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    Welcome to Part 2 of our Stranger in a Strange Land post! (See Part 1 here.)

    July 7 would have been the 98th birthday of Robert Heinlein, the consummate science-fiction author best known for 1961 classic, Stranger in a Strange Land. In that story, a human man raised on Mars comes to Earth for the first time and sees the planet with completely new eyes.

    To add another layer of fresh experiences, Heinlein coined several new words in the book, including “grok” (“understand,” in his imagined Martian dialect).

    In Heinlein’s honor, we asked our NYPL librarians: What are some other books that speak to displacement—of being a stranger in a strange land?

    True Stories of Displacement

    Unlikely Disciple

    I love An Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University by Kevin Roose. He chronicles his time at Liberty University, the late Jerry Falwell's fundamentalist evangelical training college. It’s funny and sad and fascinating. As a liberal on leave from Brown University, it’s as if he has landed on Mars. —Maura Muller, Volunteer Services






    Wild Boy

    I’m going to throw in Wild Boy: The Real Life of the Savage of Aveyron by Mary Losure, a nonfiction account of a young boy found in the wilds of France in 1798.  Captured and suddenly thrust into a world of other people where he cannot speak and doesn't understand the most basic facets of civilization, it's clear that the wild boy never loses his longing for the natural world he's left behind.  This book for middle grade readers offers a remarkable narrative based on actual accounts and reports written about the boy at the time of his discovery. —Stephanie Whelan, Seward Park




    Savannah, Georgia certainly isn’t Mars, but Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt fits this category. —Judd Karlman, City Island







    Marco Polo

    The Travels of Marco Polo. Travel along with Marco Polo as recounts his travels through the ancient Eastern world and serves in Kublai Khan’s court. He recounts the differences of European and Asian currency, trade, social norms, and even personal hygiene. (As a reader, it’s important to keep in mind this travelogue was written down by a second party later in his life, and it’s not entirely clear that all the stories are his own.) —Jaqueline Woolcott, Reference & Research




    Ian Frazier’s Travels in Siberia is the author’s account of his attempt to visit and understand an immense landscape (spanning eight time zones) that few people actually live in and even fewer visit. A place so strange that it doesn't even really exist: “No political or territorial entity has Siberia in its name.” An illuminating, peripatetic journey down a frozen rabbit hole. —Wayne Roylance, Selection Team




    Elements of the Fantastic

    Wild Things

    Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. Max, sporting a very dashing wolf costume, went exploring through a jungle island filled with wild beasts and joins a wild rumpus without even leaving his room. Maurice Sendak made being king of the Wild Things possible for all of us. —Jaqueline Woolcott, AskNYPL



    Blue Sword

    The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley. An awkward young woman finds herself thrust into the role of lady hero to a foreign people whose language she does not speak. —Jennifer Brinley, Parkchester






    Alice in Wonderland

    I'm going to suggest Alice in Wonderlandand not only because it is our next exhibition. Behind all of the puns and parodies is a child alone in a very strange place. The film Dreamchildpresents Alice Liddell and Alice the character that way. —Barbara Cohen-Stratyner, Exhibitions





    Snow Child

    The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey is a mesmerizing, descriptive, emotional tale of a childless couple that moved to Alaska. It starts by potentially being a retelling of a fairy tale, and maintains a bit of that fairy-tale quality throughout. It ends up not being a fairy tale, and I think this reality makes it more fascinating. The snow child is real, and she’s much more interesting character in the book for that. And the author’s love of Alaska really shows in her descriptions and depictions. Immersion in the story is complete. —Carmen Nigro, Milstein Division of United States History





    I remember reading Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice shortly after it was published in 1976. To me, the story was never just about vampires, but about any group of people that is different from the rest of society and treated differently, perhaps more like strangers in their own land. —Lois Moore, Mid-Manhattan







    Graceling(and its companion novels Fireand Bitterblue) by Kristin Cashore. Gracelings (those born with special powers) are both honored and feared, used and abused, and often misunderstood by others and even by themselves. —Jennifer Brinley, Parkchester





    Lost & Found

    Lord Foul's Bane

    Lord Foul’s Baneis another fantasy work focused on a protagonist thrust from his accustomed surroundings into a new, perilous realm. Thomas Covenant is a leper and must maintain a strict self-surveillance regimen to prevent further spread of the disease. Falling unconscious in this world, he finds himself in The Land, a marvelous world of beauty and health that restores feeling to his leprosy-ravaged extremities. Recognizing the danger in forgetting his strict self-control, he refuses to believe in this new place and must make his way through danger and Lord Foul’s traps until he can return home. —Joshua Soule, Spuyten Duyvil





    I can't help but think of the classic Gulliver’s Travels… to the lands of the Lilliputians (a race of little people), the Houyhnhnms (a race of intelligent talking horses), and the many other strange inhabitants he encountered on his travels to the remote nations of the world. —Jean Harripersaud, Bronx Library Center







    Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Claire, an army nurse, honeymooning in 1946 Scotland suddenly finds herself thrust back in time to the Scottish Highlands of 1743. Back when the Scottish clan system was still intact and women knew their place. Claire’s 20th-century ideas and knowledge about men, women, society, history, and modern medicine may be useful, but they keep getting her into trouble. To survive, she’ll need to find some allies and then try to find a way home. —Anne Rouyer, Mulberry Street






    The old Ellery Queen crime books tend to have a sci-fi feel. “And on the Eighth Day,” (1964) ghostwritten with Avram Davidson, tells the story of a crime screenwriter/detective who gets lost in the deserts of Hollywood. He comes upon a very strange community seemingly in the middle of nowhere. They welcome him as their savior and the story truly gets stranger from there! —Kimberly Bullock, Bronx Library Center







    The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien is Bilbo Baggins’s journey to a strange land. Having lived a comfortable life at Bag End in the Shire all his days, Bilbo is thrust into adventures featuring vengeful dwarves, hungry trolls, elves both fair and greedy, a city on a lake, giant spiders, and an angry dragon. He travels with his companions as their “burglar,” a role he is unfamiliar with and yet surprisingly talented at, journeying through deadly forests, deep and dank caves, and a lone mountain filled with splendor beyond words; places as different as possible from his cozy hobbit hole. —Joshua Soule, Spuyten Duyvil




    Don't forget to check out Part 1 of this list for more tales of strangers in a strange land, including planetary exploration and immigration stories.

    Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your picks! Leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend.

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    The City College of New York (CCNY) and Continuing  and Professional Studies will present Information Session  With Silicon Harlem on Wednesday, July 8, 6–7:30 pm at CCNY Campus, Convent Avenue, near 140th Street, Shepard Hall, Room 2.

    Discuss the new and exciting partnership with The City College of New York and the Tech Opportunities it can offer you.

    • Learn more about what this great tech company has to offer
    • Learn about the tech partnership with The City College of New York (CPS)
    • Learn about upcoming tech events and courses.

    To register:  

    Learn about upcoming coding courses at CPS.

