Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

As if drawn toward an irresistible magnet, large numbers of books, CD’s and DVD’s are pulled toward the Albany Library each day. The dynamo at work is the Holds Process.

In September 2011, Albany Library handled 6240 holds. The Magnet puts a lot in motion–from the purchase of new material to retrieval from other Alameda County libraries and our partners at Link+. By sharing our collections, the Library’s entire stock is utilized more efficiently and–for Albany–the shelves stay fresh and full. The volume is so great, it takes constant shelving and organization. See the stellar work of a library volunteer below:

Self-service Holds Shelf on a quiet day

We do not want to reverse the Magnet or curb enthusiasm for the Shared Collection. However, space constraints in the branch require some creative maneuvers, Library staff members try to keep room on the shelves by sending excess copies back to other branches.

But we don’t want to send everything back. You, too, may have your sights set on a copy of Fringe! Sometimes we have to move collections around the branch or shift material to other shelves–redrawing the mental map of the library. If you are unable to find CD Books, for instance, just look to the left of the Reference Desk. This move does not downgrade CD Books, it just reflects our need to shelve more DVD’s and our desire to make CD Books more “browsable.” (Last month, AV Circulation was 18,831 or 53% of the whole.)

Holds help generate traffic to and from the library. Circulation rang in at 35,340–up 6.6 % from 2010. Dweebs will be pleased to break that down to 213 items per hour.

The Albany Library’s “Gate Count” for September was 23,993 which comes to an average of 145 per open hour. (The under-15 crowd may skew that number, as they zig-zag in and out the door with high frequency.)

The quality of one’s individual experience at the library is the most important thing. High traffic, super circ, and overflowing holds shelves may overwhelm the system at times. The reference and circulation staff are here to help at any point in the process. We are well-aware that Requesting Library Material is part of a larger Quest for meaning and satisfaction–or just a plain-old need for “something from the library.


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Library staff and Friends of the Library came together under the canopy once again for the 2011 Solano Stroll. Books were sold, games were played and prizes awarded to anyone who “took a spin” on the library wheel.

Our Mini-Mandala featured questions of great complexity like, “Can you practice your trumpet in the Library?” or “Can you read in the Library?” Kids had great fun winning the prizes though a few junior geniuses found our questions too EASY!!! (“The noive,” to quote the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz.)

The Friends’ treasurer, Alan Riffer, reports that the Stroll booksale netted $815 – a record! The library gained wonderful publicity, as well. The Stroll always includes new residents and out-of-towners who don’t know about the Treasure Chest just down the street at 1247 Marin!

Caryl O’Keefe did a great job planning and preparing for the event. Thanks to everyone who did a shift in the library booth and to all the hands behind the scenes who made it happen!

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The last show of summer! The Friends of the Albany Library brought us a wonderful line-up of special shows in 2011. Join the Friends as a volunteer or contribute your used books to the Book Sales. See our final act, Tony Borders, a ventriloquist and puppeteer. Tony used animal books from our collection to create a magical show.

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Ella Thorp Ellis' memoir of life on the California coast

Local author, Ella Thorp Ellis, read from her fascinating memoir, Dune Child. It’s a tale of growing up as one of two children in a bohemian beach community during the Great Depression. The social upheaval and economic hardships called for new efforts at collaboration. Ella’s father and mother were part of a commune that featured other rich and poor adults seeking to rekindle the flames of mutual support and artistic self-expression that form the basis of “society.” Some residents were down and out after the Wall Street crash. Other members of this socialist haven had felt the impoverishment at the heart of wealth and power and wanted to live life with feeling and purpose. Ella’s father, Dunham Thorp, plunged into the sands and surf of the American West, editing the Dune Forum to express a new vision of labor, life and solidarity. The venture received the financial support of Chester Alan Arthur’s grandson, and others looking for transformation.

The author has written many books for young adults. She told us about the process of writing and the reason she chose this audience. In her wise and humble way, she said that teens were often forced to show one exterior to the world which often hid a very caring and emotional inner being. This led to a quest for authenticity and self-expression which fascinated her and was part of her own journey into adulthood. Fellow Children’s Author, Beverly Cleary advised Ella to move into the novel form and, no doubt, enjoyed her delightful storytelling, as they walked to pick their children up from school! It was an added treat to have a local author’s local husband in the audience!  People on the library staff also know the couple’s three sons and their families.

Turns out, Ella knew everyone. She met the Hindu mystic, Meher Baba, when she was a child at Moy Mell. John Steinbeck stopped by this upbeat bohemia to cheer himself up, trying out his stories on a willing (and empathetic) audience. Photographer, Edward Weston, inspired and educated her to take time and develop concentration on the subject(s) she selected for her art. She helped him carry photographic plates and equipment out into the Sand dunes (near San Luis Obispo) where he took many of his famous shots. Ella was less friendly toward author and socialist politician, Upton Sinclair, who channeled her father’s attentions away from her and didn’t seem to recognize a child’s serious contribution to “changing the world.” Her book reminds us that a child’s garden of voices is the community we all remember and the utopia many of us seek.


Dune Child

Memoir : adult
Publisher: El León ; Forthcoming: August, 2011
ISBN 978-0-9795285-9-0

The year of my Indian prince

by Ella Thorp Ellis
Fiction : Elementary and junior high school
Publisher: New York : Delacorte Press, 2001.

Swimming with the whales

by Ella Thorp Ellis
Fiction : Juvenile audience
Publisher: New York : H. Holt, 1995.

Sleepwalker’s moon

by Ella Thorp Ellis
Fiction : Juvenile audience
Publisher: New York : Atheneum, 1986.

Hugo and the Princess Nena

by Ella Thorp Ellis
Fiction : Juvenile audience
Publisher: New York : Atheneum, 1983.

Sleep-walker’s moon

by Ella Thorp Ellis
Fiction : Juvenile audience
Publisher: New York : Atheneum, 1980.


by Ella Thorp Ellis; Ginny McWilliams
Fiction : Juvenile audience
Publisher: New York : Atheneum, 1976.

Where the road ends

by Ella Thorp Ellis
Fiction : Juvenile audience
Publisher: New York : Atheneum, 1974.

Celebrate the morning.

by Ella Thorp Ellis
Fiction : Juvenile audience
Publisher: New York, Atheneum, 1972.


by Ella Thorp Ellis, Joel Snyder
Fiction : Juvenile audience
Publisher: New York : Atheneum, 1969.

Roam the wild country.

by Ella Thorp Ellis, Bret Schlesinger
Fiction : Juvenile audience
Publisher: N.Y. : Atheneum, 1968.

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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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