Thursday, December 8, 2016

Cities of the Past, Cities of the Future

Cities are where most of humanity’s creative and intellectual ideation, communication, and innovation takes place, so understanding cities is vital to understanding our civilization.
~Maria Popova, "Understanding Urbanity: 7 Must-Read Books About Cities"

We always enjoy a good biography...even if its subject is not a person, but a city! We've put together a list of books about cities around the world, because how urban centers evolve seems very interesting. Each metropolis grew up differently, to meet different needs, with different agendas. To give you an idea of how cities grow, particularly now in the era of green cities, we've included some books about urban planning.

It's also helpful to remember that we live in a city with its own unique history! The City of Albuquerque website is a great resource for finding out how to get around in town, to register your business, learn housing codes, find volunteer opportunities, view the pollen count, get hold of public records, look up city construction projects and city contracts with vendors, find a job, and read essays about the city history during different periods, such as Territorial.

City Histories

Berlin Now: The City After the Wall by Peter Schneider

Paris at the End of the World: The City of Light During the Great War, 1914-1918 by John Baxter

Floodpath: The Deadliest Man-Made Disaster of 20th-Century America and the Making of Modern Los Angeles by Jon Wilkman   

Les Parisiennes: How the Women of Paris Lived, Loved, and Died Under Nazi Occupation by Anne Sebba

Aerotropolis: The Way We'll Live Next by John D. Kasarda, Greg Lindsay 

Dream Cities: Seven Urban Ideas That Shape the World by Wade Graham 

Atlas of Cities edited by Paul Knox 

Food and the City: Urban Agriculture and the New Food Revolution by Jennifer Cockrall-King


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Literary Links: Literary Moments in Television

Television and lamp in a hotel room, Las Vegas. Photography. Britannica ImageQuest. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 25 May 2016. Accessed 19 Nov 2016.
Back in 1991, the English rock band Ned's Atomic Dustbin sang "Kill your television," and writers from Chuck Palahniuk to Roald Dahl to Raymond Chandler have voiced similar sentiments since the dawn of the televisual age. Despite the alleged vacuity of programming on the small screen, the discerning television fan will find many literary references beamed into their brains via their sets. One show that featured a main character who was a voracious reader was Gilmore Girls, which returned to Netflix last month, but there are others to look for, if you are so inclined.

Literary Moments of "The Golden Girls": A Complete List [Book Riot]

Literary Moments in "Star Trek: The Next Generation" [Book Riot]

All 339 Books Referenced in "Gilmore Girls" [Buzzfeed]

A Visual History of Literary References on "The Simpsons" [The Atlantic]

50 of the Greatest Literary Moments on TV [Flavorwire]

A List of Book References in "Breaking Bad" [HuffPost]

Mad Men: Our Literary Guide [Bloomsbury Literary Studies]

"True Detective" season 2 literary references explained [Entertainment Weekly]

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Looking Back on National Novel Writing Month

This year, I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I wasn't going to, but one of my friends and I decided to participate together. I've done NaNoWriMo before, and I remember those years as being fairly easy--I was able to jump in and write 50,000 words without too much trouble.  Things were much different this year. For one, I decided to take NaNoWriMo more seriously than I had in the past. This meant that I had an outline for my story, which is something I usually don't do. Before, when I've tried outlining novels before writing them, I've either never finished the outline, or I haven't followed it when writing. The novel I had been working on was a complete mess, though, so I decided to start over for NaNoWriMo, which meant: an outline.

The outline worked out much better than I thought it would. For the first time, I actually followed what I had written in the outline. It made the writing process a tiny bit easier. That being said, I struggled more with NaNoWriMo this year than I had in past years. Part of it was finding motivation, but fortunately, my friend is an amazing writing partner, and she did a great job holding me accountable. We texted each other every day just to check in to see how things were going.

Some days were better than others. It didn't take too long for me to fall behind on daily word counts. Even when I did catch up, I'd fall behind again the next day. I also discovered that despite my outline, I was writing scenes in my novel that weren't in the outline. It worked, though, because the scenes fit in with the story, and I was still able to follow the outline. I also discovered as I wrote that some things in my outline needed to be moved around, which I did during the writing process.

If you're thinking about trying to do NaNoWriMo next year, here are some things I've learned this year.

Have a support system.

Writing is often a solitary activity, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't have a support system. This can be in the form of having a writing partner (or partners), or just letting your friends and family know that you're going to write a book in one month, and you need their support and encouragement. For me, having a writing partner was the best support system, as she held me accountable, kept me motivated, and was able to share in my excitement and frustration throughout the month.

Know your writing process.

