Located on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, often referred to as the “main branch” of the New York Public Library, is an iconic structure. From the pair of stone lions (“Patience” and “Fortitude”) guarding the entrance to the famous Rose Main Reading Room, it is easily recognizable, even for individuals like myself who have never seen it in person.
Recently Morgan Holzer, Information Architect at NYPL, teamed up with Nate Bolt to provide us with a novel view of the NYPL; through the eyes of Lucy IV, a DJI Phantom aerial drone! Shooting after hours, they capture footage of Astor Hall, the Rose Main Reading Room, and the Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division. As Holzer mentions in her write-up of the project, the different perspective provided by the drone “astounded me over and over again.” Take a look at the embedded video below and see for yourself! As noted in the description, “lots of safety precautions were taken and no books were harmed in the making of this video.” If you are interested in catching a glimpse of the drone itself, make sure to watch the video all the way through; it appears around 2:10.
Multiple magazine articles, both scholarly and popular extoll the benefits of bilingualism or multilingualism for the health and efficiency of the human brain. It is said that those who learn multiple languages from birth are less likely, for example, to develop early onset Alzheimer’s disease…if the disease does appear, it is more likely to be delayed proportionately to the fluency and depth of understanding attained in a second language. Foreign languages are promoted as a means to make your child (or self) appear more sophisticated and cognitively advanced, leading parents to believe their child will become a front running contender for advanced educational programs, degrees, and be more competitive in the job markets of the future. Of course, certain languages are considered more useful than others, depending on where you live in the world. In a not so distant past, it was believed that learning a second language could cause developmental delays, but this is no longer the current consensus.
From my readings, I often gather that an overlying assumption motivates parents’ wishes for their children to learn foreign languages: that it makes their minds more logical and mathematical, and therefore better prepared for our technical and information age. While I understand these arguments, some of which seem plausible and worthy, I have my own reasons for defending and promoting multi-lingualism. To learn a new language means to learn to understand and assimilate a new culture. Culture includes body language and unspoken assumptions about time, proximity, morality, justice, love and how affection is demonstrated or withheld, diet, and so much more. Simply learning grammatical constructs, while being great gymnastics for the rational mind, is only a small part of the benefits of bilingualism.
Okay, I’ll just admit it: I vacillate between two extremes: either I feel like I know everything about everything, or I feel like I know absolutely nothing about anything. And as annoying as I know it must be, you could call me a ‘Know-It-All’ most days.
Here are a few examples that perhaps you don’t know either:
“No ostrich has ever been observed to bury its head in the sand. It would suffocate if it did. When danger threatens, ostriches run away like any other sensible animal.”
“What killed most sailors in an eighteenth-century sea battle? A nasty splinter. Cannon balls fired from men o- war didn’t actually explode (no matter what Hollywood thinks), they just tore through the hull of the ship, causing huge splinters of wood to fly around the decks at high speed, lacerating anyone within range.”
“Whips were invented in China seven thousand years ago but it wasn’t until the invention of high-speed photography in 1927 that the crack of the whip was seen to be a mini sonic boom and not the leather hitting the handle.”
Say what?!!! I had noooo idea! This last one, however, some of us knew in the back of our minds …
“Work is a bigger killer than alcohol, drugs, or war. Around two million people die every year from work-related accidents and diseases, as opposed to a mere 650,000 who are killed in wars. …Worldwide, the most dangerous jobs are in agriculture, mining and construction. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the year 2000, 5,915 people died at work – including those who had a heart attack at their desks.”
I’ll remember that next time someone says their job is killing them! And if I say it aloud, youll just have to call me a know-it-all.
By the time you read this post, Thanksgiving will have come and gone but it’s never too early to start thinking about next year. Whether you host a big gathering for which you do all the cooking or you enjoy a potluck with friends, DCPL has resources to help you prepare the best holiday meal ever.
