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    Here are some recommendations of books on Chinese New Year stories, traditions and food. 

    The Runaway Wok by Ying Chang Compestine is a picture book for that tells the story of a boy who trades the families last eggs for a magic wok that changes his family's fortune forever. 

    Lanterns and Firecrackers: A Chinese New Year Story by Jonny Zucker is about a family preparing the house for the new year and setting off firecrakers to scare away bad spirits. 

    Paper Crafts for Chinese New Year by Randel McGee explains the  significance of the Chinese New Year and teaches young people how to make paper crafts. 

      

    Chinese New Year by Nancy Dickmann describes how people celebrate the holiday and bring good luck in the following year. 

    Chinese New Yearby Katie Marsico is a simple instruction for children to the traditions of Chinese New Year. 

    Chinese New Year by Catherine Chambers gives a description of the food, ceremonies and traditions of Chinese New Year. 

    The New Year Dragon Dilemma by Ron Roy is a fictional tale about three boys named, Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose are enjoying a visit to San Francisco when Holden, their college-age tour guide, is accused of abducting Miss Chinatown from the Chinese New Year parade and stealing her valuable crown.


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    I am always excited to attend the annual METRO conference in January. The event started three years ago, when a new executive director, Jason Kucsma, took office. Jason has left METRO for an exciting new position in another state. We appreciate all that he has done for the library community in New York City, and he will be missed. Anyone whose institution is a member of METRO can attend the conference for free. Also, METRO solicits proposals for project briefings to be presented in the conference each fall.

    We started the day with a business meeting, in which it was announced that Kucsma will be stepping down from his role at METRO. The search is on for a new executive director.

    The keynote session was presented by Siva Vaidhyanathan, author of The Googlization of Everything

    Promoting Digital Archives

    The first project briefing session that I attended was "Selling a Free Resource: Connecting the Digital Archives to a Broader Audience". Mitchell Brodsky of the NY Philharmonic Archives presented the session. The NY Philharmonic is the oldest symphony orchestra in the United States. It commenced operations in 1842. Their materials include marked music scores, programs, and photographs. Unfortunately, there existed a paucity of page clicks on their web site. There was no web traffic from library or research sites. In addition, the fact that their digital resources are free was hurting them. There is a perception that freely available resources on the Internet are not high quality. In order to change this perception and inform librarians of the utility of the web site, staff from the Philharmonic have exhibited at conferences and participated on social media platforms.

    Digital Radio Health Broadcasts

    The second project briefing was "Broadcasts for Health: the NYPR/NYAM Project to Digitize Health Radio Broadcasts from the 1950s." Paul Therman of the New York Academy of Medicine and Andy Lanset of the New York Public Radio presented about the NYAM lectures. The METRO-supported project includes lectures by radio for doctors, including topics such as public health, professional development, and the history of medicine. They are one-hour lectures, and some are done by famous people. Broadcasts to digitize were chosen based on their appeal to the public's historical interest. The lectures were also transcribed and cataloged. Challenges included enhancing sound and removing stray noise. At times, the speakers were either too close or too far from the microphone. The presenters played a sample broadcast by Margaret Mead, cultural anthropologist.

    Lunch was a great opportunity to learn from other library professionals. It was neat to talk to library directors about leadership and managing people.

    Exploring Public Libraries With High School Students

    The third project briefing was "History at Your Fingertips: 21st Century Research on the Go for High School and College Students." This session was presented by Danielle Lewis of Yeshiva University High School for Boys. She teaches at the high school and college level, and she is fantastic. She discussed the importance of bridging the gap between high school and college. She informs her students about the resources that NYPL offers, and the importance of primary sources. She stressed that the quality of the source material trumps the exact correctness of the citations. She tells her students that they are not Google's clients. Teaching skills takes time, but it is completely worth it. Her students find it hard to get off campus, so they enjoy exploring online databases. She encouraged her students to explore the history of the Aguilar Library by walking around the neighborhood. The library was named after Grace Aguilar, who never actually set foot on United States soil. The kids took photos and posted them on Google maps. The boys were assigned to write fictitious memoirs. 

    Chinese Librarianship

    The fourth project briefing was "Outreach Strategy, Financial Literacy, and Embedded Librarianship with the Career Development Center at NYU Shanghai." The session was presented by Raymond Pun. He discussed that the most popular majors are business and economics. He works to perform collection development on entrepreneurial works. He discusses the work of librarians with students. Librarians can teach classes on lynda.com, which has online courses, and they create library guides to promote saving and budgeting to students. All materials in the Chinese university are in English. It was interesting to get an international perspective on librarianship.

    METRO: Past, Present and Future

    The fifth session was "Member-Driven, Community Focused: METRO Services," which was presented by Jason Kucsma, President of METRO. He discussed innovative internships, how the Special Interest Groups (SIGs) have evolved over the years, myMETRO, and the Management Institution training courses. METRO cards are used to look at books in member libraries in the New York City. I learned that METRO has a delivery service that is similar to interlibrary loan. METRO is somewhat unique in that there are not similar organizations in many other cities in the United States. I love the METRO conferences, and I have presented at Special Interest Group meetings.

    The closing session featured evaluation forms on which I wrote my suggestions, and I mentioned what I found helpful about the conference. I am totally looking forward to the METRO Conference in 2016!


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    [Sculpture] "The forced prayer." Image ID: G91F381_255ZF

    Like so many other people who attend religious services on a fairly regular basis, I am not always fully spiritually engaged in every service.  Sometimes my mind wanders from the esoteric to the mundane, as it did this past Sunday when I was mulling over my grocery list instead of devoting my undivided attention to the homily being presented.  (My dearth of attentiveness to the homily is not due to any purported lack of relevance of the homily, but rather is ascribed to the fact that I am not yet in a state of divinity and am therefore all too susceptible to being distracted by worldly concerns.) 

    However, my mind was unexpectedly jarred from its preoccupation with the price of paper towels when the priest's advice to "give up a negative" for Lent jolted me back to the present.  Many people who endeavor to surrender a coveted item or activity for the forty day duration of Lent find the dearth of the desired item or activity too severe a deprivation and lapse in their respective commitment to refrain (I for one cannot honestly envision myself taking a hiatus from pickles for forty days, for starters).  So, the concept of "giving up a negative" appealed to me greatly.  

    I decided that I would attempt to transmute any feelings of annoyance (or worse) inspired in me by certain individuals.  "Challenges from Christ" was the term that my aunt (the nun) utilized to describe people who did not immediately inspire one's spiritual best.  Similarly, in the Buddhist religion, it is my understanding that there is an adage, "Bless your enemy, for he enables you to grow."  (On a lofty spiritual level, I suppose the adage retains merit, but the only "growth" that I am cognizant of emanating from my enemies is the sprouting of gray hair on my head!) Armed with this new spiritual visage, I was fully prepared to live my new-found commitment when "Megan" crossed my path as I was exiting church.  

    "Megan" is one of those entities who apparently regards the confessional as a revolving door, liberally quotes scripture in a preachy tone and fairly well embodies the advice, "Do as I say, not as I do."  To the best of my knowledge and belief, Megan's obedience to secular laws is on par with her level of adherence to church edicts—lip service only. So, one may easily imagine my utter dismay when Megan informed me that she announced to a prayer group at my church that I would be attending said prayer group on a regular basis. I bristled, "But Megan, I don't drive, my night vision is God-awful..."  Megan pursed her lips, shook her head and chided in a strident tone, "Really, Muriel, we are within a stone's throw of our church!  Using the term 'God-awful' must surely constitute a sacrilege."  "Oh yeah?  Well, why is it that people the most in need of a visit from an exorcist who relishes a challenge attempt to upbraid people who at least exert sincere attempts to..."  

    Recalling my religious commitment of not five minutes prior, I broke off in mid-sentence, murmured a contrite, "Of course, Megan," and nodded for Megan to continue. "Anyway, Muriel, I think you could really benefit from this prayer group. There is hope for sinners like you!" Megan called out in a feigned cheery tone as she darted away to commit her next misdeed, er, um, to continue on her way.  I then boarded the bus en route home to eat lunch.  "Muriel!"  I heard as I scrambled for a seat.  I looked up only to witness "Jocelyn" bearing down upon me.  Jocelyn is absolutely maddening, because when faced with a reality that she deems not in accordance with her rose-colored glasses view of life or established plans, she effectuates the best imitation of an ostrich that I have ever witnessed a human perform.  "Did you read the article on the New York Times on Wednesday concerning proposed stricter enforcement of wildlife protection laws—Obama Administration Targets Illegal Wildlife Trafficking?  I read on Twitter that a poacher, when faced with an enforcement official from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, vociferously announced his immediate and permanent repudiation of his poaching activities and broke into a rousing rendition of 'Amazing Grace.'"

