Sunday, February 24, 2008

Histories of African American Athletes

Sports and athletics have proven to be an avenue to fame, fortune and advancement for African Americans. They have also provided a platform to challenge discrimination and help to change American society. At the same they still illustrate inequities within American society. Below are a few recent books looking at this issue.

Out Of The Shadows: A Biographical History of African American Athletes is a collection of biographical essays placing its subjects within a historical context and showing them as agents of social change. The book covers historical figures like Jack Johnson, Jesse Owens, Satchel Paige, Arthur Ashe and Muhammad Ali and current sports figures like Tiger Woods and Venus and Serena Williams. It includes chapters like “Jackie Robinson: racial pioneer and athlete extraordinaire in an era of change,” “Wilma Rudolph: the making of an Olympic icon,” “Jim Brown: superlative athlete, screen star, social activist,” and “Bound by blackness or above it? Michael Jordan and the paradoxes of post-civil rights American race relations.”

Carrying Jackie's Torch: The Players Who Integrated Baseball-- And America by Steve Jacobson also traces a history through biographical chapters. In addition to looking at the early players to integrate baseball like Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby, the author also discusses less well-known figures like Emmett Ashford, major league baseball’s first black umpire, and Bob Watson, the first African-American to be hired as a baseball executive.

Triumph: The Untold Story of Jesse Owens and Hitler's Olympics by Jeremy Schaap looks at the courage of track star Jesse Owens within the wider story of the 1936 Olympics and the racial and religious tensions of Nazi Germany.

William C. Rhoden, a columnist for the New York Times has written $40 Million Slaves: The Rise, Fall, And Redemption of The Black Athlete. Mr. Rhoden’s thesis is that success and wealth on the playing field for African American’s has not translated into power or influence within the sports industry.

Stepping Up: The Story of Curt Flood And His Fight for Baseball Players' Rights by Alex Belth is about baseball player Curt Flood, a pioneering, tragic figure who fought against baseball's reserve clause, but never realized the benefit of becoming a free agent. A newer book, A Well-Paid Slave: Curt Flood's Fight For Free Agency In Professional Sports by Brad Snyder, is now on order at the library.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

21st Century Musical Theatre

The new millennium has brought renewed energy to the world of musical theater. At the San Francisco Public Library we try to meet this interest by purchasing scores of new musical theater works for actors, actresses and accompanists interested in expanding their repertoire.

Recent musical theater productions have taken popular musicians as a theme, for instance Jersey Boys about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and All Shook Up featuring the hit songs of Elvis Presley.

The world of literature continues to provide subject matter for the musical stage with productions like Wicked, based on Wicked: The Life and Times Of The Wicked Witch Of The West by Gregory Maguirre, My Life With Albertine based on Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, Little Women based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott, and the Woman In White based on the novel by Wilkie Collins.

Many new musicals are based upon film including Hairspray, Johnny Guitar, The It Girl, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Tarzan.

Many musicals continue to be independent creative works. These are often based on themes from contemporary American life like The Last Five Years, Urinetown, Avenue Q, Brooklyn, Altar Boyz, and the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Other original musicals include Monty Python's Spamalot and The Light in The Piazza.

Since publishers only rarely publish complete vocal scores these days, the scores the library offers are almost exclusively vocal selections. We usually buy circulating copies of these scores, but we always have a copy in reference at the Fourth Floor Page Desk that is available to auditioners.

Here is a chronological selection of some recent musical theater titles.


Hairspray / music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Scott Wittman

Urinetown: The Musical / music and lyrics by Mark Hollmann, book and lyrics by Greg Kotis.

The It Girl / music by Paul McKibbins, lyrics by BT McNicholl.

The Last 5 Years / music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown.


Avenue Q: The Musical / music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, book by Jeff Whitty.


My Life with Albertine: A New Musical / book & lyrics by Richard Nelson, music & lyrics by Ricky Ian Gordon.

Wicked: A New Musical / music & lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, book by Winnie Holzman.


Altar Boyz / music and lyrics by Gary Adler & Michael Patrick Walker, book by Kevin Del Aguila.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels / book by Jeffrey Lane, music and lyrics by David Yazbek.

Brooklyn: The Musical / book, music, and lyrics by Mark Schoenfeld & Barri McPherson.

The Woman In White / music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by David Zippel.

Johnny Guitar: The Musical / book by Nicholas van Hoogstraten, music by Martin Silvestri.


Little Women: The Musical / music by Jason Howland, lyrics by Mindi Dickstein.

The Light In The Piazza / book, Craig Lucas, music and lyrics, Adam Guettel.

Jersey Boys: The Story of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee / music & lyrics by William Finn.

Monty Python's Spamalot / book & lyrics by Eric Idle, music by John Du Prez & Eric Idle.

All Shook Up: A New Musical Comedy / book by Joe DiPrieto.


Tarzan: The Broadway Musical / music and lyrics by Phil Collins.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Get Your Knit Together - Still Growing!

GET YOUR KNIT TOGETHER! is growing and still going strong. Every month at least one-third of the attendees are brand new to knitting. By the end of their first two hour class, they have learned how to cast on, are knitting quite well and already dreaming about their next project. In January, we had 36 people attend, our largest turnout ever. A librarian who is also a photographer captured some of the fun.

Our next meeting will be Saturday, February 16 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on the lower level of the Main Library in the Latino / Hispanic Meeting Room A. We will continue to meet once a month on the 3rd Saturday of each month (excluding April) until the end of this year.

Just like the class, the library’s collection of knitting books is growing. Here is a sampling of some of our newest books:

Charmed Knits: Projects for Fans of Harry Potter by Alison Hansel (746.432 H1981c) – Harry Potter aficionados and those who knit for them will love these 28 knitwear designs.

Couture Knits by Jean Moss (746.432 M8553c) – Shows how anyone can achieve a professional-looking garment using the basic knit and purl stitches.

Fitted Knits: 25 Designs for the Fashionable Knitter by Stefanie Japel (746.432 J2719f) – Features 25 projects and explains the necessary skills for creating a well-fitted garment.

The Knitted Teddy Bear: Make Your Own Heirloom Toys with Dozens of Patterns for Unique Clothing and Accessories by Sandra Polley (745.5924 P763k 2004) – A skein of yarn, a few small needles and this book is all that’s needed to start making beautiful toys.

The Natural Knitter: How to Choose, Use and Knit Natural Fibers From Alpaca to Yak by Barbara Albright (746.432 Al153n) – A collection of more than 20 knitted projects using the fibers from llamas, sheep, cashmere goats, and angora rabbits.

Pretty in Punk: 25 Punk, Rock and Goth Knitting Projects by Alyce Benevides (746.432 B4358p) – Contains patterns and step-by step instructions for 25 pieces of clothing and accessories.