Thursday, May 31, 2007

Book Expo Held Today through Saturday in NYC

BookExpo America 2007 will take place at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City on the following dates:
Writer's Conference - Wed, May 30
Educational Program - Thur, May 31 to Sun, June 3
Exhibition Halls - Fri, June 1 to Sun, June 3
International Rights Center - Fri, June 1 to Sun, June 3
BookExpo America (BEA) is a convention of and for publishers, authors and librarians. Author talks and other events are planned including the following press release from noted the website:

Valerie Plame Wilson has been the subject of major news headlines for the past several years. She is the author of Fair Game (Simon & Schuster), a highly anticipated memoir detailing the experiences of the former CIA covert operations officer who in 2003 found herself at the heart of a political firestorm when senior White House and State Department officials revealed her secret status to several national journalists – including a syndicated conservative newspaper columnist who published her name. Fair Game will be published in October, 2007.
"We are delighted that Ms Plame Wilson has made herself available to speak at our lunch," states Lance Fensterman, Event Director for BEA. "Her story is shrouded in mystery and intrigue and I know that I am not alone in eagerly anticipating what she has to say. She is a welcome addition to our program and I’m sure she’ll attract a huge audience."

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Borat to Write Travel Guide

Reuters reports that comedian and ersatz native of Kazakhstan, Sacha Baron Cohen, aka: "Borat" will write a "travel guide" to his native country - which would be the U.K. of course, no, make that the satirical version of Kazakhstan. The levels of smarmy irony are so numerous here, that quotation marks need to be bracketed in more quotation marks ad infinitum. Borat makes Colbert's comedy seem frank and straightforward. Baron Cohen's comedy is so convoluted that it's hard to know who should be offended sometimes. Booklist's blogger weighs in on whether the comedian's style will work in print as well as it did on film.

And in related "stan" news, blogger Kier Graff, compiles a list of books with"-stan" in the title, a mini-trend, not yet quite a genre, but still notable in a way that makes one cringe at the thought of where this could lead. If you have ideas, let Mr. Graff know.


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Lost German Slave Girl

Book Review: The Lost German Slave Girl by John Bailey (Macmillan 2003)

The Berkeley Heights Public Library’s First Friday Book Group will discuss attorney and author John Bailey’s The Lost German Slave Girl, a retelling of a cause celebre in ante-bellum New Orleans. The book describes the legal case of Sally Miller, a slave who claimed to be white and therefore, by law, should be freed from bondage. The author began to write a brief expose of slave law, but when the he came across this celebrated case during his research, he decided to write the story of Salome Muller/Sally Miller, the slave girl who was recognized by fellow German immigrants twenty-five years after they had immigrated to America. By writing about a specific, historic person, Bailey has made reading about slave law appeal to a wider readership than the book he had originally planned. The book is a mixed genre: mystery, legal thriller, historical non-fiction. Scenes, characters’ thoughts, dialogue are imagined or invented in ways that may seem plausible, but not provable.

Publishers Weekly (10/11/2004) writes: “Bailey elucidates the bewildering array of possible identities turned up for Sally by numerous witnesses as well as the complexities of 19th –century Louisiana slave law and the status of black women.”

Sally’s owner, generally know to be a “good” slave owner, changes her name because she already has a slave by that name and finds it too confusing to have two. Slave law enumerates at exactly what age a child may be sold and separated from his mother as Sally’s son was sold at a very young age.

Kirkus Reviews (9/1/2004) writes: “Bailey’s trial narrative is a virtual education on the bizarre legalisms once regularly applied to human chattel; when, for instance, freedom eventually comes to Sally—or whoever she was—it is denied her children.”

For further reading:
Borders Reading Guide

Washington Post Review

Author’s Website

Silk City to Perform June 1st

Silk City Concert: Experience the musical sensation of Barry Mitterhoff (mandolin), Danny Weiss (guitar and vocals) & Larry Cohen (bass) of Silk City at Berkeley Heights Public Library on Friday, June 1 at 7:30 pm. Free Admission. Silk City website:
“Mitterhoff, Weiss & Cohen are a new string band with a sound as unique as their repertoire. Mandolin, guitar and bass blend in a breathtaking variety of styles including hard-driving bluegrass, wide-ranging ethnic music, sparkling original vocals and instrumentals and audience favorites like the "Wizard of Oz Medley". The trio combines exciting, interesting arrangements and meticulous delivery with a hard-hitting sound that will enrapture acoustic music lovers.” From

