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Summer Reading: Disposable People

Disposable People

Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy
Kevin Bales
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004

If you knew nothing about modern day slavery, you might think that a writer investigating the subject would need to go to extraordinary lengths to find any human beings still living as chattel slaves in the Twenty-First Century. Maybe put on a disguise and infiltrate a remote compound, far from the reach of any civil authority. That’s what I thought before I read Kevin Bales’ book, Disposable People. What I learned, though, is that modern day slave economies operate openly, all over the world, and that as many as 25 million people in the world–right now, today–live in slavery.

Modern day slaves might be farmers, miners, brick makers, or textile workers. They might live in India, Pakistan, Thailand, Mauritania, or Brazil. They are part of the global economy, and the products of their labor can be found all over the world, maybe even in your own home.

Bales, though, doesn’t just set out to horrify the reader with the scope and reach of modern day slavery. He also provides, in the book’s last two chapters, suggestions for actions that concerned citizens–and consumers–can take to help eradicate slavery from our world.

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

Library launches new Scholarly Communications website

Screenshot of the scholarly communications websiteThe Library’s scholarly communication program, the Office of Scholarly Communication Services, has launched an informative and practical new website to support UC Berkeley researchers with scholarly publishing needs.

The website is just one offering in our program’s suite of services to help scholars use, create, and publish scholarship in ways that promote its dissemination, accessibility, and impact.

“Our goal is to help scholars navigate the complex, changing scholarly publishing and intellectual property landscape,” explains Jo Anne Newyear-Ramirez, assistant university librarian for scholarly resources. “The scholarly communication program and this new web resource aid scholars of this campus and beyond, and will enable them to more effectively realize their academic pursuits.”

The UC System performs nearly one-tenth of all the academic research and development conducted in the United States, and produces approximately one-twelfth of all U.S. research publications. A scholarly communication program that works to bring added visibility and support for UC Berkeley research and publishing can have tremendous global impact, and help the Library achieve its strategic goal of transforming national and international policies and practices in scholarly publishing.

Rachael Samberg

The Library’s Office of Scholarly Communication Services, led by Rachael Samberg, offers workshops and support to assist the UC Berkeley community. (Photo by Yasmina Anwar for the University Library)

On the program’s new website, scholars will find guidance and resources that address the broad spectrum of researchers’ scholarly publishing needs. Rachael Samberg, the Library’s scholarly communication officer, designed action-oriented materials based on the needs of Berkeley scholars and campus partners.

“Our scholarly communication program adopts pragmatic, workflow-based approaches for assisting researchers,” says Samberg. “We’ve created robust guidance that scholars can implement directly, or use as a springboard for seeking personalized support.”

The site offers information and tools to assist with:

The site also explores the realities of the economic landscape for scholarly publishing, and will increasingly detail what the Library is doing to address them.

The campus community can reach out to the Library’s Office of Scholarly Communication Services for:

  •      Individual assistance and consultations
  •      Customized support by department and discipline
  •      In-class and online instruction
  •      Presentations and workshops for small or large groups & classes
  •      Online guidance and resources

If you would like more assistance regarding the topics and services described on the site, please contact the team at schol-comm@berkeley.edu. We are eager to help you with your scholarship!

Library awarded grant to increase access to born-digital documents

Doe Library

The Doe Memorial Library (Photograph by Alejandro Serrano for the University Library)

A research grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services will give research libraries, such as the University Library at UC Berkeley, the ability to analyze digital collections in new ways. The Library, in partnership with eight other academic libraries across the country, will evaluate how best to provide users with computational access to special collections having constraints due to sensitivity or access restrictions.

As the volume of digital content has expanded exponentially over the past several years, researchers and educators have recognized the potential of big data techniques to analyze, access, and organize digital scholarly collections. This grant will allow research libraries to employ a tool called Data Capsule to give users computational access to restricted content.

