Friday, September 8, 2017

James Smithson

One of my personal heroes was a man named Jacques-Louis Macie who was a collector of minerals and rocks. By all accounts he was also a chemist as well.  He was born at a time when it was inconvenient and frequently illegal for your parents not to be married or in his case, his mother to be a mistress to a Duke under the Hanover Monarchies and then the reign of Queen Victoria.  When Macie was 22, he changed his name to James Smithson and began his travels.  These travels led him across Europe and helped him to test scientific theories and discover new minerals including one that was eventually named for him.  More importantly, upon his death, he left his collections and fortune to the government of the United States of America.  I think his story would make a remarkable film, don't you?   Check out P.L. 89-124, which was a Presidential Proclamation to celebrate the bicentennial  of his birth. Also, there is a good online source the National Institutes of Health discussing his contributions to science at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK217880/

LSTA/I MLS funding update


In the ALA District Dispatch today, we learned the Senate Appropriations Committed gave us a present with an additional $4 million in the IMLS funding.  This Senate bill will have to be voted on by the full Senate and then reconciled with the House version yet this step demonstrates positive support for libraries. We have a good step to celebrate!




Monday, August 21, 2017

225th Anniversary of the U.S. Mint

With all the excitement of the eclipse, I almost forgot another major milestone to celebrate, the 225th anniversary of the U.S. Mint!  If you have a chance to visit the U.S. Mint, they provide a fabulous tour in Philadelphia (the first mint) and in Denver.  Of course, Fort Knox is not really open to the public. For all you coin lovers, the Mint will "issue 24-karat gold coins and corresponding .999 fine silver medals depicting a contemporary design of Lady Liberty and an eagle" and you can receive newsletters about when they are available or go to their web site (https://www.usmint.gov/news/225th-anniversary) for more information.  Take a few minutes and enjoy this anniversary!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Unusual behaviors during an eclipse? We are not the only ones.


It seems that everywhere I turn, people are talking about the total eclipse of the sun - their plans to travel to Oregon or Wyoming to view the eclipse or travel elsewhere just to see it.  Is it because it is such an unusual phenomenon?  I have seen a total eclipse when I was a kid and it was okay. I was not mesmerized like my brother, who is now an astrophysicist or frighted like a friend of mine who happens now to be in the clergy.  To me, it was nature being nature.  I do not get all the fuss of going to spend all this money on something that is supposed to happen.  However, I do recognize the immense power of natural phenomena, especially how total eclipses tend to throw people into fits of crazy behavior.  People are discussing how their lives are out of sync because of the eclipse.  I certainly cannot discount it.  When nature is out of whack, we certainly can feel it, especially those of who are more grounded to the earth than others.  The media are starting to run stories about myths and superstitions around solar eclipses as August 21st approaches.  For example take a look at the PBS News Hour (http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/5-things-remember-prepare-great-solar-eclipse/) report on how life responds as animals and insects change their behavior.  National Geographic (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/08/animals-react-total-solar-eclipse-august-space-science/) also posted a very interesting story in animal reactions to the solar eclipse.  Do these help understand our reactions?  A really good article is Bob Berman's article in Wired (https://www.wired.com/story/eclipses-feel-weird/)

If you look at NASA's history of eclipses site, you will see what I mean.  For example, the most famous solar eclipse  (https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/what-was-most-famous-total-solar-eclipse-history) was in 1133 CE when Henry II died coinciding with a complete solar eclipse.  As a result of his death, England was thrown into civil war. 

NASA also has wonderful eclipse history site  for beginners who are just learning about these events and explain the difference between partial and total eclipses. (https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/eclipse-history).  Sorry, they do not apply to a total eclipse of your heart all you Bonnie Tyler lovers.

So get out your GPO eclipse kit and get ready.  The next one is scheduled for 2024. 

Friday, June 30, 2017

When Women Didn't Count

One of the many reasons free government information is useful is that it can be analyzed to reveal fascinating, and sometimes disturbing, facts about our history. An excellent example of this is Robert Lopresti's new book, When Women Didn't Count: The Chronic Mismeasure and Marginalization of American Women in Federal Statistics:



https://www.amazon.com/When-Women-Didnt-Count-Marginalization/dp/1440843686/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1498843453&sr=8-2&keywords=robert+lopresti

In the book, society's (and government's) changing attitudes toward women are chronicled through statistics on marriage, motherhood, heads of households, occupations, health, crime, and military service, among other topics. The focus isn't on the statistics themselves, but on how and why they were collected as they were. It is, indeed, both fascinating and disturbing. 

 (Lopresti is a librarian, but when he isn't examining the mysteries of government statistics he's writing popular mystery stories. You might want to check those out as well.)

Friday, June 9, 2017

United Nations Digital Library System

If you're getting a little tired of the issues being discussed in the U.S. Government, it might be a nice change of pace to explore some international issues.  The United Nations Digital Library System is now freely available for your searching or browsing pleasure.  Enjoy!

Http://digitallibrary.un.org

Friday, May 5, 2017

Obama Presidential Center

Before they've even broken ground on Barack Obama's Presidential Center, it's already groundbreaking in the world of Presidential Libraries. The three-building complex on Chicago's south side will include many interesting features, but it won't physically contain President Obama's papers and documents. Instead, according to this press release from the National Archives and Records Administration, his records will be digitized and made available online:

https://www.archives.gov/press/press-releases/2017/nr17-54
 
Those who wish to see the physical records will have to visit Washington, DC. Perhaps this new approach will increase tourism in both cities. Only time will tell.