Archive for April, 2008

Happy Birthday World Wide Web!!!

Today marks the 15th anniversary of the day the Web went public and our lives were forever changed. For more information read this interview with the web’s creator, Tim Berners Lee. For more information on the history of the Web and the Internet, take a look at this great list of sites put together by the Internet Society.

For more in depth reading, see the following books, all available at Guarini Library:

How the Internet works
Preston Gralla 
TK5105.875 .I57 G72423 2007               

Imagining the internet : personalities, predictions, perspectives
Janna Quitney Anderson
HM851 .A63 2005                           

The information revolution : the not-for-dummies guide to the history, technology, and use of the World Wide Web
J.R. Okin
TK5105.875 .I57 O39 2005                   

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Extended Library Hours for Finals

As the dread days of finals loom up, causing even the most stout-hearted a momentary pang of remorse, nay panic, the Library will be open until 11PM from Monday, May 5 through Thursday, May 8.

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Internet Privacy, at Least in New Jersey

Contrary to what many people believe/hope, most transactions on the Internet are not private. From ISPs supplying information to dataminers; to hackers; to employers, individuals’ personal records are open to scrutiny. Therefore, the recent New Jersey Sureme Court decision in State of New Jersey v. Shirley Reid should come as welcome relief. Essentially, the NJ Supreme ruled that the need for a subpoena to access personal records also exists in the virtual world as it does in the material one. And, in more than one instance(p.14 for example), the NJ Supreme Court declares that Article 1, Paragraph 7 of the New Jersey Constitution provides better protection for individual’s internet rights than federal law. We proudly point to the fact that the New Jersey Library Association is listed as an amicus curiae. For additional information on this landmark ruling, you can read the following articles: one from the Associated Press and the other from For additional information look at State Laws Relating to Internet Privacy. For an overview at the federal level, read this CRS report; and for a good FAQ on the topic, go to Privacy and the Internet: Traveling in Cyberspace Safely.

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“Figures often beguile me”

stats.jpg Keeping Mark Twain’s observation in mind(it may found in his Chapters from my Autobiography: Chapter 20), the 2007 edition of the invaluable County and City Data Book has just been published. Being a statistical compilation of demographic and socio-economic statistics gleaned mainly from Census Bureau publications, this work provides insights into the ever-shifting landscape that defines the American populace. It concentrates on counties and cities with populations of 25,000 or more. But fear not, other statistical works are readily available with one click of your mouse: the Statistical Abstract of the United States, a staple of every library’s ready reference collection, published since 1878; the landmark Historical Statistics of the United States from Colonial Times to 1970; and the State and Metropolitan Area Data Book which, as its names implies, focuses on state and metro area statistics.  For a really interactive experience, please use the American Factfinder and find out how far you can drill down into the vast statistical universe that is the Census Bureau. Find out, for example, what languages are spoken in your community, what is the ethnic background of your town, etc. Other sources many be found both in the reference department of the Library as well as on the Library’s homepage under “selected web sites by subject-reference- statistics.” Let the enumerations begin!

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National Library Week

“Libraries drew visits by more than half of Americans (53%) in the past year for all kinds of purposes … And it was the young adults in tech-loving Generation Y(age 18-30) who led the pack.” Such is one of the conclusions from the 2007 Pew report:  Information Searches That Solve Problems. Visit your libraries and enjoy them. Use the resources of the Guarini Library where you have access to over 250,000 books, more than 25,000 journals containing millions of articles, thousands of videos, group study rooms, viewing rooms, and over 150 public access computers. In addition to these riches, consult with your librarians, the true heart of any library, whose expertise ranges from art history through science fiction.

In honor of this special week, we have located additional web sites which feature books from various disciplines. Dime novels captivated the reading public in the second half of the nineteenth century. Their lurid covers and action-packed yarns were instant successes with the reading public, many of whom believed the often-fanciful adventures depicted within. Kit Carson who was unknowingly profiled in these novels, expressed surprise when he saw one: “We found a book in the camp, the first of the kind I had ever seen, in which I was represented as a great hero, slaying Indians by the hundred.” (Kit Carson’s Autobiography. Edited by Milo M Quaife. Chicago: Lakeside Press, 1935, p.135)  As he was illiterate (but spoke English, Spanish, and many Indian tongues) he had one of his companions read the story to him. You can look at some examples of this literature at Dime Novels and Penny Dreadfuls.

While some work has been done on the reading habits on the frontier (Jedediah Smith, the greatest of the mountain men, carried with him a much-read Bible while Jim Bridger thoroughly enjoyed having Shakespeare read to him as he, too, was illiterate) more work has been done with the colonists because more information is extant for many reasons. Look at the American Colonists’ Library to see what the well-educated read. Read eyewitness accounts of early exploration in North America in American Journeys from the Saga of Eric the Red through the journals of Lewis and Clark. Many monographs on the southern United States can be found at Documenting the American South and Online Library of the Southern Campaigns of the Revolutionary War. These are a few of the new web sites that have been added to the Library’s “Selected Web Sites by Subject” section. By using the sites found in the various subject categories, you have access to over 1,000,000 books online. So if you cannot get to the Library or a bookstore, there is still no excuse not to read.

