Monday, March 31, 2014

Reeves, it is a-changin'

If you are just joining us, here's a quick rundown of what you need to know:

  • Reeves is being renovated and adapted into a learning commons. What does that mean? Well, in addition to librarians and books, it's going to house other departments focused on student success, as well as flexible space, study rooms, and more
  • Getting from here to there is going to be a bit of a process, and we appreciate your flexibility and patience as we go through some growing pains. Anyone who's ever been part of a construction project knows that unforeseen things pop up and timelines are approximate, but here's a general idea of what will be happening when. We'll keep you updated as we learn more. 
  • The children's room will be closed to new borrowing on April 25, and the rest of the physical collections on May 1. More info here

While things upstairs are being readied for changes, a few areas downstairs are starting to come together! Harlan Gallery is being revamped into a reading room, and it's looking good.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Watch This: Sholay

A bi-weekly series featuring a recommendation of a movie available in the Reeves Memorial Library DVD collection

Sholay (1975)
Directed by Ramesh Sippy

A train pulls into a remote station in rural India and a uniformed man debarks.  He is met at the station by another man, and the two proceed on horseback through the dusty, mountainous landscape to an estate outside a small village.  Upon their arrival, they are beckoned inside by a man in a long cloak, whose carriage and appearance suggest he is a figure of some authority and distinction.  We find out that the uniformed man is a jailer, and that he has been called here by the man in the cloak, whose name is Thakur Baldev Singh, to fulfill a request.  The jailer is eager to comply.

"Just name it, whatever it be," the jailer says.

"I need two men," replies Thakur.

So begins the plot of Sholay, a sprawling, action-packed epic that masterfully blends elements from a wide range of genres.  The film is a prime example of a sub-genre known as the "curry western," a type of Indian film that borrows heavily from the spaghetti western genre.  The film is also a buddy film, a comedy, a romance, a revenge thriller, and even a musical (viewers are treated to the lively,
colorful song-and-dance sequences for which Bollywood films are known).

The two men that Thakur Singh wants are Jai and Veeru (portrayed by Indian megastars Amitabh Bachchan and Dharmendra, respectively), two convicts that he encountered in his past work as a police officer.  In exchange for their release from prison and a hefty reward, he hires them to capture a notorious bandit named Gabbar Singh, who murdered Thakur's family and is wanted by the authorities.  Jai and Veeru travel to the village, where they thwart Gabbar's men in an extortion attempt, and later fight off a bandit attack during a religious festival.  They also find the potential for love, as Jai becomes attracted to Thakur's widowed daughter-in-law Radha, and Veeru falls for chatty horse-cart driver Basanti.  Veeru and Basanti are eventually captured by the bandits, and Jai's rescue attempt leads to a thrilling final showdown.

Much of the film's plot and visual style can be traced to Hollywood westerns and Italian spaghetti westerns.  Certainly the notion of outlaws protecting a village from bandits is reminiscent of The Magnificent Seven (1960), and the film's rural, mountainous setting presents a striking match to the American frontier seen in countless Hollywood films.  However, these familiar tropes are imbued with a number of thematic elements and other characteristics that make the film distinctly Indian.

The film is a trove of memorable scenes and great performances.  The final showdown and the train robbery shootout sequence are terrific action set pieces, and the prison scenes are incredibly funny.  The two lead actors turn in lively, affecting work, lending emotional power to Jai and Veeru's gradual humanization and embrace of community.  Sanjeev Kumar brings an air of gravitas and a quiet ferocity to the role of Thakur Baldev Singh.  The real standout, though, is Amjad Khan's charismatic turn as the sadistic, ruthless Gabbar Singh.

Sholay is, by many estimates, the most popular Indian film ever made, and its reputation as one of the best Indian films of all time is well deserved.  The film has a thematic richness that is lacking in most comparable westerns and revenge films.  Thakur's decision to use criminals against the bandits blurs the traditional moral line between right and wrong, and suggests a dissatisfaction with existing institutions of law and order.  The film's message about the worthlessness of violence as a way of life is tempered by the story of the villagers' realization that it is sometimes necessary to stand up against  terror and lawlessness.  Of course, with a running time of nearly 3 1/2 hours, Sholay has ample time to develop its themes and characterizations.

For many American audiences, the closest they have come to Indian cinema in their moviegoing experiences has been English filmmaker Danny Boyle's surprise 2008 hit Slumdog Millionaire.  For these viewers, Sholay provides a wonderfully entertaining introduction to the Bollywood style.

A note: The film's spoken dialogue and song lyrics are in Hindi, with English subtitles.  Sadly, the version of the film available on the library's DVD copy does not include subtitles for the songs.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Old magazines up for grabs!

Literary Digest is an older popular magazine which is available free online. Therefore the library is discarding a number of random issues from approximately 1915 through 1940. They are in good condition, so feel free to stop by the library and take what you would like. They are in the office, so just ask a library staff person to be directed to them. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Research Award reminder!

The application deadline for the Undergraduate Research Award is THIS SUNDAY at midnight. Get those entries in and wow us with your research prowess!

