Saturday, May 30, 2009

Job Hunting and Career Exploration

With the current economic crisis looming overhead, manifested in part by job layoffs and hiring freezes, it might be discouraging looking for employment during these bleak times. However, a San Francisco Chronicle article highlighted how libraries can assist you during this recession.

The Magazines & Newspaper Center, for instance, carries selected job-related periodicals that might help you locate employment opportunities, enhance your job-seeking skills, or give you ideas for new career opportunities:

California Job Journal - A weekly publication covering career and employment information for over 25 years, this newspaper contains job listings in northern California, a career calendar, brief articles on selected job markets, and more.

Career Opportunities News
- Published six times a year, this newsletter features career trends in the workplace, minority issues and resources, career news of special interest to women, reviews of new books on career guidance, reports on the latest salary information, and more.

Federal Jobs Digest - A bi-weekly newspaper featuring job recruitment opportunities. Each issue contains over 5000 current opening with the federal government in the United States and overseas in all occupations and career levels.

Jobs Available - A bi-weekly listing of public sector employment opportunities in California. Sample department include building inspection, city administration, finance and accounting, parks and recreation, and more.

For additional resources, try the Occupational Outlook Handbook to explore new careers and trends. Last but not least, you can also check the Jobs and Careers Center for additional tips on using the Internet for searching jobs and obtaining a list of periodic classes offered at the library.

As an added bonus, the San Francisco Public Library now offers an open computer lab for job seekers on Mondays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Tuesdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the 5th Floor in the Main Library Training Center. So come let the library help you find your next job or career.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Go Eco with the Ecocard

Are you going green yet? It wasn't too long ago in our April posting when we highlighted titles from our Magazines & Newspapers Center collection in honor of Earth Day. In that same month, we also launched our Green Stacks program. Since then, the library has been showcasing a series of programs and exhibits ranging from community gardens and photographs of the urban wilderness to green cleaning products and organic foods, many of which were planned in part by staff in our Wallace Stegner Environmental Center. Check our Green Stacks Events page for an ongoing list of programs and special events.

Next, prepare for the launching of a pilot project in producing our very first San Francisco Public Library ecocard. For a limited time, you can exchange your current plastic library card for a more eco-friendly one manufactured from a renewable and biodegradable resource. This card is just one of many elements in the Library's new Green Stacks program, dedicated to helping San Francisco go green with the assistance of SF Environment and Friends of the San Francisco Public Library.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Subscription Survivors -- A few of our longest-running titles

Although we work hard here at the library to bring you the latest in online content, it's sometimes very rewarding to step back, take a deep breath, and look at the collection that our forbears have gathered over the years. And what a collection it is, particularly considering that library workers had to start from scratch after the 1906 earthquake and fire. Over the years, we've managed to acquire many titles reaching back well into the 19th century, a few of which we continue to subscribe to today. This was the inspiration for a very cursory survey of some of our longest-running titles here at the Magazines and Newspapers Center. Here are some of our favorite old-timers:

Time, Life, Newsweek, and U.S. News and World Report are perennial favorites, and we have a long run of each of these titles. These are, in fact, such popular titles that we make an exception in our shelving procedures for these: rather than shelving volumes from before 1990 in closed (behind-the-scenes) storage, we keep several decades worth of each of these titles out in the public area. That means that you can go to the shelves and find, for instance, the issue of Life from the week that you were born, provided you were born during or after 1936. (If you were born before 1936, you can find your birth issue upstairs in our special collections.

Sunset Magazine is a lifestyle magazine that probably predates the term "lifestyle magazine." Originally published by the Southern Pacific Railroad as a way of promoting the West Coast -- at the time, the company was the largest landowner in California, and they wanted to combat the Wild West image so that people would want to buy land from them -- Sunset has since become the property of Time, Inc., and circulates well over a million copies. Sunset has a reputation for publishing striking images, which the enthusiast might find are best viewed in person. We've got a full run available for paging at the Fifth Floor Page Desk.

Harper's (a.k.a. Harper's Bazaar, Harper's Magazine, Harper's New Monthly Magazine, the International Miscellany of Literature, Art and Science) and the Atlantic are both roughly 150 years old, and thus stand out as great American monthly magazines. Many literary greats, influential journalists, and public figures of just about every stripe have contributed words to these magazines over the years, and we have long runs of each available to anyone who comes by. How long? The Atlantic's run -- from 1857 to the present -- is impressive, but Harper's has them beat by seven years, and we have 1850 to the present available for paging. Navigating all of the title changes in our library catalog can be a bit difficult, so don't be shy about asking us about a particular issue!

