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What’s New

New Exhibit: A Country Called Syria

Items from the A Country Called Syria exhibit
When the library was approached with an offer to host an exhibition on Syria that highlighted its people and their rich history, we all thought it would be a good idea to showcase aspects of the country and the people other than the depressing ones covered in the news. The organization that approached us is called A Country Called Syria and consists of volunteers of Syrian-American heritage from southern California who gathered together a travelling exhibit depicting Syria’s history, culture and ethnic diversity in order to introduce people to the country behind the headlines.

Items from the A Country Called Syria exhibit

As the interim library liaison for the Middle East, I thought it would be a good idea to highlight UC Berkeley’s rich library collection on Syria along with the cultural artifacts we were lent. The region that makes up the modern country of Syria is one of the oldest cradles of human civilization, and our former Middle East librarians have done a fine job of building a collection covering its ancient history and diversity while at the same time also paying attention modern Syria with all its complexities. The aim of the exhibition is to highlight some of that diversity and complexity and give Syria and the Syrian a more accessible human dimension.

Items from the A Country Called Syria exhibit Items from the A Country Called Syria exhibit Items from the A Country Called Syria exhibit

Summer Reading List: Borderwall as Architecture

Borderwall as Architecture

Borderwall as Architecture
by Ronald Rael
Oakland: University of California Press, 2017

In timely fashion, Ronald Rael, a professor in the Department of Architecture, takes on the subject of the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico in his accessible new book that Architect magazine has described as “intrepid” and multi-dimensional: “[p]art historical account, part theoretical appraisal, and part design manifesto.” Through a series of essays by Rael and other contributors that are sometimes practical, sometimes polemical, and sometimes satirical, the wall is examined for its multiple meanings not only from a design perspective, but also from an environmental, economic, and social one, reflecting on the way the wall not only stands as a symbol of security that divides people, but also as an object that has the potential to bring people together.

For more about Professor Rael’s work here at UC Berkeley, see Cal’s #InThisGen pages.

This book is part of the 2017 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!

Library Open to Graduates and Families on Saturday

Graduating students throwing their mortarboards in the air

Students with Cal IDs are welcome to bring their families into Moffitt Library and Gardner Main Stacks on Saturday, May 13 from 9am to 5pm.  Show your families your favorite study spots, the place where you had that inspirational moment, or where you met your best friend.

Summer Reading List: Forked

Forked: A New Standard for American Dining

Forked: A New Standard for American Dining
by Saru Jayaraman
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016

Written by one of today’s most vibrant social justice leaders, this book makes the case that economic justice is not just a moral imperative but also a viable business strategy. Saru has spent almost two decades organizing restaurant workers, and what she has learned about their low wages and exploitative working conditions are a must-read for all of us as consumers. But more important is her vision for what a sustainable, living-wage restaurant industry can look like, supported by profiles of companies who are already doing the right thing today.

For more information about Saru Jayaraman’s work, including her Mario Savio Memorial Lecture in 2014, we invite you to visit UC Berkeley’s #InThisGen pages.

This book is part of the 2017 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!

Great talks and fun at csv,conf,v3 and Carpentry Training

On May 2 – 5 2017, I (Yasmin AlNoamany) was thrilled to attend the csv,conf,v3 2017 conference and the Software/Data Carpentry instructor training in Portland, Oregon, USA. It was a unique experience to attend and speak with many people who are passionate about data and open science.

The csv,conf,v3

The csv,conf is for data makers from academia, industry, journalism, government, and open source. We had amazing four keynotes by Mike Rostock, the creator of the D3.js (JavaScript library for visualization data), Angela Bassa, the Director of Data Science at iRobot, Heather Joseph, the Executive Director of SPARC, and Laurie Allen, the lead Digital Scholarship Group at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries. The conference had four parallel sessions and a series of workshops about data. Check out the full schedule from here.

I presented on the second day about generating stories from archived data, which entitled “Using Web Archives to Enrich the Live Web Experience Through Storytelling”. Check out the slides of my talk below.


I demonstrated the steps of the proposed framework, the Dark and Stormy Archives (DSA), in which, we identify, evaluate, and select candidate Web pages from archived collections that summarize the holdings of these collections, arrange them in chronological order, and then visualize these pages using tools that users already are familiar with, such as Storify. For more information about this work, check out this post.

The csv,conf deserved to won the conference of the year prize for bringing the CommaLlama. The Alpaca brought much joy and happiness to all conference attendees. It was fascinating to be in csv,conf 2017 to meet and hear from passionate people from everywhere about data.

After the conference, Max Odgen from the Dat Data Project gave us a great tour from the conference venue to South Portland. We had a great food from street food trucks at Portland, then we had a great time with adorable neighborhood cats!

