Friday, December 26, 2008

Finding Good, Inexpensive Wines

There are many tricks to finding a good wine. If you find that you enjoy wine writing "almost" as much as wine drinking, one way to achieve this is to follow a critic whose preferred tastes seem to go along with your own. The Library has many titles for you to explore including the California Grapevine, Decanter, Wine Advocate, Wine & Spirits, Wine Enthusiast, and Wine Spectator.

Each of these will have ratings and point systems, often for some pretty pricey wine. They will also occasionally have reviews on "best buy" wines, but there is one publication, Wine Discoveries, that should appeal to folks who want to read about wine that won't be breaking the bank. Started in El Cerrito in 1977, Wine Discoveries described itself as "the guide to exceptional wines under four dollars" (now the price limit is "...under eight dollars"). This newsletter provides concise reviews of generally recommended reds and whites and then often has two special sections that concentrate on a specific varietal or region. Each entry has tasting notes, a range of prices that the wines have been offered for, and (especially helpful) at which Bay Area vendor/s the wine can be found.

For a thought-provoking article regarding the quality of wines along the price gradient, check out Dan Berger's "Wine Ancient and Modern" in the Commentary section of the October-November 2008 issue of California Grapevine. His conclusion that some "Tuesday" night (read: cheaper) wines are often more structurally sound than many of the higher price offerings may intrigue you.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Online Life Photo Archive

In a previous post, we highlighted some magazines whose covers you can peruse and view directly on the Web. According to a recent New York Times article, Google's Image Search acquired over 10 million photos from Life Magazine--a searchable treasure trove for the connoisseur of quality photojournalism.

Life Magazine, noted for its chronicling of diverse aspects of American life, provides a nice pastiche of aesthetic and stunning photographs from all walks of life. In this online archive--enhanced with Google's image search technology--you can now search for images of people, places, and events from America's past.

According to Google's description:

"Search millions of photographs from the LIFE photo archive, stretching from the 1750s to today. Most were never published and are now available for the first time through the joint work of LIFE and Google."

To read this article from the New York Times or to explore old issues of Life Magazine, feel free to drop by the Magazines & Newspapers Center, and we'll be happy to help you get your hands on the physical copies of these periodicals.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Our Universal Human Rights

Photo courtesy of San Francisco History Center, San Franciso Public Library

Did you know you have the right to live a life of leisure, participate in the cultural life of your community, and not be subjected to torture, cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment? On December 10, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted what is known today as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document written in 337 languages outlining basic rights to which every human being is entitled.

If you are curious about the historical context in which this document was written, the participants involved with its creation, and additional information, try exploring the History Resource Center: World by following these instructions:

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

2. Under the Categories side bar on the left, select "History & Genealogy" then “History Resource Center: World.”

3. In the basic search box, enter "universal human rights."

4. The first result, an article from the DISCovering World History, provides an overview of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its impact on the world.

The History Resource Center: World, an online global collection of human history, covers over 4,900 years of the past. This database incorporates "secondary sources, primary sources, and full-text articles from academic journals and periodicals from around the world."

Furthermore, in light of the controversial social debates surrounding Proposition 8 on banning same-sex marriages, be sure to check out Geoff Callan's recent award-winning documentary "Pursuit of Equality."

Finally, in honor of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Center at the Main Branch of the San Francisco Public Library currently has an exhibit commemorating the 60th anniversary of this momentous and historical declaration.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Discover Hidden Magazines with Encore

Have you ever wanted to find magazines on a particular topic like fashion, home improvement, photography, or travel, but didn't have a clue on any of their titles? Maybe you just wanted to browse through a list of magazines on a specific topic, but wasn’t quite sure how to do this.

Enter EncoreSan Francisco Public Library’s new catalog discovery tool—to help you with such a question. You will find a search box on the home page that looks something like this:

Enter a search term like cars into the green box where it says “Explore the Catalog.” Although you will initially receive over 1000 hits, notice the “Refine by” side bar:

Under the subheading “Format,” click on to see more formats. Click “Magazine-Live,” and you'll pull up a list of current magazine titles related to cars.

Steer over to the right side of the screen, and you’ll see a box labeled “Refine by Tag”:

Here you can sharpen your search by exploring different tags. Click on [Show more tags] and you'll see a tag cloud of related terms that can enhance your search. For instance, here are some additional tags you might consider using--"antique and classic cars," "sports cars," "used cars," and so forth.

And there you have it. Give Encore a spin and uncover hidden magazines you may not even have known existed in our collection.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Use Those Leftovers

Whether you are a cooking enthusiast or a reluctant home cook, there is something daunting about being faced with a fridge full of leftovers. With the holiday season officially under way, it's time to mentally prepare ourselves for the full onslaught of extra food that needs to be revitalized or face the compost pile. Before you reach for the green bin, perhaps all you need is a little inspiration. Here at the Magazines and Newspapers Center, we have a number of titles that may help you see the potential in those yams from a few nights ago.

A longstanding favorite of foodies everywhere, Gourmet is equal parts gastronomical fantasy and practical tips. The magazine contains a blend of super close-up photos of world-class foods, features about the culture surrounding food, drool-inducing reviews of restaurants around the world, and, perhaps most importantly, practical how-to advice for home cooks. Come for a shot of inspiration and stay for the not-too-fancy and surprisingly manageable recipes.

If your tastes are more Kraft Single than Camembert, or if dinner is not the highlight of your day but rather a quick chore between soccer practice and piano lessons, then Every Day with Rachel Ray may be just the magazine for you. Ray, who has built a media empire based on cooking homemade meals on the cheap using a blend of fresh and prepared foods, has attached her name and her philosophy to a bimonthly magazine. Every Day with Rachel Ray is devoted to inspire those who may otherwise rely on takeout to try some quick and easy weekday recipes at home. Emphasis is placed on meals that take around half an hour to prepare and can be assembled inexpensively with ingredients regularly found at supermarkets.