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    This work presents a positive view of people and their potential. Effective leaders should not simply search for work performance problems to correct. They help staff to develop their skills and achieve their goals. Then, the staff will repay the leaders and the company with their dedication, hard work, and potentially their ability to lead others on the path to success. It is also important for companies to recruit the best staff in order to have a winning team. Maxwell has devises a leveled approach to the sophistication of skills that leaders can develop.

    Level 1: Position

    Many people receive an opportunity to lead out of an appointment to a position, winning a job, or sheer necessity. Everyone must start at this level in order to develop leadership skills. Here, subordinates follow simply because they are required to. They wish to retain their employment. Leaders at Level 1 are very tied to their job titles, and they believe that they must know more than everyone else in order to feel worthy. Leaders at this level can be very insecure about their abilities. They look for problems with their staff, and they fail to see staff as people with varying skill sets in their own right. 

    Level 2: Permission

    This level is about relationships with staff, and people with good interpersonal skills can master this level. People follow at this level because they want to and they like the leader. This level is an improvement over Level 1, but sometimes teams do not accomplish much at this level.

    Level 3: Production

    Leaders at this level produce much, so they tend to attract others who wish to be part of a winning team. Some leaders at this level are stronger in productivity than they are in business relationships, which they may need to work on. 

    Level 4: People Development

    This is where leaders develop other staff into leaders. This is a very sophisticated level of leadership and interpersonal skill that only about 10% of leaders ever achieve. Leaders must choose others with a natural inclination and talent for leading. Most of these administrators' professional lives are spent dealing with the thorny interpersonal problems that arise during the course of business.

    Level 5: Pinnacle

    Only 1% of Leaders achieve this level, which consists of teaching leaders to become capable of developing other leaders. This level is extremely complex and difficult to achieve and maintain. Leaders at this level need to strive for humility since their is an aura that surrounds them. Think of Steve Jobs and Mahatma Gandhi. Pinnacle leaders need to continually strive to create leaders and develop people's potential. Resting on one's laurels can mean the downfall of a company.

    The Five Levels of Leadership by John Maxwell, 1960

    I heard of this book during a Women's Media Group presentation at the Book Expo America conference. It completely metamorphosed the way that I think about business leadership. It freed me to think about developing staff and my function in the workplace in a different, more awesome way. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wishes to excel at leadership, enjoy the people they work with, and help them to succeed. Even though this is an older book, it is still relevant today!

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    A periodic list of some of the most exciting, newly purchased CDs for our circulating collections.

    Broke With Expensive Taste by Azealia Banks (2014)
    Though this collection was released in 2014, it includes a few singles that Ms. Banks has been putting out since 2011. The impressively formulated "212" (named after Banks's favorite public library area code! kidding, maybe); 2012's "Liquorice," which reveals in glorious splendor the cultural fact that, unlike other "rappers" whose chosen last name may or may not be coincidentally identical to Azealia's first, Banks grew up surrounded by rap, gathering in cyphers with her friends after school, freestyle rhyming "off the dome", as the old-timers would say. And clearly, she had something, like Rakim had, or Biggy; just, a gift, to flow over the rhythm better than most: to pay attention to the elements of building a verse, what worked and what didn't; to come in and out of it, change up the phrasing, play with it, like good jazz instrumentalists do. And Ms. Banks has something else too, a gravitas that turns the machismo-ness of rap on its head. This ain't some female rapper merely adopting the macho stance of her male rapping counterparts; but more of a, "you think YOU'RE tough! Step aside, boy! I'm in charge now!" (to put it in a less profane way than you'll find on the CD, that is). 

    So lest we forget that rap music and Hip Hop culture in general was born right here in New York City, out of its African American communities that turned to art to form an identity in a city that had economically turned its back on them, Banks comes along to remind us of that. It's a culture. It's got roots and history. And if you grow out of those roots, you're what can be called "legit".  Banks rather notoriously often lets her opinions known by way of social media, and one could surely argue that the whole twitter platform makes sharing our immediate reactions all to quick and easy, destroying any time we may have once had to reflect a little, but the biggest one of her feuds goes like this:

    Can a white girl from Australia start talking in a New York street slang, put-on accent, "rapping" about dealing drugs and "capping" people, and it NOT come across as a grotesque caricature of race, the likes of which we haven't seen since the days of blackface minstrelsy?  Yet, so-called "twitter wars" can distract actual artists from talking and discussing actual issues. I mean, it is literally the worst platform to have a meaningful debate on meaningful issues. History is important, the history of culture is important. And cultural appropriation is a sticky subject, not to be ironed out here. We'll let bell hooks and/or the insightful Tricia Rose tackle that one. But an underlying issue that adds to Banks's anger is that sometimes music that is bad is more popular and makes way more money than music that is good. It's an injustice: yet, a certifiable fact. McDonalds sells way more hamburgers than you EVER will, even though I can promise you yours are way better. Popular in no way means good; and when one makes art, or anything I suppose, that can just be upsetting.

    Regardless... lest you think this full-length LP is merely a collection of singles already released by Banks, it's way beyond that. In my opinion, it's the greatest, coolest, most exciting, impressive, enjoyable, groovin' collection of rhymes to come out of hip hop in, well, a long time. It's up there, this one, with the greats. You'll see, in time. I'd bet anything. And this young lady grew up right here, in our city, the birthplace of Hip Hop. You can hear that culture in her rhymes, and maybe she even checked a few CDs out from NYPL when she was comin' up, for inspiration. Who knows?

    Regardless, this right here is "flow" people, right here=  (PREVIEW 1)(PREVIEW 2)

    This World Oft Can Be by Della Mae (2013)
    Della Mae are an all-girl bluegrass band, formed in the backwoods, podunk little town of... Boston, Massachusetts. Now for you folks who get tired of what some people call "country," because nowadays you can't even go out for sushi in Williamsburg without hearing Taylor Swift infiltrate your skull about how she's never ever getting back together with her boyfriend that you can't for the life of you figure out why you even know he exists in the first place; bluegrass musicians have something Ms. Swift doesn't need, complete mastery of their instruments. These ladies have paid their dues by playing many live shows throughout the country and the world (you may be surprised at how popular bluegrass is in other parts of the world, at least in Europe). Further, they write lyrics, good ones, evocative ones, ones you don't regret live in your head somewhere after you hear them. Their song "Empire," for instance, it tells through lyrical imagery the lost history of an old, abandoned gypsum mine:

    Empire sits on the edge of a hill
    Born out of a gypsum mine
    Held at once 300 souls
    And none of them were mine
    Now they’re just ghosts in the streets
    Wandering a land that sleeps
    The miners callused hands
    The women who planted seed on the land
    Empire met its end.

