Don’t get mad, get new books and ancient newspapers

The author stacks up on new library books. Photo Credit – Erin Toepfner

I felt like I was in an episode of “Mad Men” when I opened the UB student newspaper from the late 1950s. A half page ad for Marlboro jumped out and told me Marlboro was the most popular cigarette on college campuses nationwide, along with a U.S. map that had each state visually represented by an open pack of cigarettes.

Fortunately, I hadn’t exactly travelled back in time to that decade. I was safely scanning Langsdale Library’s archive of UB’s student newspapers, in the lovely smoke-free Special Collections reading room on the 4th floor of the Learning Commons, in the lovely, smoke-free, Langsdale Library.

But it felt a little like time travel. I was watching history unfold, reading students’ first-hand responses to events that seemed like staples of reality. The events of the past were so much a part of the fabric of my memory and existence that it took a few minutes for it to sink in when I read the headlines that Martin Luther King Jr had been assassinated, that this news was hitting people for the first time. It wasn’t a history book I was reading, it was history.

And a lot of it was infuriating—assassinations, sexist cartoons and cigarette ads to name a few of the more disturbing aspects of history I came across.

The further back in time I went with UB’s student newspapers, the larger the cigarette ads became. They slowly creeped up from half page ads to full page ads as they went back to the earliest issues in the 1930s.

On the other hand, it was spectacular to feel the fervor in the front page articles about the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. It was a relief to watch women take on more roles and work towards more diverse degrees, instead of being pigeon-holed into a few select majors. It was fun to see people streaking through the 1970s. It was heartening to read about the formation of a bike club in 1972.

It was fascinating to read about the anticipation for the then-new Langsdale Library, scheduled to be built in 1966, while the same building was being renovated right across the street in the present day. Plans for the state-or-the-art design repeatedly appeared in the student newspaper in the 1960s. In contrast to the current library designs with more glass letting in natural light, windows were being designed small, to cut down on the glare for people reading books. The plans were being published in the paper. I saw renderings of the new old library. Then, finally, in 1966, Langsdale Library was built and a photo of the “modern” building appeared on the front page in the student newspaper.

It was exciting to see the Langsdale Library make the front page repeatedly, every time the library received a new collection of books. There it would be in big blocky letters, headline after headline—“Langsdale Library receives X number of books,” in contrast to the present day, when libraries are giving away more and more books as we become more and more digital.

Although Langsdale Library has recently given away many books, there is no need to get mad.  The library recently received several carts of new books for its collection. This may not make the front page of the paper but here it is in the middle. The new books themselves can be found on the New Book Kiosk as you enter the library. Come check them out!

UB’s student newspapers will eventually be online back through the 1930s. Check out the UB Post back to 1981 in Langsdale Library’s  Special Collections for a little bit of time travel—and let me know what T.V. show you feel like you’re in!

Getting in gear for spring

The UB Bicycling Club is planning rides around Baltimore in April and May

Laura Melamed and Scott Thomsen get ready to go to Baltimore Bike Party last Halloween. Poe stayed on campus. The UB Bicycling Club will ride to Bike Party this Spring on April 29. Photo credit: Curtis Stith

Are you ready to get outside and have some fun, this spring? If so, check out what the bike club is offering.

Canton Waterfront Ride

The UB Bicycling Club is planning a ride to Canton Waterfront Park on April 2nd. The ride will leave Gordon Plaza at 2:30 p.m. and head down the Jones Falls Trail, riding along the water through the Inner Harbor and Fells Point. 

  Riding along the bay downtown is one of my favorite things to do in Baltimore. Looking out across the water, checking out the boats and enjoying the peace, quiet, and absence of cars in the company of friends is a great way to spend a Saturday morning. Even alone, the ride is a good way to commune with nature and get some exercise.

  The ride to Canton starts out heading downhill and once you hit the Inner Harbor, it’s flat all the way to Canton. The only uphill section is going north on the Jones Falls Trail back to UB.

Farmer’s Market Ride

Look out for a farmer’s market ride on April 16th.  Meet the club at 9 a.m on Gordon Plaza. 

Last November, the club rode to the Waverly Farmers Market and loaded up with fresh vegetables and Zeke’s coffee and at least one of us stocked up on homemade pot pies. Okay that was me, but it was at the top of a hill at closing time and they were going for a great price!

 BWI Trail Ride

On April 23rd the club is planning to take the MARC train to the BWI Trail. For a 10-mile loop, the trail is fairly flat with some moderate hills. The trail is near Baltimore and Washington airport, hence the name. The ride will be be a fun way to get to know people and check out planes flying overhead.