If you appreciate a scientific approach to cooking, then maybe you'll find Cook's Illustrated appealing. The recipes, equipment reviews, and technique features are as precise as lab reports, which isn't surprising considering that the magazine comes out of the popular public television program America's Test Kitchen. Read a couple of issues of this title, and you may just have a bit more confidence approaching the contents of your fridge.

If none of these titles appeal to you, we have a couple dozen more that may be more to your taste. To get a full listing of cooking magazines at the San Francisco Public Library, follow these steps:
  1. Go to our home page.

  2. Click on "More" under the catalog search box.

  3. Choose subject from the drop-down menu.

  4. Type "cookery periodicals."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thanksgiving Family Reading

With Thanksgiving arriving just around the corner, the holidays are sure to sneak up on us without warning as we approach the end of 2008. Last year, we posted an entry about KidsInfo--an electronic resource for beginning researchers containing articles and reference content written specifically for children from kindergarten to 5th grade.

This year, we'll explore reading activities in which you and your children can explore through our NoveList K-8 database--a resource that provides book titles for elementary and middle-school aged children. To access this database:

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

2. Under the Categories side bar on the left, select “Student Resources” then select, “NoveList K-8.” Once you've accessed the database, you should see a search screen that looks like this:

Notice that you can check off boxes underneath the search box to limit titles to a specific age group. Go ahead and check off "Younger Kids," enter "Thanksgiving" into the search box, and run the search. You should now see a list of book titles:

From the drop-down "Sort by" menu, you can re-order your list by author, date, popularity, and more. The left-hand "Narrow Results by" column allows you to explore other subject headings where you can refine your search. The tabs along the top lead to links on award-winning books, curricular materials, and other recommended books. You can click the "Check the San Francisco Public Library Catalog" link at the bottom to see whether or not the library actually owns the book for which you are searching.

Finally, if you want to indulge in some of your own personal reading interests, a while back, we highlighted the Novelist database in a separate post. So this Thanksgiving, sit back, enjoy a hearty meal with family and friends, and enjoy the pleasures of reading over the holiday.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Cast On at the Magazines & Newspapers Center

Are you interested in showering your friends and family with homemade gifts? Does your love for scarves and mittens put a strain on your accessories budget? Do you long to do something with your hands?

There are as many resources for knitters as there are reasons to take up knitting. San Francisco Public Library has hundreds of books on the subject and even hosts the occasional knitting group here at the Main and in several branches. The Magazines and Newspapers Center, for our part, subscribes to some magazines for knitters of all levels, including these titles:

Knitter's is a huge, quarterly journal packed with detailed patterns and insightful and inspirational commentary. Look here for vivid instructions for projects of various levels of difficulty, each with color photos, color suggestions, and patterns. There's also an indispensable illustrated stitch glossary at the back of each issue if your purl technique is a little rusty. We have issues going back to 1984--enough ideas for a lifetime of knitting.

Interweave Knits
is another quarterly magazine that features, alongside some patterns and projects, plenty of features written to inspire. These ruminations may cause beginners' eyes to glaze over, but more seasoned knitters will appreciate articles that explore techniques rather than specific projects. That said, there is plenty of practical instruction to be found in this title -- tips about color, profiles of movers and shakers in the knitting world, book reviews and, of course, some instructions for specific projects. If you're ready to get really creative, this is the magazine for you.

If you thought knitting was all about fuzzy mittens and legwarmers (not that there's anything wrong with mittens and legwarmers), you may be surprised to learn that Vogue, the authority for all things high fashion, puts out three issues of Vogue Knitting International every year. You can expect the same standards here as you see in Vogue proper: edgy design, careful vetting of designs to match the trends of the season, and carefully composed photos. Instructions are included for all of the designs in this title. If it's cool to wear the latest fashions, it's twice as cool to make them!

If knitting's just not your thing, we have plenty of other titles to help you explore your creative side, and, as always, we at the Magazines and Newspapers Center are happy to help you match your interests to titles in our collection.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

After the SF Election 2008

In a previous post "Follow the Election 2008," we presented some periodicals that could help you make informed decisions on propositions, measures, elected officials, and other topics of political interest and intrigue. Now that the election polls have closed, commercials have gone off the air, flyers have stopped cramming your mailboxes, and the verbal mudslinging has ceased, you may have forgotten what you voted for.

Let's turn our attention to the San Francisco measures. Perhaps you forgot which propositions had recently passed and you already tossed out your voter booklet. Maybe you're curious about how many people voted for or against a San Francisco proposition. Or you just absolutely forgot what exactly the propositions were proposing. If any of these apply, check out the San Francisco Ballot Propositions Database.

If you remember the proposition title, number, or letter, enter in that information. If not, you can always enter a year and/or month to pull up a list of propositions for that time frame. (See below):

Let's try an example:

1. Go to the SFPL Home Page and select “SFPL-Created Research Tools.”

2. Under the “San Francisco Resources” category, select SF Ballot Propositions Database.”

3. Enter "2008" into the year box to pull up a list of recent San Francisco propositions.

You will see a table identifying the various propositions and their outcomes. Clicking on the ID number next to each proposition will retrieve more detailed information on the proposition summarizing the measure and its percentage of votes for and against the proposition.

Even better, if you want to access the original text of the proposition, click on "View the Voter Pamphlet" to pull up a PDF file.

