Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Mango Basic

Are you planning a vacation or business trip overseas? Learn some basic words and phrases of the language of the country you will be visiting with Mango Languages. Mango Languages is a web-based language learning resource available via the Library's website.

You can learn basic Urdu, Mandarin, Spanish, or nineteen other languages with Mango Basic.

To use Mango Languages go to the Library's home page and click on the Research/Resources link. From the pull-down menu select Electronic Resources. On the Electronic Resources page click on the Mango Languages link. Within Mango Languages select Mango Basic.

If you have more time to learn a language and would like to learn more than the basics, try Mango Complete.

If you need assistance, please - call or come to the Reference Desk. Our phone number is 408-615-2900.

Posted by MLG

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Library Holiday Hours

Santa Clara Central Park Library will be closed today, Thursday, December 24 at 5 p.m. and re-open Monday, December 28 with regular hours, from 9-9 Monday and Tuesday and 12-9 on Wednesday. Thursday, December 31, the library will close at 5 p.m. and open again on Monday January 4 with our regular hours.

The Mission Family Reading Center at 1098 Lexington Ave. will also close at 5 p.m. on Dec. 24 and Dec. 31 and be open its usual hours Monday & Wednesday, 10-9 and Tuesday, 10-6, Dec. 28-30.

posted by mb

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Bobby Darin, Bea Arthur, Berkeley, and a Beggar's Opera

My grandparents were Bobby Darin fans. Many times while in their house, his records (literally records... the big, black, flat discs) would be playing in the background while we did chores. I always liked the song "Mack the Knife." It was catchy and I was fascinated by sharks at the time (it happened to be the second word in the song and that's really all it takes to like something when you are four).

It wasn't until I was older that I realized how amazingly violent the song was. For all the people who grew up in the 50's that claim the music of today glorifies violence, please refer to the lyrics of "Mack the Knife." Your summer jam of 1959 was a murder ballad, or at least a ballad about a murderer.

Anyhow, years later while watching a doomed sitcom (doomed since it featured more "sit" than "com"), I noticed a Threepenny Opera poster in the back of the set. Knowing nothing about it, I found a copy of the 1954 cast recording. Not only did I learn that Mack the Knife originated from this (rather twisted) play, I also found it starred Beatrice Arthur... Bea Arthur from the Golden Girls! Sadly, I was equally excited to learn that Angela Lansbury was in Sweeney Todd. What can I say? I watched a lot of "old people shows" when I was growing up.

There is a version of the play being staged in Berkeley currently that I'm tempted to go see. This would require me breaking an oath I made to shun small plays after seeing a community theater version of Romeo and Juliet some years ago. You see, I wasn't informed that it was Romeo and Juliet... in Space (oh, how I wish I were kidding). It scarred me for life. But I'm pretty sure Mcheath is still wielding a knife and not a laser ray, and Jenny is still singing about being a pirate and not a space pirate, so it should be safe.
posted by jw

Monday, December 21, 2009

What device do you use to listen to books?

Some of you who are shopping for gifts have asked us which devices are compatible for using our digital book collection.

The library has a great collection of books to listen to in the CD format. You'll find them on the first floor after the videos and music CDs. You can search for them from home by using the term audiobooks in the Subject field.

We also have downloadable digital books which can be read and listened to on ipods, Mp3players, the Sony Reader and other devices. For more information read about it on the Overdrive Compatible Devices pages.

Find digital books on our website by putting electronic books in the Subject field. You can also find books by going to the Northern California Digital Library website. Santa Clara City Library belongs to this regional group and we share this large pool of downloadable digital and audiobooks for you to use.

If you need help in the download process watch a video found on our Tutorial page. Happy shopping and listening.

posted by mb

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Make a Gift to Your Library

The Santa Clara City Library Foundation & Friends asks that you make a gift to your Library this holiday season.

Funds donated to the Foundation & Friends are used to benefit your library in many ways, including children's programs, collection materials, databases, literacy programs, and investing in the Library's endowment. Your gift truly does make a difference in the quality of the Library.

You can donate online at http://www.lovethelibrary.org/ or mail a check to: 2635 Homestead Road, Santa Clara, CA 95051.

Many thanks to all of you who have supported your Library this year.

Posted by MLG for MD

Friday, December 18, 2009

Kids' Booklists

Ever come to the library to find books for your 3-year-old? Kindergartener? Sixth grader? Need a book that won a Newbery or Caldecott Medal? Don't know which book might count as "science fiction" for a book report? Look no further. We have a page dedicated to booklists in all of these categories and more.

Click on one of the lists to view the list online, then click the name of the book to see the book in our catalog and/or place a hold. If you prefer to print a list, many of our lists are available as PDFs and can be printed at home or from any library Internet computer. Once you find a book, often the same author writes other books for the same age or in the same genre, so the lists are a great starting point for you and your child.

