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Summer Reading: Hag-Seed


Margaret Atwood
New York: Hogarth, 2016

A modern update to Shakespeare’s The Tempest, told from the perspective of a theater director who has been ousted from his post, and is plotting his revenge on his enemies while/through teaching Shakespeare-in-performance to prisoners, written by one of the best authors of our time. (And a good opportunity to revisit The Handmaid’s Tale.)

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

An open flow of ideas, energy at Berkeley’s East Asian Library

Exterior view of the C.V. Starr East Asian Library

The C.V Starr East Asian Library (Photograph by Alejandro Serrano for the University Library)

C. V. Starr East Asian Library director Peter Zhou envisioned a different type of library for Berkeley’s collection of East Asian materials. “I wanted an open flow of people, ideas, learning, and energy without a lot of partitions,” Zhou explains.

As the building heads into its tenth year, the success of the space can be measured by its popularity — Berkeley students rank the heavily-used C. V. Starr East Asian Library as one of the premier study spots on campus. And the library’s architects, Billie Tsien and Tod Williams, recently garnered another big vote of approval when they were selected from more than 140 firms to design the Obama Presidential Center.

Tsien and Williams, a husband and wife team, focus on work for museums, schools, and nonprofits. They have each been awarded the National Medal of Arts, and have received more than two dozen awards from the American Institute of Architects.

The design of the Starr Library, which will have its ten-year anniversary in 2018, expresses an Asian cultural perspective in both large and small ways. From the outside, the monumental bronze screen that faces Memorial Glade, on the building’s south wall, is the most apparent.

Inside, a visitor is immediately struck by the open design of the space, the filtered yet abundant light, and the range of textures from concrete and stone to wood, fabric, and art.

The reading room of the C.V Starr East Asian Library

Students in the reading room of the C. V. Starr East Asian Library (Photograph by Alejandro Serrano for the University Library)

“The Gardner Stacks in Doe were one model for the open design,” Zhou notes. “In Starr, a multifaceted flow unites the collection stacks, reading rooms, and the reference and circulation areas.”

A central staircase uniting all four levels serves as the main artery of the building. On the ground floor, tapestries and art drawn from rare books in the collection soften the concrete walls.

Tsien and Williams worked to both fulfill the functional needs of the library together and to create an aesthetically satisfying building. University guidelines for this area of campus (known as the “classical core”) required a pitched clay tile roof, symmetrical façade and use of white granite.

A priority for the design was to avoid direct sun exposure while creating a building with an abundance of natural light. The bronze screens on the three sides of the building are part of the solution. An innovative skylight took care of the rest.

By adding angled drywall beneath the skylight, sunlight is reflected and diffused through the building. As Zhou puts it, “Our library is bathed in two layers of light, one coming through the skylight, the other cascading and bouncing down to different areas. I often see Berkeley architecture students drawing our interior.”

The C.V. Starr East Asian Library was funded primarily by private support, with additional funds from campus. Approximately 1,000 donors contributed to the $52 million dollar project. After opening in 2008, the LEED Silver-equivalent building won several architectural awards.

The top floor of the C.V. Starr East Asian Library

The top floor of the C. V. Starr East Asian Library (Photograph by Alejandro Serrano for the University Library)

Starr Library houses a renowned research collection of over 600,000 volumes in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and other East Asian languages. Materials range from full-text electronic databases, books, periodicals, and newspapers, to block-printed maps, manuscripts, rare Chinese, Japanese, and Korean imprints, and rubbings of some of the earliest inscriptions in the Chinese tradition.

The full collection (some of which is stored off-campus) totals over one million volumes, making it one of the top two such collections in the United States outside of the Library of Congress. And the Library continues to acquire new treasures, such as the Paul Kendel Fonoroff collection of Chinese film studies materials.

Summer Reading: Nonsense


Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing
Jamie Holmes
New York: Crown Publishers, 2015

The very real perils and consequences of jumping to conclusions, of feeling total certainty and confidence, and the power of being able to handle ambiguity. (John Keats called this “Negative capability,” and he saw it most vividly in Shakespeare’s writing.) Told through a series of case studies ranging from the workplace to personal life. If our modern condition is one of unpredictability and increasing complexity, Holmes’ lessons for “how to deal with what we don’t understand” are particularly urgent.

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

Summer Reading: Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City
Matthew Desmond
New York: Crown Publishers, 2016

The day-to-day experiences of landlords, tenants, movers, sheriffs, and others wrapped up in the economy of eviction. A great companion to last year’s On the Same Page pick, Just Mercy; at one point, Desmond writes, “If incarceration had come to define the lives of men from impoverished black neighborhoods, eviction was shaping the lives of women. Poor black men were locked up. Poor black women were locked out.” Desmond makes the compelling case that stable housing is a precondition for civic engagement and democracy, because civic life begins at home, and is rooted in a community. After telling the unforgettable stories of a few to illustrate the plight of millions of Americans, he devotes the epilogue to making broader policy recommendations that aim to break the cycle of eviction.

