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.