Biography at its best is a good read, it appeals to a natural human instinct for gossip, and it answers a real need within us to understand each other better. And it is a noticeable achievement of the new biographies on our catalog list - Recommended Biographies - that they all begin with the premise that human nature is complex, and as is true with everything else in the world, you have to take the good with the bad. Biographies include cyclist Lance Armstrong, labor organizer Cesar Chavez, General Douglas MacArthur, and poet Marianne Moore.
Austin Public Library Blog
With the arrival of spring, I think I’m ready for a change of scenery. After all, the planet is re-decorating too: have you seen the bluebonnets and other wildflowers putting a pop of color around our highways and byways?
I’m out of ideas, though, so I thought I’d turn to my branch’s home decorating section (Dewey call number starting in the 747's). Not only do we have idea books, we’ve got books covering specific styles and lifestyles (green and eco-friendly, for example). If maybe just a fresh coat of paint will get you going in the right direction, we’ve got color palette theme books; if new pillows or a slipcover for your worn-out couch is more your thing, check out our fabric swatch books (only pictures, not ACTUAL fabrics) and our books on recovering upholstery. (These last are not for the faint of heart: have you ever seen a couch frame taken down to the skeleton? Gracious, but that’s ambitious!)
For more up to the minute home fashion choices than book publishing can offer, check out our Zinio magazine subscription database. With your APL Card, you can get access to the current issues of House Beautiful, Elle Décor, Country Living, and Dwell. Flip through the pages on your mobile device or tablet, just like the print version!
With all the money you save NOT buying books and magazines, you’ll have some dough left over for accent pieces!
Parks and Recreation is not just a goofy workplace TV comedy starring Amy Poehler, it’s an argument for faith in government. In Parks and Recreation, the Parks Department contrasts sharply with the incompetent Pawnee City Council and the dilapidated other city agencies, including the library. What I enjoy most about the TV show, which is very funny, is how dedicated Poehler’s Leslie Knope is to her job. Recently, Amy Poehler was tapped to serve as honorary chairwoman for World Book Night, an April 23 event sponsored by a coalition of booksellers, publishers, and librarians. Thousands of volunteers worldwide will be giving away half a million books in areas where books aren't readily available. Poehler, who grew up in Burlington and graduated from Boston College, recalls loving books as a child. "In today's digital world," she notes, "it's more important than ever to know how it feels to have a good book in your hands." Among the paperback books chosen for this year's giveaway are Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point, Carl Hiaasen's Hoot, Solomon Northup's Twelve Years a Slave, and Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go Bernadette.
There’s nothing new about fans creating stories in a series they love that has ended for one reason or another. Sherlock Holmes, for example: Arthur Conan Doyle is no more, but Sherlock lives on, arguably in his best incarnation since the publication of the original stories: the BBC’s Sherlock.
Star Trek hasn’t been around as long as Sherlock Holmes, but its fans are as prolific. There are the spin-off TV series (“Make it So”) that continue the story beyond the original series (TOS to the hip), and those are… nice… new aliens, new gadgets, a few memorable characters. But there are those of us who long for the original cast to be made young again (time warp?), we wish for another look at those velour shirts and mini dresses, for those unmistakable Enterprise sounds, the bleeps of the computer, the whoosh of the doors, the musical licks: the romance theme, the whimsy tune, and for those simple unambiguous morals at the ends of the stories (diversity, perseverance, freedom to cavort with otherworlders).
People create new stories and art out of TOS, too. The library has some of it. One of the best works is a book of posters, one for each of the episodes of the original three years of the show: Star Trek: The Art of Juan Ortiz. Another is one that we don’t have (and the real reason for this blog; I’m trying to find a way to link to something truly fabulous that the library doesn’t own), a new series called Star Trek Continues, a fan creation that takes up with the original characters where the series left off in 1969. There were two more years left on that five-year mission. The cast of Star Trek Continues intends to complete them.
Enjoy TOS aficionados. Live long and prosper.
April is poetry month. Do you want to write a poem? Perhaps, more specifically you’d like to write a Minimalist poem. I was told "keep it simple yet elegant". Easy enough, right? Well, it helps if you know what that means. I can honestly say I did not have an established definition of Minimalist Art prior to my agreeing to do this blog post. So I did a little research and sat down with artist, Andrew Stearns, whose work is currently featured at the Hampton branch.
There is a "fine line between boring and exciting", he says in defining and elaborating on Minimalist Art. He went on to say that the "success or failure of the piece lies in composition and editing...the challenge is to reach that point where you have a balance of elements". In his work he plays with color, shadow, line and form to achieve an abstraction of what we normally see as everyday objects. In Minimalist Poetry the Artist manipulates words through font, size and placement on the page to achieve a similar result. It is in this approach of "…taking out distraction to invite you [the viewer] in" where the various Minimalist Art formats agree. So while Andrew takes a photograph another may sculpt a form, compose music, or put pen to paper.
I will admit I often don't feel like I understand what to think or feel while experiencing a piece of Minimalist Art. But, viewing Andrew’s work on his website and at the Hampton Branch, then talking with him about it made me embrace the genre. The beauty of Minimalist Art lies in its simplicity. It allows you "…to go in and respond and experience" something personal. The artist may "…makes it look easy but it takes your breath away."
In fact, the collaboration of his work and invitation for patrons to write their own minimalist poem inspired me. I was struck by a black and white piece of his hanging in the hall and constructed my own poem (featured as the picture for this blog post). This was definitely a learning experience for me, something Andrew says he hopes visitors get from viewing his work. “Capturing the world in a different way and experiencing something new” is his goal as an Artist.
If you are interested in a learning experience of your own try one of the following:
- view Andrew Stearn's work and write a poem at the Hampton Branch at Oak Hill
- explore some databases through the APL virtual library
- visit the Blanton and other venues featuring Minimalist Art around town
- check out materials devoted to the minimalist style at any Austin Public Library branch
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.