Monday, October 31, 2011

Día de los Muertos

What's happening in town?

Books and E-books in the Library

Recipes. "Honor the departed, then offer up champurrado, sugary pan de muerto, tamales, calabacitas and turkey in black mole at your Día de los Muertos celebration." from the LA Times

History of Día de los Muertos:

"When the Spaniards and the Portuguese came to the New World, they brought many traditions. Popular festivals were the best way to transmit national mores. On the other hand, inhabitants of the New World had their own celebrations, different but at the same time similar, that honored their gods. Eventually both traditions blended, creating a hybrid culture that has influenced all popular festivals in the New World. Some festivals appear to be more Iberian in nature than local (Amerindian, African) or vice versa; however, without a doubt these festivals incorporate elements from both traditions. Some ancient popular festivals such as the pre-Christian cult of the dead in northern Europe survived in All Saints’ Day in the Christian tradition. It then migrated to the New World and mixed with Mesoamerican celebrations of the dead, giving birth to the well-known popular celebration of the Day of the Dead. El Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is an important celebration for Mexicans, and the vast majority of people participate yearly. All Saints’ Day or All Souls’ Day exists in most Catholic countries, but its celebration in Greater Mexico (Mexican territory and the Mexican Diaspora) is highly distinct.

In other Catholic countries, there are church services; people visit their dead relatives’ graves, but this is not like Mexican or Central American celebrations. Mexico has its own unique interpretation of this traditional Catholic ceremony because of the fusion of its Spanish and indigenous cultural heritages. The syncretism between the Aztec concept of death in Mesoamerica and Spanish Catholicism gave birth to an exuberant Día de los Muertos celebration. Such a festival takes place every year on November 1 and 2. This celebration honors deceased loved ones. On November 1, the celebration honors the children who passed away. On November 2, Mexicans honor deceased adults. On the Day of the Dead, the souls of the deceased are believed to come back to meet and share food, drinks, and time with their families. From the eye of the casual observer, the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico have more indigenous elements than Christian ones, but close examination confirms that most of the elements are Christian. What makes it different from the All Saints’ Day celebrations in other parts of the Latin America is the essence of the festival.

The Day of the Dead and other popular festivals consist of two distinct spheres: the public and the private. The public sphere celebration takes place in the cemetery. People visit the cemetery; they clean and decorate the graves, and they eat with their relatives. The second element of the celebration is considered a private ritual and includes home altars with ofrendas, or offerings. Everybody, without exception, has a reason for rejoicing because they are honoring the deceased relatives. Ofrendas are used yearly to welcome the souls of relatives who come from the other world. This practice is very important and has been recognized in Mesoamerica since approximately 2000 bc.

The Aztecs believed that all souls went to Mixtlan, the 'paradise of the dead.' They did not have the concept of a hell that caused suffering and pain. For them, the transcendence of the dead did not depend on moral conduct. The Aztecs built ofrendas for the souls of their relatives to ensure that their departed loved ones enjoyed the same things they had appreciated in the world of the living and to make their stay in the afterlife more comfortable. The objects placed in the ofrenda represented the things given by the living to the dead so that they could continue their existence in Mixtlan. It was important that those left behind felt that they were comforting their deceased relatives in every way possible.

When the Spanish arrived in 1521, many of the existing ideas and customs were gradually blended into the calendar of the Catholic Church. After the Spanish conquest, the ofrenda became a mixture of indigenous and Spanish traditions. The fusion of cultural elements appears in the ofrendas presented to the dead. In contemporary Mexico, the ofrendas represent the highest artistic and ideological expression of the people. They contain a large amount of religious symbolism, beliefs, and ordinary customs. Many elements from both indigenous and European traditions are used in this celebration. It is now extremely difficult to distinguish what elements came from Spain and which ones are indigenous to Mexico."

excerpt from:
"Popular Festivals." Iberia and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2005. Credo Reference. Web. 31 October 2011.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Vote for College Book 2012

Faculty, staff, and students can vote for the College Book to be used on campus in spring semester. There will be a student essay contest based on the book, and faculty will be given suggestions for classroom activities, discussion questions, and extra-credit opportunities.

