Summer reading: How Starbucks Saved My Life

Book cover for how starbucks saved my lifeHow Starbucks Saved My Life
Michael Gates Gill

Don’t be fooled by its joking title. How Starbucks Changed My Life is an engaging memoir from Michael Gates Gill, the son of famed New Yorker writer Brendan Gill, who grew up in a mansion of 30-plus rooms, and who encountered many of the glamourous people and literati of his time in his youth: e.g., Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, Jackie Kennedy. He eventually became an artistic director at the J. Walter Thompson Advertising Agency. He had a good career there until it was deemed that, in his mid-60’s, he was too old and was fired. Divorced, diagnosed with a brain tumor, he ended up living in an attic apartment, desperate for employment that offered health insurance. By pure coincidence, he was hired at a Starbucks located in a “bad” part of town.

He progressed from cleaning the bathroom to becoming a barista, along the way learning to respect, and befriend, youth from a lower-income social strata that he normally would have crossed the street to avoid during his time as an advertising executive. One of these young people was a fierce-looking ex-gang member who protected Gill one night when he was threatened by a customer who refused to leave at closing and pulled out a knife. After working at Starbucks, Gill would conclude that he preferred the company of the staff there to the corporate executives he used to interact with while at J. Walter Thompson. This is a compelling, enlightening narrative about How a Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else that puts a human face, and experience, to what is essentially a scathing critique of socio-economic class differences.

Enrollment Manager
College Writing Programs

This book is part of the 2022 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!

Orienting Os Lusíadas @ 450

Lusíadas collage

This online bibliography brings together resources and scholarship to mark the 450th anniversary of the publication of The Lusiads (Os Lusíadas), the magnum opus of Luís Vaz de Camões (c. 1524/5–1580), an epic that “sings” the story of Portugal’s colonial expansion. Long revered as the most important work in the Portuguese language, it draws inspiration from Greco-Roman epics such as Virgil’s Aeneid and Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey as well as Persian and Hindu mythology. The ten cantos which structure the long narrative poem are in ottava rima and total 1,102 stanzas.

The Lusiads form a key pillar of an entire mythos constructed around nostalgia for the empire, though one that has received increasing critical attention in scholarly and political circles alike. Anthony Soares, for example, highlights the material and bodily violences that lie behind discursive elements of the text’s poetic cantos. Other scholars have traced the Persian and Indian lyric influences in the text (notably Hāfiz and Omar Khayyam), interpreting the national epic against itself. Some have even identified critiques of Empire, as well as satirical treatments of etymologies and ancestral pretenses, within the text itself, calling into question the poet’s own consent for his work to be interpreted as the uncritical pro-imperialist national epic, par excellence. As 2022 marks the 450th anniversary of its publication, new scholarship (see Camões at Harvard: Navigating 450 years of Os Lusíadas) will continue to critically resituate The Lusiads both in its historical moment and in Portuguese and global literature today.

We hope you make use of this bibliography which highlights resources in UC Berkeley’s distinguished Portuguese collection but also which provides access to open and freely available sources online.

Cameron Flynn
Ph.D. student, Romance Languages and Literatures

Claude Potts
Librarian for Romance Languages Collections

Undergraduate Library Fellowship Showcase

The Undergraduate Library Fellowship is a cohort driven program that promotes peer-to-peer learning and mentorship opportunities with the shared goal of improving Berkeley Library services and spaces. Fellows foster connections between the Library’s ecosystem and undergraduate communities by prototyping creative solutions to Library problems. This year, the fellows collaborated in two teams of four, each focused on a certain type of service offered by the Library: Making and Research. 

Learn more about their projects by watching their showcase video:

Fellows also reflected on their experiences this year through blog posts. Many of the fellows noted personal growth in collaboration, empathy, receiving and incorporating feedback, and understanding new perspectives. A summary of their reflections is below:

The Making Fellows designed and hosted a workshop to help students discover the Makerspace. Alysa Liu described the Making Team’s process in detail in her post, “we set up stations that featured a specific tool in the Makerspace that they can use to customize their tote bag […] It was really rewarding getting to speak with actual students that were both interested and amazed by the Makerspace since it was completely free and open for any student to use.”Making Fellow Maura Adela Cruz summarized her experience in her post, “[The Fellowship] helped me apply the lesson to observe, empathize, and question, as was discussed in our Makerspace team meetings.” Through her time as a Fellow, Maura’s teammate Chloe Chu learned to embrace the spirit of the Makerspace, writing, “at some point, we reminded ourselves that this process was meant to be messy. It is okay to fail. That is the purpose of iteration.” Christina Park also learned a lesson about iteration, “the feedback at the ULF showcase was a small example of how feedback would be used in a positive, constructive way throughout the fellowship that expanded on any ideas that we brought to the mentors or the research team. This was a valuable part of the process and helped improve the quality and depth of our project.”

