Tuesday, October 17, 2017

5 Halloween History Facts

All Hallow’s Eve is upon us again, and in anticipation of our own Student Life/SCC Halloween party on October 31, we thought we’d share some interesting factoids about this historic holiday. Haven’t you wondered what this strange, costumed, door-to-door begging ritual is all about? Well, here are five facts about Halloween’s history sure to send shivers down your hard drive.

1. Halloween is Irish

Though Halloween derived its name from the Roman Catholic Church’s All Hallows Day (All Saints Day) in the Middle Ages, the holiday originated with the Celtic people of what we now call Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man. As early as the 1st century BC, the Gaelic calendar denoted October 31 as Samhain, which marked the beginning of winter and the start of the new year.

For the Celts, November 1st introduced the “dark half” of the year. They also considered sunset the beginning of the day because they believed all things begin in darkness. Obviously, the ancient Celts were a cheerful bunch.

Halloween’s modern popularity in the U.S. also owes its origins to the Irish, thanks to the massive Irish immigration to America in the mid-1800s. The Irish Potato Famine drove them out, but they remembered to bring their witch hats and pumpkin spice lattes.

2. It’s Always Been about Dead Folks Coming Back to Visit

Samhain was thought to be a time when the veil between our reality and the spooky “Otherworld” of dead things was pretty easy to pass through. In particular, the Celts used the opportunity to touch base with relatives in the Great Beyond. These ghostly relations, the Celts knew from experience, were hungry, and they expected some generous hospitality before they would bother hanging out with their boring, live kinfolk. So the Samhain celebrants fixed up a dinner spread in the dining room to welcome Uncle Aiden and Grandma O’Connor back home. Some even had picnics in the cemetery.

Picnic in the cemetery! You can’t get much more “Halloween” than that!

3. There May Have Been Human Sacrifices

Being essentially a really creepy harvest festival, Samhain was the time to make nice with the pastoral deities who controlled the fate of next year’s crops. To appease these supernatural forces, sacrifices were made in the form of farm animals, burned crops, and even, historians believe, some of the neighbors.

If you’ve seen the film The Wicker Man, with its giant, wicker effigy being burned with a real-life, not-so-happy guy trapped inside, you have some idea of how the Samhain sacrifice might have gone down. Thankfully, the Irish left this part of the festivities behind when they came to America.

4. Many Halloween Party Games Were Meant to Tell the Future

With the doorway to the supernatural realm left wide open, all manner of otherworldly activity swarmed about the Celtic people on Samhain. This provided the perfect opportunity to find out what the future held. Would they become rich? Would the cattle get smallpox? Would Enya’s brother ever get married or would he live in their sheep barn forever?

Divination rituals involving nuts, apples, and eggs were used to provide clues to these puzzles. The obvious surviving Halloween ritual is apple bobbing, but peering into crystal balls, pouring lead into water, and mirror gazing also had their place in Samhain gatherings. Let’s hope the signs were good for Enya’s brother.

5. Ghoul and Goblin Costumes were Meant to Fake Out Real Ghouls and Goblins

While trick or treat costumes are thought to have always been part of Samhain shenanigans, the practice is specifically traced to France in the 14th and 15th centuries. By this time, the infamous Black Death had introduced the popular image of the Danse Macabre (Dance of Death), an image often painted on cemetery walls, depicting the personification of Death leading the newly deceased into a fresh tomb. Those dressing up as ghouls and devils on All Saints Day believed Death would avoid their village if he thought the job of escorting plague victims was already covered.

“We got this, Death! See you round the graveyard!”

Weirdly, this also evolved into the practice of mumming or guising, in which the ghostly-clad locals would sing and recite verses door to door, hoping to be rewarded with food. Those houses which provided the goodies were assured good fortune for the following year. Those who didn’t, well…they were just lucky toilet paper hadn’t been invented yet.

Don’t forget to join us for our Halloween party in the Library Lobby on October 31st from 10:30 am to 1:30 pm. It won’t be a Samhain celebration (thankfully), but it will feature a costume contest, pizza for sale, and an intriguing and challenging Library Murder Mystery Game. Hope to see you there!

Works Cited

Wednesday, October 4, 2017


"What's with this MLA formatting stuff?" you ask. "Why do I need all these fancy margin setting and complicated citations? Can't I just send my paper as a text message?"