Let’s say you want to do a traditional Thanksgiving but it’s the first time you’ve prepared it. Or maybe you’ve been asked to bring a dish and haven’t a clue as to how to make it. An excellent resource is Thanksgiving: how to cook it well by Sam Sifton. This is a calm, authoritative guide to everything Thanksgiving and could be the only Thanksgiving cookbook that you will ever need. Also well worth considering is How To Cook a Turkey: and all the other trimmings from the editors of Fine Cooking magazine. A fine guide for beginners as well as experienced cooks, this book provides detailed instructions for all the well known holiday dishes.
Of course, Thanksgiving usually means leftovers…lots and lots of leftovers…and for many of us that’s the best part of the holiday. When I was growing up my family would usually just make up plates of whatever each person liked best and reheat but you might want to transform your leftovers into something that doesn’t so much resemble the holiday meal. Many think that casseroles are the right and classic home for leftovers. If you agree, check out the pleasures contained within the pages of Bake Until Bubbly: the ultimate casserole cookbook by Clifford A. Wright and James Villas’ Crazy for Casseroles: 275 all-American hot-dish classics.
Have you ever wondered how books are made? Irene Gallo, Art Director for science fiction and fantasy publisher Tor Books, recently blogged about her visit to the Tor bindery, where huge, “door-stopper” books such as A Memory of Light are printed and assembled. Supplemented by copious photographs, Gallo takes us through the fascinating process by which pristine rolls of paper are turned into a finished book.
Turkeys have long been associated with Thanksgiving, and so it’s no surprise that one of the most popular Thanksgiving crafts for kids (and young-at-heart adults) is the hand turkey. To create a hand turkey, you start by placing a hand (palm down and fingers splayed) on a piece of paper. Next, you trace the outline of your hand, then embellish the outline so that it resembles a turkey, like this:
As you can see from my attempt on the right, you don’t need much in the way of artistic skill, just a vague idea of what a turkey looks like. There are many possible variations on this basic concept. This article showcases a myriad of impressive hand turkeys created in 2012.
It’s hard to say when the hand turkey first made its appearance, but this webpage offers an amusing fictional “history” of the hand turkey that you might enjoy perusing. Happy Thanksgiving!
December 18th is National Bake Cookies Day. This comes at a wonderful time, because winter holiday celebrations are in progress. This gives everyone an opportunity to bake cookies. Cookies can be made from ready-made dough or from scratch. When deciding to bake cookies from scratch you may be at a loss for ideas. I suggest you visit your local library and pick up a few books on baking cookies. The joy of cookies by Sharon Tyler Herbst, The Christmas cookie book by Judy Knipe and Barbara Marks, Christmas cookies: 50 recipes to treasure for the holiday season by Lisa B. Zwirn, or Southern living best loved cookies: 50 melt-in-your-mouth Southern morsels are all wonderful books with excellent recipes for baking cookies. If you are more of a visual learner then check out Martha’s favorite cookiesDVD, the DVD features thirty-three of Martha’s best cookie recipes. These are just a few of the wonderful items that are available to help make National Bake Cookies Day a success. Other ideas for National Bake Cookies Day are to have a Cookie Swap Party, make cookies for your local school, fire station or police station. I just can’t wait for December 18th. I can smell the cookies already, can’t you? My favorite cookie is the classic chocolate chip cookie, but I also like ginger snaps, lemon bars and oatmeal cookies without the raisins. Tell me your favorite cookie and/or post your favorite recipe.
