When is a library not just a library? …. When it’s a work of art!

The library: a world history by James W.P. Campbell, photographs by Will Pryce, leads the reader through a tour of the most varied and visually stunning libraries the world over. From the libraries of the ancient world to the 21st Century and beyond, from the most ornate of the The Theological Hall, Strahov Abbey in Prague, Czech Republic to the modern National Library of China, Beijing.


Architectural historian Campbell’s authoritative account of library architecture is matched only by Pryce’s beautifully striking and spectacular accompanying photographs. It just goes to show that libraries, whether they be public, academic or National don’t have to be musty, concrete, lifeless buildings but can be the heart and soul of the town or city.

As the dust jacket perfectly sums up “The finest libraries are repositories not just of books, but also of learning, creativity and contemplations: they embody some of the highest achievements of humankind”

Many of the eighty libraries visited by Campbell and Pryce can be described as nothing short of works of art. The book can, rather unsurprisingly, be found in the Architecture Library!

Campbell, James W.P. (2013) The Library: a world history
ISBN:  9780500342886
Classmark: 727.8 CAM (ARCHI)

Blasphemous art – shocking or thought provoking?

A thought provoking and interesting book that crossed my desk this week was ‘Blasphemy: art that offends‘ by S. Brent Plate.

Art, historically, has often been the cause of controversy. Works considered blasphemous were destroyed or banned, those viewed as obscene and not to public taste, banished.

The author of this book considers the religious-political divide and arts’ relationship to authority, covering issues such as censorship and freedom of expression, citing that ‘The boundary between artistic freedom and incitement is becoming ever more blurred…’ 

‘Myra’ by Marcus Harvey

Included in the book are works from 14th century Islamic calligraphy to Theo Van Gogh’s ‘Submission’ and more modern art works such as Marcus Harvey’s ‘Myra’ illustrated below.

Plate, S. Brent (2006) Blasphemy : art that offends
London: Black Dog
ISBN: 9781904772538
Classmark: Folio N72.R4.P5 (ASSL)

Have a break – catch Breaking bad

Maybe not the usual offering you’d expect from the Cardiff Business School (CARBS) but if you fancy a break from all that studying why not settle down to watch the fifth and final series of the hit American drama Breaking Bad.

51J4r1Z1pyL__AA160_As I am sure many followers of the series will know, Breaking Bad is the story of chemistry teacher Walter White (played by Bryan Cranston) who when diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer, turns to a life of crime, producing and selling drugs, with the ultimate goal of securing his family’s financial future before he dies.

According to the DVD container of this final series “Walt’s transformation from well-meaning family man to ruthless drug kingpin is nearly complete … Walt preceeds to make a killing in the meth business until the fruits of his murderous schemes are threatened by a new development in the investigation led by his brother-in-law-Hank.”

You can find this and all of the previous series in Aberconway Library.
Breaking bad (2013). London: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Ask at the information desk

Hitchcock – The master of suspense

You may have recently seen the cinema release of the film ‘Hitchcock’ starring Sir Anthony Hopkins and Dame Helen Mirren or the BBC dramatisation ‘The Girl’, telling the story of Hitchcock’s infatuation with actress Tippi Hedren, what is clear is that the popularity and interest in Alfred Hitchcock has not waned over the years. Indeed the fascination of the man and his films has been the subject of many books.

Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock, KBE (1899 – 1980) was a British film director and producer.  For over 50 years he Hitchcockproduced films, silent and ‘talkies’, his directorial style making his films instantly recognisable. Beginning his career in London, he rapidly moved onto Hollywood making the transition from title designer of silent film to director in five short years.

Some of his more famous films include North by Northwest, Rear window, Vertigo and of course Pyscho. And did you know that 2013 marks the 50thanniversary of the release of Alfred Hitchcocks The Birds?

If you are interested in reading all about the man behind these and many more films both  ASSL and Bute have ample choice.

Recent purchases include:

Pomerance, Murray (2013): Alfred Hitchcock’s America. Cambridge: Polity.
ISBN 9780745653037
Classmark: ASSL – PN1998.A3.H4.P6

Rothman, William (2012) Hitchcock : the murderous gaze. Albany: State University of New York.
ISBN 9781438443164
Classmark ASSL- PN1998.A3.H4.R6

Leitch, Thomas & Poague, Leland (editors) (2011) A companion to Alfred Hitchcock. Chichester: Wiley Blackwell.
ISBN 9781405185387
Classmark ASSL – PN1998.A3.H4.C6

Yacowar, Maurice (2010) Hitchcock’s British films. Detroit: Wayne State Univerity Press.
ISBN 9780814334942
Classmark ASSL – PN1998.A3.H4.Y2

And if it’s the films you want to see then you can find many of the Hitchcock classics at ASSL and Bute libraries.

The cinematic scientist

Science5 A recent acquisition to the Arts & Social Studies library is ‘Mad, Bad and Dangerous? The scientist in the cinema’ by Andrew Frayling.

Now most of us will be familiar with the image on screen of the mad scientist and Hollywood’s portrayal of the scientist as mad and deranged is commonplace – but is this image justified and why is technology often portrayed as something to fear?

In this entertaining and thought-provoking book Frayling claims that
“… cinema has had an uneasy relationship with science and technology: scientists are almost always impossibly mad or impossibly saintly and technology is very bad for you.” Is the scientist destineScience1d always to be portrayed as mad or nerdy? Frayling explores the history of, what he calls the ‘cinematic scientist’ and how Hollywood would use the scientist to represent the technological phobias of the time, from the fear of poison gas in the 1920’s to genetic engineering today.

Frayling, Andrew (2005) Mad, Bad and Dangerous? The scientist in the cinema. London : Reaktion.
ISBN: 9781861892850
Classmark: PN1995.9.S267.F7 (ASSL)