 Research Fellows iterated on service project ideas, settling on a survey for Student Library Employees in order to better understand the types of questions that students are comfortable asking to their peers. Returning fellow Katherine Chen wrote about the experience of collaborating with her teammates, “working together with the team on our pitch idea was one of the most gratifying experiences of the fellowship for me. I came in with ideas of my own, and when they were introduced to my team members, the ideas were refined and iterated to be even better.” Her teammate Sofia Hernandez reflected that “being open to change and feedback helped our group’s deliverable in the long run” and also helped her to develop her resilience. Margaret Asperheim reflected on the design thinking process, writing that “over the course of this fellowship, I learned that making resources isn’t enough; you have to engage with students to really improve research skills, something that I believe will make a noticeable difference in the way students relate to the library.”  

Christina Park cogently summarized the fellowship experience, writing, “ULF emphasizes teamwork, creative thinking, and communication… I think the fellowship was a genuine two-way collaboration between the mentors and the fellows.”

Changed Plans: Focusing Efforts Where They Matter

By Margaret Asperheim, ’22

At the beginning of the Library Fellowship in August, I remember feeling simultaneously excited and unprepared. The Berkeley library system is huge and complicated, as is its system of research resources; how exactly were we going to improve undergraduate research abilities given that all of the resources students could possibly need already existed? Over the course of this year, the Research Team — Katherine, Sofia, Jessica and I — set out to do just that. 

When we started brainstorming the ways in which we could improve library resources, we found that we were all in agreement about one thing: we didn’t need to create a new library guide or instructional video. Those resources already exist: the problem is finding them. We quickly latched on to the phrase “point of entry” as a way to describe what we felt students were lacking: not the resources themselves, but the motivation, inclination and know-how to discover them. 

So we had a goal. Now, what we needed was a plan. How could we shift students’ ideas of the library from mysterious and overwhelming to approachable and friendly? Further, how could we do it in one semester? We ended up pivoting our proposal several times, from a short, accessible guide to research resources (rejected because it violated our previous stance that enough resources already existed), to a new student research help desk position (way more work than could have been achieved in a semester), to a curriculum for a hypothetical research help desk employee (still too much work), to finally a survey of current student library employees and their opinions about research. We realized that most of our plans featured student peers as a point of entry, and so we decided to take stock of the most obvious student library peers: the circulation desk workers. If undergraduates felt comfortable asking student library workers for help — and if student library workers felt confident giving research advice — we figured that library resources would become much more accessible. 

In our survey of student library workers, we included the following questions: do you think you are adequately trained to answer patrons’ research questions? What existing UC Library research resources are you currently aware of? Would receiving training related to conducting/assisting students with library research be beneficial to you as a library student worker? And what library research skills would you like to learn more about? When my fellowship team conducted a survey of current student library workers, we found that 82% of respondents would like to learn more about finding and evaluating sources. Another 64% of respondents mentioned that receiving library research training would be beneficial to them as student library workers.

Over the course of this fellowship, I learned that making resources isn’t enough; you have to engage with students to really improve research skills, something that I believe will make a noticeable difference in the way students relate to the library. Further, because the library staff has limited resources, it makes sense to focus its energies on those resources that already do exist: namely, the student library employees. As a student library worker myself, I know that students feel comfortable asking questions at the desk, but library employee training is generally focused on things like shelving and scanning in books, not on assisting students with research. Overall, I learned how to focus my efforts where they will make the most difference, and not necessarily within my comfort zone. 

Graph showing the distribution of types of questions asked to SLEs

Summer reading: all about love: new visions

Book cover for all about loveall about love: new visions
bell hooks

All About Love offers radical new ways to think about love by showing its interconnectedness in our private and public lives. In eleven concise chapters, hooks explains how our everyday notions of what it means to give and receive love often fail us, and how these ideals are established in early childhood. She offers a rethinking of self-love (without narcissism) that will bring peace and compassion to our personal and professional lives, and asserts the place of love to end struggles between individuals, in communities, and among societies. Moving from the cultural to the intimate, hooks notes the ties between love and loss and challenges the prevailing notion that romantic love is the most important love of all.

