Brooklyn Public Library


Best of the Irish

Mar 16, 2009 11:46 AM | 0 comments

Ireland has a long-standing literary tradition that has spread well beyond its isle’s shores, as far-flung as our own Brooklyn. There are the famous writers: James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, W.B. Yeats, Bram Stoker; the old: Jonathan Swift; the new: Patrick McCabe, Edna O’Brien, Elizabeth Bowen; and the local: Frank McCourt and Colum McCann. Frank McCourt, author of Angela’s Ashes, was born in Brooklyn, and Colum McCann, author of Zoli, was a recent participant in BPL’s series, Cosmopolis: Immigrant Writers in New York City.


Along with hoisting a pint this St. Patrick’s Day, why not delve into the wonderful world of Irish writing? See what you can find in our online catalog.

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It’s a True Crime

Mar 12, 2009 3:52 PM | 0 comments

Brooklyn is like that uncle that no one in the family discusses. Everyone loves him, but he has a checkered past. Sure, Brooklyn has seen dips in its crime rate and formerly uninhabitable areas are now trendy. But, the borough will always have a reputation. 


Maybe it started with the Brooklyn Bridge. In 1883, bridge traffic began moving, and so did the scam artists. The most famous was George C. Parker, who “sold” the bridge twice a week for years. Pretending to be the owner, he convinced people to take the bridge off his hands and set up a tollbooth for profit. Police often had to interrupt the efforts of these “new owners” who tried to construct booths. 


Then the mafia came to town. In 1901, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported that the police were finally taking action to thwart the crimes of the mafia in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Italian mafia members, attracted to America’s wealth, had flocked to the boroughs to see if the organization could profit. Police estimated that 75 percent of murders committed by Italians in greater New York were instigated by the mafia.


If true crime is your thing, library resources are a steal. Check out our online archive of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (1841-1902) to research the mafia, or any other topic. Or search Brooklyn Collection’s historical photo database for a firsthand look at crime fighting (try using the keyword "crime"). And this Sunday at 1:30 PM, don’t miss our True Crime series at Central Library’s Dweck Center. Tim McLoughlin, editor of the anthology Brooklyn Noir 3, and contributing authors read stories of true crime from around Brooklyn.


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Hello, Bonjour, Bienvenidos, ??????

Mar 9, 2009 11:29 AM | 0 comments
If English is not your first language then you are like many New Yorkers. Data indicates that more that 40% of Brooklynites alone speak a language other than English at home. It’s no wonder that our own Mayor Bloomberg often delivers his speeches in Spanish, the most popular language (next to English, of course) spoken in the five boroughs.

To keep up with changing times, BPL has also taken a step in the multilingual direction. Be on the lookout for our new state-of-the-art Bibliobus. This new library on wheels will offer Spanish-speaking Brooklynites the chance to borrow books written in their language.

For those of you who don’t speak another language, BPL has something for you, too. There’s no time like the present to broaden your horizons and learn a new language. With the use of your new library card, you can log on to our website and learn an array of languages from the comfort of your home.

For more information about our multilingual services, visit your local library or check us out here. 
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Four Questions for Ms. Jackson

Mar 5, 2009 12:47 PM | 0 comments

The “five fierce women” of improv group Ms. Jackson are holding a special ticketed event at Central Library’s Dweck Center (Thursday, March 19, 7 PM; purchase your ticket by calling 212.868.4444 or visiting SmartTix online). Members of this group have appeared on Late Night with Conan O’Brien and 30 Rock, as well as at comedy venues around the city. I put them on the spot for a couple of questions:


Your group’s name has everyone in our office singing Outkast. Are we right on, or is the name otherwise inspired?


Bayne Gibby: We originally were going to form this group to do one show in a festival in 2000. Jessica was filling out the forms and needed to make up a name on the spot. The Outkast song was popular at the time, so she said Ms. Jackson. I love the name.


Tara Copeland: Back then we used to choreograph dances to open the show with and we did a dance once to “Nasty Boys” by Janet Jackson, which has the line, “No, my name ain't baby. It's Janet. Ms. Jackson if you’re nasty.” Though we weren’t named for that, I really like that association with us.


How do you explain the chemistry between the five of you?


Jessica Allen: We are friends who love to have a good time and find each other endlessly fascinating and funny. Our love translates on stage into 100 percent trust, which makes our shows very fresh, real and funny (of course).


Gibby: We just gel together very well. They are the funniest women I know.


Copeland: We’ve been friends for almost 10 years. The bond between us is deep.  We are each others’ best friends, confidants, bridesmaids and therapists. We are always learning from each other, IM-ing each other, supporting each other and loving each other. Moves to other coasts and other countries, deportation, and motherhood could not break us up. We are more than an improv group and always have been. We are family.


Because you do improv, do friends and new acquaintances always expect you to be funny on the spot?


Allen: We hang out with so many other improvisers that we end up doing a lot of bits and then we go into the real world and people sometimes find us a little too energetic (or at least me).


Copeland: Not always, but sometimes. Sometimes people will say something like, “Oh, you do improv? Do it for me now.”—which is really annoying.


Speaking of which, do improv right now. Wait, I’ll give you a topic: chicken feet. Go.


Copeland: Oh. Um ... disregard my last answer.


Gibby: Ok, here I go. I’m a chicken with feet! I need some new shoes. Let’s go down to the Chicken Shoe Store. See how that works? Hilarity ensues.   

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Knitting – Solitary or Social?

Mar 4, 2009 9:19 AM | 2 comments
In Northern Europe from the 14th until the early 20th centuries, knitting was a vital part of culture and commerce. Wives and “spinsters”* knitted socks, sweaters and shawls to sell to summer visitors. During long winters, they knit by the fire and told stories. And young girls and boys learned the craft from their elders. 

These days, many are learning the ins and outs of knitting through online videos or books. But a sure-fire way to learn is to have a teacher who can show you.  

There are lots of great things about having BPL in every neighborhood, and having a knitting teacher available is one of them. Lots of knitters learn to knit, perfect their skills and meet like-minded knitting folk at BPL. Knitting groups are held at Bay Ridge, BedfordBrighton Beach, Brownsville, CentralDyker, GravesendMcKinley Park and New Utrecht branches. Other meet-ups and informal groups that we’ve heard about through the yarn vine include: The Park Slope Knitting Circle, Knit PH, a weekly group at Sunny’s in Red Hook and Flatbush Stitch ‘n Bitch. Join one, and the elusive secret of the yarn-over may be revealed to you. And a whole new group of friends will be there to welcome you. 

Have any other groups you recommed? Post them here.

-- Post courtesy of Grace Shanahan, children's librarian who has been a knitter for over 20 years. She finds that her most challenging decision each day is: Should I read? Or should I knit? Sometimes she manages both… or just reads about knitting. 

*NOTE: Women who were responsible for spinning wool into yarn were relieved of housework and farm duties to keep their hands soft, so they wouldn’t snag the yarn. These women were usually unmarried, thus the term “spinster.”
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