vincentian mission

The Queens campus library is kicking-off “Banned Books Week” with a challenged book exhibit on the 4th floor of St. Augustine Library; the display cases feature the top 10 titles from the most-challenged books of 2010 and a sampling of the 20-most-challenged novels of the 20th century.

Copies of  some of the books that made these lists are also available for check-out as well; see the bookshelves behind the 4th floor information desk (where you will also find our “leisure reading” books, part of the McNaughton Collection.)

Tote and T-shirt, Challenge map and QR code for contest

The Libraries are also hosting a virtual  “Challenged Book Challenge” where we ask you to indicate the reasons why books made it onto these most-challenged lists.  Participants in the challenge can be entered in a drawing for either a “Free your mind, read a banned book” t-shirt or a “I read banned books” tote bag, just provide some contact information on the last question of the challenge (click picture at left for enlarged photo).

We will be posting answers to the challenge questions next week, on our Banned Book/Intellectual Freedom LibGuide,  and hosting discussions on banned books, intellectual freedom and the social justice issues surrounding information access over the following two weeks, so save the dates now: Thursday October 6, from 2-3 pm and Wednesday October 12, from 5-6 pm.   Discussions to be held in St. Augustine Library, Room 305; All readers and discussants welcome!

Caution: The 10 most-challenged books for 2010

Caution: top-most-challenged novels of the 20th century

The United Nations established 2/20 as World Day of  Social Justice Day in order to “support efforts of the international community in poverty eradication, the promotion of full employment and decent work, gender equity and access to social well-being and justice for all.”  The UN also uses the day to ask world citizens what does Social Justice mean?

Part of St. John’s Social Justice mission is to make the Social Justice dimension of research/action more explicit in various “academic” disciplines, and to  promote awareness of Social Justice issues/actions, on pastoral, academic and diplomatic levels.  Our efforts are “academic” only in the sense that we can use the time and mental-space that University life affords to explore  the “big picture” of Social Justice principles, (and what they mean), in order to enact social justice in concrete applications for our students and communities.

The  Catholic Church’s presence at the UN — the Permanent Observer Mission of Holy See Mission to the UN — tries to help to answer the question at the diplomatic level during UN deliberations; The UN Mission submits statements to help remind the  UN body that worthwhile goals of  peace and development are authentically pursued only when the means are consistent with the principles of Social Justice found in Catholic Social Teachings:

  • Respect for Dignity of the Human Person
  • Call to Participation based on the Social Nature of Humanity
  • Rights and Responsibilities of individuals, towards the benefit of the Common Good
  • Protection for the Poor and Vulnerable
  • Respect for Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers
  • Subsidiarity in Government (so that problems should be effectively handled at the lowest possible level of governance)
  • Solidarity
  • Care for the Environment – Stewardship of Creation

As part of World Social Justice Day, ihe UN’s International Labor Organization is promoting the “The Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization” and is calling for people to respond to the question “What does Social Justice mean to you?” There is also another local opportunity to add the collection of voices promoting Social Justice in various disciplines via the Libraries’ Applied Social Justice Essay Competition (the deadline for submitting abstracts for is this coming Tuesday 2/22). We encourage you to respond to these calls; by doing so, you can help inform the notion of social justice as is applies to the “real world.”

Image courtesy Vatican Radio Website

Social Communication has been squarely in the spotlight this week, starting with the Pope’s message on World Social Communications Day.  You can read his message Truth, Proclamation and Authenticity of Life in the Digital Age” on the Vatican website, or you can listen to an interview with Archbishop Claudio Celli (who heads the Pontifical council for Social Communications) on the importance of the message on Vatican Radio. (1)

This emphasis on Social Communications  is a wonderful correlation with our call to “Be Vincentian” this week.  How is it that we reflect our Vincentian mission in our real-life and extended virtual worlds?  How can our studies, and the direction of our research, reflect a commitment to the most vulnerable, both in our local communities and around the world?  How do we use the Social Communications tools at our disposal to promote quality research and access to the information necessary to be active participants in our communities and world?

