October 2010

A co-worker (of Chinese ancestry herself), who had recently returned two items made in China to “big box” stores because they were poorly made or fire hazards, suggested I read “Poorly Made in China  An Insider’s Account of the Tactics Behind China’s Production Game”. 

The author of this book, Paul Midler, has lived and worked in southern China for over a decade, speaks Mandarin fluently, has a Chinese girlfriend, and has assisted dozens of American and European companies set up contracts with Chinese manufacturers. 

The author describes his experiences dealing with Chinese manufacturers, provides an experienced observer’s view of why many Chinese companies will make last-minute price raises, substitute ingredients without first informing their non-Chinese partners, and otherwise cut corners to increase their profits.  He also points out that when Americans were told that deregulation of government restraints on company practices would provide for cheaper products, Americans were not also informed that this would entail sending many manufacturing jobs overseas, and that many products would be produced in countries where there were few consumer protection laws.  

Much of the book deals with Midler’s role as an intermediary between an American shampoo company and its supplier company near Guangzhou in southern China.  The names of the companies (and some of the author’s sources) have been changed, often at their own request, so there is clearly a widespread fear of angering the political and economic powers that be. 

Paul Midler also feels that the United States government granted Most Favored Nation  trade status for China too easily, when there was a chance for the United States to hold out for political and economic reform in China, but this opportunity was lost, as American politicians and business leaders rushed into greater levels of economic interdependency with China . 

I don’t normally read books on international business, but I enjoyed reading this one and think that others who are interested in learning more about international business would also find “Poorly Made in China” an informative read.

Some other books  on globalization available through your Alameda County Library are:

Futurecast : How Superpowers, Populations, and Globalization Will Change the Way You Live and Work / Robert J. Shapiro                            330.9 SHAPIRO 

The Shadow Market:  How a Group of Wealthy Nations and Powerful Investors Secretly Dominate the World / Eric J. Weiner                              330.90 WEINER

Global Warring : How Environmental, Economic, and Political Crises will Redraw the World Map / Cleo Paskal                                                         303.485 PASKAL 

Globalization and Its Discontents / Joseph E. Stiglitz               337 STIGLITZ

A Year Without “Made in China” : One Family’s True Life Adventure in the Global Economy / Sara Bongiorni                               382.60951 BONGIORNI

Rivals : How the Power Struggle Between China, India and Japan Will Shape Our Next Decade / Bill Emmott                                        327.11209 EMMOTT 


In a recent segment of 60 minutes, a 100 year-old mystery was finally solved.  Local historian David Kiehn from the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum ( http://www.nilesfilmmuseum.org/index.htm ) was interviewed by Morley Safer about David’s research into the making of the Miles Bros. film ” A Trip Down Market Street ” (1906). For many years, film historians, and the Library of Congress, had concluded that the short film was made in September 1905.  That was proven wrong by David’s long hours of meticulous research at the San Francisco Public Library. He discovered that the film was made 4 days before the great San Francisco earthquake!  (See full article at:  http://www.nilesfilmmuseum.org/60_minutes-promo.htm )


 San Francisco : a natural history / Greg Gaar and Ryder W. Miller
Gaar, Greg
Charleston, SC : Arcadia Pub., c2006
127 p. : ill. ; 24 cm
979.402 GAAR

A free library in this city : the illustrated history of the San Francisco Public Library / Peter Bo
Wiley, Peter Booth
San Francisco : Weldon Owen, 1996
240 p. : ill. ; 26 cm
027.47946 WILEY

The Great San Francisco Earthquake

[Boston] : WGBH Boston Video, [2006]
1 videodisc (ca. 56 min.) : sd., col. with b&w sequences ; 4 3/4 in
DVD 979.46 GREAT

Dublin Reads is culminating tonight with a visit from our author, Anchee Min.  She will appear tonight in the Community Room at 7:00 p.m.  The Friends of the Library are sponsoring her visit and will provide cake and punch; Towne Center Books will be here selling Min’s books.

