newsId: EF4B8676-BCC1-B2FA-8B0A170020F71C33
Title: Locker checkout available at the Bender Library
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Abstract: Semester loan lockers available beginning on August 25th on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 08/27/2014
Content:

Semester use lockers are available for checkout from the Borrowing Desk on the First Floor of Bender Library. They are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The lockers are available free of charge to currently registered students with an AU ID card or valid government issued photo ID. Locker keys will be due on Tuesday, December 16 (the day after the last day of finals). Requests for specific locker locations will be accommodated as availability allows.

Lockers vary in size, with many able to accommodate a bag or backpack. Students can use lockers to store personal items or items for class. However, students are asked not to store food in the lockers, as this attracts pests that may be damaging to the Library's collection. Students are asked not to put any additional locks onto the lockers. Unauthorized locks will be removed by University staff.

Day-use lockers are also available on a first-come, first-served basis throughout the semester for students who do not need a semester-use locker. Day-use lockers can be checked out from the Borrowing Desk except for day-use lockers located in the Graduate Research Center, which are available for check out by graduate students from the GRC Desk.

For more information on locker terms and conditions, drop by the Circulation Desk or contact us at 202-885-3221 or circulation@american.edu.

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Title: Librarian Profile: Mary Mintz
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Abstract: This fourth article in our series of librarian profiles focuses on Associate Director for Outreach Mary Mintz. Mary’s background in Literature and Library Sciences allows her to support the academic growth of students during their time at AU.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 08/20/2014
Content:

A member of the American University community for thirty years, Associate Director for Outreach Mary Mintz developed a deep love of literature and learning early on, growing up as the daughter of a high school and college English teacher in her native North Carolina. Later, she knew that she wanted to "make a difference in the academic experience of college students" even before she completed her master's degrees in library science and English literature. After her own deeply rewarding college experience as a member of the first entering class to admit women at Davidson College, Mary knew that academia was the right fit for her. When Mary arrived at AU in the 80s, the university was in the early stages of an evolutionary process in terms of growth, reputation, and intellectual engagement. Mary describes the AU student of today as "committed, caring, and—simply awesome." As a member of the honors applications review process, Mary sees firsthand the "engagement, passion, and ideals" of the student body.

Where can you find her?

Mary is the Library liaison for about ten different undergraduate groups, including AU Honors students, AU Scholars, Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholars, the University College, and the Washington Mentorship Program. Undergraduate support efforts put Mary in contact with a variety of students, faculty, staff, and administrators.

In addition to providing research assistance through personal appointments and work at the Reference Desk, Mary meets with the orientation leaders for incoming students to share information about the Library with freshman and new transfer students. She also encounters new students through her library instruction in College Writing and other courses. This puts her in the unique position of working with students to develop the fundamentals of research and writing and then, in her role providing capstone support for History and Literature students, seeing how their work has progressed. She is able to see the full circle of undergraduate progress from freshman to senior year. Mary considers this to be an extremely gratifying element of her job.

In addition to these ongoing efforts, Mary always is particularly happy to discuss literature and history, especially the work of Jane Austen and Austen's era. She is an enthusiastic member and officer of the Jane Austen Society of America.

Why she loves her job

Mary sees "student interaction and response in the classroom and the challenge of assisting students with sophisticated and complex projects" as just a few of the many rewards of Mary's work as a librarian. She is passionate about the emphasis librarianship places on service. In her instructional work, Mary strives "to create an engaging classroom environment" and enjoys working with faculty to plan successful class sessions. Mary also likes having the chance to connect with students on a more personal level.

In the Community

Mary long has taken a very active role in university life. In many years, she has served on the university's Faculty Senate, including serving as chair of that body for two years. She also served on the university search committee for the current University President.

Mary strongly encourages all incoming students to pay a visit to the Library to learn more about the research resources available to them—and to "ask a librarian" whenever they need assistance with research. Her hope is that AU students will take their research skills with them beyond the university, just as they take their engagement, passion, and ideals.

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Title: Get to Know the People Behind the Scenes at AU Library
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Abstract: The first article in a series of profiles, sharing the secret lives of our Library personnel. This profile takes a look at Music Library Coordinator, Sam Reggio—and his secret life as a vinyl collector and music enthusiast.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 08/06/2014
Content:

As a music buff and record collector, Sam Reggio feels right at home in his role as Music Library Coordinator. Sam's enthusiasm for both libraries and music is contagious—especially when he articulates his sense of them as a means of connecting people. With a background in literature and education, Sam was no stranger to libraries, but their value as community centers did not occur to him until after college. While working at an education non-profit, he was struck by the need for third spaces for adolescents—accessible, safe locations beyond school and home.

Sam continued to work with young people, from 6-year-olds to teens, as a part of his work in the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program. Living in the Kōchi Prefecture of Japan for three years was a transformative experience, leaving Sam with a deeper appreciation of the importance of community and the need to provide civic spaces for "kids at that in-between age—places where they are wanted and valued."

This attraction to service led Sam back to libraries. After returning to the US, he enrolled in the Library and Information Science program at the Catholic University of America and completed his MLS this past spring. At the Music Library, Sam finds his work most fulfilling when he is helping others, connecting students and faculty with the resources they need, and having the opportunity to relate to users through their shared passion for music.

With a "small" personal collection of about 1,000 records, Sam shares music with a group of friends through their any-genre-goes Record Geek Night , which he describes as "like a book club, but for records." He notes the resurging popularity of vinyl records, a means of interacting with music that is a "tactile, fun way to engage with something you love and makes the ritual of listening to music more profound."

Sam keeps up with new music through record reviews, interviews with performers, and suggestions from friends. He also enjoys taking part in DC's live music scene. Still interested in the role of venues as a third space, Sam praises the all-ages shows offered at the Black Cat on 14th Street NW: "They are doing it right, for all the right reasons—creating community." He also has a great appreciation for house shows, "the best way to see innovative and unknown performers in DC."

Album Recommendations from Sam:

The Knife, Shaking the Habitual (CD 10272)
"This Swedish electronic duo is whole process oriented, putting ideals into practice and even making their own instruments. Their noisy and abrasive, off-kilter and wild sound explores the concept of protest music for the modern era."

Swans, The Seer (CD 10274)
"An American band from New York, this group has been together since the 80s (albeit with a long hiatus). Their music is intense, noisy, and repetitive, blending elements of rock and blues."

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Title: Crack Open a Classic
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Abstract: Summer is the ideal time to pick up a book that you never finished—or always meant to read. If you are looking for some great summer reading recommendations, the Library has got you covered. Check out these suggestions from Library personnel.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 08/01/2014
Content:

Summer is the ideal time to pick up a book that you never finished—or always meant to read. If you are looking for some great summer reading recommendations, the Library has got you covered. Check out these suggestions from Library personnel.

