Monday, 30 July 2018

52 Book Challenge - Week 31

Do you like scary books?

What frightens you most? Tales of monsters and creatures of the night? Tales of terror and suspense? Biographies of former Prime Ministers? We have them all - and this week, we're challenging you to read a book you may have to put in the freezer.

Yes, this week's Reading Challenge is:

31. A scary book

So grab a book, make sure there's space in the freezer, and enjoy.

By the way, please don't put any of our books in the freezer. Or, for that matter, the fridge, microwave, dishwasher, washing machine or dryer. The cupboard above the pantry is fine.


Have you missed out on hearing about the 52 Book Challenge? Catch up here.

Reading Challenge Week 30 - A play

Plays are actually a lot of fun to read - they don't take too long, they're driven by dialogue and character and you get to imagine what it would look like on stage if you were directing it. Or how you'd film it for the movie version (if that's the way you roll).

So it's good that the Reading Challenge for this week gave us all an excuse to pick up a script and read it like a book. Hopefully some of you will catch the bug and start reading plays more often.


Rachael McGarvey read Macbeth, by William Shakespeare.

I had to read many plays in high school, most of them I thought were ‘meh!’ but I don’t mind a bit of William Shakespeare, and let’s face it, Bill had a bit of talent for writing.

One of the plays I did like was Macbeth (or "the Scottish play", for the superstitious ones among us - 820 SHAK 1C MAC).  Macbeth starts off being a nice guy, until he is told by three witches that there is a prophecy that he will be king (Gullible much!!).  So he and Lady Macbeth (who really wears the pants in the family) motivated greed and ambition take out the reigning King Duncan (who honestly sounds like a good guy you’d want to have a beer with. 😉) so Macbeth can take the throne as the new king… and herein is where the trouble starts. 

Turns out Macbeth has a conscience and is totally regretting killing King Duncan and is starting to unravel and become quite paranoid and he also realises he needs to kill a few more people to keep the throne.  Needless to say it doesn’t end well for Macbeth and Lady Macbeth who end up going mad and carking it. – Apparently it is not always good to be the king!!


Brenda Carter read Cosi, by Louie Nowra.

Many years ago I performed the role of Ruth in Louis Nowra’s play, Cosi, so I decided to read it again for this week’s Challenge.

Set in the 1970s, Cosi explores multiple themes including the treatment of the mentally ill, the Vietnam War, and burgeoning sexual freedoms for women.  It all sounds rather heavy but while the play has its serious and poignant moments, it is also extremely funny as the inhabitants prepare to perform Mozart’s opera, Cosi Fan Tutte. They are led by a young graduate named Lewis, whose initial financial motivation is eventually replaced by an enhanced understanding of himself and others, and an appreciation of the importance of human relationships.

The plot takes place in a Melbourne mental institution at a time when people with mental health problems, as well as alcoholics and drug abusers, were segregated and ostracized by ‘normal’ society. Nowra skillfully shows the similarities between these two groups, with each challenged to question what is real and what is illusion.

You can find Cosi on the shelves at 820A NOW 1C COS, with many of Nowra’s other plays close by.


Scott Dale read Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett.

It was almost a decade ago that I saw Gandalf himself (Sir Ian Murray McKellen) in a production of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot (820 BEC 2C ENA) in Adelaide. I really enjoyed the play. It is bleak but very funny.

Ask people what the play is about and you’ll often get the answer, “nothing”. But some people say that like it’s a bad thing. What about the TV show Seinfeld?

Let me give you a quick “plot rundown”. Vladimir and Estragon are waiting for Godot on a quiet country road. They grumble about their lives and about life in general. A master and his servant come through and provide some distraction. These two leave and sometime later, a boy informs the two men that Mr Godot won’t make it that day but will meet them tomorrow. The next day, much the same takes place and we leave our two characters still waiting for Godot.

The Irish author, Samuel Beckett was one of those rare individuals, able to publish works in multiple languages. Beckett wrote the original in French and translated it into English. He did this with quite a few of his works.  As with a lot of Beckett, this is no plot driven drama. It is something much more symbolic. The dialogue, though dark, is very funny.

