Summer Reading: “46 Books by Women of Color to Read in 2018”

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“46 Books by Women of Color to Read in 2018”
R.O. Kwon
Electric Literature, Dec. 26, 2017

At the end of last year, the novelist R.O. Kwon put together this excellent list of books by women of color that were slated to be published in 2018. It includes all sorts of writers I regularly try to draw inspiration and perspective from. In her headnote that precedes the list, Kwon urges us: “Let’s read more broadly; let’s try inhabiting one another’s wildly varied, entirely human points of view.”

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


Summer reading: Stealing Buddha’s Dinner

Stealing Buddha's Dinner book cover

Stealing Buddha’s Dinner
Bich Minh Nguyen

One of the first images Nguyen relates in her memoir, Stealing Buddha’s Dinner, is of her being mesmerized by the daughter of her host family, Heather Heidenga, reaching into a canister of Pringles and shoving a handful into her mouth.

This “American” memory is the start to the story of her family’s immigration from Vietnam to Michigan in 1975 and her desire to fit into her white suburban community. Instead of her grandmother’s traditional Vietnamese dishes, or her Mexican-American stepmother’s lack of interest in cooking, she longs for Toll House cookies made by Jennifer Vander Wal’s mother, or Mrs. Jansen’s blueberry muffins, made with Jiffy mix. Her imagination carries her into her books she is so fond of reading, eating salt pork (or bacon in her case) just like Laura in Little House on the Prairie, or connecting with Ramona Quimby, who also had to eat boring snacks and resented her blond, pretty neighbor.

Through this coming of age story, we can relate to Nguyen’s struggle with being an outsider. But through her memories, it is her uniqueness that ultimately defines her identity, and her voice is found in this otherness that we all too often try to avoid.

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


FSM Café Event: Elephant’s Dream

Elephant's Dream
ELEPHANT’S DREAM
A film by Kristof Bilsen
Followed by discussion with the director/producer
Doe Library, Room 180 UC Berkeley
Monday, April 16, 2018 6-8p.m.

Set in war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Elephant’s Dream is a breathtaking documentary that captures the daily lives of Congolese street-level civil servants in Kinshasa and Bas-Congo. Kristof Bilsen’s documentary is a long overdue testimony to the courage of the men and women who, against all odds, continue to build society and resilience.

Neglected by conventional portrayals of this vast country nested at the heart of sub-Saharan Africa, these stories reveal the complexities, ambiguities, and challenges of living in a postcolonial nation marked by widespread conflict, political crises and economic collapse. Taking Henriette, the post office counter clerk, Simon, the train station officer and Lieutenant, the chief fire fighter out of international oblivion, this documentary successfully achieves the feat of taking its viewers far beyond the habitual clichés and into the tough path of a self-reflexive voyage.

This event is free, open to the public, and all are invited to participate. For more information: contact fsmprograms@lists.berkeley.edu

Sponsored by the University Library’s Free Speech Movement (FSM) Educational Programs Committee, the UC Berkeley Department of Geography, and the UC Berkeley Center for African Studies.

The Library attempts to offer programs in accessible, barrier-free settings. If you think you may require disability-related accommodations, please contact us — ideally at least two weeks prior to the event: fsmprograms@lists.berkeley.edu, 510-768-7618.


April 5: Lunch Poems featuring Matthew Zapruder

Matthew Zapruder

Thursday, April 5
12:10 p.m. – 12:50 p.m.
Morrison Library in Doe Library
Admission Free

Matthew Zapruder is the author most recently of Sun Bear and Why Poetry, a book of prose about poetry. An Associate Professor in the MFA program at Saint Mary’s College of California, he is also Editor at Large at Wave Books, and from 2016-7 was Editor of the Poetry Column for the New York Times Magazine. He lives in Oakland, CA.


April Library Tours

Library Tours

Every Monday and Friday in April
1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

April is a month when students and families visit campus, trying to decide if Cal will be their future home. If you are are visiting campus, you are encouraged to come see the the Library.

