Research Therapy: Let the Library Help during Finals Week

Finals Are You Stressed ComicHow the Library Can Help ComicThere’s no need to worry, the Oviatt Library can help! The Oviatt is open extended hours beginning December 4 to help you prepare for Finals week. We know that none of you would wait until the last minute to do your research, but just in case you did and you’re struggling, you can get help from a Librarian 24/7. Come see a librarian at the reference desk in the Learning Commons. During finals week from Monday to Thursday there will be a librarian at the desk from 8am to 9pm, Friday from 8am to 4:45pm, Saturday from 12pm to 4:45pm and on Sunday from 12pm to 5pm. You can also contact us online, via chat or email as well as text messaging, check out our Ask a Librarian page. You can also get help online with our subject and course guides, including a guide for Citing Your Sources.

The Learning Resource Center is located on the 3rd floor of the library in the East wing; they offer tutoring, help with paper writing and citations. Check out their webpage for more information and hours. You’ll want to make sure to call ASAP to make an appointment.

If you just need a place to study, don’t forget that you can reserve group and individual study rooms in the library. You can reserve these rooms in advance online, using our online booking system.

In case you need a break we have special events happening during Finals week. We’ll be handing out pillows all week along with special events like: arts & crafts, board games, a graffiti board and therapy dogs. Check out the flyer for dates and times of these events.

For more suggestions on how to de-stress, check out our Pinterest page for tips on relaxation, motivational memes and cute photos of animals.

Just remember to keep calm and carry on and if you can’t do that, then scream, dance, or shake it out!!! http://youtu.be/WbN0nX61rIs

-Laurie Borchard

Research Therapy: Finding Images Online

finding images infographicUsing images can greatly enhance your research paper, poster, or presentation.  However it can be confusing to know exactly where to find images and if you need permission to legally use it.

Please note that the use of images found in print or online may be protected by copyright. Some require permission under certain circumstances, and some may even cost a fee. To be safe always attribute the source of the image.

A great starting point to learn more about this topic is the Finding and Using Images guide. It has been created for the purpose of helping you find and use images for educational purposes. Here you will find information to understand resources available to help find images using websites and library databases, copyright information, and how to cite images in MLA and APA format:

Watch this video to learn more about Creative Commons licenses and where/how to search for these types of images within search engines such as Google Image, Flickr, and Wikimedia Commons.  – Jamie Johnson

Research Therapy: Online Privacy in a Big Data World

It is important to think about where your information comes from and how it is presented to you as well as knowing what you can do to protect your privacy. These days it is next to impossible to function without providing some amount of personal information online. Although it might seem futile to worry about online privacy, there are ways to protect yourself by using the tools that are available to help block organizations from collecting your information and by critically thinking about the information you are being asked to give up online. This session of Research Therapy discusses who is collecting your information, ways to monitor the information about you that ends up online, and what you can do to protect your privacy.

Research Therapy video

Of course, free websites or internet browsers such as Google Chrome have to make money somehow. You might already know about cookies and other tracking devices that are used to collect your information and search habits to sell to advertisers. But your online habits shape more than the ad space on social media sites. In the Ted Talk below, Eli Pariser describes what he calls the Filter Bubble– where most of your online activity is shaped by what you have done in the past.

Filter Bubbles talk video

Even though cookies and online tracking do give you the convenience of not having to remember all your passwords, and allowing for easier use of the websites you use most often, there are times when you might want to take advantage of your privacy options. For example, if you are on a public computer such as the ones on campus. Below are some privacy tips you can use while using certain internet browsers or websites.

How to Turn on Private Browsing in Internet Browsers:

Google Chrome

Menu> New Incognito Window (or Ctrl + Shift + N)

Chrome privacy settings

Safari

Apple: Safari> Private Browsing

Safari privacy settings

PC: Settings>Private Browsing

PC privacy settings

Firefox

Menu>New Private Window (or Ctrl + Shift + P)

Firefox privacy settings

Right click on a link> Open Link in New Private Window

Right click on link

Internet Explorer

Settings> Safety> InPrivate Browsing (or Ctrl + Shift + P)

IE privacy settings

Settings>Internet Options> Privacy>Low, Medium, High

Internet options

IE privacy options

Stop Facebook From Tracking You:

Disable Facebook tracking with the free Facebook Disconnect App:

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/facebook-disconnect/ejpepffjfmamnambagiibghpglaidiec

Lifehacker’s Always Up To Date Guide to Managing Your Facebook Privacy:

http://lifehacker.com/5813990/the-always-up-to-date-guide-to-managing-your-facebook-privacy

 

Check Yourself Out Online

Note: these sites may also request fees for their services.