No need to worry. The Library staff at all SCC locations are ready to assist you with any and all MLA issues. In fact, one of our resident MLA experts, Nancy Tucker, will be presenting an MLA Workshop on October 11th to guide you through the process of formatting, citations, and all the other not-so-scary elements of MLA crafting.

We asked Nancy to give us more details on the upcoming workshop.

What is MLA formatting and why is it important?
MLA stands for Modern Language Association.  The Modern Language Association publishes the MLA Handbook which contains the rules for citing in MLA format.  Most classes at Spartanburg Community College require students to use MLA 8th ed. formatting.  Having the knowledge to cite sources is a critical skill for students at SCC.  In fact, students are required to cite their sources twice, once as an in-text citation and also on the works cited page at the end of the paper.  The SCC Library has created several MLA handouts to help with MLA citations.  In the workshop on October 11th, we will discuss these MLA handouts and how to use each one.
Certain rules of MLA formatting changed recently.  How is it different now?
In the summer of 2016, MLA published the updated MLA Handbook 8th edition.  This update replaces the 7th edition of MLA.  In the past, sources were cited based on their format.  The new 8th edition makes citing sources a lot easier.  In fact, all sources can be cited using one basic template.  Once a student learns how to use the MLA template, they can cite anything!  
Nancy Tucker, MLA master!
How do the SCC librarians help students with MLA formatting?
SCC librarians are available to answer your MLA questions during library hours in person, by phone, or by email.  Our MLA handouts are available 24/7 and can be found on our library website http://library.sccsc.edu/. Students do not need an appointment to speak with a librarian. 
The library can be contacted at 864-592-4654 or askalibrarian@sccsc.edu.  The Central Campus Library is open Monday – Thursday from 7:30 am- 9:00 pm, and on Friday from 7:30 am -1:30 pm.  Check our library website for updated library hours if you are at Cherokee, Tyger River, or Downtown

What’s the most challenging type of citation?
Any source that a librarian has to look up in the MLA handbook is a challenging source to cite.  Examples of challenging sources include: a live performance, a work of art viewed in person, the Bible, poetry, notes taken in class, an instructor's PowerPoint, etc.
It is important to know where to look when you don’t know the answer.  As librarians, we don’t know everything about MLA, but we know where to go to find the correct information.  These sources include the MLA handbook, the SCC Library website, and the MLA Style Center.  We will discuss these sources in the MLA workshop on October 11th. 
What will you cover in your MLA workshop?
In this workshop, we will discuss the basics of MLA such as how to identify the important elements of a source, what punctuation to use, when to italicize, when to use quotation marks, how to create a works cited page, how to create in-text citations, and much more!  We will also practice citing sources with a few fun activities.

After a student has finished your MLA workshop, what is the most important thing to remember?
The most important thing for a student to remember after attending this workshop is where to go to access the MLA resources and how to contact the library for assistance.  Our MLA handouts can be found on our library website http://library.sccsc.edu/.  Students can also visit the SCC Library with questions or for MLA help.  Students do not need an appointment to speak with a librarian.  The library is open Monday – Thursday from 7:30 am- 9:00 pm, and on Friday from 7:30 am -1:30 pm.  Check our library website for updated library hours if you are at Cherokee, Tyger River, or Downtown.

Thanks, Nancy!

Don't forget: the MLA Workshop is on October 11th in the Central Campus Library Instruction Room at 2:00 pm.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Banned Books Week

Sometimes we take our freedom to read for granted. United States citizens work hard to protect and defend our constitutionally-guaranteed right to free speech—the right to read or publish whatever we’d like—and it’s important to remember that not every country has these rights.

However, there are many times when our free-speech rights are challenged, sometimes resulting in the banning of material certain censors consider dangerous, obscene, or otherwise threatening to the common good. That’s why, in 1982, the American Library Association teamed up with the American Booksellers Association and other organizations of journalists, publishers, librarians and authors to create Banned Books Week.

Banned Books Week oranizers seeks to draw attention to issues of censorship by showcasing the books most often challenged in school libraries, public libraries, book stores, publishing houses, and anywhere else where unpopular ideas might cause trouble.

