Friday, November 6, 2009

October Library update

November. Already.

Let's segue from the shock of this realization (I've been here just about a year already!) right into a book I'm anxious to evangelize: Roberto Bolaño's The Savage Detectives.

I have to admit, my expectations really weren't where they needed to be for this book; I'd thought it'd be an easy read, a fairly straightforward semi-autobiographical tale written by a Chilean poet living alternately in Mexico and Spain. I probably should have known better.

It's a pretty tough book, one that combines many, many different narratives to provide an equally large number of angles on two central characters, Arturo Belano (sort of the author's alter-ego) and Ulises Lima, a pair of poets who start a movement in Mexico only to see it splinter, its über-Bohemian members fracturing into various occupations and lives. Belano and Lima also go on their own search for the mysterious Cesarea Tinajero, a female poet from the 1920s whose influence is legendary but whose body of work is nonexistent. They split up very suddenly for unexplained reasons and leave on their own individual journeys across the world and through various revolutions in a pair of mazelike stories that range from the 1960s to the 1990s. Along the way, you get not only the sense of those two lives, but also the lives of the people they touched, from itinerant apple-pickers in the south of France to Israeli criminals to Austrian pickpockets to Mexican poets to Ecuadorian revolutionaries. The book ends with, first, an old-fashioned duel undertaken on a Spanish beach under the cover of night, and second, a young would-be poet who finally reveals what happened on Lima and Belano's search for Cesarea Tinajero and the ensuing tragedy that split up our two main characters and jump-started their adventures.

It's heady and I'm still thinking about it. It's easily one of the best books I've read all year.

In the meantime, let's see what's been going on around the Library for the past month while we've been doing our Halloween recommendations.

The big thing on my mind involves our printers. Both printers are now up and running, except for the two computers that have been disconnected from the printers altogether. We're still experiencing a few bumps -- people are reporting intermittent connections, sometimes with one or both printers disappearing from the computer altogether, and some are even reporting that just trying to print is crashing their browser window, both Internet Explorer and Firefox. Rest assured, we are working on it.

We've also been hosting workshops during Common Time. Our first workshop was last Thursday. Hosted by Sarah Hamrick, our Director of Library Public Services, the workshop discussed the various ins and outs of copyright, which is an important topic to understand in general, but especially in college, where students are prone to borrow other people's work (like video clips or photos) in their projects. Yesterday saw our second workshop, where I discussed different ways to find images that are both free of watermarks and less prone to copyright issues, which can be used in your projects without worrying about the potential legal implications.

Next Tuesday at 12:30 p.m., though, come to room 1225 on the first floor of the Library to see Diana Gates, our Deaf Collection Librarian, talking about deaf biographies and how to find them! Highly recommended for anyone who's working in Deaf Studies and related fields, as well as just plain curiosity-seekers. The following Tuesday, November 17, at the same time and place, come see Patrick Oberholtzer discussing various research methods for the Hearing, Speech, and Language Sciences program!

We are busy.

We also have a pair of new displays up to replace our Halloween-themed displays. I strongly encourage people to check them out; one is devoted to novels from around the world, encompassing such various countries as Somalia, Mexico, and Ireland (including At Swim-Two-Birds, which is a really fun read). The other one is a collection of short-story anthologies; they're great if you want to read a good story without committing your time and energy to a full-length novel. We've got short stories covering science fiction, thrillers, graphic fiction (comics and stuff), horror ... heck, we've even got baseball short stories.

We're also hard at work setting up our new acquisitions budget for 2010. Now is a great time to let us know if there are any books you'd like us to get! We'll start buying within the next couple of months, and our wish list is getting long.

Especially let me know if there's any specific fiction you'd like to have available here! Popular fiction is pretty unpredictable and buying for that area can be hit-or-miss. We'd love to know what people want to read for fun, and we do depend a lot on personal recommendations. Please do feel free to let us know if you want a particular book, author, or series.

In the meantime, we're getting very, very ready for the Fall semester to begin winding down. Thanksgiving's coming up, and it's one of our busiest times as students get started on their final papers and projects and gear up to begin studying for exams. Then after it's all over, we'll be into the sweet, sweet oblivion of Christmas break ... when we'll stay open except for the week-and-a-half around Christmas and New Year's. I'll go into more detail about our break hours in a few weeks.

Now that you're updated on what's happening around the Library, we'll get back into some more meaty stuff next week, including some research tips. Keep an eye out!

Question of the Week
What's up with the Deaf Copy 1 room? You've mentioned it before and how I can only check things out for up to two hours and can't leave the Library? Why? What's its purpose?
I suppose you could see the Deaf Copy 1 room as sort of an ark of deaf-related materials. As has been mentioned previously in this blog, it contains the first copy of every single item you see in the Deaf Collection on the first floor of the Library (including films, periodicals, books, games, and other media), plus many more rare, one-of-a-kind items.

It's there because when people check something out, it sometimes gets damaged, broken, or outright lost. Our mission, in conjunction with the Archives, involves the collection and preservation of deaf-related materials, so the Deaf Copy 1 room ensures that we have access to a working, undamaged copy of all deaf-related items. This is why people cannot check out any materials from that room for more than 2 hours and those items can't leave the Library; we prefer to keep as much control over the whereabouts of all Deaf Copy 1 material in order to ensure its survival and to ensure that it's available for anyone who needs it and can't find it on the circulating shelves. Exceptions do occur but are extremely rare. Keep this in mind if you need something from that room and plan accordingly.

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