Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New poetry

We have two new collections by American poets.  The Back Chamber is the latest collection from Donald Hall, the former poet laureate and winner of the Frost Medal from the Poetry Society of America.  Devin Johnston, former editor of the Chicago Review, is a younger poet who looks to Yeats as one of his major influences.  His new collection is called Traveler, and it uses words like musical notes.  These two poets have very different styles, and both books are worth checking out.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Free legal forms

We have a new subscription to Gale Legal Forms, which gives you 24-hour access to forms for subjects such as divorce, landlord/tenant, wills, power of attorney, bills of sale and bankruptcy.  For a quick overview of the service, we've put together a short film  (it's silent....feel free to compose your own incidental music as a soundtrack).  

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bear Down, Bear North

We have just received the debut short story collection from Melinda Moustakis, a young writer who was born in Fairbanks to homesteader Alaskans.  Although she moved out of the state when she was young, she returned frequently for visits and grew up hearing family stories of life out in the Bush.  Her stories are grimly realistic, where the violence of nature in Alaska is overshadowed by human violence fueled by alcohol and desperation.  Families hold together out of necessity, but the relationships still have the spark of love buried down deep.
The writing is beautiful, and the stories are very powerful.  Although, between Moustakis and David Vann, it's a miracle anyone wants to move to Alaska.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Prepare for the movie....read the book!

A new film starring Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks is scheduled for release next month.  "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" is based on the 2005 novel by Jonathan Safer Foer in which a young Manhattan boy deals with his father's death on 9/11.  The book received mixed reviews at the time, with some critics feeling that Foer was using the backdrop of a national tragedy to sell books.  With the passage of time, reaction to the setting of the book may have died down somewhat.  You might want to bring a box of tissues to the movie theater, though.....

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Ketchikan Holiday Events

It seems like this time of year there are a million different fun things to do, and it's hard to keep track of the schedule.  So, the staff of the Children's Library have put together a guide of all the holiday activities taking place here in Ketchikan for the rest of the month:

Friday December 2  5-6pm
How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
Ketchikan Public Library
Visit the library for Suessical Stories, Grinch displays, cider and treats!

Friday December 2  5-8pm
Winter Art Walk

Local galleries and businesses stay open late for
new exhibits, displays, and holiday features

Friday December 2  7pm & Sunday December 4  7pm
Christmas Jazz Cafe
North Tongass Community Club

The First City Players present an evening of jazz, wine and delicious food.  Call 225-4792 for more information. 
Friday December 2  7:30pm & Saturday  December 3  2pm
The Nutcracker
Kayhi Auditorium 
Call Ketchikan Theatre Ballet for tickets 225-9311

Saturday December 3  6:30pm
Enchanted Forest
Ted Ferry Civic Center

The Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce hosts a dinner and decorated Christmas tree auction fundraiser.  Call 225-3184 for tickets.
Saturday December 3  7:30pm  Sunday  December 4   3pm
Ketchikan Community Chorus Holiday Concert: Christmas Gospel
Presbyterian Church, 2711 Second Ave
Kids $2, Adults $15

Tuesday December 6  7pm
Sam Pitcher Memorial Concert
Kayhi Auditorium

"An evening of jazz, rock and blues" is an annual event to raise money for music scholarships for young local musicians.

Thursday December 8  10:30 am
Preschool Storycraft at the Library! 
Ketchikan Public Library
Come for stories and make a “Red-Nosed Rudy Puppet!”

Friday December 10

Singing Christmas Tree
Clover Pass Community Church
Enjoy a choral performance and visual experience. Call 247-2360 for details.

Saturday December 11  3pm
Ketchikan Community Concert Band Holiday Performance  
Kayhi Auditorium
18 & under free, adults $10
Tuesday December 13  9-11am
Breakfast with Santa  
Rec Center
$15/child, parents free. Breakfast, gift bags, and pictures with Santa followed by a Christmas Craft!

Tuesday December 13
Kayhi Holiday Concert
Kayhi Auditorium
Thursday December 15  5:30 - 7pm
Family Night!
Ketchikan Public Library
Create holiday cards and ornament with Faye Hoffman. Free pizza for all and a free book for every child! Pick up your tickets at the library. 225-0370 for more info

Wednesday December 21  3pm
Kids Cook!
Ketchikan Public Library
Learn to make “Puppy Chow” and Chex Mix! All are welcome.

