Category Archives: Current Events

Some books are banned from Florida State Prisons – why?

You may not be surprised to learn that the American prison system censors the types of reading materials accessible to the incarcerated.  Banned books are an unfortunate, but incessant part of American history, and occur in many institutions including public schools, libraries, bookstores, and, yes, prisons. Take a look at the New York Times article below. This article makes a case that these bans are racially motivated. Do you think having access to all books is a basic human right?

Why Are American Prisons So Afraid of This Book?


“In the eight years since its publication, “The New Jim Crow,” a book by Michelle Alexander that explores the phenomenon of mass incarceration, has sold well over a million copies, been compared to the work of W.E.B. Du Bois, been cited in the legal decisions to end stop-and-frisk and sentencing laws, and been quoted passionately on stage at the Academy Awards.

But for the more than 130,000 adults in prison in North Carolina and Florida, the book is strictly off-limits… more


Upcoming Event: Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading

Next Saturday, October 25, is the 21st annual Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading.  The 10 am to 4 pm event will take place on the campus of USF – Saint Petersburg. If you can, I recommend you take the time and head down to the Festival.

The visiting authors list is jammed with exciting and interesting individuals from all walks of life. Some you might find interesting include:

Raymond Arsenault, a professor of Southern history at USF-St. Petersburg and editor and contributer to Dixie Redux: Essays in Honor of Southern History Sheldon Hackney. Arsenault also wrote the 2006 book Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice.

Mark Billingham is one of the UK’s most popular crime writers. He has won the Sherlock Award for Best Detective. More information about him can be found at

Nancy J. Cavanaugh is a Floridian and has been both a school teacher and librarian. She has a second middle grade novel coming out this month called Always, Abigail.

Here is an author you might want really meet up close: Roy Peter Clark. Clark has taught writing at the Poytner Institute since 1979 to students ranging from young children to Pulitzer Prize winning authors. Clark’s recent work is titled: How to Write Short: Word Craft for Fast Times.

Carlton Ward, Jr. is a conservation photographer from Tampa. His most recent work The Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition: Everglades to Okeefenokee, 1,000 Miles in 160 Days documents a journey through our state’s natural landscapes. I also recently read that Ward  opened a gallery in Hyde Park Village, you can read all about it here.  The gallery’s opening reception is scheduled for Friday, November 15, 6 – 9 pm and the public is invited. In the meantime you can also view Ward’s photography from the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition just down the block at the Oxford Exchange but you’ll have to act fast since the exhibit will only be up until October 26.

Well, there are many many more authors to meet and greet next Saturday at the Festival of Reading, I couldn’t begin to tell you all about them. This link provides you with more bios and more information all about the Festival of Reading. So, consider getting ahead this week on you course work so that you can get out and head down to Saint Petersburg for the Festival of Reading on Saturday. Rumor is the weather is going to be GRAND!

New book: Human Trafficking part of the Current Controversies series

Current Controversies is a series of books published by Greenhaven Press, a division of Gale, Cengage Learning. Books in this series discuss and examine social and political issues that are of concern both in the United States and around the world.

HumanTraffickingHuman Trafficking, edited by Dedria Bryfonski,  includes four chapters that ask the following questions: “what factors contribute to human trafficking?” and “should internet sites used for sex trafficking be shut down?” and “does globalization promote human trafficking?” and finally “how can human trafficking be addressed?” Each chapter has sub-sections that offer pro and con arguments as well as general overviews of the main subject of the chapter. These sections, written by scholars and experts in the field of human trafficking, contain details and debatable information that will challenge your point of view. The book also contains an organization listing and a bibliography students can use to find further materials about human trafficking.

Who would use this book? Well, it definitely is a place to start if you are working on your MIOP (my informed opinion paper) paper. Students also taking communications or speech classes will also find the book useful. Other students studying political science, international relations, and even business will also find the book helpful when beginning research on the topic of human trafficking.

Human trafficking is also a hot button issue locally, Florida ranks third in the nation when it comes to human trafficking. Take a look at this story  from WUSF – you can read or listen to it. The article also notes that while Florida’s numbers are high in human trafficking, the state is working just as hard at combating the problem.

Of course, you can also find even more information on human trafficking on the library’s databases. Clearly there is much out there on this topic, making it a research project that is doable and with a local tie in. If this seems like something that interests you, the book Human Trafficking is on the New Book Shelf across from the Reference Desk, call number: HQ 281 .H832 2013.

Banned Books Week


September 22-28 is Banned Books Week, an annual celebration of open access to information and the unfettered freedom to read. According to the ALA and the Office for Intellectual Freedom, which tracks reported challenges or requests to remove books at libraries and schools nationwide, there were 464 official complaints in 2012. Offensive language or sexual content are the most commonly cited reasons given and challenges predominantly occur in school and public libraries. However, from 2000-2009 there were 30 reported  requests to remove materials made in college libraries and 114 objections to materials used in college classrooms. Exercise your freedom to read and check out one of these books which made the top 10 challenged list for 2012:

kite runnerthe glass castlebeloved2  200px-Captainunderpantscover

For more information check out these posts about web filtering in schools and the freedom to read.