 

pipl

 

 

https://pipl.com/

 

spokeo

 

http://www.spokeo.com/

 

webmii

 

 

http://webmii.com/

 

URLs from the video:

 Google Alerts:

https://www.google.com/alerts

Google’s Manage Your Online Reputation:

https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/1228138?hl=en

 Infographic: How Employers Use Social Media to Hire and Fire (The Atlantic):

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/08/infographic-how-employers-use-social-media-to-hire-and-fire/243599/

 Pew Research Internet Project: Reputation Management and Social Media:

http://www.pewinternet.org/2010/05/26/reputation-management-and-social-media/

 WikiHow’s Disable Cookies Tutorial:

http://www.wikihow.com/Disable-Cookies

- Anna Fidgeon

Open Access Week 2014: A State of the Movement Address

“When the world is running down…”

Lately in library-land there’s been quite a lot of belt-tightening as stagnant budgets are confronted with rising journal and database subscription costs. Although libraries are reaching more people with more content than ever before, the feeling is that this is fiscally unsustainable. Cracks have appeared in the current “big deal” agreements – much like the bundles cable consumers are offered – libraries have entered into with large aggregate database publishers. As a result, libraries have had to cut subscriptions to journals and whole databases. Even Harvard, one of the best-funded universities in the United States, in 2012 publicly decried the situation and has felt the need to weigh in on the rising costs.

open access logo

The internet itself has been a boon and a bane — a disruption-slash-copy machine — that provides new models while destroying old ones and places a strain on a copyright law that is woefully behind the times.

Traditional industries that dealt primarily with the amalgam of content and containers – i.e. print book and print journal publishers, music producers and distributors (mostly as LPs, CDs, and cassettes), film producers and distributors (mostly as features, VHS, and DVDs), have all altered their business models as new digital media have decoupled the content from the container. The result is e-books, PDFs, mp3s, and various online streaming services that now dominate the web in terms of popularity as well as actual volume of data transferred.

Yet this decoupling of content and container is a double-edged sword as well. The journal publishers were the first to truly test this model of decoupling content and container through the online journal databases that were developed in the 1990s and 2000s. This experiment in removing the container has resulted in both widespread distribution (for subscribers) and widespread content restriction. Restriction has occurred in various ways, including the curtailing of readers rights (i.e. pay per view), copyrights (i.e. publishers assume control of the author’s rights), posting rights (authors can’t publish their drafts), and the like. The irony is that we are often looking upon a feast that’s stuck behind glass walls.

Additionally, to ensure the necessary scarcity, publishers have taken hardline stances on the continual ownership of scholarly output, even if it is long out of date. The result of the uneven relationship between scholars and publishers has been the large-scale transferal of intellectual property from individual scholars and the tax-paying users who ultimately fund their universities into the hands of specific private enterprises. This transfer occurs at the expense of the public good and the original intent of copyright law as written in the US Constitution, which is “to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”

Open access provides a much-needed antidote to these developments. While copyright law provides the necessary protections for creators, its overall history of expansion shows instead that distributors gain the most from longer and stricter copyright regulations and enforcement.

As Paul Heald has demonstrated in his studies, the hole in our culture has also provided us with a world that may be running down in terms of an individual’s ability to create new works and access fairly recently published ones. More works in various editions are available from 1914 than are available from 1964. We are now a society that denies itself access to its own culture. Open access may be one of the few avenues left to reclaim it especially while the public domain remains frozen for the next several years. Shamefully, no new works will enter the public domain in the United States until 2019.

“…You make the best of what’s still around”

California contributes to the OA Movement

The state of California has helped to lead the way in the open access movement for the past several years. The most recent development in open access occurred just a few weeks ago. The California legislature passed Assembly Bill 609 entitled the California Taxpayer access to publicly funded research Legislation. This bill stipulates requires that any published research funded by the California Department of Public Health be available to the public within 12 months of its publication.

Open access has become adopted widely across the California higher education system as well. The CSU Council Of Library Directors recently provided their public support for AB 609 http://libraries.calstate.edu/open-access/.

