November 2010

Creativity was in abundance at our recent Henna Program sponsored by Teen Services.  Multicultural artist, Rachel- Anne Palacios gave an introduction to how and why henna body art is used around the world.  She also demonstrated and provided ample time for each participant to practice and perfect their technique.  It was very “hands on”. In addition everyone got to take home their very own henna kit along with a sheet of patterns.  This program was popular with a wide variety of age groups, including a couple young men and several mother/daughter combos.

I’d like to share some of their awesome designs.

If you’d like to learn more about this fascinating medium, here are some helpful resources.




What is LibAnswers?

LibAnswers is a web 2.0 Q – A reference system & knowledge base builder offering SMS/TXTing and Twitter integration. LibAnswers is an online reference tool. Much the same way Google works as a federated search of all things internet, LibAnswers is a ‘one-stop’ search box for an individual institution’s library. It is a knowledge base populated and maintained by the library itself and it is dynamic in that it becomes more robust as more questions and answers are added. A patron uses natural language to ask a question, whether it be, ‘How do I print microfiche?’ or ‘What’s the age of majority in Florida?’ For common questions and answers already in the knowledgebase, patrons are given the answer instantly! When a patron asks a question not already in the knowledge base, a librarian answers it once and becomes part of the searchable knowledge base for all patrons allowing the librarian to anwer it only once.

How does LibAnswers work?

By clicking on ASK US . Patrons type a question in natural language into a question box. As the query is typed, an auto suggest feature will suggest questions. If the question has already been asked and an answered given, the patron will receive the answer immediately. If it is a new question, it will be submitted to the institution’s librarian and the answer will be emailed to the patron. Once the question has been answered it will be added to the knowledge base so that if it’s asked again, the answer will be available. LibAnswers also uses widgets to provide the same features on Facebook, Twitter, blogs etc.

Who uses and benefits from LibAnswers?

Both patrons and librarians benefit from LibAnswer for different but similar reasons. Whenever a question is asked in LibAnswers, the answering librarian is given the option of assigning a topic to the question and up to five keywords. What this means is that once the question has been answered, any future searches or questions using those keywords will auto suggest questions and answers that use the same keywords. That means, if a question has already been answered, the patron will see that and similar questions and answers. By assigning topics to questions, patrons are given the option of browsing particular topics to review what other questions have been asked under that topic area. This saves time for the librarian as well. Rather than answer the same question repeatedly, patrons are given access to common questions and answers in an easy format. Since it auto suggests questions and allows for browsing, the patron ends up having greater access to more information. And since LibAnswers allows for anonymous questions, patrons who might not otherwise discuss a sensitive subject with a librarian can easily have answers to his questions while maintaining his anonymity.

For more information, click on the following links: 

It’s that time of year again; the end of the old year and the beginning of the new year when we get together with family and friends to socialize and eat rich foods. 

I’ll be visiting my sister’s family in the Monterey area and eating too much turkey, followed by a walk to Spanish Bay.  I’ll be seeing my nieces and nephew and other relatives by blood and marriage.  Just so I remember to change the topic when some guests want to talk politics, and nobody will get indigestion and nobody will get high blood pressure.

It won’t be long before 2011 begins, and many of us will resolve to lose weight – much of it gained during the last two months before the end of the year. 

There are lots of materials available through your Alameda County Library System that offer sound advice on losing weight or not adding it on to begin with.  Some suggestions:

Fat-free holiday recipes / Sandra Woodruff       641.568 WOODRUFF, S

Perfect light desserts : fabulous cakes, cookies, pies, and more made with real butter, sugar, flour, and eggs, all under 300 calories per generous serving / Nick Malgieri and David Joachim                   641.86 MALGIERI

Healthy homestyle desserts : 150 fabulous treats with a fraction of the fat and calories / Evelyn Tribole ; photographs by Sally Ann Ullman       641.86 TRIBOLE

American Heart Association low-fat & luscious desserts : cakes, cookies, pies, and other temptations                                         641.5638 AMERICAN

500 fat-free recipes : a complete guide to reducing the fat in your diet : 500 recipes from soup to dessert containing one gram of fat or less / Sarah Schlesinger                          641.5638 SCHLESINGER, S

The Eating well new favorites cookbook : more great recipes from The Magazine of Food & Health                          641.5636 EATING

The 99% fat-free book of appetizers and desserts : more than 125 stylish and satisfying recipes with less than 1 gram of fat / Barry Bluestein & Kevin Morrissey     641.563 BLUESTEIN

Betty Crocker’s low-fat, low-cholesterol cookbook     641.5638 CROCKER

All-new complete Cooking light cookbook / compiled and edited by Anne C. Cain      641.56384 ALL

Now eat this! : 150 of America’s favorite comfort foods, all under 350 calories / Rocco DiSpirito                                            641.5635 DISPIRITO

EatingWell 500 calorie dinners : easy, delicious recipes & menus / by Jessie Price, Nicci Micco & the EatingWell Test Kitchen       641.5635 PRICE

Slim & scrumptious : more than 75 delicious, healthy meals your family will love / Joy Bauer ; photographs by Joseph DeLeo           641.5635 BAUER

The complete cooking light cookbook / compiled and edited by Cathy A. Wesler          641.5635 WESLER  

Cook it light desserts / Jeanne Jones      641.86 JONES


In this time of holiday joy and happiness, there are many people in Alameda County that cannot afford well balanced meals for themselves and their families.  Due to the economic downturn, many never imagined they would be struggling to put food on their tables.  Many are desperate and calling for our help to put food in empty cupboards across Alameda County.


