Powell's interviews Elizabeth Kostova, author of the new and highly commended The Historian, a globe-spanning Dracula tale.
Dave: Let's start with the hard-hitting questions: Growing up, did you ever wear those plastic vampire teeth?
Elizabeth Kostova: I did. I remember having a pair and loving them. The problem is they fall apart really fast. And I was delighted, on my book tour — at the Harry Schwartz store in Milwaukee, they handed out those plastic vampire teeth at the door to everybody. They gave me all the extras.
Many requests for this book at the library. It's on order and will soon be on our shelves. Meanwhile, place a request with any librarian to get your name in the holds queue.
It takes a gutsy author to take a well-known modern classic novel and write his own riff on its themes and characters. And it takes an extremely skillful author to have that book lauded, awarded a Pulitzer and a PEN/Faulkner, and become successful on its own. The icing on the cake is to have the book become an A-list motion picture. Michael Cunningham's The Hours achieved all this. Small wonder that readers have been anticipating his new novel, Specimen Days.
Powell's latest newsletter features an interview with Cunningham:
In The Hours (winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award), Michael Cunningham channeled Virginia Woolf as both collaborator and subject; in Specimen Days, he summons Walt Whitman as witness and specter. The two novels are as different as the writers that inspired them. What they share, however, present in all of Cunningham's work, is a network of underlying connections, a powerful urge toward community, in body and in spirit.
Some weekend silliness, courtesy of my son: Exit Mundi. Varied and imaginative scenarios for the end of the world. (I'll issue a small strong language warning...)
It's always fun, on a glorious summer day, to contemplate the End of Everything As We Know It.
Today's New York Times profiles a young woman named Stephanie Klein, who chronicles her life in intimate and unsparing detail in a blog called Greek Tragedy. Those who keep tabs on such things say that Greek Tragedy is among the top 1% of blogs in readership.
Ms. Klein is recognized on the street and in restaurants and has become a celebrity among her readers, kind of like a real life Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City.
Ms. Klein's celebrity has lately outgrown the Web, leading to a book and television deal. Her memoir, "Straight Up and Dirty," is to be published by ReganBooks, Judith Regan's HarperCollins imprint, in April 2006, and NBC is developing the book into a half-hour comedy series produced by Ms. Regan. Ms. Klein is also working on a second book about her fat-camp experiences. (Her trademark candor did not extend to the exact advance for her books, but she allowed that Publishers Marketplace, an industry publication, had described it as a "major deal," meaning $501,000 or more.)
Read more... (The New York Times may require the setting up on an online account, which is free and well worth it IMHO.)
Our database collection currently offers two Genealogy options--AncestryPlus and HeritageQuest. We are transitioning between the two: HeritageQuest will become our only genealogy database this fall. Currently, AncestryPlus is available only from a library computer. HeritageQuest will be accessible from any PC.
These databases open a world of research possibilities to the genealogical seeker. Anyone seriously seeking family history information is prepared to do a lot of slogging through records. These research portals allow a lot of the "legwork" to be done at home. What a concept!
Military records can be accessed, as can some ship passenger lists. The Social Security Death Database can yield important death date information. One of the best features of both AncestryPlus and HeritageQuest is the availability of indexed U.S. Census records, which previously were only available in major libraries and through historical societies. The censuses are dry, to be sure, but they contain lots and lots of information. When you're able to take your time with the censuses, you're certain to find more than you expected.
As always, if you have questions, ask a librarian. We have more information on these databases that will give real help to the seeker.
Today, we're continuing our look at Alice Baker Library's database collection with a look at Wiscat.
Wiscat is the statewide listing of library holdings. Our library homepage links to Wiscat, as does our database page. Its default is a simple keyword search field, but advanced search functions are available and easy to use.
On the right-hand side of the Advanced Search page is a group of search scoping choices. You can choose to search just Constellation group libraries, or Waukesha County libraries, or else open your search to the entire state. Also very useful is a media choice limiter. If you are seeking audio books only, or video only, you can limit your search to only items in those formats.
