Interview with Chris Filstrup

The Library Club: Who are you and what do you do?

Chris Filstrup: Who am I? I sit with a Zen group every week trying not to think about this question. What do I do? I’m an administrator, and in that capacity, inter alia, I represent the library to the university administration; I allocate resources as wisely as I can; and I encourage staff to be high level service providers. Now and then I staff the reference desk and hope that no one asks about government documents.

The Library Club: We heard you were a Philosophy Major, can you tell us about it?

Chris Filstrup: I wish. Rather, as an undergraduate, I was a political science major. I have a Master’s in Middle East Studies, and I never finished a doctoral program in the history of religions. Instead, I went to library school and got a job. In my next life I will major in philosophy.

The Library Club: How did you become the SBU Library Director?

Chris Filstrup: I moved from one library to another four times. This is the usual path of out and up. Previous to coming to SBU, I was head of technical services and collection development at North Carolina State University.

The Library Club: Lots of people feel books are going the way of the dinosaur…do you think books = dinosaurs?

Chris Filstrup: This must be a question about ink-on-paper books, or are electronic books no longer books? I’m pretty sure the printed codex will survive in the foreseeable future. It’s a terrific, portable format. I do think that the distribution of long scholarly texts will follow scholarly articles into the electronic arena. Publishers will sell or lease the electronic file, and libraries and individual readers will either read it online or print a paper version. I think there will continue to be lots of printing on paper but I may be a captive of my bookish upbringing. Publishing books in electronic, networkable formats will improve distribution and eliminate the current in-print/out-of-print problem. Will electronic readers make inroads? This may be a cultural more than a technical question. I used an electronic book reader about 7-8 years ago, and it was all right. A little heavy but ok for reading in bed. We have on order a Kindle book reader to play around with — interestingly, Kindles are out of stock.

The Library Club: Rumor has it you went to Iraq, when, why and would you go again?

Chris Filstrup: Not a rumor. I went in November 2003 as part of a USAID grant that SBU received to rebuild archaeology programs and libraries in Iraq. Faculty on both sides of the campus participated in this effort, and three or four of us went to Baghdad to establish relationships and start up projects to train archaeologists and develop water monitoring labs as well as work on rebuilding libraries at the Universities of Baghdad and Mosul. I was deeply affected by the courage of the Iraqis who kept the libraries open in the midst of escalating violence. As we all know, much of Iraq declined into something like a civil war. The grant was not renewed, so I didn’t return. Yes, I would return if the violence subsides.

The Library Club: What new things can we expect from the library in the next few years?

Chris Filstrup: Better management of electronic resources; easier search tools which allow users to search all our resources; the creation of an institutional repository to capture SBU research productivity; digitization of our unique resources, mostly in Special Collections; increased cooperation with other SUNY libraries; moving reference services online.

The Library Club: To wrap things up, which bumper sticker are we likely to find on your car?

Chris Filstrup: “Librarians know the answers… Do you know the questions?” OR “Librarians have high shelf esteem!” (Feel free to make one up for your car!)

Interview by Anuj Malhotra

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Book Report on Binding Back to the Hawaiian Roots

Binding Back to the Hawaiian Roots

By Anuj Malhorta

Keo Woolford, a multi-disciplinary artist was born and raised in Hawaii and who began dancing hula in high school. Keo has won many awards including the honors of the best-selling album when Keo was a member of Hawaii boy-band called “BrownSkin”. Keo is also a prolific songwriter, having written many songs for BrownSkin and a number of other recording artists in Hawaii and Japan. I specially liked his story telling skills. Although a little odd in the beginning since this was my first attempt at story telling, Keo did a wonderful job. He delivered a hard-hitting performance poem that outlined his reasons for embracing his cultural heritage. As a direct quote from Keo, “Because I was adopted before I was born, there are issues of identity. It wasn’t till I left the Islands that I realized that there was a need to connect to culture and identity. This reconnects me, in stronger and deeper ways, with Hawaiian culture. You don’t know what you got until it’s gone”.

Going over one of his high school experience through story-telling, he mentions on the day of graduation when he was involved racially aggravated event when Keo and his friends beat-up a white boy. Obviously Keo regrets it to this day however this did get me thinking that even in a place like Hawaii which is known for its friendly population, racial discrimination does find its way through. Another important aspect of the performance (which I asked Keo in the Q&A) was the conflict of religion beliefs within Keo. The question being “Hula having to do with Hawaiian gods and goddesses but you are a Christian, is that conflicting in any sense?” Keo responded that he respects all religion and he that he overcame the fact of blending in two totally different religions within his performance. Although it takes him awhile to connect with his audience, but his strength being his dancing, his show delivers ample fusion of Hula and Hip-Hop.

How to Start A Library Club



We here at The Library Club would like to see Library Clubs spring up all across the planet. To aid in this endeavor we have a manual to get you started. If you have a library club let us know and we’ll link up with your site.

E-mail us questions and we’ll answer them on the blog.

Good Luck!

The LC

Summary of Human Evolution Symposium By John LoGiudice

From a conversation between Dr. Richard Leakey and a Kenyan Bishop on the scheduled display of Australopithecus skeletons at the National Museum in Nairobi;

Bishop : “We cannot allow the children to see these skeletons, these things are dangerous!”
Dr. Leakey: “Why are they dangerous? They have been dead for over a million years.”

