Tuesday, April 24, 2018

52 Book Challenge - Week 17

Well, there's a good chance some of you are still finishing off the book that was more than 500 pages (after all, you've got assignments to work on and stuff to do - you can't sit around reading all day!).

You'll be pleased to know that this week's challenge is considerably smaller:

17. A book you can finish in a day

It can be a long book that's a light read, or a short book packed with stuff.

Now, I am (of course) going to suggest that you might want to raid the Curriculum Collection for this challenge. It has many wonderful books that can be read in a day.

However, we've got some real gems in the Main Collection. For example, Your Book of Corn Dollies* is only 48 pages long. It's neighbour in the "weaving unaltered vegetable fibres" section of our library (746.41)** is Kete Making (traditional Maori woven bags), and it's only 32 pages long.

You could easily read those in a day. And then maybe try your hand at making traditional British or Maori straw-crafts. Bring in the earrings - we'd love to see them.

Have you missed out on hearing about the 52 Book Challenge? Catch up here.

*Not our only book on making Corn Dollies.
**Not actually the name of a section of our library.

P.S. We have quite a number of fascinating books about art and traditional crafts up in the 700s - you should come up and see them some time.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Reading Challenge Week 16 - A book with over 500 pages

Sometimes it's good to sink your teeth into a nice long read. Of course, what you think is a long book, and what the person next to you thinks is a long book might be completely different, but I think we can all agree that you can't comfortably read 500 pages in a couple of hours.

Unless you're a freak. Or you have super powers. Or both.

Anyway, as you can probably guess, the challenge for this week was to read a book with over 500 pages. Handily, this challenge fell in lecture recess, so if you were looking for something to do instead of finish your assignments, it was perfect timing.

Brenda Carter read Middlemarch by George Eliot. 

Over the years I have found that watching a TV serialized version of a long novel has inspired me to tackle the 500+ pages required. This practice can be fraught with disappointment when the series and novel don’t live up to each other but in the case of Middlemarch by George Eliot, I wasn’t disappointed.

Set during the Industrial Revolution in provincial England, Middlemarch explores the opportunities, tensions and challenges produced by the conflict of new ideas and cultural conservatism. These ideas are explored through ideas concerning parliamentary reform, medical knowledge, religion, economics and gender roles. Eliot has created a wonderful collection of well-developed characters, several of whose stories intertwine (it is a provincial town after all), to convey her themes. There is a nice balance of realism, tragedy and inspiration in the characters and plot. While you probably won’t read it in a week, Middlemarch is a satisfying read and I highly recommend it.

Nathan Miller read The Thin Red Line by James Jones.

I read this novel whilst living in Japan teaching English. In my workplace were lots of Americans and (obviously) Japanese people, which made it interesting. This novel being such a heavy topic of individual soldier’s experience in what is considered one of the most brutal theatres of combat in World War 2 was tough going. The horror and grimness is driven home when you realize this is based on the author's actual combat experience in the same place, so the horror is more realistic.

The book (found at 810 JON 1C THI) is basically 531 pages of some of the most grim, depressing yet riveting reading I have ever done. The book was later made into the movie of the same name, and like the book it isn’t really a war story but an exploration of peoples inner experience of something as shocking as warfare and the meaning of existence.

Would I recommend this book? For me, I probably wouldn’t have picked it up and continued reading it, if there was other reading material- there was a significant lack of English books in Japan. That I read it while homesick during a Hokkaido winter (they sometimes get below 20 degrees Celsius, and you generally feel bummed out) is a sign that it can be read. What did I get out of it? Old clichés of war is horrible and highlights the best, worst and, most apathetic and foolish aspects of humans - and no one can guess how each person will react. It’s like a non-ironic and non-sarcastic Catch-22, and will suit only some tastes.

Sharon Bryan read The Once and Future King, by T. H. White.

This is one of those books which is actually several smaller books smooshed together, but as White actually went back and revised the original books to fit together comfortably in one volume, I think I can safely call it "a" book (which can be found at 820 WHITE 1C ONC).

Athurian tragics will know that the first book in the tetralogy, The Sword in the Stone was the inspiration for the Disney movie of the same name. They'll also be able to tell you that a lot of what we think of, when we think of Arthurian myths and legends, came from either The Once and Future King or the works of Alfred Tennyson (both were based on Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, but put in a lot of extra bits that we are highly familiar with today).

Across the four books, we join Arthur at different points in his life: his discovery of his destiny when he was a boy, his seduction by his half-sister as a youth, his best friend stealing his wife, and then his son/nephew plunging the whole kingdom into civil war and eventually leading to Arthur's ambiguous death (assuming he did die...). Yeah, in spite of the Disney connection, it's not a kid's book.

The books were written across a couple of decades in the 1930s and 1940s, (then revised into a single work in the early 1950s), and they contain their fair share of commentary about totalitarianism, communism and fascism. The work, as a whole, is still a rollicking read, though.

World Book and Copyright Day - 23 April

Capt. John Severns, U.S. Air Force
UNESCO has proclaimed that World Book and Copyright Day is celebrated annually on 23 April, the date in 1616 that Miguel de Cervantes, William Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega died.