Each year, the ALA compiles a
list of the top ten most challenged books. There are lots of current titles on the list in recent years, including The Hunger Games and even Captain Underpants, but problems with book censorship are nothing new. Many well-known books from decades past continue to be challenged by censors and concerned community members to this day, including notorious titles like:

Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Twain’s story of a young Mississippi boy’s attempt to assist a runaway slave was first banned in 1885, the year it was published. The Library Committee of Concord, Massachusetts agreed to remove the book from the public library, criticizing its bad language and poor grammar. A New York Times editorial of the day applauded the decision, calling Twain’s book “trashy and vicious.”

Twain himself responded with mock concern about the controversy, “It has started a number of hitherto spotless people to reading Huck Finn…people who had not heard of him before; people whose morals will go to wreck and ruin now.”

Despite the book’s growing reputation as a literary masterpiece, Huck Finn continued to inspire demands for its censorship. As the civil rights movement emerged in the 1950s, the NAACP condemned the book as racist for its portrayal of the slave Jim, which they considered a negative stereotype. Twain’s use of racial epithets is the most common complaint among those hoping to ban his classic novel.

Huckleberry Finn consistently remains one of the most challenged books in America.

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

Topping the ALA list of most-challenged books for several years, the enormously popular Harry Potter series has been accused of being anti-family, promoting witchcraft, and featuring gratuitous violence. One Catholic school principal in Rockford, Illinois said the books were “contrary to the teachings of the Catholic church” by promoting astrology, and had them removed from the school library in 2000.

But elsewhere that year, a parent-teacher partnership in Zeeland, Michigan worked to cancel a Harry Potter ban, allowing the celebrated boy wizard back into the classroom after the books had been cast out by the school superintendent. Mary Dana and Nancy Zennie were honored for the efforts as “Banned Book Week Heroes” at the Library of Congress later that year. Turns out some spells can be reversed.

Mein Kampf by Adolph Hitler

Here’s a case where a book being un-banned causes a lot of worry. Adolph Hitler’s infamous, anti-Semitic screed has been called the most hated book in the world. In it, Hitler proposed the ideas about German expansion and Aryan purity that led to the Nazi party’s rise and the horrors of World War II.

For seventy years, the state of Bavaria held the copyright to Mein Kampf, which allowed them to maintain a complete ban on publishing the book throughout Germany. In 2015, that copyright expired, allowing publishers the right to once again publish Hitler’s manifesto. The Institute of Contemporary History in Munich published a new, heavily-annotated edition of the work, leading to much public debate about the pros and cons of having Hitler’s racist ideology available to the general public. That edition sold out within hours of its release.

Though the spread of Nazism has been outlawed in Germany since the end of WWII, other publishers—including modern-day Nazis­­—now have the legal right to publish Mein Kampf, with or without the historical context of annotations. Is this a good idea? Is this a case of victory for free speech or a dangerous book let loose upon the world? Are there ever good reasons to ban a book?

You can explore these important questions during Banned Books Week at the SCC Library. Check out our selection of infamous banned books and decide for yourself if they are mind-expanding classics or dangers to society!

Works Cited


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Can’t Hang with the Hanging Indent?

Formatting your paper in proper MLA or APA style may seem difficult at first, but there are really only a few key MS Word settings to remember. One-inch margins, twelve-point Times New Roman font, double-spaced, and page numbers inserted (more on all that at this link). But what about this “hanging indent” business? What the heck is that?

Think of a hanging indent as the reverse of a normal paragraph indentation. A paragraph starts with the first line indented, but the hanging indent means everything except the first line is indented. The hanging indent format is used on source citations in both MLA and APA format. So after you’ve assembled the citations for your Works Cited page at the end of your paper, you need to “hang” ‘em.

"How do I create a hanging indent?"

Highlight the individual citation and find the “paragraph” section of the “home” tab at the top of your MS Word screen. See that little arrow doo-dad in the corner of the paragraph section? Click on that.

When the paragraph dialog box opens, look for the indentation section and use the pull-down bar under “special” to select “hanging.” Then click OK at the bottom of the box. Repeat this action for each citation.

"That’s too much work!"

I agree. I’m getting tired just thinking about it. So here’s the easiest way.

Select the citation and hit ctrl + T on your keyboard. Boom! Indent hung!

As always, you can ask the friendly SCC Librarians for help with this and other MLA/APA matters. And you can also check out these helpful pages from the SCC Library website:

Handy tutorials: http://library.sccsc.edu/tutorials/tutorials.asp

Happy hanging!