Nancy, University Librarian

Dandelion Wine

Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
PS3503 .R167 D35 2006
If you want the flavor of August in 1928, told through the lens of a 12-year-old boy, this may be the book. Ray Bradbury based the book on his own childhood, but it is a work of fiction. Douglas Spalding is 12 and his brother Tom is 10. Their Grandpa makes dandelion wine—"summer in a bottle," he calls it. Greentown, IL is the setting for the group of boys who learn the past from a Civil War veteran they call the Time Machine, but the old soldier can't remember if he fought for the North or the South. They see the future as buses replace electric trolleys, and other events [no spoilers here] cause them to begin to understand their own mortality. The large and close Spalding family passes much of the summer on the front porch, but Bradbury gives only the barest outline of his characters' appearances, allowing the reader to add faces of one's choosing to bring the book to life. As in his other books, Bradbury's imagery alone is worth the read: "shoes, as quiet as a summer rain falling on the walks."

Andrew, Circulation Services Specialist

War and Peace

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
PG3366 .V6 1982
The story of Russians during the Napoleonic War—At its core, War and Peace is probably the greatest realist novel ever written and the characters will live with you long after you've finished the novel. "There remains the greatest of all novelists—for what else can we call the author of War and Peace?" -Virginia Woolf 

Sun Also Rises

Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
PS3515 .E37 S9
Hemingway's best novel. In it, the lives of the Lost Generation are refracted through a group of friends traveling around Europe, looking for love, bull fights, and their next drink. And, of course, it's about love.

Becca, Manager of Resource Description

Grapes of Wrath

Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
PS3537 .T3234 G7
The themes (workers' rights &man's impact on the climate) of this classic American migration tale set during the Great Depression remain as relevant today as they were 75 years ago. Summer is the perfect time to immerse yourself in the Joads' struggle as they cross the desert into California.

Jackie, Circulation Services Specialist

The Awakening

Awakening by Kate Chopin
PS1294 .C63 A6 2000
Set in New Orleans and the surrounding coastal region at the turn of the century, a young wife and mother becomes increasingly disenchanted with her life and actively seeks to free herself from societal norms. It's considered one of the first truly feminist novels, and it is a great read.

Kathryn, Reference Librarian

Magic Mountain

Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann
PT2625 .A44 Z31
Nobel Laureate Thomas Mann's Magic Mountain (Der Zauberberg) is a masterful commentary on Europe careening toward the Great War. Through the eyes of young Hans Castorp and the international clientele of an elite TB sanatorium in the Swiss Alps, Mann's bildungsroman chronicles the intellectual, political, and social scene of early 20th century Europe. The complex themes of Magic Mountain are particularly relevant as the 100th Anniversary of World War I refocuses attention on the "war to end all wars." (Want to learn more about the WWI but don't like fiction? Try Barbara Tuchman's The Guns of August.)

Laura, Assistant to the University Librarian

The Good Soldier

Good Soldier: A Tale of Passion by Ford Madox Ford
PR6011 .O53 G6 2012
The Good Soldier takes place in England in 1915. It feels like a peek behind the curtain at a certain lifestyle in England. A sad story filled with witty lines. Worth reading for the writing alone!

Big Rock Candy Mountain

Big Rock Candy Mountain by Wallace Stegner
PS3537 .T316 B5 1991
This novel takes place on the plains and in Canada in the early 20th Century. It is told from multiple perspectives. Stegner is a great writer and the characters come to life in a sweeping tale that spans a generation.

Molly, Visual Media Collections Coordinator

A Study In Scarlet

Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
PR4622 .S933 1994
For those who enjoy a good mystery or love Benedict Cumberbatch in the BBC series Sherlock, read the original books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle! Witty, easy reads, the books are great to read outside on a lunch break or at the beach, and it is fun comparing the series to its inspiration.

Dark is Rising sequence

Dark is Rising sequence by Susan Cooper
PZ7 .C7878 Dar 2000
For fun, quick reads this summer, YA books, such as Susan Cooper's classic series, are a great alternative to cheesy romances and mysteries.

Rose, Budget Coordinator

East of Eden

East of Eden by John Steinbeck
PS3537 .T3234 E3
This story about good and evil unexpectedly became one of my favorite books. It forces you to think about your beliefs in humanity and is so haunting that I reread it every year.

Sam, Music Library Coordinator

Moby Dick

Moby Dick by Herman Melville
PS2384 .M62 H47 1998
I heartily recommend Moby Dick as a summer reading classic. I mean, it's the quintessential American novel, but I do think it deserves its status. A who's who of under-dog miscreants traverse the globe looking for wealth and revenge. Pure American hubris at its best/worst. It is long, but takes place on a boat—and we all want to be on a boat in the summer, right? I've read it four times.

Last, but not least, a novel so beloved it gets two reviews:

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
PQ8180.17 .A73 Z96

Katherine, Archives Specialist

One Hundred Years of Solitude

Read about the Buendía family in One Hundred Years of Solitude. Between the magical realism and compelling characters, you are sure to lose track of time with this summer read.

Jenise, Reference Librarian

Cien Años de Soledad

Incredibly timely since Gabriel García Márquez's passing. I read this for the first time the summer of my 21st year and I'll never forget the dreamy state it left me in each time I picked it up. I'm a big believer in season-appropriate reads and One Hundred Years begs to be read during the summer, on a porch, accompanied by something ice cold to drink.

AU Students, Faculty, and Staff—Tell us about your favorite books and films on Twitter and Facebook! For even more recommendations, visit our Pinterest page.

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Title: 5 LGBT Resources at the AU Library
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Abstract: Learn more about the suite of LGBT resources available through AU Library. Everything from the specialized collection at the Gender & Sexuality Library to the variety of streaming films relating to LGBT issues.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 06/11/2014
Content:

President Obama recently declared June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month! Our collection of LGBT resources is perfect for research, exploration and celebration. Here are our top 5 resources:

  1. Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Subject Guide
    Your gateway to Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies resources in the American University Library collections, this subject guide covers essential books, newspapers, primary sources, and other key holdings.

  2. Center for Diversity & Inclusion Gender and Sexuality Library—MGC 201
    This partner collection, containing more than 1,000 volumes, is located in the Center for Diversity & Inclusion in Mary Graydon Center (room 201) and is fully searchable through the ALADIN catalog.