Of course, you can always get help from any Youth Services librarian in person, so remember to use us as a resource, too.

Happy reading.

Posted by wk

Friday, December 11, 2009

Graphic Novels: More Than Just Pictures

Wham! Thwap! Bam! When you think of these sounds, you may think of traditional comic book magazines. We have some more traditional comics like Spider-Man and Batman in book form where multiple issues are grouped together. We also have modern graphic novels in teen and children’s. A graphic novel is a longer work of fiction told with pictures in comic form. Think traditional comic book, but longer with generally a beginning, middle, and end.

The new graphic novels can take many forms:

Take a look at both our teen and children’s graphic novel collections and ask a Youth Services Librarian for recommendations. KaPow!

posted by wk

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Make a Gift to Your Library

The Santa Clara City Library Foundation & Friends asks that you make a gift to your Library this holiday season.

Funds donated to the Foundation & Friends are used to benefit your library in many ways, including children's programs, collection materials, databases, literacy programs, and investing in the Library's endowment. Your gift truly does make a difference in the quality of the Library.

You can donate online at http://www.lovethelibrary.org/ or mail a check to: 2635 Homestead Road, Santa Clara, CA 95051.

Many thanks to all of you who have supported your Library this year.

Posted by MLG for MD

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Thanks for the (Hideous) Sweater (Which I Plan to Burn the Minute You Leave) Aunt Gracie!

It should come as no surprise that SCCL's resident grouchy Gus doesn't like Christmas. In part this stems from working retail when I was in high school. 10 hour days of canned Christmas music on an endless loop, rude people yelling about the lack of our marzipan selection (I didn't even know what marzipan was, let alone the need for a selection), and sweeping up the broken items customers destroyed in their consumerist frenzy... including a repeatedly, and suspiciously, beheaded giraffe statue.

Aside from that, there is the whole gift thing. It's not that I am against gifts. Finding that perfect something for someone is a great feeling. And show me someone who doesn't like to get gifts. No, that's all fine and dandy. It is the sometimes obligatory nature of Christmas gifts that bum me out.

Chances are, you buy a number of gifts for people each year that A) you hardly know or B) would rather not know. But you buy them a gift because you fear they will buy you a gift. The absurdity of this situation is that they are only buying you a gift because they are afraid you will buy them a gift. And what do you get for the person you feel obliged to buy a gift for? You get them an ever so personal gift certificate of course (which has become the modern day equivalent to fruit cake).

To save myself from having to deal with this awkward phenomenon, I introduce a Machiavellian plan around the beginning of November. I find a horrific "Christmas sweater" over at Savers (no doubt made with love by some kindly aunt and abandoned with disdain by some ungrateful nephew). I then show all the possible-obligation-gift-givers the sweater I got for "my friend so and so" (who does not exist). I say this without any irony or hipster winkiness. This thereby calls into question not only my taste level, but my abilities as a gift giver. Suddenly everyone decides that gifts aren't necessary that year. "Really, just getting together for dinner is enough." Problem solved.

Of course, I can't use the Christmas sweater trick every year. That would be too obvious. So last time it was a taxidermy rat. Year before that, a cinder block I found in a parking lot. Unfortunately, this has led people to believe that I have a fondness for small stuffed mammals and building materials. Which isn't too much of an issue until they feel obligated to get me a birthday gift.
posted by jw

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Morningstar Investment Research Center Webinar

Rebalance your portfolio for 2010 in just 30 minutes. Christine Benz, Morningstar's Director of Personal Finance, will present a training over the Internet.

The training will be on Wednesday, December 16th, from 1 - 2 p.m.

You will need a computer with Internet access. If you are working at a computer in the library, you will also need headphones to plug into the computer to hear the presentation.

To register send an e-mail to librarytraining@morningstar.com. Mention that you use Santa Clara City Library. Morningstar staff will reply with instructions on attending the training.

For more information ask at the Reference Desk or call 408-615-2900.

If you would like to explore the Morningstar Investment Research Center database, it is accessible via our Electronic Resources webpage.

Posted by MLG

Friday, December 4, 2009

Jan Brett's Winter Wonderland

Open one of the magical, winter-themed picture books by author-illustrator Jan Brett and you'll be swept into a sparkling, white world where you'll breathe frosty air, trudge through crunchy snowdrifts, and meet captivating children and their furry friends. You'll settle into the warm glow of a cozy, country cottage, filled with handmade rugs, rustic furniture and the tempting aroma of freshly-baked gingerbread.

