Tuesday, December 31, 2013

9 Things You Should Know About Carmen Fariña, The New Head Of NYC's School System

 The Huffington Post  |  By Posted:

After months of speculation, New York City mayor-elect Bill de Blasio (D) announced his pick for the position of schools chancellor on Monday morning. Here are nine things you should know about Carmen Fariña, the woman who will now lead the nation's largest school system.
1. She’s experienced.
A written statement from the de Blasio team notes that “Fariña has 40 years of experience in New York City public schools.” She worked for 22 years as an English teacher in public elementary schools before becoming a school principal, district superintendent and New York City's deputy chancellor for teaching and learning. Her extensive experience as an educator contrasts with previous chancellors like Dennis Wolcott, Joel Klein and Cathie Black, who did not have nearly as much of a background in the classroom.
2. She’s coming out of retirement for the job.
Fariña retired from her position as the deputy chancellor in 2006 at the age of 63. At the time, she said she was retiring to spend more time with her family, although she has since criticized the policies of Joel Klein, her boss at the time.
3. She initially said she wasn’t interested in the job.
In October, Fariña reportedly told GothamSchools that she was enjoying her job as a “full-time grandmother.”
4. She has a long-standing relationship with de Blasio.
Fariña met de Blasio decades ago, when he was serving on a school board in Fariña's district. The two have been close ever since, and she reportedly advised de Blasio on education policy when he was a candidate, according to NY1.
5. She has high expectations.
As principal of Public School 6 in Manhattan, Fariña replaced 80 percent of her staff. In 1999, she told The New York Times that she was able to do this -- despite obstacles like teacher tenure -- through her powers of persuasion. ''Once you create a climate in a building that is hard-working, people will find out whether they are comfortable with it or not. ... And then they have decisions to make,'' she told the outlet.
6. She believes in the five Cs.
Fariña's vision for the department of education involves “five Cs and an E,” which stand for collaboration, communication, capacity building, curriculum enhancement, celebration and efficiency, according to Crain’s New York Business.
7. She has endorsed the Common Core Standards.
According to Crain's, Fariña has said she supports the Common Core Standards, a new set of education benchmarks that have been adopted in a majority of states, including New York.
8. She knows what it's like to struggle in school.
Fariña, whose parents immigrated to America from Spain, told The New York Times in 1999 that she was the only Spanish-speaking student in her kindergarten class in Brooklyn. As a result of the language barrier, she was marked absent for six weeks, despite the fact that she was present.
9. She is an advocate of expanding access to early education.
De Blasio has placed a major emphasis on plans to expand access to early education around the city. Similarly, Fariña has been described as a longtime advocate of early education.
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Monday, December 30, 2013

Public Libraries Are Better Than Congress, Baseball, and Apple Pie, Say Americans - Robinson Meyer - The Atlantic

Public approval polls reveal the amazing truth!

studioVin/Svetlana Foote
Every so often, a grave and concerned person will ask (as, in fact, the New York Times asked last year): “Do We Still Need Libraries?” Hasn’t the Internet kind of, you know, ended all that? Aren’t libraries falling behind?

Tellingly, the Times could find no one to argue against libraries, and that mirrors American sentiment pretty much exactly. A new Pew study finds that not only do Americans adore libraries, but a majority of us think they’re adjusting to new technology just fine.
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Monday, December 16, 2013

Art Spiegelman’s Co-Mix: a Retrospective at the Jewish Museum by Caren Rabinowitz

Meetup event (covered by Caren Rabinowitz, MLS, Member, New York Librarian's Meetup)
December 16, 2013.