Associate Professor, Evolutionary Physiology
Department of Integrative Biology

This book is part of the 2022 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!

Learning in the Makerspace

Alysa Liu, Undergraduate Library Fellow



by Alysa Liu ’24

I’m Alysa, one of the fellows that was on the Making Team working on increasing the accessibility of the Makerspace to more students at Berkeley. We wanted to focus specifically on people who identified as students of color, junior transfers, and nontraditional college students. Our deliverable for the end of the semester was a workshop held at the Doe Makerspace in which we brought students from these backgrounds here and taught them how to use some of the tools to customize their own tote bag. Additionally, we collected some key insights through a survey on how this workshop could inform future Makerspace outreach and workshop initiatives that are more accessible for students.

So, how did we get to our final deliverable in the first place? In the beginning of fall semester, my team and I, Maura, Christina and Chloe, first got together to do some user research. We wanted to see how people behaved organically in the Makerspace so we staked out at the first floor of Moffit and, through our observations, noticed that the women and students of color in general felt less comfortable in the space than other students. This informed our problem scope stated earlier: How might we increase the access to the Makerspace for students in marginalized communities?

In preparation for our event, which was going to be held in the newly relocated Doe Makerspace, I created a flyer to spread the word about it. Christina then made sure that it got to our target audiences by asking the Multicultural Community Center, Transfer Student Center, Disabled Students Program, and other similar organizations to include our event in their weekly newsletters. Our marketing brought in over 50 registrations which we were really excited about, but now we faced the problem of how to manage so many participants in the Makerspace at the same time. 

During the few minutes before the actual event, we set up stations that featured a specific tool in the Makerspace that they can use to customize their tote bag. All of us were either responsible for a station or worked on gathering survey responses. I personally helped people heat press vinyl-cut designs onto their tote bags. It was really rewarding getting to speak with actual students that were both interested and amazed by the Makerspace since it was completely free and open for any student to use. A lot of them wanted to come back again for future personal projects such as mending clothes, or 3D printing Cal memorabilia. 

Through the survey, I saw our qualitative observations become actualized into quantitative observations: over 75% of the people who came to the Makerspace that day had no idea it even existed, while the other 25% had only heard of it before, and everyone said that they would want to come back to keep exploring its services. We also gathered insight as to what times people would be most available to come to workshops, and learned a little bit about people’s general schedules. 

In the future, I think the Makerspace can definitely draw from the techniques we used to spread the word about this event to increase campus-wide awareness. I see this as an experiment that played with how we normally hold and spread the word about events at the Makerspace. I also see it as just the beginning of innovating and ideating on what being in the Makerspace at Berkeley will look like in the future. I’m very excited to delve deeper into how we might hold similar events like this to keep bringing new members into our community of Makers.

Chloe and Alysa standing by a whiteboard advertising their Making event.
Alysa and Chloe welcome students to the Open House.
Alysa shows a student how to use the heat press
Alysa shows a student how to use the heat press.

Reflecting on Resiliency: Researching Smarter, Not Harder

Photo of Sofia Hernandez, Undergraduate Library Fellow



by Sofia Hernandez ’24

During the beginning of the ULF program, all the way back in the beginning of the Fall semester, us fellows were asked to identify and reflect on a gift we believed we possessed and whether we thought we were living a life that honored said gift. Towards the end of my written reflection, I wrote:

“Being at Berkeley has been a difficult adjustment but has [also] proven that I can be resilient in the face of the unknown.”

Throughout my experience within the fellowship program and my overall undergraduate journey so far, resiliency has been a term that I’ve come to closely associate with myself. As a first generation Chicanx student, I’ve experienced first-hand how intimidating and unapproachable the world of academia can be. The obstacles brought forth by the pandemic–remote instruction and the uncertainty towards the future, for example–only further proved that entry points and accessibility are necessary for the success of undergrad students, especially those who have historically been excluded from access to the resources. Within the Research fellowship cohort, we identified this issue and dedicated our project towards serving the undergrad community in finding an entry point to library services through research support. 

