Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Carl A. Pescosolido Library

As the newest member of the library staff , I have been wondering who Carl A. Pescosolido was and why the Academy library is named for him. I have researched the man and found the answer for those of you who may also be curious. Carl A. Pescosolido was the parent of two Academy students, Carl A. Pescosolido, Jr., Class of ’55 and Richard J.V.C. Pescosolido, Class of ’57. While he did not attend the Academy himself, he contributed a very large bequest for the building of the library in honor of the quality education his sons received while they were students here. He was also the co-author of a book titled “The Proud Italians, our Great Civilizers”, published in 1991. His generosity also endowed a Chair in the Classics at Harvard University, his alma mater. Carl A. Pescosolido was a successful businessman who owned and operated one of New England’s largest oil companies. When you visit our library come see the plaque by the entrance which honors his memory, or check out his book, call number 945 PES.

We are so!

As we are becoming 2.0, we are exploring ways to use is a social bookmarking website. Here you can create an account (for free!) and save all your favorite links to places on the Web. You can then access them from any Web-enabled computer. You add tags to create order and an index format but the tags are your own words, not choices out of a rigid taxonomy (rather a “folksonomy”.) If you are doing research, you can store all your links and online articles here. Create an online cookbook or a vacation planning guide. Create a list of your favorite podcast sites for easy reference. Do any of these collaboratively with a group of like-minded people by sharing an account or creating your own organizational tags. You can share your favorites with family, friends, coworkers…. But more than just sharing with the people you know, you can share with the entire community. And, you get to look at all the other community’s favorites, finding things on your interests that you may have overlooked. You’ll see whether 5 people saved a link or five hundred people. (You can, however, choose to keep your bookmarks private and not share.)

Confused??? Take a look at our collection. We created a site which we are using to store our favorite Readers’ Advisory sources and research sites for writing guides and citations. The three of us are placing our favorite professional sites and librarian blogs here so that we can share professional development. We’ve only been at it for a week so it’s small and our “folksonomy” may need to be more standardized as there will be three of us adding. Social networking is exciting and learning from a community has real value. For us, seeing what other librarians have saved and tagged gives us insight into helping our students become adept 21st century library users. Try creating an account and see where the community takes you.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Perfect Fit

Today is Jeans Day at the Academy. For a five dollar donation to the Walk for Hospice, we earn the right to wear jeans and be out of dress code for the day. Although I lived in jeans for my four years of college, it still seems odd to wear them to school. It wasn’t until 1970 that students were allowed to wear them to classes at Newburyport High School. Before that, I remember occasionally getting singled out at the front door to drop to my knees and have the length of my skirt measured! Once the jean restriction was lifted, girls went from mini skirts to denim clad legs. We haunted Newburyport’s head shop, Siddhartha’s, and bought our hip-huggers and bell bottoms.

Jeans have come far from those days when the brands were Levi, Lee, or Wranglers. They were inexpensive and had only several deviations in styles. The color was indigo and they were so stiff that they needed several washings before they were soft enough to wear. The rips and tears were genuine. Although still the choice of the masses to wear, jeans are now part of the global economy and manufactured off our shores in a variety of styles and colors. Jeans: a cultural history of an American icon (687.1 SUL) by James Sullivan is a fascinating look from their beginnings on the western frontier to their place in our wardrobes today.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A Rival to Google?

For many of our students, searching for information involves a Google search, and for years now it has seemed Google has dominated Internet searching. There is a new, or not so new, engine on the web that has been getting some well deserved buzz and one we are pointing out to students every chance we can, (formally AskJeeves.) Recently, had the Top Ten Reasons to Use Ask over Google. Many of the features of Ask include a better image search, the ability to narrow and expand a search, and preview the web page. Try for yourself, you may be pleasantly surprised and will now have another strong and effective option when searching the web.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Discover your inner Sci-Fi

Next time you visit the library, take a look at the Sci Fi display Mrs. Healey has created. Science Fiction is sometimes an overlooked genre, but a genre that has a great deal to offer and has made a mark in literature. Some of the titles we have displayed are; Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys (FIC GAI), an ALA best book for young adults, Poison (FIC POL), the Jonathan Strous Bartimaeus Trilogy (FIC STR), and the Fantastic Four (DVD FAN). After I have read through numerous titles with characters struggling through the everyday troubles and turmoil our world seems to be abundant of, there is nothing like picking up a sci fi and completely escaping to another time and place. That’s not to say that sci-fi plots are not wrought with tribulations, you could be reading about genetic engineering, alien species, and other dimensions with characters fighting for their lives. Like a good movie, a good Science Fiction/Fantasy book will take you out of the world you are living in and offer a great escape. (Some of the most visually entertaining movies we see in the theatres are based on science fiction/fantasy writing, does it get any better than Lord of the Rings (DVD LOR)?) Where else can you read about befriending a dragon, (Eragon [FIC PAO]), live in a place where big brother is always watching (1984 [FIC WEL]), have a chip implanted in ones brain to control every move made (Feed [FIC AND]), or enter a world where books are forbidden (Fahrenheit 451 [FIC BRA] )?