According to UNESCO

... historically books have been the most powerful factor in the dissemination of knowledge and the most effective means of preserving it... All moves to promote their dissemination will serve not only greatly to enlighten all those who have access to them, but also to develop fuller collective awareness of cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire behaviour based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue.

You can find plenty of enlightening print and online material to read in the JCU library collection via Onesearch or why not check out the library's recent purchases? The Library also provides a wealth of information about copyright to help you respect intellectual property ownership and comply with licensing agreements. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

52 Book Challenge - Week 16

And now for one of the biggest challenges of the 52 Book Reading Challenge:

15. A book with over 500 pages.

That's right, friends and readers, we are challenging you to read a long book. You may recall that we actually gave you advanced warning about this a couple of weeks ago.

In that post, we mentioned that we can't actually help you search for a book based on the number of pages, but we can tell you how to use One Search to see how many pages are in the book.

We're sure you remember, but just to refresh your memory we'll repeat it. And just to amuse ourselves, we'll repeat it in a bad approximation of Elizabethan English.

We'll also get a bit "fresh" with you and call you "thou" (even though that's the way to talk to someone you are very familiar with) because it sounds fancier - and besides, we're all friends here, aren't we?

  • Click, thou, upon the word "Preview", which appeareth at the bottom of the record thou dost desire.
  • Thereto shalt thou find the word "Pages" and, verily, (should the information thou dost seek be held within our humble records), thou shalt find the number of pages there listed.
Godspeed, good gentlefolk, and may the odds be ever in your favour.

(P.S. Sadly, The Hunger Games is just shy of 500 pages, at 454. But you'll be able to use it for the challenge in Week 34, which involves a series of books).

Have you missed out on hearing about the 52 Book Challenge? Catch up here.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Reading Challenge Week 15 - A book someone else recommended

Have you ever had a book recommended to you - or read a book recommendation somewhere - and thought "I should totally read that one day?"

This week's Reading Challenge was to read A book someone else recommended, and we've rustled up a few that were recommended to us. But would we recommend them to you? Read on to find out.

Brenda Carter read Emotional Intelligence Pocketbook: Little Exercises for an Intuitive Life, by Gill Hasson

A recommendation hot off the press is the ebook Emotional Intelligence Pocketbook : Little Exercises for an Intuitive Life by Gill Hasson. It’s easy to become stressed and even overwhelmed by life’s demands, concerns and commitments. Emotional intelligence is all about using your emotions to inform your thinking and using your thoughts to understand and manage your emotions.

The more in touch you are with your own feelings, the more able you are to understand and relate effectively to others. Developing your emotional intelligence can not only help you manage difficult situations and live a happier life, it can also help you engage the ‘feel good’ emotions to inspire and motivate others.

Emotional intelligence pocketbook is a helpful read for so many reasons. At only 120 pages and available 24/7, it’s a good one to dip into when you or others need a lift.

Scott Dale read Journey to the End of the Night, by Louis-Ferdinand Celine.

I was too slow with this novel for last week’s true story Reading Challenge. Luckily it fits in with this week’s challenge of a book recommended by someone else. In this case the book was actually recommended by Charles Bukowski, many years ago. No, not in person, I did not meet “Hank”.

I’ll start by being a little over the top – although it is true. Louis-Ferdinand Celine wrote Journey to the End of the Night (840 CEL 2C VOY) and changed French literature forever. The influence of Celine’s novel went far beyond France itself, influencing writers all over the world.

I want to say that I do not endorse the artist as a person by reading their work (you can find out why one might want to use this qualifier by researching Celine's politics).

This book is not for everyone (but it is for me).

Journey to the End of the Night (Voyage au bout de la nuit) is a novel that has been labelled as emetic (I had to look it up), vulgar and as a masterpiece. The story follows the travels of the largely autobiographical antihero, Bardamu, from the fighting in the First World War, to colonial Africa, the United Sates and Paris. Along the way we hear much obscenity and much of what is wrong in the world. There is not much sign of hope or goodness from people and the systems and cities they create.

Ok, this is a dark book – the journey is to the end of the night, not toward a new day or to the light. Whatever followed later with the author, he seemed to revile all peoples equally in this book. But I enjoyed this journey. Yes, you will get your hands dirty along the way but there is a lot of humour (dark, of course) and insight amongst the muck and ellipses.

Sharon Bryan read Playing Beatie Bow, by Ruth Park.

This is another book that was recommended to me by a teacher back when I was in school (you can read about the other one I've reviewed here).

Actually, the same teacher recommended it to me more than once. I have to admit, though, that I judged it by it's cover and decided it didn't look like my kind of book. And then, sometime later, I read another book by Ruth Park - Poor Man's Orange. That book didn't exactly fill me with a burning desire to go out and read Park's other works. Mostly, it just made me grateful I live in a time and place where I don't have to douse my bed with kerosene on a semi-regular basis to get rid of bed bugs.

