2nd Floor Computer Lab at the Faulk Central Library
Computer and Job Searching Lab
"...a beautification in my mind is far more than a matter of cosmetics. To me, it describes the whole effort to bring the natural world and the manmade world to harmony. To bring order, usefulness, delight to our whole environment. And that of course only begins with trees and flowers and landscaping."
These are Lady Bird Johnson’s words and from these words one can tell she was well ahead of her time. She had a passion for native flora and conservation before it was the hip thing to do. Given the plethora of rich and amazing Texas wildlife, it is easy to imagine how this passion spread to others. These days you can drive along many a Texas highway and see the result of her life's work. It was probably appropriate that she went to the University of Texas at Austin, since this city also tends to be on the cutting edge when it comes to beautification. We boast Lady Bird Lake Trail, a non-paved trail in the heart of town, Barton Springs Pool, a natural spring as the go-to local watering hole, and the Barton Creek Greenbelt, an expansive piece of land used for outdoor recreation.
Despite this city's rapid growth, especially over the last decade, it has managed to maintain a vision of being harmonious with the environment. The most recent commitment being a bag ban to reduce the unnecessary waste associated with single use plastic bags. Meanwhile, the City of Austin Departments continues to work toward a goal of operations being carbon neutral by 2020. I believe that the former First Lady and Austinite would be proud and continue to call this place her home.
As individuals and families we can be part of harmonizing the man-made and natural worlds by thinking about how we live our daily lives, through choices we make and ideals we impart on the next generation. I can think of no better time than this coming week, as Earth Day is April 22nd, to be inspired and get involved.
You can start by attending Austin Public Library’s program, Rebate Austin!, where attendees will learn ways to save money and reduce their impact on the environment. Continue your quest by exploring some websites dedicated to Lady Bird Johnson, and to beautification here in Texas and Austin. By the end of the week you will be ready for some outdoor Earth Day festivities.
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
If you could invite any famous person in history or in the world over to your house for dinner, who would it be? What would you talk about? Would you have some burning questions that you hoped the person would answer for you? For me, the answer to that question is easy—I’d invite all my favorite authors, because I would really like to know exactly what they are like in person and exactly how they managed to come up with their stories and what inspired them, so on and so forth! For instance—who exactly WAS Shakespeare? How did Charlotte Bronte come with the idea of Jane Eyre? I have a whole list of questions for J.K. Rowling and Tolkien on their books! But it is unlikely that I’ll ever get those questions answered and it makes me quite irritated! So, it is with great excitement that I announce the Austin Public Library has been able to arrange for Laini Taylor and Margaret Stohl to come for a visit at the Yarborough Branch Library on Wednesday, April 9th at 7pm!
Laini Taylor is the New York Times bestselling author of Days of Blood & Starlight, Daughter of Smoke & Bone, the Dreamdark books: Blackbringer and Silksinger, and the National Book Award finalist Lips Touch: Three Times. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, illustrator Jim Di Bartolo, and their daughter, Clementine. Her website is www.lainitaylor.com.
Margaret Stohl is a lifelong science fiction fan, former video game designer, coauthor of the New York Times bestselling Beautiful Creatures series, and author of Icons. She lives in Los Angeles, California, with her family. Her website is www.margaret-stohl.com.
This is going to be a really special author visit with a whole lot of things going on!
• Q&A with the authors! Now you can get your burning book questions answered!
• Daughter of Smoke and Bone series-branded masks for everyone!
• Book signing of Laini Taylor’s latest release, Dreams of Gods & Monsters and Margaret Stohl’s Icons (sold by B&N at the event).
• Daughter of Smoke and Bone series themed photo booth with wings, horns, blue wigs & more!
• Book-themed refreshments & more!
Plan to arrive early as space is limited! The library will also have library copies of the authors' books to check out!
As a matter of fact, yes, I do geek.
