"What We Like"

The Talented Miss Highsmith by Joan Schenkar

"Nothing is more pleasurable than falling back into the arms of someone who is bad for us,” wrote Patricia Highsmith, in her journals, borrowing from Proust. Get lost in “Highsmith Country” as laid out in this imaginative biography by Joan Schenkar. Highsmith, author of Strangers on a Train and the The Talented Mr. Ripley was seductive, dark and complicated and saw suspicious motives everywhere.
Nora F.

"What We Like" features weekly recommendations from Excelsior staff and patrons for Library books, music, movies and audiobooks that we think you might like. If you have something you want to recommend, drop by and let us know!


TODAY'S TIP - Jobs & Careers - The Career Transitions database

Career Transitions employs a step-by-step approach to help people explore new career possibilities by assessing their interests and experience and identifying ways to improve their prospects. These include advice for networking and education, preparing for a job search (including a resume-building tool), and searching and applying for jobs.

To use Career Transitions, you need to create an account using your email address. Once you have an account, you can keep track of where you are in the process and save your work. The interest assessment takes about 20 minutes to complete. In the assessment, you answer whether you would like or dislike doing certain kinds of work tasks. After completing the assessment, you can use it to complete the next section, exploring careers by industry and job.

The next steps include a resume builder, in which you answer a series of questions to complete a resume that can be saved in a variety of formats and made available online. Also available is job search and interview preparation advice. There are sections to help you find courses to improve your skills. Finally, you can use Career Transitions to search for available jobs.

To get to Career Transitions and the other jobs and career databases from the homepage, click on the eLibrary tab, then choose Articles & Databases, and select Jobs & Careers from the Category menu. You will see other jobs and career resources offered by San Francisco Public Library including offerings from Learning Express Library and Tutor.com.

In the Career Center, from Tutor.com, you can chat live with a certified tutor who will assist you in reviewing your resume, and with job searching tips and interview preparation. There are also thousands of worksheets, tutorials and study guides on cover letters, resume writing, resume templates and sample resumes.

Learning Express Library offers 1) Search & Workplace Skills where you can find online tutorials on business writing, job search and networking skills, resume and cover letter writing, interviewing and tips on how to succeed at work. 2) Jobs & Careers, which is a collection of online test preparation materials for occupations requiring licensing, certification, aptitude tests and other career preparation. 3) Skill-Building for Adults, a collection of tests and courses for math, reasoning, reading, writing, and grammar. Also try the searchable eBooks (the link is on the right side of the homepage) for over 150 career topics and study aids.

In addition to these databases, there are periodical and newspaper indexes as well as extensive collections of career books in all branch libraries. Many branches and the Main offer jobs and career classes as well. Be sure to ask a Librarian for more information.

Excelsior Librarians and Staff share tips & tricks to help you make the most of the San Francisco Public Library catalog, databases and website. New tips posted Tuesdays on the Excelsior Blog. Watch this space!

First Monday Movies - Crime of Passion - August 2nd

Hardboiled newspaper columnist Kathy Ferguson (Barbara Stanwyck) abandons her career to become a housewife when she marries L.A. police detective Bill Doyle (Sterling Hayden). She’s miserable in the stifling suburban milieu, and she funnels all her energy into trying to advance her husband's career – using her wiles to get close to Bill’s boss, Chief of Detectives Tony Pope (Raymond Burr). Crime of Passion dissects the murderous female from a 50s perspective. Directed by Gerd Oswald (1957/84 mins)

Monday, August 2nd @6:30 p.m.

Exhibit - Growing Up Asian in America

Growing Up Asian in America is the largest celebration of Asian heritage in the nation and is a signature program of the Asian Pacific Fund. The program began in January 2010 with an essay and art competition for students in grades kindergarten through 12. This year, 1,400 contest entries were received. The winning entries are featured in this exhibit.

The exhibit will be displayed at the Excelsior Branch from August 2 - August 31, 2010. The Asian Pacific Fund created this program to promote understanding throughout the Bay Area among people of all backgrounds.

"What We Like"

Luminous Emptiness, understanding the Tibetan book of the dead - by Francesca Fremantle

This commentary on the Tibetan Book of the Dead is remarkable for the clearness and concision with which Fremantle explains the complex philosophy and doctrines of Tibetan Buddhism. An excellent introduction with its exposition of the true meaning of life, how to accept death, and how to help the dying, and the dead.

