Archive for the ‘Library’ Category

Library space images unveiled

I couldn’t make it to the unveiling ceremony I mentioned in a previous post, but I did stop by after work this afternoon to check out the new NASA images on display at the library.

I have to admit I’m underwhelmed. It turns out “mural size” was a slight exaggeration; in fact, a gross exaggeration. The image is about twice the size of the Bob Marley poster I had in my college dorm room.

On the other hand, the image is pretty cool, with different colors representing the view of the universe seen by three different NASA observatories. And the science is pretty interesting too: each of the component images tells us something different about the structure and history of the universe. So stop by and check it out when you’re downtown.

NASA Images Coming to SJ Library

IYA2009 logo
In celebration of the International Year of Astronomy, the San Jose Public Library will be one of only two locations in the bay area, and 150 around the country, to display a new mural-sized image of the Milky Way’s galactic center.

2009 was declared an International Year of Astronomy by the International Astronomical Union and UNESCO, to promote understanding of the importance of astronomy and other basic science in daily life. IYA2009 commemorates the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first telescopic observations in 1609.

The mural display was developed by NASA to celebrate IYA2009. The images are created by combining images from three of NASA’s “Great Observatories”, each of which views the sky in a different portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. The source images include a near-infrared view from the Hubble Space Telescope, infrared from the Spitzer Space Telescope, and X-ray images from the Chandra Deep Sky Observatory. The combined image shows “the unique science each observatory conducts, [and] also how far astronomy has come since Galileo.”

The mural will be unveiled in a ceremony at noon on Tuesday, November 17, in the Fourth Street lobby of the main library. On Saturday, November 21, the library will host a follow-up day of activities, including lectures, films, educational activities, and night sky viewing. The November 21 activities last from Noon until 7 pm. The mural will remain on display through the end of 2010.

Go Go Gadget, Library!

I’m a big fan of gadgets. I don’t go anywhere without my smartphone, iPod, and GPS receiver (that last one just in case a new geocache shows up). So when I heard about the San José Public Library’s new collection of gadgets, I got all excited and stuff.

The tricks that SJPL’s technology team has up its collective sleeve include an iGoogle tool which allows you to search for library materials right from your Google base page. There’s also a Google-like search bar that you can add to Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox.

But my favorite gadget on the widgets and web tools page is the library lookup bookmarklet for Firefox. You just drag the bookmarklet onto your links bar in Firefox. Then, say you’re looking at a book’s page on Amazon and you’re wondering if the library has it. Just click on the bookmarklet and pow! — you get the library’s catalog page showing the availability of the book. This bookmarklet functions on any page with an ISBN on it. Wow, cool, huh? My favorite bookmarklets, which I use every day, have long been the Google Reader subscription bookmarklet and the “share on Facebook” bookmarklet, but this library one rivals them for usefulness.

The library is promising more gadgets to come, so keep an eye on this page for further developments. And enjoy these gadgets!

SJPL’s California Room Collection Goes Digital

From classic photos from Frontier Village to vintage yearbook autographs, every day you can find more and more in the San José Public Library California Room‘s digital collection.

The California Room has moved into the digital age, as staff there gradually digitize its treasure trove of historic photos and documents. It’s an ongoing project, and eventually you’ll be able to find digitized versions of primary documents, letters, maps and more — right online!

My personal favorite is the Frontier Village collection, with the best photo (in my humble opinion) being this vintage photo of Marshall Clyde. Marshall Clyde’s daughter is my best childhood friend and she and I once perused the California Room’s collection in person, looking for photos of him. Now we can go online and see them from the comfort of our own homes. Ah, I love technology!

And guess what… There’s some fun involved, too! The library is sponsoring a treasure hunt with a digital camera as grand prize (and some great books for the runners-up). Another intriguing page on the digital collections site is the mystery photo page where visitors are asked to help identify the people in various photographs.

This new collection, another positive development in the relationship between the City and San José State University, is quite exciting, and I look forward to seeing what else comes along.