    But really, do yourself a favor and let them tell it through their music, because it's the drive of the music that really brings this story to life. (PREVIEW)

    Rough Guide to Unsung Heroes of Country Blues - Various (1920s-1930s)
    There are so many well-known, traditional blues musicians, that one may not feel the need to dig any deeper into the genre if one has at least a dozen names and recordings to turn to when one feels the need; though digging, as we all know, is the only way to uncover hidden gems of ANY genre that don't seem to make it into the Pantheon. Well here, Rough Guide has done the digging for you. And it is worth it, because there is not only some fantastic music here, but some fascinating history as well. Let's just take the lead track:

    The Henry Thomas track, "Fishing Blues," is an example of the use of "quills" (aka, panpipes) in blues music: not a common feature in the music of the more well-known blues masters. Thomas recorded a few tracks in the late 1920s, then virtually disappeared into obscurity (some say he died shorty thereafter). Yet, his music would stand the test of time and become very influential, his songs being covered by many:

    Bob Dylan (re-worked Thomas' "Honey, Won't You Allow Me One More Chance" into his own version, included on the album, "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan).

    Taj Mahal (recorded his version of "Fishing Blues," replacing the quills solo with his own amazing guitar picking).

    But the biggest influence of Thomas must be traced through his song, "Bull Doze Blues." Listen to it, and for anyone familiar with classic rock, you will recognize that quills solo! Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson of Canned Heat had rewritten the lyrics, while staying musically true to the original Henry Thomas song, down to recreating that quills solo note-for-note for the flute (played by a one Jim Horn, who you may recognize from the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds sessions). Canned Heat played the song live at Woodstock. The song was re-titled "Going Up The Country", and the revised lyrics captured perfectly the nomadic, free-spirited lifestyle of 60s counterculture. And with its more than tip of the hat to the influences of roots music, and blues music specifically, the song became in the eyes of many the veritable theme song to The Woodstock Music Festival and the entire culture and era that moment would come to represent.

    Long Way by Chastity Brown (2015)
    There's something that warms my heart, and it ain't Katy Perry or Kanye. It's when talented musicians gain some notoriety and then use that notoriety to bring attention to worthy causes and charities. Ms. Brown has donated her talents to causes like building and improving on music and arts programs in the public school system, and community projects meant to assist the homeless. But this isn't a charity blog, it just makes the music, that is already really great, just, better somehow.

    So about the music, you might not have thought you could combine these musical elements with any success: smooth R&B production, psychedelia, and (wait for it....), banjo. I don't know what to tell you. I didn't think it was possible either. We were wrong!  PREVIEW

    Africa Express Presents Terry Riley's In C Mali by Africa Express (2014)
    Terry Riley designed his minimalist composition, "In C," in 1964. It is no coincidence that this release came out exactly 50 years after the piece was written: an homage linked to its anniversary. It is written for an indefinite number of musicians, loosely instructed to play through a few phrases of music, repeating each phrase as many times as each musician sees fit. The result is that with each playing, it's different; each ensemble, a different orchestration. It has been recorded and played by both professionals and amateurs many times over. Having played this myself in high school band, I can safely say as well that the piece is rather forgiving: that provided with just a little wiggle room for improvisation (at least in so far as in-the-moment musical decisions being made), the result can be... interesting at the very least, even when played by a room full of amateurs.

    But Africa Express brings something to the table my high school band did not. And that is, well, one, a group of musicians that all actually SHOULD be making music, instead of dropping out and joining the chess team or something. But more importantly, the many African musicians, playing a variety of traditional African instruments, give this particular recording a feel all other recordings of the piece don't have. The piece evolves more dynamically, ranging from downright danceable pulses to light string-led interludes. But the real joy for me are the polyrhythms achieved and locked in on in ways I dare say musicians tied to African rhythmic traditions are best suited. Polyrhythms evolve, fade, find hidden patterns that surprisingly manifest before you realize it, then disappear and are reborn as other patterns. It's quite mesmerizing, and may have been what led to the composer, Terry Riley himself, say of this release:

    "I am overwhelmed and delighted by this CD. I was not quite prepared for such an incredible journey, hearing the soul of Africa in joyous flight, (feeding) the piece with ancient threads of musical wisdom... I could not ask for a greater gift for this daughter's 50th birthday." (PREVIEW)

    Elements of Light by Pantha Du Prince (with Bell Laboratory) (2013)
    If the agro sounds of dubstep get on your nerves, but perhaps you have some darkened corner of your musical house reserved for the day you come across electronic music that is actually enjoyable to listen to, you may want to check out Pantha Du Prince's "Elements of Light." Properly cataloged as "minimal techno", it is indicative of Kraftwerk's more poetic moments, without the at times comical robots singing about falling in love with computers. The result is an atmospheric yet groovy and, in this listener's opinion, relaxing and enjoyable exploration of electronic sound. (PREVIEW)

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  • 07/08/15--09:15: The Stereograph Headshot
  • Edwin Booth
    Edwin Booth.  Stereograph by J. Gurney & Son. Image ID: 89096

    When we started to think about an exhibition on Head Shotsbased on the Library for the Performing Arts’ collections, we discovered that almost every format in the history of photographic portraits was used as a head shot.  Not, despite the title, daguerreotypes, but almost everything with a reproducable negative since then.  The one format that we did not expect to find was stereograms (also known as stereographs) since we believed that most such double images showed landscapes or “scenes.”  We didn’t expect stereograph headshots because we didn’t expect stereograph portraits. 

    Stereographs are two images of slightly differing depth, angle or scale which, when viewed simultaneously with special lenses reveal a single three-dimensional result.  Stereoscopes were invented independently of photography (c. 1838) and could be used with engravings and other forms of printed image.  Essayist Oliver Wendell Holmes, writing about “The Stereoscope and the Stereograph” in the Atlantic Monthly (June 1859), referred only to “squinting magnifiers” that could be used to see more lifelike images of landscapes and other “views.”  Most of the lengthy article equates stereographs with landscapes, natural and with buildings, made “solid.”  Holmes warned against what he called “groups,” scenes populated with “vulgar models, shamming grace, gentility and emotion by aid of costumes, attitudes, expressions, and accessories.”    The full essay is reprinted in Beaumont Newhall’s On Photography (1950) and in Photography in Print, edited by Vicki Goldberg (1981). 

    If you search Stereograph in the Digital Collection, you will find a collection of landscapes and scenes, primarily from the later 1800s.  They show Africa, the Caribbean, and the U and include what are catalogued as “ethnic types” and Holmes would call "groups."  Two large sections are from series distributed by Universal Photo Art Co., 1901, or Keystone View Co., 1900.  

    The “headshot” stereographs, all from the Library for the Performing Arts’ Billy Rose Theatre Division, seem to be from the 1870s, based on the garments worn.    They are credited to the NYC photographic studios that actors preferred for their portraits – Sarony, Falk, Gurney, Mora, etc. There are two general categories.  Some, like the Edwin Booth example, are stereographs made at the same session as more conventional cabinet photos.  The Booth collection includes examples of those formats for this image by J. Gurney & Son, NY.  Booth also had J. Gurney cabinet photographs and stereographs in costume for Hamlet. In other examples (including the Kate Claxton photographs on display in Headshots), the cabinet photographs are mounted by the original photographer, but the Stereographs are mounted and distributed as part of a Celebrity series. 