Additionally, the entire University of California system in the summer of 2013 agreed to a system-wide open access mandate that requires UC faculty to submit open access versions of their works into the UC’s institutional repository.

Closer to home, CSUN’s president Dianne Harrison in August 2013 became a signatory to the Berlin Declaration on Open Access, an international agreement among numerous European and American Universities and organizations. Later, in November 2013, CSUN’s faculty senate passed a resolution (PDF) recommending CSUN faculty to publish their scholarship in open access. Though this is purely an opt-in (i.e. voluntary) approach to open access, nearly 70 faculty members at CSUN have already agreed to have their scholarship submitted to CSUN ScholarWorks Open Access Repository (SOAR). While there are approximately 850 full-time, tenured or tenure track faculty at CSUN, we believe this represents a good first step toward increased participation.

Open Access week (10/20-10/26/2014, everywhere!) & the first CSUN Open Access Award

To help foster greater participation in open access the Oviatt library is also proud to announce its very first Open Access Award. The presentation will be held on October 23, 2014, and will be awarded to Professor Susan Auerbach for her work in helping to pass the CSUN resolution. We also have a special guest speaker from the Public Library of Science (PLOS), Donna Okubo, who will provide information on the open access movement, OA publishing, and her role in guiding the supporting coalitions for AB 609.

bird with the word soar

Where we go from here: “SOAR with us.”

The ScholarWorks Open Access Repository (SOAR) is dedicated to improving access to CSUN-related scholarship by attempting to remove the price and access barriers to academic publishing. There are multiple ways in which the movement is branching out toward increased open access. The first is recruiting content from the creators themselves: the faculty. SOAR’s Scholar Spotlight program focuses on the scholarship created by CSUN faculty. Our staff examine faculty CVs to determine if a publication can be added into ScholarWorks. Once we receive the proper clearance, copies of a work are deposited into SOAR. The faculty profile collections permanent links to the works provide a solid digital preservation as well as ensure perpetual access.

CSUN Open Access Journals

Another significant development is the creation of new scholarship. While the Scholar Spotlight program focuses on past and external work, CSUN Open Journals project focuses on developing new content. New journals and new knowledge are the future for the open access movement. Focusing on the direct open access publication of new works will likely be the best step toward a more sustainable and widespread open access movement.

While it is certainly a goal to make sure that all public-funded and supported scholarships be available to the public, the obstacles are incredibly high. The restriction of rights by the copyright owners – not usually the writer, but often multi-national corporations – remains one of the main obstacles to full open access. Additionally, the agreements that faculty enter into, especially tenure-track faculty with a lot at stake, need to be reevaluated at not only department levels but also at campus-wide and even system-wide levels. This will take much time. However, there is strength in numbers. The more faculty members who are able to assert their rights to retain copyright, the healthier the relationship will become.

All Roads (Gold / Green / Platinum) Lead To OA

Multiple paths lead to open access. The most first and most common has been the Gold road to OA, aka open access journal publishing, which is funded partly by Article Processing Charges (APCs). Most of these charges can be covered through grant funding, especially if a grant funder (such as the NIH, NSF) requires open access publication. There are notable open access journals that are leading the way within specific disciplines. Currently, the so-called “hard sciences” are the leaders in this movement. Several journals and publishers cater to these disciplines. To find more, visit the Directory of Open Access Journals.

So how open is it, really?

For more information about the openness of journals, be sure to examine PLOS’s How Open Is it? Open Access Spectrum (OAS) guide. This examines the various factors that determine a journal’s openness. Some journals which purport to be open access are really just hybrids existing somewhere in between true open access and restricted access.

- Andrew Weiss

Join us for an Open Access Discussion and Award

Open AccessThe Oviatt Library will be hosting an event to discuss Open Access and to present CSUN Professor Susan Auerbach with the very first Oviatt Library Open Access Award on October 23 at 9 a.m. Professor Auerbach has been instrumental in helping to pass the CSUN Faculty Senate Open Access Resolution.

The issue of Open Access is important in that it “allows users to access content in perpetuity without having to worry about whether the works can or can’t be used. Copyright restrictions still will generally apply (i.e. you can’t wholesale copy and paste the work and then try to resell it), but for the sake of academic disciplines, scholars allow their work to be read and re-used. This increases the likelihood of their being cited, and further increases their impact factor.” (Weiss, 2013) For more information about Open Access see The Copyright Conundrum and the Need for Open Access.