"What We Like" features recommendations from Excelsior staff and patrons for Library books, music, movies and audiobooks that we think you might like. If you have something you want to recommend, drop by and let us know!


TODAY'S TIP: Language Learning - UPDATE

A while ago we published a Tuesday Tip about learning a new language with resources made available by San Francisco Public Library. We have recently added two new resources to help you accomplish your goal.

From the homepage, click on the eLibrary tab, then choose Articles & Databases, and select Language Learning from the Category menu. You will be given the option to choose Mango Languages, PowerSpeak or Rosetta Stone. For all courses you need to have a Library card and pin number, and you will be asked to register. You will also need to have certain add-ons installed on your computer, including JavaScript and Flash. Here's a breakdown of what these databases have to offer:

PowerSpeak - PowerSpeak simulates gradual immersion through a series of stories, activities, videos, interactive quizzes and more. The language courses available are Spanish, French, Mandarin, German and ESL for Spanish speakers. To use PowerSpeak, create an account and start with the introduction video, or just dive right into your first lesson.

Mango Languages - Mango uses real-life situations and actual conversations to more effectively teach a new language. While listening to and practicing the language, you can mouse over the text in western characters to reveal the word in the original characters.

Mango offers Basic Courses for Arabic (Levantine), Dari, Farsi, Hebrew, Hindi, Irish, Korean, Pashto, Tagolog, Thai, Turkish, Urdu, and Vietnamese. Full Course offerings are for Chinese (Mandarin), French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese (Brazil), Russian, Spanish (Latin America).

Mango also offers Basic ESL courses for speakers of Spanish, French, Polish, Portuguese, German, Japanese, Vietnamese, Cantonese, Mandarin, Arabic (Egyptian), Turkish, Italian, Russian, Korean. And Full ESL Courses for Polish, Spanish and Portuguese speakers.

To start using Mango, fill out the registration form and follow the instructions in the confirmation email. With Mango Languages, you can choose to use it without creating a profile, but you won’t be able to track your progress and easily pick up where you left off.

Each course has its own strengths for different styles of learners. With three different choices of online courses and all the other options SFPL offers, you can find a style that works for you.

Excelsior Librarians and Staff share tips & tricks to help you make the most of the San Francisco Public Library catalog, databases and website. New tips posted Tuesdays on the Excelsior Blog. Watch this space!

Diane di Prima - Excelsior Salon on July 21st

So, you've been writing, painting, dancing. You've got a band, or a performance piece. How do you reach out to others? Find folks of like mind? Get the work out there? How do you create a community of artists & friends who will support each other?

In this informal reading/talk, Diane di Prima, San Francisco's Poet Laureate, will talk about making your art and getting it into the world "by any means necessary"—whatever comes to hand—in good times and bad. She will also address the importance of creating a sense of community.

Diane will speak from her own life experiences on the practicalities of survival as an artist during the red-baiting and repressed 1950s. She will tell us how she self-published her first book, and distributed it around New York from the back of a baby stroller. She will trace how some of the artists of the 50s became activists in the 1960s: how a sense of community led to the early communes.

Diane’s presentation will be a rare opportunity to glimpse an important and seldom-acknowledged part of Bay Area cultural history through the eyes of someone who lived it. Dialogue with the audience will be invited and encouraged throughout the presentation.

Wednesday, July 21st - 7 - 8:30 p.m.

Excelsior 5th Anniversary Party - July 17th!

Come celebrate the 5th anniversary of the Excelsior Branch renovation. Fun for families and children of all ages! Entertainment and light refreshments will be provided. Enjoy performances by the talented singers of Musicality, Roving Clown Mahsa Matin of Circus Finelli, and Juggler Extraordinaire Dana Smith. Excelsior was the first Branch completed in the Branch Library Improvement Program, a voter initiative passed in November 2000. We’re building better libraries for stronger communities. Happy Anniversary Excelsior!

Saturday, July 17th from 1 - 3 p.m.

"What We Like"

Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer, by Novella Carpenter

Do you ever look into your backyard or a vacant lot and think about what could grow there? Around the City, lots of people are trying their hand at urban farming.

