Need Some April Reading?

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I’m hoping the March showers will bring April flowers here in Lower Alabama. In the meantime, here’s some links to an article on relationships, the great global nonfiction versus fiction debate, and links for amputees, poets, and librarians.

For Amputees

This month is Limb Loss Awareness Month. (#LLAM) The Amputee Coalition of America’s National Limb Loss Resource Center is a great place to find information for anyone with limb loss, from born amputees like me, to those recovering from amputation surgery.

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Relationships

My wife Susan and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary last month. In a Facebook post, my cousin Gayle asked, “What’s the most important thing to share about your time together?”

“Friendship, empathy, forgiveness, funniness, and affection are a few important things,” I posted. About a week later, I read the article below. No matter the relationship, I think understanding one another is profoundly difficult and infinitely more challenging to sustain.

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For Readers and Writers

The next storm that crossed my path is the relationship readers and writers navigate between fiction and nonfiction. This global multilingual discussion will have you wondering about the origins of the word nonfiction and questioning the meaning of story.

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Student Librarians and Poets

Since it’s also National Poetry Month, I’ve included a link to an article that I netted for a library school assignment about Charles Bukowski. It’s not his poetry at the other side of the link below. A well-written (if a bit raunchy) profile from a 1976 Rolling Stone magazine interview has motivated me to go and read some Bukowski this April.

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Don’t forget, next week (April 10-16) is National Library Week, so visit your library, online (Fairhope Public Library) or in-person, to learn how Libraries Transform.

 

 

Do you know Annie Easley?

 

On Saturday, I had a high school student come up to the reference desk with her mom.

Her mom said, “Go ahead, ask him.”

“Good morning, can I help?”

“I’m looking for information on Annie Easley.”

Do you know Annie Easley? If you do, I’m impressed. I have never heard of her.

So we went to the OPAC, or Online Public Access Catalog and typed in the name.

0 results

“I found some things on the internet, but I need a book source,” she told me.

So I asked the student, who I will call J, what she had already found out about her. Easley was a scientist, and a mathematician.

“Follow me,” I said, confident that I could find a reference book with her name in it.

I pulled some subject encyclopedias on science, and women in science. Nothing.

Bound and determined to find J. some print on paper, I conducted my reference interview, then grabbed some sources. J and I scanned and skimmed alphabetical entries and indexes. Still nothing.

I learned more about Easley along the way, interviewing J about how she learned about Easley. J was African American, and so was Easley, and it’s February (African American History month), but she was not on a teacher’s list of people to research. Easley was also born in Birmingham, Alabama.

Earlier in the day, I had messaged a fellow student about what librarians without a master’s degree are called.

“Feral Librarians,” Ginny remembered.

I was a feral librarian rabidly interested in finding a book source for this shy, yet curious young student.

“They called her the Human Calculator,” J said, and added that Easley worked for NASA.

Doesn’t she sound like a woman who should be in book about mathematicians and scientists?

J also called her a “programmer.”

I told J, her mom, and now her younger brother, who had joined our tour of reference, that I just learned about this new documentary called, Code: Debugging the Gender Gap.

This documentary shows the large gender and minority gap in the world of science, specifically, computer science. Sadly, our collection was helping prove their argument and this student had done her homework. She knew Easley’s middle initial, “J.” I learned later that Easley actually developed code for NASA.

Walking back to the catalog I asked J to check the general encyclopedias. She confirmed my initial doubt and there was no mention of her in Worldbook, or Encyclopedia Britannica.

“Who is this lady?” J’s little brother now wanted to know, as we grabbed two more books from the stacks. From then on, he joined us in our search.

J’s dad came by, and seeing the stack of books, suggested to his daughter that maybe she needed to find another person.

She was thumbing through a book, and looked over at him. I could tell she was ready to give up.

“No way,” I told the whole family, then looking at J I said, “You need to champion Easley.” I’d gone feral, and decided book sources be damned. “No book sources from the public library, well, use that in your paper,” I said. I smiled, she smiled. Not a Cheshire smile, but the kind of smile that said, “I’m not sure if this librarian is crazy or just more curious than a cat.”

 Some books without Annie Easley

“I’m sorry,” I said, frustrated and angry that I could not find a print source for her. This young woman had found a person, an African American like herself and a mathematician, programmer, and NASA employee and my resources failed. The whole family and I went back to the computer and found Easley’s Wikipedia page.

“You stumped the librarian today,” I told them, and was disappointed I did not have a book sources.

J knew about Alabama Virtual Library, but she hadn’t looked at Wikipedia’s sources.

Easley’s Wikipedia page linked to a 55 page PDF from NASA’s “Herstory” Oral history project. The document was the transcript of an interview with Easley about her life.

“That’s better than a book,” I said pointing at the screen, That’s a primary document. This is her own words.” J, and everyone in her family, thanked me. Her dad shook my hand. As they headed to circulation to check out some items, I realized that Wikipedia, libraries, and librarians do not compete. They compliment.

My name in a Textbook

It happened February 13, 2016 at 6:23 Eastern Standard Time. In my second semester of online library school at the University of Alabama.

I was reading Reference and Information Services: An Introduction by Kay Ann Cassell and Uma Hiremath (2013).

On Page 115 it states:

In the past, the stouthearted librarians of the New York Public Library

would prove this time and time again as they ventured into schools to

play the game, “Stump the Librarian.”

