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Friday, February 26, 2010

Pen/Faulkner Finalists

The Pen/Faulkner Foundation recently announced the finalists for the organization’s 2010 Pen/Faulkner Award. One of the top three national fiction awards, the Pen/Faulkner was founded in 1980 by National Book Award winner Mary Lee Settle. It is considered the largest peer-juried award for fiction (writers honoring fellow writers) in the U.S. The winner, who will receive $15,000, will be announced March 23. A special ceremony honoring the winner and all nominees will follow on May 8 at the Folger Shakespeare Library here in D.C.

Among the nominees available at our library are:

War Dances by Sherman Alexie

The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore

Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead

Read more about each book in Pen/Faulkner’s February 23 media release.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Dolley Madison Library Closing For Renovation

Drum Roll please … Dolley Madison Library will close at 5 p.m. Saturday, March 6 for renovation. We know this news has been eagerly awaited by our Dolley Madison customers. In 16 short months, you should have a more modernized library.

The Dolley Madison Library bookdrop also will close on March 6. To get more details about the renovation and the history of Dolley Madison library read the news release. A temporary site for the Dolley Madison Library while it is undergoing renovation has not been confirmed. While the Dolley Madison Library is closed, customers can visit any of the nearby branches including Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library 7584 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, 703-790-8088 or Great Falls Library 9830 Georgetown Pike, Great Falls, 703-757-8560.

This renovation was made possible through a 2004 bond referendum.

Mary Mulrenan
Fairfax County Public Library

Friday, February 19, 2010

Olympic Fever

I admit it. I haven’t been getting enough sleep this week. I’m addicted – to the Olympics. Last night, it was after 12:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time when Evan Lyacek mounted the podium to receive the gold medal in men’s figure skating. I’ve followed Lindsey Vonn’s ups and downs and Shaun White's acrobatics for gold in the men’s halfpipe, as well as the lesser known victories – Canadian MaĆ«lle Ricker's win in the women’s snowboard cross or Hongbo Zhao and Shen Zue's gold in the figure-skiing pairs.

So, I was surprised to find that not everyone shares my passion. In an essay in New York Magazine, writer Jason Zengerle wonders what all the fuss is
about ("Why Bother With the Olympics? Obsure, Unpopular Sports Will Never Change the World,” Feb. 7, 2010). I definitely disagree with his argument that one should not watch the Olympics because biathlon and ice dancing are less compelling than football or basketball.

What fascinates me is the time and energy these young athletes devote to being the best they can be. Sure, the Olympics won’t ensure world peace, but for two weeks – during the depth of a mid-Atlantic winter – I can put the problems of the world on a backburner and watch the best of a new generation, who – you never can tell – might just change the world.

I guess I’m a romantic at heart. So tonight, I’ll plop down on my couch for a few more hours to enjoy skiers attack the slopes, sledders on their skeletons and whatever else the Games offer. And it is only Day 8. There is another week to go!

Of course if you are an Olympics junkie like me, you can find stories, stats and fascinating history in some of the books below:

The Complete Book of the Olympics by David Wallechinsky (2008)

Historical Dictionary of the Olympic Movement by Bill Mallon (2006)

Something in the Air: American Passion and Defiance in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics by Richard Hoffer (2009)

Rome 1960: The Olympics That Changed the World by David Maraniss (2008)

Image is in public domain.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Remembering Dick Francis

It seems appropriate that former jockey and best-selling mystery writer Dick Francis was remembered in the Sports section of Great Britain’s The Guardian newspaper (Dick Francis Obituary: Champion Jockey Who Became a Best-selling Thriller Writer, Feb. 14, 2010). Francis, the author of 45 crime novels, died at the age of 89 last Sunday in the Cayman Islands where he had a home.

Prior to becoming a celebrity writer of thrillers, Francis was a celebrity in horse-racing circles in Great Britain. He was named a champion jockey during the 1953-1954 racing season and became the jockey for the queen mother for four seasons. After the horse he was riding for the queen mother collapsed just before crossing the finish line in 1956, he turned to sports journalism and eventually to fiction, publishing one novel per year.