Friday December 16 6:30pm
A Sugar Rush Christmas!
Ketchikan Public Library
Enjoy a candy-filled movie and make some sweet art!
For ages 13-19, presented by the Teen Advisory Group 

Saturday December 17 10am-2pm
Feed Santa’s Reindeer!
Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary 116 Wood Rd
Hot chocolate , cookies, and reindeer! Free to all      

Saturday December 17
Ketchikan Children’s Choir Performance
Main Street Gallery
Call  225-2211 for more info 

Thursday December 22 12-2pm
Holiday Skate
Rec Center
$2.50/person or $7/family

Friday December 23  10:30am
Preschool Christmas Party!
Ketchikan Public Library
Christmas stories and songs, refreshments and a VERY SPECIAL guest!
Bring your camera!

Tuesday December 27-Friday 30
Clarke Cochrane Christmas Classic 
Kayhi Gymnasium
Join 2000+ fans for this annual basketball tournament at Kayhi!

December 31 10:30pm-12:30am
Roller skating New Year’s Eve party  
Rec Center Roll in the New Year! Call  225-9579 for details

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Come read some unwholesome books

It's national Banned Books Week this week (Sept. 24-Oct. 1) and if you come to the public library, you will be able to see a lovely display in our entry featuring the kind of immoral, smutty, dangerous reading material that libraries are notorious for providing:
  • The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
  • Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
  • Animal Farm, by George Orwell
  • The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
  • Ulysses, by James Joyce
  • The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
  • The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
  • Native Son, by Richard Wright
This might sound like the required reading list you remember from high school (perhaps not Ulysses... that's a bit of an undertaking for a 17-year-old).  But in fact, each of these titles has been challenged somewhere in the United States by angry parents, taken off library shelves or even - in the case of The Lord of the Rings - been burned. 
Librarians believe that your constitutional right to free speech also includes a right to information, and that the best way to protect that right is to exercise it.  So this week, exercise your right to read!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Big, BIG news!

We do Kindle!   After months of watching people's faces turn crestfallen to discover that our free eBooks (available via ListenAlaska) weren't Kindle-compatible, we are overjoyed to announce that Kindle users can now enjoy over 2,200 FREE eBook titles using their Ketchikan Public Library card and ListenAlaska.
When you go to the ListenAlaska site- http://listenalaska.lib.overdrive.com/  - just click on the "Now Available" box on the left (with the picture of a Kindle), and you will get a list of all our Kindle titles.  The MyHelp! feature will take you through the steps of using your Kindle with ListenAlaska.

The other great piece of news is that Digital Pipeline now features the interactive online language-learning tool Mango Languages.  Once you've created your free account, you can access courses on speaking Spanish, French, Japanese, Tagalog....even Pirate!  (That one is a hoot!)  Mango Languages keeps track of your progress and allows you to easily pick up where you left off.  You can even test your pronunciation with your web-mike.

Log on, download and enjoy!!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

That's wild!

Anytime someone comes out with a new Alaskan cookbook, it's pretty much a must-have for the library.  Anytime someone publishes a seafood cookbook, it's a must-have.  Put those two together, and you have library gold.
Wild Alaskan Seafood: celebrated recipes from America's top chefs by James O. Fraioli is a beautiful tribute to the wide variety of seafood that comes from Alaskan waters.  25 top chefs from around the United States were asked to contribute their favorite ways to prepare salmon, halibut, crab, clams, scallops, sole, cod, etc.  Because they come from varied backgrounds (such as Italy, France, and Japan) and because they have created acclaimed restaurants in several regions of the country (such as Washington, California, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and D.C), these chefs have been able to present different perspectives on Alaskan seafood.
Whether you like classic European cooking, unique Asian flavors or the exciting fusion cuisine of the West Coast, there are recipes in here that will intrigue you.  In addition, Wild Alaskan Seafood presents recipes for some of the less common ingredients:  sea urchin, razor clams, octopus, sablefish and lingcod.  (No recipes for dogfish, but we have a whole cookbook for that:  The Dogfish Cookbook, by Russ Mohney)
One caveat:  these are award-winning, professionally-trained chefs.   Their idea of 'simple recipes' and our idea of 'simple recipes' might be a bit different.  But if you're looking to be inspired and stretch yourself a little this winter as you work your way through a freezer full of oceanic goodies, this is the book for you.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Tagalog nobelang