     1197824
    The ostrich. Image ID: 1197824

    I sighed, prayed for patience, and said, "Jocelyn, the poacher very likely only expressed his repudiation because he desires for those empowered with the ability to move the wildlife to a place of safety to leave said wildlife vulnerable to the poacher's true ways.  Can I still count you in to assist with mailing those letters on behalf of endangered wildlife to Congress?"  Jocelyn tittered, "No, no, the poachers have learnt their lesson."  I commenced stating, through gritted teeth, "If you do not want to help the animals, please state that and stop hiding behind this ridiculous excuse because it is easier for you not to admit that the animals remain in peril!  My Bajan ancestors stated, 'the more you peep, the less you see' with good reason!  I can't fathom why someone who behaves like an ostrich so much of the time isn't more concerned with protecting the ostriches!"

    Later, as I was munching on a delectable pickle as part of my lunch, while mentally castigating myself for my spiritual lapse, I consoled myself with the thought that since wings have not yet been affixed to my back yet, I can likely seek and received Divine forgiveness for not always adhering to the advanced spiritual goal that I set for myself.  And, I reasoned, the Library contains a literal plethora of books, DVDs and CDs in its Circulating collection that offer spiritual insight and guidance for all who desire more assistance to eschew stumbling on the path. (The items enumerated below represent a sampling of material available within the NYPL's Circulating Collection; any omission of relevant material is not intended in an offensive manner.)

    Books

    CDs

    Audio Books

    e-Books

    DVDs


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    Are you planning to watch the Academy Awards this Sunday, February 22?

    Many of the featured films began life as books; the list below highlights just a few of these notable titles from the NYPL Catalog. For some nominees, like Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, you might want to read the book before viewing the film adaptation by David Fincher. And with others, such as X-men: Days of Future Past, it can be fun to delve into the graphic novel inspiration afterwards, to see how the two visual mediums differ in their treatment.

    Without further ado, on with the show! (All books are listed in alphabetical order by title.)

    Andrew Hodges' biography of Alan Turing details how the brilliant, gay, British mathematician laid the groundwork for modern computing and cracked the German army's Enigma ciphers, an achievement crucial to ending World War II. The Imitation Game stars Benedict Cumberbatch in the lead role and is nominated for "Best Adapted Screenplay". Request this item from the NYPL Catalog.

    American Sniper tells the real life story of United States Navy SEAL Chris Kelly, who became the deadliest marksman in U.S. history during his 1999-2009 deployments to Iraq. Clint Eastwood directs and Bradley Cooper stars in the film adaptation, which is nominated for "Best Adapted Screenplay". Request this item from the NYPL Catalog.

    Originally published in 1980, Days of Future Past immediately follows the gripping events of The Dark Phoenix Saga by creative team Chris Claremont and John Byrne. This edition compiles X-men #138-141 and Uncanny X-Men #142-143. Read the original and compare it to the film version of Days of Future Past, which is up for "Best Visual Effects" at this year's Oscars. Request this item from the NYPL Catalog.

    Gone Girl follows the mysterious disappearance of Amy Dunne on the morning of her fifth wedding anniversary. Her husband Nick is an immediate suspect, but through alternating chapters told from each character's perspective, this slow burn of a thriller gradually reveals the truth underlying their relationship. In the film adaptation, David Fincher directs Rosamund Pike, who is nominated for "Best Actress in a Leading Role". Request this item from the NYPL Catalog.

    Thomas Pynchon's psychedelic noir chronicles private eye Larry "Doc" Sportello as he follows the hazy clues of a kidnapping case across a 1970 Los Angeles littered with vices and the fading soundtrack of the Sixties. Paul Thomas Anderson directs this "Best Adapted Screenplay" nominee, which also stars Joaquin Phoenix and the voice of Joanna Newsom. Request this item from the NYPL Catalog.

    Kip Thorne is an expert on cosmology and the Theory of Relativity and served as scientific consultant and excecutive producer on the film Insterstellar. This book discusses the scientific theories behind the plot including: gravity and time dilation, the physics of blackholes and wormholes, and food scarcity. Interstellar has been nominated for a total of six Academy Awards this year. Request this item from the NYPL Catalog.

    Fifty-year-old Alice Howland is a wife, mother of three, and world-renowned psychology professor at Harvard. Her seemingly perfect life is turned upside down by a diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer's. Julianne Moore is nominated for "Best Actress in a Leading Role" for the adaptation of Lisa Genova's novel. Request this item from the NYPL Catalog.

    Jane Wilde Hawking was married to physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking from 1965-1995. Travelling to Infinity describes their life together during this period and is "an abridged version" of her 1999 autobiography, Music to Move the Stars. The film adaptation, The Theory of Everything, is nominated for "Best Adapted Screenplay" and stars Felicity Jones as Jane Hawking. Request this item from the NYPL Catalog.

    In an interesting twist this year, Damien Chazelle's Whiplash is competing in the "Best Adapted Screenplay" category rather than "Best Original Screenplay". Chazelle made a short film with the same title in 2013 and The Black List named the original 85-page script as one of the "most liked" screenplays of 2012. Click on the link to read the script, which would eventually become the critically-acclaimed film starring Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons. Read online.

    After losing her mother at the age of 22, Cheryl Strayed embarked on a 1,100 mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail with no prior experience. Film critic A.O. Scott of the NY Times calls her memoir Wild "a classic of wilderness writing and modern feminism". Reese Witherspoon is nominated for "Best Actress in a Leading Role" and Laura Deren for "Best Supporting Actress" in the 2014 film. Request this item from the NYPL Catalog.

    Of course, there are many more books behind the 2015 Oscar nominees: Foxcatcher, J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, The Boxtrolls, Cressida Cowell's series which inspired How To Tame Your Dragon 2, and The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter (retold in Studio Gibli's The Tale of the Princess Kaguya).

    Which was your favorite book or film adaptation? Is there a particular nominee you are hoping will win?

    View the above items as a Bibliocommons list.


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    The Regulation Room is simply a normal part of life on Mount Blessing to its residents. To outsiders, however, it is something to be viewed with repulsion. Emmanuel is the ruler and leader of this isolated religious community. The "Believers," as they refer to themselves, accept everything and anything that the exalted one dishes out, even shocking abuse. One time, someone calls the cops on him, with severe repercussions.

    Not everyone who lives in the compound wants to be there, though. Teenager Honey laughs at the teachings of Emmanuel. They seem absurd and ridiculous to her. She resists his cruelty, to her own detriment, and she dreams of living in a better place.

    Agnes Little takes Emmanuel's words too much to heart. She faints repeatedly due to many days of fasting, and she sleeps on rocks in order to atone for her sins. She aspires for perfection, which is possible, according to her leader.

    Honey and Agnes grew up together, in the same room, sharing secrets, their lives and races through the wind. But things have changed now. Honey believes that Agnes has turned into a robot, and she desperately attempts to curb her friend's self-destructive ways. Agnes believes that Honey's fervent attempts to resist Emmanuel and her friend's sins will land the girl in hell for eternity. 

    Nana Pete learns about the Regulation Room, and she is sent into a tail spin trying to remove the girls from pain and suffering.

    The Patron Saint of Butterflies by Cecilia Galante, 2008

    This book was a disturbing expose of what religious cults are like. I was reminded of the Branch Davidians as I was reading this work.


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    Pile of books for homeschooling

    Recently I woke up and took a look around our living room and realized that there is absolutely no way we could homeschool our son without The New York Public Library.There were books and DVDs stacked everywhere.  Piles on the end of the couch, books jutting from our “school” bookcase, many books spread out over the coffee table, DVDs by the television and a few books and movies stacked by the front door waiting to be returned.

    It seems that many of my favorite homeschooling blogs have been featuring “A Day in the Life” essays lately, and there have been a few nods to spending time at libraries, but no one mentions homeschooling exclusively using library materials.  So, I will, because we do!  We don’t spend money on expensive curriculum packages, we get almost everything we need from the library!

    Homeschooling our 14-year-old 10th grader starts at 4:45 am when I wake up, make coffee for me and tea for him and get all his supplies ready for our morning lesson.  I teach him French and Math before I leave for work at NYPL in the Volunteer Office and my husband takes over for the rest of the day.  On this day we start with reviewing a few pages and “brain ticklers” from Painless Geometry. This book is part of a great series that covers everything from Painless Fractions to Painless Public Speaking. Next, we move on to Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape.  Even though these books are written for girls, my son prefers them to other math texts because the stories are funny and stick in your head, making tough concepts easier to remember.

    He’ll read his assignment after I leave for work while I’ll read a few pages ahead of him on my commute. Right now we have two copies checked out: the paperback for me (which is easier to commute with), and the hardcover for him. Later in the day he’ll read another chapter or two of The Math Instinct: Why You’re a Mathematical Genius (along with Lobsters, Birds, Cats & Dogs). This fascinating book shows how we humans are pretty adept at doing math naturally and the entertaining stories are a great confidence booster. If dogs can do calculus, surely we can tackle geometry, right?!

    I hop in the shower while he takes a 25 minute timed quiz from 500 PSAT Practice Questions. He’s been doing this since September using various test prep DVDs and books from the library and he already sees his scores increasing (and his confidence too.) 