  3. LGBT E-Journals
    Use the AU Library Journal Finder to access to a wealth of LGBT-focused academic journals, including:
    Annual Report of the Office of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Affairs
    Gay & Lesbian Law Journal
    Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services
    Vanguard


  4. Streaming Video Collection
    Explore a wide selection of LGBT documentaries and films within the following streaming media resources:
    LGBT Studies in Video
    Docuseek 2
    Filmakers Library Online
    Films on Demand


  5. LGBT Life (Full-text)
    This database is a gateway to literature on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender issues from around the world. It allows you to search a range of source types, including books, speeches, case studies, and journals.
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Title: Get Amped Up for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil with These Library Selections
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Abstract: Explore the music of Brazil and a wealth of books and films related to soccer, just in time for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Every title here can be found in the collection of the AU Library.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 05/30/2014
Content:

The beautiful game is going to Brazil—and the world will be watching. Brush up on your soccer knowledge, or just immerse yourself in Brazilian culture with the following CDs, books, and movies. These titles and more are available at the AU Library.

Music:

Hosting any World Cup viewing parties? Set the mood before you turn on the match with some music from Brazilian artists.

  • Acoustic Brazil (CD 5027) Warm acoustic performances by various artists, showcasing regional music
  • Brasileiro (CD 9683) Grammy-winning Bossa Nova album by Sérgio Mendes
  • Caetano Veloso (CD 9854) Self-titled album from the award-winning composer and performer 
  • Gil e Jorge (CD 9855) Iconic Brazilian musicians Jorge Ben and Gilberto Gil collaborate on this 1975 classic
  • Tropicália: A Brazilian Revolution in Sound (CD 9862) Compilation album capturing the music of Tropicalismo, a 1960s cultural and artistic movement in Brazil

The Music Library is located in the Katzen Arts Center, First Floor (141).

Books:

If you’re looking for something to read on your flight to Sao Paulo, or just for your Metro ride into the office, we have a great selection of titles.

  • The Ball is Round: A Global History of Soccer by David Goldblatt (GV942.5 .G65 2008) Critically acclaimed and engaging history of soccer
  • El Futbol a Sol y Sombra by Eduardo Galeano (GV942.7 .G35 2000) The history of world soccer, as told by an award-winning writer
  • Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby (GV943.2 .H67 1998) Hilarious and honest, this classic is an autobiographical look at the life of a soccer fanatic
  • Inverting the Pyramid: A History of Football Tactics by Jonathan Wilson (GV943.9.T7 W55 2009) An in-depth examination of soccer strategy for serious fans
  • A History of the World Cup: 1930-2006 by Clemente Angelo Lisi (GV943.49 .L57 2007) Delve into the first eight decades of this sporting event watched by millions around the globe
  • How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization by Franklin Foer (JZ1318 .F64 2010) A look at how soccer interacts with and influences the global economy
  • Soccer Empire: The World Cup and the Future of France by Laurent Dubois (eBook) Learn more about the complex intersection between soccer and colonialism
  • Soccernomics: Why England Loses, Why Germany and Brazil Win, and Why the U.S., Japan, Australia, Turkey—and Even Iraq—Are Destined to Become the Kings of the World’s Most Popular Sport by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski (GV943.9 .S64 K88 2009) A Moneyball-esque look at how data does, doesn’t, and could influence soccer

Film:

These films are perfect to whet your appetite for the banquet of upcoming World Cup matches.

  • “The ‘99ers,” Nine for IX (HU DVD 8530, Disc 3) An exploration of the U.S. Women’s soccer team that won the 1999 World Cup
  • Bend It Like Beckham (HU DVD 672) The international smash hit about the daughter of an orthodox Sikh family, torn between tradition and her love of soccer
  • The Damned United (HU DVD 7058) This sharp, funny British drama delves into the rivalry between two soccer teams managers
  • Green Street Hooligans (HU DVD 9087) An indie drama based on the gritty world of soccer hooliganism in the UK
  • “The Two Escobars,” 30 for 30 (HU DVD 7907) A look at two influential men named Escobar and the interaction between soccer, drugs, and crime
  • Zidane: Un Portrait du 21e Siècle (BLU 8849) Experience a soccer match viewed through the actions of celebrated and controversial player Zinedine Zidane

Media Services is located on the Lower Level of Bender Library.

For more films on the wide world of sports, check out the Library’s Media Services Pinterest. Plus stop by Bender Library to catch a World Cup game—the games will be on whenever we are open.

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Title: Summer School 101: Library Resources From a Distance
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Abstract: Make the most of your summer no matter where you are with resources available from the Library. Whether you are taking online classes, working on your research, or looking to learn a new skill, we have the resources you need.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 05/28/2014
Content:

Whether you are taking online classes, working on your research, or looking to learn a new skill, the Library has the resources you need to get the most out of your summer work no matter where you are. Here are 10 terrific ways to get started:

  1. eBooks
    With more than 300,000 eBooks in our collection, lugging around a heavy backpack may be a thing of the past. To make locating these titles even easier, you can limit your catalog searches to eBooks only.

  2. Subject Guides
    Our librarian-created subject guides take the guesswork out of finding resources for your topic. These guides will lead you to some of the best material in your subject area, saving you time and effort.

  3. Online Tutorials
    Visit our website for online tutorials on a wide range of topics, including Endnote (a citation management program), developing research skills, working with Google Scholar, and creating a literature review.

  4. Distance Reference Services
    Reference Services are not just a desk in the library. We provide reference services in a variety of ways, allowing you to choose the method that is most convenient for your schedule.

    The Ask-A-Librarian webpage is the starting point for getting research assistance.
    • Chat online with our librarians or text a question from a cell phone to (571) 766-6349.
    • IM and Text Reference summer hours: Monday–Thursday 11am to 9pm; Friday 11am to 6pm.
    • A phone call to the reference desk is another option for quick questions: 202-885-3238
    • For more involved research questions, offsite students are encouraged to email their questions—the librarian on duty will be able to research an answer or refer it to a subject specialist.

  5. Streaming Media
    More than 20,000 videos and over 100,000 musical albums can be streamed through the Library website.

    Our streaming video collection
    includes documentaries, archival footage, recordings of performing arts, and independent films and shorts.

    World music, jazz, classical, and folk can all be enjoyed through our streaming music collection.

  6. eJournals and databases
    Let your fingers do the researching with our collection of digital resources. No matter where you are spending your summer, internet access is all you need to continue to utilize the Library. Limit your search to online items and let the research begin!

  7. AU Library Knowledgebase
    Find answers to your Library questions here. Topics run from basics like finding a book, to more complex topics, like accessing statistical datasets. If you cannot find what you are looking for, there is also a form to submit your own question.

  8. Article Request Services (CLS & ILL)
    You probably already knew that our Consortium Loan Service and Interlibrary Loan are terrific ways to get your hands on materials that AU does not own, but did you know that when you request articles (not books) through these two services, the material that you need is scanned and sent electronically via your My Library Account portal?