We've recently expanded our Tagalog language collection to include five new romance novels, perfect for reading on rainy days:
  • Ako Na Lang Sana, by Camilla
  • Dahil Mahal Kita, by Millie Calleja
  • Pisong Kembot, by Vanessa
  • Kahit Sa Panagibip, by Dawn Igloria
  • Fixing a Broken Heart, by Maricar Dizon
If you would like something less light-hearted, we have some classic Filipino literature:

  • Daluyong, by Lazaro Francisco (a novel from 1962)
  • Ang Katipunan, by Gabriel Beato Francisco (a play from 1899)
  • Florante at Laura, by Francisco Balagtas  (an epic poem from 1921).
Basahin at masiyahan!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

New Music Highlights

We have a stack of new CDs out on the New Music Shelf, and there are a few titles that might be of particular interest:
Use Me (David Bromberg):  bluesman Bromberg hasn't released an album in 17 years, and he gets assistance on this one from John Hiatt, Levon Helm, Keb' Mo', Los Lobos, Dr. John, Linda Ronstadt, Vince Gill, Tim O'Brien and Widespread Panic
Anything Goes (New Broadway Cast Recording):  auditions for the First City Players' production of this classic Cole Porter musical are coming up...hear the songs with all their original lyrics
Join Us (They Might Be Giants):  why should kids have all the fun?  TMBG takes a hiatus from clever children albums to create a clever grown-up album.  Welcome back, guys.
Equal Rights (Peter Tosh):  the reissue of this 1977 reggae classic is packed with 30 tracks, some of which were previously unreleased.
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (2011 Broadway cast recording):  Harry Potter sings, dances, and looks like a total dork.  What's not to enjoy?
Rave On (Buddy Holly):  a tribute album to the rock-n-roll pioneer, featuring Paul McCartney, Justin Townes Earle, Nick Lowe, Kid Rock, Lou Reed, Graham Nash, Cee Lo Green, Fiona Apple, and Patti Smith - among others.  An impressive list of admirers.
Mediterraneo (Milos Karadaglic): Montenegran classical guitarist Karadaglic has gotten rave reviews for this debut album.
Plug your headphones in and enjoy.....

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hell-O Jell-O!

Sad to say, I have never felt that there's always room for Jell-O.  It's OK once or twice a year, but I'm not a huge fan (and I won't even touch anything in aspic..eew!).   But that was before I saw Jellymongers: glow-in-the dark jelly, titanic jelly, flaming jelly, by the world's foremost purveyors Bompas & Parr.  Starting out with a general overview of jellymaking techniques - proper molds, calculating volumes and using sugar syrups for the fullest flavor - Bompas & Parr then gently take the reader into the wonderful world of technicolor desserts.  Cherry jelly, lemon jelly, rhubarb & rosé jelly, even pineapple jelly (yes, it can be done!) are clearly explained.  Then comes the fun.
1.  Hollowed-out clementine oranges, filled with multiple thin layers of blancmange (white) and clementine jelly (orange), then cut into gorgeous sections.
2.  Clear champagne jelly, with brightly-colored summer berries suspended in the shape
3.  Vodka jelly that has been flavored and colored with Skittles®
4.  Black cherry jelly pyramids topped with pure gold tips (apparently, gold leaf will just 'pass through')
5.  Gin & tonic jellies that glow in the dark (under a black light)
6.  An aphrodisiac jelly that you really have to see to appreciate....
You'll never look at a packet of plain gelatin in the same way.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Input, please

