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Learning at the Library

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Today in History: Gustav Flaubert Is Born 

Our introduction to the 19th century French novel is Madame Bovary, Flaubert's debut novel that focuses on a country doctor's wife who is bored, lives beyond her means, and suffers a scandalous, imperfect marriage. And so begins our love affair with the great classics, in which we read Balzac, de Maupassant, de Musset, Hugo, and …

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Today in History: 13th Amendment Is Ratified 

On December 6, 1865, Abraham Lincoln's Fourth Annual Message to Congress was printed in the Congressional Globe, and the thirteenth amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified by Georgia, the last state necessary to move things forward; months after the end of the Civil War, this signifiant legislation served to abolish slavery, for it …

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Today in History: William Shakespeare Marries Anne Hathaway 

Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments. Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove. O no! it is an ever-fixed mark That looks on tempests and is never shaken; It is the star to every wand'ring bark, Whose worth's unknown, although …

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Today in History: Edison Invents the Phonograph 

From smart machines to wizards, we move to inventors. Some consider Thomas Alva Edison (February 11, 1847- October 18, 1931) to be one of the greatest inventors of all time, for he smartly and prolifically developed technology that greatly influenced our lives. Innovation and invention, research, development, and commercialization became the foundation of the industrial research …

Posted 6 months ago by

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Today in History: Harry Potter Opens 

“Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy Warty Hogwarts, Teach us something please, Whether we be old and bald, Or young with scabby knees, Our heads could do with filling With some interesting stuff, For now they're bare and full of air, Dead flies and bits of fluff, So teach us something worth knowing, Bring us back what we've …

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Today in History: X Rays Are Discovered 

A human body is three dimensional, but an x-ray is two -- allowing us to see inside the human body, including the brain. Today is Election Day -- a day when we exercise our brains and civic duty -- but it is also the anniversary of a major scientific discovery by an eminent German mechanical …

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Today in History: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Is Published 

Why were magazines and newspapers so instrumental in the publication of detective stories? Does the book format elevate popular reading? What educational methods can we adapt from sleuthing? How does our work in libraries fit in? Ever consider the relevance of Sherlock Holmes on Halloween? Care to investigate the paranormal at Teachers College? On October 31, …

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Today in History: Erie Canal Opens 

I've got a mule and her name is Sal/Fifteen Miles on the Erie Canal/She's a good ol' worker and a good ole' pal/Fifteen Miles on the Erie Canal. -- Bruce Springsteen, "Erie Canal" The Boss certainly popularized our understanding of this significant waterway, where low bridges were common and locks were plenty. Men and mules …

Posted 7 months ago by

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Today in History: Guggenheim Museum Opens in NYC 

Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright to house the large contemporary art collection of mining tycoon Solomon Guggenheim, the Guggenheim Museum opened its doors to the awestruck public on October 21, 1959. It was itself considered a work of art, resembling in white concrete a sea shell with a long ramp spiraling up from a large rotunda. …

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Today in History: King Wins Nobel Peace Prize 

On October 14, 1964, Georgian-born Baptist Minister Martin Luther King, Jr. was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent resistance to racial discrimination. Influenced by the philosophies and practices of Mohandas Ghandi, King organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the first of a series of peaceful protests aimed at ending racial segregation. He donated the …

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Today in History: Tribute to Steve Jobs 

Remember your first Apple product? Maybe it was a computer, device for playing and storing audio, touch screen, or phone? Sleek and sexy technology at the cutting edge. Intuitive, fun, delightful, addictive, always changing.  Or... when the library migrated over from the Dells, becoming beautifully populated with bright new Macs? Our fleet was under command …

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Today in History: Elie Wiesel Is Born 

Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent …

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Today in History: Chagall’s Ceiling: Unveiling at the Paris Opera 

Color. Joy. Whimsy. Life. A lyrical poem, marriage of art and music, celebration of light, embrace of vision, dream of humanity, glorious theater. Marc Chagall's stunning masterpiece on the ceiling of the Paris Opera was presented to the public on September 23, 1964 in the presence of thousands of guests. His work, a gift to France, …

Posted 8 months ago by

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Today in History: Constitution Day 

It's a little like a scene from To Kill a Mockingbird – Scout and Jem peering through the bannisters in awe of their father, Atticus, who bravely defended Tom Robinson, a black man accused of rape. But it is the Congress, not the courtroom, decades later, and my brothers and I are in Springfield, Illinois, not …

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Today in History: Labor Day 

Influenced by his father who worked as a bus driver and in other vocations, "Factory" by Bruce Springsteen recognizes the common man and shows, along with his other great songs ("Working on the Highway", "Jack of All Trades"), respect for the rights of the working class. It's not surprising that The Boss performs …

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Today in History: Miss Farmer’s School of Cookery Opens 

Forays into pancakes lead to Fannie Farmer's time-tested tips: when the spoonful of batter in the greased skillet is puffed, full of bubbles, and cooked on the edges, it's ready to flip. A first attempt is premature, landing half of my daughter's chocolate chip pancake on the stove top where it sticks, ungainly, to the …

Posted 9 months ago by

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Today in History: Building the Berlin Wall 

An East European book exchange trip, part of a federal government grant to build our mathematics' education collection, takes us Humboldt University, one of Berlin's oldest universities. It is two years after the Wall's collapse, and we are yet to visit libraries in Romania, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Austria -- countries, like the former East Germany, …

Posted 9 months ago by

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Today in History: Great Expectations Is Fully Published 

On August 3, 1861, the closing chapters, 58-59, of Great Expectations were published in All the Year Round, a literary circular from Charles Dickens, British writer and social critic. Dickens' popular novel tells the tale of an orphan named named Pip who believes he will inherit a fortune. Narrated in the first person and set in …

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Today in History: WW1 Begins 

Did you know that on July 28, 1914 Austria and Hungary declared war on Serbia? For, one month to the day, the assassination in Sarajevo of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian throne, by Gavrilo Princip, a Yugoslav nationalist, had triggered one of the deadliest conflicts in human history. Germany invaded Belgium, Luxembourg, and France; …

Posted 10 months ago by

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Today in History: Monkey Trial Ends 

What is it about the courtroom that lends itself to both theater and education? I note the connections: our foreperson is an actress, on and off Broadway, with a command of audio books; another juror, a TC instructor of English education, specializing in theatrical performance; a third, an acting teacher who conducts workshops throughout the …

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