The San Francisco Ballot Propositions Database, a repository of most (a few years are missing) ballot propositions dating back to 1907, contains complete proposition titles, summaries, vote counts, breakdown of vote counts (pass and fail), and more. The exact count of vote counts for the November 2008 election will be forthcoming once the results are finalized.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Want great bargains? Perfect gifts? Savings on practically everything? Then read ShopSmart!

Something new has landed on the Magazines & Newspapers Center shelf at the San Francisco Public Library. Its name is ShopSmart. A quick & easy unbiased guide published quarterly by Consumer Reports, strongly adhering to the motto, “No Hype + No Ads + Just Great Buys,” this magazine presents facts and advice based on expert research thoroughly tested by the Consumer Reports National Research Center.

ShopSmart offer its readers news, list of dos & don’ts, new ideas, and the truth on all kinds of products and services that will help you make sound decisions and smart choices. Although geared primarily towards a female audience, males will also benefit from this easy-to-read, colorful descriptive buying guide, especially information on electronics, autos, home and yard products.

The magazine’s editor notes that “along with recommending what readers should buy, ShopSmart also suggests what they not buy,” which is unusual for most shopping magazines. You will learn the best companies to buy from and who really deserves your dollars. Hopefully in return, you will have acquired the “best for less.”

Special features include the following:

  • products and buying secrets

  • safety alerts

  • recalls and tips

  • causes & effects of purse-smart savvy regarding choosing the right charities for donations and contributions

  • gasoline savings

  • easy clutter solutions

  • great holiday shopping sites

  • and more
Readers will also appreciate buying guide recommendations on food takeouts, wine selection at a savings, traveling tips, back-to-school-buys for the family, and the inside scoop on health & fitness.

So ShopSmart readers, get ready to “Shop-till-you-drop!"

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Humor in Politics?

On Saturday, November 1, 2008, the Herb Caen Magazines and Newspapers Center will present a program on the political humor of political cartoonist Khalil Bendib. Meet political cartoonist Khalil Bendib and explore hot-button issues of war, race-relations and immigration. Mr. Bendib will perform an amusing one-act monologue, present a cartoon slideshow and discuss the role of the media in politics.

Khalil Bendib is an award-winning, Berkeley-based political cartoonist and author of Mission Accomplished: Wicked Cartoons by America’s Most Wanted Cartoonist. His cartoons are distributed to over 1,700 small and mid-sized newspapers across the United States as well as alternative media outlets outside of the mainstream corporate media. His work has been published in USA Today, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and San Francisco Chronicle.

A book signing will follow the event. This program is supported by the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library.

- Address: 100 Larkin St. (at Grove)
- Location: Main Library, Latino/Hispanic Community Room
- Event Date and Time: Saturday, November 1, 2008 (11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Opera Titles in Season

The San Francisco Public Library is currently hosting the San Francisco Opera Guild's 2008-2009 Opera Preview Lecture Series. If you wish to explore the opera world in greater detail through interviews with performers, reviews of productions and opera recordings, calendar listings of festivals, look no further. The Magazines and Newspapers Center offers a selection of international opera magazines for the opera enthusiast. In the pages of the following magazines, you will find articles on various nuances of the opera world.

And with the recent world premiere of San Francisco Opera's production of Amy Tan's The Bonesetter's Daughter, be sure to check out the San Francisco Public Library's On the Same Page book club in November.

The National Opera Association (NOA) newsletter provides information on conventions, workshops, and various NOA opera competitions. Highlights regional news and member institutions and promotes a greater appreciation of opera and musical theatre.

OPERA (London)
Founded by the Earl of Harewood and now in its 58th year of distinguished publication, OPERA offers CD and DVD reviews, feature articles, profiles of opera people, events coverage, UK and international stage and production commentary, and current season highlights and criticism.

This Toronto publication, the only Canadian periodical devoted exclusively to opera, features Canadian opera artist interviews and articles on new productions. Profiles Canadian opera companies. Incorporates special reports from Paris and Montreal, a calendar of Canadian and international stage performance listings, and opera reviews. Includes the CBC Radio Two "Saturday Afternoon at the Opera" radio broadcasts schedule.

This French language title focuses on interviews from the world of opera: conductors, directors, singers, costume designers, musicians, technicians, and choreographers. In its third year of publication, Opera Magazine covers major opera productions worldwide, festivals, upcoming performances, and opera CD and DVD reviews.

Published by the Metropolitan Opera Guild, with special coverage on the Metropolitan Opera company, this magazine features comprehensive reviews of North American and international productions, recordings, videos, and books. Includes interviews, obituaries, and a calendar of major events. During the Metropolitan Opera’s Saturday matinee radio broadcast season, Opera News highlights upcoming broadcasts.

Covers opera news, world premieres, recitals, and festivals. Includes reviews of books and recordings. Features interviews with singers, conductors, and production staff. Includes a comprehensive guide to worldwide festivals and international opera performances.

A quarterly French journal of the Academie Nationale de l'Operette (ANAO) covering a wide breadth of musical theatre, including musical comedy, operetta, musicals, and comic operas. Features opera news, previews, interviews, ANAO programs, festival descriptions, and a special feature-of-the-month.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Researching with RSS Feeds

On Monday, October 20, 2008 at noon, the Magazines and Newspapers Center will offer a workshop on RSS Feeds--"Using RSS Feeds for Real-Time Research on the Web."

What are RSS feeds and how can they help you access the latest, cutting-edge news and dynamically shifting information on the Web? In this workshop, learn how to harness this increasingly popular technology to monitor your favorite news sources, Web sites, blogs, and podcasts.

