November 2009


As we approach the end of semester crunch, many students will be spending lots of time in the library working on research papers and studying. They’ll need coffee, lots of coffee, to fuel themselves and will likely consider printing reams of electronic documents as part of their research. Whether you’re a student or not, here are two easy ways to set a good example and  reduce your carbon footprint, while still getting your caffeine quota:

Bring a mug: How many cups of coffee do you buy a day? A week? A month? You probably assumed that paper coffee cups are recyclable. Unfortunately, they’re not, due to the plastic coating that keeps your hot beverage from disintegrating the paper fiber. Bringing an insulated mug means saving all those cups – plus the accompanying plastic lids and paper sleeves.

Use RefWorks: How often do you print or copy an interesting article or website that does not have immediate relevance, but that you want to be sure to read later? Then you forget about it or it gets lost in the clutter – you know it’s there somewhere, but you have to discover and print it all over again. Use RefWorks instead! It will save you time and keep all your references neatly organized – without wasting paper. Find out more at http://libraries.stjohns.edu/refworks.

A small change can make a big difference, so why not green the place up while you get your work done!

Although Christmas ads have been running for much longer that I think should be permissible, the Christmas season is finally upon us. It is not Christmastime in my world until Santa rolls down 5th Avenue after all those big balloons. A season of generosity and kindness. In these challenging economic times perhaps it is not so easy for us all to be financially generous but it costs us nothing to be kind.

This past Tuesday I was invited to give a presentation to the Wantagh Preservation Society on Long Island. My grandfather liked to use the expression “it went off without a hitch.” Well, this presentation went off but with every available hitch, if that is possible. In other words, the presentation turned out fine in the end but everything that could go wrong on along the way did.

First I lost my USB flash drive with the presentation on it. Lovely. I had to get another one, load the presentation onto it, and race to the library where my presentation was scheduled to take place.

Then my laptop wouldn’t let me login. Yes, that was a spectacular display of panic. Fortunately though, the father of a dear friend of mine works at the library where I was freaking out. He made a quick phone call and my friend was on her way with her laptop.

When my presentation was complete, I went home to find a nice email from a St. John’s student who found my USB flash drive in the school’s parking lot; my contact information was in a document on the flash drive. This very thoughtful, considerate human being brought my flash drive back to me this morning.

With all the kindness that surrounds me, I’d like to use this last blog entry opportunity to promote a little more.  St. John’s offers many opportunities for us to help those in need. One small way you can help is to donate non-perishable food item to our library from now until Sunday, December 13. In exchange for you donation, we will waive an outstanding library fine that you may have. You do not have to have a fine to participate in the Food for Fines program. Help a friend. Bail a professor out. Just give to help those in need. http://libraries.stjohns.edu/pdf/food%20for%20fines%20flyer%20fall%202009.pdf

Perhaps though, you looking for something bigger to do to make a positive difference in the world; a place to volunteer your time and skills or an employment opportunities at non-profit organization. I highly recommend checking out http://www.idealist.org ; a project put forth by a project Action Without Borders, a nonprofit, apolitical, organization working to connect people, organizations, and resources to build a world where all people can lead free and dignified lives.

I’d like to thank the LiBlog Committee for inviting me to be the first Guest Blogger in the Guest Blogger of the Month Series. I had a wonderful time sharing my interests and favorite resources on LiBlog. Thank you all for reading and I wish you all a very healthy and happy holiday season.

If you are going to be on campus, and scurrying to get some end-of-the-semesterresearch done over the break, please note the Thanksgiving break hours at your Campus Library:

QUEENS hours for Thanksgiving Holiday
 

Extended overnight hours (1st floor) for Tuesday (Nov. 24) night end at 8:30am on Wed Nov. 25 

  • Wed. Nov. 25  — 8:30am – 1:00pm    – note that there are no overnight hours on Wed. night – the library building closes at 1:00
  • Thu.  Nov. 26  – Thanksgiving Day — CLOSED
  • Fri.  Nov. 27  – 10:00am – 6:00pm 

Extended overnigth hours on the 1st floor resume at 6:00pm on Friday evening, Nov. 27.

