Saturday, September 29, 2007

Celebrate Your Freedom to Read: Check out a Banned Book!

Celebrate Your Freedom to Read @ Your Campus Library

Today marks the official start of Banned Books Week. This year marks the 26th year that libraries and bookstores across the country have highlighted books that have been banned or challenged over the previous year.

The question of whether to allow censorship of ideas is a debate that can only take place in a free society. Do we allow an individual or group to restrict what is available to rest of us, or do we insist that libraries and bookstores acquire and make available materials representative of all the people in our society?

This week we encourage you to visit the library and check out a book that some may have not wanted to be available to you. We've identified dozens of these titles and we'll be restocking our display throughout the week as these are checked out.

On Thursday, Charlie Conway wrote a review of one of our latest additions to the Reference collection, Banned Books. You'll find those volumes shelved in the Zs at Z 658.U5 B36 2006 v.1-4

We get a lot of questions about individual challenges to books. In addition to our print resources, you may find these websites helpful.
We hope these resources help you in your studies of book challenges. Whether exploring this topic on your own or pursuing it for an assignment, there are a lot of challenges to study: the OIF recorded 8,332 challenges to books between 1990 and 2004. According to the American Library Association, "research suggests that for each challenge reported there are as many as four or five that go unreported."

More Banned Books Week display photos are available at our Flickr. These shots taken by Sarah Bagby.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Eugene Sledge Papers Available Online

Eugene Sledge, author of With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa, taught Biology here for many years. His papers are held at his alma mater, Auburn University, and the AU library has digitized many of these materials. The collection is available online and through Alabama Mosaic. The collection includes photographs from Dr. Sledge's time at Montevallo.

With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa has been called one of the finest war memoirs ever written. Sledge's World War II experiences will be discussed in the episode of The War airing on PBS on Sunday, September 30, at 7 p.m.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Banned Books: Literature Suppressed

Banned Books, a new 4-volume set of reference books recently acquired by Carmichael Library, has at its heart a "dedication to freedom of inquiry," which is a fragment I've plucked from the dedication inscribed at the start of the series.

The four volumes cover respectively literature suppressed on political, social, religious, and sexual grounds. Right away one must notice the impossibility of neatly containing such grounds one from the other. Certainly some political motivations are sexually charged and vice versa, and doubtless it becomes hard to distinguish the sexuality of religiosity from the religiosity of sexuality, much less the necessity of a social layer to any of these particular groupings. Banned Books succeeds in elegance, however, in that it provides pragmatic, provisional divisions. Utility, in this case, outweighs integration.

Rosemary Aud-Franklin writes in Reference & User Services Quarterly:

"The general editor of the series is Ken Wachsberger, who also directs the journal division of Pierian Press and is the author of Voices from the Underground. The authors of the individual volumes have published previously in this area and include Margaret Bald, Dawn Sova, and Nicholas Karolides.

"The series covers more than four hundred books, spanning from the Bible to The Satanic Verses. Individual volumes are arranged in sections--introduction, forward, preface, content (alphabetical by title of banned book), biographical profiles, and bibliography. Entries give the author's name, the date and place of publication, summary, censorship history, and further readings."

Reference & User Services Quarterly

Why would one want to investigate suppressed literature? Does a work have a value disparate from what is generally conceived as its interior construction, e.g. its motivated uses of metaphor, metonymy, irony, assonance, dissonance, imagery, the old iron horses and all? Does one read merely what one thinks of as the work, or does one also read its traces, its contexts, its infamy? If one views the work decentralized, as part of a constellation, as a multiplicity, as a body without organs (to allude to a notion of Deleuze and Guattari) that shifts and emerges to fit a moment's demand of relevance, one witnesses the work stretch out to include in its aura its own canonical in/ex-clusion and all the supporting literatures therein. In such a view, a work's suppression within a culture does two things: 1. adds to the body of interesting works a series of dissenting and differing ruptures & 2. adds the body of the work as a dissenting and differing rupture to the master narrative of whatever regime or party has suppressed it.

Regardless of one's tack, Banned Books marks a good place to organize one's research on the various literatures which have suffered marginalizing (and often fame-inducing) dissent or upon the literatures which have by their very objectification by a suppressing system given us a deeper insight into how such a system operates and persists.