I tried to act out some of this play in the library but seeing how most of it is just standing around waiting and shooting the breeze, people thought I was being lazy. It’s hard to refute such a claim when you’re standing around not doing much. So no more “performances” for me.


GIDEON - Global Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology Online Network

How many of the world’s infectious diseases occur in Australia? 

How many of these are caused by parasites?

Which of the parasitic diseases of Australia are carried by dogs?

GIDEON (Global Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology Online Network) is a dedicated infectious disease knowledge management tool. If there is anything you need to know anything about infectious diseases, GIDEON is the place to look.

GIDEON consists of two principle content modules: Infectious Diseases, and Microbiology.

The Infectious Diseases module encompasses over 350 infectious diseases, 231 countries, and over 400 anti-infective drugs and vaccines. Use this module to find whatever it is you need to know about infectious diseases, diagnosis, travel, drugs, or vaccines.

Have a patient or scenario you need help with? Start in the Diagnosis module to enter symptoms and narrow down potential diseases. Wondering why a particular disease isn't listed? Click the Why Not button at the bottom of the Diagnosis Results window and select the disease you're curious about. GIDEON will explain why this disease did not appear - for example, the disease may not be endemic to your selected country, or may be excluded based on a symptom you've input.

Need to know more about a specific disease? Put diseases into perspective using the Fingerprint function under the Diseases tab. Learn what a disease is, how it is transmitted, key signs and symptoms, diagnostic tests and treatment, details of country-by-country impact, and more. Select multiple diseases to compare using the Compare button at the bottom of the Result window to see a simple breakdown of relevant clinical findings, and track disease trends using the Graph function, also under the Diseases tab.

Use the Travel tab to see travel-related events for specific diseases and learn more about specific drugs or vaccines in their respective modules. Find general information, warnings, contraindications, potential interactions, trade names, and spectrum of use for over 300 drugs and over 70 vaccines.

The other principle content module in GIDEON is the Microbiology module. This module includes more than 1,700 microbial taxa (Bacteria, Mycobacteria, Yeasts).

Need to learn more about a particular bacteria or yeast found in humans? Prepare a chart in the Microbiology module by selecting yes or no to each phenotypic test and then selecting the Identified bacteria, myobacteria, or yeast that you would like to examine. Again, the Compare function can be used to compare multiple identified organisms, allowing you to view a simple pathogen comparison chart.

If you think GIDEON could help you in your studies, you can access it from the A-Z Databases page under G for GIDEON. Alternatively, you can follow this link straight to the database itself.

For help in learning how to get the most out of GIDEON, check out the video tutorials available. There is even an awesome tutorial that will walk you through using each of the different aspects of GIDEON to identify a ‘Mongolian Mystery Bug.’

By the way, there are 221 infectious diseases that occur in Australia. 45 of these are caused by parasites, and 12 of those parasites are carried by dogs!

Thursday, 26 July 2018

New Book: Neuroanatomy and Neuroscience at a Glance

Each week recent purchases are placed on the new book displays inside the library, and eBooks are made immediately available to use. You can view and subscribe to the list via New Library Books list online. For instructions on how to borrow an eBook by downloading it; check out our eBook LibGuide. Some eBooks require logging in with your JCU username and password; additional software will need to be installed to download books to a digital bookshelf. Most eBooks can be read online without downloading extra software.

An eBook title of interest is: Neuroanatomy and Neuroscience at a Glance by Roger A. Barker, Francesca Cicchetti, and Emma S. J. Robinson

An extract from the book summary states:
Everything you need to know about Neuroanatomy and Neuroscience ... at a Glance! Neuroanatomy and Neuroscience at a Glance is a highly illustrated, quick reference guide to the anatomy, biochemistry, physiology and pharmacology of the human nervous system. Each chapter features a summary of the anatomical structure and function of a specific component of the central nervous system, a section on applied neurobiology outlining how to approach a patient with neurological or psychiatric problems aligned to the chapter topic, standard diagnostic procedures for most common scenarios, as well as an overview of treatment and management options.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

52 Book Challenge - Week 30

"The play's the thing!"

