Library

24 November 2017

Casa de las Américas - an insight into Cuban life

Clichés about Cuba abound: cigars, vintage American cars and, of course, the music. However, much less is known about daily life in the country, says Subject Librarian Anne Melles. Now we can know a lot more.


The Orden Ana Betancourt medal was awarded to Haydée
 Santamaría among others in 1975
A new database, Cuban culture and cultural relations, 1959-, offers some fascinating insights into cultural activities in Cuba through the archives of the Casa de las Américas.

The Casa de las Américas is a cultural institution which came to play a significant role in the cultural life of Cuba. It was founded just months after Fidel Castro came to power in 1959 by Haydée Santamaría, one of a number of women who were active in the Cuban Revolution. In contrast to many of the men they fought alongside and who are now household names, the lives of the “heroines of the revolution” (Byron, 2007, p. 142) remain largely unknown outside Cuba. This database is a reflection of some of the work that they continued after the Revolution.

The Casa de las Américas supported and encouraged cultural activities, and hosted a diverse range of activities from exhibitions of national and Latin American art, visits of foreign delegations, concerts by Latin American musicians such as Mercedes Sosa, workshops of local crafts, café conversatorios (book readings and discussions), and talks by well-known authors for example, Alejo Carpentier. In addition the Casa contained a library, published a journal, and offered the prestigious Casa de las Américas Literary Prize.

The database contains almost 45,000 documents from the archives including newspaper articles on a range of topics, information on libraries and literary activities in Latin American countries, and records of the daily running of the institution. Through the documents runs a strong sense of the importance of the work at the Casa de las Americas, not just as a centre of culture but through active engagement with cultural groups in Latin America and the world. These things were not merely additions to social life but essential; “un pueblo sin teatro es un pueblo sin cultura” (a country without theatre is a country without culture). 

The photo at right, (from the Recortes de prensa, 1975, 1981 collection) shows the recipients of the Orden Ana Betancourt in 1975, including Haydée Santamaría, and the US activist, Angela Davis.

The purchase of the database was made possible through the Ada Booth Benefaction.

Access Cuban culture and cultural relations, 1959-  here.

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17 November 2017

Slip back in time to Edo culture in Japan

Are you a student of Japanese culture and history? Subject Librarian Ayako Hatta introduces us to books held at Monash  describing and illustrating life in 17th century Japan.



The book “Ichinichi Edojin 一日江戸人” is an introduction to the lifestyle of the 17th century Edo江戸, Japan.  Edo as it was then known, is now known as the capital city, Tokyo東京.

The Edo period (1603-1868) was led by the shogun Tokugawa Family, a period which was often known to be a peaceful and happy time which lasted over 260 years. One of the foreign policies that the Tokugawa Family implemented was the “closed-door policy” (sakoku = 鎖国) that restricts any information coming inside Japan such as Christianity, immigration, trading and communicating with the outside world. A very unique culture including kabuki (dance-drama = 歌舞伎) with fashion & designs, ukiyo-e (picture of the floating world= 浮世絵) & shunga (erotic art = 春画) had flourished and became very popular during this period.

The population was already over a million people by the late Edo period, which at the time was larger than the population of London or Paris. Half of the Edo population were samurai (= 侍) and monks (sō = 僧), while the rest were town people (chōmin = 町民). Up to sixty percent of town people originally came from the country side and were skillful craftspeople (shokunin = 職人) or merchants (shōnin = 商人). Only five percent of them were known as “the real locals” (Edokko = 江戸っ子). 

Edokkogo etoki jiten ; 江戸っ子語絵解き辞典
(2) Edokkogo etoki jiten ; 江戸っ子語絵解き辞典

The majority of the Edokko population were tenants  and eighty percent of the people lived in dwellings called nagaya (“nagaya = 長屋”). The nagaya dwellings have many small rooms, an indoor kitchenette and a shared well and toilet outside. There were nearby public baths that the Edokko used at least twice a day.  Generally speaking Japanese people love to take baths but taking a bath 4 or 5 times a day was typical of the Eddoko. It was not because the Eddoko had a passion for cleanliness but because of the humid climate and a lot of sandy dust in the area.