The Added Value of College

I recently read an opinion piece by Notre Dame Philosophy Professor Gary Gutting in The New York Times philosophy forum, The Stone, entitled “Why Do I Teach.”  The following quote is particularly intriguing:

“The fruits of college teaching should be measured not by tests but by the popularity of museums, classical concerts, art film houses, book discussion, groups, and publications like Scientific American, the New York Review of Books, The Economist, and The Atlantic, to cite just a few. These are the places where our students reap the benefits of their education.”

Dr. Gutting makes an interesting point about the potential of higher education to not just instill knowledge or prepare students for employment but to excite passion and creativity, pique curiosity, develop critical thinking, cultivate aesthetic appreciation; in short, to open us to greater possibilities intellectually and emotionally.

This gave me pause to consider how the library figures in the lives of students. It goes, or should go, without saying that the library is integral to the scholarly academic experience of university students. But the library is also full of books and films which may bear little relation to a particular students coursework or major (at least explicitly) but nevertheless have the potential to inspire, bring pleasure, engender new interests, lead to reflection, or raise new questions.

For example, just a short walk from UT over the Kennedy Boulevard Bridge at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts are currently two exhibits, Exposing the Self: Photography and Surrealism and Frida and Friends: The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo. The library also has many wonderful books and films available for those curious to learn more or who merely seek the pleasure of engaging in the works of artists and writers associated with Surrealism and Mexican Art (just search the Online Catalog) because, as Dr. Gutting puts it, even though you may never become an expert in the subject there is value in such encounters, “they make students vividly aware of new possibilities for intellectual and aesthetic fulfillment.”

Libraries in the Superbowl

The “Whisper Fight” commercial for Oreos cookies that aired during the Superbowl is getting a lot of attention from librarians, and seems to be generally well-received among the commercial-loving public.

Sunday night I was visiting with some friends who were having a small Superbowl party. At one point I remember looking over to the television and seeing a library being destroyed. I wasn’t close enough to hear what was going on and missed the joke that through all of the destruction people continue to whisper because they’re in the library. Instead, I was a bit horrified by the wanton library violence. I only hope this doesn’t become a trend.

On the other hand, I do fully endorse the idea of using your library voice no matter how chaotic things get in the library!

Plant Museum’s Victorian Christmas Stroll

Tomorrow I plan on experiencing my first Victorian Christmas Stroll at the Plant Museum. I am very excited about it. I plan on taking my six year old daughter. I hope we both find it enchanting and that it becomes one of our Tampa holiday traditions.

Here is the link for more information: Plant Museum Victorian Christmas Stroll.

As a Navy family stationed far from home we were forced to do the holidays on our own and to figure out the traditions we wanted. Now that we are hopefully in our forever home, we are experts at trying new things and deciding if a new tradition is ready to be “born” for us here in Tampa. So, I am definitely looking forward to tomorrow night and the potential it offers us.

What are some of your holiday traditions here in Tampa and beyond?

Book trees, a growing trend?

Maybe it is because I am a librarian but it seems like book trees are taking root every where this holiday season. Almost all my friends and organizations on Facebook have posted a picture of their favorite book tree.

I thought about posting my favorites here but then my unscientific search proved to me that others have already done that! So, instead, in the spirit of giving I am gifting you a short list of sites and blogs for you to review and maybe pick out your favorite book tree. Let me know which one you like best and Happy Holidays from sunny Tampa.

The Mary Sue : A Guide to Girl Geek Culture


Booklicious: all things book in one little blog


Win A Trip Contest 2013

I was reading an article by New York Times contributor Nicholas Kristof about charitable donations in lieu of traditional Christmas gift giving when I stumbled upon a contest I thought might interest some UT students.

Nicholas Kristof is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who covers, among other topics, issues related to poverty in the developing world.  In a recent article Kristof writes —

“One lucky undergraduate or graduate student will win my next win-a-trip contest, an annual event in which I take a university student with me on a reporting trip to Africa. The aim is to generate some interest in global poverty issues both with the contest and with the blogging and videos that the winner will contribute to the New York Times website.”

Watch a video about the experiences of past student winners here.

To find out more or to apply check out these links for the Official Rules and Contest Form

I also recommend reading Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Kristof and his wife and fellow Times contributor Sheryl WuDunn.


007….now appearing in a theater near you and in a library whenever you want

I got to see the new James Bond movie this past weekend, Skyfall and I have to say it was great. Of course, it would have to be really bad for me to not like it since I have been a lover of Bond since I was a teenager but I have been a fan of the Bond creator, novelist Ian Fleming, much longer. Many don’t realize that in addition to Bond, Fleming wrote the children’s classic: Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang – one of my favorite books and movies — who can forget the scary child catcher?

Back to Bond: according to Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism (a reference source that is found in one of the library’s databases: Literature Criticisms Online) Fleming wrote thirteen James Bond novels plus additional short stories and screenplays based on the secret agent. Maybe you recognize some of the titles: Casino Royale, Dr. No, From Russia, With Love, and The Man With the Golden Gun. All of these titles are found at the MacDonald-Kelce Library – you can  search for them using the online catalog.

I know many students are deep into writing term papers this week since many have stopped by the reference desk appearing quite desperate and many are trying to get everything done before Thanksgiving. If you are still struggling don’t fret too much, all of your librarians are here to help you. AND if you are facing a conundrum when it comes to what to write about for a literature paper maybe Bond, James Bond is the way to go….Happy researching and writing!