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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Time and Project Management Strategies for Librarians

Librarians today must be creative managers of their time and resources, in order to maintain some semblance of sanity in this world of increasing demands coupled with significant budget cuts.  The logical (and who, if not librarians, are logical?) response to this environment might seem to be something like, we can only do so much with so little; however, as librarians strive, on a fundamental level, to serve their patrons, this seems to be an impossibility.  Instead, professionals in the field endeavor, through sundry means, to increase their level of productivity in an effort to effectively fulfill their ever increasing obligations.

In response to this, Carol Smallwood, Jason Kuhl, and Lisa Fraser have assembled over 30 essays in their book Time and Project Management Strategies for Librarians, which address various aspects of time management and organizational skills.  The essays offer insights from practicing librarians who are currently navigating the wilds of the profession on such topics as management strategies, staffing issues, uses of technology in time management, tips on how to stay organized, work/life balance, and professional development.  UNCG's own Jenny Dale and Lynda Kellam of University Libraries co-authored an essay for the compilation titled, Productive to the core : core competencies and the productive librarian.

"This anthology is certain to become an essential resource for librarians everywhere as they attempt to maximize efficiency and productivity with limited resources". (Jeffrey A. Franks, Associate Professor and Head of Reference at Bierce Library, University of Akron, Ohio)

It "is a great addition to any librarian’s professional bookshelf". (Heather Payne, Corporate Liaison to the Libraries, City College, Fort Lauderdale, Florida)

"The editors' formula... is one drop theory to four or five drops of practical advice. What it creates is an elixir for librarians who struggle to accomplish their goals while negotiating changing technology, shrinking, budgets, and depleted staffs". (Carol Luers Eyman, Outreach and Community Services Coordinator, Nashua Public Library, Nashua, New Hampshire) 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Game-Theoretical Models in Biology

"A stag might fight to death over a territory or concede it uncontested to another. Neighboring trees invest varying amounts of energy into growth, with the tallest blocking sunlight to others. Viruses infecting a common cell can either make all proteins required for their reproduction or free ride on those made by others. How does evolution shape the strategic phenotype of organisms in life-and-death contests?"  (Allen)

For all of you mathematics and biology laymen out there (and I most certainly include myself in this category), evolutionary game theory applies the mathematical framework of games to the evolutionary processes of biological lifeforms.  The concept, as it relates to it's original purpose, was introduced to a wide audience in 1973 by John Maynard Smith and George R. Price, but it has since captured the interest of academics from varying disciplines, including economists, anthropologists, sociologists, and philosophers.

Jan Rychtář , Professor in UNCG's Department of Mathematics and Statistics, and Mark Broom's new book, Game-Theoretical Models in Biology, "covers the major topics of evolutionary game theory [and] presents both abstract and practical mathematical models of real biological situations. It discusses the static aspects of game theory in a mathematically rigorous way that is appealing to mathematicians. In addition, the authors explore many applications of game theory to biology, making the text useful to biologists as well" (CRC Press).

"Broom and Rychtár lead their readers all the way from the rudiments of evolutionary game theory to the research frontier...  Their coverage is remarkably wide-ranging, from old standards like the Hawk-Dove game to newer applications such as epidemiology. The authors strike an excellent compromise between breadth and depth by limiting the generality of some theoretical treatments, choosing good examples, and using up-to-date references to round out their coverage" (Mike Mesterton-Gibbons, Florida State University).

As Wilfrid Laurier University's Ross Cressman notes, "the book will serve both as an important resource for researchers in the field and as a valuable text for students at a graduate or senior undergraduate level."

"This engaging primer demonstrates that there is no tension between mathematical elegance and biological fidelity: both are needed to further our understanding of evolution" (Allen).

Allen, B. A. (2013). 0 Brave New World with Such Games. Science, 341(6148), 844. doi:10.1126/science.1241750

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Cybercrime and Cybersecurity in the Global South

Cybercrime has become one of the fastest growing areas of criminal activity throughout the world.  The increasingly global nature of the internet and the availability of relatively inexpensive mobile technologies has broadened the scope and capabilities of cyber criminals, providing an international network for the perpetration of their crimes.  In the past, cybercrime was typically committed by individuals or small groups; however, alarmingly, organized crime groups have recently begun to engage in this type of criminal activity as well.

In his recently published book, Cybercrime and Cybersecurity in the Global South, Nir Kshetri, Professor in the Bryan School of Business and Economics, "documents and compares the patterns, characteristics and processes of cybercrime activities in major regions and economies in the Global South" (Macmillan).  Kshetri "divides the Global South into distinct regions, devoting a chapter each to the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, China, India, the Middle East and North Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, sub-Saharan Africa, and the developing nations of the Pacific Islands" (Peter, Grabosky, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books).

