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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