  9. Lynda.com
    Dedicate your summer to learning a new skill with this on-the-go resource!

    Perfect for the self-guided student, the lynda.com Online Training Library courses include such subjects as Photoshop, Dreamweaver, project management, education training, Web design, and programming languages. More than 2,500 courses are available across a range of subjects and ability levels.

    Note: All users will be prompted to log in to this resource. Please use your AU network username and password, not your usual My Library Account credentials.

  10. AU on iTunes U
    This service provides access to a wide range of American University related digital audio content via the iTunes Store. Enhance your educational experience with your iTunes library through recordings from American University.

    Catch up on the events that you missed during the last academic year, like Dr. Pamela Nadell’s fascinating Books that Shaped America discussion of How the Other Half Lives by Jacob Riis.

    Check out our guide for more information on getting started.
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Title: Rated YA
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Abstract: The AU Library has a great collection of YA novels and their film adaptations. Come check out Divergent or The Giver before seeing them in the theater. Or check out our range of videos, including the entire Harry Potter series.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 05/06/2014
Content:

If you like to read the book before you see the movie, AU Library has what you need! The motion picture Divergent, out in theaters now and featuring Shailene Woodley and Theo James, is based on the book by Veronica Roth (PZ7 .R7375 Di 2011), which can be found in our Curriculum Materials Center (3rd Floor). Another Woodley film, The Fault of Our Stars, will be released June 6, 2014, but you can check out the Josh Green novel (PZ7 .G8233 Fau 2012) now! We also have Lois Lowry’s critically acclaimed book The Giver (PZ7 .L9673 Gi 1993). The highly anticipated film version starring Jeff Bridges and Brenton Thwaites is scheduled for release on August 15, 2014.

Prefer to skip the lines at the movie theater? The Library offers both book and film versions of a number of popular YA adaptations, so that you can unwind with an at-home screening. New York Times bestseller The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (PS3553 .H3469 P47 1999) was made into a commercially and critically successful motion picture starring Logan Lerman and Emma Watson (DVD 5478).

The Chosen by Chaim Potok (PS3566 .O69 C4) is a classic YA novel that inspired writers to adapt it for theater (as both a drama and a musical) as well as cinema. This award-winning film is available at the Library (DVD 8315). You can revisit the beloved Harry Potter series in book (PR6068 .O93s) and film (DVDs 6041-6048) formats at the Library. Host a post-finals marathon reading and viewing party covering Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone through Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2.

Another international sensation, Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight trilogy (PZ7 .M57188s) is also available in film versions at Media Services (DVDs 6891-6895). Or you can check out the incredibly popular Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins (PZ7 .C6837s) and the film version of the first two books (DVD 10315-6), which star Academy Award-winning actress, Jennifer Lawrence.

Vampire Romance or Dystopian Sci-Fi, we have YA books and films for every taste. Celebrate surviving your finals with a trip to the Library for some fun books and movies!

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Title: Librarian Profile: Melissa Becher
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Abstract: This third article in a series of librarian profiles focuses on Associate Director of Research, Teaching, and Learning Melissa Becher. With her interest in history, art, and geek culture, Melissa is an ideal resource for students of all disciplines.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 04/29/2014
Content:

Associate Director of Research, Teaching, and Learning Melissa Becher’s love of libraries goes back a long way. Growing up, she spent many hours at the library at the University of Akron campus where her father was a professor of Electrical Engineering. Her first job as a teenager was at the local public library, shelving books. As an undergraduate in Art History, Melissa accepted an internship at the Hirshhorn Museum. While there, she had the opportunity to visit a number of the specialized libraries located within the museums—and was hooked. Before and after receiving her MLS, Melissa worked for the Library of Congress. In 1996, she joined the American University Library.

Where can you find her?

In addition to answering questions at the Reference Desk and offering personal appointments at the library, Melissa teaches a number of information literacy sessions for the Art History and College Writing Departments. An admirer of Northern Renaissance art, Romanesque sculpture, and the artists of the Venetian school, Melissa is always happy to discuss art history research. Melissa is often around campus—on Wednesdays, you can find her checking out the locally grown offerings at the AU Farmer’s Market.

Why she loves her job

Melissa describes AU students as “highly engaged, passionate, and interested in changing the world” and is consistently impressed with the advanced level of their work. Her reference work allows her to interact with students and faculty from a variety of disciplines, on a wide range of topics. As a result she “learns something new every day.” Melissa’s enthusiasm for puzzles and problem solving is a natural fit with library science and providing research assistance. She sees her role as helping researchers create a more direct path to reaching their scholarship goals.

In her administrative role, Melissa has been involved in the evaluation and improvement of the library website. She works to maintain smooth operation of the software platforms behind the Library’s Subject Guides, Find More Answers knowledgebase, and Ask AU Library chat reference service. In addition to this, she conducts focus groups and usability tests to improve the website and library web services.

In the Community

As an administrator, scholar, and librarian, Melissa enjoys taking an active role in university life by participating in campus committees. She recently served on the Senate Committee on Information Services and as the Chair of the Senate Committee on Learning Outcomes and Assessment. Building relationships with other departments is a priority for Melissa, and she attends student research events as a way to connect with the broader AU community.

These student research events also inspire Melissa in her librarianship. “AU students are producing great humanitarian work and are going to change the world. We help them get there—and that is such an exciting thought.”

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Title: Increasing the Green Behind the Scenes at the AU Library
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Abstract: Library personnel work hard behind the scenes to reduce the carbon footprint of our work—and to encourage eco-conscious behavior in our visitors and employees.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 04/18/2014
Content:

The American University Library Green Team formed in 2011 to promote sustainable and ecologically friendly practices throughout the Library. Over the past three years, the team has engaged in many initiatives to help green the Library, and the campus. It has transitioned staff members to workstations with eco-friendly power strips, installed rechargeable batteries in clocks, increased energy efficient lighting throughout the building, and moved all of the public printers to 100% recycled paper. These efforts culminated in Bender Library's consecutive first place finishes in the university's Green Office Program (2011/12 and 2012/13). The Green Team has also hosted activities aimed at sustainability including do it yourself solar chargers for cell phones, and has helped distribute plants throughout the public and staff areas of Bender Library.

The Green Team also plays an integral role in promoting green practices like recycling and composting throughout the building. Bender Library was the first academic building on campus to use compost bins, diverting organic waste from landfills. The Green Team is currently running a Green Workspace initiative designed to encourage staff to participate in sustainable activities and create a sustainable workplace. Through all of these efforts, and participation in campus-wide events like Earth Day, the Green Team is working to make sure that the Library is a sustainable environment for the staff, students, faculty, and alumni of American University.