As part of my preparation for submitting my yearly magazine order, I've been looking at our circulation statistics.  And, as usual, the results have been absolutely fascinating (for me at least...I'm a bibliometrics geek).  The top 5 magazines for 2010 (based on average circulations per issue):
  • National Geographic (17)
  • Military History (15.2)
  • Guns & Ammo (14.9)
  • Mother Earth News (12)
  • Discover (11.3)
Don't believe it when people tell you that guys don't read.
The big shocker for me though is how unpopular Sports Illustrated is:  1.75 checkouts per issue.  That's a worse rate than Alaska Business Monthly!  Why don't people read our copies of Sports Illustrated?  Are they already subscribers?  Does the magazine take too long to arrive here in the library's mail?  Do people prefer to get their sports news from television or the Internet?  Is there a better sports magazine?
I ask these questions because we have already cancelled subscriptions to The Sporting News and ESPN Magazine due to lack of patron interest...I would love to hear from blog readers why sports magazines seem to be so wildly unpopular.  Please take a second to complete our little survey off to the right. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


If you ever wondered just what types of cookbooks the library has on the shelves, our recent selection of NEW cookbooks will give you a pretty good overview of the cookery collection.
Ethnic:  Authentic Cuban Cuisine, by Martha Cortina.  Not gourmet, fusion cuisine...this is real family cooking from a Cuban expatriate.
Scandinavian Classic Baking by Patricia Sinclair.  Traditional Scandinavian favorites, dressed up with lots of nuts and fruit.
Healthy: The Essential Diabetes Cookbook, by Antony Worrall Thompson.  Pulls in flavors from around the world, for a new take on diabetic recipes.
Gluten-free cookies : from shortbreads to Snickerdoodles, brownies to biscotti : 50 recipes for cookies you crave, by Luane Kohnke.  She provides a gluten-free flour recipe and helpful information for those new to gluten-free cooking.
Trendy: In the green kitchen : techniques to learn by heart, by Alice Waters.  Chef Waters has been around so long I hate to call her 'trendy', but this cookbook is all about appreciating the new slow-food movement.
Specialty: Serve yourself : nightly adventures in cooking for one, by Joe Yonan.  Just because you're single, that doesn't mean you have to eat Top Ramen while you're standing in front of the sink.
Easy: Almost Homemade, by Catherine Cassidy.  Make interesting and elaborate meals using a base of convenience and processed foods.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Your Playaway fix

Our latest quarterly shipment of Playaway audiobooks is here and on the shelf!  For those of you who love these little grab-n-go gems, we have some of the biggest names in fiction to entertain you:
  • Jasper Fforde has added to his fantasy/mystery/time travel/humorous fiction series with One of Our Thursdays is Missing.  There's trouble in BookWorld, but where is detective Thursday Next? 
  • W.E.B. Griffin brings espionage adventure to the fore with The Outlaws, the latest Presidential Agent novel.  Covert agent Charlie Castillo has to track down biological agents and avert a worldwide catastrophe.
  • Donna Leon's 20th Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery is Drawing Conclusions.  Fans of Leon will love this latest installment, which focuses on the death of a widow who was sheltering abused women in her home.
  • Alexander McCall Smith finally celebrates the wedding of Grace Makutsi and Phuti Radiphuti in The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party, the 12th book in the Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency series.
  • Francine Pascal revisits her wildly popular Sweet Valley High series with Sweet Valley Confidential.  The Wakefield twins are all grown up now, but the angst keeps coming.
  • Jodi Picoult blends themes of infertility, music, gay rights and evangelical Christianity into her latest novel, Sing You Home.  Picoult wrote the lyrics to the songs included in this recording.
  • Stuart Woods is back with another Stone Barrington novel.  Strategic Moves sees Stone receiving a million dollar bonus from his admiring bosses at the law firm, but his clients soon involve him in murder, embezzlement and CIA intrigue.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

More sneaky food

When I was a kid, the general parenting approach to unpopular foods was "I don't care if you like carrots, you're not leaving the table until you eat them!".  Perhaps we're more nonconfrontational these days (or too lazy to enforce strict rules), but the new trend with parents is to sneak healthy ingredients into meals.  I posted previously about Jessica Seinfeld's Deceptively Delicious.  We have a new title in this underhanded cooking genre:  Ice Pop Joy: organic, healthy, fresh, delicious, by Anni Daulter.
Not content with pureeing up spinach, carrots, kale and squash into a form unrecognizable to children, Daulter has added the extra sneaky step of mixing these vegetables up with pureed pineapple, mango, strawberries and bananas, spiking them with sweetener and creamy liquids (cream, milk, yogurt, or soy milk) and freezing them into popsicles.
A far cry from the fluorescent-colored sticks of high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors, these homemade pops are packed with protein, calcium, vitamins and antioxidants.  The recipes are frequently livened up with ingredients such as peanut butter, lavender, chamomile tea, flax seed, quinoa, wheat germ and tofu.  The pops look delicious, the children are all smiling, and everything looks so easy.  In fact, many of these recipes sound interesting enough to appeal to adults:  pistachio tofu pop, spicy Italian pop, Rooibos red tea immunity pops and Mexican spiced fire pops.  The recipe I'm most likely to try?  The Green Machine pop, made with spinach, bananas, pineapple and flax seed.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Becoming a true Alaskan