Send your name, ID number if a student, and email address to

Last day to vote will be Wednesday, November 9, 2011.

Questions? Call Diane Gustafson 619-482-6433 or email her at

Four entries will be selected at random, and the winners will each receive a copy of the winning book, no matter how they voted.

Here is information about all four finalists:

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
If you've ever wondered what your dog is thinking, Stein's third novel offers an answer. Enzo is a lab terrier mix plucked from a farm outside Seattle to ride shotgun with race car driver Denny Swift as he pursues success on the track and off. Denny meets and marries Eve, has a daughter, Zoë, and risks his savings and his life to make it on the professional racing circuit. Enzo, frustrated by his inability to speak and his lack of opposable thumbs, watches Denny's old racing videos, coins koanlike aphorisms that apply to both driving and life, and hopes for the day when his life as a dog will be over and he can be reborn a man. When Denny hits an extended rough patch, Enzo remains his most steadfast if silent supporter. Enzo is a reliable companion and a likable enough narrator, though the string of Denny's bad luck stories strains believability. Much like Denny, however, Stein is able to salvage some dignity from the over-the-top drama. Review from Amazon

Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Zusak has created a work that deserves the attention of sophisticated teen and adult readers. Death himself narrates the World War II-era story of Liesel Meminger from the time she is taken, at age nine, to live in Molching, Germany, with a foster family in a working-class neighborhood of tough kids, acid-tongued mothers, and loving fathers who earn their living by the work of their hands. The child arrives having just stolen her first book–although she has not yet learned how to read–and her foster father uses it, The Gravediggers Handbook, to lull her to sleep when she’s roused by regular nightmares about her younger brother’s death. Across the ensuing years of the late 1930s and into the 1940s, Liesel collects more stolen books as well as a peculiar set of friends: the boy Rudy, the Jewish refugee Max, the mayor’s reclusive wife (who has a whole library from which she allows Liesel to steal), and especially her foster parents. Zusak not only creates a mesmerizing and original story but also writes with poetic syntax, causing readers to deliberate over phrases and lines, even as the action impels them forward. Death is not a sentimental storyteller, but he does attend to an array of satisfying details, giving Liesel’s story all the nuances of chance, folly, and fulfilled expectation that it deserves. Review from Amazon

Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel by Jeannette Walls
For the first 10 years of her life, Lily Casey Smith, the narrator of this true-life novel by her granddaughter, Walls, lived in a dirt dugout in west Texas. Walls, whose mega-selling memoir, The Glass Castle, recalled her own upbringing, writes in what she recalls as Lily's plainspoken voice, whose recital provides plenty of drama and suspense as she ricochets from one challenge to another. Having been educated in fits and starts because of her parents' penury, Lily becomes a teacher at age 15 in a remote frontier town she reaches after a solo 28-day ride. Marriage to a bigamist almost saps her spirit, but later she weds a rancher with whom she shares two children and a strain of plucky resilience. (They sell bootleg liquor during Prohibition, hiding the bottles under a baby's crib.) Lily is a spirited heroine, fiercely outspoken against hypocrisy and prejudice, a rodeo rider and fearless breaker of horses, and a ruthless poker player. Assailed by flash floods, tornados and droughts, Lily never gets far from hardscrabble drudgery in several states—New Mexico, Arizona, Illinois—but hers is one of those heartwarming stories about indomitable women that will always find an audience. Review from Amazon

Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
From a single, abbreviated life grew a seemingly immortal line of cells that made some of the most crucial innovations in modern science possible. And from that same life, and those cells, Rebecca Skloot has fashioned in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks a fascinating and moving story of medicine and family, of how life is sustained in laboratories and in memory. Henrietta Lacks was a mother of five in Baltimore, a poor African American migrant from the tobacco farms of Virginia, who died from a cruelly aggressive cancer at the age of 30 in 1951. A sample of her cancerous tissue, taken without her knowledge or consent, as was the custom then, turned out to provide one of the holy grails of mid-century biology: human cells that could survive--even thrive--in the lab. Known as HeLa cells, their stunning potency gave scientists a building block for countless breakthroughs, beginning with the cure for polio. Meanwhile, Henrietta's family continued to live in poverty and frequently poor health, and their discovery decades later of her unknowing contribution--and her cells' strange survival--left them full of pride, anger, and suspicion. For a decade, Skloot doggedly but compassionately gathered the threads of these stories, slowly gaining the trust of the family while helping them learn the truth about Henrietta, and with their aid she tells a rich and haunting story that asks the questions, Who owns our bodies? And who carries our memories? Review from Amazon

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Check it Out

The Metamorphosis of Leadership in a Democratic Mexico, by Roderic Ai Camp. Oxford University Press, 2010.
The Metamorphosis of Leadership in a Democratic Mexico is a broad analysis of Mexico's changing leadership over the past eight decades, stretching from its pre-democratic era (1935-1988), to its democratic transition (1988-2000) to its democratic period (2000-the present).
  • The book represents forty years of study by one of the foremost scholars of Mexican leadership
  • Based on largest, most chronologically extensive, and most complete data base of political leadership of any country
  • Incorporates data and interviews from 3000 politicians from 1935 through 2008
  • The first study of any country that compares, in detail, the composition of national leaders produced by violent versus peaceful change
(Review excerpt from publisher)

The print copy is available for four-week checkout with your SWC photo ID card. To access the e-book version, fill out the password request form or Ask a Librarian for more assistance.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Website of the Week

Project Gutenberg -
Review by Nate Martin, SWC Library Faculty

I've recently started working at the reference desk at National City Public Library and unfortunately I've found my success rate of finding books on the shelf for patrons on the low side. Even when everything looks in order in the online catalog, which is almost impossible for a non librarian library user to navigate, I'm still probably only batting .333 when it comes to actually locating the material.

So I've been trying to find some alternatives and naturally one place to explore is eBooks. I started browsing the eBook sites listed on the SWC library page and Project Gutenberg was one site that I realized I could use both at the Public library and certainly at the desk at SWC.

Some of the eBooks I've shown include plays by Shakespeare, the Bible, Huck Finn, The Republic by Plato, and Great Expectations by Dickens. It's great for English Lit majors. The items are almost all 80 or more years old so don't expect to find the latest best seller or a book about future technology in the library! It's not an overly attractive site but it gets the job done in certain circumstances. Here are some details/highlights:

• Over 36,000 free eBooks available for download to PC, Kindle, Android, etc.

• Almost all the books are out of copyright in the U.S. so the books are not only free of charge but you are also free to do as you like with them. Copy them, pass them on to a friend, distribute to a class, etc.

• New books are added daily in English as well as 60 other languages. Some languages only have 1 or 2 books but some of the others such as French, German, Chinese, and Spanish have over 100 up to 2000.

• Some books are available as audio books as well.

From the site "Project Gutenberg is the first and largest single collection of free electronic books, or eBooks. Michael Hart, founder of Project Gutenberg, invented eBooks in 1971."


Have a question? Ask a Librarian!

Monday, October 24, 2011

This Week in CQ Researcher

Student Debt by Marcia Clemmitt, Oct. 21, 2011

Is the college-loan system fair?

As Congress tries to reduce the federal debt, it is forcing federal loan and grant programs for higher education to fight for scarce dollars. In negotiations this summer over the debt ceiling, lawmakers shifted money from loan programs for students who borrow for graduate and professional school and students who pay back loans on time to Pell Grants for low-income students. The government has implemented several new programs to make the loan system fairer, including making payments easier for lower-wage earners and providing federal loans directly to borrowers rather than through banks, to avoid subsidizing commercial institutions.

However, some consumer advocates say unless education debt can be forgiven through bankruptcy proceedings, as most other debt can, the system will never be fair to student borrowers. Meanwhile, tuition continues to rise, and total higher-education debt has surpassed credit-card debt for the first time, rising to $830 billion in mid-2010 and continuing to climb.