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Title: Hunker Down for Finals!
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Abstract: With finals just around the corner, the library will once again be offering 24/7 hours. Having all night access to study space, computers, library materials, and group work areas makes end of the semester workload a little bit easier to manage.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 04/18/2014
Content:

It is crunch-time once again. Presentations, papers, and projects are all due soon—and finals are on the horizon. Good news for all you night owls. Bender Library is moving to extended hours this weekend, when the library will stay open until midnight both Friday (4/18) and Saturday (4/19). Our 24/7 schedule begins on April 20th and provides a comfortable place for those all-night research and study sessions through the end of finals.

Our service desks, including Borrowing and Media Services will still close at 9pm on Friday and Saturday nights, but students are welcome to make use of study space and available materials all night long. Additionally, the self-check machines are accessible whenever the building is open.

After midnight, the building is accessible only to students and requires an AU ID for entry. Students must keep their AU ID on them at all times while in the building.

More information is available on our Overnight Hours page.

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Title: 5 Cool Research Tools
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Abstract: The AU Library wants to make your research easier and more rewarding. Here are five of the terrific tools that we offer to make your academic life a little simpler.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 04/11/2014
Content:

We are on a mission to make your research easier and more rewarding. Below we've listed five terrific tools that we offer to make your academic life a little simpler.

  • Zotero, Mendeley, and EndNote

    1. Free Citation Software

    Programs like EndNote, Mendeley, and Zotero make it simple to grab citations throughout your research process and format them as needed. These citation managers can retrieve citations as you research, generate a bibliography, and help you maintain your own database of citations used throughout your academic career.

    Check out our Citation Style Guide to learn more and find the best program for you!

  • Poster Printer

    2. Poster Printer

    Our large format printer is perfect for creating professional looking posters for presentations, fairs, or projects. We have compiled a selection of helpful poster creation resources, including websites with downloadable templates, poster dos & don’ts, and design tips. Visit the Library website to explore these resources. You can also email us at autechservices@gmail.com to make an appointment for printing or request more information.

  • LibX

    3. LibX

    LibX American University Edition browser extension provides direct access to your Library's resources. This allows you to search our collections through an adaptive, configurable search box. LibX offers a “magic search” feature, which locates electronically available and accessible copies of articles through Google Scholar. Take LibX for a test drive on our research page and then scroll down to “other research tools”.

  • 3d printed model

    4. 3D Printer

    Create scale models, small props for films or photographs, or generate design prototypes with 3D printing at the library. Now located on the Lower Level, directly across from the Technology Services Desk, this is an inexpensive and fun way to test out your ideas. Let your imagination run wild and then email us at autechservices@gmail.com to make a reservation. For more information, visit our website.

  • BrowZine

    5. BrowZine

    This app can turn your tablet (or one checked out from Technology Services) into a bookshelf of your most-used journals! BrowZine works by organizing the articles found in Open Access and subscription databases, uniting them into complete journals, then arranging these journals on a digital newsstand. The result is an easy and familiar way to browse, read, and monitor scholarly journals across the disciplines. BrowZine is available for free download from the App Store or Google Play Store. Once downloaded, select American University and login with your credentials.

Want more great tips about our resources and tools? Stop by to talk to one of our Reference and Research Assistance Librarians today!

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Title: See What We Have to Offer at the Music Library
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Abstract: The AU Music Library is home to a range of materials and services available to all students. With a collection that includes musicals on DVD; over 10,000 CDs; scores; and music magazines, we have something for everyone.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 04/08/2014
Content:

Everyone already knows that the AU Library is the place for DVDs, reference help, comfy chairs, and printing. BUT, did you know that the AU Library also has a Music Library?

Across Massachusetts Ave. from main campus in the Katzen Arts Center, the Music Library is worth the walk for anyone with even a casual interest in music.

Our collection includes thousands of scores for you to look through and borrow, so if you’re starting to learn to play an instrument, we can find music appropriate for any skill level. If you haven’t touched that trumpet since high school band, and are looking to get back into it, we have a terrific selection of Popular, Classical, Jazz, and Musical scores. With practice scores for all ability levels, we can help you refine your already polished technique—or take a stab a teaching yourself how to play. No, you don’t need to be a music-major or even be taking classes in the Department of Performing Arts—if you go to AU, you can borrow from us.

The Music Library also has over 10,000 CDs. We know you stream stuff and YouTube things. (We do too!) But sometimes CDs are great—for sound quality, for album artwork and notes, and for having the whole thing. We have a lot of classical and jazz CDs, as well as classic rock, hip hop, pop, world, and folk. You can borrow up to 5 CDs at a time, keep them for a week, and return them to us or the borrowing desk in Bender Library.

Our music collection is only the tip of the iceberg. We also have DVDs of musicals (borrow for class or for fun), selected scripts (find the perfect monologue for your next audition), and computers with specialized software including Finale. We have a selection of magazines, from mainstream music industry big-hitter Billboard to the UK’s premiere experimental music magazine, The Wire, plus a comfortable reading area for relaxing in between classes.

Our greatest asset, though, is our staff. We’re all into, and love to talk, music—styles, bands, records, and more. There’s tons of music out there, clickable and in your face, but sometimes it’s nice to just talk to someone about music and what you’re into. That’s where we come in. 

Curious? You are always welcome to visit us in Katzen First Floor. During the semester, we’re open Monday–Thursday 9am–8pm, Friday 9am–5pm, and Saturday 11am–4pm.

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Title: AU Alumni and Friends Meet Up for Fun, Games, and Scholarship
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Abstract: Library friends and donors enhanced our Game Design & Persuasive Play collection at our recent Gaming with a Purpose fundraising event. This new collection will support the new MA in Game Design & Persuasive Play’s program in the School of Communication.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 04/02/2014
Content:

Donors, alumni, faculty, and students all came together to support the new Master of Arts in Game Design at Gaming with a Purpose, a fundraising event hosted by the Library on March 18. This event featured game materials that donors could choose as a gift to the Library in support of this new initiative. All of the event proceeds from the event will be used to support development of this collection.

American University's Master of Arts in Game Design in the School of Communication and College of Arts and Sciences is a unique, multi-disciplinary program focused on game design, play theory, and game engagement strategies intended to influence non-game contexts and challenges. The program is designed to develop the intellectual capacity of students as designers, developers, consumers, and games administrators. This is the only degree in persuasive play in the United States. Students who graduate from the program will be prepared to for a wide variety of jobs utilizing next-generation media engagement to change people’s interests, activities, and opinions.