We are also very excited to welcome Donna Okubo, Senior Advocacy Manager from the Public Library of Science as our guest speaker at the event. She will be discussing the basics of Open Access, the Public Library of Science and the passing of California State Assembly Bill 609 (concerning Open Access). For more information about the bill see California Open Access Legislation Clears Latest Hurdle.

The event will be held in the Jack and Florence Ferman Presentation Room in the Oviatt Library. Registration and refreshments will begin at 9 a.m. The session will run from 9:30-11:30 a.m. Everyone is welcome (RSVP for the Event). We hope to see you there.

- Coleen Martin

Innovation Sparks Imagination in the New, Student-Funded Creative Media Studio

The Learning Commons’ Creative Media Studio (CMS) opened recently thanks to Campus Quality Fee funding awarded to the Library. The CMS provides students with access to specialized hardware, software and support in order to create videos, digital audio recordings, and robust multimedia projects.

The CMS is fully equipped with a wide range of resources for students, with eight 27” iMac computers, a well outfitted audio recording room, and an extensive software selection including Adobe Master Collection, Final Cut Pro, and Pro Tools. This media studio provides students with a dedicated space to create multimedia, and offers educational programming and assistance in creating digital projects that look and sound professional.

Creative Media Studio Coordinator Sarah Sayeed worked tirelessly with Library staff and faculty, and consulted with other areas of campus during the studio’s planning process. “We started working on the CQF about a year and a half ago. During that time we met with coordinators from the Cinema & Television Arts (CTVA) and Music departments, and toured their facilities to get a better idea of how to model our lab,” Sayeed says. In addition, “Facilities planning was such a huge help in putting this together. It was a seamless experience since we had already worked with them during the Learning Commons renovation.” This coordinated effort helped to integrate the CMS into the ever-evolving Learning Commons. “It feels like a very fluid addition, and on top of that students have already commented on what a positive energy this space has. It feels really fresh and lively, with all the resources to make it a truly dynamic space,” Sayeed added.

Like many areas of the Learning Commons, the CMS boasts highly configurable equipment and furniture, allowing students to create a workspace that is most conducive to their learning and working styles.  Beyond using the space for projects, students are able to check out a wide variety of equipment for four-day loans – which is something Sayeed is quite proud of. “Students can check out everything from cameras and tripods to green screens. After they have finished recording, they can come back to the CMS and use programs such as Final Cut Pro or Pro Tools to edit their content and create complete multimedia presentations,” she says. This allows for a greater range of freedom in how students produce creative content.

The Creative Media Studio is now open on the main floor, west wing. Friendly, knowledgeable staff can assist students with all the available resources to help them create wonderful, new, original content. All students on campus are invited to come to the Oviatt Library’s Creative Media Studio and “Get Creative!”

- David Morck     dmorck@csun.edu

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2014 Library E-News. For more information about the Oviatt Library please visit http://library.csun.edu/eNews.

Banned Books Read-Out with Pizza

mom have you seen my leather pants book coverThe Oviatt Library is hosting a Banned Books Week Read-Out on Wednesday, September 24 from 4-6 p.m. Pizza and refreshments will be served. CSUN students will be reading passages from banned books celebrating the freedom to read. We are also excited to have author Craig A. Williams join us as he will be reading banned book passages and from his novel Mom have you seen my leather pants? Please join us in the AS/RS Viewing Room, east wing of the Learning Commons for this fun event.
Why is Banned Books Week Celebrated?
Banned Books Week takes place every year in late September and reminds us all of our freedom to choose what we read. Librarians, professors, teachers, students and community members who participate in Banned Books Week activities, such as our Read-Out on the 24th, draw attention to the harm of removing or restricting books through censorship. Books that have been banned in the past are many and include the Harry Potter series, the Twilight series, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Color Purple to name a few. Fortunately most books that have been banned at some point are still available. The Banned Books Week Read-Out on Wednesday, September 24 provides us all with an opportunity to join together and highlight our freedom to read.

Bookmark Artwork Contest at the Oviatt

ALA banned books week imageWelcome to the 2014 fall semester, Matadors! We are happy to see you and hope to provide you with assistance as you acclimate to the new school year. Oviatt librarians are available at our Reference Desk almost every hour we are open. Feel free to stop by; say hello; and get informational support.