Tours of the historic Doe Library, underground Main stacks, and newly renovated Moffitt Undergraduate Library are given every Monday and Friday in April. They start on the north steps of the Doe Library. You are encouraged to sign up using this form as space is limited.


March 10 FSM event: Free Speech, Civility, and Democratic Engagement

Free Speech, Civility, and Democratic Engagement

Free Speech Movement Café
Moffitt Library
UC Berkeley
Saturday, March 10, 2018 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Presented by the Class of ’68 and the Center on Civility and Democratic Engagement at the Goldman School of Public Policy

“CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?”
Breaching ideological echo chambers and the role of civility. A unique opportunity for students and the Cal community to engage in small group discussions with members of the Class of ’68.

10:00 a.m. Breakfast — alumni and students gather
10:25 a.m. Welcome and introductions
10:40 a.m. CENTER ON CIVILITY AND DEMOCRATIC ENGAGEMENT

  • Goldman School of Public Policy, Dean Henry Brady
  • Mission and activities of the Center,
  • Dan Lindheim ’68, faculty director; Larry Rosenthal, program director
11:30 a.m. STUDENT AND ALUMNI ENGAGEMENT

  • Small Group Discussion: Breaching ideological echo chambers and the role of civility
12:20 p.m. CENTER SPONSORED STUDENTS IN ACTION

  • Undergraduate student Viviana Morales ’18, UCDC internship
  • Goldman School of Public Policy graduate student Rawan Elhalaby, Advanced Policy Analysis Project
12:50 p.m. Class of ’68 5oth reunion and Class of ’18 involvement
Wrap-up
1:00 p.m. Adjourn

This event is free, open to the public, and all are invited to participate. Sponsored by the University Library’s Free Speech Movement (FSM) Café

Programs Committee. For more information: contact fsmprograms@lists.berkeley.edu.

The Library attempts to o er programs in accessible, barrier-free settings. If you think you may require disability-related accommodations, please contact us prior to the event: fsmprograms@lists.berkeley.edu, 510-768-7618.


Movies @ Moffitt: Anthropocene

Anthropocene

Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Doors @ 6:30pm, show @ 7:00pm
405 Moffitt Library
Free; open to UCB students only (UCB student ID required)

A Working Group of international scientists is deciding whether to declare a new geological epoch — the Anthropocene — with the Earth shaped more by mankind than nature. Its members tell the story of the Anthropocene and argue whether it’s a tragedy, a comedy, or something more surreal. With archival footage, award-winning stills and interviews, [the film] proposes a common secular narrative for mankind but leaves viewers to decide how we should write the ending.

View the trailer and visit the website.


UC Berkeley students get free Lynda.com subscriptions, thanks to Library grant

Staff at computer
Chris O’Dea, a manager for the School of Journalism’s Production Lab, talks about the benefits of students having access to online tutorials through Lynda.com on Feb. 6, 2018. (Photos by Jami Smith for the University Library)

Not long ago, the coolest perks for UC Berkeley students were probably free bus rides and gym memberships.

But now, students also have free access to a world of classes outside of the UC Berkeley campus through the online learning platform Lynda.com. As of last month, all students have premium memberships to the website, which hosts nearly 6,500 courses on topics ranging from web design and programming to media production and creative skills.

The campus-wide Lynda.com availability began as a joint effort by campus and Library staff members who, a few years ago, recognized the lack of resources available to students responsible for navigating and ultimately leading in an increasingly digital world.

One early champion of Lynda.com was Chris O’Dea, the production manager at the campus’s Graduate School of Journalism who heads technical instruction.

The J-School, O’Dea said, has cages full of technical equipment that students must quickly master, on top of the suite of editing software needed for multimedia journalism. Lynda.com offers full tutorials for the Adobe suite, used extensively at the J-School. The site also has introductory classes on computer coding, which are invaluable for journalism students learning data visualization, O’Dea said.

“We are the smallest professional school on campus, but we have some of the biggest technical needs,” said O’Dea, who has used Lynda.com for the past 10 years. The learning curve can be overwhelming for students, O’Dea said, and tools such as Lynda.com can be important buffers for the rocky road. Previously, the J-School had purchased individual subscriptions.