- Address: 100 Larkin St. (at Grove)
- Location: Main Library, Latino/Hispanic Community Room
- Event Date and Time: Monday, October 20, 2008 (noon to 1 p.m.)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Use NoveList to Pick Your Next Read

I'd like to let you in on a secret. A confession, if you will. You know how you can tell a librarian the last book or two that you read, and, based on that, the librarian can suggest another book or two that you'll probably like? (If you don't, you should give it a try -- it's impressive!) Well, as much as we'd like everyone to believe that we've read every book in the library, that would be impossible. As in just about everything else we do, librarians rely on a combination of our own knowledge and a reliable set of tools to make book recommendations.

We here in the Magazines and Newspaper Center mostly leave book recommendations to the experts in other departments in the library, but we do feel strongly about connecting people with the things they like to read. That's why we're spilling the beans and sharing the treasure-trove of book and author information known as NoveList.

The beauty of NoveList starts with a huge database of records for popular fiction books. Each record has the usual parts-- author, title, publication information, ISBN -- but also book reviews, a link that will automatically search our library catalog to see if we have any copies of the books, and, most importantly, a long list of subject headings.

NoveList uses a bunch of these subject headings (if you're not fluent in librarianese, think of subject headings as tags) so that each book has a pretty specific profile. Here's where the magic happens: NoveList will, at your request, try to match the dozen or so subject headings that a book will generally have with others, and deliver to you a list of other books with a similar group of subjects. You can also choose to exclude certain subjects in the search. That means that if you like Gone with the Wind, but don't care much for the Southern setting, you can choose to exclude that but still retain books that are similar in other ways.

There are plenty of other useful features to this database, including author biographies, recommended titles, guides for book group discussion, and "read-alikes," which are staff-generated lists of books that appeal to similar tastes.

While we work on reading our way through the collection, you should check out NoveList. To access the database, visit our Articles and Databases page and scroll down a bit -- it's in the Literature and Books category. You'll see two versions of NoveList, one for adults and one for kids and teens. If you're not in the library, the database will prompt you to enter your library card number. Once you're in, get ready to discover more books than you'll ever be able to read.

And don't forget that this weekend Litquake launches its 7th annual literary festival with its "Off the Richter Scales" readings to be held in the Koret Auditorium at the San Francisco Public Library.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Nature, Science, and Wildlife Conservation

Northern Californians can revel in a renewed sense of pride in our region's devotion to nature, science, and wildlife conservation this weekend when the reborn California Academy of Sciences opens the doors to its new home in Golden Gate Park. And while people will wait hours in line to take advantage of the free admission on opening day, here at the Magazines and Newspapers Center you can get a free fix of Nature, Science, and Wildlife Conservation any time the library's open.

Nature is a stalwart weekly science journal that publishes original research from a broad range of disciplines. You can look here for research-paper-quality articles, rigorously reviewed, with plenty of footnotes provided. About half of this journal is dedicated to research papers, the other half to news and opinion pieces, which make for interesting reading for anyone with even a passing interest in science. We have a full run of Nature, going back to 1869 [!], in this case available in paper. If you'd like to look at really old issues, give us a call at 415-557-4400 and let us know in advance so we can retrieve them from remote storage before you come in.

Science is the publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and is considered to be one of the most prestigious multidisciplinary science journals in the world. Published weekly since 1880 (we have issues going back to 1883), Science consistently publishes original research from some of the most important names in science. This is heavy-duty stuff: Look here for footnotes, peer-reviewed articles, and technical charts and diagrams. The writers don't pull any punches with their use of technical language, so a reader should have either some scientific knowledge or some reference books handy. (Don't worry, we have a bunch of encyclopedias at the library.) This is highly respectable writing, and an excellent place to look for authoritative new scientific research and fodder for research reports.

Wildlife Conservation stands apart from the rest of this bunch for a couple of reasons: First, it focuses on one facet (albeit a huge facet) of science; and, it is written by journalists rather than researchers. These differences mean that, though the content may be less groundbreaking and authoritative, it's probably more interesting for people without much knowledge of scientific language. In other words, the Kermit the Frog quote from the August 2008 issue probably wouldn't cut muster at Science or Nature, but it's welcome here. Look in Wildlife Conservation for thoughtful features about animals that are facing difficulties in the modern world, and for some positive coverage of efforts to save those species from disappearing. Wildlife Conservation comes out once a month, and you can find the current issue on display in the reading room. Back issues are available upon request from the friendly pages at the Fifth Floor page desk.

A little knowledge about the world around you can make your trip to the California Academy of Sciences, to the beach, or to the forest that much more interesting, and we here at the Magazines and Newspapers Center have plenty of magazines to help you get up to speed on important issues of nature, science, and wildlife.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Library Program: A Crash Course in City Directories - September 27, 2008

On Saturday, September 27, 2008, the Herb Caen Magazines and Newspapers Center will present a free program on city directories and their relevance in genealogical research. The program will be held from 10:30 a.m. to noon in the Latino/Hispanic Community Meeting Room located on the Lower Level of the Main Library.

The program description is as follows:

Long before phones and phone books, local publishers were printing city directories for thousands of metropolitan areas in the United States and Canada (and elsewhere). These directories were usually published every year and contained a listing of most of the residents as well as businesses, churches, elected officials, newspapers, etc. in larger cities and towns and often the surrounding areas. This workshop will show how you can use city directories to determine family relationships, land ownership, occupation, spouse’s name, race, address, nearby relatives and much more, and why using city directories should be a part of every genealogical project. We’ll look at city directories in print, in microform, and online.

Lisa B. Lee, a board member of the California Genealogical Society, is the guest speaker.