The front cover of Ichinichi Edojin (top right) illustrates the way people dressed and travelled in the Edo period. When travelling, walking was the main form of transport. To travel outside of Edo, the traveller would need a “travel ticket” (ōrai kitte = 往来切手) from the master of the area or from a temple, and also a “certificate” (tegata = 手形) from the magistrate’s office. This was a people's identification according to families and guarantee of identity. The certificate also contained other details such as religion, funeral arrangement, and a statement that the traveller was not Christian as Christianity was prohibited by law during this period.

This is only a brief overview of life in Edo, Many more examples of how the Edo people lived are explored in the book with lots of manga illustrations.

(3) Sugiura Hinako no Edojuku ; 杉浦日向子の江戸塾



The author of “Ichinichi Edojin”, Hinako Sugiura was one of the notable manga artists in Japan. She was also a researcher with many scholarly yet highly accessible publications of resource materials specialising in the Edo period,. The book is ideal for anyone interested in learning more about the cultural history of Japan.

You can find this book and others illustrated here in the Japanese Collection located on the first floor of the Matheson Library in the Asian Collections. For more information about the Edo culture in English, use the Library Advanced Search and type in “edo period” in the subject field from the Monash University Library homepage.

Call numbers:
(1) JAP 952.025 S947.I 2005 
(2) JAP 952.025 S252E 2010
(3)  JAP 952.025 S947S 2006





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13 November 2017

Celebrating the discovery of evolution

Associate Professor Martin Burd, from the Monash School of Biological  Science, has written this article for our blog celebrating the anniversary of the publication of the seminal book,  Origin of Species.



Sexual selection of birds was further
 examined in Darwin's, Descent of Man
This November marks the 158th anniversary of the publication of the first edition of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species. Monash University holds a copy of the first edition volume in its Rare Books Collection, a true treasure from the history of human thought. This book stands with a handful of other great scientific works like Galileo’s Starry Messenger or Newton’s Principia Mathematica as a marker of our collective effort to understand nature.

The Origin of Species famously proposed that the diversity of species we observe in the world has been derived from ancestral species, now extinct, that differed from current forms of life. This idea of the “mutability” of species had been brewing among naturalists in Europe for decades at the time Darwin published his book. He turned the somewhat ill-defined notion of mutability into a science by proposing how it could happen through natural selection, a mechanism that would act automatically as a consequence of simple and observable features of nature. A century and a half of research since publication of the Origin has abundantly confirmed its central claims. The force of natural selection on populations has been observed and measured often, and even the natural formation of new species in historical times has been documented (it doesn’t always take millions of years!). Darwin’s ideas still form a core to evolutionary biology, but, following the blossoming of genetics in the 20th century, and the revolution provided by molecular genetics in this century, we are now aware of a richness and complexity to evolution far beyond what Darwin could have known.

Biologists still read Origin of Species, but the book’s influence has extended well beyond biology and even well beyond science. Its most important consequence has been on our conception of our own place in nature. Although Darwin gave only the slimmest allusion to humankind in the book, the implication that we had an origin like that of other species, proceeding from natural causes as a part of nature, was immediately apparent to readers in 1859, and to readers since. This has not been a comfortable thought for everyone. With our civilisation now facing challenges from climate disruption, it might prove to be a thought we need to embrace all the more.

You can see Darwin’s privileged education and social origins in his command of the language in Origin of Species: it’s a good book, easily read and elegant in a Victorian way. For anyone who wants to be acquainted with the ideas of the past that have shaped our world today, it is worth dipping into, or reading entirely.



Associate Professor Martin Burd completed his PhD at Princeton University. His main area of research focus is cvolutionary ecology. As an Evolutionary Ecologist, Martin investigates life-history evolution, behaviour, and reproduction in a variety of plants and animals. 


