The Oregon Museum of Science & Industry (OMSI) is currently hosting the International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes. We here at the library love Sherlock Holmes! He’s detail-oriented and excellent at making connections - some of our favorite traits - and his amazing tales have brought the love of reading to hundreds of thousands of people all over the planet!
It all began with Arthur Conan Doyle back in 1886 and more than 120 years later, Holmes is still going strong. Not only are tales of his adventures found in novels, but also in comics, movies, television shows and even the Broadway stage.
We’ve created a reading/watching/listening list for all Sherlock fans (or soon to be fans) and we would love to hear about your favorite Sherlock stories in the comments.
Want more recommendations of stories involving famous sleuths (or anything else)? Go ahead and ask a detail-oriented and connection-making librarian!
Now that I have a niece, I have become even more aware of the amazing female role models that can inspire her to learn and succeed in whatever way she chooses. Women have been instrumental in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) since ancient times (Hello, Hypatia!). Children have survived leukemia because of the work of Nobel Prize winner Gertrude B. Elion. Mathmetician Katherine G. Johnson calculated the flight trajectory for the first American to go into space in 1959. You wouldn’t be reading this blog if not for the work of Grace Hopper, who advanced computers beyond binary. Yet we still tend to think of the accomplishments in these fields as belonging almost exclusively to men.
Ada Lovelace Day, happening this year on October 15, 2013, aims to change that. Named after early programmer Ada Lovelace, Ada Lovelace Day is an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This year’s events include lectures, meet-ups, and a Wikipedia Edit-a-thon to edit and create Wikipedia entries on women who have made significant contributions to the STEM fields.
In honor of my niece and all of the other young girls (and boys) in my life who might design the vaccine or software that changes the world, I am celebrating this week by learning and spreading the word about women in STEM past and present. The Anita Borg Institute has some fascinating profiles of women in technology; Eastern Illinois University rounds up biographies of women in science and Agnes Scott College brings us bios of women mathematicians through history; and I can’t get enough of this amazing set of photographs of women in science from the Smithsonian.
And I definitely got schooled watching this epic rap battle between Rosalind Franklin and Watson and Crick. (Don’t miss the shoutout to Shirley Anne Jackson at 2:27!)
Want to learn more? Check out the incredible reads below or contact a librarian. And let us know about your favorite woman in STEM in the comments!
Comic books are full of charismatic leaders locked in desperate struggles, but a vast majority of these are fictional. It's perspective-changing when comics are used to tell stories of real people. One such book is Louis Riel: A Comic Strip Biography, by Chester Brown.
Riel is a character of mythic proportions in Canadian history. He butted heads with the newly established government of Canada, starting in 1869 when he led the Red River Rebellion. Riel was a leader who believed he was divinely chosen to protect and defend the rights of the Metis - descendants of First Nations people and Europeans who suffered persecution from the wider culture.
Brown tells the story of Riel's fights and flights back and forth across the Canadian border, from Manitoba, to Montana and then to Saskatchewan, where he was eventually arrested for treason and hanged.
The minimalist color scheme and Brown's crisp drawings create a suspenseful story that could otherwise come across as a dry recitation of historical fact. If you never thought you'd read a comic book, but are a history buff, give this a try.
Find out more about the intriguing Louis Riel.
Helping to Create New Americans
by Donna Childs
The purpose of these spotlights is to recognize a few of the many wonderful volunteers at the Multnomah County library, so of course, they feature glowing tributes to deserving people. Even given that, I came away from meeting Bryan and Maya McGowan especially delighted by both of them and impressed with the Multnomah County Library itself. Bryan and Maya are volunteer instructors in the library’s citizenship classes, a program of six-session classes for immigrants who are studying to pass the United States citizenship examination.
I am impressed with the library for offering such classes. While it may come under the rubric of good citizenship and of promoting literacy, it nonetheless seems a step beyond what might be expected. Bryan and Maya belong to a cadre of volunteers who teach citizenship classes throughout the library system. Classes focus on preparing for the history, government, and civics portion of the exam, known as the 100 questions, as well as English proficiency in reading, writing, and speaking. The library also provides all the other resources that participants need. Furthermore, the library offers numerous language-learning resources, as well as bilingual staff, books in many languages, conversation circles for English learners (Talk Time), and “amazing online resources for learning English,” according to Bryan. (In a recent year, 27,246 county residents attended 1,843 such programs.) In 2011, Multnomah County Library received a National Association of Counties Achievement Award for its attention to immigrant communities.