A couple of related stories bring these social communications & social justice issues to light.  Catholic Relief Service’s Fair Trade branch has posted a crowd-sourced “Request For Proposals” (via blog, Twitter and Facebook) calling on all “Solutionaries” to suggest proposals on how CRS should invest  up to $50,000 each “in action-oriented research and/or pilot initiatives to tackle the persistent questions” in development work.

Global Voices Online (a community blogging site funded by Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Reuters and the MacArthur foundation among others) is reporting on the roles of, and blockages of, Facebook, and subsequently twitter during planning of “Day of Anger” protests in Egypt .  ***Update 1/28 *** Subsequently, CNET, (among several news sources) indicated that the Egyptian government shut down the mostly-state run internet service providers, and instructed all other ISP and mobile connectivity providers to suspend activity, prompting Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to “urge the Egyptian authorities to allow peaceful protests and to reverse the unprecedented steps it has taken to cut off communications.”

Image of precipitous drop in internet activity, as depicted by Arbor Networks -- click image to see graphic in original context

It also prompted Leslie Harris, president of the DC-based Center for Democracy and Technology to state: “This action is inconsistent with all international human rights norms, and is unprecedented in Internet history. ****

In an effort to answer this call to “Be Vincentian,” to be “solutionaries,” and to be “social communicators” in a positive way, the University Libraries & Friends of the Libraries are proud to sponsor the 2nd Annual Undergraduate Applied Social Justice Essay Competition, which seeks entries from among undergraduate researchers whose essays incorporate and/or inform a social justice dimension within the essayist’s chosen discipline.  In addition to encouraging these students to explicitly examine the social justice dimension of their research, with a faculty member as a mentor, the libraries are promoting the use of  a variety of scholarly resources (in both traditional and Social-media venues) which contribute to the creation and distribution of the student’s university-level research. Winning essayists receive a cash prize (1st = $500, 2nd=$300), and  the winning essays then become available as a social-web-scholarly resource to other researchers and the public through open-access publishing via this library blog. (2)

The first deadline for this year’s contest is fast approaching, this Monday Jan 31 Tuesday, February 22. If you are an undergraduate student, please consider writing or revising a paper, in conjunction with your mentor; if you are a faculty member, please notify those students you think would be interested in this contest. For application details, see the Competition posting.

(1) To discover how some other Vatican & Catholic news agencies make positive use of Social Web tools, you may want to visit this GDSJ Blog entry, or to learn more about Social Web tools in this LibGuide.

(2) We are pleased to report that the winning essays from last year garnered over 1300 blog views, and elicited many positive comments from readers outside the University community.

UPDATED:  deadline for application is 2/22, final submission due 3/15.

open lockFollowing up on previous postings about the “open” movement in research and education, we refer you to a report in Library Journal’s (9/15/2009)  that five universities — Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, MIT, and UC Berkeley — have spearheaded a campaign to make OA publishing economically viable. They are the first to create and sign on to COPE: compact for open-access publishing equity. They are encouraging other universities to join in, and offering answers to “frequently asked questions about how/why to join.    Aside from the economic issues facing big institutional libraries, the OA model is a social justice issue, ensuring that timely, authoritative research is available to scholars in emerging nations.  The overview section of the COPE site briefly explains the need for such a compact:         

Universities subsidize the costs of subscription journals by subscribing to them. Universities and funding agencies can provide equitable support for the processing-fee business model for open-access journals — to place the subscription-fee and processing-fee models on a more level playing field — by subsidizing processing fees as well.

The compact for open-access publishing equity supports equity of the business models by committing each university to “the timely establishment of durable mechanisms for underwriting reasonable publication charges for articles written by its faculty and published in fee-based open-access journals and for which other institutions would not be expected to provide funds.”

A full account of the motivation for the compact can be found in the article “Equity for Open-Access Journal Publishing” published in the open-access journal Public Library of Science Biology


Compact for Open-Access Publishing Equity (2009). Accessed 9/18/2009.

Hadro J (2009) Five Universities Sign Open Access Funding Compact. Library  (9/15/2009). Accessed 9/18/2009.