Bike Party Ride

On April 29th, the club will ride with Baltimore Bike Party. If you’ve never checked out Bike Party, this may be the perfect time, with warmer weather and people you may know.

  Baltimore Bike Party is a sight to behold. With thousands of bicyclists riding en masse, it’s like a traffic jam that actually moves. There’s music, costumes, and people of all ages riding together. Generally a two or three-hour slow paced ride, there’s a break in between. At Bike Party’s final destination, which is different every time, there are usually plenty of food trucks, which I’m usually more than ready for, after a few hours of riding. Although I’m particularly partial to post-ride falafel, there are often many choices.

UB student Curtis Stith rides with Baltimore Bike Party Photo Credit: Laura Melamed

Bike to School Day and Ride

For even more food, you might want to try Bike to School Day on May 4th. Ride your bike to campus and check-in at Gordon Plaza in the morning or evening.

  Bike to School Day is celebrated nationally to promote healthy commuting that’s good for people and the environment. Also, it’s more fun than driving or waiting for the bus.

  Last year on Bike to School Day, people who rode their bikes to UB got free coffee in the morning as well as pizza in the evening, depending on when they arrived at school. Fun t-shirts especially designed for the occasion were also available. Maybe you’ve seen people wearing them around campus!

  A noontime discussion on the state of bicycling in Baltimore was informative and interesting, as part of Bike to School Day. UB Sustainability Planner, Jeff La Noue, discussed Bike to School Day and Baltimore City Bicycle and Pedestrian Planner, Caitlin Doolin, and Executive Director of Bikemore ,Greg Hinchliffe, gave an enlightening presentation. UB Police Officers Kemp and Shaw joined the discussion, as well.

  An afternoon ride up the Jones Falls Trail, later that same day, was a fun way to exercise and get to know new people.

Ride Details

For more information about Bike to School Day and other upcoming rides, email Scott Thomsen at . Feel free to join the UB Bicycling Club on Org Sync and visit us on Facebook, too!

When the going gets tough, get graphic novels!

“Pleasure reading should be pleasurable,” says librarian Jenny Arch in her blog Look out, honey, ‘cause I’m using technology “Not that you shouldn’t ever explore a new genre or try a book that you find a bit difficult, but if you’re 25 or 50 or 100 pages in and you’re just not that into it, then by all means, put it down and pick up something else instead! You have this librarian’s permission.” Unless you’re doing required reading for a class, she adds, there’s no sense driving yourself crazy with a book when you can be enjoying one instead.

It can be difficult to read a book your friend recommends when you’re swamped with school work. After hours with a textbook it can be hard to concentrate on an intricate novel or thought-provoking nonfiction. Are those books better left for summer reading, when you can give them your full attention?

Kemi Kodja, a finance major at UB who works at Langsdale Library, is now reading W.I.T.C.H., an Italian fantasy comic series written by Elisabetta Gnone, Alessandro Barbucci and Barbara Canepa. Kodja started reading the series for the second time in her life, this semester, after a UB writing professor asked her class to reflect on what made them love reading.

The first time Kodja read W.I.T.C.H., she was in third grade and living in Benin. Her edition was a French translation. After being inspired by her Writing

300 assignment, Kodja picked up her old French translation of W.I.T.C.H. and struggled to get through it with a French/English dictionary at her side. Mainly an English speaker now, Kodja ultimately decided to read the English translation of W.I.T.C.H. online.

Kodja likes shelving books at the library because it’s a great way to find new books to read. This time of the semester, however, she is feeling daunted by the pile of library books she has checked out.

Still Kodja wanted to stay on top of everything she had to do, so you can imagine how happy she was when she discovered The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need on Langsdale’s shelves. “The Adventures of Johnny Bunko” is America’s first business book in the Japanese comic format known as manga – and the last career guide you’ll ever need” says the graphic novel’s author, Daniel Pink, on his website. Entertaining as well as inspiring, the book can be read in an hour or two.

Readers can also find Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi, another graphic novel on Langsdale’s shelves. Persepolis is considered a modern classic of the medium. The book is a memoir of a girl growing up during the Islamic Revolution in Iran. “…Full of

thematic imagery,” says book reviewer Rachel Fischer, in Library Journal. The family in Persepolis is fascinating, says Fischer. The main character is an outspoken and intelligent girl with Marxist parents. She also happens to be the great granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors. Persepolis could be an engaging way to explore memoir as well as social and political history along with human rights issues.