 

 

 

 

2015 Recommendations

Books

Nonfiction

In the Sanctuary of Outcasts, Neil White

Scorsese: A Retrospective, Tom Shone

Steal like an Artist, Austin Kleon

Travels with Charley, John Steinbeck

What we See When we Read, Peter Mendelsund

Picture Books

The Book with No Pictures, B. J. Novak

The Day the Crayons Came Back, Drew Daywalt

Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear, Lindsay Mattick, Illustrated by Sophie Blackall

USS Alabama: Hoorah for the Mighty A! Karyn W. Tunks

Graphic Novel

Demise of the Spirit’s Guiding Lady, Megan Redlich

The Odyssey, Gareth Hinds

Fiction

The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck

Poetry

Next Door to the Dead, Kathleen Driskell

Movies

Big Eyes

Big Hero 6

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure

Boyhood

Cinderella

The Cobbler

Dolphin Tale 2

Gone Girl

The Help

Ida

The Imitation Game

Inherent Vice

Night Crawler

A Night to Remember

Noah

Pixels

Rushmore

St. Vincent

Selma

Star Wars *In Theaters

The Theory of Everything

Wild

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Documentaries/Nonfiction

Evel Knievel’s Spectacular Jumps

Fed Up

Ivory Towers

Open Sesame

Television/Streaming

American Crime   

Boardwalk Empire Season 5

House of Cards

Nashville

Red Oaks *Amazon Prime

Survivor : Cambodia-Second Chance

Happy New Year!

Are You Wasting Time? Or Learning?

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Here’s my alter Leg-O. The website (+) has many pirate-themed parts to build your Picture Yourself in Plastic Mini-Mizer but unfortunately, no one-legged options. It should be included in the book I’m reading right now. My wife Susan bought it for me at her school’s Scholastic Book Fair. 100 Ways to Waste Time is actually a project-based learning tool kit for middle school students. I’m discovering that it is suitable for all ages, and especially for anyone who has been hanging on to their imagination/daydreaming gifts. The book is written by Tim Bugbird, according to Amazon, but his name could also be an answer to a time-wasting exercise in the book. The trifold book includes a flick-able plastic frog, a small book of googly eye stickers, a booklet of time-wasting things to do, and a list of ideas on how to waste time.

Examples you want? (Follow the symbols to see some of my answers.)

  • Think of the weirdest combination of animals ever. (*)
  • Think of five things you would do if you were a ferret.
  • Think of three favorite TV shows you would combine to make the most awesome show ever. (#)
  • Take out all of your underwear and decide which will be your lucky pair.
  • Write the name of the best computer game ever. And, think of three ways to make it even better.

The book even comes with certificates for “Outstanding Time-Wasting.” If any of my readers feel they are outstanding time-wasters I’d love to hear from you. Answer one of my examples or tell me one of your own time-wasting ways.  Please leave me a comment and I’ll post a certificate for you.

Time-wasting is actually great for independent and group learning. Don’t believe me, watch “Build a School in the Cloud,” the best Ted Talk of 2013 by Sugata Mitra. It turns out that what looks like time-wasting to adults can be problem-solving sessions for students, using what he calls Self Organized Learning Environments. Susan learned about the Lego avatar site from a  Simplek12 webinar she watched during school vacation on “15 Free Web Tools for Elementary Student Projects.”

The limited choices meant that my avatar would not look like Metal Beard from the The Lego Movie. However, Susan and I learned  how to improve our avatars by working together. The future of learning, creativity, and real and virtual world problem-solving, will involve computers and the cloud. Like any good game, time-waster, or life lesson, learning will always need two or more players.

+ Click here to create your own Lego Avatar.

* Half Mosquito Eater/Half Anteater

# Scooby Doo, Boardwalk Empire, and House of Cards

What are Your Favorite Books, Movies, and Music from 2014

Here’s the list of titles that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading, listening to, and watching over the last twelve months. My list includes some old, some new, and some rediscovered titles and authors. Follow the links to read my previous posts related to my annual list of favorites.

Books

Nonfiction

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, Caitlin Doughty

Smoke

The Professor and the Madman, Simon Winchester

Novels

The Fault in Our Stars, John Green

The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien

Picture Books

New: The Book with No Pictures, B.J. Novak

Classic: The Hat, Tomi Ungerer

Ebook by a Classmate

Life with Charley: A Memoir of Down Syndrome Adoption, Sherry McCaulley Palmer

Self-Published Local

Salubrious Climate, Alison Holt Knight

On Creative Writing

Expressive Writing, Kathleen Adams

The Plot Chickens, Mary Jane Auch (Picture Book)

The War of Art, Steven Pressfield

Songs

“Sail,” AWOL Nation, Megalithic Symphony (Explicit)

“Drive-In Movies,” Ray LaMontagne, Supernova

“Heaven Knows,” The Pretty Reckless, Going to Hell

Album (Vinyl)

Odessey and Oracle, The Zombies

Cold Fact, Rodriguez

Sun Record Company Volume 1, Various Artists

Album (Digital)

Mandatory Fun, Weird Al Yankovic

Movies

Based on a Book

The Book Thief (Markus Zusak)

Docudrama

Parkland

Documentary

Bones Brigade

TV Series

House of Cards: Seasons One and Two (Netflix)

True Detectives (HBO Series)

Boardwalk Empire Season 4 (HBO Series)

YouTube

Viktoria Modesto’s video is a provocative and compelling mash-up of film, music, modeling, and performance art. She’s billing herself as the first amputee pop artist. Follow the link below to watch.

Prototype/Channel 4