Rising Star Creative Writing Competition Awards

October 29, 2008

Come to the Rising Star Creative Writing Competition Awards on Wednesday, November 5, 2008 and join The Nature of Words in recognizing the winners of this year’s competition for high school- and college-age writers. The event will take place in the Central Oregon Community College Library, West Reading Room, starting at 7:00 p.m. and is free to the public. Enjoy readings by the 2008 winners and award presentations by the judge in each category. A reception will follow the awards presentation. A chapbook (anthology) of the winning entries will be available for purchase to commemorate the occasion. Winning entries were selected from 100 submissions received from throughout Oregon, Idaho and Washington.

You will also have an opportunity to meet this year’s judges – all accomplished writers in their own right. They are Neil Browne, Associate Professor of English at Oregon State University-Cascades (literary non-fiction); Tracy Daugherty, Distinguished Professor of English and Creative Writing at Oregon State University (fiction); and George Venn, Poet, writer, literary historian, editor, linguist, and educator (poetry).

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Going Green

October 28, 2008

(This post is written by Bev Adler, COCC Government Documents Librarian)

There is a growing interest in our environment and COCC wants to help!  Within our Government Information links, you’ll find a section dealing with Ecology and valuable links provided for easy student and patron access.  One can locate this information from the Barber Library Homepage by selecting Government Info listed below Research Tools, on the bottom left side of the page:

Earth 911: Lots of “Green” information

DES: Deptartment of Environment Services, New Hampshire; Waste Management

ECD: Energy Citations Database.  Provides access to historical and current research (1948 to the present) from the Department of Energy (DOE)

EPA: Environmental Protection Agency

Fuel Economy.gov

Union of Concerned Scientists: Lots of information on all types of environmental concerns, from global warming to food to security, etc. 


Get the numbers!

October 21, 2008

My last blog posting on Oct 14 talked about a web site, WorldPublicOpinion.org, where you can find opinion poll numbers refelcting the way people think about the world.  This time I would like to introduce you to a source that gives you the numbers that actually reflect in more objective terms the world we live in! The Statistical Abstract of the United States is a great starting point for all kinds of statistics. This is a publication of the United States Census Bureau and includes a compilation of statistical tables  from different government or other nonprofit organizations on social and economic conditions in the United States.

Here’s how to locate and use this web site:

On the main library web page, under Quick facts: Encyclopedias, stats, etc., select Statistics & Polls. Click on the link, Statistical Abstract of the United States.

On the main page of the web site, note how the publication is organized by Sections that you may browse (see panel to the left).  Browsing the different sections may be interesting, even enteraining as you look at what these tables reflect.  However, if you are searching for specific statistics on a specific topic, go ahead and use the “Search the Abstract” feature which should lead you to the right table.

Do you want to find out how the prices of cars have changed through the years?  Or are you wandering how many TV sets on average exist in U.S. households these days?  The Statistical Abstract gives you a great way to observe historical changes and current trends on a wide variety of topics.


Word Cafe 16 – Tools of the Trade

October 16, 2008

The Word Café, an interactive reading series, will meet October 23 at 7 PM in the Barber Library.  The series began in 2005 and has formed a strong tradition of hosting guest authors and encouraging student and community writers. The October 23 Word Café will mark the 17th installment of the popular series, with featured readings by Katie Brauns, John Martin, c. vance, and Kim Cooper Findling.  Get all the information at www.cocc.edu Calendar.


Checking the world’s pulse

October 14, 2008

Here is a great web site that gives you a view of public opinion around the globe!  WorldPublicOpinion.org gathers polling research results from all parts of the world and provides updates of public opinion on a variety of international policy issues.  While a good number of the survey findings are gathered by WorldPublicOpinion.org itself, the website also draws a lot of its data from a wide variety of sources around the world. Some examples of the topics explored include war and peace, human rights, climate change, views about different nations, etc.  

