Oak Lawn library’s Angie Bartula named Librarian of the Year

BigDReads.113821Oak Lawn Library’s branch manager Angie Bartula was named Dallas Librarian of the Year.

“She won talent, swimsuit AND personality,” North Oak Cliff branch manager Ray Sablack said.

To celebrate, D Magazine is staging a festival at the deck park downtown.

“On the 26th, we are having a huge festival at Klyde Warren Park celebrating storytelling of all forms,” said D Magazine’s Community Engagement Manager Krista Nightengale. “It’s a free event that’s open to the public.”

Bartula encouraged people to bring a book to the park and spend the afternoon reading.

However, in the event she’s unable to fulfill her reign as Dallas Librarian of the Year …

“Hey,” Bartula objected. “Why wouldn’t I be able to fulfill my term?”

Absolutely no reason at all.

Since becoming Oak Lawn’s librarian, she’s expanded the LGBT section at her branch and encouraged other branches to begin LGBT sections as well, which Sablack has done in North Oak Cliff. She recently partnered with Dish, at ilume across the street from her branch, to host author lesbian Leslea Newman for a reading.

She’s active throughout the community, welcoming senior citizens, a crime watch and a North Dallas High School group. She’s encouraged a knitting group that meets at the library, a homeowners group and loves to help people with their job searches.

Well deserved, Angie, and we’re looking forward to the D Magazine centerfold in May.

—  David Taffet

Dallas librarian who helped choose Stonewall book award winners to speak

LGBT collection at the Oak Lawn Branch

LGBT collection at the Oak Lawn Branch

Dallas Public Library Audelia Road Branch manager Peter Coyl, who helped choose the Stonewall Book Award winners, will speak at the Oak Lawn and North Oak Cliff branches next week.

Coyl is one of 15 librarians from the U.S. and Canada who read about 180 books to select three Stonewall Book Award winners. The American Library Association committee met in Seattle last week to discuss the nominees. He is the only librarian from Texas who served on the committee.

The winners were The Last Nude by Ellis Avery in Literature; For Colored Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Still Not Enough: Coming of Age, Coming Out, and Coming Home edited by Keith Boykin in Nonfiction; and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz in Children’s and Young Adult Fiction. Saenz is a professor at the University of Texas at El Paso.

—  David Taffet

Has the Republican Party gone nuts?

As Iowa Caucus nears, taking stock of laughingstock that is GOP field

GOP-candidates

Associated Press

Months ago, in a column I wrote about the Dallas Public Library and some books, I mentioned recommendations for mysteries by gay writer Mark Richard Zubro. I love Zubro and zipped right through all of his books. I bought the only volume the library didn’t own through its “Be A Book Hero” program, so I got first dibs when it came into the system.

Zubro’s books comprise two series, one built around gay Chicago police detective Paul Turner, the other featuring high school teacher Tom Mason and Tom’s partner, professional baseball star Scott Carpenter. In the latter series, when confronted with some monumental idiocy, Tom is prone to say, “Are you nuts?” — which is also the name of one book in the series.

Guest.Phyllis

Phyllis Guest Taking Notes

Well, as I take in as much as I can bear of the Republican presidential primary campaign, I keep asking my screens and my radios that question.

Here’s an example.

One morning on the local NPR station, a network political reporter was asking Republican debate attendees which candidate they favored. One couple, finishing each other’s sentences in their enthusiasm, said: “Newt Gingrich. He’s so honest. And honorable.”

This, about a man who asked his first wife for a divorce while she was in a hospital bed, recovering from surgery; who betrayed his second wife through an affair with the woman who is now wife three; and who was fined $300,000 in 1997-98 for violations of House ethics rules. Not to mention that Newt Gingrich was working to impeach Bill Clinton for seducing Monica

Lewinsky at the very same time he was boffing a Capitol Hill aide of his own.

Here’s another example.

Rick Perry, we have recently learned, not only takes his $150,000 salary as governor while he travels around Iowa in a big, ugly tour bus labeled “Faith, Jobs and Freedom,” but he collects $92,000 in government retirement pay at the same time. He lives in a taxpayer-funded spread that costs, if the news reports have it right, $10,000 per month. He hardly governs at all, and as proof that much governance is unnecessary, he proposes to make the U.S. Congress a part-time organization.

This is a man who also benefits from state-funded security protection, doles out jobs to friends with lots of ready money, and subscribes to a Christian faith so profound that he is one lethal injection away from having killed half the persons put to death in Texas since the ultimate penalty was reinstated in 1977.

And a third example.

Mitt Romney, we all know, grew up rich and got even richer. He sells himself on the basis of his business acumen. But he had a huge head start since his father was George Romney, the CEO of American Motors Corp., Michigan’s governor and a national Republican political player. He’s a very bright guy, no doubt; he has degrees from both Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School. Before entering politics, he ran a management consulting firm and its spinoff, Bain Capital, a very successful private equity firm.

