Thursday, January 31, 2013

Biography Thursday, 1.31.13 / From the Stacks

The Curious Life of Robert Hooke: the Man Who Measured London by Lisa Jardine, pub. 2004, call # B HOO

On our closing day of Math and Science Month at the LMC, we have a biography selection that honors the scientist Robert Hooke. Check out the book's summary, and then come to the LMC to check it out!

"The brilliant, largely forgotten maverick Robert Hooke was an engineer, surveyor, architect, and inventor who worked tirelessly with his intimate friend Christopher Wren to rebuild London after the Great Fire of 1666. He was the first Curator of Experiments at the Royal Society, and his engravings of natural phenomena seen under the new microscope appeared in his masterpiece, the acclaimed Micrographia, one of the most influential volumes of the day.

But Hooke's irascible temper and his passionate idealism proved fatal for his relationships with important political figures, most notably Sir Isaac Newton: their quarrel is legendary. As a result, historical greatness eluded Robert Hooke. Now, eminent historian Lisa Jardine does this original thinker of indefatigable curiosity and imagination justice and allows him to take his place as a major figure in the seventeenth century intellectual and scientific revolution."

~ Mrs. Z

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Multimedia Wednesday, 1.30.13 / From the Stacks

"W" for Wednesday! Click to see.
Whiteout by Ken Follett, read by Barbara Rosenblat, pub. 2004, call # CB FIC FOL

 If you're looking for a suspenseful thriller/mystery novel, look no further than one by a New York Times Bestselling Author! And to make the experience even more enjoyable, try listening to the book with this book on CD. (FYI, we also have paper copies of this title @ call # FIC FOL). Here is the back-of-the-case trailer for a great read on a cold winter's day:

"A missing canister of a deadly virus. A lab technician bleeding from the eyes. Toni Gallo, the security director of a Scottish medical research firm, knows she has problems, but she has no idea of the nightmare to come.

As a Christmas Eve blizzard whips out of the north, several people converge on a remote family house. Stanley Oxenford, the research company’s director, has everything riding on the drug he is developing to fight the virus – but he isn’t the only one: His grown children, who have come to spend Christmas, have their eyes on the money it will bring.

Toni Gallo, forced to resign from the police department in disgrace, is betting her career on keeping the drug safe; a local television reporter, determined to move up, has sniffed the story, even if he has to bend the facts to tell it; and a violent trio of thugs is on its way to steal it for a client already waiting – though what the client really has in mind is something that will shock them all.

As the storm worsens, the emotional sparks – jealousies, distrust, sexual attraction, rivalries – crackle; desperate secrets are revealed; hidden traitors and unexpected heroes emerge…"

~ Mrs. Z

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Nonfiction Tuesday, 1.29.13 / From the Stacks

"T" for Tuesday! Click to see.
An American Plague: the True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 by Jim Murphy, pub. 2003, call # 614.5 MUR

"1793, Philadelphia. The nation's capital and the largest city in North America is devastated by an apparently incurable disease, cause unknown . . ."
I came across this book in our collection as we showcased items for Math/Science Month at the LMC. While I will admit that I was previously unaware of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793, I found the book to be a fascinating history of how widely and brutally the epidemic affected Philadelphia, the largest U.S. city at the time.
This book is the recipient of the following prestigious awards:
  • The Robert F. Sibert Medal
  • Newbery Honor Book
  • National Book Award Finalist

"In a powerful, dramatic narrative, critically acclaimed author Jim Murphy describes the illness known as yellow fever and the toll it took on the city's residents, relating the epidemic to the major social and political events of the day and to 18th-century medical beliefs and practices. Drawing on first-hand accounts, Murphy spotlights the heroic role of Philadelphia's free blacks in combating the disease, and the Constitutional crisis that President Washington faced when he was forced to leave the city--and all his papers--while escaping the deadly contagion. The search for the fever's causes and cure, not found for more than a century afterward, provides a suspenseful counterpoint to this riveting true story of a city under siege." (Full overview here)

~ Mrs. Z

Monday, January 28, 2013

Magazine Monday, 1.28.13 / From the Stacks

"M" for Monday! Click to see.
7 Massive Ideas that Could Change the World by Steven Levy, pub. in Wired Magazine, February 2013

"If you're not doing something crazy, you're doing the wrong things." -Google CEO Larry Page

This month's cover story of Wired Magazine emphasizes big thinking and shows us 7 ideas that could really change our world. The one that stood out most to me? Big Idea 3: Spray-On Wi-Fi!