    Out of the shower, I tape his French assignment to the kitchen cabinet. We use a free online program through the University of Texas, called Français Interactif, which a librarian told me about.  We also supplement with books and movies from the library including French in 10 Minutes a Day and 501 French Verbs.  He’s really enjoying  A Year in the Merde, which he thinks is hilarious. We add children’s picture books in French for fun and to help vocabulary stick. Arrête d'interrompre(Interrupting Chicken) was really funny. We also watch a French movie at least once a week. This week it will be La Moustache, but no time today, I’ve got to leave for work. It’s 6:10 am.

    My husband takes over. They are studying the 1970s in history right now so they’ll finish up the bookThe 1970s and watch Dick Cavett’s Watergate later while eating lunch. They are also studying the decade through the films and music of the 1970s and have borrowed movies such as All The President’s Men.

    Most of their day will be spent working on the citations and formatting of a research paper our son is finishing on combating Red Tide.  He'll be competing at a regional science fair in Syracuse next month. The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers has been a constant aid during this process, especially when doing bibliographies. A lifesaver! The number of books he borrowed to get this month’s long project done are too numerous to list but cover everything from the children’s book Crayfish to the more scholarly Freshwater Aquaculture. He also accessed many scientific journals through our electronic databases.

    Later in the afternoon, they usually go for a hike. Then our son will be off to an evening art class at a local cultural center carrying Draw 50 Birds under his arm.  When he gets home he usually reads for 1-2 hours before bed. This week it’s War of the Whales, about a lawyer and marine biologist trying to expose the truth about mass whale strandings caused by the Navy.

    When I get on the train to head home from work, I usually have a few emails from him announcing how he did on a math quiz or a question about his French assignment and usually a request to review and edit any grammatical errors for any papers he’s writing. Once I’m finished, I settle in with my own book. Today it is 66 Square Feet: A Delicious Life.  I can daydream about summer fruits and vegetables, and anticipate my summer garden while the train carries me back to the snowy Catskills. Another day in the life of a library homeschooler draws to an end.


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    Enrollment Now Open - SAGE Boot Camp.  This two-week long, intensive training course will provide participants with essential skills to lead them toward job placement.  The first session starts on Monday - Friday from 3/2/15 - 3/13/15, 9 am - 2:00 pm.  Participants must attend every day at the SAGE Center, 305 7th Avenue, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10001.

    Americare, Inc. will present a recruitment for Home Health Aides (F/T & P/T 10 openings) on Tuesday, February 24, 2015, 10 am - 2 pm at Flushing Workforce 1 Career Center, 138-60 Barclay Avenue, 2nd Floor,  Flushing, NY 11355.

    The Governor's Unemployment Strikeforce Virtual Career Fair will be held on Tuesday, February 24, 2015, 10 am - 1 pm.  If you would like to attend this virtual career fair, please register at: jobfair.labor.ny.gov

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    Americare, Inc. will present a recruitment for Home Health Aides (F/T & P/T 5 openings) on Wednesday, February 25, 2015, 10 am - 2 pm,  at Brooklyn Workforce 1 Career Center, 250 Schermerhorn Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201.

    CIDNY-ILS will present  a recruitment for Home Health Aide (20 openings) on Wednesday, February 25, 2015, 10 am - 2 pm, at NYS Department of Labor, 9 Bond Street, 4th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201.

    Military Sealift Command (MSC) will present a recruitment for Able-Seaman, Chief Radio Electronics Technician, Cook/Baker, Deck Engineer Machinist, Electronics Technician, First Assistant Engineer, First Officer, Ordinary Seaman, Refrigeration Engineer, Second Officer, Steward Cook, Supply Utilityman (entry level), Third Assistant Engineer,Third Officer, Unlicensed Junior Engineeer, Wiper (entry level), on Wednesday, February 25, 2015, 10 am - 12 pm, at Flushing Workforce 1 Career Center, 138-60 Barclay Avenue, 2nd Floor, Flushing, NY 11355.

    FreshDirect will present a recruitment for Delivery Rep - Route Driver (10 openings) on Friday, February 27, 2015, 10 am - 2 pm, at the Bronx Workforce 1 Career Center, 400 E. Fordham Road, 8th Floor, Bronx, NY 10458,

    St. Nicks Alliance Workforce Development provides Free Job Training and Educational Programs in Environmental Response and Remediation Tec (ERRT).  Commercial Driver's License, Pest Control Technician Training (PCT), Employment Search and Prep Training and Job Placement, Earn Benefits and Career Path Center.  For information and assistance, please visit St. Nicks Alliance Workforce Development, 790 Broadway, 2nd Fl., Brooklyn, NY 11206, 718-302-2057 ext. 202.

    Brooklyn Workforce Innovations helps jobless and working poor New Yorkers establish careers in sectors that offer good wages and opportunities for advancement.  Currently BWI offers free job training programs in four industries: commercial driving, telecommunications cable installation, TV and film production, and skilled woodworking.  BWI is at 621 Degraw Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217.  718-237-5366.

    CMP (formerly Chinatown Manpower Project) in lower Manhattan is now recruiting for a free training in Quickbooks,  Basic Accounting, and Excel.   This training is open to anyone who is receiving food stamps but no cash assistance.  Class runs for 8 weeks, followed by one-on-one meetings with a job developer.  CMP also provides Free Home Health Aide Training for bilingual English/Cantonese speakers who are receiving food stamps but no cash assistance.  Training runs Mondays through Fridays for 6 weeks, and includes test prep then taking the HHA certification exam.  Students learn about direct care techniques such as taking vital signs and assisting with personal hygiene and nutrition.   For more information for the above two training programs, please Email: info@cmpny.org, call 212-571-1690 or visit 70 Mulberry Street, 3rd Floor, NY, NY 10013. CMP also provides tuition-based healthcare and business trainings for free to students who are entitled to ACCESS funding.  Please call CMP for information.

    Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW) trains women and places them in careers in the skilled construction, utility, and maintenance trades. It helps women achieve economic independence and a secure future.  For information call 212-627-6252 or register online.

    Grace Institute provides tuition-free, practical job training in a supportive learning community for underserved New York area women of all ages and from many different background.  For information call 212-832-7605.

    Please note this blog post will be revised when more recruitment events for the week of February  22  are available.


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     Artwork from Carole Byard's "Rent Series," courtesy of Alexis De Veaux
    Photo credit: Artwork from Carole Byard's "Rent Series," courtesy of Alexis De Veaux

    To many, Carole Byard is the beloved children's book illustrator of such classics as the Coretta Scott King Award-winning Cornrows (1980), and created some of the most memorable drawings of all time for African-American young readers. To Alexis De Veaux, she is known simply as a friend and mentor, who just so happened to create the influential "Rent Series," a vintage collection of artwork beginning in the 1980s for which she compiled old rent receipts her late father kept in his lifelong efforts to provide housing for their family. As we prepare to celebrate Byard's "Rent Series" with our upcoming March program, De Veaux discusses the importance of Byard's work, her inspiration, and how this very personal piece, which speaks to the emotional struggle of real estate among black families, still resonates today. 

    Can you tell us more about the Rent Series and how it was inspired?

    Alexis De Veaux: According to Carole, several years after her father passed away she found shoe boxes of rent receipts he'd saved from places they'd lived. She was deeply moved by this discovery, and by the knowledge of her father's struggles to provide for her, her older brother and her grandmother. The "Rent Series" became a way for Carole to articulate her father's determination, as well as black struggles for survival and self-preservation. 

    What can people expect from next month's program, Carole Byard, the Rent Series and Beyond?

    People should expect to leave with an understanding that Carole Byard is a major black female figure in not only the world of visual art but of black Diasporic visual art. 

    There isn't a whole lot of available information about this series online. Why do you think that is?

    There might be several reasons for that. The "Rent Series" emerged out of a deeply personal narrative for Carole beginning in the 1980s. She was not the type of artist who used the Internet to promote herself or her work. Also, the "Rent Series" has just not been promoted as  a commodity, which has led to issues related to the preservation and legacy of her work.

    How does this series speak to the emotional struggle of real estate for black families?

    I think it speaks deeply to that issue, both then (in the 1980s when Carole began this work) and now. Throughout her whole life, Carole saw her father laboring, paying rent, and never owning anything. When we think of the historic realities for black families in this country, we still have to think about the numbers of families that lose land, have homes foreclosed because mortgage payments cannot be met, are homeless because they simply do not have money to pay rent consistently.

    Carole is also a well-known book illustrator. How is that style reflected in the "Rent Series?"

    Carole was always interested in revealing aspects of the human spirit. In her childrens' book illustrations, she wanted to give black children an opportunity to see themselves as positive, life-affirming models. In the "Rent Series," Carole wanted to show similar aspects of black lives, even when those lives are challenged.

    What would you like people to take away from this program?

