Thursday, September 27, 2012

Books, CDs and Scores to Get Ready for the 12th Annual Hardly Bluegrass Festival Festival

Books, Recordings and Scores to Get Ready for the 12th Annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival 2012 on October 5,6,7  in Golden Gate Park

Now in its 12th year, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is an annual, free festival held in Golden Gate Park during the first weekend of October. When the festival began in 2001, there were only 2 stages, 9 bands performed, and there was still plenty of room to walk around Speedway Meadow. Over the years it has grown to an astounding 6 stages with over 90 acts and estimations of 800,000 in attendance for the three days of the festival. Initially, the festival focused specifically on bluegrass bands and included big names such as Ralph Stanley, Hazel Dickens, Earl Scruggs, and Alison Krauss. More recently, the lineup has expanded far beyond “strictly bluegrass” to include rock groups and musicians such as Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, Gypsy punk band Gogol Bordello, and even comedian Steve Martin and his band.

This will be the first year of the festival since benefactor and banjo player, Warren Hellman passed away. Luckily, for festival fans, Mr. Hellman’s will has provided for the event's continued funding for at least another decade. Don’t miss this incredible 3 day festival with one of the most impressive lineups of any festival running in recent years. It’s also a good idea to plan what bands you want to catch ahead of time to ensure you beat the crowds while you rush to the next stage. Here are some books and music suggestions available at the San Francisco Public Library to expand your bluegrass repertoire.


The American Fiddler: Old-time, Bluegrass, Cajun, and Texas Style Fiddle Tunes of the USA, selected and arranged by Edward Huws Jones (Boosey & Hawkes, 1998).

Banjo Song Book: A Collection of Over 75 Bluegrass, Old-time Fiddle, and Classical tunes in Tablature for the 5-string Banjo by Tony Trischka (Oak Publications, 1977).

Monroe Instrumentals: 25 Bill Monroe Favorites (Mel Bay Publications, 2002)

Parking Lot Picker's Songbook: Banjo Edition by Bill Evans & Dix Bruce (Mel Bay Publications, 2007).

Rare Bird Alert by Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers (Homespun Tapes, 2011).


Banjo Camp!: Learning, Picking & Jamming with Bluegrass and Old-time Greats by Zhenya Gene Senyak (Lark Books, 2008).
The Bill Monroe Reader, edited by Tom Ewing (University of Illinois Press, 2000).

Rural Roots of Bluegrass: Songs, Stories & History by Wayne Erbsen (Native Ground Music, 2003). Also available as a streaming audio book

Will The Circle Be Unbroken: Country Music In America, edited By Paul Kinsgbury And Alanna Nash (New York : DK, 2006). 

Working Girl Blues: The Life and Music of Hazel Dickens by Hazel Dickens and Bill C. Malone (University of Illinois Press, 2008)


Appalachian Bluegrass Legacy: 25 Vintage Bluegrass & Mountain Classics (Rural Rhythm Records, 2009).
Bill Monroe and His Bluegrass Boys: All the Classic Releases, 1937-1949 (JSP Records, 2003).

Classic Bluegrass from Smithsonian Folkways (Smithsonian Folkways Records, 2002). Also available as streaming audio.

The Mountain by Steve Earle and the Del McCoury Band (New West, 2009).

** We have additional recordings by Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch, Doc Watson, Ralph Stanley and other Hardly Strictly Bluegrass favorites.

Online Databases with Streaming Audio

Many wonderful bluegrass and folk recordings are available through our music databases. Go to homepage -  Select “eLibrary” from the top navigation bar, then “eMusic” from the drop-down menu.  From the eMusic page, the following databases offer a great deal of American folk and down-home music:

American Song
Smithsonian Global Sound for Libraries

Thursday, September 20, 2012

What is the Red Book? What is the Blue Book?

Two of our most popular reference books are A Guide Book of United States Coins and Handbook of United States Coins.  These are know to us familiarly as the Red Book and the Blue Book, respectively. 
 Despite their different colors, these books are maddeningly similar.  They share the same author, same editor and same publisher.  They both provide pricing information for United States coins according to year, denomination and mint.  So the question is, which of these references sources should you use and when?

The introduction to the Guide Book (Red Book) states that its aim is to give "retail prices figured data from the listed contributors approximately two months prior to publication."  In other words, the prices in this source are a composite of the prices at which dealers have been selling their coins.  It also describes the reasons why a coin's price might fluctuate.

The front and back covers of the Handbook (Blue Book) boasts that it is the "#1 best-selling book on dealer coin prices."  The introduction of this volume reads: "The values shown are representative prices paid by dealers for various United States coins."  It also notes that "[o]n some issues slight differences in price among dealers may result from proximity to the various mints or heavily populated centers."