Michael Patton Gets Caught Reading

Today we bring you our ninth installment of Get Caught Reading. It's also our first to take place off campus. Carmichael Library caught up with UM professor of philosophy Michael Patton at Eclipse Coffee and Books on Montevallo's Main Street.

It seems appropriate to the start of Banned Books Week on Saturday that Dr. Patton is reading Kingdom of Fear, by the late gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson. The subtitle of the book is "Loathsome Secrets of a Star-Crossed Child in the Final Days of the American Century." Said Patton of his reading choice, "It's political insight and humor that makes me laugh out loud."

Since we started taking these pictures last April, we've asked for your nominations for the UM community member you'd most like to see here. Whether it's your favorite prof, your best friend, or a student organization, we hope you'll keep sending us your ideas.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tracking us in My Yahoo! Beta

A while back I wrote about how to read our blog using a desktop widget, but if you're like me you follow many more blogs than just one a day. After using My Yahoo! for some time, I've been using Bloglines for most of the past year to track the dozens of sites and feeds that interest me.

Recently, Yahoo! has upgraded their feed reading product with a beta version of My Yahoo! While I like the look and feel of My Yahoo! better than Bloglines, Yahoo! hasn't won me back just yet. Still, I thought I'd list the steps to tracking Carmichael Library's multiple RSS feeds in this popular feed reader.
1) From this blog, choose the library feed you want to follow from our list in the right-hand sidebar below. You can choose from this page, our New Browsing Books feed, our Flickr photos, or our events calendar. Right click on the corresponding orange RSS button and choose Copy Shortcut. (If you're a Firefox user, choose Copy Link Location.)

2) Once you've logged in to Yahoo!, go to your My Yahoo! page by pointing your browser to

3) Click on the Personalize this page button toward the top of your screen.

4) Under the Add Content heading, click the link that reads Add RSS Feed.

5) Paste the RSS feed address into the box, and click the Add button. You're now subscribed to the library's feed!

6) Repeat steps two through five to add more feeds.
Firefox devotees know that there's an even easier way to do all of this: left-click on an RSS button and choose your feed reader from the drop down menu that appears on the following page. It doesn't get any easier than that! For still more information on adding content to your My Yahoo! page, check out Yahoo's FAQ on the topic.

If there's interest, we'll post more tips to tracking our feeds in Bloglines, Google Reader, and perhaps other places. As always, if you have questions or want to see us blog about a particular topic drop us a line.

The above screen shot is my own implementation of My Yahoo! featuring all four of our library feeds.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Scenes from the Academic Success Fair

Here are a few scenes from last week's Academic Success Fair in front of Main Hall.

President Williams meets with library faculty and staff at our booth.

Patsy, Amanda, and Gloria greet students at the library booth.

A student gathers information at the library booth.

Rosemary talks up library services at the Academic Success Fair.

Once again, there's a lot more to see at our Flickr page!

Poets Laureate

In the past month or so, two poets have have been appointed laureate positions. In August, the Librarian of Congress appointed Charles Simic as the 15th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. Click here to read more about Simic and his work.

MTV recently appointed John Ashbery as the MTVU Poet Laureate, a new position to MTVU. More of Ashbery's work can be found here.

You can use Lion and Literary Reference Center, two of our literature databases, to find more works by these authors (not to mention criticism, reviews, essays, and bibliographies concerning them). (You'll have to log in using your UM i.d. if you're off campus. )

If you 'd like to check out books by Charles Simic, we have The World Doesn't End and The Metaphysician in the Dark.

Hopeflully, we'll have a few books by John Ashbery soon. In the mean time, you can see Ashbery read over 20 of his poems in Lion's Poets on Screen section.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Banned Books Week starts Saturday, September 29th

At the end of this week, the library will be putting up a special display of books that have been challenged in or banned from American libraries in recent years. This is something we've done almost every year I've been here, and it's always been a lot of fun to put together.

Students here at UM always seem to take to this display. I think it's because they understand the huge responsibility we have to provide access to a diverse range of voices in library collections, even when what those voices are saying is unpopular.

We've identified about 40 or 50 books, which represent only a fraction of those challenged in recent years. Once again, it's been interesting to see how many of those books are among those counted as classics, or at least important books in their respective genres. We'll be displaying these on Friday of this week and I hope that you'll come by the library soon to check one of them out.

