Read Nobel Prize in Literature winners Olga Tokarczuk and Peter Handke

Polish novelist Olga Tokarczuk and Austrian author Peter Handke have just been announced as the 2018 and 2019 Nobel Prize winners in Literature, respectively. Naturally, we might expect our vast collection of their novels to be in high demand!

Before getting  started in literature, Tokarczuk was a psychologist at the University of Warsaw, working as a therapist and volunteer psychologist at an asylum in western Poland. She cites her love for psychology as a significant influence on her literary career. She rose to fame with her third novel, Prawiek i inne czasy (Primeval and Other Times), an enchanting microcosm of 20th-century Poland. She has also built a strong collection of short stories, poems, and essays along with her bestselling novels, which have won her Poland’s Koscielski Foundation Prize and prestigious Nike Award and the International Booker Prize. Tokarczuk has paved the way for Polish literature on the international stage with her insight into the human psyche.

Handke initially studied law at the University of Graz in Austria, dropping out when his first novel,  Die Hornissen (The Hornets), was picked up for publication. Often the center of controversy and known for paying close attention to the “material presence of the world,” he has had much commercial success with his plays and scripts written for films, particularly with his 1966 play, Offending the Audience and 1987 film, “Wings of Desire.” Handke has not only won awards for his novels but for his films as well, including the Gold Award for German Arthouse Cinema and the Georg Büchner Prize for German literature.

Read these selected books by the two authors before they go flying off the library shelves!

OHC Director’s Column, October 2019

by Martin Meeker


Recording, transcribing, and making oral histories accessible represents only a portion of the work that we do at the Oral History Center. We relish the opportunity to engage with these raw historical materials and fashion them into a variety of interpretative works too. 

The 4,000 oral histories in our collection have been used by OHC staff in the writing of conference papers, articles, and books for sure. And while we remain committed to our mission of creating quality first-person historical accounts that might be used in the most rigorous of academic studies, we also recognize—and applaud—the use of these interviews across a much broader field. Now, OHC interviews are used in podcasts, documentary films, dramatic productions, and more.

Bob Walker Photo
Photo by Bob Walker, courtesy of the East Bay Regional Park District

As the ability to preserve, edit, and distribute audio and video productions becomes ever easier, ever more democratized, we at OHC have also utilized these resources to create videos and podcasts that draw heavily upon the collection. We are on the verge of releasing our fifth podcast season. This one focuses on the East Bay Regional Park District and is being produced by Shanna Farrell and Francesca Fenzi. Previous seasons have looked at the history of the University of California at 150 years, the early response to AIDS in San Francisco, and the long history of women in politics. 

Our main goal with these podcasts is to offer robust yet widely accessible narrative interpretations—pivotal moments in history that our collection can illuminate. We are historians, and this is what we do. But we also have an important alternate motivation (or two) in spending hundreds of hours required to produce these podcasts. While our 4,000 oral histories (amounting to tens of thousands of hours of interviews) are readily accessible through our website, we are well aware that, say, a 30 hour interview with a scientist might be a tad overwhelming and many who could find something of real value in these life histories might never know to look there. With these podcasts and the many other interpretive materials we create, we are seeking to distribute breadcrumbs around the internet—breadcrumbs that might lead users back to the collection and back to the lengthy but otherwise invisible oral histories. We know that there are many people who are passionate about history but who aren’t trained researchers. These breadcrumbs help steer these folks toward these free and substantive and lively interviews.

I know I can speak for the whole oral history team at Berkeley that we endeavor not just to create excellent interviews in collaboration with our narrators but that we strive to make that work known to the widest public possible.

Summer reading: Angle of Repose

Book cover for angle of repose
Angle of Repose
Wallace Stegner

Stegner’s novel, one of my all-time favorites, is relevant to the “Between Worlds” theme because, while it is set in the recent modern day, the main character, a history professor at UC Berkeley, is writing a book about his grandparents’ westward migration along the American frontier, where they often must reconcile civilized east and wild west. I read this during my junior year as an undergraduate and did not want it to end.

Senior Data Visualization Analyst
Office of Planning and Analysis

This book is part of the 2019 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!


Publish your scholarship like a pro!

Woman wearing gold watch, sitting at table, typing on a Microsoft Surface notebook
Photograph by Women of Color in Tech, CC-BY 2.0.

