The Schemel Forum – Spring 2009

This Spring, the Weinberg Memorial Library’s Schemel Forum is offering a wealth of cultural enrichment opportunities, including three evening courses, a national issues forum, two luncheon seminars, and a piano recital.  Check out the Forum schedule (and the incredible range of the topics to be discussed) here.

At the April 29th Schemel Forum Luncheon Seminar, Parag Khanna, author of "The Second World," will speak on "A 21st Century Look at Global Politics and Economics."

At the April 29th Schemel Forum Luncheon Seminar, Parag Khanna, author of The Second World, will speak on “A 21st Century Look at Global Politics and Economics.”

What is the Schemel Forum?  According to the Forum’s director, University Senior Fellow and author Sondra Myers, “It is a noncredit, continuing education program for cultural enrichment at the University of Scranton, named for the late Rev. George Schemel, S.J., who was respected within the U.S. and abroad for his spiritual and educational talents… Schemel Forum courses are intergenerational and participatory.”* The class sizes are small, so discussion is encouraged (and lively!).

Why is the Forum important? Here’s Sondra again: “The Schemel Forum enriches the environment by stimulating people to think beyond their own fields of knowledge and create new ground for interaction, for envisioning the future, making new friends, and enjoying new experiences with old friends.”*

The Forum is open to the whole Scranton community – and University students, staff, and faculty are encouraged to get involved.   If you’re interested, check out the course offerings, and then contact Kym Fetsko at 570-941-7816 to register.

*Both quotations are from “Talk of the Times with Sondra Myers,” an article by Patrice Wilding in the September 3, 2008 Scranton Times-Tribune.

Chesterton Free Audio via LibriVox

“Love means loving the unlovable – or it is no virtue at all.” –G.K. Chesterton in Heretics

chesteron

After the hectic ending to Fall semester, followed by a nice, long break this year for Christmas and New Year’s, Intersession acts as a month-long “pause” of sorts in the Library’s regular, super-packed routine of the regular semesters. It’s a time when we get started on new projects, spend extra time finding out what’s going on out on the web and in the world, and using our findings to do our jobs better. Plus, with a manageable number of classes in session, we still get to see and interact with students who are looking to get ahead in their studies, which keeps us in touch w/ what you guys need and want out of your Library.

Along these lines, yesterday I came across a neat website and an awesome resource on the web, particularly for fans of G.K. Chesterton*. Chesterton was a prolific writer, a Roman Catholic, a fine storyteller and a very wise man. He is often read alongside C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, although he was not part of the Inklings*, who were sharing ideas and stories just after Chesterton’s time. I own a few of his books (the Library’s collection of works by Chesterton far exceeds mine!), however I have yet to really delve into his writings as I hope to.

So you can imagine my excitement to stumble upon an entire online audio library of many of Chesterton’s works. This collection is part of LibriVox, whose goal it is to record audio versions of all of the books in the public domain. The site as a whole is an awesome resource unto itself — especially if you are an aural learner, and has as its pithy tagline: “acoustical liberation of books in the public domain” (header of the LibriVox website).

If you’re a fan of Chesterton, or enjoy Lewis and Tolkien and are interested in another writer of stories and ideas who is a kindred spirit to those two great thinkers, take a look at/listen to the extensive audio collection of Chesterton’s works. If Chesterton doesn’t do it for you, have at the LibriVox Search Catalog to see if your favorite public domain writer’s works have been recorded and added yet. (Shakespeare, anyone?) And if you don’t see your favorite author from before 1922 (though there are exceptions to the public domain rule of “Published before such and such a date,” which are expounded upon here), volunteer to record his or her works yourself!

*These 2 links to information about Chesterton and the Inklings, I fully admit, are websites for organizations who are devoted to the work of both Chesterton and the Inklings, respectively. As such, their descriptions of their subjects are necessarily colored by their enthusiasm — however, I have found they are also quite factual, out of great respect for the people they are writing about.

…aaaaand we’re back!