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2 November 2017

The latest experiments and procedures demonstrated on video

You can see biological and medical procedures being demonstrated while reading about the experiments, says subject librarian Jennifer Kain.


Lab researchers and students, did you know you can access online visual demonstrations of procedures and protocols?

One database available is the Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE). JoVE is a peer-reviewed journal that combines high-quality video demonstrations of experiments with a detailed text protocol, allowing scientists, educators and students to see the intricate details of cutting-edge experiments rather than just reading them in text articles.

The Library currently provides access to the following: 
These journals are peer-reviewed, indexed in PubMed, Web of Science, and collectively present the work of more than 16000 authors, many from world-leading laboratories. 

Click on the links above to review the JoVE contents, or contact your Subject Librarian with any enquiries.  



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23 October 2017

Matheson Library extended hours during exams

Burning the midnight oil as you prepare for exams? Get more study done, with late night opening at Matheson Library. But remember to balance your study time with ample sleep and exercise!


From 23rd October to 16th November, the Matheson Library at Clayton campus offers extended exam study time.

Matheson is open till 2am (Monday-Thursday) while Fridays and weekends operate on normal hours. There is security and a security bus in operation until 2.30am on the days the Library is operating on extended hours.

Caulfield Library is open until midnight Monday-Friday and 10am-9pm on weekends.

Both libraries have been recently refurbished and offer excellent amenities for students as they prepare for exams, such as bookable study rooms for group work or quiet areas for individual study.

Group study areas are also equipped with AV facilities. Find out more here.

Should you need sustenance or caffeine, both Matheson and Caulfield libraries have a cafe within the building. Please check the opening hours for Flipside and Swifts.

More information on the opening hours for all libraries can be found here.

Check out great tips for exam preparation and how to succeed on exam day from expert Library staff.



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Remembering the Reformation

Five hundred years ago, on October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted the 95 theses to a church door in Wittenberg. This month we celebrate or remember that event as a starting point of the German Reformation and as a key event in the Reformation across Europe. Stephen Herrin (Rare Books Librarian), writes about this important movement in European history.

The Reformation was a religious movement that profoundly changed the face of Europe and established a religious alternative to the dominant Catholicism that had been in place for centuries. The widespread cultural change brought on by the Reformation affected not only the spirituality and devotional practices of Europe's inhabitants but also reverberated into the fields of politics, music, art and architecture.

The most iconic figure of the Reformation was Martin Luther, a German priest and scholar. Through his studies in theology and history at the University of Wittenberg, he formed ideas that gradually brought his beliefs into conflict with the established Church. One of Luther's key criticisms of the Vatican was the sale of indulgences, a document which could be purchased to ensure the forgiveness of sins. The proceeds, which were used to rebuild St.Peter's Basilica, in Rome prompted Luther to write in Thesis 86: "Why does not the pope, whose wealth is today greater than wealth of the richest Crassus, build this one basilica of St. Peter with his own money rather than with the money of poor believers?" Read the entire 95 theses in English here


The Reformation and Print Culture 

The Reformation's great success was due in part to the new technology of printing. The printed word was not only important to Luther's development as a thinker but to the Reformation as a movement. The development of the printing press allowed for the rapid dissemination of reformers' ideas in the form of pamphlets and printed books.

A central tenet of the Reformation was the individual study of the Bible rather than reliance on the Church for guidance. This was achieved by translating the Bible into the languages spoken by lay people. Once again, printing was a key means of distributing these new vernacular translations of the Bible to a wider audience. 


The Geneva Bible at Monash

Monash's Special Collections includes a 16th-century copy of the Geneva Bible, one of the early translations of the Bible into English. The Geneva Bible was unique in that it contained illustrations, summaries of the books of the Bible, as well as cross-references and explanatory notes. All these features indicate that it was designed to function as a text for individual study. The Geneva Bible at Monash is heavily annotated, signifying that its owner or successive owners considered this Bible to be a personal possession as well as a tool for study.