So, yes, Playing Beatie Bow was a long time coming. And I have to say it's something I really would have enjoyed reading back when I was in school, so my teacher was right.  This, by the way, was the same teacher who also recommended Seven Little Australians, so I really should have listened to her more often.

The book features a teenage girl called Abigail (although that's not her real name) who finds herself involved in a playground game gone horribly wrong, in a most unexpected fashion. While babysitting her neighbour’s kids, she notices a strange young girl watching the children playing a spooky game called “Beatie Bow”. Abigail follows the girl and ends up 110 years in the past.

Is it a ghost story? A fairy story? A time-travel adventure? All of the above? You’ll have to read the book to find out. In doing so, you’ll learn a thing or two about working class Victorians in Sydney in the 1870s. Entertaining and informative!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Readings - Drop-In Space

Readings is the new platform for hosting subject-specific links to digitised resources for students. With semester 2 not far away, the library is offering drop-in sessions for staff who would like help creating or modifying readings lists for their subjects and linking them to LearnJCU. You can bring your own device or login to a computer in the room to work in your own account.

When: Thursday 2pm - 4pm
Recurring: Every week until 13th Sep 2018
Room 18.229, Building 18 - Eddie Koiki Mabo Library, James Cook University, Townsville
Room B1.016, Building B1 - Library, James Cook University, Cairns

You can find more information and help for Readings in the Readings libguide.

52 Book Challenge - Week 15

Did you know we were 15 weeks into the year already?

Time flies when you're having fun. Or even doing when you're not having fun, if we're being honest.

But of course we're having fun and you're having fun because we're reading books! All thanks to this lovely 52 Book Reading Challenge!

For those of you who are new to the challenge, each week we'll challenge you to read a book, and we'll find a few in our collection to read and review.

This week's challenge is:

15. A book someone else recommended

We've all been there. Someone has recommended a book to us, and we meant to read it.  Really, we did. It's just that we haven't gotten around to it, you know?

Well, now's the time! Pick a book from that long list of recommendations and read it!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Reading Challenge Week 14 - A book based on a true story

The challenge for this week was to read a book based on a true story. We've already reviewed a bunch of books based on true stories (Murder on the Orient Express, Affection, The Three Musketeers, etc), so, what to pick next?

The Curriculum Collection came to our rescue, as it always does. We may have previously mentioned that the Curriculum Collection is one of our favourite parts of the library (followed closely by the Special Collections). The allure of pretty illustrations inspired by true stories was impossible to resist.

Well, Bronwyn found a book in the regular collection (or, as we like to call it in our catalogue, "Main"), but she thinks it should be in Special Collections, so it sort of fits with the theme.

Brenda Carter read Where the Forest Meets the Sea, by Jeannie Baker.

A long, long time ago (1988 in fact) I was privileged to attend an exhibition at Lewers Bequest and Penrith Regional Art Gallery, NSW. On display were the original collages created by Jeannie Baker for her latest picture book, Where the Forest Meets the Sea (820.94 BAK). I have since read this to my children and used it many times in the primary classroom. 

In the story, a boy and his father travel in their boat, ‘Time Machine’, to a stretch of beach beside an ancient tropical rainforest. As the boy walks among the trees, he imagines the forest as it might have been in the past. The illustrations are a labyrinth of flora and fauna and, if you look carefully, you may see a dinosaur and the outline of one of the forest’s original human inhabitants. I won’t spoil the final scene but suffice to say it is a warning of what might be.

Much of the delight and impact comes from examining the amazing collages Jeannie has created to portray the rainforest environment. Jeannie explains:
The collages are created from a combination of natural and artificial materials. Where I can I like to use textures from the actual materials portrayed ­ such as bark, feathers, cracked paint, earth, knitted wool, tin so that their natural textures become an integral part of the work. 

Where the Forest Meets the Sea is a memorable picture book for all ages. Whenever I drive the Captain Cook Highway towards Port Douglas or visit the national park at Mossman I am reminded of the beauty and message of this story.

Bronwyn Mathiesen read Remembering Babylon by David Malouf.

Remembering Babylon (820A MAL 1C REM) by David Malouf has a very small connection to a real life event. The name of a character and some words he speaks are taken from an event that really did happen at a similar location and time, but it is otherwise complete fiction.

Try to imagine the coastline of northern Queensland in the early to mid 1850’s, a twelve year old boy, Gemmy is washed up from a ship wreck and accepted by the native people of the area, somewhere roughly around the current site of Bowen. He spends sixteen years with these people and eventually discovers a white settlement that has established in the area.

David Malouf takes the stereotype of a white child raised by natives who re-enters the white community years later and approaches it in a fascinating way. Malouf is clear that the story is not that of Gemmy Morrill (or Moreell) apart from the few words spoken upon being discovered by white settlers, however he has used it as an opening to a story about life in northern Australia that describes the fear and fascination of living in such a wild place, it is telling that Gemmy avoids letting the white settlers know about his aboriginal clan, as he knows what that will lead to, but his position as someone not fully accepted in either world leads to a difficult ending.

Want to know more? Here's something about James ‘Jemmy’  Morrill from the Australian Dictionary of biography.

