Downs-Jones Library

An Academic Library on the campus of Huston-Tillotson University.

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The Downs-Jones Library will be hosting our Poetry on the Patio event on October 14. 2015. In preparation for the event, we encourage you to explore the 20th Century Poetry collection that is available through the TexShare electronic database. The Chadwyck-Healey Literature Collection divides the poetry into an American and an English poetry database.

20th Century Poetry Collections – TexShare link

This unparalleled collection includes 50,000 poems drawn from 750 volumes by over 300 poets, which includes Adrienne Rich, Andrei Codrescu, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, Denise Levertov, Wallace Stevens, Langston Hughes, Lucille Clifton, and Cathy Song.

A collection of more than 600 volumes of poetry by 283 poets from 1900 to the present day, Twentieth-Century English Poetry, which includes W.B. Yeats, Rudyard Kipling, Thomas Hardy, Wilfred Owen, Thom Gunn, Fleur Adcock, Paul Muldoon, Tony Harrison, Benjamin Zephaniah and Carol Ann Duffy, and incorporating the poets in The Faber Poetry Library.

We hope this collection of poetry brings you both enjoyment and inspiration. See you on the Patio!

Poetry on the Patio – Sign up at the library desk.

Poetry on the Patio-OCT 2015-flyer

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Some Facts about Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month was established in 1968 by President Lyndon B. Johnson, authorized to do so by Congress. It started out as Hispanic Heritage Week, but was expanded to a full month in 1989. It runs from September 15th to October 15th – the mid-month starting point is because seven Latin American countries celebrate their Independence Days between September 15th and 19th.

Some facts about the Hispanic population in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau:

  • In 2014, 55 million people in the United States identified themselves as Hispanic. The Hispanic population is projected to reach 119 million people (28.6% of Americans) by 2060.
  • 8 states have more than 1 million Hispanic residents. 55% of United States Hispanics live in California, Texas, and Florida, but California has the most Hispanic citizens, at 15 million
  • In 2013, 4 million people over the age of 5 spoke Spanish at home. That’s 13% of all people in the U.S., and 73.3% of all Hispanics.
  • 14% of U.S. Hispanics held a bachelor’s degree in 2013 – 4.2 million people. 1.3 million also held a more advanced degree (master’s, professional, or doctorate).
  • 4% of all voters in the 2012 elections were Hispanic. In the 1996 presidential elections, Hispanic voters only represented 4.7% of voters.
  • 2 million Hispanics in the United States are veterans of the U.S. armed forces.

Figures a little dry for you? Read more about Hispanics in the United States with these books:

  • Hispanic Americans – Paul McCaffrey, ed. (S75 H5653 2007)
  • The Hispanic-American Entrepreneur: An Oral History of the American Dream – Beatrice Rodriguez Owsley (L82 N46 1992)
  • Myth and the History of the Hispanic Southwest – David J. Weber (F786 .W365 1988)
  • Langston Hughes in the Hispanic World and Haiti – Langston Hughes, Edward J. Mullen, ed. (N PS3515.U274 A6 1977)
  • The Cambridge Introduction to Gabriel García Márquez – Gerald Martin (17.A73 Z717 2012)
  • The Fire in Our Souls: Quotations of Wisdom and Inspiration by Latino Americans – Rosie Gonzalez (H47 F57 1996)
  • Reconstructing a Chicano/a Literary Heritage: Hispanic Colonial Literature of the Southwest – María Herrera-Sobek, ed. (A1 R315 1993)
  • The Latino Holiday Book: From Cinco de Mayo to Día de los Muertos: The Celebrations and Traditions of Hispanic-Americans – Valerie Menard (GT4803 .M45 2004)
  • Chicano Popular Culture: Que Hable el Pueblo – Charles M. Tatum (M5 T38 2001)

…and eBooks:

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Top Three Banned Books

Anyone remember the Nazis’ burning books? What about the book-burning in the dystopian world of Fahrenheit 451? Unfortunately, the very same thing happens in the USA every year. Perhaps I am exaggerating a little. No one, as far as I know, is actually burning books. But censorship is not dead. Every day, schools and libraries all over the nation are forced to deal with book challenges. A book challenge is defined as “a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness.” (ALA) These challenges can be filed by any member in the community for any reason. Many times, the challengers get what they want and the books are quietly removed. It is easier to acquiescence than fight a challenge. According to the American Library Association, 311 books were removed from school or library shelves in 2014. It is estimated that only 20-30% of all removals are reported to the association. Banned books are often titles you would not expect. To celebrate Banned Book Week 2015 (September 27-October 3), here are the top 3 books that were banned last year, and why.