Data Capsule was developed for study of content in HathiTrust Digital Library, where the tool is used for non-consumptive analytics. Non-consumptive analytics allows the computer to analyze the text, but doesn’t allow the user to read or disseminate copyrighted content. At Berkeley, this will enhance scholars’ research options through improved text extraction, textual analysis and information extraction, linguistic analysis, automated translation, image analysis, file manipulation, optical character recognition correction, and indexing and search capabilities.

“The UC Berkeley Library has numerous archives that would benefit from access within the Data Capsule service,” says Erik Mitchell, associate university librarian for digital initiatives and collaborative services. “Some of these collections are restricted by US copyright law and other restrictions. This type of research environment will be transformative for us.”

The two-year, $360,000 grant will be carried out under the encompassing framework of Participatory Design and involve funded partners at UC Berkeley, the University of Illinois, and the University of Virginia, plus engaged partners at Lafayette College, MIT, Rutgers University, Swarthmore College, and UCLA.

Library featured in The Mercury News

Writable glass wall in the Moffitt Library

Writeable glass walls are used by students in the newly-reimagined Moffitt Library. (Photo by Cade Johnson for the University Library)

This week, an article in The Mercury News outlines the changes afoot in Bay Area university libraries, including those here at UC Berkeley. It describes recent updates to Moffitt Library, including writeable glass walls, moveable furniture, and napping pods, and identifies “the changes that aren’t as flashy and easy to spot.”

“Libraries are helping students, faculty and staff navigate an increasingly complicated digital world,” the article explains.

Other less-visible developments include the many new services offered by librarians.

“As textbook costs soar, librarians are helping professors design courses around open source material,” the article continues. “They’re also beginning to serve as bridges between different departments and disciplines, so an English student reading Jane Austen can learn the data and mapping skills to, say, plot and analyze the places she mentions in a particular book.”

Summer Reading: Tomatoland


Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit
Barry Estabrook
Kansas City: Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2011

Estabrook’s book brings to light the costs of growing tomatoes in Florida, in terms of both environmental and labor practices. As an example of the new “politics of food” movement, it is an especially accessible account of the deep and troubling backstory behind the mainstream American diet.

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

California magazine: Five questions for University Librarian Jeffrey MacKie-Mason

Jeff MacKie-Mason

UC Berkeley University Librarian Jeffrey MacKie-Mason. (Photo by Max Whittaker for the University Library)

“Most of the world’s scholarly, high-quality, knowledge-rich information is not freely available on the Internet,” explains University Librarian Jeffrey MacKie-Mason in a recent interview with California, the UC Berkeley Alumni Association magazine. “You might be able to find it via Google, but you’ll have to pay for it. At Berkeley, we spend $20 million a year to purchase or license information resources that are not freely available: Our students and faculty couldn’t do that themselves!”

In the California interview, MacKie-Mason discusses how the Library’s growing collection of electronic resources enhances the enormous print collections, and reiterates the importance of the Library as an essential provider of knowledge and information in the Internet age.

The Library’s commitment to increasing information literacy is also on display: in response to a question about the proliferation of “fake news,” MacKie-Mason describes the importance of learning to “evaluate and discern information quality” in an environment where the historical barriers to publishing have been eliminated.

Read the full interview.

Summer Reading: Native Speaker

Native Speaker

Native Speaker
Chang-rae Lee
New York: Riverhead Books, 1995

Chang-rae Lee’s beautifully written first novel, Native Speaker, follows the life of Henry Park—born on an airplane ride en route from Korea to the United States. Set in New York City, this unconventional spy novel chronicles Henry’s astute, methodical observations of the people in his life and the languages they speak. Henry’s assignment to spy on a Korean-American candidate for mayor pushes Henry to ask difficult questions about his own identity and immigrant politics. Lee explores race and relationships, alienation and assimilation, morality and personal gain, the personal and public—revealing the complexities of what it means to be first-generation American.

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

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!

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