We also are planning several fun activities at the Library during the upcoming weeks. The Cited at the Oviatt blog will continue to post about these events so stay tuned for information about an event in late September. However, this week we begin a Banned Books themed Bookmark Artwork Contest that will run until September 10. Current CSUN students have the opportunity to design a one-sided bookmark with a banned books theme. The winner’s design will be printed into bookmarks we will distribute later in September. Submission and guidelines details are listed below. We look forward to receiving your designs!

Rules & Submission Process for Banned Books Week artwork contest:

  • All contest entries to be considered must be submitted by noon, Wednesday, September 10, 2014.
  • Submissions will be accepted from currently enrolled CSUN students only.
  • Submissions will be accepted through an online submission form:
    http://form.jotform.us/form/42196656789171
  • Students may enter up to five submissions.
  • Artwork must have some kind of Banned/Censored books theme.
  • Artwork submitted in a format other than the required file types listed on the online submission form will not be considered.
  • Artwork submitted must be at least 300 DPI.
  • Students agree to allow editing of their artwork to fit on bookmark if necessary.
  • Should no submissions be received, no bookmarks will be printed.
  • Winner will be selected by Oviatt Library Outreach Committee.
  • The Oviatt Library Outreach Committee reserves the right to not select a winner.
  • Winner will be confirmed as a CSUN student.
  • Winner will be contacted by the Oviatt Library Outreach Committee.
  • Ten bookmarks will be set aside to be given to the winner.

A photo will be taken of the winning student with his or her bookmark for the Library blog and may be used digitally and in print for promotional purposes.

Contest questions can be addressed to: annaliese.fidgeon@csun.edu

- Coleen Martin

CSUN Student and Faculty Orientations Prepare for Fall Semester

Oviatt LibraryWith the fall semester quickly approaching the campus is abuzz with orientations that support new CSUN students and faculty. Many staff, faculty members and campus departments have collaborated for these events and the Library is playing a part within these activities as well. On most weekdays during August, you will be able to find a librarian or two at the New Student Orientation Resource Fairs hosted by the Office of Student Involvement and Development. Held at the Matador Bookstore Complex between noon and 1 p.m. on many weekdays through August 22, these booths provide new students with the opportunity to find out about Library resources and services. Many students stop by our booths and learn about the Library’s online resources; in-person and virtual librarian research support; computer availability and group study room access and reservations system. Sometimes students simply pick up our Library fall hours schedule. Please stop by our booths and say hello and feel free to ask us a question.

The campus New Faculty Orientation, hosted by Faculty Development, will be taking place on Wednesday, August 20 and Thursday, August 21 in the Oviatt Library’s Jack and Florence Ferman Presentation Room. During these two days new CSUN faculty will be welcomed and introduced to many campus departments and resources and services to support their smooth transition into the fall semester and within the CSUN campus community. The Oviatt Library is pleased to play a role in welcoming new faculty members and CSUN students as well.

- Coleen Martin

Summer Reading

There’s still time left this summer to enjoy some good reading. Whether you are looking for a true beach read that places you in the midst of the season and/or a moving story that is timeless we have several recommendations for you. The following are titles we recently enjoyed and thought to share.

the vacationers book coverThe Vacationers: A Novel by Emma Straub

Straub’s second novel (Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, 2012) is contained in the two-week vacation of the extended Post family: Franny and Jim, married over 30 years; their teen daughter, Sylvia; twentysomething son Bobby, his girlfriend, Carmen, in tow; and Franny’s best friend, Charles, and his husband, Lawrence. Trading one grand island for another, the mainly Manhattanites arrive in Mallorca with, of course, a few secrets tucked in their literal baggage—and so begin the games that occur above the plane of the Scrabble board. Jim has suddenly left his beloved magazine job, and not everyone knows the circumstances; Sylvia’s excitement to get to Brown might have more to do with leaving home; Carmen wishes Bobby would ask his parents for that favor already; and it’s more than work e-mails keeping Lawrence searching for a Wi-Fi signal. Straub masters a constantly changing flow of perspectives as readers wonder who will forgive and be forgiven in this sun-soaked, remote paradise. Spongy and dear, sharply observed and funny, Straub’s domestic-drama-goes-abroad is a delightful study of the complexities of family and love, and the many distractions from both. -Annie Bostrom, Booklist. Recommended by librarian Lindsay Hansen