The most important single factor in determining the price of a coin is its condition.  Top price is always paid for uncirculated, unblemished coins.  These books both detail the varying degrees of condition of coins from About Good (AG-3) -- "very heavily worn" to "Perfect Uncirculated (MS-70) -- the "finest quality possible." 

So, to sum up: the Guide Book (Red Book) is the approximate price that the coin dealer will sell the coin to you for; the Handbook (Blue Book) is the approximate price that the coin dealer will buy the coin from you for.  Naturally the former price is higher.  A dealer will sell a proof (PF-65) 1996 quarter from the San Francisco mint for $5.00, but will buy it from you for $1.75.  Thus it pays to look at both books to understand how to get the best price for your coins.

We receive new editions of both of these books annually - our old copy of both of these books in 1953.  Having a large range of years can help the collector understand the fluctuation of coin values over the years and also can help an appraiser understand the historic value of coins.

A Guide Book of United States Coins (Western Pub. Co., annual).

Handbook of United States Coins: With Premium List (Western Pub. Co., Whitman Hobby Division, annual)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Complete Costume Dictionary

The Complete Costume Dictionary is a comprehensive dictionary of international terminology for costume and dress. It covers clothing worn from as far back as 4000 BCE and up to the present. Although the range and quantity of articles of clothing and styles covered is vast, this is not, however, a source that covers couturiers and fashion houses.

The Dictionary includes a limited number of black and white illustrations. The section following the main body of the dictionary additionally includes color illustrations of some of these black and white illustrations featured. This is a weakness; it would make more sense to feature other illustrations showing greater detail. The illustrations that are not public domain and credited to Dover are rudimentary, one doesn’t get much more out of them in the color version, except that the illustrator learned how to render a color gradient. The author on her webpage states that she hopes to make larger images available to owners of the book, but as of this writing they are not yet available.

In a book covering such a vast, international vocabulary there are bound to be some issues with orthography. For instance the Vietnamese words for raincoat - áo mưa and áo đi mưa are rendered as áo muta and áo ði mura respectively (with an Icelandic "ð" in the latter). Thus, readers should use extra caution with foreign terminology in this reference.

The back matter includes several extensive appendices. Appendix A is an index of garments by type. In Appendix B clothing is grouped by country or region. Appendix C groups terminology of Western costume starting with Egyptian civilization (4000-30 BCE) all the way through the twentieth century. There is also a selective biography.

Librarians always remember the stumpers. A patron had been looking for the definition of aerophane. I hadn’t been able to find it in any of the print dictionaries, but was rewarded when I looked in the online Oxford English Dictionary. However, a quick check to The Complete Costume Dictionary shows this very fine definition with a description and historical context:

aerophane: Directoire and First Empire (1790-1815 CE). Introduced in 1820, a fine crimped crepe.
Despite the weaknesses noted above, this is a great resource for fashion design students.

The Complete Costume Dictionary by Elizabeth J. Lewandowski (Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2011).

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Motion Picture Guide

With the ubiquity of the internet and popularity of the Internet Movie Database, it's easy to forget that there are many excellent film reference sources available only in print.

One of the best is the The Motion Picture Guide by Jay Robert Nash and Stanley Ralph Ross.  Interestingly, for a period of time the text of this encyclopedia was online over a decade ago as part of the TV Guide's website.  One also suspects that online resources like the IMDB and the Wikipedia have poached liberally from this source.

The Motion Picture Guide was originally published serially in nine volumes A-Z, plus a volume for silent films and two indexes. These volumes cover films from 1910 to 1983.  The final volume of the original set also included a supplement for the films of 1984.  Nash and Ross continued to publish annual volumes for every year up to 1998.

This encyclopedia gives the film's title, a lengthy (though not exhaustive) list of cast members, its year of release, running time, the production company, whether the film was black and white or color, its MPAA rating and its genre.  For foreign films they point out whether subtitles or dubbing are used in the American version.

Most importantly the Guide rates each film on a scale from 0-5 and provides a thoughtful synopsis and review of each film.  Some of these synopses are as short as a sentence, others as long as a page.

The production credits include information about the screenwriting and any literary source.  They also provide the name of the music director, the name of any songs or notable music used in the film as well the songwriters and lyricists for this music.

As a good encyclopedic source should, the Motion Picture Guide also includes extensive indexes by country, distributor, genre, MPAA rating, and parental recommendation.  Of course there is indexing by name, for actors, art directors, associate producers, casting, choreographers, cinematographers, co-producers, costumes, directors, editors, executive producers, makeup/FX makeup, music composers, producers, production designers, screenwriters, sound, source authors, special effects, and stunts, 

The Motion Picture Guide by Jay Robert Nash and Stanley Ralph Ross (Cinebooks, 1985-1987).

The Motion Picture Guide ... Annual (CineBooks, 1987-1998)