Of course, our electronic databases, electronic “netlibrary” books and e-reserves are accessible all the time, and help is available through the AskUs service!

People often assume that because I work in a library I must be an avid reader. I am really not. I read about 12 books a year. Instead of reading, I prefer to use my leisure time painting, traveling, and researching. I like gathering facts and keeping them in order; that is what really draws me to the library. But I do read!! Of course I read!

If you asked most people what their favorite books are, I speculate that the replies would be novels or favorite childhood storybooks. Me, I’m drawn more to biographies, memoirs, non-fiction, and historical fiction; books that contain some factual information.

My favorite book is The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim DeFede.

I picked the book up back in 2003 because of the last word in the title, Newfoundland. You don’t often hear much about the small island province of Canada but it was the birthplace of my great-grandfather, Abram Thomas Earle; so this title jumped out at me.

At the point at which I picked this book up in 2003, I had my fill of hearing about 9/11. It was a horrible day that I did not want to be reminded of again and again. I had enough of watching collapsing buildings, pointing fingers, seeking vengeance, hearing conspiracy theories, sending soldiers overseas, and most of all mourning. I was sick and tired of being sad. Actually, though, this book really lifted my spirits and gave me a different perspective on the world and that awful, awful day.

When we talk about 9/11/2001, we usually talk about New York, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pa. However, the events that transpired that day effected the world. And sure, we saw that on the news; countries around the world mourning the victims of the terrorist attacks but I didn’t think much about it. I thought a lot about those traveler who lost their lives aboard those four flights that day, and rightly so. I didn’t give that much thought, though, to the other 4,546 civilian aircrafts over the U.S. that day or the nearly 400 others international flights en route to the U.S.; not until I read this book.

On September 11, 2001 over 250 flights were grounded at various airports throughout Canada. Thirty-eight of the flight landed in Gander, Newfoundland carrying 6,595 passenger and crew members. Gander, one of the larger cities in Newfoundland, has a population of about 10,000 residents. Ten thousand residents who opened their community centers, places of worship and homes to the 6,000 + wayward travelers.

This book tells the story of some of the passengers and residents and their experiences during those few days in September 2001 when nobody flew. It gave me an a perspective on the culture from which my great-grandfather came; one that gave me a little understand as to where his generosity, consistent support, and good-natured humor may have originated. But more than anything else, this book reaffirmed for me that the goodness of humankind still existed at a time when I had serious doubts.

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Abram Thomas Earle and son, Allen Preston Earle, taken Thanksgiving 1917 – Freeport, NY

A photo of Gander Airport on September 11, 2001. (Thanks, Ben! -April)

When I say 90′s technology I am not talking about the move from floppy disc to CD-Roms, I am talking about the cutting edge technology that was employed in 1890 to create the Eleventh Census of the United States. With the influx of literally millions of immigrants in the late 1800s, there was a need to advance the way in which census data was collected. The 1880 census took nearly 8 years to tabulate. The more people living here the more time it would take census collectors to walk door to door collecting the names, ages, and occupations of those living in the country, and the more time it would take to count it all up. Something had to be done.

A young man named Herman Hollerith brought the automation of a punch card system to the 1890 census when he invented the first Hollerith Electrical Census Counting Machine. And honestly, the elaborate wooden cabinet with its dials and levers was a pretty advanced invention. Here is an article, by Mark Howells, all about how it functioned which originally appeared in the March/April 200 issue of Ancestry Magazine: http://www.oz.net/~markhow/writing/holl.htm

