Christmas in the Library: Pics with Santa and Tag Sale

December is a stressful month – our students have final exams to study for, not to mention holiday shopping to do and travel to plan. So what better than an excuse to take a break? Come to the Library for an early celebration of Christmas!

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Santa strikes a pose

On December 2nd, come to the Weinberg Memorial Library for Pictures with Santa. Yes, the jolly old man himself will be in the Heritage Room on the 5th floor for a limited engagement – 12pm – 5pm. You can get a *framed* photo of yourself with the man in red for just $7.00.  Your donation will help bring the magic of Christmas to a family in our area.

Then, between December 3rd – 19th, check out our Christmas Tag Sale.  Christmas decorations, CDs, books, toys, collectibles, baskets, mugs — all will be on sale at affordable prices.  Find that unusual gift that you’ve been looking for, on the 1st floor of the Weinberg.

Did you know?

The Weinberg Memorial Library has several Dell and Gateway laptops that University of Scranton students can borrow, for free!  You can check out a laptop at the Circulation desk and use it anywhere in the Library, for up to three hours.  All you need is your Royal Card.

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Circulation coordinator Pat Savitts gave me a few pointers for laptop borrowers:

  • If your three hours are up and you haven’t finished your work, you can call down to the Circulation desk from your cell phone to renew your loan – as long as no other students are waiting for a laptop.
  • Don’t leave your borrowed laptop unattended.  If you need to step away from it, ask a friend to keep an eye on it for you.
  • Be prepared to either save your work to a flash drive or email it to yourself.  To protect your privacy, your files will be automatically deleted when you shut down the laptop.
  • Our laptops aren’t connected to the UniPrint system, so if you need to print your work, either save it to a flash drive or email it to yourself, and then use one of the computers in the Pro Deo room or the second floor computer lab (or any other computer lab on campus) to print.

Happy borrowing… and don’t forget to vote today!

Library staff on stage

Looking for a scare?  This weekend, the Actors Circle of Scranton presents “Jekyll and Hyde,” a Broadway musical based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (haven’t gotten to read it yet?  You can borrow it from the Library!).

Library staff member David Hunisch plays Simon Stride, Jekyll’s rival.  I got to see the show last weekend, and David’s performance as the pretentious Simon was spot on.  He did a fantastic job transforming himself into a villain.

Jekyll and Hyde will be at the Providence Playhouse in Scranton all weekend – the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday shows are at 8pm, and you can also catch a matinee on Sunday at 2pm.  Tickets are $15 for the general public, but students can get tickets for $10.  Call 570-342-9707 for reservations.

To David and the cast, from all of us here at the Weinberg Memorial Library — break a leg!

Going digital

A page from "Prominent Men of Scranton and Vicinity," one of WML's newly digitized books
A page from “Prominent Men of Scranton and Vicinity”

This fall, the Weinberg Memorial Library is one of 14 institutions participating in a mass digitization pilot project.  The program is headed by PALINET, a network of more than 600 libraries, archives, and museums  in the mid-Atlantic region, with a goal of making electronic copies of interesting books available to the public via the internet.

So far, we’ve had six local history books digitized by Internet Archive.   All six were written before 1923, which means means that they’re in the public domain – so we can post them on the internet without violating anyone’s intellectual property rights.  What’s fantastic about the digitized books is that:

  1. they’re now accessible to anyone, anywhere, anytime (while the physical books are only available to people who visit the WML Special Collections library in person, during limited hours), and
  2. they’re full-text searchable!

Check out our books on the Internet Archive website here.  You can browse through the books using the “flip book” viewer, and you can also download PDF copies of each book.  If your family is from the area, be sure to use the full text search box in the flip book viewer to search for your last name – the books are great resources for genealogists.  Or just look at the great pictures, like this 1882 line drawing of the proposed design for the Lackawanna County Courthouse from “Memorial of the Erection of Lackawanna County” (if it looks a bit different from what you see on the Square today, it is!) —

Proposed Lackawanna County Courthouse, 1882
Proposed Lackawanna County Courthouse, 1882

Banned Books Week

Since 1982, the American Library Association has declared the last week of September as “Banned Books Week.” According to ALA, “BBW celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met.”

