Sunday, July 31, 2011

Children's Lit with Adult Appeal

I was reading The Wikkeling, a new children's book that caught my eye, thoroughly enjoying myself, when I began to wonder about children's authors' intentionality in creating works with adult appeal. Some of the things that I find humorous in children's literature seem to be distinctly written to an adult audience, but do kids see the humor? I know there is a larger crossover audience than in the past, after the successes of Harry Potter and his ilk. I suppose the question is how much intent is there on the part of the author. Picture books are obviously ripe for this effort, as most of them are read (and purchased) by parents to children. However, I feel most children's authors of chaptered books will probably disclaim any purposeful attempt to appeal to adults beyond the merits of their general writing style.

As many readers do, I occasionally feel nostalgic for a childhood favorite and indulge in a reread. Some hold up better than others to an adult's scrutiny. I am sure much depends on how cynical I am feeling as well as how complicated adult life seems at the moment. I can say that I have less patience for obvious plot devices, plot holes, and formulaic story lines, making some rereads less enjoyable than anticipated. In some ways it is quite sad to realize that much of what I read as a child(which could be anything - I was a voracious reader), I would not recommend to a child today. But maybe that's just my peevishness showing; I also would not recommend many popular current books and series, since gross out humor has never appealed to me.

Without further ado, here are some lesser known children's books that stand up to an adult's more discriminating (we assume!) taste:

  • The True Meaning of Smek Day by Adam Rex

  • The Book Thief by Marcus Zuzak

  • The Gates by John Connolly

  • The Wikkeling by Steven Arntson

  • Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer

  • Uglies series by Scott Westerfield

  • Kiki Strike series by Kirsten Miller

  • Derby Girl by Shauna Cross

  • Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

  • A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter

  • A Long Way from Chicago series by Richard Peck

  • If you need more recommendations, try the Newbery Medal Award winners and Honor Books.

    Thursday, July 28, 2011

    Listening to Voices: Audiobook Recommendations

    "Audiobook fans tend to be more adventurous because we can listen while we do something else."
    ~Joyce Saricks, "At Leisure: Unexpected Pleasures", Booklist magazine Vol. 107

    I'm a little behind the times-June was Audiobook Month-but I thought I would share with you some audiobook recommendations I've gleaned from various resources, including staff favorites.

    First, did you know that Katherine Kellgren won the Booklist Voice of Choice award? We have quite a few audiobooks narrated by Ms. Kellgren in the library catalog if you'd like to give her a listen.

    Now, off to the races-I mean the recommendations! Some of these will be books on CD & some will be eAudio. downloadable from our Digital Library.

    Fiction Recommendations

    Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War by Karl Marlantes

    Tony Hillerman's Leaphorn/Chee mysteries

    The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty

    The Last Girls by Lee Smith

    Love You More by Lisa Gardner

    The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

    Corduroy Mansions by Alexander McCall Smith

    The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim

    David Sedaris (humorous stories)

    Harry Potter series

    The Boneshaker by Kate Milford

    Rick Yancey's Monstrumologist series

    Agatha H. & the Airship City by Phil & Kaja Foglio

    Non-Fiction Recommendations

    At Home by Bill Bryson
    (all Bill Bryson audiobooks were recommended by Joyce Saricks, but this is is latest)

    Bossypants by Tina Fey

    Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog: The Amazing Adventures of an Ordinary Woman by Lisa Scottoline

    Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories by Simon Winchester

    Hallelujah!  The Welcome Table by Maya Angelou

    Also, did you know there are audiobooks produced locally by Siren Audio Studios? Visit their website to see a list of available titles-unfortunately you can't search by publisher in the catalog.

    Tuesday, July 26, 2011

    Last Week of Summer Reading 2011!

    20, 247

    That's how many people have signed up for our Summer Reading program, One World, Many Stories/Un Mundo, Muchas Historias, so far!  We've had programs aplenty-from tunes by Mr. Stinky Feet to cooking classes with Gilda Latzky,  Kanji Luck Stones to Wii Play, Balinese Dance with Sari Megumi to Ikebana Flower Arranging workshops, with 18, 735 attendees. Some branches still have programs this week-check your local branch's website!  Our Battle of the Bands finale will be at Main Library on July 30th, featuring the song stylings of Sean Cairns, Focus'd, & My Shadow Plays Beside Me.  We've had 8 individuals, families & teams qualify for the "World Traveler" prize by visiting all 16 branches. I hope you've had a good time-I know I have!

