Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Technolust /Technodisgust

A couple of years back, the now defunct TechTV had a commercial showing some guy in a cubicle farm loosing his mind on a computer in excellent "Hulk smash" fashion. Ah... it still makes me laugh.

Well, it did until yesterday morning when I was a hair's breadth away from becoming that person. All I needed to do was scan a sheet of paper. Simple, I thought. Instead I end up having a full blown foul-mouthed freakout for the better part of an hour. Remember the scene in Office Space where they take the printer out into an abandoned field and wail on it until it's an unrecognizable mess? That's what I dreamt about last night. I slept like a baby.

Now I'm the first to admit that I'm "a bit" curmudgeonly about technology. But I'm not too bad really. I, like most of us, respond in a positive manner to a fancy new device. "Oooo, it's so shiny and button-y," I've found myself whispering while looking at a new laptop. So it's not that I don't get the allure. I too want a new computer, camera, and/or phone with all the bells and whistles I can't even begin to understand but desperately need.

Being a part-time luddite though, I get easily frustrated. Take that scanner for instance. So long as it's functioning exactly as I need it to, we're just the bestest of friends. But if something goes wrong, I'm throwing its thrashed, chip-filled carcass in front of the new replacement as a warning.

Yes, reading a manual could help. Patience might be effective as well. But those things take time. And to be honest, putting some hurt on a malfunctioning computer does feel liberating... until you have to buy the next one.

posted by jw

Monday, September 28, 2009

Prepare for the SAT or ACT Exam

Are you preparing for the SAT or ACT college entrance exam?

The library has resources to help you get ready. You can borrow SAT and ACT test preparation books. You will find them on the second floor under the call number 378.1662. If you need help finding these books, ask library staff.

You can take SAT or ACT practice tests online from home or within the library using Learning Express Library. Learning Express Library is available from the library's Research Databases web page.

To learn more about the tests and upcoming test dates view the College Board's website for the SAT and the ACT's website for the ACT.

Posted by mlg

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Magic of Tony Daniels

Join your friends on Monday, September 28, at 4:00 p.m. in the Redwood Room for a special performance by Magician Tony Daniels. This magic show is for children, ages 4 years and older, and their parents. (Please note that younger children will not be admitted into the magic show. See our online calendar for age-appropriate programs.)

Tony Daniels is a favorite performer at libraries and schools in Southern California and Las Vegas. For the past 20 years, he has been entertaining and amazing children at more than 500 annual performances.

At the September 28 program, which will include comedy as well as magic, children will have plenty of opportunities for audience participation. Programs by Tony Daniels emphasize books and reading. He believes that through books we can "use our imaginations to go anywhere, do everything or be anything." Be sure to arrive early to allow plenty of time for parking. Latecomers will not be admitted, and program doors will close when the room reaches capacity.
posted by jtb

Monday, September 21, 2009

Images from Hubble Space Telescope

New images are coming in from the recently upgraded and repaired Hubble Telescope. Local U.C.-Santa Cruz astronomers are excited and hard at work analyzing them.

Visit the Astronomy Picture of the Day to see views of these images, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

The images have many of us non-scientists stretching our knowledge. A woman came to the Information Desk and asked me to help her comprehend the fact that images we are seeing existed back in ancient time. Light years are actually a measure of distance not time.

Astronomers give free and low-cost talks to the public at both U.C.-Santa Cruz and at Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton. Read about the 9th Annual Halliday Lecture on the U.C.-Santa Cruz Astronomy and AstroPhysics Dept. website coming in November. Hint: it's on the bottom of the page.

Read more about the Hubble Telescope and see thousands of images here.

Unfortunately, Eric Norris, our speaker for the Tuesday, September 22, Gallileoscope program is ill so we will re-schedule. In honor of the International Year of Astronomy, a Gallileoscope, a high-quality, low-cost telescope kit, was developed by a team of astronomers. Follow the links and see how you can get one. Then watch our website for the new date.