Farm City is Novella Carpenter's story of transforming a vacant lot in downtown Oakland into a small farm. She begins with vegetables and chickens but progresses quickly to ducks, rabbits and even pigs. The book may inspire you to try a farming project of your own, and/or serve as a cautionary tale about what can happen when you push your project a little too far.

Farm City is a fun read - even if you never pick up a shovel yourself.
Teri D

"What We Like" is a weekly feature on the Excelsior Blog, with recommendations from Excelsior staff and patrons for Library books, music, movies and audiobooks that we think you might like. If you have something you want to recommend, drop by and let us know!


TODAY'S TIP: Audiobooks from Librivox

Looking for a book to listen to while you lay on beach, blot out the engine noise in an airport or try to ignore the 37th verse of 99 Bottles of Beer on your road trip this summer?

We’ve already introduced you to the many audio resources San Francisco Public Library offers, from books on CD to those available to download to your ipod or mp3 player from NetLibrary and Overdrive. Today’s tip is all about a favorite resource of some of us here at Excelsior Branch: LibriVox.

LibriVox is a volunteer-driven digital library of over 3000 ready-to-download books in the public domain. The variety of the available files is tremendous, from histories to short stories to classics of literature. You can read an account of the death of Lord Nelson by a surgeon who tended to him, finally make it through all of the Canterbury Tales, or hunt the white whale in Moby Dick. Librivox recordings are available in many languages, from Afrikaans to Yiddish.

Volunteer readers record books in the public domain and post the audio files to Librivox. Texts of the works are taken from the fine folks at Project Gutenberg. The goal of the volunteers at LibriVox is to make all public domain books available as free audiobooks. Audiobooks are available as mp3 files or ogg (an open-source file format) and ready to play on your computer or transfer to your favorite portable device. Instructions for downloading are available here.

If you’d like to volunteer your time for the “acoustical liberation of books in the public domain,” it’s very easy. LibriVox volunteers do not need any prior experience, nor do they need to audition or send in samples. All you need is your voice, free software, your computer, and maybe an inexpensive microphone.

Excelsior Librarians and Staff share tips & tricks to help you make the most of the San Francisco Public Library catalog, databases and website. New tips posted Tuesdays on the Excelsior Blog. Watch this space!

Excelsior Knitters - July 19th

Knitters & Crocheters - come chat, knit, purl, and spin! Have fun comparing patterns, sharing techniques and trading tips. Make new friends in the neighborhood!

Intermediate and advanced, please come and share your experience and ideas. The room is cozy, private and comfortable. Beginners are welcome to look at patterns and get acquainted. Please bring your own materials. We welcome all. Excelsior Knitters usually meet at the Library on the second Monday each month.

Monday, July 19th - 6:30 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Monday, August 9th - 6:30 p.m. - 8 p.m.

"What We Like"

Spiritual Midwifery, by Ina Gaskin

In the early ‘70s a caravan of buses traveled from California to Tennessee. En route several women gave birth, with their friends and fellow travelers assisting them. Thus began the journey to “The Farm” a commune they created in rural Tennessee. The amazing stories of these “sister-assisted” births are told in Spiritual Midwifery by world famous midwife and natural childbirth advocate Ina Mae Gaskin. A must read for anyone who has ever been born.
Karen H.

"What We Like" features weekly recommendations from Excelsior staff and patrons for Library books, music, movies and audiobooks that we think you might like. If you have something you want to recommend, drop by and let us know!


TODAY'S TIP: Citizenship Resources

Are you or someone you know seeking naturalization as a US citizen?

San Francisco Public Library offers a variety of resources on our website as well as books, videos and CDs. On the Internet, you will find a multitude of links. In this Tuesday Tip, we’ll share some of the best citizenship resources.

Over the past ten years, there have been many changes in US immigration law and procedure. One major change for the prospective citizen is the introduction of an entirely new test for Naturalization in October 2008. It is very important to check the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website for the most recent information.

USCIS has a wealth of information on their site, including materials for educators and volunteers, humanitarian resources, and guides to avoid being a victim of fraudulent offers of assistance. USCIS provides text and mp3 files of the test questions in English and Spanish. In addition to English, the questions are available in Chinese, Tagalog and Vietnamese.