    & we're not done yet! There's still a week to go-the program ends on July 30th. This week babies, kids & teens will all get books for their prize, & there will be one last prize drawing for adults on Saturday. (We've given out a total of 17, 664 prizes to kids & babies so far.)

    Of course, after June 30th will be the drawing for the grand prizes: for adults, the Dine Around the World certificate package or the Continuing Education gift certificates or the Isotope family pack of tickets; for teens, the netbook or digital camera. So stop by your local library, sign up if you haven't already, & make sure to drop off your reading logs by July 30th!

    Also, special thanks to our 1,072 teen volunteers for all your hard work!

    Saturday, July 23, 2011

    A Library Tour: East Mountain Branch

    Located midway along Tijeras Canyon, just adjacent to Exit 175 off of I-40, the East Mountain Library serves a wide area and diverse population. Customers come from not only the surrounding communities of Carnuel, Cedar Crest, Sandia Park, and Chilili, but also from as far away as Edgewood, Moriarty, Corona, and even Portales. Many of the branch's regular customers work in Albuquerque but live to the east, and stop at the East Mountain Library as part of their daily commute. Other customers live on ranches far out on the eastern plains and visit when they "come to town".

    As the Village of Tijeras is rather small (population less than 600 in the village area), the East Mountain Library has a vital role as a community center and meeting place. (It is not unusual to see people who live 40 miles apart running into one another at the library.) The meeting room is often utilized for a wide range of purposes including lectures, cooking demonstrations, guitar lessons, movies, theatrical performances, and storytime. A variety of clubs and organizations use the meeting room, as do some of the area's many homeschoolers.

    Other public buildings nearby in the "village center" are a Wells Fargo Bank, the U.S. Post Office next door, a recently-completed Senior Center, and the Los Vecinos Community Center which features a gymnasium, athletic fields, and a skateboarding park. The "Office Stop"across the street provides office supplies and services, helping to augment the Library's important provision of internet access for area residents.

    Like all ABCLS Libraries, the East Mountain Library features free internet access (via 10 computer stations, two of those reserved for children) up to three hours a day with an active SmartCard, and free wi-fi throughout the building. Two study rooms are available that may be reserved in advance; the meeting room can hold up to 38 people and tables, chairs, a whiteboard, and projection screen are available.

    Directly adjacent to the library is the Luis Garcia Park and Veteran's Monument, which incorporates a playground, central gazebo, and Vietnam Veteran's Monument. On the grounds of the Park is an old church now used for public events and historical displays; sharing a parking lot with the library is the Village of Tijeras Information Center/East Mountain Chamber of Commerce building.

    The East Mountain Library, along old Route 66, is at the gateway to the mountains east of Albuquerque. A short distance south of the library is the Cibola National Forest & Visitor Center (often referred to locally as the "Sandia Ranger Station") with regional information about access to the trails and attractions of the Cibola National Forest, which includes both the Sandia and Manzanita mountains and the Sandia Crest National Scenic Byway. The Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway, the "back road to Santa Fe", begins at the Library's door and heads north among some classic New Mexico scenery and through the towns of Cedar Crest, Sandia Park and the historic towns of Golden, Madrid, and Cerrillos. Madrid, a former coal mining town, has become an arts community and is a popular destination for area visitors. To the south are the Manzano Mountains, often a destination for daytrips from Albuquerque, especially Fourth of July Canyon with its brilliant Fall foliage.

    Visitors should be aware that there is no gas station in Tijeras proper; stations are available further east along I-40 and in the town of Cedar Crest to the north. However, the village offers other amenities for visitors. The Tijeras Open-Air Arts Market, hosted by the Just Imagine Gallery directly across the road from the library, is open every weekend from May to mid-October, offering juried arts & crafts booths, food, drink, and live entertainment. The Gallery also has a coffee shop that is open year-round. A Subway sandwich shop is close at hand; further to the east is Trail Rider Pizza, "the best smelling trailer in the world", which offers salads, sandwiches, and pizza. Further to the north are the Cedar Point Grille, Pete's Mexican Restaurant, Ribs Hickory Pit BBQ, and Burger Boy. The Western Mercantile directly across from the library also has cold drinks in addition to a wide range of livestock feed and supplies.

