Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Robin Williams

Robin Williams began his career as a stand-up comedian and evolved into a surprisingly nuanced, Academy Award-winning actor. He was a master at imbuing his performances with a wild inventiveness and a manic energy that was contagious, outrageous and deeply felt. An American original, Robin Williams left behind a legacy of TV and film work that generations of fans grew up knowing, trusting and laughing along with; his talent is something that many of us will continue to love and share.

The Al Harris Library is proud to showcase a number of his films, both dramatic and comedic, with all our patrons. Come by the library and see what Robin has to say. 

Monday, May 04, 2015

Technology and Tomorrow

Predicting the future can be difficult, but there is no doubt that often what is science fiction in one era is everyday reality only a couple of generations later.

The comic strip Dick Tracy introduced the wrist radio in 1946 (later upgraded to a wrist TV-phone), and the 1966 TV series Star Trek had Star Fleet using handheld communicators.  Both ideas seemed far-fetched to the average person, but those comic and TV fans have lived to see both inventions become available as Smartwatches and cell phones at the nearest mall.

Back to the Future II was set in 2015 and featured a hoverboard as a teen’s plaything.  Since the movie came out in 1989, garage tinkerers and serious scientists have been working on making a skateboard move without wheels.  Last fall, a prototype hoverboard based on magnetic levitation was demonstrated.

Technology is transforming the way we learn as well.  From smart classrooms to digital books, today’s college students are accessing knowledge in ways that were science fiction when their parents went to school.  Just a few of these transformative technologies are:  Canvas, ebooks, massive open online courses known as MOOCs, iPhones, and various types of social media.

Where will technology take us next?    For more on emerging technologies see the book display Technology and Tomorrow on the first floor of the  Al Harris Library.   The books are available for checkout.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Ken Burns: The American Story

American director and producer of documentary films, Ken Burns, is known for this style of using archival footage and photographs to tell stories about events that have influenced our lives.  His style of storytelling has educated millions of people by providing a compelling way of relating America’s history.  For excellent background information about Burns and his work, visit Ken Burns America.

From his first documentary shown in 1981 about the Brooklyn Bridge to the present time, Burns’ work has appeared on PBS. All of his film titles are available for viewing through the Al Harris Library.  Many of the DVD sets are located on the display and are available for check out.  Additionally, all of Burns’ titles are available to stream through one of our video databases:  Kanopy, Films on Demand, and VAST: Academic Video Online.  Follow these links to the streaming databases.

In addition to the titles that are part of his collected works, a new three-part film titled CANCER: The Emperor of All Maladies airs Monday March 30 through Wednesday April 1.  The series relates the comprehensive story of cancer, from its first description in an ancient Egyptian scroll to the laboratories of modern research institutions of the present. This six-hour film interweaves a sweeping historical narrative with stories about contemporary patients, and an investigation into the latest scientific breakthroughs that may have brought us, at long last, within sight of lasting cures.

The title of this documentary series is based upon an award-winning book of the same name written by cancer physician and researcher, Siddhartha Mukherjee.  The Emperor of All Maladies and all of the books that are located on the display in the Al Harris Library are available for you to check out.  Take a look and see all of the learning opportunities that are available for you through the work of Ken Burns.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Soldiers and Settlers, Cowboys and Lawmen: African Americans and the American West

There are many people who feel that history is just a bunch of boring facts, but this is far from the truth. For example, the history of the American West is not just facts about the past, but rather stories about individuals who really existed.  Among the people who lived in the West were African Americans who worked in a variety of occupations as they attempted to survive.

Some African Americans entered the West as soldiers.  These troops became known as Buffalo Soldiers. Though black soldiers often faced prejudice, they served their country with pride.  Despite the barrier of racism, their courage was recognized by their commanding officers and even the U.S. Congress.  
Just as important as the Buffalo Soldiers were the African Americans who settled on the land.  Some of them were farmers while others owned businesses.  Their perseverance helped them prevail while facing prejudice and the harshness of the land.

African Americans sometimes worked as lawmen to bring fugitives to justice.  One of the most famous of these lawmen was Deputy United States Marshal Bass Reeves.  A former slave, his law career took him throughout Indian Territory to what later became the state of Oklahoma.

Perhaps the most famous icons of the American West were the cowboys.  Both African American men and women worked in this profession.  One cowboy named Bill Pickett worked for the 101 Ranch in the early twentieth century.  He was famous for his skill at steer wrestling, also known as bulldogging.  Rodeo cowboys still perform this skill today, though without Pickett's twist.

Like other people in the American West, African Americans laughed, cried, fought, worked, and died.  They made unique contributions and sacrifices that helped create a better country for themselves, their descendants, and all Americans.  Visit the Al Harris Library and see the book display about African Americans in the American West.  If you see a book you want to read, please check it out at the circulation desk.  Pick up a book and read and remember the lives of these individuals.

Monday, January 19, 2015

"Oops! ...I Did It Again": New Year's Resolutions and How to Keep from Making the Same Mistakes

The pop song "Oops! ...I Did It Again" makes reference to a hurtful habit in personal relationships.  There are many things from different parts of our lives that cause each of us to say the phrase with regret. 

The New Year is a time to take stock of the previous year's achievements, disappointments, and hopes,  to consider personal changes to make during the upcoming year.  Resolutions are a common part of that change-making process.  Typical goals involve losing weight and getting fit; advancing in academics or career; overcoming addictions to alcohol, substances, or gambling; and making changes toward improving relationships.

Though change is difficult it can be achieved.  SWOSU libraries have many books to assist with behavior changes that can lead to a better quality of life.  They are about each of the topics listed above or about the principles for change as described in  Change Anything and Influencer by Kerry Patterson.  See the book display, providing ideas and techniques for success throughout the year, on the first floor of the Al Harris Library.  The books are available for check out.  Make 2015 a year in which you say "Oops! ...I Did It Again" fewer times.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Mystery Novels for the New Year

     Why do readers love mystery?  Do they love the thrill of the chase, saving the damsel in distress, or catching the bad guy?  The answer is probably all three.  When reading a mystery novel, the reader is thrown into a world that is full of danger and suspense.  The reader is given the same clues as the characters in the novels, and the reader has to put the clues together just like the hero/detective in the story to figure out who is the suspect or scoundrel.

     At the end of the novel, we readers have saved the damsel in distress and caught the villain without ever stepping outside our own front doors. 

Humphrey Bogart stars
in this Sam Spade mystery
Video  791.4372 M2615
Sherlock, Season 3
Video  791.45 S5527

     If you are interested in catching a fictional villain, check out some of these great novels, movies, and television shows that are available at the Al Harris Library.  To get you started, here are examples from the three different areas. 

Book by Robert Galbraith
 aka JK Rowling
823 R8847c 


Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Exam Prep: It's Never Too Early!

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Whether you study weeks in advance or cram the night before an exam, one of the most effective ways to study is by using flashcards! Check out this infographic to see why flashcards work and how to use them effectively!

If pen and paper aren't your thing, check out Quizlet, a FREE online flashcard creator. Here, you can create flashcards about virtually anything and Quizlet automatically generates tests and study games from your flashcards! Quizlet allows users to import images, data sets, and use multiple languages in their flashcards and provides standard definitions or answers for thousands of terms and concepts!

Quizlet is also available on your mobile devices for free! Download the iOS or Android app to study anywhere!