Archive for the ‘Library’ Category

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, 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.

Conversations – An exhibition of artists’ books


There’s a wonderful interactive exhibit going on the second floor of the Martin Luther King Jr. Library called “Conversations.” Coming from a group called the Bay Area Book Artists, it’s no surprise that the exhibit takes the idea of art and the form of a book and reinvents it. 

The first thing that caught my eye was a book of mailed art called “Conversations by Mail” by Nancy Welch that encourages visitors to pick it up and flip through it. I was jealous that anyone can get so much mail from such creative people. Which reminds me: I should probably get a pen and paper, maybe some glue and scissors, and send actual snail mail to people I care about. Will I ever have time? I suppose I just need to make time.

The next thing that grabbed my attention was a wire installation called “Overheard” by Karen Cutter that had scrolls of paper tucked in each slot. The papers had sentences and phrases that have been overheard. By whom, I don’t know, but I do know that each snippet of overheard conversation I read was funny, amusing, surprising or touching. 

I must have read about 20 before something else caught my eye on that same wall, called “Childhood Secrets… What’s Yours?” by Becky Barber. It was a couple of cans stringed together, but on the string were clipped circular pieces of coloring book paper with writing on it. These were people’s anonymous childhood secrets, and an envelope tacked to the wall invited anyone to add their own secrets to the line. I love PostSecret and was sad I missed their recent event in Walnut Creek. Perhaps as this Conversations exhibit remains (through May 16), this little project can be just as powerful.

There are two events attached to this exhibit, one called “Make and Take” (which sounds fairly self-explanatory), which will be on Saturday, April 18, 2-4 p.m. The other is Artist’s Talks on Tuesday, April 21 from 7-9 p.m. 

With such an engaging exhibit, I hope turnout is overwhelming.

National Library Week 2009

National Library Week 2009
National Library Week, April 12 – 18, a time to celebrate the contributions of all libraries, librarians and library workers along with promoting library use and support.

If you have not been to the library in some time, then drop by and visit you local branch where you will find DVDs, CDs, books on tape/CD, and of course, a zillion books. Most libraries in the South Bay now have Wi-Fi access.

During National Library Week the San Jose Public Library and Santa Clara County Library systems are hosting a visit by the Digital Bookmobile as part of its national tour promoting the library’s digital media collection and download website. With instructional videos and interactive computer stations, readers of all ages will experience new ways to enjoy digital books and more from the public library.

Digital Bookmobile visits:

Thursday, April 16 – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Friday, April 17 – Saratoga Library, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Saturday, April 18 – Morgan Hill Library, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

For those of you in Castro Valley, during National Library Week whenever a customer purchases an item at participating stores and restaurants, and either shows you a library card or says that they are a library supporter, stores and shops will donate $.25 to the Alameda County Library Foundation. Your donation will go directly to the Campaign for the New Castro Valley Library.

You may get a library card for any Bay Area library by providing proof that you are a California resident.

San Jose Public Library

Santa Clara County Library

Santa Clara City Library

Los Gatos Public Library

Sunnyvale Public Library

Alameda County Library

Palo Alto Author comes to Children’s Library Tuesday evening

The Wednesday Sisters

The Wednesday Sisters

MetBlogs Palo Alto – Looking for something relaxing yet intellectually stimulating to do after work on Tuesday? Palo Alto writer Meg Waite Clayton is the author of the national best selling novel The Wednesday Sisters, and on April 7 you can attend a book reading and signing event with her at the Children’s Library. Take some time for yourself after work and enjoy a free evening with the author of this moving story.

Set in Palo Alto in the 1960s, The Wednesday Sisters is about five women who meet in Eleanor Pardee Park, discover their common bond through books and writing, and embark on journeys of self-discovery through their friendship at a time of historic changes in the United States. It has been receiving rave reviews and is now a national best seller.

megclaytonMeg Waite Clayton was a corporate lawyer before following her dream of becoming a novelist at her husband’s urging. She had success publishing essays over the years, but also spent time refining her fiction skills for publication. You can read more about her road to publication at her website where she also keeps a writer’s blog. You can find her essays in Runner’s World, Writer’s Digest and The Virginia Quarterly Review. Her short fiction can be seen in publications such as Shenandoah, Other Voices, and Louisiana Literature.

Meg will be reading from The Wednesday Sisters as well as signing books which will be available for sale. Come hear this entertaining speaker, enjoy some treats and take in the great setting.

When: Tuesday, April 7, 2009, 7 p.m.
Where: Children’s Library, 1276 Harriet Street, Palo Alto
Note: though this event takes place at the Children’s Library, this is not a program for children due to adult content.

Northside Photo Show at Joyce Ellington Library

Shots in the 'Hood will be shown from March 18 to April 1. Photo: Liv Ames.

Shots in the 'Hood will be shown from March 18 to April 1. Photo: Liv Ames.

Local photographer Liv Ames’ photographs of life in the Northside will be shown at Joyce Ellington Branch Library in a show called “Shots in the ‘Hood”. The show will be opened with a coffee reception Wednesday night, March 18, from 6 to 8 pm, and runs for two weeks, ending April 1.

I’ve been running in to Ames around town as I go to the kind of events and gatherings that I’ve posted about here, so I expect the show to focus on neighborhood life, and I’m expecting to see some excellent photography.