Sharon Bryan read Horace the Baker's Horse, by Jackie French.

Jackie French is something of a go-to writer for books based on true stories. Even Diary of a Wombat was loosely based on a real wombat. So it was an absolute delight to have a really good excuse to review Horace the Baker's Horse (c820.94 FREN), which is based on a story French's grandmother told her, about a baker's horse who delivered the bread by itself.

Horace is a baker's horse, and an indispensable part of the team. Three generations take care of baking the bread for the town (Old William, Big Bill and Young Billy), but Horace does the rounds of all the houses - usually with Big Bill holding the rains.

Then, one day, the flu epidemic sweeps through the town, and the bakers aren't immune. Old William succumbs first, then Big Bill. Young Billy does what he can to mix the dough through the night and bake the bread, but after working all night, he's too exhausted to deliver the bread. Horace, however, knows the route so well that he happily trots off and delivers the bread all by himself - becoming a life-line to many families brought down by the flu.

Peter Bray's illustrations are absolutely marvellous, and the combination of French's story and Bray's images make this a "must have" book, in my opinion. The depiction of an Australian country town in the early 20th Century is just gorgeous, and this book would make a wonderful gift. Not just for kids, either. While I was writing this review, several of my colleagues pinched the book off my desk to read (I had to go looking for it to get it back).

Thursday, April 5, 2018

International Day of Sport for Development and Peace - 6 April 2018

Australian Paralympic Committee
Sport can have a powerful influence on national identity and unity, as the recent Australian cricket scandal has shown. According to the United Nations,

Sport plays a significant role as a promoter of social integration and economic development in different geographical, cultural and political contexts. (It) is a powerful tool to strengthen social ties and networks, and to promote ideals of peace, fraternity, solidarity, non-violence, tolerance and justice.

These ideals are promoted through sporting events from the Commonwealth games, to weekend sport and backyard family activities. You can still buy tickets to some of the preliminary rounds and qualifying finals of the Commonwealth games basketball matches in Cairns this weekend. Whether as a spectator or a participant, we invite you to recognise and celebrate the importance of sport as a  fundamental human right for all people on Friday, 6 April.

If you would like to read more about how sport can be used as an agent for peace, look at these great resources from the library catalogue.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

52 Book Challenge - Week 14

Thanks to the public holiday on Monday, we're a little behind in issuing the next challenge in the 52 Book Reading Challenge, but here it is, without further ado (apart from this ado, which is waffling on far longer than necessary, to be perfectly frank):

14. A book based on a true story.

Once again, you've got a lot of room to play with this. As long as the book is based on events that actually happened, you've got yourself a book for this week's challenge.

But we'd like to draw your attention to a few challenges that are coming up shortly, as you may need to indulge in some advance planning.

Week 16 in the challenge is "a book with more than 500 pages", which can take a while to read, and you may need to get onto that sooner rather than later. Now, you can't narrow your search in our systems to the number of pages a book has, but it is possible to use One Search to see how many pages are in a book (even an eBook), as long as that information is in the system.

When you've searched for a book, click on the little magnifying glass with the word "Preview". One of the things you should see is the number of pages. This might not be available for all books, but it will help you discover that The Grapes of Wrath has 619 pages, while The Grapes of Math only has 337.

Have you missed out on hearing about the 52 Book Challenge? Catch up here.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Reading Challenge Week 13 - A book with a number in the title

The mathematically challenged amongst us might normally avoid books to do with numbers, but when the challenge is to read a book with a number in the title - well, that gives us plenty of scope to pretend we're numerically inclined without needing to do any of that pesky "counting" stuff.

Brenda Carter read The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas.

Is uni life becoming a little dull, routine and unispiring? If so, you may need to read The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas (840 DUM(P) 2C TRO/HER) and, for more numbers, its famous quote, “All for one and one for all”.

No doubt you’ve read an abridged version or watched at least one of the film adaptations at some stage, but the real thing is a greyer affair with our heroes – Dartagnon, Athos, Porthos and Aramis certainly not Disney characters. There’s even more swashbuckling action and intrigue, complete with swordplay, romance, fortunes won and lost, mistresses kept and stolen, poisoned wine, devious nobility, and vengeance sought and attained. It’s clear who the villians are (could there be a more despicable character than Milady?) but they and the musketeers are portayed as flawed individuals which makes for a more complex and enjoyable narrative. Having said that, you won’t be intellectually stretched by this novel but you’ll have a great escape with it when you need a break from reality.

Already read The Three Musketeers? If so, treat yourself to the sequel, Twenty Years After which has been described as a ‘thinking man's’ Blues Brothers, a ‘getting the band back together’ tale which is even better than the original. Twenty Years After is available as an ebook.

Nathan Miller read The Two Rainbow Serpents Travelling: Mura Track Narratives from the 'Corner Country' by Jeremy Beckett & Luise Hercus

Australian Aboriginal Traditional Stories, Songlines and Spirituality in Pairs or Twos.

When I was asked about stories with numbers in it, the traditional Aboriginal stories of pairs or two, -boys or animals or even two boys becoming animals- sprung to mind. I vigorously searched our collection and came up with some.