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

Summer Reading List: Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

Benjamin Franklin: An American Life
Walter Isaacson
New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003

Among his many accomplishments, Franklin founded libraries, volunteer firefighting companies, and served as the United States’ first Postmaster General. According to Isaacson, Franklin was “the most accomplished American of his age and the most influential in inventing the type of society America would become.” During Franklin’s adulthood, the American ideals of civic life were crafted, along with many of the institutions which foster those ideals.

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

New library service!

UC Berkeley Global Resource Sharing

You can now pick up Interlibrary Loan items at most library locations and NRLF!

When you fill out your ILL request, just select the library you prefer from the pick up location list. You will be notified by email when the item is ready at your preferred location.

Remember to pick up ILL material by the hold expiration date or items will be returned to the lending institution.

Microform material will continue to be available as Library Use Only in the Newspaper & Microform Library, regardless of the pickup location selected.

Summer Reading List: The Study Qu’ran: A New Translation and Commentary

The Study Qu'ran

The Study Qu’ran: A New Translation and Commentary
Seyyed Hossein Nasr
New York: HarperOne, 2015

Six years in the making, The Study Quran is described by its editor-in-chief, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, as “a small contribution to unity in the Islamic world.” More importantly, it is also an opportunity for non-Muslims to understand the Quran in historical context. Translated by a team of both Sunni and Shiite scholars of Islam, this edition of the Quran also offers in-depth commentaries to help place the book’s more controversial passages into historical context, and to examine the Quran from multiple Islamic spiritual, theological, and legal perspectives. Upon its publication in late 2015, the book sold out its first print run immediately — a rare feat for any book about religion.

At a moment when Islam is one of the world’s few religions that is growing instead of shrinking, the Quran and what it means to Muslims still remains a puzzle to many non-Muslims in the west. This book is an opportunity to reverse some of the Islamophobia that has been encroaching on many Americans by introducing us to the basics of what Muslims believe. As the current generation of Americans becomes less religious, and as religious literacy declines in the media while religious studies is also on the decline in academia, books like The Study Quran offer us an opportunity to change our perspectives about one of the world’s most misunderstood religions.

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

Library co-hosts Librarian of Congress visit

Dr. Carla Hayden

On Monday, April 24, the Morrison Library was graced by the presence of Dr. Carla Hayden, the 14th Librarian of Congress. The Library also hosted a reception for Dr. Hayden to meet interim Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Carol Christ and other campus leaders.

Along with being the first female Librarian of Congress, and the first African-American, Dr. Hayden is only the third person to come to the job from the public library system. A self-identified “accidental librarian,” her first library job was filing cards in a card catalog in a storefront branch of the Chicago public library.

Dr. Hayden’s focus as Librarian of Congress is increasing accessibility to the Library of Congress’ vast collection of unique items, which includes the world’s largest collection of sheet music, one of the largest photography collections, and many presidential papers and historic documents, including an annotated draft of the Declaration of Independence. Dr. Hayden’s use of the term accessibility is far from abstract; in her remarks, she described how during the recent unrest in Baltimore, where she was the CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library from 1993 to 2016, she wished she could have provided children with access to the papers of Rosa Parks in order to help them understand the history behind the events that surrounded them.

When asked what young university graduates can do to help with the mission of increasing access to library materials, Dr. Hayden talked about meeting a young homeless woman on a recent visit to a teen mix center at San Francisco Public Library. The library provides less privileged people with a place to gather and also gives them a voice, she said. Graduating students have “so much to give and to show other young people coming up,” and should reach “ . . . not back, but pull somebody else with you.”

Watch the video:

Library Carpentry Sprint at UC Berkeley

The UC Berkeley Library is participating in the worldwide Library Carpentry Sprint happening on June 1st and 2nd, which is a part of the larger Mozilla Global Sprint 2017. Library Carpentry is a part of the Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry family, and it strives to bring the fundamentals of computing, as well as a platform for further self-directed learning in digital scholarship to librarians and library staff. The goal of this Library Carpentry sprint is to improve Library Carpentry lessons, as well as get input from archivists about how we can make our lessons more archivist friendly. That said, you do not need to be a librarian to participate. If you are interested in pedagogy or are familiar with digital tools taught in Library Carpentry workshops, we seek your input in improving Library Carpentry lessons.

This sprint will take place in the Berkeley Institute for Data Science (BIDS), and you can drop by anytime between 9am and 5pm on June 1st and 2nd to help amend, update, and extend the existing Library Carpentry lessons. You can stay as long as you want, whether it be two hours or two days.

Besides improving already existing Library Carpentry lessons, this sprint will also focus on getting draft lessons for SQL, Python, web scraping, and other topics into final shape for launch. Participants can contribute code or content; proofread writing, visual design, and graphic art; do QA (quality assurance) testing on prototype tools or apps; or advise or comment on project ideas or plans. All skill levels are welcome—and needed—as there are many ways to participate. Basically, we want you to bring your own unique perspective to the Library Carpentry lessons.

If you are interested in participating, all the details for the UC Berkeley Library Carpentry event can be found here, and you can sign up on the Library Carpentry Sprint Etherpad, which can be found here. Towards the of the Etherpad you will find the UC Berkeley location. Just add your name under that location, and show up during the sprint.

Hope to see you there!


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

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