This program is supported by Friends of the San Francisco Public Library.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Unleash the Power of Your Library Card

Did you know you can use your library card for more than just checking out books? Perhaps you might want to indulge in some contemporary literary stories and eclectic articles from the New Yorker, browse through popular movie reviews from Entertainment Weekly, or stay up to date with computer tips and technologies from PC Magazine. While the periodicals in the Magazines & Newspapers Center cannot be checked out, you may borrow selected titles from the first floor of the Main Library and your local branch library.
  • Can’t find a book in our library catalog? Try Links+ to borrow books from another library outside of San Francisco.
  • Are you a connoisseur of classical, contemporary, or folk music? Explore our recently purchased music databases.
September is national Library Card Sign-Up Month. Unleash the power of your library card. For more ideas, check out 52 Ways to Use Your Library Card for each week of the year.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Find your Inner Chef

From the bottom shelf of the pantry behind the many cans of tomato products, we can always find our forgotten and overlooked recipes. Hidden in magazines are also some forgotten and overlooked recipes. These recipes often provide a different perspective on cooking. Whether it be cooking for the masses or cooking with local flavors, many non-cooking magazines have regular sections containing great specialized recipes.

If you look in …

…you’ll find a section on recipes that help you cater for the holidays.

Restaurants and Institutions
…you’ll find a section on surprisingly simple recipes from well known United States restaurants.

…you'll find a section on recipes to help you lose weight, stay fit, and eat healthy.

Wine Enthusiast
…you’ll find a section on recipes to pair with every type of wine.

Wisconsin Trails
…you’ll find a section on delicious recipes that you can do yourself.

To bring out your inner chef, come to the Magazines and Newspapers Center of the San Francisco Main Library.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Labor Day History

Labor Day as a Federal holiday dates from 1894, when Grover Cleveland signed legislation declaring the first Monday in September a holiday for Federal workers and folks in the District of Columbia. (All of the states and Puerto Rico would soon follow in legalizing the holiday.) For twelve years prior, though, the holiday had been observed by large groups of union workers, beginning with a celebration in New York City in 1882 organized by a carpenter named Peter McGuire and a machinist named Matthew Maguire, both active in their respective unions. The idea caught on with workers in cities across the country and, by the time Congress recognized the holiday, it was already fairly widely celebrated.

If you thought Labor Day began with Jerry Lewis' first telethon and the name was simply an acknowledgment of the difficulty of lighting a charcoal grill, it may be worthwhile this year to spend a little time perusing History Resource Center: US, a database available through the library. From here you can get the whole story about the holiday (I got the information in the first paragraph of this post from Adam Hornbuckle and Martin Manning's "Holidays [1878-1899), accessed through the database)," plus background information on the U.S. Labor Movement, Grover Cleveland, and just about any other U.S. history topic, all without much labor on your part.

To get into the database, begin, as always, at the library's homepage. From there, click on "Articles & Databases," then use the categories list on the left side of that page to navigate to the "History & Genealogy" category, under which you'll find History Resource Center: US. If you're not in the library, the database will ask for your library card number before you can access the goods.

There's plenty of exploration to be done in History Resource Center: US. However, if you find yourself wanting more, please feel free to get in touch with the folks here at the Magazines and Newspapers Center for more information on history magazines and databases.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Newseum: A New Destination for the News Junkies Among Us

Do you know what these are?

Or how about this?

If you were able to recognize these set pieces from some of news items past, then you are probably a serious news junkie. It is a good bet that you would also enjoy visiting a new museum that recently opened in Washington D.C.

Opened on April 11, 2008, the Newseum is a museum dedicated to helping the general public understand and appreciate the history and current developments of news gathering.

The website also has a nifty section called "Today's Front Pages" where you can see the daily front page for 652 newspapers from 60 different countries.

So should you find yourself in our nation's capital and want to see the above fragments of the Berlin Wall or the Unabomber cabin*, the Newseum is the place to go.

*For a discussion about Ted Kaczynski's letter of protest to the US Court of Appeals regarding the Newseum's display of his cabin, follow this link to a recent segment on NPR's Talk of the Nation.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Manage Your Harvest with Recipes from Vegetarian Times

If you planted a veggie garden last spring, you may well be up to your armpits in produce. If your green thumb has overshadowed your creativity in the kitchen, don't despair. Put down the trowel, take off your gloves, and stop by the Magazines and Newspapers Center to check out Vegetarian Times.

Regardless of your gastropolitical views, a recipe magazine for people who rely almost exclusively on plants for food is probably a good place to look for inspiration for putting to use the products of an overachieving garden. And while there are plenty of interesting features for the vegetable-minded reader -- tips for food shopping, vegetarian celebrity profiles, non-food product reviews -- the recipes are the main event here.

Each issue is packed with dozens of recipes and meal plans, featuring everything from quick snack ideas to gourmet creations fit for fancy entertaining. Recipes are classified by estimated preparation time and difficulty level for quick reference. And, significant for those seeking inspiration, the photos make the dishes jump off the pages with beautiful color and texture. We only ask that you try to refrain from drooling on the library's magazines.

Here at the Magazine and Newspaper Center, we're going to keep our eyes peeled to see if anyone from the City Hall Victory Garden across the street comes by to take a look at this magazine to get some ideas about what to do with their harvest.

Vegetarian Times comes out about nine times a year, and we have issues dating from 1980, which means there's plenty of inspiration to go around and recipes for your whole harvest, from artichoke to zucchini. The latest issue is on display, and you can ask about the older issues at the reference desk.

