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Library Welcomes "The Study Grounds"

On Friday, October 12th, the new coffee shop at the library held a grand opening from 10am-12pm. Dining Services allowed students to contribute potential names for the shop. At 10:45, Jeanne Standley, Library Director, announced the new name of the coffee shop: "Study Grounds". The contributor of the winning name won coffee for the entire school year. Light refreshments and giveaways were provided courtesy of Dining Services. Be sure to drop by the Study Grounds while you are at the library and check out Dining Services on Facebook!

Original photograph courtesy of flickr user Kessop and published under a Creative Commonslicense.

14 October 2012 (All day)
Published by mtomlin2 on 15 Oct

Banned Books Week Featured Book: Fahrenheit 451

Listed below is a review of "Fahrenheit 451" courtesy of Jan Harp, Acquisitions.

"Fahrenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury is a cautionary tale set in the future America where books are outlawed and are burned by firemen. It is the story of one fireman, Gus Montag, who slowly goes from blindly following orders to burn books to becoming a wanted fugitive dedicated to saving books. This book was banned/challenged for offensive language and content. I chose Fahrenheit 451 published in 1953 because it has been challenged and censored since the first publication, starting with the publishers. The publishers edited without Bradbury’s consent or knowledge until he was informed by a friend in the late 50’s. The experiences of Bradbury and Fahrenheit 451 were instrumental in the American Library Association becoming involved with Banned Book Week.

To view a reading of this book, see the library's YouTube channel.
To see more about banned books, check the library's Banned Books Week Guide. We'll also be in the UC from 11am-2pm all this week for virtual read-outs.

4 October 2012 (All day) to 8 October 2012 (All day)

Banned Books Week Featured Book: Brave New World

Listed below is a review of "Brave New World" courtesy of Terra Bianchi, University Archivist.

Six hundred years into the future, humans are bred by cloning, and "mother" and "father" are forbidden words. Originally published in 1932, Huxley's terrifying vision of a controlled and emotionless future "Utopian" society is truly startling in its prediction of modern scientific and cultural phenomena, including test-tube babies and rampant drug abuse.— Jacket Abstract

"Brave New World" begins with World Controller Mustapha Mond describing the assembly lines which create human life, including how babies are segregated into various social classes and conditioned through modern psychological techniques. Mond reminds us that before this Utopian world people had parents, lived in dirty homes, believed in religion, and allowed their emotions to override productivity. Now, everyone is conditioned to be stable, happy, and civilized—living in a much more unified and content society. But when an Alpha Plus, Bernard, visits a Savage Reservation, the stability of everyone’s Brave New World begins to unravel.

"Brave New World" looks at the advancements of science—and how they may affect society and human individuality. A satire of a future, technologically advanced world, Huxley’s work confronts topics such as sex and drug abuse, family structure, education, and morality. The novel has been one of most challenged and banned classics of all time. Banned in Ireland in 1932, the same year as its first publication, censors complained of foul language, anti-family, and anti-religious themes. It is constantly challenged in high schools across the United States as required classic reading for its moral content and adult themes. Ironically, "Brave New World" was written to argue against a future of oppression, conformity, and conditioning—the continual appearance as a challenged and banned book only furthers Huxley’s warnings about our future world.

To view a reading of this book, see the library's YouTube channel.
To see more about banned books, check the library's Banned Books Week Guide. We'll also be in the UC from 11am-2pm all this week for virtual read-outs.

3 October 2012 (All day) to 8 October 2012 (All day)

Banned Books Week Featured Book: Speak

"Melinda Sordino's freshman year is off to a horrible start. She busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, and now her friends--and even strangers--all hate her. Months pass and things aren't getting better. She's a pariah. The lowest of the low. Avoided by everyone. But eventually, she'll reveal what happened at the party. And when she finally speaks the truth, eveything will change." -- from book cover

"Speak" by Laurie Halse Anderson tells the story of Melinda Sordino, a freshman outcast entering high school. For months, Melinda moves through the halls of her high school, trying to fly under the radar while being subject to ostracism and ridicule by her classmates and former friends, all the while falling into a deep depression.

Anderson wrote "Speak" in 1999 and the book quickly received national attention and commendations. It is a New York Times Bestseller, ALA Best Book for Young Adults, National Book Award Finalist, and Tayshas High School Reading List winner, among many others. The book was also adapted into an independent film starring Kristen Stewart in 2004.