However this is the rub, in Australia these stories are not well known or published, and nor is their importance to contemporary Australia’s development. In Aboriginal Australia there are many songlines and spiritual creation stories that emphasis travel between water features- both natural and man made-especially in the more arid interior, similar to Old Testament stories. These stories helped Aboriginal people move about via an oral map, and for later Europeans the stories helped settlement, the pastoral industry and droving of livestock as Aboriginal people were often guides or workers. Many roads and modern highway follow these routes as well.

I grew up in South West Queensland and was lucky enough to hear from many different Aboriginal people from different groups and sometimes even other Australians aspects of these stories. If you want to read some stories, one version I found is The Two Rainbow Serpents Travelling: Mura Track Narratives from the 'Corner Country' (in print at 299.9215 BEC, or available online) by Jeremy Beckett & Luise Hercus (although they should be called compilers). To read a wider coverage of this topic and related landscape that include parts of the Two Boys songline (which is found nation wide) Aboriginal Dreaming Paths and Trading Routes: The Colonisation of the Australian Economic Landscape by Dale Kerwin.

Sharon Bryan read Now We Are Six by A. A. Milne.

It is a fact well known and widely acknowledged, although rarely mentioned out loud, that most librarians have a literary crush on at least one author. This is why many librarians have literary-themed tattoos – because they love a particular book (or a set of books) to pieces, and feel as if the works of that author are so entrenched under their skin that they may as well be etched into their skin as well.

I don’t currently have any literary tattoos, but if I did I’d probably have something by A. A. Milne. And/Or Lewis Carroll. But A. A. Milne is the author of the book I’m spruiking today: Now We Are Six (which we have as part of a collection called The World of Christopher Robin: Containing When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six, which you'll find at c820.81 MIL in the Curriculum Collection).

This is, essentially, the third book in the Winnie-the-Pooh books. The first, When We Were Very Young, is sort of a proto-Pooh book, in that the characters of the inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Wood hadn’t been developed yet. This collection of poems falls between Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner and it was published during the height of Poohmania. If I can say “proto-Pooh” and “Poohmania”.

Personally, I don’t think it’s as good as When We Were Very Young, which had some heart-stoppingly good poems in it like “Spring Morning”, “The King’s Breakfast”, “Bad Sir Brian Botany” and the eternally beloved “Halfway Down” and “Vespers”.  But you can’t love Milne and not love Now We Are Six.  It does have its share of wonderful poems, like “King John’s Christmas”, and some well-loved favourites, like “Us Two” and “Forgiven”. And of course, like the other books in the series, it features the charming illustrations of E. H. Shepard. If you fancy yourself a fan of Winnie-the-Pooh, then this should be on your “to read” list – if you haven’t read it already.

Meanwhile, the book contains an E. H. Shepard illustration of a cat called “Tattoo”. I’m not sure if getting a tattoo of Tattoo would be an excellent literary in-joke, or just too much.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Special Collections Fossickings 51: Destruction and Decline (the Pied Imperial-Pigeon Story, Part 1)

After a hiatus in our Special Collections Fossickings, we return to this popular series with another tale from the Jean Devanny Archive. We hope you enjoy what our intrepid explorer uncovered in her fossickings:

Jean Devanny with Stan White and Dr Hugo Flecker examining a nesting site at Woody island
Jean Devanny Album, NQ Photographic Collection, ID 13965
Author Jean Devanny, the focus of our last two posts, became a keen naturalist while living in North Queensland writing detailed accounts of her observations. One such account, in her memoir Travels in North Queensland, described a 1944 visit to Woody Island (off Port Douglas) to see the colony of nutmeg pigeons (Ducula bicolor) which had arrived in thousands from PNG for their summer breeding season.

Image of pied imperial pigeon
provided by Yvonne Cunningham
These birds – also known as Torres Strait or pied imperial-pigeons – have captured the imagination of generations of naturalists and bird-lovers and fascinated many locals and tourists. Between September and March they can be seen feeding on palm and other native fruits in forests, parks and gardens along the coast before flying out each evening towards the distant islands. But their gentle calls and gleaming white plumage, which closely resembles images of the quintessential peace dove, belie a violent history.

For generations local Aboriginal tribes would have taken advantage of this bounteous food source, which arrived so punctually each year, and in 1901 ethnologist Walter Roth described several methods by which they obtained their catch. But this modest harvest would have had little impact on the birds’ abundant population. When Europeans arrived, equipped with firearms and a tradition of killing for sport as well as food, it was a different story.

Queensland Times, 1865.
Excerpt provided by Trove.
As early as 1865 the “Queensland Times” reported on a cruise taken by Queensland Governor, Sir George Bowen, along the North Queensland coast. In early October the Governor arrived in Cardwell, then the newest and most northerly settlement on the east coast. From here he made an excursion to a small offshore island for a day’s shooting which the newspaper later described: “The sport was excellent – eighty-two birds falling to three guns. The birds were all black and white Torres Straits [sic] pigeons, and afforded dainty food to the company for some days.”