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  • 07/08/15--11:23: Technology Gone Wrong
  • Authors of young-adult books are asking some of the most prescient, pressing questions about technology today—and they’re also imagining some of the most disastrous consequences.

    Here are seven novels (all suitable for young adults, if not specifically written for them) about how society deals with the fallout of ominous technologies.


    Being by Kevin Brooks
    Bildungsroman reaches a new level in this story: What could be more alienating than discovering your own body is full of machinery? After stealing the footage of his own insides, Robert must find whether he’s a cyborg, an alien, a robot, or some new kind of human.






    More Happy

    More Happy than Not by Adam Silvera
    A 16-year-old boy in the Bronx considers a memory-altering procedure to forget the pain of his life—including the fact that he’s gay. A powerful, character-driven new book from a debut author.







    Feed by M.T. Anderson
    Librarians love to recommend this soon-to-be-classic YA novel about a dystopian future where  a steady stream of media is plugged directly into everyone’s brain.







    After the End

    After the Endby Amy Plum
    Juneau and her clan have been living off the grid in the Alaskan wilderness for three decades, after nuclear fallout from World War III rendered the planet almost completely uninhabitable… or did it?







    Fahrenheit 451by Ray Bradbury
    Start at the very beginning with this classic, which takes place in a totalitarian regime maintained via complete censorship. Technology played a part in setting the stage, as citizens willingly gave up books in favor of other types of media.







    The Circle by Dave Eggers
    Imagine an omnipresent Internet company that knows everything about everyone, and then imagine going to work there.







    Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
    It’s a vicious circle: As the physical world crumbles, people want to escape more and more into their ubiquitous virtual reality. And the more time people spend in that virtual reality, the more the physical world crumbles—to the point where they become almost indistinguishable from one another, and one teen’s race to find a hidden Easter egg in a video game is the most real thing of all.




    Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your picks! Leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend.

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    Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, HCM, or a heart murmur: Whatever you call it, it could mean the death of Abby Lipman's competitive swim career.

    Swimming makes Abby feel free. She schedules her life around swimming. She gets out of bed in the morning to swim, and she plans her meals around it. Her friends, Jen and Bree, are swimmers; her boyfriend, Connor, and his archrival, Alec, swim, and her father swam competitively in the past. Abby also loves to teach swim classes at the pool, especially to spunky Miley, who blossoms under her direction. 

    Abby swims slowly while others prepare for races; it is doctor's orders. She is chagrined to admit that she moved faster as a 10-year-old. She takes on new roles, such as playing supportive girlfriend to Connor during his races, the races that she is desperate to be a part of again. Meanwhile, she is not the only one who is confused by Alec's behavior. Abby hopes that her physician has made a mistake, that the meds will enable her to compete again and reunite her with the sport that captivates her.

    I like books about sports buffs, and this one was awesome.

    A Matter of Heart by Amy Fellner, 2015

    Amy Dominy's website

    Books about heart conditions

    Books about swimming

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    FLYCleaners will present a recruitment on Tuesday, July 14, 2015, 10 a.m.2 p.m., for Driver (40 openings), Wash and Fold  Attendant (10 openings) at the New York State Department of Labor,  9 Bond Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201.

    New Partners, Inc. will present a recruitment on Tuesday, July 14, 2015, 10 a.m.1:30 p.m., for Home Health Aide (5 openings, Certified and Non-Certified) at Flushing Workforce 1 Career Center, 138-60 Barclay Avenue, 2nd Floor, Flushing, NY 11355.

    Enrollment Now Open! SAGEWorks 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 MondayFriday, from August 10 to August 21, 9:30 a.m.2 p.m. Participants must attend every day at the SAGE Center, 305 7th Avenue, New York, NY 10001.  SAGEWorks assists people 40 years and older in learning relevant, cutting-edge  job search skills in a LGBT friendly environment.

    United States Tennis Association will present a recruitment onTuesday, July 14, 2015, 10 a.m.6 p.m. for Cleaner ( 250 Seasonal openings), Court and Grounds Crew (120 Seasonal openings), Access Control Associate (90 Seasonal openings), Parking Lot Attendant (40 openings) at Flushing Workforce 1 Career Center, 138-60 Barclay Avenue, 2nd Floor, Flushing, NY 11355.

    Super Soccer Stars will present a recruitment on Wednesday, July 15, 2015, 10 a.m.2 p.m., for Customer Service Supervisor (3 openings) at the New York State Department of Labor, 9 Bond Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201.

    United States Tennis Association will present a recruitment onTuesday, July 15, 2015, 10 a.m.6 p.m. for Cleaner ( 250 Seasonal openings), Court and Grounds Crew (120 Seasonal openings), Access Control Associate (90 Seasonal openings), Parking Lot Attendant (40 openings) at Flushing Workforce 1 Career Center, 138-60 Barclay Avenue, 2nd Floor, Flushing, NY 11355.

    Apprenticeship Opportunities in New York  City.         

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    The New York City Employment and Training Coalition (NYCE&TC) is an association of 200 community-based organizations, educational institutions, and labor unions that annually provide job training and employment services to over 750,000 New Yorkers, including welfare recipients, unemployed workers, low-wage workers, at-risk youth, the formerly incarcerated, immigrants and the mentally and physically disabled. View NYCE&TC Job Listings.

    Digital NYC is the official online hub of the New York City startup and technology ecosystem, bringing together every company,  startup, investor, event, job, class, blog, video, workplace, accelerator, incubator, resource, and organization in the five boroughs. Search  jobs by category on this site.

    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 or call 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.  

    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 eight 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 six weeks and includes test prep and 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, email:, call 212-571-1690, or visit. CMP also provides tuition-based healthcare and business trainings free to students who are entitled to ACCESS funding.

    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 backgrounds.  For information call 212-832-7605.

    Please note this site will be revised when more recruitment events for the week of July 12  become available.

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    The Foundation Center provides many databases and books in order to help individuals get grants for their education, work or business. It features four webinars, including "Finding Foundation Support for Your Education", "Fiscal Sponsorship for Artists and Arts Organizations", "The Artist's Guide to Grantwriting", and "Grantwriting for Artists: Perfecting Your Proposal". There are also several free resources on funding research, requests for proposals, and other funding topics.

    Searching for Foundations

    Using the Advanced Search option, users can browse foundations by title. They can also search by foundation name,  location, fields of interest, types of support, geographic focus, company names, type of grantmaker, and level of support that will be given. This function gives users flexibility in terms of how they find foundations. It can broaden the horizons of users by expanding their awareness of organizations that may be able to help them.  

    Foundation Information

    Once you find a foundation that you are interested in, you can view the organization's profile. It has the address, web site, email address, contact phone number, description of the company, whether it requires an interview to obtain the grant, if it is currently accepting applications, and a description of the types of services and people it supports financially.

    Writing Grants Well

    Finding organizations that can help you with the type of support that you are currently seeking is vital. However, without a terrific grant proposal, it will be difficult to obtain the help. Therefore, it is vital to learn about the grant writing process in order to help you succeed. Many people are competing for the money. Organizations look for specific information about how the money will be used and how it will benefit the individual or the organization.