As I have noted in previous blogs, I consider the Jewish Museum to be one of the best

curated museums I have ever visited. Their exhibition of the work of Art Spiegelman

is, perhaps, not their best work due to the nature of his graphic art. It was difficult to

stand and read the graphic panels displayed on the wall. It could be I need new glasses

but others seemed to have the same opinion. Nevertheless, this exhibition revealed

the variety of work of an artist whose seminal work Maus is only a small portion of his


Spiegelman is best known for Maus: A Survivor’s Tale (1986), which he described as “a

very long comic book that needed a bookmark and would be worth rereading.” Based

on his parents’ experiences in Auschwitz, the Jews became mice and the Nazis became

cats. Those of us who have watched our fuzzy companions “play” or catch a mouse

can well understand the analogy. Maus won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992 and is considered

a classic of graphic narrative. The exhibition contains studies for Maus including the

stuffed mouse that Spiegelman used as a model. Particularly interesting are notes for

the Auschwitz chapter with facts and narrative points prioritized by color. Spiegelman

wrote a sequel to Maus entitled Maus II: A Survivor’s Tale and Here My Troubles

Began. The entire manuscript of Maus II is displayed in a long sequence with drafts and

studies. This display is based on a 1991 installation at MOMA by Robert Storr.

I didn’t look at the exhibit in strict chronological order. So you can imagine my surprise

to discover that Spiegelman spent many years, starting in 1966, doing freelance work

for Topps Chewing Gum. He created concepts for bubblegum and trading cards which

are displayed as a kind of patchwork quilt. I found this display quite charming and a

relief from his grim future work. Does anyone remember Wacky Packages and the

Garbage Pail Kids? These were big hits at the time.

Spiegelman works in a variety of media. Zip a Tunes and Moire Maladies (Short Order

Comix #1 (1973) is done in zipatones. This is a transparent, patterned peel and stick

film used to simulate half tone grays. Spiegelman used this technique to screentone dot

patterns into his narrative. An interesting use of various media: ink, collage, screentone

and correction fluid appears in Ace Hole: Midget Detective where a different tool was

used for each character.

In 1990, Spiegelman began to experiment with stone lithography, the process used in

early comics. An example of this technique is entitled Lead Pipe Sunday, a two sided

lithograph about the birth of the Sunday funnies (Tandem [sic] Press, 1997—couldn’t

read my notes) later work was done in color. Abstract Thought Is a Warm Puppy (New

Yorker February 14, 2000) was done in ink, gouache and collage. If the title did not

immediately give the subject away, it was an homage to Charles Schultz (Happiness is

a Warm Puppy).
Spiegelman was so emotionally drained by the writing of Maus that he gave up the

long form narratives in favor of short comics as journalism. He wrote comics essays

concerning personal reflections, interviews, reviews and the history of comics. One

example is High Art Lowdown (Artforum, December 1990). This was review of the High/

Low exhibit at MOMA done in watercolor, ink, gouache and collage.

In 1992, Tina Brown hired Spiegelman as a staff artist for the New Yorker. Among the

displays of his cover art are two iconic covers. As a reaction to violent racial unrest in

Brooklyn in 1993, he drew an infamous cover of a Hasidic man and an African American

woman kissing (February 15, 1993). This cover started a tradition of cover commentary

on topical and sensational issues.

 Living downtown, Spiegelman was a first hand witness to the fall of the Twin Towers

on 9/11. He memorialized the event with a black on black cover drawing of the towers

for the September 24, 2001 cover of the New Yorker. Deeply affected by the events

of 9/11, Spiegelman created a series of broadsheets, mostly published in Europe,

collected as In the Shadow of No Towers (2004). These drawings contain metaphorical

references to classic comics’ characters and silhouettes of the falling victims. Most

American newspapers and magazines refused to publish this work because of

Spiegelman’s critical voice and overt politics. The exception was the Jewish Daily


I have described what I found to be the highlights of the exhibit. One more display,

of particular interest to the NY Librarians MeetUp was a series of two strips entitled

Words Worth a Thousand about the image collection and a discussion of the difficulty

of indexing the collection by the senior librarian. If you want to learn more about the

exhibit you can look at the curator’s write-up at

exhibitions/art-spiegelman. Or you can go see the exhibit for yourself which will be on

display until March 23, 2014. The Jewish Museum is free on Saturdays.
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95% of Americans find libraries 'important,' Pew reports -

Westwood Public Library
Doing research at the Westwood Public Library. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times / December 17, 2012)

In a study released Wednesday, Pew reports that an overwhelming majority of Americans value libraries. Ninety-five percent of Americans 16 and older say that libraries are important because of the opportunities and resources they provide, and because they promote literacy and a love of reading.
The Pew Internet & American Life Project surveyed more than 6,000 Americans ages 16 and older in July and August of this year in English and Spanish. The results show that most Americans believe libraries are important parts of their communities and are doing a good job at keeping up with technology.

