Literacy

Capturing Characters on Stage for the College and Community: An Interview with Playwright Rex Stephenson

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Most people probably think of theatres and libraries as being worlds apart, but Ferrum College’s Sale Theatre and Stanley Library are next door to each other. Thanks to recent renovations on campus, only a few steps will take you from the library’s back door into the theatre, across an attractive patio that theatre-goers enjoy during summer plays. Many of those plays have been written by R. Rex Stephenson since he founded the Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre in 1978. Even during years when getting inside the library required more steps, there was plenty of traffic between the two buildings. Drama majors writing and performing their own senior plays over the years had no excuses for shirking on their research or writing skills, with librarians and tutors next door in the library. Among many dramatic requests for library resources, the most unusual one was probably a trash can borrowed once for a prop. Librarian George Loveland had fun putting a bar code on it, checking it out, and later sending an overdue notice to get the trash can back from the theatre. Faculty members, librarians, visiting actors, and local children who come together to perform in summer plays pop into the library to read a magazine, use the Internet, or do a little background research during short breaks from arduous labor in the theatre. And Stephenson’s remarkable career as a playwright, director, and actor often takes him to libraries and archives for research and performances.

Libraries are a Teen Oasis

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The great comic actor Groucho Marx once said, “Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.” While Groucho definitely predates Will Ferrell, this sort of humor might appeal to teen readers during the tenth annual Teen Read Week™, celebrated this year October 14–20.

Teen Read Week, an annual teen literacy initiative administered by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), is an opportunity to showcase the library and involve teens in the planning of the events. The theme for 2007 is “LOL @ your library®,” which encourages teens to read something light or humorous, just for the fun of it. Whether having a Guitar Hero tournament, like the Austin (Texas) Public Library or hosting an author visit with Particia McCormick at the Columbus (Ohio) Metropolitan Library, teens should consider the library their destination for hilarity during Teen Read Week in October.

Libraries can help users who want to connect – and those who want to disconnect

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One day, when I was working as a reference assistant at an academic library, something went wrong with our wireless router.  While most students were understandably frustrated, one looked pleased.  “I’ve already downloaded everything I have to read,” she said. “Now I might actually be able to read them without feeling like I have to check Gchat and Twitter.”

As a 2011 master’s graduate of the University of Michigan School of Information, I’ve embraced my alma mater’s mission of connecting people, information and technology in more valuable ways – while coming to believe that sometimes disconnecting is a valuable step toward fulfilling that mission.  I’ve therefore dedicated my Google Policy Fellowship at ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) to studying the impact of our networking technologies on our minds and trying to find ways to use this technology in ways that really do make us more productive, better educated, freer and happier, instead of stressed and scatterbrained.

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