Everyone has a different writing process. If you need an outline, have one prepared before November 1, that way you're not scrambling to outline when you should be writing. If you prefer not to have an outline, still know the basics of your story--what the main conflict is, who your characters are--before you start writing.

Also, know what time of day is best for you to write. For some people, it's in the morning. For some, it might be the middle of the day, or during your lunch hour. For some people, it's at night. A lot of writing advice will tell you to get up early to write, and you should--if that's what works best for you. Don't fight your natural body clock--write when you know you'll be the most focused on it.

Check in with NaNoWriMo's two Twitter accounts, @NaNoWriMo and @NaNoWordSprints.

The first account is great because writing coaches are there to answer your questions. The second account is great because you can participate in virtual writing sprints, with prompts. Either way, it's fun to participate online and be connected with other people who are participating in NaNoWriMo.

Have fun!

This is probably the best piece of advice I can give if you're going to participate in NaNoWriMo. Yes, writing 50,000 words in 30 days can be stressful, but don't forget that the process is supposed to be fun. Don't worry about having a perfect first draft. Let things get messy. At this point, you're writing for you, not for an audience, so make sure you enjoy it.

Did you participate in NaNoWriMo this year? Tell us about your experience in the comments!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Community Picks:Checkout Suggestions From Our Customers

Many library branches offer Staff Picks to their customers, be they books, movies, or other media. We love to recommend the things we have discovered and enjoyed from the library catalog - you can find 1243 items labeled "staff pick" just by searching the catalog! But there is often a give and take to checkout suggestions - we have found out about some really interesting titles from talking with our customers! So, we thought we might turn the tables for a change, and publish some of our customers' recommendations. We've enlisted the help of some library users from the community for this post, but we are always looking for more - let us know your suggestions in the comments or email your name and recommendations to and we'll post them next time.

Keif from the Guild Cinema recommends some DVDs from the library catalog:

Pickpocket: un film de Robert Bresson

Theory of Obscurity: A Film About the Residents

También la lluvia

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Rumble Fish

Rebelle [War Witch]

Brandon, a deejay on KUNM's Afternoon Freeform, would like to put in a good word for some of our music CDs!

Camel's Back by Psapp

Feitiço Caboclo by Dona Onete

Metropolis: The Chase Suite by Janelle Monáe 

Sketches Of Ethiopia by Mulatu Astatqé

Black Power: Music Of A Revolution by Various Artists

Artemis by Moussu T et Les Jovents

And Neal from AMP Concerts, a seasoned library user, would like to share some of his favorite library items and services:

I have the pleasure of working in the libraries regularly, as AMP hosts free concerts at the libraries twice a month.  It’s always a fun adventure to get to visit different parts of town and play with the different spaces.  We have some music-loving regulars who follow us around the county, as well as some groups that sometimes come en masse, but the bulk of our attendees come from the local communities, which is a lot of what the program is about.

So I’m guaranteed at least two library visits a month, though I often find myself popping in to some of my regular library stops more often than that.  There are so many features to love in the libraries, and all of our libraries have so many different personalities (which is probably a blog post on its own).

Several years ago I reconnected to my youthful love of comics and started catching up on the book length volumes of GRAPHIC NOVELS that I had missed over the years.  The library has a great collection of graphic novels.  They are a great alternative to my regular reading and it seems like I regularly have a half dozen out at any time.

Every once in a while, I’ll find a hole in the series that I’m reading.  That’s how one of the librarians turned me on to the magic of the INTERLIBRARY LOAN.  For no extra charge, you can put in an ILL and usually in short order, some dedicated librarians somewhere else in the country have shipped the book off to Albuquerque for my enjoyment.  

I usually have my own plans for what I’m reading, but I’m in the libraries enough that I always have time to browse the STAFF PICKS, where I frequently find myself knocked onto a new reading course that’s always been interesting and rewarding.

I’m old fashioned and like books, but I’ve been traveling a lot lately and the books I’m reading are too bulky for long trips.  While I’m not won over, the fact that I can get EBOOKS from the library is a pretty cool thing (and even readers too!)

I also like the history that our libraries capture - from the historic ERNIE PYLE house to our beautiful first library, re-opened as the SPECIAL COLLECTIONS LIBRARY (which even makes a star turn in "Better Call Saul”).  I’ve caught a few history lectures at the libraries too, which are a nice compliment to the buildings and collections.

Those are just a handful of the many great experiences I’ve had at our libraries.  I’m looking forward to my next visit!