    Ongoing programs at the East Mountain Library include:
    • Celebrate Classic Literature, crafts and activities about classic children's literature. Past titles include The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland and Where the Wild Things Are; upcoming titles include The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and The Jungle Book.
    • Kid Picks, a book club for kids, created by a young East Mountain customer to encourage young people to share and discuss the books they have been reading.
    • Stitch Along, exploring the world of embroidery.
    • Read to the Dogs -- young children read to trained therapy dogs. Read to Leuka every Wednesday, and the other dogs the second Saturday of every month.
    • Family Movie Matinee, on the 4th Thursday of every month. A classic family film, usually presented in conjunction with the "Celebrate Classic Literature" program.
    • Kids Write. Young writers 7-17 learn about the techniques professional writers use to create great stories.
    • Sandia Stitch 'n Time. A drop-in afternoon needlework group.

    The library's recently reworked amphitheater is host to a wide variety of events including magic shows, musical performances, and visits from a variety of animal friends.

    Winners of the Battle of the Bands, Focus'd , performing in the amphitheater.

    Of course, being in the mountains means being closer to the snow! Any snowfall in the Albuquerque area usually means even more snow in Tijeras, so after a snowfall you might want to give the branch a call to be sure they've had time to dig out:

    The East Mountain Branch is a true example of the "Albuquerque/Bernalillo County" Library System -- the building is a County facility, staffed with City of Albuquerque employees. The building won an Award of Merit in 1994 from the Albuquerque Conservation Association for "Contributing to the Urban Quality of Albuquerque", and a New Mexico Business Journal Best Buildings Award Honorable Mention in 1997 in the "Energy Conscious Design" category. The grounds were recently re-landscaped for better water efficiency.

    While it may seem "out of town" for folks who haven't visited before, the East Mountain Library is actually just 7 minutes along I-40 from Tramway Blvd. It's closer than you think! And cooler up in the mountains -- worth the trip!

    Thursday, July 21, 2011

    Literary Links

    Beverly Cleary at 95: A Talk With the Author Who Created Ramona Quimby

    The 10 best literary picnics
    Read about the best fictional picnics from Picnic at Hanging Rock to The Wind in the Willows!
    George R. R. Martin: The wildly popular fantasist on three science fiction mainstays
    George R.R. Martin answers your questions
    Literary Games for Bored Book Nerds
    From the Bartlett's quotations game to a Chaucer-inspired board game.  Note: some of these games involve drinking some cocktails, so these games are mostly for bored adult book nerds.
    Tina Fey's rules of improv will make your book club better
    Christian marketplace bestsellers
    Roald Dahl stories to be on millions of cereal boxes
    The Great Readalike. If You Like This…You’ll LOVE That! (podcast)
    "Ranging from Scandanavian noir and vampires, to paranormal science fiction and tea party-versus Obama-party political discourse, hear from a panel of librarians who will tell you what books you’ll love, based on what you already like!"

    Romance Books We Love
    Laugh Yourself Cool: 5 Funny Books To Beat The Heat

    Locus Awards: Winners
    Rita & Golden Heart Awards: Winners
    Macavity Awards: Nominees
    Thriller Award: Nominees

    Thanks, in large part, to The Reader's Advisor Online Blog for these links!

    Tuesday, July 19, 2011

    Summer Poetry at ABC Libraries: From the Beat Generation to Parrots

    Poetry Circle at Cherry Hills Library has been rescheduled for Wednesday, August 10th, 3-5:30. Hope to see you there!

    Part of this year's celebration of Summer Reading includes Paris' Beat Hotel as one of our Novel Destinations! On Wednesday, July 20th, from 3-4:30, stop by Cherry Hills Library for the Poetry Circle discussion of Gregory Corso's "Bomb" & Allen Ginsberg's "Kaddish, Part 1". I have been reading The Beat Hotel: Ginsberg, Burroughs, and Corso in Paris, 1958-1963 by Barry Miles to get ready for this event-quite an eye-opening tale!

    Interested in the Beat Generation but can't make it to the Poetry Circle? The library catalog has a plethora of Beat Generation titles for your perusal, ranging from The Beats: From Kerouac to Kesey-An Illustrated Journey through the Beat Generation to San Francisco Beat: Talking with the Poets to Word Virus: The William S. Burroughs Reader to The Beat Book: Poems and Fiction of the Beat Generation. You can also look up Beat Generation members by name (such as Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady, or Lawrence Ferlinghetti) to find individual works & biographies.

    ABC Libraries offers several other ways for you to enjoy poetry, too! Lomas Tramway offers a Two Poets discussion group-the next meeting is August 17th from 11 a.m. -12:30 p.m., when Stephen Dobyns' "Yellow Beak" & Rita Dove's "Parsley" will be the two parrot-centric poems to talk about. Both poetry discussion groups meet quarterly. Additionally, Erna Fergusson offers a Poetry Around the World class for ages 10-18. This free writing class meets the third Thursday of the month (no meeting in December) from 4 -5 p.m., with a new style of poetry from a different part of the world being explored each month. Registration is required for the class, but not for the poetry discussion groups. To register for Poetry Around the World, call the Erna Fergusson Library.

