Friday, May 30, 2008

Are You Ready for ReadyMade?

It would seem that environmental responsibility is all the rage these days. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has become something of a celebrity because of his focus on green issues. Sales of Toyota's low-emission Prius have topped one million, increasing 36% in the past two years. And who can forget that former-Vice-President-turned-climate-change-activist Al Gore added a Nobel Prize to his trophy shelf last year?

When a movement catches on in a big way, it can seem overwhelming. Do I recycle enough? What's the carbon footprint of these new shoes? What can I do to help solve these big environmental problems?

Your Magazines and Newspapers Center staff feels your pain. And while our friends across the floor at the Wallace Stegner Environmental Center will continue to host programs and collect materials to help you tune into the big picture, we encourage you to celebrate the small contributions you can make and read a magazine called ReadyMade.

ReadyMade has been around since 2001. Published out of Berkeley every other month, this magazine will inspire you with step-by-step instructions for making furniture, clothing, decorative objects, and all sorts of other things out of objects you can find around the house, on the street, in the trash, or at a junkyard.

Here's how they describe what they do (from ReadyMade 1, Winter 2002):

"ReadyMade is a handbook of stories and how-tos written by young people with big, unwieldy ideas. Contributors draw up instructions for making things and, in many cases, take their own photos of the finished projects. Read their stories, admire their pictures. These people are the future."

Edgy lighting fixture out of a garbage can lid? Issue 6.

High-fashion headboard out of old skateboard decks? Issue 34.

The how-to articles are mixed in with features highlighting interesting ways in which people are making things themselves as a way to reduce waste, save money, and reuse items bound for the landfill.

In the spirit of consuming less and saving resources, why not pass up the newsstand and come read our copy of ReadyMade here at the Magazines and Newspapers Center? We keep the latest copy on display, the last few issues behind the Page Desk, and the older issues bound and on the shelf.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Memorial Day - Honoring Our Soldiers

Photo courtesy of San Francisco History Center, San Franciso Public Library

The last Monday in May marks one the most patriotic of American holidays—Memorial Day. On this day, Americans pay tribute, respect, and honor to all soldiers who have fought and sacrificed their lives in war for the United States. To learn more about the origin of this longstanding national holiday:

1. Go to the SFPL Home Page and select “Articles & Databases.” You will need a San Francisco Public Library card to access the databases from outside the Library.

2. Under the Categories side bar on the left, select “Encyclopedias & Dictionaries” then “Gale Virtual Reference Library | (Gale).”

3. Note that you can explore various subject categories such as art, business, education, history, literature, multicultural studies, science, and more. Selecting “History” will present a list of reference works in the history subject category.

4. In the search box, enter the phrase “memorial day.”

5. You will see a list of citations relating to Memorial Day from various specialized encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other reference works.

The Gale Virtual Reference Library contains information drawn from specialized encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks, directories, and other reference sources for multidisciplinary research. Browse through a range of topical subject areas or run keyword searches to search within the chapters of these print resources.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

The month of May marks the celebration for Asian Pacific American Heritage (APA) month. The term “Asian” includes Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Korean, Vietnamese, Southeast Asian, and other interethnic groups of Asian descent. The Magazines & Newspapers Center houses a selection of titles focusing on APA pop culture and lifestyles. From anime, film, and book reviews to fashion design, social, cultural, and political issues, APA culture plays a prominent role in American mainstream media. Periodicals like AsianWeek, Audrey, Filipinas, Giant Robot, and Hyphen capture the uniqueness of contemporary Asian Pacific American pop culture, lifestyles, news, and politics:

AsianWeek - This weekly newspaper covers news, politics, social issues, people, and the arts in the Asian Pacific American community. Articles include local, national, and international coverage, opinion pieces, profiles and interviews with Asian Americans, arts and entertainment listings, classifieds, and more. Based in San Francisco, AsianWeek is "the oldest and largest English language newspaper serving the Asian/Pacific Islander American community."

Audrey – Written specifically for Asian American women, Audrey features entertaining and informative articles on designers, fashion, beauty trends, relationships, home d├ęcor, women’s health issues, and more. Each issue contains glossy photos, Asian celebrity interviews, and news/gossip – all from a uniquely Asian/Asian American perspective.

Filipinas – A nationally-circulating monthly magazine written for “Filipinos worldwide,” Filipinas covers Philippine history, culture, community issues, personalities, travel and business, food, and more. This magazine serves as “a venue where Filipino Americans can shed their collective invisibility in mainstream America and finally be recognized.”

Giant Robot – A hip magazine highlighting various aspects of Asian and Asian American pop culture, Giant Robot includes interviews, feature stories, news, hobbies, art, music, travel, television, and more. "Paving the way for less knowledgeable media outlets, Giant Robot put the spotlight on Chow Yun Fat, Jackie Chan, and Jet Li years before they were in mainstream America's vocabulary.”

Hyphen – A San Francisco-based magazine for the “culturally and politically savvy,” Hyphen explores Asian American news and culture, including investigative features, profiles of Asian American leaders, politics and commentary. “Built around a clarity of image, word and social awareness, Hyphen takes form from the artists, thinkers and creators who are shaping a new multiethnic generation.”

Last but not least, many other ethnic-related titles from the alternative and ethnic presses are featured in the Ethnic NewsWatch database which can be found on our “Articles and Databases” page. You will need a library card to access this database from outside the library.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Art in the Periodicals Reading Room

Did you know you can go up to the sixth floor of the library by taking the spiral staircase in the Periodicals Reading Room of the Magazines & Newspapers Center? This staircase, part of an art piece designed by Alice Aycock, was unveiled in 1996 at the opening of the New Main Library.

Excerpted from Art Works of the Main Library

Functional and Fantasy Stair and Cyclone Fragment

Artist: Alice Aycock

"Alice Aycock has designed a spiral stairway between the fifth and sixth floors of the suspended, glass-enclosed reading room that projects into the library's great atrium space. The staircase wraps around a cone tipped at an angle, and as the two-story cone appears to unravel, it sheds fragments of false or imaginary stairs. The conical composition echoes the structure of a nearby atrium skylight. The cone, in fact, is an inversion of the skylight.

A second element, the Cyclone fragment, is suspended in the adjacent atrium and functions as a ghost projection of the spiral stair. If the stairs suggest knowledge unfolding, the Cyclone symbolizes knowledge in its most dynamic and transitional state. For the artist, her work in the library is the culmination of years of ongoing dialogue with the architect James Ingo Freed."

Friday, May 2, 2008

Gearing Up for Exams

Are you preparing for the upcoming SAT exams? Considering graduate school and need to study for the GRE? Perhaps you want to complete that high school diploma by taking the GED. Or prepare for a civil service exam? Look no further and check out the Learning Express Library:

1. Go to the SFPL Home Page and select “Articles & Databases.” You will need a San Francisco Public Library card to access the databases from outside the Library.

2. Under the Categories side bar on the left, select “Education & Social Science” then “Learning Express Library.”

3. Look for a series of subjects under the “Featured Resources” column.

The Learning Express Library is an online interactive learning tutorial containing online practice exams in a variety of subject areas including, but not limited to, the following: civil service, college entrance exams, math, reading, and writing skill improvement, teacher certification, U.S. citizenship, and more. Note: You will need to register as a new user to use this database's exams and tutorials.