Tuesday, June 29, 2010

National Library Advocacy Day 2010

Library supporters from around the country will join together today, June 29, to express their support for library-friendly funding and policies to the U.S. Congress. The rally will take place on Capitol Hill and will serve as a visual reminder to members of the U.S. Congress that libraries still matter. Tell our South Carolina legislators today how important libraries are to our communities and schools. Your voice makes a difference. Our voices together can make a big difference. For more information click here.

Monday, June 28, 2010

LITC Book Review: Chronicle of a Death Foretold

Chronicle of a Death Foretold
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

As the library's Writer in Residence, I use my time in the stacks to familiarize myself with celebrated authors and award wining pieces of
literature. I can say without reservation that Gabo’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold is every bit deserving of its Nobel Prize. Journalistically, through a series of facts and firsthand accounts, he crafts a non-linear story just as descriptive and engrossing as any of his romantic epics. Delivering on the promises made by its title, Marquez recants the events leading up to the death of our story's would-be protagonist, Santiago Nasar, a moderately wealthy man-about-town. Masterfully, Marquez manages to tell us the same story more than once and keep it interesting, each go around revealing enough information to satisfy the reader’s curiosity. We’re turned into silent voyeurs desperately trying to seek out the sordid details of this gruesome murder as Gabo’s nameless narrator pieces together the snapshot in his mind. Every young journalist should be made to read this book if only to explore the limits of the medium. With Chronicle we are reminded that writing can be primarily informative without foregoing the art of storytelling, a lesson that compliments so beautifully the sense of magical-realism present in all of Marquez’s work.

out of 4 Cobras

Thursday, June 24, 2010

FireFox Catalog Search Add-on

I've developed a search plug-in for the Firefox web browser which will allow users to search the Coker Library catalog directly from their browser. You can download it here: Coker College Mozilla Firefox Add-on. Mozilla, the development organization behind Firefox, hasn't full tested the search plug-in yet, but we've been testing here for a couple of weeks without any problems.

Give it a try and let us know here or elsewhere how you like it.

Also, here's a little Firefox tip. The search plug-in box controls the default search engine the browser uses for highlight searches. For instance, I was reading an article about the first Xerox copying machine (think about it: easily copied documents was a huge first step in the digital age) and found the author of a book on the subject by the name of David Owen. I highlighted his name, right-clicked on it, and was given the option to search our catalog for his name:

This trick works with whatever web service you have selected in the Search Box. By default, it will be Google for most people but there are thousands to choose from. Including a Coker library catalog search.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

LITC Book Review: Natives and Exotics: World War II and Environment in the Southern Pacific

As the library's resident World War II expert, I've read many volumes covering the various aspects of combat during those dark days of the 1930s and 1940s. From veteran's memoirs and in-depth histories of particular operations or battles to broad coverage of the entire conflict, most of these tomes cover the combat and heroics of front line troops. A few might mention the rear echelon soldiers, sailors and airmen, but most look at these troops with derision (with nicknames unprintable here). A few cover these troops well, like David Colley's The Road to Victory : the Untold Story of World War II's Red Ball Express.

Judith A. Bennett's Natives and Exotics: World War II and Environment in the Southern Pacific is unique because it is one of the first books to cover the great environmental impact of having over 2 million men and women -- Japanese, Dutch, Australian, and American -- invade the hostile environment of the Southern Pacific. Although tales of combat are mentioned, most of the book deals with the rear areas and the troops that provided medical care, supplies, and food to the frontline soldiers and Marines.

Most casual readers of World War II history know that the Pacific theater was a difficult place to wage war, but most probably didn't know how difficult it was just to survive on some of those islands. Incessant rain, disease, poor sanitation practices, and lack of food/diversity of diet were some of the major environmental factors affecting both sides -- and all of that happened before combat even started!