Try these books:
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. Also, available for listening.

Einstein's telescope: the hunt for dark matter and dark energy in the universe by Evalyn Gates

posted by mb

Friday, September 18, 2009

Books for Beginning Readers

Is there a child in your family who is learning to read? Check out our Easy Reader collection of books. You'll find them in the Youth Services department, under the "Cat in the Hat" character. We have hundreds of books for new readers. In fact, we have Easy Reader books that have been written by 738 different authors!

Our color-coded classification system will help you find books that are suitable for your child's reading level.

Important hint: Please make sure your child accompanies you to the Library so that our children's librarians can help you find books that will be just right for your child's interests and abilities.

Our easiest books, with blue labels, have short words and short sentences, perfect for children who are learning to sound out words. Books in this classification include Hop on Pop, Make Me Grin and Just Bugs.

Look for books with green labels if your child is ready for two-syllable words and simple stories. Some great choices in this category are the Biscuit series by Alyssa Capucilli and the Puppy Mudge series by Cynthia Rylant.

Our yellow label books have a wide range of old favorites, as well as some new titles, that make interesting reading for children who are gaining confidence in their abilities to understand clever stories with short chapters. Look for Days with Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel, the Mr. Putter and Tabby series by Cynthia Rylant, and the Amelia Bedelia series by Peggy Parish.

Books with red labels contain more difficult words and sophisticated concepts. The Nate the Great series by Marjorie Sharmat will challenge readers who are nearly ready to move up to the chapter books in our Juvenile Fiction collections.
posted by jtb

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Twitter Class a Sucess

Stuart Grooby, Web manager for the City of Santa Clara, taught another excellent, free computer class, Tuesday at the library on Twitter. Twitter is the free social networking and micro-blogging service that enables users to send and receive messages known as tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the author's profile page and delivered to the author's subscribers who are known as followers.

Students learned about following and tweeting, setting up accounts and how to manage their accounts. The City of Santa Clara has a Twitter account. Visit it and become a follower.

Here are some additional links that are useful to Twitter users mentioned in the class:
Twitter help page
Here you can find an online video that reviews the basics of Twitter and other short videos about RSS, Facebook, social bookmarking and more.

If you are looking for apps, or applications, to improve your Twitter account try these:

Improve your company's marketing strategies using Twitter. Read more with these books from the library:

Twitter means business: how microblogging can help or hurt your company by Julio Ojeda-Zapata

Twitter power: how to dominate your market one tweet at a time by Joel Comm

posted by mb

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What All the Hubbub is About

If you just happen to stop in the library this weekend without realizing that the Art and Wine Festival is taking place in Central Park, you should be aware of a few things:

1) There will be a lack of parking. Granted, I hear some of you grumbling, "and this is different how?" Oh, it will be different. Trust me. That time you were upset because it took an extra minute or two to find a parking space? You'll look back at that moment longingly. Walking, biking, or parachuting in are probably your best options. Don't say you weren't warned.

2) Due to our close proximity to "food alley," we will be delightfully hickory scented. If you come in hungry, don't be surprised if the invisible tendrils of savory goodness drifting in through the vents lift you off your feet and carry you out the back door like a cartoon character. No joke. Happened to me last year. One minute I'm checking out books. Next thing I know, I'm by the pond in Central Park tucking into a tri-tip sandwich.

3) Even though there is a plethora of excellent food and drink just outside our doors, we are still sticklers about our no food and drink rules once you pass into them. Sorry to be the spoilsports, but have you ever tried to get wine stains out of a carpet? It's absolute murder.

4) There may be lines of people waiting to stand near the air conditioning vents. It's suppose to get pretty hot this weekend, so a lot of people will be coming in to escape the heat for a while. If you are one of those folks seeking asylum from the sun, welcome to our 72(ish) degree oasis! Find a book and relax for a while. Also, please refer to #3. Thanks.