You would no longer need to worry about whether the place you're headed has wifi or a good cell signal. Just bring your own wifi! (BYOWF, right?) Read more about this up-and-coming technology, as well as other cool ideas like Putting Digital Displays in Your Eyes!

~ Mrs. Z

P.S. Looking to read the whole article? Click here or check out our copy on the circulation desk!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Fiction Friday, 1.25.13 / From the Stacks

"F" for Friday! Click to see.
Broken Soup by Jenny Valentine, pub. 2009, call # Fic VALENTINE

Today's fiction showcase is a novel about a girl who has taken on a lot of responsibility at a young age, and it's about the moment when a photo negative begins to spark some big changes for her.

"Positive. Negative. It's how you look at it...

Someone shoves a photo negative into Rowan's hands. She is distracted but, frankly, she has larger problems to worry about. Her brother is dead. Her father has left. Her mother won't get out of bed. She has to take care of her younger sister. And keep it all together...

But Rowan is curious about the mysterious boy and the negative. Who is he? Why did he give it to her? The mystery only deepens when the photo is developed and the inconceivable appears.

Everything is about to change for Rowan. . . . Finally, something positive in her life." (Jacket-flap)

"Most enjoyable: a life-affirming, witty, romantic read about freedom, responsibility, and love." -The Sunday Times (UK)

~ Mrs. Z

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Game Time! {Simple Machines}

Ready to get your weekly science fill with some online games? Here's an easy way to do it! Try Simple Machines, produced by the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago.

To play the games, you need to move the little red guy (bottom, left) to the top of the box on the right. You can insert "inclined planes" in the form of pencils, sandwiches, and other random objects to help him make it there with the least amount of effort. Use your arrow keys to control the "force bar" - the faster you hit the keys (more force), the faster he runs! Click here to test your skills today : )


~ Mrs. Z

Biography Thursday, 1.24.13 / From the Stacks

"T" for Thursday! Click to see.
Lincoln: a Photobiography by Russell Freedman, pub. 1987, call # B LINCOLN

Today's biography is the famous photobiography of Lincoln. It provides an insightful review of the life that we oftentimes think we already know so much about, just from snippets and hackneyed stories. Freedman's book offers the details, moments, and most of all, the images, to bring Lincoln to life on paper.

One reviewer writes, "This award winning biography covers the life of one of the most important figures in American history with high-resolution mid-19th century photography and reprints of handwritten documents composed by Lincoln. The life of the sixteenth president is covered from his humble youth in a one room log cabin to his travels across the Midwest as a tireless lawyer, and finally to the years he spent changing the course of American history in Washington D.C."

Lincoln: a Photobiography is the recipient of the following awards:
  • Newbery Award Winner – 1988
  • Jefferson Cup Award
  • Golden Kite Honor Book Award
  • School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
~ Mrs. Z

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Multimedia Wednesday, 1.23.13 / From the Stacks

"W" for Wednesday! Click to see.
Oswald's Ghost, written, produced, and directed by Robert Stone, pub. 2008, call # VC 973.922 OSW

"How could someone as inconsequential as Lee Harvey Oswald have killed someone as consequential as John F. Kennedy?"

Inauguration week is a time to reflect on the role of the presidency and our nation's past leaders. Today's multimedia selection investigates the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963. 

"More than forty years after his death, seventy percent of Americans continue to believe that the 46-year-old president's murder was the result of a conspiracy. Did Lee Harvey Oswald, a twenty-four-year-old former marine and communist sympathizer, act alone? Was he influenced by Cuban dictator Fidel Castro or a rogue element of the CIA? Did the KGB or the Russian government order the killing? Acclaimed director Robert Stone offers an unprecedented deconstruction of the assassination of President Kennedy, uncovering how this single event forever changed the face of American culture and why it continues to plague the nation's psyche" (DVD back cover).

