Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Silicon Valley Reads Book Talk: Julia Keller, Back Home

Silicon Valley Reads 2013 focuses on the “Invisible Wounds of War.” Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Julia Keller wrote about traumatic brain injury for the Chicago Tribune in 2004. Her awareness of American soldiers returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan with invisible wounds of war inspired her to write Back Home, a novel for grades 5-8 that describes one family’s reaction when Dad returns home with physical and brain injuries. Julia will discuss how and why she wrote the book—and also will answer questions about her popular recent mystery novel for adults, A Killing in the Hills.

Join us for this special Silicon Valley Reads book talk on Tuesday, March 5 at 6:30 p.m. in the Central Park Library Cedar Room.

For more information about this free author event, call Reference at 1-408-515-2900. This program is co-sponsored by the Santa Clara City Library Foundation and Friends.
posted by jb

Monday, February 25, 2013

Silicon Valley Reads - MONDAY MOVIES IN MARCH

Silicon Valley Reads 2013 focuses on the “Invisible Wounds of War.” The Library is showing a series of short documentary films about veterans on Mondays in March at 2:00 p.m. in the Central Park Library Cedar Room, plus a film and special program on the evening of March 4. Light refreshments will be served. Take part in Silicon Valley Reads—join us for these moving films:

March 4: Let There Be Light - a 1946 legendary World War II film made by John Huston
March 4, 6:00 p.m., Redwood Room: Wartorn 1861-2010 - an HBO documentary chronicling the effects of stress on military personnel and their families from the Civil War through the Iran and Afghanistan conflicts; the film will be followed by a panel of speakers from United Veterans Council and Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
March 11: Combat Diary: The Marines of Lima Company - an Emmy-nominated 2005 A&E film profiling the Marine company that suffered the highest casualty rate in the Iraq War
March 18: Where Soldiers Come From - an Emmy-nominated film following the journey of four childhood friends whose lives were changed forever by war; it won the 2012 Independent Spirit—Truer Than Fiction award
March 25: Poster Girl - an award-winning documentary receiving two Emmy nominations about an all-American high school cheerleader who became the poster girl for women in combat; and Iraq Paper Scissors - a film about five Iraq War veterans who struggle with PTSD as they discover they have dreams and talents beyond guns and combat.

For more information about these free Silicon Valley Reads 2013 - Monday Movies in March programs, call Reference at 1-408-615-2900.

posted by jb

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

In my neighborhood, there are a fair number of shopfronts that, though showing they are open for business, never have any customers. Usually there is a lone clerk sitting behind a counter reading a book or (more likely) pecking away at a smart phone. Imagine the Maytag repairman, but more depressed.

One store has a lovely display of antique radios. None for sale. Instead the window has an advertisement for a particular radio the proprietor wants to buy (owners of early 40's era bakelite radios should please inquire within). Another store specializes in travel arrangements and jeggings. Yes, both. Because they are perfectly complementary products and services. Obviously.

None of these business models make any sense. Who has enough money to pay rent on a commercial space, hire an employee, stock shelves with product, and then not sell anything? It's a mystery how they stay open.

Robin Sloan must have seen a few of these sorts of stores as well before writing Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. In it, just such a shop is the gateway to a Da Vinci Code like adventure (minus the explosions, car chases, nefarious priests, and pages upon pages of historical explanation).

Clay Jannon, recently unemployed graphic designer for a bagel start-up (because in this version of San Francisco, even bagels are tech start-ups... ugh), finds himself a job at Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. He works the night shift and very rarely sells any books. But he does come into contact with a number of weirdos. Scholarly types of weirdos desperate for a literary fix. (In this version of San Francisco, other less friendly weirdos looking for other less friendly fixes don't seem to exist because the clientele at a 24-hour bookstore would be very different if they did.). These folks don't buy any books, but instead check out items from Mr. Penumbra's private collection. A private collection which Clay realizes is written entirely in cipher.