Friday, May 25, 2007

Remember Memorial Day

Take a look at this page on the History Channel's website about Memorial Day. Included are videos of Veterans' experiences, a timeline of wars, a history of the holiday, maps and other images, resources for Veterans and more.
Most library Reference Departments get calls about the proper way to display the flag several times during the year. Here is the link to the Federal Citizen Information Center's online brochure about the flag.
For brochures on other topics, go to

"In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly "

To cite this poem:McCrae, John. "In Flanders Fields." The Columbia Granger's World of Poetry. Available at the Berkeley Heights Public Library from "Remote Databases"

Thursday, May 24, 2007

90 Million War Records Go Online Today

Genealogy website has just made available 90 million war records, the Associated Press reports. The press release states:
"On Thursday, unveils more than 90 million U.S. war records from the first English settlement at Jamestown in 1607 through the Vietnam War's end in 1975. The site also has the names of 3.5 million U.S. soldiers killed in action, including 2,000 who died in

BHPL offers access to AncestryPlus through its public internet computers and will be offering a free genealogy program on Tuesday, June 26 at 7:00 pm. Learn how to use the Ancestry database in your genealogy research. Search the U.S. and U. K. Census, family genealogies, military records, maps, charts, birth, marriage and death records, the Social Security Death Index and much more in this huge online repository of information.

Newspaper Book Review Sections an Endangered Species

The National Book Critics Circle's Campaign to Save Book Reviews intends to do just that. Many newspapers have been cutting costs by eliminating the book review sections. The NBCC blog states:
"at the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, Newsday, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Memphis Commercial Appeal, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Dallas Morning News, the Sun Sentinel, the New Mexican, the Village Voice, the Atlanta Journal Constitution and dozens upon dozens of other papers book coverage has been cut back or slashed all together, moved, winnowed, filled with more wire copy, or generally been treated as expendable.
And we're getting tired of it."

If you agree, let your local paper know that you value the book review section. Experienced book reviewers bring a level of scrutiny, honesty and professional fairness to their reviews that just doesn't exist as consistently in the blogosphere or in the Amazon customer reviews.

America's Most Literate Cities

Every year one U. S. city is chosen as the "most literate" as explained in this blog post from 2005. In 2006, Seattle again ranked as most literate.
The survey has been done since 2005 by Central Connecticut State University. The website reads:
"Drawing from a variety of available data resources, the America’s Most Literate Cities study ranks the 70 largest cities (population 250,000 and above) in the United States. This study focuses on six key indicators of literacy: newspaper circulation, number of bookstores, library resources, periodical publishing resources, educational attainment, and Internet resources."

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

World's Teeniest Book Unveiled with Nanotechnology

The world's smallest book, so small it can only be viewed with an electron microscope, was unveiled today. Teeny Ted from Turnip Town, a success story by Malcom Douglas Chaplin, was created at Canada's Simon Fraser University's Nano Imaging Lab. To quote the website World Records Academy,
"At 0.07 mm X 0.10 mm, Teeny Ted from Turnip Town is a tinier read than the two smallest books currently cited by the Guinness Book of World Records: the New Testament of the King James Bible (5 X 5 mm, produced by MIT in 2001) and Chekhov’s Chameleon (0.9 X 0.9 mm, Palkovic, 2002). By way of comparison, the head of a pin is about 2 mm."
The book has an ISBN (International Standard Book Number, a common identifier for books) and is yours for only $20,000. Put that in your Amazon wish list.

PS: this could solve BHPL's shelving and space shortage.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

ThrillerFest coming in July 2007

A four day convention of thriller writers and fans will be held in NYC from July 12 - 15. Bestselling authors Clive Cussler, Jeffrey Deaver, Lee Childs, Tess Gerritsen, John Lescroart and more will be at ThrillerFest.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Sandbox: blogs from soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan

The BHPL Blog is two years old. In two years, this blog has explored many surprising new ways that the internet conveys news and information. Internet content is being generated by the users now more than ever before. Memoirs of war and writing letters home from war aren't new, but now U.S. soldiers can post their thoughts on blogs such as The Sandbox. Take a look at the website to read and feel the real story from the frontlines. Most posts to the Sandbox give a link to the soldier's own "milblog" (military web log) and each milblog in turn has links to what that soldier reads and links to on the internet.
The blog of war : front-line dispatches from soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan by Matthew Currier Burden (956.70443 BUR pbk) in the BHPL collection is one of several books in the library based on military blogs. A subject search for the phrase "Iraq War, 2003 -- Personal narratives, American." yields twenty titles or browse the stacks in the Dewey number 956.70443 area.

