Category Archives: Books

Reframing Thanksgiving

Historically, Thanksgiving traditions were celebrated as gratitude to the gods after a successful harvest. These traditions date back to Ancient Greece and Rome; they are not unique to nor did they originate in the United States.  

As a matter of fact, the day we celebrate as Thanksgiving Day (currently) was not the first Thanksgiving celebration in America. The first Thanksgiving in America was celebrated by a group of English settlers on the day of their arrival, December 4, 1619, and was celebrated thereafter thanking God for their arrival. The “official” Thanksgiving Day was first celebrated in October 1621, after the Pilgrim’s first harvest in Plymouth Colony. The Pilgrims celebrated and feasted on the harvested food, with the Wampanoag tribe in attendance. Thanksgiving was first named as a national holiday by President Lincoln. Since then, Thanksgiving  has been celebrated on multiple dates, until congress declared it to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. To find out more about Thanksgiving as well as other holidays take a look at Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary: Detailing More Than 3,000 Observances from All 50 States and More Than 100 Nations edited by Cherie D. Abbey.

Meeting of Governor Carver and Massasoit. This image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints & Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3b42342 

Do we have Thanksgiving all wrong?  Sanitizing “Indians” in America’s Thanksgiving story by Sierra Adare-Tasiwoopa ápi & Melissa Adams-Campbell explains how the education system has overlooked the brutality and violence inflicted on the Wampanoag tribe by the Pilgrims. Children are told that the Pilgrims and the Native Americans lived in harmony, and this narrative chooes to not educate children on the dark side of colonization. When thinking about Thanksgiving, we usually associate it with family, gratitude and happiness. We do not think about the many Native Americans that lost their lives to foreign diseases, war, slavery, and genocide brought by colonization.

An encyclopedia entry on the Wampanoag, available through the library’s online resources, elaborates on the history of the Wampanoag tribe. Wampanoag people lived in various locations in southern New England. They began their relationship with the Pilgrims in 1620. “There began the now famous relationship between the Indians and colonists, and there occurred the celebration of the first Thanksgiving, although this was a Pilgrim religious feast that was observed, not shared, by the Wampanoag.”

Other online resources:

On this Thanksgiving, in addition to eating turkey, spending time with friends and family, and starting your holiday shopping, we invite you to view the ebook Massasoit of the Wampanoags, or read about other Native Americans. Take a look at the ebook American Indian Biographies, for example the entry on Squanto, whose life is simply fascinating, and who translated communication between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoags after escaping from slavery in Spain and living in England.

Heading image, [King (Metacomet) Philip, Sachem of the Wampanoags, d. 1676, full length, standing at treaty table with white men], available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints & Photographs division.

New and Updated Nursing eBooks Available from Ovid

Gleeson Library recently purchased some new nursing eBooks, available on the Ovid platform. These are unlimited access, so read away!

Take a look:

From any of these eBooks, click Books or Journals in the top menu to see a list of all Ovid titles we have.

screenshot of "All Books" list in Ovid

More resources

See more recent nursing titles by searching the library catalog with the keyword “nursing” and then sorting by date.

Check out our Nursing Research Guides for selections of recommended nursing resources. (Click By Subject > Nursing to see them all.)

Image of apple: Wellness Corporate Solutions [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons


Banned Books and Intellectual Freedom

One of the pillars of the Library Bill of Rights set forth by the American Library Association is that “Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.” One way libraries get to do this is by observing and celebrating Banned Books Week, when we shine a light on books and works of literature that have been banned or challenged.

Last week, September 24 – 30, was Banned Books Week 2017. Gleeson Library partnered with the Department of English to do a readathon of The Bean Eaters by Gwendolyn Brooks on Thursday, Sept. 28. Brooks’s poem “We Real Cool,” from The Bean Eaters, was banned in schools in Mississippi and West Virginia in the 1970s. The school districts banned the poem for the supposed sexual connotations of the word “jazz,” according to the listing of banned or challenged poetry. We also thought it was a good way to commemorate the centennial of Brooks’s birth.

Even though Banned Books Week 2017 is over, you can get in the spirit by watching our playlist of a selection of the poems we orated at the readathon last week.

Have you or your children read one of the top 10 banned or challenged books from the last couple years? How did you like being a #rebelreader? Leave a comment telling us about it!

Gleeson Library Remembers: John Ashbery


American poet John Ashbery  passed away on Sunday September 3, 2017 at age 90. In his acclaimed career, Ashbery published more than 20 volumes of poetry, most noted for their intricacy and controversy. He has won almost every major American poetry award, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Yale Younger Poets Prize, the Bollingen Prize, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Griffin International Award, and a MacArthur “Genius” Grant.