To learn more about Banned Books, check out the ALA website. We also have a copy of ALA’s Banned Books Resource Guide in our Reference collection here at the Library. And don’t forget to check out our display on Banned Books, which you can find in the Quiet Study room on the 4th floor of the Weinberg.

Here’s a list of the top 10 books challenged in 2007 – have you read any?

1) “And Tango Makes Three,” by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
Reasons: Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group

2) “The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Violence

3) “Olive’s Ocean,” by Kevin Henkes
Reasons: Sexually Explicit and Offensive Language

4) “The Golden Compass,” by Philip Pullman
Reasons: Religious Viewpoint

5) “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” by Mark Twain
Reasons: Racism

6) “The Color Purple,” by Alice Walker
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language,

7) “TTYL,” by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

8) “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” by Maya Angelou
Reasons: Sexually Explicit

9) “It’s Perfectly Normal,” by Robie Harris
Reasons: Sex Education, Sexually Explicit

10) “The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

Before You Vote, Surf

The 2008 presidential election is coming up quickly — only 40 more days until November 4th!

With all of the debates, town halls, news stories, and sound bites, it’s hard to keep up with all of the information from and about the candidates – even if you are a devoted CSPAN viewer.  And, here in the Library, we encourage everyone to examine information from several sources and think critically about a source’s accuracy, reliability, validity, and potential bias.  So I thought it might be a good idea to highlight a few useful news and fact-checking websites to help you make an informed decision on Election Day.

One of my favorites is the non-partisan Annenberg Political Fact Check, aka FactCheck.org.  The site reviews political ads and commercials from both campaigns and checks to see whether their statements are accurate.  They also answer “questions of the day,” submitted by the public, to help you understand the background behind various rumors and accusations — today’s is “Did Sarah Palin make rape victims pay for their own rape kits?” (Answer: “Palin’s police chief in Wasilla did that. Whether Palin supported this is not certain”).

As a recent transplant from Virginia, I’m also a fan of a Washington Post blog called “The Fact Checker,” where blogger Michael Dobbs grades the candidates’ claims.  He assigns between 1-4 “Pinocchios” to let you know whether a statement was absolutely true, completely false, or somewhere in the middle (for example, true but misleading).  The Post also has a neat 2008 Campaign Toolbox, filled with links to up-to-date news, polls, and analysis.  CNN has a similar site, the Election Center 2008.

Of course, after digesting all of this political information, you’ll need a break! That’s when it’s time to go watch a few episodes of The Daily Show.

Most importantly, though, don’t forget to register to vote.  There’s been a table for voter registration in DeNaples every day during lunch, or you can download a Pennsylvania voter registration form (and find out more about voting in Pennsylvania) at www.votesPA.com, a website published by the Pennsylvania Department of State.  And let us know where *you* find your election information, by posting a comment.

Update from the Schemel Forum

It’s now week three of this semester’s Schemel Forum on the American Presidency, and the debates just keep getting more interesting.  Today, we were talking about the extents of executive power, and two of the philosophers present mentioned John Locke‘s views on the power of a sovereign.  Locke wrote in his Treatises of Government that a sovereign could act beyond the law under certain conditions – for example, if no laws yet existed to provide rules for a certain circumstance, or if the preservation of the public welfare were at stake.  The hope was that the sovereign would be a wise enough ruler that these decisions could safely be left up to his discretion.  We talked about how this idea could apply to the American presidency today – how far can the president go beyond stated laws in a time of emergency to protect the public?

We only have two weeks left, and lots of material left to cover.  I’m anxious to hear the debates about executive privilege and “signing statements.” The last session on Guantanamo Bay also promises to be intriguing.

If you’re interested in the Schemel Forum, now is a great time to sign up for two of the upcoming Forums — Dr. William V. Rowe from the University of Scranton’s philosophy department will present a five-week forum in October on “Think World: Reflections on our Times,” and Father McKinney, also from the philosophy department, will present a three-week forum in November called “The Role of Drama in the Jesuit Tradition.”  For more information, or to sign up to participate, contact Kym Fetsko at 570-941-7816.