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October 29, 2010

Junk to Collectible, Shaped by Time and Tide

By Cornelia Dean
From The New York Times

HYANNIS, Mass. -- Laura McHenry started walking Cape Cod beaches searching for sea glass a few years ago, when her marriage was breaking up and she was looking for something she and her daughter Katie, could do together for fun.

''Sometimes we'll just sit on the rocks and just comb through,'' said Ms. McHenry, who lives in Centerville, Mass., as Katie, 10, displayed her finds nearby. ''It's a great place to talk.''

History draws Rachel Mack, of Grandview-on-Hudson, N.Y. ''These could have come from the Half Moon,'' she said, pointing to white clay pipe stems, each an inch or two long and perhaps half an inch in diameter. She finds these artifacts when she kayaks along the shore of the river Henry Hudson sailed 400 years ago.

Richard LaMotte's wife got him into it. She is a jeweler who works with sea glass, and he went with her on expeditions to Chesapeake Bay beaches near their home in Chestertown, Md. Mr. LaMotte, who works for a water analysis equipment company, got interested in how water acidity affected the glass, and how the chemicals used to make glass changed its color over the decades. Soon he was consulting archaeologists and studying the history of American glass manufacturing. Now his book, ''Pure Sea Glass'' (Sea Glass Publishing, 2004), is a bible for collectors.

They and hundreds of other enthusiasts gathered here this month for the annual meeting of the North American Sea Glass Association, to celebrate a hobby that seems an odd mix of amateur archaeology, environmental monitoring and antique collecting, with a little chemistry thrown in.

At the meeting they trade shards of glass and porcelain, buy and sell sea glass jewelry and crafts, seek expert help identifying their finds and hear presentations on shipwrecks, the glass industry and other topics.

Read full article.

October 28, 2010

ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2010

Since 2004, the annual ECAR study of undergraduate students and information technology has sought to shed light on how information technology affects the college experience. We ask students about the technology they own and how they use it in and out of their academic world. We gather information about how skilled students believe they are with technologies; how they perceive technology is affecting their learning experience; and their preferences for IT in courses. The ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2010 is a longitudinal extension of the annual 2004 through 2009 studies. It is based on quantitative data from a spring 2010 survey of 36,950 freshmen and seniors at 100 four-year institutions and students at 27 two-year institutions; student focus groups that included input from 84 students at 4 institutions; and review of qualitative data from written responses to open-ended questions. In addition to exploring student ownership, experience, behaviors, preferences, and skills with respect to information technologies, including ownership and use of Internet-capable handheld devices, the 2010 study also includes a special focus on student use of social networking websites and web-based applications.

Read full study, key findings, roadmap, and survey instrument.

October 27, 2010

Buy Now, Pay Later: A History of Personal Credit

"Buy Now, Pay Later: A History of Personal Credit" is an exhibition organized by Baker Library Historical Collections. The exhibition will run from October 22, 2010 through June 3, 2011 in the North Lobby, Baker Library | Bloomberg Center, Harvard Business School.

There is a myth of a lost golden age of economic virtue. Once upon a time, the story goes, people lived within their means and borrowed only under the direst of circumstances. Debt was shameful, and credit financed only "productive" purchases like homes or farm machinery. Although nostalgia seldom makes good history, writers mourned this lost age through the Roaring Twenties, the rise of the credit card in the 1960s, and the home mortgage boom and bust of 2005-2008.

"Buy Now, Pay Later: A History of Personal Credit" demonstrates that while the instruments and institutions of twenty-first century credit-the installment plan, the credit card, and the home finance industry-are less than a century old, credit itself is as old as commerce. The exhibition draws from Baker Library's Historical Collections materials to show how previous generations devised creative ways of lending and borrowing long before credit cards or mortgage backed securities.

Visit to learn more about the history of personal credit, to find materials that could support further research, and to view some of the items featured in this exhibition.

Please contact Baker Library Historical Collections at if you would like to request a copy of the exhibition catalog.

The exhibition is open to the public Monday-Thursday 7 am - 7 pm, Friday 7 am - 6 pm, and Sunday 12 pm - 7 pm. The exhibition is closed November 25-26, December 23-January 2, January 17, February 21, and May 30.