Lindsay Grace, Director of the Persuasive Play Initiative, is a game designer and researcher. His game designs have received awards from Games for Change Festival, Meaningful Play, Advances in Computer Entertainment, and Gamescape. He has published more than 25 papers, articles, and book chapters on games since 2009. Grace describes AU's concept of gaming with a purpose as "games that go beyond entertainment—pursuing how games can change people’s behavior and how to produce socially responsible games.”

To support this initiative, the Library needs to build a collection of materials relevant to the field. To that end, we have been purchasing scholarly books in this field and speaking with faculty members about their instructional needs. They requested a substantial number of games—and we are pleased to fulfill this request.

The games that we acquired through the generosity of our donors include classic games, which can be used to teach the fundamentals of game development; vintage games, which can be used to increase our understanding of a specific era; war games, which simulate the complexity and strategy of combat situations; games based on real-world scenarios, such as a pandemic outbreak, which illustrate the theories of persuasive play; and others. The materials that we have acquired to support this program aid faculty to create a framework for discussion in their classrooms. Adding games to the curriculum is an ideal way to give students a hands-on understanding of the theory and mechanisms of game design and persuasive play.

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Title: Not Just Words: Symposium on Language & Endangered Alphabets
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Abstract: Languages and alphabets are not just historical artifacts—they also shape our cultures and perceptions of the world. This symposium will explore the importance of language and what happens when languages and writing systems die out.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 04/01/2014
Content:

Language and alphabets are critically connected to culture and help shape how their users view the world. Today, many languages and alphabets are considered “endangered.” What does that mean for the remaining speakers of these languages and for the cultures that created them? Our upcoming Symposium on Language & Endangered Alphabets explores the loss of global cultural diversity that occurs when languages and writing systems disappear.

The opening workshop, “Language Matters: Change, Choice, and Consequences” will be led by faculty from American University: Naomi Susan Baron, Professor of Linguistics in the Department of World Languages and Cultures (CAS) and Executive Director of the Center for Teaching, Research, and Learning, and Chip Gerfen, Professor and Chair of the Department of World Languages and Cultures (CAS). They will focus on why language, which we often take for granted, is so important, including the social, political, economic, and cultural forces that shape language usage. The discussion will draw on examples of change in spoken and written languages, both historical and modern.

Following this workshop, special guest Tim Brookes will discuss his Endangered Alphabets project. The director of the Professional Writing program at Champlain College, Professor Brookes, founded this project in 2009. As part of the project, he has created carved texts in more than 25 of the world's 30+ endangered writing systems. Exhibited throughout the United States and around the world, his work draws attention to the issue of endangered alphabets and their influence on cultures. Currently, Professor Brookes and his students are raising money to publish books in the languages of the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh. Providing texts published in these languages to schools will help more students, who may not speak the national language of Bangla, further their education. More information about this and other initiatives in the Endangered Alphabets project can be found on the project website www.endangeredalphabets.com.

Carvings from the Endangered Alphabets project will be on display during the reception. Professor Brookes will also have a few copies of his book, Endangered Alphabets; additional copies will be available to order. Several carvings will remain on exhibit on the Lower Level of the Library through mid-May 2014.

Students, faculty, staff, alumni, and neighbors are welcome to attend all or part of the symposium. There is no cost to attend, but RSVPs are appreciated for the reception.

Symposium on Language & Endangered Alphabets

Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Bender Library, Mud Box (Lower Level)
Participants are invited to attend all or portions of the event.

3–4pm: Language Matters: Change, Choice, and Consequences with Naomi Susan Baron & Chip Gerfen

4–5pm: Endangered Alphabets with Tim Brookes

5pm: Reception and Viewing, Endangered Alphabets carvings

This event is part of the new AU Library Presents series. It is co-sponsored by the American University Library; University Honors Program; American University World Languages & Cultures; Center for Teaching, Research, and Learning; and the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center.

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Title: Take the Tension out of Presentations with the Kogod Center for Business Communications at the Library
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Abstract: The Kogod Center for Business Communications joins the Library through April 25 to help you with professional communications. Drop in or make an appointment for help with public speaking, presentations, and business writing.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 03/27/2014
Content:

The Kogod Center for Business Communications now offers a Professional Communications service in Room 1 of the Research Commons at Bender Library to provide help with presentations, public speaking, and business writing.

This service is available to all AU students, so no matter what your major is, come by for personal assistance with your professional communications!

The service runs March 25–April 25, 2014, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 3:30–5:30 p.m. and Fridays 12–2 p.m. Appointments are preferred, but drop-ins are accepted as space allows. Make an appointment online or by calling 202-885-1920.

Visit Professional Communications to

  • Practice a presentation or speech and receive supportive, insightful suggestions
  • Overcome public-speaking jitters
  • Improve the clarity and organization of your slides or poster papers

Professional Communications also provides help with all types of business and workplace writing—including reports, memos, emails, and cover letters—at every stage from first draft through revisions and on to the polished final product.

Prefer a workshop approach? Kogod Center for Business Communications Director Bonnie Auslander will be giving a workshop on Thursday, April 3 at 4pm in the Library Training & Events Room (115). “Speak Up” will cover public speaking skills for any situation from academic presentations to wedding toasts.

Don’t delay! It’s not too late to improve your presentation or public speaking skills this spring, and Professional Communications can provide the help you need.

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Title: Streamline your Research Paper Process with the Library
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Abstract: Research, citation, and review are all critical phases in the research paper process—and the library is here to lend a helping hand. With resources to assist you at every stage of the process, we may become your favorite study partner.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 03/14/2014
Content:

It is that time of year again—Research Paper Time. No need to feel stressed, because the library has all the tools you need to handle research, citation, and review.

Phase 1—Research

Start with a visit to the library website to explore our Subject Guides. Here, you will find a selection of research guides, arranged by subject, to help you hone in on the best resources for your topic. Our librarians locate some of the most useful databases, journals, and collections for each subject area, taking the guesswork out of that initial hunt for sources.

Make a research consultation appointment with a librarian to meet in person and discuss your research plans and questions. It is easy—just visit our Ask a Librarian page and click on “Email a Research Question.” Once we know more about your project, we will match you up with a librarian who has expertise in the subject you are researching.

Phase 2 – Citation

Check your citations from the couch with our Citation Style Guide. A number of these styles guides are available in full text online, including the Chicago Manual of Style and the AP Stylebook.

For versions not available online, the Citation Style Guide offers links to other online resources. You may also visit the library to use these style guides. We have updated copies of the MLA Handbook on every floor of the building, and copies of less frequently used guides, such the CSE Manual, available on Ready Reference.