This exchange was mentioned by Dr. Leakey at the commencement of the Fourth Annual Stony Brook Human Evolution Symposium on Tuesday, September 25th, and it struck at the underlying theme of the opening day of the week long proceedings, the general public must be made aware of the importance of studying human origins and that the truthful presentation of science can overcome ignorance and superstition. This theme was visited again and again at a symposium that was titled; “Diversity in Australopithecus: Tracking the Earliest Bipeds”.

While many of the lectures were about the above mentioned title, the audience was full of irate laymen-educators who again and again displayed their frustration with a system that placates the “religious right” and their fairytale “Intelligent Design”, the belief that supernatural forces had a hand in the “creation” of life. Since this writer does not prescribe to this, I will refer to “Intelligent Design” as “The Little Deity That Could” theory. But to be honest, though I do agree with the educators in their frustrations, I personally did not feel that a forum on the latest scientific breakthroughs in the field of Physical Anthropology was the place to make political statements. Some of us are studying anthropology and were there to hear people who lead our field and their latest findings. They spend most of their day telling students not to chew gum in their class. I don’t go to their P.T.A. meetings and steal the floor to discuss “Pre-Clovis peoples in the Americas”.

Anyway, after the opening speech by Pres. Kenny about her plans to build 43 new fountains in front of the Admin. building (satire), Dr. Richard Leakey gave his typical humorous and deeply insightful speech to all of us in the audience. To say that Dr. Leakey is the great elder statesman of the field, would be a gross understatement and his praise for the people in the field and his warnings about the perils of “Anthropogenic changes” of the world ( a.k.a. Global Warming) strike a deep sounding chord in even the most lay of laypeople. Dr. Leakey also struck upon another important key note, the fact that today in the field of Anthropology so much is being stressed on classifying Australopithecus and hominids in general, “It is almost like distinguishing between a cup and a mug. What does it matter what it is called, you can still drink from it?”.

The Stony Brook’s own Dr. John Fleagle introduced other speakers, such as Dr. William Kimbel of Arizona State University, who gave a very animated and lively talk about the current attempts to distinguish the “cups and saucers” from each other and how they relate to us.

I could give you a complete run down of every speech and likely put most readers into a six month coma, so I will give you a quick list of the speakers and what they said.

Dr. Kimbel, “What we do know. What we are trying to know. And what it has to do with us
Dr. Ronald Clarke, U. of Witwatersrand, South Africa, “Expanding on Dr. Raymond Dart’s work in South Africa”…How does South Africa’s Paranthropus fit in with our East African origins.
First Panel Discussion, “Did early Australopithecus robustus and Homo habilis have a common ancestor?”

Then came Dr. Meave Leakey, who proved again that without the Leakey family, Anthropology would be decades behind where we are. Dr. Leakey (Richard’s wife) is currently working on a recent find, Kenyanthropus platyops. A strange hominid that lived at the same time as Australopithecus ( 3.5-3.4 million years ago), but had physical features that were similar to H. habilis and to Australopithecines. It is such an odd find that Dr. Leakey and her team put it into its own genus “Kenyanthropus”.

Next was Dr. Matt Spenheimer of the University of Colorado, who in the opinion of this writer, is working on some of the most interesting aspects of the science today. Dr. Spenheimer works on the nutrition and diet of Australopithecus and his personal motto is “You are what you eat”. I had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Spenheimer at the post symposium reception and is one of the most interesting people I have ever met in the field. his work involves the measuring of carbon isotope levels in remains and determining what was on the menu 3 million years ago. To put it simply, grasses give off a “carbon 4” signature, while fruits and tree matter gives off a more pronounced “carbon 3”. sounds complicated and it is, but it also is a remarkable aspect of the science, if you can wrap your brain around it.

Then S.B. grad and current professor at Arizona State, Kaye Reed spoke about ecology and the role it played with our distant ancestors. She explained how environmental studies can help us study our distant past.

Next to bat, was Dr. Jack Reed Stern, of Stony Brook Anatomy and one of the great leaders of Paleoanthropology. Dr. Stern’s work on the study of limbs and non-human primates has greatly helped us understand our origins and has made Stony Brook synonymous with global leadership in the world of anthropology. Dr. Stern gave one of the most memorable and humorous talks I have ever had the pleasure of sitting in on. Dr. Stern started up with a clip from Godfather 3, Al Picino’s “They keep dragging me back in”, continued with a letter from a person who “time traveled and met the Australopithecine ‘Lucy'” and finished with the statement “They probably will never let me talk here again.”, which in my opinion would be tragic, his talk was a brilliant mix of humour and scientific knowledge that best fit one of S.B.’s most renowned and highest spoken of professors. He left the room rolling with laughter and thinking at the same time. Dr. Stern, excellent work!

After we recovered from “Hurricane Jack”, we got to the second panel discussion which started out well, then turned into the “high school science teacher whining contest”, I do indeed agree with them, but this was not the place.

Then came the reception which was great, I almost accidentally ate a scallop (which could have killed me) while talking to Dr. Sponheimer and drank beer….the end.

Links    (the symposium site)    (the department)   (about the Leakey family and their works) (about the Koobi Fora archaeological site, which was mentioned often at the symposium)