Books remain the most important aspect of libraries -- far more than the Internet. Eighty percent of respondents rated books and media either "very important" or "somewhat important." Read more...

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Mariners Harbor Library to Open on Monday -

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
The inside of the Mariners Harbor Library, on the north shore of Staten Island, is almost all open.
No one has to tell Mohammed Iddrisu that a public library branch is long overdue in his neighborhood, Mariners Harbor

Mr. Iddrisu, 61, raised three school-age children on South Avenue. When they went to the library — and Mr. Iddrisu said he made sure they did so regularly — they had to travel two and a half miles to the Port Richmond branch. Including the wait for a bus, the trip could take an hour or so.  Read more

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Libraries and librarians are more relevant than ever in the digital age

Harold Washington library in Chicago.
The need for libraries, and librarians has been placed under scrutiny due to the advent of the internet. Everything in print is now available online.  So do we really need physical libraries and librarians anymore?  Of course we do…now, more than ever before.
NOTE: To learn more about the future of libraries, check out some of the columns by Futurist Thomas Frey. Read more....
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No books here: New Texas library is all digital | Crave - CNET

Bexar Bibliotech
You'll see plenty of screens, but zero books, in the Bexar County digital library in San Antonio, Texas.
(Credit: Bexar Bibliotech) 
With the holidays approaching and families arriving from out of town, it's not always easy to find a little peace and quiet. It's also increasingly difficult to find the kind of place that often provided that quiet: a good, old-fashioned library.

It's not that libraries are going away. They're just changing dramatically.

Walk into the Bexar County digital library in San Antonio, Texas, and you'll see plenty of screens -- but zero books. It doesn't look like a library, and that's the point.

BiblioTech, the only public bookless library in America, is the brainchild of Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff. Read more....
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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Research Like a Librarian: Using "Big6 Skills" for Better Grades! | The New York Public Library

PSSSTT! Let me let you in on a little librarian research secret: finding information at branches and online isn't hard (anyone can do it). In fact, in this digital age of big databases, Google and Wikipedia we are on information overload. We are surrounded by too much information actually. So how do librarians research? What do we know that you don't?

Well, we know how to evaluate information, dissect it, analyze it, reassemble it and put it to use effectively. One way to do this is through the "Big6 Skills"—a research and problem solving process, which was developed by two educators as a way to teach information and technology skills. I learned them while getting my Masters in Library Science and they BLEW MY MIND! Suddenly researching and organizing information for a paper or essay was a breeze. If only I'd learned them when I was in high school or middle school my life would've been totally different. I might've been Hillary Clinton or Simon Cowell. Read more...
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Monday, November 11, 2013

Creature Feature: The Original Frankenstein Text Is Now Readable Online

Creature Feature: The Original Frankenstein Text Is Now Readable Online

In the pantheon of classic horror, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein ranks as one of the first, and most memorable, monster tales ever told. And while it's easy enough to pick up a new copy of the spine-tingling 1818 narrative from pretty much any bookstore, it's now possible to pore over the original, hand-penned manuscript online. Read more...
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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Focus on How You Connect |Daniel Goleman

Focus on How You Connect

We’re not going to eliminate technology from our lives anytime soon. Nor should we. Smart phones and social media expand our universe. We can connect with others or collect information easier and faster than ever. But they also expand our spectrum of attention. In this instance, too much of a good thing can become a distraction, even a false reality – sometimes at the detriment of our relationships.