So, as you can see I have a soft spot for the occasional sci-fi/fantasy title. Not sure where to begin on your own sci-fi journey? Check out the Award Web: Science Fiction Award News website for the latest and previous winners of numerous Science Fiction and Fantasy awards. Also, LOCUS magazine online offers reviews of the latest Science Fiction and Fantasy titles. The next best thing would be your local librarian, of course.
Happy Reading!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

What do the books in this display have in common? They are among the 100 most frequently challenged books according to the American Library Association. “Challenged” means that these books have been objects of censorship and have been banned by various groups for a variety of reasons. Librarians strongly oppose any censorship of reading materials and protect your right to read. You can find the complete list of the 100 titles at
Libraries across the country are celebrating Banned Book Wee from September 23rd to the 30th, 2006. Join the celebration and READ freely.

Becoming 2.0

While we had our coffee with the Globe this morning, my husband read me a headline. “’To reach out, O’Malley turns to blogging’ You blog. Does everyone blog?” I thought about it as I drove into work. If the Cardinal of the Boston Archdiocese is blogging, does that mean Web 2.0 is actually mainstream? The headline writers expected readers to know what blogging meant. Does that mean the 2.0 vocabulary – blogs, wikis, tagging, folksonomies – are common terms? Sometimes I feel I’ve just got my understanding around them and here they’ve already become part of the Globe’s lexicon.
Simply stated, Web 2.0 refers to the social web where the users are identifying and giving subjective meaning to content. Users add comments and tags to information which help other users to find relevant content. If I find your tags to be really helpful, I might look at what else you’ve tagged. Your classification system might match my learning style better than an established taxonomy. All users become members of this enormous community where users interact with information, not just seek information. (Will this make members more critical users of information I wonder?)
And, as the Web morphs to 2.0, so do libraries. One of the librarians’ goals here is to see how 2.0 tools fit our mission. Our blog is one tool to give information about what’s happening with our library program. We have started a Flickr account to share pictures of what we’re doing. In our courses on Classrooms on Elm Street (our Moodle course management site) we are experimenting with using wikis as part of the research process. In fact Moodle embraces 2.0 with RSS feeds, comments on glossary entries, wikis, and discussion boards. It is an exciting shift in how we interact with information. Stay tuned as we comment on our exploration of 2.0 this year.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Suspended Inspiration

I have always loved quotations. When faced with writer’s block, I Google quotes on my subject. Even if I choose not to use any of the results, I generally find inspiration for the direction my writing should take.

Quotations also jolt my wayward mind. They send me down highways and byways along which my thoughts may never have traveled on their own. So when I was given an ornament which had the message “She is too fond of books and it has addled her brain” (~Louisa May Alcott,) I knew the library needed some of these ornaments. So one Google search later, I had discovered Laini's Ladies Adornments. I hope your thoughts will take a wander when inspired by one of our Ladies.

"What we need are more people who specialize in the impossible" ~Theodore Roethke

"If there were to be a universal sound depicting PEACE, I would surely vote for the PURR. "~Barabara L. Diamond

"What would you attempt if you knew you would not fail?"

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Junior History Research is underway!

This week marks the start of the library’s collaboration with the History Department as we work with the Juniors on their American History Thesis paper. Each year the library guides Juniors through their initial research by developing a topic and directing them through library resources. This year, each American History class will visit the library for a preliminary visit to show students how to use the library’s catalog and Infotrac's Academic OneFile and US History databases. These resources will provide students with an overview of their topic and will help them determine if there are adequate resources available for their topic of interest. Later this fall, each Junior will meet individually with one of the librarians, Ms. Chase, Mrs. Brown, or Mrs. Blondin, for a research interview to guide them through some of our additional databases and resources. Our photo for today is of one of the Junior History classes visiting the reference area looking at the books and DVD’s displayed for our History Fair. We have pulled together materials on a wide variety of topics for the students to browse. This is one of the highlights of our job, being able to collaborate with faculty and help students through a large research project such as the American History Thesis paper.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The World is Flat and other bits of wisdom

Along with all of the fun summer reading I did in July and August I decided to find some reading that would enlighten me as well. I chose to read the book our seniors had to read over the summer, The World is Flat (303.48 FRI). I had long heard that when I am seeking help with my computer, my call may go to another country, and that if I make my plane reservations with JetBlue, I could be talking to a stay-at-home mom is Salt Lake, but Friedman offers many reasons why our world has become flatter. Along with this idea of the world being flatter and globalization having an impact on the way many Americans live their lives, our world has also become smaller. Technology has created a world of instant information and shared ideas, people connecting in ways they were not doing even ten years ago.