    I would like people to come away with a deeper appreciation for and knowledge of the lives of female visual artists, especially those who are women of color, as well as a renewed sense of how significant Carole Byard is to black visual studies. I would also like people to understand why it's important to buy and collect the work of black female visual artists, and to think about how they can help senior artists catalog, archive and preserve their legacies. 

    Share your thoughts on Carole Byard's work in the comments section below, and join us on March 12 for a lively discussion about the artist


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    As Maud flits between the present and the past, we gather that Frank helps the Palmers with extra rations in post-war Britain but is disliked by Mr. Palmer for his dubious connections and quick temper. Mrs. Palmer likes Frank and doesn't think he could have harmed Sukey. But their lodger, the rather odd Douglas, says, "He's a jealous man, is Frank. Got a temper on him, too." More questions from Elizabeth is Missing:

    Austerity Britain
    • What is our impression of Douglas? What is his relationship with Sukey? 
    • What does "the mad woman" symbolize in the novel?
    • After "the mad woman" dies, Douglas tells Maud that she was his mother and, "I couldn't lock Mother away, too. All she ever wanted was to go home, to touch the things my sister had touched."
    • How does Douglas's admission about his mother and sister help us understand Maud's determination to search for Sukey and Elizabeth?
    • Frank is a problematic character. He is hard to like or trust. What are we to make of his behavior with Maud before and after Sukey's disappearance? Why does he ask Maud to marry him? 

    The chaos of post-war Britain has its effect on Sukey's disappearance.  "Hasty war marriages had led to even hastier departures." The police plead with women to contact their husbands so the police are able to tell victims of foul play from the runaways. If Frank hadn't helped plant squash in someone's garden, Sukey would have been presumed to have run away and stayed missing forever.

    Do you think that justice was finally served even though Frank was not jailed then and may be dead now? 

    For those interested in mysteries and in fiction set during or immediately after World War 2, Charlotte Link's The Other Child is exciting and full of period details! For more information on post-war Britain, check out  David Kynaston's Austerity Britain, 1945-51.


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     TH-13476
    Beatrice Forbes-Robertson. Image ID: TH-13476

    Sometimes, it all comes together. This week, I had the pleasure of dramaturging for an On Her Shoulders evening of readings from British Suffrage plays. This project included references to many favorites from past exhibitions, among them Katharine Hepburn. On Her Shoulders is an organization that presents staged readings of plays by women. The evening consisted of three plays from the Methuen Drama Book of Suffrage Plays, as edited by the British actress-scholar Naomi Paxton (2013). It ended with the popular comedy, How the Vote Was Won by Cecily Hamilton and Christopher St. John, commissioned by the Actress Franchise League.

    Published by Women's Writers' Suffrage League, London, How the Vote Was Won was re-published and distributed by Dramatic Publishing (Chicago, 1910), which described it as "Easy English comedy…Lively and clever Suffrage sketch…English atmosphere should be suggested but the effectiveness of the plays does not depend on the local color." It became a reliable fund-raising tool in England and the United States since, as well as propaganda, it is "a capital bit of farcical satire," per the Chicago Record April 7, 1911.

    The Actress Franchise League was co-founded by Adeline Bourne with actresses, writers and directors who enjoyed transatlantic (Broadway-West End) careers. Bourne (see my blog on Vandamm and the Suffragists) and director Edith Craig (see to illuminate the scene) commissioned plays and monologues for performances at the many rallies, mass meetings and events that raised funds and enthusiasm for the cause. Inspired by laws that assumed that women were protected by male heads of households, the play's off-stage Suffrage leaders have declared a women's general strike, in which all working women leave their jobs and go 'home" to their nearest male relative or (if there is none) to the Workhouse. This will force the men to march on Parliament promoting women's rights so that they go back to their jobs. It was written during an optimistic period in the Suffrage campaign when it was believed that the three political parties were close to supporting voting for rates-paying women. The characters are Horace and Edith Cole, a barely middle-class couple and the invading stream of normally working women relatives. It is both a drawing room comedy and a farce, setting up a physical and social space, then bringing more and more characters into it. Each performer gets to make a solo entrance, quickly establish a character, and make a political point. Finally, Horace gets it and takes his turn at speech-making before marching on Westminster.

    Although there is some very specifically British, 1910 language, such as using Union for workhouse, it was exported to the United States and the English-speaking world. Paxton discovered a 1911 production in Johannesburg, sponsored by the Women's Reform Club. It was the finale of a triple bill of suffrage plays with Before the Dawn, set in 1867 London, by Bessie Hatton, A Woman's Influence by Gertrude Jennings, and a reading by novelist Charlotte Perkins Gilman. The first presentation, with a transatlantic cast, was given in aid of The Equality League of Self-Supporting Women, for a single matinee on March 31, 1910 at the Maxine Elliott Theatre. It was co-stage managed by Beatrice Forbes-Robertson (who played "Winifred," the militant Suffragist sister-in-law).

    She also presented the three plays in Chicago for the benefit of the Illinois Equal Suffrage Association (March 1911) and in Philadelphia (February 16) under the auspices of the Pennsylvania Limited Suffrage League, the Equal Franchise Society of Pennsylvania and the College Equal Suffrage League. The latter's program included the wonderfully pragmatic statement: "A collection for the benefit of the Suffrage Cause will be taken before the last play. Those who do not wish to give, need not do so, as they have already bought tickets. On the other hand, the audience is asked to remember that the expenses of a Suffrage campaign are very heavy, especially this year, as two Women Suffrage bills are to be presented to the Pennsylvania Legislature and if the Suffragists wish to continue holding meetings and distributing literature they must receive financial support."

    Melody Brooks, of On Her Shoulders, discovered a production by the The Connecticut Players in four performances in August 1913. An article by Todd Levy on ConnecticutHistory.org noted that one such performance, possibly attended by Katharine Hepburn's Suffragist mother, was given at the Old Saybrook Musical and Dramatic Club, now called the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center.


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    Charles Blow is a visual op-ed columnist for The New York Times and the author of the memoir Fire Shut Up in My Bones. He has also acted as a commentator for CNN and as art director of National Geographic. In this week's podcast, the journalist speaks with Schomburg Center director Khalil Muhammad about his middle name, how he was nearly baptized twice, and his unexpected childhood hero.

    Charles Blow at NYPL

    Fans of Charles Blow may know that his middle initial is M, but what they may not know is that he was in part named after the great Ray Charles:

    "My middle name is McRay. This was a compromise with my mom, who, our last name is Blow, so she was trying to figure out the most standard first names possible. And my oldest brother is begging her to name me Ray Charles. And so her compromise is, 'I will make him Charles McRay.' Yes, I am named after Ray Charles."

    Blow discussed one of the public figures he emulated as a child, and it may not be who you think. In fact, that person was Prince Charles:

    "I had always looked up to Martin Luther King the way other kids looked up to basketball stars or rockstars or something. And so, that way he became a role model. He was erudite. He had ambition. He was noble. He was incredibly well-educated. He was well-spoken. And then around the same time, Prince Charles marries Diana! I didn't even know there was a Prince Charles. But all of a sudden, Prince Charles is all over the television and you can't get away from this 'Prince Charles marries this woman and now there's a princess.' I wasn't even sophisticated in my logic. It was just like,  'There's a Prince. His name is Charles. I could be a Prince!' So I just start to watch him every time he's on television. And watch the way he holds his body. Does his hand fall in front or behind? He actually would do this waistcoat thing, where he put one hand here. I didn't like that. But everything else... Everything he did; I did it."

    Although he is somewhat ambivalent on the topic of religion and spirituality, Blow recounted why he was nearly baptized twice:

    "So the first time I get up to volunteer to be baptized, which in my church, you did it when you were very young. And so I say, okay I'm going to go and give my life over to the Lord. The preacher would huff and puff and carry on, and then he would come down, wipe sweat, and say, 'Does anybody want to come? You come.' So he did that, and he came down to the front. And I went down to the front. So he starts the whole routine... and he says, 'Do you want to be baptized?' And this is a big, greasy man. And everytime I have ever seen him baptize somebody, it looks like you could die. And so, he says, 'Do you want to be baptized?' And I'm thinking, I'm looking up at this man, and I say, 'You know what, I don't know about that.' And the whole church burst into laughter, and my mother slinks down in her seat, and so, I just go back to my seat. I'm like, 'You're not killing me.' So, I wait until he leaves. So now I'm older. Like it's years. It took me years to get to the Lord because that man was standing in the way!"

    You can subscribe to the New York Public Library Podcast to hear more conversations with wonderful artists, writers, and intellectuals. Join the conversation today!


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    "Come as you are, as you were / As I want you to be / As a friend, as a friend / As an old enemy..."
    Friends

    On April 5, 1994, I was living and working in downtown Seattle. I remember very clearly how a co-worker came running into work that afternoon to announce that Kurt Cobain, the lead singer for Nirvana, had been found dead just a few miles away, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head (remember there were no cell phones or social media to alert us). We were devastated. Nirvana’s music meant so much to us. They were one of the reasons why some of us lived there, why we had fallen in love with punk and the local music scene, why some of my friends were in bands or working in the music industry. In the rain soaked Seattle of the early '90s, grunge rock was the soundtrack to our lives and Kurt and Nirvana were at its center.