Reformation items at Monash Rare Books

The Rare Books Collection aims to collect and make available the history of ideas through print. We hold many representations of the writers Luther would have consulted. The holdings are especially strong in primary source material relating to the Reformation in Great Britain, mainly involving the later developments regarding the Restoration and the Popish Plot.

For more information on Reformation related items in Monash's Special Collections, please contact us at rbinfo@monash.edu.




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17 October 2017

Where To Study for Exams - Your Library-by-Library Guide!

It’s Week 12, and exams are just around the corner! The good news is, you’ve still got time to get into a great revision routine before October 30th. And the even better news is, the libraries here at Monash have plenty of space for you to use. Subject librarian Romney Adams has put together your guide to exam revision spaces at Monash, library-by-library!

Caulfield



The refurbishment works at Caulfield have come to an end, and the seating capacity has doubled - which means plenty of spots across the four floors for you to knuckle down and hit the books, including seven bookable group study rooms! Those familiar with the old library will have memories of grey walls and artificial light - these have been replaced by a bright and airy space, with many examples of intriguing artwork...see if you can spot my favourite, Jeff Gibson’s Double or Nothing!


Caulfield Library


Sir Louis Matheson





With all the news about Caulfield, you may have forgotten the Matheson has been refurbished too. There are a multitude of bookable study spaces - some students like to add their personal touch to take the edge off of studying! - but you’ll need to get in early. If the rooms are all booked, there are no less than five levels comprising the behemoth that is Matheson, and there is seating available on each. What’s more, the Library will be open until 2am from Monday-Thursday during Swot Vac and the exam period, for all you night owls! If you need some sustenance, or perhaps just prefer to take a more relaxed approach to studying, you can relax with coffee and a sweet treat at Swift’s on the ground floor.


Group study rooms at the Matheson


Hargrave-Andrew





The Hargrave-Andrew can be a bit of a mysterious beast for those who aren’t familiar with its hallowed halls, and much attention seems to be focussed around the entrance: Why is it up a flight of stairs? What’s the story behind the babies halfway up the stairs? What’s this secret ‘basement’ level I’ve heard so much about? Some things will forever remain unknown, but to find out which areas of HAL are least busy, look no further than the snazzy Digital Wayfinders. And if a teaching space isn’t being used to run a class, you’re more than welcome to use it to study.


Hargrave-Andrew Library





Law



Traditional, compliant, and judicial - the Law Library may not sound exciting, but it really is a beautiful space. And what’s more, there are plenty of areas for study! Levels 2-4 are designated as Quiet Study areas, which is good if you’re going it alone. If you prefer to study as a group, there are four bookable discussion rooms - so all your bases are covered. When you’ve hit the study wall and need a well-deserved break, sink into one of the comfortable chesterfield couches...if you’re lucky, you might even get to meet Boof!


Law Library


Peninsula




Down by the seaside (well, almost), the Library at Peninsula has a variety of rooms available for you to notch up some hours of quiet study. Downstairs, there are large tables you can work at alone, or as a group. Known as a bit of a zen space, spaces on the first floor also boast sea views...on a clear day...if you squint…just don’t study too late into the night - you might be joined by one of the resident skeletons!


Peninsula Library


Parkville





It’s true - despite having the longest name, the CL Butchers Pharmacy Library is smaller than most - but thanks to some minor works earlier this year, it’s bigger than ever before! Out at 'The Pharm’, the quiet study area has increased in size by 42%, thanks to the addition of 16 private study carrels. The opportunity to hit the books has never been better!
Group study area at the Pharmacy Library.











Berwick



And last but not least, Berwick! It’s smaller and shares space with Federation University until the end of the year when we'll have to move out, but we’ve got lots to offer our students until then. We have plenty of quiet study carrels for you to make your own, and there’s also a separate group study room available for you to book. There’s also a beautiful courtyard space if you’d like to follow Isaac Newton’s lead and study under the shade of a tree - watch out for falling acorns!