Or so they say. And by "they", I am, of course, referring to all of the actors who have played Hamlet in a little play you might have heard of, called Hamlet.

Many of us were forced... er... I mean "encouraged" to read at least one Shakespearean play in school, and for some people that may have been the first, last and only play they've ever read.

Well, we'd like to challenge you to change that. This week, the Reading Challenge is:

30. A play.

Yes! That's right! We challenge you - no, we dare you, to find a play and read it just like you would read a book.

You could go old school and read the likes of Shakespeare, MarloweFry or Behn, or "modern" (in the mid-20th Century version of the word) with Beckett, Brecht or Chekhov. Maybe you want to pick something particularly Australian, with Lawler, Hewett or Gray (fun fact, did you know that Gray's The Torrents actually tied with Lawler's Summer of the Seventeenth Doll in a play writing competition?). Or perhaps something genuinely "modern" (as in, written this century) like Balodis or Keene.

Or, maybe this is finally the time to read that play written by your best friend, who has been asking you for years if you "like" it. Be kind.


Have you missed out on hearing about the 52 Book Challenge? Catch up here.

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Reading Challenge Week 29 - A book set in the future

Ah, the future. If the books we set there are anything to go by, it's a uncomfortable place full of things we don't want to happen.

This week's reading challenge was to read a book set in the future, and while there are some books set in "nice" futures, most of them aren't. Or, if the future actually is nice, someone goes and scratches the surface to find out that horrible things are secretly seething beneath.

How about the book you chose? Did it show a future you'd like to live in?


Brenda Carter read The Giver by Lois Lowry.

The Giver by Lois Lowry (c810 LOW)  seems to be one of those wonderful books that slipped under the radar of many readers. Although written in 1993, I only discovered it myself a few years ago and absolutely love it. It was adapted for film in 2014 but if you’ve seen the film, put it behind you and read the book instead.

The Giver is set in a seemingly Utopian society devoid of potentially harmful emotions, stress and difficult choices. The Elders select your career, partner and children for you based on objective suitability criteria. The result is a conformist State in which there is no conflict or unhappiness.

The story revolves around 12-year old Jonas, who is assigned the prestigious role of the next Receiver of Memory. He receives his training from The Giver, and is gradually entrusted with the burden of carrying all historical memory. With knowledge comes understanding of the dystopian nature of the Community. He must decide whether to support the continuing conformist social structure and order, or risk his life to restore individual choice and freedom.

The ending is satisfyingly ambiguous. It’s a great book to discuss with friends and at only 180 pages, it’s an easy and thought-provoking read.


Sharon Bryan read Tomorrow, When the War Began, by John Marsden.

This is an actual conversation I had with my mother (voracious reader and former English teacher) regarding this book:

Me: I'm thinking about reading Tomorrow, When the War Began for my book set in the future.
My Mother: That book isn't really set in the future, is it?
Me: It's set *Tomorrow*.

John Marsden's book (c820.94 MARS) is set in a kind of future, but a very immediate one. A group of "contemporary" teenage kids (it was written in the 90s) from a country town go camping out in the middle of nowhere to celebrate the end of high school, before they all go their separate ways.

While they're busy being ordinary Australian teenagers on an ordinary camping trip, the Australia is invaded by an unnamed country to the "north", whose tactics seem to involve subduing the country towns. I'm not sure why. I've visited many country towns in my day, and most of them can barely afford to keep a bank open. And yes, most farmers are armed, but the shot guns and rifles they use for killing feral pigs aren't really the biggest threat an invading army is going to face, now, is it?

I have no doubt that Charters Towers or Julia Creek could raise a rag-tag militia to fend of an invading army if necessary, but they probably won't be able to do it quickly, so really you'd be better off concentrating on taking out the places with military bases, rather than the outback towns, wouldn't you?

These particular invaders had different priorities, though, so when our teenage heroes return to town, they find it in a decidedly different condition to how it was when they left it. After some initial "what do we do, now that everything we know and love is gone?" angst, they arm themselves with rifles, shotguns and explosives from the farms (surprisingly useful places, farms), and become rebels, hiding in the bush, running raids on the town and sabotaging the enemy army's efforts.