Search results will show a listing of various editions of the item. You can click on each item to see the libraries owning the item, the library system or group to which those libraries belong, and the call number for the item at each owning library. Constellation libraries owning the item will display at the top, followed by other Waukesha County libraries, followed by other state libraries.
At present, patrons are not able to directly place requests in Wiscat. Simply notify our Interlibrary Loan department of your request and we'll take it from there. Items owned by Waukesha County libraries take two or three days to arrive at our library; items from out-of-county libraries may take two weeks or more to arrive. If an item requested is currently on loan, a hold will be placed for you.
Wiscat doesn't use fuzzy logic--in a title search, you need to know the exact title. But keyword searching can be effective in zeroing in on an exact title. Or consult a book-selling website first--Amazon does use fuzzy logic and can help immensely in finding the exact title, the spelling of an author's name, or the publication date. Another thing to bear in mind is that new library holdings may not appear right away in Wiscat--uploads are made only every few months.
Still, Wiscat is invaluable--an indispensible tool for Wisconsin librarians. Give it a try!
Let's talk more about research databases. Check out what Alice Baker Library's databases can offer you! Stay with me--it's not at all dusty, dry, and intimidating. You can ask any librarian for assistance. Building a search is easy, and best of all, most of the databases we're discussing today are easily accessible from your home computer.
EBSCOhost is another multi-site portal among the paid databases available through the Alice Baker Library website. It links to a couple of the same resources offered in BadgerLink: EBSCOhost Web, which offers magazine and journal searches, and Searchasaurus, the kids' portal.
But there are some other very nifty and useful resources also. Corporate ResourceNet offers full-text articles from business-oriented publications such as Ad Age, the ABA Banking Journal, and other similar publications, both American and international. EBSCO also offers 90-day archives of approximately 100 newspapers from the Knight Ridder wire service. Finally, its Regional Business News archives approximately 75 business journals and newspapers from all metropolitan and rural areas of the U.S. Whatever your business research needs, your library can get the information you need into your hands with just a few mouse clicks.
Contemplating any car repairs? The EBSCOhost Auto Repair Database offers repair and parts information for most automobiles. Schematics and diagrams can be printed out. The EBSCO Auto Repair Database is only accessible from the library.
Finally, NewspaperARCHIVE Elite will search for facsimile pages of newspapers, many of them of historic interest. You might find the front page of New York Times from your date of birth; I was able to bring up my hometown newspaper from July, 24, 1886. The local hardware store was offering boys' and girls' tricycles, balloon ascensions, and eye examinations. What more could you ask?
Some of the most under-utilized services here at the library are our reference databases, accessible from the Database link on the left-hand side of our library homepage. Waukesha County spent nearly $90,000 to fund these resources this year, yet they are often overlooked by library patrons, who might not even be aware of their existence. This week, let's take a look at these info-loaded resources and what they offer.
We'll start with Badgerlink, a huge and many-faceted repository of services and resources. Badgerlink is a portal provided by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. It provides access to a wealth of search facilities especially valuable for media searches. Here's a list of what's in Badgerlink:
EbscoHost offers magazine and journal searches. All the standard mainstream magazines are there, but there is also access to specialized academic, medical, professional, and industrial journals. Searches can be tailored specifically to a patron's needs. Most articles can be printed out in full-text versions.
Searchasaurus is a search engine for kids, offering a regular encyclopedia, a dictionary, an animal database, image search, and special magazine databases for primary graders and for middle graders.
ProQuest offers newspaper access. The ProQuest Newsstand catalogs 850 U.S. and international newspapers and the Wisconsin Newsstand lists a dozen state newspapers. Many offer full-text articles dating back as far as fifteen years.
The African-American Biographical Database lists biographical sketches of thousands of African-American professionals and leaders. It offers a broad overview of the African-American experience in the United States over the last two centuries.
LitFINDER is a literary database offering a wealth of material on authors, essays, books, and poetry. You can search by author, genre, historical era, and many other angles. This one is a gold mine for students.
TeachingBooks is another book-related resource. This one is geared to teachers and parents, with book reviews, book suggestions, themed reading lists, listings of award-winners, and much more. Homeschool parents will find much to love here.
Whew! That's a lot! All this and more awaits at Badgerlink.