But even this was on a small scale compared with what was to come. The birds were shot in huge numbers, and not just by locals. Steamers that travelled up and down the coast would stop for a day or two so their passengers could enjoy the sport, others came up from the south on specially organized shooting parties. As the slaughter continued some, like E.J. Banfield who had watched what he called “an uncountable host” of pigeons passing by his Dunk Island home, feared for their future.
Pied imperial pigeon playfully perched in a pretty palm tree.
Image provided by Bryony Barnett

Not all shooting was wasteful or wanton. The 1928-29 Great Barrier Reef expedition leader C.M. Yonge found pigeons a more reliable food source than fish (A Year on the Great Barrier Reef) but in 1936, TC Roughley was over-optimistic in claiming that protection had put an end to their “senseless slaughter” (Wonders of the Great Barrier Reef).

In fact, on paper the birds had been protected for most of the century yet despite Banfield’s warning in 1908 of the “immense destruction” that was taking place, it would be another sixty years before anything was done to stop it. Next month’s Fossickings will conclude the story.

Story by Miniata


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Easter 2018 Opening Hours

JCU library wishes everyone a happy and relaxing Easter long weekend. The libraries in Cairns and Townsville will be open for business during the following times:


Building Opening Hours
Library Service Hours
Roving Security Patrol Hours
Friday 30 March
No Library Service
Saturday 31 March
Sunday 1 April
No Library Service
Monday 2 April


In Townsville, the 24 hr InfoCommons will be open for the entire long weekend. Security patrol regularly.

The library will be closed on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

We will be open:

  • Saturday 31st March - 1:00pm-5:00pm.
  • Monday 2nd April (Easter Monday) - 1:00pm-5:00pm.

You can find a link to the opening hours for the Cairns and Townsville libraries, as well as for the Information Commons, on the homepage of the library website.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

52 Book Challenge - Week 13

Adam and Misti Yerton's Book Clock
They say 13 is an unlucky number, and as numbers go, it has had a bit of a rough trot. After all, few other numbers are shunned on sight, or completely skipped over in hotels. For example, 43 is never treated as poorly as 13 - and there is very little physical difference between them. All because some people suffer from triskaidekaphobia, and some people just like to act like they do.

We're waffling on numerically at the moment because the theme for this week's part of the 52 Book Reading Challenge is:

13. A book with a number in the title

We've already read Seven Little Australians, 21 Australian Architects, Fahrenheit 451, Three Crooked Kings and Twelve Years a Slave, but that's no reason why you couldn't borrow these books - or, indeed, any other book with number in the title.

We're not going to rest on our numerical laurels, but will read and review some fresh numbered books this week.

Happy reading!

Have you missed out on hearing about the 52 Book Challenge? Catch up here.

Reserve Online is Dead, Long Live Readings!

Our Reserve Online (Masterfile) system for managing course readings and past exam papers is not compatible with the upgraded version of Blackboard (inc. Ultra).  We have been migrating content since December 2017 and as of the 31 March 2018 Reserve Online will no longer be available to staff and students.

The new system Readings (Talis) has replaced Reserve Online. In addition to allowing a more streamlined digitisation (scanning) process to manage Copyright requirements, Readings also gives academic staff the ability to more effectively self manage and curate their Reading Lists and link to their LearnJCU site. The dashboard also offers valuable analytics to monitor student engagement.  Library & Information Services staff are working with LTSE and academic staff to ensure content (esp. digitised resources) is available before the commencement of SP2.

To find out more about Readings and how to create and manage lists we are hosting workshops (inc. F2F and webinars).  Make sure you check out the Readings LibGuide and FAQs.  You can also get in directly with the Library or your discipline Liaison Librarian.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Reading Challenge Week 12 - A book with a name in the title

Well, this week the challenge was to read a book with a name in the title. That, obviously left us with a temptation to read all of the Harry Potter books.

We resisted for this week. But mostly because there are other challenges coming up which are better suited to the Potter books.

Here are some books we did read:

Luc Brien read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll.

This week was less a challenge and more an absolute joy, as I picked up one of my favourite childhood books: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (in the Curriculum Collection at c820 CAR). It’s been a while since I last read it, and plunging myself back down the rabbit hole with Alice was a hit right in the nostalgia feels. For the uninitiated, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland follows Alice, a girl about 7 years old, as she finds herself on an unbelievable adventure in Wonderland - a nonsensical fantasy world inhabited by, amongst others things, talking animals, magical food stuffs, a never ending tea party, a caterpillar with a bad habit, and a queen with an unhealthy fondness of decapitation. And a cat from Cheshire.

The strange, sometimes meandering, tale is full of whimsical twists (a baby turning into a piglet for no apparent reason) and absurd conversations (but why is a raven like a writing desk?) that I find delightful and often hilarious. However, not everyone thinks so. Other people I talk to about this book think that the prose is confusing and weird. They find Alice a frustrating character whose decisions while in Wonderland make no sense - which is kind of the point, due to the reveal at the end.