Friday, August 8, 2008

2008 Summer Olympic Games

The 2008 Summer Olympics are here! Don't worry if it's been a long time (perhaps four years?) since you've thought about some of the Olympic events -- the Magazines and Newspapers Center has got you covered. We've got titles that will get you up to date on the perennial favorites -- Track and Field News, Swimming World Magazine, International Gymnast, ESPN Magazine, and Sports Illustrated.

But, hey, the Olympics are as much a cultural event as a sporting event, so why not take the opportunity to broaden your horizons? We've got titles to get you up to date on just about any event featured in Beijing this year.

If the continued lack of interest in cricket in the U.S. tells us anything, European sports don't always instantly translate well. That said, there's no better way to inject a little Continental cool into your water-cooler banter than to show off your knowledge of a semi-obscure European sport like, say, fencing. If you want to get to know the people behind the masks involved in the "corps-a-corps," check out American Fencing, the publication of the United States Fencing Association. You may be surprised to learn, as I did from the pages of this magazine, that there is a vital and thriving fencing community in the United States. Check out this title to get the scoop on the personalities and culture surrounding this ancient sport. EN GARDE!

Canoing and kayaking are exciting, vibrant sports, and their inclusion as Summer Olympic events since the '36 games attest to their lasting popularity. If your exposure to the sport is limited to the baseball fans in McCovey Cove outside of AT&T park during Giants games, you may want to check out these events at this year's games and take a look at Canoe and Kayak here at the Magazines and Newspaper Center. Aside from coverage of the flatwater and slalom events in Beijing, you'll find gear reviews, skill-building advice, and photos and features from some of the most beautiful bodies of water in the world in this magazine.

What do you get when you combine tiny bicycles with the daring Southern California skate culture? Bicycle Motocross, a.k.a. BMX, is having its debut this year in Beijing. There has never been a better time to acquaint yourself with this exciting sport, and there's no better way to get started than by taking a look at Ride BMX magazine here at the library. Look here for featured riders, breath-taking action shots, and Q and A from some of today's hottest riders. You'll see more flashy tricks in the pages of this magazine than you will at the Olympics, which may make you love the sport that much more.

If you think that sailing is only for wealthy people and Popeye, maybe you should take a peek at Sailing World and tune in to the sailing events at this year's Olympics. Even if you don't know a dinghy from a dhow, a quick flip through this magazine should be enough to show that competitive sailing has everything it takes to make a great spectator sport -- strategy, physical challenges, a bit of danger, and lots of cool gear. Look to this title to get the lowdown on the Olympic and Paralympic teams, the latest sailing tips and technologies, and the buzz around the competitive sailing community.

There are plenty of other ways to use our collection to get ready for the Olympics, and as always, the staff at the Magazines and Newspapers Center are more than happy to help you get started.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Civil Liberties Act of 1988

Photo courtesy of San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library

Imagine what it would be like if you were instructed to pack up, leave your home behind, and report to a detention center—all because you were a descendant of a specific ethnicity. This is what over 120,000 Japanese Americans had to endure during World War II.

Nearly half a century later, on August 10, 1988, former President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act that offered an apology on behalf of the nation for incarcerating Americans of Japanese ancestry during World War II, because they “looked like the enemy.” To read the complete text of this momentous legislation, check out the LexisNexis Congressional database:

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

2. Under the Categories side bar on the left, select “Government” then “LexisNexis Congressional.”

3. Select the “Advanced Search” tab and restrict your search to the 100th session of Congress.

4. In the search box at the top, enter “civil liberties act” and run the search.

5. Clicking any of the links will provide you with more information on the evolutionary development of this legislation as it transformed from a bill to its current form as an official act.

The LexisNexis Congressional database contains legislative information such as Congressional publications, legislative histories, bills and laws, members and committees, regulations, Congressional records and rules, current hot topics, and political news dating back to 1789. Searchable by name, publication, bill numbers, date, Congressional session, and more.

Furthermore, on August 10, 2008, the San Francisco Public Library's International Center will be presenting a lecture and panel discussion--"The Civil Liberties Act of 1988: A Legacy for All Americans"--to honor this legislation. This program will be held from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the Koret Auditorium with a reception to follow afterwards in the Latino/Hispanic Community Room.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Summer Blockbuster Season at Magazines and Newspapers Center

Maybe you want to get away for a bit this summer, but with the cost of gasoline reaching record highs and the cost of just about everything else rising along with it, this may seem like a great time to take part in the time-honored American tradition of taking in a summer blockbuster at the local cinema.

But hang on -- have you been to the movies lately? Tickets are pricey! And by the time you grab some popcorn and a soda (you are, after all, treating yourself to a night out), a night at the movies may not be quite the budget-friendly option you thought it would.

When you take into account the effect a trip to the multiplex can have on your wallet, it can really hurt if you're unfortunate enough to catch a lousy film. It's wise to go to the box office prepared, and here at the Magazines and Newspapers Center there are just the materials you need to make an educated pick.

Let's start with the old Hollywood standbys:

Entertainment Weekly will generally print reviews for most of the big-budget movies opening during that week, plus will feature a handful of reviews of independent or foreign films that will be shown widely. Particularly useful if you're in a hurry to catch the matinée is Critical Mass, a chart showing grades (using the old academic A-F model) given to current releases by a dozen critics.

For most of the 20th century, Hollywood insiders relied primarily on two daily newspapers to report on the latest news and trends from within the the film industry. In recent years, these papers -- Variety and the Hollywood Reporter -- have broadened their focus to cover what is now called the entertainment industry, but happenings in the film world are still a major focus of these dailies. If your interest is up-to-the-minute knowledge of what's going on in the film industry, check here first.

