Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

James Ragan on April 12, 2011 at Albany Library

James Ragan grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in a house rich with the sounds and storytelling traditions of the Slovakian language. This world-roving poet has been Director of the University of Southern California’s Professional Writing Program since 1981. He studied at St. Vincent College (B.A. English, 1966; Hon. Litt. D. 1990) and Ohio University (M.A. 1967, Ph.D. 1971.) His vitality as a public speaker has made him a popular performer in venues throughout the world–including  large stadiums. Though small by comparison, the Edith Stone Room filled up with the sound of his voice on April 12, 2011.

James Ragan: The Rivers of Paris
From Womb-Weary (Carol, 1990)

‘breast-deep in descended bone’ – Dylan Thomas

It is raining and the boulevards of Paris
are breast-deep in bones. It is usual
for images in the rain-lay of April
to merge like ascending elms
down Saint-Germain or Saint-Michel.
The boulevards are the rivers wind owes
to the eyes’ reflections, light
to the panes transparent
in the domes of air wind weaves
along Sacre Coeur, the sphered
mirrors in the belly-up
of imitation louvred upon the water
the lone gull skims, antiqued
in its art of flying.

Down the Seine, all troves
of antiquity have bones,
the fluid and the permanent,
the rock, the sea’s seed,
the hunk of air
swinging between two trees
along the banks of Quai Voltaire,
the wheeze of wind
in the clochard’s lung
shelled and fractured
by screams in the night air.

The bones of leaves along Pont Neuf seethe
when spearing the unpredictable
sheers of grass growth.
The bones of Baudelaire
have bones, timeless weights,
looms of ochre in their bethel’s shapes
poem-shadows like Norse runes
or punctuations, splintered by the bones of spider’s
writer’s tongues.

In all our streams of consciousness,
the rivers of Paris run
down the escarpments of imagined time
their portmanteau of images
falling, boned together
like language or bat wings
aspiring to inspired flight.

In the single dying of a stone’s
last breath there is progress
we will all come to
in time, falling, each of us,
through the rain of our breath,
imitations of the Dantesque,
fused by the body’s currents
down the chutes of Montparnasse
birth-wet and river-deep
in bones descending.

Hear Ragan read this poem on Youtube:

Rivers of Paris retrieved on April 19, 2011 from:

See more poems at this site or request the following Ragan titles at Albany Library:
the Talking Hours, The Hunger Wall, Lusions, and The World-Shouldering “I.”

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Solar-powered math study

Check out by hand!

Well, you may need electricity to read this blog, but, for one brief silent moment on Saturday–the computers, lights and gadgets all shut down. And we all had a marvelous time!

Origami Peace Pole (with wishes in many languages)

Smiles in the aisles

Design team unplugged!

A downed utility pole may have caused our vacation from “The Grid.” Books were checked out by hand. Reference staff dusted off their Dewey Decimal knowledge with no online catalog to help. Most enterprising of all, a teen volunteer (looking like a coal miner with security lights ablaze) unloaded the bookdrop in the dark. Three cheers for her!!!

Happy artists

Dream team: Origami workshop

Please check your records this week to see if any items on the Holds Shelf were not picked up due to the power outage. Here is a portrait of a library without power and people doing what people do best: enjoying books, art and each other. The Albany way….

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Albany Reads Farm City: the Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter. Read about the farm next door and a woman with her feet on the ground.

book by Novella Carpenter

Albany Reads selection for 2010

Wednesday October 13, 2010

7:00 to 8:00 PM (Library: Edith Stone Room)

Rosalie Gonzales leads a discussion of Farm City: the Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter! Copies are available at Albany Library or can be requested from Library’s online catalog.

Sunday October 17, 2010

2:00 to 3:00 PM (Library/Community Center: Main Hall)

Author, Novella Carpenter, tells us how she tilled the soil of an Oakland neighborhood and turned it into a green garden with animals on all sides. Meet the author of Farm City: the Education of an Urban Farmer.

Wednesday October 20, 2010

7:00 to 8:00 PM (Library: Edith Stone Room)

This event continues Albany Reads. Albany’s arborist, Tony Wolcott, presents tips and tricks for the urban farmer. Presented in conjunction with Transition Albany.