We’re more than a month into the fall semester, and if you’re a graduate student or postdoc you’ve probably been thinking about some of the milestones on your horizon, from filing your thesis or dissertation to pitching your first book project or looking for a job.

While we can’t write your dissertation or submit your job application for you, the Library can help in other ways! We are collaborating with GradPro to offer a series of professional development workshops for grad students, postdocs, and other early career scholars to guide you through important decisions and tasks in the research and publishing process, from preparing your dissertation to building a global audience for your work.

  • October 22: Copyright and Your Dissertation
  • October 23: From Dissertation to Book: Navigating the Publication Process
  • October 25: Managing and Maximizing Your Scholarly Impact

These sessions are focused on helping early career researchers develop real-world scholarly publishing skills and apply this expertise to a more open, networked, and interdisciplinary publishing environment.

These workshops are also taking place during Open Access Week 2019, an annual global effort to bring attention to Open Access around the world and highlight how the free, immediate, online availability of scholarship can remove barriers to information, support emerging scholarship, and foster the spread of knowledge and innovation.

Below is the list of next week’s workshop offerings. Join us for one workshop or all three! Each session will take place at the Graduate Professional Development Center, 309 Sproul Hall. Please RSVP at the links below.

Light refreshments will be served at all workshops.

If you have any questions about these workshops, please get in touch with And if you can’t make it to a workshop but still need help with your publishing, we are always here for you!


Copyright and Your Dissertation

Workshop | October 22 | 1-2:30 p.m. | 309 Sproul Hall

This workshop will provide you with a practical workflow for navigating copyright questions and legal considerations for your dissertation or thesis. Whether you’re just starting to write or you’re getting ready to file, you can use this workflow to figure out what you can use, what rights you have, and what it means to share your dissertation online.

RSVP (Copyright)


From Dissertation to Book: Navigating the Publication Process

Panel Discussion | October 23 | 3-4:30 p.m. | 309 Sproul Hall

Hear from a panel of experts – an acquisitions editor, a first-time book author, and an author rights expert – about the process of turning your dissertation into a book. You’ll come away from this panel discussion with practical advice about revising your dissertation, writing a book proposal, approaching editors, signing your first contract, and navigating the peer review and publication process.

RSVP (Book)


Managing and Maximizing Your Scholarly Impact

Workshop | October 25 | 1-2:30 p.m. | 309 Sproul Hall

This workshop will provide you with practical strategies and tips for promoting your scholarship, increasing your citations, and monitoring your success. You’ll also learn how to understand metrics, use scholarly networking tools, evaluate journals and publishing options, and take advantage of funding opportunities for Open Access scholarship.

RSVP (Impact)

An Assembly of Janeites

I’m not sure what the collective noun is for Janeites* (the term popularized by Rudyard Kipling in his short story by that name) to denote admirers of the Georgian-era British novelist Jane Austen, but assembly will do as well as anything! The recent Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA), held in Williamsburg, VA was indeed an assembly of Janeites, and a fascinating one, attended by this UC Berkeley librarian (incidentally, a JASNA life member from long before the Colin Firth wet shirt scene).

JASNA has upwards of 6,000 members worldwide, and an impressive 850 attended this AGM (which filled up within five minutes of going live online), from every US state but 3 and every continent but Antarctica.  The AGM is an agreeable panoply of lectures (some popular, but mostly academic, including three excellent plenary addresses), special events such as tours and concerts, and a ball and promenade.  To say it’s a cross between a ComicCon-like event and a discipline-specific scholarly gathering doesn’t do it justice—there is some indefinable aspect added by the focus on the Georgian/Regency era and the passion for one ironic, wise, delectable, insightful, and compassionate author.  And the period-appropriate garb doesn’t hurt, especially when its background is Colonial Williamsburg, a veritable time capsule itself.

Two women at Jane Austen conference
Baronda Bradley (left) and Devoney Looser show two ways of expressing their connection to Jane Austen (used with permission)

Herewith some highlights of this year’s AGM, for you readers who are interested in a glimpse of this delightful conclave:

—Let’s begin with some academic cred!  Here are the lists of the conference’s breakout sessions and plenary addresses, complete with presenters’ bios.  Nothing if not majestic scholarship on show!