Consider checking out this DVD from the LMC to learn more about JFK and all of the mysteries surrounding his death...or read more about this film here.

~ Mrs. Z

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Nonfiction Tuesday, 1.22.13 / From the Stacks

"T" for Tuesday! Click to see.
Dreams from My Father: a Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama, pub. 1995, 2004, call # 973.04 OBA

Today, for Nonfiction Tuesday and in honor of this week's Presidential Inauguration, we're featuring a work by President Barack Obama. This book, however, was written long before Obama ran for the presidency.

One reviewer describes the book this way: "A searching meditation on the meaning of identity in America, Dreams from My Father might be the most revealing portrait we have of a major American leader—a man who is playing the most prominent role in healing a fractious and fragmented nation."

The back cover of the book provides this overview:
In this lyrical, unsentimental, and compelling memoir, the son of a black African father and a white American mother searches for a workable meaning to his life as a black American. It begins in New York, where Barack Obama learns that his father—a figure he knows more as a myth than as a man—has been killed in a car accident. This sudden death inspires an emotional odyssey—first to a small town in Kansas, from which he retraces the migration of his mother’s family to Hawaii, and then to Kenya, where he meets the African side of his family, confronts the bitter truth of his father’s life, and at last reconciles his divided inheritance.
Take the time this week to learn about our re-elected president, back when he was the U.S. senator-elect from Illinois.

As an added piece of nonfiction fun, check out the book So You Want to Be President? by Judith St. George and David Small, pub. 2000, CC STG.  Full of fun facts and great illustrations, this book will provide an entertaining read. Here is one review:

"In the time-honored tradition of political commentary, author Judith St. George and Caldecott Medal winner/illustrator David Small celebrate the public and private lives of forty-two Presidents with humor and flair. Imparting much information and many laughs, this rip-roaring look at the men who have all wanted to be President deserves a place on every library and classroom shelf."

~ Mrs. Z

Friday, January 18, 2013

Fiction Friday, 1.18.13 / From the Stacks

"F" for Friday! Click to see.
Streams of Babel by Carol Plum-Ucci, pub. 2008, call # Fic PLUM-UCCI

"Don't drink the water..."

Here is an exciting novel about bioterrorism, computer hackers, and a rush to warn potential victims in a post-9/11 world. And, of course, all the key players are teens : )

Kristin Anderson of the Columbus Metropolitan Library System in Ohio reviews this intriguing thriller:
"In 2002, high school outcast Cora Holman's mom dies of a mysterious brain aneurysm, preceded by flulike symptoms. Then Cora, Owen Eberman, and two of their friends gradually come down with a similar ailment.

Meanwhile, in Pakistan, 16-year-old computer genius and cyber-spy Shahzad, who is working for the U.S. government, has uncovered information about a terror threat called Red Vinegar, and he is taken to New York in order to follow the terrorist chatter more directly. Through the alternating narratives and interwoven lives of six teens (including the child of a terrorist working on behalf of North Korea), Plum-Ucci offers a compelling tale of bioterror...The characters, particularly Shahzad, are well drawn and have unique voices, and the unresolved ending leaves a lot of room for thought and discussion. Ultimately, this is a tautly paced thriller that will force readers to think about the complexities of living in a post-9/11 world."
So are you game for this adventure? Check it out and find out!

~ Mrs. Z

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Biography Thursday, 1.17.13 / From the Stacks

"T" for Thursday! Click to see.
I Am Scout: the Biography of Harper Lee by Charles J. Shields, pub. 2008, call # B Lee

So we've all read To Kill a Mockingbird (or the SparkNotes, if we want to be honest). It's kind of a high school right-of-passage. It's one of those amazing novels that provides an excellent example of a whole slew of literary techniques, while still telling a cohesive, engaging story with poignant moral truths. In fact, it's a story that will likely stay with you for many years to come. It won a Pulitzer Prize the year after its first publication, and the following year, an Academy Award-Winning film was made of the novel. Oh, and it is among the most banned, challenged, and removed books in libraries across the U.S., even as recently as 2012 (ALA).