Along with the World is Flat, I also read Class Matters (305.513 CLA) written by the correspondents of The New York Times. This team of reporters explores the idea of class in America and how we define class; is it by income, education, or occupation? Each story follows the experiences of different Americans from a wide variety of backgrounds. They investigate how different people receive healthcare, how people from different classes make marriage work, the impact of religion on class, and the power of a college degree and the ability to climb the class ladder. Finishing up my summer reading on world and social issues is Not Buying it: my year without shopping (658.8 LEV). Judith Levine, the books author, has maxed out her credit cards during her holiday shopping spree and decides to partake in an experiment with her partner, Paul, to relinquish any unnecessary shopping for a year. At times thoughtful and very humorous, (I was laughing out loud in many parts,) this book does not tell you NOT to shop, but makes you think of why you shop. Whether it is the impact of over consumption on the earth, wondering how the economy will survive if we do not buy, or questioning why we have a desire to buy the next new novelty, this book leaves you with much to think about.
So do I feel enlightened after reading these selections? In some ways yes, I cannot say I agreed with everything the authors of these books presented. The ideas in these books have stayed with me and made me ask questions of how we live our lives, connect with each other, whether a neighbor or a stanger from another part of the world, and the impact we have on the earth for the time we are here.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Truman Capote and Harper Lee

Juniors read Capote’s In Cold Blood this summer. Capote called it a nonfiction novel, a new literary art form, and discussed it in an interview with George Plimpton in the New York Times. Rereading the novel brought me back to the first time. His description of Nancy’s last day is chilling and has always stayed with me – the lovely young woman helping others, baking a cherry pie. We know her happiness will soon turn to horror.

You may want to try some of his fiction, the short stories being my favorite (SC CAP.) Or, you may want to learn more of his life story (Capote: a biography by Gerald Clarke 921 CAP.) We also have Capote on DVD in which he is portrayed by Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Did you know he was Dill in To Kill a Mockingbird (FIC LEE) by Harper Lee? Or that she inspired a character in his Other Voices, Other Rooms (FIC CAP?) She served as his research assistant in Holcombe, Kansas while he worked on In Cold Blood.

Mockingbird : a portrait of Harper Lee by Charles Shields (921 LEE) is an unauthorized biography. I found the details about her friendship with Capote to be the most interesting.

Harper Lee wrote a letter to Oprah’s magazine this July on how she became a reader. It’s worth seeking out the magazine.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Why we blog

Last year, all three of us were new to our positions in the library. As we slogged our way through establishing policies and procedures, we realized we needed to add some librarian fun to our days. Our GDA Library blog was born. It was fun in a haphazard sort of way but most of it fell on Jen’s shoulders. This year, we are more organized and shall each take on a day or two so you will hear 3 distinct voices each week. Our plan is to show you what’s happening in our library, what resources we are using, and what’s interesting to us in the information rich world we inhabit. We shall be supporting the new vision and mission statements we developed in the spring – to make our students adept seekers and critical users of information as well as readers who love reading for both pleasure and the acquisition of knowledge.

I love being in a library. I love the start of each school year – the constant whir of the pencil sharpener beside the circ desk and the smell of those new pencils ready to take on paper. I love the displays we plan so carefully to entice our community to read and the way the books disappear from their stands into student hands. I love seeing how our older students have matured over the summer, hearing their stories, sharing in their anticipation of a new school year. And I love meeting our new students, helping them navigate those first confusing days.

Schools wield enormous influence over the adults we become. My 7th grade English teacher at the Jackman Junior High handed me a copy of Pride and Prejudice from the classroom library (located on a windowsill.) He introduced me to a world that still inspires me. I was lucky to have him again my junior year at Newburyport High School. When I asked about the controversy surrounding who really wrote Shakespeare’s plays, he challenged me to reach my own conclusion and present it to my class. I dove into literary criticism and never looked back. How fortunate I was to have him as a mentor. Each year I hope that I will in some way inspire a student the way he serendipitously inspired me.

So from all of us, we are glad you found our blog. Please comment and let us know how we are doing. If you are a parent here at the Academy or an alum, stop by and greet us. You are extended special borrowing privileges. We are looking forward to another scintillating year at the library! (Susan)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Staff and Students' Favorite Section

A new area in the fiction section of the Library has been created to display favorites. These have been read and recommended by either staff, students or faculty. If you don't have a lot of time to choose a book, you might find this helpful. Lots of students and faculty have already discovered the area. We would love you to help us on the other end, too. When you read a book that you love, tell us and we will add it to the Favorites display.

Browsing in the Bragdon Reading Room

We are delighted to be offering new selections of periodicals for your browsing pleasure in the Bragdon Reading Room. The Bragdom Reading Room is chock full of a wide variety of magazines, with over twenty new titles and more to arrive in the coming months. Some of our new additions include: Backpacker, Fine Gardening, InStyle, ESPN, People, Hockey Journal, The New Republic, Slam, The Science Teacher and Utne. Stop by and browse our collection and display, who knows what you may find.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Welcome Back to The Governor’s Academy

As the 2006-2007 academic year begins the library has been bustling as students, old and new, get back to work. We look forward to another year of blogging and letting you know about the happenings in the library. There have been many new additions to the library’s collection of print materials, DVD’s, databases and more surprises as you look around. We will highlight these additions in the coming weeks along with other library news. It is nice to see students back in the library, immersing themselves in their studies and to see their smiling faces! (As you can see from our picture of the day.)

All the best for a successful year!