So, the new year has started, and the Library is back to business as usual. Here are our hours of operation during Intersession:

Monday, January 5th — Saturday, January 31st

Monday-Thursday, 8:00AM-10:00PM

Friday, 8:00AM-4:30PM

Saturday, 12 Noon-6:00PM

Sunday, 12 Noon-10:00PM

Saturday, January 31st: Closed

Our Virtual Reference / Ask a Librarian services (Email, IM and 24/7 Chat) are all back as well. See the Ask a Librarian page for details, or just use one of the nifty widgets or links located on the left sidebar to access these services.

The Streets of Scranton, now on Google

It’s even easier to find your way around Scranton, now that street-level photographic images of the city are available on Google Maps’ Street View feature.  Using Street View, visitors to our area or even newly minted Scrantonians can get a feel for what it’s like to drive or walk down our streets.

The Radisson, as seen on Google Street View

The Radisson, as seen on Google Street View

In an article titled “NEPA Goes Global on Google” in Saturday’s Scranton Times-Tribune, staff writer Laura Legere described the benefits of Street View:  “Google touts the program’s practical uses: it can help travelers preview landmarks on the way to a destination, shoppers discover if there are parking meters in front of a store, and homebuyers can peek at the neighborhood around a promising house.”

googlestreetview41

To use Google Street View, just go to Google Maps at www.maps.google.com.  Search for an address you’re interested in, and then click on the orange stick figure right above the zoom bar on the left hand side of the map.  You can drag the stick figure to “fly” over the streets, or just click on it to get into a full Street View image.  Once you’re in Street View, use your mouse or arrow keys to navigate through the entire 360-degree view.  As usual, if you need help using Street View, just ask one of the friendly librarians at the Weinberg Memorial Library for help!

You might notice that not all addresses or streets that you view in Google Maps have Street View images available – that’s because Google hasn’t yet photographed *all* of the streets in the Scranton area.  While West Scranton is well represented, and major roads throughout the area are visible, downtown Scranton, the Hill section, and the University campus aren’t in Street View at this time.  Google is constantly updating their maps, though, so keep your eyes open for Google cars on campus – you can spot them by the large cameras mounted on their roofs.

Google car, captured by Woodvines on Flickr

Google car, captured by Woodvines on Flickr

Enjoy the Lincoln 200th Birthday Celebration!

“Forever Free: Abraham Lincoln’s Journey to Emancipation,” a national traveling exhibition that focuses on Lincoln’s quest to restore a Union divided by Civil War, opens at the Weinberg Memorial Library on February 9 through March 22. Organized by the Huntington Library, San Marino, Calif., and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, New York City, in cooperation with American Library Association, this free exhibition shows how Lincoln’s beliefs about freeing the slaves were transformed by war-time developments. “Forever Free” is made possible by major grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, created by Congress and charged with planning the national celebration of Lincoln’s 200th birthday.
Weinberg Memorial Library is offering a free one-day conference Saturday, February 14, 2009, 8:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. The conference will feature four speakers discussing topics such as Emerson and Lincoln, the Abolitionist Movement in Pennsylvania, the Underground Railroad in Northeastern Pennsylvania and will include an appearance by Abraham Lincoln, as portrayed by Jim Getty. The conference will conclude with a 1 p.m. reception in the Weinberg Library Heritage Room to view the exhibit. The complete exhibit schedule can be found at http://academic.scranton.edu/department/wml/lincoln-event.html. Please contact Michael Knies, 570-941-6341 or Michael.Knies@Scranton.edu for more information and to register for the free conference.

Library Service Hours Over the Break

So, we finally made it! Finals are over, and Christmas break has begun! *cue the celebratory trumpets*

Now is the time for all that book learnin’ to have a chance to settle into our minds and selves… And so, the Library is taking a bit of a break with you. Here are the Library hours over the break:

December 15-19, Monday-Friday — 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM
December 20-21, Saturday-Sunday — Closed
December 22-23, Monday-Tuesday — 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM
December 24, 2008 – January 4, 2009 — Closed

Please note that the Pro Deo room — aka the 24-hour room — closes with the library on December 23rd at 4:30 PM, and reopens on Sunday, January 4th.

