Downs-Jones Library

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


Leave a comment

Blacks and Whites – Together Through Hell

World War II is a compelling time in world history for a number of different reasons. An often overlooked area of interest is the participation of African Americans in the conflict. The Downs-Jones Library has several books on the subject that highlight the pivotal role that African Americans played in the war.

One such book of note is Blacks and Whites – Together through Hell (U. S. Marines in World War II) by Perry E. Fischer and Brooks E. Gray. First published in 1994, the book offers a firsthand account of the experiences of African American marines serving in World War II. The text includes many original photographs and covers both experiences of white and black soldiers in both basic training and battle. The book outlines many of the hardships experienced by soldiers of all ethnicities during the conflict, but it also provides further examples of the additional challenges, difficulties, and discrimination that African American soldiers faced throughout the period.

If you are interested in African American involvement in World War II, please stop by the library and a librarian can direct you to the relevant section of our collection. You can also check out our LibGuide on the subject here. The LibGuide offers an overview of the topic and will give you an excellent starting point for further research.


2 Comments

‘Alice’ in Latin

Have you ever done something pointless just for the joy of doing something utterly pointless? I know I have. I recall an incident from high school where, because we were studying Beowulf, my English teacher offered extra credit to anyone who wrote 25 lines or more of poetry in the meter and style of the epic Old English poem. I wrote, I think, about 250 lines (or about ten pages) of poem, laughed a bit, turned it in, and forgot about it.

Four years later I was very amused to hear from my younger brother that the same extra credit opportunity was now defined as no more than 25 lines of poetry, because, the teacher had remarked to him, your sister…

Of course, by then I’d lost the poem. (I never did manage to find it again, which I sort of regret.)

A similar spirit must have possessed Professor Emeritus Clive Harcourt Carruthers of McGill University, who in 1966 decided to translate “Alice Through the Looking Glass” into Latin, turning the beloved book into “Aliciae Per Speculum Transitus” by “Ludovici Carroll”, for no reason other than for “challenge and entertainment”.

He apparently also translated “Alice in Wonderland” into “Alicia in Terra Mirabili”, but the Downs-Jones Library does not have a copy. Since Latin is considered a dead language, with no native speakers and limited use (official documents and proclamations of the Catholic Church are still written in Latin), the book must be considered a curiosity – appropriately enough for a curious book.

The copy in the Downs-Jones Library – at PR 4611 .T5162 1966 – retains the original illustrations by Sir John Tenniel, although some of them have been slightly altered. For example, where the images of Tweedledum and Tweedledee (page 39) should have “Dum” and “Dee” on their lapels (the only difference between them), their collars now read “Pip” and “Sib” to reflect the translation of their names into “Pipilo et Sibilo”. For the reader’s convenience – if such a thing exists in a book rewritten in a dead or exclusively ecclesiastical language – a small glossary of Latin translations for unique or modern terms is included towards the back of the book.

If you were wondering, “Jabberwocky” is either “Taetriferox” or “Gabrobocchia”, as Carruthers translated the entire poem not once but twice (on pages 13 & 15, or 132-3).

And yes, the poems, despite their silliness, still rhyme and scan, although I don’t remember nearly enough of my high school Latin to attest to their accuracy.

Why did Carruthers write it? Because.

Why do we have a copy? Because! And because the fact that it exists – even if no one ever sits down and reads it as a novel – is hilarious.

Curiouser and curiouser, Alice would say!


Leave a comment

Embedding Videos in PowerPoint

At some point, you as a student will be asked to make and then present a PowerPoint presentation. You have probably already made a PowerPoint at least once. The program has been part of the Microsoft Office suite for a while, and despite becoming a cliché and facing challenges from rivals like Keynote and Prezi, it’s still around and it’s still a favorite among the people assigning presentations.

So your slides are ready to show, and you know your material.  Wouldn’t it be nice if you could have a short video included in your PowerPoint, without having to stop the presentation, minimize the program, cue up YouTube, play the video, and then reload the slides and try to get back to where you were without clicking through everything previous? Wouldn’t it be great if you could embed a video?