On the site, which is owned by LinkedIn, courses are taught by experts in the field — including Berkeley faculty members — and come with downloadable exercise files for users to work alongside the instructor. There is also a transcript of each lesson below the video, and corresponding text is highlighted as the instructor speaks.

Portrait of Chris O'Dea
O’Dea was part of the team who helped get Berkeley students free access to Lynda.com.

That interface is key for the Berkeley campus, which has a large international student body, O’Dea said.

“(Having the words) is pivotal when you’re trying to learn something,” he said.

In the search menu, courses can be filtered by skill level, duration, instructor, and subject. And because the lessons are fully transcribed, users can scan entire courses for particular words and skip to the sections they need.

“There’s really nothing to compare it to,” O’Dea said. “If I’m on YouTube, I could waste an hour on one topic, easily. There’s a million YouTube videos out there, and some of them are decent, and some of them are garbage.”

Three years ago, O’Dea approached campus administrators about getting Lynda.com for students. O’Dea was so passionate, in fact, that the campus thought he was trying to sell them something.

“They thought I was from Lynda.com,” O’Dea said, smiling. “They scheduled an appointment, … and I sat down and was like, ‘No, I work for you guys.’”

The campus gave O’Dea a job: to rally support from other departments and gauge how the platform could benefit other schools and centers on campus.

O’Dea started with the Library — which, incidentally, had similar efforts underway.

Cody Hennesy
E-Learning and Information Studies Librarian Cody Hennesy wrote a proposal for Lynda.com student subscriptions. (Photo by Alejandro Serrano for the University Library)

According to Cody Hennesy, the campus’s e-learning and information studies librarian, the Library had conducted a survey of students to learn what their technological needs were and which of them were not being met by the campus.

Using that information, along with discussions with O’Dea and others, Hennesy wrote a proposal for Lynda.com student subscriptions and offered it to the Student Technology Fund, which makes recommendations to the chancellor’s office on how to allocate funds for technology projects.

“We wanted to help students create media on their own — to be more empowered to create multimedia presentations, videos, and podcasts,” Hennesy said. “But that’s not something we have the capacity to teach. So this fills that need.”

Students can find recommended Lynda.com courses for UC Berkeley students on the website for the Library’s Level Up initiative, which aims to strengthen student’s digital literacy and technical skills. 

The voting members on the Student Technology Fund Committee (STFC) are mostly students. The STFC recommended $63,750 for a two-year pilot program, said Aneesh Chimbili, a program associate at the Student Technology Fund who helped provide a student perspective to the committee.

The STFC may decide to continue funding the subscriptions after two years if the Library can show data that enough students have used and benefited from the platform, said Aayush Patel, also a program associate at the Student Technology Fund.

For Chimbili and Patel, who are both students, the great benefit of Lynda.com is that it widens the range of disciplines that students have access to in a traditional course load. Aside from software and technical skills, the site also has classes on business strategy, marketing, and leadership.

“I’m a computer science major,” said Chimbili. “But if I want to learn more about entrepreneurship or business, and I don’t have the ability to get into those Haas classes, now I can, as a student of UC Berkeley, freely access a platform that has courses specifically for that content.”

Of course, Lynda.com does not supercede professorship, O’Dea said; nothing can replace the sense of inspiration and guidance born in a real classroom. But it can certainly complement the academic experience, and the challenge now will be for campus instructors to figure out how to integrate the learning platform into their classes.

For now, the J-School wants to use Lynda.com as kind of homework, where professors might assign a 15-minute video on editing software to a student and have them come in the next day to work on a shared piece.

“If you give everybody access to Lynda.com and you don’t give them any kind of chaperoning, it’s just going to go to waste,” O’Dea said. “It’s really important for the professor and the faculty to incorporate it into their class and have a reason and way to use it.”

“This — properly harnessed — can only add benefit in a classroom,” he said.


Library celebrates donors with exclusive exhibit at Music Library

John Shepard and a crowd of people
John Shepard, Curator of Music Collections, third from left, talks about a rare collection of books during a luncheon for the Library Legacy Circle at the Music Library on Feb. 10, 2018. (Photos by Cade Johnson for the University Library)

At a special viewing of rare musical materials, the message to the audience was clear: We could not have done this without you.