    Foundation Center

    We have many books from the Foundation Center in our collections. I have been to the Foundation Center on the corner of Fifth Ave and 16th Street. The librarians there are very helpful. Since the library is not super busy, the staff have time to assist customers with finding foundations that may be able to support them. They may have classes on grant writing and other additional classes.

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    Welcome to July's Reader's Den and as another Fourth of July passes we will be discussing Karen Abbott's book Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy. The role of women in the Civil War is usually thought of as Scarlett O'Hara of Gone with the Wind letting the fortunes of war roll over them passively, and without control; maybe rolling bandages or wiping soldiers brows, if they were willing. The four women in Abbot's book not only took their destinies into their own hands, but became heroines in their own right, for their own prospective sides. 

    They embodied the ideals of Union or Confederacy and decided to risk it all no matter the cost to their families and reputations. One even paid the ultimate price. These women are a part of the history of the United States that is not very well known, but their stories need to be told.  Using both primary sources and descendant interviews, Karen Abbot tells the story of the war as these women lived it.

    Civil War Envelope. Image ID: 819703


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    Jitney Players.
    The Jitney Players. Billy Rose Theatre Division. Image ID: TH-24201

    During the Elizabethan era, traveling troupes of actors would perform in different towns throughout the United Kingdom.

    In 1923, inspired by these theatrical artists, Horace Bushnell Cheney (1899-1930) and his wife Alice Keating Cheney (1894-1981) established the Jitney Players in the United States.

    The Tradition of Traveling

    The Cheneys, along with a company of actors, set forth to perform theatrical productions across the United States. Their unique form of transportation did not involve walking by foot or horse-drawn carriage. Transportation took the form of a truck that opened up and converted into a stage. After a New York Times reporter coined the truck a "jitney" the troupe would become known as the Jitney Players.

    Bushnell Cheney (his professional name), and his wife Alice, established this troupe after he graduated from Yale. Originally, Bushnell Cheney  selected Harvard graduates as the first group of actors perhaps because he was impressed by the Harvard Workshop '47. This class taught a wide variety of theatrical skills that would be crucial on the long road trips ahead.

    Jitney Players troupe
    The Jitney Players troupe. Billy Rose Theatre Division. Image ID: TH-24195

    During inclement weather or if an opportunity occurred, the Jitney Players performed in a theater. The jitney truck never made it to the west coast for fear that the truck would not  be able to traverse the mountains.

    The troupe attracted many actors to their ranks including Ethel Barrymore, Hume Cronyn,  Shepperd Strudwick, and Monty Woolley.

    The Jitney Players Records in the Billy Rose Theatre Division of The New York Public Library

    The troupe was fortunate that  Alice Keating Cheney documented the Jitney Players during the traveling troupe's active years. The collection holds scrapbooks,  clippings, letters (mostly from aspiring actors), playbills, and  photographs.

    Matinee Performance
    Matinee Performance in Progress. Billy Rose Theatre Division. Image ID: Th-24198

    The photographs include pictures of some of the actors  who performed, the jitney traveling truck; and "The Little Red House," a house for performers on the  Cheney's property in Madison, CT., and pictures of the Cheney's family and friends.   

    In 1930, upon the death of Bushnell Cheney, the traveling troupe of Jitney players wandered no more.

    This blog was inspired by the Jitney Players records, the Billy Rose Theatre Division.

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    Tay-Lo. That's how Tatus and Lori's friends have referred to them for the longest time. They always seem to be together. Tatum plays the clarinet, and Lori plays the flute.They are both attempting to enter the hallowed legions of District Honor Band.

    Enter Michael. Lori cannot remove her eyes from him, and the other band girls also seem smitten with this handsome out-of-towner.

    Tatum half-wishes that she could distract Lori, but she is also preoccupied with the strange sensations she suddenly feels with Aaron, whom she has known for ages. They have been great buds. Why does it feel so different than it used to -- electrified, almost?

    Aaron and Tatum discuss tone, reeds and practice with Mr. Wayne. Lori is all over the map, planning a solo for the competition... and/or a duet with Michael or Tatum. Will anyone be accepted into the coveted District Honor Band?

    Audition and Subtraction by Amy Fellner Dominy, 2012

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    Our former pre-professional, Farrah Lopez, pays tribute to American Negro Theatre alum Ruby Dee as we celebrate its 75th anniversary

    Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee in the stage production Purlie Victorious. Image ID: ps_the_2709

    The inimitable Ruby Dee, a Grammy and Emmy winner as well as an Academy Award nominee (American Gangster), began her acting career right here at the American Negro Theatre. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, and raised in Harlem, New York, Dee joined the theater as an apprentice in 1941, working with the illustrious Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte and Hilda Simms while still a student at Hunter College.

    Enamored by the theater but without a black screen idol to look up to, Dee set out to break barriers and soon landed on Broadway in 1943 alongside Canada Lee in Harry Rigsby and Dorothy Heyward’s South Pacific.  While she continued to blaze her own trail in Hollywood and beyond, becoming an icon when she starred in the film adaptation of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun in 1961, it is her work as an activist that still resonates today. In addition to emceeing the March on Washington in 1963, Dee became a passionate civil rights figure with husband and fellow American Negro Theatre actor, Ossie Davis. 

    Though Ohio was her first home, Dee’s powerful connection with Harlem and the American Negro Theatre would remain with her until her passing on June 11, 2014. The actress described Harlem as an integral part of her identity in an NPR interview: “I don’t know who I would be if I weren’t this child from Harlem, this woman from Harlem. It’s in me so deep.” 

    Learn more about our new exhibition, The 75th Anniversary of the American Negro Theatre. 

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    Ellis Island, New York. Image ID: 836571

    Ellis Island is powerfully symbolic in American culture. For legions of Americans, it is the beginning of their American identity. For two groups that don’t tie their ancestry to Ellis Island, Native Americans and African Americans, it became a powerful place to stage a protest in the 1970s because of the island’s symbolic identity.

    Ellis Island closed its doors as an immigration processing station and detention center in November, 1954 and was declared excess federal property. For many years it stood in the harbor, barely tended, falling into decay. In May 1965, President Johnson signed a proclamation making Ellis Island a part of the National Park Service by adding it to the Statue of Liberty National Monument. Plans were made for the site, off and on, mostly rejected or put aside for another time. During this time, protesters eyed Ellis Island as a place to make a statement.

    Native American Occupation Attempt

    On March 16, 1970 American Indians attempted an occupation of Ellis Island. Thirty-eight American Indians from 14 tribes (Johnson) gathered while eight launched in boat from Jersey City docks at 5:30 am, and the others waited to join.

    Radio news announced the landing although it had not occurred—a leaky gas line caused motor failure and kept the boat from its intended target. The National Park Service, custodians of the island, were alerted from the radio broadcasts and notified the Coast Guard, who placed two patrol boats near Ellis Island and used a World War I law from the 1917 Espionage Act to to create a “zone of security” around the island.