This book is a powerful, beautifully written novel conveying a young woman's grief, confusion, and struggle to cope with a sexual assault. Anderson treats this delicate topic with respect and creates a believable and strong character who brings herself out of depression and eventually confronts her assailant.

"Speak" is the first book I read by Anderson and immediately made me a fan of her work. I love that Anderson doesn't shy away from difficult topics that many would rather sweep aside and ignore.

The book has faced some challenges over the years, but one of the biggest controversies was in 2010 in Republic, Missouri. Wesley Scroggins, a member of the area community, wrote an opinion piece in the News-Leader in which he describes the book as "soft pornography" due to the main character briefly recounting two rape scenes. Scroggins also denounced two other books--"Twenty Boy Summer" by Sarah Ockler and "Slaughterhouse-Five" by Kurt Vonnegut. The Republic school district removed all three books, but quickly voted to return "Speak" to the shelves shortly after the matter gained national attention.

To view a reading of this book, see the library's YouTube channel.
To see more about banned books, check the library's Banned Books Week Guide. We'll also be in the UC from 11am-2pm all this week for virtual read-outs.

2 October 2012 (All day) to 8 October 2012 (All day)

Banned Books Week Featured Book: The Hunger Games

Listed below is a review of The Hunger Games, courtesy of Tiffany LeMaistre, eResources and Collection Development Librarian.

The Hunger Games is a science fiction young adult novel with a fantasy feel to it. Suzanne Collins wrote the book in 2008. It is set in a country called Panem where twelve (formerly thirteen) districts are ruled by a capital district. As punishment for a failed uprising the twelve districts must annually contribute two tributes each, a girl and a boy between the ages of 12 and 18, to fight to the death for the capital's entertainment.

The Hunger Games has been banned for concerns that the book is "anti-ethnic," "anti-family," and "occult/satanic." There are also concerns over the violence in the book as it involves children killing children. The book has raised so much concern that it ranked third in the 2011 list of most challenged books.

Suzanne Collins' book rocketed in popularity this year with the release of The Hunger Games film in March. Actress Jennifer Lawrence played the main character, Katniss Everdeen. The movie was good, but at the risk of sounding cliche the book is better. If you haven't read it yet you can check it out from the library.

The book is a fast-paced read. Many people love it for the action, the colorful characters, or the dystopian themes. Personally, I love the book because of Katniss Everdeen. She is the strong and independent female lead that is so often lacking in literature. She hunts at the risk of execution to feed her family, and finds other ways to rebel against the capital's rules. She isn't looking for love or trying to make it in a big scary world. She is literally fighting for her life and relying on her own abilities to make it through the games.

To view a reading of this book, see the library's YouTube channel.
To see more about banned books, check the library's Banned Books Week Guide. We'll also be in the UC from 11am-2pm all this week for virtual read-outs.

1 October 2012 (All day) to 7 October 2012 (All day)

Banned Books Week Featured Book: Johnny Got His Gun

Listed below is a review of "Johnny Got His Gun" courtesy of Samantha Winn, Archives Assistant.

My selection for Banned Books Week Virtual Read-Out is “Johnny Got His Gun”, by American screenwriter and novelist Dalton Trumbo. Set during World War I, the novel was first published in 1939. The protagonist is a young American soldier, who wakes up in a hospital having lost his limbs and face to an artillery shell. Ultimately, after many years of struggling to maintain his sanity and sense of time, Joe Bonham attempts to communicate with the hospital staff. He wants to tell the world about the horrors and futility of war by putting himself on display in a touring exhibit; of course, his request is denied.

“Johnny Got His Gun” immediately struck a chord for American readers on the eve of World War II. It received critical acclaim shortly after the first printing, including the National Book Award for Most Original Book of 1939, and the American Booksellers Award in 1940. Over the course of the 20th century, the novel inspired numerous radio shows, stage plays, film adaptations, and Metallica’s song “One”.

Radical anti-war advocates on the left and right seized upon Dalton Trumbo’s book as a rallying cry against the American involvement in WWII. Fearing that his book might harm the war effort, Dalton Trumbo and his publishers voluntarily ceased printing until after the war. It was also pulled from print during the Korean War, but found new popularity during the late 1960s when American forces entered Vietnam.