Big budget blockbusters aren't for everyone, though, and with many multiplex theaters devoting one or two screens to independent, classic, and foreign movies, access to these films is no longer limited to those of us lucky enough to live close to a good "arthouse" theater. Trying new things can be intimidating, I know, but with the help of some of the titles we have in our collection, anyone can become a beret-wearing, Bergman-interpreting film aficionado.

You could try, for instance, Filmmaker. Aimed at readers interested in independent, smaller-budgeted films, this quarterly magazine “presents an insider's look at the business and creative aspects of independent film.” Each issue features insightful profiles on current lesser-known films accompanied by interviews with independent filmmakers.

If you long for Hollywood's golden era, then Classic Images is the magazine for you. Focusing on classic films, film personalities, and film history, this monthly newspaper features articles accompanied by black-and-white production and publicity stills for the enthusiast or connoisseur of older classic films. Includes video and DVD reviews, film festival announcements, book reviews, music in film, obituaries, and a “This Month in Movie History” column. This will be a good way to prepare for screenings of classics, or to pick something out from the library’s collection of DVDs.

For animation aficionados whose interests vary from Disney films to Japanese anime, Animation Magazine covers traditional as well as computer-generated animation used in feature films, games, and television. Includes columns by industry professionals, film reviews, upcoming events, news, and industry trends. People in the U.S. and abroad are doing very exciting things with this medium; this magazine is sure to turn you on to something you haven’t yet experienced.

Once you're in the know, celebrate your entry into the movie buff subculture by reading Geek Monthly. Packed with articles and reviews on the latest toys, anime, DVDs, movies, and television shows, Geek Monthly covers pop culture and life style for people who are passionate about what they love. This magazine includes interviews with movie stars, film festival highlights, action figure reviews – plenty of fodder for conversations with other people waiting in line at the local premier of that film that had them talking at Cannes or Tribeca.

This is just a small sample of our collection, so we’re sure to have titles that appeal to the inner cinemaphile in all of us. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday we hope you’ll stop by the Magazines and Newspaper Center to check out our selection of cinema titles.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Beyond Googling: Building Your Own Search Engine

On Monday, July 28, 2008 at noon, the Magazines and Newspapers Center will present a workshop on Custom Search Engines--“Beyond Googling: Building Your own Search Engine.” In this demonstration, sharpen your search strategies by harnessing the power of vertical searching. Learn to construct custom search engines (CSEs) on focused topics drawn from your favorite news sites, news blogs, etc. to maximize your researching experience on the Web. This lecture will take place in the Latino/Hispanic Community Room.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Summer Cleaning Innovations

With the summer season in full swing, staying on track with your new year’s resolutions, engaging in heavy duty summer cleaning, and perhaps even launching new projects you might not have gotten around to at the start of the new year may have lost its zeal. Do you need fresh and innovative ideas for redecorating your home? Perhaps you want to redesign the decor in your living room to create a more classic look. Or maybe you just want to improve your diet with creative recipes and adopt a more healthy lifestyle. For creative, avant-garde ideas with a contemporary twist, the Magazines & Newspapers Center offers a variety of magazines that provide a wealth of ideas and tips. Titles like Domino, Dwell, Elle Decor, Metropolitan Home, and Real Simple may help innovate your summer cleaning chores, making them more creative, enjoyable, and fulfilling.

Domino – Tagged as a “guide to living with style,” this magazine offers ideas for furnishing your home in a comfortable, personal way. Topics covered include de-cluttering your home, energizing your home with color, living in modern green design homes, and more. Perfect for renters and homeowners.

Dwell – Described as a magazine designed to “champion an intelligent, thoughtful, and modern sensibility that stimulates our audience to envision—and realize—life at home in the modern world,” Dwell showcases home architectural and creative furnishings with a hip and contemporary look, infused with an environmentally conscious slant.

Elle Decor - Providing an international design showcase of artful products, kitchen gadgets, furniture, and fixtures, this magazine encourages users to use their own creativity in designing contemporary, trendy, and stylistic renovations to your home environment. Ideal for professionals and do-it-yourself decorators.

Metropolitan Home – Focusing on “design-conscious elegance in a variety of metropolitan settings,” this magazine publishes articles on home design and entertainment as well as product profiles and menu ideas. Ideal for those interested in designing more sophisticated home styles with an urban, upscale, and contemporary look.

Real Simple – Offering a variety of ideas and tips for a simplified lifestyle, this magazine features articles on reducing stress, managing your finances, purchasing clothes, researching investment decisions, cooking healthy meals, planning vacation trips, and more.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Men's Vogue Fashion

Did you know men are just as fashion conscious as women? Fashion isn’t just for women and girls, it’s for men and boys as well. Today’s fitness conscious males are hungry for savvy, hip, mod, laid-back, and sporty fashion styles. The Magazines & Newspapers Center subscribes to several titles covering a wide spectrum of fashion. Esquire magazine is no longer the definitive authority on men’s fashion. Other magazines have arrived onto the scene to appease men's fashionable appetites.

Here are a few titles covering men’s clothing: Details, DNR, GQ, and Men’s Vogue. And please, let’s not forget the hip-hop and rap scenes either. These titles are a must to check out: Vibe, W, and XXL. Although these last three titles adorn the world of music fashion (with regards to menswear), they offer a glimpse into a whole new genre of the fashion craze for the young and young at heart.

Details - This classy magazine is for sophisticated, suave, sporty, adventurous, and stylish guys in their 20s and 30s who aspire to become a 21st century fashion icon. The magazine focuses on pop culture careers, men’s fashion, grooming, entertaining, books, film, pop culture, and more.