Yes, a quick trip to the library may be a bit more complicated this weekend. But with the Art and Wine Festival going on, why would you just make a quick trip? Right behind us will be great food, art, and music. So do what you need here and then head out back and enjoy the festival.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Upcoming Morningstar Training

Would you like to learn to use the Morningstar Investment Research Center database to research mutual funds and stocks? A Morningstar product manager will be offering a training over the Internet.

The training will be on Wednesday, September 30th, from 1 - 2 p.m.

You will need a home computer with Internet access and a telephone to hear the presentation.

To register send an e-mail to Mention that you use Santa Clara City Library. Morningstar staff will reply with instructions on attending the training.

For more information ask at the Reference Desk or call 408-615-2900.

If you would like to explore the Morningstar Investment Research Center database, it is accessible via our Research Databases webpage.

Posted by mlg

Monday, September 14, 2009

UPdated Resources on H1N1

Due to Pandemic H1N1 Influenza and concerns about the 2009/2010 flu season, the EBSCO Publishing Medical and Nursing editors of DynaMedTM, Nursing Reference CenterTM (NRC) and Patient Education Reference CenterTM (PERC) have made key influenza information from these resources freely available.

You might want to visit Santa Clara County's Public Health Dept. site for local information or view the videos or listen to podcasts from
the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's site for national news you can trust.

posted by mb

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fall Storytime Programs

The Youth Services department invites our families to our Fall Storytime Programs, which begin on Tuesday, September 15 and continue through Saturday, November November 21.

Santa Clara City Library Fall 2009 Storytime Schedule
(Beginning the week of September 14 and continuing through the week of November 16)

Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m. – Preschool Storytime for 3 to 5-year-olds
Wednesdays at 7 p.m. – Family Storytime for all ages
Thursdays at 10:30 a.m. – Baby Lapsit for babies up to 12 months
Thursdays at 10:30 a.m. - Young Ones for children 12 to 24 months
Fridays at 9:30 a.m. & 10:30 a.m. – Toddler Storytime for 2 to 3-year-olds
Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. – Family Storytime for all ages

Our librarians plan storytimes for the specific ages of the children in their anticipated audience. Please make sure your child attends the program that is advertised for his particular age level.

We rely on our parents to be good role models for their children during the storytime programs.

  • Will you be on time, so that your child can greet his storyteller when the door is opened?

  • Will you help him sit down, settle down and get ready to enjoy the program?

  • Will your cell phone ring during the program?

  • Will you participate with your child and join in the songs and rhymes?

  • Will your full attention be focused on the storyteller?

  • Will you make sure that your child is not disturbing other people in the audience?

We'll see you soon!

posted by jtb

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Value of Work

I caught part of Matthew Crawford's interview on Newshour with Jim Lehrer on KQED Friday night. He had very interesting things to say about work. He defended his own choice to get out of white collar work to work repairing motorcycles. Self reliance and control of one's environment, were two of the advantages of manual competence that used to be taught in Shop Class. He questions the move to cars in which one cannot even check the oil and society's belief that everyone should work in the information field. He has Ph.D. in Philosophy and has written a book called Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work.

In the Saturday/Sunday Wall Street Journal, he recommended 5 Best books on getting the job done.

The Mind at Work by Mike Rose shows how mentally absorbing work can be for those who cultivate a particular skill. A restaurant is both structured and chaotic. The busier it gets the more"on" an experienced waitress tends to become at once calmed and energized by an awareness of her own skillful performance. She mollifies cranky customers, keeps the cook happy and persuades others to give her tips. "Rose helps us see the human excellence on display all around us, in jobs that often go unnoticed."