Picture credit: The Striped Tablecloth. Fine Art. Britannica ImageQuest. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 25 May 2016. Accessed 18 Oct 2016.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Top Circulating Travel & History

The Yellow Books, 1887 . Fine Art. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 18 May 2016.
“Knowledge is like money: To be of value it must circulate, and in circulating it can increase in quantity and, hopefully, in value.”
― Louis L'Amour, Education of a Wandering Man  

In the library, "circulation" means a lot of things.  What's sometimes called the "library card desk" is also known as "circulation".  When we look at a book's record, we count how many times it has checked out as its "circs". The library's collection floats (items checked out at one branch and returned at another stay at the branch at which they are returned), but its items circulate.

Looking for some travel inspiration or to do a little armchair exploring? Here are the most popular books system-wide that focus on geography and travel - from guidebooks both near and far to travel memoirs,

Top Circulating Travel Books

1.  Moon Handbooks [guidebook series]
2. Hiking to History by Robert Julyan
3. American Ghost by Hannah Nordhaus
4. Lonely Planet: Mexico by John Noble
5. Sandia Mountain Hiking Guide by Michael Elliott Coltrin
6. 100 Things to Do in Albuquerque Before You Die by Ashley M. Biggers
7. Elephant Complex by John Gimlette
8. Walking Albuquerque by Stephen Ausherman
9. Braving It by James Campbell
10. Camping New Mexico by Melinda Crow
11. Fodor’s California
12. At Home With Ernie Pyle by Ernie Pyle
13. The Rough Guide: Mexico
14. Fodor’s New York City
15. Frommer’s Easyguide to Costa Rica
16. Home Sweet Anywhere by Lynne Martin
17. Moon: New Mexico by Zora O’Neill
18. Lonely Planet: Southwest USA’s Best Trips by Amy C. Balfour
19. Eyewitness: Southwest USA & National Parks by Randa Bishop
20. The Wonder Trail by Steve Hely
21. Grand Canyon by James Kaiser
22. Explorer’s Guide: New Mexico by Sharon Niederman
23. Our Indian Summer in the Far West by S. Nugent Townshend
24 Fodor's Complete Guide to the National Parks of the West
25. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

The top circulating history books have a wide range - some newer titles, some older, a fair amount of local.

Top Circulating History Books

1.  Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta by Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Heritage Committee
2. Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
3. The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson
4. In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
5. Killing Kennedy  by Bill O’Reilly
6. The Apache Wars by Paul Andrew Hutton
7. Trump Revealed  by Michael Kranish
8. Whistlestop by John Dickerson
9. 1491 by Charles C. Mann
10. Anatomy of Malice by Joel E. Dimsdale
11. Where the Jews Aren’t by Masha Gessen
12. My (Underground) American Dream by Julissa Arce
13. Historic Ranches of Northeastern New Mexico by Baldwin G. Burr
14. High Road to Taos by Mike Butler
15. An American Genocide by Benjamin Madley
16. Valiant Ambition by Nathaniel Philbrick
17. Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts
18. Forty Autumns by Nina Willner
19. Walking the Llano by Shelley Armitage
20. Look Into My Eyes by Kevin Bubriski
21. "All the Real Indians Died Off" by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
22. The Railroad and the Pueblo Indians by Richard H. Frost
23. Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates by Brian Kilmeade
24 Doña Teresa Confronts the Spanish Inquisition by Frances Levine
25. New Mexico Myths and Legends by Barbara Marriott

Do you have any recommended history and/or travel reads? Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Curiously Curated: Unusual Museums and Collections in Historical Context defines a museum as "a building or place where works of art, scientific specimens, or other objects of permanent value are kept and displayed." This post asks, how did museums get here? Who decides what is museum-worthy? Museums record history, but they also have a history as an institution, and some of those institutions, dare we say it, have skeletons in their closets. We're trying to explore some unusual collections and look at the history of museums in a new light. The items that follow cover such topics as: the immense collection of medical oddities that would later form the basis of Philadelphia's Mütter Museum; how one museum [the Yale Peabody] changed ideas about dinosaurs, dynasties, and even the story of life on earth; an insider's tour of some of the most interesting moments in American history, culled from 20 years of museum experience; a textual and visual history of civilian, military, and commercial aviation from the earliest balloon flights to today's most advanced aircraft; an exploration of human remains as objects for research and display in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; a detailed and at times surprising picture of the institutional and social forces that both drove and inhibited racial justice in New York's museums*.

Dr. Mutter's Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz

House of Lost Worlds: Dinosaurs, Dynasties, & the Story of Life On Earth by Richard Conniff

Sex in the Museum: My Unlikely Career at New York's Most Provocative Museum by Sarah Forbes 

Also take a look at some curiously curated collections online!

Do you have a favorite unusual museum or can you recommend a book that looks at museums from a different angle? Let us know in the comments!

And, if you are a museum fan, don't forget to check out our Museum Discovery Pass Program!

*all book descriptions are from the library catalog