There are many material signs that you are a true denizen of Southeast Alaska - a pair of ExtraTufs, an Alaska Airlines Visa card on which you load every bill except your mortgage payment, a 10-year old bottle of sunscreen - but there is also a set of special skills and knowledge you should have.  If someone hands you a wriggling sea creature, you should be able to dress it and cook it.  If you've read our latest book - The Fishmonger's Apprentice; the expert's guide to selecting, preparing, and cooking a world of seafood, taught by the masters by Aliza Green - you are already in the club.
This excellent book, laden with photographs, will show you how to debone herring, fillet halibut, butterfly salmon, shuck oysters, dehead shrimp, clean geoduck, gut dungies, cut steaks from cod, and clean live sea urchin.  And as if that weren't enough, there is a handy-dandy DVD that accompanies the book, featuring 12 tutorials and 32 recipes.  The disc demonstrates basic seafood cooking techniques, such as steaming, stuffing, pickling and blackening.  Learn how to properly cook clams, calamari and scallops.  Make crabcakes and fish fumée (which is a fancy term for fish stock...I had to Google that one). 
Once you've mastered this book, you'll be ready to tackle the many fine seafood cookbooks we have on the shelf (many of which assume you know how to gut a fish).  Derby season's coming up, and what better way to impress the guys down at the harbor than to gut and fillet your massive catch yourself with a few quick flicks of the knife...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

New Music Section

We had a patron request that we create a New Music section, much like the sections we have for new books and new videos.  We love to get great ideas, so we've created a shelf of new music above the stereo system.  This will make it much easier to find the new CDs that we've added to the collection.
We've just stocked the New Music section with 22 albums spanning all genres:
  • Blessed  - Williams, Lucinda.
  • The king is dead - Decemberists
  • Science & faith - Script
  • Waylon: the music inside : a collaboration dedicated to Waylon Jennings. Volume 1
  • Go-go boots  - Drive-By Truckers 
  • 21  - Adele, 1988-
  • The party ain't over  - Jackson, Wanda,
  • Rare bird alert - Martin, Steve
  • Mission bell  - Lee, Amos.
  • Songs from a Zulu farm - Ladysmith Black Mambazo
  • WOW #1s: 30 #1 Christian hits! - Heath, Brandon.
  • Town line - Lewis, Aaron.
  • Low country blues - Allman, Gregg
  • --For the ghosts within - Wyatt, Robert.
  • The very best of the Rat Pack - Sinatra, Frank
  • Chamber music society - Spalding, Esperanza
  • Sidewalks  - Matt & Kim
  • Edie Brickell - Brickell, Edie.
  • Dreams in America  - Bloom, Luka.
  • Violin concertos - Beethoven, Ludwig van, and Janine Jansen
  • Three flights from alto nido - Laswell, Greg.
  • The Trinity session - Cowboy Junkies
  Add our New Music section to your browsing routine, and you'll be sure to find some wonderful new albums.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Spot the thespian

I watched the library's latest acquisition - The King's Speech - last night and loved it (from talking to friends and family, I realize everyone else on the planet has seen it already). In addition to being a funny, entrancing movie, The King's Speech also gave me the opportunity to play my favorite British film game: spot the thespian. Many of the fine actors in this movie can be found in other films on the library shelves.