Jan Brett, who has more than 34 million books in print, lives in Massachusetts. As a child, she spent hours reading and drawing. As an adult, she and her husband have traveled to many parts of the world for her research on the locations that appear in her books. Here's what she says on her website:

"I remember the special quiet of rainy days when I felt I could enter the pages of my beautiful picture books. Now I try to recreate that feeling of believing that the imaginary place I'm drawing really exists. The detail in my work helps to convince me, and I hope others as well, that such places might be real. . . From cave paintings to Norwegian sleighs, to Japanese gardens, I study the traditions of the many countries I visit and use them as a starting point for my children's books."

The Valentine Bears, which was one of the earliest books illustrated by Brett, was written by Eve Bunting and published in 1983. Brett used only two colors, a soft tan and a muted cherry red, to highlight the Native American costumes worn by Mr. and Mrs. Bear, who share honey and crunchy dried beetles during a special Valentine party in their cozy den, deep in a wintry forest.

In contrast, The Three Snow Bears, retold and illustrated by Brett in 2007, depicts creamy white polar bears in an Artic world of blue ice and white snow. The Inuit people in the story wear furry, warm clothes trimmed in authentic designs and bright colors.

Take a look inside a Ukranian cottage as you read the story that unfolds in Brett's retelling of The Mitten, a folktale about some michevous forest animals who find a child's lost mitten.

Visit Scandanavia and watch the antics of some pesky trolls on a snowy mountain peak in Brett's The Trouble with Trolls. While some of the story's characters are climbing past snow-clad fir trees and skiing down steep slopes, the trolls are having a party in their underground burrow. Brett paints incredible detail and humor into the borders of her pages.

And that's all she wrote. . . Thanks for reading my online articles during the past two years. I've tried to spotlight some of the special collections and services that are unique to the Santa Clara City Library, with frequent focus on my particular areas of interest and responsibility, our multicultural holiday books and our "On the Path to Good Health" program. You'll be meeting a new Youth Services writer next week. She has many ideas, and she's ready to share them with you.
I'm signing off. . . jtb

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Are You Ready For Some Futbol?

Remember that scene in Gladiator when they are sitting behind the gates preparing to go out into the arena? How the sound of hundreds of voices created an incoherent roar that seemed to promise some future misfortune? Two weeks ago I found myself in a Paris metro station hearing that exact noise from the street above me. And like the gladiators, I had no choice but to go out into it.

But alas, I was not bound for death or glory. Rather I needed to get to an apartment which happened to be behind a crowd of Irish football hooligans 500 strong beating on anything that passed them by. They were in town to watch a playoff game and decided to start the party 22 hours early. Take note Sunday morning tailgaters- that's real dedication!

However, it's a dedication that I can't comprehend. What possesses an adult to paint their face, wear a leprechaun hat and a flag as a cape, and spend the entire night singing completely out of key at the top of their lungs in the middle of a street littered with broken bottles (besides the obvious answer of alcohol)? Is the act of watching a few people kicking a ball around on the grass worth this much effort?

Apparently in every country but America, it is. Round here, most suburban kids play soccer for about 2 years and then forget the sport exists. Which is why we seem to have a glut of "soccer moms" but few soccer fans beyond a certain age. Most everywhere else though, soccer (or as it is so confusingly called by 98% of the world: "football") is like religion.

And thanks to a pretty boy (who could break my bones like chalk) and his wife, America started to get the spirit as well. But it hasn't quite caught on yet in a major way. We still prefer the "run two feet and fall down" version of the sport. Which is fine seeing as that game has its own overly obsessive brand of face painting, cheer singing, heavy drinking, viking horn/cheese hat wearing, hooligan. And they generally are polite enough to do all that in a parking lot early in the afternoon as opposed to yelling under your window until 5 AM. So that's a plus.

posted by jw

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Make your holidays bright!

Come visit our display of holiday books on the 1st floor. You will find books on the history and traditions of Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza and New Year's Eve. There are also plenty of books of holiday stories, cookbooks, decorating and crafting ideas. Check them out.

Here are some websites with more holiday information:

The American Antiquarian's site explains the origins of Christmas, the Evolution of Santa, The Christmas tree and Twas the Night Before Christmas.

The PNC Wealth Management Co.'s Christmas Price Index shows a video explaining the cost of the items in "The Twelve Days of Christmas" carol if purchased with 2009 dollars.

Mexican Traditions for Christmas or Tradiciones Mexicanas para La Navidad.

Principles Practices of Kwanzaa: Repairing and Renewing the World is the theme of Kwanzaa for 2009. Learn more at the official Kwanzaa website.

Here is a holiday wish from the Solstice tradition:

"May your celebration of this season of holidays draw deep from the abundant joy, fierce hopes and enduring traditions of all of our ancestors. "

posted by mb for ba