But there is something profoundly weird about the man. When he sought the Republican nomination four years ago, I bought Mormonism for Dummies because I knew almost nothing about that religion. I must say I found it not so much impenetrable as incredible, but don’t take my word for it, read about it yourselves. What is weird, though, is not his religion or even the fact that he says, “Corporations are people, my friend.” It’s his whole persona. He seems to have all the right pieces in all the right places, but with insufficient glue holding them together.

Or how about Michele Bachmann? Shall we talk about her assaults on the LGBT community and apparent astonishment when the daughter of a lesbian confronted her? Perhaps we should consider her husband’s “conversion” therapy.

Or what about Ron Paul? For one thing, the man is even older than I am, and given his adherence to libertarian principles, I cannot imagine how he would manage to get anything done in our contentious, contemptuous capital.

Or why not revisit Herman Cain? I could hardly get past the fact that he thought God had called him to run for president so as to pay attention to his sexual exploits. I did manage to notice that his much-vaunted stint as CEO of Godfather’s Pizza was a full 15 years ago.

Finally, consider Rick Santorum, who apparently eschews both self control and birth control and so has seven children, and Jon Huntsman, who apparently lacks the gene for the rabid right-wing statements the party base demands.

So, Republican candidates and Republican voters, I put it to you: Are you nuts?

Phyllis Guest is a longtime activist on political and LGBT issues and is a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. Send comments to editor@dallasvoice.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 30, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Public libraries: Bad news, good news

Guest.Phyllis

Phyllis Guest Taking Notes

The legislature slashed state funds, but city funding cuts weren’t as bad as they could have been. Best of all, there are ways you can help keep our libraries flush with LGBT content

Back in the winter, I wrote here about problems facing our libraries (“Losing our libraries,” Dallas Voice, April 1). The theme of that piece was the enormous losses the Dallas Public Library system was likely to face if the 82nd Texas Legislature took an axe to public systems statewide.

Well, they did wield an axe — and we lost a lot of state funding. This adds injury to insult, since the city of Dallas has cut library funds drastically over the last three budget cycles.

But the recently approved 2012 budget is less austere than it might have been. City Manager Mary Suhm proposed, and the mayor and city council agreed, to fund the new branch library now under construction on Ferguson Road, to maintain the current 40 hours at other libraries and to plump up the meager materials budget.

However, the approved budget also cut more than 90 salaried positions and eliminated others.

As of Oct. 1, the number of hourly workers known as pages dropped sharply. Remaining staff and volunteers are taking on much of the work once done by pages: sorting and shelving books and other media, maneuvering heavy carts and duck-walking between the low racks of the children’s sections.

And new books are in short supply.

But that’s enough whining. Let’s get to the good news.

First I want to tell you about some terrific mystery novels with gay angles that are now available at the Oak Lawn Library. Some are just slightly bent, while others are way over the edge, and two or more are probably available at this very moment on Oak Lawn Library’s LGBT shelves.

(Unless otherwise indicated, all are available within days through the Dallas Public Library’s online catalog at Catalog.DallasLibrary.org.)

My newest discovery is John Morgan Wilson, whose main series character is a California writer named Benjamin Justice, an edgy, flawed and therefore believable guy.

The series begins with Simple Justice and proceeds through Revision of Justice. By the time the series reaches the book I just finished, Justice at Risk, Ben is living like the Blanche DuBois of Hollywood. Best you read the books in order to learn where he began and why he fell so far.

My other new discovery is Matt Beynon Rees, a Welshman who worked as a journalist throughout the Middle East for several years and, in 2006, became a full-time fiction writer living in Jerusalem.

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YOU CAN HELP | Want to be a Book Hero? Consider buying a copy of E. William Podojil’s ‘The Tenth Man.’

The detective of his series is a Palestinian schoolteacher who cannot walk down a street without being pulled toward the most appalling crimes. The book to read is the third in this series, The Samaritan’s Secret. The plot turns on a single gay character and the effects his sexual proclivities have on all those around him.

On the hunt for more LGBT mysteries, I did an Internet search and came up with a list of recommendations for five books that sounded good.

I ordered the two that were immediately available, whipped over, picked them up, devoured them in a single weekend and thus can recommend both: R.D. Zimmerman’s Closet and Mark Richard Zubro’s File Under Dead.

The Dallas system has other books by Zimmerman, all with one-word titles, and others by Zubro, including one that is new.

But here’s the thing: The system did not have three of the recommended books, including one by Michael Nava, whom I had read years ago and had liked a lot. So I went to DallasLibrary2.org with mouse in one hand and charge card in the other, then clicked on “Support Us” and chose to “Be A Book Hero.”