 This month we have been reading her latest book Pearl of China.  But Min is an accomplished author with books that include her well received memoir Red Azalea, which was a New York Times Notable Book in 1994, and five novels.  Pearl of China explores the life of Pearl Buck, juxtaposing the experience of this transplanted westerner embracing all things Chinese, against the fictional character of Willow, Pearl’s Chinese friend who becomes more westernized as the book progresses. Their friendship is tested by personal hardship and rivalries as well as the impact of  the social and political backdrop in China, from the Boxer Rebellion, invasion by the Japanese and World War II, Civil War, and the cruel and repressive regime of Mao Tse Tung.

Min  grew up in China, coming to the United States when she was 27 years old to study in Chicago.  The soundtrack of her youth was the operas championed by Madame Mao — operas described in a New York Times Book Review feature on Anchee Min as “loud, long, and bombastic celebrations of China’s triumphant revolutionary proletariat, four hour extravaganzas…”[ NYTBook Review, June 18, 2000]

One of the threads of Min’s life is grappling with intellectual repression.  As a third grader she walked 4 miles and stood in line for 3 hours to wait for the doors of a new children’s library to open.  It became so crowded that children could only gain entrance if they successfullyanswered a question posed by the adults in charge.  Min did not answer correctly and was turned away. Min’s mother said “Mao’s books don’t count.  Dictatiors keep us away from asking questions, getting information.”   Min herself has said “I want my reader to experience what its like not to have books, no library, but you have the willingness to struggle in the darkness and make it as far as you can.”

Min’s journey has been from being what she calls “a bolt in the communist machine” to becoming herself, becoming an American and through this experience finding her true self as  Chinese.  Her story is riveting and we hope you will join us tonight for what promises to be a very special evening.


If you have ever seen programs on art appreciation, such as those by Sister Wendy Beckett, you know that there is more to art than what immediately meets the eye.  Our understanding of art is definitely enriched by a basic understanding of the culture and society in which a particular artist lived.   

Those of us who are not of Chinese-American ancestry or have not studied the art traditions of China,  often miss hidden meanings in various works of art that are readily understood by those raised in a Chinese culture.   

As part of the “Dublin Reads – One City, One Book” program,  Dublin Library is pleased to host the talk and slideshow “Hidden Meanings: Symbolism in Chinese”  presented by docent Pauline Tsui of the San Francisco Asian Art Museum on Saturday, October 16th, 2010.  This program will be held in the Community Room and begin at 2:00 p.m. 

Ms. Tsui will talk about plays on words and cultural associations which connect bats and money, many fish with many children, Mandarin ducks with happy marriages, elephants with peace, and other images and themes in Chinese art. 

We hope you will be able to come to this informative and fascinating program. 

IM your question!

Librarians are available 3-5 p.m. Monday through Thursday for Instant Messaging. We have screen names for AIM, Yahoo and GTalk.

For AIM : askaclibrary
For Yahoo!:

For GTalk: askaclibrary


Instant Messaging or IM

What is Instant Messaging or IM?

IM is a way to communicate with others over the Internet. This virtual chat is live, typed conversation.

Where do I start?   Choose your free IM service from the list below. Follow the instructions provided by the service to download the software and get your own “screen name”. You may also try AIM Express which requires no downloading. 


 What is a contact, buddy list or friends list?  A Contact, Buddy or Friends list is a collection of screen names in an IM program. AIM uses the term Buddy and Yahoo! uses Friends. You may add or delete these buddies.

Do I have to wait?  We will try our best to keep the “instant” in IM. Service is first come, first serve. Librarians will answer as quickly as possible or let you know if there will be a wait until they have finished with the in-person, telephone or other IM customer.

How do I know you are online?  The library screen name will be “grayed out” if we are not online.

What kind of question may I ask the librarian?  Questions are generally factual or short research questions that can be answered quickly. For example:

Do you have the latest James Patterson available?
What is the population of Dublin, Ireland?

