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.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Days of Remembrance

This week marks the annual Days of Remembrance in commemoration of the Holocaust. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum provides a great deal of information about this observance, including a map of events being held around the country. It also provides information for communities to use in planning their own Remembrance events:

https://www.ushmm.org/remember/days-of-remembrance

Those who tend to compare more recent atrocities to the Holocaust might wish to use this as an opportunity to review the basic facts and statistics.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Superbloom

April showers are traditionally supposed to bring May flowers, but in California, winter showers have resulted in a "superbloom" of spring flowers.  Read about the reasons for the spectacular display on this site from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

https://www.climate.gov/news-features/event-tracker/march-2017-climate-conditions-finally-right-superbloom-desert

The photos may leave you California dreaming.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

De Quervain Tendinitis

People who do repetitive work with their hands may develop a number of different medical conditions. Some, like carpal tunnel syndrome, are fairly well known. Others, like De Quervain tendinitis are less so. You can read about the causes, symptoms, and treatments of De Quervain tendinitis in the National Library of Medicine's MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia:

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000537.htm

Beware, though. If you hold your phone or tablet while you browse the 4,000 articles available in the Encyclopedia, that's exactly the sort of thing that might cause De Quervain tendinitis.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Women's History Month

March is Women's History Month. One site that provides links to a treasure trove of information about historic American women is this page from the Archives Library Information Center at the National Archives:

https://www.archives.gov/research/alic/reference/womens-history.html

It's divided into sections which include: Bibliographies, African-American Women, Biographies, Politics and Women, Women's Suffrage, Women and the Military, and Other Resources. Explore a few of these links and you'll be certain that girls not only want to have fun, they also want to have a positive impact on the world.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Presidents' Day

If you'd like to celebrate Presidents' Day by learning more about the powers of the President, a good place to start might be this page of resources from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services:

https://www.uscis.gov/citizenship/teachers/presidents-day

The information is provided to help immigrants prepare for the 18 questions on the naturalization test that deal with the Presidency. There's even a 10-question practice test on the site that you can take. Be brave and see how many you're able to answer correctly.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Million Hearts Initiative

Hearts are everywhere on Valentine's Day, but it's also a good day to think about the health of your own heart. One initiative trying to help you improve your heart health is Million Hearts. This program is "a national initiative with an ambitious goal to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services co-lead the initiative on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services." The Million Hearts site includes links to statistics, research reports, and lots of helpful information:

https://millionhearts.hhs.gov/

Take a few minutes to check it out before you go on your Valentine's date. The people who love you will love you more for taking good care of yourself.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Black History Month

As most people know, February is Black History Month. During this month we celebrate the great things that have been accomplished by African Americans throughout our country's history. The National Endowment for the Humanities has pulled together links to many important resources on its Black History Month page:

https://edsitement.neh.gov/black-history-month

It's divided into sections such as Slavery and Abolitionism, Civil War: 54th Regiment, W.E.B. DuBois and NAACP, Civil Rights Era and so on. If the student in your life has to do a paper on Federick Douglass or Booker T. Washington, this site might be just what they need.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Presidential Actions

If you'd like to keep track of Executive Orders and other actions taken by our new President, here's where you'll see them first:

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions

This page also provides links to Presidential speeches, statements, and press briefings. Check this site daily and you'll be well prepared for your next political debate.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

As the nation pauses today to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., you might want to start planning a visit to his Memorial in Washington, DC. This is the official website for his Memorial:

https://www.nps.gov/mlkm/index.htm

Even if you don't plan to visit, you can find lots of good information on the site including a selection of Dr. King's most famous quotations. This is one that many will keep in mind today as they participate in volunteer work to recognize the holiday, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Office of Congressional Ethics

You may have heard that changes to the Office of Congressional Ethics were recently proposed and then abandoned by the House. However, you may not know much about what that office does. Here is its Citizens' Guide with a basic overview of its functions:

https://oce.house.gov/learn/citizens-guide/
  
This is just one of many watchdog agencies trying to make sure that Uncle Sam is behaving himself.