Tuesday, September 20, 2016

From Entertainment to Heritage: The Many Forms of Dance

Dance is part of many people’s lives.  It is celebrated in many forms and is performed for many reasons. The art of dance is often a form of entertainment.  For example, the ballet is a very sophisticated and graceful form of dance entertainment.  People have often attended the ballet to watch such performances as The Nutcracker and The Sleeping Beauty.  Even the theater/movie productions of Oklahoma contain forms of ballet.   Another dance style seen in live performances is the tap dance, in which the dancer’s shoes make a “tap” noise as they come in contact with the floor.  Tap dancing can be seen in a variety of movie productions, such Yankee Doodle Dandy starring James Cagney and Singin’ in the Rain with Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and Debbie Reynolds.  Perhaps one of the most elegant tap dancing movie couples was Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
            Dance also has a romantic side to it.  Many people enjoy dancing with somebody they care about romantically.  There are many styles of dances for couples, including the somewhat simple Country-Western Two-Step to the more graceful ballroom waltz. 
            The heritage of many cultures includes dancing.  Native Americans have many dances they often perform at ceremonies called Pow Wows.  These dances can have a variety of meanings such as to honor somebody or to seek help from a higher power.  Folk dancing, in fact, is a significant part of many cultures. These dances are part of celebrations that honor all types of events such as crop harvests and even fire.  A culture’s dances are an important part of their history and reflect who these people are.
            Dance is also an excellent aid to good health and therapy.  The associated movement can burn calories while aiding with strength and even weight loss.  Even mistakes made on the dance floor can lead to laughter which is good for the heart and mind. Dancing can also be used for therapeutic work. Styles such as break dancing can provide a way for social workers to engage youth and get them moving. 
Make a visit to the dance book display located next to the front doors of the Al Harris Library. While you are there, you can grab a book or a movie and decide what sort of dance interests you today!

Friday, September 09, 2016

'Star Trek' Lives Long, Prospers, and Continues to Inspire Us on Its 50th Anniversary

Quick! Finish these sentences:
“Live long and _________.”
“Beam me up, _______.”
“To boldly go where no man _________.”

Chances are you can finish these sentences, even if you have never seen the television show from which they originated.  'Star Trek' premiered in 1966 and, in the 50 years since, the show and its spin-offs have indelibly influenced culture and technology.

To observe the anniversary, SWOSU Libraries is displaying books from its collections that demonstrate the global phenomenon’s effect.  While cultural influences abound – such as spawning the appellation “red shirt” – the more profound changes wrought by 'Star Trek' are in the field of technology, inspiring generations of young scientists and their research.  The science of the series often predicted or suggested many technological advances that are commonplace today.

Featured in the display are:
•    Star Trek as MythEssays on Symbol and Archetype at the Final Frontier, edited by Matthew     Wilhelm Kapell.
•    The Influence of Star Trek on Television, Film and Culture, edited by Lincoln Geraghty
•    Sci-Fi Chronicles: A Visual History of the Galaxy’s Greatest Science Fiction, edited by Guy Haley
•    Star Trek: The Official Guide to Our Universe: The True Science Behind the Starship Voyages, by Andrew Frazekas
•    The Star Trek Book: Strange New Worlds Boldly Explained, edited by Kathryn Hill, Esther Ripley, and Sarah Tomley

And many more…

The original 'Star Trek' was cancelled after only three seasons and found new fans a few years later in syndication.   After that came four more 'Trek' series, an animated series, several movies with the original cast, a re-boot of the characters in a new set of movies, and countless books and conventions.  A new '

The display can be seen on the first floor of the Al Harris Library.  All books are available for to check out.

Trek' series is in production for 2017.  'Star Trek' will continue to boldly go where no one has gone before, and culture and technology will go along for the ride.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Exploring the World One Page at a Time

                 Are you planning a vacation this summer? This could mean staying in Oklahoma, going across the United States, or even seeing other parts of the World. If you can’t get away, you might be planning a staycation.

If this is the case, you can still visit other places by checking out some amazing books. You can travel Oklahoma by reading Weird Oklahoma: Your Travel Guide to Oklahoma’s Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets. Perhaps you have always dreamed of going to New York City.  You can get there by reading Humans of New York. Maybe you want to leave the country and see the world. This can be done by reading Travel and Street Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots.

There are so many excellent books that will make your staycation seem like you have actually visited exotic places and experienced an amazing voyage.

          Take a look at the vacation reading ideas that are available for you to check out here at the Al Harris Library and plan a great travel adventure even if you cannot leave SWOSU.            

Celebrating a Century of the National Park Service!

Happy 100th Birthday!  No, this is not to a person turning that age, but rather the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) which will celebrate its centennial anniversary on August 25, 2016.  The organization’s ten decades have been invaluable to this country and important in preserving the environment and our country’s history while providing careers for individuals. 

          One of the NPS’s main focuses is preserving the environment.  Many animals, such as the American bison, have at times almost gone extinct.  But thanks to the actions of groups such as the NPS, these animals continue to not only exist but live in a natural environment.  Yellowstone National Park is an excellent example.  Even ancient history has been preserved by the NPS at parks such as Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park.  There, fossils of trees look as if they had just been cut down and the limbs removed.  It is wonderful that the NPS preserves the environment for future generations to enjoy.