CLINIC, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc. offers translations of the citizenship questions done by community organizations in many other languages, including Arabic, Farsi, French and more. Many other services are offered to help organizatons that serve immigrant communities.

You can prepare for the USCIS naturalization interview with these helpful resources from SFPL, including a guide to naturalization, detailed practice materials for the new citizenship exam, and a list of local organizations that can help you with the naturalization process. Watch short videos to learn more about citizenship resources. Available in: Chinese, English, Filipino, Korean, Russian, and Spanish.

Through our library catalog, we offer links to a variety of online government resources, including printable flash cards for the test questions as well as reading and writing vocabulary cards. And you can always ask a librarian for information on guides for naturalization, immigration information and more.

Excelsior Librarians and Staff share tips & tricks to help you make the most of the San Francisco Public Library catalog, databases and website. New tips posted Tuesdays on the Excelsior Blog. Watch this space!

Water, The Problem and the Opportunity - July 14th

One of the largest and most pressing problems facing humanity - 1 billion people, one out of six, lack safe drinking water. 1.8 million children die annually due to a lack of safe drinking water. Half the hospital beds in the world are filled with people with water-borne illnesses. Proven, affordable solutions exist today that can provide a lifetime of sustainable safe drinking water. Safe water sends children back to school, empowers women, improves community health and fosters economic development. Lisa Nash, the CEO of the Blue Planet Network, discusses how these goals can be achieved.

Wednesday, July 14th @ 7 p.m.

First Monday Movies - The Big Sleep - July 12th

Philip Marlowe (Humphrey Bogart) is hired by dying millionaire General Sternwood to "take care" of the blackmailer who's got the goods on Sternwood's wild, nymphomaniac daughter Carmen (Martha Vickers). However, Marlowe suspects that Sternwood's primary motive is to learn the whereabouts of Rusty Regan, an adventurer who married Sternwood's older daughter, Vivian (Lauren Bacall), before disappearing into thin air. Before the night is over Marlowe stumbles onto a fresh murder. Directed by Howard Hawks (1946/114 mins)

Monday, July 12th @ 6:30 p.m.

In the Neighborhood - Greg Pabst and the Excelsior Stroll

Greg Pabst has been conducting the Excelsior Stroll for 16 years. The Stroll is a walking tour of the Excelsior District that is offered twice a year in May and October through the San Francisco City Guides program. Greg is a specialist in Land Grant law, and the idea for offering tours of the Excelsior District came about over a dinner with Dennis Roselli, whose father owned Dino’s Pharmacy on Mission and Brazil. Greg’s expertise in early San Francisco history was complemented by Dennis’ extensive knowledge of the neighborhood from being born and raised here in the mid-twentieth century.

The Excelsior Stroll provides participants with a wealth of information, beginning with the history of the Bernal Family Land Grant from Mexico that delineated the boundaries of the district, to the murals of the present day which show the vibrant, multicultural Excelsior District we love.

On the Excelsior Stroll you can learn about the Italian farmers who inhabited the area and worshipped at Corpus Christi – which was an offshoot of Sts. Peter & Paul Church in North Beach. You’ll see the house on Harrington Street where Jerry Garcia was raised. And did you ever wonder (as I have) about the street names here? The Excelsior Development Company of the 1860s was made up of men involved in international trade so they named the streets after countries and capital cities - Persia, Italy, Russia, etc. Anti-Asian feelings that led to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 created pressure to change some street names. India, China and Japan Streets were changed to Peru, Avalon and Excelsior Streets.

Greg Pabst uses the Library’s SF History Center, including the Italian-American archives, to research the Excelsior District. You can read Greg’s history of the San Francisco Bernal Family on his website. Often people who take the tour contribute their own knowledge of neighborhood history which then becomes part of the tour. An old timer from the neighborhood told Greg that in times of drought in the past, well water was dispensed from the basement of Ferrera Hardware (where Kragen Auto is now). It was one of the last freshwater wells in San Francisco.

If you have knowledge about, interest in, and/or enthusiasm for the Excelsior District and would like to be trained to conduct tours of the neighborhood, please contact Greg at pabst@usfca.edu. Or see him at the next Excelsior Stroll this October.

In the Neighborhood features information about people and places in the Excelsior neighborhood that you may already know and love, or that might be new to you. Watch this space!