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.