Colin Firth (King George VI) - wearing a lamé jumpsuit and dancing & singing to ABBA songs in Mamma Mia!
Helena Bohman Carter (Queen Elizabeth) - the darling of Merchant & Ivory, catch her in the adaptation of Henry James' The Wings of the Dove.
Geoffrey Rush (Lionel Logue) - he may be an Oscar-winning actor, but he is truly fun in Pirates of the Caribbean: curse of the Black Pearl.
Jennifer Ehle (Mrs. Logue) - played Elizabeth Bennett to Colin Firth's Mr. Darcy in the best version ever of Pride and Prejudice
Michael Gambon (King George V) - was an completely unpleasant character in the wonderful mystery with the upstairs/downstairs twist, Gosford Park
Claire Bloom (Queen Mary) - was in the 1965 John le Carré film The Spy Who Came in From the Cold with Richard Burton
Guy Pearce (King Edward VIII) - was so good in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, that I thought he was a professional drag queen
Derek Jacobi (Archbishop of Canterbury) - played the original stuttering ruler in the Masterpiece Theater series I, Claudius
Anthony Andrews (Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin) - was dreamy and dissipated in the classic PBS series Brideshead Revisited
Timothy Spall (Winston Churchill) - played the cringing toady Wormtail in the Harry Potter series.  (Bonus points if you can spot the other 2 Harry Potter alums in The King's Speech)
Happy actor-spotting!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Poetry Omnibus

Eighty-one entries were received in Ketchikan’s first ever Poetry Omnibus Contest. A panel of three judges selected 20 entries for posting on the Ketchikan Gateway Borough buses this summer.

Outreach Librarian George Pasley, contest organizer, said entries were received from 10 adults and 44 children and youth. All of the submitted poems are printed and bound in a notebook which may be viewed at the Ketchikan Public Library.

Poems that were selected in the adult division were written by John Pearson, Agnes Royer, Kelly Chick, Julie Grimmer, Peggy Kennedy, Cara Murray, and Terry Heida Gucker.

Poems that were selected in the Children and Youth Division were written by Jordan Sader, Nico De Guzman, Cecelie Ekse, Malin Guthrie, Melissa Imboden, Geralyn Lovell, Gretchen Wilhelm, Jackson Kaye, and Jordan Geary.

There were three classes in the contest: Tweet poems (140 characters or less), Haiku (Americanized version), and Wish poems (10 lines or less containing the word ‘wish’).

Ketchikan Poetry Omnibus was sponsored by the Ketchikan Public Library and the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Transit Department. Congratulations to all the winners, and THANK YOU to everyone who entered!

Friday, April 15, 2011

ListenAlaska app for your iPhone or iPad

I'm going to totally steal a wonderful thing from the Juneau Public Library:  a video tutorial that shows you how to download eBooks and mp3 audiobooks directly onto your iPhone or iPad  (a couple of days ago, I posted step-by-step instructions, but live action is SO much better).

Thanks again to the Juneau Public Library!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

New to Ketchikan?

The cruise ship season starts in about 3 weeks, and we are starting to see our summer residents trickling into town. If you are planning on coming to Ketchikan to work for the season, or if you are just planning on a short visit, here's a brief tour of the library and all of the resources we have for our patrons. We offer library accounts for temporary residents...just ask at the front desk. We are open Mon-Wed, 10 am to 8 pm and Thurs-Sat, 10 am to 6 pm.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Gross National Happiness

If you were listening to "A World of Possibilities" on KRBD this last Sunday, you may remember that there was a segment on that show about the economic benefits of happiness.  Filmmaker John De Graaf spoke about a collaboration between Seattle and Victoria, B.C. to survey the happiness levels of Seatillites.  This was inspired by the tiny kingdom of Bhutan, which bills itself as 'the Happiest Kingdom on Earth'.
We just happen to have a brand new book about this idyllic country:  Radio Shangri-La: what I learned in Bhutan, the happiest kingdom on Earth, by Lisa Napoli.  Burned out with her frantic career as a radio journalist, Napoli jumps at the chance to downpace her life by moving to Bhutan, where personal happiness and contentment are highly valued.  Napoli helps launch the first youth-oriented radio station in a country without a single traffic light, where television has only just been allowed to be broadcast. 
As she gets involved with the people and the lifestyle in Bhutan, she begins to question whether her efforts at fostering modern media and communications might not just threaten the very special nature of that community.A very interesting book.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sailing Southeast