As you do.

It's actually a really great book and I thoroughly recommend it. It's one of those defining "Australian" books that almost everyone in this country has read in school (at least, since the 90s), so reading it helps you to understand our cultural background a little better.

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Library Opening Hours, Study period 2, 2018

Welcome back to all our students.  The Cairns Campus library and the Mabo library (Townsville) will be open at the following times during Semester 2: 

Townsville Eddie Koiki Mabo Library 
  • Monday to Thursday 7:30 am to 9:30 pm
  • Friday 7:30 am to 7:30 pm
  • Saturday & Sunday 10:00 am to 5:00pm 

Cairns Campus Library 
  • Monday to Friday 7:30am to 12:00am (midnight) The library will be staffed from 8:00am to 8:00pm Monday to Thursday and from 8:00am to 5:00pm on Friday
  • Saturday & Sunday 10:00 am to 12:00am (midnight). The library will be staffed from 10:00am to 5:00pm

Cairns Show Day opening hours:
  • Friday 20 July, 5:00pm to 10:00pm (unstaffed) The Townsville library will be open for business as usual.

A security guard patrols the Cairns library when the library is unstaffed and can escort you to your car on request.

You can find all our opening hours on the library website.

Friday, 20 July 2018

Queensland Judgments - New Database

 
Queensland Judgments is an essential – and free – resource for all Queensland law students and professionals.

The website is a joint initiative of the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting for the State of Queensland (ICLRQ) and the Supreme Court of Queensland Library Committee (SCLQ), publishing an authoritative, complete, and functional collection of Queensland case law, including the Queensland Reports.

Included on the site is a complete online set of the authorised reports of the Supreme Court of Queensland, commencing from the foundation of the Court in 1859. The set is updated monthly and includes:
  • Queensland Supreme Court Reports (QSCR) (1859-1878)
  • Queensland Law Reports (Beor) (QLR (Beor)) (1876-1878)
  • Queensland Law Journal Reports (QLJ) and Notes of Cases (QLJ (NC)) (1861-1901)
  • State Reports of Queensland (St R Qd) (1902-1957)
  • Queensland Weekly Notes (QWN) (1902-1972)
  • Queensland Reports (Qd R) (from 1958).
In addition to the Queensland Reports, Queensland Judgments also includes a complete set of the unreported judgements of the Supreme Court of Queensland (from 2002), updated daily. Judgments that have been noted as subject to an appeal are annotated with a warning symbol in the heading and an endnote. All appeals from judgments published in this collection will be recorded on the site. Pending appeals can be found under the Appeals tab.

There is also a Digest, which identifies and summarizes key Queensland decisions concerning the meaning and operation of the Uniform Civil Procedure Rules 1999 (Qld). This digest is updated weekly.

Much of the site can be accessed without need for registration. However, to access the Queensland Reports, users will need to register for a free account

There are also a few short videos to help you get the most out of the site.

Biggest Book Club, Sunday 12 August 2018



The 2018 Tropical Writers Festival will be held in Cairns from 10-12 August 2018. This biennial event brings together local writers and readers with Australian and international authors and speakers to stimulate literary conversations.



One of the many sessions on offer is the Biggest Book Club.

When: Sunday 12 August, 11am to 12.30pm
Where: Hilton, Cairns

In this popular event, a panel of writers and journalists have an animated discussion about three very different books:

The Shepherd’s Hut, by Tim Winton
Force of Nature, by Jane Harper
Less, by Andrew Sean Greer, 2018 Pulitzer Prize winner

Buy your tickets now and join in the fun (reading the books is not essential).

For the full program of events, go to the Tropical Writers Festival website.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

52 Book Challenge - Week 29

Week 29 of the 52 Book Reading Challenge is hitting us just in time for O-Week. For anyone who is new to this challenge, we've stolen a reading challenge from Hannah Braime, and every week we're challenging people to read a book (but not just any book - it has to match a certain theme).

Jump in at any time and read as many of the books as you can. Die-hard readers who manage to complete the entire challenge get... um... well, we don't have any prizes. But reading is it's own reward.

