- May 31 - King Library Opens at 1:00 PM
My son the actor is performing in a show called Spalding Gray: Stories Left to Tell presented by Custom Made Theater in San Francisco. Although Spalding Gray was a real person, I had never heard of him. Of course, I wanted to know who he was since my son is portraying him. Fortunately, San José Public Library has two online biographical resources that gave me a nice overview. You may find them handy, too, if you’re looking for biographical information on a well-known person from the past or the present. Teens will also find them very helpful for school reports.
The first one is Biography Collection Complete. Here I found that Spalding Gray was a playwright and an actor. He wrote Swimming to Cambodia; Monster in a Box; Gray's Anatomy; and Impossible Vacation, among other works. He was in the films The Killing Fields, Kate and Leopold, and Beaches. When I read the articles about him in Biography Collection Complete, I discovered a special feature of this resource--there is an option to have the information read to you. You can even choose the speed (slow, medium, fast) and the accent of the voice (American, British, Australian). You can also download to MP3. Wish they’d had this when I was a student!
The second resource I want to share is Biography Reference Center. In this database I found an article with a complete list of Spalding Gray’s publications, information about his life, and some analysis of his works. A special feature of this resource is the option of having an article translated into another language.
You will find links to both of these excellent resources on the SJPL website. You can access them for free with your San José Public Library card and PIN number. On the SJPL home page, click on the Research (homework help and articles) box on the lower left side. You will now see a box on the left side titled “Find articles online.” At the bottom of the box, click on “More Research Resources by topic.” Look for “Subject Specific Resources” and select “History and Biography.” Biography Collection Complete and Biography Reference Center are at the top of the list. Click on the one you would like to use and then enter your search terms.
You may ask why I didn’t just do a Google search on Spalding Gray. I actually did that and got 110,000 hits. I could have scanned them looking for the ones that were relevant, but it would have taken me longer and been less efficient than using one of the biography resources. So take advantage of the biography databases and our many other free online resources.
Stay tuned for my upcoming blog post on how I researched hip-hop music to better understand the work of my other son, the DJ.