career writers, a few midcareer writers, and two titans in Richard Powers (2006 National Book Award winner for The Echo Maker) and Marilynne Robinson (2008 National Book Award finalist for Home and 2005 Pulitzer Prize winner for Gilead).

The longlist includes ten titles: eight novels and two short story collections. The longlist is the semifinals. The longlist will be culled to the finalists October 15. The winner of the National Book Award will be announced November 19.

Wolf in White Van, Lila, and Some Luck have been ordered, but have not arrived yet at the Austin Public Library.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Park(ing) Day is a worldwide event held annually on the third Friday of September. The intent of Park(ing) Day is to temporarily reclaim public spaces generally reserved for vehicle parking. Park(ing) Day brings people together to think about public spaces differently.

Ready to take part? Check out the list of suggested urban planning and park-related resources below and then plan to take a stroll down Congress Avenue on Friday, September 19. We know of a few parklets that will be set up between 11 AM and 7 PM. You might even catch some of your Austin Public Librarians signing folks up for Library cards at 410 Congress Ave around lunchtime. Have a picnic lunch, read a book, gaze at the State Capitol Building, talk like a Pirate, learn about Imagine Austin or just kick back in a temporary park!


Photo of Park(ing) Day 2012 in Rouen, France via Môsieur J. [version 9.1] on Flickr.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

By guest blogger Tiffany C.

Ahoy, mateys! Did you know that this Friday, September 19th, is International Talk Like a Pirate's Day? In honor of our mischievous friends of the sea, the Yarborough Branch is celebrating all week long. Check out our pirate book and media display and determine whether the pirate's life is for you! We also will be hosting some family fun with a treasure chest full of goodies: bookmarks, stickers and tattoos this Saturday, September 20. Don't worry if you're feeling rusty on Pirate; Austin Public Library offers free online courses in foreign languages via Mango Languages .

Begin exploring the pirate's life with these suggestions and go from landlubber to seadog in no time.

"Pirates of the Caribbean: Swashbuckling Sea Songs" by Walt Disney Records

"How I Became a Pirate" by Melinda Long


"The Goonies"

See you soon, me hearties, at the Yarrr-borough Library.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

If you look at what librarians studied in college, quite a few majored in English and literature. My unofficial theory is that aside from simply loving books and reading and wanting to spend the rest of their lives immersed in literature, English majors log a ton of library hours and gain research expertise while combing through literary criticism and reference sources. The library becomes a second home during the undergraduate years, and English majors understand the intricate relationships between sources and search tools.

Artemis Literary Sources is a new online portal to help students of all ages search for and access the best sources for their English papers, and hopefully cut research time significantly. It cross-searches several of our Books and Literature resources and provides links to full-text articles and eBooks. Artemis Literary Sources allows you to access author biographies, literary criticism, primary sources, book reviews, and overviews of works, topics, and authors. Useful tools include Term Frequency, which charts how often your search term occurs over time, and Term Cluster, a visual representation of frequently occuring and related terms.

To get an overview, watch the short videos Basics and Using Term Frequency & Term Clusters. You can use Artemis Literary Sources from home with an Austin Public Library card. If you want to take your research further, browse through our Homework Help and Books and Literature resources. Need more help with your English paper? Ask a Librarian!

Thanks to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission's TexShare Database program for providing Artemis Literary Sources. Photograph of Trinity College Library courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


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The APL Blog promotes Austin Public Library's resources and services through thematic item lists from our collection; topics related to today's events and news; research tips; programs and events; and databases.

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