Shieber SM (2009) Equity for Open-Access Journal Publishing. PLoS Biol 7(8): e1000165. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000165

soy-based ink allows for easier recycling

soy-based ink makes paper recycling easier

With the new semester approaching, the library inevitably thinks about research and writing…and all the extra printer pages and photocopies that get left in the printing rooms or get tossed into the recycle bins.  We know this probably happens at your house too, so — in addition to encouraging users to only print what is necessary, to use duplex printing, and use/contribute to our “scrap” piles — we share a couple of  “green printing” tips that may also save you money in the process.

A Dutch company — Spranq — has come up with a small-but-effective advance in green-printing by developing their “eco-font” which uses up to 20% less ink.  The  free, open-source version is geared toward individual home-printing or in-office printing for small companies.  The font looks like the “verdana” font and is said to display best  in “10-point” setting; but a trial run in our household with an HP photosmart inkjet looked fine at 12 points too. Directions for adding the font to your machine is included on the site.  (note:  EcoFont Professional for large companies has also been developed, and can be licensed for a fee.)

If you buy ink for your home printer, you might consider ordering your ink cartridges from LaserMonks.  They offer ink, toner, fax and copier supplies for many major brands, but sell them for much less money.  LaserMonks have also recently introduced a  soybean-oil-based toner (rather than the standard petroleum-based toner) which touts three benefits:  “It’s easier to recycle paper printed with soy. And perhaps more important in a sour economy, soy toners can cost less than the standard alternative. Soybeans are a renewable resource whose price is likely to be more stable than that of oil” (Ramde).  To all these benefits, this we might add that the soy-toners come from a company in Maine,  so the carbon footprint is smaller than shipping toners from Taiwan.  LaserMonk’s motto is “commerce with compassion,” and Fr. Bernard McCoy, O. Cist. — Steward of Temporal Affairs, Cistercian Abbey and CEO of LaserMonks —  expresses their mission best:  “By purchasing printing supplies from LaserMonks, our customers not only save money, they support the monks’ modest life of prayer and our good works.”

Thanks to Kevin Rioux for bringing Lasermonks and Ecofont to our attention.  For more “green news”  by category check out the  Sierra Club’s “green life” blog.   For a room-by-room guide to a greener home, check out National Geographics’ Green Guide to everyday living.  Please also feel free to use our “comments” section to add your own hints, and we’ll compile them on a LibGuide.


Berlin, J. “Holey Grail.” National Geographic, Environment Section.  August, 2009. p.14

McCoy, B.  “About Lasermonks,” website. Retrieved from, accessed 8/21/2009.

Ramde, D.  “Black and White Printing Goes Green with Soy Toner,” website.  Apr 22, 2009.  Retrieved from Accessed Aug 21, 2009.

7a2c79b2eab94b2488c49fe0521907f5Marilyn Narson,  Circulation Supervisor on the Queens Campus, offers the follow-up numbers from our Food for Fines Spring 2009 Drive

Queens and Staten Island Libraries: Grand Total of 1,620 food items were collected and donated to St. Raphael’s Food Pantry  (Long Island City), Our Saviour Lutheran Church Food Pantry (Jamaica) and Project Hospitality (Staten Island).

Thank You to all our participants.

Congratulations to all our students who are finishing up the semester!   The Libraries — both virtual and physical buildings — remain open if you are taking advantage of summer courses, want a cool, quiet place to catch up on reading or need to work on that paper/resume.   The hours for each campus library building differs, so be sure to check for your campus’ summer hours here

Goodwill_boxThe Vincentian Mission of Service  doesn’t end with classes!  When packing up to head home, take advantage of the Goodwill drop center behind St. Albert’s Hall  (Queens Campus) to deposit your gently used clothing.  And if you have any  library books,  please don’t forget to bring  them back!!!  If you bring along a dry/canned food item for each overdue book,  by May 17th , we’ll waive the fine as part of our Food for Fines program.  (Queens and Staten Island — see Suggested Food Items ).   One food item will erase one overdue fine regardless of the fine amount, if you have multiple fines,  we will waive lowest to highest amount.   Pre-existing overdue fines are also eligible.  

NOTE: Fines and fees resulting from lost or damaged library materials are NOT eligible for the Food for Fines program.

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