September 10, 2019
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Book Recommendation: How To Do Nothing by Jenny Odell

In Jenny Odell’s How To Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, she makes a strong case for moving away from the capitalist idea that we need to be constantly optimizing, producing, and innovating. Instead, we should turn our attention back to our actual place in the world and try to reconnect with people, animals, and our bioregion in a way that repairs the harmful results of behavior capitalism has encouraged and even required of us.

With the rise of internet culture, student and credit card debt, the gig-economy, environmental and social crises, and late stage capitalism, we find ourselves increasingly burnt out and restricted. As a group, humans are disconnected and fractured. We spend so much time working or distracted by the internet and media that we regularly forget to look up.

According to Odell, removing ourselves from the attention economy and invasive addictive technology for a time allows us to refocus our attention. Her book does an amazing job at illustrating how powerful our attention is, both for destruction and for building. She uses successful acts of activism from the past as examples of the positive power of our combined sustained focus. Unfortunately, our attention is currently being drained from us at a rate impossible for us to maintain, hence the constant overwhelmed state. Due to that, we no longer know how to focus together as a group on shared goals.

Odell champions the idea that not every space, be it physical, digital, or mental, needs to have what capitalism would consider a net gain. Not every idea or thought needs to be profitable. Sometimes the important work is not that of optimizing, but of sustaining. To undo the harm of constant “innovation”, humans can learn instead how to be stewards of the spaces around them, offering only the amount of support needed for it to maintain a stable existence.

Odell brings in ideas from environmentalism, art, technology, psychology, philosophy, sociology, and more to illustrate her points. Part of the beauty of How To Do Nothing is watching Odell seamlessly blend together these multiple concepts into a cohesive message. Odell, a visual artists and professor at Stanford, is both highly academic and engaging in her discussion. How To Do Nothing is incredibly well researched without being dry.

Odell’s arguments feel plausible and urgent. This is important for a book discussing what might be considered by some as a breakdown of society. Those who read How To Do Nothing will see their world in a new light and, if Odell has been successful, be inspired to make changes to how they exist in it.

You can checkout Odell’s How To Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy from the JKM Library today!

December 6, 2018
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Clear This Display Contest!

Don’t be fooled by our gentle demeanor. Librarians have a bit of a competitive side as well. True, it comes out in strange ways, but it is definitely there. For example, it is not uncommon for groups of librarians to ask one another how many books they currently have checked out from their respective libraries. The winner will usually have a number in the hundreds. We LOVE checking books out of the library, sometimes more than actually reading them.

While we don’t expect you to match our own checkout numbers, we invite you to pile up a fun stack of books to checkout over your upcoming winter break! What could be better than fun, comforting winter reads while you’re resting up for the spring? Well, what if we told you that you could actually win prizes as well? That’s better, right?

2018’s Clear This Display main book display

Welcome to our annual Clear This Display Contest! Each book you check out from our main book display earns you an entry into our raffle. You may enter as many times as you like (read: check out as many books as you like). Simply fill out the slip tucked in the book, fold it up, and put it in the red contest submission box at circulation! We draw two winners in January once we’re all back from break.

The rules for the contest are as follows:

  • Be a Chatham University student.
  • When checking an item out, fill out the slip that comes with it and submit your entry at the circulation desk after check-out.
  • Enter as many times as you want! One entry per item checked out from the table.
  • Take items home and enjoy 🙂 Be aware of the due dates.

We have two prizes for participating students: a guaranteed individual study room for ALL of Spring 2019 finals week, stocked with your favorite study goodies, OR a $10 gift certificate to CafĂ© Rachel. We alert winners via their Chatham email, so it’s important not to skip that line on the slip when submitting an entry for a prize.

So, how many books do you think you can check out before you leave for winter break? We want nothing left on this table by the end of the semester…do your worst.

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