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Comic book store wars? What comic-book store wars? And: The Austin Public Library makes merry while making a difference.

By Shawn Badgley, Fri., Dec. 19, 2003

Who needs the Nancy Pearl Librarian Action Figure for Christmas when we have two local flesh-and-blood gifts who keep on giving to, from, and in the Austin Public Library system? On Tuesday, Dec. 16, Joanna Nigrelli, a Wired for Youth librarian at the Terrazas and Windsor Park branches, was honored by The New York Times in its annual Librarian Awards. Nigrelli, who was nominated along with thousands of others, was selected along with 26 others from across the country (but was the sole Texas honoree) as a librarian who represents "the highest level of public service and contribution to their communities." She received a $2,500 cash prize and a plaque, but, just as importantly, was nominated by two of her Terrazas branch students, as well as by Library Foundation Director Margaret Henkels. In other big library news, Carver branch Wired for Youth librarian Michele Gorman has seen her Getting Graphic!: Using Graphic Novels to Promote Literacy With Preteens and Teens published by Linworth Press. "We are very proud and fortunate to have such innovative and creative staff on board and to be on the cutting edge of this new wave of reading," says the APL's Patricia Fraga. "Nationally, Michele is known in the library/education world as the expert on the subject matter."... The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, which went balls to the wall for the wrongfully imprisoned Vanessa Leggett, has sent a letter signed by Executive Director Lucy Dalglish to Texas Department of Criminal Justice General Counsel Carl Reynolds protesting the TDCJ's policy -- or quasi-policy, or unwritten rule, or something -- of disallowing "book authors" interview access to inmates. (Incidentally, Leggett, too, has written a letter of protest.) For past coverage on the issue, which began with spark plug and bestselling true-crime author Suzy Spencer's difficulties in getting to former BookPeople employee Tracey Tarlton for a second interview for a St. Martin's Press book on the murder of Steven Beard, see last week's News/Print. For the RCFP letter, see www.rcfp.org. Much more on this as it develops... Recommended this week: Poet on Watch presents Abhi tonight, Thursday, Dec. 18, 7pm at the Afia Cafe (6929 Airport Blvd. #125).

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