    Perhaps you'd just like to read some poetry on your own? There is also a Poetry LibGuide, compiled by library staff, with tips for writing poetry & recommended reads.

    Sunday, July 17, 2011

    A Library Tour: Westgate Branch

    Wending my way to Westgate Library, the only library in the system I had never been to before, I did have the sensation of being on an adventure!  I drove from Coors to 98th on Sage, affording me views of the edge of town, big sky, & desert underbrush-although I found Westgate to be in a pleasant residential community, definitely less rugged than some of the landscape I passed.

    Westgate Library is located at 1300 Delgado SW, just south of Carlos Rey Elementary School in the NW corner of Carlos Rey Park. This branch shares its parking lot with the Carlos Rey Child Development Center. For directions by car or bus, visit the ABC Libraries' website. The library has 8 public computers including 1 express and 2 Spanish terminals. Westgate also offers many of the standard amenities of the ABC Libraries' branches: fax service; voter registration forms, None for the Road DVDs, & bus schedules are all available, but the branch does not have a magazine swap, community room, or study rooms.

    Westgate is a small, cozy library-kind of library equivalent of the one-room schoolhouse.  Everything happens in this one room-though they have to move some tables & chairs for storytimes, & their Summer Reading programs take place outside, in the shade of a big tree.  Their one desk provides circulation assistance & information, the first ABC Libraries branch where one tiny desk does everything!

    Westgate is Puerta del Oeste on your Summer Reading passport. If you stop by the branch to get your passport stamped, you can still enjoy programs such as Storytelling with Margaret Edmundson on July 17th & Ready to Read storytimes (for ages 5 and younger) on Thursday mornings until Summer Reading ends on July 30th. Westgate is also featuring a Drop-In Crochet Circle on Thursday afternoons until July 28th. For more information on Westgate's programs & events, visit the library's website!

    Why you should make Westgate one of your Summer Reading destinations: location, location, location! Carlos Rey Park, right next door, is an 8-acre park with a playground, two unlit tennis courts, and a playing field. If I wasn't heading back to my own branch after my visit to Westgate, I would have loved to have spent some time there!  Also, if you don't make it Westgate during Summer Reading, Carlos Rey Park will be the site for Arts in the Park in September-a good chance to meet some of Albuquerque's local artisans, musicians, and performers.

    While you are at the branch, make sure you take a minute to stop by the plaque honoring library staff member John W. Bell, in whose memory Westgate is dedicated.  I don't know much about Mr. Bell, but it's a very touching tribute.

    Friday, July 15, 2011

    A Library Tour: Alamosa/Robert L. Murphy Branch

    Journey Ahead by Kevin Zuckerman
    What more appropriate image for our Summer Reading program this year?  Fly away with "One World, Many Stories/Un Mundo, Muchas Historias" at Alamosa Library!  When you visit the branch, make sure you don't miss this wonderful sculpture out front.

    The Alamosa/Robert L. Murphy Library is located at 6900 Gonzales SW,  inside the Alamosa Multi-Service Center.  Look for the large sign that reads "Alamosa Multi Service Center" on the corner-the library is the light gray building. For driving & bus directions, visit the ABC Libraries' website. The library has 13 public computers including 2 express and 2 children's. Alamosa also offers many of the standard amenities of the ABC Libraries' branches: fax service; voter registration forms, None for the Road DVDs, & bus schedules are all available, but the branch does not have a magazine swap or a community room or study rooms for public use.

    Since the library is in the center, it is one of the smaller branches.  But the interior is quite charming, with some nice seating & a real can-do attitude at their Information Desk!

    Alamosa's children's section is jam-packed with delights for your perusal, with Madeline on hand to welcome you. I especially like (not pictured here) the half-moon-shaped enclosure where I imagine storytimes are held.  Please note that Alamosa is a branch that has a bunch of readalongs (children's book with accompanying tape)!  They also have a section for young adults.

    Alamosa is Alamosiana on your Summer Reading Passport-"a beautiful country famous for its many stately and shady cottonwood trees. The friendly people of Alamosiana welcome visitors from all over the Summer Reading Program world to come and enjoy themselves." Their Summer Reading table looks very inviting! Won't you stop by & sign up or drop off your reading log here?

    A 3-D snowflake made by staff member Tina!