Spreading ourselves too thin across an ever-growing number of platforms of interaction can weaken our personal bonds. We shouldn’t confuse all of our social media connections with the rich personal world of real-time relationships. Granted, our hyper-connected world – even with people we rarely see or speak with regularly – can offer very valuable sources of information. They expand what you can know: you may find out about a job opening, or get introduced to someone you might date.

But getting lost in a world of too many digital connections can be very unfulfilling and isolating. That’s why when it comes to close personal connections, try to prioritize your communication methods. When possible, make the interaction face to face – especially if you need to discuss something important. Read more...
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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

This photo taken Sept. 30, 2013 shows Dina Herbert, a librarian holding the Kol Bo book from the 1540's, that was one of the Iraqi Jewish documents being conserved at the National Archives in College Park, Md. The tattered Torah scroll fragments, Bibles and other religious texts found in a flooded Baghdad basement 10 years ago testify to a once-thriving Jewish population that's all but disappeared from Iraq. Recovered from the Iraqi intelligence headquarters and shipped to the United States for years of painstaking conservation was a literary trove of more than 2,700 books and tens of thousands of documents that are being digitized and put online. A sample of that treasure is being displayed for the first time this fall at the National Archives in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The tattered Torah scroll fragments, Bibles and other religious texts found in a flooded Baghdad basement 10 years ago testify to a once-thriving Jewish population that's all but disappeared from Iraq. Read more...

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Book Thief (2013) - Movie Trailers -

Books of the Times | 'The Book Thief'

Stealing to Settle a Score With Life

Published: March 27, 2006
Markus Zusak has not really written "Harry Potter and the Holocaust." It just feels that way. "The Book Thief" is perched on the cusp between grown-up and young-adult fiction, and it is loaded with librarian appeal. It deplores human misery. It celebrates the power of language. It may encourage adolescents to read. It has an element of the fanciful. And it's a book that bestows a self-congratulatory glow upon anyone willing to grapple with it.


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Sales Are Colossal, Shares Are Soaring. All Amazon Is Missing Is a Profit -

Matt Cardy/Getty Images
An Amazon warehouse in Swansea, Wales. The company is expected to have around $75 billion in revenue this year.

SAN FRANCISCO — Nearly every day, Amazon announces a new venture. 

It just bought an online education company and introduced a payment mechanism for Internet retailers that competes with PayPal. It started selling wine for the first time in New York, updated its line of tablets, gave the go-ahead to three new comedy pilots and began a design competition for its fashion division. It is setting up mini-warehouses inside suppliers like Procter & Gamble to ship goods faster. 

But one thing it will not be announcing this month: a significant profit. Read more...

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Friday, October 18, 2013

Return Of ‘Stolen’ Jewish Trove From Iraq Fueling Anger | The Jewish Week

On eve of D.C. exhibit, community wants ‘illegally expropriated’ material to remain in Jewish hands in U.S.

Staff Writer 

Jewish trove found in an Iraqi government building. Photos courtesy of Harold Rhode
Jewish trove found in an Iraqi government building. Photos courtesy of Harold Rhode
The treasure trove of materials tells the story of the rich history of Iraqi Jews, stretching back 2,500 years to Babylonia. There are Torah parchments, a Hebrew Bible with commentaries from 1568, a Babylonian Talmud from 1793 and a Passover Haggadah from 1902.

The material, believed to have been seized by former Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein, was found in the flooded basement of Iraq’s intelligence agency in Baghdad two months after the March 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. Eventually rescued by U.S. troops, it was preserved and restored at the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, with help from philanthropists and foundations as well as $2.9 million in federal funds.

Now, as the trove is about to go on view at the National Archives, the prospect that the material will be returned to Iraq after the show — under an agreement between the U.S. and Iraqi governments — has sparked anger in the Jewish community.
Harold Rhode, who discovered the trove while working as a Defense Department policy analyst assigned to Iraq’s transitional government, said he is “horrified” to think the material would be returned when it had been “stolen by the government of Iraq from the Jewish community.”

“It would be comparable to the U.S. returning to the German government Jewish property that had been looted by the Nazis,” he told The Jewish Week.
Read article...
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