Gathered around an impressive display in the Jean Gray Hargrove Music Library was the Library Legacy Circle of The Benjamin Ide Wheeler Society, a group of donors who have remembered the Library in their bequest plans.

This was the first such event for the Legacy Circle, and the Library plans to continue the tradition annually — unearthing gems from each of the campus’s 25 libraries.

After a tour of the Music Library, John Shepard, curator of music collections, showed the group treasures he had selected from the collection and described their unique story. Among the gems were an original manuscript of Ludwig van Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 6, scribbled in his own hand; a theory book on Gregorian chant music from 1375; Jacopo Peri’s La Dafne d’Ottavio Rinuccini, recognized as the world’s first opera; and first editions of George Frideric Handel’s coronation odes, which have been performed at every English coronation ceremony since that of King George III. The Library has several first editions of Handel pieces, which regularly attract musicologists and Handel experts to the campus, Shepard said.

The Music Library has eight substantial endowments, which allow Shepard to chase and collect unique materials.

donors look at books
Donors view one of the Music Library’s rare collections at the luncheon.

“I can’t tell you what a joy it is to be able to build on our collection’s strengths,” Shepard said. “There are names of alumni on these endowments, and this,” he said, motioning to the items on the table, “could not have happened without their support.”

Before the viewing, University Librarian Jeffrey MacKie-Mason thanked donors for their support and described recent developments and efforts underway at the Library — including the Level Up initiative on digital literacy, and the Digital Lifecycle Program, which makes rare collections more accessible to scholars worldwide.

“We’d like to make all of those (resources) available online right now, so that all of you, and every K-12 student in California, and on the planet, can access our special, rare historical collections anytime, anywhere,” MacKie-Mason told the group. The Library has 60 million items not yet online, he said. Meanwhile, state funding per student continues to decline, and it is increasingly difficult for campus departments to stay afloat. Only 14 percent of the campus budget comes from the state; the remainder is pulled from tuition and donors.

Librarian speaks
Jeffrey MacKie-Mason, University Librarian, center, welcomes donors to the Library Legacy Circle luncheon at the Music Library on Feb. 10, 2018.

“This isn’t just for the Library — it’s for the whole university,” said Sheryl Wong, a Legacy Circle member and longtime Library Board member. “It is not going to survive without philanthropy.”

Wong’s parents met when they were students at Cal. During her father’s junior year, he received a scholarship that let him stay in college — and gave a shy kid a reason to ask Sheryl’s mother out on a date.

“My mom was very popular,” Wong said, laughing. “My dad knew her, but he was a nerd, an engineering student — he would never have asked her for a date.

“But he walked up to her and said, ‘I just got some really good news. I have a little bit of money, would you like to go to lunch with me?’ And she said yes. And that’s why I’m here.”

After her father died, Wong helped her mother endow a scholarship in her parents’ name.

Closing his remarks, MacKie-Mason gave one last thank you on behalf of the Library for the Legacy Circle’s perennial support.

“It’s because of people like you that we have a bright future,” he said.

Donors chat in Music Library
Left to right: Dr.​ ​Victor W. Willits ’62, Ed.D. ’68, Col.​ ​Don E. Kosovac ’58, ​and ​Mark W. Jordan J.D. ’66 chat at the event.

March 1: Lunch Poems featuring Rosa Alcalá

Rosa Alcalá

Thursday, March 1
12:10 p.m. – 12:50 p.m.
Morrison Library in Doe Library
Admission Free

Born and raised in Paterson, NJ, Rosa Alcalá is the author of three books of poetry, most recently MyOTHER TONGUE. Her poetry also appears in a number of anthologies, including Stephen Burt’s The Poem is You: 60 Contemporary American Poems and How to Read Them. The recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowship, her translations are featured in the forthcoming Cecilia Vicuña: New & Selected Poems. Alcalá teaches in the Department of Creative Writing and Bilingual MFA Program at the University of Texas-El Paso.