    Alamosa is a very kid-friendly branch! Stop by on July 13th for music by Red Rooster Trio or on July 20th for Storytelling with Margaret Edmunds! You can also attended Ready to Read storytimes on Monday mornings until August 22nd. All Summer Reading programs take place in Meeting Room B of the center. During the school year, Alamosa also has monthly arts & crafts programs & open Wii play.  Visit the library's website for more information on programs & events.


    The library's placement in the Alamosa Multi-Service Center makes it easy to find other activities for the day of your library visit.  Alamosa Center staff provides emergency food, clothing, utility assistance, as well as community meeting rooms and seasonal services and activities to residents of the Southwest Mesa (South Valley and Westside) areas of Albuquerque, & there are onsite health care & social service agencies. The Child Development Center has childcare services  for children ages 0-5. There is also a Community Center, which includes access to a gym, exercise room, & game room, all free of charge.  (Classes are offered in yoga & boxing for a small fee.) The Summer Lunch Program takes place at Alamosa Center until July 29th, open to children and youth 1 through 18 years old. The Summer Recreation Program is offered for six to eight weeks (June to July) every year to school age children and youth from 6 -15 years old at the Community Center-it's a very popular program, & registration is required.

    Make sure you check out Alamosa's fotonovela collection!

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011

    A Library Tour: Lomas Tramway Branch

    The library's official banner, created by former volunteer Ken Dobies.

    Lomas Tramway Library is located at 908 Eastridge NE, on the southwest corner of Lomas Boulevard and Tramway Boulevard, but there is no access from Tramway. The parking lot entrance is on Eastridge Drive, which runs parallel to Tramway. For directions by car or bus, visit the ABC Libraries' website. The library has 16 public computers including 3 express. Lomas Tramway also offers many of the standard amenities of the ABC Libraries' branches: fax service; voter registration forms, None for the Road DVDs, & bus schedules are all available, & the branch has a magazine swap & Fiction to Go. This branch has a community room for public use but does not have study rooms.

    Bottom row of photos is by former Lomas Tramway volunteer Ken Dobies.

    Lomas Tramway reopened last year after a lot of remodeling & inside you'll find a very welcoming atmosphere! They have kept the big window, facing the Sandias across Tramway, but many other areas have changed a bit-really opening up the space, in my opinion. There is a lot of comfy seating, tables to spread out on, & spectacular lighting.

    I like the children's & young adult sections at this branch. Both have cool chairs & the children's section has that great entry arch & displays of artifacts from around the world, supplied by staff!

    Alligator Vase photo is by Ken Dobies.
    Lomas Tramway branch also has several art pieces on display. Amuse yourself by tracking down all six!  They are: The Mall by Enrique Montenegro (in the lobby); Dendrite Fusion by Xuan Chen (above library card desk); Sandia Sunset by Robert Hooten (by the newspapers); Velocipede by Robert Hooten (by periodicals); Sa Sara by Yulia Pinkusevich; & Alligator Vase by Tom Waldman (by the outdoor entry). Also look for the sculpture La Blessure by Collette Perazio-Itkin (on one of the outdoor patios) & the photographs of James Dietsch from his "Light in Albuquerque" series (above the computers).

    "O, say can you see, where the prairie dogs roam,
    Is the Czech Out Republic of Lomapalooza!
    You can read to a dog, search online for a job.
    The books are all free, so what can you lose-a?
    There's a wonderful view! Staff who love helping you!
    Since this time last year, all our walls look brand new!
    O! Say, will you join us for Summer Reading here
    We have prizes to give out, not again till next year!"
    ~Robert William Stewart Rogers, former Lomas Tramway employee
    (sing to the tune of "The Star Spangled Banner")

    This Summer Reading theme, "One World, Many Stories/Un Mundo, Muchas Historias", has been a lot of fun for me.  I think each library turning itself into a country for the program has been a fabulous idea & I have really enjoyed being able to see what each library has made its theme.  So my hat's definitely off to the Lomas Tramway staff for creating "The Czech Out Republic of Lomapalooza", complete with flag, anthem, & mascots.  You can even read a story about Lomapalooza's mascots, Clementine & Wilson, on the library's website!

    Also on the Lomas Tramway website, you can see all the programs that are happening at the branch!   For kids, Natalee Roe's storytime is July 14th & Balinese Dance with Sari Megumi will be on July 21st! There will be T-Shirt Stencilling for teens aged 12-18 on July 14th! A Family Movie on July 23rd! Lomas Tramway has a book discussion group for adults, monthly Read to the Dogs, the Two Poets discussion group, & more!  Their Program & Events page has a full listing.