    New York Times, March 17, 1970

    The Alcatraz occupation was the inspiration for the Ellis Island attempt, which was part of a several American Indian takeover attempts and demonstrations at the time in the United States such as the Bureau of Indian Affairs takeover, the Trail of Broken Treaties, Occupation of Wounded Knee, approximately seventy-four other short term occupations in locations such as Davis, CA, Fort Lawton and Fort Lewis, WA, Twin Cities Naval Air Station, MN, and protest camps at Mount Rushmore and Badlands National Monument (Johnson / Fischer).

    “The targets of Indian protest were invariably government installations or historical sites of deep, double edged meaning. Indians in New York attempted to liberate Ellis Island. Mount Rushmore… was briefly occupied by Lakota and Chippewa militants. On Thanksgiving, a group of Indians led a protest at Plymouth Rock.” (Smith).  

    The motivation of the demonstrators was to duplicate the activist movement on the East Coast that had more successfully begun on the West Coast. John White Fox, a Shoshone from Wyoming, helped coordinate the occupation and announced later at a press conference “There is no place for Indians to assemble and carry on tribal life here in this white man’s city” (New York Times, Mar 17 1970). The demands at the press conference included an Native American educational and cultural center on the island and reversal of land, air, and water pollution in North America. The goals of the movement, sometimes called “Red Power” movement, were for self-determination and concerns for urban populations that lived away from tribal centers and reservation governments (Boston Globe, Apr 29, 1970). The Guardian reported “Indian leaders have been springing up across the country and challenging the Federal Government to redeem their historic ill-treatment which, indeed, has been almost uniformly atrocious” (Mar 18, 1970). No one was arrested for the Ellis Island attempt since none of the protesters landed on the island (Smith & Warrior).

    At the time Ellis Island only had a watchman on duty for a few hours per day. The National Park Service already had plans for the immigration museum.

    The Encyclopedia of Ellis Island lists the Delaware Indians, more correctly the Lenni Lenape, as the original inhabitants in the area around Ellis Island in the time that Dutch and Swedish colonists came to this area. Ellis and Liberty Islands were respectively known to the Lenni Lanape as Kioshk (Gull Island) and Minnesais. The Lenni Lenape used to the two islands  and the surrounding estuaries for gathering oysters, clams, mussels, striped bass, sturgeon, flounder, and bluefish. In 1985 and 1986 National Park Service officials found human remains on Ellis Island which anthropologists concluded were from prehistoric Americans, most likely Delaware Indians. Apurification ceremony took place with modern Delaware representatives, followed by reburial in 2003.  

    African-American Occupation

    In 1970, Thomas W. Matthew, head of National Economic Growth and Reconstruction Organization (NEGRO) asked President Nixon for use of Ellis Island to rehabilitate the decaying structures on the island and create self-sustaining black communities there as well as rehabilitation facilities for recovering addicts (Novotny). Matthew’s group had been featured in nationwide magazines and newspapers for their work in various venture capital operations, and hoped to eventually turn the facilities into profit making businesses as a movement for Black Capitalism. The Los Angeles Times described the occupation: “The invasion recalled tactics used by civil rights organizations around the country for the past several years. But NEGRO is quite distinct from the Urban League, the NAACP and CORE in that it is a business rather than a nonprofit social organization” (Nov 21, 1971).

    Dr. Thomas W. Matthew, center. New York Times, Jan 9, 1970

    No formal agreement was given from the White House, so Matthew and about 60 others quietly moved onto Ellis Island and began occupying it. Because the Coast Guard did not intervene as in the Native American occupation attempt, it seemed that Nixon had given “tacit approval” of Matthew’s plan (Cannato). Matthew’s group began clearing brush and some repairs to the buildings, and eventually the press noticed they were occupying the island. Most of the occupiers left, minus a small band that stayed on after the National Park Service agreed to Matthew’s proposal to rehabilitate the island. Few of that group stayed on past the winter, leaving only three residents by fall of 1971.

    The organization was involved in several other businesses, including a chemical company, a textile firm, garment manufacturer, a bus company and a hospital. However by 1973, the New York Times reported on several of Matthew’s business failures and legal troubles, calling him a “man under fire” and reporting on his arrests (Apr 24, 1973). In regards to the Ellis Island occupation, the Times reported in 1974 “Dr. Thomas Matthew, who wanted to turn the Great Hall into a monument for immigrants. He has since been convicted of fraud in connection with Medicaid money. ‘He had a five-year use permit, but he didn’t do anything,’ said a spokesman for the National Park Service” (May 26, 1974). Oral histories from Matthew in 1970 are available to researchers at the Schomburg Center.

    The National Park Service began their fundraising to restore Ellis Island in 1981. They similarly moved to restore the Statue of Liberty before its Centennial in 1986, and Ellis Island’s restoration would follow Liberty’s. In the late 1980s the Registry Room of the Main Building was restored to its appearance between the years 1918-1924. Renovated Ellis Island was reopened on September 9, 1990 as a museum and national monument. The Main Building received Landmark status in 1993.

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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 following new acquisitions are also available to read online by authenticating with your library card number.


    Between Friends by Amos Oz
    Little Failure: A Memoir by Gary Shteyngart
    Rav Kook: Mystic in A Time of Revolution by Yehudah Mirsky

    Through Project Muse

    Aesthetics of Sorrow: The Wailing Culture of Yemenite-Jewish Women
    Dear Mendl, Dear Reyzl: Yiddish Letter Manuals From Russia and America
    Jerusalem: Conflict & Cooperation in A Contested City
    The New Life: Jewish Students of Postwar Germany

    Through University Press Scholarship Online (UPSO)

    Jewish Spain: A Mediterranean Memory
    Mediterranean Enlightenment: Livornese Jews, Tuscan Culture, and Eighteenth-century Reform

    Through Oxford Scholarship Online

    Pétain's Jewish Children: French Jewish Youth and the Vichy Regime, 1940-1942

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    Questions are the key to communication and success. Questions lead to growth, demonstrate interest and uncover information that might otherwise remain hidden. Business leaders need to retain their curiosity, ask themselves questions to keep at the top of their game, and ask questions of others to determine if they need assistance and to double-check if the leaders need to improve. Questions spur learning.

    Questions That Leaders Should Ask Themselves

    1. How do I see myself? 
    2. How do I see the future?
    3. How do my friends and colleagues see me?

    These questions demonstrate whether you have an interest in others, if you have humility, and whether you are adding value to the team. Leaders should stay in their strength zone, take care of today, and invest in the right people. Many people do not want or care to grow and contribute much; therefore, it is vital to invest time in people who are motivated to contribute.

    Questions Leaders Should Ask Their Colleagues

    1. Do I listen well?
    2. What do you think?
    3. How can I serve you?
    4. What do I need to communicate?
    5. Did we exceed expectations? Did we add value?
    6. What did you learn?
    7. How do we maximize this experience?
    8. What do I need to know?
    9. How are the numbers?
    10. What am I missing?