Bryan and Maya bring understanding, commitment and enthusiasm to their task of teaching the citizenship classes. A passionate, dedicated immigration lawyer, Bryan began his involvement with the citizenship classes as a visiting legal expert at one session and now teaches the six-session classes. An immigrant from Russia, Maya not only brings first-hand experience from her own naturalization, but has also taught English as a second language in Russia. She is now pursuing a master’s degree at PSU to continue teaching in this country. Together, they share these talents and experiences as they guide new Americans from uncertainty to confidence as they navigate the process of naturalization.
"I couldn't believe our good fortune when not only Bryan, but his wife Maya volunteered to teach citizenship classes," said Melissa Madenski, interim coordinator for adult literacy programs at the library. "They bring a richness of activities, skills and understanding to the safe environment they create as teachers. Plus, they are just plain fun to be around!" she added. Bravo, Bryan and Maya (and all the other citizenship instructors), and Bravo, Multnomah County Library!
A Few Facts About Bryan and Maya
Home library: North Portland Library
Bryan -- The Complete Short Novels by Anton Chekhov
Maya -- Petersburg by Andrey Bely and Gipsovy Trubach by Yuriy Poliakov (in Russian)
Most influential book:
Bryan -- Another Way of Telling by John Berger and Jean Mohr
Maya -- The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Favorite book from childhood:
Maya -- Again it's a Russian book - Dinka by Valentina Oseeva
A book that made you laugh or cry:
Bryan -- The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Maya -- City of Thieves by David Benioff - this book made me laugh and cry.
Favorite section of the library:
Bryan -- History
Maya -- Children's, gardening, and foreign language (Russian in particular if the library has it)
E-reader or paper book?
Bryan -- Paper books
Maya -- I am definitely a paper book reader.
Favorite reading guilty pleasure:
Bryan -- with whiskey
Maya -- Reading detectives. However, it's been quite a while since I read one.
Favorite place to read:
Bryan -- At work!
Maya -- On the couch in the living room
Sometimes I think it would be great to be the Queen of England. Having staff at your beck and call to cook and clean for you and drive you wherever you need to go, the trips to exotic locales, the lovely palaces and castles to live in - it just doesn't get any better. But there are definite downsides: the paparazzi, people constantly judging your every decision, and the daily round of obligations to meet (and meet with a smile). It's just so exhausting!
In Mrs. Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn, Queen Elizabeth is tired. She's well past eighty years old, she's had some pretty significant stresses in the last few decades (children's divorces, Diana's death, Windsor Castle burning, the decommissioning of Britannia, the Royal Yacht) and now the final indignity: no more Royal Train for Her Majesty's use. The expense, she's been told, is just too great. So on one dreary winter day, Queen Elizabeth is thinking of Britannia, one of her favorite things, and takes the opportunity to slip out (mostly) unobserved and take the train to Scotland where the yacht is moored. What ensues is a wonderful story of the palace staff who care about Queen Elizabeth and a portrait of a monarch nearing the end of her long and largely successful reign.
Other people have imagined Queen Elizabeth II's life in books and film. The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett examines the person the Queen becomes when she starts reading books from the local bookmobile. The film The Queen takes a look at the royal response to Diana's death.
If you, too, think it would be good to be queen, enjoy this film and these books and see if you change your mind!
This post contains high levels of drugs, crime, and lawyers. What we may be missing is quite enough justice…
How often do we hear the words of the Miranda Warning, You have the right to remain silent; you have the right to an attorney in our favorite cop shows? Usually, that’s where the show ends. And yet the real story is only beginning.
I admit I really don’t spend much time thinking about criminals or lawyers, except to avoid them. So when Attorney General Holder gave a speech to the American Bar Association last month about how we send people to prison, saying that “as a nation, we are coldly efficient” at putting people in prison and that “we must face the reality that, as it stands, our system is in too many respects broken”, I had only a vague idea of what he was talking about. Turns out it is all about numbers: The number of prisoners, the number of years they are in prison, the number of cases that public defenders have, and the money we spend as a nation. The forces at play? Mandatory minimum sentencing and the 6th amendment’s right to an attorney.
The right to an attorney can be found in the Bill of Rights. Our modern idea of it is from the case Gideon vs. Wainright: When Clarence Gideon was tried for stealing $55 dollars and breaking into a pool hall the State of Florida told him they didn’t have to give him an attorney. He was sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit and used that time to change the legal system.
