The View (from Downstairs)

Here is the latest message from Ryan Ingersoll, Head of Library Technology at the SPU Library:

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Did you know the Tech Desk is more than just a place to print your documents? Our goal is not only to provide collaborative space, but also to provide relevant tech tools for students to use in the creation of digital projects. All computers near the Tech Desk are equipped with an extensive suite of software. Whether you need to create a brochure or flyer in Adobe InDesign, edit an image in Photoshop, create floor plans in AutoCAD, analyze data in IBM SPSS, or edit a film in Premier Pro or iMovie.
Additionally, the Tech Desk provides numerous tech tools for students to check out. We have iPads, iPod touches, and video cameras. If your iPhone, Android, or Windows phone is running out of juice stop by to check out a charger! If you want to study on the Third Level looking out over campus or use a large display in a study room—check out a MacBook Pro (use in library building only). Not only do we have basic cameras, but we also provide access to a DSLR camera. Finally, in addition to most of the computers on the Lower Level being equipped with dual displays, we also have three workstations that you can connect to your notebook computer!

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What if you don’t know how to make a movie or use Evernote, for example? Ask the Tech Desk! Our staff is trained to provide assistance with many of the technology tools we provide. If we don’t know the answer we will research it for you. As you finish up your projects for the quarter we encourage you to stop by to see how we can help you. If you need one-on-one assistance, send us an email and we will schedule a time with you. Visit our website to learn more about the support we offer, access helpful tutorials, and see all the different tech tools we check out.

Library Tech Desk (Lower Level)
206.281.2211 or librarytechdesk@spu.edu

Open during normal library hours.

Learn more on our knowledge base: spu.edu/techdeskkb

Book Review: The Blue Castle

The Blue Castle, by L.M. Montgomery

anneYou may know L.M. Montgomery as the author of the widely popular Anne of Green Gables – the delightful tale of a red-headed orphan who cannot go two days without getting into a scrape. But did you know that Montgomery also wrote a book that was actually banned from libraries? The beloved Canadian author enjoyed the status, wealth, and position that the popularity of Anne gave her, but she did not like being labeled as a children’s writer. So in 1926 she wrote a novel with more mature themes. The Blue Castle tells the story of Valancy Stirling, a 29 year old woman who is quite distressed that she is still unmarried. Worse, no one in her tight-knit, busy-body, bound-by-tradition extended family will let her forget that she is unable to “get a man.” After learning that she only has a year to live, she boldly decides to flaunt all conventions, and go out with a bang. One thing she does is move in with an old friend (who is also dying) to give her the care that her alcoholic father cannot provide. The trouble here is that the old friend had had a child out of wedlock. According to Montgomery’s biographer, Mary Henley Rubio, this was the specific content that many parents, teachers, and librarians found offensive1. After all, in 1926, one simply did not talk about such things let alone put them in a book where the main character of a highly regarded “children’s author” is sympathetic! However, Valancy’s new confidence and charity pay off in the end since, even though Montgomery pushed the boundaries, she could not go far enough to have a non-happy ending. If you can accept this, you will find a compelling story of courage and rebellion as Valancy stands up to the “what will people think?” mentality. For example, Valancy switches from the Anglican church of her clan to the Free Methodist church for its simpler service; in response, her mother needs to spend a day in bed to recover! Meanwhile Valancy’s friend’s father exclaims that he has no use for Free Methodists since he is a Presbyterian2. In addition to social commentary, The Blue Castle contains Montgomery’s trademark beautiful descriptions of nature, strong story-telling techniques, and spot-on humor. Her true fans would expect nothing less no matter what the themes.

- Liz Gruchala-Gilbert

1. Rubio, MH. Lucy Maud Montgomery : the gift of wings. Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 2008.
2. Montgomery, LM. The blue castle. New York: Bantum, 1989.

 

Creative Conversations, Fall 2014

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Welcome to the Fall 2014 edition of Creative Conversations. This quarter, we’re excited to welcome Doug Thorpe, Roger Feldman, Doug Koskela, Karen Snedker, and Jennifer McKinney to the series to discuss topics ranging from Palestinian poetry to art to vocation to homelessness in Seattle. Doug Thorpe will kick off the series tomorrow (October 30th) at 3:00 p.m. with a discussion on his recent trip to Israel and Palestine. Visit our website for more information on dates, times, and our speakers. Please do note that Roger Feldman will be speaking on December 4th instead of November 6th.

Coffee and cookies will be provided – we look forward to having you!

Day of Common Learning 2014

On Wednesday, October 22nd, SPU canceled all classes so faculty, staff, and students could attend Day of Common Learning, where talks and sessions were based on the theme of power. Below are the thoughts of some of our Library staff who attended lectures and taught sessions.