What can we do?                         

The employees of Alameda County Library would like to invite the public to join us in our fight against hunger by donating to the Alameda County Community Food Bank.  By going to  and clicking on the Virtual Food Drive link, one will be redirected to the donation page.  Your donations will help provide low-income families and individuals with emergency food assistance and the most invaluable resource of all, hope.

The Dublin Library has teamed up with the Alameda County Community Food Bank to have two donation barrels on our lobby.

More information on can be found at:

Robert Reich is a Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley.  He served in three national administrations, most recently as Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton.  In his latest book, “Aftershock  The Next Economy and America’s Future”, he argues persuasively that the reason the nation’s economy almost had a meltdown in 2008 is due to the increasing concentration of income at the top, and due to  a middle class that has gone deeply into debt to maintain what it views as a decent standard of living. 

He talks about the three major coping mechanisms that the middle class had adopted starting in 1975 to preserve a decent standard of living – women moved into paid work (often because a single income wouldn’t support a family), everyone worked longer hours (many more hours than the average European or Japanese worker), and drawing down savings and borrowing to the hilt. 

Reich writes presciently about an Independence Party (read Tea Party) that could take power in a decade that will adopt often extreme measures to restore some semblance of economic justice in the country, unless other reforms are put in place.  Such politics of anger will continue to grow as more Americans conclude that the economic and political game is rigged  for the benefit of the already ultra-rich and corporations. 

In the final chapter of this book, “What Should Be Done”, Reich makes some very interesting suggestions.  Among them are a “reverse income tax” that supplements the wages of the middle class (an idea proposed by economist Milton Friendman and that currently is in effect for low-income workers as the Earned Income Tax Credit), a tax on fossil fuels based on the amount of carbon dioxide in such fuels, higher marginal tax rates on the wealthy, a reemployment system that speeds and smoothes the way for those who become unemployed to find new jobs, Medicare-for-all healthcare reform, and lastly getting money out of politics through more generous financing of public financing of elections and stricter limits on campaign contributions. 

One need not necessarily agree with these suggestions, but I think they should at least be considered.  This nation was founded by people who dared to champion new ideas, and openness to innovation is one of America’s best historical traits. 

This book is available through your Alameda County Library System under the call number 330.973 REICH.

I often get good book recommendations from my co-workers in the Dublin Library.  Here are two recommendations you might want to consider.

Pam at the Reference Desk recommends “Faithful Place” by Tana French.  “A page-turning mystery which takes place in present day Ireland.  The CDB’s narrator makes the characters really come to life.”

 I myself just reading “Third World America: How Our Politicians are Abandoning the Middle Class and Betraying the American Dream” by Arianna Huffington

I would like to see every voting citizen read this book.  Huffington’s latest book explores  why and how the middle class has becoming an endangered species in the United States.  She names  the most notorious companies and politicians who are making the American Dream “as outdated as an Edsel with an eight-track player”.   She points out persuasively  that until political lobbyists are controlled, legislation is enacted to plug the drain of jobs heading overseas, our disastrous nation-building forays in Afghanistan and Iraq are ended,  big banks are broken up, and a version of the Glass-Steagall Act for the 21st century separating commercial and investment banking is enacted, we will continue to see the decline of the United States into a Third World nation where most people are struggling desperately to keep a roof over their heads while a very small minority lives in gated communities far removed from the reality of their other fellow citizens. 


From the Earth to the Universe

If you love night sky watching, then you may already know that this is the time of year for the Leonid meteor showers.  This year they are expected to peak on November 17. In order to get into the spirit of meteor storms and all things astronomical, the Dublin Library is currently hosting an exhibit “From Earth to the Universe” until November 22.   The exhibit is sponsored by the NASA-Ames Research Center and was part of the 2009 celebration of the International Year of Astronomy.  These images showcase the spectacular advances of astronomical photography from a fleet of ground and space-based telescopes that allow views of the cosmos that Galileo could never have imagined. These images are an example of the wide range of objects in the Universe that include nebula, galaxy clusters, supernovas, the Milky Way, planets and stars. Each panel of the exhibit contains an image accompanied by a simple explanation.

The images are taken by both amateur and professional photographers and were selected for their stunning beauty and ability to engage public imagination in the science and understanding of modern astronomy.  All the images are in color.  In the visible light or optical images, the colors are approximately how you would see them if you were close enough and your eyes sensitive enough.

More information, including an additional array of stunning digital photographs is available on the website, From the Earth to the Universe .   By displaying these beautiful and imposing images, exhibit planners hope to expose new audiences to the wonder and beauty of the cosmos.  The Library has set up a display of materials for star gazers and amateur astronomers.  Look for the display “At Home in the Cosmos: Exploring Astronomy.”