Our group’s process in workshopping our service project proved to be a test of resiliency. As part of an initial landscape review of the existing research related services at Cal, I participated in a Research 101 workshop to get an overview of what students were learning about research. At this moment in time, our cohort had settled on the idea of creating an in-person peer-to-peer research event where us Research fellows would take alternating shifts throughout the day and provide support for students who were inquiring about research. After the Research 101 workshop, I stuck around to debrief with the mentors and was able to think about the big picture. Our initial idea was admittedly too ambitious considering our one-month time frame, and we hadn’t factored in the amount of preparation needed for the event beforehand which would have included intensive research-related training for the Research cohort to be prepared to answer any and all student questions. In sum, we had aimed for a goal beyond our possibilities unfortunately.

Through talking with the mentors, I was able to take a step back and reengage with our service project. Reimagining our proposed service project instead as a point of reference, I was able to better visualize and identify the steps necessary towards getting there. Being open to change and feedback helped our group’s deliverable in the long run. Instead of having the in-person service event running for this semester, we reasoned that we had a unique opportunity to begin planting the seeds for the future by identifying and capturing what sorts of questions students had regarding research through speaking to student library employees, who have direct contact and interactions with undergrad students on the daily. By figuring out what current library workers were and are experiencing, the Research team would be able to provide the initial research scope that could assist future fellows and even librarians in adjusting their services to better meet the needs of students and provide that entry point.

Resiliency in my undergrad and fellowship experience has allowed for flexibility in the face of unexpected curveballs, from pandemics to prototyping!

Key Takeaways from the Undergraduate Library Fellowship from a Making Fellow’s Perspective

image of Library Fellow Christina Park



By Christina Park ’23

At the end of the first semester of the Undergraduate Library Fellowship, both the Making Team and the Research Team gave a presentation during a final showcase and received feedback from library mentors as well as past undergraduate library fellows. We showcased our plan and upcoming goals for the next semester, and emphasized that our underlying aim was to promote the Library Makerspace and improve accessibility to undergraduate students. We wanted more students to feel welcome in the space and take advantage of this resource. 

We received constructive feedback on our presentation. Not only did we receive comments on how we could have improved details on our presentation, but we heard new ideas and brainstorming which significantly impacted the course of our project. We received suggestions to hold an “open house event” to introduce students to the Makerspace which had just moved from Moffitt to Doe Library, which we later decided to take on as our main project in the spring semester. 

Initially, I had thought of “feedback” as synonymous with evaluation, grading, or even criticism. However, the feedback at the ULF showcase was a small example of how feedback would be used in a positive, constructive way throughout the fellowship that expanded on any ideas that we brought to the mentors or the research team. This was a valuable part of the process and helped improve the quality and depth of our project. 

After touring and utilizing the space, we noticed that the Makerspace would be in a more prominent position in the Doe library and would be easier to find compared to its old location in first floor Moffitt. Despite my apprehensions that the Makerspace might feel more intimidating and inaccessible in Doe compared to Moffitt, the new Makerspace actually felt warm and open, clustered amongst other resources in the opening of Doe library across from Morrison Library. 

One challenge for me was having patience throughout the process. I enjoy taking immediate action and working quickly with an aim of “finishing” in an effective manner. However, this style of work is not always conducive to every project, especially ones which involve creative thinking and brainstorming. In order to publicize the event by submitting the event details, registration link and flyer to different campus organizations and email newsletters on campus I had to wait for all these components to be assembled, and I acknowledged again how impatient of a person I am when it comes to completing my tasks. 

Beyond this, we learned how to use small tools to facilitate our communication and collaboration. For example, although initially scheduling meetings seemed burdensome due to our varied and crammed schedules, we learned how to use Google Calendar functions to find mutually convenient times. We also had the opportunity to learn more about ourselves by taking an MBTI test and including it in our introductions in the first orientation meeting, as well as the Clifton Top 5 Strengths Assignment. 

ULF emphasizes teamwork, creative thinking, and communication, which are highly coveted and important skills for many different positions. There was a great deal of growth and change in the structure of the fellowship from the first and second semester, and I think the fellowship was a genuine two-way collaboration between the mentors and the fellows. I am grateful for what I have learned throughout the ULF and for the mentors’ adaptability and implementation of new ideas, and I look forward to seeing how the ULF will expand and improve library experiences through the next cohort of fellows.