mr. loverman book coverMr. Loverman by Bernardine Evaristo

Barrington Walker is a 74-year-old transplanted Antiguan living in Hackney, London, and wrestling with a late-life crisis. For more than 20 years, he has pondered leaving his profoundly unhappy wife, Carmel, for his lover and childhood friend, Morris de la Roux. Barry is a dapper dresser, lover of Shakespeare, wise investor, and shrewd observer of the human condition. But he is unable to reconcile his own inner conflicts and come to account for what his actions and inactions have cost his wife and his lover. Can he do it this time, with his daughters more than grown up? Carmel herself is obviously dissatisfied with the marriage, giving Barry an ultimatum as she journeys back to Antigua to see her dying father. She is fed up with his weekends of drinking and carousing with, she thinks, women. He is fed up with her clutch of churchy, judgmental friends so critical of him. In this vibrant novel, Evaristo draws wonderful character portraits of complex individuals as well as the West Indian immigrant culture in Britain. -Vanessa Bush, Booklist. Recommended by librarian Anna Fidgeon.

my real children book coverMy Real Children by Jo Walton

It’s 2015, and Patricia Cowan is very old. “Confused today,” read the notes clipped to the end of her bed. She forgets things she should know — what year it is, major events in the lives of her children. But she remembers things that don’t seem possible. She remembers marrying Mark and having four children. And she remembers not marrying Mark and raising three children with Bee instead. She remembers the bomb that killed President Kennedy in 1963, and she remembers Kennedy in 1964, declining to run again after the nuclear exchange that took out Miami and Kiev.

Her childhood, her years at Oxford during the Second World War — those were solid things. But after that, did she marry Mark or not? Did her friends all call her Trish, or Pat? Had she been a housewife who escaped a terrible marriage after her children were grown, or a successful travel writer with homes in Britain and Italy? And the moon outside her window: does it host a benign research station, or a command post bristling with nuclear missiles?

Two lives, two worlds, two versions of modern history; each with their loves and losses, their sorrows and triumphs. Jo Walton’s My Real Children is the tale of both of Patricia Cowan’s lives… and of how every life means the entire world.​ – Publisher description. Recommended by librarian Anna Fidgeon.

boys in the boat book coverThe Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

If Jesse Owens is rightfully the most famous American athlete of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, repudiating Adolf Hitler’s notion of white supremacy by winning gold in four events, the gold-medal-winning effort by the eight-man rowing team from the University of Washington remains a remarkable story. It encompasses the convergence of transcendent British boatmaker George Pocock; the quiet yet deadly effective UW men’s varsity coach, Al Ulbrickson; and an unlikely gaggle of young rowers who would shine as freshmen, then grow up together, a rough-and-tumble bunch, writes Brown, not very worldly, but earnest and used to hard work. Brown (Under a Flaming Sky, 2006) takes enough time to profile the principals in this story while using the 1936 games and Hitler’s heavy financial and political investment in them to pull the narrative along. In doing so, he offers a vivid picture of the socioeconomic landscape of 1930s America (brutal), the relentlessly demanding effort required of an Olympic-level rower, the exquisite brainpower and materials that go into making a first-rate boat, and the wiles of a coach who somehow found a way to, first, beat archrival University of California, then conquer a national field of qualifiers, and finally, defeat the best rowing teams in the world. A book that informs as it inspires. –Alan Moores, Booklist. Recommended by librarian Lindsay Hansen

secret daughter book coverSecret Daughter: A Novel by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

In her engaging debut, Gowda weaves together two compelling stories. In India in 1984, destitute Kavita secretly carries her newborn daughter to an orphanage, knowing her husband, Jasu, would do away with the baby just as he had with their firstborn daughter. In their social stratum, girls are considered worthless because they can’t perform physical labor, and their dowries are exorbitant. That same year in San Francisco, two doctors, Somer and Krishnan, she from San Diego, he from Bombay, suffer their second miscarriage and consider adoption. They adopt Asha, a 10-month-old Indian girl from a Bombay orphanage. Yes, it’s Kavita’s daughter. In alternating chapters, Gowda traces Asha’s life in America—her struggle being a minority, despite living a charmed life, and Kavita and Jasu’s hardships, including several years spent in Dharavi, Bombay’s (now Mumbai’s) infamous slum, and the realization that their son has turned to drugs. Gowda writes with compassion and uncanny perception from the points of view of Kavita, Somer, and Asha, while portraying the vibrant traditions, sights, and sounds of modern India. -Deborah Donovan, Booklist. Recommended by librarian Coleen Martin.

empty mansions book coverEmpty Mansions by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell Jr.