  1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie.

This is an autobiographical young adult novel about a teenage boy growing up on an Indian Reservation in Washington state. Hilarious, heartwarming and much beloved by Alexie’s many fans of every age. It is also a National Book Award winner, so it’s not just me that thinks it’s great.

Why was it banned: anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence. Additional reasons: “depictions of bullying”

  1. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Strapi

Persepolis is the memoir of Marjane Satrapi’s childhood, told in graphic novel form. Satrapi grew up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution and we see these global events through a child’s eyes. Like Alexie’s book, this book is critically acclaimed. Unfortunately, it is also like Alexie’s book in that it is frequently challenged.

Why was it banned: gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint. Additional reasons: “politically, racially, and socially offensive,” “graphic depictions”

  1. Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

Unlike the previous two books-meant for teens and adults, this last book is a picture book. It tells the true story of two penguins in the Central Park Zoo, Roy and Silo, who want to raise a chick. Unfortunately, they are both male. Another pair of penguins has two eggs, so the zookeeper takes the extra egg and give it to Roy and Silo to hatch and raise. Tango is the result. All three penguins still live at the zoo today. It sounds like a great idea for a picture book-a heartwarming true story about an unconventional family and penguins are adorable. Apparently, adorable is not enough.

Why was it banned: Anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “promotes the homosexual agenda”

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LearningExpress Library

What are your career, educational, and personal goals? LearningExpress Library is a free and easy to use resource that can help you achieve your many goals. LearningExpress Library is an interactive database that provides users of all ages with lessons, tutorials, and practice tests on a variety of education and career topics. Sign up to register for a free account and then access tests and tutorials on a variety of subjects in the following learning centers:

  • Adult Learning Center – improving basic math, writing, speaking, and grammar skills
  • College Preparation Center – prepare for the ACT, SAT, and other admission tests
  • Career Center – learn about prospective careers, prepare for entrance and occupation exams, and help joining the military
  • Computer Skills Center – learn basic computer and internet skills, training with popular computer software, and an introduction to computer graphics and operating systems
  • School Center – helpful lessons and test preparation for elementary, middle, and high school students
  • College Center – lessons and reviews in college level skills including math, reading, grammar, writing, science, and admissions exams
  • Resources for Spanish Speakers – lessons in Spanish on a variety of topics, including math, reading, writing, and immigration
  • Job & Career Accelerator – tips for finding the right job, correctly filling out applications and assistance with developing a resume
  • High School Equivalency Center – lessons and preparation for the GED and HiSET

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Little Things: Short Stories

Don’t ever ask me what my favorite book is. It’s a catastrophe. My mouth opens, and what emerges is…not silence, but not words. It’s the verbal equivalent of those last few drops of milkshake you can’t quite get with the straw.

Can I offer my top ten favorites? Of the books I’ve read this month? Top ten science fiction books? Top fifteen? Favorite books of mine that you might like? Favorite new books? Can I include “fannish” novels, like The Year of Intelligent Tigers (a Doctor Who book, and suffering not at all for that)? Does The Lord of the Rings count as one title, and can I bundle The Hobbit with it? Is Mirable an anthology of interconnected short stories, or a novel? I can never pick just one all-time favorite.

But I can name my favorite short story, maybe the only short story I’ve ever read that makes me cry every time. It is a novella entitled “Fire Watch”, by science-fiction author Connie Willis. Both story and author have won just about every award they’ve ever been nominated for, and they are well-deserved.

“Fire Watch” is the first in a series of linked stories about the near future, where time travel has been discovered and deemed the province of historians, so that the study of history is a hands-on, immersive experience in Victorian Britain, or pre-Crusader Jerusalem, or, in “Fire Watch”, the London Blitz. The story follows a student sent back to the volunteer fire watch that kept St. Paul’s Cathedral from burning down despite the bombing it endured, to experience the reality of the past and to learn from it. What he learns – and his passionate defense of it – is so powerfully written it moves me to tears.