“I tried each thing, only some were immortal and free.” – John Ashbery, Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror

Ashbery is remembered by the public mostly for his reflective work titled Self -Portrait in a Convex Mirror, and this where his legacy most strongly lives on. These poems are rooted in radical and complex ideas, yet portrayed with simple and non-grammatical line structure. The stream of lines and stanzas move and flow without having to do with one another, but later unite to present the bigger picture. Many memorial think pieces have been written about Ashbery in the wake of his death, but you may want to check out the article about Ashbery written by Matthew Zapruder in the San Francisco Chronicle, available through the library’s subscription to Access World News.DSC_3606

Gleeson Library staff has prepared a display to honor Ashbery and his works just past the circulation desk. Please feel free to stop by, browse, and pick up a physical copy of a couple of his books. You can also browse his books in the library’s catalog, and use the “request” function to place a hold on any of interest to you. If the work you’re looking for is checked out or not available, for example the single volume Some Trees, you can request a copy for a later pick at Link+, an easy-to-use consortium Gleeson Library belongs to.

The display will be up until September 17, 2017, but you can always view the ebook of his work The Tennis Court Oath, listen to a recording of Ashbery’s work through the LA Public Library Aloud series, or watch one of the streaming videos through the library’s collections that features Ashbery:


IT: Clowns, Coming of Age, and Comedy

Fall is quickly approaching, so what better way to get into the spooky season than with Stephen King’s IT. This haunting tale just celebrated 31 years of print, alongside 27 years since the IT miniseries aired. Keeping with the twisted 27 year theme, Warner Bros. has recently released their own take on this frightful classic. I went to one of the first showings in San Francisco this past weekend after speeding through the paperback book.

Bill Skarsgård nails his performance as Pennywise the Dancing Clown in the 2017 adaptation of IT. Illustration from the San Francisco Chronicle.

In short, in both the book and the new movie, horrifying and vivid details superbly frame the mysterious 1957 town of Derry, Maine, where peculiar is the norm. 27 years after a rather odd and grotesque murder, we flash forward to another brutally haunting murder. Michael Hanlon solicits the help of his childhood friends a.k.a The Losers Club. Familiar with this freakish trend, they unwillingly venture back to Derry to eradicate this evil once and for all.

King’s story digs into fears we harbor as children that never really leave us. If you’re ready to reprise repressed childhood memories while being totally frightened like I was, this horror staple is for you. The book’s point of view alternates between each member of the Losers Club’s youth and adulthood. I still cannot tell if I like this style or not. Quite ambitious on King’s part and executed moderately well, 700 pages in, the style of the book may either leave you annoyed or bored of the adult Loser’s Club, who seem to be sticking around only to give voice to their childhood counterparts. Having read the book in about two weeks, I found some parts absolutely thrilling while others dragged on. This book is available to check out at USF through Link+, an easy-to-use consortium that Gleeson Library belongs to; books can be requested from another library and sent to the building for pick up in as little as 2 days.

Don’t want to wait for Part 2 of IT, the movie? You can always read IT, the book. Just sayin’.

— Stephen King (@StephenKing) September 11, 2017

2017’s reboot of IT is terrifying. Director Andres Muschietti’s retelling of this story is divided into two parts: the first, focusing on the kids’ encounters and a “Chapter 2” sequel planned for a later release date. This adaptation follows the book more closely than ABC’s 1990 miniseries of the same title. The plot of both novel and movie is about IT’s ability to continue living by keeping the characters’ biggest fears present. The screenwriters change only a few details of the Losers Club’s original story to keep the scares and plot relevant to the new time period of 1986, while maintaining the plot’s integrity. Most notably, the movie also lacks the amount of mysticism that is extremely prevalent in the book. Muschietti has stated, “I was never too crazy about the mythology…”

Watching this film brings a mix of familiar cringy childhood nostalgia and an “edge of your seat” feeling that something is not quite right, even once the movie ends. The movie’s high intensity scenes are equally balanced by the Losers Club’s amazing performances, crass humor, and preadolescent behavior. The subtle scary aspects of the story build up the anticipation for the bigger battles between the Losers Club and Pennywise. The 2017 adaptation of IT sparked much needed excitement to hit the box office following a less than exciting summer movie season, and brings together a perfect blend coming-of-age themes and quintessential scary movie components to kick off this fall’s lineup of scary movies. A more in depth review can be found in the database Access World News (a database brought to you by Gleeson Library), written by Peter Hartlaub from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Image: We All Float Down Here by Carl Glover

The Vida of María de Jesús

Nearly all of the books held by Gleeson Library can be found by searching Ignacio, our library catalog, but did you know that we’re adding information to Ignacio all the time?

