Posted in Interesting News & Commentary

New Cell Phone Charging Station

Need to charge your phone? You can always borrow a charger from us, but if you’re going to be in the library studying for a while, you can charge your phone in the new Cell Phone Charging Station! This charging tower is located in the Main Reading Room near the Browsing Section, next to the guest computer stations. There are 8 charging slots in the tower, and by following the directions on the screen, you can safely and securely leave your device to charge while you study or browse the collection. Thanks to SGA and Director of Student Involvement LeAnna Rensi Casey for providing this new station in McCain Library!

Charging Station next to Guest Desktops in Main Reading Room of McCain Library
Charging Station in McCain Library Floor 1
Posted in Interesting News & Commentary

Brush Up on our Skill Builders!

Since Fall 2020, McCain Library staff have hosted several workshops geared towards building research and technology skills as well as sessions around library services. Now is a great time to catch up on any you missed!

Skill Builder Series topics: Are these images free to use; Company Research; Record Collecting; Researching Health Issues; Integrating Sources; Podcasting Resources and Recommendations; License and Promote your photos and artwork; Best places to bike near ASC; Finding Newspapers and magazines.

Recorded Skill Builders from McCain Library can be located on the Skill Builder Series Youtube Playlist. Find videos on Decatur and Atlanta bike trails, researching family ancestry, voting information for local, state, and federal elections, and accessing audiobooks, eBooks, movies, and music through McCain Library and your local public libraries!

Looking for a skill builder that we haven’t made yet? Email us library@agnesscott.edu to let us know what you want to see us share next semester!

Posted in Interesting News & Commentary

Last Chance for Free Seeds!

Next Thursday, June 17th, will be the last day to pick up seeds from McCain Library! Stop by the Circulation Desk on the first floor to pick up seeds for your own garden before planting season is over. We’re thrilled that so many students, faculty, and staff have participated in our first ever Seed Library, and special thanks to Lois Swords, Agnes Scott’s Organic Gardener for cultivating the different types of seeds for us to give out!

Posted in Birthdays, Books & Film News

Happy May Birthdays!

Happy birthday to all of the students, faculty, staff, and community members with May birthdays! See our list below highlighting a few authors with May birthdays (and some of their titles available at McCain Library).

Authors with Birthdays in May

May 5 – Scott Westerfeld (Leviathan)
May 7 – Angela Carter (Unicorn: The Poetry of Angela Carter)
May 10 – Joy Harjo (Soul Talk, Song Language: Conversations with Joy Harjo)
May 19 – Nora Ephron (Crazy Salad: Some Things About Women)
May 25 – Jamaica Kincaid (A Small Place)

Posted in Book Reviews, New Books, Smith Collection

Smith Collection Reviews

…these restaurants are also the stage for inspiring immigration stories that highlight Asian culture’s strong family ties while celebrating the creation of new dishes that define new immigrant traditions.”

Rafael Ocasio, Charles A. Dana Professor of Spanish

Exploring the rich international cuisine available at local restaurants for many of us is a fun pastime. Indeed, you may have already developed an expertise in tasting certain national dishes (I, for instance, will drive long distances for a new variety of iconic Latin American empanadas), or you may just enjoy discovering new flavors within the exotic settings of the so-called ethnic restaurants. For international individuals, whether recent arrivals, long-time residents or first-generation U.S. Americans, these restaurants are welcoming meeting places, where homesickness is often quenched over that one special dish that brings so many memories of the homeland or homemade cooking. The geographical coordinates of a “homeland” and even “homemade cooking,” are not, however, so easily defined as explored in Chop Suey Nation and Eat a Peach. An ancestral “home” can be found hidden behind the kitchens of Chinese and Korean-inspired restaurants throughout Canada and the United States. As the authors stress, these restaurants are also the stage for inspiring immigration stories that highlight Asian culture’s strong family ties while celebrating the creation of new dishes that define new immigrant traditions. 

Bridging diverse cultures through food is the subject of Chop Suey Nation.  First-generation Chinese-Canadian journalist Ann Hui sets out to explore the origins of “chop suey,” a national culinary innovation that her own family, owners of traditional Chinese restaurants, often belittled as “fake” Chinese food (18). It is a quest that took Hui around the expansive Canadian geography. While traveling by car around the country she visited many family-owned Chinese restaurants where she tried out a variety of local chop suey dishes. Her discoveries, such as “ginger beef is uniquely Canadian” (80), go beyond a simple listing of Chinese contributions to modern popular Canadian eating habits. What started as a documentation of chop suey restaurants led Hui to write about the historical impact of Chinese immigrants in Canada (first arrivals, overwhelmingly large numbers of men, worked in the construction of a national train system beginning in the mid-nineteenth century), leading to the development of “China towns.” Hui’s conversations with owners of restaurants reveal the plight of Chinese immigrants as part of a harsh immigrational history: “They had created a cuisine that was a testament to creativity, perseverance and resourcefulness” (199).

David Chang’s memoir, Eat a Peach, examines the modern cuisine trend popularly known as fusion, or the blending of national flavors as unique dishes. Chang is a celebrated chef and founder of Momofuku, an international conglomerate of Asian-inspired restaurants well-known for their experimentation of traditional Asian ingredients, such as ramen noodles. As Chang traces in his book, his exploration of iconic Asian flavors, although initially a culinary hit, did not go without challenges. At a television interview with CBS Morning on September 9, 2020 Chang stressed his background as a first generation Korean-American chef: “I always felt in between… not ever going to be part of white culture and never going to be part of Korean American culture” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUN_jgwsvic). His memoir fully explores such subjects as “cultural conditioning” and “cultural appropriation” related to the processes behind modern fusion cooking: “I began to question the validity of various cultural truths. Who gets to assign value to certain foods? What makes something acceptable or not?” (210-211).       

Eating with family members in the intimacy of home is the central subject of In Bibi’s Kitchen, a compilation of delicious family recipes by bibis, grandmothers who have kept alive the culinary traditions from eight African countries along the Indian Ocean border: Eritrea, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, South Africa, Madagascar, and Comoros. A handsomely produced cookbook with beautiful photographs in color of the dishes, the central protagonists are a variety of elder women, some of them living in the African cities and rural areas of their birth, some of them refugees in Africa or living abroad. As the editors of the recipes underscore, the cooks speak “this language of food” (1). And the bibi cooks do have a lot to say about African “home cooking,” including their opinions about their favorite blends of African spices and teas, best ways to cook rice and pasta (because of the strong Italian colonial past, pasta sauce with beef, or Suugo Suqaar, is a popular dish in Somalia), or how best to incorporate tropical fruits in their dishes. These charming bibis have lived extremely rich lives and overcame terrible challenges; their outlook toward the future of their native countries is truly inspiring.         
As we thankfully move to an end of the pandemic quarantine, I invite you to support your local family-owned international cuisine restaurants. Better yet, learn about their cooking staff and servers. You will be pleasantly surprised to discover about their rich life stories. Ah, if you check out In Bibi’s Kitchen and you need an unbiased taster, please reach out to me. I do love to try out different kinds of cuisines! Happy reading and may you have a relaxed summer!  

To check out any of these books, check out the Smith Collection on WorldCat and place a hold to utilize our Grab & Go services.

Books Reviewed: Chop Suey Nation by Ann Hui
Eat a Peach by David Chang
In Bibi’s Kitchen by Hawa Hassan, Julia Turshen, and more