There are two $250 prizes up for grabs, so get your research projects in by Sunday night for your shot at riches and glory. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Watch This: Best in Show

A bi-weekly series featuring a recommendation of a movie available in the Reeves Memorial Library DVD collection

Best in Show (2000)
Co-written and directed by Christopher Guest

"A dog reflects the family life. Whoever saw a frisky dog in a gloomy family, or a sad dog in a happy one? Snarling people have snarling dogs, dangerous people have dangerous ones."
--Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

One of the many joys in watching Best in Show, a faux-documentary (or "mockumentary") which follows the owners of five show dogs as they travel with their competing canines to Philadelphia for a prestigious dog show, is how well the film's makers seem to understand the truth of the above quotation.  The owners (and handlers) of each of the five dogs exhibit a range of quirks and personality types, and each dog seems perfectly suited to its owner(s), mirroring many of the qualities that make each owner such a compelling, endearing character.

The film begins as each of the dogs and their owners are introduced before preparing for the journey to Philadelphia and the competition itself.  Bickering yuppies Hamilton and Meg Swan (Michael Hitchcock and Parker Posey) have a Weimaraner who becomes as neurotic and upset as they are as a result of their overinvolvement with her.  Gerry and Cookie Fleck (Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara) are a Florida couple whose scruffy terrier exemplifies their appeal as normal, everyday folks who struggle to finance the trip.  North Carolina fishing shop owner Harlan Pepper (Christopher Guest) extols the virtues of the hound dog, displaying the type of loyalty that he values so much in his bloodhound, Hubert.  Eccentric New York gay couple Scott and Stefan (John Michael Higgins and Michael McKean) exhibit a flamboyance matched by their stylish shih-tzus.  Lastly, there is buxom, airheaded trophy wife Sherri Ann Cabot (Jennifer Coolidge), whose focus on superficial appearances is reflected by her elegantly-coiffed, clipped white poodle.

As the owners check into the expensive Philadelphia hotel and the various dogs begin to compete for the top prize, Best in Show builds a tension that may be unexpected in an outright comedic film.  Viewers may find themselves surprised by how strongly they may be rooting for one dog or another (or one owner or another, since it is the owners who are really the film's focus).  One of Best in Show's biggest achievements is that it is more compelling than most actual competition documentaries, a sub-genre of the documentary that is perhaps best exemplified by the superb 2002 film Spellbound, which chronicles the adolescent competitors in the 1999 National Spelling Bee.

Best in Show works so well because it is so expertly-crafted, coming from the brilliant creators of the mockumentaries This is Spinal Tap (1984) and Waiting for Guffman (1996).  The script is terrifically funny from start to finish.  The cast is uniformly outstanding, creating fleshed-out, true-to-life characters out of roles that could easily have devolved into caricatures.  If the actors were not well-known, it could be easy to mistake the characters for real people.  Perhaps the film's most important asset is that, although its characters are certainly of recognizable types, and although the film often pokes fun of those types, the humor is never malicious or overtly critical.  Each character is very lovingly written and portrayed.

If this film has you sitting up and begging for more, check out the filmmakers' follow-up mockumentary effort, the folk music-centric A Mighty Wind (2003), which is also available in the Reeves Memorial Library DVD collection.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Spring Break Hours

We hope you're going somewhere warm! We'll be here if you need us.

Spring Break Hours:

March 8 & 9: CLOSED
March 10-14: 8:00 am - 4:50 pm
March 15 & 16: CLOSED

Thursday, March 6, 2014

New to the Library's DVD Collection

We are excited to announce some new additions to our DVD collection, including many of the most popular classic and contemporary movies of all time!  Thanks to a recent anonymous donation in memory of our late President Emerita JoAnne Boyle, we have added over 30 new DVDs, replacing titles that were previously only available on VHS.

Here are some of the highlights:

2001: A Space Odyssey
Annie Hall
Apocalypse Now
Bonnie and Clyde
The Godfather trilogy
Gone With the Wind
The Graduate
Jerry Maguire
Jurassic Park
Lawrence of Arabia
Malcolm X
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Raging Bull
Saving Private Ryan
The Shawshank Redemption
Sunset Boulevard
West Side Story
The Wizard of Oz

As you can see from this incomplete list, there are many genres to choose from, and the donation included movies from the era of classic Hollywood all the way up through the past two decades.  Come to the library today and check out an old favorite, or discover a new one!

Thank you, anonymous donor! We hope everyone will take the opportunity to enjoy these wonderful films.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Future of our collection

As the library building moves forward into a new era, it raises questions about the future of the library's collections, as well. Collection development is affected by many, many factors, but general policies guide the decision-making. Let's take a look at the three main kinds of resources that we collect: videos, periodicals, and books.


The library is no longer supporting the VHS format. Our aging collection of tapes is degrading rapidly, and many people no longer have a VCR at home. We have recommended to division faculty that they use part of their library-purchasing budgets to replace any VHS in their subject areas with DVD or blu-ray format so the titles will last longer and be easier for everyone to view.

DVD and blu-ray are the formats that we will be collecting going forward. The faculty have been given any tapes that they still use in teaching, and students are welcome to any tapes that the faculty do not claim (make sure to have them properly withdrawn from the collection by a librarian-- don't just take them and run!).

We are looking into digital streaming and hope to add that to our collection in the future, as well.


While we still have a few journal titles in print, they are fewer and fewer every year. Our periodicals librarian, Judith Koveleskie, continues to switch our print journals to digital access whenever possible. All new subscriptions are acquired in electronic format only.

Check our subscription directory, Journal Finder, to locate and access the journal you need. In most cases our subscriptions are via a database collection, but in some situations we have digital access on the publisher's website if you enter via Journal Finder.


We will be adding both print and electronic books for the foreseeable future. All other factors being equal, preference will go to the ebook format due to the greater accessibility, the likelihood that multiple users can view the book at the same time, and the fact that ebooks don't require physical storage and maintenance.