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Mark LesterToday “marks” the end of an era at the SDSU Library. For the last 30 years, Mark Lester has been a fixture (albeit a mobile fixture) in this library. He began his tenure here as a student assistant in the 1970s and has served in many staff positions since, his last being director, access, administrative operations and communication. Today is his last day of full-time employment at the library. It’s a day many of us thought we’d never see, as Mark’s dedication to the library is legendary. He loathes even taking sick days…I’ve seen him at his desk suffering from the flu or a bad cold on many occasions.

True to form, Mark plans to ease into retirement; after Easter, he will return on a part-time basis to oversee the library’s administrative functions. I’m glad. Mark probably knows more about this library than anyone else…its history, its people, its functions, and its mission. The absence of that much knowledge would create quite a void. And personally, I’m pleased that we’ll see him several times a week. I would miss his sense of humor, his penchant for bad puns, and his kind words. (I’m hoping he’ll miss the pranks I’ve pulled on him a little!) So here on this blog, it’s Mark Lester Day…a day for fond memories of Mark, a day to celebrate his many achievements, and a day to wish him well in his upcoming post-library life!

More about Mark

From the folks in Reference Services:

SDSU is currently switching from the client-based SciFinder Scholar to the Web-based SciFinder Web. This means that you will no longer need to download and install special software to access SciFinder. However you will need to go through a registration process to begin using the new SciFinder Web. Concurrent access to both interfaces will occur until June 11, 2010. On June 11 the client software will no longer be able to access SciFinder.

The registration process requires you to have an SDSU e-mail address (any address that includes sdsu.edu will suffice). If you do not have an SDSU address, students can set one up using the WebPortal; faculty and staff need to go to the ETS Help Desk in the Love Library Student Computing Center.

Once you have a SDSU e-mail account, you can begin the registration process at http://infodome.sdsu.edu.libproxy.sdsu.edu/research/scifinderscholar.shtml. This page also contains information on the additional features available in SciFinder Web. Information on training and documentation for SciFinder is available at http://infoguides.sdsu.edu/sub2.php?id=15&pg=223.

As before, there is a limit of 2 users, so off-campus access is not available. If you have any questions about SciFinder Web or the transition, please contact Anne Turhollow (Life Sciences Librarian and SDSU’s key contact for SciFinder); contact information is at http://infoguides.sdsu.edu/people/ppl.php?id=22.

Carolyn ForcheI’ll admit that I don’t know a lot about poetry or who currently is considered a titan among poets. However, there’s a lot of folks here at the SDSU Library who are well versed in this field, and they’re pretty excited about the poet who’s going to speak at the library in a couple of weeks.

Carolyn Forche—known as a “poet of witness”—will share her work and her experiences on Tuesday, April 13, at 5:30 p.m. in Room LA108. She’s the author of four books of poetry: Gathering the Tribes, which received the Yale Younger Poets Award; The Country Between Us, chosen as the Lamont Selection of the Academy of American Poets; The Angel of History, which won the Los Angeles Times Book Award; and Blue Hour, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She has been a human rights activist for 30 years and is currently the Lannan Visiting Professor of Poetry and Professor of English at Georgetown University.

The reading is cosponsored by the Hugh C. Hyde Living Writers Series, the Department of English and Comparative Literature, and the SDSU Library. It’s free, and you don’t need a reservation. Just come prepared to be enlightened!

More information about Carolyn Forche:

University of Illinois, Department of English
Poetry Foundation
Blue Flower Arts

Old circulation desk
This is the Circulation Desk of the “Old Library” (now Hardy Tower) in the late 1930s. (Photo courtesy of Special Collections and University Archives)

Circulation Desk, 2010
The front desk of the Circulation and Course Reserves Department, SDSU Library, in 2010.

Aztlan Island in Second LifeYesterday, President Stephen Weber and his avatar (magically controlled by SDSU librarian Pam Jackson) officially cut the ribbon to Aztlan Island, SDSU’s virtual world presence in Second Life.
According to SDSU’s News Center, the Second Life campus “will be used as a virtual learning commons for individual students, faculty members and student-centered organizations to engage in 21st-century world-building and research activities.” (For a thorough and eloquent explanation of Second Life and Aztlan Island, visit the Aztlan Island, SDSU in Second Life Wiki.)

According to Pam, a number of exciting projects currently are in progress:

1. Two students in David Morong’s Theater 596 class in Television, Film and New Media created the 3D models of the Dome, Scripps Cottage and Hepner Hall that can be explored on the island.

2. Two students in Tina Yapelli’s ART 491 class, Gallery Exhibit Design, are creating their spring 2010 capstone project–a scaled art gallery exhibit–in Second Life instead of constructing a 2D floorplan by hand as the assignment has traditionally been done.