  • Are students incurring too much education debt?
  • Does rising college debt limit who attends and completes college?
  • Has the increasing availability of education loans driven up college costs?

To read this article and others visit our Articles and Databases webpage and select CQ Researcher. Select the Off Campus Access link for information on how to access this resource from off campus locations.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Have a Question?

Real People - Real Help - Real Fast

24/7 Chat

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Website of the Week

American Memory -

Review by Patty Torres, SWC Library Faculty

I came across this website while visiting my alma mater's Libraries page. There was a link to primary sources and American Memory was listed.

This is good resource for students in quest of primary sources. I played around with it and found very interesting information. One can Browse by Topic, Collections, Time Period, Collections Containing, and Collections by Place.

From the site:

"American Memory is a gateway to the Library of Congress’s vast resources of digitized American historical materials. Comprising more than 9 million items that document U.S. history and culture, American Memory is organized into more than 100 thematic collections based on their original format, their subject matter, or who first created, assembled, or donated them to the Library.

The original formats include manuscripts, prints, photographs, posters, maps, sound recordings, motion pictures, books, pamphlets, and sheet music. Each online collection is accompanied by a set of explanatory features designed to make the materials easy to find, use, and understand."

Have a question? Ask a Librarian!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Halloween Fun

What's happening in town? Find out about local parades and activities, art shows, pumpkin patches, corn mazes, and more.

Halloween in Balboa Park. A doggie dress-up contest, a dance performance by Ballet Folklorico Xochitl, and free Halloween candy at the zoo -- just a sampling of the many activities at the park on Saturday, October 29.

Halloween: The Fantasy and Folklore of All Hallows. A history of Halloween by Jack Santino, Library of Congress Folklife Center.

Featured e-book: Halloween: from Pagan Ritual to Party Night. by Nicholas Rogers. Oxford University Press, 2002. Available via EBSCOhost with the current semester's passwords.

For more books about Halloween, including children's books, try visiting your local public library.

Want to know more? Ask a Librarian!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Featured Database of the Month

EBSCOhost Regional Business News

Regional Business News provides comprehensive full-text coverage for more than 80 regional business publications covering all metropolitan and rural areas within the United States.

Access this database and many others with the current semester's passwords, available to SWC students, faculty, and staff.

Have a question? Ask a librarian!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Check it Out

Hard Times Require Furious Dancing: New Poems
by Alice Walker. New World Library, 2010. New Book Shelf PS3573.A425 H37 2010.

“The poems sing of joy and pain, loss and grief, love and transformation, with results that are redemptive.…Highly recommended for all readers of contemporary poetry and for anyone interested in African American literature.”
Library Journal

This book is available for four-week check out with your SWC photo ID card.

Have a question? Ask a Librarian!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Website of the Week

Adobe Museum of Digital Media -

And now for something completely different….

You've been to a "real" museum. There's a building which is open during certain set hours, and there are exhibits. Current exhibits are there now, upcoming exhibits will be there for your future visits. Sometimes docents or curators talk to you about the exhibits. Sometimes film and lecture programs supplement what you learn or see in the exhibits.

The Adobe Museum of Digital Media exists only in the virtual sense. Everything is there, a lobby, a curator, and the exhibits, but you have to click around a bit to find them. Hint: Look for the directory and the map.

Find the exploding shopping cart in Tony Oursler's "Valley" exhibit. Listen to John Maeda's lecture. See an animated timeline map of the tweets issued in the east coast region of the U.S. following the August, 2011, earthquake there. Listen to someone's heart beating.

Play with this one for a few minutes, even if you think you'll hate it. It may awaken a part of your brain that doesn't get much use. You won't come away unaffected.

Have a question? Ask a Librarian!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Library Closed Tomorrow

The Library is closed Wednesday, October 12.

The Library is open regular hours today, Tuesday, October 11.

There are no classes on Tuesday, October 11 and Wednesday, October 12.

Have a question? Ask a Librarian!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Online Class? Come to an Orientation!