Mandatory minimum sentencing says there are crimes people shouldn’t serve less than a set amount of time for. They aren’t new- the minimum sentence for the killing a meat inspector was set in 1907- life in prison or the death sentence. (That's the year after Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle was published.) Then in the mid 80s and 90s sentences were set for a wide range of drug crimes. The effect? The U.S. now has the highest prison population in the world, but not in any equal sort of way, and we spend huge amounts of money ($80 billion in 2010) locking people up.
When people are sent to prison for set amounts of time no matter the situation, things just get weird. And don’t let me forget the Cooperation Paradox: the more involved you are in a criminal enterprise, the more information you have to bargain with- meaning that the criminals who are the guiltiest get the lighter sentences.
So, two very different parts of the legal system. What happens when they collide? Nothing good. There are too many people in the system for the number of public defenders. Many people never actually see their lawyer- or a trial. In a wonderful if curse laden interview by John Oliver with the director of the documentary “Gideon’s Army” Dawn Porter they explain better than I ever could.
So let’s head back to where we started: Holder’s speech for the Smart on Crime Initiative. The gist of the initiative is that by focusing on prosecuting the most serious of criminals and not snaring everyone else in mandatory minimum sentencing crimes, the Department of Justice will be able spend money and effort elsewhere, saving people from the system and the system from the burden of all those people. It’s pragmatic and surprisingly readable. Changing the laws will literally take an Act of Congress, but the U.S. Attorneys can choose how to charge people. Will it work? I can’t tell you that. I’m a librarian not a seer. But we can hope for the best.
So I'm pretty sure when a six-year-old asks if the babies just "explode out of their moms' stomachs" when they're born, the officially sanctioned and appropriately parental answer is not, "Well, yeah. It's kind of a mess." To follow that terrible answer with an intentional subject change like, "Check out this kick! Do I look like a ninja?" is probably enough to get me placed into some sort of mommy lock-down until I can be re-educated by guards named Spock, Leach, and Brazelton.
Luckily it's back-to-school time and I can again place my children's formal education in the capable hands of skilled professionals. Child the Elder's wailing and gnashing of teeth over school starting again was probably heard from space. After the children went to sleep on that dreaded and fateful eve, I joined the rest of the school-age parental demographic in the ritual night-before-school celebratory margarita. This night should probably be a recognized and formal holiday, like Mardi Gras. As Mardi Gras marks the sober beginning of Lent, we have a long school year ahead of us to attempt to make our children lunches they will actually eat or rip our hair out over projects requiring posters, costumes, and sonnets written in perfect iambic pentameter. In the face of all this, one night to party is not too much to ask.
As summer fades in the rear view mirror, it is good to be reminded that we are never too old to learn. One of the best movies I watched in between SpongeBob SquarePants and Brady Bunch marathons was Jiro Dreams of Sushi, a documentary about an amazing 85 year old sushi chef and his tiny three-star Michelin rated restaurant (the first of its kind) in a Tokyo subway station. This quiet movie is simultaneously a feast for the eyes and a meditation on work and family that should not be missed. Jiro's story had both me and my 11 year old riveted from beginning to end (which is saying something for a subtitled documentary with an 85 year old subject containing no chase sequences, explosions, time travel or animated sea sponges.) Jiro's wildly successful restaurant career is countered by his and his sons' musings on what price that success exacted from his parenting.
If you are a parent, you have entertained a fantasy about running away from it all. What happens when you decide to take a break from parenting and family life without properly informing all the parties involved? The Barbarian Nurseries by Hector Tobar examines this question through a lens of class and culture in southern California when the mistakes of one family become front-page tabloid news. Inexplicably left alone with Scott and Maureen's two boys, live-in maid Araceli takes them on a journey to Los Angeles which changes all their lives forever.
As all parents learn, the miseries of parenting are relative. We welcome new parents into the club without bothering to haze them, because we know the children will haze all the new members for us. (You know you are on the relative-misery scale when you are happy you only had to get up with a baby two times last night instead of three or four.) As a parent reading Jim Gaffigan's book Dad Is Fat , the first thing I thought was at least I don't have five kids under the age of eight. In a two-bedroom apartment in New York. That guy is up a certain creek without a certain piece of necessary boating equipment.
But of course, he is not. He is another parenting voice in the wilderness, proclaiming how our kids are our frustrating and adorable crucibles, slowly and painfully refining us into better, if more exhausted, people. We know there are good answers out there and maybe we can come up with them if only someone will let us take a nap. Because this is due tomorrow. And I need a costume.