Lots of other people agree. That’s why you can embed a YouTube video clip in a PowerPoint presentation. Here’s how to do so in MS PowerPoint 2010, which is installed on the computers in the library. These instructions are for the PC computers, but the Mac computers should be similar – they also have the Office programs installed.

Find your video on YouTube.

Underneath the video frame, there are three options – Add to, Share, and More. Click on Share. Three more options are Share, Embed, and Email. Click on Embed. Highlight and copy the long string of code in the text box.

Here’s what the embed code from a video posted by Be HT, “#BlackLivesMatter Part 1: Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas”, looks like:

Your embed code should look like that. Hang on to it.

Load your PowerPoint presentation and make a new slide for the video. (You can move this slide around in your slide deck – the order your slides are in – later.) Up at the top of the screen, there are several options – File, in orange; Home; Insert; Design; Transitions; Animations; Slide Show; Review; and View. Click on Insert.

Far to the right on this new menu, there’s a box labeled “Media”. It contains a speaker, “Audio”, and a tape reel, “Video”. Click on the little arrow under Video. A new menu will give you three options. The one in the middle is “Video from Web Site”. Choose that one.

You get a new dialogue box that says “To insert a link to a video you’ve uploaded…” (It doesn’t matter if you weren’t the one to upload this video you found on YouTube earlier. This will still work.)

The area of the box you can type in says <Paste embed code here> in grey. Click on this area of the box. Then hit “Control-V” (Command-V, on a Mac) or switch the task bar at the top of the screen back to “Home”, where there’s a button to “Paste” – the big one, with the clipboard.

Click on Insert.

You will get a smallish, black box. Don’t Panic! This is correct. You can only view your embedded video when the slide show is running. (Now you can also resize the black box, if you want the video to be bigger.)

At this point, you have successfully embedded a video in PowerPoint.

To test the video, load the presentation. The task bar – that begins with File, and ends with View, but which might have some more options now – has a tab for Slide Show. Select “Slide Show”, and choose where to start your presentation: “From Beginning” or “From Current Slide”.

Or, hit F5.

When you get to the slide with the video, hit the Play button in the middle of the video frame. Your video is now part of your presentation and will play on demand!


Leave a comment

Beyond the Library

The Downs-Jones Library contains an extensive collection of both print and non-print media, in addition to providing access to a range of electronic databases. Despite the library’s offerings, a substantial bulk of the world’s literature, poetry, film, and scholastic output is not immediately available for our students due to the limits of time and physical space. Perhaps you are looking for a copy of a novel from the New York Times Best Seller list you can’t find on our shelves? Or maybe you are conducting research on a specific topic and you are unable to find a pertinent journal in our databases? What are your options when you need to surpass the limits of our physical and electronic resources?

The first way to obtain materials from outside of our collection is through the TexShare Program. Students can come into the library and speak with any of our librarians to obtain a TexShare Card that will remain valid until the end of the current semester. Once you have obtained your card, you will gain access to over 500 participating libraries across the state of Texas. You can use the Find-A-Library site or the TexShare Card Map to assist you in finding libraries that are participating in the program. Be sure to bring your Huston-Tillotson ID in addition to your TexShare Card when visiting other libraries.

Another option for students looking for materials outside of our collection is our Interlibrary Loan Service. All currently enrolled HT students are able to submit a request for books, articles, audiovisual materials, and other items that are not available in our collection. Students need to complete an Interlibrary Loan Request Form as thoroughly as possible and then submit the request to our Technical Services Librarian at jlwood@htu.edu. The process can take up to two weeks and some materials will be more difficult to obtain than others, but in most cases we will be able to acquire the items of interest.

The next time your search through our catalog comes up lacking, consider utilizing the TexShare Program or our Interlibrary Loan Service to reach beyond the limits of our collection.


Leave a comment

Mortality, Writing, and Immortality

If you could nominate anyone for immortality, who would you choose? Some people define a field so strongly that it’s hard to know what that field would be like without them. All too often, we learn.

There’s a little less magic left in the world today. One of the world’s most popular authors, Sir Terry Pratchett, who was knighted in 2009 for Services to Literature, died March 12th, 2015, at the age of 66. A prolific writer, penning over 70 books, he was best known for the Discworld series, set on a flat planet carried through space on the backs of four elephants riding on the back of a gigantic world turtle. It sounds ludicrous – it is ludicrous: that was the point.