Similarly, students might want to check out Maus, the Pulitzer prize winning graphic novel by Art Spiegelman. Maus is a Holocaust survival story that explores the effects of experiencing the Holocaust. Other graphic novels at Langsdale include Gabba gabba hey!: the Graphic Story of the Ramones, Skim, a tale of growing up goth in the 90s and a graphic novel version of Romeo and Juliet.

To find more graphic novels at Langsdale Library, visit Worldcat at

And remember, you can always put down your book halfway through and pick up a different one.

Being green gets easier: improvements are planned for Baltimore’s bicycle network

UBGreen encourages alternative transportation, including bicycling, to reduce the university’s carbon footprint. Over the next two years there will be extensive improvements to the bicycle network around campus. Baltimore’s new Downtown Bicycle Network will consist of improved bike lanes running east and west as well as north and south. Also, a city-run bike-share system is coming later this summer. Bicycling will become a safer and more practical transportation choice.

Bike lanes coming

A cycle track is planned for Maryland Avenue, with a June start date for construction. A cycle track is a protected bike lane, with a physical barrier between the bike lane and traffic. Several of these facilities already exist in Washington DC, a city with fast rising cycling rates. The Maryland Avenue project is expected to take 90 days to complete. The cycle track will run right through campus to the Inner Harbor southbound and north to 29th St. in Charles Village near Johns Hopkins University.

183 UB students live in the 21218 zip code, 239 live in 21201 and 205 live in 21202. All three zip codes will be a short distance from the new cycle track, putting at least 627 UB students within easy biking distance of UB.

Additionally, students biking to UB from zip code 21211, where 89 students live and which includes Hampden and other northwest locations, will be able to bike the Jones Falls Trail and connect directly with the Maryland Ave. Cycle Track and take it south to campus.

“I would definitely use that route,” said UB student Mia White. “It would give me a safer, more populated route back up to Hampden after dark. And it will mean I can get from my house to campus without having to use any major roads!”

“Charles Village residents would be able to get to UB pretty much instantaneously—and safely, of course–using the cycle track,” said UB student Zachary Holbrook, who commuted to UB by bicycle, regularly, when he lived in Charles Village.

“It’s quicker by bike than car,” said Joshua Davis, assistant professor of history at UB. Davis currently commutes to UB by bicycle, from the Charles Village area, whenever weather allows. “I think the main reason it’s quicker is that it takes a decent amount of time to find a parking spot in the garage and then walk a few blocks back to campus. So a lot depends on where in Charles Village one’s coming from but also where one would be parking.” Davis currently commutes down the bike boulevard on Guilford Ave. and would actually benefit from a second cycle track, planned for Mt. Royal Ave.

The Mt. Royal Streetscape/Cycle Track is another bike facility that will connect our campus with MICA and Bolton Hill. It is scheduled to break ground in 2017, according to a news post by Bikemore, Baltimore City’s bicycle advocacy group. The post appeared on the organization’s website Jan. 7.

Advocating for safe bicycling

Bikemore wants more students to join the campaign to make Baltimore safer and friendlier for bicycles. Adding members helps Bikemore be persuasive with politicians who sometimes don’t realize many people want safe and convenient bike routes. Bikemore offers a $25 student membership for any student who wants to get on board.


In addition to the cycle tracks, a Baltimore bike-share system is sched- uled to launch this fall. Bike-share is a public system that rents bicycles for short-term use. $500 thousand for a bike share system implementation is part of Baltimore’s new public transit plan. With UB right across the street from Penn Station, students are likely to have ample opportunity to participate in bike-share. Baltimore City estimates 300-400 bicycles to be available, initially. UB is evaluating adding a bike-share station directly on campus, according to Jeff La Noue, UB’s sustainability planner.

New at UB

UB recently installed covered bike parking in the Maryland Avenue Garage (MAG). The rack is geared for UB students living in the Mt. Vernon area who may not want to lug their bikes to upper floor apartments, but still want to keep their bikes in a safe, covered area. However, bicycle parking at the MAG is not meant to be treated as an attic. UB commuters are welcome to it as well. Bicycle parking in the MAG is free.

Look out for a bicycle-commuter class this semester. The UB Student Government Association (SGA) and the UB Bicycling Club are working to bring you this event to help make your trip to campus easier.

UB has free showers and lockers at the gym on the third floor of the Academic Center. There are additional state-of-the art showers located in the basement of UB’s Law Center. Showers on campus help make bicycle commuting convenient. There is bicycle parking, outside and under cover, near most of UB’s major buildings.