    Encouraging staff to be honest regarding the leaders deficiencies and gaps in knowledge is vital to keeping the company afloat and prospering. A good, knowledgeable staff helps talented leaders and companies succeed. No company is run by one person. Attracting and retaining highly productive, motivated people helps companies succeed. Great leaders help develop other leaders. Also, CEOs are not always aware of the particulars of the company; therefore, they need to ask about numbers and anything else that they should be informed of.

    Questions Leaders Ask John Maxwell

    1. How do I lead myself well?
    2. How does leadership work?
    3. How do I get started in leadership?
    4. How do I resolve conflict and lead challenging people?
    5. How can I succeed while working under poor leadership?
    6. How do I transition to a different type of leadership?
    7. How can I develop leaders?

    Insecurity in leaders, micromanagement, and pride hold leaders and their teams back. Leadership is influence. No one gives 100% to a leader who does not care about them. People work hard and repay leadership that rewards them. Everyone can be a leader, but some people have a greater natural talent for it. Some people lead for power, money and privilege for themselves, while others serve their people and help them develop their skills. It is important for leaders to stay physically and mentally healthy so that they can retain their ability to lead. 

    Good Leaders Ask Great Questions: Your Foundation For Successful Leadership by John C. Maxwell, 2014

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    Subscribe on iTunes.

    To hear Patti Smith sing "Gloria" or "Birdland" for the first time is to let the ears introduce the rest of the body to love. Over the last four decades of her remarkable career, the singer has released eleven studio albums and published the National Book Award-winning memoir Just Kids. This week on the New York Public Library Podcast, we're proud to present Patti Smith discussing her love of learning.

    Patti Smith LIVE from the NYPL
    Patti Smith LIVE from the NYPL

    As a child, Smith found in libraries that books were passageways to other worlds. "I’ve always loved books since a small child," she explained. "I wanted to learn right away, as soon as—even as a toddler, and my mother taught me to read quite early, and when I was about seven or eight years old, we moved to South Jersey from the Philadelphia area. A perhaps nice place to play, but not a very cultured area, and my only respite was the library. My only hope in living in a lower-middle-class area where people really didn’t read or didn’t seem to have any aspirations to leave South Jersey, the library gave me many worlds. Travel. I learned about Tibet, Simón Bolívar, Joan of Arc. All of these things I learned about in the library."

    Of course Smith's education arrived not only through books but also music. One of the most important memories of her childhood is listening to opera during a school music class:

    "My love of opera started very young. I remember I had this music teacher named Mr. Myers when I was in grade school. Poor Mr. Myers had a very bad stutter. And to have to have a bad stutter and say the word music was very difficult for him and the children were very cruel to him. And I sort of felt sorry for him but I remember sitting there and one day he brought—he would bring his record player in and he put a record on and played the aria from Madam Butterfly and I thought it was—by Eleanor Steber—I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard. I mean, it was the same reaction. I had the same reaction to 'Un Bel Dì' as I did when I first heard Little Richard, a very—as a child, a very visceral reaction, a physical reaction, a sensual reaction as much as a child can have and I just fell in love. I fell in love with the emotional range of the aria and I for a long time my focus was on Italian opera, loved Verdi and loved Puccini and in later years discovered Wagner. But why this particular aria was so important, 'Vissi d’arte,' and sorry I don’t pronounce this stuff very good, I am an American. And I mean it’s always been, it’s such beautiful words, especially by Maria Callas: 'I have lived for love, for art, I have never hurt a single soul so why must I suffer?' And I just—that first line: 'I have lived for love, for art.' It just says it all, really."

    Smith has, indeed lived for love and art, but it's apparent that she's also lived to learn. She described school tenderly, as a place offering wonders unlike those available in the routines of domestic life:

    "I loved school as a kid. It still opened again. I couldn’t wait to go to school, I didn’t want to stay home and help with the dishes or, you know, do housework, or, you know, learn to cook. I loved going to school and finding new books in the school library and looking at the really cute guys, but mostly, truthfully, I’ve always loved education. I don’t always agree with how teachers are taught, but it was a treasure box at school, so I can’t say that I—I don’t have any real criticism of my schooling. I have more criticism about my spiritual education, my religious education, than I do about schooling."

    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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    That sticky summer humidity broke just in time to give us yet another gorgeous Open Book Night at the Outdoor Reading Room this past Friday night! Patrons of all ages spent the evening reclining on the lawn, enjoying a host of great recommendations, and, for the first time in 30 years, the relaxing sound of Truth and Beauty’s waters flowing nearby. Many thanks to our Schwarzman and Mid-Manhattan reading communities (and, of course the supportive staff members) who made this such an enjoyable program!

    We had so many good book suggestions from our adventurous readers. Nearly every book had a strong woman, a quirky guy, an epic storyline, or elements of science fiction and fantasy. Great minds read alike! Here are a few highlights:

    First we learned all about Vera Nabokov, a strong woman, the wife of Vladimir, a quirky guy who famously wrote Lolita. Without her, he would never have been the great success we know him to be now. Stacy Schiff’s biography of Vera is a wonderful love story, and a fascinating read! Did you know that Vladimir Nabokov never learned how to drive, operate an umbrella, or type? She was his chauffeur, editor, secretary, and, since she carried a handgun around in her purse at all times, bodyguard.

    Next, we took a turn for the epic, with a recommender reading a passage of Virgil’s Aeneid. We went back in time to the Battle of Actium in ancient Rome, a naval battle between the forces of Octavian and Antony and Cleopatra in 31 BC. Ships that move like thunder, the roaring of waves in the sea, and the image of Cleopatra hoisting her flag before her troops all enraptured our audience.

    An avid e-book reader took to the stage to talk about two of her favorite epic series of science fiction and fantasy novels. First, we got a rad glimpse of Rock Band Fights Evil, a graphic novel about a troubled rock and roll musician who, while fighting his own demons must also conquer actual demons. This reader also recommends anything by Gini Koch, but especially her Alien series. The Alien series are books centered around Kitty Katt, a tough-as-nails character who runs into some vicious aliens. Our recommender loves these because they are light like chick-lit and fun fantasy novels, except with a punk-rock feminist aesthetic.

    Another wonderful feminist book we learned more about was Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s latest book, Americanah. Another unique love story about two strong and interesting people, Americanah takes place in America and Nigeria, and is a thoughtful look at identity politics in both places. Our reader loved that this book was able to capture the nuances of being African in the United States, in particular the contrasting states of being an African American and an African immigrant in America.

    Speaking of feminists—did you know that Ann Eliza Young, the 19th wife of Brigham Young (the guy who founded the Mormon religion), was one of the very first feminists? After escaping her marriage, she successfully worked with congress to have polygamy outlawed in the U.S. If you’re into historical fiction, check outThe 19th Wife by David Ebershoff.

    Yet another reader had a great book suggestion that takes a look at marriage in a different religious community. Rachel Feldman’s Unorthodox is a memoir that chronicles the author’s upbringing in the Hasidic community in Brooklyn, her arranged marriage at seventeen, and the circumstances that led her to leave all that behind.