First published in 1865, Alice is very much a product of its time. The language, the structure, the characters (and the the views they present), as well as the overarching story are heavily Victorian, and that doesn’t resonate with some people - and that’s OK. For me, as someone who read it growing up, who learned most of Alice and its sequel, Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, by heart, it’s a joyful romp through Lewis Carroll’s ridiculous imagination. I’m so happy that I took this opportunity to re-read it.

It’s hard to understate the importance of Alice in Western literature. It’s been a hugely influential book for generations, and we can still see tropes and the essence of Alice in many modern stories, songs, plays, and video games.

Sharon Bryan read A Dog Called George, by Margaret Balderson.

I found this book in the Curriculum Collection (at c820.94 BAL) a few weeks back when I was getting Bedknob and Broomstick for an earlier book in the challenge, and I simply had to borrow it. For a good 15 years or so (until she died a couple of years ago) I had a dog called George, so it seemed like an obvious choice.

It’s a strange book, because it’s hard to say who the intended readership is. The book features a primary-school aged boy (probably 12 at the oldest) who is a reluctant reader, but I don’t think it’s targeted at primary school aged boys – and certainly not reluctant readers. The language is too complex, and there are a a lot of subtle undercurrents layered throughout this ostensibly straight-forward story. The language would probably be more comfortable in a book for early-teenaged girls who are confident readers, rather than primary-school aged boys who are not.

The plot centres around a boy in Canberra who finds a dog and, as a result, develops some social skills and finds an activity he’s good at. On his way to school one morning, Tony comes across an Old English Sheepdog sitting under a tree. Somehow, he ends up taking it home and calling it George. His mother, who loves dogs and wishes her husband would let the family have one, is delighted with the temporary guest – although she tries to make sure Tony knows that the dog’s owners will have to be found so the dog can go home.

In it’s own way, the book is almost about Tony’s mother as much as it is about Tony and George. Although the story sticks with Tony, we come to know the mother’s character really well – and all through indirect references. It’s amazing how much her character becomes clear without the book ever once stopping to look at her directly.

While I was reading the book, I started to feel it would go down really well with readers of The People’s Friend – a magazine that publishes short stories and serials whose readership is largely women over the age of 40. That magazine occasionally features stories written from the perspective of children, but for an adult readership. And perhaps that’s the best audience for this book: people who are no longer children themselves – perhaps people who have raised their own children – but are happy to read a book set in a child's world and in which the protagonist is a child.

Endnote workshops

JCU Library invites all students and staff to attend our upcoming EndNote workshops:

Tuesday 27 March, 1:00pm-2:30pm, Room 104, Building B1 - Library

Wednesday 28 March, 2:00pm-3:00pm, Room 18.002A, Building 18 - Eddie Koiki Mabo Library 

These sessions are 1 hour introductions to the EndNote programme, and cover the basics of:

  • setting up a library;
  • importing references from the databases;
  • using EndNote with Word; and
  • using EndNote to coordinate your research.

The workshops are highly recommended for postgraduate students and academics (especially those working with postgraduate students), but are open to all.

If you are bringing your laptop, please have EndNote installed before the class. You can download Endnote from the Endnote Libguide on the library website

The guide also contains a wealth of information to help you master Endnote, including online tutorials and FAQs, information specifically for Mac users, guidelines for setting up and synchronising your Endnote Online account and much more.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

52 Book Challenge - Week 12

We're 12 weeks into our 52 Book Challenge, and the theme for this week is:

12. A book with a name in the title

Now the obvious choice would be to pick a book with a person's name in the title, like "Rebecca" or "My Cousin Rachel" or "The Infernal World of Branwell Brontë", or even books that weren't written by Daphne Du Maurier.

However, there's no reason why you can't choose a book that has the name of a ship in the title. Or the name of a dog. Or a horse. Or a river....

How creative do you feel like being?

Have you missed out on hearing about the 52 Book Challenge? Catch up here

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Harmony Day! 21 March 2018

Wednesday, March 21 2018 is Harmony Day.

According to the Australian Government's Harmony Day website:

Harmony Day is a day to celebrate Australian multiculturalism, based on the successful integration of migrants into our community. Australia is the most successful multicultural country on earth and we should celebrate this and work to maintain it. 

Harmony Day is about inclusiveness, respect and belonging for all Australians, regardless of cultural or linguistic background, united by a set of core Australian values. 
Held every year on 21 March. The Day coincides with the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Since 1999, more than 70,000 Harmony Day events have been held in childcare centres, schools, community groups, churches, businesses and federal, state and local government agencies across Australia.

JCU will be celebrating our cultural diversity with music, food, dance, entertainment and activities in Cairns (Library Lawns) and Townsville (Education Central Amphitheater) on 21 March between 10:30am and 1:30pm.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Reading Challenge Week 11 - A Book Set in Your Hometown/Region

The challenge for this week was to read a book set in your hometown or region, which gave staff and students at JCU the scope to read books from all around the world, when you think about it.

Luc read a mystery novel set in Melbourne, Sharon read a fictionalised account of historical events set in Townsville, and Scott read a classic Australian novel set amongst the South Australian fishing communities.

