CLIS Student Chapter of the American Library Association

Job Search Tips from students and alums May 2, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — edesmond @ 1:01 pm

Now that Graduation is almost here, many of us are in the midst of searching for jobs.  Members of the ALA Student Chapter have been talking to our fellow students and some current librarians and archivists to get some tips about how to make the process easier.  We’ve collected their advice on our website, at:


Learn about the Lubuto Library Project March 20, 2008

Filed under: event — edesmond @ 4:28 pm

Jane Kinney Meyers will speak about her work with the Lubuto Library Project next Wednesday, March 26, 4:00-5:00pm in Hornbake 2119. Ms. Meyers is a recipient of one of the University’s 2008 Distinguished Alumni awards, and president of the Project, which creates libraries to serve street children in Africa. Beginning with one hundred libraries in Zambia, these centers aim to provide vulnerable children opportunities for learning, enrichment and hope. Please join us next week to hear Ms. Meyer’s fascinating story. For more information about the Lubuto Library Project see:


Early Bird Registration for ALA in Anaheim March 4, 2008

Filed under: ALA Conference — edesmond @ 2:50 pm

If you are planning to attend the ALA Annual Conference this summer, make sure to register by this Friday, March 7, to take advantage of Early Bird discounts.  (The early registration fee for students is only $85.)  The conference will take place from June 26 to July 2, 2008, in Anaheim, California.  To register or to get more information, see the conference website:


Welcome Back Coffee Hour! February 11, 2008

Filed under: event — edesmond @ 8:37 pm

CLIS ALA will be hosting a coffee hour this Wednesday, Feb. 13, from 4:30-5:30 p.m. in the CLIS Lounge (room 4114). Stop by for some coffee and snacks and to hear about our plans for the upcoming semester.

We hope to see you there!


Probing Free Speech and National Security, in Dramatic Fashion February 8, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — edesmond @ 2:51 pm

Thursday night L.A. Theatre Works performed Top Secret: The Battle for the Pentagon Papers at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center.

In June 1971, the New York Times began publishing sections of the classified Pentagon Papers, which detailed the events surrounding the United States’ entry into the Vietnam War.  When a court-ordered injunction prevented the Times from continuing to publish them, the Washington Post picked up where they left off.  Top Secret tells the story of the Post’s decision to publish and the resulting court battles, which ended with a Supreme Court decision affirming their right under the First Amendment to publish the material.

The company, which specializes in audio theater, staged the production as a live radio play, with the actors mainly standing at a row of microphones, and a table toward the back of the stage where a sound-effects person could be seen rustling papers, pouring water, or “typing.”  However, the play was still mesmerizing–I was literally on the edge of my seat through the entire thing.  Perhaps it was because much of the dialogue was taken from real transcripts of tape recordings and court proceedings, or perhaps because the themes of the play are still very relevant today, more than 30 years after the events took place.

The audience Thursday night was fortunate to have among its members four men who were key figures in the events depicted in the play:  Ben Bradlee, executive editor of the Post at the time; George Wilson and Murray Marder, Post reporters; and Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers to the newspapers.  After the performance, they joined the director and actors onstage to answer questions from the audience.  Particularly interesting were Mr. Ellsberg’s comments about his decision to make the documents public.  He said that at the time, he did not realize that the U.S. does not have an “Official Secrets Act” which would make it a crime to leak classified government information.  Although he felt the Pentagon Papers contained information the public needed to know, he expected that he would be sent to prison for leaking them.  However, though there are narrower laws which cover specific areas such as nuclear information, the U.S., unlike many countries, doesn’t have a broad law of this kind.  Mr. Ellsberg warned, however, that a current bill in Congress seeks to change this.  He believes that today it is more important than ever for people to be informed about these issues.

A second performance of Top Secret: The Battle for the Pentagon Papers will take place tonight, Jan. 8, at 8:00pm. For more information about the show see:


Discussing Book Discussion Groups January 21, 2008

Filed under: ALA Midwinter Meeting — edesmond @ 1:24 pm

Session: “Books Build Friendships” – Mon. Jan. 14, 8:00 – 9:00 a.m.

The last program I attended at the Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia was part of the Sunrise Speakers Series–a panel discussion about book discussion groups and their benefits. It was moderated by Carol Fitzgerald of, which is a website with resources for reading groups. Panel participants were Jennifer Hart of Harper Collins Publishing, who also writes the blog Book Club Girl; authors Elizabeth Noble and Victoria Lustbader; and Shireen Dodson, whom Ms. Fitzgerald called “the book club queen” and whose book The Mother-Daughter Book Club has its tenth anniversary this year.

The panel focused on womens’ book groups and particularly mother-daughter groups. Ms. Dodson explained that these create opportunities to communicate about any topic and learn things about people that you wouldn’t otherwise. “Daughters learn that they don’t have the only crazy mom. Mothers learn that they don’t have the only daughter who’s pushing the envelope.”

The panelists also gave some tips on how to create successful book groups. Ms. Hart noted that people in her groups always relate the books to their own lives, and it can be especially satisfying to discuss memoirs or fiction that lends itself to this. The panelists also emphasized that it isn’t necessary to always read choose “great literature” for your group to read. Ms. Noble commented, “You can still have a discussion about something that isn’t as clever–something lighter and more fun.” She said this can be a good way to bring groups together at first, because you can start out with a book that’s less intimidating. The panelists all praised book groups as a way for people to expand their horizons, introducing them to books they wouldn’t have otherwise heard of or read.

This panel was a good introduction to the challenges one faces in setting up or participating in a book discussion group, but especially to the benefits of participating in one, and it was a good note on which to end my Midwinter Meeting experience!


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the Harlem Renaissance January 18, 2008

Filed under: ALA Midwinter Meeting — edesmond @ 1:58 pm

Session: President’s Program – Sun. Jan. 13, 3:30 – 5:30 p.m.

At the Midwinter Meeting, the President’s Program featured author, historian, and former basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.  Mr. Abdul-Jabbar has written several books, and his latest, On the Shoulders of Giants:  My Journey through the Harlem Renaissance, describes the people and events important to this time period, as well as his own connection to the Harlem Renaissance, a cultural movement which began in the 1920s. He explained, “The Harlem Renaissance didn’t end–only it’s popularity in the mainstream ended.  Just because the gardener who planted a seed retires, that doesn’t mean the seed stops growing.”

Mr. Abdul-Jabbar told of the great effect the Arthur Schomburg Center for Black Research had on his life.  He was first introduced to it during a high school summer program, the Harlem Youth Action Program, and it was here that he first became interested in the Harlem Renaissance.  Mr. Abdul-Jabbar attributes his love of reading and scholarship to his time spent at this library, as well as to his father, a policeman and jazz musician who bought books by the pound (literally).

In his speech Mr. Abdul-Jabbar talked about what studying history and culture had taught him.  Learning about the accomplishments of the past showed him the importance of curiosity and skepticism, and the need for people to have “the skill to find out the truth for themselves.”  However, he stresses that people should not study history merely out of “curiosity.”  We also need to use history’s lessons to improve our society and lives today.  Finally, he also noted the extraordinairy power of words, which he says are more powerful than violence.  “Words don’t placate or diminish anger…You can use words to change the causes of the anger.”

In about a month, an audiobook of On the Shoulders of Giants will be released, which will include period recordings and guest narrators.  Mr. Abdul-Jabbar is also planning to write a series of childrens books.  He believes books are an important way to inspire children to achieve.  In his conclusion he reiterated the importance of libraries, saying “Librarians can pass on to boys and girls words that will become a part of who they are and who they will be.”