Bennett tells of the infamous fighting on the Kokoda Trail, between Australian (and later U.S.) and Japanese troops. The Japanese military was still unstoppable at this point - the Philippines, Wake Island, Guam, and Singapore had fallen and now Australia itself was threatened. The Japanese military decided to land on the northern coast of New Guinea, near the villages of Buna and Gona. Their objective was to take Port Moresby, on the southern coast, via a "road" through the treacherous Owen Stanley Mountains. Their beachhead was located near malarial swamps, so by the time the Japanese troops met the Australian forces, they were in the throes of malaria. Moving their bivouacs out of these swamps, and using better anti-malarial practices might have had a huge impact on the Japanese troops' performance. The Aussies were using better anti-malarial practices (basically getting rid of mosquito larvae, defoliating, issuing insect repellent, and so on) and thus were able to fight at almost full strength. However, when American forces joined the Australians late in the campaign, they disregarded the successful anti-malarial practices (more than likely, supplies were low of bug repellent and defoliants) and suffered greatly from a large outbreak of malaria, impairing their performance. Not surprisingly, U.S. forces made a habit of disregarding local or Allied expertise in fighting in the environs of the South Pacific.

With every soldier or Marine, food was of utmost importance -- even if only for keeping morale high. Shipping the food across the great expanse of the Pacific Ocean was costly. Refrigeration was in high demand for blood plasma, so food supplies were often canned or dehydrated. Both combatants turned to local gardens and native farming to help give their troops some variety in the mess halls and in the field. For the Japanese on isolated outposts late in the war (after their naval link to the home islands was cut), this local gardening was all they had. Bennett does an excellent job discussing the different types of crops and methods used, as well as incorporating natives and their practices into farming.

Fishing proved to be an important food source for both sides, and they would even use explosives (when they could be spared) to blast the fish to the surface. Australian forces set up fish processing stations using local Melanesian labor and allowing the islanders to design their own workstations. Americans took a different tack. They supplied their support troops with fishing gear designed to work in the cold waters of New England. The tackle was too heavy to use near the coral reefs that permeate the South Pacific, so few fish were caught without modifying the gear. Once fish was caught and ready to be processed, American forces set up elaborate processing stations for local labor to utilize, with tables and benches. The islanders had been fishing for many generations using their own methods. They preferred to clean and process fish sitting on the ground, cross-legged. Needless to say, satisfactory changes were made and the islanders began processing record amounts of fish for hospitals and outposts.

Bennett includes pictures, charts, maps, and ample graphs. The book is heavily footnoted and has a substantial bibliography. Not exactly for the casual history reader, the book is a good read and breaks new ground in an important field of study.

out of 4 Cobras

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Picture of the Day, 6/10/2010

We need to do more pics of the day. Anyway, coming soon to a study room near you: Dry Erase Boards!

We had several requests for dry erase boards for the study rooms (or at least something to cover the walls in those rooms) in the results of our Student Evaluation last Spring. We hope to have them installed early next week.

New Printers in the Library

We've ordered two full color models of this printer for the LITC. Just kidding.

We'll have a real blog post announcement later on this summer to introduce our new color printers and scanner.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Porter Fleming Literary Competition

This writing competition is held in memory of Porter Fleming, a prominent Augusta, Georgia, citizen and one of the city’s foremost philanthropists. With grant support from the Porter Fleming Foundation, the competition is being administered this year by the Morris Museum of Art, the first museum in the country to focus on the art and artists of the American South. Writers residing in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, South Carolina, and North Carolina may participate. Check out the Porter Fleming Literary Competition web site for details.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Study/Media/Conference Room Availability

We've got a new way to see which study/media/conference rooms are currently available in the LITC: http://www.coker.edu/static/library/studyrooms.htm

This web page will list the current availability of keys for these rooms. As mentioned in a previous blog entry, all study rooms will now be key access only.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Rogers Library - FMU

We hosted Library Dean, Joyce Durant and the library staff from the Francis Marion University's Rogers Library this morning. Nell Bradley, Library Director from Florence-Darlington Technical College joined us.What a great crew! We toured our building and talked about some of the projects we have worked on since moving into the new library. It was a wonderful visit and a morning well spent by all.