WorldPublicOpinion.org is published by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA), a non-profit research program affiliated with the University of Maryland, College Park.  According to the website itself, WoldPublicOpinion.org strives for a non-partisan point of view with content “dedicated to objective analysis of public opinion on international policy issues. ”

Note that you may explore this web site browsing “by region” or “by issue.”  Give it a try!


Don’t wait – vote in 2008!

October 7, 2008

The deadline to register to vote in the presidential election is October 14 for Oregon residents. Not sure if you’re registered yet? Visit the Oregon Secretary of State Elections Division site and use the handy search tool to find out if you’re registered. If you aren’t registered, you can print a voter registration form and return it by mail or in person to the county elections office.

Once you’re registered to vote, you have to make the decision of whom to vote for.

You can visit the official websites of the candidates who will appear on the Oregon ballot:

Democratic candidate – Barack Obama

Republican candidate – John McCain

Green Party candidate – Cynthia McKinney

Peace Party candidate – Ralph Nader

Some news organizations have put together websites that gather their coverage of the campaigns in one place and will help you figure out which presidential candidate is best for you. Both CNN and MSN have excellent websites that are full of information about the candidates, the debates, and the election process. Each site also has convenient, issue-specific election guides that let you compare the candidates. MSN’s is called “Where They Stand” and CNN’s is simply called “Issues.”

Selectsmart.com and votehelp.org are sites that will ask you a series of questions about your stance on issues and how important each issue is to you. They then use your answers and priorities to match you with the best candidate. While both sites are non-partisan (meaning the site itself doesn’t endorse a particular party or candidate), selectsmart.com is a commercial site, which means the results of your questionnaire will be accompanied by ads (just click “skip” to get through them).

If you want the facts on the statements that candidates make in their speeches, debates, or commercials, check out FactCheck.org or PolitiFact.com’s Truth-o-Meter. FactCheck.org is especially helpful because it checks the facts on commercials put out by non-campaign affiliated groups (like MoveOn.org) as well. You can even sign up for emails or a RSS feed to get the latest in presidential campaign fact checking.

Oregon ballots are mailed out 14-18 days prior to the election and have to be returned by 8 PM on November 4. Whomever you vote for, make sure your ballot is in by the deadline!


Time to Read a Bad Book

October 2, 2008

Imagine this scenario:  You walk up to your college librarian and say, “I’d like to find *Bleep*!  Bleep?!!

September 27-October 4 is the 27th annual American Library Association Banned Book Week Celebration.  What the heck are we celebrating?  The freedom to read, the freedom to view, the freedom to exercise our first amendment rights by making our own choices about what we and our children take home from our school, public and academic libraries.  So come in and checkout a banned book & get your free, bright yellow I Read Banned Books Button!

Why do people want to ban or challenge books? On the basis of sex, of course, particularly if it’s sex education or gay sex.  violence, graphic language, or religion.  But you might be surprised that J. K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books, is one of the most challenged authors of the last decade.  Why?  Witchcraft.  Seriously.   OK, but Where’s Waldo? There are hundreds of teeny tiny characters in the Waldo books and in one there is a beach scene with a topless sunbather.  Once the scandalous word got out kids (& adults) spent hours & hours trying to find her but she proved even more elusive than Waldo himself.

It isn’t enough for the people who disapprove of these books to refrain from reading them:  They don’t want any of us to read them  — they think they might damage us.  They want to protect our children.  They are doing it for our own good.

These examples may seem silly but the troubling truth is they occur with alarming frequency.  The many adult books that have been challenged or banned include Grapes of Wrath, Catcher in the Rye, The Color Purple, The Handmaid’s Tale, Song of Solomon, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Next, & I know Why the Caged Bird Sings.  Check out the American Library Association’s Frequently Challenged Books page to see other titles.

Librarians are committed to offering diversity of opinion and perspective in library collections.  In the digital world in particular it has become easy to associate only with those who agree with us and to read only what we want to know.   This can become a problem when we mistake it for reality.  We live in a country of varied beliefs and cultures and in a world where many live lives vastly differnt than our own.  Letting new knowlege past our filters may bring change, often a scary proposition.  With uncensored public access to information we maintain our right to have that choice.