March 3rd 2016
A few weeks ago I posted about resources to help you determine the truth of what you see, hear or read in the media.
Here are 3 more fact-checking resources to consider: Media Matters for America, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, and The Washington Post's Fact Checker.
February 24th 2016
Fates & Furies- Lauren Groff’s third book, describes marriage over a 23 year period, very vividly. The book illustrates marriage from two different perspectives, the husband and wife, seemingly, somewhat realistic, but who really knows for sure? After all, how many of us are completely honest in marriage? I enjoyed the book immensely; many reviews compared the book to Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. I see where some readers may contrast character’s Amy Dunne (Gone Girl and Mathilde (Fates and... Read Post
January 15th 2016
It's an election year. Candidates are saying a lot of things to get people's votes, which means many of them are, to be blunt, lying.
How do you know what to believe? How do you sort fact from fabrication? Surprisingly, the Internet can actually help if you go to the right places.
Factcheck.org is just what it sounds like: a website devoted to finding the truth behind politician's statements, misleading headlines, and viral rumors. Factcheck is published by the Annenberg Public Policy Center... Read Post
January 4th 2016
Recently I walked past a re-shelving cart and noticed a paperback romance called Some Like It Scot, with cover art depicting a heterosexual couple under-dressed for Scottish weather. According to the catalog record, the novel is part of a series called Scandalous Highlanders. Then scanning the shelves where we keep paperback romances at SPL, I realized that tartan-themed passion seems to be a really popular genre (I know next to nothing about romance novels, so this is all new to me): The... Read Post
December 28th 2015
Now that I think about it, this blog post title sounds like it should be the name of a kid's book--the If You Give a Pig a Pancake for the automated warfare age. But seriously, drones were one of the most popular gifts this Christmas. And anyone who owns a drone has to register it with the Federal Aviation Administration--even if it's tiny, and even if you're not using it to attack people. So, to register your drone, go here.
And somebody out there go write that kid's book.
December 18th 2015
If you're lucky you'll have some time off next week. Many Americans aren't that fortunate.
What do you plan to do with your time? I will be reading Jenny Lawson's new(ish) memoir Furiously Happy and returning to some old favorites: Carl Hiassen's Tourist Season and Daniel Boorstin's The Discoverers.
If you're looking for book suggestions, the staff of Jezebel have compiled a list of their favorite reads this year. And Slate's critics have compiled a list of the year's... Read Post
October 6th 2015
Remember Mark Watney in The Martian modifying the astronaut habitat to grow potatoes? Over at Quirk Books Danielle Mohlman has posted some potato recipes from various online sources.
And if you're interested in food real-life astronauts would eat, Tara Ziegmont of Feels Like Home has instructions for making astronaut pudding. The post includes a video of an astronaut on the International Space Station demonstrating how he and his co-workers make dinner.
September 16th 2015
One noteworthy feature of The Martian is the absence of any, well, actual Martians. In many science fiction works set on Mars, most notably Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles, the presence of an intelligent native species is a key plot element. And thanks to the work of Percival Lowell, whom I wrote about in yesterday's blog post, many credulous people believed that Mars was inhabited. And given that contact between different human cultures has often resulted in war, there was little reason... Read Post
September 15th 2015
The selection of The Martian for Somerville Reads raises the question, "Why Mars?" No one would ever write a book called The Venusian or The Plutoniac. But the words "Martian" or "Mars" command attention. And they long have. But why? What is it about this planet that has fascinated humanity for so long? A partial explanation is that Mars is distinctive-looking. The planets we can see without telescopes look like more or less white stars. Mars, on the other hand, is a striking reddish color.... Read Post
September 4th 2015
Our latest staff profile is of Kevin, who you will recognize if you've ever been to the second floor of the Central Library. “I'm Kevin. First and foremost, I work at the reference desk answering questions for library users, trouble shooting computers, helping people find books, and suggesting books to people who aren't sure what they want. I speak Spanish, so I often help Spanish-speaking patrons. I also select books for the Library in Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Chinese. I find it... Read Post
August 26th 2015
The hot, muggy weather last week prompted a patron to call the library with questions about the Boston Heat Wave of July 1911. I was able to answer her questions (some of which were quite detailed) using our historic Boston Globe database, which provides every single page of the Globe from 1872 to 1981. Using historic newspaper databases is not only a good way to locate facts, it's also a way to get a feel for the past often lacking in history textbooks. For example, scanning the headlines for... Read Post
August 12th 2015
Welcome to the first in a series of short articles about the Library’s staff.
First up: Ann (whose face is familiar to anyone who uses the Children’s Room at the Central Library) tells you all about her job – and a few other things too!
I love my job! I love being with the kids. I’ve worked in a few different departments here at the Library, but this is the most rewarding. It’s hard work, but sometimes we’re having so much fun it feels like play. I tell stories, do programs, and... Read Post
August 12th 2015
We're still getting responses to our question about how the Library has impacted your lives. Some are short and simple, like these:
The Library has taught me the invaluable lesson of research and how to learn something new by gathering the books to collect and learn. Whether it be the law, electrical, carpentry, computer knowledge, etc. And of course the simple pleasure of reading a good book.
It’s great to be able to request books and DVDs through the Minuteman Network and have it... Read Post
August 6th 2015
A recent issue of American Libraries featured an article called "Going Beyond Google Again," a sequel to an earlier article exploring the uses of alternatives to general-purpose search engines (e.g., Google and Bing). The more recent article gives urls and descriptions of various free online databases that give you more focused search results than you would get from simply typing keywords into the open maw of Google.
One of the databases profiled, Voice of the Shuttle, is a... Read Post
August 5th 2015
First, the Library has allowed me to break the habit of overbuying books. In the last five years I've learned to ask the Library for a book, and wait, rather than to just buy a book and then have to store it, give it away, or chuck it. The Library always comes through.
Second, the Library takes gifts of books and videos and puts them to good use - in circulation, offered in twice-a-year sales, or to recycling. It's allowed me to slowly cull my book count by at least a bookcase... Read Post