contemporary dance in cuba: tecnica cubana as revolutionary movement

John, Suki. (2012). Contemporary Dance in Cuba: Tecnica Cubana as Revolutionary Movement. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers.

Suki John has written a well-researched yet personal memoir on a contemporary dance movement in Cuba. Tecnica Cubana is both an art form and a political entity; it requires an understanding of many dance practices as well as knowing popular Cuban culture. Ms. John’s frequent travels to the island account for the book’s personal narrative and interviews with Cuba’s most important choreographers. Because of this, Contemporary Dance in Cuba is a necessary text for anyone studying dance or Cuban culture. In an age lacking strong communication between the island and the United States, Ms. John’s book also provides an unusual glimpse into the national pride of the Cuban people.

I received a free copy of this book through LibraryThing in exchange for a review.

after visiting friends

After Visiting Friends by Michael Hainey (Scribner, 2013). Screen Shot 2013-02-21 at 6.45.22 PM

Michael Hainey’s father, an accomplished journalist, died young and, according to the obits, alone on a street at night. Hainey follows in his father’s footsteps by becoming a newspaperman. As a reporter, Hainey is determined to learn the full story of his father’s death.

Excellent reporting requires excellent investigation skills. After Visiting Friends proves Hainey’s ability to objectively report the facts while still telling a personal story. It’s a very heart-warming story told through conversations and memory. Hainey invites the reader to follow him across the country and into the homes of family, friends, and many new acquaintances. As he searches for the truth about his father, he becomes much closer to his mother – the one person who may not be able to accept that truth.

(I received a copy of this book in exchange for a review as a LibraryThing Early Reviewer).

olde time library humor

Two fragile finds in Denison’s library. First is Library Jokes and Jottings: A Collection of Stories Partly Wise but Mostly Otherwise (on the Internet Archive) by Henry T Coutts. Coutts was a branch librarian and President of the Library Assistants’ Association. A few trinkets:

public services The librarian must ever be a philosopher; he must preserve a calm and unexcitable state of mind in all circumstances. If one reader wants the window opened wide and another wants them shut, the wise librarian will compromise by opening half-way.

Commandment 5 Honour the opinions of an author as expressed in his book, but shouldst thou disagree with his views, pencil thine own notes in the margins. By so doing thou wilt not only give evidence of thy vast learning, but will irritate subsequent readers who will, unmindful of thy superior knowledge, regard thee as a conceited ass.

collection development Select books in haste and repent at your leisure.

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the bookworm (the literal kind)

The Enemies of Books (on Project Gutenberg) by William Blades (second edition, London, 1888) is much more dry. The more interesting chapters include

Dust and Neglect Blades was…politely, but mutely conducted by the librarian into his kingdom of dust and silence.

Servants and Children Children, with all their innocence, are often guilty of book-murder.

Apparently, when children are left alone in the library, they throw books at one another.
Apparently, when children are left alone in the library, they throw books at one another.








And who was so generous as to donate this book, originally at Kenyon College? Fees and Fines, the most difficult of all patrons!

old and beautiful

Artist and Naturalist in Ethiopia by Louise Agassiz Fuertes (late artist and ornithologist of the Field Museum-Chicago) and Wilfred Hudson Osgood (Curator of Zoology, Field Museum)

From the preface:

What follows is the day-by-day record of actual experiences during an extensive zoological expedition in Ethiopia…The book takes the unusual form of the concurrent diaries of two men, Louise Agassiz Fuertes and myself…

 Who knew vultures were so cute?!

it’s all in my head

Badr, Yusra. (2011). It’s All in My Head. Cairo: Shabab Books.

I met Yusra while in Cairo, Egypt interviewing artists (including creative writers like her) about their information-seeking behaviors. Yusra writes in English, a language that is secondary in learning yet has become primary in her thoughts.

Though written in prose, I consider Yusra a poet. Her sentences are short and simple, paragraphs continuously divided into breathing space, giving a staccato rhythm to her essays.

Reading It’s All in My Head is like having multiple conversations with Yusra. The essays vary in theme, from women’s obsession with shoes (“The fact that shoes are not affected by weight gain is one of the reasons why they are very popular with women”) to child labor to the Egyptian Revolution (“For the first time ever, I am not uncomfortable on the streets of my city”).

Likewise, we get a glimpse of her reading and listening preference from the quotes that introduce the essays. Pink Floyd, Creed, Dorothy Parker, E. B. White, George Orwell, Henry Kissinger, Robert Frost, and Kofi Annan are a handful of influences. It’s an unusual approach to publishing; the diversity and fast pace of the reading echoes her home city, Cairo. Yusra presents herself not as serious or flippant or humorous or passionate but rather all of these – at once and without pause.

…the human mind is in a constant state of comparison between self and others.

We are in a state of losing our ability to speak.

When we feel like we don’t have much control on what is going on in our lives, we color our hair.

We are hunched over with experiences…

…forgiving without forgetting is like not forgiving at all.

If you like these bits from her book, follow It’s All in My Head on Facebook for regular thoughts from Yusra!

ucontent: new book on user-generated content

UContent: The Information Professional’s Guide to User-Generated Content by Nick Tomaiuolo

Experienced reference and instruction librarian Nick Tomaiuolo’s (aka the Web 2.0 Librarian) new book is a must-have for all librarians involved in digital content. UContent clearly describes various user-generated content (UGC) tools and how librarians can implement these in their library work and personal development.

UContent is targeted toward the beginner in UGC but tricks and tips will be welcomed by more advanced users. UContent isn’t pretty. It’s a bare-bones how-to do-it-yourself approach, but it works.

Since the content of the book can easily become outdated, Tomaiuolo has created an excellent website to accompany the book. The most important chapters are on blogs, audio and video services,  social bookmarking, and Flickr.

Tomaiuolo provides an overview of the service as well as interviews with expert users or developers. Most importantly, he demonstrates how these services have been implemented by other librarians. This provides real-life demonstrations of the possibilities of UGC and acts as a jumping-off point for developing your own content. And, like any good librarian, he has a terrific bibliography for each chapter. UContent is sure to become a handy reference book for librarians as the enter the Web 2.0 world of UGC.

(I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review)

books for librarians

Some time last year my library acquired The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel. At the time, it reinvigorated me as a librarian. His ruminations and historical accounts had me considering the book as a precious community treasure.

During that time, I also attended the 2011 ACRL conference in Philadelphia. I attended a lecture by Jaron Lanier. Sadly, as it was scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on a Saturday not many people attended. But for me his ideas and blunt honesty as a Silicon Valley insider really awakened me. He made mention that libraries and publishing (as we are today) are doomed. He suggested we stop trying to play technological one-upmanship and refocus on the ROMANCE of the physical – the library space and the book as object. He was slightly critical of librarians and our desire (stereotypical or real) to “fit in” with other academics. We tend to want to be considered intellectuals according to other intellectuals’ criteria. We never really created our own scholarship, in a sense. Lanier seems to be a “you’re doomed, but you can still have fun dancing around the flames” kind of guy.

I’m ok with that.

So, I got over feeling doomed and enjoyed the fire…temporarily. But about a year later I’m anxious about libraries and wondering why we seem so 19th century in our daily practices. Yesterday, while poking around my local library branch, I came across Manguel’s A Reader on Reading. This is a collection of essays in which Manguel poetically argues that reading makes humankind human. It’s a return to the printed word as a foundation of our evolution – and a bridge to our future. He considers Alice in Wonderland, Borges, Saint Augustine, and Judaism. Reading is the ultimate interdisciplinary practice.

Yet again Manguel is reminding me of the pleasures and responsibilities of being a gatekeeper to the book.