An "interesting aspect of the book is its comparison of offender characteristics, crime types, and victims from one region to another. The author explains these differences in terms of political economy. They reflect the level of economic development, state capacity, information technology skill sets, availability of legitimate employment, cultural factors and political influences from country to country" (Peter Grabosky, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books).

Kshetri's "book [also]contributes to bridge the gap in understanding the role of cybersecurity in international political economy and related areas. Indeed, it explains the complexities and mechanisms involved in this new war, the reconfiguration of existing organized crime, the emergence of new international organized crimes groups and the changing nature of constraints facing the states."  (Pupillo, Lorenzo, Communications and Strategies, April 2013).

Cybercrime and Cybersecurity in the Global South "provides an interesting perspective on cybercrime in non-western countries. Its breathtaking range of coverage provides a lens into locations and settings that might otherwise be overlooked by cybercrime researchers from the Global North" (Peter Grabosky, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books).

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Aquinas and the Supreme Court: Race, Gender, and the Failure of Natural Law in Thomas's Biblical Commentaries

"In court opinions, blogs, public debates, and theological arguments, the concept of what is 'natural' to us remains a highly debated concept, with Thomas Aquinas one of the most frequently cited figures."   In his recently published book, Aquinas and the Supreme Court: Race, Gender, and the Failure of Natural Law in Thomas's Biblical Commentaries, Eugene Rogers, professor of Religious Studies, "makes the breathtaking argument that Thomas Aquinas does not, in fact, say what you think he says on the topic of natural law, nature, and what is appropriate to humans as natural" (Myles Werntz, Baylor University).

"Eight centuries after he lectured on the Bible, both advocates and critics agree that Aquinas remains the most influential “natural law” philosopher. Lawmakers, judges, pundits, and clergy deploy natural-law reasoning on all manner of public issues, from gender roles to just war; the US Supreme Court still cites Aquinas on abortion and homosexuality" (Wiley).

"Rogers critiques turn-of-the-21st century natural law theory by its founding text, using Aquinas's own commentaries on the bible. Exploring newly translated, or untranslated commentaries, Rogers compares the passages where Aquinas’s systematic works quote the Bible with the biblical commentaries on the passages which are cited. A very different understanding of natural law emerges in which Aquinas embeds all law, even natural law, not in a particular logic, but in a particular story. The commentaries describe a nature that differs by ethnicity, varies over time, and changes sexuality by God’s decree. This challenges current understandings and uses of Aquinas’s natural law from both sides of the debate, both liberal and conservative" (Wiley).

In the book, "Rogers uses Aquinas's biblical commentary to argue that Aquinas's sense of the natural law is deeply theological, known only to humans who participate in it via the grace of the Triune God, as conceived of by Christianity.  Rogers shows that legal and political uses of natural law are not faithful to Thomas's theological teachings unless they are set within the theological context" (Choice, November 2013).

"Issues of the naturalness of gender and sexuality are woven through Rogers’ reflections, complicating both Thomas’ use within the legal system and within Christian arguments about what is natural. Too often, as Rogers points out, Christian reflections upon ‘nature’ repeat the errors of natural lawyers in assuming that 1) nature is self-evident and 2) nature is unchanging. If what is ‘natural’, according to Thomas (following Paul) is a work of the Spirit, then nature is neither one. Rather, our discussions of natural life—while learning from our observations and from reason—cannot be ultimately governed by reason, but led by the Spirit’s revealing and restoring work" (Myles Werntz, Baylor University).

“In this well documented and lucidly argued book we discover that what might seem purely arcane medieval scholarship cuts decisively into matters of currently great human concern" (Fergus Kerr, University of Edinburgh).

“This book will be particularly useful for graduate students in philosophy and theology.  Summing Up: Recommended" (Choice, November 2013).

Thursday, February 6, 2014

All the Dead Yale Men

Craig Nova, Class of 1949 Distinguished Professor in the Humanities at UNCG and one of "the best American novelists" according to John Irving, recently published All the Dead Yale Men, the greatly anticipated follow-up to his critically acclaimed 1982 novel The Good Son.  His earlier novel recounts the story of World War II veteran Chip Mckinnon and his tenuous relationship with his socially ambitious father.  "Pop" Mckinnon compels his son to forsake his true love in order to marry well and persuades him to pursue an Ivy League education and a career in law.

All the Dead Yale Men rejoins the Mckinnon clan a generation later, with Frank Mckinnon, Chip's son, and his brilliant daughter Pia.  Frank is a happily married criminal prosecutor in Boston, and his daughter Pia is poised to enter Harvard law school, following in both her grandfather and her father's footsteps.  However, Frank's vision for his daughter's life (and his own by association) is jeopardized when Pia contemplates abandoning her career aspirations for a local ne'er do well.  Both novels examine parental expectations and ambitions for their children and the lengths that a parent will go in order to preserve them. 