    Have I tempted you into taking a trip to Lomas Tramway?  I hope so.  Besides a trip to the library, there is so much to do in the area: the Sandia Peak Tramway; hiking & biking trails; Chelwood Park; & another small park next to the library with a play area, climbing wall, & volleyball court.  To feed your stomach as well as your mind, check out Weck's or the Owl Cafe (both nearby).

    Just to show you how popular libraries are lately, the picture on the left above is Lomas Tramway's parking lot at 9 a.m. & the picture on the right is the same parking lot at 10 a.m., when the library opens.  There are always people waiting to get in first thing!

    Wednesday, July 6, 2011

    Albuquerque Libraries: It's a Grand Old History

    Circulation Desk at Old Main, 1958

    Did you know that May 1, 2011, marked the 110th anniversary of the day municipal public library service began in Albuquerque? Think of it-when you check out a book at your local Albuquerque branch, you are supporting a tradition over a century old! Last week, I sat down with retired librarian & local historian Joe Sabatini for a very informative discussion of the history of libraries in our fair city. It was an eye-opener for me, & I wanted to share my findings with you.

    That first municipal library in 1901 wasn't even the first library in Albuquerque. In the 1880s & again in the 1890s, there were subscription libraries run by women's clubs, most notably one that was located in the old Commercial Club at the intersection of 4th & Gold downtown (where the Simms Building is now). This library got some funding from a mill levy, but principally it survived on more homespun support, such as bake sales, dance balls, & soliciting donations.

    The original library building at Edith & Central.

    Meanwhile, in 1896, "banker Joshua Raynolds purchased a former school building at Edith & Central & bequeathed it to the City of Albuquerque for the purpose of having a municipal free public library."* In 1900, he bequeathed in perpetuity to the city, so long as three conditions were met: a public library should be maintained there; the city should maintain the grounds; & the citizens of Albuquerque should raise $1000 in funds for the fledgling library. The ledger still exists that records all the books that were bought for the new library.

    The very first librarian at this location was Nell Wetter. She opened the library with 2405 books. Only one floor of the three story building was dedicated to the library-the City rented out the other space to churches, schools, & community organizations. At that time the Huning Highlands neighborhood, where the library is situated, was a prosperous, upperclass area of Albuquerque. MissWetter ran the library for several years, left the state briefly, & returned the run the library again briefly. In 1913, Miss Wetter relocated to Cleveland-she was concerned for her health, as many of  her customers in those years were tubercular patients. She trained one of her successors, Stella Dixon.
    Librarian Stella Dixon in 1920
    Stella Dixon, who become library director in 1918, was the wife of a railroad conductor. The Dixons lived at Arno & Central & their 4 children went to the First Ward School, which is now Longfellow Elementary. The New Mexico Library Association (NMLA) was founded in Stella Dixon's living room, & she was its first treasurer.

    "Old Main", now Special Collections Library

    In 1923, the city passed a $45,000 bond to build a new library, tearing down the old school building & replacing it with a new building in the Pueblo Spanish Revival style. They used brick from the old building for masonry in the new one. The new building opened in 1925 with 1300 people attending the ceremony-the new, improved library was no small matter for Albuquerque citizens.

    "The Depression hit the Albuquerque Public Library very hard. At first, circulation continued to increase as unemployed people used the library to pass the time or look for job information. But the library had no book budget. They rented their new fiction [to the public]. That revenue & overdue fines provided their entire new book & magazine budget. People who lost their jobs had no money to rent books. With virtually no new books coming in, the collection wore out & circulation dropped from 90,000 annually in 1932 to 56,000 in 1935. More than a thousand books were put in the basement awaiting repair. By 1935, there were only 200 usable children's books, at a time when there were 5,000 children enrolled in public schools,"** says Mr. Sabatini. Community groups demanded a fix, & a new City administration forced Mrs. Dixon to resign, hiring a director with a a Master's Degree in Library Science. There were some budget improvements in the late 1930s, but the library was not expanded until after World War II.

    Erna Fergusson & Clyde Tingley at City Hall, May 1945

    During these next years, Erna Fergusson (the "First Lady of New Mexican Letters"), granddaughter of wealthy merchant Franz Huning, daughter of Congressman Harvey Fergusson, & Clyde Tingley (city commission chair for 3 decades & also governor of New Mexico) were influential in the growth of the library. After the deaths of journalist Ernie Pyle in 1945, Tingley appointed Erna Fergusson to chair a committee to determine an appropriate memorial to Pyle. That led to the City acquiring Pyle's home, which eventually became the Ernie Pyle Library-opened to the public in 1948 as the first branch library. Elsa Smith Thompson was the library director during this era, overseeing the establishment of a branch library system to serve the City during its extraordinary postwar growth.