For more information about Baker Library Historical Collections visit

October 26, 2010

Holy moley: Refining Avogadro constant could lead to a more reliable kilogram

By Marissa Cevallos
From Science News

The kilogram may finally get a break from its yo-yo diet. An international team of scientists is closer to redefining the unit of mass based on fundamental constants, instead of a piece of metal in France that loses weight only to put it back on again.

Since 1889, the international standard for the kilogram has been a cylinder of platinum, tucked under a glass jar inside another glass jar, stored in a vault outside Paris. But despite exceedingly stringent storage conditions, the cylinder (and six exact copies of it) gains weight from dust in the atmosphere, necessitating regular steam baths to remove the crud. On top of that, the seven cylinders change mass relative to each other by micrograms per century, for reasons no one can fully explain. So scientists want to redefine the basic metric unit of mass based on something that’s truly constant, just as the meter is defined as the distance light travels in one three-hundred-millionth of a second.

Several large teams have been attempting to define the kilogram in terms of the Avogadro constant, well-known to chemistry students as the number of atoms or molecules in one “mole” (about 6.022 times 1023).

Read more.

October 21, 2010

40 Ways to Go Greener at Home (Besides Just Recycling)

by Tsh on April 21, 2010
in green & frugal living

It’s Earth Day today! I’m not into politics, but I am into good stewardship. To me, being intentionally eco-friendly has more to do with celebrating God’s creativity, being wise with what He’s given us, and passing on those values to the next generation than it does with pressing some government agenda.

The thing I love most about practicing green alternatives in my home is that nine times out of ten, they are the more frugal option. And I love being frugal. Being environmentally-friendly is just good economics – in our home and budget, and with the earth God gave us.

There are many little things we can do in our homes to play a small part in reducing landfill waste, cleaning the air, and preserving the natural landscape. But we double our efforts when we get our kids involved, helping them understand the why to our what.

When they get it, it’ll be second nature to them when they’re adults – and that much easier to pass it down to their children.

Here are some small, easy, green choices we can make in our homes. Choose three that you’re not already doing, and make a point to do them this year. Perhaps they’ll become a habit; part of your family’s modus operandi.
40 Easy Ways to Go Greener at Home – Besides Recycling

1. Plant an herb garden. It’s good to have a reminder around of where our food originates.

2. Switch all your lightbulbs to CFLs (or at least switch a few).

. . .

Read the full article.

Hunting for the Dawn of Writing, When Prehistory Became History

By Geraldine Fabrikant
From The New York Times

CHICAGO -- One of the stars of the Oriental Institute's new show, ''Visible Language: Inventions of Writing in the Ancient Middle East and Beyond,'' is a clay tablet that dates from around 3200 B.C. On it, written in cuneiform, the script language of ancient Sumer in Mesopotamia, is a list of professions, described in small, repetitive impressed characters that look more like wedge-shape footprints than what we recognize as writing.

In fact ''it is among the earliest examples of writings that we know of so far,'' according to the institute's director, Gil J. Stein, and it provides insights into the life of one of the world's oldest cultures.

The new exhibition by the institute, part of the University of Chicago, is the first in the United States in 26 years to focus on comparative writing. It relies on advances in archaeologists' knowledge to shed new light on the invention of scripted language and its subsequent evolution.

The show demonstrates that, contrary to the long-held belief that writing spread from east to west, Sumerian cuneiform and its derivatives and Egyptian hieroglyphics evolved separately from each another. And those writing systems were but two of the ancient forms of writing that evolved independently. Over a span of two millenniums, two other powerful civilizations -- the Chinese and Mayans -- also identified and met a need for written communication. Writing came to China as early as around 1200 B.C. and to the Maya in Mesoamerica long before A.D. 500.

''It was the first true information revolution,'' Mr. Stein said. ''By putting spoken language into material form, people could for the first time store and transmit it across time and space.''

Read the full article in the library's LexisNexis database.

October 14, 2010

New Journal: Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development

Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development is a new publication made freely accessible by Project MUSE. You can now access it from the library's A to Z Journal and Newspaper Title List.

Humanity is a semiannual publication dedicated to publishing original research and reflection on human rights, humanitarianism, and development in the modern and contemporary world. An interdisciplinary enterprise, Humanity draws from a variety of fields, including anthropology, law, literature, history, philosophy, politics, and examines the intersections between and among them.

October 13, 2010

New Collections Made Available in ARTstor Database

The following collections have been made available in the library's ARTstor database. Follow the links to learn more about the collections.