The issues that you find in To Kill a Mockingbird were very real and present at the time that Harper Lee was writing. "When To Kill a Mockingbird was topping best-seller lists in 1960, protesters were organizing sit-ins at whites-only lunch counters across the South. The civil rights movement was well under way" (NPR). And so maybe it isn't surprising that the novel was popular then, but it is amazing that the novel is still a high-school English class staple, and it has never gone out of print. In fact, it was voted "Best Novel of the Century" in a 1999 Library Journal poll (LitLovers).

All of this background information brings us to this week's Biography Thursday selection: I Am Scout: the Biography of Harper Lee. The following introduction to the book will give you an idea of the fascinating bits of information that Shields has uncovered and depicted about the life of Harper Lee:
"To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most widely read novels in American literature. It’s also a perennial favorite in high school English classrooms across the nation. Yet onetime author Harper Lee is a mysterious figure who leads a very private life in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, refusing to give interviews or talk about the novel that made her a household name. Lee’s life is as rich as her fiction, from her girlhood as a rebellious tomboy to her days at the University of Alabama and early years as a struggling writer in New York City. 
 
In this riveting portrait, Charles J. Shields reveals the story of Harper Lee by piecing together hundreds of interviews with Lee's classmates, friends, and neighbors, and by delving into forgotten archives. The result is an in-depth look at the unconventional, high-spirited woman who drew on her love of writing and her Southern home to create an American classic that continues to speak to new generations of readers" (Book jacket-flap).
Finally, if you aren't already aware of Harper Lee's close connection with Truman Capote (yes, that Truman Capote, author of Breakfast at Tiffany's and In Cold Blood), then you should definitely consider reading this book.

~ Mrs. Z

P.S. If you're one of those who chose to read the SparkNotes, maybe it's time to consider reading the real thing. We've got plenty of copies of To Kill a Mockingbird at the LMC, in both book and audio format! : )

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Multimedia Wednesday, 1.16.13 / From the Stacks

"W" for Wednesday! Click to see.
Ken Burns "Jazz" DVD Set directed by Ken Burns, pub. 2000, call # VC 781.65 JAZ

You may have heard of Ken Burns or you may have seen some of his previous documentaries, such as Baseball (1994) and The National Parks: America's Best Idea (2009). Burns' films have won 12 Emmy Awards and 2 Oscar Nominations. A biographical webpage about Burns quotes Stephen Ambrose:  
"More Americans get their history from Ken Burns than any other source."
Jazz is a fairly recent addition to our LMC collection. This PBS webpage provides details about each episode of this series.The series, in whole, can be summarized as follows:
"JAZZ celebrates America's greatest original art form. Ken Burns' 10-part documentary opens at the dawn of the 20th century, incorporating American culture and historical events that interact directly with the music. From the 1890s through the ferment of the Harlem Renaissance and the Jazz Age, to the Great Depression, New Deal, Second World War, and beyond, JAZZ paints an astounding portrait of a nation and its improvisational core of music." (Description from this site.)
Burns was born in Brooklyn, New York, and graduated from Hampshire College in the Pioneer Valley in Western Massachusetts. (Hampshire is a part of the 5-College Consortium, along with UMass Amherst, Amherst College, Smith College, and Mount Holyoke College. If you attend any of these colleges, you are eligible to also take some classes at the others!)

~ Mrs. Z

Environmental Data Explorer

January is Math and Science Month at the LMC! Our large display of math and science books has been available for viewing and checkout for almost two weeks now. On the left-hand sidebar of this blog, you will also notice a rotating view of the books that are on display.

So in honor of our science focus, I'd like to show you a great site provided by the United Nations Environment Programme that offers free posters about environmental data.

The image in the top-left corner of this post is just one of many posters, infographics, and bubble charts available on this site. Click here to see them all! See how much you can learn about the impact humans are having on the environment : )

~ Mrs. Z

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Nonfiction Tuesday, 1.15.13 / From the Stacks

"T" for Tuesday! Click to see.
Before I reveal today's nonfiction selection (because it's Nonfiction Tuesday!) I thought it might be interesting to explain the origins of the word "stack" or "stacks." The title of this column is "From the Stacks," indicating that the library items showcased all come from our shelves or "stacks." When did this common word with other meanings like "to stack chairs" or "a stack of papers" come to also denote library shelves?