Joyce Ellington Branch Library is at 491 East Empire Street, just north of downtown San Jose. The branch was established in 1977 as the Empire Branch Library, largely due to tireless work by neighborhood leader Joyce Ellington. The branch was renamed for Ellington in 2001, and fully renovated in 2008, making it one of the highlights of the Northside neighborhood.

Library events coming up

Two events are worthy of note at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Library this weekend.

First, a new exhibit of photography by Amber Hsu will be opened in the 4th floor exhibit area. Hsu’s photos of Taiwan and Western China capture rural life “in the peripheries and borderlands of an increasingly globalized world.” The exhibit will be open from Sunday, March 1, through April 30, and viewable whenever the library is open. The exhibit will open with an artist’s reception on Sunday from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm.

Second, the Friends of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior, Library will hold their monthly book sale on the south patio, behind their regular sale area. On Saturday from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm hardcovers will sell for $1 and paperbacks for $0.50; on Sunday from 1:00 pm until 5:00 pm $5 buys all the books you can fit in a shopping bag. These book sales held every month (usually on the last weekend of the month) are a great way to support the library and get something to read without worrying about return dates and overdue notices.

Jean Pfaelzer at MLK Library

Jean Pfaelzer at the Martin Luther King Jr. Library

Jean Pfaelzer at the Martin Luther King Jr. Library

Author Jean Pfaelzer spoke last night at the San Jose main libarry to promote her book, Driven Out: The forgotten war against Chinese Americans. About 120 people turned up, including prominent citizens such as Kansen Chu, San Jose’s first Chinese-American city council member, and Dennis Fong, co-owner of the Tropicana shopping center in east San Jose.

Pfaelzer’s book is about the expulsion of Chinese and Chinese Americans from over 200 California and west coast communities between 1849 and 1906. I haven’t yet read the book, but in her presentation, Pfaelzer describes the confusing motives of white Californians’ violence against their Chinese-American neighbors. Often the vigilante movements that carried out the “roundups” were not led by the workers, the protection of whose jobs was often claimed as the reason for the expulsions, but by civic leaders such as mayors and police chiefs. She also emphasized the response of the victims, who in some cases rebuilt their “Chinatowns” and perservered, and in other cases successfully sued the perpetrators for damages resulting from their expulsion.

Chinese-American San Joseans were burned out of their Chinatowns several times and rebuilt each time. The final Chinatown, known as Heinlenville, was located between Taylor, Jackson, 6th, and 7th Streets. The site, which most recently held a City corps yard, has recently been studied by archaeologists from Sonoma State University in preparation for new development which will make any buried history inaccessible for the indefinite future.

King Library’s Wi-Fi now open to the public

 It’s about time. The Martin Luther King Jr. Library is finally opening up its Wi-Fi network to anyone with a valid library card. So even if you’re not a student, you will finally have access to the Internet from your laptop from within the library, and it won’t be limited to just the Web sites of the library, SJSU and the city’s official sites.

That includes the full database collections, which provide a wealth of in-depth information from periodicals, newspapers, research papers and academic journals, for those instances when Google just doesn’t cut it. (Databases for library patrons can be found here. For SJSU students, go here.)

For more information on the King Library’s Wi-Fi (and directions on how to log on), click here. For info about other library branches, click here. Or just call (408) 808-2000.

You remember how to use a phone, right?

"My Neighbors" at the library

Photos from the "My Neighbors" collection

Photos from the "My Neighbors" collection

Joe Claus’ photo collection, “My Neighbors,” which I’ve blogged before, will be on display on the second floor of San Jose’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Library from now through Jan 31. The photos are portraits of small business owners from in and around downtown San Jose, photographed in medium-format film, allowing them to be shown in large sizes with fantastic detail. They are Claus’ way of documenting the people that he feels hold the community together, and whose businesses give more to the community than corporate-owned chain outlets can.

Author and Steinbeck Fellow to read from her new novel

Diana Spechler, a Steinbeck Fellow at San Jose State University from 2004-2005, will read from her newly published book on Thursday. Who by Fire is an account of the rending and eventual re-ordering of a family suffering from the loss of their kidnapped child.

From Publishers Weekly:

In her affecting debut, Spechler raises the question of whether, in rescuing others, we risk ruining ourselves. Thirteen years after the abduction of youngest child Alena at the age of six, the remaining members of the Kellerman family are still deeply damaged by their shared loss. The irresponsible oldest daughter, Bits, seeks out random sexual encounters with near strangers to fill the voids in her life. Son Ash, meanwhile, dabbles in a variety of compulsive behaviors before settling on Orthodox Judaism, cutting himself off from the rest of the family and moving to Jerusalem. The mother, Ellie, enlists the help of a charismatic stranger to help save Ash from what she views as a cult, and when Alena’s remains are discovered, Bits determines to bring Ash home for their sister’s long-overdue memorial service. Told in alternating chapters by Bits, Ellie and Ash, the narrative is notable in large part for how little these family members actually interact with one another despite the drama that confronts them all. Though the ending is overly tidy, Spechler’s debut raises provocative questions about religion, violence and the resilience of families and individuals. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

The reading takes place Oct. 23 at the Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies, San Jose State University, 7:00 p.m. The Center is located in room 590 of the King library and features the world’s largest Steinbeck archive, featuring manuscripts, correspondence, photos, oral histories, first editions, films, memorabilia, art.

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