A recent system upgrade allows me, you and other booklovers to make purchases at the library discount. The library contacts the bookseller and the seller sends the book directly to the Central Library downtown. Central enters it into the system, then sends the book to the designated branch and contacts the “Hero” to pick the book up.

At the same time I bought Nava’s The Little Death, I bought a book that was favorably reviewed here in the Dallas Voice: Bronson Lemer’s The Last Deployment: How a Gay,Hammer-swinging Twentysomething Survived a Year in Iraq. I just received an email notice that the books await me. Purchase and processing had taken less than three weeks.

When I read and return them, they will likely stay at the Oak Lawn branch, which houses the system’s modest LGBT-specific collection.

I’m telling you all this because Dallas Public Library has zero copies of books by two other gay mystery writers who are highly recommended: E. William Podojil and Greg Lilly.

If you decide to “Be A Book Hero” to yourself and others, the recommended books are Podojil’s The Tenth Man, in which a guy’s past live-ins and other lovers are done away with one at a time, and Lilly’s Fingering the Family Jewels, in which the tale is more frightening but less suggestive than the title.

More good news: The Friends of the Oak Lawn Library just voted to spend $1,000 to freshen the LGBT collection. The $1,000 came from ongoing sales of library calendars and of gently used books or magazines.

So whether you buy the former, donate the latter or order a newbie through the system, you’re helping our whole community.

Meanwhile, there must be mysteries starring Ls, Bs, and Ts. Yes. More soon.

Phyllis Guest is a longtime activist on political and LGBT issues and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas.

—  Kevin Thomas

Losing our libraries

Here’s what the Legislature’s proposed budget cuts will really do to our library systems

PHYLLIS GUEST | Special Contributor

In their rush to close the biennial budget gap — brought about by a barely acknowledged statewide recession and a badly flawed statewide tax policy — the Texas governor and legislature are defunding our future.

No doubt you have read that the lege proposes enormous cuts to K-12 education and higher education. You may not have read that the same lege proposes to totally defund the Texas public library system.

Here’s what that means:

• Texshare Databases will lose $8 million. Texshare is a program through which all of the state’s public libraries, public and private universities, community colleges and libraries of clinical medicine gain access to information on topics from art to Zen.

• K-12 Database will lose $5 million. This statewide program offers thousands of full-text educational resources to students in Texas public schools. Think homework help.

• Loan Star Libraries will lose $13.4 million. This direct aid program provides grants to about 500 of the state’s public libraries, allowing them to extend hours, buy collections and equipment and offer educational programming.

• Remaining statewide programs will lose $3.5 million. This represents the elimination of money for upgrading systems, training staff and assisting bilingual learners.

When these four are cut to save the state just under $30 million over the two-year budget, a fifth source of funding will disappear:

The federal government provides $8 million in library support. But the feds only help states that help themselves; no participation means Texas forfeits all the money that now sustains interlibrary loans, job search software and hardware and outreach to rural and other underserved communities.

The Dallas Public Library System alone will lose $300,000 under the legislature’s proposals. It would be hard to overestimate the impact of such a loss, given that city of Dallas budget shortfalls over the past two years have forced cutbacks in staff and hours and that the coming budget year looks as bad or worse.

Not willing to let our libraries go down without a fight? Here are five things you can do:

• Find out more at txla.org/take-action

• Sign the petition you will find at that website.

• Call and email and write your state senator and representative.

• Write letters to the Dallas Morning News and other media.

• Check out the Oak Lawn Library (best LGBTQA collection).

• Volunteer at your local library and join its Friends group.

While our elected officials and media tell us Texas is the best of all possible worlds, we know that is untrue. We also know that it’s up to us to fight for our state’s intellectual infrastructure — and our future.

Phyllis Guest is a Democratic and LGBT activist living in Dallas.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 1, 2011.

—  John Wright

Dallas Public Library's Oak Lawn branch gets a visit from the new Digital Bookmobile

Imagine this only with computers and the comfort of your own home.

If you were listening to KERA this morning, you might have heard about the Dallas Public Library’s launch of its Digital Dallas program. Councilman Ron Natinsky is already on board. So now, instead of heading out to the library, the library comes right to your computer. Cool, huh?

Today, the Digital Bookmobile stops at the Oak Lawn branch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the public is invited to take a look-see. So perhaps, you still need to head to the library this one more time. The bookmobile will introduce the new service and operated by OverDrive Inc., which actually powers the library to offer the downloads.

I went to start the process to give you a play-by-play but I’m still looking over the selection deciding which looks worthwhile. And I need to download the OverDrive software, too.  So far, “Where the Wild Things Are” is the only book interesting me and none of the music. But I figure they’ll add as the program grows. Gosh, I hope so. 

—  Rich Lopez