If you’ve never taken the time to participate in UCSB Reads, the annual joint venture between UCSB and the Santa Barbara Public Library, there’s no time like the present. The program sets out to celebrate the knowledge and understanding that is gained from reading and discussing a book, and provides a fun community to do it in. Following Elizabeth Kolbert’s Field Notes from a Catastrophe in 2007 and Pietra Rivoli’s The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy in 2008, UCSB Reads 2009 revolves around His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Ethics for the New Millennium. The book is a treatise on universal morality that fits in neatly with the program’s core concept of world-scale (or, especially this year, universe-scale) thinking, and how it works in combination with locally rooted discussion. The celebration of reading kicks off Thursday, January 15 at 1 p.m. with a reception on the eighth floor of Davidson Library. And here’s a small sample of what else UCSB Reads is offering in ’09.

1] Free copies of the book: At least, they’re free if you’re enrolled at UCSB. The university’s Davidson Library will make 2,500 copies available to students beginning Wednesday, January 21 at 8 a.m. in the library’s main lobby. And even if you don’t go to UCSB, the program will provide plenty of opportunities for you to give Ethics in the New Millennium a read. The Santa Barbara Public Library will put 200 copies (plus some on CD and 10 books en Espa±ol) on the shelves of their five branches. The UCSB Bookstore will also be selling copies at a 25 percent discount.

2] Illuminating and intellectually stimulating discussions: During the month of March, UCSB Reads will hold panel discussions in the county’s five public libraries. These will feature two or three UCSB professors, as well as other prominent local community experts talking, questioning, and answering queries about both the Dalai Lama’s book and how his ethical concerns apply to broader spheres, such as business, medicine, government, journalism, science, the environment, and personal relationships. “They are really, really interesting,” SBPL reference librarian Christine Gallery wrote to The Indy. “They are highly intelligent discussions and everyone can ask questions and interject opinions. Kind of like a public salon.”

3] Appearances by the Dalai Lama himself: On Friday, April 24, His Holiness will give two separate lectures at the UCSB Events Center. The first, “The Nature of Mind,” takes place at 9:30 a.m., while the second, titled “Ethics for Our Time,” begins at 2 p.m. These appearances will mark the Dalai Lama’s fourth visit to UCSB. For more information, visit ucsbreads.library.ucsb.edu.


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