    Kurt’s voice and lyrics were brash, terse, angry and raw. He represented non-conformity and the virtue of not fitting in. He was a square peg in a round hole and so were the rest of us who gathered, a few rainy days later at Seattle Center to say goodbye at an impromptu memorial service. There was chaos and crying. People sang and moshed. Nirvana’s songs and lyrics were a cure for our troubles, they connected us and now they were bringing us together one last time.

    Twenty one years on, his legacy continues in two recent YA books Carnival at Bray and Love Letters to the Dead. Both books examine the power of music and words to bring people together, inspire us and give us hope.

    bray

    Carnival at Bray by Jessi Anne Foley (2014)
    Set in 1993 and ‘94, Maggie is uprooted from her life in Chicago and forced to move to a small coastal town in Ireland with her mother, sister and new stepfather. Unlike her younger sister, she doesn’t fit in or make friends right away. She misses her grandmother and screw-up of a rocker uncle, Kevin, who discusses books and music with her. He took her to see the Smashing Pumpkins for her first concert and now he sends her care packages of Twizzlers and Spin magazine. He encourages her to be different and strong and to not be afraid of living her own life. When tragedy strikes, Maggie embarks on a forbidden trip to Rome (with a cute Irish boy) to see Nirvana in concert. Through it all Maggie begins to see that she is much stronger and braver than she ever thought she could be.

    Full disclosure: any novel set in Ireland I am probably going to love and this is no exception. Smart, touching, complex, sweet... this novel has it all. Maggie is a character that is easy to root for and the Irish setting comes alive, you practically feel the spray from the cold, grey Irish Sea on your face. By setting the book in the '90s, Foley manages to jettison all the annoying technology that would help Maggie’s parents track her down as well as give the book a great musical soundtrack. Kurt and Nirvana are always there, just off-page, bringing meaning to Kevin’s life and being the inspiration for Maggie’s journey(s). Ultimately, while the music is the catalyst and connector, the book stresses the importance of family: the ones we are born with and the ones we make for ourselves.

    Love

    Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira (2014)
    Laurel is devastated by the death of her sister May. As part of a school assignment, she has to write a letter to someone who’s died. Laurel chooses to write to Kurt Cobain, her sister’s favorite singer but she doesn’t stop there. She continues to write other dead celebrities, including: Janis Joplin, River Phoenix, Heath Ledger, Amy Winehouse... pouring out her heart and guilt about what really happened the night her sister passed away. Through these letters, she discovers meaning and messages in the deceased celebrities' lives and in her own life as well. Slowly, Laurel starts to piece together her fractured family, understand her sister more fully, make new friends and fall in love and simply begins to live again.

    This is a beautifully written novel full of poetry and melancholia. In the letters she writes, Laurel is reaching out and trying to find any kind of understanding for her sister’s death. The book emphasizes the power of words, poetry and music to make a difference in our lives. Laurel begins her letter-writing journey with Kurt and the Nirvana album In Utero, which was her sister’s favorite—especially the song “All Apologies”—which Laurel sees as her sister apologizing for not living up to everyone’s expectations, most of all her own.

    "What else should I be / All apologies / What else could I say / Everyone is gay / What else could I write / I don't have the right / What else should I be / All apologies..."

    Throughout Laurel's journey, Dellaira shows us that there is no right or wrong way through grief—you just find solace where you can and heal the best way you can. As I read the novel, I found myself listening to In Utero and other Nirvana albums and this gave the book a nuance and a poignancy I wasn’t expecting. Yes, this is one of those sad/happy YA novels that may make you cry but like most things that do that, you just might begin to understand yourself and the world around you a little better.

    Biographies of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana

    rejects

    Discography 

    nevermind

    DVDs

    reading

     


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  • 02/23/15--08:23: CMP Job Fair March 5
  • CMP (formerly Chinatown Manpower Project, Inc.) is hosting a job fair in Flushing, Queens, on Thursday March 5, from 10 am–3 pm.

    This recruitment inicludes entry-level, professional, and supervisory jobs in a variety of fields.

    Talent acquisition staff from the following employers are attending:

    sixty million jobs
    • New York Queens Hospital
    • North Shore-LIJ Health System
    • Charles B. Wang Community Center 
    • Wells Fargo
    • Best Buy
    • Time Warner Cable
    • Con Edison
    • LAM Hotel Group
    • United Healthcare
    • Council for Airport Opportunities

    The job fair is at United Healthcare, 136-02 Roosevelt Avenue, 3rd Floor, Flushing.

    Admission is free.  

    Please come professionally dressed and with at least 20 copies of your resume.  

    For more information and to register, please contact Jennifer Chan at CMP: 212-571-1690 Ext.236, or jenniferchan@cmpny.org

    Job seekers are encouraged to attend a workshop to prepare for the job fair at CMP on Wednesday, February 25, from 9 - 11 am.  HR recruiters from Wells Fargo will be providing insights on resumes, interviewing, elevator pitches, advancing your career, as well as giving individuals feedback to job seekers.  

    CMP is located at 70 Mulberry Street, 3rd Floor, in lower Manhattan.


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    Cinderella is the tale of a girl who was the beloved daughter of a wealthy man who passed away. Cinderella is left alone to live with her evil stepmother and two stepsisters who treat her very poorly. On the day of the royal ball, a fairy godmother makes Cinderella's dream come true and she goes to the ball where she meets the prince. Cinderella and the Prince fall in love, however Cinderella runs away when the clock strikes midnight and  he is only left with a glass slipper to find her... and live happily ever after. 

    Here are some recommendations of modern retellings: 

    Cinder by Marissa Meyer
    "As plague ravages the overcrowded Earth, observed by a ruthless lunar people, Cinder, a gifted mechanic and cyborg, becomes involved with handsome Prince Kai and must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect the world in this futuristic take on the Cinderella story."

    Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas began as a Cinderella retelling that became its own epic tale along the way. Throne of Glass  tells the story of Celaena Sardothien. Celaena is an eighteen year old assassin sent to do hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes. Crown Prince Dorian offers her a pathway to freedom by making her fight as his champion in the royal tournament. In order to gain her freedom Celaena must win the tournament and work for the palace for a few years. 

    Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell is a Cinderella retelling. In this story our Cinderella is called Mechanica  by her evil stepsisters because she is an inventor. Mechanica's real name is Nicolette. Nicolette is determined to have a better life than the one she is currently living in, so after she finds a workshop in the cellar she begins to work on creating something for the technological exposition and royal ball where she can meet and wow the prince with her creation... Mechanica will be published August 4, 2015.

    Boundby Donna Jo Napoli
    "In a novel based on Chinese Cinderella tales, fourteen-year-old stepchild Xing-Xing endures a life of neglect and servitude, as her stepmother cruelly mutilates her own child's feet so that she alone might marry well."

    Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
    "In this novel based on the story of Cinderella, Ella struggles against the childhood curse that forces her to obey any order given to her. At birth, Ella of Frell was given the gift of obedience by a fairy. Ella soon realizes that this gift is little better than a curse, for how can she truly be herself if at any time anyone can order her to hop on one foot, or cut off her hand, or betray her kingdom—and she'll have to obey? Ella's quest to break the curse and discover who she really is, is both funny and poignant." The Ella Enchanted film is also available in circulation. 

    Just Ella (Available as an e-book) by Margaret Peterson Haddix
    "Being a princess isn't all that...You've heard the fairytale: a glass slipper, Prince Charming, happily ever after... Welcome to reality: royal genealogy lessons, needlepoint, acting like "a proper lady," and—worst of all—a prince who is not the least bit interesting, and certainly not charming. As soon-to-be princess Ella deals with her newfound status, she comes to realize she is not "your majesty" material. But breaking off a royal engagement is no easy feat, especially when you're crushing on another boy in the palace... For Ella to escape, it will take intelligence, determination, and spunk—and no ladylike behavior allowed."

    Cindy Ella (Available as an e-book) by Robin Palmer
    "Sophomore iconoclast Cindy Gold publishes an anti-prom letter in her high school newspaper, but when she develops a crush on her SAT tutor, on top of the ones she already has on popular senior Adam Silver as well as a boy she has been exchanging instant messages with, she begins to doubt her own convictions."

    The Egyptian Cinderella by Shirley Climo
    "In this version of Cinderella set in Egypt in the sixth century B.C., Rhodopes, a slave girl, eventually comes to be chosen by the Pharaoh to be his queen."

    Roses and Bones: Myths, Tales, and Secrets by Francesca Lia Block is a collection of three books added to form one new volume of fairy tale myths and retellings. 

    Five Glass Slippers by Elisabeth Brown, Emma Clifton, Rachel Heffington, Stephanie Ricker, Clara Diane Thompson, and Editor Anne Elisabeth Stengl
    "One Beloved Story—Five Exciting Writers—A Collection to Cherish!"