Do you know the way to the East San José Carnegie Branch Library?

The original East San José Carnegie Branch Library opened in 1908, as part of the city of East San Jose. When this town was annexed by the City of San José, the branch became one of the San José library system’s branches. It was renovated in 1981 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990. It is the only remaining publicly-operating Carnegie library in Santa Clara County.

The latest renovation of this branch, a major undertaking, began on February 14, 2008. Because of its historic status and Carnegie designation, the old building needed to remain, so the architects designed a project that added onto the original building and increased the square footage from 7,281 square feet to 12,000 square feet, dramatically increasing the overall public space. There is now a tech center, teen center, expanded children’s room, community room, and family learning center.

The grand reopening of the newly-expanded branch is happening this Saturday, August 29. The opening ceremonies, followed by ribbon cutting, will start at 11:00 a.m. Afterward, everyone will be able to enjoy cake in the community room and various activities throughout the library.

Want to get involved with this new-old branch? Keep an eye on this page for future volunteer opportunities, or consider joining the Friends of the East San José Carnegie Branch Library.

San José librarians join the textual revolution

sms by scion_cho on flickr
Got a simple question for a librarian? As of this month, you can text your question to a San José Public Library librarian at short code 66746; be sure to start your message with “AskSJ” (without the quotes). You can send your question anytime, but questions are actually answered Monday through Friday between 1 and 6 p.m.

Nielsen Mobile statistics quoted in the library’s press release state that U.S. teens “sent and received an average of 1,742 text messages per month in Q2 2008.” The library has tapped into that trend with this great new service.

This service is absolutely free. Those averse to texting can always access other options for getting answers to questions on the library’s Ask a Librarian page. Options include email, chat, and telephone help, as well as traditional in-person assistance.

The Grapes of Wrath at the Library

The Grapes of Wrath movie posterThe film The Grapes of Wrath will be shown Friday, July 10, at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Library in downtown San Jose. The film will be accompanied by a presentation by Professor Susan Shillinglaw of SJSU’s Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies. The presentation is part of LaborFest, a month-long program of film, arts, lectures, and other events meant to “institutionalize the history and culture of working people” and the labor movement.

The 1940 film The Grapes of Wrath adapted John Steinbeck’s 1939 novel about the difficulties faced by an Oklahoma family migrating to California to find work. The book and film were important for making the public aware of farm labor conditions and the violence used to prevent unionization of farm labor. John Ford won the best director Oscar for this film, and it is widely considered one of the most important films of all time.

Other LaborFest events are taking place in San Francisco, with only one more event in the South Bay: a tour of farm labor conditions in the Watsonville area, starting at San Jose City College on July 26. See the LaborFest schedule for more details (including price) for this event and San Francisco events.

The Center for Steinbeck Studies, located at the MLK library, houses an archive of over 40,000 items (manuscripts, letters, books, etc.) by or related to Steinbeck, and also administers a fellowship program funding significant writing projects by new writers.

What: Film screening and lecture.

When: Friday, July 10, 4:00 PM.

Where: Martin Luther King, Jr., Library, 150 East San Fernando Street, San Jose.

Cost: free.

Martin Yan at the Library

Martin Yan

Martin Yan

The Bay Area’s most celebrated TV chef, Martin Yan, will be appearing at San Jose’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Main Library this weekend. Chef Yan has hosted several TV programs, but is most well-known for “Yan Can Cook”, which first aired in 1978. Yan has also written numerous cookbooks. Yan lives in the Bay Area, and owns the “Yan Can” restaurants in Santa Clara’s River Mark shopping center and Pleasant Hill.

At the library, Chef Yan will present a cooking demonstration and sign copies of his latest book, Martin Yan’s China, which will also be available for sale. If you’ve seen Yan’s television programs, you know that he is a terrifically entertaining presenter, and will give not only recipes for authentic Chinese food, but also explain the history and cultural signficance of the dishes he cooks.