Out of idle time and the desire to impress a cute "Googler" (again, ugh), Clay tries to figure out what these people are doing and what the store is a front for. Obviously it's not making money through sales so someone must be keeping it open. By using some open source technology and a few nerdy friends, Clay uncovers a 500 year old mystery which the bookstore is only a small part of. Hijinx ensue.

At the heart of this book is a debate that libraries often find themselves in (whether we want to be or not). What is the place of the book in a digital world? Or more to the point, must we be fundamentalists about our media choices. This sounds silly on the surface, and it is if you are just talking about text and its delivery method. But Sloan understands that the media choice is something deeper than what you hold in your hands. The digital/print debate is about modes of thinking.

We relate the digital with progress and change. Print is associated with scholarly tradition and stability. The championing of one over the other is thought to say a lot about you and how you see the world. But when looked upon historically, it's a ridiculous divide. Print, when first coming around, was the digital of its time. It was progress and change. It upset things and freaked people out. And, should we be so lucky to have a long future ahead of us, digital will at one point become print when a new technology makes it look old fashioned.

In Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, these two poles are recontextualized into exactly what they should be: tools. They are ways in which information is dealt with, encoded, and dispersed. Both styles have their uses. And since we haven't reached the Singularity (you know, when we all become computers and live forever as digital files on a hard drive... or something), we are still the fleshy, squishy bits that have control over how we use these tools. So live it up before the tools start using us.

Hmm, perhaps that last part wasn't meant to be the takeaway the author planned.


Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Historic Union Cemetery, Redwood City, California

The Spotlight column is a regular feature of the Weekly Genealogist newsletter from the New England Historic Genealogical Society.  This week it features a Redwood City Cemetery.

by Valerie Beaudrault, Assistant Editor New England Historic Genealogical Society

The Historic Union Cemetery, Redwood City, California

The Union Cemetery is located in Redwood City, California, which is on the San Francisco Peninsula. It is the county seat of San Mateo County. The cemetery was established by May of 1859. By 1878 there had been nearly 400 interments, and specific large lots were designated for fraternal organizations and the Grand Army of The Republic (GAR). On the website’s main page you will find questions about an individual buried in the cemetery. Click on the Answer link to open the burial record page containing the answer to the question.

Click on the People link to open a new page to search for individuals buried in the cemetery. Then click on the Search the People Database. The database may be searched by first name, last name, year of death, and burial plot identifier. The search results include the name of the deceased, date of death, burial/plot identifier, and source of the information in the record. The date of death information varies. In many cases you will find only the year of death. Click on the name link to open a new page with more detailed information. The view location link will take you to a map showing the location of the plot. You will also find a list containing the names of individuals buried nearby and a list of individuals with the same last name buried there. In some cases you will find a transcription of the deceased’s obituary, links to external sites, photographs, and stories.

There are a number of other links on the main People page. These include People with Stories, People with Pictures, People with Find-A-Grave pages, and “All the People with Extra Information.” Click on the links to access lists with name links. Click on an individual’s name to view his or her webpage. The Find-A-Grave list includes links to each individual’s Find-A-Grave page. You can use the Fraternal Groups with Plots in the Union Cemetery link to access the following organizations: Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF), People in the Free and Accepted Masons (Masons), United Ancient Order of Druids (Druids), and Improved Order of Red Men (RedMen). Clicking on these links will take you to each group’s pages, which contain a description of the organization, photographs, and name links for the members. Click on the link to view the members’ webpages.

This database catalogs many of the markers in the cemetery. The data fields include marker name, exists, photos, plot, people listed, and source. The data can be sorted by any of the fields just by clicking on the heading. Click on the “P” in the photos column to view the photograph. Each “P” is a link to a different image of the gravestone.

The Archives page contains links to a variety of resources, including maps of Redwood City, burial lists, newspapers and research, documents, The Journal of Local History, stories, and photographs.

posted by mb