Speaking of Observances, today is Constitution Day in the United States. Professor Jim Day will be leading the Students for Constitutional Reform at the University of Montevallo (SCRUM) and Phi Alpha Theta (history honor society) to begin a Jeter Beautification Project. Says Day, "If you’re interested in learning more about the U.S. Constitution, Alabama’s Constitution, SCRUM, or a spring-term course entitled The History of Alabama’s Constitutions, then join us outside the Jeter Building at 5:00 today."

One observance I hadn't heard of before is Unmarried and Single Americans Week. It's apparently fairly widely observed during the third week of September. According to a recent U.S. Census Bureau press release, there were 92 million unmarried and single Americans 18 and older in 2006. This group comprised a whopping 42 percent of all U.S. residents 18 and older.

Lesser known September observances include Ask a Stupid Question Day on the 28th, World Tourism Day on the 27th, and my personal favorite, International Talk Like a Pirate Day on the 19th.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Pitzer College offers YouTube class

A few weeks ago, Alan posted the story about wikis being used in the classroom in lieu of the traditional textbook. Today, the Associated Press published a short piece about another Web 2.0 technology that's being used to teach. Here's a sample.
CLAREMONT, Calif. - Here's a dream-come-true for Web addicts: college credit for watching YouTube.

Pitzer College this fall began offering what may be the first course about the video-sharing site. About 35 students meet in a classroom but work mostly online, where they view YouTube content and post their comments.

Class lessons also are posted and students are encouraged to post videos. One class member, for instance, posted a 1:36-minute video of himself juggling...

...Class members control most of the class content and YouTube watchers from around the world are encouraged to comment, [professor Alexandra] Juhasz said...

The AP piece includes a link to the group Learning from YouTube, where students are posting their content for the class. Naturally, I had to go there and find the short video described in this story. This clip has the grainy, garage-band quality of a lot of user-generated video content, but it turns out that the guy and his friend are pretty talented jugglers! I also like the music used here:

On another note, you may have noticed that our own Charlie Conway has now joined our list of blog contributors. As many of you know, Charlie has a critical eye for movies. He'll be sharing some of his notes on our popular DVD collection here. Check back soon to read his dispatches from the Ask Here desk.

Finally, I wanted to mention that we have about a dozen pictures to share from this week's Academic Success Fair. With all that's been going on, time for photo editing has been in limited supply. I hope to have these posted sometime next week.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Join us at the Academic Success Fair

Carmichael Library faculty and staff will be at the Academic Success Fair tomorrow--that's Wednesday, September 12th--from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The fair takes place in front of Main Hall, not far from where we met many of you at the recent Information Fair and Back-to-School Bash. This is the first year for the Academic Success Fair, which is being coordinated by Student Support Services, and we're very much looking forward to being a part of it.

There will be a dozen booths in all and ours will be stocked with smiling faces and plenty of our popular @ bookmarks. We'll also have a selection of books on college life for you to enjoy. Finally, we'll be offering students the chance to be a part of our Get Caught Reading campaign. See you at the fair!

LexisNexis Access Problems Resolved

This is just a quick update to let everyone know that our access to LexisNexis Academic has been restored. We were notified shortly before 4:00 today that the database was not working. Thankfully, we were able to restore access after just a few minutes.

A note to our new students: please let us know should you have a problem getting into a database. The problem may be (like this one) an issue that effects everyone! You'll be helping the whole UM community by reporting these problems so that we can get them resolved in a timely manner.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

An Ecletic Program of Original Chamber Music

Davis Music Building
LeBaron Recital Hall
Admission $6 / $3 Students
Free to UM Students

For more info, click here.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Chi Omega Gets Caught Reading

You loved it this spring, and now it's back!

Get Caught Reading is back in a big way with our first shot of an entire student organization. We caught up with the ladies of Chi Omega at one of their meetings last week in Comer Hall. Normally, we ask our participant(s) to tell us what they're reading and what they think of it but as you can see, that would have taken a while... :)

We're always catching more people reading, so stay tuned: you never know who will be featured here next time. By the way, we're still accepting nominations for the faculty member you'd like us to catch reading. Send your pick to me at cooperjd(at)

You can also send me e-mail if you'd like to see your student organization here. Get Caught Reading is all about celebrating the diverse faces of UM and the many ways the community uses their campus library!

Finally, if you missed all of the buzz a few months ago click here to see who we caught reading this spring.