          The NPS also works to preserve history in many different forms.  Mesa Verde National Park features the areas where Ancestral Pueblo once lived, and Shiloh National Military Park commemorates a bloody battle of the American Civil War.  NPS employees also work to preserve historical artifacts used at sites and museums.  These include artwork that shows the first 100 years of the organization and the sites the NPS safeguards.  Through preserving sites and artifacts, the NPS helps to preserve the stories of the people who lived in the past.

          Also, the NPS provides careers for individuals.  A person who loves caring for animals would have a chance to take care of wildlife that very few people get to handle.  People who love history can help preserve it for future generations.  Also, anybody who enjoys presenting information, whether it be about the environment or about history, could work as a tour guide or a ranger.
Oklahoma has its share of NPS sites.  The Washita Battlefield National Historic Site is about 70 miles northwest of SWOSU.

Interested in visiting or working at a national park?  Start with a visit to the National Park Service book display located in the Al Harris Library where you can check out books to aid you in making a decision.
Enjoy the birthday celebration by visiting a park or reading about the various locations around the country. For online information concerning the National Park Service, visit https://www.nps.gov/index.htm


Monday, June 06, 2016

Summer and Sunshine and Shakespeare

               April 2016 marked the 450th anniversary of the birth of William Shakespeare, a man whose degree of accomplishment extends from theatre and literature to present-day movies and the English language itself. Shakespeare is widely regarded as the greatest writer of the English language, and the world's pre-eminent dramatist.

                It is easy to see his influence on other writers based upon the extensive use of his ideas in current literature and pop culture.  Take a look at the many books and movies that are located on the display here in the Al Harris Library to see samples of works that have been influenced by Shakespeare’s thoughts and themes.

                   It is not just new versions of the plays that live on in popular culture. Shakespeare's plays have been translated into every major language in the world. All across the United States, the plays are performed in schools, theaters, and festivals.  There are over one hundred Shakespeare festivals and many permanent theaters that perform his works. One need travel no farther than Oklahoma City to see Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park.  The company’s 32nd season begins in June with Much Ado about Nothing.  The performances will take place at the Myriad Gardens beginning June 2 and running through June 25.  

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Explore the West with Western Writers

                This collection of books focuses on fiction that has been written by authors who specialize in stories that take place in the West.  These titles include Western historical fiction and tales of the American frontier.  If cowboys, Native Americans, gold miners, outlaws, or those who travel to new frontiers in order to homestead are your favorite types of characters, then you are a fan of this type of fiction.

                When it comes to great Western novels, remember that “the frontier” is a relative term.  The earliest Westerns took place in the Appalachian Mountains since that area was once considered the great Western unknown.  It wasn’t until later, the 1850s and beyond, that Westerns began to take place west of the Mississippi River.  Many consider the golden age of the Historic West to have occurred for only three decades, from the end of the American Civil War to the beginning of the 20th century. 

                The books located on the display represent various periods of time in which the West has been represented in fiction.  There are authors whom you will recognize and others who may be new to you.  Along with the novels are collections of short stories written by a variety of present-day authors.  These books are great reads for the summer, so take a look and move across the prairie through a work of literature.  All of these Westerns and more are available for you to check out here at the Al Harris Library.  

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Why Are There So Many Books About Rainbows?

Banjo playing Kermit the Frog crooned, “Why are there so many songs about rainbows, and what's on the other side?” in The Muppet Movie.  The majestic beauty of rainbows has inspired humanity throughout history in ways that are artistic, scientific, and symbolic; thus, making frequent appearances in paintings, songs, movies, books, stories, experimentation, religion, mythology and iconography.

See the springtime display at the entry of the Al Harris Library for a celebration of the colorful bows in the sky.  These creative examples include:

  • Artistic interpretation:  The Rainbow Bridge : Rainbows in Art, Myth, and Science by Raymond L. Lee and Alistair B. Fraser
  • Fiction:  Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
  • A Rainbow in the Dark:  A Novel by Wade McCoy
  • Poetry:  Rainbow in the Cloud by Maya Angelou
  • Science:  Opticks by Sir Isaac Newton,  Living Rainbow H₂O by Mae-Wan Ho
  • Philosophy:  Saving the Appearances by Owen Barfield,  
    • On Vision and Colors by Arthur Schopenhaurer
  • Biography:  Wrapped in Rainbows: A Biography of Zora Neale Hurston by Valerie Boyd
  • Religion and Mythology:  Book of Genesis, 
    • The First Rainbow:  A Zapotec Myth retold by Helen Strahinich,                             
    • The Crock of Gold by James Stephens
  • Politics:  Rainbow Rights  by Patricia Cain

A discussion about the use of rainbows would not be complete without mentioning two of the most popular songs on the subject, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz and the aforementioned “The Rainbow Connection” from The Muppet Movie.  Both songs were nominated for Oscars, but only “Somewhere over the Rainbow” took home the top prize.  The long history and range of use show that Kermit was right in his lyric: “All of us [are] under its spell, we know that it's probably magic.”

Take a look at the variety of books that are available for you to check out, and enjoy the display that is based upon a beautiful symbol.