Tha Carpentry Training

After the csv,conf, I spent two days with other 30 librarians and researchers from different backgrounds to learn how to instruct Data Carpentry, Software Carpentry, and Library Carpentry.  There were three CLIR fellows, John Borghi, Veronica Ikeshoji-Orlati, and myself, attended the training. Completing this training prepares attendees to teach Data Carpentry, Software Carpentry, and Library Carpentry lessons. The Carpentry training is a global movement for teaching scientists in different disciplines the computing skills they need to empower data-driven research and encourage open science.

The two days had a mix of lectures and hands-on exercises about learning philosophy and Carpentry teaching practices. It was a unique and fascinating experience to have. We had two energetic instructors, Tim Dennis and Belinda Weaver, who generated welcoming and collaborate environment for us. Check out the full schedule and lessons from here.

At the end, I would like to acknowledge the support I had from the California Digital Library and the committee of the csv,conf for giving me this amazing opportunity to attend and speak at the csv,conf and the Carpentry instructor training. I am looking forward to applying what I learned in upcoming Carpentry workshops at UC Berkeley.


Music video: Sharing knowledge is our goal here


Sharing knowledge is our goal here at the UC Berkeley Library. Check out our spaces and the students and staff that bring them to life in our parody of “Closer” by The Chainsmokers ft. Halsey.

Summer Reading List: A Crack in Creation

A Crack in Creation

A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution
by Jennifer A. Doudna and Samuel H. Sternberg
Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017

A Crack in Creation discusses the origin and impact of the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology co-invented by UC Berkeley biologist Jennifer Doudna. Hailed as the scientific breakthrough of the century, CRISPR-Cas9 is a technology that can change the very way we live in a single generation and reshape our world in unimaginable ways–offering potential cures for diseases and solutions to world hunger while also raising a series of ethical questions about the consequences of being able to change our DNA.

In their book, Doudna and fellow researcher Samuel Sternberg tell the compelling story of this discovery and wrestle with those questions about what we will do with this new technology that gives us the power to reshape our evolution.

There are many compelling reasons for why this is a worthy contribution for any booklist, but for Berkeley the justification is even richer. UC Berkeley has been ground zero for this entire technology, with contributions from others around the world. Secondly, the ramifications of this technology are so widespread that only a campus with broad excellence in all areas is adequate to engage the range of implications that this technology offers.

(Visit UC Berkeley’s #InThisGen pages for much more about Professor Doudna’s work on CRISPR.)

This book is part of the 2017 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!

Music Library gem takes main stage

Hargrove Music Library

Berkeley’s Hargrove Music Library holds many special materials. (Photo by Alejandro Serrano for the University Library)

A unique manuscript in the Library is the basis for an upcoming performance at Zellerbach Hall — in which a version of the opera not heard for 270 years will be performed. Le Temple de la Gloire, with a text by Voltaire and music by Jean-Phillippe Rameau, is scheduled at Cal Performances this weekend (April 28-30). California alumni magazine created a video that features Hargrove Music Library curator John Shepard, who discusses the Rameau piece and gives a tour of the library’s treasures. “Music helps us understand how people felt in their own time,” Shepard says.

Movies @ Moffitt: My Love Affair with the Brain, May 3

My Love Affair with the Brain
Spend Wednesday evening of RRR week learning more about your brain, and how it can thrive! This delightful documentary follows renowned brain scientist and UC Berkeley professor emerita of anatomy Dr. Marian Diamond, introducing us to her groundbreaking accomplishments at a time when so few women entered her field, as well as her entertaining teaching style and charming personality.

Wednesday, May 3
Doors @ 6:30pm, show @ 7:00pm
405 Moffitt Undergraduate Library
Free; open to UCB students only (UCB student ID required).
Movies @ Moffitt happens on the first Wednesday of each month of the semester.

“I Can’t Afford Your Class”

I can't afford your class.

Two Sessions:
Friday, May 5, 3:00 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.
Monday, May 8, 1:00 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
Academic Innovation Studio
117 Dwinelle Hall

The high and ever-increasing costs of textbooks and other assigned course readings are a major concern for UC Berkeley students. College textbook prices have risen 88% in the past decade, with individual textbooks often costing at least $200 each. Print course pack costs further compound students’ financial burdens. These rising expenses come at a time when 42% of the UC student body systemwide experiences food insecurity due to inadequate living funds.

The UC Berkeley campus has begun to tackle these issues, and there are nuanced questions to address with numerous stakeholders. The Center for Teaching & Learning, University Library, and Academic Innovation Studio are excited to invite you to join this conversation and learn about:

  • The landscape for course content affordability issues, and the situation at UC Berkeley;
  • What campus-wide and Library-led efforts are being undertaken; and
  • The tools, resources, and services instructors and students can rely on to help limit costs.

We hope you’ll join us as we launch a broad discussion about this important topic! There will be plenty of time reserved for questions and debate. We are hosting the same event on two dates to try to accommodate as many attendees’ schedules as possible.

If you have any questions, please contact Rachael Samberg, Scholarly Communication Officer at the Library, at rsamberg@berkeley.edu.

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