In addition, our Virtual Reference services are taking a bit of a break along with us:

IM Reference Service via Meebo will be unavailable from Monday, December 15, 2008 through Sunday, January 4, 2009. The service will resume on Monday, January 5, 2009.

24/7 Chat Reference Service will be closed from 4:00 pm on Wednesday, December 24, 2008 through Thursday, December 25, 2008 for Christmas. It will also be closed from 4:00 pm on Wednesday, December 31, 2008 through Thursday, January 1, 2009 for New Year’s. The service will resume as usual on Friday, December 26th and Friday, January 2nd, respectively.

So, enjoy the break! Merry Christmas and many blessings this holiday season! See you in the new year…

Pandora Radio, Music Genomes, & Beautiful Sounds

Here we are, in the thick of finals. All-nighters. Citation madness. Dum-dum lollipops from the Reference Desk.

I know all about it — I’m the trusty librarian that is up at least half the night with you this week, at the Reference Desk ’til 2 am when we close.

But boy, did I come across a gem of a website that I believe you will love as much as I do. Because we all love music, right? But of course we love very different kinds of music… And that’s where the brilliance of Pandora Radio comes in.

This website allows you to create personalized, customized Internet radio stations that play only the music you love. When I first heard about it, I was very skeptical as to how user-friendly, effective or accurate such a claim could be. But I moseyed on over to the URL, where I was prompted to input a favorite artist or song. I humored Pandora, and typed in “Jason Mraz.” A station called “Jason Mraz Radio” started playing, with the first song as “I’d Do Anything” off of his first studio album, Waiting for my Rocket to Come. Okay, that’s neat, and I figured it would just play Jason songs in succession… But then, the second song began, and it wasn’t Jason, but a groovy rendition of “Over the Rainbow” by a Hawaiian artist whose name I can’t remember, accompanying himself on a ukulele — a version of the song I had heard about but never gotten around to looking up. A little pop-up from Pandora told me they were playing this song because, essentially, it “sounds” like Jason’s music. Well, it wasn’t Jason, but it was groovy in all the ways Jason is, and I was pleased. And the neat part is, now I have learned about an artist I never would have known about, for free, who plays the same kind of music as Jason — the kind of music I like. This is very cool indeed.

So I started creating other stations, and decided it was well worth creating an account at the site, so I could save my stations for future use. Right now, I am listening to “Bluegrassy Instrumental” (one of the genre-stations they also offer), and I’m loving it. And when Pandora plays a song I like in particular, I have a few options: I can rate it w/ a thumbs up, so the station knows to play more songs like it, and I can also Bookmark the song, so I can remember the artist and album for future reference. There are also ways to interact with other Pandora Radio listeners, recommending songs, creating profiles, etc. This site rocks my socks, and it will rock yours too. Just trust me on that one.

But you may ask, how does Pandora achieve this? How can a website or even an extensive database of music know what songs are really like other songs? That’s where the Music Genome Project comes in. I won’t go crazy trying to explain how the participants do what they do, but in short, they basically map the musical DNA of every song, characterizing and analyzing each song for many things like “melody, harmony, instrumentation, rhythm, vocals, lyrics” (taken from About Pandora — worth reading too). Then Pandora takes these DNA maps (as I’m calling them) and uses them to match songs with other songs, to create a stream of music that can continually be customized to fit your taste in that style of music.

I think this is just awesome, and I felt the need to share it with all of you. We all love music, and this tool not only gives open access to the thing we love, but it enables us to discover artists and songs we might never have before.

So, if you need music in the background while you work on papers and finals — for my part, certain kinds of music (like “Bluegrassy Instrumental”) help me concentrate — check out Pandora Radio.

This is technology and the Internet at their best.