    Staff member Marge Komadina at Tijeras bookmobile stop circa 1955

    Beginning in 1948, the Pilot Club donated a vehicle to establish bookmobile service, taking books to rural areas of Bernalillo County.  In 1954, the city opened its second branch library, Los Griegos, followed by its third, the Prospect Park branch (now called Tony Hillerman Library-see the timeline of this branch's history on its website) in 1957. Three more branches open in the 1960s-the Esperanza branch (replaced by Alamosa Library in 2001), the Erna Fergusson branch, & then the San Pedro branch.

    The 1970s were marked by the building of a new Main Library at 5th & Copper. In addition, "Old Main" at Edith & Central, later to become Special Collections, was renovated. A Model Cities Program library was created in the South Broadway neighborhood, with emphasis on media, income tax help, & programs by local performers & artists. In 1979 the staff & community resisted when it was proposed to make it a regular library! The library was rebuilt in 1995 as part of the South Broadway Cultural Center.

    Albuquerque was still growing in the 1970s, but with the emphasisis on the building of the new Main Library, no new branches were built. In 1979, director Alan Clark initiated  a Comprehensive Plan with "criteria for placement of branches serving 40,000 people within a two-mile radius".* This led to 3 branches being built in the city during the 1980s-Juan Tabo, Taylor Ranch, & Lomas Tramway. Another of Clark's innovations was the funding of library collections, processing, & automation, in addition to building new branches, through bond elections.

    With the growth of metropolitan Albuquerque, Alan Clark worked with Ruth Sims, manager of a small County Library, to bring service to Bernalillo County, outside of the city. A joint powers agreement was signed between the City & Bernalillo County, transferring the management of the County Library to the City of Albuquerque. This was followed by County Bond issues to construct three branches, South Valley, North Valley, & East Mountain, also under City management. The combined library system was renamed the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Library System. Two more branches,Westgate & Cherry Hills, were added in 1999.

    "By 2001, the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Library system was operating a Main Library, a book van service to senior condominiums, 15 neighborhood libraries & a Special Collections (genealogy & local history) library... In July 2007, the system noted the milestone of circulating one hundred million books & other materials since its founding in 1901. The system began offering public internet services beginning in 1995,"* Mr. Sabatini explains. The system was rebranded as ABC Libraries in 2010.

    What a long, strange trip it has been for ABC Libraries!  This is only a brief overview of the history of libraries in Albuquerque-I can't do justice to all the information Joe has compiled. I hope you have enjoyed this condensed version & that next time you visit a library in Albuquerque (perhaps to get a stamp on your Summer Reading passport?), you will enjoy knowing that you, too, are taking part in the grand history of libraries in Albuquerque.

    Related articles

    Joe Sabatini's talk to the New Mexico Genealogical Society (2009)

    Joe Sabatini: Lover of history and books (from abqARTS)

    *from "Public Library Service in Albuquerque" by Joe Sabatini

    ** from "In Search of Stella Dixon: Genealogical Ramblings to Fill in the Missing Chapter in the History of the Albuquerque Public Library" by Joe Sabatini

    All photos are courtesy of Joe Sabatini.

    Sunday, July 3, 2011

    Untold Story

    I have to confess a frisson of excitement at the thought of Monica Ali's new book, Untold Story.  I really enjoyed Ali's first book, Brick Lane, though I have to confess I haven't read her other two, Alentejo Blue & In the Kitchen (though they are on my ever-growing list!).  However, her new novel has topped the list because of its subject matter-Princess Diana, a favorite subject of mine.

    The Booklist review explains: "What if Princess Diana hadn't died tragically in Paris but instead had found a way to escape the unrelenting scrutiny she lived with on a daily basis? That question is the premise of Ali's new novel, which revolves around a fictional Princess of Wales whose life mirrors Diana's. Divorced from the prince, separated from her sons, and hounded by the paparazzi, Ali's princess fakes her own death with the help of her devoted private secretary, who is afflicted with an incurable brain tumor. Reinventing herself as Lydia Snaresbrook, the princess flees England for the U.S., eventually landing in Kensington, North Carolina, where she starts to build a life for herself."

