Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Do you really need to buy that textbook?

If you’re enrolled in a large science class that requires the use of an expensive textbook, chances are you will find a copy of your textbook on reserve in the science library [search by reserve course in OBIS]. Required textbooks only circulate for 3 hours at a time and can’t be borrowed overnight.

That’s handy for a quick read, but doesn’t really substitute for having your own copy for extended reading, re-reading and marking text as you want for in-depth study.

You might be able to borrow a copy of the text from another OhioLINK library [search the OhioLINK Catalog], but don’t count on it. Many textbooks are required by professors at other colleges and universities, so you’ll have competition from students in your class at Oberlin and in courses around the state.

You may have better luck finding an OhioLINK copy to borrow if you’re looking for a book that is needed for a humanities or social sciences course, whose course content is more unique to Oberlin. Consider, after all, that all chemistry students throughout the state must take organic chemistry, just as all physics majors will learn fundamentals of mechanics and relativity, and you’ll understand why basic science texts can be difficult to borrow during certain periods of the semester.

So… buy the text! And some highlighters. Make it your own. It's a good investment in your own education.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Evolution! of planets, landscapes, mammals, birds and brains

Evolution in a broad sense is a very common theme in our most recent shipment of books, as is evident by these titles:
  • Lives of the planets : a natural history of the solar system
  • After the dinosaurs : the age of mammals
  • Galapagos : the islands that changed the world
  • Evolutionary bioinformatics
  • Making sense of evolution
  • Biological emergences : evolution by natural experiment
  • Scientists confront intelligent design and creationism
  • The geometry of evolution : adaptive landscapes and theoretical morphospaces
  • Evolution and the levels of selection
  • The tinkerer's accomplice : how design emerges from life itself
  • The inner bird : anatomy and evolution
One of the most intriguing of this batch is David Linden's The Accidental Mind: how brain evolution has given us love, memory, dreams, and God. David Linden shows how the "brain is not an optimized, general-purpose problem-solving machine, but rather a weird agglomeration of ad-hoc solutions that have been piled on through millions of years of evolutionary history." Linden addresses the question "are there some aspects of brain function that, on the average, make it easy for humans to acquire and transmit religious thought?" He then tries to convince the reader that "our brains have become particularly adapted to creating coherent, gap-free stories and that this propensity for narrative creation is part of what predisposes humans to religious thought."

Now on the new book display. Visit The Accidental Mind Blog.