Join the UB Bicycling Club and get to know the local routes with a group. Scott Thomsen, president of the club, plans to use the Maryland Avenue Cycle Track frequently for club rides. “We could definitely make use of it whenever we go north, or even south for that matter,” he says. To join the club or find out more, visit Org Sync or search the University of Baltimore Bicycling Club on Facebook. Additionally, you can contact Thomsen at Scott.Thomsen@ubalt. edu. Thomsen is a freshman at UB and plans to commute to campus by bicycle for the next three years.

Can UB be a “Bike Friendly University?”

Bicycle Friendly University (BFU) is an official designation given by the League of American Bicyclists with awards ranging from bronze to platinum.

BFU awards are official recognition that a campus creates safe and convenient places to ride and park bicycles, teaches people of all ages and skill levels, builds a strong bike culture that welcomes and celebrates bicycling, ensures safe roads for all users and plans for bicycling as a safe and viable transportation option, states the League of American Bi- cyclists on its website. In Maryland, designated BFU’s include Towson University (bronze) and University of Maryland (gold). UB, Salisbury University, and UMBC are expected to apply for official Bicycle Friendly University Status in August. UB’s 2011 BFU application fell short. “Progress is happening so we have more to offer in our application this time” said Jeff La Noue. If UB gets official BFU status, we will be the first Baltimore City university to achieve that goal.

It seems like a practical choice to me.

From mystery to history: Cultural arts exhibit on display in the Learning Commons

Copy of Melamed_LibraryArtShow

A special part of the library is going on exhibit Feb. 15. Photographs, video clippings and newspaper articles from Baltimore’s Cultural Arts Program (CAP) will be on display in the Division of Legal and Ethical Studies on the third floor of the Learning Commons in Room 317, the CAS Faculty Lounge. There will be an opening reception with light refreshments from 12:30 p.m. to 1 p.m.

The CAP collection is normally housed in Langsdale Library’s Special Collections and is accessible to researchers and community members just by making an appointment. The collection is in the process of being digitized, as well.

The Baltimore community has a unique opportunity to see the special showing this month and meet CAP participant Angela Koukoui, who also helped organize the exhibit. Koukoui is in the Integrated Arts program at UB.

UB President Kurt Schmoke, will be at the opening as well.

Dr. Nicole Hudgins, associate professor in UB’s Division of Legal, Ethical and Historical Studies, initially approached Koukoui about doing the exhibit and they have since been working on it together.

CAP started in 1968 with War on Poverty Funding and its Model Cities Program (MCP). By 1974, CAP was being run by the Urban Services Agency (USA) and continued until 1993.

Kokoui joined CAP’s dance program in 1986 and stayed until 1993 when she graduated from high school. CAP enabled Kokoui to apply for and attend Baltimore School for the Arts.

She now runs a non-profit dance program inspired by her time in CAP. CAP also offered piano, singing, visual arts and drama. Jada Pinkett Smith starred in a CAP production of West Side Story at the age of 14.

Everyone who participated in CAP hasbecomesuccessful,saysKoukoui. “We tried to find someone who did not succeed and we could not.” Emmy Award Winning ABC News Cameraman Pete O’Neal got his start in CAP.

Baltimore’s African American Festival (AFRAM) started through CAP, as well. Kokoui danced at AFRAM in 1976 as part of CAP’s Expanded Arts Program and was paid for her performance. Her children dance at AFRAM, currently.

Koukoui initially discovered the CAP collection at Langsdale Library as a community member. She had first checked the city archives and the Maryland Historical Society, but could find nothing. She only found two news clippings at the Pratt Library.

Finally, at an arts advocacy meeting, Kokoui got information. It was there she discovered that Urban Services Agency photographer Breck Chapman, who had covered CAP from its inception to its end, donated his entire collection of CAP photo- graphs to the Langsdale Library.

The CAP collection at Langsdale is called the Breck Chapman collection.

Come to the opening on Feb. 15 and see for yourself. You can also call to make an appointment.

Many of Langsdale Library’s Special Collections can be viewed online.

Langsdale Library is open:

Monday to Thursday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Riding in a winter wonderland: Stay safe after dark, in the cold, rain and snow

Copy of Melamed_BikeColumnWinter“Don’t skimp on being seen,” says UB Sustainability Planner, Jeff La Noue. You’re more likely to be riding in the dark during the winter because of shorter days. Windshields can be foggy or icy. Visibility is reduced on the road. Sometimes it’s raining, sleeting or snowing.