This week's challenge is:

29. A book set in the future

Just to make things interesting, it doesn't have to be our future. It can be a book that was set in the future back when it was written, even if we've overtaken it now (like 1984, or 2001: A Space Odyssey).

And, just remember, we only have one copy of The Handmaid's Tale, so if you want that one you'd better move fast.


Have you missed out on hearing about the 52 Book Challenge? Catch up here.

Reading Challenge Week 28 - A book with a place in the title.

So this week's reading challenge was to read a book with a place in the title. There are a lot of places in the world. There are places close at hand, and places far away. You could have a planet, a country, a county, a city, a street or the chair you're sitting on right now (although, that last one would be a very specific book and I'm not sure we'd have that in our library). It can be a real place, an imaginary place or a metaphysical place.

The place could be somewhere to go, somewhere to be, or somewhere one's been. Here or there. Anywhere. Nowhere. Erehwon...

Let's stop waffling about places and look at some books, shall we?

Louise Cottrell read The Australian Colonies: Their Origin and Present Condition, by William Hughes.

And now for some shameless self-promotion: Did you know that the JCU Library has a Special Collections? While we normally spruik the North Queensland Collection, we also have a Rare Book Collection. You know, the type where a Librarian guards the entrance like a dragon with its hoard? You’re welcome to use our treasures, but please wear gloves or the Librarian will kill maim be displeased with you.

This week I read The Australian Colonies: Their origin and present condition by William Hughes, published in 1852 (919.4 HUG, Rare Books). Written around 1850, the book provides a snapshot of an exciting period of Australian history, a time roughly 60 years since the landing of the First Fleet, the beginning of the Gold Rushes to Victoria and New South Wales, and 3 years before convict transportation ceased.

It’s a fascinating read but it is a product of its time, so expect flowery descriptions, political incorrectness and a patronizing opinion of anyone not British, male and upper class.

Oh, and there are cannibals, can’t forget the cannibals. Long live the Victorian fascination with the macabre!


Brenda Carter read Howard’s End by E. M. Forster.

Although Howard’s End is not a real geographic place in the sense of place names in A Passage to India or Out of Africa, it is the name of the country house in Howard’s End by E. M. Forster (820 FORS 1C HOW/STA) and the setting in which the characters converge and the main themes of the novel are explored.  Forster based his description of Howards End on his childhood home ‘Rooks Nest’ in Hertfordshire.

Howard’s End is a surprisingly modern novel, considering it was written in 1910. The somewhat bohemian Schlegel sisters are intelligent and independent. Their decisions are based on compassion and respect for the dignity of all, regardless of social status. In contrast, the actions of the wealthy Wilcoxes reflect their social and economic prejudices. As Forster evaluates the social conventions and moral choices of the Schlegels, their lower class friends and the Wilcoxes, the fate of Howard’s End becomes the symbol of the ‘new morality’ and reconciliation amongst the families.

Howard’s End has been adapted for theatre, television, film, radio and opera, but the novel remains the most satisfying form. In 1998, the Modern Library ranked Howards End 38th on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century – it is well worth a read.



I love a book that starts with a map. Maps seem to appear much more often in fantasy books than in other works of fiction. I know that Treasure Island has a map but cannot think of many others outside the fantasy genre.

There was no mention in this week’s challenge that the place should be found somewhere here on Earth.

Earthsea is not a real place. Earthsea is an archipelago created by the author, and the setting for a series of novels that begin with A Wizard of Earthsea (810 LEG, curriculum collection). Earthsea is, like all archipelagos, bound by water. People generally believe that there are no lands beyond the archipelago but there are rumours of islands that exist past the mapped world.

We meet Ged from Gont as a young boy. Ged is gifted in the use of magic and soon leaves his village to go off to wizard school where he learns his trade from the masters. Something terrible happens along the way and Ged accidentally releases a power from another realm. This shadow-like entity almost kills Ged, and then goes about  hunting the young wizard, aiming to possess him and do all sorts of mischief to the world of Earthsea.

When I think of Earthsea I imagine a low, grey sky over rugged, windswept islands. If I had to compare the book to a fruit, I would choose a mangosteen because the action takes place in an interesting looking land, not everything is as it seems, and it leaves you wanting more. 

