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Summer Reading: Making Sense of Science

Making Sense of Science

Making Sense of Science: Separating Substance from Spin
Cornelia Dean
Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2017

Cornelia Dean was a New York Times science writer for over thirty years and is currently a writer-in-residence at Brown University. Given her excellent previous work, I have every confidence that her new book, Making Sense of Science, will be well written and informative. The book is targeted for non-scientists who seek the background needed to evaluate scientific claims. Books like Dean’s are especially timely because of the anti-science climate that now reigns in Washington.

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

Summer Reading: Paying the Price

Paying the Price

Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dream
Sara Goldrick-Rab
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016

Goldrick-Rab conducted this study of thousands of young people to understand the obstacles they face in completing a degree whether at a two-year or four-year college. She discovered what you probably already know. Young people from middle class and low income families alike confront many challenges just to get an education: rising tuition and fees; the high cost of living (rent, food, gas, books, etc); a complicated and insufficient Federal aid program; difficulties finding flexible work that allows students to pay for and stay in school full time. Politicians will tell you that they worked their way through college and so should you. But, only a generation ago, theirs was a very different world in which hard work and determination got you a degree. Implementing policies that will make college affordable for all can happen. But first, we as a society must agree that a college education is a right for all and not just a privilege for those who can afford it.

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

Remembering Playwright Sam Shepard

Today we remember Sam Shepard, who passed away this past Thursday due to complications from Lou Gehrig’s disease. Shepard left behind a rich legacy as a major American playwright, best known for True West, Fool for Love, and Buried Child, for which he won the Pulitzer in 1979. Part of the post-World War II generation, Shepard wrote bare-bones, atmospheric plays with surreal elements and dark humor, exploring American mythologies, dysfunctional families, and outsider heroes. Known in his youth as Steve Rogers (no relation to Captain America, we think!), Shepard was born in 1943 and lived in many different places before his family settled down in California. After a productive sprint in New York City’s Off-Off-Broadway scene, Shepard returned to San Francisco’s avant-garde Magic Theatre (started by a UC Berkeley graduate student), where he succeeded Michael McClure as Playwright in Residence. You can see Shepard onscreen, too: he acted in several films and appeared most recently in Netflix’s Bloodline.

Explore More:
Browse the Library’s Sam Shepard collection
Find criticism and biography
Explore related Bancroft holdings, including records from the Magic Theatre

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Summer Reading: Our Kids

Our Kids

Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis
Robert D. Putnam
New York: Simon & Schuster, 2015

Can we reduce inequality and improve the lives of America’s youth in a generation? This book, an exploration of inequality in the lives of American children, may be a cautionary tale in its sobering portrait of what happened in the author’s own lifetime. Robert Putnam grew up in the Midwest in the 1950s and most of the kids in his hometown took advantage of all that the American dream had to offer and went on to live better than their parents. As he and his researchers studied working families all across the country, what they observed was increased separation between those with a college education and those without. Educated families have more stable jobs, parent differently, and live in vastly different neighborhoods, all of which adds up to greater advantages and more opportunities for their children. Of course, health problems, divorce, and other life traumas do not discriminate by class but upper middle class families have more resources and more social capital to draw on and a bigger cushion to protect them when they hit a rough patch.

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

On View Now: The Summer of Love, from the Collections of The Bancroft Library

Marking the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, an exhibit in the corridor between Doe Library and The Bancroft Library features Bancroft’s rare and unique collections documenting the world-famous Bay Area counterculture of 1967.

Black and white photo of a crowd in Golden Gate Park watching a rock band on stage, with a "Love" banner among crowd.
[Unidentified band on stage, Summer Solstice, Golden Gate Park, June 21, 1967] Ted Streshinsky, photographer (BANC PIC 2004.132 M686-5, frame 34. Further reproduction prohibited: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/libraries/bancroft-library/rights-and-permissions)
Presented are images from the Bay Area alternative press, psychedelic rock posters and mailers, documentary photographs of the Haight-Ashbury scene and major rock concerts, material from the papers of poet Michael McClure, and text from Joan Didion’s “Slouching Towards Bethlehem,” drawn from her papers and paired, for the first time since publication in the Saturday Evening Post, with photographs taken to accompany her essay.

A young hippie woman with feathers that look like antlers, in day glow face paint, Avalon Ballroom, 1967] Ted Streshinsky, photographer.
[A young hippie woman with feathers that look like antlers, in day glow face paint, Avalon Ballroom, 1967]  Ted Streshinsky, photographer. (BANC PIC 2004.132–LAN, box 14, file 258. Further reproduction prohibited: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/libraries/bancroft-library/rights-and-permissions)
Photographs by Ted Streshinsky, Michelle Vignes, Larry Keenan, and Stephen Shames are featured, as well as psychedelic art by Wilfried Sätty, Wes Wilson, Victor Moscoso, Rick Griffin, Alton Kelley, Stanley “Mouse” Miller, Lee Conklin, Bonnie MacLean, David Singer, and others. Publications and leaflets of the Underground Press Syndicate are also highlighted, with examples such as the Berkeley Barb, the Oracle, and the Communication Company as well as fliers from the Sexual Freedom League.

Psychedelic poster with spiral in blue and red.
Turn on Your Mind: Relax and Float Down Stream. Poster art by Wilfried Sätty. (Henri Lenoir pictorial collection, BANC PIC 2004.158–D, folder 5. Further reproduction prohibited: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/libraries/bancroft-library/rights-and-permissions )

This exhibit, prepared by Chris McDonald and James Eason of the Bancroft Library Pictorial Unit will be on view through Fall 2017.


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: 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!

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