Editorial cartoons and sketches by John R. Fischetti

Lantern slides of the Samuel H. Kress Collection

Final launch of images for the Moreen O'Brien Maser Memorial Collection

Photographs of Tibetan and Buddhist art by Rob Linrothe

Final release of South Asian art and architecture from Alka Patel

World art and architecture from the Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives

Click here to access ARTstor.

October 8, 2010

Celebrate Earth Science Week, October 10-16, 2010

From Earth Science Week

AGI invites you to take part in Earth Science Week 2010! Being held October 10-16, Earth Science Week 2010 will encourage people everywhere to explore the natural world and learn about the geosciences.

“Exploring Energy,” the theme of Earth Science Week 2010, will engage young people and the public in learning about Earth's energy reources.

AGI hosts Earth Science Week in cooperation with sponsors as a service to the public and the geoscience community. Each year, local groups, educators, and interested individuals organize celebratory events. Earth Science Week offers opportunities to discover the Earth sciences and engage in responsible stewardship of the Earth. The program is supported by the U.S. Geological Survey, NASA, the National Park Service, the AAPG Foundation, U.S. Department of Energy, ExxonMobil, ESRI, and other geoscience groups.

Read more..

Also check out NASA's Earth Science Week website at
NASA develops, deploys and manages an array of satellites that monitor and measure energy as it flows into, through and out of the Earth system. During Earth Science Week, a series of short videos will be posted to The videos will contain short experiments related to energy, such as the energy that fuels hurricanes. Educators may use the videos in their classrooms.

What do you do with 8 million books? Build a shelf 153 miles long

By Richard Garner
From The Independent

Viewed from the outside, it could be any old warehouse in the country.

Inside, though, it has the equivalent of 153 miles of storage space to store more than eight million books which form the bulk of the stock of arguably the country's most famous library.

Welcome to the new home for books owned by Oxford University's Bodleian Library, which has found that its historic entitlement to a copy of every volume published in the UK had led to it running out of storage space.

Desperate times led to desperate measures and – for the past few years – part of its mammoth collection has been housed in a former salt mine in Cheshire. This week though, a solution is being unveiled in the form of a giant £26m warehouse in South Marston, near Swindon. The vast structure has the capacity to keep pace with the demand for shelf space for at least 20 years.

Over the course of the next 12 months, nearly six million books as well as more than 1.2 million maps will be transferred from Oxford to the Book Storage Facility (BSF) in the biggest move in the history of the library.

Read more.

October 5, 2010

Snapshot of U.S. Television Usage: What We Watch… and How

Source: nielsenwire

With the new TV season upon us, Nielsen has provided a look at what, and how, we watch TV in the U.S. Throughout 2009-2010, television viewing continued to fragment and adapt to new technologies such as digital video recorders and high-definition television.

Fast Facts
There are 115.9 million homes in the U.S. with at least one TV – up roughly 1 million homes from the previous TV season.

Viewing averages
• The average American watches 35:34 (hours/minutes) of TV per week
• Kids aged 2-11 watch 25:48 (hours/minutes) of live TV per week
• Adults over 65 watch 48:54 (hours/minutes) of TV per week

Read more or download the fact sheet.

October 4, 2010

Archives Month at the Smithsonian

October is American Archives Month, a time to focus on the importance of the Smithsonian’s vast collections of archival and historical records and to highlight the many individual Smithsonian archival units responsible for maintaining these rich and complex documentary resources.

Archives throughout the Smithsonian will be celebrating 2010's American Archives Month with the first-ever Smithsonian Archives Fair and a 31-day Blogathon.

Read More.

October 1, 2010

Green Electronics Made Easy

Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) is a system that helps purchasers evaluate, compare and select electronic products based on their environmental attributes. The system currently covers desktop and laptop computers, thin clients, workstations and computer monitors.

Desktops, laptops and monitors that meet 23 required environmental performance criteria may be registered in EPEAT by their manufacturers in 40 countries worldwide. Registered products are rated Gold, Silver or Bronze depending on the percentage of 28 optional criteria they meet above the baseline criteria. EPEAT operates an ongoing verification program to assure the credibility of the registry.

To view and select EPEAT registered products available in your location, please use the country search functions on this page, the Search page and the Manufacturers page. Use the left menu bar for detailed information about the EPEAT system, and the top menu to learn more about participating in EPEAT.

More information is available at

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