Throughout downtown Portland outdoor public artworks enliven the spaces we walk through. The Regional Arts and Culture Council, a sponsor of Portland’s public art collection, has published a guide to artworks along the Transit Mall, available in the downtown Trimet Ticket Office in Pioneer Square. If you are interested in learning more, Central Library's collections of books, exhibition catalogs, and online sources, such as the Oregonian, offer more in-depth background information and stories about these works and the artists who created them.
For example, “Ring of Time" is a monumental sculpture along the Transit Mall, at the entry to the Standard Plaza building, 1100 SW Sixth Avenue.
The Central Library book Hilda Morris, published by the Portland Art Museum, includes full page color plates of many of her sketches and completed works, with biographical commentary and essays by Bruce Guenther, Susan Fillin-Yeh and David C. Morris.
Quote: “Introduced to the mathematical figure of the continuous one-sided surface of a Möbius strip by her son David, as she was developing the various maquettes for the project, Morris recognized a perfect way to animate the sculpture while creating a work of great visual stability and weight.” p. 24 from the book Hilda Morris - by Bruce Guenther, Portland Art Museum, c. 2006
What is a nautical chart?
To someone who has not been at the helm of a vessel, a nautical chart might look like nothing more than an oddly detailed water map. To a boater, a nautical chart is much more than a “road map” of the water. Instead of roads it details water areas, ports, and coast lines; it also includes information about depth of the sea floor, obstructions, restricted areas, recommended routes, and aids to navigation such as lights and buoys. The main purpose of a nautical chart is to give boaters up-to-date information to avoid grounding or traveling in restricted waters, and to navigate safely for themselves and the vessels around them.
Where can I find current navigational charts?
The United States Office of Coast Survey (USCS) has been producing nautical charts for more than 200 years, ever since President Thomas Jefferson asked for a survey of the coast in 1807. The USCS has made and maintains over 1,000 charts at varying levels of detail that cover all of the U.S. and U.S. territory coastal waters and the Great Lakes. These charts are conveniently available online for viewing and downloading. They are free of charge and regularly updated.
To find a particular nautical chart, start at the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Charts for U.S. Waters Online Chart Viewer. From the Online Chart Viewer you can select a region to view or navigate using the Graphical Catalog. Also available are BookletCharts for printing to help recreational boaters locate themselves on the water.
The Graphical Catalog shows the outlines of charts that are available on a basic geographical map. As you click on a chart, information to the right of the map show you the coordinates for the selected point as well as the Chart number, panel number, and scale of the chart selected. When you zoom in on an area, more detailed charts with larger scales become available to select. The name of each nautical chart is listed below the map as a Panel Title, as well as the date of the most current edition. Each nautical chart is available to be viewed online, downloaded as an RNC (Raster Navigational Chart), or ordered as a paper chart. In addition to finding nautical charts by browsing the map, you can also find nautical charts by entering the coordinates of the location you are seeking.
In addition to these current nautical charts you can also find nautical charts to view at the library by searching for cruising atlas in the online catalog.
A compass rose shows both the true North in the outer circle and the magnetic North in the inner circle, and the difference between the two is called the magnetic variation. It is important to always use the compass rose nearest the area for which you are plotting directions. For detailed guidance on how to read a nautical chart, check out How to Read a Nautical Chart by Nigel Calder or Chapman Nautical Chart No. 1 from the U.S. Coast Guard.
What did nautical charts and maritime maps look like in the past?
In addition to modern nautical charts, the USCS also has beautiful and detailed historical maps and charts available on their website. Other recommended historical resources are The Charting of the Oceans by Peter Whitfield (an overview of Europe’s charting history) and Soundings: The Story of the Remarkable Woman Who Mapped the Ocean Floor by Hali Felt (in the 1950s, Marie Tharp turned her husband’s records of sonar pings measuring the ocean’s depth into illuminating maps of the ocean floor that proved for the first time the theory of continental drift).
Finding these charts can be complicated! If you have any questions, do not hesitate to Ask a Librarian.
The NOAA website includes this note: Use the official, full scale NOAA nautical chart for real navigation whenever possible. These are available from authorized NOAA nautical chart sales agents. Screen captures of the on-line viewable charts available here [on NOAA's online chart viewer] do NOT fulfill chart carriage requirements for regulated commercial vessels under Titles 33 and 46 of the Code of Federal Regulations.