All the Dead Yale Men is a "gripping and intelligent chronicle of love, legacy, and betrayal (the title may suggest a genre mystery, which this surely isn’t).  [It] captures a complex clan entangled in a questionable moral universe. Nova’s Mackinnons, both here and in The Good Son, leave their edgy mark on the modern American literary landscape" (Mark Levine, Booklist).

 “Craig Nova is a fine writer, one of our best.  If you haven’t read him, the loss is yours."  (Jonathan Yardley, book critic for the Washington Post)

Nova's writing has appeared in Esquire, The Paris Review, The New York Times Magazine, and Men's Journal, among others. He has received an Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 2005 he was named Class of 1949 Distinguished Professor in the Humanities at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Preventing College Student Suicide

Dr. Deborah Taub, Professor in UNCG's Teacher Education and Higher Education Department, recently co-edited Preventing College Student Suicide: New Directions for Student Services, Number 141.  She is also a co-author of several of the chapters included in the book, which focuses on the growing problem of student suicide on college campuses across the country and preventative measures that can be implemented by administrators, advisers, and other student services professionals. 

"The book begins with a general overview of the problem, reviews possible approaches to the issue, then looks more closely at specific target populations, before ending with a discussion of post-suicide intervention options" (Dr. Christine R. Cook).  "Chapter topics include gatekeeper training, peer education, diversity, LGBT issues, postvention, college student suicide, and the public health approach to suicide prevention" (Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC)).  "One of the most beneficial aspects of the book is the reference to various suicide prevention materials. There is a helpful table of resources in chapter 2, a web link for a multicultural suicide prevention kit in chapter 6, and an example of a post-suicide intervention protocol in chapter 7. The final chapter ends with a list of website resources including the Jed Foundation and the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, which are referenced throughout the book" (Dr. Christine R. Cook).

"Since 2005, 138 colleges and universities have received funding under the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act to develop and implement campus suicide prevention programs" (Wiley/Jossey-Bass).  Each chapter in the book was written by Garrett Lee Smith (GLS) grantee authors, and both Deborah Taub and her co-editor, Jason Robertson are also GLS grantees.  "This volume highlights successful strategies implemented by grantee campuses, [and] these approaches can serve as models to address student suicide and prevention on other campuses" (Wiley/Jossey-Bass).

Sunday, December 29, 2013

James Weldon Johnson's Modern Soundscapes

 Associate Professor of African American literature, Dr. Noelle Morrissette, recently published James Weldon Johnson's Modern Soundscapes, which "provides an evocative and meticulously researched study of one of the best known and yet least understood authors of the New Negro Renaissance era" (University of Iowa Press).

"Johnson, familiar to many as an early civil rights leader active in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and an intentionally controversial writer on the subject of the significance of race in America, was one of the most prolific, wide-ranging, and yet elusive authors of twentieth-century African American literature.  Drawing on archival materials such as early manuscript notes and drafts of Johnson’s unpublished and published work, Morrissette explores the author’s complex aesthetic of sound, based on black expressive culture and cosmopolitan interracial experiences" (University of Iowa Press).

"Johnson realized early in his writing career that he could draw attention to the struggles of African Americans by using unconventional literary methods such as the incorporation of sound into his texts. In this groundbreaking work, literary critic Noelle Morrissette examines how his literary representation of the extremes of sonic experience—functioning as either cultural violence or creative force—draws attention to the mutual contingencies and the interdependence of American and African American cultures. Moreover, Morrissette argues, Johnson represented these “American sounds” as a source of multiplicity and diversity, often developing a framework for the interracial transfer of sound. The lyricist and civil rights leader used sound as a formal aesthetic practice in and between his works, presenting it as an unbounded cultural practice that is as much an interracial as it is a racially distinct cultural history" (University of Iowa Press).

"The result is an innovative new interpretation of the works of one of the early twentieth century’s most important and controversial writers and civil rights leaders" (Project Muse).  “Noelle Morrissette brings to the forefront an undervalued aspect of Johnson’s amazing career—his attempt to bridge the separation between black political activism and black popular culture. Impressively informed but quite accessible and engaging, James Weldon Johnson’s Modern Soundscapes is an authoritative reconsideration of critical approaches to Johnson. I expect it to be quickly established as one of the essential books for anyone interested in Johnson, and an important methodological model for any scholar working in this period of American cultural history" (John Ernest, University of Delaware).

Miriam Thaggert, Associate Professor of English at The University of Iowa, declares it “an engaging, thought-provoking book... [and] an important work in African American literary studies, American studies, and the growing field of sound studies.”