Keynote: The Good News About Power
Andy Crouch

Andy Crouch began his keynote address about power by addressing the problem that conversations about power are usually either cynical or naive, and asked the question of whether it was possible to have a talk that was both honest and hopeful. Crouch felt that was possible with some reframing of the grammar and definition of power. He then offered some descriptions of power, including Nietzsche’s concept that all people want to individually exert their power as widely as possible, forcing them into conflict with others who try and exert their own power. Crouch offered an alternative view of power from First Genesis, saying that our power comes from our ability as image bearers of Christ to make things that are “very good.” Crouch then offered several examples of this in physics, art, and music – showing how scientists and artists can use their ability to affect change to increase power for everyone. For example Henry Ossawa Tanner’s painting The Banjo Player – which took an instrument and music style that was being caricaturized and oppressed, and gave it a fuller expression in showing the importance of the banjo as part of African-American culture and community. Finally, he gave a two-by-two chart (for the business majors, he teased) showing a cross of authority – defined as the ability to affect change (authority), and vulnerability – to show the amount of risk one is exposed to. Crouch believes that low authority and high vulnerability results in poverty; low authority and low vulnerability is safety; high authority and low vulnerability is idolatry and injustice; and only with high authority and high vulnerability can we be image bearers.

- Carrie Fry

Session 1: Re-thinking Power and Powerlessness: Listening to Iraqi Voices in Blogs from Baghdad
Kimberly Segall

Dr. Segall’s talk yesterday focused on ways that the Western world tends looks at conflict in the Middle East. The ways in which our media tends to portray the Middle East as one homogenous region, whose religions and beliefs are all blurred into one. We talked about looking at the stories we hear from both sides of a conflict. For example, some of us may see the veil as forced upon women, as a sign of oppression. Dr. Segall pointed out that yes, there is oppression and power when forcing women to wear the veil, but there is also power when women make their own choice to wear it. She spoke about her own experiences of daily life from recently living in Iraq with her daughter. One of the main messages that I came out of this talk with was to remember to look to other sources of information for a clearer picture of the individuals living in conflict.

- Jo Krogh

Session 2: Technology and Power
Ryan Ingersoll, Michael Paulus, and David Wicks

David Wicks started the session sharing about the new Digital Education Leadership M.Ed. program. Wicks stressed the program’s intentional flexibility, as it is built around a unique sandboxed learning environment with team-taught courses, project-based learning, beta tests technology tools, and a preference towards using open access educational resources. Wicks touched on some of the important issues K-12 and higher education technologists, teachers, and students are navigating. Michael Paulus spoke next, reminding us of the long history of technology and invited us on journey to the past. Paulus shared about the different views of technology as liberator, oppressor, and instrument. To that end, Paulus introduced the need for attention and framed it by the Ten Commandments through the love of God and neighbor. Ryan Ingersoll closed the session with reflections about course topics on digital citizenship, mindfulness, multitasking, digital identity, and vocation. As a group we discussed Facebook’s mood manipulation project and reflected together on power and privacy dynamics. Ryan encouraged a need to focus on relationships in digital spaces by integrating love of God and neighbor, mindfulness, and a balanced approach to life based on the rhythm of Sabbath. Finally, he discussed how we should expand on Andy Crouch’s call towards being image bearers and implement that action of authority and vulnerability in digital spaces we inhabit.

- Ryan Ingersoll

Book Review: The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt

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Winner of 2014 Pulitzer Prize, The Goldfinch tells the life story of Theo Decker. A New York resident with a beautiful mother and an absent father, Theo is just 13 when his mother dies in a terrorist attack on the Metropolitan Museum of Art during an exhibition of Dutch masterpieces, including Carel Fabritius’ The Goldfinch. In the confusion surrounding the attack, an elderly man implores Theo to take a family-heirloom ring and gives him an urgent message to deliver to his partner. Believing the old man was also pointing at The Goldfinch, Theo takes the painting as well. These three events: losing his mother, gaining the ring, and his theft of the painting, will influence the trajectory of his life.
Theo, narrating in the first-person over a period of about 15 years, takes the reader on his journey in the aftermath of that day. Many of his experiences seem to be directed by fate or left to chance. From being taken in by a school friend’s wealthy family, to falling in love with a mysterious red-headed girl who also survived the attack, to chance meetings with people who will become life-long friends and lovers, to welcoming his deadbeat dad back into his life only to have his heart broken again, a cycle of addiction and recovery, moving to Las Vegas, and his slow descent into international antique and art forgery and theft.

Without spoiling too much, every aspect of Theo’s life comes full circle in startlingly different ways. Theo finally reflects on his life, wondering how much of his experiences were unavoidable due to fate or due to his choices and character.

Donna Tartt is a master storyteller and took over a decade to write The Goldfinch. The book is long, with a few critics saying the book would have better been split into a trilogy but it is an epic, exciting, stay-up-all-night-reading book full of richly developed characters that also manages to reflect on sadness and survival, chance and fate, and the role of art in life. Tartt is a master at conveying emotion and describing experiences and telling a story where everything, no matter how small, is connected. Recommended for art lovers, anybody who has ever wondered about how much choice or chance shapes our lives, observers of human nature, and all lovers of literary fiction.

I also highly recommend Tartt’s previous two novels: The Secret History, an inverted mystery, and The Little Friend which is technically a mystery but also an incredible study of good vs evil. Both books are available through Summit.

- Christina Nofziger