But unfortunately you will not be able to check out the results of Mr. Hollerith’s invention. No, the 1890 census no longer exists. Many U.S. genealogy researchers will tell you that it perished in a fire. Well, not really, only a portion of it was lost in a fire; approximately 25%. Another 50% suffered smoke and water damage. So where is the other 25% – oh, the Library of Congress destroyed it in the 1935.You can read more about it here: http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/1996/spring/1890-census-1.html , http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/1996/spring/1890-census-2.html

Are you shocked and dismayed? Don’t be. The destruction of Government Documents happens everyday. More shock and dismay?? Oh, stop it. Of course they got rid of it. The census had served its purpose and its remnants were not in good condition. The census is taken to determine the proportional distribution of the seats in the House Representatives to the states based on their populations. It just happens to be a an excellent genealogical research tool after the fact but that is not its intention.

You can’t even see the census data from individual respondents as a research tool until it is 72 years old. That is done to protect the personal information of U.S. citizens. The 1940 census will not be available until April of 2012. The aggregate data regarding the population is made available as soon as it is tabulated; but an individuals data takes a wait.

Every census from 1790 to 1930, except for the 1890 census of course, is available at no cost from Nation Archives facilities and many libraries through online resources. If you want to find out how you can access these records for free, this web page from the National Archives is a good place to start.: http://www.archives.gov/genealogy/census/research.html

And this you want to know how to get started, I highly recommend reading this web page: http://www.1930census.com/census_101.php

But if you want to look at the 1890 census, again, you’re out of luck.

Genealogy is currently one of the most popular hobbies in the Unites States and one that I have dabbled in for the last 20 years. Even if you have no interest in genealogy, you are probably aware of Ancestry.com; the world’s largest online resource for family history. With nearly 4 billion historical records, it provides a wealth of resources for those interested in research their lineage here and abroad.

However, it is not the end-all-be-all of genealogy resources. And it is most certainly not my favorite resource. Oh no no no, not by far.

Genealogy resources exist in every town, county, and hamlet in the world. Anyone interested in conducting any real, in-depth, genealogical research is going to need to contact municipal agencies, places of worship, cemeteries, historical societies, public libraries with local history collections, etc.

My favorite web sites are genealogy resources; the German Genealogy Group and the Italian Genealogical Group. The two groups have worked together to make important records available to all members of the genealogy community. One example of an important database they created is the New York City Death Records, 1891-1948 database. And this is just one of many databases of New York City Vital records they have online.

Over 12 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island to make this country their home. Many of them resided in New York City for at least a brief time. Whether their descendants stayed right here in the City of New York or up and moved to far off locations, they now have access to these indexes from anywhere in the world FOR FREE because of these two genealogy groups!

Granted, copies of the actual death certificates would need to be obtained online through the New York City Municipal Archives for a current fee of $17 each but access to the indexes is FREE and can be just as helpful as the actual documents.

I <3 the GGG and IGG.

icann_meeting_sel_logoBig news out of ICANN’s recent meeting in Korea, as the ICANN  (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) board approved a process for registering new Internationalized Domain Names using the “Fast Track Process.”   Currently, international countries use Latin characters for country domain extensions  (like .jp for Japan, or .kr for the Republic of  Korea) , the new process  “allow nations and territories to apply for Internet extensions reflecting their name – and made up of characters from their national language.”   Rod Beckstrom, ICANN’s President and CEO explains the historic  step this way:  

“This is only the first step, but it is an incredibly big one and an historic move toward the internationalization of the Internet …The first countries that participate will not only be providing valuable information of the operation of IDNs in the domain name system, they are also going to help to bring the first of billions more people online – people who never use Roman characters in their daily lives.”

Although this is just the start of a launch for numerous IDNs, this “first step”  comes at the end of  at least seven years of  research, development and tests conducted by volunteers and ICANN professionals, under the guidance of  ICANN’s  Senior Director of IDNs, Tina Dam.

A neat video explains the importance of this historic decision for ICT literacy and greater access to information around the world;  of course such changes will also have an impact on web-security and web-developers , among others.  Check out the ICANN blog, website, meeting proceedings and the IDN fast-track page for more information

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