Did you find a book to take you close to home?

Luc Brien read Murder on a Midsummer Night (Phryne Fisher #17) by Kerry Greenwood.

Being a Melbournian, it was a wee bit difficult to find a book set in my home city amongst JCU’s extensive collection of North Queensland literature. However, with a bit of searching, I found that we have a few Phryne Fisher novels by Kerry Greenwood. I’ve seen several episodes of the TV series and enjoyed them, so I thought I’d look at Murder on a Midsummer Night (820A GREE 1C MUR/GRE) for my first outing with the Honourable Miss Phryne Fisher.

The setting in this book is both familiar and strange to me. While it’s set in Melbourne - a city I know very well - it’s a 90-year-old fictional version of the city, and there are many references to places and buildings that no longer exist, if they ever did. For example, Phryne lives at 221B The Esplanade, St Kilda. The number is an in-world nod to Phryne’s favourite detective, Sherlock Holmes, but here’s the real problem: The Esplanade, home to Luna Park, the Espy (the stories I have…), and the St Kilda Market only goes to number 32. It’s not a long enough street to have 221 houses on it. It’s a discombobulating experience - even accounting for poetic license.

Murder on a Midsummer Night was a challenge for me. While I do read and enjoy mystery novels, the detective stories that I consume generally have some paranormal or supernatural element, and there was a disappointing lack of eldritch terror or things with tentacles in this one. However, challenge is the name of the game, and I quickly grew used to the world Kerry Greenwood has created for her lady detective.

Speaking of Kerry Greenwood, once I got past the flowery and overly descriptive writing (there is a lot of telling in here), it turns out that Greenwood is a giant flapper era nerd which, being a nerd myself, I love. I might not have the same interests, but I can appreciate good nerdery when I see it. This book, with all its flaws, is an immensely well-researched piece of historical fiction. And I absolutely respect that.

The plot follows a fairly standard and predictable formula: Phryne is given two unconnected mysteries to solve (investigating the apparent suicide of a successful merchant, and then trying to find a dead woman’s illegitimate child), but as several fans have pointed out, if you’re reading a Phryne Fisher book for the story, you’re going to be disappointed. The real joy lies in Greenwood’s world-building; her alternative version of 1929 Melbourne and the people who inhabit it. For her part, the eponymous Phryne Fisher is a bit dull. In scenes that I felt should be dripping with tension, Phryne is cool, collected, and unflappable. She is good at everything, especially detective-ing, and she seems to float through the story, being largely unaffected by the various goings on around her, and occasionally wandering into Mary Sue territory. While Mary Sues are not inherently bad, they’re very hard to do well. In this case, Phryne is not well done.

While I learned to enjoy this book and its idiosyncratic prose, I think I’ll stick to TV series for now

Sharon Bryan read Affection, by Ian Townsend.

Somewhere out there in the world is a list of “conversation points” for book clubs who are reading this book, and one of the questions on that list must surely be:  “What is the significance of the title?”

For the record, I have no idea.

The title of the book and the blurb on the back jacket made me think this book was going to go in a particular direction, but it never did. It didn’t even threaten to. Which is unnecessarily misleading, because I have previously picked up the book, read the title and the blurb, and decided that it fits into a genre that doesn’t particularly interest me so I put it back down again. They say you should never judge a book by its cover, but you have to admit that the title and description do provide some first impressions.

My first impressions of this book were completely wrong. I thought it was going to bore me, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I can’t say for sure I would have read it anyway, even if it had been more descriptive, because it’s still not the kind of book I usually read.  This is why I’m grateful that the Reading Challenge prompted me to pick it up.

Affection (820A TOWN 1C AFF) is set in Townsville during the plague scare of 1900, and it was fascinating reading descriptions of the town back then. Townsend clearly did a lot of research (he included the JCU library in his acknowledgements), and part of me wants to go trawling through old maps of the city to see some of the places he mentioned that are no longer here. It’s a gripping telling of a story that was worth reading, and I highly recommend it.

Scott Dale read Storm Boy, by Colin Thiele.
Storm Boy cover 
I made this week’s challenge a little easier for myself by deciding to revisit a book I’d known about since I was a child. I grew up in Adelaide and spent many days down at Goolwa and the Coorong region fishing, twisting for cockles, and surfing.

I saw the movie Storm Boy, based on the Colin Thiele book that I read this week (820.94 THI), when I was in primary school. Hearing Storm Boy shout out to his pelican Mr Percival has always stayed with me (just like hearing the cries of “Miranda!” from Picnic at Hanging Rock).

The story of Storm Boy has some longevity with the 1970s film, a remake of this film on the way (starring Geoffrey Rush), and multiple theatre productions.

Reading Storm Boy took me back to those cold, windswept shores and I enjoyed reminiscing the landscapes of my oh so distant youth. I identified quite closely with Storm Boy not wanting to go to school up in Adelaide and especially enjoyed the scene where Mr Percival shows what a pelican can do, saving some men in trouble at sea with a bit of coastal ingenuity.

Reading Storm Boy is a nice way to spend an hour or two.