Discworld started out with The Color of Magic as a parody of high fantasy and blossomed into satire of everything – wizardry, politics, police work, myths, war, dragons, witch hunts, opera, gender politics, Christmas, rock-and-roll, newspapers, the mail, religion, soccer/football, trains, movies…you name it, Discworld has a spin on it. Today, the Discworld series runs to some forty books (a forty-first will be published posthumously, this fall). Pratchett’s gift for words and sly sense of humor makes reading and rereading his books an experience that never gets old – I’ve read each book in the series easily a dozen times, and I’m still spotting jokes I didn’t see before, and understanding points he made so smoothly and subtly that I didn’t catch the first few times around. There isn’t space to talk about the characters he created or the world he built and fleshed out and made real.

Consider them wholeheartedly recommended, even if you’re not a fan of fantasy. Discworld was built on fantasy, but it’s so much more than that, and fantasy tropes and clichés are a favorite target for satire and mockery.

I first encountered Sir Terry’s work when I was about eleven or twelve, through the book The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, a send-up of the Pied Piper legend. I’m convinced I picked up the book because it has a cat on the cover – the “Amazing Maurice” is a talking cat who, with similarly talking rats, is working a Pied Piper scam. They go from town to town faking an infestation of rats until whoever is in charge thinks to call in a piper – also, of course, in league with Maurice. It gets progressively funnier from there, and along the way becomes about much, much more than the con.

Since then, Terry Pratchett and Discworld have been part of my life. His world – his writing, his characters, his sense of humor – became part of mine. While Sir Terry had been open about being ill – he was diagnosed some years ago with early-onset Alzheimer’s – I had hoped that he would have many more years to tell us stories and laugh with his legions of fans around the world. When I learned that he had died, it felt like a personal loss.

So if I could nominate someone to be immortal, would I have chosen Terry Pratchett? I would have. (I don’t think he would have accepted, based on the way he developed the character of Death in his books – a skeletal Grim Reaper who talks like this and has plenty of curiosity about and a never-admitted soft spot for humanity, who is possibly Discworld’s most popular character.) But in a way, Sir Terry nominated himself for immortality. He once wrote that no one is truly gone until the ripples they caused in the world die away – in a way, writers are immortal as long as their books are read.

Sir Terry Pratchett changed the world by showing that world to itself through the distorted lens of the Discworld. He made us laugh, and made us listen and learn and think while our guard was down. His fans are mourning his death, but his work, at least, will live on.

Thanks, Sir Terry. Safe travels.


Leave a comment

The Home Improvement Reference Center

Have a plumbing problem? The Downs-Jones Library may be able to help you out. The Home Improvement Reference Center is accessible through the TexShare databases and available to all Huston-Tillotson University students (off campus users will need a user name and password, which is available at the DJL desk).

The Home Improvement Reference Center is a database presenting articles on home maintenance, decorating, and improvement. A variety of topics are covered, from how to build a rabbit hutch to DIY (do-it-yourself) keyless entry. Topics are arranged alphabetically and organized under headings of decorating, electrical, maintenance, outdoor, plumbing, remodeling, and woodworking. Links to how-to videos and a glossary of terms are available in the “toolbox” on the right side of the screen. The Home Improvement Reference Center also features a project spotlight, currently on “Preventing Frozen Pipes.

To access the Home Improvement Reference Center, first go to the Down-Jones Library page on Huston-Tillotson University’s website. Second, in the left hand column, follow the “Electronic Databases” link. Choose the TexShare link, once on the databases page (off campus users will have to enter the username and password at this juncture). Scrolling down the page, the header “Complete List of Licensed Databases” will appear with a list of links beneath it. The Home Improvement Reference Center is listed alphabetically under “General Information”.

A simple search using the phrase “fix frozen pipes” will take you to an article titled “Fixing Burst or Frozen Pipes”. In the left hand column there will be links to other pages regarding similar issues or alternative remedies. Explore these pages and the database as a whole to best fix, maintain, or improve your home.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.