DNR - A newspaper formatted magazine covering the male apparel industry with emphasis on clothing trade and manufacturing, wholesalers and manufacturers, fashionable financiers and financing, latest gossip on the designer runway shows, fashion merchandise, and more. Color and black-and-white photographs evoke the high quality and detail in the fashion designs. Presents informative articles on new urban markets of culture clash, primary colors in underwear collections, and the movers and shakers in the male clothing and manufacturing industries.

GQ - Best known as Gentlemen’s Quarterly, GQ is a leader among men’s fashion magazines. Covers interviews, economic advice, health issues, food, and travel. Also offers readers quality coverage of en vogue designer fashions, runway shows, and clothing trade. Appeals to men and their fantasies about “looking sharp and feeling smart.”

Men's Vogue - Hailing from the Conde Nast empire of publications, Men’s Vogue is for men who prefer sporting a privy lifestyle of refinement and sophistication. The magazine is a bit conservative and promotes a sharing of sensibility, living well and looking good attitude. Each issue delivers unique perspectives on wine, architecture & design, books, fashion, grooming, blogs, business & politics, travel, food and the arts. You will enjoy glancing into a world that I call the “3G’s” - Glam! Glitz! & Gloss!

Vibe - This magazine was founded in 1993 by the music producer Quincy Jones. Covers celebrities, music and sounds, fashion, lifestyle, media trends, and urban music industry. Highlights the hip-hop culture and popular hip fashions of today’s youth ranging from 18- to 24- year olds.

W - A beautifully illustrated magazine covering all aspects of the world of fashion, the designers, latest fashion trends, beauty, accessories, society, influential people, various fashion layouts and more. W and Vogue have put together a business venture, creating, which features highlights from the magazines and fashion show updates. W also releases supplements during the fall of each year. Supplements like Fashion Rocks, Glam Rocks, and Movies Rock capture the fashion crazed world of music genres.

XXL - This magazine focuses on the lifestyle and business sides of hip-hop, rap, and urban music. It also covers the hippest fashion styles--especially those from the African American culture. Includes feature articles, interviews, commentaries, and reviews as well as news, current events, and upcoming music releases.

Friday, June 27, 2008

America's National Document of Freedom

America’s birthday ignited with a bang over 200 years ago, and this annual commemoration continues to this day with dazzling displays of fireworks showering over the sky punctuated by the rapid artillery of firecrackers. The 4th of July marks this nation’s freedom from the British monarchy which started with a document drafted by the forefathers of this nation.

The Declaration of Independence has preserved this nation’s freedom, established universal principles that defined the ideals supporting today’s egalitarian democracies, and inspired the pursuit of freedom and self-government worldwide. To catch a glimpse of America’s national document of freedom and witness the flamboyant John Hancock signature, check out this and other works of art with the Art Museum Image Gallery.

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

2. Under the Categories side bar on the left, select “Art & Music” then “Art Museum Image Gallery.”

3. In the search box, enter the phrase “declaration of independence.”

4. Select any image and you will get a brief description of the art work, in which museum it is located, and subject headings and keywords under which the work is cataloged.

The Art Museum Image Gallery contains over 150,000 high quality fine and decorative art images and related multimedia from museums worldwide dating back to 3000 B.C. Images include cultures and time periods ranging from contemporary art, Native American and Inuit art, to ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian works, along with Japanese and Chinese works.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Follow the 2008 Election

November is just around the corner, which means that the 2008 Presidential election is going to be heating up soon. While we prefer not to talk about politics here at the Magazines and Newspapers Center reference desk, we're happy to talk about the ways that you can use our collection to get the latest news, polls, analysis, and other dirt from the campaign trail.

We have dozens of news and politics magazines. For example:

CQ Weekly is the premier source for coverage of the House and Senate. What does that have to do with the Presidential election? All of the likely Presidential candidates are U.S. Senators. CQ Weekly will tell you how they voted, what bills they're sponsoring, and what they're saying. It's a good way to check what the candidates do versus what they say.

Like CQ Weekly, National Journal is a D.C. insider magazine, but it has a broader focus. Expect campaign coverage and analysis here, but also look here for current political trends, polls, and analysis of significant issues that the next President will have to face. National Journal is also similar to CQ Weekly in that it's a bit on the wonky side: there is definitely an expectation that readers have a pretty sophisticated knowledge of the D.C. political scene.

Looking for something a little less, eh, technical? Many people find the best way to get a synopsis of the week in American politics is to turn to an English publication, the weekly magazine called The Economist. The Economist has a political bent that does not fit neatly into the American interpretation of right and left, but there is a definite editorial stance in favor of free trade and globalism. Regardless, the coverage is fairly extensive and it offers a valuable outsider perspective.

CQ Weekly and the National Journal strive for unbiased reporting, and The Economist isn't aligned with either major American political party. But what's the fun of a Presidential election without a little partisan mudslinging?

The view from the right is maybe most famously represented by the National Review, which was founded in 1955 by William F. Buckley, widely considered the father of modern conservatism. To the left, there is perhaps no better known weekly magazine than The Nation, founded in 1865 by abolitionists and continuously published since. Count on each of these magazines for strictly biased coverage of the political scene.

There are, of course, myriad political viewpoints, and San Francisco Public Library just may have magazines that speak to all of them. If the above magazines don't match your interests, stop by the Magazines and Newspapers Center reference desk and we'll see if we can find you something that does fit.

Or, you can try searching the catalog yourself and see what comes up. Here's one approach:

  1. Go to

  2. In the yellow "SFPL Online" box at the top left of the page, click on "more."

  3. Click on the link to search by subject.

  4. Type in "united states politics and government periodicals."
    This will bring up a list of all of the magazines and newsletters we have that have that subject heading.

    Happy politicking!