    This novel seems very timely, with the princess' son's wedding last May & the 50th anniversary of her birth just passed on July 1st.  If you are interested in reading about the life of Princess Diana (technically Diana, Princess of Wales), try a subject search.  There are a smattering of fiction titles involving the princess, including: The Accident Man by Tom Cain; His Lovely Wife by Elizabeth Dewberry; Di & I by Peter Lefcourt; & Sue Townsend's hilarious spoof (somewhat bittersweet after Princess Diana's untimely demise), The Queen & I.

    Also, if you like to read fictionlized accounts of the royal family, Alan Bennett's The Uncommon Reader is a treat, imagining the Queen taking up reading after an unplanned visit to her local bookmobile.

    See reviews for The Untold Story & more on Monica Ali's website.

    Friday, July 1, 2011

    A Library Tour: North Valley Branch

    I highly recommend North Valley Library (North Vallandia on your passport) as one of your destinations during Summer Reading & I believe, as the above poster claims, you may meet the book of your dreams there!  I had a delightful visit.  I like a place that tells you up front where you need to go first-I need all the help I can get!

    North Valley Library is located at 7704 2nd Street NW, on the east side of 2nd Street, approximately 9/10 of a mile north of Osuna Blvd and approximately 9/10 of a mile south of Paseo del Norte-for directions by car or bus, visit the ABC Libraries' website. The library has 12 public computers including 1 express and 2 children's. North Valley also offers many of the standard amenities of the ABC Libraries' branches: fax service; voter registration forms, None for the Road DVDs, & bus schedules are all available, but the branch does not have a magazine swap. This library is a dropoff point for Roadrunner Food Bank. North Valley does have a community room & 2 study rooms for public use-their study rooms are available on a first come, first served basis.

    I can't say enough about the pleasant grounds of this library.  There is some nice landscaping on the west side of the building, but the real beauty spot for me was the east side of the building, where you can find the shade structure & trees.

    Once inside, there is more to admire! North Valley Library's decor is Southwestern, featuring high ceilings with wooden vigas & carved wooden furniture upholstered with a local flavor.  Another nice touch is the carved bookshelves.  Don't miss the library's showpiece: the Reading Ribbon, a 1% for the Arts piece by Evelyn Rosenberg, a sculpture you can look up to!

    But the Reading Ribbon isn't the only thing on display.  Swing by the display case, check out the woodcuts (very popular with library customers), & when I was there I also saw work by a local artist, "Spring Birds of New Mexico" by Lisa Dines.  Looking around for displays gives you a chance to scope out a cozy nook to hang out in-the library has those in abundance!

    You won't get to see Lisa Dines' artwork if you visit North Valley in July, but be sure & stop by for her book talk on July 7th!  Ms. Dines is also an experienced horse woman and local author & she will be speaking about Why Horses Do That...why our equine friends sleep standing up & more.

    If you can't make it to the booktalk, don't worry, North Valley Library has Summer Reading activities for all ages!  The North Valley Knitters is weekly drop-in needle craft group that meets Thursday afternoons with a skilled knitter on hand for instruction and questions. Teens can take advantage of the T-Shirt Stenciling program (bring your own shirt)  in July. Kids will enjoy Summer Storytime, weekly storytimes for age 5 and under that incorporate literacy skills in a fun way. (Summer Storytimes are Tuesdays at 1 p.m. through August 23rd.)  For a complete list of North Valley programs & times, check out the library website!

    The blue sign in front of First Choice says Enter Only & the sign in front of the library (not pictured) says Exit Only.

    Something you'll want to be aware of for your visit is that the library is next to First Choice Family Healthcare Center and shares the incoming parking lot entrance with the Center.  The front entrance of the library faces the parking lot rather than 2nd Street. If you are coming north on 2nd Street, the entrance is just before the blue & brown NORTH VALLEY LIBRARY sign. If you are heading south on 2nd Street, you will pass the library & turn right after the sign.  I mention this because I entered the wrong way on my visit!


    While you are in the area, I recommend a stop at the St. James Tearoom, one of my favorite North Valley attractions (the sign in their parking lot says "Park Tidy")!  If tea is not your thing, consider Sadie's or Annapurna's on 4th Street.  Another favorite summer spot of mine is Itsa Italian Ice, at 2nd Street & Phoenix-just make sure you finish eating your ice before you come in to the library! If yours is a more outdoor bent, La Ladera Park, which includes a playground, soccer field, & tennis court, is also nearby. The Village of Los Ranchos has some great antique shops, I hear! The library is also not far from a Rail Runner stop-enjoy those weekend trains while they last!

    Can I just mention North Valley Library's outdoor area one more time?  I don't know about lounging there in the heat of the day, but it sure looks lush & welcoming around 9 in the morning.