Happy 450, William Shakespeare! BBC America posted 45 everyday phrases either coined or popularized by William Shakespeare and then challenged readers to work five of the phrases into conversation today. I think I can easily use 10 if not more, how about you? In the not too distant past – researchers, students and readers of Shakespeare as well as reference librarians relied upon a concordance of Shakespeare’s dramatic works or poems to find which play or sonnet contained a word or phrase. While in our “brave new world” (The Tempest) Google makes finding quotes a snap, the library still retains a number of books on phrases, idioms and figures of speech in the Reference Collection. Titles such as A Hog on Ice and other Curious Expressions and Loanwords dictionary : a lexicon of more than 6,500 words and phrases encountered in English contextsshow evidence of much use back when finding that special turn of phrase required using print resources.
Every summer I so look forward to Riverside Theatre in the Park’s presentation of at least one of Shakespeare’s plays. The venue is marvelous, (especially when it hasn’t been flooded out), the costuming and the sets are splendid, but for me what is best of all is the beauty of the language. I could, as Shakespeare so aptly put, listen “forever and a day” (As You Like It). If you would like to whet your appetite for Shakespeare this summer you will not want to miss, Theatre in the Park: Othello with Miriam Gilbert, on Thursday night, May 8 at 7 p.m. in Meeting Room A.
Recently I joined several other ICPL staff members who attended the Public Library Association conference. We were in the unfortunate position of having to choose just one session from ten or twelve in each time slot, but a lucky choice I made was a session on helping genealogists–both experienced and brand-new ones–use public library resources. My favorite tidbit from that session was the discovery of the handwriting tutorials in FamilySearch.
FamilySearch is produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), and searches genealogical records worldwide including the International Genealogical Index, and census and other vital statistics sources. You can find a link to it among the online resources on our website in the Biography, History and Genealogy category. FamilySearch provides many tutorials on doing genealogy, for all levels of experience.
If you have ever looked at original source documents, such as census forms or ship passenger lists or church records, you know that reading old-fashioned handwriting can be difficult. When those documents are in other languages, the challenges increase exponentially. The FamilySearch tutorials on the scripts of many languages–including English–can help. Pictured above and below are examples of Scandinavian Gothic. The tutorials are self-guided, and usually incorporate opportunities for practice.
To access the tutorials, you do need to create an account within FamilySearch. There is no charge to do so. You can find the handwriting lessons under Get Help/Learning Center Video Courses; it’s easiest to then search by the country you are interested in.
Have you heard about the security flaw named Heartbleed and have concerns whether your passwords are secure? The tech guys at Marketplace Morning Report had a very informative piece cautioning folks not to jump the gun on changing their passwords too soon.
Quick update on Heartbleed – you may have already received messages from social media sites you use or from companies where you shop online or your financial institution letting you know whether their sites are secure or if you need to change your password. If you have not and you would like some guidance on which sites were the most vulnerable and merit a password change Mashable.com contacted the most popular social, email, banking and commerce sites on the web and shared their responses.
One of the fun facts I learned from the Money Smart Week exhibit at the library is that dimes have 118 ridges or grooves and quarters have 119. But what the exhibit didn’t tell me was the reason for the ridges. So what’s a reference librarian to do? Find the answer, of course. I started at the United States Mint which lead me to the American Numismatic Association. The first thing I learned was the technical term for the ridges or grooves on coins is reeding. Before the introduction of reeding, small amounts of gold or silver from coins could be chiseled or shaved away and the precious metal sold again or remelted and made into another coin. (The slang usage of the world chisel may even derive from this ancient practice.) While quarters and dimes are no longer minted from silver, (with the exception of special collectable quarters), the ridges remain.
Come in a take a look at the exhibit – you will find it in the first floor gallery. You can explore the life cycle of currency, learn about the role of the Federal Reserve Bank and get your photo taken in $100 bill. What else can you learn during Money Smart Week? Preschoolers will have a visit from Ben Franklin for the 10:30 preschool story time Thursday morning, April 10. And if you want to know more about estate planning, the library has a program tailor made for you. Thursday evening, April 10, Thomas Gelman, attorney Phelan Tucker Muller Walker Tucker Gelman and John Chadima, Vice President and Trust Officer MidWestOne Bank offer Estate Planning 101: Basic Considerations.
The Assessor’s site only listed one sale in 2006, and that sale was code 14—“Exchange, trade, gift, transfer from Estate,” and it includes the names for both the buyers and the sellers. From there, I go to the 2nd floor Page Station’s City Directories to look for a deeper history of ownership. The listing states the house was built in 1963, so I start with the 1963 Polk Directory and look the house up by its address. Hmm. The Directory lists the property under the same family name as the name on the Estate. Could this mean the house was in the same family for 50 years? I grow hopeful. Read the rest of this entry »
Consumer Reports is a great resource for anyone about to make a big purchase. This magazine reviews and tests dishwashers, vacuums, cars, and every sort of technology gadget imaginable. The magazine prides itself on giving non-partisan reviews that reflect the performance of an item because the magazine supports itself through subscriptions and donations instead of advertising. You don’t need to page through lengthy articles to find out what you want to know because the magazine provides handy tables that make it easy to understand the criteria used to rate the item. Many patrons ask questions about accessing our Consumer Reports collection when they come to visit the library however, accessing this collection and searching it can be done easily from home. Watch the video!
Because of licensing restrictions our databases are available only to residents of Iowa City and of areas covered by contracts for library service: rural Johnson County and the cities of Hills, Lone Tree, and University Heights.
In the March 15 issue of Library Journal, Library Science assistant professor Michael Stephens questions whether libraries should be replacing librarians with technology experts who have excellent customer service and instructional skills. This puts me of two minds. One is that we should acknowledge that technology is a big part of the lives of our patrons, and the Library can and should help people learn to use various resources and devices, thereby continuing our mission to educate and promote lifelong learning while at the same time making the Library itself a valuable resource to the community. The change is already here–everyone seems to have a tablet, a phone, and a computer of some sort, and they read their books, talk to their friends, even conduct their business on them–and the Library simply needs to move further towards meeting the needs that arise. The other thought I have is that I don’t want to move entirely away from the things that you might normally associate a ‘Librarian’ with, and if you replace those people with tech-savvy geniuses and helpers, what might you lose? Just last night ICPL had it’s first BYOBook bookclub at the Sanctuary Pub, where a group of people, most of whom had never met before, gathered to talk about a book they enjoyed reading. It was great. It felt refreshing and kind of retro, probably because I do spend a great deal of time at work either on a computer or helping someone with a computer. That ‘tech’ side of me would not have made as good of a host as the ‘at the desk’ or ‘in the stacks’ side of me.
For sure, there is a middle ground. Stephens goes on to state that libraries might begin to hire specialized people who may not be trained librarians, while continuing to hire some librarians who work with programming and projects. But people still ask ‘do we need librarians?’ Do we want them? Do you?
Readers–what do you think? Who do you want to see at your library?
Tonight someone called the Reference Desk to find out what the weather was in a particular place, on a particular day. We sometimes get calls related to weather, people wanting to know how much precipitation occurred during that month that seemed to have endless rain, or just how windy it was on what they remember as the windiest day ever…the website I like to use for information like this is Wunderground. It gives current weather, and loads of other information besides, including historical and averages. It’s pretty interesting, and depending on what city you are looking for data about, their records go back a ways. So, I now know that the high temp on the day I was born was 36, but the average for that day is 44, and the record high is 87 (in 1897)!
Next time you want to find out what’s up with the weather, anywhere, give it a try!