“Reading gives us a place to go when we have to stay where we are.” – Mason Cooley



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African American National Biography

Booker T Washington once wrote “The kind of reading that I have the greatest fondness for is biography.” His reading predilections would surely be satisfied by the recently-arrived eight-volume African American National Biography. Ably edited by Henry Louis Gates and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham whose joint prefatory writing clearly presents the genesis of this work in an historical context, these weighty tomes contain over 4100 entries. Unlike other similar works of collective biography such as the American National Biography or the Dictionary of National Biography(both multi-volume works are available in the Library), this title features both the deceased and the living. So one can read the biography of the late science fiction author Octavia Butler along with her living counterpart Samuel Delaney. The pre-eminent historian John Hope Franklin is profiled as is the “fabulous” Jim Beckwourth, one of the few African Americans identified as a mountain man. Here, too, read about Johnnie Cochran and his most well-known client – O.J. The biographies, averaging a page or two, do a good job of distilling the major life events of each person while providing additional bibliographical references. Volume 8 includes various indexes, among them birthplace(go Brooklyn!), awards, occupations, Congressional service, etc. This is a milestone work.

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Baseball Redux

top_baseball.jpg In a previous post, we had made reference to a Spalding baseball guide. Now the good people at the Library of Congress and the New York Public Library, both bastions of knowledge, have contributed even more to preserving this game’s past. “America’s National Game” from NYPL features over 500 photographs, prints, and illustrations from early baseball player and merchandiser A.G Spalding. Not to be outdone, the Library of Congress has mounted a digital collection of Spalding’s baseball guides along with biographical information on him. While at LC, don’t forget to visit their “Baseball Cards, 1884-1914” site containing images of 2100 cards which are sortable by player, team, league, city, and card set. Now if we can get Pedro back within six weeks, the summer will start to look real good.

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The Pulitzer Prize and Other Book Awards

 Bob Dylan, among others, were presented with Pulitzers on Monday, April 7. The Pulitzers have a long and distinguished history, and have rewarded mostly journalistic writings which is in keeping with the founder of the awards, Joseph Pulitzer, an immigrant from Hungary, a Civil War veteran, a famous newspaper publisher, and a member of Congress.  Online works dealing with Pulitzer are available, as is a profile in The New York Times which also includes excerpts from other papers.  Also, check OSCAR for additional monographs on him. However, the Pulitzers are not the only book awards, far from it. In the Library’s database by title section, you will see Books in Print which has an extensive awards area. We also suscribe to the Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database which allows searchers to limit to award-winning works only. Other useful tools found on the Library’s homepage include the BookWire awards listings as well as the Database of Award-Winning Children’s Literature which allows the searching of 78 separate awards. An outdated but still useful database is Booklist Center which covers a plethora of awards. So if you are assigned a report that requires you to read only certain award-winning books, we have the resources to limit your search and produce useful results.

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Online State Encyclopedias – Tennessee and Wisconsin

In addition to the eleven online state encyclopedias we mentioned previously, we can now welcome the great states of Tennessee and Wisconsin into the digital fold.

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Today in History: The Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King

mlk.jpg Forty years ago today, in the early evening hours, Dr. King, who the previous night had given a spell-binding speech in which he had stated –  “And so I’m happy tonight; I’m not worried about anything; I’m not fearing any man” –  was shot and killed on the balcony of a Memphis, Tennessee motel. As with pivotal moments in one’s life, we can remember where we were when this tragedy occurred.  To re-acquaint ourselves with the man and his ideas/ideals, the following can provide valuable insights into his life and times. A great place to start is with Taylor Branch’s magisterial trilogy: Parting the Waters, Pillar of Fire, and At Canaan’s Edge; all are available in the Library. Also, many of our proprietary databases contain volumes of information on Dr. King. For those who are inclined to surf the ‘net,  we suggest the following:  the BBC, the New York Times and the Atlanta Constitution have extensive reportage; the National Park Service has its own entry on Dr King; some of the FBI’s files on Dr King are available; the Department of Justice report on the assassination released in 2000 may also be perused; and many of Dr King’s writings, speeches, sermons, and portions of his autobiography are available from this Stanford University site.   “God still has a way of wringing good out of evil. And history has proven over and over again that unmerited suffering is redemptive.” –  Dr. Martin Luther King, Eulogy for the Martyred Children

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National Poetry Month

poetry-716522.gif April is National Poetry Month. Besides the THOUSANDS of books the Library has on this subject, there are more than a few sites that might interest you, gentle reader. Did you know that the United States has a Poet Laureate, or more correctly, The Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress who is appointed annually by the Librarian of Congress? Many states, too, have their own poets, New Jersey among them; of course, we had to be different. Find out about our state’s short-lived experiment with poetry here. Some of the more comprehensive sites for poetry are:, containing over 500 authors with selected works arranged by poetic movements and schools;Poetry Archives, holding thousands of “classic”(predating 1900) poems by over 100 authors, among them Queen Elizabeth I no less; Modern American Poetry,  featuring biographies, interviews, critiques, and selected poems; UNESCO’s World Poetry Directory; Representative Poetry Online, featuring 3200 poems by 500 authors from Old English to the present; and an online journal of poetry – EPR(Electronic Poetry Review). Hundreds of essays on poetry can be found at the marvelous Bartleby site along with informative discourses from the highly vaunted Cambridge History of English and American Literature.

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