Tuesday, December 13, 2011

TimeLess Reads for Teens or Books that Always Find a ReADer

Click on the titles to see reviews and other recommendations on LibraryThing.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

"There's an app for that" - but are we getting the best?

The dramatically titled article  "The Personal Computer is Dead",
from the MIT Technology Review written by Jonathan Zittrain, was one of the most thought provoking articles I've read in a long time.  Zittrain describes how the move from personal computers to platform dependent devices such as phones and tablets has restricted the development of software. Zittrain's article focuses on how software is being increasingly controlled and limited by the platform creators (Apple or Microsoft) and how we are no longer getting free access to all the ideas out there.

Anyone can create an app for the iphone - if apple lets them.  But you can't create something that challenges apple's own software or otherwise breaks their rules (the cartoonist Mark Fiore had his app intially banned for ridiculing public officials).  The Android marketplace isn't much freer.  There is still the ability for many people to participate in developing software, but many of the new devices do not allow for opensource software development. Opensource has given us many  successful programs in the last few years, such as Firefox, which I am typing this in and you are very likely reading it on.  The control that the platforms have over new devices may not mean going back to the 'cathedral' or top-down creation of all software, but the bazaar just got a whole new set of cops that don't have to answer to users.  

Most users aren't thinking about what innovations they may be missing because of the current system. While open source is alive and well and available to those users willing to take a little more time,  convenience wins out for many users even if it means they aren't free to change to a new platform or even to really own the content they've purchased. 

If it were just Angry Birds and the latest track from Katy Perry, this might not be such a concern, but more and more the important information in our lives is held by a third party. Financial information certainly, but also our writing, our relationships, our artistic endeavors.  In the name of convenience we often lose freedom and control. 

The analogy of the Cathedral and the Bazaar is often used to talk about computing, read the essay that spawned the analogy here:
The Cathedral and the Bazaar by Eric Steven Raymond

Or, for a much more fun read, get a crash course in the history of computing couched in a post-cyberpunk (and  proto-steampunk) thriller replete with nano-technology, psychedelics, and top hats: The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson. 

- Lisa Shaner 12.8.11

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Youth in Times of Crises

The Role of Youth - NYTimes

This video by John Savage and Matt Wolf is mostly a teaser for an upcoming movie the pair is making, but sparks some interesting questions about the role of teenagers in history and today. 
How will this generation shape the future?

(photo from Rebel Without a Cause)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Award Winning books for Teens

The end of the year lists are starting to appear, including lots of best of lists.  Here are a couple focusing on books for Teens, YALSA, the Young Adult Library Services Association, creates a variety of lists including the 10 Best Fiction Books for Teens 2011.

A recommendation from Catherine Sullivan on the list: Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly.  Combining music, time travel and the french revolution this well written book "spans centuries and vividly depicts the eternal struggles of the human heart." (Amazon)
Come check this book out from the library. 

Another list from YALSA is the winners of  The Alex Award, which goes to books written for adults with teen appeal. 

A recommendation from Lisa Shaner from this list is The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni:   Sebastian lives in a geodesic dome that also serves as a museum venerating Buckminster Fuller.  His homeschooling by his grandmother has kept him isolated from others his age until he meets Jared.  Suddenly Sebastian is seeing a whole new world of girls and rock n' roll and must negotiate between the life he was raised for and the one beckoning from outside the dome. 

Terry Pratchett's  combination of fantasy, humor and biting satire is one of the favorite authors of International's Book'em Reading Club. This year Pratchett is also the recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award which honors a single author for their contribution to young adult literature.  Nine of his books, including A Hat Full of Sky, Small Gods and Going Postal, were specifically chosen for the award.  Get your first taste of his quirky humor - or revisit a favorite book.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Beyond Books - Untraditional Libraries

The traditional image of a library is a place you go to check out books, and maybe music and movies, but libraries are not limited to words and sound.  While here at International we mostly lend books and dvds, we also lend computers and e-readers, not to mention paperclips, staplers, post-it notes, scissors, glue sticks and other tools to get that paper in on time or complete that group project.

Here are some other libraries going beyond books:

The Seed Library at the San Francisco Public Library- borrow seeds and return harvested seeds from your best specimens.  Over time the library will house seeds specially adapted to San Francisco!

