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Engaging Methuen Readers


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Love Letters for the Library

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This February we’re participating in the MBLC (Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners) Love
Letters for Libraries campaign.

At the Reference and Main Desk we have a bunch of different Valentines like this one:

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that you can fill out with what you love about the library. What program have you liked recently? Or do we have a certain Book that you or your kids just can’t get enough of? Tell us.

Or if you want, tell us why you love libraries and then tag/mention us on Facebook or Twitter (@NevinsLibrary1).

There will be a box at the Main Desk where you can drop off your Valentines all the way through Valentine’s Day.

We’ll be collecting all (both offline and online) the responses and not only will they be happily read by us here at Nevins, they’ll be shared with our state officials too. Hopefully helping those on Beacon Hill understand just how much people in Massachusetts love our libraries.

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Database Spotlight Special: Science Online

Who doesn’t want to know more about the world around us? I know I do, and if you’re like me, you like to learn about that world in infographics. That’s why we at the Nevins Library are proud to present Science Online, a new-to-us database whose mission is to teach you about the natural world.

While there are designated student resources here, they tend to focus on how not to cheat or choose insane research project topics like “Is Area 51 Hiding Aliens?” (Yes, I actually did see that at a science fair once. Clearly, the poor child was Science Online-deprived.) Students may find citeable material here, but for the most part, it is authorless and more like a detailed encyclopedia than not. For preliminary research into a topic, however, Science Online can’t be beat. The E-Learning modules focus on general topics and narrow to cover specifics. For example, the E-Learning module covering Global Warming encompasses climate systems, cycles, and trends, each of those containing several of their own subtopics. A navigation menu on the right allows users to skip to the subtopics they need.

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For teachers, the designated curriculum tools have relatively little of use. Helpfully, they will expound upon the importance of STEM education, but one suspects that professional teachers are already aware. The rest of the site is such a gold mine of infographics, experiments and videos that it’s well worth an educator’s time, however. If you go back to the Home page by clicking on its tab, you’ll see that you have the option of opening diagrams through the menu on the right-hand side of the screen, under “Browse Resources.”. Alternatively, you can scroll down until you see a section devoted to diagrams.

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These diagrams, incidentally, are organized in direct alphabetical order. No subheadings here.

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Perchance you may have noticed the issue with this choice of database structure. Instead of scrolling through the two thousand plus diagrams, try using the handy one-line search interface above.

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From anywhere on the site, a search will turn up a page that looks like this one. That means that if you start searching from the Diagrams page, you’re still going to get article, image, and news results. Click on “Experiments & Diagrams” to see the glory that is the amoeba diagram.

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Click and you get a robust interface from which you can download, print, and share the diagram.

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Advanced search options are located in a rollover menu under the “Search Options” tab. (You can also view your search history from there.) Once you get to the advanced search page, prepare to learn about Boolean, because that’s what you’re going to be using.

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This may seem unfair to you, but as we all know, only things that involve great effort are worth doing.

When you navigate back to the home screen, you’ll see that you also have access to videos, virtual experiments, and biographies. (Biographies will be called “Featured People” and will be at the bottom of the page.)

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The reason I like the bios is that they’re organized in an incredibly useful way. At least, for a grade-school teacher who’s laying out a chronological curriculum.

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Yes, those birth and death dates ARE sortable!

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This function also lets you find bios of people who are still alive.

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Incidentally, you can also sort by description, though that’s nowhere near as useful because there’s no list of standard words by which these bios are categorized and, despite the usefulness of the sorting function, no way to filter by descriptive phrase. Ah well. If you think you know what you want in a bio, try Ctrl+F and search the page that way.

That brings us to the point that Science Online is basically a browsing database. It’s meant not as a hyper-focused research machine but as a general resource – small enough to flip through, lean enough that you won’t get bored with a bunch of useless content. A quick look at the Browse tab will verify that this resource is meant to be perused rather than extracted.

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That’s the rollover menu for the Browse tab. Look at all that stuff as compared to what’s available when you try to use the advanced search!

Most of the time, I advocate that the first thing a database user should do upon discovery of a new resource is to learn how to search it. In this case, I recommend the opposite. To get the most out of Science Online, prepare to spend a couple hours and have a vague idea of what you need. You’ll easily browse to the sections you want and quickly and efficiently gain the background you need to move forward.


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The Library, Comic Books, and Punk Rock

 

Punk. Comics. Punk and comics. Punk and comics and angsty teens who are now well-balanced adults who write comics about being angsty punk teens. It’s all kind of a perfect fit. What more needs to be said? Nothing. Go read.

Image of itemPunk Rock Jesus by Sean Murphy

It’s a rocket-fueled ride, an allegory that seems entirely plausible in our hyped-up reality TV world. A huge media corporation clones Jesus from the Shroud of Turin and proceeds to run a live reality TV show around his life. As you might expect, teenaged J2 develops a little bit of an anger issue. Luckily, there are musical ways to take care of anger, and they have been known, on occasion, to change the world.

 

 

Punk Rock and Trailer Parks by Derf Backderf

From the auteur behind My Friend Dahmer comes a nostalgic look at growing up punk. Otto is a Loser. Not just a loser, but a capital-L Loser high school band dork who nobody wants to be around, despite his growth spurt. He lives in a trailer park and gets beaten up by bullies half his size. But that’s all about to change! When he’s exposed to Wendy O., Klaus Nomi, and the Ramones firsthand, Otto will transform from weird kid to punk adult living on the edge of the 1970s music scene.

