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Monday, June 19, 2017

The Sounds of Silence: Practicing meditation over the Summer break

Image Source: http://www.newyorker.com/cartoon/a17602

By now you've likely settled into your Summer break pattern. Maybe you've found yourself becoming one with your couch and binge-watching Netflix until the dreaded, "Are you still watching..." message pops up with the sole intention of guilting you into action.

Or maybe you're embracing some activity that fell dormant while you were racing towards the finish line of Spring's final exams and final projects.

Maybe the Central Texas pollen has you hiding under a blanket, only to reach out for a tissue and allergy pill.

Whatever routine you've found yourself in as Summer takes off, you're likely finding more free time for thoughts to run rampant in your head: Thoughts about classes, projects, graduation, THE FUTURE (that one needs all caps, always), next semester, vacations, finances, relationships, GPAs, grad school...

Yup, there they are - not too far from the surface after all.

I'm happy to report that the library has quite the collection of mindfulness and meditation resources. And you know you're going to find links to those resources in this blog post, right? What kind of blog post wouldn't have links?

My own journey into meditation involved my realizing that I can't turn my thoughts off, and therefore am impervious to meditation. The end.

Just kidding - I'm still trying to develop a regular meditation practice. I started a 10-day guided meditation program in December 2016, and I just completed Day 7 today. So, I'm moving right along. By this time next year, I'll be well on my way to a more restful mind.

What first gave me hope that I could learn to meditate was this TED talk by Andy Puddicombe:



Check out our collection of books by Andy Puddicome here (There's one of those links I promised).

Alkek also has a nice collection of guided meditation resources that might help you get started on your journey. We have books, e-books, audio books, streaming media, DVDs, pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There's pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich.

Sorry, I got off track (more on Forrest Gump here...).

Lastly, if you're more of the Netflix/Hulu/Amazon variety when you're between semesters, try downloading the Kanopy streaming app (look for it in your list of streaming channels), and check out this series on "Practicing Mindfulness: An Introduction to Meditation Course." You can access Kanopy through the library's databases, or by logging into the app with your University login.

For my part, I'm going to work my way through that practicing mindfulness course this summer, and finish up days 8-10 of my guided meditation this week. If all goes well, by the time the Fall semester sneaks up on us, I'll be breathing and meditating my way through all the stresses that inevitably follow.

If you have a meditation or mindfulness practice that works for you, share it in the comments below!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Meet our new Poet Laureate, Tracy K. Smith

The Library of Congress has named Tracy K. Smith its 2017 Poet Laureate! 

tracy-smith-byRachelElizaGriffiths
Image Source: Lewis Center for the Arts - Princeton University
My favorite part of Ms. Smith's response to this prestigious title is best read in her own words:
"I think the responsibility really is to just help raise the awareness of poetry and its value in our culture," Smith tells NPR. "To me that means talking to people — getting off the usual path of literary festivals and university reading series and talking to people who might not even yet be readers of poetry. 
"I would love to go to places where people might be struggling, where people might wonder if there are voices out there for them," she says. (Source: NPR, The Two-Way)
Since becoming a Librarian, I have often contemplated how best to reach those who don't know what they are missing. Poetry is in my blood, so her message strikes home for me. The idea of "getting off the the usual path" is relevant outside of poetry also. As the Library Director in a small town near Albany, NY, I found myself faced with the question of how to reach the rural population when it came to youth-related library events. On the one hand, we had Main Street residents bringing their small children to Storytime and other library-sponsored events, so we could rest assured we were reaching our patrons. On the other hand, we had farming families living in the outskirts of town, who likely didn't follow the Library's Facebook page, and didn't have the free time to bring their children to our events. One solution that worked for us was to partner with the local Fire Departments, and bring Storytime to them, closer to their homes, and within walking or biking distance to the older children. Outreach was key, and being willing to load your personal car up with books, magazines, audio materials, and DVDs was a valuable service to the community members who either didn't know what they were missing, or who couldn't make it to the Library's Main Street location.

Now I work in a University Library, and while I did try to get an "Adult Storytime" off the ground last year (I'll spare you the sad details of attendance, where we actually managed to chase some students away when we started reading), Storytime is no longer my problem to ponder. Now I have other questions, such as: How do you reach students who spend more time on their phones, than physically in the library? Full Disclosure: I spend more time on my phone than in any physical location, so I'm the first to be thrown under the bus here. In any case, I welcome the challenge of reaching our University population in their natural habitat, and offering them glimpses into our resources.

And so I cannot wait to become more familiar with our new Poet Laureate's body of work.  And I hope to help make these resources more available to our Library's patrons (students, staff, faculty, and community-at-large).

Please take some time to explore some of Tracy K. Smith's work - available in our catalog, and our poetry databases. Here are some of her works available from Columbia Granger's World of Poetry Database.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Celebrate Pride Month

Happy LGBT Pride Month

Celebrate Pride Month with highlighted films from:

Explore our Catalog

Resources Include:

External Sites:


Still can't find what you're looking for?

Suggest a purchase for the Library collection!

Leaving Soon - What's Leaving "Films on Demand" Database in June?

Leaving our Films on Demand database in June:

Watch them now before they're gone!

How to Be Happy: Finding More Joy Through Happiness Training - BBC
Can happiness be taught? Modern science has done much to improve the human lot but has cast little light on how to achieve happiness. QED, with help from several experts in psychology, has developed a “course in happiness,” which is designed to change deep-seated beliefs and attitudes and make it possible to find more joy in life. This program observes three volunteers from very different backgrounds and walks of life as they take QED’s three-week course of instruction under the careful guidance of a psychologist. Will they feel any happier? The program provides the answer to this question as the three volunteers prepare to get on with their lives. Original BBC broadcast title: How to Be Happy. (49 minutes) A BBC Production

College, Inc. - PBS/Frontline

This edition of Frontline takes a closer look at the booming business of higher education. It’s a $400 billion industry fueled by taxpayer money. But what are students getting out of the deal? Critics say a worthless degree and a mountain of debt. Investors insist they’re innovators, widening access to education. The program follows the money to uncover how Wall Street and a new breed of for-profit universities are transforming the way Americans think about college education. Distributed by PBS Distribution. (60 minutes) Distributed by PBS Distribution.

Offstage, Onstage: Inside the Stratford Festival
Cameras go backstage during an entire season of the Stratford Festival to capture the creative spirit at the heart of a treasured Canadian theater company. For five decades, the festival’s stage has been home to the world's great plays and performers. Award-winning director John N. Smith (The Boys of St. Vincent) gives unprecedented access backstage, offering a fascinating look at the personalities and the production process behind live theater performance. Viewers sneak a peek into William Hutt’s dressing room as he does his vocal warm-ups before Twelfth Night and watch as Martha Henry commands the stage in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? This fascinating documentary provides a glimpse at the artists, craftspeople, and technicians who reveal their secrets, from shoemaking, sword fighting, and sound effects to makeup and mechanical monkeys. (86 minutes)