The Tool Lending Library in Berkeley - for all your DIY needs (but only if you own property in Berkeley)

The Naturalist Center at the California Academy of Science - a library where you can find snakes, skulls and beetles along with books and magazines. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Biography of Cancer

New in the library:
The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
by Siddhartha Mukherjee
This Pulitzer Prize winning book traces the history of cancer and cancer treatment.  "A magnificent, profoundly humane 'biography' of cancer....Mukherjee recounts centuries of discoveries, setbacks, victories, and deaths, told through the eyes of his predecessors and peers, training their wits against an infinitely resourceful adversary."(Book Jacket)
Review in New York Times

You may also be interested in:
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks  by Rebecca Skloot

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

APPS: tools and toys for the iPad

An App that allows you to have up to 4 applications open and visible on the iPad screen.  Great for pulling together a list of sources on a blog, or comparing two articles.  Cost: $2 

A version of Jack Kerouac’s classic road trip tale has been published for the iPad. The app includes the full text of the book along with Kerouac reading sections of the book, editorial commentary, newly published family photos, and more. Cost: $17

A Review of the App from the Guardian

  Demo of the Application

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

National Coming Out Day @ IHS library

October 11th is National Coming Out Day
National Coming Out Day was first celebrated in 1988.  The day is a chance to increase the visibility of and support equality for LGBT people. Visit our display in the library to see a selection of  books by and about LGBT people.  Visit HRC's Website for more information about National Coming Out Day.

IraqiGirl: Diary of a Teenage Girl in Iraq (new book)

"I don't put my real name on this blog because I am not allowed to have a free opinion in this life.  I can't tell the truth until I am sure that no one knows who I am." 

"In front of my aunt's house a booby-tapped car exploded last week.  All the doors and all the windows and most of the walls crashed in...most of my family went to the hospital and they are OK now.  NOBODY DIED and that is something we are grateful for."

IraqiGirl Collects the blog posts of a teenage girl in Mosul, Iraq from 2004 to 2007. She is identified only by the pseudonym "Hadiya".  She writes about explosions and about tests in school, giving the reader a glimpse into the daily reality of her life in occupied Iraq.

“Despite all the news coverage about the war in Iraq, very little is reported about how it affects the daily lives of ordinary citizens. A highschooler in the city of Mosul fills in the gap with this compilation of her blog posts about living under U.S. occupation. She writes in English because she wants to reach Americans, and in stark specifics, she records the terrifying dangers of car bombs on her street and American warplanes overhead, as well as her everyday struggles to concentrate on homework when there is no water and electricity at home. Her tone is balanced: she does not hate Americans, and although she never supported Saddam Hussein, she wonders why he was executed... Readers will appreciate the details about family, friends, school, and reading Harry Potter, as well as the  ever-present big issues for which there are no simple answers."
—Hazel Rochman, Booklist

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

New DVDs in the Library

New DVDs have been added to the collection in the library - see if these highlights strike your fancy, or come explore! 

Oh yeah - I meant to see that documentary . . . 

Waiting for Superman

"Filmmaker Davis Guggenheim reminds us that education "statistics" have names: Anthony, Francisco, Bianca, Daisy, and Emily, whose stories make up the engrossing foundation of WAITING FOR SUPERMAN. As he follows a handful of promising kids through a system that inhibits, rather than encourages, academic growth, Guggenheim undertakes an exhaustive review of public education, surveying "drop-out factories" and "academic sinkholes," methodically dissecting the system and its seemingly intractable problems." Written by Sundance Film Festival 

Articles about the film:

Grading 'Waiting for Superman' | The Nation
Waiting For Superman: Are Teachers the Problem | Time Magazine

 Exit Through the Gift Shop
The story of how an eccentric French shop keeper and amateur film maker attempted to locate and befriend Banksy, only to have the artist turn the camera back on its owner. The film contains footage of Banksy, Shephard Fairey, Invader and many of the world's most infamous graffiti artists at work. Written by Sundance Film Festival

Interview with Banksy from the blog All Things Wonderful

Get your Bard On - New Shakespeare DVDs

Hamlet - produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company
"It's to director Gregory Doran's incredible credit that his staging of that most familiar of English-language plays, Shakespeare's Hamlet, should be completely reinvigorated by a modern interpretation of the tragedy as a true psychological thriller. This Hamlet, filmed in 2009, presents the inner torment of the Danish prince Hamlet as a believable, relatable controlled explosion of emotions, each more unmanageable than the last. Besides the director, the casting is also brilliant, including the Scottish actor David Tennant (Doctor Who) as Hamlet and Patrick Stewart as Hamlet's uncle Claudius and the ghost of Hamlet's father--who, Hamlet becomes convinced, was killed by Claudius. "  - A.T. Hurley for Amazon.com

"one of the most richly textured, best-acted versions of the play we have seen in years." Guardian UK review

Macbeth - starring Patrick Stewart
An acclaimed filmed version of Patrick Stewart's tony-nominated performance of "the Scottish play"

 New York Times Review