Sunday October 31, 2010

1:30 to 4:00 PM (Community Center: Main Hall)

This event concludes Albany Reads. Transition Albany presents film – Mad City Chickens .

All events at 1247 Marin Ave. Albany, CA 94706

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Librarians are still a bit shy about swimming in the deep end of the social networking pool. Helping patrons with their online lives are part of the job, so it might be good to develop our info-swimming skills. But like every pool party, it’s good to have a few friends. So dive in at


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Lucky 14

Thanks to the wonderful patrons of Albany Library, recent months have been the busiest in Albany Library history! Circulation stats bypassed unlucky 13 and hit a lucky 14!  The 14% increase in business over the last fiscal year shows that public libraries are more relevant than ever–whether for job searches, email access, free events or an old-fashioned excursion into the pages of a good book.

This increase breaks down to an average of 33,000 circulated items per month with a very high volume of holds placed and filled. The staff stretches itself to keep up with the business, while remaining responsive to individual questions and needs.

Success is due to community involvement. The library invites individual users to shape the service and improve the collection so it reflects what the community wants and needs. Our luckiest number is the 1 person who walks out the door with the material or information (s)he was seeking.

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Library Bookdrop open during construction

Click on picture to enlarge

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The Stories of Joel ben Izzy

Total recall: delicious dogs!

The brown bag lunch was delicious yesterday, even for those who brought no food to eat. Storyteller Joel ben Izzy asked the audience to remember favorite foods and imagine places and faces associated with those foods.  We then told our stories to each other. One listener recalled his unhealthy hot dog-eating days, another said she’d just had one for lunch at Burger Depot and LOVED IT!  ben Izzy’s easy-going, conversational style drew many comments from the audience. He told other folk tales and wove the narrative of his life into the mix. The performance ended with a personal story from his recent book, The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness. (Ongoing forum sponsored by Albany YMCA and Library)

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Next week, the library will host two special events for those of us who aren’t getting any younger.

On Sunday, Nicole Hollander, creator of the cartoon Sylvia and author of Tales of Graceful Aging from the Planet Denial, will be with us to sign copies of her book. Star Joan Mankin and other actors from Stagebridge will present a preview of the new musical based on Hollander’s book. January 31, 1:30-2:30pm, free.

Thursday, February 4, join us for an informative presentation on driving safety. You’ll learn about ways to keep driving safely as you age and about transportation alternatives available in the community. This free, drop-in program will be held from 1:30 to 3pm.

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According to JoAnne Tobias in the December edition of the Berkeley Monthly, “Who says that no one reads anymore? On any given evening, bands of bibliophiles are shooting the literary breeze in living rooms, bookstores, libraries, and online around the East Bay. ….. But caveat emptor: no matter how you choose to schmooze, there’s no such thing as a non-addictive book club. “

The Albany Library is proud to sponsor three reading groups – one continuing, one with a new leader, and one brand new starting in January. The Adult Evening Book Group meets on the third Wednesdays  from 7-8 p.m. and continues with the theme  of  “The World Through My Eyes” – the December 16 book is The Life of Pi and the January 20 book is A Yellow Raft in Blue Water. The Great Books Group meets on the fourth Wednesdays from 1:30- 2:30. The January 27 book is Playboy of the Western World. Former AHS Librarian Rosalie Gonzales now leads both groups. You can be put on an email list to get interesting articles in advance of the meetings by contacting Ronnie Davis rdavis@aclibrary.org.  People are welcome to attend one or every meeting.

The third group is a brand new Literacy Reading Club geared to non-native speakers who want to read and practice their English. Anyone interested in this group can contact Alameda County Library’s “Write to Read” program at 510-745-1480.

What is important is to read – share – enjoy!

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Get Caught Reading

Olivia gets caught reading

Olivia gets caught reading

May is Get Caught Reading Month and the 10th anniversary of the familiar literary campaign. Check out the organization’s Web site to order free celebrity posters or find out about the innovative ways people are promoting book reading all over the world.

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