Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Farewell, VHS shelves!

There is a time and a place for everything. Unfortunately, the bell has tolled for our old VHS shelves. As we continue to expand our DVD collection, we needed to install more practical and compact shelving, and our rolling VHS unit had to go. Our VHSes are still sticking around, but in the meantime, we had to clear everything off and, with the help of AU's wonderful facilities team, demolish what was left.

These shelves have been a mainstay of our department since the 1980s,  so it's sad to see them go. On the bright side, dismantling them helped us find two long-missing DVDs!

We documented the takedown in excessive detail, so we've uploaded our photo gallery to Facebook. Check out our page to see all 50+ photos which get progressively nastier-looking as more layers are taken off the floor.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Help fund an AU Library film series!

We've reported frequently this year about interesting film festivals and screenings happening around town. In the next year, the AU Library could hold a free film series of our own! But we need your help.

In the last week or two, American University launched UFUND, a Kickstarter-style crowdfunding site that solicits donations for specific campus causes. Our potential "Movies in the Mudbox" series is one of those causes. The rights to hold a public film screening are pricey, and to keep it free, the library needs some extra money.

This is a somewhat shameless plea, but please consider donating a dollar or two to this fund! Every penny helps us get a little closer to being able to pull off a film series. This is something that we know people have been requesting for a while now, and we're very excited about the possibility of making it happen!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Peter O'Toole dies at 81

Image credit: IWDRM
One of the all-time saddest Oscar narratives is the continued empty-handedness of legendary stage and screen actor Peter O'Toole. O'Toole died yesterday at age 81, and although he never won one of the eight competitive Academy Awards for which he was nominated, he will surely go down as one of the acting greats of his generation. Peter O'Toole leaves behind a rich filmography of some of the greatest films of the 20th century, from his star turn as T. E. Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia to his timeless Henry II in The Lion in Winter to – oddly enough – a small part in Ratatouille. Though he formally retired from the public eye several years ago, his loss is strongly felt.

Many people have seen Lawrence of Arabia, but his filmography is highly worth watching. We realize that finals are still going on, but if you have a few hours, do yourself a favor and come watch one of the many memorable performances from a film great.

StardustHU DVD 3598
RatatouilleHU DVD 3814
Lawrence of ArabiaHU DVD 3935
The Last EmperorHU DVD 4098
The Lion in WinterHU DVD 5348
BecketHU DVD 5396
TroyHU DVD 6200
VenusHU DVD 6308
MasadaHU DVD 8620
Lord JimHU DVD 10385

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

AU Library OPEN today, but limited

Because of the inclement weather, American University is closed today. The library will operate at limited capacity, so there'll still be room to study, but service desks will be either closed or minimally staffed. The exact hours of Media Services and the New Media Center for the day are TBA.

This is perhaps the most inconvenient time for a snow day; the AU Library is committed to making sure you have a place to work!

Monday, December 09, 2013

Need a study break? See Grudge Match tomorrow!

In spite our commitment to enabling academic success, we continue to offer ways for you to escape or to ignore the stress of finals season. This time, we have passes to see the upcoming Grudge Match, a comedy-sports movie that inevitably unites boxing movie legends Sylvester Stallone and Robert DeNiro for one last round of old-person jokes. We're not expecting Citizen Kane, so we're okay with an hour-and-a-half of Rocky jokes.

As with our previous passes, our passes for Grudge Match are available exclusively online. Visit this website to redeem your pass now. The film will screen at 7pm tomorrow, December 10th, in Friendship Heights. As always, show up early to ensure that you get a seat!

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Deep breaths! 8 videos to fight finals stress

So it has come to this: AU's final exam period officially begins tomorrow. For those who don't take summer classes, it's been a good seven months since you've had to think about finals, but there's no avoiding or delaying it anymore. We've seen plenty of signs of the finals crunch in the library, and although we're getting worked up, we realize that the heaviest toll is probably being taken on student stress levels. So we'll do what we can to help.

As part of our streaming media collection, we have access to a number of psychology collections that include instructional and educational videos about stress management. We can't promise that these will be effective for you, but they're all relatively short (in the 30 minute range) and might be worth a try. We recognize that this is a particularly difficult week, especially for new students, so we'll be glad if these help even a little bit.

15 Ways to Handle Today's Stress
6 Ways to Manage Overload
Am I Stressed?
Avoiding Burnout
Coping with Stress
Handling Stress
Help! I'm Stressed
Stress Management

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Yikes: 75 percent of all silent films are lost

We love lost and orphaned films, like an early Orson Welles picture that was recently uncovered, but this isn't something we should have to get excited about. Films are important cultural objects, and it's a shame if they go missing or are destroyed.

Unfortunately, the prospects for early film preservation appear grimmer than expected. A new report from the Library of Congress estimates that 10,919 silent films were released by major studios, but only one in every four of those films still exists in any format. Even accounting for reprints and rediscovered foreign releases, these are cataclysmic numbers. Over 7,000 feature films – again, whole films – have been likely permanently lost to the ravages of time or neglect. As the Library of Congress points out, the audio limitations of silent films make them nearly a separate form of expression from current movies. It's hard to comprehend that nearly an entire art form has been lost, but it greatly increases the cultural value of the ones that are left.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Today in "Is this the future of film?": Is Making a Scene the future of film?

If we need more evidence that digital distribution is changing the way we make and consume films, look no further than Making a Scene. It's unusual short film series released by, of all publications, The New York Times. Each film in the series, directed by Oscar-winner Janusz KamiƄski, lasts less than a minute and features a performance by a notable celebrity including Robert Redford or Cate Blanchett.

It's an odd choice for a film project, but it's the sort of experimental format that would only really make sense online. The phrase "independent film" tends to evoke a certain type of art house material, but increasingly, projects like Making a Scene are redefining what to expect as we continue into a bold new era of filmmaking.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Welcome back! Who wants to see Saving Mr. Banks?
Now that all the turkey (or tempura, if that's your style) has been digested, we're entering the home stretch for the semester. Things have gotten noticeably busier in the library since everyone's attention is understandably shifting towards exams and final projects.

But let's forget about that for just a second. You know what everyone could use right now? A Disney story.

We're lucky enough to have passes to give away to Saving Mr. Banks, the upcoming Tom Hanks film about the making of Mary Poppins. The screening is taking place this Thursday, December 5th, at 7pm in Friendship Heights. Unlike other screening passes we distribute, you can only access these online. Go to this webpage on SeeItFirst to redeem your passes. The same caveats apply as always: show up early, because your pass does not guarantee that you'll get in!

We hope to see you there! (If you aren't working in the New Media Center, that is.)