What goes on behind closed doors, especially when those doors are of the gilded variety, has fascinated novelists and journalists for centuries. The private lives of the rich and famous are so tantalizing that Robin Leach made a career out of showcasing them. One of the biggest eccentric, rich fishes out there was Huguette Clark. Deceased for more than two years, Clark, brought to life by investigator Dedman and Clark’s descendant, Newell, owned nouveau riche palaces in New York, Connecticut, and California. An heiress, Clark disappeared from public view in the 1920s. What happened to her and her vast wealth? Answering this question is the book’s mission. Based on records and the hearsay of relations and former employees, the book pieces together Clark’s life, that of a woman rumored to be institutionalized while her mansions stood empty, though immaculately maintained throughout her life. Clark left few clues about herself, but she willed vast sums to her caretakers and numerous charitable endeavors. Still, her absence acts as a shade to seeing her fully, hinting at possible financial malfeasance, all the while conspiring to produce a spellbinding mystery. – James Orbesen, Booklist. Recommended by librarian Lindsay Hansen.

raising my rainbow book coverRaising my Rainbow by Lori Duron

In her first book, Duron comes out of the mommy blog closet with an optimistic and delightful memoir of her family’s process of understanding, supporting, and celebrating their gender-creative son, C.J., who prefers Barbies to trucks and princesses to pirates. The story of the phenomenal growth that this mother exhibits as she tries to do what she thinks is best—steering C.J. toward gender-neutral toys, navigating ever-changing rules about what is okay for him to wear in public—is humorous and light, even when the issues involved are heavy. Duron employs a range of resources as she tries to understand her son and how best to parent him, including speaking to her gay brother and his transgendered friend, finding LGBTQ resources on the Internet, and discovering peers when she begins publishing a blog about C.J. (RaisingMyRainbow.com). In Duron’s story, parents will find support for a love them, not change them style of parenting, optimism about the outcomes for their gender-creative children, sympathy for the difficulties of parenting, and an affirmation of the appropriateness and necessity for fierce advocacy. Duron’s call for compassion should be heeded by educators, caregivers, and neighbors—an open heart, a desire to listen and learn, and a willingness to accommodate go a long way in doing well by someone who differs from your expectations. – Publishers Weekly. Recommended by librarian Anna Fidgeon.

unsweetined book coverUnsweetined by Jodie Sweetin

. . . In this deeply personal, utterly raw, and ultimately inspiring memoir, Jodie comes clean about the double life she led—the crippling identity crisis, the hidden anguish of juggling a regular childhood with her Hollywood life, and the vicious cycle of abuse and recovery that led to a relapse even as she wrote this book. Finally, becoming a mother gave her the determination and the courage to get sober. With resilience, charm, and humor, she writes candidly about taking each day at a time. Hers is not a story of success or defeat, but of facing your demons, finding yourself, and telling the whole truth—unSweetined. – Publisher description. Recommended by librarian Anna Fidgeon

stiff book coverStiff by Mary Roach

“Uproariously funny” doesn’t seem a likely description for a book on cadavers. However, Roach, a Salon and Reader’s Digest columnist, has done the nearly impossible and written a book as informative and respectful as it is irreverent and witty. From her opening lines (“The way I see it, being dead is not terribly far off from being on a cruise ship. Most of your time is spent lying on your back”), it is clear that she’s taking a unique approach to issues surrounding death. Roach delves into the many productive uses to which cadavers have been put, from medical experimentation to applications in transportation safety research (in a chapter archly called “Dead Man Driving”) to work by forensic scientists quantifying rates of decay under a wide array of bizarre circumstances. There are also chapters on cannibalism, including an aside on dumplings allegedly filled with human remains from a Chinese crematorium, methods of disposal (burial, cremation, composting) and “beating-heart” cadavers used in organ transplants. Roach has a fabulous eye and a wonderful voice as she describes such macabre situations as a plastic surgery seminar with doctors practicing face-lifts on decapitated human heads and her trip to China in search of the cannibalistic dumpling makers. Even Roach’s digressions and footnotes are captivating, helping to make the book impossible to put down. – Publishers Weekly. Recommended by librarian Anna Fidgeon.