    We veered back to the realm of Science Fiction and Fantasy with our final book recommendations, with one reader’s enthusiasm for Philip K. Dick. This reader was especially into A Man in the High Castle, which takes place in an alternate United States. In this America, the Axis won World War II, and Germany and Japan split America in two, and rule over the East and West coasts with brutality.

    Another novel of epic proportions in a fictional universe that comes highly recommended is Patrick Rothfuss’s fantasy The Wise Man’s Fear. Our reader described a book that’s filled with adventures featuring fairies, evil mercenaries, and a murder mystery. But what sets this book apart from the rest of the genre is Rothfuss’ lyrical, poetic prose. If you’re the type of reader who tends toward more literary fare—this one might be for you!

    Finally, one of our youngest and most avid readers took to the mic to talk all about her favorite series of books—The Magic Treehouse. Inspired by our adult readers’ excited talk of fairies, aliens, and adventures, she was so excited to tell us all about Morgan Le Fay, Jack, and Annie. Her favorites are the ones that take place in the Middle Ages with castles and knights!

    Our next Open Book Night will take place August 14 in the Corner Room at Mid-Manhattan Library. Our theme is travel. Is there a book that has transported you to another place, another time, another state of mind? We'd love to hear about it!

    If you'd like to share book recommendations with other readers, join us at any or all of our upcoming Open Book Nights at the Mid-Manhattan Library. The complete 2015 schedule is listed below. We meet on the second Friday of the month at 6 p.m. in the Corner Room on the First Floor of Mid-Manhattan, except for the special outdoor Open Books nights we held on June 26 and July 10 at the Outdoor Reading Room. We'd love to see you there!

    Past Open Book Nights

    Click to see the list of books discussed.

    Upcoming Open Book Nights

    • August 14, 2015 - Travel
    • September 11, 2015 - New York
    • October 9, 2015 - The Occult
    • November 13, 2015 - Thanksgiving
    • December 11, 2015 - Food and Cooking

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    Amanda from Seattle and Meredith from Britain met while studying abroad in Italy. They roomed together with two Italian women. At first, everything was peachy keen, but, as happens so often with roommates, the relationship soon soured. Their differences, cultural and personality-wise, soon opened up a rift between them. Meredith took offense at Amanda's behavior and many boyfriends, and Amanda considered Meredith to be prudish.

    One night in November, Amanda's employer at the local bar informed her that business was slow and he did not need her. So, she spent the night with her boyfriend. The next day, her roommate, Meredith, was found dead with her throat slashed.

    The Italian press painted Amanda as an evil nymphomaniac who callously slaughtered her roommate. However, the Americans dubbed her Angel Face, on account of her beauty, and they believed that she could do no wrong.

    Meredith's family in Britain, of course, was devastated by the brutal murder of their daughter. The last thing they expected when she went abroad was that she would return in a body bag.

    Angel Face: The True Story of Student Killer Amanda Knox by Barbie Latza Nadeau, 2010

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    Islands - Rikers Island - Framework for new prison.
    Islands - Rikers Island - Framework for new prison. Image ID: 732163F

    "If you were trapped in an impossible situation, in an unpleasant place, with people who meant you ill, and someone offered you a temporary escape, why wouldn't you take it? …[D]uring your escape, books can…give you knowledge about the world and your predicament, give you weapons, give you armour: real things you can take back into your prison. Skills and knowledge and tools you can use to escape for real."

    —Neil Gaiman

    With a population of nearly 10,000, Rikers Island is the country’s second-largest jail system, with 10 inmate facilities on the premise handled by the New York City Department of Correction (DOC). Once a week, the New York Public Library's Correctional Services, part of the Outreach Services and Adult Programming, provides a circulating book service at five city jails, allowing for over 1200 people to take advantage of library services.

    Before I started working at NYPL, I had no idea how intricately the Library is tied to the community. Aside from offering a range of library programs in facilities such as early literacy workshops with detained parents and weekly book clubs with staff and incarcerated patrons, it also provides an annual guide that contains a wealth of resources in New York City to help formerly incarcerated individuals with their re-entry into society.

    I was fortunate enough to join Correctional Services on one of its weekly trips. On a gray, sullen-looking day, I set out for Rikers Island. Mostly nervous, and trying to battle various scenes from Orange Is the New Black from seeping into my clouded early-morning thoughts, I watched as the bus slowly crossed the bridge onto a massive concrete compound.

    Two rounds of security, another bus ride, one metal detector, and a visitor’s badge later, we made our way to the Library Room. This small room, nudged tightly between the chapel and social services office, contained a wall of donated library books and two carts. These carts had a wealth of various literature, spilling with fiction, nonfiction, Spanish language literature, bestsellers, comics, magazines, and urban literature. As we began our day, wheeling the troves of books toward our designated compound, I immediately noticed the change in prisoners’ expressions as they watched us come by. Most were eager, excited, and desperate to know when we would be reaching their unit.

    The first compound we visited was a unit of young men ranging in ages from 1821. The first man I met was exuberant, affable, and kind. I could feel his excitement as he raved about what book he wanted to read next, Joan Rivers's most recent book, and what we should be reading. As each one came to return and collect new books, comics, or magazines, I was delighted and surprised to see how many of the men longed for their weekly library fix. While some went immediately for urban lit, others thumbed painstakingly through magazines and comics, trying to find their favorite series. Many perused bestsellersJames Patterson was a big drawwhile others browsed heavier fiction and nonfiction. However, a side conversation I heard during the cart service resonates with me the most: One young man, picking up a copy of Existentialism from Dostoevsky to Sartre, matter-of-factly stated, “I read to expand my mind," in response to his friends, who were messing around with him for looking at philosophy books.

    Later that day, we rolled our library to another similar compound. While some breezed through fiction, one inmate spent a long time leafing through comics. "Looks like all the good ones were taken this morning," he stated, somewhat despondently. Louise, my mentor for the day and the Library Administrative Assistant who comes to Rikers two to three times per week, shuffled through her bag before giving him a pile of drawings that looked like X-Men characters. "I remembered; I know exactly what you're looking for!" she exclaimed. Slowly, he flipped through the pages. Suddenly, he laughed: "These are great, but my girlfriend won't want me to draw her pictures of monsters!" After some brief banter and reassurances of more drawings to come, he disappeared behind the large metal doors. I later learned that he was an aspiring artist and had been sending drawings to his girlfriend since he'd been incarcerated.

    While we wheeled through other compounds the rest of the day, I couldn't help but notice how important the Library was for these inmates. Whether it was learning to draw characters from comic books, diving into philosophy, or even establishing a bond with the librarians, these inmates found successful escape in books, and they wanted more. Though their current circumstances aren't ideal, they certainly have freedom in exploring other worlds, whatever those worlds may be.

    Visiting Rikers Island was an unforgettable experienceone I cherish not only because of my interactions but also because the Library was able to provide a slice of freedom, of escape: building and feeding an imagination that cannot be imprisoned.

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