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     70344
    There is nothing like a Good Book, Life Cartoons. Image ID: 70344

    Learning how couples work together professionally on books was definitely of interest to me, so I was excited to meet Andrea and Brian Pinkney, Sean Qualls and Selina Alko, Betsy Lewin and Ted Lewin. Betsy Bird, Youth Materials Specialist at NYPL, as usual, moderated the panel discussion in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. These events occur about once a month, usually on a Saturday at 2 pm. 

    Why Create a Book Together

    Bird asked how the couples began collaborating on children's literature together.

    Qualls met Alko in 1999. He started to get noticed by publishers in 2003, and then they did sample pieces together to sell their ideas to publishers.

    Betsy Lewin stated that people asked her and Ted for years why they did not work together. However, they could not figure out how to combine their different artistic styles. Over the years, they have come to a solution. Usually, when they are on a 30-hour airplane ride, they use the time to collect ideas and discuss the work.

    Ted Lewin stated that they made the connection between their styles while they were writing about a trek they made on a wildlife tour. One of the their books, How to Babysit a Leopard: and Other True Stories from Our Travels Across Six Continents, which is due to be published in June of 2015, is the culmination of 40 years of travel.

    Brian Pinkney stated that he and Andrea started working together without thinking about it much. If she wrote a story that he liked, it was almost second nature that he would illustrate it.

    Bird mentioned that there are quite a few pairs who have collaborated on children's books throughout the years. She noticed a fair amount of nonfiction books, but also some fiction that the panelists write. She wanted them to describe how they collaborate on the writing process and how they get their linguistic styles to mesh. 

    Keeping a Professional Distance

    Andrea Pinkney said that part of the job of publishers is to keep writers and illustrators separate. She used to work for a publisher, and she was the intermediary between writers and illustrators. She did not allow them to speak directly to each other. Brian's studio used to be in their house with their kids. However, he moved it to an outside place, which she rarely visits. She wants him to be free to have his own ideas, which is the traditional publishers' model of lack of direct interaction between the storytellers and the artists. They have one meeting per week at their favorite diner from 10:30 am to 3 pm on Saturdays. He reads the manuscript, and she looks at the sketches. There are rules for the meeting. She must say that a drawing looks "unresolved," if she does not like it in order to avoid hurting Brian's feelings. When commenting on her writing, Brian must say first, "Honey, you're off to a great start." no matter what the tactful subsequent comments might be. Also, discussing each other's work in between weekly meetings is prohibited.

    Ted Lewin has a studio on the top floor. Betsy's studio is on the floor below his. 

    Betsy Lewin told us that she is the detail-oriented fact-checker of the couple, while Ted is the storyteller.

    Selina Alko and Sean Qualls just completed their first book together. She opined that they are still in the process of perfecting their creative fusion. Sean got a studio outside of the house so that they can keep a professional distance. It is difficult to work together at home while raising two kids.

    Qualls enjoys having a studio outside the house because Selina used to give feedback when he was not ready for it.

    Ted Lewin admits that collaborating at home without kids is a lot easier than dealing with the little ones when you are trying to work.

    The Joy of Working Together

    Betsy Lewin said that writing a story from two different points of view is enjoyable.

    Bird commented that all of the panelists have worked with authors and illustrators who were not involved with them personally. She asked them if there existed projects that they wanted to work with their partner on and projects that they never wanted to do jointly.

    Ted Lewin believes that their books naturally came together from their shared experience. He has never thought about books that he would not want to do with Betsy.

    Betsy Lewin opined that creating a book with someone else is akin to opening a Christmas gift; it opens up possibilities for things that she has never thought of before.

    Brian Pinkney mentioned that they usually create nonfiction works, but Andrea recently suggested that they work together on a fiction book.

    Qualls commented that both of them have done books on their own. If the story is right, they will continue to collaborate on works.

    Ted Lewin said that they both began as illustrators, but they both love to tell stories, as they previously did in a pictorial sense.

    Betsy Lewin was illustrating works for a children's magazine called Humpty Dumpty.  One of the articles for the magazine spurred the genesis of a book, and then she also created a book about subtraction at the suggestion of an editor. 

    Bird wanted the panelists to tell the audience about their recent works, how they generated the ideas, and how they navigating working together.

    Ted Lewin mentioned that their forthcoming book, How to Babysit a Leopard, is a collection of stories spawned from 40 years of travel. It was their dream to put this book together. It comprises 72 stories in 144 pages.

    Selina Alko spoke about their book, The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage, which is based on a true story. Interracial marriage used to be illegal in some states, including Virginia. One such case went to the Supreme Court, and the couple won the right to be married. When they heard this story, it was important to them and resonated with them. They wanted to tell the story to kids. 

    Brian Pinkney stated that their collaborating has changed over the years. He reads a book and gets a visual idea of how it could be laid out. Since they have been together for so many years, they know how each other think. Andrea sometimes plunks a complete manuscript on the table for him to work on. She sometimes puts devices in the words (such as a map) for him to play with. They know each other's strengths well; they almost have a sort of mental telepathy.

    How to Work Together Successfully

    Bird asked the panelists to give couples or potential couples who wanted to collaborate advice as to how to accomplish that feat.

    Betsy Lewin said that she and Ted have respect for each other. However, each can get excited about and protective of his or her ideas. Emotions can get entangled in the process; therefore, it is important to step back and regroup.

    Ted Lewin pointed out that since they know each other well and have been together forever, it is easy for them.

    Betsy Lewin encouraged anyone who is interested in collaborating to try it, and the project may succeed.

    Selina Alko said that working on books together is like making a marriage work. It is about letting go of control. Working together on books has strengthened their marriage.

    Betsy Lewin thinks that when the collaboration goes well, it feels great.

    Sean Qualls feels that there is no better match than to collaborate together on a book. It's great to have surprises. Selina leaves him gems to work with, and he greatly enjoys working with his wife. They have much knowledge of each other and appreciation for each other. 

    Audience Questions

    Bird opened the floor up to audience questions.

    The first person mentioned that all of the panelists are well-established authors and illustrators. He or she wondered if they have been told by publishers not to collaborate.

    Ted Lewin said that just the opposite has occurred. Since the publishers know them, they know they work well together, and they want them to collaborate. However, in some cases the illustrator is terrific, but the story is not good. His advice was for illustrators to sell themselves as artists first to publishers and worry about collaborating with particular authors later.

    Brian Pinkney wanted Andrea to sell the book, Seven Candles for Kwanzaa, for herself first. However, he did end up illustrating the book.

    Andrea Pinkney told us that there have been books that they wanted to work together on, such as The Red Pencil, but the publisher wanted a different illustrator. Shane Evans ended up illustrating the cover of the book. 

    Brian Pinkney stated that Evans did something wonderful for the book that he might not have done. It is indeed a gorgeous cover.

    Betsy Lewin stressed the importance of having faith in your story. You can sell it on your own. It is very risky to submit author and illustrator work together if both of the parties are inexperienced. Published are not inclined to take a chance on two people who are new to the business of children's book publishing.

    A second audience member asked the authors and illustrators if they comment to each other on projects that they are not working on during the process of creation.

    Ted Lewin constantly provides feedback to his wife in a friendly manner.

    Sean Qualls mentioned that Selina Alko only comments when she is asked for it. Sometimes, he has a nebulous view of the direction in which the work needs to go. In this case, he needs his own emotional energy to push himself forward. However, sometimes he needs commentary from another person in order to progress. He knows himself and his creative process.

    Andrea Pinkney said that they always ask each other for feedback. However, sometimes she gets in the zone, and she tells Brian that she cannot talk now.

    Upcoming Children's Literary Salons

    Accuracy and Illustration in Children's Nonfiction
    Saturday, March 7 at 2 pm
    Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
    South Court Auditorium


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    A Negro League emblem
    A Negro League emblem, via Wikicommons

    Hey! Well, we're over the halfway point here in February. Weather-wise, no one should be sad to see it go, it's been a rough month! However, it does mean that the Negro Leagues display here at Grand Central will be coming down sooner rather than later.  Going into the month and during preparations, my knowledge of Negro League baseball history was rather lacking. Now I'm happy to say I learned a great deal about a lot of different players who took the field during that era. Guys like Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, Monte Irvin, and the late Ernie Banks were all able to not only play in the Negro Leagues, but also make a mark on the game's biggest stage as well. A lot of men did not have this opportunity, and it's only right that we acknowledge them and their achievements too.

    On a sillier note, one thing I certainly noticed while researching Negro Leaguers were the amount of nicknames they all produced. It seems you weren't anybody unless you had a nickname in tow! So without further ado, let's dive into a few of the Negro Leagues' most unique nicknames, and find out where they came from!