Scientific American may win the prize for magazine published for the longest time without a title change. (Librarians notice these things.) You can find a record for this title in our library catalog that goes back to 1846! Think of some of the scientific advances made since then -- Pasteur, Darwin, Bell, Freud, Curie, Heisenberg, Einstein, Russel, Sagan, and Watson are only a few of the scientific greats that have worked during this publication's life. One of the most endearing traits of this title is that it has been continuously written for a lay audience, meaning that its writers work to demystify some of the most complicated, but nonetheless most significant discoveries in the various fields of science. We have a full run, so stop by and have a look at the last century and a half of scientific discovery.

Unlike the features in Scientific American, this survey of long-running subscriptions was in no way scientific. The method was pretty simple -- I mostly looked down the rows of shelves in the closed stacks and looked for the largest blocks of like-colored volumes. So, if there are any long-running titles that you would like to point out, please let us know in the comments section below. We know you old-magazine-lovers are out there!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Country Life: For members of the custard pie appreciation consortium

This librarian's knowledge of the English countryside is more or less based on 60's Kinks records (kudos if you caught the reference in the post title) and, of course, Hot Fuzz (2007). This means that I have an incomplete and probably very inaccurate sense of the culture associated with folks living in rural England. You can imagine, then, my surprise and delight at discovering a magazine that pretty much confirms every assumption I've ever had about life in the English countryside.

If tweed jackets, game birds, retriever dogs, and ivy are your things, I recommend taking a look at the Magazines and Newspapers Center's collection of Country Life. An English lifestyle magazine (Southern Living is a rough American equivalent), Country Life immerses readers in an old-fashioned world of genteel manners, plenty of fresh air, and slate roofs.

Readers can discover tips for gardening and entertaining, news and trends in the world of land-owning English people, features about hunting and equestrian sports, and gossip. From my perspective here in the New World, this countryside is the stuff of fairy tales.

Based on my reading of the magazine, I should warn you that you may not understand exactly what the writers in Country Life are talking about. Take, as an example, the captions to an illustration explaining four things one should not say when visiting friends in the country, taken from the February 4, 2009 issue:

  1. "Oh, it's raining!"
  2. "I do hope it's pheasant."
  3. "It must cost a fortune to heat."
  4. "I so long for an aga." (ed. note -- I don't know what an "aga" is either.)
In each cartoon, the person being told the above statement goes into a rage. I think I get number 3, but I can't imagine why I shouldn't say the others. (If you have any insight, feel free to share it in the comments section.) Until I get the hang of this, I'll have to make sure I keep my mouth shut next time I visit Gosford Park to go hunting.

That said, the mystery (Why tweed? What is bird ringing?) adds to the experience of peeking in to the English countryside life. If you're curious, stop by the Magazines and Newspapers Center and take a look.


Friday, May 1, 2009

Fasten Your Seatbelts for OverDrive

Are you using your library card yet? Or have you just been stashing it in your wallet or purse until you actually need to visit a physical library to check out books, music CDs, and DVDs? Remember that you can unleash the power of your library card without even having to step into a library building (though we are always happy to serve your research and recreational needs should you choose to visit our branches throughout the city).

In a previous posting, we highlighted what you can do with our electronic databases. On May 4, 2009, fasten your seat belts because the San Francisco Public Library unveils its latest addition to its ever-growing collection of electronic media: OverDrive, a global distributor of audibooks, e-books, music, and videos. You can download the latest novel from the New York Times Best Sellers list onto your mp3 player or e-book reader, listen to music, and watch classic TV series, films, and documentaries right on your computer. Prepare to indulge in a wide spectrum of media ranging from bestselling audiobooks and e-books to classical music and documentary and feature films.

To kick off this latest addition to our family of databases, be on the lookout for the OverDrive Digital Bookmobile which arrives at the Main Branch (Fulton Street side) of the San Francisco Public Library on May 8 (noon to 5 p.m.) and May 9 (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Learn more about this digital library collection and how you can access its ever-expanding multimedia collection.