Colbert Reports on Book Reviews

I caught a rerun of the Colbert Report (5/9/07) where author Salman Rushdie discussed the importance of book reviews with the Comedy Central host, Stephen Colbert. Colbert introduced the segment by pointing out that several major newspapers have dropped their book review sections recently. GalleyCat quotes the show:
"Amazingly, the plight of newspaper book reviews got the attention of The Colbert Report, and last night Salman Rushdie joined Stephen Colbert in a rather entertaining exchange (which got Rushdie to call Cormac McCarthy's THE ROAD "that book" in reference to its Oprah selection" and to admit that "no one bitches about literary criticism more than writers.")
As for Colbert: "If it's a good book, I had that guy on my show." '

The Colbert Report, a satire of celebrity news shows, features authors frequently and video clips of the interviews can be found on the show's website. Recent author visits have included: Bill Bradley, Malcolm Gladwell, Andrew Weill and Jeanette Walls.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Altered Books

left: Altered book by Jeanette Janson

Old books (but not library books, please) can be turned into works of art with the application of gesso, paint, glue, stamps, paper and found objects of all sorts. Take a look at this site, Make a Mini Altered Book, to view some small altered books with a commentary on how the alteration was achieved. Here is the link to the article "stub" (unfinished article) in Wikipedia about this growing collage phenomenon. BHPL has several excellent books on collage art, altered books and related subjects which will help you start making your own old books into works of art.

Altered art for the first time by Madeline Arendt

Altered art by Terry Taylor

Altered book collage by Barbara Matthiessen

The Complete guide to altered imagery by Karen Michel

If you "google" the phrase "altered book," you will find many websites that explain and show altered books. Here is Eliza Badurina's very clear, concise explanation,
"If you've never heard of an altered book before, the concept is pretty simple: take an existing book and make it into art. Period. End of story.
The long version of the definition, though, is much more complex. There are infinite numbers of things you can do with a book form to turn it into something else. Everything from making "just" an embellished or decorated piece of book art to using the book's form in a new way for a completely different purpose or function. (For example, cutting the "guts" of the book out and turning the empty covers into either another book or, say, a purse or frame -- something you wouldn't normally associate with a book form.) "

My own tip would be to start by using an old child's board book, one that's been chewed and drooled on a bit is perfect. Lift the flaps are fun too. Paint the whole book with gesso or even old white latex house paint to create a new surface to play with. Now start gluing painting.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Tales from the Reference Desk

This blog tells tales from the Reference Desk from time to time. In the old days, before the internet (will there/should there be an acronym for that era: B.I.?) at my first library job, we kept an index card file with commonly asked questions and answers. I remember that the names of the Seven Dwarves was on one card; fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth was another tidbit in this file and so on. Now the world of trivia, rumor, urban legends, local lore and just plain weirdness has expanded far beyond what could be filed in our little FAQ box at the Richmond Public Library. Which brings us to the post about the Vegetable Orchestra recordings requested by a patron not too long ago. You can even listen to the sound of vegetables being "played." In our wildest imaginings, this did not seem to be where Reference Librarian as a career would be headed. Maybe twenty years in the future, vegetables will be listening to Human Orchestras out in the fields to help them grow tastier?

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Libraries Can Be Funny?

More blasts from the past to celebrate two years of BHPL blogging. Yes, libraries can be a laugh-riot. If you don't believe it, check out this post from the BHPL Blog archives: Funny Websites Vaguely Related to Books.

What to Read Next

To celebrate two years of the BHPL Blog, in the next month the blog will feature some posts worth revisiting. Here is the link to an earlier post titled What to Read Next. Since that time, BHPL has added a new readers' advisory tool to our website: NextReads, book recommendation newsletters sent by email. To subscribe to these free newsletters, go to the BHPL website, click on the NextReads link "Personal Reader's Advisory." Patrons can choose from over twenty newsletters by genre. The booklists are linked to the library catalog, so "holds" can be placed from home. Not all of the titles are owned by BHPL, but can often be obtained through interlibrary loan.