—Continuing with the academic theme, my favorite part of the entire conference (what can I say?  I’m a librarian!) was the tour and open house of Special Collections at the library of the College of William & Mary.  William & Mary is second only to Harvard University as the oldest higher education institution in the US, was founded in 1693, and is the only one founded by royal charter, from, you guessed it, co-regnants William and Mary.  For more detail on the tour, see this piece which appeared in William & Mary news.  Overall, it was just amazing to see the depth of the holdings, and those related to Jane Austen in particular.  Some of the most notable are thanks to an American Janeite, George Holbert Tucker, whose extensive and meticulously documented collection is now held at William & Mary.  At the same time, there were many other period treasures on display, among them this donation of a lock of Queen Mary’s hair.

Tucker's careful list of slides
Tucker’s list of slide titles, seen here, is a librarian’s dream
Lock of Queen Mary's hair
In the locket is a lock of Queen Mary’s hair (Both images used with permission)

—Of course, there were also tours of Colonial Williamsburg.  Of special interest was the home of George Wythe (the original structure still stands), with whom Thomas Jefferson lived and studied law for three years.  John Marshall, fourth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, also lived in Williamsburg and studied with Wythe; in addition, Marshall liked reading Jane Austen!  He wrote of her: “Her flights are not lofty, she does not soar on an eagle’s wings, but she is pleasing, interesting, equable, yet amusing.”

GW's House
George Wythe’s house

Also, being a librarian, I was very interested to see a demonstration of colonial-era typesetting and printing (unfortunately, the bookbinding demonstrations were not happening when I was there):

Colonial-era typesetting

—The promenade and ball are the hallmarks of any AGM.  After dinner, the entire assembly does a promenade, in their finery for the ball, around any location at which they happen to be meeting (when I attended an AGM in Washington DC, the promenade took place on the escalators connecting four levels of the hotel— quite a sight).  This time, we strolled at dusk to the Governor’s Palace, led by four torch bearers (with modern protective gear—those torches were huge!) where an actress told us period-appropriate ghost stories.  Then we gathered for the ball, to dance and drink and carouse.  The music was provided by a small string ensemble, and a caller with the calmest voice imaginable led the lines of dancers in the sometimes-intricate moves.  Luckily everyone was good-humored!

Ann in outfit
Yours truly in a comparatively humble outfit for the ball
A ghostly promenade through the streets of Williamsburg

—The attention to dress is something that has always marked an assembly of Janeites (as it marked the interests of many of Jane Austen’s characters, at a time when distinctions in dress spoke more loudly than words).  At the conference, this could be seen in both modern expressions (as in this T-shirt with its reference to Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s admonishment of Elizabeth Bennet in Austen’s Pride and Prejudice), and in scrupulous care with period detail in the many outfits worn by attendees, especially at the ball.  In Colonial Williamsburg, where the park interpreters are dressed in colonial era period-appropriate apparel (mostly from the second half of the 18th century), conference attendees in Georgian/Regency attire (from the late 18th to early 19th centuries) didn’t stand out as much to our modern eyes.  However, they would have stood out in the late 1700s, when wearing rich and patterned clothing identified one as a loyalist to the crown, and was positively unpatriotic (patriots wore homespun).

P&P t-shirt
Lizzie Bennet would love this!
Lady in green dress
A conference attendee in her finery strolls along Duke of Gloucester Street

—On the final afternoon, there was an 18th century cricket demonstration.  The rules were somewhat different then than in modern cricket! (the largely north American audience might not have been as aware of differences).  And in case you are wondering that the photo shows a woman playing, Austen tells us that Catherine Morland, heroine of Northanger Abbey (the novel on which this year’s conference focused) loved cricket as a girl and played it with her brothers!

Cricket demo
Janeite at bat

Intrigued?  If you haven’t read any Jane Austen, or if you tried as a teenager and couldn’t warm to it, maybe have another look… Here is a complete set, free and online, from the wonderful Project Gutenberg.  For introductions to her life and work, try Jane Austen (with an introduction by Harold Bloom), or The Cambridge Introduction to Jane Austen.  And for more reading on Jane Austen devotees, try Among the Janeites or The Making of Jane Austen.  For a video of a spirited debate comparing Jane Austen and Emily Brontë, check out this one from IntelligenceSquared.  And consider joining us at the JASNA 2020 AGM next year in Cleveland!

*The term Janeite is often not used as a compliment; see this decidedly non-neutral Wikipedia overview.  However, for the purposes of this article, the term is used affectionately!