“In 1980 in rural Damascus, Ark., two young Air Force technicians (one was 21 years old, the other 19) began a routine maintenance procedure on a 103-foot-tall Titan II nuclear warhead-armed intercontinental ballistic missile. All was going according to plan until one of the men dropped a wrench, which fell 70 feet before hitting the rocket and setting off a chain reaction with alarming consequences. After that nail-biting opening, investigative reporter Schlosser (Fast Food Nation) goes on to tell the thrilling story of the heroism, ingenuity, mistakes, and destruction that followed. At intervals, he steps back to deliver an equally captivating history of the development and maintenance of America’s nuclear arsenal from WWII to the present. Though the Cold War has ended and concerns over nuclear warfare have mostly been eclipsed by the recent preoccupation with terrorist threats, Schlosser makes it abundantly clear that nukes don’t need to be launched to still be mind-bogglingly dangerous. Mixing expert commentary with hair-raising details of a variety of mishaps, the author makes the convincing case that our best control systems are no match for human error, bad luck, and ever-increasing technological complexity. “Mutually assured destruction” is a terrifying prospect, but Schlosser points out that there may be an even more frightening possibility: self-assured destruction.”
Mind-boggingly dangerous, indeed! What is suprising to me is that we have been so lucky thus far.
Have you ever wondered what sort of interests and hobbies DCPL employees pursue in their spare time? Well, many of us enjoy making art and creating crafts of all sorts. You can see stellar examples of these at DCPL’s annual Employee Art Expo, now in its third year. Pieces on exhibit include photograpy. drawings, and needle work of all kinds. The display is up through November and many of the pieces are for sale. Proceeds from items sold will go to the DeKalb Library Foundation.
I will be participating in the Expo this year with a few knitted and crocheted pieces. I love both forms of needle work and regularly try to carve out some time to devote to one or the other. Are you interested in learning to knit or crochet? Do you already know how but want to expand your needlecraft horizons? If so, DCPL can help.
Some branches of DCPL also offer free needle craft classes. At Decatur, Crochet Club meets on the third Wednesday of each month. All skill levels are welcome. Every second Saturday, you can join the Creative Expressions Crocheting Group at Covington between the hours of 10:00 am and 1:00 pm. Bring your current project to Clarkston on November 16th from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm for a meeting of the Knit and Crochet Club. The meeting is open to the first 15 participants but you must contact the branch to register.
At the library, I often encounter homeschooling families. In fact, a mom recently asked how she could make a donation to the library as a gesture of thanks for all of the great resources we have available in our catalog or through our online reference data bases which help her teach her kids at home. I had been searching the catalog prior to her visit, looking for items specially designed for homeschoolers. I found a series of kits created by FLIP, the Family Literacy Involvement Program, made available to our library system through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. These kits are designed to support early learning and literacy through home and family-centered activities. The kits contain books, activity guides, art and school supplies and other materials and are available to all patrons for checkout. There is even a homeschooling page on the DCPL website containing books, reference databases, web links to outside resources, book club kits for kids (Book Buddies Take Out). Another website I found called Homeschool World has a lot of resources for homeschool families including contact information for groups locally and around the world, events, teaching materials, contests, and articles. Another fun site I found is an online art gallery for homeschooled budding artists. Many museums, including the High Museum of Art, have programs for homeschoolers.
Homeschooling or un-schooling, as some people call it, is an increasingly popular trend in education. For some, the desire to remove children from public or private collective establishments might be for religious or spiritual reasons, for others the choice might be motivated by social or philosophical reasons. Some children have special needs to which a larger institution might not be able to effectively cater. Families might wish to preserve a native language or languages by promoting multilingual skills. Homeschooling allows parents as educators a great deal of flexibility in scheduling, curriculum, dietary choices, and in the style and content of material presented. It seems to me that creativity, freedom of expression, and flexibility are great advantages of this type of educational focus.
Veronica W: I have been in NYPL but it looks even more awesome from on high. Thanks! more...Hope L: Thanks, Rebekah, for this thought-provoking post. Both of my parents speak fluent french (my mother... more...Joseph M: Great post! I especially liked the part about creating a new life through language; I’ve... more...Jencey Gortney: Jesse, Thanks for sharing! I found the blog post interesting. It is also nice to see the... more...Dea Anne M: How well I remember hand turkeys! I seem to remember turning one of mine into a peacock (because... more...