Learn more about EndNote, a useful citation software program by checking out our EndNote Subject Guide. From here, you can download the program, access online tutorials, see our schedule of free drop-in classes, and look at FAQ from other users.

Phase 3 – Write & Review

Now you are ready to polish and refine your finished product. We have a few options to help you with this stage of the paper writing process. Make an appointment at the Writing Center (located on the 1st Floor of the library) for a free, personal coaching session with a student consultant for helpful feedback at any stage of your writing process. Just call 202-885-2991 to set up your session.

If you are ready for another round of edits, book one of our collaborative workrooms for a peer review session with your fellow classmates. Rooms must be reserved at least one hour in advance—and you can stake your claim at the Library Information Desk or by calling 202-885-3232.

This semester, make the library your Research Paper Headquarters!

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Title: Take a DIY Staycation this Spring Break
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Abstract: Recommendations for fun DIY projects, all supported by our library collections.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 03/12/2014
Content:

If you are staying local for Spring Break, consider taking on a DIY challenge for the week. Kick off your DIY Staycation with a trip to the library to find some inspiration!

Go Bill Nye meets MacGyver with Sneaky Uses for Everyday Things: How to Turn a Penny into a Radio, Make a Flood Alarm with an Aspirin, Change Milk into Plastic, Extract Water and Electricity from Thin Air, Turn on a TV with your Ring, and Other Amazing Feats by Cy Tymony (TK9965 .T9324 2003) or the self-explanatory How to Do Absolutely Everything: Homegrown Projects from Do-It-Yourself Experts, available as an e-book.

Give your apartment a make-over with pointers from How to Organize Just About Everything: More than 500 Step-by-Step Instructions for Everything from Organizing your Closets to Planning a Wedding to Creating a Flawless Filing System by Peter Walsh (TX147 .W2756 2004). You can even green your lifestyle with how-to books that offer tips on reducing your environmental impact, such as Green Guide: the Complete Reference for Consuming Wisely (GE195 .G73 2008) and Ready, Set, Green: Eight Weeks to Modern Eco-living from the Experts at TreeHugger.com (GF78 .H55 2008).

Start planning your community garden plot with Homesweet Homegrown: How to Grow, Make, and Store Your Own Food, No Matter Where You Live by Robyn Jasko, another e-book. Or get inspired by the stories told in the documentary A Community of Gardeners (DVD 10136). This film takes a look at seven different community gardens in urban areas and explores the history of the community garden concept.

No matter what your skill level, you can get your craft on with our knitting e-books. Teach yourself how to knit with our e-book Basic Knitting: All the Skills and Tools You Need to Get Started from Leigh Ann Berry or take your needle skills to the next level with an e-book all about felting those knit projects, Picture Yourself Felting Your Knitting: Step-by-Step Instruction for Perfectly Felted Crafts by Sarah E. White.

Trendsetters may want to consider a quirky craft that hasn’t yet taken off, in the very retro Complete Book of Straw Craft and Corn Dollies by Doris Johnson and Alec Coker (TT876 .J64).Your roommates may be delighted to return from spring break to find corn dollies in every room!

No matter where you plan to spend your Spring Break, make a stopover at the Library to check out some books, movies, or music to make the most of your time off!

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Title: Librarian Profile: Nobue Matsuoka
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Abstract: Music Librarian Nobue Matsuoka has expertise in a range of subjects, and is an ideal resource for students in the music program, students interested in librarianship, Japanese studies, or other forms of performing arts.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 02/27/2014
Content:

Music Librarian Nobue Matsuoka takes her role at American University seriously. A scholar, author, and accomplished percussionist, she has lectured on Japanese culture and performing arts for students in AU’s Department of Performing Arts, as well as performing music on campus and throughout the region and presenting her research at conferences. While Nobue is our resident music expert, she can also be a terrific resource for students interested in studying the language or culture of Japan.

Where can you find her?

Nobue’s office door (Katzen 224) is “always open” when she is not working in the Music Library, located on the first floor of Katzen Art Center. She can also be found performing faculty demos at the Applied Music Performance Lab (AMPL), which is a requirement for all music majors. Nobue thoroughly enjoys these opportunities to practice as a performer and share her insights on public performance with students.

Why she loves her job

Being able to work with music every day is a source of joy for Nobue, as is the chance to regularly collaborate with both students and faculty. She sees her role as the Music Librarian as a chance to “curate a community” among music lovers at AU. Consequently, the Music Library is a place where students and faculty can exchange ideas about music, find deeper resources for their research, and expand their musical tastes. For Nobue “the most exciting part of working with students is sharing new ideas with them and seeing them make discoveries as a part of the academic experience.”

In the Community

Nobue has given public performances with some of her DPA colleagues, including Professorial Lecturer Benjamin Albright, a trumpet player in “The President’s Own” United States Marine Corps Band, and Instructor Todd Baldwin, a trombone player in the U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own.”

Some of the talented composers within DPA have collaborated with Nobue too. She has performed pieces by Fernando Benadon, Chair of the Department of Performing Arts Chair, and Paul Oehlers, Director, Audio Technology Program.

In February, Nobue played in the United States Army Band Chamber Music Series at Fort Meyer in Arlington, VA.

Whether you catch one of her performances, stop by the Music Library for some recommendations, or make an appointment for a research consultation, Nobue’s expertise and talent will shine through.

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Title: Add these Titles to Your Roster
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Abstract: AU Library has a robust collection of sports books and films, ranging from documentaries to popular television shows and academic treatments of the athletic world to fictional page-turners.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 02/04/2014
Content:

With football season coming to a close and the Winter Olympics on the horizon, it is a great time to fit even more sports into your life! Come by the Library to check out our collection of sports films and books.

42 (BLU 4622) tells the story of Jackie Robinson breaking the baseball color line as the first African-American to join the Major League. This powerful film explores Robinson’s first season with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 and stars Chadwick Boseman and Harrison Ford.

The documentary film Senna (DVD 9023) delves into the life story of three time Formula One world champion, Aryton Senna. Employing a mix of home video and archival race footage, Senna won awards at a number of film festivals, including Sundance. 

From the ESPN Films documentary series 30 for 30, You Don’t Know Bo (DVD 7913) will take you inside the athletic career of Bo Jackson. Named the ”Greatest Athlete of All Time” by ESPN in 2013, Jackson is the first and only athlete to be an All-Star in two major American professional sports—baseball and football. 

Nine for IX (DVD 8530) is also from the ESPN 30 for 30 series. This set of nine films was created to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Title IX and tells the stories of outstanding female athletes. From in-depth looks at individual athletes such as Venus Williams and Sheryl Swoopes to the achievements of entire teams—like the 1999 World Cup victory by the U.S. women’s national soccer team—these critically-acclaimed films are an inspiration for both female and male athletes.