    1. "Satchel" Paige - Ah of course, the great Satchel Paige is first on this list. Wait, you thought "Satchel" was his real name? Once upon a time I did too, so don't feel so bad. Satchel Paige's birth name was actually Leroy Robert Paige. Arguably the most-celebrated of all Negro League hurlers, Paige dominated the black baseball scene with a number of different clubs, but played on the Kansas City Monarchs the longest. He signed with the Cleveland Indians midway through the 1948 season, one year after the Indians integrated the American League with their signing of Larry Doby. Though Paige only made 179 appearances in Major League Baseball over parts of six seasons (he made the Hall of Fame largely on his work in the Negro Leagues) he did set records for being the oldest-ever rookie (42 years and 20 days old), oldest player to ever appear in a game (a "publicity stunt" appearance organized by Kansas City Athletics owner Charlie Finley that saw him toss three scoreless innings as a 59 year old), and first black pitcher to appear in a World Series. So where did his nickname derive from? Paige himself said it was a childhood nickname bestowed upon him when he was earning money carrying passenger's bags and satchels around train stations. He came a long way since then.

    2. "Turkey" Stearnes - One of the best hitters you've never heard of? Might be. Norman Thomas "Turkey" Stearnes had a blend of power and speed that made him one of the finest leadoff hitters in Negro League history. And that's in addition to being a standout centerfielder. Though not all Negro League data was preserved, we do know that Stearnes had at least 176 home runs, played in at least 5 East-West Negro League All-Star games, and won at least 6 Negro League home run titles.  As for the nickname? Well it's said that it came from Stearnes's unusual running style, that saw his arms fly about like a turkey flapping its wings!

    3. "Mule" Suttles - When it comes to top sluggers in Negro League history, catcher Josh Gibson is probably the name that comes to the forefront of your mind, understandably so. But let's not forget about George "Mule" Suttles. This is a man who was so strong, he swung a 50-ounce bat with regularity! Suttles's feats at the plate are legendary. He hit 3 home runs in a single inning in a game against the Memphis Red Sox. In another game played in Cuba, Suttles slammed a home run that cleared the park's 60-foot high centerfield fence, and landed somewhere in the ocean. Believe it or not, the not oft talked about slugger is the Negro Leagues all-time leader in home runs, with 190 of them documented. Truly one of the most powerful men in the history of the game, Suttles's strength is where his "Mule" nickname comes from. The mule is known for carrying things via carts. So when the fans needed Mule Suttles to carry the ballclub, they started a chant "Kick, Mule!" in an attempt to get their beloved slugger to deliver in a big spot.

    4. "Cool Papa" Bell - So what was James Thomas "Cool Papa" Bell's biggest calling card as a ballplayer? Allow this anecdote by Satchel Paige to give you a hint: "Let me tell you about Cool Papa Bell. One time he hit a line drive right past my ear. I turned around and saw the ball hit his rear end as he slid into second." Fast as a screaming line drive, Bell's wheels made him absolutely famous in the baseball world, where he's regarded as one of the speediest players to ever play the game. Bell had a 20+ year career as a speedy centerfielder in the Negro leagues, where he routinely hit .300, and even topped the .400 mark in a few seasons. However, Bell actually started his career in the Negro Leagues as a pitcher. In 1922, while playing for the Negro National League's St. Louis Stars, Bell (who was only 19 years old at the time) struck out future Hall-of-Famer Oscar Charleston in a pressure-filled situation. This strikeout earned a lot of respect from his teammates, who were incredibly impressed with how poised, how cool Bell reacted when performing under heavy pressure. From there on, Bell was branded "Cool Papa", a nickname that never faded. 

    5. "Biz" Mackey - Before Josh Gibson came onto the Negro League scene in the 1930s, James Raleigh "Biz" Mackey was the premiere catcher there for almost two decades. His career spanned 30 seasons, and he had all the tools worthy of a future Hall-of-Famer, including annually high batting averages and an incredible throwing arm. His 1925 Hilldale Athletic Club won the 1925 Colored World Series. Then in 1946, his leadership and experience helped the Newark Eagles win the Negro World Series, a team he skippered. Mackey also passed on plenty of advice and counseling towards younger players who would go on to star in the Major Leagues, such as Roy Campanella and Larry Doby. While he has sort of been overshadowed by other catchers of that time, like Campy and Josh Gibson, Mackey is still only one of 19 catchers who're enshrined in the Hall of Fame, which is a testament to how good he really was. Now as for his nickname, "Biz", well let's just say it was another advantage he utilized while playing. "Biz" is short for "business", which is what Mackey's opponents say he used to give them while they were in the batter's box. Mackey would be behind the dish as hitters dug in, and Mackey just would not stop talking. His jolly nature would have him talking the batter's ear off, doing anything in his power to distract them as they hit. Surely his pitchers were appreciative!

    6. "Bullet" Rogan - Charles Wilber "Bullet Joe" Rogan was a rare breed of ballplayer. He was successful not only on the mound, but at the plate too. Some statistical compilers actually have Rogan as the all-time winningest pitcher in Negro League history. Of course we'll never know if that statement is true or not, but it's impressive nonetheless. Other compilings have stated that Rogan's .338 batting average is fourth best all time in black baseball. He was an absolute superstar, and the great Casey Stengel once declared Rogan to be the best pitcher to ever live. He played 19 seasons for the Kansas City Monarchs, helping them win three straight pennants from 1923-1925. In the 1924 Colored World Series between Kansas City and Hilldale, Rogan carried the Monarchs to a Series victory, winning two games as a pitcher and collecting 13 hits over the best-of-9 Series. As you probably guessed, Rogan's "Bullet Joe" nickname came from his pistol-quick fastball that he had in his arsenal of pitches. Rogan's fastball was so fast, it was deemed too fast to catch by teammates and adversaries alike. In addition to his blazing heater, Rogan also utilized curves, forkballs, and the occasional spitball in order to retire hitters.

    7. Arthur "Rats" Henderson - Maybe the least known out of all the players found on this list, don't let his obscurity fool you. Henderson was said to possess a curveball that was unhittable by anyone in any league. He pitched 7 seasons for the Bacharach Giants of the Eastern Colored League, a club that won pennants in both 1926 and 1927. Unfortunately, they fell in both years to the Chicago American Giants. One of he brightest young pitches the Negro Leagues had seen, Henderson's career ultimately came to a premature end due to injuries that would render his arm dead. Now as for the "Rats" nickname, it came from an infamous incident that happened while he was working at a glass factory as young teen. Oblivious, some coworkers had decided to play a bit of a practical joke on their unsuspecting friend. They hid a rat in his lunchbox, and sure enough when the unsuspecting Henderson opened up his lunch that day, the rat popped out scaring the daylights out of him. The nickname followed Henderson all throughout his career.

    To read about other great Negro League players with other unforgettable nicknames, such as John Henry "Pop" Lloyd and "Smokey Joe"/"Cyclone Joe" Williams, please visit our catalog.


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    Avenue D Laundromat
    Avenue D Laundromat. Image ID: 5211665

    I first heard the name Bill Barvin almost by accident, when by chance a colleague remembered the existence of a large photographic collection belonging to the Milstein Division and suggested that it might be of interest to me. The Bill Barvin Location Photograph Archive turned out to be a dizzying 81 boxes of 35mm negative strips and color photos, the collection's finding aid alone 45 pages long.

    William "Bill" Barvin (1952-2000) worked for over two decades as a location manager and scout for television and film, taking thousands of photos during the course of his career of New York and New Jersey streets, apartments, storefronts, and rooftops; bars, clubs, restaurants, and theaters; hotels, hospitals, laundromats, and churches. I had the great fortune of sifting through box after box of Barvin's photo files and cherry-picking some of my favorites, over 200 of which are now available online at NYPL's Digital Collections website.

     5210019
    Exterior street view, the Puck Building. Image ID: 5210019

     

    Elevator shaft, the Puck Building
    Elevator shaft, the Puck Building. Image ID: 5210018

    When I saw Barvin's photographs for the first time I wasn't sure what to make of them. They were the same kind of inexpensive drugstore prints that my local pharmacy used to develop, the Kodak and Konica logos reproduced on the backs. Sometimes the photos were glued directly into the manila folders in which they were organized, folded over and creased if they were too long. Most interesting to me was the fact that Barvin often glued or taped multiple photos together to create a single, wider view of a particular location site. In such cases the side-by-side alignment of the photos was always just a little bit off, with color and tone changing from one photo to the next, the perspective skewed, the edges jagged and uneven. Facades of buildings were fractured and disjointed, sidewalk curbs didn't line up correctly, the tracks of elevated subway platforms were broken. Sometimes a person or object would be abruptly cut off mid-picture, or, alternately, would appear multiple times within a single image. On one Paterson, New Jersey street, for instance, half of a car moves down the road, while, simultaneously, the same bicycle appears three different times, once as a ghostly free-floating half wheel right in the center of the frame.