We have a new 'must-read' book about Southeast Alaska:  Glaciers, Bears and Totems: sailing in search of the real Southeast Alaska by Elsie Hulsizer.  Photographer and writer Hulsizer spent three summers (2006-2008) sailing throughout the Inside Passage with her husband on their sloop Osprey.  They spent a lot of time exploring all the hidden nooks and beaches of Southeast, as well as walking around the many small towns and settlements that make up so much of our population:  Hoonah, Kake, Meyers Chuck, Yes Bay, Angoon, Hydaburg, etc.
It's this 'off-the-beaten-path' aspect of Hulsizer's book that makes this such an invaluable resource for local residents as well as the more adventuresome tourists.  Speaking as a librarian who fields many, many questions about the local area, we just don't have a lot of information - let alone photographs - about places like Meyers Chuck and Hydaburg.  Hulsizer spends pages and pages on these little communities, recounting her interactions with the locals and how daily life proceeds out in the big woods.  She even has a section on Old Kasaan.
Ketchikan residents will of course want to read the chapter on our fair city...it's not entirely flattering, and you will  find the conversation she has with one of the summer workers down on Creek Street (pg. 52 - "Is Ketchikan real?") quite enlightening.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Snow, snow, snow

It may be a little slushy right now, but it's supposed to get cold again, and we might get a teeny bit more snow.   So - before it's too late - grab our latest book on outdoor fun: Snow Play: how to make forts & slides & winter campfires plus the coolest Loch Ness monster and 23 other brrriliant projects in the snow by Birgitta Ralston.
Glow cones, snow caves, sculptures, mazes and icy decorations are all here in this fun book that will give you and your kids plenty of ideas for playing outside.  (You don't have to play with kids....there's no reason why adults can't have fun outside in the snow by themselves).  We have another book - Make it wild! : 101 things to make and do outdoors, by Jo Schofield - that also has ideas for chilly outdoor activities and art projects.
If the sun's out, it's a good time for you to be out.

Inventory is over

The library finished conducting it's annual inventory of the collection....thank you so much for bearing with us while we closed our doors for 3 days.  We put computers on carts, stretched network cables and extension cords hither and yon around the library, and scanned the barcode of every single book, audiobook, CD, video, read-along, and reference item in the building.  That's over 45,000 barcodes!
This was also our opportunity to put the books in perfect order, straighten the shelves, and refresh some of the displays.   In fact, it looked so lovely and tidy this morning when I came to work that my little librarian heart just glowed with happiness and I filmed the entire Adult collection to save the memory for posterity.
That might seem a bit odd, but it's the simple pleasures in life that keep us all going....

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

New Alaska fiction

We have two new novels from Southeast Alaska authors David Vann (Caribou Island) and Lynn D'Urso (Heartbroke Bay).
OK, so technically, David Vann is not a Southeast Alaska author - he's a professor at the University of San Francisco.  But he was born in Alaska, he did spend part of his childhood living in Ketchikan, and many of the stories in his acclaimed 2010 collection Legend of a Suicide are set in the local area.  So we'll just go ahead and claim him as one of our own.  His new novel is set on the Kenai Penisula and tells a story that will resonate strongly with many Alaskans: a couple bucking the elements trying to build a cabin in the middle of nowhere as their marriage slowly disintegrates, their dreams and wants slowly diverging.   Expect the same sort of bleak, compelling, emotionally charged atmosphere that Vann created so well in his previous work.
Lynn D'Urso is a Juneau-based writer (who has written some very interesting Alaskana books under his real name, Lynn Schooler).  His first novel, Heartbroke Bay, is based on a fascinating incident from Alaska's gold rush history.  An English maid working off her father's debts is bored with her life, and elopes with a prospector on his way to the gold fields in Alaska.  Overwhelmed by the reality of Alaska (always a tough location for newbies), they team up with three other prospectors with interesting stories of their own and end up in Lituya Bay.  From there, things go rapidly downhill.  This is a page-turning story that has gotten good reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

It's art that you wear!