When: Saturday, May 30, 2009. 2:00 PM.

Where: Caret Plaza, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Main Library, 150 E. San Fernando St., San Jose.

Cost: Free.

21st Annual Children’s Faire

books-and-more
The San Jose Children’s Faire this Saturday, April 25 is a free outdoor festival designed to link parents and caregivers of young children (ages 2 to 12) with community organizations that serve their needs.

Also, San Jose Library staff will introduce Books and More!, a new library service for parents of young children that consists of a clear plastic backpack available for three-week checkout that contains a selection of age-appropriate bilingual books, a parenting DVD, a music CD and a thematically related toy.

The festival includes family-oriented stage entertainment (throughout the day), activity booths offering hands-on activities for children, in addition to information about education, childcare, health and safety resources, creative arts and recreational programs. Some of the special attractions include Leland Robotics Club, San Jose Police Department Stealth Car (Yikes!), Tooth Mobile, plus 30 activity booths.

Books and More! is for all children, primarily beginning readers, though older children can get some enjoyment from it too. It particularly benefits parents who may not realize the relationship between activities they can do in the home to facilitate their child’s preparation for formal learning and need some help in how to get started. The inclusion of bilingual books makes the packs multi-purpose, able to benefit those who want to read in both languages as well as those families in which the parent may speak Spanish or Vietnamese, but the child already speaks (or needs to learn) English. Both parent and child can learn together through use of these materials.

Books and More! backpacks will be available for checkout through all branches of the San Jose Public Library system.

San Jose Children’s Faire
Discovery Meadow
West San Carlos Street and Woz Way

Saturday, April 25
11:00 am – 4:00 pm

Parking near the Children’s Discovery Museum

Use of public transit is strongly encouraged.

Library director talks about filters

Martin Luther King, Jr., Library

Photo: San Jose Library

If you haven’t been trapped in a dark cave for the last 19 months, you probably know that one of the issues creating the most heat (but little light) in San Jose city government has been a proposal by Councilmember Pete Constant to install internet filters on San Jose Public Library computers. The goal of these filters would be to prevent children from being exposed to pornography at the library, and prevent library computers from being used to view obscene or harmful materials, such as child pornography.

Today San Jose Public Library director Jane Light and the library’s digital futures manager Sarah Houghton-Jan spoke this afternoon on “The filtering challenge at San Jose Public Library”. They presented their view on the debate as library professionals who will ultimately need to implement whatever the City Council decides to do.

Central to the librarians’ view is their ethics of their profession, which direct them to “preserve and enhance information access for all users.” Responding to Constant’s original 2007 proposal, Houghton-Jan and her staff studied five filtering software packages, and compared their ability to block pornographic content while admitting legitimate materials. They attempted 135 different queries, including web searches, direct URL connections, email attachments, and “new media” content such as Facebook. They found the filtering software was, on average, about 75% accurate in its blocking, with both over-blocking and under-blocking errors being common. They also found the filters could be easily circumvented by use of proxy servers or by simply choosing different search terms such as “pron” instead of “porn”. Legitimate websites with controversial words in their names, such as lesbian.org, a political awareness site, and Victims of Pornography, a victims’ assistance site, were most likely to be over-blocked.

Recently, Constant and Mayor Chuck Reed on one side, and Vicemayor Judy Chirco with two other councilmembers on the other have come out with competing proposals. The Reed-Constant proposal would put mandatory filters on computers in youth and teen areas of the library, and make filters optional in the adult areas of the library.

The competing proposal would do much the same thing, but would defer funding any implementation defer deciding on adding filters until the SJPD sexual assault and internet crimes against children units and the city crossing guards program are returned to full funding, and the recent reduction in library branch operating hours are reversed.

Director Light said that either plan is now workable within the Library’s mission, but that funding for any changes has become much more difficult since the original filtering proposal was made in 2007.

The talk was part of the Library and Information Sciences Colloquium Series. A video of the talk should appear shortly on the colloquium series website.

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