The Corrosion of Character by Richard Sennett says, "The short time frame of modern institutions limits the ripening of informal trust." He points out the "demeaning superficiality" of setting up a team for specific projects then disbanding it. Short-term shareholders demand a quick return, "chaos-mongers" shake a company up to impress investors and stock analysts. "Pump the stock, cash out and move on. The worker who remains must be ready to re-invent himself at any time. The result-little place in the corporate economy for the steady accumulation of skill and accomplishment, the sort that gives coherence to a working life."

The Managed Heart by Arlie Russell Hochschild. In this path-breaking study of flight attendants, she describes how workers are expected to internalize the ends of their employers as their own. "Our smiles are not just painted on," turns out to be more than just an advertising hook. Hochschild says, the job requires "emotional labor" when a flight attendant facing an obnoxious passenger is trained to imagine that troublemaker has a traumatic past, so that her anger will give way to solicitude.

After Virtue by Alasdair C. MacIntyre predates "The Office" by some 25 years, but it helps us understand why the modern workplace often feels smarmy. A manager is a moral relativist, hired to accept the ends of the organization as given-as unavailable for rational scrutiny.

Labor and Monopoly Capital by Harry Braverman shows readers that the central thrust of "scientific management" is to dumb down jobs so they can be performed by unskilled workers, who don't need to be paid as much. Assembly line work was the result of this thinking. Now members of professions are reduced to clerks, their personal judgment replaced by a system in which their actions are predetermined from afar. Bank loan officers and physicians among others are now feeling the changes.

posted by mb

Friday, September 4, 2009

National Day of Service and Remembrance

As the country prepares to face another September 11 and another anniversary of the tragedies that occurred on that fateful day in 2001, I am sure that each of us will pause for a few minutes of personal reflection.

Where were you when you heard the news? Were you drinking coffee and getting ready for work? Were you listening to the radio or watching TV? Were you horrified by the unbelievable images of destruction that flashed on the screen in front of you? Did your life change that day?

We've all changed in the years following September 11, 2001. We're moving forward, but still looking back to that day that blazes bright in our national history. Our country's newest holiday will honor the memories of those heroes and victims whose lives were lost in 2001.

September 11 has been designated as the National Day of Service and Remembrance. The founders of this new holiday are hoping that Americans will do good deeds or volunteer their time to worthwhile causes that will benefit their communities each year on the anniversary of September 11, 2001.
posted by jtb

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Habla Vous Something 'R Other?

When I was in school from kindergarten until the 7th grade, the idea that two languages could populate the same head was just absurd. Obviously it would cause your brain to overheat and you would die, right? Or perhaps something even more traumatic would happen. I mean, they weren't teaching it to us or even mentioning the existence of other languages, so that had to be the case.

Little did I know that kids in other countries had already learned multiple languages by that point. Most of them had even learned English, a language which after 12 years of study I was still dodgy with at best. But come 8th grade I would get my chance at multiple language mastery and it would be glorious.

Or it would have been if it hadn't been for... oh I don't know, the teen years. Good idea! Let's teach a bunch of kids something that requires a great amount of concentration when they are so jacked on hormones that they can barely think straight. Not to mention, with all the "umms" and "likes" and "oh my gods", we could barely hone in on our native language at that point.

My 8th grade Spanish class was about as productive as herding cats. Yeah, we learned how to say naughty words en espanol but that was about the extent of it. Year 2 was better, but our teacher mentally checked out in year 3 and just had us watch Spanish movies with English subtitles while he would stare dreamily out the window thinking about his retirement at the end of the semester. (However, thanks to him, I did get to see my first Almodovar film.) The two years of French I took were about as successful.

Now, due to my late start and somewhat lax learning environment, I can't communicate in either language (some question my communication skills in English as well, but those were ex-girlfriends, so I think they might have been referring to something else). Instead I speak a vile concoction called Frenglanish that confounds everyone who hears it, including me.

But it's time to get serious. I need both of those languages again, so I'm trying a few of the tools we have here. So far so good. But my brain does indeed feel like it is overheating, so I'm becoming concerned that I might have been right.
posted by jw