If you would prefer to curl up with a good book, we have plenty to offer. Get a deeper look at the industry with Sports on Television: The How and Why behind What You See (GV742.3 .D44 2012) or Sports Fans, Identity, and Socialization: Exploring the Fandemonium (GV715 .S68 2013.) Written by Nate Jackson, a former NFL tight end, Slow Getting Up: A Story of NFL Survival from the Bottom of the Pile (GV939.M29 J33 2013) shares an insider’s take on the game.

Soccer fanatics and SIS students alike may enjoy This Love is Not for Cowards: Salvation and Soccer in Ciudad Juárez (GV944.M6 P69 2013), a book that surveys the ties between sports and community in one of the most dangerous cities in the world. How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization (JZ1318 .F64 2010) examines the interconnectedness between soccer and political/ economic systems with fascinating conclusions.

History buffs may gravitate towards Baseball in the Garden of Eden: the Secret History of the Early Game (GV863.A1 T458 2011), while students of literature may want to take a look at The Peerless Four (PS3616.A886 P44 2013), a period novel about female Olympic athletes competing in the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics.

Looking to unwind with something a little lighter? Former pro tennis player, Monica Seles, recently released Game On (PZ7.S456918 Gam 2013), the first in a series of YA novels. Set at the Academy, an elite boarding school and training facility for teen athletes, this book follows gifted tennis player Maya as she navigates her new surroundings. Full of drama, romance, and cut-throat competition, this novel is ideal for some mid-semester escapism!

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newsId: BD35C573-9856-2C56-6C91D50C7B0325C9
Title: The Haves and Have-Nots
Author: Gregg Sangillo
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Abstract: AU professors discuss President Obama’s latest push on income inequality.
Topic: Government & Politics
Publication Date: 01/24/2014
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At the upcoming State of the Union address, President Barack Obama is expected to highlight income inequality as a grave problem facing the nation. Since Obama and Democrats began their recent push, income inequality has been heavily debated by economists and pundits in newspaper editorials and blog posts. Examining the haves and have-nots is not new. Class conflict animated the pages of Charles Dickens before dominating the storylines of “Downton Abbey.” But current alarming numbers are giving the issue newfound salience. “We are at the highest levels of inequality since 1929,” says Jon Wisman, a professor in the Economics Department at American University.

A number of AU professors have studied the implications of income inequality. In addition, Elizabeth Crowe, a PhD candidate in the Department of Public Administration & Policy, was recently named the 2013 winner of an endowment award for the study of productivity, income, and poverty in the United States.

A Stronger Labor Force

In the view of AU economics professor Robert Lerman, the damage caused by income inequality has been “a bit overstated.”

“The content of the inequality, or the meaning of it, is very different from what it was 100 years ago,” he says. A vast majority of low-income Americans own cars, for instance. “The difference between owning a Rolls-Royce and owning a Hyundai is very high in terms of dollars. But I’m not sure that it’s nearly as high in terms of meaning of consumption.”

Lerman would rather focus on expanding worker training to fit the current labor market. “I think the key problems are more people in lower-income and lower-middle incomes having the adequate resources to live on an everyday basis, to participate in the economy.”

Economists have argued intensely about what is driving inequality, with everything from globalization to family structure singled out as leading causes. What’s not in dispute is that inflation-adjusted wages and salaries haven’t kept pace with productivity growth since the 1970s. Stagnant wages for millions of Americans is a major factor contributing to inequality, according to a 2013 New York Times analysis.  

Lerman believes that wages will increase for low-income workers if you make them more skilled and valuable. “You can try to increase wages by mandate, but if you do that without doing anything on the productivity side, there will be fewer workers,” he says. To build a stronger labor force, Lerman has promoted apprenticeships and founded the American Institute for Innovative Apprenticeship.

“You can get maybe six weeks of training to become a simple welder. Or you can have a serious apprenticeship program that gradually moves you into robotic welding and programmable stuff that makes people much more valuable,” he explains. “Just as you can be a cook at McDonald’s or move into a higher value-added culinary activity.”

Politicians in both parties promote Pell grants and community colleges to assist young people. While Lerman doesn’t oppose that, he says elected officials should also consider public investments in apprenticeship programs. “Many [Pell grants] are going for people to attend community colleges, or private career colleges, in narrow professional areas where dropout rates are extremely high. Where there’s not this close match between what they’re learning and jobs, as in the case of apprenticeships,” he says.

Thorny Politics

In the past, many Democrats have been reluctant to talk about income inequality, fearing Republican charges of divisive politics and class warfare.

School of Public Affairs professor Jan Leighley recently co-authored the book Who Votes Now? Demographics, Issues, Inequality, and Turnout in the United States, which examines voter turnout trends in presidential elections from 1972-2008. Wealthy people are much more likely to vote than poor people. Notably, the authors found that voters are significantly more conservative than nonvoters on issues related to redistribution of the wealth.

“Individuals in the lowest-income quintile—the poorest 20 percent of the population—see increasingly less of a difference between Republican and Democratic candidates,” she says in an interview. “If this segment of the population doesn’t see that there’s a choice, we’re not surprised that at this time of increasing inequality, rich people continue to vote between 70-80 percent of the time, and poor people are down at 20-25 percent.”

However, some party activists and hardcore liberals—the types of voters who could turn out for the 2014 midterm elections—are energized by the populist rhetoric of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. But Leighley argues that building a midterm campaign strategy around tackling inequality carries risk.

“It could get you some votes, but again, you’re going to have to play that off against [the question], ‘Are you going to lose some votes among independents and moderates?” she explains.

Reliving History

Wisman identifies historic forces that increased inequality and provoked backlashes against it. After sizable increases in inequality following the Civil War, a populist movement sprang up around the turn of the 20th century and sparked key Progressive Era reforms. The Great Depression led to progressive legislation that, in his view, increased the welfare of the working and middle classes. Stagflation in the 1970s helped delegitimize Keynesian economics, opening the door for lower taxes on the rich and less public welfare spending. “Over this period of 30 some years, this creates just massive inequality that people are suffering from today,” he opines.

So are we on the precipice of another public outcry? Will Obama help jumpstart a new Progressive Era?

“A couple of years ago when the Occupy Wall Street movement began, it suggested that it’s now going to happen again….But it just fizzled out,” Wisman says. “There is dramatically increasing concern with the issue of inequality. Whether that will actually generate some kind of political movement for us to do something is an open question.”

Tags: College of Arts and Sciences,Economics,Economics Dept,Library,Media Relations,School of Public Affairs,University Library,Public Administration,Public Administration & Policy
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