Francis won the Edgar Allan Poe Award of the Mystery Writers of America three times and was named a grand master, the group’s highest honor in 1996. In 1990, he won the Diamond Dagger, the highest honor of the Crime Writers Association of Great Britain. He received one of Great Britain’s highest honors as a commander of the Order of the British Empire.

Here’s a few of Francis’ best novels for you to try:

Come to Grief (1995)

Decider (1993)

Driving Force (1992)

Break In (1985)

Banker (1982)

Straight (1981)

Friday, February 12, 2010

New Due Dates for Books

Now that our library branches are digging out and open again, we have heard from many customers about the library materials that were due during the snow storm. Materials due February 5 through 14 are now due on Thursday, February 18. No late fees will be charged for the dates the library was closed.

Items on hold with a pickup date of February 5 through February 14 will now be held through Thursday, February 18.

Thank you to our dedicated circulation and Internet Services staff who kept the Web site updated with important information throughout inclement weather.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Toilet Paper, Milk and Library Books!

Library staff reported a run on books before the storm on Friday. Unfortunately, some of our branches had limited staffing because of the weather and by 2 p.m. all county offices including library branches closed. But it’s good to know when Fairfax County residents prepare to be snowed in they make sure they have a good book (or two or three) with them. I started with U Is for Undertow, Sue Grafton’s newest novel and am now working my way through The Scarpetta Factor by Patricia Cornwell. For those of you who weren’t able to make it to the library before it closed, I hope you took advantage of e-media and downloaded something fun.

Check out some of our snow photos on Flickr.

Mary Mulrenan

Thursday, February 04, 2010

History of Big Snows

According to the National Weather Service Forecast Office, the biggest unofficial snow (before records existed) occurred in January 1772. Known as the Washington-Jefferson snowstorm (it was recorded in both their diaries), the storm may have dropped as much as 36 inches in the Baltimore-Washington area.

Another famous snow is the Knickerbocker Storm of January 27-28, 1922. More than 24 inches fell, causing the roof of the Knickerbocker Theatre in D.C. to collapse. Ninety-eight people died and 133 were injured. In all, Washington D.C. has recorded 13 snowstorms equal to or greater than 12 inches since 1870. Northern Virginia, which began measuring snowfall at Dulles in 1962, has recorded seven storms equal to or greater than 12 inches in the past 48 years.

As you prepare for our second record snowfall of the season, visit the Winter Weather Preparedness page on the Fairfax County Web site for helpful information. You can also sign up for the Community Emergency Alert Network, which will send weather and closing updates via e-mail, cell phone, text pager, satellite phone and/or wireless device.

In the meantime – when you aren’t out shoveling– spend the weekend with a few good books.

Image is in public domain.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Chocolate Lover’s Festival This Weekend

The City of Fairfax will have its annual Chocolate Lover’s Festival February 6 & 7. City of Fairfax Regional Library is joining the fun with its own special events. Register online or call the branch to register at 703-293-6227.

All events will be held at the City of Fairfax Regional Library.

Scouts and Crafts, February 6 at 10 a.m. Girl Scout Troop #1194 provides simple craft activities for children ages 4 to 8.

Chocolate Covered Fairy Tales, February 6 at 11 a.m. Award-winning storyteller Gary Lloyd delights all ages with delicious versions of selected fairy tales. Cosponsored by the Friends of the City of Fairfax Regional Library.

Glass Harp Music, February 6 at 2 p.m. World famous harpist Jamey Turner performs on the Glass Harp. Cosponsored by the Friends of the City of Fairfax Regional Library.

Magical Moments, February 7 at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Jonathan Austin presents magic, movement and fun for all ages. Cosponsored by the Friends of the City of Fairfax Regional Library.

The Vienna - Falls Church Chorus, February 7 at 2 p.m. A quartet from the chorus will perform in the lobby.

Mary Mulrenan, Fairfax County Public Library
Image used with the permission of the City of Fairfax.