Just this week, I cataloged a book from the Donohue Rare Book Room and put the information into Ignacio. The book was published in 1683 and it describes the life and miracles of a Conceptionist nun from Mexico, María de Jesús de Tomelín (1579-1637), also known as The Lily of Puebla.

Lemus, Diego de. Vida, virtudes, trabajos fabores y milagros de la Ven. M. sor Maria de Jesus angelopolitana religiosa. Leon: Anisson y Posuel, 1683.

The book was formerly part of the rare book collection at the San Francisco College for Women, and it bears the bookplate of Monsignor Joseph M. Gleason.

In adding information about this book to our library catalog, I inspected the volume and recorded the author, title, and other publication details. Then I needed to identify the subject, María de Jesús, and briefly get a sense of who she was so that I could classify the book and shelve it near other books on the same topic.

María de Jesús was born into a wealthy family in Puebla, Mexico in 1579, and is said to have had mystical visions from a young age. At 19, she made her profession of faith and joined the Convent of the Immaculate Conception in Puebla. Popular and controversial claims about María de Jesús included her reported visions of the Virgin Mary and of purgatory, as well as her ecstatic experiences that included physical manifestations such as levitation and bilocation. She died in 1637 and is said to have emitted a sweet smelling ‘odor of sanctity’ providing further evidence of her holiness.

Painting of María de Jesús Tomelin from the Museo Nacional del Virreinato

Following her death, there were efforts to have her named as a saint within the Catholic Church, and publications supporting María de Jesús’ beatification asserted that she had performed eleven miracles in life and many more after her death. These idealized biographies, known as “vidas” were accounts of her virtues, works, and miracles which emphasized her sanctified nature and were designed to increase her reputation beyond her home city of Puebla. Three notable publications about María de Jesús would be used to support her candidacy for sainthood. This book in the Gleeson Library special collections is one of those publications. It is written in Spanish, most likely based on manuscripts written by her fellow nun, Agustina de Santa Teresa, and her confessor, an Irish Jesuit missionary named Michael Wadding, who was known in Mexico as Miguel Godínez.

Although Pope Pius VI officially recognized the virtues of María de Jesús, she was never formally canonized as a Saint by the Catholic Church. The reliquary holding her remains is located in the chapel of the Convent of the Immaculate Conception, Puebla, Mexico.

If you would like to view this book about María de Jesús, stop by the Donohue Rare Book Room on the third floor of Gleeson Library.

For more about the life of María de Jesús and the lives of religious women in Colonial Mexico, try these books:

Drago, Margarita. Sor María De Jesús Tomelín (1579–1637), Concepcionista Poblana: La Construcción Fallida De Una Santa. City University of New York, 2002. PDF available to USF Library patrons

Ibsen, Kristine. Women’s Spiritual Autobiography in Colonial Spanish America. University Press of Florida, 1999. Ebook available to USF library patrons

Jaffary, Nora E. False Mystics : Deviant Orthodoxy in Colonial Mexico. University of Nebraska Press, 2004. Ebook available to USF library patrons

Myers, Kathleen Ann. Neither Saints Nor Sinners : Writing the Lives of Women in Spanish America. Oxford University Press, 2003. Ebook available to USF library patrons

Lavrín, Asunción. Brides of Christ: conventual life in colonial Mexico. Stanford University Press, 2008. Print book available via Link+

Go Read Summer Challenge

Gleeson Library joins with GoUSF to bring you our first-ever Go Read Summer Challenge. We encourage you to read a book (or more if desired) this summer. Enjoy the liberty and discover new adventures found in its pages. Join the challenge by logging into your Hubbub account or signup if you haven’t already! Log in those minutes!

Not sure what to read for the summer? The books surrounding you don’t feel challenging? Your Gleeson staff and librarians have put together two displays of recommendations and award winning literature for you to choose from. You can find our summer hours here.


Happy Reading!!

Go Read Challenge
Wednesday, June 1 – Thursday, June 30
Join Go Read on Hubbub »

Join the Go Read Challenge by yourself or encourage your family and/or friends to participate with you! Throughout June, check in each time that any of you read for 20 minutes. To complete this challenge, you must check in 20 times. All USF employees who complete the Go Read challenge will be entered into a raffle to win a prize!

Book Recommendations
Wednesday, June 1 – Thursday, June 30
Gleeson Library

Looking for a good summer read? Check out the favorite picks from Gleeson’s staff or browse from a selection of books that have won the Pulitzer, Mann Booker, Orange, Agatha, or Hugo awards. The Staff Picks display is located on the first floor of the library near the puzzle tables, and the Award Picks display is located near the reference desk under the LCD TV screen.

#GleesonLibrary #GoUSF