    Store interior, Main Street, Paterson, N.J.
    Store interior, Main Street, Paterson, N.J. Image ID: 5210075

    The more I looked at Barvin's strange, makeshift panoramas, however, the more my initial confusion turned to a sort of excitement. Though the photos were taken as part of his job, Barvin—who studied art and photography at Antioch College in Ohio—had created his own unique, off-kilter, cool-looking aesthetic, one that faintly echoed the fragmented perspective of early modern art as well as the grittiness of contemporary street photography. Occasionally a photograph might even hint at an ambiguous narrative, as in the case of one photo taken at a suite in the Pierre Hotel, where a mysterious dark figure stands lurking in a doorway. (I've nicknamed that one in my head "The Assassin," even though I know in reality it's just some dude showing Barvin the room and trying to stay out of the shot.)

    Pierre Hotel, Suite 1616
    Pierre Hotel, Suite 1616. Image ID: 5211732

     

    Rooftop, Vernon Avenue
    Rooftop, Vernon Avenue. Image ID: 5211698

    Barvin's photos of New York City in particular are also documents of a city in transition. Most of the photos in the archive date from the 1990s, a Dinkins/Giuliani era when the city was moving out of the crime-ridden '70s and '80s and yet hadn't reached its current state of luxury high-rises and gentrification. Many of the locations photographed by Barvin have been demolished or else transformed beyond recognition; the Palladium has been rebuilt as an NYU residence hall, Limelight is now a David Barton Gym. (The Upper East Side Scores location is also, sadly and to the dismay of many, now defunct, though Barvin's shots of the interior are actually some of my favorites in terms of color and composition.) As is pointed out in the NYPL Public Eye exhibition—where several of Barvin's works are currently on display—Barvin's panoramic images are also a sort of precursor to Google Street View, and it's interesting to compare the two side by side and observe what has changed or what has, surprisingly, remained the same.

    Deerhead Diner, Jackson Heights
    Deerhead Diner, Jackson Heights, by Bill Barvin. Image ID: 5210092
    Google Street View, 93-13 Astoria Blvd. Jackson Heights
    93-13 Astoria Blvd. Jackson Heights, 2014, Google Street View

    Most importantly, the Bill Barvin Location Photograph Archive captures one man's relationship with his adopted city. Born in Iowa and raised in Texas, Barvin moved to New York City in the late 1970s, where he lived for most of his life in a loft in Soho. According to his wife, Lynn Cassaniti, who generously donated her husband's archive to the Library in 2011, Barvin was "passionate about New York City and knew the city and surrounding areas inside out, like the back of his hand. He loved the work he did—exploring, seeing amazing places and meeting people. He had... that Southern gift of gab that gave him entree to apartments, mansions, museums, bars and other places where he needed to convince people to allow a movie to be shot in their home or location." On screen we've all had fleeting admittance into Barvin's world without even realizing it. (The Sopranos and Law and Order are just two of the productions he worked on). Now thanks to his photography we have permanent access as well.

    You can see more of Bill Barvin's location photography on NYPL's Digital Collections site.


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  • 03/05/15--12:13: Ten Tech Tips for Teens
  • Teen Tech Week LogoMarch 8–14, 2015 is Teen Tech Week, sponsored by the Young Adult Library Services Association. In the spirit of the week, we would like to share some information for teens about devices, software, and Internet resources.

    1. Think Before You Post
    It only takes a few seconds for someone to take a screenshot of Facebook. Any pictures that get posted to Instagram or texted to your friends can still circulate even after you take them down.

    2.  Format Painter is Your Friend
    If you’ve cut and pasted web information into Microsoft Word, the fonts and spacing will vary from line to line. To use the format painter, highlight a line with the font that you want, click Format Painter on the left side of the Home tab, and highlight the rest of the text. It will copy all of the formatting onto the new text so everything will be the same.

    3. Save Your Warranties
    Whenever you purchase a phone or computer, you get a booklet called a warranty. It states how many years from the purchase date you can get your items fixed or replaced for free. Hold onto your receipt as well. If something goes wrong within the first 1-2 years like a broken screen or a faulty battery, you can get it replaced for free if you show technician your receipt and warranty.

    4. Make Use of Free Computers and Books
    Many branches of NYPL have computer labs specifically for teens or programs like Teen Tech Time where you can borrow a laptop or get help with using the library's online resources. We also offer free WiFi hotspots for checkout for patrons who qualify. If you need a specific book for your homework, it is not available for borrowing, we have a lot of e-books that you can download to your computer for free or read online.

    5. Unplug Your Devices
    Keeping your cell phone on 24/7 will cause wear and tear on the battery. Turning your phone off for a little while can save you from having to change the battery after a few months.

    6. Log Out, Sign Off
    It’s easy to leave your computer without signing out of Facebook, but we’ve all seen silly statuses posted by friends who saw their pal’s open Facebook page. Take the extra second to log off any sites that you’re signed into once you’re done.  The same thing goes if you have a phone or music player. Make a passcode and always hit the “off” button to engage the lock screen.

    7. Find Free (and legal!) Music
    Tracks for 99 cents and albums for $7.99 can seem cheap but can really add up over time. Join sites that offer free streaming or limited free downloads like Spotify, Qtrax, or NYPL’s Freegal (three DRM-free songs a week with your library card!)

    8.  Know Your Domains
    There are different types of websites, but not all of them contain trustworthy information. If you are looking up something for school, stick to websites with these domains:

     .org = official organizations
    .edu = educational (universities, research centers)
    .gov = government

    Other sites that end in .com or .net will often be commercial sites or personal webpages.

    9. Keep Track of Your Passwords
    Between email accounts, library card PINS, and game or website usernames, it can get tough to keep track of all your passwords. It is usually a good idea to write them down whenever you create a new account and add it to a master list. If is up to you whether you use a notebook or a password site like Passpack and KeePass, but it is helpful to have all the information in a safe place.

    10. WiFi = Good,   Data = Bad
    Many places, including restaurants and stores have free WiFi that you can connect to (including NYPL.) WiFi helps to transmit information so you are not using up the available data in your phone plan and can save you money and battery life. If you are having trouble connecting to WiFi where you are, ask someone who works there if there is WiFi available and what the password is. If you are enrolled in any Out-of-School Time programs and you have no Internet at home it is possible to borrow a hotspot though NYPL's WiFi Hotspot Program. Remember—just because you can connect to the internet, doesn’t mean you are not burning through your available data and you or your parents may end up with extra on your bill.


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    The following titles on our Recent Acquisitions Display are just a few of our new books, which are available at the reference desk in the Dorot Jewish Division. Catalog entries for the books can be found by clicking on their covers.

    The list features topics such as Old Testament commentary, a memoir of a childhood in Poland before WWII, museums and psychology, the Russian Revolution, the Dead Sea Scrolls, rabbinical history, Esther, Ba'al Shem Tov, Carribean Sephardim, health, Hungary, alcohol, Ukraine, ghettos, Dr. Suess, post-WWII Jewish writing, Mumbai, and gluten-free kosher cooking.


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    Subscribe on iTunes.

    Ann Patchett and Elizabeth Gilbert are not merely both writers; they're friends and longtime pen pals. Patchett, winner of the Orange Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award for her novel Bel Canto, has  written ten books. Gilbert has published six. And between the two of them, the insights into the work of a writer are nearly endless. The New York Public Library podcast is fortunate to present Ann Patchett and Elizabeth Gilbert on Writing.

    Ann Patchett and Elizabeth Gilbert LIVE at the NYPL

    While it might seem to some that a select few are born with the gift of work ethic so necessary to artistic success, Gilbert spoke of how her mother taught her how to work hard:

    "What I remember is the egg timer and tears. That was sort of how I was taught discipline was my mom would sit me down with homework and the egg timer and thirty minutes, and I would weep, because I didn't want to do it and I didn't know how to do it, and I wanted someone else to do it. And that was like every night. And she just made me do it, and now I do my own egg timer, right? Like, I know how to do it because I was taught."

    Many readers best know Gilbert from her bestselling memoir, Eat, Pray, Love. Gilbert described grappling with her writing career like a puzzle following the enormous popularity of the book:

    "I am very stubborn about refusing to allow the tremendous, blessed success of Eat, Pray, Love to turn into a curse upon my life because I think that would be very rude to my great good fortune. When people sort of imply that that's a tragic thing for my writing career, that that happened, that I'm defined by that, I always try to remind them of what a tragedy is in a human's life and that is not one of them... The world is a terrible place full of horrible things and having a giant bestseller's not one of those things. So we can establish that right away. But it is a puzzle, right? What do you do? And I felt like what I really needed to do was break the spell as quickly as possible for my own purposes to get something out there so fast, to disappoint everyone as quickly as I could in order to get it over with so that I could then be free."

    While Gilbert felt she needed somehow to manage expectations of her writing after Eat, Pray, Love, Patchett spoke about writing purely for herself, not with an audience or critical reception in mind:

    "I only write for myself. I don't sell my books. Nobody sees them. I write the book I want to read, the book that I miss. And if when I finish someone wants to buy it and they like it, I'm very grateful. But it's mine. It's totally, totally mine."

    Ann Patchett and Elizabeth Gilbert LIVE at the NYPL

    You can subscribe to the New York Public Library Podcast to hear more conversations with wonderful artists, writers, and intellectuals. Join the conversation today!


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