Friday, 13 July 2018

O-Week Library Workshops

Active learning is the key to success at university. Get a head start during O-Week with these library workshops:

Thursday 19 July - Keys to Academic Success (Part Two)
Power Up Your Assignment Research, 11:00am-11:45am
Your assignment is only as good as your research. Come to this session to build up some serious research muscle. 


Referencing Bootcamp, 11:45am-12:30pm
Learn the nitty gritty details of referencing and how to avoid plagiarism. The library website also has guides on different referencing styles, and of course our friendly staff can offer support at the Infohelp desk or via online chat.

Find us in Building A3.3 (Cairns) or Central Lecture Theatre, Building 5 (Townsville). If you miss this session, you can take the Info Skills Road Trip online.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

52 Book Challenge - Week 28

"Do you know the way to San Jose? I'm only 24 hours from Tulsa, but I left my heart in San Francisco, and now I'm stuck catching a bus with some kids in America. I'm a bit out of place here - I'm a Galway girl (don't believe anyone who tells you I belong to Glasgow), but I expect, by the time I get to Pheonix, I'll feel like it's a long, long way to Tipperary. I'd like to make a call, but that darn Wicheta lineman is still on the line, and I don't want to use the payphone in MacArthur Park. It looks oddly melted..."

Hopefully, we've managed to get at least one song stuck in your head and prompted you to ask: "Why are they using song titles to talk about a Reading Challenge?"

Well, these aren't just any song titles - they're titles with place names in them. And it just so happens that this week's challenge is:

28. A book with a place in the title.

So go find yourself a book to read.


Have you missed out on hearing about the 52 Book Challenge? Catch up here.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

52 Reading Challenge Week 27 - A book with a character with your first name

Finding a book with a character who shares your first name may be as easy as pie - or it may be one of the hardest challenges we've seen so far. It really all depends on what your name is.

We managed to rustle up a few name-sharers, but it did require some creativity and a bit of lateral thinking.


Nathan Miller read The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper.

Written in the 1800s about events in 1757, this classic novel is probably one of those formative creative works for me. The most recent movie based on the novel had just been released in 1992, when I was in high school. I was already a fan of historical adventure novels and movies by authors Rosemary Sutcliff, Wilbur Smith and Robert Louis Stevenson, and any western, pirate, or sword-and-sandal film. I had also inherited a classic collection of novels as a primary school kid (Robinson Crusoe, Treasure Island, Kidnapped, King Solomon’s Mine, Robin Hood).

I never finished reading many of these originals as a child; the writing was just to dry and complicated.  However Daniel Day Lewis playing Nathaniel a.k.a “Natty or Hawkweye” Poe (called Bumppo in the book) really impressed me. Oh and Nathaniel was not a common name in the 1970s and 1980s.

The novel is of its time, language-wise and attitude, but I thoroughly enjoyed it as an adult. The classic adventure trope of semi-civilized woodsman and trusty natives clashing against naïve colonialist upper classes and evil savages whilst they compete for a fair maiden (this is also all made more ironic by my own Indigenous Australian and European ancestors and rural upbringing of pioneer stories and Aboriginal survival, and a liberal arts degree).

You can see the archetypes in this book repeated in everything from Raymond Fiest fantasy novels, to Wilbur Smith African period pieces, even science Fiction TV shows and movies, Tarzan or the Lone Ranger. Although the modern reader might flinch from the wordy language and the archaic racial and gender stereotypes, it does still flow well and offer an insight in to the thinking of European Americans of that period about the Native Americans and their own national development.


Brenda Carter read The Pirate, by Sir Walter Scott.

From the Norse, meaning sword or firebrand, the name Brenda was originally used only in the Shetland Isles of Scotland, but spread to other parts of the English-speaking world after Brenda appeared as a heroine in Sir Walter Scott's 1822 novel, The Pirate (820 SCO(W) 1C PIR/MAC).