At least according to the “Geek the Library” campaign’s application of the word, I do. From their website “geek” used as a verb means:
1. To love, to enjoy, to celebrate, to have an intense passion for.
2. To express interest in.
3. To possess a large amount of knowledge in.
4. To promote.
Repurposing words is not a new trend. At one time, “cool” was used exclusively in reference to temperature; then it became an alternate way of saying “fashionable”. Similarly, OCLC, a nonprofit library cooperative, has embraced the idea of repurposing geek as a verb and it has subsequently become the driving force behind a national campaign.
Since I am employed by the public library, I have a vested interest in the continued existence of them. Unfortunately though, not everyone understands the value of these institutions, nor the challenges they face; such as budget constraints and logistics for the services provided. This is where geekthelibrary.org comes in. By enlisting libraries across the country, and using social media and printed materials the OCLC strives to “spread the word about the vital and growing role of your public library, and to raise awareness about the critical funding issues many U.S. public libraries face”.
But don’t just take my word for it. Go geek for yourself.
Here are some ways to get your geek on:
• Visit any local APL branch during regular business hours and apply for your very own card.
There are no residence restrictions and they are applicable at all physical locations plus the virtual library.
• Visit the geekthelibrary.org to discover more about the campaign
Take the quiz on library funding, see what you can do to support public libraries and, best of all, personalize your “I geek” message.
For those of you wondering:
I geek….origami, reading, art, sports, comedy, and play.
Guest blogger Shannon G.
You've paid your debt to Uncle Sam all year, so if you get a little cash back as a tax refund, be sure to make the most of it. Thinking about planning your next big trip? Consider Finland as an option.
Finland is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden to the west, Norway to the north, Russia to the east, and Estonia to the south across the Gulf of Finland. The Finnish landscape is covered with thick pine forests, rolling hills and an almost endless amount of lakes. Finland contains 37 national parks, which certainly makes it a desirable travel destination.
Commercial cruises between major coastal and port cities in the Baltic region play a significant role in the local tourism industry. Finland is regarded as the home of Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus, living in the northern region. Above the Arctic Circle, in midwinter, there is a polar night, a period when the sun does not rise for days or weeks, or even months, and correspondingly, midnight sun in the summer, with no sunset even at midnight. The Aurora Borealis is seen regularly in the fall, winter and spring here.
Finns have a self-conception and reputation for being reserved and sparing with words. Small talk is not valued. Accordingly, words and verbal promises are likely to be taken seriously. The rapid spread of mobile phones, computers, and other communications technology is creating a society that is highly interconnected, regardless of the nature of interpersonal interactions and demeanor. Finland has the highest per capita use of the Internet and cellular phones in the world.
Children´s culture in Finland is one of the most developed in the world. One of the three existing schools of architecture for children in the world is ARKKI in Helsinki. There are several children’s festivals focused in literature, movies, theatre and so on. Basic education in arts is very well developed and accessible all over the country, and it has proven its effectiveness in producing surprising number of world class musicians, singers and conductors compared to the small size of the nation.
Finland is also known as the land of weird championships. Most known of them are the wife carrying and swamp football but there’s also rubber boot throwing championships, mobile phone throwing championships, snow swimming championships and… stick horse racing championships.
So you’ve finished your taxes and unfortunately a trip to Finland isn’t in the works. Not to worry; the library has many interesting books, DVDs, and CDs about this northern country. And coincidentally, this month will be playing host to the Finnish Folk band Vellamo. In Finnish mythology, Vellamo is the goddess of the sea. Pia Leinonen, originally from the arctic region of Lapland, is Vellamo’s lead singer. Her exquisite voice combines her love and vast knowledge of Finnish folk music with the western singer–songwriter tradition in a unique and beautiful way. Joni Tiala, originally from the Finnish port of Kokkola, began playing guitar at the age of 11. He is now a master of several stringed instruments.
Vellamo combines the rich tradition of Finnish folksong with an appealing “retro” sensibility, creating an exotic and magical acoustic experience. Stop by and check out our book cart display providing more information about Finland whilst listening to a free show performed by Vellamo at the Yarborough branch library on Wednesday, February 18th from 7-7:45 p.m.