Wear bright and reflective clothing, lights on your bike–both front and back, as well as lights on your helmet or backpack, says La Noue, who commutes to UB by bicycle.

“Reflective tape on the bike is a cheap way to increase luminescence.”

“The more you glow and light up the dark the more likely it is you will be seen,” says La Noue.

“Lights are the biggest thing,” says Bernardo Vigil, who works at Baltimore Bicycle Works (BBW) a bike shop two blocks from campus on the Jones Falls Trail.

BBW sells lights that allow you to be seen–and lights that allow you to see. There are red lights for the back of your bike and white lights for the front of your bike. Some lights can be adapted to fit on your backpack or helmet. Other lights are made specifically for these locations.

I rely heavily on a 300-volt Cat Eye white light that sits on my handlebars. I don’t leave home without it. It does double duty: it lets me see on dark, wet streets, and it makes me visible to drivers and pedestrians in similar conditions.

I also wear a turquoise helmet, and sometimes even day-glow orange yoga leggings which do double duty as cycling pants. Both stand out at night and against a snowy background.

A bright orange wind jacket helped Pete Ramsey stay visible whenever he commuted from UB at night during the winter. Pete, who used to work at UB’s Langsdale Library, always set his lights to flash before he took off.

“I always use lights after dark,” says Pete. “One small flasher in each wheel, two lights forward–one flashing and one to see the ground–and one bright red flasher in the back.

Now you know several ways to stay visible. But how will you ever stay warm?

It can be done, say staff at BBW. “It’s all about layers,” says Casey McMann, who has experience bike riding through Michigan winters. Vigil agrees. Vigil is from Minnesota and bike rides in winter as well. “I’m very partial to Merino wool for everything,” says Vigil. “It doesn’t smell as bad as synthetics. It’s very warm, but still breathable.” Virgil advises not to wear a heavy jacket, as you heat up very fast once you get moving.

I’ve seen bike-riders stuck with a heavy coat, luckily accompanied by friends with backpacks. They always, without fail, pass their coat over to the person with the pack.

“I might wear a pea-coat if I were going a really short distance,” says Virgil, “but otherwise a thin waterproof shell is essential. It should be large enough that you can layer underneath.”

You also want a good cinch between your sleeves and gloves, says Vigil, to keep out the wind. A tube-like scarf can keep your neck warm, without risk of getting caught in your chain or your wheels.

About gloves, Vigil says “You want them!”

Vigil wore wool liner gloves under leather work gloves, while bike-riding through Minnesota winters, mainly because he had them around.

They need to stop wind, said Vigil of winter-riding gloves. They shouldn’t be bulky—you want to make sure you can maintain dexterity. BBW has cycling-specific gloves made for various temperature ranges, says Grace Blair, who also works at BBW.
Endura Deluge gloves are designed to keep you warm down to 35 degrees–but Blair has worn them at 20 degrees while cycling downhill 7 miles, from Towson, to BBW.

The shop also has Giro gloves for winter. According to the label, the Giro gloves (specifically the “proof” glove) will keep you warm down to 25 degrees.

BBW also sells wool caps you can wear under your helmet.

Pete Ramsey doubles up on socks when it drops to 25 degrees.

You can find winter-specific cycling shoes at BBW as well as covers you can put over your existing shoes.

Now that you’ve got the gear down, how do you get around?

Vigil recommends non-studded winter-specific tires that can handle the regular road as well as snow and ice. They are a little wider and a little softer than regular tires, but they harden when exposed to cold. These tires have a little extra tread, as well.

Another option for winter riding, says Vigil, is to get the fattest tires your bike can handle. Don’t fill them up as much. You want them a little soft, so they widen when you’re on the bike, giving you a little more traction.

Allow extra time for travel. “I leave more time so I can ride a little slower and pay a little more attention than I usually do,” says Vigil.

Fenders help, Vigil adds, but wouldn’t say they’re necessary. They do keep your drive train clean, though, which includes the chain, crank set and cogs. You need to clean your bike more often in winter, says Vigil, especially the chain. Otherwise, grit will wear things out faster.

Do you want to save money?

BBW is having a 30 percent off sale on all Endura products. Also, there may be a tune up special in February.

BBW is located at 1813 Falls Road on the Jones Falls Trail

BBW Hours:

Mondays 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Tuesday through Friday 11 a.m. to 7p.m.

Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Go visit them before you get cold feet.