The Pirate’s plot reads a little like a Gilbert and Sullivan libretto. It was loosely based on the experiences of real-life pirate John Gow, and contains a detailed account of life in the Shetland islands at the end of the 17th century.  The rollicking story is full of mistaken identities, misunderstandings, romance (involving the beautiful Brenda and her sister), piratical shenanigans and eventual moral restitution.

Sir Walter Scott pioneered the historical novel and wrote a phenomenal 21 novels in 18 years, including classics like Rob Roy and Ivanhoe, as well as poetry, plays, short stories and non-fiction. You can find many of his novels available as ebooks in the library catalogue.


Sharon Bryan didn't read The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck.

Look, my name is "Sharon", okay? It's not Jane, or Elizabeth, or Sarah, or Rachael, or Rebecca, or Daphne or any of the names authors actually choose for prominent characters. It's "Sharon". "Sharon" is the kind of name writers give to a waitress who says "I'll be right back", and then you never see her again - so no one bothers including her in any list of characters.

There are books out there with characters called "Sharon" in them, but they're not in our collection. Do you know what is in our collection? The Grapes of Wrath, which has a character called "Rose of Sharon" - which is close enough. Only it's The Grapes of Wrath.

The Grapes of Wrath.

The Grapes of Wrath is a work of mid-20th century American Literature (capital "L"). Literature (capital "L") is a genre of writing that often encourages people who like that sort of thing to say: "Ooh, ahh, look at the Writing (capital "W")! What a masterful turn of phrase! What skill and craftsmanship! Hasn't the author captured the character/moment/situation adeptly! How deep and meaningful!" and so forth and so on.

Personally, I read Literature (capital "L") and think it's depressing. It's usually about depressing characters going through a depressing time during their generally depressing lives. By the end of the book, they may have gone through a transformative experience and now they are somewhere new (physically or metaphorically), but they're still depressing. Or they haven't moved on at all, and are in exactly the same place they were when they started (physically or metaphorically)... and they're still depressing. 

The Grapes of Wrath is a work of American Literature (capital "L") set during the depression. And it's 619 pages long. And every second chapter isn't even about the plot, it's just about the world the characters live in. In the depression.

So I got about 160 pages into the 619 pages of the book, and then decided that I had better things to do with my life right this minute and I'll get back to it later, when I'm ready for it. If I'm ever ready for it. Having said that, Steinbeck does show very skilful craftsmanship with his writing, and he captures characters and situations with adept turns of phrase. You might like that sort of thing.

Friday, 6 July 2018

NAIDOC Week: 8-15 July 2018

In 2018, NAIDOC Week will be celebrated from 8-15 July. NAIDOC Week is a time of celebration, reflecting on the survival and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait people. This year's theme - Because of her, we can - focuses on the active and significant roles women have played at the community, local, state and national levels. 

JCU has links to many female researchers, professionals, community leaders and activists, including Dr Gracelyn Smallwood, Dr Lorraine Muller, Dr Roxanne Bainbridge, Dr Felecia Watkin , Michelle DeShong, Sharon Moore, Juanita Sellwood, Dr Lynore Geia, Dr Roianne West, and Professor Yvonne Cadet James.

Research Online contains a wealth of publications by Aboriginal and Torres Strait women from, among others, the Cairns InstituteIndigenous Education and Research Centre and the Indigenous Health Unit.

There will be a free panel discussion at the Cairns Institute on Tuesday, 10 July at 1:30pm. Hear panel speakers:
  • Vonda Moar-Malone, Mayor Torres Shire Council
  • Francine O'Rourke, Indigenous Outreach Officer, Energy & Water Ombudsman Queensland
  • Libby Lyons, Director Workplace Gender Equality Agency
discuss the valuable contributions made by Aboriginal and Torres Strait women in the community. Click on the link to register.

There are plenty of ways to get involved in NAIDOC Week in your community. Both Townsville and Cairns have a full program of events, with the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (12-15 July) being a highlight of the Cairns community calendar. 

Join with us in recognising the voice, passion and achievements of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, past and present. Because of her, we can!

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Plastic Free July


Following TropEco's successful morning tea to launch Plastic-Free July, the Cairns Library has created a display to showcase a range of current resources and environmentally-friendly alternatives to common plastic items (You can join in Townsville's Plastic Free Morning Tea on Wednesday 11 July).