Can you renew my items for me?
Will you place a request for me?
I need directions to the library!
Who? What? When? Where? How?

What are the rules?  The “golden” rule (treat others as you wish to be treated) applies, as well as, the Alameda County Internet Use Policy. Customers may be banned from use of this service if the service misused. Also, screen names with obscene language or that are harassing will be banned.

What about privacy?  Alameda County Library is committed to protecting customer privacy. No information collected during sessions will be shared with any third party and will be routinely purged. You do not need to identify yourself to use the service.

Dublin Reads – One City, One Book, is promoting the reading and discussion of Anchee Min’s book, Pearl of China, about the friendship between Willow, the only child of a poor local family, and Pearl, the child of Christian missionaries in southern China and the future Pearl S. Buck.  As part of the Dublin Reads program, Dublin Library will be pleased to screen the film The Good Earth this Saturday, October 9th, at 1p.m. in the Program Room.  

The Good Earth is a 1931 novel by American writer Pearl S Buck, who actually lived in China for most of her life. It was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for the best novel in 1943 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1944.  The Good Earth is the first book in a trilogy that includes Sons (1943) and A House Divided (1945). The screenplay for The Good Earth was written by American screenwriters Talbot Jennings, Tess Slesinger, and Claudine West, based on the novel and on a play by American playwrights Donald and Owen Davis. 

The 1937 Oscar nominated film starring Paul Muni and Luise Rainer is the story of an ordinary farmer in China.  Farmer Wang Lung is given a freed kitchen slave, O-Lan, as wife by his father. By diligence and frugality the couple manages to enlarge their property.  But then a famine forces them to leave their land and live in a large city.  However, it turns out to be a blessing in disguise for them.

Dublin Library hopes you will enjoy seeing this great film this Saturday.

Internet Public Library is one of the meta search engines available through your Alameda County Library website.  ipl2 is a public service organization and a learning/teaching environment. To date, thousands of students and volunteer library and information science professionals have been involved in answering reference questions for the “Ask an ipl2 Librarian” service and in designing, building, creating and maintaining the ipl2’s collections. It is through the efforts of these students and volunteers that the ipl2 continues to thrive to this day.

In January 2010, the website “ipl2: information you can trust” was launched, merging the collections of resources from the Internet Public Library (IPL) and the Librarians’ Internet Index (LII) websites. The site is hosted by Drexel University’s College of Information Science & Technology, and a consortium of colleges and universities with programs in information science are involved in developing and maintaining the ipl2.

One can search ipl2 by clicking on the buttons entitled  Resources by Subject, Newspapers & Magazines, Special Collections Created by ipl2, For Kids, and For Teens. 

Since Dublin Library is one of the sponsors of the “Dublin Reads, One City, One Book” program, promoting the reading and discussion of Anchee Min’s book “Pearl of China”, I was curious to see what sort of websites would be recommended by ipl2.  After clicking on the link for History, I found these sites to be of particular interest: 

Recording the Grandeur of the Qing: Nanxuntu
This site produced by Asia for Educators, Columbia University presents information about the Kangxi and Qianlong emperors, the Qing state system, the Qing economy, the art during the Qing, and the Southern Inspection Tour Scrolls.

China and Europe (1500 – 2000 and Beyond)
This site produced by Asia for Educators, Columbia University discusses history between China and Europe from 1500 to 2000 in the view of modern development.

The Song Dynasty in China (960 – 1279)
This site produced by Asia for Educators Columbia University provides economic growth, commercialization, urbanization, the spread of printing, and the social changes by analyzing the Beijing Qingming Scroll from 12th century.

Visions of China
CNN features the history of China, including maps and timelines.

Virtual Shanghai
This site provides a large collection of photographs of Shanghai in pre- and post-Revolutionary China that visualize the past, as well as postcards, maps, and bibliographic resources.

I would encourage all library members, particularly students in search of topics for reports, to get better acquainted with ipl2.

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