New Display Case in Environmental Design Library

Environmental Design Library Exhibit Case

With the help of Semar Prom and the College of Environmental Design Fabrication Shop staff, the Environmental Design Library has installed a new display case.  The new case will allow for informal display of artists’ books, the library’s rare books, and timely topical information relevant to the college.  Currently on display are items from the upcoming 10/25/19 Hands On Artists’ Book event featuring newly acquired artists’ books.


The Languages of Berkeley: An Online Exhibition


In the 17th century, French Catholic missionaries employed the Roman alphabet to devise a unique orthography for the Vietnamese language. This was the first time in world history that an alphabet represented distinctions in tone.[1] This specially developed Latin script or quốc ngữ, with its double diacritics, coexisted with hán nôm — the Vietnamese adaptation of Chinese script — for three centuries before triumphing under Colonial rule.[2]  Scholar Trương Vĩnh Ký (Pétrus Ky) rewrote and annotated this rare work of poetry in romanized Vietnamese toward the end of the 19th century featured here in its original version of the “rhyme-prose” in hán nôm script. It describes many interesting landscapes and social life customs in Gia Dinh (Hồ Chí Minh City) today.

The Department of South & Southeast Asian Studies (SSEAS) at UC Berkeley offers both undergraduate and graduate instruction and research in the languages and civilizations of South and Southeast Asia from the most ancient period to the present. Instruction includes intensive training in several of the major languages of the area including Bengali, Burmese, Hindi, Khmer, Indonesian (Malay), Pali, Prakrit, Punjabi, Sanskrit (including Buddhist Sanskrit), Filipino (Tagalog), Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Tibetan, Urdu, and Vietnamese, and specialized training in the areas of literature, philosophy and religion, and general cross-disciplinary studies of the civilizations of South and Southeast Asia.[3] Outside of SSEAS beginning through advanced level courses are offered in Vietnamese, related courses are taught and dissertations produced across campus in Asian American Studies, Comparative Literature, Ethnic Studies, Folklore, French, History, Linguistics, and Political Science (re)examining the rich history and culture of Vietnam.[4] UC Berkeley’s Center for Southeast Asia Studies is also the editorial home of the Journal of Vietnamese Studies, published by the University of California Press.[5]

Contribution by Hanh Tran
Lecturer, Department of South & Southeast Asian Studies
Virginia Shih
Curator for the Southeast Asia Collection, South/Southeast Asia Library

     Sources consulted:

  1. Garry, Jane, and Carl R. G. Rubino. Facts About the World’s Languages: An Encyclopedia of the World’s Major Languages, Past and Present. New York: H.W. Wilson, 2001.
  2. Dalby, Andrew. Dictionary of Languages: The Definitive Reference to More Than 400 Languages. New York: Columbia University Press, 1998.
  3. Department of South & Southeast Asian Studies, UC Berkeley (accessed 10/1/19)
  4. Vietnamese (VIETNMS) – Berkeley Academic Guide (accessed 10/1/19)
  5. Journal of Vietnamese Studies. Berkeley, CA. University of California Press, 2006-.

C̉ô Gia-định phong-cảnh vịnh. Gia-định th́ât thủ vịnh. Saigon d’autrefois.
Title in English: [Saigon Bay Scene. Saigon of Old]
Author: Trương, P. J. B. Vĩnh Ký (Pétrus Jean-Baptiste Vĩnh Ký), 1837-1898.
Imprint: Saigon, C. Guilland et Martinon, 1882.
Edition: 1st edition
Language: Vietnamese
Language Family: Austroasiatic, Mon-Khmer
Source: HathiTrust Digital Library (Cornell University)


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The Languages of Berkeley is a dynamic online sequential exhibition celebrating the diversity of languages that have advanced research, teaching and learning at the University of California, Berkeley. It is made possible with support from the UC Berkeley Library and is co-sponsored by the Berkeley Language Center (BLC).

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Robert Kendrick: Mine Design, Planning and Supervision from High Mountain to Deep Jungle, 1950s-2000s

I was looking back over my original 2014 proposal for the The Global Mining and Materials Research Project, to which this new Bob Kendrick oral history is the latest addition. There was this passage about the project’s purpose: “to document expertise that can speak to the political, environmental, legal, social, and economic changes that surrounded mining exploration, permitting, production, processing, and remediation over the last thirty years.” This oral history is certainly about all of that, but it is also a life history in the fullest sense. The more proximate impetus for the interviews, as it too often is, was the narrator’s failing health.