 

Image of itemBumperhead by Gilbert Hernandez

Coming on the heels of Gilbert Hernandez’s Marble Season, this book follows Bobby as he navigates through – or, rather, floats through – his teenage years. Friendships, relationships, musical styles, and life itself flows on with Bobby riding the current, never plotting his own course or noticing as opportunity passes him by.

 

 

Cut My Hair by Jamie S. Rich

If Catcher in the Rye took place in history, then Holden Caulfield would have been a punk. Mason is another blank slate, but unlike Beto Hernandez’s Bobby, Rich’s protagonist may have a chance to capture something more meaningful: a vision of who he really wants to be. That may involve a sepcial girl, a raucous band, and a punk rock coming of age story.

 

 

Image of itemHopeless Savages by Jen Van Meter

What happens when punks grow up? They move to the suburbs and have kids, of course! But they never, ever abandon their identity. The children of Dirk Hopeless and Nikki Strange grow up, and remain, resolutely punk. (Except Rat, who betrays his family by going corporate. Where did they go wrong?) As they navigate the globe, getting into trouble and living life to the hilt, you’ll know that punk isn’t dead: it’s just grown up!


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Save the Earth…With Your Brain!

Climate change is an enormous issue, so large that it’s overwhelming. What can the average person possibly do to change the status quo? Believe it or not, there are lots of little ways that ordinary people like you and I can affect the environment in a positive way.

Step one is to get educated. There are lots of ways to remove soot from the air, just like there are lots of ways to stop sticking it up there through passive support of a psychopathic suicide system. Because the one thing human beings are better at than fire is innovation and problem-solving creativity! Here are some easy-peasy starter points:

1. Think before you buy

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If you already feel mildly guilty about driving your gas-powered car to work, you’ll hate how much fuel Amazon uses to ship cheap circuitboards and sippy cups. Luckily, the solution is easy: resourceful reuse! These lessons start right at home. Parents with small children may already be aware of some good play solutions from the famous Earth-Friendly Toys by George Pfiffner. (Incidentally, this is also a great resource if you’re trying to get the kids away from their computer and device screens.) Pfiffner has written several other books in the same vein, as has Rhonda Redleaf in Learn and Play the Green Way. Adults who enjoy shopping more than dolls might find that thrifting is a more enviro-friendly option than ordering new-made items. Al Hoff teaches you all his secrets in Thrift Score, and Sandra Donovan teaches you all of hers in her classic how-to Thrift Shopping. If birthdays and holidays in all their disposable glory have got you down, try Mollie’s tips for making decorations for events of all kinds. For the home decor aficionados, try Upcycle by Rebecca Proctor. Of course, the library has dozens of books on upcycling everything from clothing and decor to art and gardening. And remember: just by using the library, you’re reducing your carbon footprint! One less book bought is one less tree cut, rendered, printed, bound, and shipped using fossil fuels.

2. Use refillable water bottles

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Remember, recycling plastic is a process that, in itself, requires tons of carbon fuel. Anyway, why spend a $120 a year on bottled water (assuming you drink one a day and buy the 24-packs) when you can spend $10 on a lasting water bottle once? Lowering your plastic usage is as good for your wallet as for the environment. To start, try Plastic Free by Beth Terry. (She also discusses the social aspects of home environmentalism, and letting go of eco-guilt.) Plastic Purge by Michael SanClements discusses health implications of plastic use, but is also chock-full of great advice on lowering your plastic usage. Of course, if you happen to find yourself with a pile of old bottles around, you could also just make jewelry out of them.

3. Grow things!

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Trees, grass, and even algae are natural air purifiers, and part of their job as part of the ecosystem is to clean carbon out of the atmosphere. That’s why planting extra green things, including home gardens, can be great for the planet as well as for your table. Plus, industrial-scale farming involves tractors, fertilizer trucks, and mass quantities of things that need to be transported to the grocery store in gas-powered vehicles. Growing stuff in your backyard eliminates the need for a lot of that heavy-duty gas-guzzling machinery. Rodale’s Basic Organic Gardening is a great place to start, and Food Grown Right, in Your Backyard by Colin McCrate and Brad Halm, is a good follow-up. If you happen to live in an apartment, you’ve still got options: try The Container Kitchen Garden by Anthony Atha and The Downsized Veggie Garden by Kate Copsey. Not only will the planet thank you, but you’ll get mad props from your friends when you start distributing fresh zucchini by the handful.

There’s one more thing you and your garden could do for the planet: eat less meat. Not no meat, nor even much less meat, but maybe just a couple meatless meals a week. You’d be amazed at the difference it could make. Rely more on plant protein, whether it’s home-grown or store-bought, and you could help reduce climate change mitigation costs by as much as 50%. For vegetarian recipes, try the work of Mollie Katzen, who founded the Moosewood Restaurant, and Crescent Dragonwagon, who just has the best name. The library has literally dozens of vegetarian cookbooks, so stop by and start changing the world today!

 

Also Read:

1130546Global Warming and Climate Change Demystified

by Jerry Silver

 


1609628While Glaciers S
lept: being human in a time of climate change

by M. Jackson

 

 

1104297Green Remodeling: your start toward an eco-friendly home 

by John D. Wagner

 

Also Watch:

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Earth: the sequel

from the Discovery Channel

 

1445369Chasing Ice

directed by Jeff Orlowski

 

1645558Bill Nye’s Global Meltdown

from National Geographic