3. Sabine Reljic, doctoral student in the SDSU/USD joint doctoral program, defended her dissertation on the Island on March 2, 2010. The title is “The Effects of Instructor Immediacy in Second Life, An Immersive and Interactive 3D Virtual Environment.”

4. Art student Julios Santos is in the process of building a replica of SDSU’s Art South building on Aztlan Island’s.

5. Professor Amy Schmitz Weiss, from the School of Journalism and Media Studies, has created an experiential learning simulation for disaster response journalism in Second Life. Students meet “in world” to learn how to cover a disaster and then enter two simulations (one flooded community and one community hit by a health pandemic) to immerse themselves in a virtual crisis situation. Available in both Spanish and English, her project is currently located on Eduisland 4 but may be moving to Aztlan soon.

Really, you should take a look at Aztlan Island. A lot of people have put much thought, energy, and creativity into this project. I think you’ll be impressed.

News coverage of Aztlan Island:

Channel 6, San Diego (be sure to click on the video in the upper right-hand corner!)

…that the Student Computing Center has 286 PCs and 26 Macs? That they’ll help you set up a ROHAN account? That their Website has tons of useful information and tips? Check it out!

Sid FleischmanThe SDSU Library lost a friend on March 17. One day after his 90th birthday, Sid Fleischman—SDSU alumnus and prolific children’s book author—died at his home in Santa Monica, California.

Fleischman grew up in San Diego and graduated from SDSU in 1949. He worked as a magician, served in the U.S. Naval Reserve, and was a reporter for the San Diego Daily Journal until it ceased publication in 1950. He originally entered the world of writing as a screenwriter, penning the scripts for such movies as Blood Alley, Goodbye, My Lady, and Deadly Companions.

Mr. Mysterious & Company was Fleischman’s first children’s book, published in 1962. More than 35 books followed, including The Whipping Boy, for which he won the coveted Newbery Medal. Recently, he published The Trouble Begins at 8: A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild West. Sir Charlie Chaplin, the Funniest Man in the World, will be out later this year.

Fleischman remained close to SDSU. He donated many copies of his books and some of his manuscripts to the library. In 2004, he was a recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award, or Monty Award. His play Prince Brat and the Whipping Boy was presented during the SDSU Theatre Department’s 2004 Theatre of the World Festival, and Fleischman visited the library during that time for a book signing and magic show.

We will miss you, Sid Fleischman. You brought a lot of magic, joy, and good reading into the world.

Additional resources on Sid Fleischman:

The Dome Newsletter
School Library Journal
Sid Fleischman’s Official Website

Shelley Fisher FishkinHere’s an opportunity you don’t want to miss: Shelley Fisher Fishkin will be at the SDSU Library next Tuesday (March 23) to kick off the library’s “The Adventures of Mark Twain: A Centenary Celebration.” She’s going to discuss “Mark Twain: Ambassador at Large” at 3:30 p.m. in Room LL430, and it’s free. No reservations required.

You couldn’t ask for a better authority on Mark Twain. Fishkin is the director of the American Studies Program at Stanford University, where she also teaches courses on Mark Twain. She is the author and editor of many books on Twain, including Lighting Out for the Territory: Reflections on Mark Twain and American Culture (1997), Mark Twain’s Book of Animals (2009), and The Mark Twain Anthology: Great Writers on His Life and Works (2010). Her research has been featured twice on the front page of the New York Times, and in 2009 she was awarded the Mark Twain Circle’s Certificate of Merit “for long and distinguished service in the elucidation of the work, thought, life and art of Mark Twain.”

Sounds good, doesn’t it? I’ll save you a seat up front.

* From Mark Twain’s Autobiography

Occasionally, I see people taking video in the library, and I wonder whatever becomes of their projects. Today I decided to find out, so I visited YouTube. Let me tell you, I learned A LOT about this place! Here’s a sample of what I found:

One of my favorites. I especially liked the jazzy intro.

The infamous “undie run.”

Okay, so we’re a multi-use facility.

Apparently, we’ve got pirate problems.

Wow, I didn’t know we had a karaoke bar!

And we double as a rec center.

But if you want to see some really stellar video on the SDSU Library, visit our YouTube channel: SDSUInfodome. There’s some really good information about library services, instruction, etc. But hey, keep the cameras rolling! I had fun!

Durham Southern BrakemanIf you like trains and/or you’re interested in the African American experience, we’ve got the lecture for you! Theodore Kornweibel, professor emeritus in African American history, is coming to the SDSU Library to talk about his new book, Railroads in the African American Experience. The lecture will be held on Monday, March 22, at 4 p.m. in Room LL430. Aztec Shops will be on hand, providing copies of the book for purchase. Hope you can join us!