The 25th Annual Wearable Art show is coming up next week, and we have a new book that showcases decades of textile-based art.  Artwear: fashion and anti-fashion, by Melissa Leventon, features pieces from a 2005 exhibit at the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco.  Leventon - who curated the exhibit - begins with an historical look at the merging of fashion and craft.  From the Arts & Crafts movement of the late 1800's to the renewed emphasis on nature during the 1970's and on into the recent experimentation with digital techniques and industrial fibers, textile artists have pushed the boundaries of fashion and perception.  Truly elegant painted silks, delicately beaded dresses, intricate smocking and elaborate construction techniques come together in amazingly creative ways.  Pages and pages of color photos will inspire budding textile artists, and get you fired up for the show next weekend.  (You might even think about getting a jump-start on Wearble XXVI)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New music

We have some wonderful new CDs if you're looking for something creative and unusual:
AfroCubism is a collaboration between musicians from Mali and Cuba.  In fact, this album was supposed to be created back in 1996, but when the musicians from Mali couldn't make it, the Cubans got together anyway and produced Buena Vista Social Club.  Expect great things from this blend of African and Cuban rhythms.
African sounds prevail on Bela Fleck's new album Throw Down Your Heart: tales from the acoustic planet.  Vol. 3, the Africa sessions.  Fleck brings his banjo back to it's homeland, jamming with musicians from Uganda, Mali, Tanzania and Gambia. 
Harlem River Blues is the latest album from Justin Townes Earle (son of musician Steve Earle).  Part country, part indie rock, part folk, this CD features some haunting songwriting by Earle.  Despite the hillbilly feel of the music, the songs themselves deal with life in New York City.  It's an interesting juxtaposition.
Clarinetwork: Live at the Village Vanguard has a sound you might associate more readily with NYC.  Anat Cohen, who has a nice light touch on the clarinet, pays tribute to the centennial of Benny Goodman's birth with a selection of his standards.  She gives them a little harder, jazzier sound, but she maintains that same swinging, lilting sound.
Buddy Guy: Living Proof is the latest from a blues legend.  At 74, Buddy Guy is still going strong.  He has a couple of tracks with guest artists B.B. King and Carlos Santana, but the rest of the album is all Buddy's gravelly voice and smoking guitar.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Go on, take a bite

If you're one of a handful of people in this country that aren't concerned about shedding a few post-holiday pounds, then we've got the cookbooks for you!
Classic Home Desserts by Richard Sax is a reprint of an award-winning bible for bakers.  Two decades after it first came out, it is still a treasure trove of traditional (Raspberry Flummery), unique (Grape-Nuts Pudding) and contemporary (Cappucino Semifreddo) desserts.  Although there aren't as many photos as I would like, the recipes are simple enough for the average home cook.  My personal favorite:  Grape-nuts pudding.
Rose's Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum is full of beautiful pictures, presents measurements in volume and weight (both metric and imperial), and instructs the cook on what special equipment might be needed for each recipe and what ingredients might need to be prepared ahead.  Recipes range from the homey (English Gingerbread) to the elegant (Grand Marnier Wedding Cake).
Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy melt-in-your-mouth cookies by Alice Medrich is an amazing collection of unusual and decadent cookies.  Sorted by texture, the recipes include such interesting suggestions as Masala Macaroons, Spiced Fig Meneinas, Honey Hemp Bars and Pecan Polvorones with Muscovado Filling.  There's also Snickerdoodles, Fudgy Brownies, Meringues and Lemon Bars, if you like your sweet nibbles a bit more familiar.
Meat: a kitchen education by James Peterson is a wonderful book for anyone who is daunted by the ever-changing names in the meat display at the local grocery store.  The photographs show you what the cut actually looks like, how to prepare it for cooking (trimming, boning, butterflying, etc.) and what cooking techniques to use with that particular cut (braising, roasting, sauteing, grilling, etc.).  Peterson even includes sections on game and sausages.
Heart of the Artichoke and other kitchen journeys by David Tanis is my personal favorite of the new crop of cookbooks.  Chef at the renowned Chez Panisse restaurant, Tanis presents recipes grouped by season:  both in the weight and tenor of their flavor, and in the accessibility of the ingredients.  No strawberries in December for Tanis.  His recipes are truly global, incorporating flavors from the Mediterranean, Latin America, the Far East and Europe.  He presents 5 menus per season, with a varying degree of complexity.  The Panfried Steak with Steak Sauce is easily done, the Terrine of Pork and Duck Liver....less so.  Generally speaking, however, the recipes are simple and easy to make, with just a few ingredients and a pure flavor.