Plastic Free July is an international initiative to drastically reduce plastic waste and improve recycling. While going completely plastic-free may be a near-impossibility, July is a time to increase our awareness of the 'throw-away mentality' and focus on replacing single-use plastics with reusable and preferably compostable alternatives. Changing basic but frequently used items such as straws, coffee cups, bags, plastic wraps and take-away containers can make a significant difference to the health of the environment and future generations. See our display for suggestions and explore many more ways to live cleaner and greener at the Plastic Free July website. 

To dig even deeper, check out our library resources on the effects of plastic waste and plastic-free living.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

52 Book Challenge - Week 27

And we welcome in the second half of the year with a reading challenge that may be either incredibly easy or incredibly difficult, depending on what your name is.

27. A book with a character with your first name.

So, last week we gave you some advice for finding information about characters who have the same first name you do. Looking up your name in Wikipedia, for example, or trying to find your name within a few places of the word "character" in a Google search: (Yourname AROUND character).

You could also try going to a site like Goodreads and LibraryThing, and search for your name there, but as neither of these sites have an option to narrow your search to character names, you'll also end up finding a lot of authors with your name (and they probably haven't named any characters after themselves, unless they're quite narcissistic - or, like Jane Austen, their names were so common at the time that it was impossible to have a family that didn't have a "Jane").

It's odd - it's like no one thinks anyone is going to search for a character by name, when you would think that "there was a character named Charlie" might be something people remember about a book they're trying to find (much like "the cover was blue" - they should also have a search function based on the colour of books).

Of course, there's always social media. Try getting your friends on TwitBook to help you out with recommendations.

And, as always, may the odds be ever in your favour.


Have you missed out on hearing about the 52 Book Challenge? Catch up here.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

52 Reading Challenge Week 26 - A book you were supposed to read in school but haven’t yet.

Okay, we had a few issues with this one. For one thing, we're a bit light on the ground. Even though we're all quite busy at this time of year (when we're not helping students, we finally have time to work on the dozens of projects that have been waiting for our attention), it's really the best time of year to take off a week or two as leave, so quite a number of our ranks aren't here to review books for us.

The second problem we have with this week's challenge is that it required us to have not read a book that was mandatory reading at some point. We're librarians. We didn't exactly gravitate to this job because we're not into that "reading" thing.

So we only managed to rustle up one naughty kid for this week:


Sharon Bryan read When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, by Judith Kerr.

I can't remember what grade I was in when we were supposed to read this book. It was either Year 8 or Year 9 (as part of a unit where we also read The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom and The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank). I also can't remember why I didn't read it.

I do remember that, years later, I confessed my sins to my English teacher, and assured her I meant to get around to reading the book at some point... and she conspiratorially whispered in my ear:

"You didn't miss much."

Well, Mrs Macey, I've finally made good on my promise. I have read When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit (820 KER). And, you know what? I really didn't miss much.

The book is concerned with a family who flee Germany during Hitler's rise to power. As the father of the family is Jewish, affluent and a writer, he realises that Germany isn't a safe place for the family, so they run away to Switzerland, and then migrate to France and England. And nothing much happens.

The (semi-autobiographical) book is told from the perspective of the youngest member of the family, Anna, who is nine years old at the beginning of the book. She is sheltered from most of the events that cause her parents concern, so as far as she is concerned this whole "refugee" thing is a bit of an adventure. Sure, they go from being rich to just scraping by. And she also finds herself struggling with new languages in new countries. But by and large she doesn't really have what you might call a "difficult childhood."

At the end of the book, she even acknowledges this herself:
Could her life since she had left Germany really be described as a difficult childhood? ... No, it was absurd. Some things had been difficult, but it had always been interesting and often funny ... As long as [the family] were together she could never have a difficult childhood. (Kerr 190)
 That said, I kind of liked the book. It wasn't exactly movie material, but not every book about historical events needs to be. It was a nice little story about a nice little girl and her nice little family who were living in difficult times. We have the follow up book in our collection, The Other Way Round, and I'm thinking of following the family to England to see what happens next.