Historically, the novel has been challenged not only for its anti-war sentiment and graphic descriptions of gruesome injuries, but also for the divisive nature of Trumbo himself. In 1947, Dalton Trumbo was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee as a suspected Communist sympathizer. After refusing to testify, he was declared in contempt of court and subsequently blacklisted in Hollywood. Nonetheless, he won two Academy Awards under his pseudonym “Robert Rich” (for “The Brave One” and “Roman Holiday”). Trumbo famously won acclaim for his 1960 screenplays “Spartacus” and “Exodus”, the first films publicly attributed to him after his blacklisting.

I first read this book in the summer of 2001, just before the start of my eighth grade year. My father served on a nuclear submarine during and after the Persian Gulf War, so I had some small understanding of the price paid by military families during times of conflict. Before I read “Johnny Got His Gun”, my thoughts on war generally reflected the Latin Proverb, Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori (“It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country”). Trumbo’s novel dramatically influenced my understanding of armed conflict. I was especially moved by Joe Bonham’s inner monologues, which questioned bedrock assumptions about patriotism and justice. I chose one of these monologues for my Virtual Read-Out, on the topic of “liberty”.

If you enjoyed ”Johnny Got His Gun”, I also recommend these frequently banned classics:

  • Ericha Maria Remarque - “All Quiet on the Western Front”
  • Ernest Hemmingway – “For Whom the Bell Tolls”
  • Tim O’Brien - “The Things They Carried”.

To view a reading of this book, see the library's YouTube channel.
To see more about banned books, check the library's Banned Books Week Guide. We'll also be in the UC from 11am-2pm all this week for virtual read-outs.

30 September 2012 (All day) to 8 October 2012 (All day)

September Project Display

The Library is featuring a display on the 3rd floor in honor of Constitution Day and Celebrate Freedom Week. This display is done as part of the September Project, which is a grassroots effort to encourage events about freedom and democracy in all libraries worldwide during the month.

For more information and resources, see the September Project Guide. All books in the display are available for checkout.

Photo courtesy of flickr user Chapendra and published under a Creative Commons license.

9 September 2012 (All day) to 1 October 2012 (All day)
Published by mtomlin2 on 10 Sep

Featured Staff Picks Book: The Once and Future King

Below is a review of "The Once and Future King", courtesy of Samantha Winn, Archives Assistant.

If you read only one traditional fantasy novel in your life, make it this one.

"The Once and Future King" is a sweeping Arthurian epic, inspired by the classic 15th century compilation "Le Morte d'Arthur". The novel follows the life of Arthur from cradle to grave, divided into four sections: The Sword in the Stone, which focuses on his childhood and education under the wizard Merlin; The Queen of Air and Darkness, which introduces Arthur as king and foreshadows his destruction; The Ill-Made Knight, which develops the character of Lancelot and sets in motion his affair with Queen Guinevere; and The Candle in the Wind, which chronicles Arthur's betrayal, downfall, and death.

White was a fervent student of Freudian psychoanalysis, natural studies, and history. "The Once and Future King" presents a poignant study of human nature as the juxtaposition of infinite cruelty and nobility. Familiar characters are reinterpreted as deeply flawed individuals who are motivated by the full spectrum of human desires. White also explores the moral philosophies behind historical systems of government through the eyes of the young King Arthur, from the "might makes right" mentality of feudal Europe to the day to day futility of 20th century communism.

Profoundly shaped by colonial disputes he witnessed as a young boy in Bombay (British India) and his experiences in England and Ireland during the World Wars, his interpretation of the Arthurian tradition is a dark allegory for the modern age. This allegory manifests in statements such as “We cannot build the future by avenging the past”, “In war, our elders may give the orders…but it is they young who have to fight”, and “War is like a fire. One man may start it, but it will spread all over. It is not about one thing in particular.”

Perhaps the most compelling device White employs is the character Merlyn who lives "backwards in time", starting the novel as an old man and growing younger as Arthur's life progresses. This serves as the basis for Merlyn's initial wisdom and prophetic skills, and his subsequent descent into apparent senility. It also allows White to incorporate many humorous anachronisms.