Berwick Library Courtyard


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10 October 2017

Law Library services after semester 2 exams

With the scheduled closure of the Law Building over summer, the Library has made alternate arrangements to ensure Law Library users will continue to have access to materials.



The entire Law building will be closed for major construction works from 30 November 2017 through to mid-February 2018.

During this period, Law staff and students can:


  • use Search to request items held in the Law Library for pick-up at Hargrave-Andrew Library or Matheson Library at Clayton campus. Library staff will run a retrieval service once daily so please allow for some delay.
  • return items due at any library; after-hours returns available at Hargrave-Andrew Library.
  • access Summer Law unit texts on reading lists at Hargrave-Andrew Library.
  • find study spaces at the two other libraries on campus. Hargrave-Andrew Library will now be open until 9pm on Mondays and Tuesdays and 1pm-5pm on Sundays over summer.
  • get advice and ask questions at an Information point at any other library, through ask.monash or by telephone (03 9905 5054). Law Library research and learning skills staff can be contacted by email on lib-lawteam-l@monash.edu.


Due to the temporary closure, 'Law' will not be available as a pick-up location for inter-campus loans.

If you have any comments or concerns about Law Library services during this period, email Law Library staff on lib-lawteam-l@monash.edu.




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9 October 2017

China Reconstructs: A resource for researchers of 20th century China

The Matheson Library has an amazing collection of Chinese periodicals dating to the 1950s. Xiaoju Liu, subject librarian for Chinese studies, writes about how researchers can use this collection as an English language primary source to gain further insight into 20th century China. 

What is China Reconstructs?


China Reconstructs is an English language periodical, first published in China in January 1952. Although the first issues were in English the publication gradually expanded to Spanish, French, Arabic, German, and Portuguese between 1960 and 1980. The Chinese version was added in October 1980.

This is the only multi-language publication that was issued by the Chinese government during that time. It was published by the China Welfare Institute (funded in 1938 by Soong Ching Ling, the wife of Sun Yat-sen). The idea was initiated by a conversation between Premier Zhou Enlai and Soong Qing Ling, as they were both looking for a way to introduce the achievements of modern China to the world. Soong Qing Ling named the journal China Reconstructs (中国建设) in memory of Sun Yat-sen, who started a short-lived periodical called Constructs (建设) in 1919.

What sort of information does this publication contain? 

This richly illustrated periodical covers various aspects of modern China, from economy and technology to social life, arts, sport, minorities, tourism, archaeology, infrastructure, and stories. Its special columns include Postbag, School life, International Notes, In the New Society, Language Corner and others. 

Language Corner was designed for foreigners who wanted to learn Chinese. It consisted of a short article with Chinese characters, pinyin (romanisation) and English. The column included explanatory notes on the use of key Chinese words and phrases as well as exercises.

International Notes reported on China's standpoint concerning international affairs. For example, in an article titled The Afro-Americans are fighting, the author noted that "Chairman Mao was voicing the mighty support of the 700 million Chinese people to the Afro-Americans. The world's people struggling against U.S. imperialism also saw in his statement the direction forward and were tremendously inspired."

School Life reported on what was taking place in China's schools particularly about how Mao Tsetung's principles were being implemented in education.

Why is this collection significant?


The variety of information present in this collection makes it a rich trove of material that can enhance research and teaching on various aspects of Modern China. In January 1990, the periodical was renamed as China Today (今日中国) and continues to function as a gateway into contemporary China. Researchers working on social and cultural life in the second half of 20th century China will benefit significantly from this great collection. For example, a special issue in February 1970 focuses on the Peking Opera Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy, contains English scripts and various discussions about how proletarian heroes were created and how negative characters were depicted. 

How do I access this collection?

The Matheson Library holds copies of China Reconstructs issued in 1953, 1955-1956, 1961-1989 in the closed Asian Special Collection area. If you're interested in using China Reconstructs (中国建设) contact Xiaoju Liu (Chinese Studies Subject Librarian) or Hueimin Chen (Information Officer) for access to this collection.  

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