New to online learning? Come by the Library for a one-hour orientation. No sign-up necessary, just be on time!

October 13, 5:30 PM
Room L244

October 14, 1 PM
Room L244

October 15, 11 AM
Room L244

Friday, October 07, 2011

Library Closed Wednesday

The Library will be closed next Wednesday, October 12.

Classes will not be held on Tuesday, October 11 or Wednesday, October 12.

The Library will be open regular hours on Tuesday, October 11.

Question? Ask a Librarian!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Got a Question? Need an Answer?

Try our Online Reference Chat Service
Real People -- Real Help -- Real Fast
24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Website of the Week

Library Link of the Day -
Review by Erika Prange, SWC Library Faculty

It was in Library School when I came across this website: Library Link of the Day. The free service was created by John Hubbard, who is an electronic/reference librarian at University of Wisconsin. He is the founder of LISWiki and owner of the LISNews website, as well.

I like the convenience of receiving one email a day and that I won't lose the source if I delete the link. I can go to the archived list when I have more time. The archive contains the last 8 years worth of links, however, older links may be broken. The links cover all library related topics, and also anything about web searching, Internet, new inventions that help disseminate information, books, media and publishing. It covers basically anything that can be remotely interesting for librarians or for anybody who likes books and information.

The sources he culls the articles from are on this page: The service is available by RSS or email subscription and it is also on Facebook.

Have a question? Ask a Librarian!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

ARTstor: Images of Pre-Columbian, African, Native North American, and Oceanic objects

Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University has collaborated with the ARTstor Digital Library to share more than 3,300 images of Pre-Columbian, African, Native North American, and Oceanic objects from the museum’s permanent collection. Through this collaboration, ARTstor will distribute a total of approximately 154,000 images from the Museum’s collection and approximately 44,000 digital images of the Carnegie Institution of Washington Photographs of Mayan Excavations documenting archaeological excavations throughout Central America.

View the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology (Harvard University) at

To view ARTstor from off campus locations you need to create an ARTstor account at from any computer on the Southwestern College campuses.

Monday, October 03, 2011

October is National Book Month

What are you reading?

"Embark on the journey of a lifetime, travel to exotic places, mythical lands and experience adventure beyond imagination. Or escape to another era altogether. All without luggage, tickets, a passport or leaving home. All you need is an open mind. And an open book." (National Book Foundation)

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Biutiful - Monday, October 3 @ 6:30 PM

11th Annual Culture & Language International Film Festival

Monday, October 3, 6:30 - 8:30 PM
Room L238 (across from Library entrance)

Join us for free, educational and entertaining evenings as we explore the link between culture and language.

Hosted by faculty of the World Languages Department. Sponsored by the School of Language and Literature.

For the complete schedule of films, visit the SWC Events Calendar.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Ask a Librarian

Need books or e-books?
Looking for articles?
Researching your speech?

We are here to help -- 24/7

This Week in CQ Researcher

Prolonging Life by Beth Baker, Sept. 30, 2011

Should scientists try to increase the human lifespan?

The number of elderly Americans is rising sharply. More than 1 million people will be at least 100 years old by 2050 – up from just 50,000 centenarians in 2000. With more and more Americans living longer, policymakers worry that Social Security and Medicare costs will drain money from health and education programs for the young.

Meanwhile, researchers are trying to prolong life even more, making old age a time of health and activity, not sickness and frailty. Some envision a future when people routinely live in good health to 100 or longer, aided, perhaps, by drugs that turn on “longevity” genes, newly discovered secrets of long-lived people and even computer chips and tiny robotic devices implanted in humans to help them remain vigorous. But many gerontologists and ethicists argue that the human body is far too complex for such drastic changes and that scientists should focus on improving health care for all Americans, not increasing longevity.

  • Can the human lifespan be extended?
  • Should the lifespan be extended?
  • Should the government invest in extending longevity?

To read this article and others visit our Articles and Databaseswebpage and select CQ Researcher. Select the Off Campus Access link for information on how to access this resource from off campus locations.

The Library Catalog is another good source for locating information on this issue.