In the lead-up to the interview sessions, Bob was concerned that he had not prepared enough, that he might not remember enough, or tell the stories well enough. But he was sure that he wanted to say some very specific things about his life experiences. We worked together with his wife of 65 years, Marian, and their sons Peter and Mike, to assemble material to frame the set of interviews that would be held in a western suburb of Phoenix. Marian and Bob then welcomed me into their home in February of this year for just two days and an afternoon. They had a dining room table covered with boxes of papers, photo albums, and artifacts, such as core samples from a gold mine, the hide of an anaconda and a stuffed piranha. For better or worse, I positioned two of Gary Prazen’s bronze sculptures of miners in the background behind Bob in the interview frame. All around the house were Marian’s paintings depicting beautiful scenes from some of their long sojourns in South America, Central Asia, Siberia, Canada, and all over the United States.

Bob and Marian did work all over the world, but one of the clear messages we get from a life history is the sense of origin, of place. There is a distinct mountain sensibility about this oral history. The place and time where Bob grew up, Leadville, CO in the 1930s and 40s, was a somewhat forbidding place, on a kind of vertical frontier, a sometimes dangerous place. Bob grew up with danger, but I suspect he also grew up with some variety of mountain culture. People did things up there that were difficult, sometimes because they had to, but sometimes precisely because they were difficult. Bob relished physical challenges, which perhaps prepared him for other kinds of challenges later in life.

Bob Kendrick as a young man in parade for 23-mile Burro Race over Mosquito Pass, 1951
Bob Kendrick, parade for 23-mile Burro Race over Mosquito Pass, 1951

There are parts of this oral history that are raw. There were stories that were difficult for Bob to recount, but that he wanted to tell nevertheless. These days, there is little talk about “character,” so little that I don’t know that we can easily define it anymore. When I heard Bob talk, still with a lot of grief after so many years, about what it’s like to tell a family that their loved one has been killed in the mine of which he was in charge, I thought I might have caught a glimpse. It occurs to me that these interviews were perhaps one more difficult thing he wanted to do. But this oral history is, to paraphrase Bob, also full of good things.

Bob is survived by his wife Marian, and his children Mike, Peter, Melissa, Rob, and Gina.


New OHC Release : Anne Halsted

The Oral History Center is pleased to announce the release of Anne Halsted’s interview, a leading community advocate.

Shanna Farrell conducted thirteen sessions with Anne throughout 2018. Below are her reflections about meeting and interviewing Anne, and the enormous contributions she has made to the city of San Francisco.


Anne Halsted: A Leading Community Advocate

Anne Halsted
Anne Halsted in 2018

I had heard a lot about Anne Halsted before I met her in person. Her name came up, repeatedly, when I interviewed former SPUR Executive Director Jim Chappell. He spoke about her with such high regard that I couldn’t help but take notice. When I later learned that I’d be interviewing her, I was delighted, and slightly intimidated by her extensive and impressive work as a leading community advocate. 

But from the moment she welcomed me into her home, she made me feel comfortable and at ease, with help from Nelson, her adorable black lab. Over the next four month, she made space for me to ask her about her childhood, her education, her move to San Francisco, and her long career in Human Resources. We talked about her initial interest in civic engagement, which was ignited by zoning issues around the North Point Sewage Plant in her North Beach neighborhood. We discussed how this experience led to more and more engagement in local politics, including her time on SPUR’s board, which she spoke about with passion and fondness. 

I learned about her natural way of cultivating networks and fostering collaboration. I learned about her dedication to the environment and the million little things that she’s done to advance equity. I learned about her desire to lift up other women and give them space to become leaders. I learned that she’s a smart, driven, kind, and generous woman who loves the city she calls home. 

As an oral historian, I have the privilege of getting to know people over weeks and weeks, asking them to reflect on how they understand the world and their place in it. There are times when these interviews help me understand my own place in the world, and, when I’m lucky, time that I leave feeling inspired by the stories my narrators have shared. I felt this way about Anne and her interview. Not only did she help me to see the city where I live, and my role in it, in an enlightened way, she left me feeling inspired to leave it a better place than I found it.

It was a pleasure to be the person who got to record her oral history, with help from my colleague Amanda Tewes, and an even greater pleasure to get to share her interview with the world. I hope that you will all learn as much as I did from Anne and walk away feeling just as inspired, and that blazing your own path is possible. Through this interview, its place in the Oral History Center’s esteemed collection, and its home in The Bancroft Library’s archive, Anne will continue giving to the Bay Area for decades to come.