The answer can be found in the Oxford English Dictionary. The LMC's copy of The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (Volume 2) includes a detailed entry for "stack." Referring specifically to libraries, it reads: "A tall set of shelving for books, esp. in a library; a part of a library for the compact storage of books, esp. one to which public access is restricted. Also bookstack." Yes, it's true... in previous times, it was very common for access to the stacks to be restricted to library staff. Patrons had to request to see specific books. Most interestingly, though, this dictionary entry includes the notation L19, which indicates that the word "stack," referring to library shelves, first came into use in the late nineteenth-century (1870-1899). So, I bring you today's edition of From the Stacks:

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America
by Erik Larson, pub. 2003, call # 364.15 LAR

This book was a Finalist for the 2003 National Book Award for Nonfiction, as well as the Winner of the 2004 Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime.

The Random House website
provides a description of the book: 
"Their fates were linked by the magical Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, nicknamed the “White City” for its majestic beauty. Architect Daniel Burnham built it; serial killer Dr. H. H. Holmes used it to lure victims to his World’s Fair Hotel, designed for murder. Both men left behind them a powerful legacy, one of brilliance and energy, the other of sorrow and darkness.
Here, then, is your ticket to the greatest fair in history—a place where incredible dreams came to life alongside darkest nightmares."
The author's website provides some compelling endorsements for the book:
"So good, you find yourself asking how you could not know this already.”—Esquire

"[A] vivid history of the glittering Chicago World’s Fair and its dark side."—New York magazine, best pick of the week
"An irresistible page-turner that reads like the most compelling, sleep-defying fiction."Time Out New York
This is one of those titles that I've had my eye on for a couple of years. And after writing this, I'll admit, it just might have moved a couple notches up my reading list!

~ Mrs. Z

Monday, January 14, 2013

Magazine Monday, 1.14.13 / From the Stacks

"M" for Monday! Click to see.
Welcome to the beginning of a new and exciting (weekday) daily column! I have been thinking about this for a while now, and I am proud to share the launch of "From the Stacks."

Each day, Monday through Friday, you will find a blog post about a magazine article, a book, a CD, etc. that is owned by the DHS LMC. While these posts are not intended to be lengthy or complete reviews, they will provide short snippets from the item, an overview of the storyline, and a reason for you to stop in and grab a great read!

Today we begin with the first post to "Magazine Monday." The February issue of Mac Life contains a feature article titled "Get to Know iTunes 11" by Cory Bohon.

If you use iTunes on a Mac or a PC, you may have recently noticed an interface change. You may have muttered something like, "Now where did that go?" After staring blankly at the screen, and looking frantically for your "sidebar," you probably realized that Apple rearranged a few things.

This magazine article addresses your concerns in a straightforward and logical sequence. Following a "Where is My...?" format, Bohon explains the changes in playlists, airplay, sidebar, list view, status bar, downloads, miniplayer, "up next," "on this phone," iCloud integration, and the new iTunes store. With screenshots to walk you through your explorations, Bohon will help you get more out of iTunes.

Visit the LMC to check out this magazine article, or click this link to view the online version of this story: iTunes 11 - Everything You Need to Know.

~ Mrs. Z

Thursday, January 10, 2013

You, creator of awesome digital magazines. NBD.

As the semester comes to a close, maybe you've got a final project due that could benefit from a creative display. Or maybe you and your friends have some photos and thoughts that you'd love to share online

Zeen
is a new online app, perfect for these uses and more! Design that report as a beautiful magazine and share it on Facebook, Google+, Delicious, and Twitter.

Zeen
is easy to use and offers lots of options. Oh, and it's free.

~ Mrs. Z

P.S. A permanent link to Zeen is filed on our Apps page.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

There's an App for That!

Happy 2013 from the LMC! We'd like to make a suggestion for your new year's resolutions : ) This year, consider adding a resolution like, "I will use technology to work smarter, not harder."

To get you started, we've created a list of the best free online apps for whatever it is you are hoping to accomplish. This list will continue to grow, and it will always be available on a special page of our blog, accessible from the top navigation links.

So here's to a new year of better online creating, organizing, presenting, sharing, reading, storing, and finding. Click here to do it!

~ Mrs. Z