Short stories may sometimes be overlooked because they are bundled with others in anthologies and do not have their own volume, with their title and author’s name on the cover. Or they may be disregarded out of the belief that they do not have space to create a fully realized world or develop a character or work out an engaging plot. None of this is true. Short stories can tell an entire story in a few words, show you a moment that stands alone, terrify and provoke by implying much more than they say, and leave you wondering about the characters or the world long after the last word.

Short stories you can find on the Downs-Jones Library shelves:

  • Collected Stories of Charles W. Chesnutt (N PS 1292 .C6 A15 1992)
  • Common Bonds: Stories By and About Modern Texas Women (PS 558 .T4 C65 1990)
  • Invented Lives: Narratives of Black Women, 1860-1960 (N PS 647.A35 I58 1987)
  • In the Stacks: Short Stories about Libraries and Librarians (PN 6120.95 .L554 I52 2002)
  • Writers of the Future, Volume IX (PS 648 .F3 W75 1993)
  • Voice of the Turtle: American Indian Literature, 1900-1970 (PS 508 .I5 V64)

…and a few you can read online through our eBook collection:

Read “Fire Watch” in THE BEST OF CONNIE WILLIS: AWARD-WINNING STORIES collection with your Texshare Card or through Interlibrary Loan. Use your Texshare Card @ the following locations: OR Interlibrary Loan the book through the Downs-Jones Library! See ILL policy and procedures @

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All Quiet on the Western Front

First published in 1929, All Quiet on the Western Front is a classic anti-war novel written by the German author, Erich Maria Remarque. Remarque was a veteran of World War I and he utilized his experience during the war to serve as his inspiration for the book. The novel tells the story of the young German soldier, Paul Bäumer, chronicling his experiences before, during, and after the conflict. The experience of the soldiers in the trenches is presented with harsh and graphic detail. When not plagued by artillery shells and machine gun fire, the soldiers struggle to overcome the hardships of food shortages, rat infestations, and disease. Remarque portrays the war as not only mercilessly taking the actual lives of so many of the young men present on both sides, but also as devastating to the emotional lives of those fortunate enough to survive the conflict.

Published nearly 10 years after the conclusion of the war, the work provoked strong positive and negative reactions amongst its readers at the time.  In less than two years, the book sold more than 2.5 million copies and was translated into 22 languages. One of the early harsh critics of the book was Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party, which would later have it banned and burned as a degenerate work that cast a negative light on the German war effort.

All Quiet on the Western Front was adapted into an Oscar winning feature length film in 1930 by Lewis Milestone. In 1979, the book received another adaptation by director Delbert Mann, starring Richard Thomas and Ernest Borgnine.

1979 Version – AV DVD 198

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Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things that Happened

The summer is passing by quickly and before you know it (and probably long before you wished for it), we will be well into the swing of the fall semester. Your free time will be taken up by studying, group projects and exams. Those books you read for fun this summer?  They seem like a distant memory. The thought of reading for pleasure, when you have so much school reading to do, does not sound appealing at all.

Allie Brosh is here to rescue you. She is the author of  the blog Hyperbole and a Half. If you haven’t seen it, check it out at Unfortunately, it has a finite number of posts, which ended in 2013. Luckily, there is also a book entitled Hyperbole and a Half. (Technically it is Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things that Happened)

Warning:  Do not read this book in public. In fact, it is best to read it when you have the house to yourself. It will start with giggles and quiet chuckles, but eventually your fiancée will rush in from the next room where he has been watching TV to make sure you are okay. I was laughing so loudly and raucously that I started crying. I was laughing and crying at the same time and I couldn’t stop.  My fiancée  was Iooking at me in horror. I think he thought I was about to have a seizure and he was going to have to put a spoon in my mouth to keep me from swallowing my tongue. To save myself, I had to put the book down. Now, even though I have read it many times, when I pick it up, I start laughing again, even though I know what will happen.

It is easy to make dumb dogs and cake-eating kids funny. Allie does this wonderfully. But Allie can also make getting lost in the woods funny. She can make being a disturbingly creepy five-year-old funny. She can make depression funny, but also so real that those of us who have suffered it instantly recognize the truth in it. The wonderful thing about Allie is that while she is hilarious, she is also relatable. Her characters, while only barely recognizable as human beings graphically, have a wealth of expressions we recognize and she has feelings we have all felt. And you are lying if you say you have never felt this:

“IT’S HARD not pushing people and not throwing sand at them.”

Go read it, go read it now, despite all the reading you have to do for school. You can thank me later.


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