"The Once and Future King" will primarily appeal to fans of the fantasy genre, connoisseurs of Arthurian legend, and students of political history. White's work helped to definitively shape the modern fantasy novel and directly inspired some of today's most beloved fantasy authors, including J. K. Rowling (who credited Merlyn as the inspiration for Dumbledore), Neil Gaiman, and Gregory Maguire.

If you are interested in checking out "The Once and Future King", please see the Staff Picks Display on the 2nd floor of the Robert R. Muntz Library.

17 July 2012 (All day)
Published by mtomlin2 on 18 Jul

Featured Staff Picks Book: Lincoln's Dreams

Below is a review of Lincoln's Dreams, courtesy of Terra Bianchi, University Archivist.

“I slept no more that night; and although it was only a dream, I have been strangely annoyed by it ever since…"

-Recollections of Abraham Lincoln, 1847-1865 by Ward Hill Lamon

After Abraham Lincoln’s death, his friend Ward Hill Lamon described a dream that Lincoln told not even two weeks before his assassination. Lincoln dreamed of sounds of crying, walking downstairs, and asking a group of soldiers surrounding a body "Who is dead in the White House?" A soldier responded, "The President, he was killed by an assassin".

Researching for a famous historical novelist, Jeff Johnston is trying to discover the meanings between Abraham Lincoln’s dreams and other events surrounding the Civil War. When Jeff meets Annie, a patient of his old college roommate, he soon realizes that her dreams are intertwined with his own research. Her vivid and haunting nightmares slowly form into details of the Civil War that only someone battling on the front lines could know. The pair set out to Civil War battle sites, seeking answers for Jeff’s research and an explanation for Annie’s nightmares. As they travel from one site to the next and Annie’s dreams become more disturbing, both become determined to cure her ‘disorder’ and end the torment of those she dreams for.

Connie Willis’s Lincoln’s Dreams describes the places, events, and people involved in the Civil War through detailed research and its character’s reality and dreams. I was first introduced to this novel through a former colleague, while discussing Abraham Lincoln’s ‘premonition’ of his assassination. Always fascinated by dream interpretation and Lincoln’s life, this book immediately grabbed my attention. As Willis’s first novel, it is not without flaws, but her ability to entangle fact and fiction leaves the reader wanting equally more of the history and her characters.

Connie Willis has won six Nebula and Six Hugo Awards as well as the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Lincoln's Dreams. If you are interested in checking out Lincoln’s Dreams, please see the Staff Picks Display on the 2nd floor of the Robert R. Muntz Library.

4 July 2012 (All day)
Published by mtomlin2 on 05 Jul

Featured Staff Pick: Erebos

“When 16-year-old Nick receives a package containing the mysterious computer game Erebos, he wonders if it will explain the behavior of his classmates, who have been secretive lately. Players of the game must obey strict rules: always play alone, never talk about the game, and never tell anyone your nickname.” (Annick Press)

As soon as I stumbled across this review on the Erebos blog tour , I knew I had to take a closer look. The Fight Club for video games framing was very appealing, and after a few chapters, I was hooked. Ursula Pozanski crafts the chapters so that the further Nick falls into the world of Erebos, the more he thinks of himself as his character. When in Erebos, the action is immediate, written in present tense to mimic the environment of online gameplay. Outside of the game, Nick is frustrated by the monotony and time lag of reality. Yet the more Nick plays, the more he is disturbed the knowledge the game has about him: the band he likes, the girl he admires, and what he does outside of the game. When Erebos sends Nick on a potentially deadly mission in the real world, he refuses and is ejected from the game, only to realize that the game has an agenda bigger than Nick realized.

This book has a fairly steady build-up, and after Nick’s ejection, the pacing is faster. At over 400 pages, I expected this book to drag out, but it was easy to finish in just a few days. One of the most intriguing aspects of the book was the transition of present tense during gameplay to past tense for reality. It lent an immediacy to the in-game portions that draws the reader in and is easily relatable to readers familiar with gaming.

Originally from Germany, Erebos has been adapted into over 20 languages and is the winner2011 German Children’s Literature Award. Take a look at a sample chapter here or check out the book trailer below for more.

If you'd like to check this book out, please see the display on the 2nd floor.

21 June 2012 (All day)
Published by mtomlin2 on 22 Jun

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