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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 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

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

Hag-Seed

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!

Summer Reading: Nonsense

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!

June is Pride Month

SF Pride - June 24-25, 2017

#SFpride #summerOfLove50 #resist

Since 1970, Pride celebrates the resistance of the Stonewall Uprising of June 28,1969 and the struggle for human rights for all. Pride Month hasn’t been officially declared by the current president, but fortunately that won’t stop the celebration, or the resistance. If you’re looking for a good GLBTQIA movie or documentary — to learn, laugh or cry — Kanopy has almost 400 streaming videos on the diverse array of queer related themes, available to anyone on campus or to UCB via proxy or VPN. And of course we have lots of books, journals and databases as well!

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!

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An exciting new resource for Berkeley scholars! t.co/SIqimadVkL

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Libraries are "beginning to serve as bridges between different departments and disciplines, so an English student... t.co/D0K2ZffJ41

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Sharing knowledge is our goal here at the UC Berkeley Library. Check out our spaces and the students and staff... t.co/8DEHvKqt0W

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Check out this video tour of our Hargrove Music Library! t.co/2Xo36E5dCA

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What do you love about UC Berkeley libraries? During Cal Day, we asked prospective students, community members,... t.co/yj64oR0sFM