Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Celestial Objects

I’m no astronomer but when I see the names of galaxies, constellations and other celestial objects, they sound so beautiful I want to rush out, buy a telescope and start star gazing. If you’re like me, you might want to begin your star gazing education with Sky and Telescope magazine which we carry back to 1985. This astronomy magazine includes a star chart for each month, lots of news about observing and exploring the sky, product reviews and a marketplace section in the back where you can not only buy a telescope and a pair of binoculars but also eclipse shades! You never know, these shades could be the next big fashion accessory.

The Sky and Telescope Web site includes observing highlights for the week, lots of blogs about observing, and many articles for beginners such as "How to Start Right in Astronomy" by Alan M. Mac Robert.

While you’re at it, check out the latest version of Google Earth which now includes images of the sky.

Lastly, if you love the mention of Cassiopeia, Andromeda, Perseus and other celestial objects, check out the mythology magazine, Parabola, which the library owns back to 1985. This way you can discover the origin of these beautiful Greek names. Their Web site is at: http://www.parabola.org/

Saturday, August 25, 2007

867-5309...Using a Reverse Directory

Have you ever had a phone number but not a name?

There are two kinds of phone directories, ones with the entries ordered by name alphabetically or by subject and ones with entries ordered by number or by location. These are called "reverse directories" and can be very useful when you want to find the information attached to a number or an address.

The Magazines and Newspapers Center holds two kinds of "reverse directory" reference sources. The first are print resources called the Polk's Directory, 1953-1982, and The Haines Directory, 1976 - Current, and the AT&T Street Addresss Telephone Directory. All of these directories are available at the Center's Reference Desk. These directories are extremely helpful--and sometimes full of surprises-- to genealogical researchers.

The second kind of reverse directory is the Reference USA database where you can enter a ten digit number and perform a search. Reference USA comprises the library's largest telephone reference source and holds over 14 million business numbers and 210 million residential numbers in the United States.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Hawaii Statehood

On August 21, 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the proclamation that welcomed Hawaii as the 50th state of the union. If you want to see how this historic event was reported in the New York Times or even read the actual proclamation:

1. Go to the SFPL Home Page and select Articles & Databases. You will need a San Francisco Public Library card to get into the databases from outside the library.

2. Select the New York Times Historical database.

3. In the Advanced Search mode, enter the keywords Hawaii AND statehood.

4. Select Date range: on this date. Enter 08/22/1959.

5. Here’s a citation for an article:
Hawaii becomes the 50th state; New Flag shown. By W.H. Lawrence. New York Times, August 22, 1959, pg. 1

Here’s an excerpt:

“Hawaii was officially proclaimed as the fiftieth state of the United States today by President Eisenhower at bipartisan White House ceremonies.

The Presidential action was followed immediately by the unfurling of a new fifty-star flag, which will not become official until next July 4. The thirteen alternate red and white stripes remain unchanged, but the stars on a field of blue are arranged in nine alternate staggered rows of six and five stars each.”

Saturday, August 18, 2007


Are you interested in the Bay Area's finest gay-friendly businesses? Want to know how gay architect Mark Brand is making his mark? Have you heard of pink-picks? Where do you find out about same-sex marriage? Interested in equal rights for domestic partners?

Pink magazine was launched in 1990 in New York. Originally named Pink Pages, it was the first magazine and community directory focused for the gay market in Denver, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Published quarterly, Pink has expanded its coverage to include Atlanta and Seattle. It is considered to be one of the largest gay and lesbian community directories in the nation.

Pink’s goal is to provide a variety of resources about travel and culture, fashion and design, and entertainment and health. Aimed at a diverse audience, Pink promises to provide the most sophisticated journalism to the GLBT community.

The Magazines and Newspapers Center has issues of Pink (San Francisco Bay Area edition) dating back to last year.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Home improvements

“I’m interested in construction, but not industrial construction. I want to fix a squeak in the hardwood floors, but I don't want to rebuild the whole house. What magazines would help me?”

Put down the blow torch and come to the Magazines and Newspapers Center at the San Francisco Main Library! Along with trade magazines for the construction industry such as Construction Specifier, Construction Equipment Distribution, Construction Equipment, and others, we also have magazines to help the weekend warrior, the do-it-yourselfer, and the head of the household handyman.

Here are a few titles from our collection:

JLC: the Journal of Light Construction - The articles are detailed, and the magazine has lots of helpful step-by-step pictures. The Magazines and Newspapers Center has copies dating back to 1994.

This Old House - This magazine provides good information and detailed diagrams if you are working with interiors. The Magazines and Newspapers Center has copies dating back to 1995.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

San Francisco Bay Area obituary search services

Obituaries are one of the first documents that researchers will consult to find information about a family's history. Most often published in the deceased's local area newspaper, obtaining obituaries can require a substantial amount of legwork if all of the searches are done "in person".

To help alleviate this burden, many libraries and genealogical societies offer obituary search services. The requirements vary - some are free services, others charge a fee - and often there is an application to fill out in order for the agency to have enough information to attempt a worthwhile search.

Here are some links to a sample of the organizations in the Bay Area that will perform this service:

San Francisco Public Library Magazines and Newspapers Center - Obituaries/Death Notices

Oakland Public Library - Family History and Genealogy Resources

Alameda County Library - Frequently Asked Reference Questions

San Mateo County Genealogical Society (information available through Research Sevices link)

Santa Clara County Library - Obituary Searches

System Reference Center (BALIS/PLS/SVLS) - Fee Services

Marin County Library - Ask Us a Question

Contra Costa County Library - Obituary Request Form

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

International Gymnast

The 2007 USA Gymnastics National Championships (2007 Visa Championships) will be held in San Jose, California on August 15-18. The 2007-08 U.S. National Team for women’s and men’s artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, and acrobatic gymnastics will be named at the conclusion of the competition.

International Gymnast magazine provides insight into the gymnastics world. Nadia Comaneci and Bart Conner are currently associated with the magazine as contributing editor and associate publisher. This glossy, informative, and comprehensive publication covers the national and international gymnastics scene. Each issue has numerous exquisite color stop-action photographs; in-depth articles on competitions; profiles and interviews of gymnasts and coaches; and a calendar of events. A centerfold color poster of a gymnast in action is included in every issue.

The Magazines and Newspapers Center has issues of the magazine from 1972 to the present.

Friday, August 3, 2007


Clipart courtesy FCIT

Did you know the month of August was named after a Roman emperor? Did you also know the word “august” can be an adjective meaning to inspire awe, admiration, and majesty? To discover how the word “august” has evolved over the centuries, check out the online version of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), an authoritative and historical dictionary on the English language over the last millennium:

1. Go to the SFPL Home Page and click on Articles & Databases. You will need a San Francisco Public Library card to get into the databases from outside the Library.

2. Under the Categories side bar heading on the left, click “Encyclopedias and Dictionaries,” then click on the Oxford English Dictionary.

3. In the search box, enter “august” and click “Find Word.”

4. Click on any of the links to access the noun, adjective, or verb definitions of the word “august.”

With the online version of the OED, you can explore the pronunciation of over half a million words from the past and present, examine how a particular word was used in history and literature over a specific time period, trace its linguistic origin, and see how its spelling and usage has evolved over time.