Wednesday, September 30, 2015

What-I'm-Reading-Wednesday: Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson

What really caused the sinking of the Lusitania?  Were the British to blame or the German U-boot commander?  Dead Wake is an excellent read about the last days of the beautiful ocean liner, her passengers from all walks of life, and the part both the British and Germans played in her demise.

As the passengers embarked, there seemed to be little if any worry about the success of the voyage.  The Lusitania was one of the fastest of the Atlantic ships, she would have a British escort when she arrived in British waters near Ireland, and the Germans were too humane to ever think of sinking a passenger ship with Americans on board.

Ten months into World War I, one of the “greyhounds” of the Atlantic left New York for her return voyage to Liverpool.   She left New York with the Imperial German Embassy posting a “Notice!” to travelers on the Atlantic voyage that Germany and Great Britain were at war.  This meant that the waters around Great Britain were a war zone and that any of Great Britain’s allies would be accorded enemy status.

To reduce cost, Cunard ordered the Lusitania to use only ¾ of their power. This decreased speed, and therefore distance covered, thus changing the arrival time to Liverpool. Due to the fluctuation of the tide at Liverpool harbor there were specific times to enter the harbor. 
Rumors abounded that the Lusitania carried weapons and ammunition for the British cause.  What more could come together for a disaster?  As always, the weather played an integral part in the voyage and timing as it also slowed the ship.  The fog was an ally as well since it made it next to impossible for the U-boat (submarine, U-20) to see the ship. 

The reader will learn about the rich and famous on board as well as the other classes and the crew.  The day to day activity on the ship makes for interesting reading.  Larson imparts vital information about the safety drills, demonstration of the life jackets, and the pervading attitude that the ship would reach harbor simply because of its speed and the ‘rules of war” concerning nonmilitary ships.

Larson researched the Lusitania’s sinking well.  He includes information about the British and the best kept secret which left Captain Turner of the Lusitania without vital information to protect his ship and passengers.  Dead Wake gives us an adventure story and a story of war from those in a submarine, in command in Great Britain, and the unsuspecting passengers on a voyage of a lifetime.

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania is available for check-out in the Ort Library catalog, as are Larson's other works like The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America, and Thunderstruck.Click on the "Availability" link on the catalog record, then click on the yellow "Request" button. Log in using your 14-digit Library barcode number (located on your University ID), and your last name. You will then be able to select your pick-up location. The Library will notify you via email when your book has arrived for pick-up. If you need assistance with this process, please contact the Circulation Desk at 301-687-4395.

Blog post written by MaryJo Price

Monday, September 28, 2015

Celebrating Banned Books Week at Ort Library

The Ort Library is celebrating Banned Books Week (September 27 – October 3, 2015) with a display on banned books. Come see examples of some of the books that have been challenged and/or banned. Books are available to be checked out.

Each year, the American Library Association distributes a list of books that have been banned and/or challenged. During 2000 – 2009 most books were challenged and/or banned because of offensive language, being sexually explicit, containing occult/Satanism, or because the book was considered inappropriate for the age group. Additionally, during 2000 – 2009, most challenges to books were begun by a parent with the school, school library, and public library being the places most challenges were initiated (

On October 6, 2015 at 7:00 pm on the third floor of the library, the Ort Library is hosting the Banned Books Reading. 

Celebrate the Freedom to Read!!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Featured Online Resource:

Education majors, parents, or anyone with children in their lives may be interested in visiting in order to find educational games and resources to help children learn more about not just the government, but also science, math, art, reading, writing, and more.

In addition to performing a basic search to see what is available on any topic of interest, you can browse by subject areas, age group, as well as special sections for teachers or parents. serves as a clearinghouse finding educational resources for children on a variety of Federal and State government web sites.  It is often worthwhile to check out these individual web sites as well.  Some examples include:

For Kids:
US Geological Society's Education Page
Kids in Parks (National Park Service)
America's Library (Library of Congress)
Smithsonian Kids'
USDA for Kids
Ben's Guide to the US Government

 For Teachers/Parents:
Library of Congress Teacher Resources  - Specifically for teachers, includes a common core search option.
EdSitement (National Endowment for the Humanities) - Also includes an option to search by common core standards.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

What-I'm-Reading-Wednesday: A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power by Jimmy Carter

After hearing Doris Kearns Goodwin describe Jimmy Carter as a "good and decent man" on the evening news of August 20th when he announced his cancer diagnosis, I wanted to learn more about his life and The Carter Center he founded in 1982. I chose his 2014 book A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power, but there were 20 other monograph titles written by Carter available at the Ort Library for later reading.

Carter explains, “Waging peace, fighting disease, and building hope are the major themes of The Carter Center, and one of our basic principles is not to duplicate what others are doing or to compete with them.”  (72) Elephantiasis, river blindness and guinea worm are common names for some of the neglected tropical diseases that the Center has fought, and Carter consistently acknowledges that third world women, often the victims of these diseases, are also the necessary agents for their eradication. Throughout his book, Carter demonstrates how his experience as a Georgia peanut farmer helped him to understand and foster projects in Africa to improve public health and agricultural production through the Carter Center.

Carter also deals with international issues of women’s rights and begins by exploring the foundations of most world religions that deny women a status equal to their male counterparts. He highlights those religions that have increased leadership opportunities for women. In its final chapters, Carter uses specific examples and statistics to demonstrate the impact of global violence on women. He includes the genocide of girls in China and India and the violence against women in third world countries in the form of rape, spousal abuse, genital cutting, child brides and honor killings. 

A Call to Action is a book that shares the author’s global view of justice with the reader. He incorporates examples from the lives of his wife and mother to illustrate how to wage peace. He includes quotes from peers who support his defense of the rights of women globally. The prime voice of the book is one of a “good and decent man” issuing a call to the United Nations, the World Bank and other international organizations to address international issues of women’s rights.

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Lonaconing Star

Annamarie Klose Hrubes, Amber Harrison, Claire Lauder and MaryJo Price are pictured in Special Collections unrolling fragile issues of The Lonaconing Star newspaper that were recently donated to the Ort Library by Edward H. Getson  of Lonaconing.  Anna is leading the effort to carefully unroll the issues, separate them with archival safe tissue paper and flatten them in preparation for digitizing the area newspaper later this year. Gloves are worn to protect the sheets from natural skin oils, and a mask protects staff from dust and other allergens. The newspaper donation includes assorted issues between 1900 and 1902.  The Lonaconing Star published by J. J. Robinson adopted the tag line “INDEPENDENT—NOT NEUTRAL. "
This July 5, 1900 issue reported on area labor problems.